Friday, June 17, 2022

Earth to Thoeba: Mom is Home

Earth to Thoeba: Mom is Home:   Been awhile since I blogged, I know. Sometimes I have trouble finding a good topic. Sometimes my life runs away with me. I'm still wor...

Mom is Home

 


Been awhile since I blogged, I know. Sometimes I have trouble finding a good topic. Sometimes my life runs away with me. I'm still working on more publishing stuff. I need to research how to create a UBL so I can create an author page on Draft2Digital. 

But something else happened that was a bit scary and required a lot of my time. My mother broke her hip. That was freaky. Her walker slipped out from under her and she landed hard on the floor. She tried to get up for two hours before my sister called me, and I drove to their place to help. 

Why was she on the floor so long? Because my mother is stubborn and thought she could get up herself. When that didn't work, they called me. Apparently, they thought that I could just help lift Mom off the floor and all would be fine. It was obvious by the screaming and Mom's inability to move her left leg that we needed to call 911. 

So, yeah...broken hip. Surgery was immediate, recovery took longer than expected due to the arthritis in Mom's back and diabetes. It's been just over a month, and we finally got her home. 

I didn't say anything on Facebook. I guess it was about Mom's privacy, but also because I was pretty sure it was no big deal and I didn't want the sympathy. Our relatives freaked out a bit--telling me and my sister that everything will be fine and not to worry. The medical community will give her the best care and she'll be fine--Don't Worry! Really, DON'T WORRY!!  Medical science has come a long way, and are you and Jody okay? DON'T WORRY!! 

Yeah, we weren't worried. Tough old broad, my mother. She's dealt with arthritis for decades, survived cancer and a stroke...pneumonia, car accident. Not like a broken bone is going to take her out. Not even a broken hip. 

I'll admit though, I stayed quiet because I think I was holding my breath.  Hope for the best, but brace for the worst. 

But now that she's home and doing so much better, I thought I'd share a story about her, one of my favorites. 


                                          *                                  *                                      *

I was twelve years old and stayed home from school because I had laryngitis. It was around Christmas time. I remember this because there were non-stop toy commercials on TV. 

My mother brought me mushroom soup and Neo Citran to sooth my throat. Just then, a My Little Pony commercial came on. My mother looked on in irritation and disgust as the jingle sang, 

"I'm a My Little Pony Mommy..."

"That's so stupid!" My mother complained, "How can a little girl be a Mommy to a toy pony?"

"I could be," I said. "I'm a little hoarse."

My mother gave me the STRANGEST look. She had a slight smile on her face, like she was amused. But her eyes were wide and focused with murderous intent. She looked like she wanted to kill me for that joke.  I don't blame her, but the juxtaposition of the expression made me laugh out loud. 

Unfortunately, my laughter came out a wheezing bark.  I tried to stop, but the more I heard myself, the harder I laughed. Remember when Luke Skywalker is attacked by the Sandpeople in Star Wars? HUUUUUR, HURR, HURR, HURR, HURRR! Imagine high-pitched version of that for a solid twenty minutes. It was quite painful! I couldn't breathe and I began to wonder if it was possible to actually die from laughter. 



I covered my ears, that made it worse. I covered my mouth, it didn't help. My throat was killing me and tears flooded my face. And I'm LOUD. My mother's lips pursed up like she sucked a lemon and she kept saying, "That's enough now." But I couldn't stop!  

Eventually, I ran out of energy. My fit of giggles dissipated into hiccups and sighs. I was tired, sweaty, and my throat was raw.  I laid there, spent. My throat needed soothing in a bad way. I struggled to sit up, pick up my spoon. 

My mother placed her hand on my shoulder and said, "Donna, Sweetie. It wasn't that funny." 

Oh God, I started again. I don't remember much after that. I may have passed out. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Excerpt from Elaina's Fate

 

What's this? Elaina's Fate has been out for two months and I haven't published an excerpt? Shame on me! I intend to remedy that right now. 

So here for your reading enjoyment are the first three pages of Elaina's Fate. 



CHAPTER ONE



Forgive them, Elaina. “ My younger sister Jodian curls her arm through mine as we stroll Bane’s packed dirt streets. It stinks of blood, grease, and manure piled upon filthy layers of fear and resentment. You can almost taste the bitterness. If Jodian notices, she ignores it as she does so many awful things. “They can’t help their jealousy.”

Emerald silk drapes from her ivory shoulders, complimenting her shining brown curls, her jade and gold eyes. As per antiquated Bane custom, her dress length brushes her ankles.

I pale against her beauty. I’m all sinews and straw hair. Where her dress emphasizes her looks, my skirts of midnight blue wash me out. My muscles strain at my sleeves in an embarrassingly masculine way, but I’m skinny everywhere else. My mouth is too small and grim, and my eyes are dull as Bane’s cloudy skies. I always resemble a scarecrow. Today I feel like a lampshade.

I don’t envy her loveliness. My sister is a treasure, and I won’t deny her perfection. Not today, not any day.

I know,” But the villager’s derision often gets under my cowl. My work as the Master’s Assassin not only ensures the safety of my family, but theirs as well. Yet I am greeted with suspicion and disparaging glares. I can’t help my anger. “But it’s your birthday. Can’t they keep their dirty looks to themselves for once?”

Jodian shrugs. “They don’t know you as we do.”

True. They don’t know anything about me.

My name is Elaina. I spy and kill for Master Issac Smith. Bastard that he is, he’s kept my family sheltered and fed for the seven years I have been in his service. Of course it came with a price. Everything in the world of Phaeton comes with a price, but especially in the village of Bane.

Mind your souls and pray to the Energy you don’t end up here. This is where the Energy, the so-called ‘God’ puts spirits It can’t control, save, or rehabilitate. This is where the truly wicked find themselves. We are the fallen, and this is Hell.

We should get manicures.” Jodian tosses her hair and smiles hard at the old woman who spits at my feet.

If that is what you want.” I glare at the shrivelled bitch. She had the nerve to glare back. Perhaps she has forgotten fear in her age-addled brain. Perhaps I should re-educate her.

Absolutely. I mean look at your hands.” Jodian emphasizes her point by bringing my clenched fist up to her critical eye.

My hands are scarred, dry and ugly to behold, and they always look dirty. Vanities such as manicures are not for the likes of me. Still, I let her drag me into Maxine’s. It’s her day, after all.

Jodian chooses pink nail polish, as I knew she would. I choose a flat black. It will blend better with—

Really, Elaina?” My sister scowls at my practicality. “Why would you pick something so dull? Does everything you wear involve some kind of camouflage?”

Fine,” I roll my eyes. “You choose then.”

I shouldn’t have said that. I watch, uneasy as her index finger dwells over pinks, purples and reds. All the prissy colours.

This one.” I breathe a sigh of relief. Metallic Electric Blue is better than Grape Bubblegum whatever-the-hell she likes. “It matches your dress.”

When we arrange our skirts and sit in the leather chairs, I can’t help but hear the conversations going on in the back as my sister settles in beside me. They’re arguing about who will work on my nails.

You’re the newest.”

You do her. It’s your shop....” The whispers are harsh.

No one wants to serve me. It’s not as though I’m going to stab everyone if I’m not satisfied with my manicure. What would be the point of that?

Maybe it’s because your hands are such a mess.” Jodian says. She’s trying to be playful, but the arm rest squeaks in her grip.

I stare at the black and white tiled floor, biting my lip, peeling chapped skin away with my teeth until I taste blood. “Maybe I should just kill them for being rude.” I’m not sure I’m joking.

Sudden silence. They hear us as well. The staff meeting ends, and Maxine herself shoves a young woman toward me, which earns the owner a look of such hatred I’m guessing I won’t be the one spilling blood. I’ll probably know by next week. Death is commonplace here.

For all her animosity toward Maxine, the woman attending me is nervous. She pushes my cuticles back with extra care, and trembles as she applies the polish. Sigh. Fear is tedious. There is no conversation, no sound but the occasional drip from the faucets.

In my day, in a different incarnation on Earth, in a country named Canada, we had no such thing as ‘manicures’. Nothing but trees and foliage. Naught but hard labour and harder men. My fingernails were cracked and bleeding from lye, splinters and other work related wounds. I didn’t leave the splendour of France only to become an unwilling slave to a dense husband in a frigid forest.

My marriages were short. My punishment is eternal. Such is the blessing of The Energy.

I’m so often alone; I have ample time to ponder my existence on the world of Phaeton. Everyone does, I imagine. Every time we are reborn, we are reminded why we are here, and that there will be no escape. Yet another gift from The Energy. The memories, the dreams.

Jodian knows the horrors she has done. She still speaks with an accent sometimes. Her voice is soft, but her words are abrupt and peppered with buzzing sounds. Your handz are zuch a mess. She was a German, and tells me that there was a great war, but speaks rarely of it because she is ashamed. I can’t imagine her being cruel, but she assures me she was.

A man bursts through the door, nearly slamming it off the hinges in his hurry, and everyone startles.

He narrows his eyes at the blubbering Maxine, her eyes are wide and bloodshot with terror. She recognizes one who wears the armor of the Elite Guard. He wears the silhouette of a howling wolf’s head on his breastplate and oversized shoulder pads painted blood red. His hand tightens on his sword.

Elaina,” he demands, no need for pleasantries. “She is here?”


I hope you enjoy it. I will remember to publish another excerpt soon. 


Friday, March 4, 2022

When a Cat Learns to Love You.

 

It's been about a year and two months since Grendel became a permanent member of our family. A year and two months since we brought Grendel inside and got his broken leg fixed.  No regrets. 

He's a sweet. happy and loud boy. I don't mind when he yells at both two and five o'clock in the morning. Okay--I mind a little bit, but it sure beats staying up late worrying and keeping an ear open for him at the door. 

Freya used to hiss at him. He was always following her around, getting in her space. 

He bonded with Dan immediately, shouting for his attention and jumping on his desk. He would boop Dan's hands while he pet him, and Dan would call him Sweetie-Doodle and tell Grendel how happy he was that he was here. 

It was me Grendel wasn't quite sure of. He liked me well enough, but I hadn't earned his trust yet. I always seemed to startle him. I'd let him sniff my hand, and sometimes he would tolerate my petting. Sometimes I'd get a kiss. Sometimes he would back away from my touch. Dan was his rescuer and I was the human that lived with his rescuer. 

I tried to give him space, tried not to be too handsy. According to Jackson Galaxy, trust equals love to a cat, and trust takes time. I did my best to learn what Grendel needed. When he sat at the window, I opened it for him so he could smell outside. When he cried and paced at two in the morning, I learned that a small snack would calm him down. If he ran around the house trilling, it meant he was bored and he wanted to play, so we learned what he liked to play with. 

His favorite toys are the green ball that dispenses crunchy treats if he rolls it right. He loves to stalk and pounce on Mr. Bug, a pink spider on a string. Dan puts the string under his shoe and drags it around the kitchen table.

I have a close friend who trapped three feral cats from her garage eight years ago. She brought them in because she was sure they'd never survive the dropping temperatures. She told me it took years to earn their trust.  They are Mama, (RIP)  Baby and Lookie. Mama eventually became a friendly cat to other humans, but Lookie still hides from company and I can count on one hand how many times I've seen Baby. 

My friend told me some cats never warm up to humans, and maybe Grendel might not accept me. I was okay with that. I knew he got along well with Dan--they make each other so happy-- and now that she feels better, Freya has started playing Chase with him. That might just have to be enough and that was okay. I love him anyway.

But something happened yesterday. It was like a flipped switch. Grendel jumped up on my desk and chirped at me and looked me in the eye. That was a surprise. He never jumps on my desk, only Dan's. I said, "Hello, Sweet Boy."  I extended my hand to him and he rubbed his face all over my fingers. I pet his nose and head and he leaned into it hard.  He let me cradle his face in the palm of my hand. I tried not to get too excited. 

But this was a new day. I opened a window for him and together we looked out at Squirrel and Bird TV.  When I looked over at him, he leaned in and booped me. I was so delighted, I kissed his nose. I worried that I may have offended him, but he didn't seem to mind. I decided not to push my luck and let him be. 

Later that night, Dan and I were sitting on the couch. Grendel jumped into Dan's lap and asked for love. It's not the first time he's jumped into Dan's lap, but it's the first time he's done it while I was sitting there too. Dan stroked his ears and I reached out and hoped my affection would be accepted. Grendel responded by purring louder than I've ever heard him and nuzzling into both of our hands. 

I'm writing this because I need to tell you, in that moment it felt like our family was whole again. For the first time since we lost Spartacus, I felt like our little family was complete and at peace.  I was hoping Grendel would eventually love me, and now I believe that he does. 

When he grew tired of Cuddletime, he crawled up on Freya's towel and fell asleep next to her, and I snapped that picture. I think he understands now that he truly belongs here and he knows how much he is loved by all of us. 

The world has become a comic book, but I have a corner of happiness.  It's a fantastic feeling that I thought I'd share. The world feels just a little brighter, just because I've earned the love of a cat. 




Friday, February 18, 2022

What Does it Take?

 


This post is inspired by a conversation I had with David Fingerman about critique groups and learning to write. 

It made me think about my first and only critique group and what an amateur I was when I started. 

I was one of those people that believed that simply because I did exceptionally well in English class that I could be a writer. 

God, was I wrong. It's not that simple. 

When I joined my critique group,  I was unpublished and probably the only one without any formal education in creative writing. I hadn't even attended a single seminar or convention. 
It was a group of four and the rules were that we meet once a week with new chapters each time. 

My first meeting went well. They were awesome and nice....except they were brutally honest to the point that my chapters were eclipsed with red ink. I expected honesty, and I they buried me. 

That was okay. I asked for guidance, and I received it. I didn't want to be a good writer, I wanted to be GREAT. I tucked my ego away and absorbed what felt like punishment. I wanted to be taken seriously. 

That meant absorbing the critique, taking notes and fixing my chapters according to direction. When we met every week, I had a new chapter to show as well as the previous one with all the corrections. That is how I learned how to write properly. That is how I earned the respect of my critique group. 

I learned, many months later, that the other three members considered tossing me out after the first meeting. I was too raw, I was such an amateur. I had no idea what I was doing. 

It's true, I didn't know what I was doing. But they decided I was teachable. I had 'Belly Fire' as they called it. They decided I really wanted it. And they went at me harder. 

I'm so grateful for it. I'm not the best writer out there, but I strive for it every time. There's always something to learn, and you have no idea how I agonize over simple sentences. Sometimes even here on this blog. 

I have friends who have started writing. They ask what I think, and I tell them I will be brutally honest. I tell them that if they want to publish, there are other things they'll have to do....like creating a social media platform. Like going to conventions, like taking honest criticisms. Things that are not fun and dull things involved with publishing. 


 I've given honest criticism when someone asks me to look at their work. I think they feel it was too much. I can't really speak for other writers, but I feel that if you've asked, and I've agreed, I have your best interests at heart. I'm not being mean. I'm not being passive-aggressive. I'm not jealous of you. I'm trying to help, because if my critique group hadn't helped me, I wouldn't have published my sixth novel. 

Well, I'm self-published, so it's an odd flex, but I'm proud of my work and how far I've come. I don't suck, and I'll keep trying to get better. 

Friday, January 21, 2022

ANNOUNCEMENT: So happy to tell you.

 



I have some great news about publishing ELAINA'S FATE. Who would have thought, eh? I feel a lot better about publishing right now, and I credit Heather Savage and Draft2Digital. 

As you know, I've been having issues publishing ELAINA'S FATE through Amazon and KDP. I tried a few times to figure out why I can't see the paperback, even though KDP insists that it's out there. I believe it has something to do with formats not matching up between the ebook and the paperback. The thing is, between myself, Emma and Heather we jumped through a lot of hoops trying to meet KDP's standards. It still didn't work. 

Heather INSISTED I try Draft2Digital. I promised I would look into it in January. Today I made good on that promise. She was absolutely right. 

I can't believe how easy it was to use. I did the whole thing in 45 minutes, maybe less. It is truly user-friendly. A Facebook friend and writer named Victoria Ryan Meadow told me they do print books too, and she's correct, I saw it. I haven't made a decision yet, but I might just print through them as well. 

I know it's my first time with them, but it already feels like I should move all my books there. The only thing stopping me is how I handle the ISBNs. I need to think it through when I'm not so excitable. 

This is how self-publishing should be. Not only was it easy, but they're only taking ten percent of the sales. I'm gobsmacked. 

I am pleased to tell you ELAINA'S FATE the ebook is now available at: 

Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Vivlio, Rakuten Kobo, Tolino and Borrow Box. 

I know there are people who prefer paperbacks, I get it. It's always nice to see them on a shelf, and I was worried that my work would never been seen on bookshelves again. I'm going to make the paperback happen. I spent too much time ( so did Emma and Heather) and money to just surrender to technology that I don't understand. Honestly, I love the feel of one of my novels in my hands, I love the look. 

I hope this brings my work to new people who might not have had access to my books before. I know there are people who don't want to use Amazon for their reading entertainment, and I don't blame them. Jeff Bezos doesn't need more money and he needs to treat his workers better, right? I would much rather work with Draft2Digital. 

In case you're interested, ELAINA'S FATE  is priced at $3.99 USD. I intend to get on the paperback issues a lot faster now, especially now that I know it can be so much simpler. 

Wish me luck!

Friday, December 17, 2021

THANKS!

 

No really, thanks so much. Obviously, from the last post, I didn't publish on November 19th. More like November 30th, and the paperback still isn't properly on line. According to Amazon, the paperback is available. Yet no one can find it, not even me. 

There appears to be a problem with keywords. Somehow they don't work with the system. I've gone in and changed a few things and re-published. I'm trying to be optimistic, but...I'll keep trying until it works. I've spent too much time and money trying to make this work, I can't just give up. 

I'd like to say thanks to friends on Facebook. I ordered paperback copies of ELAINA'S FATE, so I know they're definitely done,(They're gorgeous, thanks Emma!)  and I posted them on my personal Facebook and my Author page. Not much on the Author page, but my personal Facebook got 99 reactions. Wow! Thanks! There were a lot of comments congratulating me too. It feels pretty awesome, and I needed that, THANKS! 

David did an awesome job, but I'm glad he missed the agony of publishing. He's still been a good sounding board. Some of it was my fault, like the wrong format size. Oops and Ouch. But a lot of it was, and still is, the fickle nature of KDP. I'm worried that Emma and Heather won't want to work with me again. This whole thing took up way too much of their time and I feel shitty about it.

Which brings me to this...I'm reconsidering my publishing options. That might mean no more paperbacks. (But never say never.) It can also mean looking for an actual publisher.

Heather suggested Draft2Digital, and I'm definitely going to try that. But not until January. I'm too busy, and I don't have the spoons. The original plan was to publish in time for Christmas so people could order Elaina's Fate for Christmas. Well, we're beyond that now, aren't we? Now the plan is just to make it available to anyone on any e-book site, without using Amazon. Not just for my issues with publishing, but for moral reasons as well. 

I have a lot to think about, a lot to absorb. I can't do that a week before Christmas while I'm working retail. Insert Canadian apology here.  Yeah, I'm seriously sorry.

I hate publishing, it's true. But I LOVE writing. When I feel like giving up, my husband offers these words. "Don't deprive the world of your art." It always works.  Makes my heart sing that he believes like that. 

So somewhere there must be a happy medium, a solution. Not everyone reads paperbacks, and not everyone wants to buy a Kindle or a Nook. I need to figure something else out. 

I'm on it in January! Wish me luck.