Ten Things Not to Do on New Year’s Eve

Prepare yourself for New Year’s Eve by reading this list of things not to do by John Howell!

Fiction Favorites

a new years resolution

Since this is Monday you should expect a Top Ten list. This week will be the same as the others for the last year. YES, here is the Ten Things Not to Do list (although a little late today). This week’s was inspired by a New Year’s Eve party I attended (or maybe many). Not saying if I was a perpetrator of any of these things, but hope you enjoy them.

Ten Things Not to Do on New Year’s Eve.

10 On New Year’s Eve, do not try to set a personal record for consumption of alcohol. If you do, at best your evening will close early. At worst, New Year ’s Day will represent your personal purgatory just begging for relief.

9 On New Year’s Eve, do not set resolutions that you think would be great to accomplish if you were a superhero. If you do, at best you…

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Living in the Moment: Alligators and Deer, Oh My!

So I am slowly getting back into my old routine.  Well, that’s a lie.  For one thing, I never really had a routine.  For another thing, I hate routine, although I’m often the first person to complain when unexpected things happen.  Usually this time of year, one would expect blog posts on the successes and failures of the past year along with hopes and resolutions for the new year.  Well, not me.  Nope, nope, nope.  Right now I’m just living in the moment.

After surviving yet another NaNoWriMo and concurrently providing daily posts on the novel-in-progress, surviving what might have been the flu for me and then caring for my husband who definitely had the flu, and managing to keep a low profile during the holidays, I just want to enjoy the moment.  Not really think about the future, which looms bright or dark depending on my mood, and not wanting to dwell on the past that I can’t change.  I had some nice moments yesterday when my husband and I decided to go for a 7-mile walk at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, a bit warmer than we expected, but perfect for sighting my favorite reptile:  Alligators.

First we saw this little guy.

IMG_0011_5Yes, I mean “relatively” little:  a young one, about 2-3 feet long.  We took several photos, trying to not get too close and scare him off.  This best shot was made possible by my husband’s walking stick which doubles as a monopod (look it up).  He secured my camera to the monopod and, with a 10-second timer, we took turns holding the stick out and over the very obliging reptile.  Of course, his stillness probably had more to do with the bath water temperature of the pool he was in.  That is, rather than enjoying the photo op experience, he just had the most perfect spot and wasn’t about to move for a couple of gawking bipeds.

We continued on our walk, excited about our pictures while also slightly worried that the young alligator was leaving himself vulnerable to less well-meaning folk.  Then we came upon this guy.

IMG_0014_4Another young one, although a foot or more longer than the first one.  His teeth were barely noticeable, not yet marring his otherwise pleasant smile.  Still, as you can see, we kept well on our side of the road and didn’t try anything fancy with my camera.  Just a couple of quick shots and lots of smiles and walking backwards until we were a safer distance away.  But only a few feet up the road was yet another sunning gator.

IMG_0016_4This guy was bigger (almost 6 feet) and had more impressive teeth.  Of course, I couldn’t resist another photo, but by now, we were getting worried.  Each alligator we had so far encountered was bigger than the previous.  What was waiting for us at the turn in the road?

IMG_0018_4Now, St. Marks is my most favorite place in north Florida, maybe even all of Florida.  The only time I’m not enamored about the Refuge is in summer when it’s very buggy with chiggers and mosquitoes.  So I just don’t go there then.  Across from the shot above, we have the bayou with the mid-afternoon sun giving everything a silvery, shiny effect.

IMG_0019_4Including the alligators.

IMG_0024_4This is where I learned that my cheap little camera actually has a telephoto function (thanks to my husband who used it once and figured it out while I’ve had the blasted thing for a year and a half and had no clue).  Due to the camera, this alligator that is roughly 20 yards away, looks so much closer.  This guy I called “Big Daddy” and if we had met him on the road, trust me, we would not have stopped to take pictures.  We would have been running the other way and fast.  We figure this guy to be about 8-10 feet.

By now I’m like a kid in a candy shop.  I love my alligators, as long as they are in the water and I am on dry land.  And most of them were.

IMG_0031_4

You know you want another close-up (via a telephoto lens, of course).

IMG_0032_4

And it weren’t all alligators either.  Up from the banks came this attractive specimen of a young stag.  Because we were all surprised, I didn’t have time to point, focus, and shoot.  I simply had to shoot, and this young buck was definitely anxious.

IMG_0025_4At one point, I thought he was going to charge my husband.

IMG_0026_4But he just wanted to get by.  Running away from us didn’t seem like an option for him, so we moved closer to the banks to get him more space.  Then we saw what might have startled him to begin with … and it wasn’t us.

IMG_0037_4Okay, this guy was on MY side of the bayou, but still I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a couple of pictures.  Of course, I’m no fool.  Gators aren’t the least interested in eating people.  Unless you’re swimming around in their pond at dusk or night.  Then you’re the fool.  This gator did what they all do when humans get too close:  make a big splash and swim away.

IMG_0038_4Same guy, but because we were getting into his personal space, he made a big splash and started out across the bayou, away from us.  It was beautiful sight, the shimmery glide of the gator as he made his way across the water, to a low mound where he pulled himself up so he could go back to his sunbathing in peace.  My camera has a movie function, and damn if I did not remember to use it.

I hope you enjoyed my living-in-the-moment moments.  If I were to make a resolution for next year, and I won’t but if I were to, I’d resolve to have more such moments to share with all of you.

Happy New Year!

Echoes of Narcissus in the Gardens of Delight by Jo Robinson: Now Available!

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Donna thought there was something wrong with her. That she was suffering from a mental illness that has caused her husband to despise her, distance himself from her, and cheat on her. She blames herself for the desolate, miserable thing that is her marriage and her life. Then she comes across a book that will change everything for her, and reading it, she discovers that there’s nothing wrong with her mind at all, but that there is something very wrong with her husband instead. Marco, she realises, is a malignant narcissist. A text book case. He has a real and documented mental disorder, and that he’s been controlling, manipulating, and abusing her for decades. The sudden full knowledge of all that he’s purposely done to her enrages her. Not sure how to leave after thirty years of what she finally knows has been intentional mental and emotional abuse from him, and believing that she has nowhere to turn, being so physically isolated, she bides her time.

Then she meets and befriends a group of unusual people who share her passion for gardening, and so begins her journey to escape. She joins her new friends in their project to assist elderly people in old age homes care for their small gardens, as well as secretly supplying those suffering from painful and terminal illnesses with medicinal herb and plant remedies, including illegal plants such as cannabis. As weeks go by, she delves into her memories, relearns what it is to be respected, liked, and loved again, and slowly she formulates a plan to safely leave her dangerous husband. But unbeknownst to Donna, Marco is in serious trouble, and has desperate plans of his own, and absolutely no regard for her safety.

** This is a work of fiction, but malignant narcissists really do exist, and it is a recognised mental illness. Unfortunately, many people never realise that they are involved with a narcissist, because their actions are so demonically bad as to be unimaginable and unbelievable, and so they spend their lives in misery, depression, fear, and isolation. If only by the accidental reading of a fictional story, I hope that this book will help even one person, unknowingly suffering narcissistic abuse, to realise that they don’t have to, and that it’s never too late to start over, be happy, be fulfilled, to love and care for yourself, and be truly loved and respected by others.

Narc12349N1T (2)

Available now from AMAZON

Jo Robinson very recently returned to her homeland, South Africa, after having lived in rural Zimbabwe for eighteen years. Her obsessive affection for the African continent, most humans, and all creatures feathered and furred are what inspire her writing. She is the author of African Me & Satellite TV, the science-fiction/fantasy series Shadow People, and a couple of short stories, which will be free to download from Amazon from 26 to 30 December, Fly Birdie and The Visitation.

To win eBook copies of Shadow People and African Me & Satellite TV, send Jo a message from THIS page.

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Top Ten Things Not to Do During the Holidays

Ten wonderful (and funny) reasons to not let the Christmas season push you over the edge … into insanity 😉 Courtesy of John Howell over at Fiction Favorites.

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This list is inspired by the holiday season and is as a result of watching the behavior of folks as we get nearer to the final day. As with all my lists there is not much redeeming value here but are designed to (maybe) get a smile. Also, some of these items may seem to be contrary to the spirit of the season but I can assure you they are.

Ten Things Not to do During the Holiday Season.

10 During the holidays, do not invite strangers to your home even if the spirit moves you. If you do, at best you may have an awkward moment or two. At worst, you might just wonder what happened to the house full of furniture which was there when you went off to church.

9 During the holidays do not accidentally drop more money than you intended into the Salvation Army kettle…

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Top Ten Things Not to do In The Rain

A special “top ten things not to do” list for my friends in California, courtesy of John Howell. Hopefully the rains haven’t washed away your sense of humor 🙂

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a rain

This week’s list was prompted by the huge amount of rainfall that came down in California. I used to live in Sonoma and remember what it was like when the five and six-inch rainfalls hit. Most people are not aware that most of California is a desert and the people living there rely on the winter rainfalls to refill the reservoirs for use in the summer. It has been tough for the last few years since rainfall amounts were not up to levels that could sustain consumption through the summer. The latest round of rain has not eliminated the problem since fast accumulation generally means runoff as opposed to conservation. Our thoughts are with those in California and maybe a chuckle will help a little.

Top Ten Things Not to do in the Rain

10 If you are in the rain driving your car, do not engage cruise control. If…

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Poetry for Lovers

A Poetic Proposal

‘A Poetic Proposal’ by debut author Julian Froment is a journey of love. Dedicated to that one special woman.

This is a collection of poems that plumb the very depths of that deepest of emotions, LOVE. Running counter to this is the on-going theme of angst and heartbreak that is present when two beings that are destined to be one are separated by distance, and in this case a rather large, wet ocean.

This collection progresses chronologically from initial meeting to final proposal of marriage, taking the reader on an emotional roller-coaster ride of highs and lows. The reality of the author and his intended living half-lives, together, then apart, together, then apart, is clearly evident throughout the course of this collection.

On Gossamer Wings

On gossamer wings,
On gossamer wings,
My heart it flies to you.
To be together,
‘till the end of days,
Is all that’s left to do.

Flying high,
‘cross the ocean blue,
To where it now belongs.
Cradled within,
A soul so true,
Amidst angelic song.

And soon now,
Oh, so very soon,
The body shall be along.
To join the heart,
To fill the void,
Back where I belong.

‘A Poetic Proposal’, which is available in both digital and paperback formats, can be obtained here:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 

Follow the author:

Julian Froment’s Blog

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Review Highlights from Amazon

‘Reading this collection of poems made me feel like I was eavesdropping on the world’s most romantic marriage proposal’ … ‘If you are looking for love poems to share with your own lover, these are just the poems’ … ‘After reading this collection, I was ready to say ‘I do’ myself’ – Pamela Beckford

’The poems in this book are very romantic, emotional, well-written, and thought out well’ … ‘This is romantic poetry at its best’ – Chris McMullen

‘The poet freely admits that this is about his love life and dedicated to his lady, so you know you’re getting an insight into something private. That brings an interesting dimension to the poems because you know there’s a living, breathing story behind them’ – Charles E Yallowitz

LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE: CURSE OF THE DARK WIND IS LIVE!!! #fantasy #Kindle #epicfantasy #magic #dragons

Just in time for the gift-giving season!

Legends of Windemere

Dive into the newest adventure of Luke Callindor, Nyx, Fizzle, & all their friends.
LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE: CURSE OF THE DARK WIND
IS LIVE!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

What’s the Story?

After their battles in Gaia and surviving the Island of Pallice, the champions of Windemere are off on their next adventure.

In his quest to be a hero and help others, Luke Callindor has jumped into danger countless times and would do so again without hesitation. So when he is infected by the toxic Dark Wind, it is up to his friends to find a cure and keep his courage alive. With time running out and their enemies in the shadows, one ally will make the decision to share in Luke’s suffering and forge a bond that runs thicker than blood. Such a sacrifice might not be enough when the truth behind this living curse comes to light.

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A Different Kind of Book Review: Changelings: Into the Mist by Katie Sullivan

Hello, Dear Reader.  I am raising myself from the near-dead to offer you another in my unplanned series of “a different kind of book review.”  And this book  is so worth me rallying myself to the computer.  I hope you enjoy the review.  Even more so, I hope you buy this book!

Changelings

***

Misty closed the book, brushed her hand across the green patterned cover, and then reopened it to a dog-eared page.  Her fingers traced the words while she read them quietly to herself:  “Real life was out there, away from the nuns and their rules, and away from the tiny village below, where nothing ever changed.”  Misty would argue that she had spent her whole young life believing “real life” was “out there,” outside the small impoverished coastal town she grew up in, outside the prison that had been her home for two years.  Nothing ever changed in Oyster Point, and nothing ever changed in prison.  And because of that, this book–Changelings: Into the Mist–had been a godsent for her.

The novel was given as a gift by the prison librarian, Lorene.  Misty closed the book and  hugged it to her chest.  This novel of changelings, Fae, and magic, time travel and Irish lore might have saved her life, at least her sanity while she was looking down twenty years in prison.  And almost like magic, she had been pulled through to another world.

She looked over at the twin bed next to hers.  She thought it was funny that Sarah had chosen to share Misty’s room rather than stay with Michael in his.  She was glad for it, though.  She didn’t want to be alone.  Not yet.  Sarah, she thought, was something like the characters in this novel.  Sean and Maureen, although they were teenagers, 15, 16 years old, and Sarah was a lot older than that, Misty knew.  Maybe 26?  Sarah was headstrong like Maureen.  She took risks.

But when they first met, she seemed very quiet and clear-headed.  She didn’t seem like someone who would body slam men twice her size.  She could imagine Maureen doing that with Sean cringing in the corner.  Misty laughed and started leafing through the book.   After a few minutes, Sarah came out of the bathroom.  A light odor of patchouli followed her out as she padded over to the empty bed and sat down.

“Did you finish the novel?”  Sarah idly towel-dried her long curly red hair.  For a moment, Misty imagined a band of shimmering flowers encircling her head.

Misty nodded.  “Do you like to read?”  She felt hesitant.  Other than Lorene and Michael, she had never really talked about books to anyone.  Most people thought she was too stupid because she hadn’t finished high school.

“I love to read.  So, tell me, what’s this about?”  Sarah leaned over for a closer look at the cover.  “I love that cover.”

“Well, it’s about two teenagers–Sean and Maureen–and how they get pulled back through time because they’re what you call changelings.  And there’s Dub–.”  Misty laughed to cover her embarrassment.  “I don’t know if I’m saying his name right, so I think of him as D.  He’s a Druid, but he’s a mortal man.  That’s what he keeps saying although I can’t think of any mortal man who can do the things he does.”

Sarah wrapped the towel around her head and propped herself up against the pillows.  Better make myself comfortable, she thought.  Misty’s gearing up.

“Anyway, I can’t say I totally understand.  I mean, so much happens.  Well, first off, Maureen and Sean are orphans and even though they’re treated okay by the nuns, it’s a boring life.  Oh, it starts in 1958.  Well, they wind up falling through time, all the way to 16th century.  They wind up working with pirates, while they’re also trying to figure out a way to get back to their own time.  Then D shows up and he tries to help them, but something goes wrong and instead of going all the way back to their original time, they get stuck in 1916.  There’s something called The Rising that supposed to happen and they get involved with that.  But most of that is Maureen’s doing.  Sean tries to stop her from getting involved because, you know, she could change history, but she won’t listen to him.  I didn’t understand why at first but later, when they try again to get home and they wind up among the Fae–”

Sarah put up her hand.  It was taking every ounce of her strength to keep from laughing as Misty froze in mid-sentence.  She had only known Misty for a short while, but the difference between the meek young girl at the prison and the spirited teenager before her this moment was breathtaking.

“I take it that you enjoy this novel?”

“Oh, yes!  Five thumbs up!”  Misty laughed.  She knew that she could be a motor-mouth once she felt free to talk, once she felt someone was really listening.  “It’s so much fun, but scary too in some parts.  There’s three parts to the novel, actually, but it’s all about Ireland.  The pirates, the rebellion, the Fae.  It’s all Ireland.  Kind of makes me want to go there, you know?  The third part is one the one that really scared me at times, you know, because it’s about the fairies and magic and a very evil king.  D again tries to help but he needs help himself.  And the king is so evil that his own daughter is against him, and she works with D to try and save Maureen and Sean.  And what’s really cool is the author includes a bunch of stuff at the back, like a list of the characters, how to pronounce some of the words, and she even tells you what is true and what she made up.”

Misty held up the book as if appraising it.  “You know, if textbooks were written like this, I might have done better in school.”

“Does it end happily?”  Sarah thought this was an innocent question and so was perplexed when Misty hesitated.

“Well … .  Yes and no.  It doesn’t really end.  I mean, you could say it ends if you just want to read the one novel, but this is part of a series.  And I’m glad for that because I want to read more about Maureen and Sean and especially D.”  Misty paused for a moment and a slight flush colored her cheeks.  “D kind of remains me of Michael.  I know he blames himself for what happened to me.  D is responsible for Maureen and Sean.  And like D tries to save them, Michael risked his own life to try and save mine.”

Without a word, Sarah went over to Misty and the two women wrapped their arms around each other.  Sarah could feel a slight shudder as Misty gave way to tears that had been building up for too long.

***

And now, Dear Reader, make your way over to any of the vendors/websites listed below to get your copy of Changelings:  Into the Mist.  Actually, you will want to get two copies:  one for yourself, of course, and one for a young reader.  The novel is listed as appropriate for grade levels 4 through 12, but, trust me, you don’t have to a youngster to enjoy the ride Changelings will take you on.

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Goodreads

And be sure to follow Katie Sullivan at any of your favorite social media outlets:

The D/A Dialogues (where D, the Druid of Changelings, and A, author Katie Sullivan, provide witty entertainment)

Katie Sullivan (her own website, one she doesn’t have to share with D who can be incorrigible at times)

Twitter

Facebook

Google+

 

 

 

The Long Lost Weekend

Since Thursday I’ve been battling a cold … or something.  Not sure what I’ve got, and battling probably isn’t the right word since I spend the majority of my time reclined.  I throw my army of aspirin, cough suppressant, and Benadryl down my throat, chased by a liter of orange juice or Gatorade, and hope for the best while the rest of me dozes, coughs, and sniffles.

Usually I don’t let a silly old cold get me down, but this one has come along with a fever.  Although the fever has gone down, it’s tenaciously hanging around.  Before anyone starts shipping chicken soup to me, I will seek medical advice on Monday if matters remain the same.  Weakness is my current nemesis and just typing this brief post makes me want to curl up on my bed with my five odd pillows cushioning my aching body.

I made a pathetic effort at virtual socializing, and decided it’s best to just let you all know:

I. Am. Sick.

And for that reason, too, comments are closed.  Here’s a gratuitous kitty movie to take the edge off my otherwise sour mood.  This is an oldie but goodie.  My cat Mikey (RIP) rolling around on pebbles warmed by the sun, one of his few pleasure near the end of his life.

 

Author’s Note: Post-Clemency

This has been an interesting experiment. I’ve posted poems and short fiction and “formal” essays before on my blog, but never a whole novel. Well, I still haven’t done that.

You see, my plan originally was to just post a couple of the early chapters and then throw myself into NaNoWriMo. Then I got the feeling that it wouldn’t go over well with some readers if I stopped at Chapter 3. So I challenged myself to keep posting. But I didn’t want it to go on for months. NaNoWriMo officially ended on November 30, and I wanted Clemency to finish up about the same time.

So I went ahead and posted every day, but not everything. I’ve left a lot of stuff out. So, no surprise if the pace is erratic, the character development inconsistent, the ending lame.

(Really? “Sara smiled” is how I end this novel? Cue Hall & Oates.)

As a reader, I’d be wondering why Misty didn’t get more attention, why not more of Melody who was pivotal to Misty’s case? But they do, Dear Reader, just not in the parts I decided to post. I had to leave things out in order to keep to a schedule and to not overwhelm you all with tortuously long posts. As it was, some of those posts did get kind of long. But I also got desperate. I didn’t want this to fall over into December, at least not by much.

So. I think I managed to pull this off without too much angst from my dear readers. And how dear you are. A few of you left comments now and then that were like mini-pep talks for me. They did help keep me going.

Others of you let me know you were reading but not commenting, and I appreciated that too. Some days the best I could muster was to “Like” someone’s comment and just move on. I could tell from my stats whether Clemency was being read, and I know some of you read a few posts at a time.

And others let me know you couldn’t keep up with daily posts.  And that was fine, too.  This wasn’t a test of reader loyalty.  This was a test of my own conviction.

You see, in the past, whenever I got any encouragement, I’d run the other way. Other people (i.e., normal people) embrace encouragement, grab it and hold it up as proof that they should continue writing because So-and-So said they should. I don’t know why I would run the other way. But, now at 57, I wonder if I knew I really wasn’t ready, at least not back then.

So now I’m feeling that I’m ready BUT I won’t be in a hurry. I can’t get back the last 20-30 years of self-doubt and plodding along, but that’s no reason to rush into something and make an ass of myself.

First, I’m giving myself a month off.  Clemency will stay up for December, and then all those posts will come down.

I’m not giving up my day job or yoga or watching TV with my husband and the cats after dinner.  Revising and editing will be, as they say in these parts, as slow as molasses in January …

Boston_post-January_16,_1919,Unless you live in Boston.

Many thanks to all of you who have hung in there with me, whether you were reading or not.

And tomorrow I will return to my regular irregular schedule …

On the trail at Chimney Rock, Point Reyes National Seashore Park, California July 2012

Because mentally I’m still here.

Cheers!

Part-Time Monster

I eat books for breakfast.

KRISTINA STANLEY

Best-selling Author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series

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