Monthly Archives: December 2013

Giving Back…Moving Forward @OfWordsandWater

According to WordPress I’ve written over fifty blogs in 2013…that’s pretty good. They want me to share my states with you but is anyone really interested in how many comments I’ve had on the blog this year?

I didn’t think so.

One thing I would like to remember about 2013 is participation in a wonderful anthology with a group of extremely dedicated writers, all of us giving our time and talent to encourage donations to a very worthy cause…clean drinking water for everyone. Here in the US many of us take clean water for granted. You turn the knob, water comes out of the faucet. Easy-peasy. That water starts…where? From a city water treatment, or from a very deep well underground? Knowing where the water we drink and use for every day chores comes from helps a lot when we need to think about water conservation.

All of the stories in Of Words and Water pertain in some way to how water affects our life. It might be as simple as a cup of tea or as frightening as a flood, or a drought. None of the writers will receive any compensation for their work, and the anthology is free to download. We only ask for a donation to this very worth cause, Wateraid This link will take you to more information, as well as a further link to their website.

New Year’s Eve is nearly upon us. I’ll be spending it at home, thank you very much. But I’m setting up a long distance group party with some friends. If you’re going to be around and lonely or bored, come on over…the Internet has to be good for something other than pictures of cats!

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Family Values at the Holidays…Anna Blake

Family Values at the Holidays.. Anna Blake, fellow writer and horsewoman extraordinaire, shares a glimpse into her non horse life, with a family that is not nearly as in tune with her as she deserves. For that matter as we all deserve. We don’t expect our families to share our passions but we would certainly like it if they tried to understand.

I’ve been fortunate, with a family liking animals though not all as intensely animal oriented as I became, and I’ve no doubt they have spent a lot of time over coffee or beer sharing Monica stories and shaking their heads. But even when they don’t “get” my obsessions about dogs, especially these silly skinny running fools, they do get that the dogs matter to me.  And also that more than once the dogs have helped me hold onto my sanity, or whatever is left of it.

My Family, a few years back!

My Family, a few years back!

We have our birth families, and those families we’ve made for ourselves. Often the second set is far closer to us but once in a while if we’re really really lucky, the same people are in both families. I feel exceptionally blessed since I gained a huge new subset of family when Tom and I married, and they remain in my extended family set.

As much as we bemoan the Internet for how it seems to depersonalize relationships, most of us have met new people with whom we’ve clicked through that time sucking medium, and are the better for it. As we head into a new year with potentially frightening possibilities, we know our families, whether close enough to touch, or only a keyboard away, will be with us on this journey, as we will be with them.

Some of my Saluki family

Some of my Saluki family

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A Squealy Fan Girl Moment: Jim Butcher Codex Alera

I’m thinking as I work to get myself back on track with writing and blogging it might be fun to share some of my thoughts as a reader, in the form of sort of reviews. Since my reading is eclectic, these blogs will be eclectic as well, taking in pretty much all genre and all levels of recognition. It’s all going to depend on what I’m reading at the moment. Which right now is Jim Butcher’s  Codex Alera.

I discovered Codex Alera some time around 2008, having been in awe of Harry Dresden and ready to make the genre leap from Urban Fantasy to High Fantasy as well as the character leap from wise cracking Dresden to a very young boy. Amazon tells me I purchased Princep’s Fury and First Lord’s Fury in August 2011, which was not a time of great sanity for me. I’m sure I read them, but was not at that time appreciating the nuances. So very many nuances, which can not be appreciated on the first read. I’ve recently re-read the series, then gone back through First Lord’s Fury yet again.

Any question a reader might have about the main characters will be answered at some point IF  you pay attention. If not, you’ll  have the great good fortune of reading them again to search for that clue. In fact, a re-read reveals those clues, or those answered questions, somewhere along the way. And brings up many more.

Since it’s Christmas Eve and I’m working my way through a bottle of champagne (Trader Joe’s Blanc de Blanc French Brut) while dehydrating liver treats for dog training, and no one wants to be reading long blogs, I’ll share one aspect of the genius of theses books: The forward to Book Six. Read it, and realize how many questions are answered and asked in those few pages. Those of us old enough will hear Rod Serling’s voice on the narrative track, and revel in the planned and fulfilled character arcs that make this series so special.

Sheer genius.

The champagne is to celebrate the lives and loves of those no longer here. We’ll hoist a glass together and move toward a new year.



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Thirteen? Thirteen? Do I Hear Thirteen?

I am a firm believer in events which bring together family and friends. Not so much in how those events are presented. Thanksgiving, for one example, was far from a gathering of Pilgrim and Indian in peaceful harmony. While it’s wonderful to get together it might be past time to stop teaching that whitewashed version of the first Thanksgiving.

Many bemoan Christmas itself is more of a commercial enterprise than a religious one. But the actual idea of the birth of Christ in the middle of winter is already skewing history. Choosing a day to celebrate His birth is wonderful. Tagging it to an existing celebration was a very clever idea. Turning either one into a greed fest seems to exemplify so much that is not in line with his teachings, and bothers most of us.

As a child I loved the tree, the decorating, the gathering of relatives I hadn’t seen possibly for years. The idea that we must have THE perfect gift on one specific day…not so much, especially not as time piles up on me and I realize all of us have way too much…stuff. The pressure builds and we end up either spending far more than we can afford or everyone gets a pair of gloves.

I LOVE Christmas music, and am likely to sing it at the top of my voice while driving long distances in the middle of summer. I like to gift people as I find the perfect item for them, though if I don’t send it off immediately it’s going to gather dust in the corner until found, generally during a holiday cleaning purge. In fact there are a couple of items hiding under the dust bunnies… Thing is, I love the fellowship and good feelings of Christmas, but not when they are a required attitude during a limited season.

When we moved from Southern California we left behind my husband’s family, and my own has been scattered to the four winds. Does this mean I love them less? No. My hounds have kept me from casual travel, and I find Skype good for exchanging smiles but woefully inadequate for exchanging hugs. Home For the Holidays takes on a whole new meaning when we can’t leave our own home base and instead must rely on these visual aids. Then I remember centuries past when information moved at the speed of a scrawled note. No, I wasn’t there. Or was I?

Back to the misunderstandings we’ve all accepted as truths throughout our lives, we just might need to reexamine the concept of thirteen as an unlucky number. We have Triskaidekaphobia, or the fear of the number thirteen, supported by various legends. But thirteen is also considered a number of significance and good fortune in other cultures. Specifically, thirteen is the number between twelve and fourteen. The same as December 25 is the day chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ. And the day we would like to all gather in love. I’m going to try something really sneaky…let’s try that love thing for the rest of the year. What do you think?

My featured story here A Christmas Whimsy is one I wrote in my own spirit of Christmas sharing for my dog show and romance reading friends. I hope you enjoy it. And just for fun, a short contest. Winner gets the choice of either of my current books. Let’s make it simple, and silly. Ummm, oh, got it, I’ll use my late husband’s favorite extra credit question for his art students. What breed of dog has taken over my life for the last forty years?


Happiest of holidays to you, however you celebrate. You won’t find me sky clad this solstice but I send out a hug and best wishes to you and yours.

Hmmm, and low carb tip? Next time you bake a chicken try slicing up a daikon radish to drop around and inside the bird. You will not miss potatoes.


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HOW Cold is It?

My mother used to say it was “Cold enough to freeze the horns off a brass billy goat”012

Sounds pretty cold to me. Back…way back…when I was much younger I used to care for horses, and winters could be a real challenge. Especially when the waterlines froze. Horses drink a lot of water. I remember one time the very steep walkway between house and stable froze into a sheet of ice. We walked down the snowy hill for a couple of days!

Twenty years of living in Southern California can thin the blood, so when we moved to New Mexico in 2006 that first winter hit us hard. My husband more than myself since he was a California boy born and bred. Since he didn’t have to get up and go to work he could enjoy the snow from inside a well insulated house.

030Whether we’re going to blame climate change or the storm furies (I’ve delved back into Jim Butcher’s The Furies of Calderon for some light reading) New Mexico winters have become very cold. Right now (7:15 PM, the weather app on my Droid shows me a projected low of 18 degrees and a current temperature of 11. Warmer and clear tomorrow except for the snow flurries. I’ve learned to use the redneck method of

Jason knows the best place when it's cold

Jason knows the best place when it’s cold

weather information. Send one of the dogs out. If they come in with snow on their backs, it’s snowing. If

they go out, do their business fast, and rush back in, it’s cold. Jason doesn’t have the ear fringing of the other Salukis so when he comes back in he asks for a brisk ear rub.

So how cold is it? Cold enough to keep me inside writing. So I guess that’s cold enough.

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Thirty Days of Writing Dangerously

Yep, this is about NaNo, the National Novel Book in a month. Thousands try, only a few succeed. And all of us end up with sore wrists, sore elbows, and a fresh respect for those authors who do this every day. We also learn a lot about ourselves and our writing. Sure, some writers turn out thousands of words each day. Good words, well thought out and part of good books. So for them NaNo’s suggested goal of 1,667 words per day would be holding back their progress.

There are other writers, though, who worry over every word put on the page. They debate between mauve and lilac for the heroine’s scarf and rework the scenic descriptions until they exceed travelogue detail. For them, NaNo is writer torture, and probably not a road they could travel without great distress.

The MOST beautiful

The MOST beautiful

Then we have those of use with vivid imaginations and what we know are wonderful story ideas. We’re convinced this is going to be the best and brightest and most exciting book ever. At least that we’ve ever written. And we’re willing to delve deep, write for long hours to reveal that book.

So we start the week before, plotting and planning. Fingers poised at the stroke of midnight November first, we begin the mad dash to accumulate words, piling scenes on top of scenes and in the process

Still looking good.

Still looking good.

beginning to realize maybe we weren’t quite as ready as we thought we’d been to write that perfect book. But that’s okay, we’re keeping up our numbers and sticking with the scene plan. We’ll just need a bit of polish. We can handle this. We stock up on coffee and ignore the growing mountain of dishes at the side of the sink. December first seems further away than ever, yet not far enough since that last scene just went badly south.

Then somewhere along the way we come to the conclustion we’ve totally lost the thread of the book. Or

Death of a Plot Line

Death of a Plot Line

as happened to me, my macho Alpha maybe a bit too overbearing hero just plain did not fit. Not only that, but he has **gulp** feelings. Sure he’s been through ten kinds of misery in his life, but the thing is he has been through it and  he’s come out the other side stronger and more in touch with what really matters. Which is fabulous in real life and yeah he is going to be a knock your socks off great character. But all those nifty argument scenes already written are simply not going to work and there is no way this is going to be anything cohesive in the next five to ten days.

And it sucks. Big time and without any sugar coating. Coffee just doesn’t taste as good as it did last week, and that bottle of wine is looking a bit too tempting. Not only is the hero not a stock easy to visualize brawny tough guy. But the heroine’s past isn’t as traumatic as first planned…which might have been a bit (overwhelmingly!) over the top, but seemed like it would also be a good way to gain quick sympathy for her. Cheap shot? Yeah, probably but it sounded really good during plotting time.

So, here I am with 39,000 words which I could have faked into 50,000 or more but that would have been a waste of energy  not to

Yes, I can still see life in this story

Yes, I can still see life in this story

mention a strain on already sore wrists, back, elbows…getting old isn’t nearly as bad as FEELING old. I put the story aside, thinking about where I’d wanted it to go and trying to find something to move forward with. Scenes start to rewrite themselves in my head, some changing only slightly, others jumping off the stage entirely to be used for some other story. I’ve known the ending of this book from the first time I framed it out so long ago. And I’ve known the beginning. It’s what happened it between that stopped me cold last month. But I think I’ve found a way to save what’s good and nurture it into a cohesive story. Which will give me something to do while the snow builds up outside and the temperature starts breaking records.

The Plot Shall Bloom Again

The Plot Shall Bloom Again


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