Signed Cover Art

If you'd like to receive a signed cover art postcard, email me at isobael at gmail dot com. Include your name and mailing address and I'll get them in the mail to you.

December 17, 2009

The Roarin' 20's...

I'm going through a major 1920's kick right now. BIG draw. Especially the classic cocktails of the era.

I have a feeling something's brewing in the back of my mind in regards to a story plot that deals with the 20's, but not entirely sure yet.

In the mean time, I want to post some drink recipes to keep on hand. These are ones I really want to try as well.

Bellinis
1 ounce white peach puree
5 ounces chilled Champagne

Pour peach puree into a champagne flute, then add champagne. The peach puree can either be made from peeled fresh peaches that have been peeled or a peach puree. Serves: 1


Bees Knees

6 Tbsp Gin
1 Tsp Honey
1 Tsp Lemon Juice

Shake ingredients well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Serves: 1


Gin Gimlet
3 Tbsp Gin
3 Tsp Roses Lime or fresh lime juice

Shake with ice, strain and pour into a cocktail glass. Serves: 1


Pink Lady
2 ounces Gin
1 teaspoon Grenadine
1 egg white (optional)
1/2 ounce heavy cream

Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into glass rimmed with grenadine and sugar.


Bolo Cocktail
2 oz rum
1/2 oz lime juice
1 oz orange juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


HighBall
2 oz whiskey
ginger ale

Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour the whiskey into the glass. Top with ginger ale.



Mary Pickford
2 oz light rum
2 oz pineapple juice
1 tsp grenadine
1 tsp maraschino cherry juice

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. shake well. Strain into cocktail glass.

December 16, 2009

Catching up with Isobael...

We had some damage done to our vehicles when the last wind storm came through and knocked trees down onto them. Luckily, because we could prove there was rot and the neighbor was told about it, the insurance company did not succeed in their whole "Act of God" clause.

Personally, that clause needs to be done away with. How can they prove God WANTED those trees to come down and total my cars? Direct line of contact? Insurance companies are a racket.

Anyway, so we got the money for the vehicles and we went shopping. We did end up picking up a 1997 Explorer but the guy that sold it to us lied through his fracking teeth about it. We got it home and the transmission slips, it won't pass emissions, and we think the alternator is bad. He said he replaced the plugs, but we doubt it. He said he replaced the transmission, but we doubt it. Why can't people be honest?

We were looking into a second vehicle, a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Had a couple of minor issues like needed the headlight bulb replaced and it had a small dent. No biggies. Needed tabs. We pulled a Carfax on it. Turned out it's been totaled three times and the state of WA won't even register it. The owners were going to sell it to us without telling us. No wonder they didn't have current tabs on the vehicle!

Want to know another racket taking place in the state of WA? Emissions testings. If your car has that OBDII or whatever it's called, chip...and it fails to work, or your check engine light is on, you are automatically failed. You don't even get your emissions checked. To me, it's not even about emissions tests anymore. It's a giant racket in which they take your money, make you spend MORE money to fix the issue.

It's a $15 test, but if you fail, you have to spend at least $150 to have it looked at or repaired by one of their certified Emissions Repair Specialists in order to get waived. However, if you live in Thurston County (where the state capitol is located), you do not have to have emission tests.

OH! And a new thing just popped up. Even if you buy a vehicle with tabs that are still good, you could be one of the lucky people in which you MUST have an emissions test done when transferring title. Plus, the cost of transferring titles now go by the value of your vehicle, not by the sale price.

It's a wonder how anyone can live in WA state when they gouge you for everything.


We decided we'll use the money for the second car on the Explorer and Spike will drive the Daewoo until it dies, although we are going to replace some seal in the engine because it's spitting oil onto the manifold and causing it to smoke. If that's the only problem with it (other than it's not pretty with the dents and has over 150,000 miles) then he can drive it. We'll get the stuff done to the Explorer and it'll be my vehicle. I'm not a soccer mom, I don't need a minivan, but I wanted something with room to haul stuff and people, with 4 wheel drive for when I go hawking.

In other news, I have a laptop. New, shiny, has lots of memory. Windows 7, which I am not entirely sure I like and can't run my RP character sheet generator, even in emulation mode, but I have Office 2007 Home and Student with OneNote! *Dances*

We had gone to Wal*Mart to pick up one of the laptops on sale. When we got there, they were out. Spike said he'll take a raincheck. They told him Wal*Mart doesn't do rainchecks. He showed them the ad where it said they did take rainchecks. Oh, they don't do rainchecks for special items they don't carry in stock regularly. He showed them on the page with the laptop ad where it says they do take rainchecks. They show him the fine print ON THE VERY BACK OF THE AD MAGAZINE...where they don't do rainchecks on non regular stocked items.  Doesn't that scream "MISLEADING!"?

Oh, and a manager told Spike they don't even price match their own stores or their online store. The reason? She told Spike that because the economy is different in every area and that they can't price match stores, even in the same state, because the minimum wage is lower in some areas.

Excuse me? WA state has a state minimum wage...how can the minimum wage be lower in some areas?

So then we headed over to Best Buy. Found a laptop for the same price. Display looked good. Price good. Asked an associate. "Oh, sorry, we're out of those."

Excuse me? Then why do you have it out for sale? Fine, look at another, little more expensive, but still within the price range.

"Sorry, we're out of stock on those, too."

I lost it. I reemed the guy a new one.

"So, you're telling me you're advertising a product for sale when it's actually not because you have no stock?"

"Yes."

"That's false advertising and very misleading."

"Sorry."

"No, you're not. You need to put a sticker or a card thingy next to the price card to let people know you're out of stock."

"We don't do that."

"Ok, how about a raincheck."

"Oh, we don't do rainchecks for those."

*Insert screaming here*

The next comparable model was more than we originally wanted to spend. Does anyone else suspect deliberate bait and switch tactics there?

So...we went with the more expensive laptop. I also had to buy a USB hub because this laptop only has two USB ports (!?!?!?!) I also got Office 2007 Home and Student.

However, my laptop now as integrated webcam, a remote for the TV/media player, 4Gb of Ram, 250Gb HD...

My old laptop went to Pixie-Brat after I finished transferring files and cleaned out the HD. It went well with her Solstice/Yule present. We gave it to her early since we don't really celebrate Xmas like other people. We gave her the choice of early or on Xmas. She chose early, of course, with the understanding that this was her ONE big present. The rest of the stuff will be the usual little stocking stuff and whatnot.We got her a Bamboo Pen ( http://www.wacom.com/bamboo/bamboo_pen.php ) for her drawing. She's been trying to draw using the small touch pad on the laptop in Paint, which isn't all that bad, but with this, she has a "pencil" she can use for better control.

She is loving it!

I'm playing with Word 2007 and OneNote, which I am loving. Very much. Word 2007 is different. I'm still learning the new options and setting it up the way I like. Still trying to learn if I can change the toolbars to how *I* want them, like in the older versions.

Working with my new bird. Vicious. You can find the blog here: http://isobael-falconry.blogspot.com/

Other than that, writing has slowed due to life issues, but I'll be back in the swing of things soon. I had to back off on a few things due to personal reasons.

Spike got a B on his paper he turned in for his English 101 class. (Trying to figure out why he needs to know how to write essays using MLA standards for his LPN course...or why Machiavelli's philosophical thoughts are such a draw to this teacher. She's not teaching anything really useful. She also stated that very few of the students in her class would get anything higher than a C. She also tries to push her other English class, a beginner class. Glad I'm not in her class or we'd be having LOTS of words.) I didn't agree with two minor points the teacher dinged him on, but oh, well. The teacher did like a few of the points made in the paper, so it evens out, I guess.

Anyway, there it is.

December 4, 2009

Mmmmm...tea.

I am a tea drinker. I love tea. Tea conjures images of pretty dresses, women gathering around and sipping tea from pretty china, and little dainty foods to go with it. (Oh, yes, my Victorian era fascination!)

Now, I'm no where as snobby or particular about my tea. I have my favorite flavors and blends, either tea or tisanes (herbal steeps with no tea in it)...I'm happy to toss a tea bag into a mug and steep it in hot water to desired strength. As long as I get my morning tea to wake up with and my cup of tea as I write, and sometimes a bedtime cup, I'm human and content.

I had an Asian teapot I was given. Nothing fancy. It was rather ugly, in fact. It was definitely not one to use for serving to guests. I would toss a few tea bags into the pot, ad hot water, let steep and there's my tea.

I came across a website that sold loose leaf tea. I perused their site, knowing very little about the special blends or curing techniques, or even about the different types of tea there are.

I ordered. My review of the teas is here: http://isobael-liu.blogspot.com/2009/02/tea-review.html

Six orders later, we're loyal customers and fans of SpecialTeas.

Their shipments are always on time, their prices superb. Shipping is truly affordable and the selection is great. While we do not go for those specialized blends, we have our own favorites that we tend to order most, they have the options of sample packs, 1/2 oz packages, of many of their teas and for a $1.00 a 1/2 oz, who could pass that up? It's perfect for a 2 - 3, even four mugs worth of tea.

Our last order just arrived today and I was so excited!

If you like tea and enjoy steeping loose leaf tea, check out SpecialTeas. You can find the link on the right, under the heading, "My Stamp of Approval".

Oh, and by the way, I was not paid for this post in any way, shape or form. I'm just sharing my opinion with you.

Now, I'm going to go kick back with some tea and relax.

=)

December 3, 2009

Author taglines...what's yours?

In case you haven't already noticed (for those of you who read my blog via its mirrors), I've redone the header of my blog page. Check it out if you haven't already...

Not entirely sure if the title of my book will remain the same. Originally, I sent it in to Lyrical as "Moonlight and Magick", but I hear stories that titles usually get changed. I didn't want my blog to have the same title, but it still needed to reflect my writing. Not that my writing is magickal, but the "themes" or "elements" of my stories usually contain magick, or deal with the paranormal, hence the title of my blog.

I had to come up with a tagline as well. Trust me, this was NOT easy. For the life of me, I could NOT come up with anything that didn't sound plain stupid. I went through movie trailers, book tags, other author tags, in order to figure something out. I just could not come up with anything.

Until I redid the header banner. The mere act of switching the two words, putting Magick first, flipped on the light bulb in my head and suddenly, I had a tagline.

"Where magick dances in the moonlight and where wild things come to play."

It's suiting. It's perfect. It's a theme that fits my stories.

I love it.

Do you have a tagline and how did you come up with it?

November 29, 2009

Time travel...?

If I could time travel, I'd go to Victorian era England. I have ALWAYS loved the Victorian era, although most of my knowledge of it comes from romance novels.

I want to wear the formal evening gowns, dance the waltz, drink tea at a tea party.

I want to see men dressed up in evening attire and tuxes. I want to see men bow over women's hands, or tip their hands, or actually hold a door open and hold a chair.

I'd learn everything there was to know of the etiquette for that time period. I've always wanted to take deportment classes, learn formal etiquette, actually USE etiquette.


If you could time travel where would you go and why/what would you do?

November 18, 2009

Life Goals

When I was very young, I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to guide others, sharing my knowledge to better theirs. That changed when I realized I didn't have the patience to teach people who really didn't want to learn. I have sibling, both younger, and when I was asked to help them with their homework, it became a chore, a struggle.

When I was in my teens, I wanted to be a "gypsy". I wanted to own a beat up truck with a camper and travel. I had dreams of heading to Montana and finding a job in some greasy spoon and just living a life of obscurity. I'd write when I was alone, maybe publish some novels and a memoir of my travels. Unfortunately, that dream died when I met my then boyfriend. The two years with him and I came out of the relationship with emotional and mental scars. I'd say physical scars as well, but fortunately, the night I was "roughed up", none of the wounds left scars. We did go to Montana on a spur of the moment trip. It would have been better if I hadn't taken him. He didn't want to do anything/see anything I wanted to see and when I did stop to see something, he made such a huff about it, it was no longer fun. I could have lasted longer on the $500 I took with me if he hadn't gone with. He didn't even pitch in to help with the expenses. I really believe that if I'd gone alone, I'd still be in Montana, living out that dream.

By this time, my writing became more and more my only outlet for loneliness and pain. I never shared any of my writing and I no longer have any copies of my writing from that period of my life. However, I married, had a child, went through a major surgery, and wrote.

Becoming published was a dream I had when I was in my teens, but it wasn't something I ever considered I'd do. It was a dream, not a goal, then. Mostly because I was always told, "You have to have an agent" and "You can only get an agent when you're published". Add in the "Oh, it's not good enough to be published" and the "You have to have money to get published". Well, you can see where the dream died.

My 35th birthday came around and I realized I'd let most of my dreams and goals die. I hadn't done anything I'd wanted to do in my life. It was then that I decided I would sit down and list out my goals I wanted to achieve before I died.

1. Become an author - in process
2. Become a falconer - in process
3. Become a mother
4. Get married
5. Own a truck
6. Own a house
7. Act in a play
8. Learn to belly dance
9. Go to college
10. Go to India
11. Go to Scotland
12. Go to Virginia to visit JadedSidhe
13. Meet my favorite authors - This is a partial achievement.
14. Be able to go to a HS reunion with my head held high and not worry about the people that made my life miserable
15. Die in my sleep
16. Beat my Depression and Social Anxiety
17. See my daughter graduate
18. See my husband graduate college - in process
19. Graduate college myself
20. Achieve at least half of my goals

I have a long way to go.

So, what were and are some of your goals?

November 17, 2009

Practice Daily Gratitude...

Rabbi Barush Spinoza, a 17th century Dutch philosopher, advocated a daily gratitude practice in which we should ask ourselves three questions in which to help us find more meaning and joy in our lives, and to lead us to profound inner transformation. These questions were:

1. Who or what inspired me today?
2. What brought me happiness today?
3. What brought me comfort and deep peace today?


So, in my effort to make this a daily habit, I will begin today with:

1. Waking up, knowing I was alive, and had a bird to man.
2. My daughter's smile.
3. Knowing my family loves me.

November 9, 2009

Characters I'd invite to a party…

I just finished with my pre-edits and sent it off to my editor (I love being able to say that! LOL)

I thought I better update this blog before people decide to leave. Debated on what to write about. I didn't want to write about my writing because I think ya'll need a break from that. I didn't have any more recipes off the top of my head to post. Hmmm.

So, what if I wrote something different?

All right.

I'm having a party at my house. My invitations are spread out before me on the desk and I'm about ready to address them. Who do I invite?

Raven Whitney, from Christine Feehan's "Dark Prince".

She was the first heroine of the Carpathian series, that I read, and I fell in love with her. Sassy, yet caring, psychic and even scared to death of Mikhail, she still cared about his emotional state.

Venetia Milton, from Amanda Quick's "Second Sight".

Oh, who the hell am I kidding? I'd invite ALL of Amanda Quick's heroines. They are too funny, spunky, and still classy.

Let's see…

Sookie Stackhouse, from Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels. She's a kickass character in the books. Not kick ass as in a fighter, but she has a sassy mouth and in her own way, she's a bright girl. With her, Eric Northman, because who WOULDN'T invite a Viking to a party?!?

I'd have to invite a few of my own characters, of course.

Amari from my "Untamed" novella, and Sayde from my "Beyond Words" novella (which is being rewritten to become a novel).

Amari is a young woman who ran away from an abusive stepfather and met a werewolf. They fight their feelings for one another, Amari because she's afraid and Peter because he's still in love with a childhood friend.

Sayde is a young woman who can kick butt, has magick abilities, and likes to flirt with danger. In this case, danger has a name; Christopher Collins, the city's Prince and vampire.

Ahhh. I'd invite Raziel. He's from my work in progress, "Dead of Night". Arrogant bastard that he is, but he's so sexy and intense.

Poor Raz. Looks like he's the only male. Not that he'd mind. The man has an evil grin on his face and looking forward to the attention (I really need to find him someone that'll bring him down a couple of notches!).

Well, there you go.

So, who would you invite? Why?

=)

November 5, 2009

Guy Fawkes Day...

REMEMBER, REMEMBER THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

(Traditional English Rhyme - 17th Century)

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'twas his intent
To blow up the King and the Parliament
Three score barrels of powder below
Poor old England to overthrow
By God's providence he was catched
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holloa boys, holloa boys
God save the King!
Hip hip hooray!
Hip hip hooray!

A penny loaf to feed ol' Pope
A farthing cheese to choke him
A pint of beer to rinse it down
A faggot of sticks to burn him
Burn him in a tub of tar
Burn him like a blazing star
Burn his body from his head
Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead.
Hip hip hooray!
Hip hip hooray!

November 4, 2009

Nano, Writing, and I HAVE AN EDITOR!

Bleh!

The first two days of Nano went great. I pounded out 4k worth of words each. Day three not so much. Maybe 100 words.

I have a feeling I'm going to fail Nano this year, but for a very good reason!

I received an email from my editor. *Dances* I have an editor! *Dances some more*

I love hearing those words. I'd hug my laptop just for the sheer fact I have email from my editor.

This joy is followed with the utmost awe and a sense of surreal disbelief.

I. Have. An. Editor.

This is the person who will be ripping my work apart and sending it back to me in shreds in order for me to put it back together in order to improve my writing. This is the person who, through the authority of their job, will make me a better writer by the changing of a word here and there, the shifting of phrases, and doing it all with a deadline and a smile.

Okay, now I'm shaking with abject terror.

I have an editor...

I look over the manuscript I sent in. I already see glaring mistakes. I'm doing pre-edits to clean it up as they requested and I cringe every time I see a mistake. I wonder how in the world they saw this is as good enough to want. The internal editor, the insidious demon that lurks in the back of my brain, in the shadowy corner there, the creature I made a deal with when I was two chapters into writing this manuscript, is screaming at me and making up for lost time. (I made a deal with this thing to just let me write it and not make a fuss so I could get it out on "paper". The beast agreed.)

Now I want to reach back there and bitch slap the beast for listening to me!

Perfectly okay, it likes the abuse. After all, it resides in the mind of a writer!

As I furiously try to do pre-edits, I've given up on eating, seeing daylight, or remembering I have a child that needs to get to the bus stop by 8:15a, or a family who really would like some clothes to wear not stained and dirty, or food to eat. Wait? What was food again?

As I, like a mad-woman, try to complete said pre-edits, all I can think of is what I'd like to to say to my editor in way of greeting. When I told my husband of my being assigned an editor, his first words were, paraphrasing Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation..."May whatever Gods she believes in, have mercy on her soul."

(He knows me all too well. This month marks 13 years together.)

Because, dear editor, I have a feeling you're going to need it, and a lot of patience, working with me. Oh, not that I'm deliberately difficult. No, but I am a beginning writer, a newbie, a virgin to the publishing industry, ripe for the plucking, prepared for the table of the great beast, the publishing industry.

I will pick your brain with questions. And pick. And pick. And pick some more.

I want to learn. I want to better my writing.

=)

November 3, 2009

Beverage, hot or cold...

Just a recipe I thought I'd share with readers. =)

Citric Cider (or Citrus Wassail)

2 cups apple cider
1 cup orange juice
4 cups pineapple juice
12 oz apricot nectar (or mango, or papaya, or whatever for a kick!)
6 sticks cinnamon, broken up
1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds

Combine all and heat to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain and serve hot for wassail, or cold for cider.

October 30, 2009

In honor of Samhain...Ghost Stories!

Some time ago, I was reading Sylvia Browne's book "Life on the Other Side". My mother loaned it to me, believing I would find it a great interest due to my current beliefs and experiences. From the moment I picked up the book and started to read, I have felt so many things. Namely, that buzzing/pressure feeling I get in my head.

I better explain this a bit more.

Some years ago, I was wandering about the South Hill cemetery, taking pictures of the old headstones and had just moved from the historical section toward the "rich" section. I saw a headstone I wanted a picture of, so I lifted my camera and was focusing in. I owned an old manual 35mm SLR, no auto nothing! Just as I was about to snap the picture, I felt/heard this resounding, explosive, "NO!" in my head. I jumped and looked around, but there was no one around me. My head was vibrating...inside...a persistent numbing type of buzzing. Every time I tried to snap a picture of that headstone, it would increase. I got the hint...and apologized to the spirit, and did not take a picture of that headstone. To this day, I still get that buzzing/vibrating feeling in my head, with the added pressure to the top of my head. Not like something is pressing down on my head. It's more...visceral. Hard to explain.

So...I'm reading along when I come to this section of the book, which I will type out.

"A sudden, deafening crack, like a gunshot, knifed the air behind me and almost simultaneously I heard Grandma Ada's voice call out, "Sylvia!"....(skipping down some)...I learned years afterward, by the way, that the deafening crack is a phenomenon called a "rapport", which happens when an abrupt sound pierces the "veil" between the Other Side's dimension and ours, much like the sonic boom of the sound barrier being broken." Life on the Other Side, pages 44 and 45.

That buzzing started up again...as though someone or something was trying to point this out to me. One night, I went to bed with hubby. The kid was asleep in her room, it was around midnight. Hubby slipped off to sleep easily enough. I was lying there, my right hand on his back, because I like to feel the presence of another when I sleep. Just as I was slipping off to sleep, being in a somewhat lucid frame, I felt an incredible electrical jolt in my right hand, as though someone had just shocked me with high voltage. I was so taken by surprise, my whole body jerked up and snapped me out of my lucid dreaming state.

Was someone trying to get my attention then?

Here are some more experiences I've had:

Another story...when I was young, just before and after the birth of my little brother, we lived in a rental house in Edgewood, WA. We used to have the worst luck with small items, namely silverware. Spoons. We could not keep spoons in the drawer of that house. We'd know there were spoons, but when we needed one, damn it, none were there. We'd find them in stupid places too. Under/behind the couch...stacked nicely. On a top shelf, under the bed. After my brother was born, My sister (2 years younger) and I had to share a room. Our closet had the doors removed, those track doors, because we were always knocking the doors off the tracks and my dad was sick of putting them back on. We put our dressers in the closet and lined that top shelf with our dolls and stuffies.

One night, I woke up for some reason. No idea why. I looked over and caught sight of something moving in the corner of my eye. I looked and WATCHED a doll on that shelf...WALK across that shelf. Apparently I wasn't the only one since my sister started screaming. That doll then leaped from the shelf toward us. I say leaped because when it hit the floor, there was no way for that doll to have reached that distance if it had just fallen from the shelf. Mom and Dad apparently believed us, we moved soon after, though they never did tell us we were only dreaming...yet have never said that they believed us, either.

Our apartment was haunted by a transient ghost or three. One of them was a regular and liked to see if he could scare the bejezuz out of me. My computer used to sit on our dining room table, and I would sit facing the sliding glass door. We never closed our blinds, living on the second floor, no real need to. Every so often, late at night, I would catch a moving shadow figure in the reflection of the glass...but when I look up to see, no one is there. One night, Spike had gone to bed early and I was working on my poetry when from the corner of my eye, I saw "Spike" round the corner and head into the kitchen behind me. He was wearing his dark colored shorts and no shirt, his chest and upper body is pale. I thought nothing of it, as he usually gets up to get something to eat in the middle of the night. I could see movement in the kitchen, but later when I thought about it, I don't recall hearing any noises. I said something to him and got no reply. THAT pissed me off to no end, so I turned to say something and no one is there. THAT weirded me out so I got up to look for him and I found him in bed, the door closed. I went in and woke him...and he said he had not gotten up to snack. I went out to the kitchen and there was nothing.

Remember that scene in 6th Sense when the mother goes into the kitchen from the laundry and talks to the boy, sees his tie as dirty and removes it, then goes back to the laundry room to get a clean one, walks back into the kitchen and all the drawers and cupboards were open? Same here once. All the pantry, cupboard, and laundry doors were open. The laundry doors squeak, but I never heard it. I once did hear the coat closet by our front door slide open on its own. I tell you what, when you are alone with your child...and you hear a door open BY
ITSELF...maternal instincts kick in. I grabbed her, ran to the bedroom, and made her stay in the bathroom while I investigated, armed with a claymore of all things. (Hey! It was the only weapon easily accessible at the time!) The closet door was indeed open...and a search of the apartment yielded nothing.

I did a cleansing ritual after that...but we still had our ghosts come through every so often.

I knew the exact moment my Chinese grandmother passed away. I was dreaming I was sleeping on the floor beside my bed...my mother was sleeping in the bed beside me...and my grandmother was sleeping beside my mother.

I remember being woken up...my mother asking me to check the time. I told her the time...then asked why. She said Grandpa had died. I remember crying and then sleeping again. I woke up the next morning to get ready for class when Dad came in and told me Mom had called and Grandma had died. Mom was in Taiwan at the time, helping the family take care of Grandma, and ease her passing from life to death. I asked what time Grandma had died...and he told me. The time she died over there...and the time I told my "mother" the time in my dream, with the time zone difference...were right on. It was odd though that in my dream, it was my Chinese grandfather that died and not my grandmother.

My mother's side of the family are all sensitive. She could tell you stories that would make your hair stand on end...

I also record EVPs. Electronic Voice Phenomena. You can hear a few samples of what I've caught on my YouTube account.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBLyp3_e0E4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIQ5wwnLR4w

The house we're currently renting is haunted. We have a male spirit that likes to set off the smoke detector downstairs. Just once, and then it stops. Doors open on their own, and curtains we know were closed are open when we return home.

So, anyone else have paranormal experiences you want to share? =)

October 28, 2009

Scones Recipe

My husband asked me to make scones for him to take to school. (He's in a nursing course). Other than giving him a look of utter disbelief, I refused, because he leaves at 6:30 in the morning and for me to make scones so they'd be warm and fresh when he got to class, I'd have to be up about 5 am. So, the next few days, my husband was reduced to a pleading and cajoling man until I relented.

I thought I'd post the recipe to share.

We love scones in our house. (Scottish descendants, here!) We eat ours with hot tea, and even my daughter will eschew hot cocoa when offered a choice of cocoa or tea if there's scones involved.

There's nothing like a scone or two, hot tea with milk and sugar, and writing!

Isobael's Tea Scones

2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cream tartar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
2 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 450F.

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, baking soda, and cream of tartar.

Add buttermilk, then flour.

If too dry, add more buttermilk. Dough will be a little sticky until you knead.

Knead on floured breadboard about 10 times. If dough is still a little sticky, add a little more flour.

Pat into ball and flatten to about 1 inch thick. Use knife or pizza cutter, cut into wedges.

Put on ungreased baking sheet and bake in oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm – sliced in half with butter and jam, lemon curd, honey, or Devonshire cream. We also serve it hot with butter and agave nectar instead of honey.

October 24, 2009

NanoWriMo story set. Ready for my mark. Countdown in process....


Kaelin James was living a lie.

Having escaped from a government facility as a child experiment, she'd grown up keeping secrets that could get herself, and anyone else who knew, killed by the people sent to track her down and bring her back.
Isandro Navarro was sent by his Elders to guard Kaelin. He only knew the Elders had a reason to protect her, but he wasn't aware of why. It was not his place to question, only to do. He had his own secrets as well. He was Balam, a Jaguar Lord, descended from generations of shape shifting warriors.
As the danger heats up, so do their desires, until something had to give.


* * * *
This is my entry for NanoWriMo2009. *Dances*
I am so excited to begin. I have character sheets done, the plot set (mostly!), and a basic idea of how it will end.
*EVIL GRIN*
I am so damn excited!


October 14, 2009

Trio of Trouble update...

I have a new post up at the Trio of Trouble...

(That's http://the-troubling-trio.blogspot.com/ if the link doesn't work.)

=)

October 7, 2009

So, the news...

Well...

Without going into too much detail, because I'm not exactly sure when it becomes "official"... and only a few people know the details (my family mostly).

My first novel was picked up. I just signed the contracts and sent them in. I suppose, when they receive it and I receive notification that they have the contracts in their hand, I'll assume it's official.

I'm alternating between complete shock, sheer giddiness, and total panic. I hadn't expected them to actually LIKE the story. I fully expected a polite email back stating they were sorry, the story needed more work, here's some feedback...try again, best wishes. In fact, I think I pretty much thought I'd bomb with my first submission. I agonized over the synopsis and my "not a query letter" letter wasn't much better than the synopsis.

Saturday morning, as I was getting up and getting ready to go trapping (I'm a licensed falconer - second year apprenticeship), I sat down to check my email. You know, receiving that kind of news at 3 am, when one isn't fully awake in the first place, I had to reread the email about five times before it fully sank in. I also checked the heading, the sender's address, signature line, all to be sure it was a real email from them and not some hacker's attempt at a joke. (Yes, disbelief at its best!)

I printed out the email with a grin on my face. Spike was pretty sure I'd lost it. He read the email and then he grinned.

What's amusing about this whole thing is that the night before, we went to dinner at the Mongolian Grill and my fortune cookie said to expect some pleasant surprises coming my way.

Needless to say, that was one spot on fortune!

This past couple of weeks, I've stepped back from "Dead of Night". I keep rereading what I've written but I can't seem to find where things went wrong for me. The story isn't...meshing. Maybe because we're at the middle of the story...? I'm not sure but I do know I need to go back in and start slice and dicing at it to find the source of the trouble.

My thoughts keep whirling around in regards to my NanoWriMo story. I keep trying to think of an opening scene, how I want it to start, but once I get an idea and think it's the one I'm going with, something else pops in. I have the plot outline, so I have a general idea of what's going to happen, but the fine details aren't there yet. 20 some days until NanoWriMo!!

October 4, 2009

Black Bean Chili ala Bael

Isobael's Black Bean Chili

1 lb ground meat (turkey, beef, lamb, pork, a combination of...)
1 onion, diced fine
1 can black beans, rinsed well (I like two cans!)
2 cups of broth (chicken or beef)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1x1 cubes
1 cup salsa (I use Southwestern salsa as it has black beans and corn in it!)
1 TB minced garlic
4 TB chili powder
1/2 TB Cocoa powder (NOT the sweetened, beverage variety. Use the unsweetened, cooking variety!)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

In a large pot, dutch oven, or cast iron kettle, heat 3 TB olive oil. Add onions, garlic, chili powder, cocoa powder and sautee until soft. Add ground meat and brown. Add beans, broth, and sweet potato, and salsa. Cover and simmer for 90 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve with sour cream or shredded cheese on top!

October 2, 2009

Apparently, schools have changed since I last attended one...

I received Pixie-Brat's progress report for her math class. She has a few 0's on her report. Obviously, this is a bit alarming to me as I'm the one who has to force her to do her math homework (err...HOMEWORK in general) so I know she's doing the work in her notebook. So, I sent off an email to her math teacher:

Dear [name withheld],

Apparently, I seem to be missing something.

I received [daughter]'s progress report today (Oct 2, 2009) and am noticing the 0's on her report. I don't seem to understand how this works.

If [daughter] has this in her notebook as done, why is she getting a 0? Is she not turning this work in? As I'm the one who has to sit and make her do the homework, I KNOW she's getting it done.

When asked about this, her explanation is a bit murky for me, and there was one instance in which you didn't have time to look at her work to mark it as done?

I'm finding that if the work is done and in her notebook, there shouldn't be a 0 on a progress report, but I've been out of school for 20 some years, so there must have been some sort of change implemented that I wasn't aware of when I became a parent?

Please explain this process and what to do to correct the 0's.

Sincerely,
My name


So, we'll see what's going on because I'm not sure I'm agreeing all that well with the 0's being there if the work is in the notebook. They do all their work in a spiral notebook, including a table of contents in the notebook, so I'm not seeing how a simple check of the notebook could be not done. Apparently, they don't turn in the notebooks, as they have to do their work in them so the teacher can't keep them for any length of time. So...again...how are 0's coming up on a progress report?

September 30, 2009

Addendum to Social Group Mediums

I mirror this blog on my MySpace, LiveJournal, and FaceBook accounts. I received feedback on LJ and I wanted to post it here to share.

"
I suppose that it depends on also knowing which people you meet in the digital world can become real life friends. If the knee jerk reaction is "none of them" then I don't see the point of going for a digital fix since you'll know you'll never meet this person in real life and form a non-digital friendship.

I've made many friends online that I have become real life friends with, I moved to a different state and have a new and more rewarding life because of bridging the gap. I've been to the UK and have had people from there and from Spain and Canada and across the US come visit me and I feel very lucky because of it.

Besides, there have been real life friends that can let you down just as easily as a digital one - if you let them."



My response was:


You know, when I hit send, I cringed. I knew I was leaving something out..

My best friend lives 3,000 some miles away from me. We met online, role playing channel. She's come here with her daughter, and I went down there to her home.

I consider her my best friend, someone I can call to cry on her shoulder and she knows she can do the same with me. I was there when she had a life problem, she's been there when I needed someone to tell me I can do it, or smacked me upside the head to straighten me out. I love her dearly.

So, it's not that I'm saying you can't trust people online or you can't make friends...it's more along the lines of just because they list you as a "friend" you shouldn't expect that you're now a girlfriend, and if they have a gathering of friends and you never received the golden ticket to the event, you shouldn't feel as though they betrayed you, or that you're worthless.

It's harder for people with depression and social anxiety, ESPECIALLY the social anxiety aspect because we're already tiptoeing that fine line of being uneasy with meeting people, having friends. The whole lack of self esteem and self confidence blows chunks, because we already thing we're less than dirt. Having it "shoved in our faces" is gut wrenching.

Again, I'm not blaming anyone. Really, the post originally was to share my recent experiences with a few of the social mediums I belonged to.


Social Group Mediums

I've had to take a step back from a few social sites because I was too dependent on the social aspect of them.

As someone with social anxiety, they became a crutch for me and I have to remind myself I can't depend on Twitter, or any other social website, for my "fix". While, it does in a way help with my social anxiety by not keeping me so isolated, and I do make new "friends", these friendships are not "real".

Meaning, I can't depend on these "friends" to be friends. Yes, they show concern, they make supportive or sympathetic noises at the appropriate moments, but these are not "real" people. These are names and faces through a digital screen. Nothing will, nor should, replace having a friend or friends that are flesh and blood. Nothing should ever replace the tangible.

It was getting to the point where I was feeling ignored. When I posted something and those I counted on to be a friend DIDN'T comment back, it hurt. When it continued, I began to second guess myself. Did I maybe say something wrong? Did I not say something when I should have? Did I zig when I should have zagged? Or maybe it was because I'm not the same social class as they are. Maybe my lack of brain/beauty/money/time...or maybe because I'm married and have a child is what makes them withdraw from me?

When it comes down to losing sleep and worrying, unable to eat...breaking out into tears, because I lost "friends" somewhere, then something's wrong.

It had become a crutch, a distraction, and it had to stop.

Before people get offended and drop me from their lists, I want to make something quite clear. None of this is a personal attack at anyone. Well, except at myself, really.

Just because I list you as a friend and you return the favor, it doesn't mean we're best buds and I have to remember that. You include me in your life through a digital medium. You are not inviting me into your home, you're not inviting me to drop by, swim in your pool, have coffee, or have dinner. I shouldn't feel slighted if there's no invite to that slumber party/girls' night out/chick flick/gossip fest.

We share things in common and we share our experiences through a screen and a keyboard. No where in this common agreement did you say "Call me and we'll do lunch", or "I'll be there for you", or "If you need a kidney"...

It's a hard lesson to learn, and an eye opener. It's terrifying for those of us who suffer from depression and social anxiety. Often times, these go hand in hand with lack of self confidence and self esteem, and this lesson tears at what little we do have, shredding us until we're so vulnerable and sensitive that we have to retreat into ourselves in order to regroup. Often times we don't have the means, or support in which to seek help. We have to build those walls back up, one brick at a time, alone.

On the other hand, I understand people have to protect themselves. I don't blame people who keep themselves back, offering only a digital connection. Hell, I have "friends" who're famous. Successful authors, published, rising stars. I understand they can't be there as a friend, or offer any support or advice in any way. We have to protect ourselves in whatever way we can.

Scary, isn't it, that the internet is suppose to open the world, make the world a smaller place, and yet we have to isolate ourselves, protect ourselves even more.

September 28, 2009

Catching up and determination...

Been busy trying to write a synopsis from my plot point outline, line by line. I'll go back through this and edit out unnecessaries. It's very difficult, even with the story finished and having a plot point outline on hand.

Also trying to recuperate from the ick. Doesn't help I'm up late writing and working. Will have to grab a nap later while I have the house to myself. Spike's off to his nursing class and Pixie-Brat off to school soon. Blessed silence!

Still have the cough and sniffles, congestion, but I'm not dying, which I'm glad to report. The ick mixed with depression doesn't help either.

Renewed my determination and drive in becoming published. Will NOT allow my failings, my Depression to defeat me before I've begun to fight.

Shite happens in life. If I have to wade through the manure, struggle through the bramble, & cry tears of blood to see myself published, so be it. I am prepared. I'm prepared to do it alone if I have to, but I'm going to be published before I die.


September 26, 2009

Social Anxiety Sucks...

You ever get the feeling you did something wrong, or insulted or offended someone, but you can't remember ever doing it, but you know or feel something happened because people you thought were friends are pulling away, barely talk to you, or want anything to do with you anymore?

Yeah, I'm getting that feeling.

I don't know anymore. It's getting to the point where I'm on the edge of closing myself off because I don't understand people anymore. I don't know what people want from me. Maybe I'm not the friend type. Maybe because I don't have the money to go out or travel or do things they can do.

Sad, isn't it?

Social anxiety sucks.

September 24, 2009

Synopsis...

ARGH! The dreaded synopsis!

I just finished my first draft of a synopsis for "Moonlight and Magick". Alas, it's four pages double spaced, so I need to figure out how to trim it down to two pages.

I thought I did so well...

And I'll have to find someone who knows about writing synopses to look it over. Maybe my crit group will have someone...*crosses fingers*

September 21, 2009

La la la...

40 more days until NanoWriMo! *dances*

Chapter three of "Dead of Night" was posted at Literotica. Only one person commented on it. Twice. LOL. Still finishing up chapter six.

Spike started his nursing class today. He has two weeks to pass his compass algebra test though. *sigh*

Coming down with the sniffles. Depression dragging me down this past couple of weeks. Been medicating myself with Amanda Quick books. =)

Reading Pet Peeve #1: Books/stories about vampires and werewolves becoming lovers and/or having cross bred children.

UGH.

I read the Twilight series, right up to book four where Bella becomes pregnant and the book hit the wall and then the floor with not so satisfying thuds. The story and plot became too stupid to be believed.

Underworld...great action, plot was ok...until Scott becomes this vampire werewolf hybrid.

*Beats head into wall*

Ok...

ETA: You can find "Dead of Night" posted on Literotica at http://www.literotica.com/stories/memberpage.php?uid=568807&page=submissions

Chapters 1-3 are up for reading.

September 19, 2009

Catching Up Some...

Played hooky from writing yesterday. In fact, was away from the computer all day. Had some errands to run and Spike and I needed some much downtime.

With all the stress going on with him laid off from work and trying to get into a nursing program, not being able to pass the algebra part of the compass test (I want to know WHY algebra is required to get into the program, or to get into college. Unless you're going to teach the cursed thing, or work in a field where it's necessary, I think it's one big scam in order to make you pay for extra classes. Why should I be required to pass algebra on the compass test if I want to become a secretary? Spike hasn't had to touch it for 23 years and now he has to pass it in order to get into the nursing program.)

So off to the library to get books to study algebra. We also got to spend some quality time with one another. Much physical affection, which was very much needed as well.

So, "Dead of Night" is still in chapter six. I have about 1000 more words to finish the chapter, a couple more plot points to deal with before I can move on.

I am noticing, however, that while the writing is slower, there's a better flow to the words and much less mistakes being made in writing them. So that's good.

Literotica rejected chapter three twice. Once because I gave a link in the chapter's notes to my readers. The second because, while I removed the link, I mentioned visiting my blog. It's bullshit, but I guess it's not allowed to mention any other site other than Literotica on Literotica. *Rolls eyes* So, chapter three has been submitted yet AGAIN and is pending approval.

September 11, 2009

Heh...

"Dead of Night" is slowly getting there.

I just finished chapter five. Have not really gone over it to correct passive sentences and whatnot, but it can wait a bit.

The introduction of three new characters sort of took me aback. Originally supporting characters, they were meant for information sharing and idea bouncing, but they've seemed to have moved up from supporting cast to secondaries. One, especially.

He's already started to make himself quite known and is demanding more "screen" time. I have a feeling this will be quieted only with the promise of a second book with him as the main character. He's an arrogant bastard, but I already have an idea of who just might be able to tame him. *grin*

Whiteboard has been erased and chapter six's notes are up.

Note to self: use euphemisms or code on the whiteboard as 11 year old daughter does read it.

Post Script to self: This is why you need a room of your own to be just your office. Win Lotto for this.

Post Post Script to self: Get published.

Nothing back from the Beta Readers. Not sure if this is a good thing.

Ankle is doing better. I can walk without a major limp. If I step on it a certain way or put too much pressure on it, my foot hurts, but otherwise it's doing much better than my "omigodsI'mgonnadie" limping I did yesterday. Course, it didn't help that I walked two, three blocks from the parking spot to Bates Technical College with Spike either. Or maybe it did help as my foot is better today. Hmmm.

My elbow is aching though. Deep bone bruise, I'm pretty sure. I thought I only skinned my elbow on the wall, but I may have in fact actually smacked my elbow against the wall and then slid down and skinned it. Swollen.

As always, click to enlarge.

September 10, 2009

Accidents and writing...

Took a tumble down our basement stairs taking the laundry down to wash, yesterday.

I could have SWORN there were a few more steps on those stairs, but when I put my right foot down, I sure as hell didn't FEEL any stairs beneath my foot. Tumbled down three (missing?) steps, hit the concrete wall with my arm, skinned my elbow, twisted my right ankle inwards and toward me when I landed.

Luckily, there was no snapping, no crunching noises, and I can limp on it, although it's sprained. Unfortunately, it was my right leg so the tweaking of ankle tendons and muscles shot up into my bad knee and it's making complaints.

Still, no broken bones which is good because we cannot afford an ER visit for Xrays with Spike out of work. Damn stairs, damn haunted house, and damn my stupidity.

So, my writing the past couple of days has been minimal. Trying to keep my foot up and resting. We live in a house that has two sets of stairs. The main floor to the basement and main floor to the bedrooms upstairs. Oh, did I mention our house is haunted too? Yep.

Click to enlarge...



Got feedback for my newest story posting on Literotica. From a published author even. It was because of this author that I started to post my writing, as crappy as it was.

"Very good start but that should definitely not surprise me. Your work is always top notch. Keep it up!"

This published author helped to encourage me to post my work and improve my writing. I was her fan of hers and now she's a fan of mine. Dragging myself out of bed when I need to sleep, when I'm in pain, when my keyboard is broken, when I'm sick, when there's no words. I'm pushing, pushing to write, pushing to learn, pushing to better myself in some way with the ultimate goal of getting published.

And I keep writing, with a diehard goal to be published, because I want it with every fiber of my being.

September 6, 2009

WiPs and Beta Readers and Organization, oh my!

Ahhh. So, I finally broke down and decided to post "Dead of Night" to Literotica and Stories Online.

Lit has chapters one and two in the queue, and a request to remove "Moonlight and Magick". I'll post to SOL when Lit has them posted. SOL has a request to remove "Moonlight and Magick" in the meantime.

I found out that "Beyond Words", one of my novellas, won on Literotica for May 2008 Reader's Choice Award, Third Place. It was a $75 cash prize. Too bad it was posted in January of 2009 and I never received an email from them whatsoever about it. I've written to the person in charge about it to find out if I can still collect and why I wasn't notified.

Still, it was a nice little surprise to hear I won something for my writing. "Beyond Words" is still posted there, but it's going through a major revision right now, when I'm not in the middle of writing "Dead of Night" and editing "Moonlight and Magick".

Also, someone accepted to be my Beta Reader for "Moonlight and Magick", so that's taken care of. Sent off a copy and a list of questions for them to answer and keep in mind when the read it. No editing for them, just reading.

I'm aiming to start the submission process for "Moonlight and Magick" come the first of the year. That should give me enough time to write a query and synopsis, as well as keep up with "Dead of Night".

"Dead" is in its fifth chapter right now, which is good. I think I'm almost at 4,000 words for the chapter. Another day and it'll be done. Maybe less, depending on distractions around the house.

I did some retail therapy today while the laptop was shut down for the thunder and lightning storm we had. Went to the Dollar Store and picked up some baskets to use for organization on my writing table.

As always, click to enlarge.

Anyway, methinks a nice, hot shower will help ease my tension and bed time. I lost a day somewhere. I never realized it was Sunday today. Thought it was Saturday.

September 5, 2009

Beta Readers...

So, just sent off two messages to a couple of readers, asking if they'd like to be my beta readers.

I probably shouldn't have asked "fans" of mine, but these two have always given great feedback, asked questions, pointed out things they didn't like, and not always the usual, "OMIGOD! I lovelovelove what you wrote!" type of stuff.

I feel like I'm begging for readers. LOL.

Now, i need to come up with a list of questions for them to keep in mind if they do agree to be beta readers.

*Head*Desk*

My writing deals mostly with supernatural, paranormal, and horror/fantasy/non-human. I have one novel that I've just finished revising and editing.

My goal is to see if it can be submitted for publishing.

So, what I need is for them to read it in entirety and answer a few questions for me. No need to edit.

What I need is someone to point out plot holes, where it needs some more explaining, point out weaknesses, etc.

Back to working on WiP2.

September 4, 2009

Trio of Trouble...

My blog post is up on The Trio of Trouble, http://the-troubling-trio.blogspot.com/

My topic was "plotting" and how I do it.

=)

Ahhh...heaven.

I am so in love with my laptop again.

I've had it for three years and the moment I brought it home. I HATED Vista on it though. With a passion, I hated Vista and to this day, still do. Won't touch it. It's slow and bulky and I think that computers that come with it ought to have two hard drives installed, one just for vista and one for our stuff.

Anyway, needless to say, Vista was stripped from the laptop and XP Pro was installed. I love my XP Pro. LOVELOVELOVE.

Ok, back to the point. After three years, the inevitable happens. The KB becomes worn and slowly dies.

It used to be that the keys were made with the lettering built in and not "painted" on. It used to be that those keys would break and fall apart before the lettering would come off. Not anymore. Now, the lettering is painted on and when you use a KB for a long period of time, that lettering comes off.

I also type very fast. When I know what I'm typing, I can type up to 100 words per minute if I'm not distracted. So, pounding away on those keys have left divets in them from my nails. Add in the E key having been punctured and wasn't registering every time it was hit, you can imagine the hell it was to try and write.

So, after three years, my laptop has a new keyboard. And it's beautiful. And the angels sang in the heavens and I think I have a mini orgasm every time I type on it because it's so smooth and the keys work and I can see the letters on the keys and it's just perfect.

Oh, joy! Oh, rapture!

=)

Want proof? Click on the picture to open it. You'll see in detail of what I was writing with before the new KB.


August 31, 2009

My writing area...

Every writer knows they need a spot to call their own, a place in which they can sit down and write. A place in which they can dump all their creative juices into, onto.

Normally, my desk is a MESS. I have my outlines spread out on the table, pages I've printed out from other websites that help beginning writers remember the rules to writing, such as what words to avoid, passive voice examples, etc.

I have my mug of tea, my lamp, my laptop, a place to hold my pens and pencils, office supplies...(*purr* office supplies)

Click to enlarge

My writing area is in a small area of my bedroom. Behind the door, actually, and up against my built in bookcase.

I've marked off what is what in the picture, just enlarge it by clicking on it. =)

So, where is your writing area and do you have pictures of it? Want to share? =)


August 26, 2009

Q&A

1. What made you decide to become a writer?

I grew up in a small town, and my siblings and I were one of a handful of minorities that weren't foreign exchange students. I wasn't thin, pretty, or rich, so I was pretty much excluded from a lot of social groups and activities. I relied on reading first, then I began to write. Poetry first, then stories.


2. What was the first story you ever wrote?
It was about a knight, his page, and a young damsel in distress taken by a were-dragon. As it turned out, the damsel didn't need saving from the dragon as she fell in love with the creature, and the knight and page were sent packing. I think I was in junior high when I wrote it.


3. What was the first novel you ever wrote?
My first novel length work is "Moonlight and Madness", 77,000 words. It's still in the process of revision and editing.

4. When did you first become published?
I was a junior in high school, one of my poems was published in an anthology. A couple of other poems were published in following anthologies, but I'm still an aspiring author.

5. Why your pen name?
I want to keep my writing life separate from my family life.


6. What does it mean or where did it come from?

Isobael was my first online role-playing character name. She became so popular that everyone requested I play her in various chronicles. She was a human that came into the World of Darkness and she tried very hard to retain her innocence and mortality despite the creatures around her. You either hated her immensely, or you loved her immensely. There was no middle ground with her. Since everyone knew me as Isobael, the name just stuck after all these years. It’s also a nod to my Scottish ancestors on my father's side of the family. Liu is actually my middle name and a nod to my Taiwanese ancestors, from my mother's side. For the record, I am NOT related to Marjorie M. Liu, the famous author.


7. What are you currently reading?

Yasmine Galenorn's Otherworld series and Christine Feehan's Carpathian series. When I can get my hands on them, Amanda Quick's books.

8. What inspires you to write?
My own fantasies have to be the biggest inspiration. Loneliness and boredom come in a close second.


9. What is your all time favorite paranormal character in your own works?
Hmm. Thorin, in my first paranormal novella, "Untamed", but they all are my favorites. I guess it depends on what I'm working on. Right now, "Dead of Night", it has to be the alpha male character, Alyx.

10. What is the worst story you've ever read?
LOL. It would have to be my first story. I was so embarrassed of it, I burned it. =)

11. What is the most memorable story you've ever read?
Wow. Hmm. I can't remember the title of it. It was a historical romance, I believe, but I do know I FELT the heroine's emotional pain and just cried through the book because I felt her isolation and wanting to be loved, to be a part of something.

12. If you could meet any author in the world who would it be and why?
Christine Feehan, because I haven't met her yet and one shelf of my bookcase is just her Carpathian series. LOL.

13. Which authors have you met?
I've met Yasmine Galenorn and Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz). I consider Yasmine to be a friend, am honored she considers me as a friend, and she's so open and honest about her experiences as a writer and becoming an author. Ms. Krentz is awesome to listen to at book signings and listening to her talks, well, I can't WRITE notes fast enough to catch everything she says. I've met Cherry Adair, who is a KICK IN THE PANTS to listen to at book signings and author discussions. She is so in your face funny.

14. Where do you see your writing career headed?
I'm hoping to be published within the next five to ten years. I'd like to see it happen before I'm 40, but we'll see.

15. Do you aspire to hit the New York Best Seller List?
I don't know. My main goal is to be published. I've never considered hitting it "big time". Stranger things have happened, I guess. LOL.

16. What advice would you give to another fellow writer/aspiring author?
Write, even if you think it sucks because it can always be revised and edited. Just keep writing, because how else are you going to learn? READ everything about writing, and listen to authors who've been there. If you're lucky to know any authors, LISTEN to the gems they give you.

August 24, 2009

WiP#2 - Bleh!

Suitably titled, I think.

What started out as a great idea and filled with the excitement I normally get when I write, I began my second work.

Life interrupted. It got put on the back burner to simmer. When I managed to come back to it, I reread to catch up on what I had and HATED everything after chapter two.

I just could not figure out WHY.

So, chatting with my peer editor and my own personal Jiminy Cricket when it comes to writing, Connie suggested I send her what I had and she'd take a look.

Lo and behold, the fresh eyes found the problem.

I had no discernible conflict and no obvious motives for the actions.

*Sigh*

So, back to the drawing board. Actually, white board. =)

I wrote out the main characters. Four of them. Two Protagonists and one Antagonist, with one that is serving as both.

I then listed out what their conflicts and motivations were.

From there, and three hours later, I had a working outline for the story.

My next step will be to go back and see what I have already written and start cutting. I'll keep what works with the new outline and the rest will be deleted.

Thanks, Connie! And get well soon! =)

August 22, 2009

WOOT!

In a mad dash of frantic scribbling, four pages later, I have the rough outline for the story I'm doing in November and NanoWriMo.

It's going to be very different than my usual pieces, I think. More action. Sword fighting! Vampires! *PURR* Modern day!

I saw you blinking in surprise. *Grin* Yep, it's modern day.

Thought it was going to be fantasy/historical with the vamps and swords, didn't ya?

Ha!

I can't wait to start it! For now though, I'm going to do some research on a few things. I'll need to block out some sword fighting scenes so hubby and I will have some fun playing with our swords.

I had a lot of fun last night, Twittering with redchassykins and MireyahWolfe.

We ought to do a blog together as we're all aspiring authors. =) We could call it the Absurdly Asinine Aspiring Authors...and we could talk about our journeys into writing and becoming published. *Grin*

August 21, 2009

*Collapses into a heaping mess*

I just finished my first full editing job on WiP#1. I'm pretty sure giving birth was MUCH easier and less painful than editing.

Now, I get to go through it AGAIN. =)

I need to find beta readers. I need to know if the plot works, if the story isn't too fantasy, since it's romance. I need someone to point out plot holes and weaknesses in the story line and plot.

Original word count: 77,619

After Edit #1: 74,937

Lost in editing: 2682

Not too shabby!

August 18, 2009

Past couple of days...

Life has been a bit more stressful recently. Without going into detail, we'll just say my Depression has launched an all out assault on my ego and while NONE of it had anything to do with my writing that instigated it, eventually, it did trickle down and chewed up my sense of self worth as a writer.

It got to the point where I was feeling isolated, that no one cared if I just left, no one would even NOTICE I was gone. Darkness ensued and I knew that if I let it simmer and stew, I would do or say something I'd never be able to take back. So, I took some time off from the 'net and my writing. No editing, no writing whatsoever.

Went to the beach to go clamming.

Digging into rocky beach in search of those elusive clams, the ones you're allowed to keep, I realized my writing was similar.

I have to dig down in order to find the words to write, the right words. Some words wouldn't fit, some words were unnecessary, and they'd have to be thrown back into the wellspring. Sometimes, that hole would fill up with water and made finding the right clams more difficult. Sometimes, you dig up a piling worm and those things are just NASTY...frightening...and it reminded me of insidious thought-worms that invade the mind, the ego, eating away at self confidence. Those I had to toss away, as far as I could.

I spent time with Mother Ocean, just standing there at the edge of the water. To tell you the truth, I can't even remember what I thought about. Maybe I didn't think of anything. Maybe those thoughts weren't meant to be shared. I don't know.

I do know that when I returned home, I crashed and crashed hard. I slept for 15 hours straight.

I had some strange dreams. The first part of the dream I was a part of a class on a bus. We were going somewhere, but we found ourselves taken hostage and driven to an estate. I remember being worried because I knew the person who had us kidnapped was going to be attacked. A coup of some sort. I ran out to the fountain and pretended to be dead, but when someone poked me with a gun, I started to cry. I didn't want to die. Then there was shooting all around and I just lay there, terrified to move. When it was over, the coup had won and the bad guy was killed. The successors were good guys and returned us home.

Then the dream shifted and I was at home. I went to the fridge to get a mouse to feed my kestrel, but the mouse I put in the fridge wasn't there. Instead there was a young rat. I took it out and dropped it on the floor because it was still moving. But, it was a mutant rat or something because it had tentacles and when it rolled over on to its back, I could see where the chest had been cut open and it had no guts, only a heart and lungs. The heart was beating and I could see it breathing. I didn't want to touch it but I managed to pick it up and toss it outside.

Then I woke up.

I always get weird dreams when I commune with Nature.

In other, more mundane, news, NanoWriMo is a go. I have a partial outline down as to the story I'm going to do. Characters are jotted down.

Yes, paranormal romance. Well, maybe urban fantasy/paranormal romance. Not sure.

I'm very excited and a lot nervous. LOL.

August 15, 2009

Panic Mode Commencing in 3...2...1...

Yep. I'm panicking. Well, a little right now. It'll be much MUCH worse soon enough.

I've agreed to do NanoWriMo this year with Mireyah.

Yep. As if I didn't have enough on my plate with editing WiP#1 and writing WiP#2, I've decided to make my life a chaotic wreck with NanoWriMo. =)

Actually, I'm looking forward to it. I chickened out last year but I was encouraged to do it and when Mireyah mentioned it in her Tweet, I thought, "Why the hell now?"

*Grin*

I'm on NanoWriMo as "Isobael" (Of course!) so add me as a buddy or something.

August 14, 2009

WOW...

And no, it's not about World of Warcraft.

I just received a full beta read and critique on WiP#1. Can we say, "Oh, wow"?!? It's very daunting, to say the least. I alternate between jumping for joy and sinking deep into despair at the mere thought of having to revise and edit so much of the work.

I suppose all first time writers go through this. The honey moon is over, aspiring author, now the real work begins!

I LOVED the feedback and critiques though. It's very in your face and to the point, but not all negative. It definitely points out where I need to work.

One advice I was given:

Declare war and eliminate the following words & phrases:
-was
-were
-suddenly
-then
-and then
-with that

It was highlighted in my manuscript and I definitely could see the overuse of those words.

This website was pointed out to me. I'll share it with you. I also printed it out to hang on my wall so I can remind myself. =)
Allen Guthrie's Infamous Writing Tips

Daunting, but I'm determined to make this story SHINE!

August 13, 2009

WiP1 and WiP2

The first few pages of Moonlight and Madness I've always had a love/hate relationship with. I LOVED it as a prologue because it gave some background information on where Lilian came from, but I hated it because one, the only part she really remembered was what happened after she had been found and her life then and beyond, two, it's really unnecessary as the story stands on its own without it included.

When I took it out as a prologue and made it the beginning of chapter one, I had to rewrite the POV to make it work, but it's still not quite there. It still could be taken out and the story would continue on its own without it. There are too many time jumps, and while they are in chronological order, really, were they absolutely necessary? No.

So, it is with both great sadness and with great joy that I'm going to cut out that section (although I will save it in my notes), and start the story where Lilian is in Hawk's Point.

Of course, this means I'll also have to go in and shore up those parts where she discusses her past in order for readers to see the whole picture. Give those sections greater detail.

Maybe it'll all even out. =)

Secondly, I am NOT a write by the seat of my pants type of writer. This new story I'm working on has had no outline to go by and it's dragging like mad. So, I am most definitely needing an outline.

Chapter three is outlined, which is a plus as that's the chapter I need to finish before Connie finds out where I live and hunts me down. LOL. *Hugs*

Anyway, finishing my cup of tea and I'll be back to writing and working on outlining.

August 8, 2009

Wheee....

All right then.

Chapter two is finished. Sent it off to my peer editor, Connie, to read over and do a little correcting. I'm trying very hard not to worry about word counts but it's hard. I have an overall word count goal and I really want to achieve it this time.

I know, I know. Editing will change all that.

Chapter two came in less than what I would have liked, but it ended at a perfect stopping point and the beginning of chapter three will be a perfect place to pick it up again.

*Watches as Connie jumps up and down in excitement*

She's the only person who's been allowed to read the new story, so far. =)

Anyway, just a little update on that.

Moonlight and Madness is going through some major editing and revision. Thanks to a critique group called Rom-Critters, chapter one of M&M has REALLY been cleaned up. Lost words, gained words, lost more words, but I like it. I THINK I'm beginning to see where I need to watch in my writing, so that's good.

Maybe that's why I'm writing WiP#2 a bit slower. It's definitely taking more time to get the story down.

Ok, I think it's bedtime for me. I'll leave you with a picture of Isis.

August 6, 2009

My Scottish Stone

I want to share how awesome my Dad is. =)

He just got back from Scotland, where he was interviewed MANY times by the BBC and other news over there at the Gathering of the Clans Celebration they had. He also met Prince Charles (which was no biggie to me because I really don't like him after what he did to Princess Di) although I did say that if he met the Queen, I'd be very jealous because I've always wanted to meet her.

Anyway, he brought back little things for the family. I never expected anything because we're not a rich family and I wouldn't have wanted him to spend his money buying stuff. I did ask him to sneak me home some English toffee. REAL English toffee, like one piece, but he couldn't find any. (I've never had REAL English toffee and wanted to try some.)

What he did bring me was even better.

He brought me a stone. From Scotland. He was walking along the River Clyde and something moving in the river caught his eye. He turned to look and and saw a stone that was rolling back and forth in the Clyde below Dumbarton. He thought it looked like a miniature standing stone and he felt that he had to bring it home for me. So, he fished it out of the Clyde, wrapped it up, and brought it home to me.

I had Spike put it on a small block of wood, he hot glued it for now, so that it stood up, and I have my own miniature standing stone from Scotland on my desk.

I'm going to have a base made for it with Celtic symbols and decoration and apply the stone to the base. Later, when I've found the right symbols.

For now, it sits beside me so as I work, I can glance over at it and smile. It's a reddish brown color and when turned in the light, you can see lots of crystal sparkles in it. Not sure if it's sandstone.





The white "glitter" shining on it are the crystals.

August 5, 2009

Info-dump...warming up my fingers for writing...

So, I'm working on a new story. This one will be more Urban Fantasy Romance. No Fae, no Shifters.

Vampires, yes. *watching Connie as she jumps up and down with glee*

Except, these vampires aren't undead. *GRIN* Nope, sorry, not going to say anything more. You'll just have to wait and see. Well, except Connie. She gets to read it as she's my peer editor.

Anyway...

It's slower to write than the first one. I think because I'm trying to put more into it than the previous. I'm trying to take what I learned about writing the first one and applying it to this as I write. Oh, I get my grooves and whip out 3000 words in a sitting, and then I have life intruding and I might be able to tear out 300 words instead.

I think that until I actually write something that actually makes money, my family thinks this is a lark and that there's no reason to give me my space to write. I know Spike alternates between supporting me and then asking when I'm going to be published. Like I have any control over it?

There are days I think I'm just failing. That I'll never be published because I'm a crappy writer. I can't edit my own work because I don't see where it needs editing. That's not from arrogance. I really cannot see WHAT and WHERE it needs work. Maybe I am a crappy writer.

Then there are days I'm so high on the creative process it's amazing. I'm whipping out the words, my fingers are flying over the keyboard that my mind can't keep up, and I'm PROUD of what I've just put down, AMAZED those words came from me. I have a shit eating grin on my face and I feel like I'm flying when I walk.

I still grin when I remember I just finished over 77,000 words and people LIKED the story. Yes, I posted it on LIT and SOL. I figured that I'll probably never submit that story to anyone. It's my first, it's...naive, it's cliche. It screams "BEGINNER WRITER". So, Moonlight and Magick was posted for "fans". Heh. I have fans.

One of the things I'm constantly reminded of is that I suffer from Depression. I know that it first appeared when I was in junior high and I've had it ever since. Much of it was because of my peers in school. I was not rich, pretty, or smart. I was picked on, harassed, and bullied. I know that I seriously considered ending it all and kill myself. Writing became my solace. Poetry at first.

I also know that it was in my mid to late 20's that I developed a mild form of Social Anxiety. There are days in which I do not leave my house because I know that when I'm in public, I am looked at, judged, and found wanting. I do not look at anyone in the eyes, and if someone talks to me, I can't answer. It took years for me to be able to overcome a lot of it by starting up a hobby I wanted to do, belly dancing. From there, I was even able to perform in public a few times.

Even now, when invited to gatherings, I go into manic bouts of panicking. What if they don't like me? What if what I'm wearing is horrible? What if I say something too stupid? What if they never invite me back? What if...what if...what if...? When I do go, I'm not sure what to say, how to reply, or even how to join in. After all, who am I really? Nobody.

Writing is an extension of role playing. When I write, I can be my characters. I live vicariously through my characters. I can be beautiful. I can have romance and be wanted. I can live dangerously. I can travel, or have a dream job, or whatever I want my character to have or live through. Everything that I do not have or cannot have, or will never have.

I'm also a bit Obsessive Compulsive. I believe in balance. I believe in checking my word counts obsessively after I come down from a writing groove. I LIKE to see what my word count is. I like the visual affirmation that what I just did was worth it, meaningful. I have no self esteem, so self confidence (part of the Depression), so seeing the word count add up as I write, it MEANS something to me. It gives me a sense of self worth.

Should it? Probably not. Does it hinder my writing? Maybe. Should I be worried about word counts? No. A respected author-friend has clubbed me over the head to death about not worrying about the word counts, to just write.

I do write! Every day. Punctuated with brief moments of checking Twitter, my email, making sure my daughter is not in any trouble, has eaten, the dog's been taken outside to potty, checking my word count so I can smile and pat myself on the back for adding more words to the work in progress, and then I'm back to writing.

I'm a multi-tasker. It's a habit that I acquired out of necessity and even now, I cannot break it. I cannot sit down and concentrate on one thing. I grow very bored with it. 30 minutes is probably as long as I can go without a necessary break, mental or physical. I have browser windows open, application windows open, and I go back and forth between them. It's amazing that I can even work on just ONE story at a time. Before, I had three going in various stages of completion. I feel that I've come along way since those days and maybe, eventually, I can close those browser windows to just write.

Does it make me a bad writer? Probably. All the good authors are dedicated and disciplined, and THEY are published but it works for ME.

Unable to find a local Critique group, I joined one online. I had one chapter of Moonlight and Magick critiqued. 210 words less, chapter one is now much improved. I still sit back and wonder why *I* didn't see it. I'm definitely glad I joined. Hopefully I can learn how to improve through their critiques.

I guess if I never find a mentor, a critique group is close.

In the meantime, I continue to write in the hopes that I can improve my writing so that a mentor will decide I'm worth the effort of mentoring.

July 31, 2009

So, I finished my first novel length fiction. I'm still feeling rather ecstatic and oh so very proud of myself for doing so. It's a great feeling to know that I actually started and finished something of that magnitude.

Yes, I know it's not a magnum opus, it'll definitely not win me a Nobel Prize, or even get me on the best sellers list, but none of that matters. What matters is that I FINISHED something I started, and I damn near got my goal of 80,000 words!

My editing partner told me she'd by the book if it was ever published, and I've had some feedback stating that I should be published, why am I not published, that this story is the best I've written to date, that they could see my growth as a writer, and when am I being published.

At 77k words, and first draft, I can honestly say this books needs a LOT of work before I can even consider the idea of submitting it, or if I ever will.

Edits, revisions, more edits...I need to find critique partners who will read it and help me clean it up by pointing out my weaker spots. I need to sit down and clean up the rough draft.

To me, THAT is where I suck. I have a story. I know where story is headed. I know what I want in the story and who is going into the story. I have plot points, I have a setting, I have an ending. I write. Anything more than that is beyond me. LOL. I don't know how to step back and look at it as a reader. I alternate between "It's fine!" and "I wrote this trash?"...

I have other stories I've started and put aside to write the one I just finished. I have stories in my head demanding to get out. None of which are actually cooperating though, by actually letting me plot them down. I feel scattered and frustrated.

I sit at my laptop, staring at the screen, thinking I really should work on my rough draft, then remember I'm done writing it. Two months...

I feel a bit lost.

I'm going to pimp this blog post. It's written by C. J. Redwine and every new writer should make a copy of it to keep on hand. Post it on the wall next to your writing space so you can see it every time you sit down to write. 10 Things New Writers Need Know. Hey, if you comment on her post, tell her Isobael sent you.


Anyway, off to clean out my Fiction folder and see what project I can work on next. Because, as it's been whopped into me a few times, KEEP WRITING!

=)

July 23, 2009

My writing process...

So, C.L.Dreamer and I were chatting it up on IM about our writing process, notes, and carrying a notebook around with us.

I decided to take pictures of my writing process to share how I do it.

I'm not lucky enough to have a whiteboard or foam core board (yet) in order to plot out my story. What I do is write out the general idea of the story first in a notebook. In this case, I use a spiral bound graph paper notebook. (don't mind my cable bill!)

So, I scribble out a general outline of the story. I make a few changes as I go, but for the most part, I have a very basic outline for the story I'm going to write. This also serves as a great way for me to keep in mind of the story idea, in case I decide not to write it soon, maybe putting it off for another story idea. I can always come back to it later.

Then, I put it on my laptop, in a Word file. Again, very basic outline. I might make a few changes here and there while I'm inputting it.
I use this document when I write too, because I can cut and paste the chapter plot points into my chapter and have a running note of what I need to accomplish in that chapter. Any changes are notated.

From there, I print it out and put it in my 3-ring binder. My binder is sectioned off according to the title of the story. I'll keep notes, names, charts in that story's section as well.

Nice and neat isn't it? LOL

Not for long. From there, I start writing the story. As I write, I make a LOT of adjustments and changes to the outline, keeping note of it in my binder.

There are times I take a break from writing on the ms. like, to eat, or spend some family time. I take my notebook with me. As I'm watching tv or carrying on conversation, sometimes I get a brainstorm or idea, and I jot it down in the notebook.My notes might not be in order when I write them down, but I number them and track them with lines and arrows.

So, when I finish a chapter, the chapter plot points are pasted into another Word document, Outline2. This is the final outline for the story, having every plot point that's in the chapter. I also keep a chapter word count as well. Any changes such as during editing will have a new document for each draft.
So, when I am writing on my story, I have a minimum of four Word documents open. The ms, the first outline, the second outline, and a document for any trivia or info I need that I've collected, or if I come across any trivia or info, I can copy and paste it into my notes document.

And that is my writing process. =)