Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Tis the Season to be Consuming

Well, Thanksgiving came and went, no major catastrophe or blood drawn at the family gathering. Good job! But now the real race to the home stretch starts - Christmas shopping.

I love to shop, but not with every other soul in the greater Atlanta area. I am claustrophobic, so the crowds are too big and hot, and I dislike fighting with a woman twice my size for a sweater for people I don't even want to be giving a present. We do a lot of gift buying on line, but even that can get contentious.

When did shopping become a competition? People were lining up a week ahead of Black Friday for the first 'doorbusters' at a nearby Best Buys. Camping out on the sidewall for a deal is a feat that should be reserved for concert tickets, not electronics! If the deal is that great, then do a drawing or buy in quantities that can handle the demand. Don't create a bizarre game show played out in cities across out country just to amuse corporate drones.

I do believe in supporting local small businesses as much as possible, especially at this time of year. As a small business owner myself, I appreciate the patronage of the community over large, impersonal, national corporations. Money stays in our neighborhood and county to fund needed improvements there, and you develop nice personal relationships with the store owners, which can come in handy at the strangest times.

Personally, I haven't gotten into the spirit of the season yet, but that might be because Thanksgiving was really early this year. Tonight and tomorrow we will get the decorations down and start the process, but until December officially starts on Saturday, it isn't Christmas yet.

Of course, I did watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" last night... ;)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is that most American of holidays - Thanksgiving. In the spirit of the occasion I have decided to list the things I am most thankful for.

1 - I am thankful for my family. God brought me the perfect man, and we have been together for 25 years. My children aren't perfect, but they are to me and I am amazed everyday I created these two exceptional humans.

2 - I am thankful for the country we live in. America isn't perfect, but I'm glad to be here where I have the freedom to disagree with others and grouse about taxes and other issues without having to worry about who is going to show up at my door.

3 - I am thankful God blessed me an incredible imagination and the gift of gab. It makes being a writer much easier.

4 - I am thankful for my friends and colleagues in all three professional areas of my life: as a business owner, as a writer, and as a volunteer with rescued horses.

5 - I am thankful for all the varied blessing in my life. They are too many to name, but I try to acknowledge them each. I look carefully each day because sometimes a blessing can be disguised as a problem. It's all in how you perceive things!

6 - I am thankful for my animals, all of them. Whether small or large, my animals are my children just like darling daughter and sensational son. Our family would be lost without them.

7 - Most important, I am thankful for each and every one out there. What a wonderful world this is!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Enjoy your turkey and dressing, don't eat too much pumpkin pie, and I'll see everyone next week as we begin the countdown to the end of the world (or at least 2012!)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wow, What a Rush!

Last weekend here in Georgia was magnificent. Clear blue skies, pleasant temperatures - all the right ingredients for contemplating my next story!

Actually, I have three that are battling for attention and it is becoming crowded in my head. Everyone is talking at once, all of them convinced their story is the most important, and I hoped taking last weekend off from writing and just wandering through the woods on horseback would put all the pieces in order. I was partly right.

Ever since childhood I have found solace in the forest. The lack of noise pollution, the quiet acceptance of the creatures, these are just two of the reasons I love the woods. As a teenager I would disappear into the trees behind our house (usually with a stolen pack of cigarettes I'm afraid), to spend hours staring up at the tall Georgia pines and majestic oaks; working out the mysteries of the universe in two hours or less before dark.

Riding through the property was awesome. The weather was just right, my mare figured out the way home and all I had to do was sit back and think. All my characters came forward and presented their cases.

I need to finish the synopsis for book 2 of the Guardian Stories. That is the first priority. Everything is ready for submission and waiting on me to finish the synopsis. But for some reason I am having a block against sitting down and writing, not just the synopsis but anything. My mind is full of snot, compliments of my children and husband, and I cannot put words together in any sort of sense.

There are two other stories vying for attention, who have also fallen victims to the mucus attack. I promised one the first crack when clean oxygen returns to my brain, but the other is going to have to wait, much to their consternation. I hate to say no to the voices in my head, but between making chicken soup for everyone, working two email accounts for work, picking up prescriptions, and blowing my own nose - something has to give.

All these things and more slogged through my densely crowded brain while Penny (the horse) and I tackled the woods and hills of Northwest Georgia. Wind from Superstorm Sandy the previous weekend had removed most of the leaves from the hardwoods. The sun was bright in a brilliant blue sky, with not a cloud to be seen and the air was warm until the light breeze stirred up a chill to brush the skin.

After a while it began to dawn on me to stop being so hard on myself. I need to just allow myself the time to care for my family and myself; something I tend not to do when I am in full on writing / working mode. September and October were crazy at my day job. My crews were out working more than 70 hours nine weeks in a row, which of course meant hubby and I were working those same hours. If my brain is overtaxed, there's a good reason for it.

So I've decided to spend some time doing nothing. I've worked hard, I owe myself downtime, and no one is going to deprive me of the opportunity to clean out the cobwebs and snot. I know many people are participating in the NaNo WrMo challenge of 50,000 words and more power to each of you! Believe me, I would if I could. But that's not where my head is at this moment. While the rest of you write, I'm going to relax, catch up on my reading and work on outlining my next book.

With that goal in mind, I make the pledge to not do any "serious" writing until after Thanksgiving, which is amazingly only one week away. So, for one week I am taking suggestion for books to read. I have a Nook and would like at least 5 books to choose from. If you know of something I should check out, leave me the title and author.

And with that, I'm off for the day. I think taking the pressure off might kick start the healing processes, and that might spread to the rest of my sickly family. And a healthy family for Thanksgiving is the best blessing of all!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

We Have A Winner!

Congratulations to Tara Mills!

You are the winner for the Autumn's Harvest Blog Hop giveaway of a $10 gift card to either or Barnes & Noble - your choice! The comments were awesome, and it was hard to pick just one winner. If you ask me, you are all winners. I wish I could give something to each one!

Autumn is on the downswing now as we head to Thanksgiving, then the Holiday season in December. Join me later this week as I talk about our family's Thanksgiving traditions and my fondest recollections of dinner disasters!

Thank you to everyone who came by; whether you left a comment or not I feel extremely humble to have shared not only my memories but also an excerpt of my first novel, "Catalyst - Guardian Rising." If you are interested in learning more about my book, the first of a trilogy, then please visit my blog:

And a BIG thank you to Carrie Ann's Blog Hops for putting together this magnificent networking opportunity. I hope I get to know some of you better as a result of her 'Hops"!

Friday, November 9, 2012

"Autumn - the Wind Blows Colder than Summer"...

Today we are participating the "Autumn's Harvest Blog Hop", sponsored by Carrie Ann's Blog Hops and Carrie Ann Ryan. There are over two hundred bloggers participating, so be sure to visit everyone and leave a comment for a chance to win, from me - a $10 Amazon gift card, and there are 3, that's right 3! Grand Prize Swag Packs. Not only that, but there are give aways on each blogger's page. Extra points for anyone who can name the song, and the artist, where you can find the title of today's post!  So, that said - let's talk about Autumn shall we?

While driving down the expressway leaving for the weekend, my mind wanders as through the window each passing tree reminds me of the season. Leaves, swirling down to gravity's command, wearing the fading glory of their vibrant show. It is that time again. Fall, the season when all things beautiful come to an end in preparation for the depth of winter. My favorite season.

Some people love Spring, the time of awaken and new life; others prefer the hot, sticky steam of a Deep South Summer. Others thrill for the freeze and promise of overlying pure blankets of perfect white brilliance, and the smell of the hearth fire flavoring the painful breath of Winter. While each of the other seasons have their charms and I do enjoy them each in its turn, my heart ever longs for Autumn.

As a child I enjoyed the swish of the fallen leaves as we ran through the neatly raked piles, laughter bubbling up from a wellspring deep inside. The special perfume of Saturday afternoons, a concoction of camp fires, s'mores, popcorn, and crisp cool air sliding across the countryside always brings me back to simpler days: Friday night football games and Saturday night bonfires followed by Sunday afternoon rides leaf peeping from the back of my favorite horse.

I love mornings, when the fog hangs low over the creeks and valleys of the mountains which surround us. The sting of early chill in the air brings a tear to my eyes when walking the horses out for the day. Mid morning the first of the long sleeves are coming off, and by after lunch you can wander in the sunshine in short sleeves; laughing to yourself over the capricious nature of Fall weather.

Autumn also brings the memories of first love. The rush of attraction soon followed by the thrill of those early dates. My first love left in the fall, more than once actually. He was in the Air Force. It seemed we were always saying goodbye. Then came college and the rush of fraternity boys. Homecoming and formals, dances where the music always seemed to fit the mood and alcohol flowed.

Change happens constantly, but in Fall the changes are spread across the spectrum of God's creatures. Not only are the trees wearing and shedding their brilliance, but the animals are in their element, preparing for the depths of hibernation. Squirrels scurry hither and yon, memory failing them in the endless search for their summer hiding places. The skies are filled with vast formations of birds, seeking the earth's compass to guide them to the safety and warmth of winter homes. By Autumn's end, the forests will be poised with an air of patience; waiting for the earth to tilt again and the lengthening of days.

So as the calendar winds down toward harvest's end and before we bar the doors and windows against the long night of winter, enjoy the fleeing beauty of Fall's glorious daylight. Partake of the fruits of the vines and the bounty of the fields. Autumn's Harvest is here. Enjoy the repast!

Now Available From Keith Publishing:  Catalyst - Guardian Rising

In a post-apocalyptic future, the fate of the rebuilding world hangs in the balance. An unknown power seeks the forbidden knowledge needed to unleash total devastation once more upon a fragile Earth. It falls to one woman to safeguard the future of the Five Kingdoms.

Princess of the West, Vivienne has been plagued by nightmare visions of past and future since the moment of her birth. Now, to save all she loves from destruction, she must rise above the crippling self-doubts that have assailed her since childhood to become the prophesied Guardian—because the enemy is moving, and the world will soon plunge into a war of sword and sorcery.

But who is the enemy? And who is a friend? Can Vivienne trust anyone apart from her sworn protector, Devon?

The answers lurk in the past—but should the past be destroyed to protect the future?

Excerpt from "Catalyst - Guardian Rising" :

My Nightmares

"...The Council of Elders thinks I am insane, unlucky to be born a woman and too young at the age of nineteen for the responsibility as my father’s only heir. Perhaps I am crazy. I did not ask for these dreams, these voices directing my actions. I have been cursed to spend my life reliving the nightmare of my birth. It has haunted my dreams since early childhood. The dreams created within me a deeply ingrained sense of doubt, questions of worth and abilities. Perhaps if the birth had been normal, all the torment and guilt which burned itself into my psyche would have ceased to be the essence of who I am. Instead, I was fated to have this repetitive horror as much a part of my nature as the blood streaming through my veins. My birth was a circus of violence, bloodshed, war and death. Hallmarks that created the basic characteristics of my personality were defined at the time of my voyage into this life.

For most of my life, from childhood through present, my dreams have encompassed a vast array of subjects, some familiar, others not. Sometimes I’ve dreamed of a strange world, where the sky pulsed a sickening shade of reddish-orange and the ground ran slick with blood. Other dreams contained mere shadows of people I did not know, doing things I could not see. Those dreams did not impress my brain enough to record their intimate details into my memories. But the complex details of my most horrific nightmares … those I have remembered with excruciating exactness. Those nightmares have at times driven me to the farthest reaches of my sanity where madness beckoned with welcoming arms, laughing when I gasped for air and tried to recoil from the horror.

In these repetitive, abominable shows, there is no past, no future — only an uneasy sense of existing simply in the “now.”

My worst and therefore most prevalent nightmare always starts at the same place: the laboring of my mother just prior to my birth. In this horror show, I can see the room and the people involved through several different sets of eyes, some at the same time. This gives me some interesting perspectives on everyone and their motivations. Despite the impossibilities involved in the complex process of dreaming, when I am locked within these nightmares, events never seem to be a part of my past. Everything and everyone seems to be moving in the “now,” not the “then.” But the pain and terror and the horror are always mine. I need bear no other person’s baggage — I have enough of my own.

Everyone is a product of their past. Since well before my birth my father, the Western Kingdom and the Northern Warrior tribes had been defending their borders against repeated incursions by followers of Minnlin, a renegade Druid, with exceptional talent for Mysticism and War Craft. Fifty years before my birth the Druid Master of that time, a grim fellow named Reave, gave his permission for the young Minnlin to be given instruction in both areas.

The Druids gave him free rein over the knowledge contained in their massive libraries. In their folly they allowed the young man to study unobserved and unsupervised within the forbidden Books they were sworn by oath to protect from abuse.  With this lack of oversight from his teachers, Minnlin grew in talent but with apparently no sense of right and wrong. The Masters tried to keep the monster they created confined in the safety of the community.  Too late they realized the potential for destruction he possessed.  But Minnlin had seen his future, and he knew it did not lie within the thick stone walls of the Druid's Mountain Fortress.  For half a century, the threat of a druid unbound to the Oath hung over the Five Kingdoms.
In fall, early November to be precise, the first winter snows began storming in from the oceans. Our lands, the Five Kingdoms, were thrust into sudden and horrific warfare. As the heavy, black thunderclouds began rolling over the craggy mountains that marched across the Western horizon, enemy forces in the East streamed up from the Plains through the rapidly closing passes and into the Forbidden Mountains, leaving behind the more hospitable lower climate. They continued fighting skirmishes and ambushes over the next six weeks. Both sides gained and lost territory during these encounters.

Even though my birth was imminent my mother, Katarina, decided to make a visit to see my father, the Western king, in the field because she was determined not to give birth alone. She traveled to his headquarters, close to the actual front line, the manor home of friends King Der, ruler of the Northern Tribes, and his wife, Mari. With Der’s youngest brother Devon and Hana, a Tracker who was retraining as a Healer, also in residence, the king’s house was a safe harbor in the midst of war. My father, Philippe, was a nervous wreck having his very pregnant wife anywhere close to the fighting. But he was so happy to see Katarina after an absence of more than two months, for the first and only time in his life, Philippe threw caution to the winds and left his field tent for the traditional Winter Solstice Celebration truce and returned to the manor house to stay with Katarina. Before he could arrive, my mother went into labor."