Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year's Eve!

      I hope you're all having a good time, whether you be out or at home, and I hope you are healthy, happy and safe. I can't stay online for long right now. Mikey is spending the night so he requires my attention. Right now, he and my roomie are shooting Nerf darts.
      It's been a good day. Long but good. My roomie's kids visited us this morning and stayed until late afternoon. We had Christmas with them. I only have one more gift exchange -- this with some good friends of mine and my godchildren -- and Christmas 2005 will be over. We will do that tomorrow afternoon.
      It's been a good holiday season. As always, it was filled with joys and sorrows, laughs and tears, the hustle and bustle and the quiet times, the crass commercial and the priceless sacred. Now a new year dawns.
      I have a bunch of resolutions. I make them, break them, make new ones every year. I'm like everyone else. We set goals, we adjust, we change.
      Mikey needs me. Apparently I'm needed to help him defeat the evil badman. Catch y'all in 2006.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


      ER tagged me so here's the meme.

A. Seven things to do before I die
1. Write and publish many books.
2. Write and publish many plays.
3. Have a home with an indoor swimming pool.
4. Make a lot of money so that I can use it to fund research into cancer, strokes, Crohn's, diabetes, etc.
5. Spend time on a beach with clean white sand and people bringing me drinks with umbrellas in them.
6. Have a woman who loves me as much as I love her.
7. Travel to a lot of cool places in America.

B. Seven things I cannot do
1. Play basketball.
2. Watch golf on TV.
3. Listen to Rush Limbaugh or Al Franken without feeling like the top of my head is going to blow off.
4. Play any type of musical instrument well.
5. Suffer fools gladly.
6. Put my foot behind my ear (not that I want to).
7. Fly a jet … for very long. It would be a short flight.

C. Seven things that attract me to anyone
1. Intelligence.
2. Sense of humor.
3. Spirituality.
4. Kindness.
5. Compassion.
6. Cleanliness and neatness.
7. Good smile.

D. Seven things I say most often
1. Howdy.
2. Fascinating.
3. Cool.
4. Crap!
5. Good grief.
6. I'm writing. Go away.
7. I can't believe it.

E. Seven books (or series or genres or topics) that I love
1. The Bible.
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit.
3. The Discworld series.
4. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series.
5. Sherlock Holmes series.
6. Any book by James Rollins.
7. Carolyn Hart's mystery novels and Holly Lisle's fantasy novels.

F. Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would if I had time)
1. The Roger Moore James Bonds.
2. John Wayne's later-year Westerns.
3. The Tomb Raider movies.
4. "The Lion in Winter."
5. "Contact."
6. Star Trek movies 1, 2, 4 & 6.
7. "Mindwalk."

G. Seven people I want to join in, too.
1. Crystal.
2. Michelle.
3. Randall.
4. Gloria.
5. Roen.
6. Amber.
7. Patriot.

      If you don't have a blog, feel free to answer it in the comments.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Cruising to the end of the year

      I had a good Christmas. Well, it's not over yet, but it's mostly over. I still have two more Christmas get-togethers, but then it will be done. By New Year's Day, Christmas 2005 will be finished.
      Most of my family came to see me after Christmas. We had a good visit. I cooked a huge meal. Everyone ate a lot, but I still have plenty of leftovers. I just don't know how to gauge the right amount of food. So I'm looking at having turkey, dressing, ham and veggies for most of my meals this week. :) Fortunately I like all those.
      In health news, I've got to resume Weight Watchers. I've been sort of doing it, but it works best when you keep it religiously. I'd like to lose another 50 pounds in the coming year.
      Currently I'm suffering from back problems again. But I have my cane and am getting ultraound and massage treatments. I'm hoping that it's already on the healing path, and I think it is.
      How was your Christmas? Did life treat you okay? Did you get any quiet time to yourself? Any good loot? Any good stories? How did it go? Do you have any plans for New Year's Eve? What's happening in your world? Let me know you're out there!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

And in the darkness ...

Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with Child.
2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
2:9 And, lo, the angel of the LORD came upon them, and the glory of the LORD shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the LORD.
2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into Heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the LORD hath made known unto us.
2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
2:17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
2:18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the Child, His Name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2:2 saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
2:4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
2:5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
2:6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah:
for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
2:7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
2:8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
2:9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

A Christmas Prayer

We thank you for this place in which we dwell,
for the love that unites us,
for the peace accorded us this day,
for the hope with which we expect the morrow,
for the work, the health, the food,
and the bright skies which make our lives delightful
for our friends in all parts of the earth.

By Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).

Carol of the Bells

Hark! how the bells, sweet silver bells
All seem to say, throw cares away.
Christmas is here, bringing good cheer
To young and old, meek and the bold
Ding, dong, ding, dong, that is their song,
With joyful ring, all caroling
One seems to hear words of good cheer
From everywhere, filling the air
O, how they pound, raising the sound
O’er hill and dale, telling their tale

Gaily they ring, while people sing
Songs of good cheer, Christmas is here!
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas!
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas!

On, on they send, on without end
Their joyful tone to every home
Hark! how the bells, sweet silver bells
All seem to say, throw cares away.
Christmas is here, bringing good cheer
To young and old, meek and the bold
Ding, dong, ding, dong, that is their song
With joyful ring, all caroling.
One seems to hear words of good cheer
From everywhere, filling the air
O, how they pound, raising the sound
O’er hill and dale, telling their tale

Gaily they ring, while people sing
Songs of good cheer, Christmas is here!
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas!
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas!

On, on they send, on without end
Their joyful tone to every home.
Ding dong ding dong

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas in 37 languages

Afrikaner: Een Plesierige Kerfees
Argentinian: Felces Pasquas y felices Ano Nuevo
Armenian: Schernorhavor Dzenount.
Bohemain: Vesele Vanoce
Bulgarian: Chestita Koleda
Chinese: Kung Hsi Hsin Niene bing Chu Shen Tan
Croatian: Sretan Bozic
Danish: Glaedelig Jul
Esperanto: Gajan Kristnaskon
Estonian: Roomsaid Joulu Puhi
Finnish: Houska Joulua
Flemish: Vrolike Kerstmis
French: Joyeux Noel
German: Froehliche Weihnachten
Greek: Kala Christougena
Dutch: Vrolyk Kerfeest en Gelukkig Nieuw Jaar
Hungarian: Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket
Iraqian: Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Irish: Nodlaig mhaith chugnat
Italian: Buon Natale
Japanese: Meri Kurisumasu
Jugoslavian: Cestitamo Bozic
Lettish: Priecigus Ziemassvetkus
Lithuanian: Linksmu Kaledu
Norwegian: God Jul og Godt Nytt Aar
Oklahoman: Merry Christmas, y'all
Polish: Boze Narodzenie
Portuguese: Boas Festas y Feliz Ano Novo
Rumanian: Sarbatori vesele
Russian: S Rozhdestvom Kristovym
Serbian: Hristos se rodi
Slovakian: Vesele vianoce
Spanish: Feliz Navidad
Swedish: God Jul
Turkish: Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Ukrainian: Chrystos Rozdzajetsia Slawyte Jeho
Welsh: Nadolig Llawen

Friday, December 23, 2005

12 Factoids About Christmas

      1. One acre of living Christmas trees generates enough oxygen to meet the daily requirement for 18 humans. Approximately 1,000,000 acres are used to grow Christmas trees yearly.
      2. The top six Christmas tree producing states are: Oregon, Michigan, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. About 30,000,000 trees are harvested in an average year. Two to three Christmas trees are planted for every one harvested.
      3. Mango and banana trees are Christmas symbols in India, where Christians use mango leaves for holiday decorations.
      4. The poinsettia is named for the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, botanist Joel Roberts Poinsett. Poinsett introduced the plant that would become known as poinsettia into the United States in 1829.
      5. The word yule, from Middle English, means "to cry aloud."
      6. More than 3 billion Christmas cards are mailed each year in the United States.
      7. With some 50,000,000 copies sold so far and still climbing, Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," recorded in 1942 by Bing Crosby, is still the best-selling single in history.
      8. Geographically speaking, the North Pole is the point on Earth that is the true top of the planet where all lines of longitude converge. The Geomagnetic North Pole is the point on the Earth that marks the northern focus of the geomagnetic field that surrounds the globe. It lies in Greenland, 78 degrees 30 minutes North, 69 degrees West. Compasses, however, point to the Magnetic North Pole, which is about 1,000 miles south of the geographic North Pole, near Ellef Ringness Island in northern Canada. A lesser-known North Pole, the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility, represents the furtherest point in all directions from any coastline. About 700 miles from the nearest land, this pole is located north of Alaska at 84 degrees 03 minutes North, 174 degrees 51 minutes West. By the way, illustrator Thomas Nast was the first to put Santa Clause's home at the North Pole. In 1882, he drew Santa sitting on a box labeled, "Christmas Box 1882, St. Nicholas, North Pole."
      9. There are about 5,000,000 reindeer in the world. They are threatened by habitat loss and global warming and are seeing their population drop yearly.
      10. Making popcorn garlands is one of the few Christmas traditions born in the United States.
      11. The post office handles more than 70,000 letters each year addressed to Santa at the North Pole.
      12. The Twelve Days of Christmas traditionally started on Christmas. Many European counties still keep this tradition, particularly parts of Spain and France.
Sources: The Christmas Almanac, The National Arbor Day Foundation, The Association of Popcorn Producers, The United States Postal Service and MTV News.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

12 Wonderful Things About Christmas

      1. Presents. I like getting them. I like giving them. Here are some inexpensive gift ideas: Candles, candy bars, six-packs of favorite soft drinks, chocolate-chip cookies, small picture frames, bookmarks, Christmas ornaments, decorative computer printer paper, hand lotion, etc. We have a tendency to think that good presents have to cost a lot of money. They don't. Something to show that you're thinking of them this holiday season is all that is needed for your co-workers, friends, etc. It's not about the money.
      2. Lights. I love Christmas lights. I like to drive around my town and see all the displays. I appreciate the hard work that went into them. I like the way the way the lights gleam in the night. It's a metaphor for what Christmas really is about.
      3. Shopping. It's where I catch the bustle and hustle of the season. Yeah, it's hurried, and it makes my feet hurt. But I like thinking of people and what they might like.
      4. Christmas bags. Oh, I still wrap a few gifts, but otherwise, brightly colored bags have freed me of hours of wrapping.
      5. Carols. I like singing them. I like hearing them.
      6. Church and school Christmas children's programs. Nothing is as sweet or as funny. Makes my heart melt. No apologies for that.
      7. The way people will give more during this time to the needy. It's like we're reminded of how blessed we are and how much we really have. So we share. Some people say that it's guilt. I don't believe that's true for most of us. I believe it's compassion. It's where we show that we have incredible potential as a species. It's where we justify our existence.
      8. Food. I love turkey and dressing, pineapple adorned ham, fluffy garlic and chive mashed potatoes, fresh green salad, golden pumpkin pies … Hmmmmm ….
      9. Get-togethers with friends. We're all busy, we're all tired, we're all broke, but we all enjoy sharing time and raising a cup of cider together.
      10. Family time. They make me crazy at times, but I wouldn't give up any one of them. We're connected by blood and history. We're loud, opinionated, funny and brash. We love as hard as we fight. We're family. And that's that.
      11. Quiet, worshipful Midnight Masses and other church Christmas services. It's a time of quiet in this incredibly busy season. I remember sitting in the local Catholic Church at Midnight Night Mass a couple of Christmases ago as the day became new and listening to the silence between the prayers and songs. I felt renewed in spirit and grateful for the many undeserved blessings in my life.
      12. Nativity scenes. The heart of the mystery. The God coming to earth in the form of a babe. Remembrances that we were loved enough for someone to give up glory for us. The beginning of a journey that would change a world. A light in the darkness. A star in the ebony sky. A gift to humanity.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

12 Annoying Things During Christmas

      1. People who talk about the commercialism of Christmas like they're being sophisticated. Look, back in the 1920s, they were bemoaning the commercial aspects of Christmas. It's nothing new. We live in a crass, profit-oriented society. Less than 48 hours after 9/11, companies were selling "commemorative" items. That's just the way some people are. Get over it. Don't give them any airtime. And don't use the commercialism of Christmas as an excuse for your lack of generosity. There are a lot of soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other charities that always need your help. Rather than just talk about how everyone has lost the true meaning of Christmas, why don't you go out there and show it to everyone.
      2. The whole Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas mess that has been reported exhaustedly by TV, newspaper and bloggers. Seriously, do you think saying Happy Holidays makes anyone forget it's Christmas? Do you think calling names and generally behaving like a jerk makes anyone feel like it's Christmas? Do I think it's right for retailers to remove mention of Christmas? No, but I don't expect retailers to spread the Gospel. Guess what? They're trying to make a living. If I don't like their policies, I don't have to shop with them. And I won't.
      3. People who get upset by Nativity scenes on public property. Don't they have any real problems? We've got starving, poor, homeless people who are sick and need help. We have children going to bed hungry in the United States. We have rampant drug use that is decimating our young people and draining society. And you want me to be upset because your poor little eyes were offended by a Nativity scene? What complete, utter nonsense. Our courts should be ashamed to even hear such cases.
      4. Anyone who doesn't give to a charity because they've decided that charities are corrupt. Here's a lesson in the real world, bucko: Charities are ran by people. Some people are corrupt. There will be corruption in any human endeavor. That's the way of the world. But you can do a bit of research and discover what charities give more of their donations to their causes. You can make sensible decisions about your charitable giving. But if you still want to hang onto your money, then once again, haul yourself to your nearest homeless shelter. Make the world a better place that way. Side note: I particularly detest people who decide that the homeless are lazy and deserve to starve. A lot of the homeless, a third at last count, are children below the age of eight. Exactly what did they do to deserve to starve? Another side note: Anyone who justifies not helping the poor because the Bible says the poor will always be with us should be beaten. I don't have words to express my contempt for that lazy, selfish, smug attitude. One last side note: If you're broke, you're broke. Give what you can when you can. We can only do what we can do. But we should do that.
      5. Rock, rap and pop stars who insist on singing carols but have to add their own special touch. While driving to work today, I heard a pop star sing Silent Night on the radio with many moans, ahhh's, soft sighs and general all-around grandstanding. I wasn't sure if she was singing a carol or giving a mating call. Then I heard a hard guitar version of Come All Ye, Faithful. I turned off the radio. I won't turn it back on until it's safe.
      6. People who sing the praises of snow. It's cold, wet, makes roads dangerous, kills animals and people. I rate it up there with the flu.
      7. Speaking of wet, cold and dangerous, why don't people slow down when it's icy? WHY? Four-wheel drive doesn't make you invulnerable, folks. SLOW DOWN.
      8. Any more animated specials about Santa's early life. We now have The Adventures of Santa, Young Santa Claus, The True Story of Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, Santa and His Reindeer, Santa and the Magic Flute, The Year Without Santa Claus, etc. Next up: Santa VS. Alien and Santa and The Wise Guys. Enough already.
      9. Christmas cards without return addresses. Don't make me look it up. Put the return address on the envelope. That's all I'm asking.
      10. Surly clerks. I know your job isn't fun at the holidays. I'm sorry about that. But don’t take it out on me. It's not my fault. Just let me make my purchases and leave and no one gets hurt.
      11. Anyone who has to share the pagan origins of Christmas like they're imparting some new earthshaking wisdom. That's old news, folks. Not very interesting news at that. Recently a pastor I know spent his Sunday morning giving us the pagan putdown. I debated several times about walking out, but annoying good manners kept me in the pew listen to him babble on about what things meant centuries ago. It doesn't really matter what they thought in the 9th century. It matters what we think now.
      12. Bloggers that produce lists of things that annoy them about Christmas. That's the most annoying thing of all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

One down, a couple hundred to go ...

      The Gazette is done and mailed. One task down, a couple hundred to go. Well, not that many. Just a hundred or so. Have a good night y'all. More tomorrow. I promise.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Busier than an elf

      I spent the entire evening once again on the Gazette. I have five pages of it done. Just one page left. Unfortunately that page is the one that I'm supposed to fill with a humor column. Sigh. Maybe something funny will happen tonight. Or tomorrow. But this baby is going to be done tomorrow night, funny or not. Once it's done, all I have to do is finish my Christmas shopping, wrap the presents, grocery shop and then have a nervous breakdown. I'm quite looking forward to the breakdown. It should be fun.
      Good night and cheerio!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Busy as an elf

      I've spent all today working on my family newsletter. It's about half done. I'm hoping to finish tomorrow night, but it probably won't be until Tuesday night. Anyway, I'm beat and going to call it a night. I hope you have a great week.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Nativity scene

      Have I mentioned that I have a collection of Nativity sets? This is one of them.

Nativity scene.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Christmas ornaments on my tree

      I thought I'd include a few photos of the various Christmas ornaments on my tree. This officially starts the 51313 Harbor Street Christmas Celebration. Finally.

Christmas ornaments.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Just when you thought it was safe ...

      I'm back. Cue ominous music ...
      I've been fighting this cold, which turned into something rather larger than a cold as another example of my inability to do anything simple, but finally I think I'm on top of it. At this point as I deal with all the side effects of all the medication I'm on, I'm not really sure if the original germ even exists anymore. It's probably mutated into something stronger, an evil genius germ that even now rubs it mucus hands together and contemplates conquering the world. I shared this fancy with one of my doctors who acted very peculiar about it, whispering to his nurse who regarded me with huge, frightened eyes. Possibly they thought I was delirious, I reasoned. To reassure them of my firm control of my faculties, I launched into a retelling of Robin Hood and Maid Marion, but the part of Robin Hood was played by Daffy Duck and Elmer was Maid Marion. It was hilarious, I think, but things got a bit confused around then with all the shouting, injections and general chaos, so I'm not sure.
      Anyway, I'm back. I haven't had a chance to visit all the blogs I haunt yet, but I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone. My Christmas plans are sort of shot. I'm hoping to feel well enough this weekend to finish my Christmas shopping. Pray for me. Seriously.
      I'm hoping to finish my Christmas cards tonight. Actually, I don't see why I wouldn't unless the evil germ throws me another curve. With the cards, I've included a short story from my Bethlehem Tales. I hope people like it.
      That's my news so far. Talk with you later. I hope you're having a healthy and happy day.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The cold has kicked my butt

      I think the headline says it all. I've done nothing this weekend except sleep, be sick, take medicine, etc. I'm about to go to bed now. I hope that I improve quickly. My Christmas plans are falling apart. Truly I need warm weather. I'm ready for spring, ready summer. A friend of mine asked me, "What are we doing here in this cold weather?" I don't know.
      I did watch the Fantastic Four movie on DVD. I'm glad I didn't pay for it in the theater. It isn't a great movie. Nor even good. It's just okay. It had no depth and no story. I think the Spiderman movies have set my expectations high.
      I'm going back to my cocoon now. Hope y'all are doing well.

Friday, December 09, 2005


      That's me moaning. This is a mean cold. Very mean. Almost Republican in its meanness and definitely Democratic in what it's costing me in doctors bills. Bad cold. Bad.
      I have lots of stuff planned for this weekend, but I suspect I'm just going to be resting. Rest good. Cold bad.
      The Net is a lifesaver since I can order lots of stuff for Christmas on it. Then I just wait until the items arrive at my office. Some businesses even wrap the presents for you. Wrapping good. Cold bad.
      Anyway, I still fighting the cold. That's all my news. Completely. Well, I did get my tree decorated last night and put up a few other decorations around the living room and kitchen, but that's it. Otherwise I slept. Sleep good. Cold bad.
      I have been reading Robin Hobb's Tawny Man series. Very good. It's a sequel to her Assassin series. I'm glad that she didn't leave Fitz alone and tired. I'm hoping these books end with him having some happiness and peace. Books good. Cold bad.
      I've just about got my Christmas cards finished. I try to include a little something extra in all the cards I send. I hope I'm able to do that this year. I know the real life addresses to several of my blogging buddies and commenters so I'm going to send them cards, but if you're one of them whose address I don't know, please email me with address if you'd like a card from me. I'd like to send one to you. Christmas cards good. Cold bad.
      More later if I can.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


      The cold finally landed after a few days of hovering around. I feel absolutely miserable. I'm fighting the cold with gallons of orange juice, Airborne, Advil, two different nasal spray, vitamin C chews, Theraflu, chicken and rice soup, hot Earl Grey tea, and so on. I still feel like someone attacked me and didn't have the decency to finish me off.
      My IBD and my general health move around each other in a sort of dance. In its simplest terms, my IBD is an immune system disorder. Inflammatory Bowel Disease causes my immune system to attack me, mostly the lining of my intestinal tract. I have a powerful immune system, and it reacts frantically to any and all invaders. Unfortunately it's not very bright and ever so often, it mistakes my gut cells as invaders. We control the IBD by giving me steroids. Steroids suppress my immune system. They also have some unfortunate side effects, like enlarging a person's heart and also giving me that lovely Charlie Brown face and body. The dance or interplay comes in that if the steroids suppress my immune system too much, then I'm prey to any and all germs that wander by. Not enough and my IBD rages.
      When I get sick, the doctors take me off the steroids, but they have to taper me off. It can cause real problems if you suddenly just stop the steroids. So slowly the doctors drop the dosage, but they also prescribe antibiotics to help battle whatever infection I'm fighting.
      They used to give me a lot of antibiotics, but over the past few years, I've been balking at that. There's some evidence that shows IBD might have an antibiotic connection. (The thought is that the antibiotics kill off certain organisms in our guts, some of which are supposed to be there. Eventually marker cells that tell your immune system what is and isn't an invader get killed off or reduced so that your body gets confused and starts attacking the intestine.) When I was younger, doctors prescribed bottles and bottle of antibiotics for me. It's interesting to note that my IBD wasn't as severe then. To achieve some sort of balance in my body, the doctors also prescribe probiotics to help restore the missing gut organisms. The medicine bottles line up like a pharmacy shelf on my bedroom dresser.
      I confess that I don't always take everything I'm supposed to; sometimes the side effects are worse than what the medicine is treating. And I've noticed that sometimes my doctors just prescribe stuff without really examining me. I don't like being dependent on medication, anyway, a trait that I got from my dad.
      Anyway, that's where I'm at now. Tapering off the steroids, fighting the infection with over the counter meds, and hoping that I won't have to have antibiotics. And now, God help me, I have to go to work. The only bright spot is that I fully intend to cough on any rude customers today.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

In the swamp

      It always starts some small thing. An idea or a simple project. You think, "This won't be hard. I can do this." You should remember that moment. Fix it in your mind before you set off on your happy journey. It will be ironic later when you're in the swamp surrounded by hungry gators in a sinking rowboat while battling frantically to reach some part of solid ground that won't bite or drown you. Before you sink in the dank water, you will remember what you thought earlier and you will realize with a complete understanding usually only granted to prophets that you were a dolt.
      This seems to be story of my life. I always start out with such good intentions, but eventually I find myself in a basket hurling toward a warmer clime. I'm always perplexed, of course, since it doesn't seem any of my actions would lead to this sudden drop, but they do. I know this says something about my lack of foresight, but I think I'm going to refuse to figure out what it is.
      I had a busy day. I cleaned house, put up Christmas lights, worked on my family newsletter, did laundry, went Christmas shopping, ate at Chinese buffet, watched part of the original War of the Worlds and worked on reading/editing Darkness, Oklahoma.
      I'm pleased to report that Darkness, Oklahoma is not crap. I had worried about it during NaNo. I had to write so fast that I couldn't really get a picture of how the book was shaping up. So reading it was interesting. A lot of it is rough. Very rough, but there are the bones of a story there. And some of the scenes are written exactly as I saw them in my head. That is cool. After I finish this reading/editing, I will go back and add more words, fixing errors, changing characters, and in one instance, removing a character completely. (She didn't pass the interesting test. If I'm bored by her, you can bet my readers will be.)
      Blogger isn't letting me post so I'll just save this as a draft.

      I woke up today feeling a cold coming on. I immediately took Advil, drank a half gallon of orange juice, chewed on some vitamins, and went back to bed. I'm feeling better now, but not healthy. I am going to take it easy today.
      I'm writing this on Word because my cable internet is down. I tried calling my provider's 24-hour service, but I waited for 30 minutes on hold -- never speaking to a real person -- and finally gave up.
      I intended to keep working on my Christmas cards and the family newsletter, but I'm going back to bed now. I'll try again later.

Sunday evening
      Internet is still down. Arrggggghhhhhh. I hate that. Who knows what interesting things are happening? I don't. I tried the support line again. This time the recorded message said there was an outage in my area. At least a lot of people are suffering with me. Somehow that's not comforting.
      So far, I'm holding off the cold. Go immune system go! I don't know if cheering helps, but it couldn't hurt.

Sunday evening later still
      Still no service. I'm calling it a night.

      Work was particularly grueling today, but some good things got accomplished. It was a successful day.
      I had to rush home after work to start putting together the program for the theater group's play this weekend. I should have done it Sunday. I had to be at the theater at 7:30 p.m. to take a cast photo for the program, and I wanted to take a rough draft of the program with me. I barely made it but I did.
      The program looks good. Nice, clean design. I'm pleased.
      Internet connection is dicey. It goes on for about five minutes and then cuts off. Once again, I can't get through to the support line. I'm not happy at all. And Blogger is apparently having problems, too.
      I got to watch a little of The Triangle on SciFi Channel. So far, they've got me interested. I want to see where it goes.
      My Christmas tree is up with lights on, but it's not decorated yet. I'm going to do that tomorrow night, I hope. And finish the family newsletter. And my Christmas cards.
      Well, it's late, and I can't post this anyway so I'm going to bed. Maybe tomorrow I can go early to work and post it from there. Or post it during my lunch hour. We'll see you soon. I hope.

Friday, December 02, 2005

More than you wanted to know about tea

      The little green tea people are after me because I made some unkind remarks about their elixir of life, their beverage of the gods, their cure-all for any and all ills including baldness and the dreaded creeping earlobe fungus. So I thought I'd send them into a stupor with a long discussion about the various teas.
      Tea is basically the dried and processed leaves of one plant species called camellia sinensis. (Herbal teas are not really teas, but simply dried flowers and/or herbs. They are more correctly called herbal infusions. Remember that. It will be on the test.) Even though all teas come from only one species, there are three major varieties: the China, the India (or Assam) and the Hybrid. All have a slightly different taste. Americans are most used to the India or Hybrid teas, both of which are easier to grow than the China variety. (Which is why China teas are more expensive. Please note, though, you can grow the China variety in other places than China, but that seems sort of silly.)
      You will find four main types of tea on the shelves: white, black, green and oolong. The difference in them is mainly in processing and, of course, how they're spelled. Basically, processing is taking the raw green leaves and deciding how much oxidation (or fermentation) if any should take place before drying them out. (This is not unlike what AA does for its members, but they stress the drying out portion and discourage the fermentation.)
      Tea leaves have enzymes in their veins. Don't be shocked. They're supposed to be there. When the leaf is bruised or crushed, the enzymes are exposed to oxygen resulting in oxidation. The amount of oxidation depends upon how much of the enzymes are exposed and for how long. Just trust me on this, and let's move on.
      White teas are the least processed of any tea and therefore taste the most like fresh leaves or grass. Yummy. They also have the lowest amount of caffeine and most likely have the highest antioxidant properties. Tea leaves meant for white teas are immediately fried or steamed after letting them air dry for a short period of time. (The steaming and frying neutralizes the enzymes, thus preventing oxidation.) There is no rolling, breaking or bruising of the leaves. The tea police see to this, and violators are forced to drink coffee. Black. No sugar. While standing on their head and balancing a box of knives on their feet. The tea police don't fool around.
      Black teas are the most processed of the four types of teas. They are the highest in caffeine, but still have antioxidant properties, just not quite as much as others. They are rolled, crushed, bruised and generally folded, torn and mutilated and then allowed to completely oxidize, thus giving the leaves their blackened color. You can find places that boast that their teas "age three months," but that really doesn't mean anything, as the oxidation is pretty much complete as soon as the leaves turn black. We'll let them keep bragging about that because frankly if that's all they have to brag about, who are we to rain on their parade?
      Green teas processing is similar to that of white teas in that they aren't allowed to oxidize. They might want to so that they can get that rich, strong, delicious taste of black tea, but once again the tea police step in (and then step out and put their right foot in and shake it all around. The tea police are good dancers, but let's be honest, our brave members of the FBI are much better.) After the leaves are plucked, they are laid out to air dry (or wither or Bushized) for about 8 to 24 hours. This lets most of the water evaporate. Then the leaves are steamed or pan-fried (or Clintonized).
      Oolong teas are the hardest to categorize, despite having the most fun name to say. I often go into stores and ask the clerks if they know where the oolong tea is at. Oh, the look on their faces is simply priceless, I tell you, priceless. Man, I need a life. Anyway, oolong tea requires only a partial oxidation of the leaves. After the leaves are plucked, they are air-dried for about 8 to 24 hours. Then the leaves are tossed in baskets in order to bruise the edges of the leaves. Much rejoicing is heard from the happy leaves who never get to play in the fields. But it does leave them bruised. This bruising causes the leaves to partially oxidize because only a portion of the enzymes is exposed to air. Next, the leaves steamed in order to neutralize the enzymes and stop any more oxidation for happening. Oolong tea can have varying degrees of oxidation. Some are closer to black teas, and some are closer to green. Some would like to be orange or even purple, but they are whisked away by the tea police and never seen again, although I'm sure you've heard the rumors.
      Now hopefully the little green tea people are safely asleep and won't take me away in their spaceship. But if they do, and you never hear from me again (although if the evening news starts featuring reports about someone running wild, naked and free through the suburbs and shouting, "The success of any serious relationship depends on complete honesty, true compassion and lots of duct tape," you'll know I'm still out there, watching and waiting and scratching) let me say right now that I love all green teas equally. I'll let you work that one out for yourselves.


1. Isn't oolong a great word? Use it in a sentence in which you make it into a verb. For instance, I want to oolong with you.

2. Do you believe in alien abduction? Have you ever been probed for your genetic secrets? What are your genetic secrets? Come on, tell us. We know you have them after seeing your six toes.

3. Have you ever been herbally infused? Really? Did you feel used afterward?

4. Did you read the question number 2?

5. What about question 3?

6. How about this one?

7. Discuss the Boston Tea Party and why they didn't have any of those delicious almond cookies.

8. Are you dating anyone? I mean, in real life, not another of those creepy Internet things where you send fake photos back and forth and talk naughty and then meet and discover your netpal was Jabba the Hut's older, less mannered sister and get all upset even though your photo was of Brad Pitt that you PhotoShopped your head on, but enough about my life.

9. Would you like to date anyone? Say, someone that collects explosives and comic books? Why not?

10. I'm lonely. And I have lots of duct tape. Why does that seem to upset people, particularly the police? Answer true or false.

Time's up. Pass your papers to the front. Now, let's all take a break and have a nice cup of orange juice.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's not tasty being green

      I had my last cup of green tea last night. I've been on this health kick lately, and a friend of mine (whom I will never trust again) told me that green tea was healthy and "tasted good." Somehow she maintained a straight face when she said it. So I bought some, and as I toiled on my NaNoWriMo novel over the past few weeks, I thought I'd give it a try.
      It's a cliché, of course, but the idea of an author being fueled by some beverage, be it coffee, alcohol or tea has been with us ever since Gok pounded on a rock while he was fueled by fermented dinosaur milk. I don't drink coffee because my IBD won't tolerate it. I don't drink alcohol, but I'm not some fanatic teetotaler about it. If you want to sully the sacred temple of your body by swilling liquids created in the pits of Hell to destroy lives and wreck relationships until all concerned are whoring themselves in the gutter, far be from me to stand in your staggering way. Go for it. Have a double. Anyway, tea is my drink of choice.
      I prefer Viennese Earl Grey, but I also enjoy orange pekoe (which isn't actually a brand, but a type of tea -- never mind). For a fried chicken church dinner, I think Lipton (unsweetened) is excellent, although I know tea connoisseurs have just started fluttering their white hankies to fan their shocked faces. I don't drink a lot of tea. I can nurse a hot, steaming cup through an entire writing session. Just a few occasional sips when I pause to read my incredible, fantastic, flowing, lyrical, wise words. Ahem.
      Anyway, my friend (?) told me that green tea was incredibly good for your body. It's loaded with antioxidants that help clear free radicals out of your body. I do think this is true. I can see free radicals leaving as fast as possible. After all, if you were willing to drink green tea, who knows what other crap you might pour down your body? Free radicals ain't stupid.
      I had my doubts since it really didn't look like tea, but I heated my water and then placed the tea ball in there to seep. Yes, I said tea ball. I don't know who thought of the idea of placing tea in gauze, but to me, those packets always look like something you're afraid the doctor left in you after surgery, particularly after they plump up with water. I know a few purists who insist that even using a tea ball is wrong. They think that the tea should just be placed loose into a bone china teapot filled with hot water and allowed to gradually settle to the bottom while they discuss Royal Family and why marrying close cousins really is a capital idea.
      Right now the green tea lovers are hopping up and down and dying to tell me that I need to try their brand because it's delicious. I say to them now: You're all lying weasels. Because I tried several brands. See, I'm not very bright so when the first one was bad, I thought, "Huh, maybe it went bad," so I bought another brand. It was worse so then I thought maybe the stocks in that store were bad so I tried a couple different brands from another store. And then I grabbed another brand at another store. Right now in my kitchen I have five opened boxes of green tea. I hope they won't be toxic in the landfill.
      Truthfully, part of the problem is that they call it "tea." Your mouth thinks it's going to get tea and instead it gets alfalfa juice. That's the problem with soy milk. People expect the taste of milk. They should call it "soy drink" or "soy liquid" or "soy spit." Then no one would be disappointed by taste expectations.
      Anyway, I tried it with honey, then with sugar, then cut with real tea and then other options. Eventually I was drinking a beverage made of real tea, a pound of sugar, cream, half a cup of honey, 1/3 cup of raspberry juice and a teaspoon of green tea. And I could still taste the green tea. You could put a drop in paint thinner, and it would flavor the whole can.
      So that's my adventure with green tea. But all is not lost. It turns out that strawberries contain tons of antioxidants, and I like strawberries. But not in my tea. The only thing that belongs in tea is a cube of sugar and a spoon. You can quote me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Winner's circle

      I've won NANOWRIMO! I'm exhausted, word weary and absolutely exhilarated. More about this tomorrow. But thank you all for your support. I couldn't have done it without you cheering me on. Good night, sleep tight and have a great tomorrow!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Coming around the curve

      Another 2,000, and that brings the total to 47,002. Just 3,000 more, and I will have won NaNoWriMo for the first time! I am so looking forward to hitting that 50,000 word mark.
      I sure appreciate everyone's support. To reward you (if it is a reward, but if it isn't, I don't have any cash to send you, so you're going to have to make do) here is another excerpt from Darkness, Oklahoma.

Excerpt 2 from Darkness, Oklahoma

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. You may not copy, print or use this in any form. You can read it, but read it real fast so that it doesn't stay stuck on your eyeballs. Otherwise two men in gray suits will visit you and break your knees ...

      Nurse Darcy Trutell hung up the phone and swore softly.
      "What's up?" Lisa Dixon asked, dropping a chart into the receiving tray at the nurses' station.
      Darcy looked over at the aide. "That was Helen. She's going to be late. She wants me to cover for a couple of hours."
      Lisa shook her head. "You should have said you wouldn't. What was her excuse this time?"
      "She said her daughter forgot a paper that's due today," Darcy said. "She has to take it to the school, and then she needs to pay her insurance."
      "If you keep letting her get away with it, she's going to keep taking advantage of you," Lisa said. "It would piss me off, that's for sure."
      Particularly since I know Helen is lying, Darcy thought. Just like she knew that Lisa wouldn't volunteer to help and that Lisa didn't care about Darcy one way or another. Once, that uncaring would have hurt Darcy or made her mad. Now it just made her tired.
      "Well, I'm off," Lisa said. "At least Margaret won't be late." She and Darcy exchanged a look at the mention of the day aide.
      "Have a good day," Darcy said, wishing that Margaret wasn't so lazy. In the month Darcy had worked at the Eliza Rhiden Memorial Hospital, she hadn't seen Margaret do much of anything, and that she did grudgingly. Any other hospital would have fired Margaret, but her father was on the board. Besides, ERMH had the same staffing problems that other small hospitals had. Why work in Darkness when an RN could make triple the money in Oklahoma City?
      That's what Darcy would have done if things had been different. As it was, she was grateful for the job. At least she wasn't in North Carolina any longer, and if she could build up a good record again, she might be able to make the move to the city in a year or two. For that, she could work a couple of hours extra. She just wished she wasn't so tired. She hadn't been sleeping well; this was the first time in her career that she had to work the night shift.
      She picked up the report she'd prepared for the day shift and put it in the flow tray. Then she checked for new orders and began her rounds. Thankfully the patient census was low. She only had three patients.
      She shivered in a sudden cold draft. The hairs rose on the back of her neck. She looked over her shoulder to see the dead man.
      She swore, closed her eyes, and then opened them again. He was still there. "No, not again," she snapped. "Go away."
      She walked into her first patient's room. As she did the morning assessment, she was conscious of the dead man standing in the door. Her mouth tightened. She wouldn't let this happen again. She wouldn't.
      "You must help him," the dead man said.
      "I'll be right back, Mrs. Simpson, in a few minutes," Darcy said, brightly. The elderly woman smiled at her and turned her attention back to the television.
      Darcy stalked out of the room and made the rest of her round with the ghost watching her. With the vital signs of all her patients checked, she went to the pharmacy and pulled the meds. She pushed the meds cart to the nurses' station. Margaret sat at the nurses' station, leafing through a magazine.
      "Margaret, Mr. Fields in 212 needs to be turned," Darcy said. Margaret looked at her and then back at her magazine. Darcy felt her face tighten. "Now."
      Margaret looked startled, dropped her magazine, and hurried to the room.
      "You must help him."
      Darcy glared at the ghost. She looked up and down the hall, then said in a furious whisper, "Get out of here. I don't want you here. I'm not going to listen! I'm not going to help you. I'm done with that." She turned back to the cart, double-checking to make sure the meds were correct. She still needed to take vitals before she passed out any medication.
      "I am beyond help," the dead man said. "I am damned by own actions. I was misled, but it was my choice. I took the Mark willingly. It was my sin, and now I will pay for it."
      Darcy paused. This didn't sound like the run-of-the-mill haunting. None of that "Tell her I love her even though I was sleeping with her sister" or "You must take a message to my estranged son whom I haven't seen since I kicked his sorry hide out of my home years ago." She shook her head. No, she wasn't interested. It was none of her concern. She had enough to deal with. She had learned that if she ignored a ghost, eventually they went away. But any attention just fed them. She should have never spoken to him at all.
      "I am doomed, but you must help him," the ghost said. "You both have been called to a Purpose. You will know him by his eyes. He has the eyes of a hunter. You must save him so that he can save you. The Bone Queen has awakened and even now seeks the Sword of Silence. You must not allow her to wield it or all is lost."
      "She will do to all what she has done to me." The dead man reached his hands inside his shirt and pulled open his chest to reveal a black void that spun out toward Darcy. She didn't even have time to scream before the cold blackness closed around her and crushed her into oblivion.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The home stretch

      Yesterday was a better day for words. I wrote 3,000 on Darkness, Oklahoma. I'm about to get started today. I need at least 2,000. I'd like to get 3,000 if possible. NaNoWiMo ends Wednesday at midnight. I'm taking it right down to the wire.
      Nancy asked what are my plans for the novel when it's finished. Well, first thing is that I'm going to print it out and see exactly what I have. There will be plenty of corrections, I'm sure, and plenty of changes. I already know it will need another 20,000 to 25,000 words to be published. I want to add more descriptions, more character interaction and more humor. Right now, it's a bit grim. It's not a comedy, but many of these characters are intelligent and funny. I need to bring it out. I also know that some of the narratives -- I'm using a lot of viewpoints -- need to be united. A couple of them might even be eliminated, their information better served in another character's narrative.
      Anyway, that's my January project. I intend to continue writing a 1,000 words a day through December and January. Naturally there will be days off in there, and I'm not going to sweat it like I did NaNoWriMo, but I'd like for the first draft to be finished by the end of January. After that, I'll be asking some of you to read through it and give me your opinions and suggestions. From there, I'll revise and revise and revise. Somewhere in that, it will finally reach the limits of my writing skill. Then I'll start submitting it to agents and publishers.
      What are my writing plans after that? I want to go back and finish Dragons Gather. I have a lot of time and words invested in that story. It needs to be completed so that I can finally see what exactly I have there. I also plan on self-publishing a book of my humor pieces. I have over 200 humorous stories, some published in various newspapers and magazines, and of course, the ones here and in my monthly newsletter. I think I'd like to put them all in a collected form. I also want to revise Murder by Dewey Decimal and Murder by the Acre and turn the outline of Murder by the Mile into a book.
      Anyway, that's some of my plans for 2006 writing projects. Oh, and in there, I plan on doing NaNoWriMo 2006. I'm hoping I can convince some more of you to join me in that madness. Speaking of which, I need to stop stalling and start writing.
      Talk to ya later.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The grind

      A very bad day for words, but I got another 2,000, bringing the total to 40,025. I just lack 10,000 words now. That's pretty exciting. I've got five days left, and I'm off work the next two. I think I'm going to make it.
      But man, it's slow. I've written all the easy scenes, and now it's putting the connecting the scenes and the necessary scenes and all that stuff that makes a middle part so difficult for me.
      I actually am writing this book from the beginning and back from the end. I'm hoping they meet somewhere in the middle. It wouldn't be much fun if they slid pass each other. Does that make sense? I mean the whole paragraph. I'm a little word-woozy right now.
      Anyway, I had a good Thanksgiving. Must have ate too much rich food because I've battled with IBD all day. Not fun, but it's been controllable.
      Anyway, I got no news. What's happening in your world? Share!
      And have a great day tomorrow!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Thanksgiving Prayer
By Samuel F. Pugh

O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.

A Thanksgiving Joke

      A turkey farmer was always experimenting with breeding to perfect a better turkey. His family was fond of the leg portion for dinner and there were never enough legs for everyone. After many frustrating attempts, the farmer was relating the results of his efforts to his friends at the general store get together. "Well I finally did it! I bred a turkey that has 6 legs!"
      They all asked the farmer how it tasted.
      "I don't know," said the farmer. "I never could catch the dang thing!"

Thanksgiving Riddles

What kind of music did the Pilgrims like?

Plymouth Rock

What did the turkey say before it was roasted?

Boy! I'm stuffed!

Which side of the turkey has the most feathers?

The outside

Why did they let the turkey join the band?

Because he had the drumsticks

How did the Mayflower show that it liked America?

It hugged the shore

Why did the police arrest the turkey?

They suspected it of fowl play.

A link to Thanksgiving Cartoons

Happy Thankgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


      Don't have much more to add than the word count and to wish you all a happy, safe and blessed Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


      Okay, three thousand words tonight. It wasn't easy, but I was lifted up by something cool that came in the mail today.
      You may recall that three or four weeks ago, I won a drawing on the Paperback Writer site ran by S.L. (Shelia Lynn) Viehl. Today my prizes came: Private Demon by Lynn Viehl, Last Girl Dancing by Holly Lisle, and Threads of Malice by Tamara Siler Jones. (Click on the books to purchase them from What with NaNoWriMo and everything going on in my personal life, I had actually forgotten I had won. So it was a wonderful surprise to receive three new books. And here's something even cooler: Lynn signed her book and also signed a bookmark, and she included a signed bookmark by Tamara Jones! Is that awesome or what? I had been feeling a bit down about NaNoWriMo because I had started out so well and then got behind and am having to rush to catch up. This just cheered me up immensely. Thank you, Lynn Viehl. I needed that.
      And now I need sleep. Night!

Monday, November 21, 2005


      I know, I know. I said I'd post something besides word count, but I'm sorry. I didn't have time. But rejoice with me that the word count is still rising and think how soon December 1 will be here and this self-imposed NaNoWriMo madness will be over! Have a great evening and wonderful tomorrow.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


      Well, that's it for tonight. I'm not where I'd like to be yet, but NaNoWriMo has moved back into the realm of the possible. Tomorrow I'll try to post something other than this boring word count. In fact, I've been working on a humor piece, tentatively titled "Tea Time." I don't know if I'll get a chance to finish it this week since NaNoWriMo has to come first, but I've found it helps to take a break from NaNoWriMo sometimes.
      My friend Nancy called me this afternoon. I had loaned her Talyn by Holly Lisle about three weeks ago. She said she finally had a chance to sit down with it today and she is "absolutely loving" it. That's a quote. She said she's going to try to find some more of Holly's books on Amazon. I suggested the World Gates series, but didn't tell her I had them so she didn't ask to borrow them. Hey, Holly would probably appreciate the sales.
      It was cool to hear one of my friends confirm my opinion of Holly's writing. I recommend authors and loan books to people all the time, but rarely do I hear if they liked them or not. (By the way, if you haven't bought Talyn yet, click here to order it from Amazon. It's a dark, sexy and exciting fantasy novel. Worth your time, and it would make a great Christmas gift.)
      I hope everyone else is blogging up a storm. I'm looking forward to getting caught up with y'all when I finish NaNoWriMo (or it finishes me).
      Oh, I got the poster finished for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I think it turned out really well despite the rush job. Or maybe it did because of the deadline. Sometimes a deadline can spur a person's best work, I think.
      And now guys, I'm going to call it a night. Have a great week. Catch you on the flipside of tomorrow.


      I don't have much more to add than the wordcount, but it's going up slowly but surely. If I keep going, I might still win NaNoWriMo. Be back in another 500 or so words.


      Breaking for 10 minutes to give my head a rest. Also to stretch my legs. The words are coming slow, but they're coming. Not complaining. I'm glad to have them any way that they get here. I've done most of the easy scenes. That's why it's going so slow. I'm having to connect and move forward and keep all the characters going the same way. It's like juggling with greased balls. Gotta walk around a bit before getting back to it. Later.


      Congrats to Jean who finished her NaNoWriMo today! Way to write, Jean! You're my hero and my inspiration!


      And so begins another day at the writing mill. I'm hoping have to have four thousand today. Anything over would be helpful, but I'm outrunning my imagination. I'm hoping it learns to run faster real soon. Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


      Barely 28,000, but I'm all out tonight. I'll be back at it tomorrow. I'm hoping for at least 3,000 words tomorrow or even 4,000. If I can do that, I'll be close to being back on track to win NaNoWriMo. Thanks to Michelle and Gloria for their support tonight. See y'all tomorrow, and you have a great evening and wonderful tomorrow.


      The words are still coming. I'm hoping we reach 28,000 tonight. Back to the writing. And thanks to Michelle and Gloria for cheering me on tonight! I appreciate it.


      I'm getting the words. I'd like to do at least another 1,000 tonight. Thanks for the encouragement, Gloria! Nice to know someone is out there tonight cheering me on!


      The halfway point in NaNoWriMo. I'm racing now, trying to make up the words I've missed. After today, I'll have exactly 10 days to write 25,000 more. I don't know if I can do it, but I'm going to go down trying. I'll post updates at every 500 words tonight. I won't update the word counter until when I finish for the evening. Be thinking of me! I need all the positive energy I can get!

Friday, November 18, 2005

The reason

      I've got five minutes before I have to be somewhere trying to keep a friend from going off the deep end. That's what I did last night instead of NaNoWriMo; I only got 600 words when I needed 2,000. God only knows when I'll make them up.
      Let me tell you this, and it's harsh and it's true, no one will ever support your dream as much as you. You can't rely on your loved ones to support you, to go the extra mile, to understand. They have other priorities, and they might nod and give great lip service, but when push comes to shove and shove to full body blows, you're on your own. That's the price of dreams.
      People ask me why I never married. I could say all sorts of things, but it comes down to this. I've never found anyone who believed in me and my dreams. And that's what I want.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


      The words came hard tonight. Not much fun. People keep telling me to not edit, to just let the words flow. Guys, I got that. And sometimes the words flow. Sometimes I have to go down there and pull them out one by one. But whatever it takes, I'm going to get them. That's the important thing.
      Over at the NaNoWriMo site, one of the profile questions asks you to share the soundtrack of your novel. I had difficulty in finding the right music to aid me in this book, but I've finally settled on Peter Gabriel. Not the pop of "Big Time" or "Sledgehammer." But "Games Without Frontiers," "The Rhythm of the Heat," "Wallflower," "San Jacinto" and others seem to have the texture and depth that this book requires. But I've also been listening to a bit of Go West, as pop as you can get without listening to the Backstreet Boys. Go figure.
      It got cold here. Have I mentioned lately how much I loathe cold weather? I won't harp on it again, but just remember, I hate cold weather. And snow should be outlawed. Which, if the nation continues to follow the president's global warming policy, could happen.
      Yeah, I think global warming is happening. I've read nearly 100 scientific papers about it. These aren't the fun articles that get written up in the magazines and that the politicians like to hold when they're gesturing to make a point. No, these are the boring ones with stats and graphs and so much careful hedging that you want to scream at the writers who take forever to get to a point and even then you might miss it, but at the core of the articles, no one denies the world is getting warmer. Now, it might be a natural trend; it could be man-made. Let's hope it's man-made. Then we might have a chance of reversing it. If it's truly a product of the earth's eons-old weather patterns, that's not going to be good for humanity. And we won't be able to do a blamed thing about it. Except wait for the next ice age. The good news is that we are overdue for another ice age. Or is that good news? I hate cold weather.
      Anyway, that's all I have to say tonight. I hope things are going well where you are. And if it's cold, I hope you're safe and warm. Good night!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Encouraging words

      Have you read the excerpt from Darkness, Oklahoma yet? It's yesterday's entry. It will only be there until the end of the week, and then I'll be removing it. I certainly appreciate all the praise. Getting sick and being behind in my word count kinda took the wind out of my sails so your encouraging words helped. Thank you all.
      I haven't been able to comment on other blogs as much as I'd like to this month. Do know that I'm reading you whether or not I comment. I'm just really pressed for time. In December you won't be able to shut me up.
      In the bad news department, I've gained back five of the pounds I've lost. So I signed back up for Weight Watchers again. I think I was gaining when I was going to the gym -- something I haven't been able to do during NaNoWriMo -- but I was letting myself eat things I shouldn't just because I was going to gym. It's probably true for all diets that it's not so much a diet as a lifestyle change that really bring results. So far, I'm struggling with that change, so it's back to Weight Watchers, I go. Heigh-ho, heigh-ho! Both Frenzied Feline and Jamie have news of this sort on their blogs. They know how hard it is. But I'm confident we can all win the battle of the bulge.
      And here's a post from Paperback Writer that I wholeheartedly agree with and am glad it was said. (I wish I had wrote it.) I read a few articles in various writers magazines when John Banville won the Booker Prize. I thought he was arrogant and rude concerning other authors not as lucky as he is. I don't think he will ever find anyone who loves him as much as he does. He would be very happy in a room by himself with a mirror. Anyway, PW said it best.
      Speaking of writing, I'm still doing okay with NaNoWriMo. As long as I do 2,000 words a day, I'll reach 50,000 by the end of the month. And I was already doing that so I'm going to be okay, health and God willing. If I get a weekend in there where I can write, write, write, I'll even get ahead again.
      Speaking of health, I'm still fighting whatever this virus was, but I'm doing much better. My throat is still sore, and I keep running a low-grade fever off and on, but every day it's better.
      I've got to get the poster for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever finished. The play is in three weeks, and I need to get it finished so that it can be put up. Well, really four weeks, but the sooner it's done, the sooner I don't have to worry about it.
      I've got to get ready for work now. I need to leave early so that I can go by the bank and run another errand. Not enough hours in the day, but I think you know that. Have a great day.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Excerpt from Darkness, Oklahoma

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. You may not copy, print or use this in any form. You can read it, but read it real fast so that it doesn't stay stuck on your eyeballs. Otherwise two men in gray suits will visit you and break your knees ...


      As soon as he got out of his Ford F-250, Police Chief Luke Jacobi sensed the vampire. His nose flared, and he spat to the side. Early morning dew glistened on the weeds and grass, and the air was misty. He smelled the vibrant growing life of the woods. Overlaying all that, the faint metallic tang of blood lingered. He sighed. Dealing with a dead body was a rotten way to start a day. Dealing with the vampire would make it worse.
      He walked past the coroner's wagon toward the clearing where a couple of deputies were unrolling yellow tape to protect the crime scene and another one was on his knees, throwing up.
      "It's weird, Chief," said Sergeant Shelia Vaughn with obvious relish. "We've not seen one like this before."
      Luke nodded. Shelia's interest in the unusual and gruesome made her perfect for the police department of Darkness, Oklahoma, but it was tiresome at times. He looked at the kneeling deputy. "Pake, watch where you're throwing up."
      "I made sure the ground was clear," Pake said in a weak voice.
      Shelia rolled her eyes. Stan Houseman, the other deputy, grinned. New to the force, Pake had yet to develop the stomach needed. He would, or he wouldn't last long. Darkness had its share of car wrecks and domestic assaults. Not to mention the other problems that arose sometimes.
      "So?" Luke asked Shelia.
      "Fay Purcell was walking her dog," Shelia said, pulling out her notebook. "He got away from her. When she went to catch him, she found the body. She called it in on her cell phone at 6:17 this morning."
      "Purcell?" Luke asked.
      "She owns that tea shop downtown," Shelia said. "The Crumpet and Cuppa. She went on to work. I told her you would stop by later. She didn't freak, but she was shook up. Kept saying a good cup of tea was all she needed. Pake, Stan and I arrived and secured the area. Not that it took much securing. We haven't found anything."
      Luke walked to where the county coroner was taking photos of the body.
      "Morning, Richard," Luke said, pulling out a pack of Camels and lighting one up.
      "That's a nasty habit," Richard Pickerton said. "You should quit."
      Pickerton had quit several months ago and had started annoying other people about it. Luke toyed with offering the coroner one, but decided to just ignore him. He could lay odds that cancer wasn't going to be what killed him. He took a deep draw on the cigarette.
      Pickerton took another photo and then looked at the chief with somber, mismatched eyes. "I've got a bad feeling about this one, Luke."
      "You always have a bad feeling," Luke said. He knelt and studied the crumpled body on the ground. It -- the dead man -- looked strangely flat, like he had been crushed by a huge weight. He was wearing a black shirt and blue jeans with beat-up cowboy boots. Blood had dripped from the man's eyes, and his purpled tongue protruded from his slack mouth. Luke didn’t recognize him, but being near Interstate 35 meant that strangers sometimes drifted into Darkness. Sometimes, if they were lucky, they got to drift out.
      "I'm usually right," Pickerton said. He indicated the man. "I can't even tell you how this was done."
      "How what was done?" Luke snapped. "Get to the point, damn it."
      Pickerton's eyebrows rose. "Miss your morning coffee?"
      Luke shrugged and said levelly, "My time of the month."
      Pickerton turned back to the body."Okay. He's a white male in his twenties, I'd think. No ID on his body. Pockets are empty other than lint. I doubt he was killed here. He was killed fairly recently, maybe last night or early morning, but it's hard to know for sure. Not much blood around. None, in fact, and that's not the only thing that missing." Pickerton looked at Luke and grinned. "In fact, he's half the man he used to be. Someone scooped him out. He's missing all of his viscera, his ribs and all of his bones from neck down up to his legs." Reaching out a gloved hand, Pickerton squeezed one of the dead man's legs. His hand left an obvious indention. "And there's something strange."
      "There's a strange part?" Luke asked dryly. "You mean stranger than someone having all their bones removed?"
      "Yeah, it was all done through here." Pickerton opened the man's shirt to reveal a small oval-shaped wound on the man's stomach.
      "No way," Luke said.
      "He doesn't have any other wounds that I can find," Pickerton said. "So far, that's it. I'll know more when I get him to the morgue."
      "What's that?" Luke asked, pointing.
      Pickerton opened the man's shirt further. "A tattoo of some sort."
      The tattoo surrounded the man's navel. It looked like a stylized eye, an oval with a wavy line above it and a straight line below it. Luke frowned. The tattoo seemed to squirm in the daylight.
      "Might make him easier to ID," Pickerton said. "I've not seen one like that before."
      "Anything else?" Luke asked.
      "There was dew under the body," Pickerton said. "Another indicator that he was killed somewhere else."
      Ignoring the vampire, Luke looked around the small clearing. It lay fifty or so yards off the road. The trees of Watts Woods surrounded it like a fence. Old man Watts had died before completely clearing his land of the old growth forest, and his son lived in California and seemed content to let the woods take back the land. The city council had made noises about making a nature preserve a few years ago, but the son didn't want to give it away or sell it.
      "Well, a few more pictures and I'm finished here," Pickerton said. "Stop by later. I'll see what he tells us."
      Luke nodded and rose. He took another draw of his cigarette. Might as well get it over with, he thought. He walked toward the woods. Shelia started to follow him, but he waved her off. "Have to take a leak," he said. Shelia didn't know of the vampire, and he intended for it to stay that way. Luke didn't and couldn't trust the vampire. An inherent killer, the vampire would eventually murder again, and then Luke would kill him.
      The chief stopped in the sunlight and pinched out his cigarette before putting back into the pack. He knew it annoyed the vampire to have to wait, and Luke was in the mood to annoy him. Luke stepped into the woods.
      "Good morning, Chief," the vampire said, his voice low.
      "Is this one of yours?" Luke asked brusquely.
      The vampire frowned. "Of course not, and you know it. Don't be rude. That was uncalled for."
      Luke felt a snarl building and forced it back down. "Maybe so, but what are you doing here if he's not one of yours?"
      "I ran into Mrs. Purcell as I was going in," the vampire said. "Naturally she told me so I came to see if I could help."
      "Very civic minded of you," Luke said. "Would you like a medal?"
      The vampire stared at him angrily, his fangs flashing. Luke tensed, his body feeling the need for violence.
      After a long moment, the vampire visibly relaxed. "Oh, I understand your mood now. I had forgot the date. You do such a good job that I sometimes forget … the pressure you operate under."
      "Watch it," Luke snapped. But the vampire did have a point. He couldn't allow his personal distaste interfere with his job. He swallowed his ire. "Do you know anything?"
      "No, but this disturbs me," the vampire said. "I know many of the creatures who prey on humans. None of them do what was done to this man. None of them can. This is something … darker. Perhaps older. Or newer." He shrugged. "It's impossible to say. I will learn what I can and let you know if I find anything." The vampire paused and looked at the chief. The silence grew.
      Luke felt the pressure. "Thank you," Luke said shortly.
      The vampire's eyes glittered. "You're welcome. See how delightful common courtesy is? We should all practice it more. Now I am fatigued and need to rest before I have to go to work. Good day." He turned and darted into the woods with that incredible speed that always made Luke worry about that day when he and the vampire would finally have to have it out once and for all. Well, no use borrowing trouble from the future, Luke thought. Got plenty now.
      He walked back to the others, his eyes scanning the ground for anything the deputies might have missed. A strange scent hung in the air, one that he couldn't place. Musty with a bit of rot. He paused and took a deeper breath, tasting the air. Something else lurked in the scent. Animal? It certainly wasn't human. He frowned.
      The deputies brought out a stretcher. Pickerton and Shelia put the body on it, and the deputies loaded it into the coroner's wagon. Pickerton drove off, giving Luke a quick wave.
      "What's the plan?" Shelia asked as the others walked to their cars.
      "The usual," Luke said. "Report it to the state. Ask around and see if anyone saw him before he was killed. See if his fingerprints show up on any database."
      "Someone dumped him here," Shelia said. "Maybe a mob hit."
      "Yeah, the mob usually de-bones their victims," Luke said dryly.
      "Maybe they're doing that just to throw the FBI off their trail," Shelia said.
      Luke didn't reply. Anything he said would just encourage her. He headed for his Ford, even in his mood appreciating the clean lines of the new truck and its dark maroon metallic paint. He stopped to touch its hood. He'd better like it, he thought. He'd be paying for it for the next seven years.
      "Chief," Stan called out from beside a patrol car, holding the microphone to the radio. "Minnie says the Blyman sisters are acting up again. Their neighbors are asking to you come by quick."
      Luke swore. Just what he didn't need, to spend his morning acting as referee to the quarreling old biddies.
      "Tell Minnie I'll go by later," Luke said.
      "Chief, Minnie says it's real bad," Stan said. "Trees and bushes are catching fire all over the neighborhood. Nothing major, but folks are worried."
      Luke sighed. "Tell her I'm on the way. I hope they don't burn down the town before I get there."
      He slammed the truck door, a part of him wincing as he did so. He jammed the gas to the floor and roared down the road. It was childish, but it made him feel better.
      In the woods, a creature watched. Only its eyes swiveled to watch the chief and then the deputies drive away. Only then did it move, slowly stretching its new, strange body, stepping away from the tree trunk that it had changed its body to resemble. It took a few hesitant steps. It found the new form unwieldy with strange bumps and only four limbs. It had been difficult for it to fold its true shape into this form, but it would adapt quickly. It had been made for such things.
      But it needed more strength, it decided. It would have to kill a few more humans for the raw materials. This was agreeable since it hated all humans equally, but its true hatred focused on the vampire and its miserable kind. They played at evil and rejoiced in their little victories while ignoring the true Master. The creature vowed to kill the vampire if the opportunity arose as long as the killing didn't interfere with its Purpose.
      The thought of its Purpose sent a rapturous thrill through the creature's body. To be chosen for this task showed that the Servants had recognized its power. Slowly from the depths of its being, its name rose. Senkarn, the Bone Queen. It smiled, revealing narrow, triple rows of gleaming white teeth. It hissed the name, its long tongue rolling over the sounds. With its name came memories
      And puzzlement. There should have been attendants on its birth. Had it already been betrayed? Had the followers of Substance somehow interfered? Why then had they allowed it to be born?
       No matter. It had been birthed from blood and pain, called back from the depths to battle once again those who fouled the purity of the Void. If its attendants had fallen, it would Mark new slaves. It would not be defeated this time. It would not.
      Senkarn clothed itself in mist and floated through the woods, heading for the town of Darkness, Oklahoma. Sweet suffering and pain called to it. And there would be a glorious, unending river of death when its Purpose was accomplished ...

To be continued in Darkness, Oklahoma.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Best laid plans

      Well, I've had better weekends. Doubtless I've had worse, too, but this one sure wasn't any fun. My bad weekend started on Thursday night when I woke up sick at midnight. I'll spare you the gruesome details, but I ... ah ... lost fluid in a variety of ways from midnight until nine the next morning. It was either food poisoning or a stomach virus, but it put me down for the count. There were several times when I swore I was NEVER going to eat anything again.
      Anyway, I'm better. Not quite right yet, but getting there. I'm trying to figure out how to salvage my NaNoWriMo goals. Obviously I'll need more than 1,700 words a day to make 50,000 by month end. I hope that I get a couple of free weekends in there and make it up. I'm not going to give up yet.
      Not much to say otherwise since I didn't do anything this weekend except be sick, sleep and stare at the ceiling. So I'm going to get back to writing and not fall any further behind. Y'all have a good week.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Running behind

      Behind on NaNoWriMo. I'm hoping to catch up this weekend. I'm only about 1,000 off. I should be able to make that up. I hope. Anyway, this is going to short. I'm tired. But I did want to share my Mikey's Halloween photo.
      Let evildoers beware. The Batmikey is on the job!

Other things

      Did I mention that in the midst of NaNoWriMo, I've got several other projects going? It's all part of my attempt to load me up until I snap and start running around town naked with occasional stops to dance the Funky Chicken. But not ballet or disco. I'm talking the Funky Chicken as imagined by the school of modern dance. Something tasteful and refined with just a touch of pathos.
      Anyway, while you're numb from that mental image, let's discuss what's on my plate. (We just can't get away from those cooking and food metaphors, can we? We just need to push away from the table on this.)
      First, I finished my family's monthly newsletter and printed and mailed it yesterday. Now I have to start working on the December issue. The Christmas issue always has more pages and is mailed to a lot more people. (The regular monthly issues are only mailed to my subscribers.)
      Second, I need to create a poster for my local theater group's production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, get it approved, printed and put up around town. And if they're going to have me do the program, I need to start on that.
      Third, I need to get my Christmas card addresses typed back into the computer. For that matter, I need to get the cards ready to mail the first week of December.
      Fourth, I'm making some of the gifts I'm giving this year, and I need to get them done. Actually I need to get them started!
      Fifth, I need to clean up around the outside of my house. My roomie's let some clutter collect from his various projects, and the house is looking just a little too much white trash with emphasis on trash.
      Sixth, Christmas shopping for my various nieces, nephew, godsons, siblings, family and friends. I shudder at this normally, but this year I'm taking a gift certificate and food approach this year. I'm hoping that will take some of the pressure off.
      Eighth, I'd like to put together another chapbook of my poetry and get someone to publish it.
      Ninth, I'd like to finish the new template for this blog. I have the new one almost finished, but it's got a problem that I haven't been able to solve yet. It would be cool to launch the new look on January 1.
      Tenth, I'll be directing Murder On The Rerun during January and February. I'd like to get the poster and program designed as well as the set so that I won't be so covered up when rehearsals begin.
      Eleventh, all the usual things that fill my days: Laundry, cooking, dishwashing, my job, etc. Somewhere in this, I'd like to sale some more articles or at least get them out there circulating to some editors. Oh, and continue to work out at the gym and lose weight and continue my debt reduction plan.
      Speaking of the DRP, it's still going on. I've been targeting another of my credit cards, and I should pay it off December of next year. And if things go as planned, another one will get paid off December of 2007. That will leave me with one credit card, my second mortgage and my first mortgage. The final credit card will be paid off December of 2008. Then I take aim at my second mortgage. It should be gone by sometime in 2010; the first mortgage around 2013. And then I'm out of debt. Naturally I hope that the timetable goes faster than that. A windfall in there would help. Like selling a book or two. Of course, I have to finish the dang things.
      Anyway, back to NaNoWriMo today. I didn't get all the words I needed last night so now I'm behind. I'm intending to catch up today or start catching up so that I can catch up this weekend and pull a little ahead. We'll see how that goes. The best laid plans of mice and writers ...
      Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


      I'm never quite sure where my writing ideas come from. I can trace them -- sort of -- but lots of things swirl together in the blender of my mind. (We're doing cooking metaphors today. See how many you can spot.) Everything gets mixed up in there, and eventually something pours out.
      For instance, the recipe for my stalled fantasy novel Dragons Gather started with me reading a book about a carnival. Well, really the book was a mystery about a murder at a carnival, but I thought the carnival was more interesting than the mystery. It occurred to me that a carnival in a land where magic existed faced certain problems. What wonders would they have to perform to keep a crowd's interest?
      Some more ingredients. Sometime back I read Stephen R. Donaldson's The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. I found the theme of guilt and redemption to be powerful in those books. Particularly the idea that innocence was precious but also powerless to defend itself.
      A few years ago, a friend of mine fell in love with a woman who had a criminal record, drug and alcohol problems, and a host of other emotional issues. A lot of us thought he'd lost his mind, but he loved her and kept loving her and that love changed her. They're married today and have two children. Their life together speaks much about the redemptive power of love.
      And also from real life, I watched a friend leave his marriage, not realizing that what he really wanted from life was her. By the time he figured it out, she had moved on to a new love. It was a hard lesson, and one that almost broke him.
      So from all that came Dragons Gather, the story of man who thinks that magic is what he needs, ignoring love until he suffers the tragic consequences of his choice and realizes his folly too late.
      Or something like that. When I got into the story, the characters had their own ideas about how it was going to work out. After 65,000 or so words, I realized that none of us knew where we were going. I set it aside. I will come back to it and finish it soon, I hope, but for now, I have to figure out where it's going and why.
      Now Darkness, Oklahoma has its origins from a series of books that I read back in college. Thieves World was a shared world series that featured short stories from various authors using the same setting and many of the same characters. In its heyday, it was exciting reading and proof that too many cooks don't necessarily spoil the soup.
      After Holly Lisle came by my blog and I read her excellent books, I started to think how cool it would be to co-author something with her. And maybe with S.L. Viehl. And Lazette Gifford. And what about Carolyn Hart? How cool would it be to work with all of them?
      So I thought of a town in which all the fictional monsters of the world -- vampires, werewolves, ghosts, ghouls, zombies, witches, etc. -- gathered to make a life for themselves. I thought about how that town would function and what monsters would be there. To keep an unity that Thieves World lacked, I wanted a back story to the town, a secret war that affected everyone and provided a basis for all the various stories, some of which would prominently feature the war, some of which wouldn't, depending on the authors' tastes.
      Well, the idea was cool, but naturally I never approached any of those authors about it. I couldn't imagine why they would want to write with me, considering my lack of publishing credits. (Two one-act plays, a host of poems, one poetry chapbook, newspaper articles and a few magazine articles aren't publishing credits that scream, "New York Best Selling Author." And my entire 'relationship' with the above-mentioned authors consists of reading their blogs and books, a few comments and a couple of emails -- hardly anything to start us picking out china patterns together.) Besides, I got interested in the war and the stories of the people and the monsters and how the town would actually work if such a thing existed. In other words, it went from being a shared world to my world.
      I spoke with Crystal about the story (Crystal and I have written three plays together, and I've found she's an excellent person to bounce story ideas off of) and she helped me by asking questions that further refined the plot. Eventually I had to start writing it. NaNoWriMo came by at the right time. NaNoWriMo's daily quota also convinced me I needed an outline for the story, something I didn't do for Dragon's Gather, which could be why it stalled and a way to get it going again.
      I have never followed a recipe exactly. As I've mentioned, I've varied from the outline some, but I still seem to be heading in the right direction. I'm hoping that by NaNoWriMo's end, I'll have some delicious reading to share with you. (Oh, I'm up to 14,044 words, by the way. Still on track.)