Muse, have you gone on vacation?

Dear Beloved Spark of Inspiration,

I thought we had a deal. I take the ideas you give me, turn them into a pretty story using my mad English skill, then we get published, sell a bazillion copies, see Jason Momoa cast as Feyd in our blockbuster movie (s), and retire to Scotland with The Kilted One and the cats while we repeat the cycle with Books Two and Three.

But you seem to have missed a few bits.

Yes, we’ve mapped out Book Two and Book Three. We know what happens to who, when and where…and even why, for the most part!

You know what you forgot to tell me?

I’m sure this has just slipped your very busy mind while you’re daydreaming of Jason Momoa and Vladimir Kulich and whoever-it-was-who-played-Thorin, Richard something….

I still don’t know how to get to that heart-shredding, tear-jerking scene that sets the stage for Book Two!

You know, the one that has made it so I can’t listen to a particular pair of Halestorm songs? The one that physically makes my chest ache when I read it? That was some of your very best work, Darling Muse, and I’d like to make sure it has a proper lead-up.

So, if you could be so kind as to show me even the glimmerings of the path from the pits to the panic, I would be ever so appreciative.


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You had best believe that anyone who wears these on *my* property is going to have a very broken very expensive handful of plexiglass and microcircuits.

Progressive Culture | Scholars & Rogues

CATEGORY: PrivacyIf you haven’t yet seen Mark Hurst’s piece on Google Glass over at Creative Good, you need to. You really, really need to. A lot of times cool new gadget and service roll-outs mainly just affect the manufacturers and the people with the cash to buy them. Sure, there can be collateral damage – World of Warcraft widows, for instance – but usually the downside isn’t as direct as it is with this latest idea from the Don’t Be Evil crowd. A snip from Hurst’s analysis:

The key experiential question of Google Glass isn’t what it’s like to wear them, it’s what it’s like to be around someone else who’s wearing them. I’ll give an easy example. Your one-on-one conversation with someone wearing Google Glass is likely to be annoying, because you’ll suspect that you don’t have their undivided attention. And you can’t comfortably ask them to take the…

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Couldn’t resist. As someone who is trying to practice some of the traditional arts myself, this really struck a chord.

Philip Carr-Gomm's Weblog

The Prince of Wales’ School of Traditional Arts holds that the practice of the traditional arts is a contemplative process based upon universal spiritual truths. Art is seen as an integral part of everyday life and not a luxury; neither is it a subjective psychological experiment, nor a whimsical exercise in nostalgia.   

The School’s programmes aim to encourage an awareness amongst students that form, pattern and colour as manifested in the various branches of the traditional arts, are not simply pleasing to the senses, or demonstrations of good design, but are created to embody beauty — the beauty of the permanent that shines through into the world of the transient.  The distinction made today between ‘Fine Art’ and ‘Craft’ is entirely modern.  In a traditional society painting, pottery, carpentry, agriculture and music were all expressions of art or making and the artist’s practical activity was integrated, not only into…

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Monday Morning Musings

It is the first Monday in March, and I had to scrape frost off my windshield this morning under the dawn-blushed sky for the first time in a month.

Yesterday, I managed to catch a glimpse of the very peak of Mount Rainier over low-lying rain clouds, and immediately knew how to describe my Boreal Prince. The Muse has a sense of humor, because I was driving 70mph listening to The Kilted One freak out in the passenger seat at the time. (He hates cars…yes, I married a man who would drive a horse everywhere he could if it were practical.)

Our house is finally beginning to feel like ours, instead of just a place we live. We hung up a beautiful tapestry in shades of green as well as a Scottish rampant lion flag. Just those two little things have made all the difference.

I have set myself a goal to go back to Nanowrimo style discipline. I haven’t written more than a thousand words in all of 2013, not counting the two pages of Steno notepad I managed to scribble during a boring training at work.

This falls solidly into the category of “things that with up should not be put” (thank you Hector MacDonald, you amazing cranky old loon) and thereby is untenable. No more excuses. Fingers on keyboard, pen on paper, lipstick on mirror if necessary.*

*yes, I do have lipstick. Somewhere.

I’m not getting any younger and the fiction market isn’t getting any less competitive. I *will* get this finished before summer. (Summer starts July 5th here in the lovely and late-seasoned Pacific Northwest.)

Well damn, it looks like I set myself a goal. Time to dig the hooves in.

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I haven’t died, I promise….

However, I am re-learning there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want and need to do.

(On a related note: I also had my 32nd birthday and have proven to myself that I can no longer, in fact, live off caffeine alone.)

My seeds are planted, some of them, and I have made the heart-wrenching decision to stop roleplaying in the Facebook Star Wars community. It’s just not fun anymore.

However, as soon as I posted that decision, an odd sense of catharsis settled over me. A few tears, a quiet discussion with The Kilted One, and it was done. I feel like I can fully focus on Stormtouched now, in a way I hadn’t been able to for quite a while.

I love Bella and Umbra and Miras and the Drayvens, and they will always be a part of me.  Their active time, though, is over. Maybe some day I will finish Bella’s novel, maybe I won’t.

I sat down for the first time this year and really watched my Stormtouched  characters, wrote a couple of hundred words, found my major sticking point and am looking for a way around it. I think it may come easier now that my creative attention isn’t being pulled in as many directions.

I haven’t been hit with any lightning bolts yet, but they are forecasting a storm for tomorrow night.

Here’s hoping.

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Liebster Award (dammit Imbrium)

Liebster Award (dammit Imbrium)

So Imbrium of Lady Imbrium’s Holocron hath inflicted upon me a Liebster Award.

Teh Rulez:

Thank the person who nominated you.

When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (while making sure you notify the blogger that you nominated them!) You write up 11 NEW questions directed towards YOUR nominees.

You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated your own blog!

You paste the award picture into your blog. (You can Google the image, there are plenty of them!) See? I found one.

Thanks, Imbrium. /end snark

Random Facts:

1- I am a salt addict. How bad, you ask? Pickled okra and Fritos with a side of cottage cheese, bad.

2- I hate wearing shoes, unless it’s snowing. I will put up with wet feet until there is actual ice on the ground.

3- My familiar, Nemo, is named from The Odyssey, not from the Disney movie. All ten-plus pounds of tabby pudge is currently asleep on my foot.

4- I have a completely and utterly irrational loathing of the color pink.

5- One of the funniest words I have ever heard is “orgle”- it’s the noise a male llama makes when pursuing a female.

6- I am such a food nerd that I once drove all the way across town and paid $8 a dozen for duck eggs just to make brioche for a King Cake. No one knew the difference.

7- I once lost a thumbnail for the better part of a year after being bitten by a miniature goat.

8- I am terrible at remembering character’s names from TV shows.

9- I once had a two-day-long argument with the Kilted One about shades of white in reference to light bulbs.

10- “Classic BLT”-flavored potato chips are odd, but tasty. You can’t taste “bacon”, “tomato”, “lettuce”, or “bread”, but overall, all those synthetic flavors that Frito-Lay dumps on there somehow produce a BLT-esque flavor.

11- I play a Blue/White/Black Commander format Magic: The Gathering deck. My general’s name is Sharuum the Hegemon, and she’s a sphinx.

And these are Imbrium’s questions for her nominees:

1. Assuming that cost is no object, what is one thing that your dream house absolutely MUST have?

Assuming you mean the structure itself and not the property upon which it sits- a kitchen built to my specifications, with deep sinks, industrial appliances, and countertops that are at the right blessed height! I hate stooping.

Everyone has that song that they hear and crank up the radio- what’s yours?

Right now, “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC. This varies according to what character is occupying my mind. Other nominees are: “Enemies” by Shinedown, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard, “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath.

How many of those phone apps do you actually use?

None. I have a BlackBerry. Anti-hipster is anti-hipster. It does what I want, and still has a keyboard.

What’s a technology you absolutely couldn’t do without?

This is hard. I can think of lots that I don’t want to do without, but nothing that I can’t. Probably, assuming everything else stays the same, an internal combustion engine- because riding a horse 30 miles each way to work would suck.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

French vanilla (up here) or butter pecan (in Texas). The pecans are better there.

Sunset or sunrise?

Sunset, generally.

What’s your favorite woodland (desertland, mountainland, anything not typically domesticated) creature?

Any kind of large cat. I’m partial to cougars/pumas.

What’s your favorite season?

Tossup between Spring and Fall. I like the edges.

What’s your favorite musical genre?

Why don’t you ask me something easy, like to explain string theory to a marmoset? Probably rock/classic rock.

What is your favorite plant?

I like the look of ivy, the scent of lavender, the taste of garlic, the sense of timelessness of oak trees.

Silver or gold?

Silver or white gold. I like cooler metals. These days, gold looks cheap and tacky.

My nominees – sorry I don’t have the full 11 – (because I don’t have enough, and she did it to me first. Nyah.)

My questions:
1. Favorite food of all time.
2. Favorite author
3. Storms or calm weather?
4. Tea or coffee?
5. What is your obsession?
6. What is your absolute worst habit?
7. How do you feel about analog clocks?
8. What is your weirdest phobia?
9. What is family? Are you born to it, or do you choose it?
10. What is your geekdom?
11. E-book or traditional books?

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I have never been one for New Years resolutions- I know my failings, and I have to have a more powerful motivator than the flipping of a calendar page to get me out of my habits; or as The Kilted One would say, get me to change my mind once I have my hooves dug in.

I have said that I will write something every day on Stormtouched. Some days that may be a thousand words, some days it may be a sentence, some days it may be writing a scene for a picture. Originally, back in November, I was hoping to be at the editing stage right now, but guess what?

Not. Even. Close.

I don’t even have the excuse of having excuses. Some days just went by and I didn’t think about it at all. No crises, no holiday drama, nothing, really- just didn’t think about it. So I am going to write something EVERY DAY. Even if it’s just a sentence- because sentences are like potato chips.

I have said that I am going to be more mindful of what and how much I eat. Do I need to lose weight? No question, and I have never denied it. Would it make one of my more private goals more feasible? Likely.  These are excellent reasons to both watch what I eat and exercise more.

However, I have a hormonal condition that makes it slightly easier for me to do calculus while standing on my head and conjugating Latin verbs (only one of which I can actually do) than to lose weight without severe, draconian changes to my lifestyle. One of the side effects of said changes is that they turn me into a fire-breathing, acid-spitting raving bitch. I don’t mean my normal gloriously sarcastic/cynical/snarky self, I mean I get truly cruel and nasty to anyone and everyone. Hence mindfulness versus severe deprivation.

As far as the exercise- I have no excuse. I don’t exercise in the summer because it’s too gorram hot- but the cold and wet doesn’t bother me. So I will be attempting to walk the track during my lunch hour at work- which means I lose my most productive writing time of the day. Decisions.

I have said that I will plant a garden this year, even if it’s only herbs. This, I think I can manage. Tacoma Boys has a buy-one-get-two-free special on their gorgeous clay pots most of the time, so I can at least do that much.

I need to spend less time on Facebook and WoW. I am going to do this by the method of logging off Facebook when I go to bed and not logging back on until my morning break at work. Not like anything is really going on RP-wise there anymore anyway. WoW is simple- old content and Poke-WoW during the week, and log off a little earlier every week.

I need to…do a lot of things. Be better about updating this blog, be better about actually cooking, be a better person in general.

Now’s as good a time as any, I guess. Small changes.

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Stock-taking, Roast Pork, and Exposition

As the end of the calendar year draws to a close, and as the pagan New Year begins, I have been taking some time to indulge in both some stocktaking and some metacognition, mainly inspired by Imbrium over at and her thought-provoking posts.

(She’s also far more punctilious in updating her blog. Mea maxima culpa.)

I am ending another year of life, for which I am thankful. I have done a lot of good things this year (adopted two kittens, bought a house, wrote 50,000 words of my novel, etc) and a lot of not-so-good things (still in the same soul-crushingly boring job, still haven’t finished the novel, had a falling-out with my family), but I am still here, and I am still alive. Yes, I’ve dealt with a roof that leaks, a window that needs to be replaced, cutting down part of a tree before it fell on the neighbor’s house, but it’s our house.

Tomorrow, I meet with someone for the first time to show them an early draft of my novel and get their feedback and critique. This is the first time I have done this since college. For those of you who don’t know, I am a raging-bordering-on-obsessive perfectionist. I never think my work is as polished as it could be. I always see ways it could be improved. Showing someone who is completely unfamiliar with my characters my work for the first time actually has me a bit…apprehensive. I know that mechanically my work is near-perfect. What I am worried about are the more intangible things- is my world believable? Are my characters engaging? Would anyone want to read this?

I must face this fear, because there was someone in my NaNo writing group who struck me with what she said about her own work. Paraphrased, she said the following:

I just wrote this story for myself. I took the five free copies that we got from (insert name of website) and they are sitting on my shelf. I don’t want anyone to ever read it…but I am still a writer!

To me, she is not a writer, because writers write for others to read. This is why I think I did not fit in well with my NaNo group. I am writing to be a writer- I have stories that need to be told, and I know there are those out there who want to read them. I did NaNo as a way to make myself focus back on my writing, not because “I wanna write a novel!” To start with, 50,000 words is not a novel, it’s a novella. But that’s neither here nor there. I will face my fears with a pounding heart and a calm, fixed mind. 

On to happier thoughts.

I am roasting a crown roast of pork tonight, in honor of the season. I’ve never done it before, but hey, it’s pork. Pork and I get along real well. Oddly enough, last night I dreamed of cooking pork- but I had to find this certain set of dishes to serve it in- a set of blue-and-white porcelain plates that portrayed the Norns.

The Norns (Old Norse: norn, plural: nornir) in Norse mythology[1] are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, a kind of dísir comparable to the Fates in Greek mythology.

According to Snorri Sturluson‘s interpretation of the Völuspá, the three most important norns, Urðr (Wyrd), Verðandi and Skuld come out from a hall standing at the Well of Urðr (well of fate) and they draw water from the well and take sand that lies around it, which they pour over Yggdrasill so that its branches will not rot.[2] These norns are described as three powerful maiden giantesses (Jotuns) whose arrival from Jötunheimr ended the golden age of the gods.[2] They may be the same as the maidens of Mögþrasir who are described in Vafþrúðnismál .[2]

Beside these three norns, there are many other norns who arrive when a person is born in order to determine his or her future.[2] There were both malevolent and benevolent norns, and the former caused all the malevolent and tragic events in the world while the latter were kind and protective goddesses.[2] Recent research has discussed the relation between the myths associated with norns and valkyries and the actual travelling Völvas (seiðr-workers), women who visited newborn children in the pre-Christian Norse societies.[3]

^From Wikipedia.

This was crucial to the meal- I couldn’t even start until I found these dishes. I found myself in my paternal grandmother’s kitchen, digging through her cupboards, but they weren’t there. I knew not to go to my maternal grandmother’s house, because she wouldn’t have such things and wouldn’t understand why they were important. Same goes for my mother’s kitchen. My father may have had them, but his kitchen got broken up shortly after his passing, so I wouldn’t have an idea where to find them. I found dishes with Thor, and Odin, and Freya, and gods and goddesses I didn’t recognize, but none with the Norns on them. Unfortunately, before I could find them, one of the aforementioned kittens decided at that moment to pounce on my head and demand I refill his water bowl in this world, so I woke up before I could find the dishes.

I don’t follow a particularly Nordic variety of paganism; I don’t have any Scandanavian blood in my family that I am aware of; I’ve never felt called to the Nordic ways. So maybe it was just a dream about cooking pork and being obsessive about everything being perfect. I did mention that, right?

Considering what Darien and I both wished for on Solstice night, this may be a good thing..or it may be a bad thing…or it may be just a Thing. I’m going to watchfully wait and see. Candles are lit, and my hearth is open to any deities who would care to visit.

Blessings from the West, the land of playful winds, emerald trees, and sapphire waters tipped in ice.

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That terrible moment when….

That terrible moment when…..

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That terrible moment when….

you realize that right here, right now, you hate your characters. Not enough to stop writing them, just a real “what the hell is wrong with you people?!” moment.

It’s one of those moments where you realize you can fix the problem by virtue of the author’s “because I said so” badass superpower…..but you don’t want to, because it seems like a cowardly way out.

I reached that point today kicking around the repercussions of killing a character that is very dear to both the heroine, Aurelia, and myself. I had thoughts about invoking the DM (dungeon master) rule of “no body, no kill”, and I thought about having him actually die as a major plot point. There’s a line floating around in my head that would have involved him in one of the very very last scenes in this series, however long it turns out to be, but I am realizing that getting him to that point will cause SO many problems that I may just have to let him go.

So, one of the repercussions involved would be the establishment and resolution of a classic source of tension- a love triad. Two men in love with the same woman, who loves both of them.

This is the point where reality stepped in and smacked me one. Rarely, if ever, do these sort of things end with all three parties being satisfied with the outcome. Feelings get hurt or ignored, unintentional favoritism happens, the contests for attention or affection or outright dominance can get just out of control. Because this triad/romance is a subplot, albeit an absolutely crucial one, some kind of decision has to be made on my part.

Since this is a novel, I could wave my magical author’s quill pen and make the two guys accept each other; thereby (in my opinion) breaking the sense of reality I am attempting to create. A warrior king and a desert assassin just all of a sudden deciding to be cool with each other, particularly over a woman they both love? Yeah, that’s realistic. Next!

I could have them fight for her, or try to out-do each other in increasingly complex ways. This would devolve into a crazy mess and would probably make it nigh-impossible to get back to the main plot in any kind of natural or easily-flowing way.

I could, theoretically, have her walk away from the pair of them, though that would entirely derail the remainder of the work and effectively stop any forward progress; therefore, while it is an option, I don’t consider it a valid one.

Or I sit here and try to figure out how to make it work, though I think doing a Rubix cube while blindfolded, hanging upside down, and wearing mittens would be slightly easier at this point.

The last option is removing one point of the triad entirely, thereby removing the problem. I worry that this will lessen the emotional attachment any readers may form; I worry this will gloss over a major point for Aurelia to grow as a person and as a character. I worry this will completely eliminate a chance for my male lead to show that he is more than what he seems.

Something has to be done. Granted, this all takes place in Book II when I haven’t even finished Book I yet. But if I take out those vital insights, I need to add them in somewhere else.

That, my Lovely Readers, is my quandary. If I remove a major piece of conflict and growth, where do I replace it, and with what?

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