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Finally back in the saddle!

Medallion #1 for Karrah’s Coat

So the secret project that had consumed all of my free time is finally given – my amazing friend Karrah was elevated to the Order of the Pelican in the SCA on Labor Day weekend, and I’d volunteered to embroider the two medallions on the front of her Pelican coat. I decided to do them based on her three kitties. The one above is her boy kitty, and this picture is her two little girls.

Medallion #2 for Karrah’s Coat

They’re about a foot tall each, and it took me a lot longer than I thought it would, but seeing her face when she was presented with the coat was completely worth it. But that’s why I haven’t been around.

So today, I wrote! I sat down at Gibson’s and used The Busy Writer’s One Hour Plot by Marg McAlister to actually figure out the plot for Belladonna Dreams. It had been giving me such headaches, because I couldn’t figure out what the overall story plot WAS. WHAT was I trying to do? I had such a cool location (an abandoned mental asylum) and a really neat world idea (ghosts are real and the main character can move between the ghost plane and our plane), but no PLOT.

I now have a plot. I have a full book idea, and I’ve got enough to start writing the rough draft. I’m not trying to write every day, because I’ve got other things I’m doing as well, so Sundays are now my writing days. I’ll keep you all updated.

Oh, and btw? I’m working on several ideas. One of them involves a certain feline, a kitchen witch, and an upcoming season.

I’m not dead!

I’m sorry, folks. I’ve had a hard deadline about a project that I can’t talk about yet, but I promise that when I can, I’ll let you know. Suffice to say that my house is a mess, I haven’t written in over 2 weeks, and my WoW characters are certain I’ve abandoned them, but my #SuperSecretProject is in a spot where I don’t have to work on it until tomorrow. And it will be done on time. Hooray!

Other than that, I have been listening to some interesting podcasts on Audible (Marigold and Parkdale Haunt), and I’m working my way through Harrow the Ninth now. I’m working today on some of the background for Sapph, and I think my goal for #NaNoWriMo this year might be Belladonna Dreams. I’ve also had some realizations about writing in general that I’ll be digesting over the next few months.

Half-way there.

Beaver dam at Moss Glen Falls, Vermont

The year is half-over today (okay, technically tomorrow, but bear with me). How is that possible? It totally feels like time is just – I don’t know. Perhaps because I have some very important doctor appointments starting tomorrow, and I’m simultaneously looking forward to them and dreading them.

Tomorrow, I meet with my new doctor at the Catholic Medical Center Weight Management Program. Wednesday, I meet with my new nutritionist and my new exercise therapist. I’m sure it’s going to be hard. For all that I like planning things out in my writing, I hate logging my food, which I’m sure will be a part of it. I hate being told what I can and cannot eat. I hate having to monitor myself. But I have to do something, because my weight is too much for my frame, and my eating habits are, to be honest, shit. Ever since Brian died, I’ve pretty much stopped cooking for myself and am living on convenience foods, which sucks.

I have to relearn things. I’ve let my therapy slip too (I know, I know), and it’s not going to be easy. But I’m trying to be honest with myself and you folks, so we’ll see how it goes.

Writing-wise: I’m working on my #morningpages habit again. August is going to be the month of getting to bed on time and getting up to write my pages before work. I’m also starting the plot vomit for Dreams. This week, I need to figure out the overarching theme/question of the book, now that I’ve realized that the antagonist I thought was the focus is not. Which, I mean, I guess yay for figuring it out before the book is written?

Have a good week, folks. Take care of yourself.

Still plugging along

Look what came in! I’m very excited, and can’t wait to start reading it. My brain has been slightly mush all week (yay, heat wave!), but I’m still letting things stew, and I have some very interesting ideas for both Dreams and Falls. There are maps involved. Maps of the New England area, and of an asylum. I can’t really draw much, but I love straight lines, and maps are fun.

I’m also getting my home work station set up. My work studio does not have AC, and between the heat, the fact that it’s summer camp, so there are a LOT of people around, and my tea pot is at my house with all my tea, I needed to set things up. My monitor at home was starting to die (like, it was flickering in and out, and considering it’s a flat screen that I first got around when I got this laptop, it’s had a good life), so I went to Target and got a new setup.

My workstation at the house!

Yeah, because the laptop is older, and the video card is older, it will only run one other screen. But I have a brand-new laptop from work, so that shouldn’t be a problem. And if it is, I’ll deal with that when I need to.

Not a lot to update this week, but I wanted to make sure I was keeping up with my schedule. Also, I’m hoping to get writing morning pages this week again. It’s time.

Now, I’m going to go vacuum my living room, swap the laundry, and then start reading.

Alive, not dead

Yeah, sorry about last week. For those who follow me on Facebook, I spent last weekend and half of last week passing a kidney stone. Needless to say, there was no writing done. There was very little work done.

There was a LOT of sleeping done.

This past weekend, for the first time in 3 years (THREE YEARS) I went up to Maine for an SCA event, the Great Northeastern War. I didn’t camp (my knees and camp cots don’t work well at the moment), but I did go up for the day on Saturday, and even though I didn’t get very far into the event, I got to see people. I got to hang out in the Stonemarche camp and sew and listen to my friends talk and wear my garb and eat good food and smell campfires and just…yeah. I miss SCA. I miss being mobile enough to move around during the event, and I am DETERMINED that next year, I’m not only going to be able to move around, I might even fence. Because reasons, dammit.

There’s another reason I’m proud I went to the event. Since Covid, I’ve been having anxiety/panic attacks at being in large groups. Even outside. Even though I know my friends are vaccinated and boosted, and they are great at asking if I’m okay being hugged. It’s my brain and I’m working through it, and darnitall, I made it yesterday.

Today, I got to watch my friend Robert dance to Kate Bush on the front lawn of the State House in a red dress as a part of the Wuthering, which I had not heard of before, but was amazing. I’m hoping to join them next year. If you have a chance to do it, or even just watch it, I highly recommend it.

My writing is in kind of a dormant period. I’m reading The Ghosts of Borley Rectory as part of my Belladonna Dreams research, and I’ll be picking up Ghostology later this week as well. I’m still working on the timeline in the Horseman universe, but I definitely have some scene ideas popping into my head for the first Shanna book.

I’m starting to get creative again. Which is cool.

Coming out of hibernation

It kind of feels like that right now. I’m not going to get into the recent Roe v. Wade decision (if you follow me on Facebook, you saw the incandescent rage that is still coursing through me), but I’m going to talk about the future. About making plans. About writing.

About change.

I went to ConCarolinas the first weekend of June, and not only got to meet some amazing people, but I actually got the chance to attend some panels. I hung around with writers I hadn’t seen in a few years. I bought some new books from authors I just met, and I realized once again how much I enjoy writing. I also realized how I completely bought into the “well, if you don’t write every day and publish often and have a ton of followers on all social media, then you aren’t an author so shut up” bad ideas that I thought I’d moved beyond. It was a bit annoying to realize that the reason I hadn’t been writing was because subconsciously, I was telling myself that since I wasn’t writing every day, it didn’t matter, and well, yeah.

Bullshit.

My day job is writing and research heavy. In addition, my Crohn’s is acting up a bit, because yay stress-aggravated illness! And I’m worried about my dad. And others I know.

I’m human. I’m going to designate one weekend day a week (probably Sunday, but maybe Saturday) to be my writing/blogging day. My current goals are to have the StarChild Trilogy and the Belladonna Dreams duology (yeah, I know, I know) outlined out by the end of the year. The end goal is to be able to go part-time at my day job within 6 years, so I can write part-time. That’s what I’m working towards.

Chase your dreams, folks, but be smart about it. I can’t afford to lose my healthcare by losing my job. But I will write.

It’s a new year, Charlie Brown

I don’t want to do a look-back through 2021. There were good and bad things, and really, I don’t feel the need to revisit them. Finishing the Advent story was pretty much the only writing I finished in 2021, and I’m okay with that. In fact, that’s part of the reason I’m posting this today.

For the longest time, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be paid to sit in a coffee shop, drink way more tea than was good for me, and have the words spew from my fingertips onto my screen and then travel to sign books and in general life would be good. I mean, who wouldn’t want that, right? Doesn’t that sound like a dream come true?

Except it’s not my dream anymore. I like writing. I like sharing my stories with people. I have a good job that pays my bills and my health insurance, and I like my day job. I don’t feel the need to sell my writing anymore. I’ve been published. I’m proud of the books I’ve published. But that’s not how I want to make my living anymore.

So I guess that’s it. I’m not stopping writing. But I’m not going to chase publishing at this time. I’ll be writing mostly on the weekends, and I’ll be dropping content at Tapas under the hard to find name of vgford. I plan on uploading on Sunday nights mostly. In fact, there’s an episode up now.

I hope you all enjoy it.

Advent 2021 – December 25

December 25 – Molly

Once Jade had hung the little pirate ship, she turned back to Molly.

“Are you ready?” she asked.

Molly blinked. “Ready?”

“Yes.” Jade smiled at her. “You’re the final piece of the spell. Didn’t you realize that?”

“Is that why I’ve been seeing things?” Molly blurted out the question before she could stop it. Well, now I’ve just been found out. Crazy lady, aisle 1.

Not crazy. I saw them too. Schrodinger came up to them.

To Molly’s surprise, the rest of the Cove didn’t react. She looked around, and the crowd seemed frozen in place. Except for herself, Schrodinger, and the four magical beings on the dias.

“It’s part of it, yes,” Jade said.

“But why? And why me?”

“Because you’re very much a part of the magic of the season here. And because this year has been very hard on everyone. We needed a bit more of a boost to the wards around the Cove.” Jade held out her hand. “With your ornament, we’ll be able to settle the protections. “

Molly reached into her pocket and pulled out the small beaded ball. The green and silver beads flashed in the tree lights, reminding her of the Christmas season that Drew had managed to lift her spirits, even as he had to miss most of the Advent season.

“I couldn’t imagine choosing anything else,” Molly said. She looked past Jade to Old Man Winter. “And if it’s going to be the cornerstone of a protection spell, so much the better. This is a reminder that love really does conquer all.”

Old Man Winter smiled. “One of the many reasons you personify the heart of this town, Molly. I can’t imagine a Christmas without you. And your orange shortbread.”

Molly laughed. “You and your shortbread!”

Jade took the ornament and hung it among the others. As she did so, Molly and Schrodinger saw ribbons of silvery-white energy explode from the tree and snake out over the town they loved so much, settling into a net that covered Carter’s Cove. 

As the light faded, the world started again. Molly, Schrodinger, and Drew stepped back as Jade raised her hands. “Thank you, all,” the Snow Queen said. “May this Christmas be what your heart desires

Advent 2021 – December 24

December 24 – Drew

Drew looked at his wife fondly. “Well, shall we bring our own ornaments up?”

She took his hand. “Let’s.”

The crowd moved aside as they made their way to the tree. In a very odd way, Molly felt the entire afternoon had been building to this. She realized as they mounted the dias that she and Drew were the last two to bring up their ornaments. 

Up close, the tree was glorious. The myriad of precious ornaments that were scattered among the dark green needles and the lights glowed with more than just the fading sunlight. 

Jade looked down at them. “Saving the best for last,” she said, and although everyone could probably hear her, it felt as if it was just the three of them standing in the cool, clear air.

“Of course,” Drew said, giving her a grin. “We’re usually running a little late around this time of year.” He glanced at Molly, who nodded. The Christmas season was definitely her busy season.

“That’s not what I meant, at all,” Jade said. “But that’s not important. Do you have an ornament together?”

“No, we each brought one.” As Drew pulled his ornament out, to Molly’s surprise, the grey wrapped around her. For some reason, she’d thought that the visions would end when she and Drew went up.

She didn’t recognize the room that she stood in when the grey cleared. It was small, dimly lit by the lights that twinkled golden in the small tree that sat on a trunk covered with a white and red velvet cloth. The ornaments on the tree were blown glass and looked old.

Seated in a wingback chair was an older woman with long golden hair and deep amber eyes. Molly recognized her instantly as Phoebe, Drew’s grandmother.

As she watched, a small boy ran in from the hallway, his curly brown hair dusted with snow. “Grandma Phoebe! It’s Christmas Eve!”

“It is, my darling,” Phoebe said, pulling the boy onto her lap. “And you know what that means, right?”

Drew (and Molly realized he must be only 5 or 6, before his parents had died) nodded. “Santa will come on the pirate ship tonight!”

“Indeed!” Phoebe wiggled her long fingers at the tree, and golden light flowed from her fingertips. It rolled like lazy waves over to the tree, and a pirate ship bedecked with lights stirred from its hanger. It sailed over to Drew on the golden waves, and he smiled.

“And then, Grandma? After he brings the presents?”

“Then, my love, he will offer one special child the chance to sail with him until the sun rises.” Phoebe laid her cheek against Drew’s curls.

“Do you think I might go again?”

“I don’t know,” Phoebe said. “Perhaps one day, if you’re very good, you’ll get to go back and sail with him again.”

Molly blinked, astonished, and then she was back at the tree, watching Drew hand over the small pirate ship. “Because dreams do come true,” he said. “It just may take a while.”

Advent 2021 – December 23

December 23 – Schrodinger

I think it’s my turn.

Before Molly could respond, Schrodinger had trotted up to the tree. The CrossCat had carried his own ornament in a small bag that he now set at Jade’s feet.

The Snow Queen smiled down at him. “I can’t wait to see what you’ve chosen,” Jade said.

It was hard, Schrodinger admitted. It’s odd, because really, I’ve only been celebrating Christmas since I came to the Cove, at least in this way. We celebrated the Solstice in the lair, mostly because it is when the young kits are elevated to adult status. But Christmas- this is a uniquely human celebration, and one I can’t imagine going without now.

“You’ve become very cosmopolitan, ” Jade teased him gently. “I can’t imagine what your clan must think of your adventures. You must be quite the hero to them.”

The CrossCat snorted. More likely I’m a cautionary tale. Most CrossCats get farther than their first stop on their initial solo journey. 

“You wandered until you found home. Isn’t that what the journey is about?”

Yes. And that’s why I chose the ornament I did. He nudged open the bag and Molly was once again wrapped in grey.

When it cleared, she was back in the second floor apartment she and Schrodinger had shared when he had first come to Carter’s Cove, before she and Drew had gotten married and bought the farm. It had had a cozy living room, and she saw herself and Schrodinger sitting on the old sofa, lit only by the lights from their Christmas tree. 

“I brought you a present today,” Past-Molly said to the CrossCat snoozing next to her. His ears perked up as she handed him a small gift bag.

I thought we couldn’t open presents until Christmas Day!

Past-Molly laughed. “Usually, but this is a special present for you to open now.”

Scrodinger dipped his nose into the bag, moving aside tissue paper to pull out the small handpainted ornament she’d had specially made for him.

A large cat that looked like Schrodinger was perched on a snowbank, with a Santa hat on its head. Below in the snow were the words “Schrodinger’s First Christmas.”

When her eyes cleared again, Molly was back in the crowd, watching as the ornament was placed into the tree.
It was the first of many amazing Christmases with my chosen family, Schrodinger said, looking over at Molly and Drew. And I will echo what was said before: this is a place that welcomes everyone in, and makes them realize that home is the people and places you carry in your heart