(writing) Musings on writing

I’ve been doing morning pages for five days now over on www.750words.com and I’m starting to see the results already.  Morning pages are something that Julia Cameron talks about in The Artist’s Way, which I highly recommend – basically, it’s a brain dump of writing, just writing anything for 15 minutes, or 3 pages, or (in this case) 750 words.  The big thing is that you don’t stop writing.  No self-censoring, no changing things and no stopping.  It’s very good for getting the garbage out before you write.

Today, while I was writing, I saw a commercial for Jif peanut butter.  Really.  It’s a father and his daughter building a tree house for her.  And I realized that my dream writing place, the place I would build if I had unlimited funds, would be a tree house.

A little two-room tree house (the main room and a bathroom – trust me, I would need a bathroom.), with stairs, not a ladder, leading up to the front door.  Wide, spiral steps, to a front door with a cat door put into it. In the main room, there will be a braided rug on the floor.  A small wood stove in one corner will keep me warm in the winter.   Next to the wood stove is a comfy chair with a reading lamp and a cozy crocheted blanket.  A small table is next to it, perfect for a cup of tea and a sandwich.  My desk is across the room – not a huge desk, just big enough.  Under a window, so I can look out.  Of course, there is electricity and internet.  It’s perfect.

I’m totally giving this room to one of my characters – I’m not sure which one yet, but someday, if you read a description of a tree house, you’ll know where it came from.

So, here’s a question for you – if you had unlimited funds, what would YOUR perfect writing spot be?

(goals/recap) In with the new, out with the old

2012 is here.  2011 has left.  While it wasn’t as bad a year for me as it was for some of my friends, I’m not sorry to see it go.  It’s a new year, and that means a chance to look at what I’ve done in the past year, and what will be happening in the future.

Looking back at my livejournal, I see I didn’t have any goals set for 2011 (or if I did, I can’t find them).  But I did accomplish a few things:

1. Finished and turned in Last Rites (Dark Horseman #3)

2. Put together Spells and Swashbucklers (the sequel to Rum and Runestones, which is getting turned in very soon)

3. Self-published Snow (a Dark Horseman Novella) at the end of December

4. Won NaNoWriMo for the first time!

Not a bad year.  I didn’t really track my number of words, but it was pretty impressive for me.

Now, to 2012.  I have goals.  And this year, this is what I will accomplish.  First, the writing goals:

1. Finish the untitled Dark Horseman Christmas story (which may become a novella, not sure).

2. Finish and sub the first Sapph novella.

3. Write the rough draft of my Secret Project Novel.

4. Finish the six-episode arc of Tales of the Scorned Lady.

5. Write the rough draft of The Strange Disappearance of Santa Claus.

6. Write 250 words of fiction every day.

7. Morning pages (over at 750words.com) every day.

Then, the health goals:

1. I will exercise 30 minutes every day, whether it be on the Wii or at the gym.  No excuses.

2. I will modify my lifestyle and the food I eat, without giving up all the foods I love.

3. I will walk/run to Rivendell by the end of the year.

Finally, the life goals:

1. I will declutter my house by December 31st, 2012.

2. I will get my finances under control by June 30th, 2012.

3. I will enjoy life more in 2012.

The last one is really important to me.  I don’t want to be just another drone – I want to live life, even if I live it on a budget.  Walks in the park cost nothing.  Reading in the sunshine costs nothing.  Sitting by a stream with a fishing pole and breathing in clean air costs nothing (don’t need a license if you don’t have hooks on your line!).

I’ll be keeping track of my books read over at Goodreads (I’m captain_hobbes over there, if you want to add me), and I’ve got a spiffy new word count spreadsheet (thank you, DC!).  No word count goals this year.  I just want to see what I can do.

I write slowly, but I will write.  Because that’s what I do.

(personal) Christmas wrap-up


Yeah, it’s the obligatory “Here’s what I got for Christmas!” post. But I really want to share!


I was so lucky this year – my family listened to what I wanted, and what I didn’t know I wanted but did, and I got a ton of stuff that I’ll actually use this upcoming year. I am really, really blessed by my family.


Hubby got me Scrivener for Christmas (actually, the week before Christmas), which is awesome! I’m really enjoying it, and think it will help me in the future with keep projects on track. I also got some lovely pens from hubby and from my sister-in-law, which I will be using to write by hand. I love writing longhand (I know, I’m weird), and I think I might be doing more letter writing this year. I’m contemplating it, anyways. And I LOVE pens.


I also got a lot of gifts to help me continue my healthy lifestyle. Hubby got me a new water bottle and a water resistant watch for the pool, and running socks! Mom gave me a hand-held stick blender, and a slow cooker cookbook with lots of healthy, easy recipes. My brother-in-law gave me a Best Buy gift card, which I think is going to be used for Just Dance! For my Wii. Hubby also got me a gift card that I will be using for a swim cap, new goggles and maybe a waterproof case for my iPod. I haven’t decided yet. I need a good case for my Touch for running. Because oh yes, there will be running again this year. Even if it’s just on the treadmill. There WILL be running.


My mom did a lot of shopping at craft fairs this year – I’d asked for local gifts, and she came through in a big way. Today, I’m wearing a lovely handpainted brooch with a tall ship on it (shocking, right? I know, me!) that she got me, and I’ve got a lovely ornament too. So many pretty things! And the best? They’re all things I’ll use, and most were locally made. Which means sustainable! Yay!


I’ve already got plans for next year too. Yeah, we start early in my household. It’s genetic (I swear my mother is done by August or something like that).


I hope you had a lovely Christmas too. Mine was perfect. What did you get for Christmas?

(writing) A Christmas Gift for you – Chapter 1 of The Strange Disappearance of Santa Claus

Merry Christmas!  The Christmas story I’d planned to post (the Starchild one) is growing into a novella (I know, shocking), so instead, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at the first chapter of the Schrodinger novel.  Yes, I’m still calling it The Strange Disappearance of Santa Claus – the concept is changing a bit, but I think it will be fun.  I hope you enjoy it!


The Strange Disappearance of Santa Claus


Author’s note: This is essentially a reboot of the Carter’s Cove universe that I featured in the last Advent Blog story. I’m reworking the universe in preparation for a novel I want to sell. So some things will be the same, and some will be different. What happened last year was not canon. This is. I hope you enjoy it the same, if not more!


Chapter 1.


“Schrodinger? Where are you, cat?”


Molly Barrett paused at the door to her apartment and looked back towards the bedroom. A large soft cooler sat at her feet, and she held her keys in her hands. One foot tapped impatiently.


“Come on, cat!” she said again, when said cat did not appear. “What are you doing?”


Coming! I’m coming!


True to his word, Schrodinger came bounding out of the bedroom bare seconds later, brown eyes bright. I’m ready! He skidded to a halt in front of her, and Molly had to laugh.


Schrodinger was a CrossCat, one of the odd breed of medium-sized cats that had come to Carter’s Cove via one of the interdimensional Roads that gave the town its main industry. No one knew where the Roads had come from: the theories were as numerous as the scientists and mages who created them, and truth be told, it was really only the academics who cared. The Roads simply were, and for Molly, that was good enough. Especially since the Roads had gifted her with her best friend.


CrossCats were rare beasts indeed, even in a Crossroads town like Carter’s Cove. Her particular CrossCat looked like a small lynx, even down to the brown spots on his tan coat, the black tufts of fur on his pointed ears, and his stub of a tail. But he weighed just shy of 30 pounds, the perfect weight to be carried if he so chose, and was frighteningly intelligent. Quite possibly more intelligent than was good for him, and he’d already proved that on more than one occasion since he’d come to live with Molly. But he made life interesting, and even though it had only been a few months since she’d come home to find him on her doorstep, Molly couldn’t imagine life without him.


She still didn’t know why he’d chosen her. He had to have made the choice himself; it didn’t make any sense that he’d been gifted, although Schrodinger himself had said that he was here because he’d been sent to her. By who, he didn’t know, or said he didn’t. Molly had her suspicions, but no actual proof.


What she had, she’d discovered, was a telepathic cat with a penchant for mischief, a taste for Earl Grey tea and murder mystery novels (preferably British), and an insatiable curiosity. That curiosity had already gotten him in to trouble more than once, but Schrodinger also had a knack for winning people over. It might have been the purr; lord knows Molly herself was a sucker for it.


Now, he posed in front of her, and Molly shook her head. “Where did you get that?”


A small red Santa hat, perfectly sized for the Cat, perched jauntily on his head. Sue gave it to me, he said smugly. She thought I’d like to be festive.


“I’m sure.” Molly picked up her cooler. “It’s adorable.”


Handsome, Schrodinger corrected her. Adorable is for babies and kittens.


“Handsome,” she amended, although privately she thought that he was going to be hearing adorable quite a bit that day. “Ready to go?”


In answer, he trotted out the door, waiting for her at the bottom of the steps while she locked up. Outside, the air was crystal clear, and the stars shimmered in a black velvet sky. Molly took a deep breath of the still morning; at 6 am, most of the town still slumbered. She shouldered her cooler and they started walking towards Crosswinds Books.


As she trudged along the predawn streets of the town, Molly’s thoughts drifted back to the cards she’d gotten the day before. One thing good about Christmas: all the yearly letters from her classmates, letting her know what they were doing. And they were all doing something. One was off in New York, getting ready to open a new bistro; another was in Phoenix, cooking for some star chef. All her classmates were somewhere busier than here, and Molly sometimes wondered what it would be like to be in a place that never slept.


Then, as always, she looked around the small town that she’d been born in, and realized that she’d never fit in anywhere else. The four years she’d spent at Johnson and Wales had been bearable only because of the fact that she could come home every other weekend. It was true: Crossroads kids didn’t leave their towns. At least, not the ones with any talent.


“Besides,” she’d said to her mother last week, while helping plan the family party, “Who else would run the tea shop if I weren’t here?”


“I’m sure Marge could find someone,” Abigail Barrett had replied.


“But they wouldn’t be as good,” Molly had said, and there hadn’t been a counter to that. It wasn’t hubris – just truth. Molly’s particular talents lay in the area of baking: she could tell with just a touch what a particular recipe needed, and how to make the best of any ingredients. She’d sailed through her baking and cooking classes, and then, to everyone’s surprise at the college, she’d turned down all the offers tendered to her, and returned to the small town of Carter’s Cove, perched on the Maine coast, to open a tea shop.


Molly and Schrodinger walked in near silence, listening to the town and the sea breathe around them. The snow was deep; there had been another Nor’easter two days ago that had dumped another six inches on top of the foot they’d gotten Thanksgiving weekend. Barring a freak heat wave, it would definitely be a white Christmas. This early in the morning, you could still hear the waves murmuring on the beach, and occasionally the mournful cry of a sea bird would ghost in on the slight breeze.


They turned right onto the main road, and Molly paused as a police car slowed down. Police Sergeant Jamie Carter, one of the descendents of the original Captain Carter who had discovered the Cove, leaned over his passenger seat and called out of the open window, “What’s the special today, Molly?”


“Peppermint snowmen,” she replied, leaning in.


“Ooh, Sarah’s favorite!” He grinned. “Save me a few?”




Sarah? Schrodinger propped his feet up on the side of the squad car, and Jamie chuckled at the sight of him.


“Yes, I’ll bring her by. She’ll want to see your new finery!”


Do you think she’ll like it? Schrodinger asked.


“I think she’ll love it.” Jamie looked back up at Molly. “Any more problems at the store?”


She shook her head. “Not that I’ve seen. Luckily. The last thing any of us need is issues with travelers at this time of year.”


“Agreed,” Jamie said, and then his radio blasted a bit of static, shockingly loud in the quiet of the morning.


“Hey, Jamie, where are you?” Deirdre’s voice, slightly distorted, came out of the dashboard speaker. He rolled his eyes and picked up his receiver.


“Talking to Molly and Schrodinger down the road from Crosswinds Books,” he said.


“Hi Molly! Hi Schrodinger!” Deirdre said. “Hey, is it too late to order one of your apple spice cakes for tomorrow night? Dennis forgot to tell me he needed something for his holiday potluck party, and I’m working overtime today and tomorrow.”


“Not at all,” Molly said, as Jamie held the receiver out to her. “Did you want to come pick it up today at the store, or should I bring it down to the station?”


“I’ll pick it up,” Deirdre said, and then chuckled. “The only way I’d trust it here is if you padlocked the box, and then not even!”


“Why, Deirdre, don’t you trust us?” Jamie teased.


“Around Molly’s apple spice cake? About as far as I can throw you,” Deirdre retorted.


“Is there a reason you called me?” he asked. “Or did you just want to make an order?”


“Can you get out to the west end of town, by MacCrillis Road?” she said. “We’re getting a call about some noise. Lisa Newton called and said it sounded like someone was murdering cats in the woods behind the barn.”


“Lovely. I’ll go check it out,” he replied, and Molly and Schrodinger stepped back. “Save me some cookies, Molly!”


And then he was gone, the squad car sliding quietly down the road.


Molly and Schrodinger resumed their stroll up to the bookstore, but her mind was on the conversation, and the memories it had stirred up.


She shouldn’t be surprised, she thought, that Jamie had brought up the incident. It still bothered her, and as she unlocked the door to Crosswinds Books, Molly found herself looking around, even thought she and Schrodinger were the only ones on the street.


I would let you know if anyone was around, Schrodinger said quietly. Especially now.


“I know,” she said, and motioned him inside. “It’s stupid, really. They sent the guy back to his own realm, after all.”


It’s not stupid. Schrodinger stopped next to her, and put one soft paw on her pant leg. He was scary.


He had been. Tall, broad-shouldered – and incredibly rude, both to Molly and to Margie. And disruptive; he’d chased two patrons from the store with his loud demands to Molly for free food. She had finally asked him to leave. When he’d refused, Margie had called the police.


It had been settled quickly enough, with no violence, but it had still unnerved Molly. People just weren’t like that in the Cove.


“We’re sheltered,” she told Schrodinger, resetting the alarm after she’d locked the front door again. Margie wouldn’t be in until 8 am to start her own opening routine. “No one from the Cove would have acted like that.”


That’s because you’re taught manners, Schrodinger said, leading her into the kitchen. Sadly, some villages aren’t.


“True.” Molly set the cooler on the kitchen island, and then started her morning routine: hanging her coat in the pantry, slipping off her boots and sliding her feet into warm slippers, lighting the fire in the tea room wood stove, turning her ovens on and putting the kettle on. Her personal stash of tea lived in a box in the pantry, right next to Schrodinger’s Earl Grey; she retrieved a ceramic tea pot, two tea bags, Schrodinger’s mug and her own favorite mug and carried them out to the island. Then, as the water heated and the ovens warmed, Molly pulled out packets of chilled dough and began to roll them out. Peppermint dough, which she cut into circles and assembled into snowmen.


The kettle whistled. Molly paused in her cookie-making to pour water in her tea pot and into the mug. Her tea went into the pot; Schrodinger’s Earl Grey went into his mug, which she set down on the floor in front of him. He flopped down, large paws on either side of the sturdy ceramic vessel, and inhaled the steam eagerly.


Molly laughed. “You are so weird sometimes, Cat.”


Because I enjoy the aroma of a sublime drink? Schrodinger raised an eyebrow at her. Heathen.


“Hardly,” she said, leaning over to inhale the steam from her own drink. “But most cats do not make a production out of their tea drinking.”


And how many cats do you know that drink tea?


“Touché.” The ovens beeped, indicating they were preheated; Molly slid the first couple of trays into them and then settled onto one of the stools. After a moment, she poured herself a cup of tea and sat enjoying the silence.


Even the silence couldn’t stop her from thinking about the disruptive stranger though. Molly shook her head. “Get over it, Barrett,” she muttered, and reached over to the small radio that sat on the edge of the island. The strains of “Silent Night” flooded the kitchen.


The morning passed in a flood of visitors and baking. Besides Deirdre’s cake, Molly had several other special orders to fill for the next two days, and her kitchen (so by extension, the entire store) was filled with the sweet smells of baking.


Margie Barrett swept in after the lunch rush, all smiles.


“I take it it’s been a good day?” Molly said, setting a cup of tea in front of her aunt as the older woman sank down on a stool.


“It’s been an amazing season so far,” Margie said, her hazel eyes alight with pleasure. “So many books flying off the shelves! Thank heavens we live in a community that loves to read. Civilization. And no more disruptive jerks, like yesterday.” She sipped her tea, then looked up at her niece. “What, no cakes left?”


“I was just getting you a slice,” Molly said, turning from the counter with a thick slice of peppermint chocolate cake on a delicate china plate. “I’m testing a new recipe, so be honest.”


Margie picked up her fork eagerly, cutting a large bite and putting it in her mouth. Molly held her breath, hoping. She didn’t usually make duds, but there was always a chance…


Not this time, apparently. Her aunt’s eyes widened as the fluffy cake melted on her tongue, and Margie made a sound that was half groan, half moan and all bliss.


“I take it I should keep this one, huh?” Molly said, her mouth quirking into a sideways smile. Margie nodded, unable to speak around the second forkful in her mouth. “Good to know.”


“Need a second opinion?” came a hopeful voice, and Molly looked over to see Drew Travers standing in the doorway.


“Of course!” she replied, motioning him in. “I know how hard it is working up at the Gate Station, how they never feed you guys.” Her teasing tone masked the little jump her heart had taken when she’d seen him standing there.


Not that I’m the only one, Molly thought, giving him a generous slice of cake and a smile as he claimed the chair next to Margie. Drew had been the topic of much sighing and discussion among the single ladies in the Cove since he’d moved into town from Boston nearly a year ago. Then again, with his broad shoulders, deep blue eyes and ready smile, not to mention the fact that he showed every sign of being willing to live in the Cove and not move on as soon as his current contract with the Gate Station was up, it wasn’t hard to see why they pined for him. Sadly, he hadn’t seemed interested in any of them, as far as she could tell.


“That’s why we always look forward to two things,” he replied. “Coming into town and seeing you come up our drive with a smile and a basket of goodies.”


“Flatterer,” she said. “Tea?”


“Yes, please. Just black, if you have it – I’ve got a long shift tonight. All-nighter.” He winked at Margie. “Gotta keep my strength up for that.”


She laughed and pushed her plate back before standing up. “Ah, to be young again. My days of all-nighters are long gone. However, this store won’t run itself, so I’d better get going.” Margie paused at the door to the kitchen. “Don’t forget, Molly, we’re open longer hours next week.”


Molly nodded. “Yep, I’m already planning to bake up a storm this weekend. And Sue has next week off due to the museum renovations, so she’s agreed to come in and help me.”


“Oh good. I’ll make note of it in the budget.” Margie waved away Molly’s protest before it could escape her lips. “I know you, girl. You were planning on splitting your check with her. No way. I can afford a temp salary for her for a week.” Margie sailed out, shutting the door firmly on any other protests.


Drew chuckled. “Do you ever win an argument with her?”


“No, not really.” Molly refilled the three tea kettles on the stove. “Especially ones I don’t really want to. And this will make Sue happy – the museum wasn’t going to pay her at all for next week.”


“Even though they told her not to come in.” Drew shook his head. “Budget woes suck.”


“Yeah, well, new roofs aren’t cheap,” Molly pointed out. “And she’s really not needed.”




The kitchen fell into a companionable silence then, as Drew continue to enjoy his cake and Molly started measuring dry ingredients for yet another gingerbread house. WCOV, the Cove’s very own radio station, had segued to instrumental Christmas carols for the day, and the plaintive cry of a harp wove through the muted sounds of the shoppers in the store. Crosswinds Books had two floors, and Molly knew how full it could get, especially during the Christmas season.


“So, you’re pulling an all-nighter, and yet you’re down in my kitchen,” she said finally, as Drew put his fork on the empty plate.


“Running messages,” he said, cupping his hands around his tea mug. “I pulled the short straw today, considering how cold it is out.”


“It’s December, in Maine,” Molly said. “What did you expect?”


“Raised in Boston,” he reminded her. “I knew what to expect. But the wind is really vicious today.”


“And they didn’t give you the snowmobile?” Molly added cream and eggs to the batter and began to beat it with a wooden spoon. The Gate Station sometimes had actual messages come through without couriers, and so the techs had to deliver them around the town. Carter’s Cove, being connected by both the Roads and the Sea Roads, got a lot of traffic in and out.


“They did,” Drew said. “That makes it even colder.”


She took pity on him and refilled his tea cup. “Where are you headed after here?”


Drew frowned. “Good question. Let me look.” He’d hung his coat up on the rack as he’d come in; now he got up and went over, rummaging in the inner pockets until he found his tablet. “Let’s see. Besides here, I need to hit the mine, the Connellys’ Inn, and Roxane’s.”


“Here?” Molly blinked. “I thought you just stopped in to warm up.”


Drew smiled at her. “I’ll always be willing to do that. But I really did have something to deliver.” He went back into his coat and pulled out a long, slim white envelope that glittered slightly in the kitchen light, as if it were dusted with snowflakes. “This came in for you last night.”


Molly took the envelope gingerly and turned it over in her hands, wondering what she’d done to deserve this. The envelope was unmistakable, the rich paper soft and faintly cool to the touch, like fine silk left in the snow. Only the Snow Queen sent messages wrapped in envelopes like that. And then she blinked. The letter was addressed to Mistress Molly Barrett and Master Schrodinger.


She pushed past Drew and leaned out into the tea room. As usual, Schrodinger was dozing next to the wood stove, his Santa hat down over one ear and the stub of his tail moving in time to the music. Molly started to call over to him, then changed her mind; there were a few patrons in the tea room, all reading, and she didn’t want to call too much attention to herself. Instead, she ducked back into the kitchen, laid the envelope on the island, and then grabbed a kettle of water. She walked out into the tea room and circulated through the tables, offering hot water to the patrons. As she passed the stove, Molly said quietly, “Hey, Schrodinger, Drew’s in the kitchen. Want to come in and say hello?”


Mrmph? Schrodinger opened one eye sleepily. Do I have to?


“He brought us a letter.”


That brought the Cat’s head up quickly. A letter? From who?


“Come into the kitchen and find out.” Molly paused to look around again, making sure that no one needed anything, and then went back into the kitchen, Schrodinger hot on her heels.


Hi Drew! There was no trace of sleepiness in Schrodinger’s eyes or voice now, as he hopped up on the other stool. Who did we get a letter from?


“Hi Schrodinger!” There was another piece of cake on Drew’s plate; Molly gave him a look, which he returned innocently. “It just appeared there, I swear.”


“Sure it did.” Molly returned the kettle to the stove and turned the flames down under the other two. Then she wiped off her hands and picked up the envelope again.


There was a single silver snowflake seal on the back, holding the flap down. It shattered into a thousand small shimmering bits of wax as she slid her finger underneath the envelope’s flap, and Molly drew out the parchment inside. She laid the envelope aside and unfolded the letter.


“To Molly and Schrodinger, greetings,” she read aloud. “I hope this finds you well, and I look forward to seeing you at my ball. I know this is a busy time of year, but I was hoping that you could help me with a small thing. Please, come out to my castle tomorrow and have tea with me. I would like to discuss this favor in person. Yours, Jade, Mistress of the Snows, Queen of the North.” She looked up. “I never knew her name.”


“Well, not many people use it.” Drew looked at them. “What on earth could she want you guys to do?”


“I don’t know,” Molly said slowly, putting the letter down and going over to the wall. She pressed the small button up by the coat rack; it flashed a light up at the register, letting whoever was up there know that Margie was needed in the kitchen. It was a simple way for Molly to get in touch with her aunt without alerting the entire store. Then she turned back to Drew. “I’m hoping she doesn’t want me to bake for the ball – I’m not sure I’ll have time, but how do I say no if that’s what she asks me?”


The Snow Queen had lived in the realm next to Carter’s Cove for as long as Molly had been alive, and for as long as the Cove had existed as a town, some said. She never seemed to age, and every year, the Saturday before Christmas, she threw a grand ball that the entire town attended, held in a glade on the outskirts of town. The Snow Queen’s Ball was one more point of magic in the town, one more thing that set Carter’s Cove apart from the rest of the world. For most of the year, the Snow Queen was rarely seen – some said she was a faery, tied to her own realm except for that one day of the year. But others whispered she was an old goddess, a protector of the area, and just chose not to have much to do with the town. Molly had never personally met her, although she’d seen her at the Ball, of course.


This is not good, Schrodinger said quietly, and both Molly and Drew looked at him, surprised. Not good at all.


“What do you mean, Cat?” Molly asked.


When the CrossCat looked at her, there was none of his usual excitement in his eyes. If the Mistress of the Snows has asked for us to come and do a favor for her, there is something very wrong. She does not need someone to bake for her. This is something that she cannot deal with, and if that’s the case, then we should all be worried.


“Worried?” Molly swallowed, wondering if he was right. She’d never seen Schrodinger this somber, not in the six months he’d been with her.


“What are we worried about?” Margie asked, coming into the kitchen. “I don’t really want to worry about anything, but if we have to be, at least I’d like to know why.”


Molly handed her the letter, and Margie read it, her eyebrows creeping up into her graying brown hair. “Well, I guess you’d better bake now then.”


“I beg your pardon?” Molly said, looking at her aunt.


“Bake now,” Margie repeated. “So that whoever I can find to cover the tea room tomorrow afternoon while you go out has plenty of things to serve.” She looked at Molly. “You weren’t planning on just leaving me with nothing, were you?”


“I…uh, hadn’t gotten that far, actually.” Molly ran one hand through her hair distractedly. “I’m still processing the whole going to have tea with the Snow Queen thing.”


Schrodinger jumped down off the stool and shook his head, knocking the Santa hat off. I’ll be back, he said, and then padded out of the room before anyone could respond. His tail flicked once, and then he disappeared, right before he hit the door.


Molly sank down onto the stool he’d been sitting on. “Wow, he’s really upset. He never just flashes out like that.”


“I wasn’t aware he could,” Drew said, looking back to where the Cat had been. “Can all CrossCats do that?”


“I don’t know.” Molly shrugged. “He can, but he’s the only CrossCat I know. And when I asked him about it, he just looked at me like I had three heads and asked me why I wanted to know. I think he forgets sometimes that we’re a bit more limited than he is.” She frowned. “I wonder what he knows about the Snow Queen that we don’t, though. He looked seriously worried.”


Drew got up and put his dishes in the sink. “Well, I don’t know, but I’ve got to go, before Mack sends out a search party for me.” He tipped his head towards Molly and Margie. “Ladies.”


Once he was gone, Margie looked over at Molly. “What are you thinking, girl?”


“Hmm?” Molly had been staring at the door, running over the ingredients in her kitchen and what she could make up that would be easy to do large quantities of. Normally, she baked throughout the day, so things weren’t stale, and she really had only six tables, but…


“Earth to Molly.” Margie waved her hand in front of her niece’s face. “I said, what are you thinking?”


“Trying to figure out what I can make tonight that I can leave.” Molly got up and started back towards the walk-in fridge. “I think I have stuff for brownies, and I can frost them. Maybe scones? I was going to do scones anyways…” Her voice trailed off as she started to pull ingredients out.


“No, I meant about Drew.”


“I beg your pardon?” Molly leaned out of the walk-in, giving her aunt a puzzled frown. “What should I do about him?”


Margie shook her head. “You, my dear child, are a dunce. An adorable one, and one I love, but seriously. Why do you think he was hanging around in here?”


“Because he had a letter to deliver, it was cold and I had chocolate cake?” Molly went back into the fridge again, looking for the buttermilk. “Honestly, I think you’re seeing things that aren’t there. Drew hasn’t been interested in anyone here that way. We’re just friends.”


“And is that all you want?”


“Why are we suddenly having this conversation?” Molly asked, coming out with eggs and buttermilk. She set them on the counter and looked at her aunt, who was suddenly very interested in studying her fingernails. “It’s not like…oh, Aunt Margie, please tell me you haven’t been talking to my mother again!”


“We’re sisters, we do talk,” Margie said. “And honestly, Molly, it’s rude not to invite him to Christmas Eve, he hasn’t got anywhere else to go.”


Molly pulled out several bowls and began measuring flour. “Uh-huh.”


“And we hate to see you lonely.”


“Uh-huh.” Molly shook her head. “Just try not to be too obvious when you play matchmaker, okay? I’d like to keep his friendship, at least.”


Schrodinger hadn’t shown up by the time Molly left the bookstore, which was a bit worrying. Not that the Cat couldn’t take care of himself, but the abrupt way he’d left and the fact that he hadn’t come back made Molly wonder just what he was doing, and why. What was so unsettling about an invite to tea?


Except, of course, for the fact that it came from the Snow Queen.

(books) Finally, the ebook of Snow is available again!

Yep, I’ve finally gotten it up! You can get Snow for a mere $0.99 for the month of December (it might go up after that, but I haven’t really decided) in all formats, DRM-free!

And for those who want more goodies for those new Kindles, Nooks or smartphones that you’re all getting for Christmas, you can check out all my books in e-form on both Amazon and Nook. Links, you ask? Links, I say!

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble

And what do I want for Christmas? If you’re feeling generous, I’d LOVE a review! Please!


(holiday) Happy Hannukah!

Happy Hannukah, everyone! Tonight we light the first candle and remember the miracle of the menorah in the Temple.

And this is why I wish people Happy Holidays – because I personally celebrate more than one, dammit!

image courtesy of Hellokids.com

(Why yes, the entire “War on Christmas” nonsense pisses me off just a little, can you tell?)

(to-do) It’s a Busy Sunday!

It is indeed, and I want to make sure that I know what it is I need to do. Lots of baking, and cleaning, and cooking and stuff! Also, writing and formatting (although that will be later tonight, when I’m on the big computer.) So, I’m doing a list here to make sure that I have everything in front of me.

To-Do on a busy Sunday:
– bake molasses cookies
– bake cranberry-orange muffins
– make latkes for dinner
– balance checkbook
– do budget
– 750 words/morning pages
– food plan
– scroll list for Birka updates
– wash scarves/mittens and block
– find circular knitting needles
– find new knitting project
– exercise

There, that’s a good list. I want to finish the Snow formatting too, but that might not happen, since I need to be upstairs for that. OTOH, I need to do knitting stuff that can be done upstairs later.

(writing/health) Exercise your body, not just your pen

Following up on Tuesday’s post about sick days – the other side of that coin is that writers tend to be hard on their bodies. Sadly, the image of Hemingway or Capote drunk and spinning brilliance out of the bottle is a romantic myth that our profession can’t seem to shake. And it’s an old one: think Poe, for example. Drugs and drink (mostly drink, I think) seems to run as rampant through writing as it seems to run through the music/acting industry. But it doesn’t have to.

Most of the writers I know are actually trying to keep themselves in relatively decent shape, but it’s not an easy battle. Writing is a sedentary job. You sit, and you type. I know Gail Carriger has a walking desk, but I don’t know how prevalent they are. For most of us, we’re on our butts at least 1-2 hours a day, to write. Not counting our day jobs. And that is not conducive to being healthy.

There are as many ways to get healthier as there are writers. I’ve had folks swear by the Eowyn Challenge (which I really want to pick up again), and some are doing Couch-to-5k. A couple do Zumba, or walk – Nathan Lowell has an awesome podcast that he does just about every morning while he does the 2nd mile of his morning walk. The big point is, we’re all trying to stay healthy, so we can write longer. And write more.

Point being? Don’t neglect yourself. Move just a bit, every day, and keep yourself healthy. You’ll find it helps your writing too, because your head will be clearer. And yes, I’m trying to do my own part. I’ve posted before about my struggles with weight loss, and I’m sure I’ll be posting again. Maybe I should add days exercised to my tracking stuff for next year. Maybe.

Right now, I’ve pulled my Wii out, and will be committing to 30 minutes of Wii Sports and/or Resort every day for the next 30 days. I can do this. I’m also over on Lose it! as captain_hobbes, if you’re interested. It’s a great little program to help

What about you? What are you doing to exercise? And if you have any suggestions for Wii games (I don’t have a Fit, just the regular Wii), let me know!

I’ve been bad about keeping up on things, which is why I failed to notice that both Dark Moon Seasons and Rum and Runestones have joined Not Your Father’s Horseman on the Kindle! So if you want a cool present for someone, there are three! For that new Kindle Fire that I know you want to get them. 😀 You’re welcome. (I’ll have links on the website very soon, I hope – gotta work on that this weekend!)

(writing) Writers don’t get sick days.

Yesterday, I was sick. Really sick. Like, running a fever and wanting only to sleep most of the day sick. And I did sleep until about 2:30 pm. Then I dragged myself out of bed, and downstairs.

My cousin in law (or ex-cousin-in-law, I guess) posted that she didn’t know how I could be writing when I was sick at home with a fever. Well, that’s because if I don’t write, stuff doesn’t get written. Stuff that’s not written can’t be bought, either by an editor/agent, or by anyone if I choose to self-pub the work. And no one else can write the story that I’m working on. Not because I’m that damn good – I’m not that egotistical. Sure, someone else could take the same plot points, same characters, and write a good story. *Hey, that could be a cool idea for some time – an anthology, maybe. Remember this, Val.* But it wouldn’t be my story. It wouldn’t be the same story that I’m going to tell.

So unless I’m hallucinating (and sometimes not even then, because dude, I can write on just about anything, up to and including my shower wall with Sharpies when inspiration strikes while I’m washing my hair), I will be at least attempting to write. Now, what I wrote yesterday was basically brain dump. I got my 750 words on 750words.com and that’s about it. But the important thing is that I wrote. I’m getting into the habit of writing every day, and that doesn’t allow for sick days. Now, obviously, if I’m vomiting up my toenails, I’m probably not writing. And no one is going to get on my case right now if I don’t write every day, except me. (If I’m on deadline, that’s a different story.) It’s all about the discipline.

Whenever I get into feeling that I don’t want to write, I’m too sick to write, waah, waah, waah, I’m on fire, put me out (as my friend Kate would say), I look to writers like Jay Lake (who is still writing as he deals with recurring cancer), or Sir Terry Pratchett, as he deals with Alzheimer’s. Are these extreme cases? Absolutely. However, they are still both my heroes, simply because they are dealing with extreme cases.

The long and the short of it is, just because you don’t feel like writing because you’re sick, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try to get words in. Even if you delete them all the next day. Or all you did was brain dump.

At least you wrote.

(blog post) Just a note

Due to illness, the blog post will be delayed until this evening. Sorry.