Monday, July 8, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Demons

As many of you know, I am what I call a Christian Wiccan. I believe in God, but I also believe in the magic that can be found in the natural world. I also have this tendency to search into the weird, the unusual. What brings this subject to light recently? Well, two things actually. I’ve just started watching Supernatural on Netflix. I know, I know—seriously? O_O And also, the stay at my parent’s house.

Many years ago, as a young(er) woman, I dabbled more in spellcraft. Always positive, but definitely not Christian. I looked into past lives and astral projection, among other things. Don’t know if it was my dabbling or what, but something sparked something’s interest.

One night, as I lay sleeping in my basement bedroom, I got an odd feeling, like I was being watched, not to be cliché. I glanced up and my eyes were drawn to a dark corner. Well, the entire room was dark, as it does not have windows. This particular corner was darker than most, a small recess that gave onto the closet on the other side of the wall. The closet was one of the open kind, so no worries about monsters residing therein. 

However… in that corner, two red eyes stared at me. My heart raced. I didn’t dare run, afraid that it would chase me. Slowly, I reached for the Bible, which I always kept in the bookshelf headboard of my bed. I clutched that book to my chest and squeezed my eyes shut, before reciting the simple phrase, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you, demon, to leave this place and never return.” I repeated the phrase three times and opened my eyes. The corner was once more black, the presence gone.

For some reason, whenever we visit my parents, my boys don’t want to sleep in that room. Could have something to do with me telling them that story. But I also tell them that I haven’t seen the demon since that one night. I sleep there when we visit. Nothing. I also haven’t practiced any religion in over a decade. Well, except a couple of cleansing rituals at my house, when the kids were too freaked out over a scary movie. It harmed nothing and eased their minds.

So what about you? Have you ever experienced anything supernatural (no pun with the show intended)? Have you ever seen something evil? A devil, demon, or some other such entity? Have you ever summoned something, intentionally or not?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wednesday Check-In, July 3rd


Weight is up to an embarrassing 201.6 once again. Those trips to visit my dad really do me in. He buys donuts, which are my kryptonite, and every time I would offer to cook something healthy, he would say, “let’s go out to dinner.” Invariably, we would wind up at some Italian restaurant.

I don’t know what is keeping me from logging my food into MyFitnessPal again, but I am just going to have to start. Partially, I think that it’s been due to being away, and partially probably to all the activity of late. Not only is my younger son spending the summer with his grampa 1200 miles away, but my older son is going away for a total of nearly a month to two different, very intensive trainings. Add my trip to Chicago, with the return happening the first day of school, then top it off with the (exciting, but sad) news of my hubby’s promotion and transfer. The boys and I will stay in Florida for the teen’s final year of school while hubby will be living about halfway up the coast. Hubby’s promotion means that we also have to sell the house that we just bought last year, although we have to time that with me and the younger boy moving north to be with hubby. The house needs major cleaning and clearing out, ‘cause we are some serious pack-rats; but a cluttered house doesn’t show well. So, yeah, busy and stressed, and stress eating.

At any rate, I am back on the exercises. Gotta tell you, forty sit ups after two weeks of none was not easy. But I did them, and that’s what’s important. I also completed most of my usual calisthenics routine. The treadmill is back to one hour every other day. The fight to get back to what one friends calls “one-derland” is on.


It’s nice that, sometimes when I screw up in one area, I shine in another. This is one of those times. So far this month, I have written 2592 words; since last week, I have written a total of 3905 words. All of those words have been in Quantum Kiss. One thing that’s helping is that I decided to join Camp NaNoWriMo, in which we are attempting to write a total of 50K words by July 31st, beginning on July 1st.

For this week, with the holiday, and the teen heading off to one training on Saturday, and hubby leaving out for a week on Monday, the writing is slow-going—I know, I know, not so slow if I’m churning out in one week what I have been doing in two weeks or a month. Our daily goal in Camp is 1613. The nice thing, and one I didn’t think I’d like, is that they assign you to a “cabin”, where you can check in with others and motivate each other. Our cabin is having a slow start, but that happens.

My goal is to finish Quantum Kiss this month and begin to really focus on Druid, my Western. A friend of mine even made me a sig and avi set, as well as a book “cover” to display on my Camp profile once I’ve finished Q.K.

Prompt: It’s 1776. You are a loyalist married to a rebel. Or vice versa. How do you feel about your mate? Are you worried for them? Hopeful that they’ll be killed?

Vocab: Loyalist: One who remained loyal to the British government during the American Revolution.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Druids

Well, I’m back from Connecticut, and settling back into life in Florida once more, albeit with an insanely busy summer ahead. One part of my busy-ness is Camp NaNoWriMo, which starts today and carries on until July 31st. During those thirty-one days, our goal is to write fifty thousand words, just as in the November NaNo.

One of my personal goals for the month will be to finish my WIP, Quantum Kiss. Another goal will be to get deep into my Western paranormal romance, Druid (temporary title). With that on my mind, I thought it might be fun to explore the druids in this week’s Mysterious Monday. I was right, and I was also very, very wrong. Druids are so steeped in legend and myth that you might as well research the unicorn for facts. Mind, you’ll probably find out more about the unicorn that is actual fact than you will about druids.

Druid, by Edli on DeviantArt

One thing that makes finding information on druids so difficult is that their learning was all done in secret, the wisdom passed down to students who had to memorize the knowledge—nothing was written down anywhere that we know of.

It is odd, therefore, that we have such definite ideas in our heads about what they looked like and some of their more blood-thirsty practices. Most of us, when we think of druids, think of an old man with a long, flowing white beard; actually Dumbledore from the Harry Potter movies is a great example of our preconceptions. At least as far as looks go.

Another notion many of us think of when we hear the word “druid” is the wicker man, full of victims who will be burnt as offerings to the Celtic gods. While human sacrifice may indeed have been practiced, just as it was in many primitive societies, there is no proof that the druids were any more or less blood-thirsty than any other religion at that time. Sacrifices were made to the gods to try to win their favor; the more important the sacrifice, the more likely the god would listen, so it is very possible that humans were sacrificed when the stakes were high.

Druids are associated with oak and mistletoe—both of which are important in old Celtic religions. Oak is one of the strongest trees and grows for many years, while mistletoe is an herb used for healing of many ills. Druids were said to practice and teach in springs and groves, sometimes in caves.

Druids are most closely associated with the countries of Britain, Ireland, and France (at the time, named Gaul). They are purported to have lived and worshipped from around 800 B.C. until around 45 A.D.; not necessarily coincidentally, the latter date is around the time of some of the Roman invasions of Britain.

Julius Caesar wrote about the druids, and it is from him that we learn that these priests were very wise, involved in the teaching of bards and minstrels, as well as the settling of disputes. Druids were so well respected that they could actually stand between two armies and stop the fighting. They had a very civilized and forward-thinking system of law, but it did have a mystic edge to it, in that they believed so strongly in the immortality of the soul, that a debt from one life could be paid in the next one.

Personally, when I think of druids, I think of a Merlin-esque figure (from the movie Excalibur, not the recent show on BBC). I think of a man steeped in learning, in the ways of the natural world as well as the metaphysical one—yes, the Merlin of Excalibur fame fits the profile, but he was once a young man, learning the ways of the druid. What about you? What do you think of when you think of druids?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Merrows

Photo by Victor Habbick.
Found on
This mermaid picture is the closest royalty-free
picture I could find to a merrow.

Another day late post. I’m so sorry. I’ll be staying with my dad for another week and a half. While I’m here, it’s been difficult to find time to write. My father is a wonderful man, but he’s ever been the restless sort. If I don’t do chores for him while he’s at work, he’ll come home and do them; I don’t want that, as I feel it’s the only way to really “pay” him for mine and my son’s stay here. He doesn’t want any pay, but I hate to take and not give—it’s just who I am. I am also here to work on helping him clean up some of my mother’s items now that she is in a nursing home. If I don’t step in, he’ll have photos and interesting family history in the garbage.

He’s also from the generation and class that has this image that if you’re not doing physical labor, you’re not working. Since my sales business and my writing career both involve a lot of time on the computer, either typing letters or stories or blogs, or contacting folks, or taking classes, I have to almost “hide” my computer activities in my basement bedroom. I don’t want to stay downstairs too much, though, as I am here to visit as well as doing the cleaning up of thirty years in one home. So please bear with me for the next couple of weeks, until I can get home and settled once more. I appreciate your continued support.

At any rate, continuing the watery Irish mythology theme, this week’s Mysterious Monday focuses on merrows. Merrows share many similarities to both mermaids and selkies. These half-fish, half-human creatures sat on rocks, luring sailors to their deaths on the nearby obstructions.

Male merrows are purportedly drunkards who wait for ships to sink and then liberate the doomed ships of their supplies of whiskey and brandy. The males are described in very uncomplimentary terms—sometimes as having a red nose from their drinking, sometimes as being completely covered in green scales with green hair. They are also said to have pig-like features and long, pointy teeth.

Female merrows, however, are quite beautiful—more the pity and curiosity that the males are so hideous, then. They have the upper torso of a human and the lower torso of a fish; fine webbing is found between their fingers. The female merrow usually wears a red cap and sometimes a dark cape which covers a bright white gown. It sounds like the merrow is a bit more modest (or cold) than her counterpart in Greece.

Like the selkie, a human male may find that which holds her magic, in this case, her red cap. Should he do so, the merrow will become his willing and submissive wife, but—also like the selkie—she will return to sea immediately upon finding her cap. Unlike the selkie, she does not remember her sea home while in her role as fisherman’s wife.

Sailors who tried to steal the merrow’s cap were taking quite a risk. As members of the magical Sidhe-folk, a merrow’s temper was as changeable as the sea. One moment, she could be sitting on the rocks, singing a lovely tune in her beautiful voice; the next, she could tear the mortal apart. Only if he was lucky enough to snatch her cap and make her his bride would she become docile. On land, she would age like a normal human, but once she found her cap and returned to the sea, all of her mortal years would fall away and she would become immortal once more.

With all these magical creatures finding the sources of their magic and leaving, it does make one wonder why the mortals kept these items, instead of destroying them. A number of reasons come to mind:

  • Bragging rights: “My wife’s a merrow!” “Prove it!” And he brings the lads home from the pub, pulls the cap from hiding, and shows it about while they all oooh and aaah.
  • Insurance: Since these men are heartless enough to woo a female by trickery and theft, it’s not a stretch to think that they might want to make sure that they can get out of the marriage should something better come along, or should they decide they don’t like being married all that much.
  • Idiocy: If they have to steal the merrow’s cap to find a bride, they might not be the brightest bulb in the box.
  • Cover story: What better alibi for your wife deciding to leave you than to claim that she was a magical creature who found the source of her magic and returned home? Also good for a man who kills his wife, especially if he’s already claimed that she was a merrow or selkie.

Do you believe in the magic of the sea? Or do you find a more pedestrian explanation for these myths?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Five for Friday: Early to Rise

I am, of necessity being a mom, an early riser. For many years, I worked second shift and burned the candle at both ends, but I have to admit that there are things I like about getting up early.

Peace: The house and the neighborhood are so quiet with everyone still abed. I love that sense that you’re one of the only ones in the world at that moment. This stillness is where I can get a lot of my creativity onto the page (or the Word doc). It’s a great time to get chores started, too, like the laundry—things that won’t disturb others and that take time to do.

Sunrise: Some days when I get up, it’s still dark outside. There’s something magical to me about those two times of day when it is neither day nor night. Sunrise is one of those times, and as the light fills the horizon, it refracts and paints the sky with such beautiful pastel colors. Even the streaks of white that dance across the blues and pinks and lilacs have an almost ethereal quality to them.

Coffee: There’s just something to be said for that first cup of coffee, drunk in the stillness of the early morning. The scent as it fills your nostrils is so tantalizing that it is almost a reward in and of itself. The first sip that nearly burns your lips and trails the most pleasant warmth over your tongue and down your throat makes life worth living. Whether you like it black, black with sugar, or with just cream or with cream and sugar, coffee makes the morning.

Time: It’s odd how some mornings, time seems to become mired in cold molasses, allowing you to enjoy the wee hours even more. This morning is such a one for me. As I write this, I’ve been up now for over two hours. I’ve gone to Dunkin Donuts with my dad, driven him to work, showered, dried my hair, checked my emails, checked in on the Stargate forum that I hang out at, rebooted my laptop after an update, and am now sitting here, drinking my coffee still and writing this entry. What a fabulous morning so far.

Watching my boy(s) sleep. When they were babies, I would always check on my boys, every night, to watch them sleep for a bit. The innocence of their slumbering forms always tugged at my heart. These days, with the youngest being nearly a teen-ager and the oldest nearly a man in legal terms (both this September, in fact), I give them their privacy. But there is just something so beautiful about seeing them asleep, that I am almost happy when I have to act as their alarm clock and wake them. I don’t feel this way every day, mind, and certainly not when I wind up being the alarm with the snooze that gets “hit” every few minutes, but today is one of those nice days.

Well, there’s this week’s FFF. I am off now to re-wake the pre-teen and get out the door to get my dad’s car serviced. See you all next week. Have a great week-end!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wednesday Check In: A Day Late and 1200 Miles Away...


I’ve tried to keep the food intake down this week, but I’ve been very naughty on the carb front. Between that and going out to dinner with hubby to Olive Garden, I wound up with a gain over last week. I’m back to 200.8. Not thrilled. Not that I did anything about it yesterday. Got up and had no time to exercise, as I had to catch a plane to Connecticut with my youngest son. He’s spending the summer with his grampa. We ate a very, very quick McSandwich for breakfast. Lunch/supper was at a very nice restaurant. I was hungry, so I had an appetizer of New England Clam Chowder. Ate a relatively healthy lunch of braised herb salmon and asparagus, with a small bit of smashed potatoes. Dessert was an issue. Lava cake and ice cream, split with my son. Oy vay! Connecticut’s gonna be hard.

On the plus side, despite the rain and chill keeping me from walking around the hilly neighborhood and the lack of exercise equipment at the house, I should be able to get over to the local YMCA. My dad said that they have a two week free trial that I can participate in. Failing that, the local gym has a 10 day free trial. I’m hoping the Y has a pool; although there is a town pool, it’s so far been cold and rainy and the town pool is outside.

The other thing going for me is that my dad is a diabetic. I know that sounds wrong, but what I mean is that there’s not a whole lot of sugary crap food around his house. Now if I can just get him to stop feeding my son and I like we’re starved and having a low-sugar attack, we’ll be fine.


At least I’ve gotten some words written this week. I got up a couple of mornings and knocked out some writing while waiting for the teen to get ready to leave for school. I also wrote one day in a notebook while I was at an amusement park with my son and his friend. With all of that, and despite getting ready for my trip to Connecticut, I still managed to pop out 1823 words. I was super-proud that all of the words were in my sci-fi romance instead of all over the place. Now, not all of it was in a direct timeline from point A to point B, but still…

These next couple of weeks will be a challenge to find writing time, as I am at my dad’s to help him clean out some of my mom’s stuff. Mom is in a nursing home and neither knows about nor wants (when she does know about) a good percentage of her things. She has resigned herself to being in the home and knows that she has no room for many of her things, most of which she has not even seen, let alone used, for several years.

There are also the numerous dusty items that are found when one has been living in the same home for dozens and dozens of years. I need to help Dad sort through a lot of that stuff while I'm here, and since he'll be working during the day for the next couple of weeks, it's pretty much on me. 

Vocab: Conflagrate: to be on fire.

Story idea: A dragon walks into a pub…

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Selkies

Very late this week. Sorry! Monday snuck up on me and tackled me in almost dog-like fashion, licking my face and wagging its tail until I was nearly overcome.

Photo courtesy of savit keawtavee at

At any rate, this week I decided to talk about selkies. In Irish myth, a selkie (also known as a silkie) was a sea creature that took the form of a seal. Most often, we hear tales of the female selkies, who come ashore to dance in the moonlight after shedding their skins. If a man is lucky enough to capture a selkie’s seal skin and hide it from her, the selkie will become his wife. She will make a good, if melancholy, wife, who yearns to return to her sea home. When and if she finds her pelt, she leaves the man behind, sometimes taking their children with them, sometimes leaving the children at home.

Less often, we hear of male selkies, who come ashore in search of dissatisfied women, mostly fishermen’s wives. Apparently, the male selkies hide their pelts a bit better than their female counterparts because we don’t often hear of the males being kept in sexual slavery. Or it could be that we don’t hear of this because the selkie male would get chased off by some unhappy husband. The human women can “call” a male selkie by going to the beach at high tide and shedding seven tears into the water.

Personally, I think the whole thing stinks. The selkie females being taken against their wills, and the males taking advantage of over-worked, over-wrought, over-anxious wives. Now, admittedly, these stories originated in a time when being a wife was little better than being a slave in many instances, a time when women were little more than chattel, but my modern female back goes up when I read about some man taking the selkie female’s freedom. Not real pleased at the casual display of cheating by the selkie males and human women, either.

So why am I thinking of selkies this week? Frankly, I’m not 100% sure, but a selkie tale is playing at the edges of my consciousness, teasing, dipping its head above the waves to disappear an instant later. I would like to write a tale where there does not seem to be so much casual disregard for the feelings of the human or the selkie. My interest could be because of my research on Hy Brasil last week, where I delved into some Irish myths, a favorite past-time of mine since childhood. It could be because of the deluges of rain we’ve had the past few days that are making me think of gathering the local fauna into pairs whilst I work on a construction project of approximately forty cubits by forty cubits using gopher wood.

At any rate, the selkies are close cousins to the other water spirits, one of whom I almost wrote for my NaNoWriMo project last year, and will probably pursue this year. I’m always interested in the myths and legends of the northern peoples, be they Celts of any flavor, Lapps, Scandinavians, or Russians. Such a rich breeding ground of stories that could use a little brushing off and modernizing, or just a nice little re-telling. 

How about you? Do you use myths and legends for your story ideas? Or do you just like to read the stories of others? Do you have a “go to” culture that you prefer?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Five for Friday: Refreshing drinks

Summer is officially here. My kids are out of school and the temperature has become unbearable to the point that my air conditioner runs constantly. With that in mind, I thought I'd share five of my favorite refreshing drinks (that the whole family can partake of).

1. Sweet tea. I was raised in New England on that powdered Lipton stuff. I thought I knew what iced tea was and I liked it. Then we moved to Texas and I got my first taste of real, brewed, sugar-added tea. I will never go back to powder again. The only problem I have with sweet tea is that it does a number on the calorie count and the carbs from all that sugar. But if you can spare the calories, this is the only way to go.

2. Coca-cola. I have loved Coke since I was a kid and the only way you could buy it at the store was in the glass bottles. The burning coldness as the bubbly liquid hits your hot mouth is like nothing else on this earth. No diet, no New Coke for me. Just plain old-fashioned regular coke. All right, I wouldn't mind a squirt of vanilla now and again.

3. Root beer. Pick a root beer, any root beer. Gramma used to get us Hires. Mom used to buy A&W. My first taste of Barq's came in the summer of my twenty-second year, when I found and purchased it at a little store in Nebraska on a road trip to Denver. I was intrigued, having just heard about this soda in a country song. It was good, real good, and I understood what they meant when they said, "Barq's has bite". But in all honesty, I'll take any root beer. Go ahead a drop and scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream in there, will ya?

4. Mountain Dew. Totally refreshing, despite its dubious color. One of my favorite uncles growing up used to buy this stuff by the caseload. Whenever we'd visit the campground he and my aunt owned, he'd have the refrigerator all stocked up. Perfect way to cool off in the un-air-conditioned summer of the backwoods of New Hampshire.

5. Water. Believe it or not, I love just a nice cold glass of water. Flavored or plain, just not bubbly. There truly is nothing quite so refreshing and replenishing to me after mowing the lawn or coming in from a walk in the summer heat.

Hope you all enjoy your summer. Keep cool!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wednesday Check In


Well, Aunt Flo, who has been conspicuously absent for the past couple of months, decided to show her ugly face again. I thought I was done with this monthly visitor, and moving on to the next phase of my life with no fuss, no muss, no mood swings or hot flashes. I was wrong. Along with my monthly came the usual cravings for salt and sweets and red meat and pasta and bread. Also explains why my legs were killing me yesterday as I did my calisthenics.

So I’m sure I killed my calories yesterday, but I was so sure it would be depressing that I didn’t mark them down. There wasn’t a fruit or veg in sight yesterday. I’ll need to make up for that oversight today.

I did do an extra 40 minutes on the treadmill to try to make up some of the calories, and managed to burn an additional 214. This morning, I went for my usual full hour on the treadmill. And still I wound up gaining overall, coming in at 198.8. Some could be water weight, but I get the feeling it’s pasta weight.


Lots of words this week—well ahead of the Little Bites Challenge schedule, which is great. Total word count, as of this morning, is 2117. That’s not including the words I wrote this morning, which will go on next week’s check-in. I've been dreaming my story at night, then waking up and writing while I wait for the teen to get his butt in gear for school. School's out now, so we'll see how I go from here on out for the summer. Ironically, I'm not feeling very verbose right now, so I'll see you all Friday. 


Forthright: Honest, unswerving

Story starter: Druid meets Christian.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Hy Brasil

All right. I’m going to admit something to y’all that I don’t tell very many people. I watch the show “Ancient Aliens”. And I believe a good chunk of it. I’ve always been a fan of Erich von Däniken and Edward Cayce. The myths of Atlantis led me to reading about aliens having come to Earth many centuries ago. The other day, there was a marathon of the show on the History Channel. One of the things they spoke about was the land of Hy Brasil.

Hy Brasil was supposed to be located off the southwest coast of Ireland. Although it shares many similarities with Atlantis, Hy Brasil has much more supposed documentation. Both Saint Brendan and Saint Barrind mention the island on their voyages, in great (and extremely similar) detail.

Two famous stories of encounters with Hy Brasil happen approximately two hundred years apart. The first was in 1674 by Captain John Nisbet of Ireland. His ship encountered a deep fog and when they emerged from the other side, they found themselves dangerously close to running aground on the shoals of the mysterious island. The crew took boats and rowed to the island, where they were showered with gold. One hundred ninety-eight years later, T.J. Westropp, an Irish historian and author, watched in consternation as the island disappeared. He had visited the island on three previous trips.

Despite eyewitness accounts, very little is known about Hy Brasil. It was a roughly circular island, cut down the middle by a channel. Buildings were topped in gold and silver, a very rich display from the residents. Pastures were dotted with strong, healthy cattle and sheep. The human inhabitants of the island were reported to be highly intelligent and very knowledgeable in the healing arts.

Oddly, if you look for maps that show that area in the years between 1325 and 1872, you only find Hy Brasil when you type the name into a Google search. Also, I can find no direct quotes from either Nisbet or Westropp, despite their amazing visits, and despite the fact that one of them was a prolific author. To be fair, I have not read all of Westropp’s works, merely scanned titles, but wouldn’t you think something of this magnitude—an island that is shrouded in mist and full of rich, obviously advanced beings, that simply disappears one day—wouldn’t you think this would warrant a book of its own, with an appropriate title?

This begs the question of what’s going on? Is all of this pure bullshit and have those who want us to believe simply added in the “roughly circular” island and the stories as “proof”? Are the maps simply mistaken, the stories fantastical tales told by seamen to spice up the routine of their trip and get them some interest (feminine or financial) upon their return? Or is something more sinister going on? Has Hy Brasil been struck from the historical record for some reason?

Personally, I would love to believe that Hy Brasil, Atlantis, Mu, and other legendary islands are not just flights of fancy. I would love to believe that these islands once existed, and that an advanced race of humans lived and worked and played there. What about you? What do you think?    

Friday, May 31, 2013

Five for Friday: Cakes I Have Loved

Last night, while playing around a bit, I came upon some interesting topics for a FFF post. I was all gung-ho, and then I realized that they were better suited to a Mysterious Monday post. Despondent that I was back to posting with no idea of what to post for my second blog entry back, I cut on the TV. And that’s where I got my idea—from a regular Joe, a delivery driver who lives in one of New York’s boroughs. He was eating a piece of chocolate cake and that’s what hit me—I could easily come up with five favorite cakes, and so I did. Here, in no particular order, are five of my favorite cake flavors.

1. Chocolate: Yeah, you didn’t see that one coming, I bet. Not German chocolate, because I prefer my mayonnaise in a salad or on a sandwich. Plain or devil’s food and my taste buds sing. I really like my chocolate cake with a nice mocha butter cream frosting.

Photo courtesy of phanlop88 at

2. Spice: I love a good spice cake. Ginger and cinnamon and nutmeg all combining to make an autumn delight on the tongue. Topped with cream cheese frosting is best.

3. Yellow: Oh, I know it may be boring, but I love a good yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

4. Tomato soup: My dad had this every year for his birthday. As a kid, I never really cared for it, because Mom would add raisins, which I don’t like at all. I would force myself to eat a piece, carefully removing the raisins, because it was, after all, Dad’s birthday cake. These days, I make it without raisins and it tastes super-good. I actually found a recipe that makes it taste nearly the same as the spice cake. 

5. Applesauce cake: Oh, total yum! I found this recipe one year as a teen, and asked Dad if I could make that instead of tomato soup cake for his birthday. He agreed and I found a new favorite cake. Vanilla frosting with a  dash of cinnamon sugar on top really adds to the fall flavor.

Recipe for applesauce cake

Preheat oven to 350º 

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup thick, unsweetened applesauce
Stir the shortening to soften. Gradually add sugar and cream together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and cloves together three times. Add the sifted mixture to the creamed shortening mixture, alternately with the applesauce, a little bit at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Bake in paper-lined (or greased) 9x9x1 3/4" pan about 60 minutes. Cake is done when you stick a toothpick in and it comes out clean.

So there they are, five of my favorite cakes. That ought to do good things for our diets this week, eh? Do you like any of these? Are there any cakes or cake/frosting combos that you haven't tried? Would you like to?  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday Check-in: Long time no blog

Sorry about my absence, folks. I’ve been going through a bit of depression lately. I did not feel up to blogging, as all of my writing was being colored by negativity, and you all deserve better than Neggy Nelly. I won’t go into all the details, but my plate has been very, very full. I’m coming out of the other end of the tunnel now, and it feels so much lighter.

Shall we get right to it?


I tend to be a stress eater. For the past weeks, I have barely, if at all, logged in to My Fitness Pal. Because of that, I did not keep track of how much and what I was eating, so my weight increased. Yesterday, I was back up to 200.0 pounds—that was when I decided that it was high time to get off the gravy boat and back on the treadmill, as it were. Luckily, I was forcing myself to continue some exercise during those dark weeks, otherwise, I’d likely have gained all of the weight back.

As of today, I am back down (or up, depending on your viewpoint) to 197.6. With less than three months to go until Chicon, I am beginning to feel the pinch. There is no healthy way that I can possibly get down to the 150s or 160s that I wanted to be at by then. However, there are still 11 weeks to go, so there is no reason why I can’t be in the low 180s, or perhaps the high 170s if I really push.

More water, more exercise, more veggies, more fruits and proteins, along with less carbs, should do the trick. No more night-time snacking, unless it’s on something like lettuce or watermelon—something that takes more calories to eat than you ingest during the process.


I can’t really write when I’m depressed, either—or rather, I don’t like what I write at those points in my life, so I try not to. I was suffering a lot of migraines during my depression, which I wouldn’t think would be unusual, and writing with a migraine is no fun. Unable to think of what to write, I watched television at night instead, until late at night—not good, as I tend to snack when I watch TV.

I was so depressed that I was considering quitting RWA and even quitting writing altogether for a time. Luckily, I have good friends who, directly and indirectly, convinced me not to. I also received a couple of comments on my fan writing in various places, which helped a lot.

I’ve only just gotten back to actually writing in the past couple of days, but in that time, I’ve averaged just over 600 words each day, for a total of 1377 words. Not a lot, but a lot more than the previous weeks combined. There is a very slight possibility that I will make the Little Bites Challenge, but that will require averaging just over 2000 words per day for the next three days. Either way, I am happy to be back to writing.


Vocab word: Umbrage: to be upset, angry, or offended.

Story idea: Write 500 words minimum, extra credit for using the vocab word.

  • Hilary is a grown woman, with a business of her own. Too bad her mother-in-law is coming to visit.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Searching for Spirituality

I was born into a mixed religion family. My father had been raised Methodist, my mother Protestant, so I was primed for religious open-mindedness right away. This is not to say that those who were born to parents who shared a religion are not; just stating my background and what it means to me.

As a young girl in New Hampshire, I attended Sunday school every week at the local Protestant church. I heard all the stories, I sang all the songs, I held the candles at Christmas and ate the “body of Christ” and drank the “blood of Christ” at Easter. Those are lovely images for young, imaginative children, by the way.  o_O

When we moved to North Carolina, we were unable, surprisingly (not) to find a Protestant church anywhere. There were churches all over the place, but my mother, a good New England Protestant, would never consider stepping foot inside a Baptist church without her being invited by a friend or relative. It just wasn’t in her nature to seek the new, the different. My father in those days was working a lot and so he really didn’t pay much attention. My religious education began to slip.

Less than two years later, we moved back to New England, to Connecticut, but by then the habit of not attending had been established. We became the type of attendees that many people sneer at—the holiday church-goers. We attended every Easter and Christmas—religiously, if you’ll pardon the pun. When I began working at the age of 15, Sundays became a necessary work day since most restaurants require you to work on Sundays or at least be available. When I turned 16 and began waitressing, the lure of the almighty dollar was too strong for me to resist and I volunteered to work every Sunday. My week-ends, starting on Friday night and continuing through Sunday night, were when I made the most tips.

In college, I learned about other religions and began to explore. I dabbled in Buddhism and New Age religions, mixing a little of this with a little of that until I had an unrecognizable form as my religion. I studied astral projection and past life regression and witchcraft. I dabbled in spells (only white, never dark). I realized that there was more out there than just what we could see when I encountered spirits and, once even, a demon. At one point, I almost became a Catholic, because the boy I was seeing was Catholic and his parents would not allow us to marry unless I was Catholic. He caved to parental pressure and I stopped my studies when we broke up.

These days, I call myself a Christian Wiccan. I believe some tenets of Christianity—that there is a higher power and it is a good and benevolent power, but expects us to treat our fellow humans a certain way. I also believe as Wiccans do, mainly their first “law”—“And it harm none.” Recently, I have had my eyes opened once more by a woman who posted that she was a Witch, not a Wiccan. Silly, lightly informed me had thought they were one and the same. It turns out, I am both and neither, with more leaning toward Witch than Wiccan. I do not wait for certain times of the year/moon cycle to cast spells. I do not work from a spell-book. I do not have a Wiccan name. I would love the sense of community that a Wiccan coven would bring, but honestly, I am a solitary person and I find that a lot of times, when you get more than a few women into an organized group, things can go to Hell in a hand-basket rather quickly. Add a few men, and I’m not sure it would be any better.

So, to sum up, I believe in a higher power—call it God, the Goddess, whatever you like. I believe that power to be benevolent. I believe that if we are kind to each other and honest and trustworthy, we are not going to spend eternity in some fiery pit. Neither of my boys is baptized, because we were not able to bring them to a church of our choice when they were babies, but I don’t believe this will have them roaming around in the “in-between” after their deaths if they are good people in their lives. One thing the Witch’s article taught me is that I still don’t know what I think I know, and that’s a good thing. I prefer to be balancing on one leg than standing confidently on two when it comes to certain things; I don’t want to feel so sure of myself that I become obnoxious. This is not to say that everyone who is confident of their religion is obnoxious, but I might be if I wereI have that tendency. Plus, there’s something to be said for constantly learning, constantly opening your mind and spirit to new (positive) ideas.

What about you? What are your religious views? How did you come by them? Do you think everyone should believe as you do or do you follow more of a "and it harm none" sort of philosophy?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday Check In

Well, do you want the good news or the bad news first? I’m gonna start with the not-so-good and finish on a positive note.


Well, I gained a bit back this week and I forgot to take the picture. I am at 194.2. Huge cravings hit me for some reason and I was also sick for a couple of days so I didn’t feel up to exercising. I actually only exercised the last three days of the last seven, except for a small bit on the treadmill on Saturday. I know I can weather this happening once in a while and I don’t feel too bad since I was at my lowest last week. That being said, I am now further away from my next weight goal of getting into the 180s.

And so, I shall have to buckle down once more, just a bit; not punishment, just no seconds. Today. And no eating more than one serving of molasses cookies. Today. And I won’t just focus on the negatives, on the “nots”. I will have a nice, fresh salad today. I will cut up the strawberries and have them with some low-fat whipped cream today. I will have a nice big piece of salmon for dinner, along with some rice and a veg. Don’t care that hubby won’t be home for dinner. I can eat healthy without him, too. This morning, for breakfast, I had an English muffin with peanut butter to ramp up my energy. I’ll buy a cantaloupe at the store later or a watermelon and slice it up.

Since I am bored senseless with my current exercise routine, I am going to clean up my front room (where the treadmill is) and have my son teach me some of his karate moves to spice things up. I’ll ask my other son to show me some of the Marine hand-to-hand fighting that he learned, as well as some of their exercises (that’s where I got the idea for the flutter kicks). I may have the boys teach me to ride a bicycle; it’s embarrassing, but I never did learn. When finances allow, I’ll join the Y to take advantage of their pool. The Y isn’t close, but it’s probably cheaper, and less intimidating, than the hoochie-momma gym around the corner. Still can’t afford yoga in my area, but one day I will.


Well, here’s where I shone this week. I had a story idea that’s been tugging at me for some time, a Western. Yeah, yeah, I know. But it’s not your typical Western; it’s a paranormal Western, in keeping with my blog's theme. No, not Cowboys & Aliens. Just paranormal, involving spirits and mysticism and impossible love made possible. It is currently titled, “The Western”. Real creative for a writer, eh? The problem is, it’s still in its infancy and so it hasn’t given me its title yet. I’ve titled books too soon before and wind up with names that make no sense to the story—I give you “In the Blood”, which has nothing to do with blood. It was going to, but then didn’t go that way. Problem was, I’d already started posting it on the fan fic sites, so I was stuck with the name. The closest that story came (and it’s a stretch) to having anything to do with blood was that the main characters share a rare genetic trait. A single strand of DNA. That’s it.

So, getting back to the writing that I accomplished this week. In the new fic, I managed to get 3117 new words written, 2025 of them in the new fic. This sparked a renewed interest in QK, in which I wrote 1092 words this week. I plan to write up a “plan book” or a “play book” for QK this coming week, in which I put all the info—the players, the tech, the magic, all of it, as well as a very rough outline. I am, by nature, a pantser, but I am finding that a part of me yearns for order. Maybe this is a response to all that’s going on with Mom & Dad, but suddenly, my inner Control Freak is freaking out. She wants to take over. And so, I’ve been having more interest in some sort of plotting of my stories.

This week's prompt:

Vocab: Utopia--a perfect world
Prompt: What’s your idea of the perfect world?   

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Lavender

Those of you who have been following my blog know that I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. With my mother’s difficulty adjusting to the nursing home after having to be moved from the assisted living facility, and my father’s stress over that and his brother-in-law’s sudden diagnosis with liver cancer, things have been more than usually crazy around my house. Needless to say, my blood pressure has been on the high end. Some days, I thought I would have a frikkin’ heart attack from the banging of my heart. I hate medicine, even hate taking aspirin or ibuprofen when I have a headache. Many years ago, I turned to natural healing as an alternative.

I began with essential oils and also with minerals, like the love stone of my previous blog entry. Essential oils are one of the ways to use alternative forms of medicine. Essential oils are the concentrated form of the plants from which they are derived. Many of these oils are very, very strong and should be used with caution (and often dilution).  

Lavender is one of my favorites. I love the scent of it and it has a very calming effect. I have used it for many years to help with anxiety. I tend to project and worry even when there is no cause, so you can imagine how much I worry when there is something to worry about. From all that I’ve read about lavender and its versatility, I highly recommend keeping this oil in your holistic medicine cabinet.

Image courtesy of Feelart at

Lavender has helped my sleepless nights. I dab a little on a tissue and rub that tissue along the bottom of my pillow. Lay my head down, inhale, and I’m off to dreamland.

At times when I’ve thought my heart would explode from my chest, I’ve dabbed a little lavender on my wrists and other pulse points. Instantly, I could feel my heart slow down to normal.

Lavender is good for relieving pain. Add a little to a massage oil and work it into sore muscles. Pour a little into the bath and settle in for a nice long soak. Tight muscles? Cramps? Add to a warm compress and apply to the affected area.

Lavender oil is also good for coughs and colds. Add a bit to a vaporizer or put a dollop in a pot of boiled water. Place a towel over your head and form a tent from it with your head and the pot as the joining ends. Inhale the steam. Breath deep.

Lavender oil has antiseptic properties and so is good for minor burns and other skin irritations, including acne. If you use it on cuts or any open wounds, be sure you are using the pure, undiluted, therapeutic-grade oil. Most of the stuff sold in chain stores is not the pure kind. I’ve read that it also can be used as a deodorant, since it kills bacteria.

You can repel insects with lavender oil. Try rubbing some along the window sills of your home, as well as along electric outlet covers and other areas where bugs get in. You’ll keep out the ickies and your house will smell nice and be a relaxing place for all who enter. CAUTION: BEWARE OF USING WHEN YOUR MIL VISITS. SHE MAY FEEL SO RELAXED THAT SHE RETURNS, AGAIN AND AGAIN.  

As ever with these medical posts of mine, bear in mind that I am no doctor. I report things I have read and sometimes learned from experience. Please consult your doctor before using lavender in place of any treatment; if you do not do so, YOU are the one responsible for any negative results, not me or your doctor or anyone else. Also, since lavender promotes blood flow, pregnant women should avoid this essential oil. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Five for Friday: Inspiring Males

As a writer, I need to be able to picture my characters. This is especially important for my main characters, my heroes and heroines. Maybe it’s because I’m visual or maybe it’s because I have a fan fiction background, but actors have always served as inspiration for me. This week’s FFF is dedicated to some of those men in my fan fiction works.

The first romance I wrote was in the Robin Hood BBC fandom. I have always had a thing for men with pretty eyes and eyelashes. Don’t know what it is about them, but it’s one of the features I love best about my hubby (Shh! Don’t tell him—he thinks it’s his biceps!).  Allan A’Dale, played by Joe Armstrong (whose daddy, ironically named Alun, is a well-known British actor) caught my eye almost immediately. His was the first character we met in the series; his face, and those gorgeous eyelashes, one of the first things we see. Allan was the hero of The Thief, my first novel-length fan fiction.

The second book in my Thieves series, Den of Thieves, focused on the growing relationship between Allan and my original character, Deirdre. I did, however, add a secondary love story, as well as adding a bit of a triangle to the Allan/Deirdre romance. The secondary love story had a hard man to love at its center, Guy of Gisborne (I spell it Gisbourne in my series). He was a bit more difficult to work with for me, as I tend to like the sarcastic, cheeky characters a bit more than the serious ones. I paired him with a young woman who's life had already been filled with tragedy, Adelaide. Sir Guy was played by Richard Armitage.

The third angle of my love triangle was my first original male romance hero. At first, no one liked Ruarc O’Brian. He was not only cheeky, he was downright obnoxious. Of course, he was trying to win my heroine, Deirdre, away from the hero, Allan, who was actually a character from the fandom. We later discover why he acts the way he does and he becomes the tragic hero; in fact, many of my readers began to want my heroine to run away with him. Gerry Butler was the inspiration for Ruarc.

Another of my favorite actors is Kavan Smith, who played Major Evan Lorne in Stargate Atlantis. Another man with gorgeous eyes, and another underused character. Lorne was the 21C of the Atlantis Expedition and was always saving the hero of the show’s butt. Major Lorne was usually quite solemn, very dedicated to his job and his position, but the first time we see him, he is trading barbs with another character. Those hints of his dry sense of humor were what drew me to Lorne (outside of the lovely eyes, of course). The first time I remember seeing him was in SGA, despite the fact that his character first appeared in a single episode of Stargate SG1. Evan Lorne became the love interest in my third finished/fourth overall novel-length fan fiction, In the Blood.

Finally, we come to Ryan Robbins, who appeared as Ladin Radim in SGA, but whose character Henry Foss in Sanctuary is the one who actually stole my heart. Henry is definitely a cheeky chappy and we realize this from the get-go. He’ll give you his opinion, but if you don’t want to take it, it’s on you, he’s done all he can. I actually liked Henry more before we found out that he was a HAP (Hyper Accelerated Protean life form)—that’s a werewolf to you and me. I didn’t much care for the special effects of his wolfy form. I have not posted any romance stories involving him, but I have posted a couple of little humorous one-shots (short short stories) with him at the center. If you go looking for them, they are on and Forbidden.

There are other inspirations, both in fandoms and outside of them, but that’s a post for another week. Enjoy!

(All screen shots captured by me from DVDs I own. For entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended. Please buy the DVDs if you are interested in the shows--Robin Hood BBC, Timeline (Ruarc), Stargate Atlantis, and Sanctuary are all available from local retailers or online.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday Check In


This week was a battle to get my 1750 words, despite being ahead of the game last week. Lots of stress this week, as things went from bad to worse with my mom. Last Wednesday, she was moved from the assisted living facility (which does not accept Title 19) to her new nursing home. She immediately began to have fits of violence, putting both herself and her new roommate in danger. The nursing home had no choice but to send her to the E.R. and she was then brought to a specialized geriatric hospital where they are giving her counseling and adjusting her medications, as they think the balance was off.

Now her meds have been adjusted and she is doing better, much more like her old self. I made the decision, along with my dad’s friends and caregivers, that we would keep this information from my dad for the moment. He is visiting his BIL, who is dying of liver cancer, and does not need the stress of this information, particularly when there is nothing he can do to help (but he will stress over being helpless, too). It is likely that we will tell him soon, mainly because he will keep asking after my mom and he’ll ask specifics, like “how is she adjusting to the new place” and such. I am also worried that he’ll call the new place to check on her and find out she’s not there. So, since she’s doing better now, we’ll probably tell him what happened. He’ll still worry about things he can’t control, as that’s his way, but there’s nothing I can do about that.

At any rate, between the extra stress of Mom’s situation, once more having to lie to a parent, making sure Dad got his tickets and got to the airport okay (making arrangements, as I live 1200 miles away from my folks), being on the phone nearly constantly with the new hospital since I wanted to be put as the contact person to keep Dad in the dark for now, and all of my usual life’s craziness, writing has been forced to the back seat. I have to keep my phone on and by my side constantly, even overnight, lest the hospital needs to get hold of me in an emergency, so there is no “turn off the phone and disappear from the world while I bang out a thousand words” for me right now. Soon.

I am writing this part (and finished the last 100 words I needed for this week’s count) at 6:30 in the morning, on a morning when my teen is home sick with a cough he’s been fighting for a week, so we’ll be off to the clinic later, too. I have to be by my phone and computer until noon, as it’s order day in my sales business and I will have last minute orders from customers, as well as from new reps that are in my group.

It’s no wonder I can’t seem to get even the 250/day done when my pockets of time are under constant threat of being invaded by phone calls. And I have always subscribed to the theory that people are both psychic and mean—I’ll have no phone calls for hours on end while I run errands that need to be run or do chores around the house. The moment I sit down to write, that’s when the phone rings. So I will be very glad when Mom is settled and I am able to resume a bit of normalcy—not just for me, but for her and my dad, too. They need to find their new normal, without living with each other. We have two more hurdles to go—one when Mom returns to the nursing home and the second when she finds out that is her new permanent home.

Long story short (too late!), I did manage to make the 1750 for the week, but just barely. This week, I have to really buckle down and work on the contest entries. I have just a little over a week to finish and return them. Today’s agenda includes transcribing the notes for the two I’ve already judged and getting them back to the judges so they don’t get them all en masse, from me, at least. I also want to finish the third one and get that transcribed and returned and get started on the fourth. Oh, they’re 25 pages each, by the way, not 20. Whoops! Yes, this is on top of the other stuff and trying to get in 250 words of writing to count toward next week’s goal.

At any rate, your prompt and vocab word.

Vocab: execrable: extremely bad or unpleasant.
Prompt: You live in paradise. What could be so bad?


This week has been a struggle with weight, too. Staying on track amidst all that stress when I’m dying to stress eat and binge on pasta and bread has been difficult. Exercising when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and pretend the world doesn’t exist has also been a struggle. On the up side, my monthly has traipsed out the door for the time being.

This week did see me hit two new lows and that is a first since all of this drama with my parents kicked into high gear at the end of February. This despite skipping exercise one day and loading up on bread one evening.

I did try to eat a little better most days, spacing my meals out and eating things (and being filled up by them) that I did not think I would normally. For example, one morning, I had granola and fruit for breakfast. Another day, I had peanut butter on a toasted wheat thin roll with cantaloupe for breakfast. Lunch was just a tuna sandwich on one of the thin wheat rolls (not so unusual, just unusual that it would fill me up), another day, it was just a baked sweet potato with homemade cinnamon butter—the unusual thing were the smaller amount of butter that I used and the fact that I ate the skin, too. Last night’s dinner was steamed fish and broccoli, along with brown rice; I don’t usually eat that much broccoli (at least a good cup, cup and a half) and I don’t usually eat it without it dripping in cheese sauce.

I had no snack last night, as I was so exhausted that I took a nap at 7:00 and didn’t wake up until nearly 9:00. Naturally, there were four important messages on my phone and I had to return phone calls until after 9:30. See? Psychic and mean. I watched a little TV to bring my brain back to calm (comatose, whatever—why mince words?), then tried to write a bit, but my brain was too far gone by that point and my body was crying out to go back to sleep. I think I’m fighting a bit of this same cold that’s been plaguing the teen.

Well, to finish, here is my check-in for the day. A new low--third one this week! See you all soon!