Sunday, June 25, 2017

AWAKENING preorder available!

It is done! Awakening has a new cover, a new series name that better reflects the tone of the series, and it's now available for preorder.


Lilly has been marked for death by daemons from a hidden world, a place known as the Shadow Realm. Within her has awakened the spirit of their enemy, one of the luriel. Such beings are myths to her, but one man is out to prove that they exist. The daemon slayer, Mychel, will introduce her to a world of shadows and light hiding beyond the comfort of science and technology, where ancient myths are real and an eternal war rages on, a war in which she has now been conscripted to fight.

One daemon is doing his best to destroy her before that happens. In human form, Darrac is able to get close to her and soon realizes that she is different—through Lilly, an ancient power has revived, a terrible power than can end the war…by eliminating both luriel and daemons. But destroying that power would mean sacrificing the one who has changed his heart.

Time is running out as the luriel within Lilly matures and her powers grow. One choice will determine the fate of two realms.

Only $0.99 for a full novel ebook!

It is making its way for preorder to the major retailers. As of today, it is available at smashwords, Apple, and Kobo so far. It will go up on Amazon next month but should show up at barnesandnoble.com this week yet. Other smaller ebook retailers will begin to list it soon also.

The book will be released this fall.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

horse update

We have a drought here, so we're praying for rain. And it's been HOT!

Because of the heat, I've been going out to see Buddy in the mornings when I can. It worked out well today. I went out to work with Buddy. The outdoor arena was being worked up, so we lunged outside to get that done while waiting for the arena to be clear. Once that was possible, I rode. He gave me a few young horse moments, but nothing terrible. He's generally very cooperative, but he's still young enough--and damned smart enough!--that he could get spoiled very quickly with the wrong rider. It didn't take much to correct him and then he fully cooperated. He just had to try.

After our ride, I gave him a spring bath, something I've been wanting to do for a while. He gets so disgustingly dirty crossing through the creek in the pasture.

I also did something I've been dying to do--brushed out his tail. I don't do that unless it's cleaned and conditioned, which I did today. You pull out fewer hairs by leaving the tail alone, so it stays thicker and longer--I ended up having to trim it, because it gets so long. Other horses at the barn have thin, short tails because the owners brush them out all the time without washing and conditioning first. I had to shorten his with a scissors, like I did last year--it helps keep it from getting muddy, which gets flicked all over when he's swishing flies, and it helps keep it from picking up cockleburs.

Anyway, he cleaned up to have bright stockings, so I took a few picks of a clean horse, who probably got dirty crossing the creek soon after I left around noon. With the drought coming on, the herd has been crossing the creek to get the grass on the other side, but it's getting crispy there too. We're all praying for rain.




He cleans up nicely! (You should have seen how muddy he was from fresh creek mud!) And look at how long that tail was. It's still long, but not so close to the ground.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Cover Reveal!

I'm so excited by this. I said I was going to wait and I at least waited until reaching the halfway point of writing the second book. I love unveiling the covers of books to come, and this was hard to come by.

I searched through premade covers to find one similar to what I had in mind and was pleasantly surprised by what is the Enlightenment cover below. It happened to work out that the designer had more images with the same model that could be made into covers for the other two books. Hooray for consistency!

The challenge with this is that on the fictional world of Ahlias, the races have pretty well blended together so that most citizens have mixed characteristics, although the extremes of skin color do happen. The main character is one of the darker complexioned individuals of the world. Finding a cover with a model with the right attitude, age, and color was a challenge, but I knew the right one when I saw it. I lucked out.

As many know, book covers do tend to be whitewashed. That's such a shame, because, as Guardians of the Galaxy demonstrated with pink, blue, green, yellow, and even crystalline beings and more, we can use whatever color pallet that we choose. Finding a model to represent that can be hard, unless one is willing to hire an artist that can create something from scratch or is willing to rewrite their character, which just isn't an option in my mind.

The Luriel Cycle needed a style more in line with contemporary/urban fantasy, which is to use live models. Besides, I wanted a real person for these. She worked out nicely. Thank you, whoever you are who posed for the stock photos used in these covers. We writers appreciate your willingness to share yourself with the world to represent our fictional characters!

Now, I would like to reveal The Luriel Cycle covers:




And thank you to Angela of Covered Creatively for the artistic talent and cooperation in setting up the series covers to fit the stories written and planned!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Delicious muffins or bread recipe

Ever since I had a health crisis occur about two years ago, I went gluten free. That single dietary choice made a difference to my life.

Since then, I've learned to eat mostly without grains in my diet, but besides the occasional popcorn or rice pudding, I've also learned to bake with alternatives to wheat flour that are just as tasty, if not tastier. My favorites are sorghum and almond, usually mixed, and sometimes a little rice flour.

One of the recipes that I've adapted was the one that I used to make sweet breads and muffins that I think surpasses the traditional wheat flour recipe in taste. I've been asked for the recipe by friends who have enjoyed them enough to ask for the recipe, so here is my gluten/dairy/soy free base plus additions for bananas and chocolate chips (YUM!):

I'm no pro photographer. This is on my kitchen counter under the normal lights.

Ingredients:

2 large eggs
1/2 c. grapeseed oil
1/2 - 3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. honey (preferably local, unprocessed)
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 - 1/3 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 c. sorghum flour
1/2 c. almond flour
1 1/2 tsp. xanthum gum
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
For banana/chocolate chip:

2-3 ripe bananas
1/2 c. Enjoy Life mini chips (gluten/dairy/soy free)


Instructions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) Beat eggs.
3) Add vanilla and beat into eggs.
4) Wisk oil into egg mixture.
5) Use the same measuring cup from the oil to measure the honey. Doing so means less honey sticks to the measuring cup and gets into the batter without much fuss. If the honey is crystallized, you will need to set the jar in a bowl of hot water for some time to liquify it again.
6) Mix the honey thoroughly into the liquid ingredients.
7) Add the water.
8) Add the sea salt and mix thoroughly to dissolve it.
9) Mix in remaining dry ingredients.
10) Mash bananas in a separate bowl until mostly smooth with a few small bits, then mix them into the batter.
11) Add the chocolate chips.
12) Fill muffin cups/bread pan and bake. I use silicon bakeware, which requires longer cooking times. Generally, the batter is thick, so feel free to mostly fill whatever you use. The muffins or bread will be done when they are browned on top and spring back from light pressure.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Updates on life, writing, and training my horse

Life is moving on for me, finally. While I still have to deal with Hashimoto's disease (not hypothyroid, thank goodness...at least not at this stage), I am doing better with the air hunger and insomnia that plagued me for a year and a half. I have learned that I can't take 99% of supplements. Apparently, I get enough in my diet that anything else is too much, according to my body. That's fine with me--eating healthy is the best way to go. And we're still working on figuring out the cause of the eosinophilia that's shown up on over this same time period--I can't help wondering if that's related to the symptoms in some way.

Weatherwise, spring is here and it seems to be full-on heading right into summer. This past week was hot. Time to get our garden going, but first we need to haul in some manure, because what we have is very thin topsoil and mostly sandy clay. We discovered last year that horse manure goes a long ways to fertilizing the soil. And we doubled the size of our garden, so we need the manure on the new section. The old section is good to go, and hubby tilled it up. We even have strawberries already blossoming (returned from last year), which were carefully tilled around.

Warm weather means insects are out too, so be careful of ticks and mosquitos. With WNV and Lyme now spread throughout North America, we should all be careful. It's about time that Lyme get the recognition that it deserves as a terrible disease.

Buddy with a well-deserved treat after a great session (5/6/17)
And this also means I'm out with my horse more. Buddy has blossomed this spring. As I mentioned in the last post, we picked up from the start this year right where we'd left off last year. We've really progressed already this spring. Although I only visit him 2-3 times a week and only work him 1-2 times a week, he's super smart. A few weeks ago, I started asking for frequent walk-trot transitions on the lungeline, and since then, he has really started to carry himself like a champ. His back is starting to swing as he comes through with lift and freedom. And he's straighter, which gives him greater balance. This has carried through under saddle, where he's now trotting for me. He's such a sweetheart in a cute little package (large pony). He's also become intensely focused in his work to where he is tuning out things that used to worry him and seems to enjoy feeling more balanced to where he wants to stay that way, which tells me that dressage is right for him.

Last of all, I want to announce that I will be revealing some book covers this summer. What was once planned to be a 4-book series called the Shadow Realm Saga with the release of Awakening about two years ago (removed from sale several months later for other considerations), will now be a 3-book The Luriel Cycle. The new ebook covers are all designed and ready, but I'm not yet ready to reveal those. They are eye-catching and better than the generic covers that they had previously. Now, I'm waiting until I am further along in the first draft of Enlightenment before revealing these new covers.

I hope to re-release Awakening with its new cover in the fall (after the first draft of Enlightenment is finished). And, as with all things artistic, it will have a little more editing, because art is never really finished and can always be a little better. Right? The titles of the trilogy will be Awakening (book 1), Enlightenment (book 2), and Eternal (book 3). These are my projects to complete over the next year, before I start anything new.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

the story of Buddy

Okay, I'm not totally obsessed with my horse, but horses are a big part of me. I've said before that horses are a part of my soul. Not having a horse partner is like death and I can only have one at a time. I mean that. Buddy has saved my life.

When my last and dearest horse I had ever had in my life went downhill in his health, I made the difficult choice to put him down. I had never done that before, but it was clear that he was in increasing pain and nothing I did helped him. I took him to a good place where he was put to rest and I can visit him any time. But he has visited me.

I sincerely believe that Beau was looking over my shoulder a year later when I went to the sale barn thinking I'd take on a pony that I could share with my kids and handle with my new health difficulties. I knew my skills could match whatever I found.


At an auction, one never knows what they'll find, but there are hidden gems. Buddy was one of them. He had ringworm, bad teeth, and had been cowboy broke into submission. However, he'd been broke fast to look good in the sales ring. Luckily and unluckily, he'd only been 2, not 3 as he was listed, so I knew that I could undo any training mistakes since he hadn't had long enough for bad handling to cement any bad behaviors.

I knew to be wary and I had my strategy for the couple of ponies I thought would fit the bill, one being that I took one of my kids with me. I know the games that horse traders play and especially those who work that particular semi-annual sale. I lost on a smaller pony but I won Buddy for what I consider a fair price--ponies are always in high demand and high priced. But I do love the thrill of bidding at an auction.

Buddy came with baggage, some of which I quickly dropped. He learned that he didn't have to just take whatever I did. He learned to open up to me, through massage and natural horsemanship and by clearing up the ringworm on his face and getting his teeth floated (the equine dentist discovered sores in his mouth in that first visit just a few weeks after I bought him). He was given a winter to grow up and get used to his new home and herd. It was too cold outside and I was going through a terrible time with my health to get out to see him more than a few times until spring came. Our first spring (2016), he had bloomed!

Last summer, Buddy took to natural horsemanship immediately, and then had to learn to accept side reins and the bit. He had some baggage yet to work through, but he had awakened to a new world and an easier life. He was able to grow up. I didn't ride him more than 15-16 times all year, but he was only three years old. Mostly, I focused on ground work, his feet, and becoming a human he could trust. I had already used our first six weeks before the winter set in since buying him to establish trust and confidence in me, but that went even further when we started working together last year. And I started him in a much gentler bit than the one he wore in the sales arena.

We ended 2016 as a team. Buddy had the advantage of everything that my over 30 years of horse training and then trying to care for Beau's worsening symptoms taught me. He had an owner who could help him physically and mentally to overcome what might have happened to make him contain his emotions. He learned that, while his human had rules, he could express himself because that human would listen; and he came out of his shell to become very expressive and cooperative with training that takes the form of questions and being directed toward the correct answer rather than punishing him for not understanding. As an example, he went from not letting me handle his feet when I first bought him to giving me his feet a year later--they need regular treatment to avoid infection that causes heel pain. He now understands this and lets out a big sigh after all four feet get their triple antibiotic ointment/clotrimazole mixture. (Tip: most foot pain in a horse can be attributed to one or (most likely) a combination of 1) contracted heels, 2) poor trimming, 3) infection, 4) sugar-rich diet...not navicular disease.)

Buddy and a friend, Chevy
We started 2017 as partners. Once again, I gave him winter off--MUCH too cold and snowy to be out for more than a quick check. As the previous year, we started with ground work. Buddy is such a smart little guy that he picked up right where we had left off last fall as if he hadn't had 3 months with hardly any handling. This time, I started with being sure he would yield his head by reaching his nose fully around both sides to his ribs, but I also asked that he relax before I let him go, combining a natural horsemanship technique with body work. This actually worked out to help him even more than I expected.

It wasn't long this spring before I got on for the first time, which happened a few weeks ago. Today we had our second ride (spring decided it wasn't ready to come back and I had busy days in there when I couldn't do much with him). Buddy finally let me ride a posting trot circle on him. We tried once last year but he wasn't sure about my posting and didn't want to trot. He started that way today and then decided to go with it.

Before our ride today, I lunged him with side reins. Last week, when I last lunged him, I started asking for frequent walk-trot transitions to keep his attention on me rather than the herd. He started sitting and reaching more forward at the trot and developed better balance. Today, I asked for that from the start and saw the transformation. He is quick to learn and when guided the right direction, the training seems effortless, like he already knows what to do.

Buddy (April 30, 2017)
I have felt from the beginning that Buddy came into my life for a reason. It could have been any horse, and I might have done far worse with a horse from the auction, but Buddy is the calm, easy-going horse that I need in my life right now. Although he's not a fancy mover, he is easy to care for and work with. I dearly miss Beau's giant strides (when he was at his best, before his deterioration) and the uphill canter (that he would no longer perform in the end because he was in too much pain). However, my life changed and Buddy is the right size (pony sized) and temperament for me now. And Beau's expensive dressage saddle fits him--that almost never happens.

I cared for Beau when his health deteriorated and did everything I could to try to make him feel better. I failed. Now, Buddy is taking care of me. Since I've had him, I've gone through some of the worst issues in my life and had contemplated suicide when things were at their worst. It was knowing that Buddy was there for me, needing me, and that I might be able to return to the joy I once knew by sharing my soul with a special horse that gave me the courage to keep trying to recover. Had I not had a horse, my soul would have been empty and had no reason to continue the struggle through the despair of my health problems. I feel that the day I found Buddy, I had a four-legged angel looking over me making sure that I was taken care of and giving me a purpose.

I have a dream for Buddy--National Pony Dressage Finals. Someday. He'll be able to do it when we're both ready.

All that I've been through has taught me not to push and has given me a patience that I never had before in my life. I feel like I've arrived at that special place that all the old horsemen find. I know now what horse whispering really is--taking the time, having the patience to listen. It's knowing how to ask for cooperation by showing the horse that what you want is easy; It is making the horse feel secure and confident. All that I've suffered has been a blessing in disguise, another lesson that I'm sure came down from a four-legged angel. Thanks, Beau, my original buddy!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A sample of today's writing

I thought it might be interesting to take a segment of what I wrote today and post a teaser. I've been working on Enlightenment and am working on chapter 9. It's ROUGH DRAFT, so be forewarned. I can't say when this will be released as an ebook, but probably next year. I will be re-releasing Awakened sometime this fall.

Here's a sample of today's work:

“Well done, Lilly.” The quiet voice of Master Kimisu praising her filled her with pride.

She opened her eyes to the slight lift of his lips.

“You proved that you can, indeed, reach your luriel. You are much closer to Enlightenment than you realize.”

Her smile was forced, and he must have seen it. He studied her with a quizzical look for several seconds and finally said, “You seem…reticent about this stage. What holds you back?”

She’d always been a terrible liar, wearing her emotions on her sleeve.

The internal debate about what to tell him strapped her tongue. Worse was his quiet expectation while waiting on her answer. What should she tell him?

What might he already know? He knew about the Un’dei. What else had Mychel or the other Pallora Fen told him?

Maybe he’d make her leave if she told the truth. That would displease Mychel and make it possible for her to return home and try to pick up the pieces of her old life. There was nothing wrong with that. So why was she hesitant?

Just say it.

Before she could freeze, she looked the master in the eyes, in which she recognized a depth of understanding the world that fueled a respect for the man. In that fraction of a moment of realization, she understood that it was that level of respect that he’d sparked from that first brief encounter on their arrival that she didn’t want to disappoint.

Lilly took a breath and said quickly, “I don’t want to Ascend.”

His demeanor remained the same—no judgment upon her. Had he expected her to say that, so that it wasn’t a surprise to him?

Still, she held her breath on the expectation of a harsh admonishment. Ascension was the pinnacle of celemae development. How could she not want that? –That’s what he would argue.

Instead, his eyes glazed in that way people’s eyes do when they turn their thoughts inward.

He was considering her statement, and eventually, no matter how he looked at it, the inquisition would be the same.

She might as well leave now and rose from the grass mat.

“Why are you here?” His words stopped her from reaching for the door.

“I don’t know. Mychel forced me to come.”

“Did he? Did he tie you and gag you and drag you here? That is not what I saw several days ago.”

-------
That's not everything and I'm not going to reveal much about it. I can say that this is definitely very rough and will be fleshed out in the editing process to come later. The important part of writing a first/rough draft is to get the ideas down. Everything can be edited later.