A ray of hope – An additional entry for today

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On Saturday, June 20, 2015, I wrote that I probably looked crazy sitting in the library because I was wearing a black sweater at the time. I also said there was a reason for it, one that I was keeping my silence on until I knew more

Well, on Saturday, I had a job interview at Burger King at 3 p.m. Past experiences in announcing job interviews has made me super cautious. I get all excited, I tell everyone and then, when the time comes, I go to my interview. I think I do well, but I never get the job. I’m often nervous after saying something to more than a handful of people, and the anxiety shows during the interview.

Not on Saturday. I interviewed extremely well, was calm, cool, and collected. I was told I’d hear back about a second interview, hopefully by 7 pm that night.

The call never came.

I was groaning. You see, I applied to Burger King last Tuesday. I arrived to Grandma’s around 5 pm, and, within an hour, Burger King called to schedule the interview. Wasn’t expecting that in the least! So, of course, Grandma knew. I told my Aunt Margaret so I’d have a ride. And I told a handful of friends. Keep the numbers down, right?

Well, fate conspired against me a little. Friday morning, Burger King called again to schedule an interview for Saturday. My dad was sitting at the table. We joked a little about how I was a wanted woman. My picture was up at Burger King. You know. Like the old-fashioned criminal wanted signs. It was cute, it was fun, but Saturday . . . well, my stepmother asked me about the interview. That’s when I started to panic a little. I didn’t want a lot of people to know. I hadn’t even told my mother yet. What was the point of saying something if I didn’t get the job? Not that not getting the job would have been the end of the world. I’d keep trying. Still, too many people knowing wasn’t a good sign. When I didn’t hear back by 7 pm on Saturday, I figured my chances were probably shot. Not because I’m a horrible person or unqualified for the job but because the expectations were starting to rise and people were going to be excited.

Fortunately for me, the Gods are smiling upon me. I got the call for the second interview this morning. I’ve already gone, and I have orientation tomorrow at 9 am.

I have the job, and only five people knew. Me, Grandma, my Uncle Keith, and the two managers from Burger King.

This is exciting for me. It’s my second job. Writing is my other. I’m going after a third. Call me ambitious, but my bills aren’t going to pay themselves.

Now some people might be thinking, Burger King? You’re settling for THAT? Why don’t you do this? Go do that? You’ll earn more money!

I’m not settling for anything. I chose to apply to Burger King. On a whim, to be sure, but it’s what I chose. I’ve loved the restaurant industry for some time so it makes it more than just a job. Plus, I love the food at Burger King. Sitting in the restaurant, waiting for my interview, I overheard a customer say to her daughter about how they were heading downstate and she didn’t want to hear her little girl say she was hungry halfway down. With the weather, the nice new interior, and the thought of traveling, I was taken back in time when I used to do a lot of traveling, and I’d stop at a Burger King for food. Heck, I used to work a midnight shift at a convenience store and go to Burger King in the am for a Whopper. That calmed my nerves for me. I aced my second interview.

This isn’t going to interfere with my publication schedule at all. It’s going to add some balance to my life, this job, that I’ve been sorely needing, and it’s going to help with the publishing.

I’m getting back on my feet. That makes me incredibly happy! A smiley face cookie will appear sometime this week, too! (Had a coupon for a free cookie from a local bakery. What a way to celebrate, right?)

Until tomorrow, my friends!

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Rick Riordan discussion

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For today, I wanted to write a book review on Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book #4 – The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan. I truly did, but I feel at a loss. I remember the story at the same time I don’t remember the story. I don’t feel confident enough to write that book review until after I’ve read the story again. I’m waiting on Sea of Monsters before I can even pick up The Titan’s Curse and Battle of the Labyrinth. I’m half-tempted to find a way and buy the books at this point. Utilizing the library is a blessing and a bane.

Speaking of Rick Riordan, I was told a short while back that he has a new series coming out this upcoming September. I was also told by the same person that it’s going to be steeped in Norse mythology, and I’m very curious as to how he’s going to handle that. So far, he’s dabbled with the Greek (Percy Jackson and the Olympians; The Heroes of Olympus), the Roman (The Heroes of Olympus) and, I do believe, Egyptian (The Kane Chronicles). I’ve not read his third series, which seems more trilogy than anything else, but I would love to.

One thing I love about Rick’s characters, so far, is just how human they are, despite their demigod status and how witty they can be, even in intense situations. They’r typical teenagers trying to live somewhat normal lives, despite having to battle monsters. A lot. At the same time, they’re not typical teenagers. The relationships have been very chaste. Granted, when I go to look for the books in the library, they’re in the children’s section instead of the teen, but even then, the kids involved are very chaste. When I was in high school, I didn’t think the girls around me were just like me and refraining from having sex. Quite the opposite, actually. I knew that they were. I know that a lot of teens now still engage in sexual activities so for the established couples to not engage in typical teen behavior is something quite . . . extraordinary. And I love them all the more for it.

The book review for The Battle of the Labyrinth will come. In the meantime, I’m going to finish reading The Heroes of Olympus and enjoy my time with these characters as I don’t think Rick will be writing about them again now that Blood of Olympus has been released. Then again, I could be wrong, and he may just write about them a little further on down the road.

Only time will tell.

Currently reading by Rick Riordan: The House of Hades

The Zoo by James Patterson – An Old Concept with a New Twist

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First all, I’m going to admit I’ve not read this particular novel by James Patterson. I haven’t read anything by James Patterson. My mother has, and I don’t know if The Zoo is one of the stories she purchased. She’s read so much over the course of my life, I can’t possibly name everything. In any case, I’m going more by the previews for CBS’s summer series based on this novel. I am definitely intrigued and considering picking up the novel once I’ve slimmed down what I’ve already picked up from the library.

Anyway, this isn’t to rip apart The Zoo but rather a look at some of the components. The concept, from what I’ve been able to gather, is that animals no longer fear humans. Something inside of them has awakened, a new awareness, and they’ve decided to get rid of all humans.

Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? Anyone else thinking of Planet of the Apes at this point?

The concept behind animal behavior changing isn’t new. I don’t know about any earlier novels, but I have a feeling I know where the idea of this comes from.

Continue reading

Busy girl

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“…and the gods cannot behold the two-fold beauty

which I have made

 for Osiris, the greatest of the gods.

I have given unto him

the region of the dead.”

 

The Book of the Dead

 

 

 

“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end

and the number of my days;

let me know how fleeting is my life.

You have made my days a mere handbreadth;

the span of my years is as nothing before you.

Each man’s life is but a breath.

Selah”

 

Psalm 39:4, 5

 

 

Chapter 1: Winter’s Early Toll

Eighteen year old Charlotte Burke stared in horror at the burning cottage before her. The clanging of a fire bell in the distance and the approaching sound of hooves told her that the volunteer brigade was on its way. She was certain that little could be saved of her grandfather’s cottage. She clutched the stable blanket around her and controlled the mare, who whinnied and rolled her eyes and stomped her feet, even at this distance from the blaze.

The blond man next to her laid his hand on the blanket. He murmured soothingly in German, then a tingle ran up her leg, as if it had fallen asleep.

The mare disappeared, the snow ceased falling, and she stood surrounded by warmth, where it had once been cold.

Charlotte blinked, startled to find herself in the dim foyer of a home she didn’t recognize. Her heart began to race. She pressed back as far as she was able, the unfamiliar stone wall smooth beneath her hands.

Across the hallway, a glow of yellow light filtered from under a closed door. A shiver shook her limbs as her eyes darted around in the low light. She spied what appeared to be an entryway door stood to her right, and she started toward it.

Before she could grasp the knob, the interior door swung open. She snatched her hand back and whiled around, the saddle blanket falling from her shoulders. A man hurried toward her, no more than a dark outline whose features were hidden by the backlight of candles and fire. She wanted to run but her legs seemed frozen in place. In her mind’s eye she pictured the men who had chased her from her home, and set her grandfather’s cottage ablaze.

The man approached her; her heart pounded. She slid sideways away from him until she was in a corner. Huddled with her back to the wall, she wondered if she could make it to the door before he grabbed her.

“Miss Burke?” the man asked. “What has happened? What are you doing here?”

He knew her name? Charlotte could make out the man’s features, now that her vision had adjusted.  He wasn’t overly tall but portly, wearing an indoor coat despite the late hour. His eyes were dark, perhaps brown or black, and he was clean-shaven. Round-face, long narrow nose. She didn’t recognize him.

“Who are you?” She hated that her voice shook. “Are you going to hurt me? Where am I?”

“I’m Barton Laird, and I certainly will not hurt you.” The man sounded insulted. “You are in my home. I know you don’t know me, but you’re safe here.”

She didn’t know him, and she didn’t trust anyone. Laird stepped closer to her with a hand out. She ducked his reaching arm and spun, dashing for the entry door. She had just placed a hand on it when he was suddenly there next to her. He blocked the way with his arm.

“Miss Burke! Peter Rayne, this is his estate. Please, stop!”

She hesitated. She knew Peter Rayne’s name. He was her guardian, though she hadn’t seen him in more than a year. She took two quick steps away from the door and grabbed a black umbrella from the coat rack, holding it out in front of her like a weapon. She realized too late how ridiculous she looked, but tightened her grip on it anyway, determined to defend herself if he tried to touch her again.

“You are clearly not Peter Rayne. So how do you know me?”

“Peter is my sister’s husband. Will you put down that umbrella?”

She didn’t put the umbrella down. They stood there, staring at each other, until he held up his hands in resignation. He stepped back to the wall niche where she had appeared moments earlier.

“Alright then, please, just wait here. Do not leave.”

He disappeared.

She stood there, holding that silly umbrella, her mouth dropped open. He was a witch. Now what? She had no idea where he had gone, or when he would return. Despite his reassurances that he would not harm her, she feared that he would bring the same who had invaded and ransacked her home.

She had to escape. She had to help her mother, who remained at home to face the men alone, insisting that Charlotte flee.

Fighting tears, Charlotte lowered the umbrella and grasped the doorknob to run out. The door was locked. She dropped the umbrella on the floor, twisting the knob left and right, pushing and pulling, even hitting her shoulder hard against it, but she couldn’t get it to budge. She sniffed back a tear. She had to find a way out, and find help.

She inched back, breathing faster, and picked up the umbrella, her only weapon. Although there was no light in the foyer, by the light that filtered from the nearby room she could make out white stone walls. A tapestry hung on the wall and an abstract mosaic pattern decorated the center of the foyer’s stone floor. She crept to her right, to enter the room with the open door, when a flash of movement in front of her caught her attention.

The man, Laird, reappeared in the niche. Next to him, stood Peter Rayne.

She lowered the umbrella, surprised. Her mother had told her that her guardian was a witch, but to know a thing and to actually see it, were two different things. She pressed her lips together, torn between screaming and hysterical laughter.

“Miss Burke, are you well?” Rayne asked.

“Please, my mother is home alone, there were men at the door. She bade me to flee to the Lindershire cottage, but it was in flames. Please.”

She couldn’t seem to form a coherent sentence, but thankfully it didn’t matter.

Rayne nodded once, his face set. “I will go to your mother.” He placed a hand on Laird’s shoulder.  “This is Barton Laird. He is my wife’s brother. You will be safe here until I return.”

He disappeared – winked out, like a candle flame snuffed – before she could ask any questions. Laird sidled toward her, reaching for the umbrella. She handed it to him without a word. Despite the pounding in her temple and the drip of blood onto her sleeping gown, she wouldn’t let him touch her, pushing his hand away.  He finally pointed at the fire-lit room in exasperation and she followed him in, tiptoeing through the doorway and looking around.

“This way.” He moved toward the single dark green sofa, in front of which sat a small table painted a flat robins’ egg blue.

She didn’t follow him, but backed up near the stone fireplace on the other side of the room. The flames reminded her of the burning cottage. Her teeth chattered and she clamped them together. She had run from her house earlier wearing only her underclothes and sleeping gown, even the stable blanket insufficient to keep her from nearly freezing on the mare as they rode through the snow. Her feet were blue and her fingers stiff.

She shivered, from more than cold. “My mother…I need to go home.”

“You cannot go home, Miss Burke. What would you do?” He didn’t seem unsympathetic, but his words terrified her. “I know this is difficult, but you have to wait for Peter to return. If he can help your mother, he will.”

She growled, frustrated. She couldn’t lounge in the warmth and safety of this house, while her mother was in danger.

“No, I’m leaving. Show me how to get out,” she demanded. “Open the door, and give me a horse.”

Laird seemed unmoved. “I will not. You cannot go anywhere, in your bare feet and night clothes, with unknown men trying to harm you.” He approached her again, but she backed away from his reaching hand. “I understand your concern, but you cannot help her. Please warm yourself a little and allow me to treat the wound on your head. Peter will return as soon as he is able.”

This time, she allowed him to grasp her chin, turning her head a little to see the wound better.

“Calm down, I will not hurt you. Fortunately, your head wound is merely a scratch. It is bleeding quite a bit, but head injuries tend to do so.”  He motioned to a short, thin man whom Charlotte had not noticed, standing in the doorway behind them. The man wore a butler’s uniform.

“Mr. Maugham, will you make something hot to drink and bring something to take care of this wound?”

Laird turned back to Charlotte as the butler hurried from the room. In the flickering firelight, Charlotte noted that Laird’s hair was peppered with white, his hands soft and trembly.

She backed a bit closer to the warmth of the fire. “Where am I?”

“This is my home. I live in the parsonage that sits on the grounds of the Rayne estate.” He leaned over to the low blue table, pouring honey-colored liquid into two small glasses from a crystal decanter.

Her mother told her that Peter Rayne was wealthy, though Charlotte had never been to the estate or to his home. At the thought of her mother, she clenched a fist in the folds of her sleeping gown. She didn’t know how she could wait any longer.

The sound of the door opening caught her attention, and she spun away from Laird. Peter Rayne entered the room with long strides, stopping in front of her.

“Your mother is uninjured.” He stooped to look her in the eye. She drew in a steadying breath, unable to stop a tear from falling. She brushed it away with a rough swipe of her palm.

“You are certain? Did you see her?”

“Yes. I saw her, and she is well. I suspect the men who tossed the house are Alastair Dunstan’s Raiders. Thankfully they drew the line at injuring an unarmed older woman.” He smiled, though it looked forced. “The Lindershire cottage is a loss, however. You cannot go home just yet, until I have determined it is safe. Please stay with Bart until I get back.”

“Wait, please…Raiders? I do not understand.”

“That is apparently the name they have given themselves. They are mages who seem determined to sow chaos among other mages, and local authorities have been unable to find them, much less put an end to their terrors. Over the last four months they have invaded and torched several homes across England, not caring who is inside. I believe they are looking for something.”

She frowned. “I still do not understand. If the men were these Raiders, why my house? We’re not mages, or witches. Neither my mother nor I have a scrap of magic between us.”

“I am not certain, yet, but I will endeavor to find out.” Peter tugged at his waistcoat. “You cannot return home until it is safe, however. Please remain here until I return.”

Without giving her a chance to speak again, Peter nodded at Laird. He strode from the parlor again, his black coat flapping around his legs like the wings of a bird.

A thought for the day

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I was originally going to post a blurb about Dragon’s Rain – the story’s been tugging at me as I try to get The Sons of Thor completed – but I decided against it for the day. Then I thought about posting a rough excerpt fromThe Sons of Thor and decided against that.

Today, I’d rather post some thoughts about Portal to Gaming, the first story in Arc of Fantasy.

I’m seriously considering writing up a second edition, one longer than the first and with chapter breaks. Turn it into a full-length novel instead of a novella. I have my reasons for this, something I was reminded of when speaking to a friend about some . . . opinions of family members about why I’m writing. And I also know I don’t want to be one of those people who writes about specific relationships because it’s “trendy” or “awesome” or whatever else anyone wants to say.

I will get the excerpts up. I do love my stories. I love them a lot. If nothing else, I’m proud of what I have accomplished so far, and I’m keeping the trend going.

Have a wonderful Thor’s Day, my friends!

The First Story I’d Ever Read by Stephen King

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No, this is not an actual title by the famous Stephen King. Wouldn’t that be an interesting title for a book anyway? Now that could be fun!

Rather this is about the first book by Stephen King that I had read, and, mind you, I’d heard of King long before I ever picked up one of his novels. At the end of the school year when I finished third grade, I’d stayed the night at my best friend Brandy’s house. Well, trailer when Cadillac actually had a trailer park at the north end. It was the summer of 1986, and her mom had cable. When you’re a poor kid, that tends to be a big deal.

Anyway, her mom had ordered pizza from Pizza Hut and had the channel set to the USA Network. They were playing Children of the Corn, which starred Linda Hamilton. For a couple of eight-year-olds, this was something of a scary movie. We munched on the pizza from Pizza Hut, drank some Pepsi, and had said anytime it got scary, we were going to throw a blanket over our heads so we didn’t have to see anything really bad.

Of course, we never did.

Fast forward to high school and me having a different best friend who happened to love Stephen King. My stepdad enjoys reading Stephen King novels as well, but he had never recommended any of King’s titles to me. I, Robot by Asimov and Farenheit 451 by Bradbury were the titles he’d recommended when I was in the eighth grade. Ninth grade, my best friend read The Eyes of Dragon while riding the bus home from school. I was actually quite intrigued by this title so . . . I checked it out from my school library and read it.

Now, if anyone knows anything about Stephen King, it’s that he is considered the Master of Horror fiction. He began cultivating this career in the mid-1970s. His first publications were Carrie and Christine, and many of his story settings are typical America suburbia where dark, mystical things happen or someone just flat out goes crazy and kidnaps her favorite author (a little Misery, anyone?). King has a talent for using mind tricks to accomplish his horror, not the usual blood and gore we see in so many slasher films.

The Eyes of the Dragon does not fall into King’s usual category of macabre, mind-twisting horror. The story itself is dark in nature. Don’t make any mistakes on that. King has a wonderful penchant for the dark side of human nature, and The Eyes of the Dragon isn’t any different from his usual style of novels.

What sets The Eyes of the Dragon apart from King’s usual novels is that it is a fantasy novel and ties a little more directly with The Dark Tower series. It has kings and dragons and princes and the infamous Randall Flagg. In its own right, the story is a traditional fantasy and is very well-crafted. It really does stand apart from the likes of Carrie, Christine, Pet Semetary, Needful Things, and The Dark Half (to name a few). If you want something different by Stephen King, this is a novel I definitely recommend for anyone to check out.

King is one author I love to read along with Tolkien and Poe.

Current book by Stephen King that I’m reading: Under the Dome

Until tomorrow, my friends!