The Attempts for Healthier Living and Event Addendum

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Real quick on the Event Addendum.

I will not be driving to Los Cabos on Wednesday to do a write-in. I will be staying at the Bixby Ihop location. There is a booth area that has an outlet, I can bring a surge protector for those who have laptops, and it’s out of the way of the rest of the customers. For my Tulsa area friends, I know it’s relatively short notice so it’s a bit of an unofficial write-in. The first official one is a week from this Wednesday, on August 23rd. Just remember to bring some money in case you want to eat or drink anything. I am operating this like the NaNo write-ins done during NaNo months. I hope to do this weekly so as to get myself and my fellow writers back on track for writing and to give us all some amount of accountability when it comes to progress.

One thing I am doing to keep myself on task is to take pictures of my progress. I write by hand most of the time, and I carry mini notebooks with me at work so I can jot down whatever I can without having to carry my laptop with me or find a hiding spot for the larger notebook. It’s a weird system, but it’s currently working. I refuse to complain about that!

I’ve been making some changes for myself as of late. I’m trying to cut back on soda. I’ve gone like three or four days without drinking any soda. It’s a bit of a struggle at times, especially when I start to feel like I’m dragging at work and I need a quick caffeine fix to get me going. I add things like cream and sugar/honey to my coffee, and it’s not always feasible to stop in the middle of a rush to fix that cup of coffee to keep me going. I managed to get through this weekend quite all right so I’m quite proud of myself on that. It’s just a matter of keeping that streak going!

For my coffee now, I’m avoiding flavored creamers. It’s difficult because I do love caramel and chocolate in my coffee. When finances allow, I’ll be buying some bags of caramel to melt in my coffee. I do try to avoid sugar in my coffee. At home, I have honey and milk, but at work I’ve been using sugar packets. Real sugar, not any of our sugar substitutes as I question whether or not Smuckers Honey is as natural as they claim it to be. I have used it, it is tasty, but I also admit to being a bit lazy and not wanting to mess with the little packages that the honey comes in.

Our household is making changes, too. My mom and stepdad are (finally) getting away from margarine for cooking. It’s all real butter now so yum there.

Trying to eat healthier is not always easy. It is not as cheap as people like to think that it is. Saturday, after work, I stopped at the neighborhood Market (Wal-Mart) where my mom works to give her the daily rent money and to do so some shopping for myself. I had about $20 to spend plus I needed to set aside some for some major projects I have coming up over the next two years. I picked up four small containers of Greek yogurt (not what I wanted but that particular Wally no longer has what I want), one container of orange juice, two oranges, a mango, a Fuji apple (I’m picky about apples), a quart of strawberries, two cucumbers, a lemon, a lime, two bananas, and a peach for a little over $17 after taxes. This is food that will not keep for weeks on end. It’s food I need to eat within the next day or so before it spoils.

I did manage to get the lemon, lime, and one of the cucumbers utilized for a water infusion (it’s so yum). My bananas are gone along with one of the oranges.

This is food that I love. I don’t buy food that I hate because it’s healthy for me. I buy healthy foods that I love. And, even shopping at places like Wal-Mart and Aldi’s, it isn’t cheap. I don’t always have enough money to buy the healthy foods. But I’m still going to try because I do believe in the adage that my body is my temple. I wouldn’t dream of ever desecrating sacred grounds, a church, a mosque, a temple, or any other religious structure. So it begs the question, because I also believe we house the Divine within us, why do I treat my body any differently¬† than I would an outside structure that’s considered holy, divine, sacred, and all of these other wondrous things? The answer is I shouldn’t because my body is going to be with me a lot longer than a church or a temple. I’m slightly nomadic at heart. I can’t carry an actual temple with me when I travel to places.

I’m working on making other changes, too. Part of why I’ve chosen to self-publish for the foreseeable future is I like the print-on-demand option. I like that it helps to reduce the mass destruction of old growth forests and the air pollution from the dyes and inks used for books. I still love paperbacks and hard covers, but I also like to have options when it comes to reading and to publishing. Yeah, I’m not entirely thrilled that my car is not as fuel-efficient as it could be, but I also know my car gets better than other types of vehicles in the same vehicle class. And I do what I can to make sure my car remains fuel-efficient. (To note on my car: I’m not trading her in any time soon. I still owe $6500 on her, and one of the last times I traded in a Ranger for another Ranger to get out of a high interest, yet low payment, loan, the newer Ranger ended up repossessed because I fell behind on the payments. I’m not interested in going through that again. I’m not interested in having a finance company call me up and threaten me the way National City did back in the early part of the 2000s. I love my Sigyn. She is precisely what I have wanted for a few years now, and I want to keep her for as long as I possibly can. I’m not someone who gets a car and trades it in every year and a half to two years. I dislike that about the previous generations, how they were so “throw it away/get rid of it for something newer and supposedly better” so it’s something I’m avoiding for myself. When the time comes to say goodbye to my Sigyn, I will, but now is not that time.)

Most of the changes I want to make – reducing the amount of toilet paper I use, cutting out processed sugar, and so on – will be starting at home. I have plans to go greener at home than what I currently am. One of the things I do like about Tulsa is they require recycling be done at home. So we do recycle. It’s probably one of the few things I like about Tulsa (other than the very wonderful people I have met here – Erika, Grover, Shelby, Sarah, Nakia, Zach, Max,Terry, Jason; I’m looking at you guys! Chris, I ain’t sure about you just yet, but we’re getting there), expect the place is still has a lot of litter and dirt on the roads. Yes, the litter bugs me as does the lack of street cleaning trucks. Ah but change begins within, right? Right!

So baby steps with the health and the green living.

Have a great Monday, guys! Today is the start of me doing word sprints! Here we go!
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Events and Giveaways

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Closer to time for the Ravensrealm, I intend to at least try for a giveaway of some kind for the first two books in Arc of Fantasy. Not sure how I’m going to run it yet or when or if I’ll just do Amazon, Goodreads, or both – it’s still a couple of months away as of this moment.

The other giveaway is the Cosplay Giveaway. Loki cosplayers (from MCU, Norse mythology, Fairy Tale, and so on) and Star Ocean cosplayers will receive a free copy of Sigyn’s Flowers (Loki cosplayers) or Portal to Gaming (Star Ocean cosplayers) by sending me a RECENT photo of the cosplay (no older than nine months). It’s a limit one copy per cosplayer per lifetime. So if you already have your free copy, excellent!

For Tulsa area writers, I want to start hosting a write-in on Wednesdays. Official one is going to be for August 23, 2017, and hopefully at the Bixby Ihop (8222 S. 103rd) from 2-5 pm. (I work on Wednesdays and will already be there so it’s just a convenience thing for me). I’ll post something more official. If you’re interested in doing a write-in this upcoming Wednesday, I’m making plans with some friends to be at Los Cabos in Broken Arrow. Bring at least enough money to pay for your own drinks (I’m poor) along with pens, notebooks, laptops. If you have a project you want to complete or a project to start, this is a good opportunity to get started!

Finally, Ravensrealm is due out November 4th. Mark your calendars! An excerpt from the story will be out later this week.

I Drive a Mom Car

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As strange as it may sound, I drive a mom car. A little refresher for everyone.

On Saturday, August 13, 2016, I stepped onto a car lot to look at buying a car. I’d actually avoided even looking at cars until that point because I was waiting to see what the outcome of the 2016 election was going to be. (As we all know, it wasn’t good.) Depending on who won, I was either going to leave the country (#45) or pursue another dream in addition to writing and start a homestead (if Hillary had won). I was going to get a rental car and possibly a U-Haul to help my best friend move from Arizona to North Carolina. Seemed like the wiser decision at that time.

Anyway, because I didn’t have a car, someone had to get up early enough to take me to work then be available to come and get me after work. Again, a small reminder, I work as a server for a local Ihop (recently opened – we’ll be celebrating our two-year anniversary in October), and the Ihop I work at is around 15 miles away from my mother’s house. Because we don’t Tulsa when we drive (i.e., drive the expressways to get somewhere in ten minutes rather than 30 – the long route helps with the creative process and a few other things), we happened to drive by the dealership where I chose my car.

We’d driven by that dealership anywhere from 4-5 days a week, minus the month and a half I lived in New Orleans, for almost a year when I had a rather sudden change of thought on buying a car. All day at work, I contemplated the wisdom of getting a rental car versus the wisdom of getting a car for myself. I told my mother I wanted to stop at that particular dealership to at least look. If they didn’t have anything that appealed to me, well, there’s another car dealer just down the road from me that I would have gone to in order to find a car.

After work and after my stepdad had come to get me, he dropped me off, and I looked at a grand total of four vehicles: two Ford Rangers (my first vehicle purchase was a 1990 Ford Ranger, followed by a 1996 Ranger, followed by a 1999 Ranger so I do love a good pickup truck) and two Ford Escapes. The Rangers didn’t really catch my eye this time around, but the Escapes? Well, I’d been wanting one for a few years so I was bouncing back and forth between a red 2006 Escape and a blue 2003 Escape.

The deciding factor when I wanted to find out the cost of the car?

The color blue

I asked about the blue 2003 Ford Escape only. I was financed for the blue 2003 Escape. I’d named the car on the test drive to the house to get more paperwork that I needed. I’d never wanted a car as much as I’d wanted this car, and the only reason why I even bothered to look was because my best friend needed help moving. She couldn’t do it on her own, and there was no one else to help her, who could help her the way that I was offering.

I’ve had my Sigyn for a year now, and I owe a wee bit under $6500. That is a cause of joy for me. The only thing missing is having a little one or two in the backseat. I truly have a mom car, and I love it.

(To note here: I do know what happened in Charlottesville, and I’m very saddened and outraged to hear that such a thing is happening in 2017. I thought we left that behind in the 1950s.)

The Dream Travel Blog, Volume One: Paris, France

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Okay, the first thing I’m going to do here is pop up this disclaimer.

I have never been to Paris, France, or any other country in Europe or Asia. The only country I have ever visited is Canada. And, yes, I was in Canada for leisure around the turn of the decade, the century and the millennia (1999). I can even say I was in Canada a few years before that when we went on a Soo Locks tour and spent all of five minutes within the Canadian border on Lake Superior (though I’m sure it also technically doesn’t count). Anyway, all travel entries will be about the places I want to visit. All images are snagged from the internet through a search engine.

A little bit of a throwback to the past.

When I was a little girl, the very first country I ever wanted to visit was Switzerland. I was ten. Beyond citing National Lampoon’s European Vacation, I honestly cannot recall why I wanted to go to Switzerland. Probably I liked to say Switzerland. And they have mountains. As a little kid, I’d never actually seen the mountains (that wouldn’t come until I started attending conventions back in 2000). I do love mountains (I enjoyed my time in Salt Lake City six years ago, and I’ve enjoyed Colorado, as well).

So even as a young child, I wanted to go beyond the country where I live. Now, as I’ve already mentioned, the first country I’ve actually visited is Canada, which isn’t a bad start. It doesn’t look all that different from the U.S., geographically speaking, so it’s kind of hard to believe you’ve stepped out of the country, until you catch one of the posted speed limits. Then you know for sure you’re in Canada.

My dream jaunt is to either start in Iceland or Japan (if I start with Japan, it’ll be two weeks there, hopefully a week in China so I can stand on the Great Wall – that’s all I really want to do in China; stand on the Great Wall and just actually feel its immenseness), spend a couple of days in Moscow, Russia, and then go backpacking across Europe for three months. If I were to start in Iceland, it would be basically be the reverse. Three months in Europe with a few days in Moscow, then to China and ending in Japan. We’ll see how well I can make all of this a reality. ^_^

Right now, my heart is really, really, really yearning for France. I want to learn more of the language – I’ve known a few words and phrases here and there throughout my life; over thirty percent of the English language comes from the French; it’s now a matter of taking everything to the next level. If you were to tell me that I had to limit myself to one location right now, it would be a toss up between Tokyo, Japan, (I do love Japanese culture) and Paris.

So why France, of all places? Why go to a country that a good portion of the people are rumoted to be quite rude to tourists, especially Americans?

Well, for starters, I can blame a little bit of this on Hetalia. While Francis Bonnefoy is not my number one favorite character, he is a favorite. However, that’s only a little bit.

See? Francis is just so much fun!
Papa France b-day wishes

The bigger portion of this has to do with wanting to go to new places, to learn new things, to absorb a way of life that’s totally different from what I know, and to just be, to live, and to experience. I think I’ve mentioned before my ethnic heritage in a previous entry. If not, well, I’ll go through it again because I’m an American, and I have a fascination with my family’s ancestry and how it was uprooted to be in this country. I am English, Irish, German, Scotch, Hungarian, Norwegian, Native American, and French.

Yes. I said French. My dad claims there are hints of French and Belgian through his family line, based on his Ancestry.com search results – I’m going to go for Momondo’s DNA journey again next year because I truly believe there’s more in there than what anyone on both sides of my family realize.

Also, to note, the French isn’t just French nationale but it’s also French Canadian. It’s through my mother’s side of the family, and they were here long enough to have established something in Canada before immigrating to the United States. And the French side is of noble blood. One of my uncles found our family crest (there are two family crests on my dad’s side of the family.)

And who wouldn’t want to see this?

la-fete-nationale-paris-france

What would I expect upon entering France?

Quite honestly, I would expect to run into a lot of people who speak French. Hence, the desire to learn the language. Plus, I want to translate my novels into other languages. That would be so much fun. Time-consuming, hair-pulling out-ing, why did I even think this was a good idea thing, but an overall it was worth it thing.

I would expect to walk along streets and areas that are far, far older than any city in the United States. I live in Philadelphia for a short while. It’s one of the oldest cities here, and I was just so in love with it. And I loved the French Quarter of New Orleans. The French blood in me sings whenever I think of visiting this mother country of mine.

I would expect to be in a land that’s not just brimming with history but overflowing with it, to the point where I’d feel like I was drowning in the sensation, and I’d just love it.

I would love to walk amongst the gardens there. Yes, visiting the Eiffel Tower is a must, but I don’t want to do just the tourst-y stuff. This would be more than just a bucket list trip. This would be an adventure of a lifetime, a way of reconnecting roots with my part of the tree and maybe healing that ancient connection. This would transcend the physical into the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of my life.

And, of course, food. I love food. I work as a server. How can I not love food, right?

Finally, I would like to see more of the city, and of the country, than just the Eiffel Tower. My Ecosia search (hey, they plant a tree every time I use them – I like that!) yielded a lot of pictures of the famous landmark. There were a few others, but the majority were of the Eiffel Tower.

Destination #1 on my dream world travel blog: Paris, France.

Tales of the Twisted and the Cracked, Volume One

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A lot has changed since the zombie outbreak of 2018. Some thought it would like World War Z. Others thought it would be like Zombieland. Even more still thought to other movies and fictional pieces like Resident Evil, Night of the Living Dead, and even Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. Oh, and I mustn’t forget everyone’s favorite television series, The Walking Dead. We thought such shows would actually prepare us for a zombie outbreak. You know, stock up on gasoline for our cars, guns, ammunition . . . I still like the idea of using quarters and nickels as ammunition. In fact, I have a stockpile in my car and my bedroom. You know. Just in case.

Of course, we all lived in ignorant bliss of what an actual zombie apocalypse might look like. (I still remember when my neice, Chloe, asked me after viewing a Resident Evil movie marathon, if she could eat my face if she ever turned into a zombie. My sister’s boyfriend’s best friend got his ass kicked after that. My nephew, Ian, can’t handle those kinds of movies. His dad was a real dickhead. I almost went to jail for pounding his face in after he’d done the same damned thing to my older sister. Poor kid has issues because he hit his head against the wall too hard. It took us a week to convince him that such movies weren’t real, could never be real. In hindsight, that was actually rather stupid, but hey. We live and learn, right? Oh, yeah, by the way. Because her question stunned me, and my daughter was like three at the time, I agreed. She’s five, and I call her my bug. How could I tell her ‘no’ when she asked me so nicely and sweetly?)

Yeah, 2018. Everything thought the current president of the United States would bring us to our doom. Nope. Not even close. Russia and North Korea? Oh, please. You’re killing me with the jokes. My sides hurt now from laughing too hard.

Oh, don’t worry. My neice Chloe remains as normal as can be. She and my two-year-old son fight over who gets to sit in my lap whenever I visit my sister. We still have zombies in our neighborhoods and as our co-workers. The outbreak wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. In fact, believe it or not (or not – quite honestly, I still have a hard time believing this, and I was there when it happened), the life saver for all of us during the outbreak were companies like Pancake Cafe’ and Express Mail Deliver.

I know, how could that be, right? Well, I’d always joked with my co-workers we’d always be open. You see, most of you probably don’t know it, but, before the outbreak, companies like the Pancake Cafe’ and Express Mail Delivery ran twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I, of course, worked as a server for the Pancake Cafe’, which, you know, was everywhere in the U.S. You couldn’t ask for Christmas off. Most of us didn’t dare, anyway (not when we could possibly walk out with $300 or better in an hour-shift. Come on now. When you’re a server, and you have food to put on the table, Christmas tips are LIFE-SAVERS!). A lot of customers thought it was sad that we had to work holidays, yet it never stopped them from taking advantage.

Anyway, as I was saying, because we were always open twenty-four/seven, I used to joke that very little would close our doors. Sure, a water pipe bursting would – that’s health code violation, don’t you know – but a zombie or alien apocalypse? World War III bearing down on us? Nah. I always said our managers would still tell us to serve pancakes, anyway.

It was all joke. I never expected to be right.

Yeah, I still work for Pancake Cafe. I at least get to carry a gun in case a customer zombie tries to breaks the rules and eat other guests or any of our servers. But, until they do so, thanks to the “Zombies are people, too” movement, we’re not allowed to discriminate against them. We do have a zombies only section – they do stink something horrible – and, of course, one of our best cooks is a zombie. We’re only allowed to put down the ones that are threats to public safety, namely killing humans indiscriminately and/or trying to eat dogs and cats. The animal rights activists have had field days with the zombies’ rights activists – please don’t ask. My head still aches from hearing all of the legalities behind it all.

They’re not that bad, the zombies. Some used to be vegetarians in life. Those tend to be the servers’ favorites. They tip surprisingly well, and they order the wheat, walnut, and banana pancakes the most.

The zombies also leave kids alone. In fact, they’re not the ravenous hordes depicted in the movies. If anything, they just look like worn-out people. Except with bits of flesh falling off every now and then. Our zombie cook? Yeah, he looks like a fricken mummy most of the time. Can’t discriminate against them in employment, either, and he’s still a damn good cook, despite occasionally getting pissed off and eating the brains of some of the servers. (They really shouldn’t make his undead status an issue. He’s still quite sore about it, and he doesn’t have a good rein on his temper like he did before he died and came back. I know Carl complains about losing good servers that way, but you just don’t insult your cook who has been known eat servers’ brains. He’s not a threat to public safety when he does that. At least, not yet. By the way, did I mention he’s a damn good cook? My kids love, love, love getting pancakes when he’s on duty.)

Anyway, yeah. Pancake Cafe’ helped to mitigate the severity of the zombie outbreak. How, you ask? Well, we served pancakes! The zombies that came in? One of the servers squeaked out, “Don’t eat me! Eat the pancakes!”

And they did.

It was the one place where everyone could come together and have a nice meal, despite the initial chaos and the mass looting in the streets.

I can’t say that I’m glad that I work there. But hey. There are definitely worse places to be nowadays.

At least it wasn’t a vampire apocalypse, right?

Found This Gem (and More)

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Someone recently told me that, because he lived in the U.K., he never gets to read/see any reviews left by others in different countries on Amazon. The only ones the U.K. page will show him are the ones left by those in the U.K. (To note here, while I don’t know if it’s true for everyone, I’ve had one review on Sigyn’s Flowers appear for both the Canadian and U.K. sites.)

His words got me to thinking. What reviews have I missed because Amazon apparently doesn’t streamline reviews from other countries? I did a little digging not that long ago, and the answer is . . .

One. I’ve missed one review from a Canadian reader because of the various sites for different countries. (Maybe we authors should ask that all reviews be streamlined? Doesn’t matter if they’re from our native countries or from outside? I think that’s a plan.)

So here it is, the review I missed. It’s from Olga Stewart, and I thank her greatly, from the bottom of my heart, for her review.

“I love mythology. So already, the subject matter of this book had me hooked.

And as I read the book, I started to see the gods, goddesses, and other such people who have the usual, every day problems and concerns of humans. And it was refreshing to see that because it made the characaters far more relatable.

Also, this is a new way of looking at the mythological worlds. And not just from seeing this from a human viewpoint. But also realizing that even though the usual stories may be different, they all connect by way of teaching us about humanity, life, and of the world.

There are other books that fill in the blanks as to some of what happened in this particular book. And I am looking forward to reading those books.

But if you want a short, entertaining, fascinating, and somewhat different take to the world of mythical fiction, this is a great book to start with.”

And with that, to all of my readers outside of the U.S., please do not hesitate to point out to me when you’ve left me a review. I love sharing them with everyone, and they truly brighten my day.

Thanks again for reading!

Oh, and before I forget, baby dragon!
baby dragon

Be Proud

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I presume that, if you’re reading this, you’re a writer. If you’re a reader only and wondering what’s going through my mind, hey, that’s awesome, too.

Writing has been a very interesting journey for me. It’s a journey I’ve been on for thirty-one years (remember, I started writing in the third grade, and I haven’t really stopped), and it’s a journey I can’t imagine not being on. Yeah, I’ve held a variety of jobs since I became of legal working age – writer gotta eat and pay bills, too – but writing has pretty much been life, whether or not I realized it upon graduating high school.

This morning, as I was waiting for one of my Amazon pages to load (I watch Amazon like a hawk but forget I have published on other platforms, too), I’d wondered briefly if my dad was proud of me. Not my mother (I live with her; while she’s not stated as much, I know she’d probably rather I focused on something other than writing as a lifetime career, but she’s also accepting the fact I’ve chosen it, I’ve stuck with it, so . . . I don’t know actually know if she’s proud of me for pursuing this, but then I’ll be addressing that in just a moment) but my dad. I haven’t seen my dad since I left Michigan (again) at the end of August 2015. We’ve talked, but I’ve not made a special trip up to see him (as a server, I’m constantly broke).

I’d wondered for a brief moment if he was proud of me then decided it didn’t matter if he was or wasn’t at this point. Just like it doesn’t matter if my mother is proud of me. I am proud of myself. If I’d listened to everyone who had given me advice on when to take the first publishing step, I would never have taken that first publishing step. The “you’ll never make it as an author; they don’t earn a lot” sayings? Yeah, those could have held me back.

And, yes, I do need to work while I build up my bibliography, but I also need to build up my bibliography. So I’m proud of myself for taking a step in publishing. When it comes to writing, I will know upon my deathbed that I took that chance upon myself, and I will know the outcomes of that chance when that time comes.

So, if you’ve taken that chance, be it to get the words down, to query an agent/publisher, or to self-publish, be proud of yourself as well. Because no one else in this world be as proud of you for taking that chance on yourself as you will be.

Now I’m off to work more on Ravensrealm. Some of my characters are going to be in for a shock!