Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Please ring in 2013 safely! If you choose to go out and enjoy a drink, make arrangements for a designated driver!

In 17 states, AAA's Tipsy Tow service is available. This is available statewide in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada, California, Texas, and Utah. Also available in select locations in Tennessee (West and Middle), Hawaii (Islands of Kaui, Maui, and Oahu), Montana (Missoula, Bozeman, Helena, and Billings), Oklahoma (Metro Tulsa, Metro Oklahoma City, Shawnee, Bartlesville, Enid, Muskogee, and Lawton), South Dakota (Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen, Mitchell, and Yankton), Virginia (Tidewater area only- Greater Hampton Roads including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, Yorktown, and Williamsburg), New Jersey (Morris, Essex, and Union counties), and Merrimack Valley (wherever that is??). Call 1-800-222-4357 for a ride in these areas. Some of the tow services will take you AND your vehicle to your destination within the specified area, others will only take passengers. Some places will charge you for the ride, others make New Year's Eve fares free. Call ahead to find out!

If you don't fall into one of these areas, check AAA's Sober Ride list for information on safe ways home tonight. This list is from the National High Way Traffic Safety Administration and it includes phone numbers, fares, and stipulations for their Sober Rides.

Don't be stupid. It isn't just your life that is in jeopardy when you choose to drink and then drive. Other people can be hurt by your poor choices. My father is severely disabled due to being hit by a drunk driver when he was just 19 years old and has suffered through years of debilitating pain and degenerating nerves because of one man's stupid choice. Even worse, the driver of my dad's car (who was sober) died in that wreck, leaving behind a lot of grieving family.

Even tipsy driving is drunk driving. Don't do it. Don't get into a vehicle with someone that has been drinking. Be safe and we'll see you in 2013!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Whatever your holiday persuasion, I hope it has been a merry one. I hope that you have spent your time surrounded by friends and family, basking in peace, joy, fellowship, and lots of yummy food. I spent the last few days making a mad dash to clean the house, wrap presents for E & L, and help prepare food for Christmas lunch with family.

During that time, I gave little pause to the crafts I intended to make for everyone. I'm disappointed in myself. I didn't even get half of them done. Okay, so I didn't even get 1/4 of them done this year. I'm sure glad I painted the North Pole ornaments several months ago. I have a dozen half finished sock monkeys waiting for their arms, ears, tails, and faces. My pigs are all cut up and waiting to be put together. The ornaments are only missing the hangers. *sigh*

I have a Christmas party on the 29th so now that the mad rush is over, I can get those ornaments finished up.  The pigs are just not happening this year. My hands are hurting just thinking about them. The monkeys will get done over the next couple weeks. The girls loved their Christmas presents. They especially enjoyed the computer, even with the crap ton of limitations and rules I put in place. Yay for parental controls!

My brother's Christmas has not been quite so happy. His mother-in-law passed away in the early morning hours on Christmas Eve after a near 8 year battle with cancer. She was an amazingly strong woman to have fought as long as she did. My sister-in-law is not in a good place right now, but she has my brother, her brother, and her father as an incredible support group. I think knowing her mom isn't hurting anymore will comfort her once she is able to deal with the grief. What is hurting them the most right now is that the baby is due in 2 months and the kid will not get to know his maternal grandmother. E & L took the news better than I expected. The visitation is Friday.

So the dishes have been washed, the left-overs put away, and the house put back in order. We are leaving the decorations up until after New Year's Eve like usual. The girls are in bed. I'm trying to decide if I want to spend the little bit of money I got from various relatives on more craft stuff, on the holiday clearance for little gifts next year, or on a camera. I have tons of craft stuff but I have staples that I run out of often and the girls are constantly raiding my hope chest for their own devices. The clearance gifts from last year pretty much saved Christmas this year since my parents had little money for gifts this year (Most of the gifts we did buy this year were either put on layaway for several months, came from a thrift store, or were purchased in January 2012.). My camera went missing over the summer and I didn't get one for Christmas (Mom forgot I wanted a replacement and got me a coat instead, although the coat was more a need than a want.). Decisions...

At any rate, I hope your holiday is restful and peaceful. I'm already eager to get the kids back in school and myself back to work. Have a fantastic rest of the week!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Friday, December 14, 2012

Terrible Shooting in Connecticut

My thoughts are for the families dealing with the tragedy in a Connecticut elementary school this morning. Conflicting reports keep surfacing so I don't know the details for sure, other than innocent people lost their lives today. What a heartbreaking experience to go through, regardless of the time of year. Peace to those poor sweet babies and the adults that have lost their lives and strength to those fighting to make it through this nightmare.

I'm keeping my eye on the news reports as they become available. I am vividly reminded, as these pictures of evacuating children scroll over the screen, of the fact that I have two little sisters in school and I can't keep the cold sweat and chill bumps at bay. Please stay safe out there folks.

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Shoe Art

While bored with E & L tonight, I decided to break out some plain white canvas shoes and sharpies. I didn't have anything else to do right that moment so it seemed like a good idea at the time. Here is the fruit of today's artistic endeavor.

 Sun and moon shoes. :) Bicolor laces and an open book included!

 Bubbles, stripes, stacked sticks, and flowers on the sides.

 A fountain pen, more flowers, and a checkerboard on the other sides.

 A dragon and a lacy thing on part of the backs.

 Bouncing balls and layered ovals on the other part of the back.

 What do you think?

I had a lot of fun with these and can't wait to wear them. I think I'm going to wear them to the TGIO party tomorrow. I shouldn't be anywhere near mud there. :)

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3

Friday, November 30, 2012

NaNo Journal 26th- 30th

November 26: Big final push for writing this month. Did really good too considering I also subbed in a 4th grade classroom today. I didn't plan to make tonight my last official NaNo night but I'm over 90k, way behind in my Christmas ornaments, and have a short story to revise and edit. Validation and RSVP finished. Yay NaNoWriMo 2012! Personal best word count in 4 years. 6027/90784

November 27: I already validated so I haven't counted the words for what I wrote today. I said I would write every day so even though I'm not counting anything for NaNoWriMo '12 anymore, I'm still writing. Every day. I reread some of what I wrote this morning since I didn't have any subbing work. It isn't terrible. At least, my short story is in decent health and what I wrote on my 2nd series is good for a first draft. What I wrote on Immo is not that great and will probably end up deleted unless I can figure out how to turn it into...something that makes sense. We'll see. Housework to catch up on then pig ornaments the rest of the day.

November 28: So a change of plans for Christmas ornaments. I just got word that a few other family members are hoping for sock monkeys for their kids this Christmas. So now I'm up to something like 15?! Crap. So I've decided that for my grandma's side of the family, I'm going to make pig ornaments for Grandma's 7 children and everyone else (grand and great-grand kids) will get painted ornaments since I already have 75 of those painted. I should have enough for them, though I think I'll need to make more for everyone else. Those don't take long. I can crank out another 75 in an evening. Not so much on the pigs. It sucks, but since I already have the materials cut for the pigs, I'll focus on those for next Christmas for everyone else in Grandma's family and add some kind of decorative touch to make them new. Maybe a red and green bow or a tiny present...I'll figure something out. Sock monkey!

November 29: I'm contemplating sending a query to an agent. They don't rep epic fantasy though so it will have to be my 2nd series (urban fantasy). It needs an edit and a 3rd revision then a beta read before then though. Wonder if I can get all that done before New Years? Hmmmm...

November 30: Last day of NaNoWriMo '12. I will miss the fun oh so much. But TGIO is at an Irish pub so I get Strongbow so it evens out. lol Last year, I spent way too much on food. I think I'll eat before I go this time and save room and money for a couple drinks and then walk around the mall for 4 or 5 hours after- maybe see a movie. I wonder what is playing. BRB. Damn, this particular pub is nowhere near a movie theater. That limits my options by a lot. We'll see how this goes. I worked today and just got in so I'm beat. I need to hunt down the mouse that magically appeared in my bedroom this morning, clean, supervise the girls through their chores, read to them, and then do some reading for myself tonight. Thank goodness it is Friday or else the next 4 hours would be incredibly busy. :) Happy NaNoWriMo '12! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Until next year...

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Monday, November 26, 2012

NaNo Journal 19th- 25th

November 19: Just got word that we are definitely not doing anything for Thanksgiving here at the house. We'll be going to let G'ma and G'pa do a dessert the day of instead. I'm supposed to go to another family party the day after. We'll see how all that works out. Good writing day. Tried to fiddle with the short story but I'm drawing a blank. 3010/72539

November 20: I can't move. Bending hurts. Twisting hurts. Hell, breathing hurts. I'm so tired that my brain feels like mush. I've been tearing the kitchen cabinets apart, trying to get rid of the clutter like I did the living room and dinning room at the beginning of the month. E and L are trying to help but they are mostly getting in my way. Not much written today and I'm pretty sure what was written didn't make any sense. 1667/74206

November 21: Apparently yesterday's update didn't take. I must have forgotten to click update before closing the page. I think I wrote last night's journal entry with my eyes closed. I'm still working on cleaning the kitchen. 2/3 of it done now. Just need to work on the pantry. I'm so glad my family isn't hosting Turkey Day here at the house. More written today than some days but not as much as I would have liked. 2000/76206

November 22: Ah the damn kitchen is finally organized! I ended up throwing away 4 garbage CANS full of lids without bowls, bowls without lids, broken ceramics and glassware, warped plastic utensils, and food that expired in 2006 (yeah, our Jello was that old). It looks so much better. I'm so tired I just typed butter instead of better. *sigh* Time for a very long shower before dessert at Grandma's house at 7 with all the grand kids. Fun times- I wonder if there will be any dessert there that I'll actually eat since I don't eat any kinds of pie, very few kinds of cake, even fewer kinds of cookies, and nothing whatsoever with a cream or jelly filling. 2967/79173

November 23: I knew the whole "not doing Turkey Day here" was too good to be true. I was informed this morning that since we didn't do anything for Thanksgiving, that our family party will be Saturday instead. As in tomorrow. Mom is working on the the turkey now. I'm about to scream. I just spent 3 days fixing that freaking kitchen with the very high hopes of it staying fixed at least until Christmas when I know I can't talk anyone out of us hosting it. I went in the kitchen 3 hours later and there is flour and sugar all over the counter tops, the sink is full of dishes, and the cats are cleaning up turkey broth that was accidentally spilled on the floor. Anyone want to adopt me and let me live in your home? I clean, I am quiet, and I keep to myself most of the time. *sigh* Put my anger and irritation to good writing use, although I think one of my main characters died as a result. Oops. 3917/83090

November 24: I hate life right now. Mom spent all that time preparing an after Thanksgiving dinner for pretty much no one to show up. My brother and his wife couldn't make it. None of the cousins showed. Mom's brother didn't come over. It was just me, E & L, Dad, Mom, G'ma & G'pa, a 7 year old nephew of my Dad's, 1 of Dad's grand kids (age 4), Gran, and a friend of L's that randomly showed up last night needing a time out from her own family. So...11 people out of 25 expected. The fridge is so full of leftovers. Oy. Not a terrible writing day considering I was required to be social and then was the only one to help clean up the mess afterwards with Dad. I would have preferred to hide away in my room writing with Mom bringing me a plate after everyone left but I would have felt bad about that. Damn me for being such a loyal daughter. I got my short story written though! Need a good edit and revision then it is off to the writing group. 2967/86057

November 25: I could barely get anything written today due to a splitting headache. I had a touch of a headache last night when I finally went to bed but woke up with a blinding headache that kept me nauseated and in bed off and on all day. Ugh. So sick. Definitely a migraine. I miss my doctor in Alabama- all I had to do was call the office and tell them I had another one. My doc would call me in a prescription and email me a work notice so I could sleep the headache away until it was gone. Here, the doctor wants me to come in every single time. I can't afford that so I compromised with Tylenol PM and a glass of apple cider and Hot Damn to knock my brain out for a few hours. When I woke up, I hurt worse everywhere- my whole body felt like I got kicked by Babe the Blue Ox. Double ugh. 1667/87724

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Writing a Short Story

My region is taking a collection of short stories from our local NaNo writers with the express purpose of compiling them into an ebook. The sole purpose of this anthology is for the entertainment of our former ML who had to bail on NaNo completely this year due to her steadily worsening health.

We were told that our former ML has many things that she loves (and so we assume she would enjoy reading about in short story format). This includes: all things Firefly and Nathan Fillion, plot bunnies/ninjas, chick lit, zombies, Doctor Who, Supernatural, getting lost/stranded in Nebraska (that was the plot of a few NaNo novels in our former ML's time), cats, and pirates. By picking at least one element from this list, the current ML's thought it would make a welcome present for our wonderful many-year NaNo ML while she attempts to heal from this debilitating illness.

When I heard that she loves Firefly, I immediately thought that I should write a story about the crappy town where Wash is a hero. Then, I latched onto the idea that reavers are pretty much zombie plot bunnies. It is a stretch, I know. I spent many nights after I hit 50k trying to figure out how to start this damn short story and went to bed frustrated each time. Should I find a script and rewrite that script in narrative with the characters as anthropomorphic critters (so I can fit my zombie plot bunnies in, naturally)? Should I try to write a completely new story, sticking to the regular story of the show? What the hell am I supposed to do here?!

Frustrated with a blank page, I turned to a creative outlet that always lets me rid myself of frustration- doodling. In the end, I ended up with a critter drawing based on every Firefly character. Mal became a wolf. Inara, a sexy cat. The Tams became parrots (cuz parrots are super smart- duh!). Wash- 100% raccoon. Shiny! Zoe became a jaguar. Kaylee is the cutest puffy cheeked squirrel you'll ever see. Jayne- a ferret (because while they sometimes do incredibly funny things, mostly they seem to bite and cause a ruckus). Book- the sage turtle. And last of all- my reaver bunny. The pencil sketches were alright, but they didn't pop on the page until I added ink outlines. I tried to add clothing to each character that would signify who they represented. Wash has a loud obnoxious shirt. Mal has his long coat. Jayne is wearing his hat. Book has his hair. You get the idea. Anyway, I took some creative liberties with my reaver bunny. I colored them in with a combination of markers, wax crayons, colored pencils, and MS Paint with varying results. Most of them looked better as plain ink line drawings.

So that was over a week ago. When I sat down to write this morning, I was nowhere closer to figuring out how to write this short story than I was at the beginning or middle of the month. I gave up. I can officially say this: I do not write fanfiction. It is not my forte at all. However, my reaver bunny stuck with me and I decided to stick with just him. Once I made that decision, the flood gates of inspiration opened for me. I wrote 1.3k in about an hour. No outline. No clue about a plot. I just wrote in my normal fashion- pantser all the way, baby.

This "Firefly fanfic that was" has morphed into a thriller/horror about a zombie rabbit. I read it to L once I finished. She listened like any 10 year old who adores her big sister would. When I finished and asked her what she thought, she smacked me and told our mother that if she can't sleep for the next month, it is all my fault. So I guess I at least got that part right. It is scary enough for a 10 year old at the very least.

So will this short story ever see the light of day? Who knows...I don't have a clue. Maybe it will serve a purpose at some point. If the ML's decide to actually sell the ebook, I'll be sure to provide a link for it for anyone that is interested. Until then, I thought I'd share my zombie bunny (or the "Reaver that was"):

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Sunday, November 18, 2012


One of my favorite parts of NaNoWriMo is NaNoToons!

The comic started with Debbie Ohi and has evolved into a collaborative effort between Errol Elumir and Debbie over the years. You can read their biographies on the page linked above, as well as character bios for past and present characters and find the archive for past NaNoToons all the way back to November 2006. Take my advice and start from the beginning!

Also, you can find a link on the web page to Errol's project NaNoMusical! They are up to episode 3 out of 6 for this video web series and it is fantastic. I'm waiting anxiously for the next one to come out! Good luck to everyone NaNoing this year. We're more than half way through!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

NaNo Journal 12th-18th

November 12: Excellent writing night. Spent a good deal of time on the blog today too. So productivity all around. :) Getting into a meaty section of my book and very glad of it considering I finally crossed 50k tonight! Woot. 6925/50070

November 13: I had hoped to make it to a write-in by now but its just not happening. I don't have the gas money to go driving around the county more than a couple times, and that has been ear marked for the Kick-off Party and the Thank God It's Over Party. That sucks since I really love the write-ins but oh well. When things are finally better money wise, I'll go and sit in a coffee shop and drink over priced drinks and pretend I have awesome writer people for company. *sigh* 1667/51737

November 14: Barely made to goal tonight. Such a long day. I'm ready to sleep for six years. 1667/53404

November 15: Did more crafting than writing today by far. Made word count for the day only because I wrote the word "for" about a dozen times as I thought of what was happening in my story. I'll fix it later but for NaNo, it stays. Go away inner editor. I know it is wrong without you screaming at me about it. 1667/55071

November 16: Much better day today. The inner editor must have went back no vacation. The kids were good today so I didn't have to waste 2 hours of writing time getting their butts in gear. E asked if she could go to bed early. That always makes me nervous- usually means she is sick and she was just at the doctor last week! *sigh* I'll be up and down all night checking on her I guess. 6203/61274

November 17: Today's word count is a guess as I slept way late today then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening in the E.R. with E. Poor kid went to the doctor 2 weeks ago with strep-like symptoms. Strep test was negative but she had a 10 day antibiotic med anyways. 3 days after the antibiotic is done, she coughed so much that she passed out. She has bronchitis and a sinus infection. They said it isn't pneumonia yet so I'm glad we went but the 7.5 hours in the E.R. was spent writing by hand in a notebook. I'll transcribe what I wrote out in the morning. I know it was at least the goal so we're going with that tonight. Checked blogger and saw that I'm about 13 views shy of 14,000 total views. Pretty awesome! Breaking out some apple cider and Hot Damn to celebrate. 1667/62941

November 18: When I woke up, I saw that the blog passed 14k visitors some time through the night. So freaking awesome! Planned to got to a friend's house for time away from needy children, manic cats, and stress inducing family. Didn't work out that way though- I read the E & L instead after making buffalo chicken dip. We are reading The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson. We were reading another book but it was stupidly boring and had some darker elements that a 9 and 10 year old are not ready for...and I'm not comfortable reading to them. This one looks much better- its about a cat. lol Sometimes I wish NaNo was in a more manageable April. No one does anything in April in this family. Maybe I'll start doing my own NaNo in April. lol I got yesterday's writing transcribed early this morning. It was better than I thought so I added the difference to today's count. 6588/69529

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Monday, November 12, 2012

This is my 400th! Post

Goodness! I can't believe I have reached 400 posts. There for a while, I was posting statistical information about posts when I reached certain milestones and I thought I would use my 400th post for just that purpose. Prepare to be bombarded with links!

1st post: I had not really took to blogging before creating Dee Declares on June 9, 2011. I tried of course, but they never lasted longer than 10 posts or so. I just got too bored with them. This blog has lasted almost a year and a half and for a while, I posted every day. I'm trying to get back to that- honestly. Social Media is more work than people want you to realize. Anyone that says it "is easy and only requires 5 minutes a day" isn't putting enough time or thought into their posts. The original purpose of Dee Declares was to begin to build my writing platform and has turned into a personal soapbox on some occasions, a showcase for my crafts, a cheering ground for important milestones, etc. I am incredibly proud of this blog!

100th post: My 100th post was not a happy one. This post was regarding the aftermath of the London riots from August 8, 2011. I posted articles, videos, and links to find help for those affected by the riots, those wishing to help clean up the city, those that just wanted to know what the hell was going on. I also ranted about the celebrities that were incredibly mum about the rioting, while praising the 3 (Neil Gaiman, David Krumholtz, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) that at least mentioned it. It was a very scary night and I was half a world away!

200th post: I had to laugh when I reread my 200th post. It is the first of my 2011 NaNoWriMo journal posts. Last year, I hand wrote a journal and then transcribed them to Blogger at the end of the week with annotations relating to what I wrote. I tried to keep the transcription as true to what I wrote as possible but it was hard not to edit what I had already written to make it clearer and less manic. I remember that night at Star Bucks very well. *cringe* This year's blog isn't annotated and is much shorter.

300th post: This post went up January 14, 2012 and was edited to remove all photo content on August 15, 2012 due to reports of bloggers being sued over the use of other people's images even in the case of taking pictures down immediately after a take down notice, linking back to original sources, openly stating non-ownership of the images, and giving credit to the actual owners/originators- all on blogs that do not generate income themselves. I have been very resistant to putting AdSense on my blog because I for one hate ads and never click the ads on blogs or other social media. I find it distracting and invasive. That said, I can see both sides here. I deleted the images and replaced them with the disclaimer that is now on the page (and several other pages). It took forever to go through every blog post and delete images. Ugh. You can read the post relating to the image take down here.

Did you know that part of my signature that appears at the end of every post from August 14, 2011 onward- minus the one here and there that I completely forgot- is a line said regularly on NBC's The New Normal? Alright, it isn't probably specifically from my signature as it really is a common sense phrase (love is love) but since I've been using it for more than a year prior to Ryan Murphy, I'm claiming credit. :P And yes, I freaking love that show. That original post was about an article posted on LGBTQ Nation about what Jesus would do if he were invited to a wedding between two men or two women. Here is the post and here is the article.

Over the past near year and a half, I have taken to voicing my opinions on pop culture, current events, and politics. I participated in the social media blackout protest of SOPA and PIPA. I voiced my displeasure of the indefinite detention article of NDAA. I wrote an essay letting people know exactly what I stand for and what I stand against. I wrote about some of my favorite shows/movies, performers, authors, and books.

And finally, since this started out as a writing blog, I have added a link at the top of the page where I have compiled all of my writing specific posts. You can scroll to the top and look at the banner under the title. You'll find these links at the top: Blog, About Me, Journey of Shadows, and Writing Information. The blog tab will take you to the latest 10 blog posts; about me is a link happy semi-humorous biography; JoS includes the cover art (shout out to Alberto who made my amazing cover- seriously, go look at how amazing it is), links to purchasing my book from Smashwords or Amazon, and a pronunciation guide for words found in the book; and Writing Information will take you to a list of writing specific posts (not including all the NaNoWriMo posts- maybe those will go in another page some other time).

This blog has survived post-a-day marathons, elections, riots, computer crashes, two NaNoWriMos (alright, so one is in progress right now), political turmoil, copyright issues, lax maybe-5-a-month posts, and more since it started in June 2011. I am close to 800 views per month and expect to reach 14,000 total views this month. I couldn't be more proud of Dee Declares. Thank you for coming by. I hope you'll comment, share, like, etc. and continue to come back for more randomness by me!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Homemade Holidays 2012

Since my flurry of activity yesterday (I admit it- I couldn't sleep), I have received  several emails from friends and regular readers asking when to expect pictures of this year's homemade Christmas stuff. I didn't plan to post anything until after NaNoWriMo since I haven't really had time to work on them but I decided, since I'm at 43k for the month already, to go ahead and take some pictures. If you'd like to see last year's posts, check out these posts for a reminder: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Enjoy!

First up, hand painted North Pole Candy Cane signs. These signs are made using card stock and wooden craft spoons. I still need to attach the ribbon hangers for these but that will only take a few minutes. I made 75 of these in total in September or October. These wooden ornaments will go to friends and family outside of my Grandma's side of the family who are getting the other ornaments (more on those in a moment).

Cute right? I tried to vary the number of stripes, directions of the signs and the lettering so that none came out looking like another even though they are basically the same thing. I hate handmade items that are carbon copies.

For my Grandma's side of the family, I'm making fleece pigs. They are little pillow-like ornaments. Grandma collected pigs so this year I decided to make a pig for everyone. I'm making 90 of them. I hope it is enough because they take a long time to make. I'm trying to convince Mom to help me with some of the sewing since I'm in the middle of NaNo but quickly running out of time to get these babies done. Here is a step by step picture demonstration of the materials and the work from beginning to end. Click the pictures for a bigger image.

 This is the materials for several pigs. I'm using pink and white fleece that I found on clearance, hair cutting sheers for a good crisp cut, two different kinds of ribbon, and 5 different colors of thread.

Here is the material for one pig. I picked a pink ribbon and tried to match the ears, legs, hands, and snout based on the size of the triangle I chose to use. I have 4 different sizes of triangles from 2.5 inches across the bottom to 6 inches across and varying sizes of ears, snouts, and appendages so that I can change up how they look.

 This is the two pink fleece parts that make up the body of my pig.

 I haven't sewn the pieces on yet, but this is how the ribbon, ears, arms, and legs sit on the inside of the back piece of felt. I'll attach them to the back so the thread lines don't show on the front.

 This is the setup for the front of my pig. White and magenta thread, the snout, and the front of the body.

 Here I have attached the snout with a simple cross (an X basically) and then decorated the face with magenta nostrils and white/magenta eyes. The stitching is very simple!

Here is the finished product with the back part and the front part sewn together. I'll be tucking the corners in on some of them to get more variety in the pigs. Overall, they are going to look super freaking adorable.

It took about 3 hours to cut out all the material. I have the noses sewn on about half of the fronts. I'm trying to do everything in shifts. I'm getting the noses done first, then I'll do the face details in a second round. Then I'll attach the hanger, ears, arms, and legs. The last part is putting the two pieces together and stuffing them. The part I'm trying to get Mom to do is sew the two sides together on two of the three edges, leaving me to stuff them and sew up the last side. If I did them one by one, like this pig, it takes about an hour for each pig. We'll see if I can get her to help me out in time for Christmas presents!

I'm also making sock monkeys for the kids. I gave one to my newest family member, my cousin's daughter. I'm not sure if I posted it or not. Here is a picture in case I haven't.

So what do you think? Do I have time to finish NaNoWriMo, 10 sock monkeys, and 90 pig ornaments? I certainly hope so. :)

All these pictures are mine but feel free to share them around. If you want step by step directions for the pig ornaments or ideas on other homemade holiday stuff, post a comment and I'll try to help you out!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Grammar Article

I ran across an interesting grammar article. It isn't the same ol' "there/their/they're" grammar list that everyone is probably used to by now. Check it out here. #12 drives me crazy and I always second guess myself. I have seen half a dozen rules on the matter of apostrophes and words ending in "s" that depend on if the word naturally ends in "s" or is plural. Argh!

Oh yeah, I finally joined LinkedIn if you were interested. The link is here though there isn't really anything there but biographical information. Also, you can now sign up for email delivery of my blog posts. Look on the left under followers. :)

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

NaNo Journal 5th-11th

November 5: Slow day today for writing. I worked at one of the girls's schools today. That was fun. Totally enlightened about her school work now. She is in so much trouble. *sigh* I'm writing, but it is slow going. Just barely made the goal tonight. 1667/19821

November 6: Went to vote today. Not much written. Too nervous about the election. Plus the girls were home from school so we went to the library for new library books and stopped by McD's for lunch because they were giving out free Big Macs for 3 hours on election day. Not a total wash though; at least I met the daily goal. 1667/21488

November 7: No work today. That sucks but it is expected for subbing. Crossing my fingers for tomorrow and writing. Better day today than the last few days. Still not the fantastic 8-10k days that I really like. 4211/25699

November 8: Crossed 25k last night. Made me very happy. Struggling through some scenes today. Misread the sub schedule. I went into work this morning prepared to get started when the secretary informed me that the sub position was for tomorrow. So another day of no work. Joy. Wrote off and on while trying to help move furniture and deep clean the living room and dinning room in preparation for guests on Thanksgiving. We still need to get to the kitchen and utility room. I'm convinced that the girls's bedrooms are lost causes. We'll just shut the doors those days and be done with it. 3544/29243

November 9: Woot! I'm officially under 1k words per day to finish on time now. That is one of my milestones that I watch for each year. Very pumped! I go for milestones of every 10k, a daily writing count even if it is just 100 words, and getting the WPD under 1k. I'm getting there! I continued cleaning today after work so I still didn't get have a huge writing night, but it was definitely a good night. Lots of action. It is only a little past 9 but I am so ready for bed. I'm going to try like hell to cross 50k by the end of the weekend. We'll see if that happens. 3681/32924

November 10: Well, the weekend has not given me that huge writing bump that I really hoped for yet. Between workers showing up to seal the driveway, the girls acting like animals, and the animals acting like animals, I spent most of the day cleaning up after everyone. I did get some written though so it wasn't a total loss. 3591/36515

November 11: Much better writing day! With everyone gone to church, I finally had some peace and quiet so I got a much larger amount of writing in this morning than usual. Enough that I'm going to stop for the day even though it isn't even 5pm. Time to get the girls in action working on their rooms and start dinner. Maybe with some luck, they will be finished in time for me to read some tonight. We've only been trying to ready all freaking week. *sigh* At any rate, today was a very good day. Less than 400 words per day to finish on time. Woot!  Happy Veteran's Day to the vets out there! 6630/43145

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Sunday, November 04, 2012

NaNo Journal 1st-4th

November 1: I stayed up until midnight to start writing like usual. Only this year, I didn't have a clue on how to start. I'm working on the 3rd book in The Immortalis Trilogy. I honest to God have no idea how to start this novel off. I decided to tinker with another piece while I thought about Immo3 some more. I ended up writing over 6k before I finally went to sleep. I just wish it was 6k on my planned novel, not a new one. I missed the chance to go to work for the first time in a couple months thanks to sleeping through my alarm. Even after going to bed at about 4am, I was up at 8am. Just in time to find out that E is sick and needed to go to the doctor. Joy. Got some more writing in between 8am and noon. And then from 5pm until 8pm when it was time to crash. Crossing my fingers for more work to come my way tomorrow. And more words. Preferably Immo words but I'll take what I can get. 8735/8735(words today/cumulative word count)

November 2: I worked in a classroom for the first time in nearly 2.5 years. I have missed that so much. It was worth getting up at 5am and missing breakfast to spend the day in a classroom with students. <3 I didn't get nearly as much written today as yesterday, but I'm absolutely exhausted and need sleep. Still met the daily WC goal so all is well. It is officially the weekend so hopefully I'll have two really good writing days and be way ahead of schedule come Monday. :) 3479/12214

November 3: Spent most of the day reading The Land of Stories to E & L. The girls love this book and I'm finding it so hard to say no to them when they beg me to read. Very little written today. Made the daily goal but didn't get it posted in time for it to count toward the 3rd. I'm counting it anyways dammit. :) 1667/13881

November 4: So much done today. Grocery shopping that really couldn't wait any longer. We finished reading The Land of Stories just before bedtime. I got some decent writing done. Two of the cats tried to kill each other over a freaking bowl of water. Wood carried in for the next few days. I've written almost 3 times as much as my daily word count goal. I'm super stoked, even though I would rathered cross 20k tonight. But, it is 11pm and I'm tired. Crossing my fingers for another work day tomorrow. 4273/18154

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Mistakes Writers Make

If you Google “mistakes writers make” then you will find list after list of things writers do wrong in every genre. A lot of those mistakes show up in multiple lists. Trying to hard is one of the ones I read about a lot- try to be funny, try to be relevant, try to be impressive. I thought I’d come up with my own list, based on my experiences and the experiences of a few friends.

  • Proof reading is lax: Some writers are so swept up in the art of writing that they forget an important part of a finished piece- editing. Grammar, comma usage, apostrophes, etc. benefit by a few rounds of proof reading. The most common advice is to put the piece away for a few days (or weeks) and come back to proof read/edit/revise with a fresh set of eyes. That is 100% correct advice in my experience. I’ll go one above that- do your proof reading/editing/revising from a printed black and white hard copy. You are less likely to miss mistakes on the printed page. If you like an old school approach, do your hand edits with a red pen.
  • Erroneous expectations of instant success: There is nothing “quick” about the writing/publishing industry. Writing takes a long time. Editing and revision takes a long time. Querying/submissions take a long time. Everything in this industry takes a long time to work though. There is a reason my motto is “passion, persistence, and patience” in life and in writing. Have some patience, drink a cup of coffee, and start a new work in progress while you wait for the gears to turn on your work in submission.
  • Focus on deadlines kills quality: This is especially true of established writers. I could cite a dozen popular writers that have eventually caved to the pressure to churn out works for the voracious appetites of their readers. Their work becomes rushed and quality goes down in exchange for popping out a dozen books in 2 or 3 years. I worked on my first book, Journey of Shadows, over nearly three years. The 1st draft only took a few months, but then I kept going back to it, rewriting until I felt confident that it was ready.
  • Timid writing: This is what holds a lot of potential writers back from actual writing. Some people are so scared of being judged for their writing, or of upsetting someone with what they write, that they stare at a blank page until the urge to write just goes away. Writing, despite the genre, is a product of passion. There is no room for fear.
  • Writing to please others: This also holds a lot of writers back. Instead of following passion, these writers have fallen into a terrible cycle. They write only what they know will be accepted by their readers. They avoid topics that may upset anyone. Basically, they limit themselves to writing about fluffy kittens. Fluffy kittens are awesome, but I can find those free on the internet. 

As you can see, this list isn’t the traditional “mistakes writers make” list. It is far better to overuse clichés and metaphors than to pander to an audience or stare at a blinking cursor with dread. Writing is an art form that requires a time commitment, dedication, and fearlessness. Practice will help! NaNoWriMo is the perfect place to practice. It isn't too late to join in the noveling marathon. Really, you're only 2 days behind!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Ready, Set, Write!

It is officially that time of the year. 12:01am, November 1st, 2012. As I am most assuredly writing away with manic abandon (or snoozing...), this is pre-blogged for your kick off pleasure.

2012 NaNoWriMo logo design

Start your novel now! Add me as a NaNo buddy (my profile- text beside my picture will say "add as buddy" and "send NaNoMail") if you'd like. I'll happily exchange NaNoMails with you if you are looking for encouragement during NaNo. Considering donating to the program to help ensure they have enough funding to do this again next year. $10 gets you a fancy digital halo for your account like I have.

I will be posting my NaNo journal again this year. You can read the posts from last year here. Read from the bottom of the page to the top if you want them in order. They were posted in a sort of weekly digest format rather than a daily journal. I may do that again this year. We'll see what time allows. Happy writing folks!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Daily NaNo List

For your daily NaNo pleasure, this is my list for NaNo 2012. The word counts are a cumulative total for what you should have by the end of the day, not a daily word count. Repeat it with me: The DAILY word count goal is 1,667 words. This list is a lot less link heavy, contains less event notices, etc. so it should be easier to get what you really want to know: How many words should I be up to by now?!

November 1: Get started! 1,667 words today.
November 2: 3,334 words today.
November 3: 5,001 words today.
November 4: 6,668 words today.
November 5: 8,335 words today. Back up your novel today.
November 6: 10,002 words today. Go vote before the polls close. Write before you go and after you get back!
November 7: 11,669 words today.
November 8: 13,336 words today.
November 9: 15,003 words today.
November 10: 16,670 words today.
November 11: 18,337 words today.
November 12: 20,004 words today. Back up your novel today.
November 13: 21,671 words today.
November 14: 23,338 words today. Today is Donation Day. If you haven't gotten your halo yet, go get it!
November 15: 25,005 words today.
November 16: 26,672 words today. Thank your ML's for the hard work they have put into NaNo today for Municipal Liaison Appreciation Day.
November 17: 28,339 words today.
November 18: 30,006 words today. This is the Night of Writing Dangerously Write-a-thon in San Francisco.
November 19: 31,673 words today. Back up your novel today.
November 20: 33,340 words today.
November 21: 35,007 words today.
November 22: 36,674 words today. Thanksgiving for Americans. Write in the morning so that you don't pass out and forget later tonight after all that turkey!
November 23: 38341 words today.
November 24: 40,008 words today.
November 25: 41,675 words today. You can start validating today and earning those purple bars!
November 26: 43,342 words today. Back up your novel today.
November 27: 45,009 words today.
November 28: 46,676 words today.
November 29: 48,343 words today.
November 30: 50,000 words today. Validate your novel before midnight tonight. Don't wait until the last minute since word counts may vary between writing programs. Hit 50k early to make sure you don't need another 1k or so to make up for wonky word counting errors between Word, Open Office, etc. and the NaNo validator. Open Office is the worst about this. You have been warned!
December 1: No more words! Well, you can write more if you'd like, but NaNo is officially over for 2012!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

NaNoWriMo at a Glance

Below is an excerpt from the latest NaNo mail from The Office of Letters and Light referencing an almost day by day entry of things to do and things to keep in mind throughout the month of November pertaining to NaNoWriMo.

November 1: Write your first 1,667 and feel great about embarking on this wild, wordy adventure. Tell your inner editor to take a hike for the next 30 days, or else. Watch him/her/it skedaddle, and heave a sigh of relief.November 2: Check your NaNoMail early and often for pep talks from staff and published authors, messages from your fellow Wrimos, and updates from your regional Municipal Liaison (AKA magical ninja heroes of noveling goodness). To stay extra-informed about everything happening in NaNoLand, you can also like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and keep up with our daily blog posts.November 3: Take some time this weekend to stockpile writerly rewards. When you reach a word-count goal, you'll have a treat at the ready to reinforce your admirable dedication to this project.November 5: You hit your weekend target of 6,668 words (or not—that's okay, too, so long as you keep writing!). Now save your novel-in-progress to a USB drive, or email a copy to yourself or a trusted friend, as part of the first "Back Up Your Novel" Day. These occur every Monday throughout the month, and will ensure that your novel is soundly saved in multiple locations to prevent loss, theft, or destruction.November 6: If you're in the US, vote! And keep writing. In whichever order you choose.November 9: Your goal by the end of the second weekend should be to write at least 18,000 words. Plan to use Saturday and Sunday to catch up (or get ahead) in preparation for Week 2.November 12: You are entering Week 2, a time when encouragement is key. Be sure to read up on the pep talks from staff and guest authors in your NaNoMail, and peruse all past writerly encouragement in our Pep Talk Archive!November 14: It's Donation Day, a public-radio-style fundraiser running from 6 AM to midnight Pacific time. If NaNoWriMo is rocking your creative writing world, please consider making a tax-free contribution to fuel our engines of inspiration for kids, teens, and adults around the globe. And today alone, you'll be eligible to receive great hourly bonus prizes for making a donation.November 16: On this ML Appreciation Day, be sure to thank your ML(s) for all they do. Send them a NaNoMail message, high-five them in person, or bring them a bouquet of plush porpoises. Trust me, it'll be a hit.November 18: By land, sea, and sky, NaNo-novelists travel from around the world to congregate in San Francisco for the Night of Writing Dangerously Write-a-thon. It's an extravaganza of noir and noveling: fast-and-furious typing, costumes, raffle prizes, a candy bar, oratories, fabulous food, and more inspired writers than you can shake a gold-tipped cane at! Sound like the most fun you'll ever have? Find out how you can attendNovember 19: Have you been backing up your novel? No?!?! Well thank goodness it's "Back up Your Novel Yet Again" Day. Do it. Future You will thank Present You profusely.November 21: Do a happy dance that you're three-quarters of the way through the month and still trucking on your novel. Are you not still trucking on your novel? There's time yet! Visit YWP's Dare Machine to get your novel restarted.November 22: NaNo HQ is closed in observation of Thanksgiving. We will raise a goblet of gratitude for Wrimos everywhere; wonderful, wordy novels; and delicious, carb-filled holiday foodstuffs.November 25: Winning begins! Between now and 11:59:59 PM on November 30, you can cut and paste your 50,000-word novel into the website's Word Count Validator to be declared an officially official NaNoWriMo Winner!November 25, later that day: Winner Shirts are back on sale, as the perfect complement to your officially official win. Visit our online store to get yours today, or whenever you cross the finish line!November 26: Plan out your word-count goals for the final five days of noveling to ensure that you do indeed reach 50,000 words by the end of the month. Deploy emergency measures as necessary.November 28: Take a quick break from writing like the wind to mark down the date of your region's TGIO party.November 30: Write, write, write! You're in it to win it!December 1: Validated, won, and done; you're sleeping like a baby. As you should be. Sleep on, Winner!
 It seems like a lot to keep track of for sure. I'm working on my own version of this list with daily word count and such. Back in a few minutes.

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Favorite Characters

I love creating characters. The background work for major characters takes a lot more work but it is so worth it to get inside the life of someone else, no matter how fantastic or terrible their life seems. Weaving the history of each character is fun. Yes, I said it is fun. Time consuming too of course but a total blast.

Between the 3 novels I have written, I have created close to 100 characters. Some are very minor and haven’t had a chance to speak. Others are the huge integral beasts of characters that demand top billing. Constantly. A few characters have only been mentioned in name.

In my trilogy, there are so many characters and they all vie for my attention the second they step into a scene. They are all very strong personalities and it is difficult to tell them to shut up and move on. As I am working my way through the 3rd and final novel in the trilogy this November, it is going to be difficult to get everyone the closure their stories need by the end of the novel.

Journey of Shadows introduced 5 major characters and a small handful of other minor characters while laying out the story for some incredible creatures. The 2nd book, Untitled, immediately picks up where Journey of Shadows left off and introduces many more minor characters and other creatures. The 3rd book will be the culmination of events, leading to a final showdown of good vs. evil in a battle fought on the ground, in the air, and in the water. I don’t know how it will end. I hope Dani and her friends win with minimal losses. We’ll see how the story goes once the writing happens. I'll find out during this year's NaNoWriMo!

The novel I wrote at the end of the summer introduced another female heroine in a young adult urban fantasy. It is set in our world with fantasy elements in the mix for a high school junior just trying to get to class on time. She is snarky and resilient and smart. This girl is definitely not the 1st half of Journey of Shadow’s version Dani that is a simpering silly girl that spends most of her time crying about her misfortunes. This kid is tough as nails and ready to take on the world, or at least Cincinnati.

So I’m trying to figure out what character is my favorite to write. I think in Journey of Shadows, my favorite character to write was Jorune, the giant sea turtle. His speech was so relaxing and helped me to find an inner calm when I wrote his back story. In the 2nd book, my favorite characters to write are two you haven’t met: a dragon woman and a Shadow child. Neither of them got nearly as much “screen time” but their stories were so captivating. I cried for the kid as much as I cheered for the woman. In the young adult UF, also untitled for now, my favorite character to write was the male best friend to the main character. Now his story is interesting.

I’m anxious to start writing the 3rd novel of the trilogy as I want to know what happens! I can’t wait to share these stories with you when they are ready. Journey of Shadows was a work in progress for over 2 years before I started to feel confident that it was ready for the public. I’m hoping the 2nd book doesn't take that long but until it is ready, I will continue to polish it over and over again. And I will do the same for the 3rd, starting with the 1st draft that I will be starting in... 2 days, 3 hours, 13 minutes? Crap. It's almost writing time!

Here’s to a very productive NaNoWriMo 2012!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Hurricane Sandy

Those in the areas expected to be hit by Hurricane Sandy, please be safe. Evacuation orders are not suggestions. They are demands by the governing bodies that were elected to keep you safe. Upwards of 50 million people are thought to be in the path of what they are calling a superstorm. If you reside in an area of impact, please know that you could be in danger. Don't make the job of rescue crews harder by stubbornly staying in your home when you can evacuate. There are people who legitimately may not be able to evacuate. Those without phones, televisions, and the Internet may not even know they are in danger. The elderly, the disabled, the homeless- the transportation needs to get them out of harm's way is limited. If you stay when you could have evacuated, then you are taking time away from those that legitimately could not leave and making their chances of rescue and survival that much less.

If you live in the following states, please stay abreast of the situation:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Vermont
  • Washington, D. C.
  • West Virginia

Many areas are expected to get gale force winds, hail, rain, snow, and flooding. Public buildings are shutting down in preparation of the storm. In many areas, this includes public transit. Power outages are definitely expected across the region. If you are in an area that is expected to be hit but do not need to evacuate, you need to stock up on supplies. Food, batteries for flashlights, candles, water resistant matches, bottled water, blankets, weather/emergency radios, and first aide kits should be on the top of your list. Don't wait until the storm is upon you to get what you need- it could be too late.

Think of the elderly and needy during this time. If you have spare blankets, food, or water, consider making donations at homeless shelters around the region to help with the influx of evacuees. Invite your elderly neighbors to take shelter in your home to wait out the storm. Donate blood at the Red Cross or other donation centers. Bring your outdoor animals inside if possible- the freezing weather will affect them too.

The United States has a broken political system and people can be terrible to each other on any given day. But in times of crisis, this is when the American public really shines. We take care of each other. I lived in Alabama during Hurricane Katrina. I was there in 2010 and 2011 when the tornadoes tore through Alabama and the South. I have seen the unity our people have in natural disasters and it is breathtaking. Please, help take care of each other and stay safe out there folks!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Saturday, October 27, 2012

NaNo Kickoff Party

I went to my regional NaNoWriMo kickoff party today. It was at a wonderful coffee shop in Cincinnati called Corner BLOC Cafe. I left much earlier than I needed to and am so glad I did. I would have been very late otherwise- construction made my directions completely useless about 2 miles from the shop. If you know Cincinnati, those 2 miles of detours can put someone in a lot of interesting places.

Thankfully, I took a chance and pulled over to ask for directions from a guy watching a few elementary school age kids playing on the sidewalk. About a mile later, I pulled over and asked a man that looked like he was at least 100 years old. They were both incredibly helpful. So dude with the 3 kids and surprisingly spry dude two streets later: thank you for giving me directions!

The kickoff party was great. The ML's have changed a bit this year, losing one of our ML's due to illness and gaining 2 ML's in the process, but they put on a great party. The group is huge and diverse and hysterical. The best part? We had at least 4 folks at the party that are completely 100% NaNo virgins. Ah, I remember my first NaNo and can say with total honesty that it was one of the best experiences of my life. There are several more NaNo virgins on our region's message boards so hopefully I'll meet more of them over November. Before we left, one of the new ML's had each of us write a plot ninja (its a plot device for something totally unexpected to jump out of nowhere and move your story forward in a new/better/faster paced direction), seal the envelope, and then draw one at random. I hope I don't have to use mine at any point but I really want to know what mine says.

The ML's gave us all new notebooks, stickers, odds and end stationary goodies, and lots of chocolate. So wonderful. I am loving this year's NaNo design- it is a Venn diagram! I haven't done the kind of prep I should have done this year but I'll make it through. My goal this year is to write Immo3 as a start to finish novel. We'll see how that works out. I have my journal set up so I'm ready to do weekly updates like last year.

This is going to be a fun NaNo. I'm ready to start writing already. 12:01am November 1st needs to get here, like now! :)

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

November is Coming! November is Coming!

National Novel Writing Month is about a week away! If you haven’t registered yet, go to the website and sign up! Get to know the folks in your region; attend a Kick Off Party. Basically, get involved. That is half of the fun of NaNo.

If you want to read up on some information on NaNo, check out my posts from October 2011 (here) to read up on rules, rule breaking, prep work, a few writing exercises, etc. Start at the bottom and scroll up! I am pre-blogging some stuff to go up during November that will include some writing stuff (and requisite Election day stuff).

I hope you will jump into NaNo this year with me. I never thought I’d be able to write a full length novel but NaNoWriMo is the reason I finished my first. And my 2nd. My 3rd was finished outside of NaNo but I’ll be working on my 4th novel this year, which will be the 3rd book in my trilogy, The Immortalis Trilogy. Check the banner at the top for information my 1st NaNo novel. Journey of Shadows was written in 2009 and rewritten and polished until ready for publication in March 2012.

You can do this. I know you can. I’ll be working right along with you!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Books by the Banks was Awesome!

I am back from Books by the Banks. Steven and I had an adventure of a time! Sadly, his wife and son did not go with us and I spent most of the time trying not to have a panic attack.

We walked around the author room twice, seeing people that Steven has met over the years in various instances. He lived in the same apartment complex as one of the ladies. He worked with one of the men. He knew various people from Facebook. It was very nice to meet them all.

The folks with the DIY home blog were serious hits and apparently the biggest name at the festival. They had a line that wrapped around the room! Their panel session was packed and people lined the back of the room. We didn't go to that session.

We went to the publishing session with Chuck Sambuchino. It was not as well attended as the DIY craft session, but it was very informative regardless. Steven and I sat at the back of the room and listened while various people moved around the room (a pair of ladies frequently left the room and returned a few minutes later- very distracting!). Steven asked a few questions and I tried to absorb as much of Chuck's information as possible. I tried to warn Chuck about an impostor here on Blogger that I thought was someone using his name/info and it turned out it was him! I was slightly embarrassed and quickly scampered away with the excuse that Steven left my purse sitting unattended. When we got back, I finally thought of a question to ask: When asked for the first X number pages by an agent or publisher, does that include the prologue or not?

We contemplated staying for the children's lit session but eventually decided against it and headed back. Steven was hurting a bit, my stomach was growling very loudly, I needed a cigarette break, and I had forgotten my phone at his house. I am not one that has to be glued to their phone 24/7 but I do not like not knowing where it is and I get very panic-y when I don't have a constant way of knowing the time. Weird, I know, but still- I have to know what time it is or I get a headache, I sweat a lot, my pulse races, and I generally feel like something bad is going to happen.

So we headed out and stopped by the Ohio Bookstore, a 5 story book store in downtown Cincinnati. They have a book bindery in the basement. It was really cool. We couldn't stay long though because the meter where we parked only gave us 3 minutes for 10 cents and I only had 50 cents on me. Ugh. The whole store was neat though. Wall to wall books! Heaven.

The entire event was a great way to spend an afternoon. Tons of kids in attendance and the kid room was busier than the authors' floor. A few mascots wandering around reminded me of my college days as Curious George. Chuck Sambuchino was an excellent speaker and gave off a Ryan Reynolds's Mr. D (School of Life) vibe. Yay conferences! Maybe next year or the year after, I will be one of the authors on the floor rather than walking around starry eyed and suddenly introverted.

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Friday, October 19, 2012

Books by the Banks Part 2

I am geared up and seriously ready for tomorrow's Book by the Banks: Cincinnati USA Book Festival. As a reminder, it is 10am-4pm at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati and admission is FREE!

I will be wearing an "I'm a friggin' fantasy writer"-type brooch for giggles and grins. Check it out:

Rainbow Dragon Brooch

See you tomorrow!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3

Go Vote!

I don't know about you but I'm sick up to my eyeballs of all the political this and that everywhere I look. I literally cannot do anything without seeing or hearing something about the upcoming election. I will be glad once November's Presidential election is over. My Presidential vote is clear to me. Don't worry; I'm not going to tell you to vote for anyone specific. But I do want you to vote.

Go to and find your state to see if you can still register to vote. It is too late to register to vote in Ohio but other states allow you to register up until 10 days prior to the election (like Alabama). You may have already registered when you renewed your driver's license, registered for the draft after turning 18, etc. Go to to see if you are registered. After selecting your state and inputting the required information (last name, street name, zip code, and county), scroll to the bottom of the page under the input boxes to see what records they located. If your name isn't on there, then you may have issues when you get to the polls.

I am a firm believer in the fact that anyone that does not vote should not complain about policy and politicians afterwards. Voting is an essential part of your civic responsibility. Do your part! Go vote on November 6, 2012.

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Books by the Banks Festival

On Saturday, I will be attending Books by the Banks: Cincinnati USA Books Festival. Check out the official site here.

Books by the Banks is a yearly fall festival celebrating writers and readers. It is at the Duke Energy Center this year and admission is FREE! Yup, it is free to get in. There will be local and national author tables, panel sessions, and children's events from 10am-4pm. I am looking forward to attending the 11am panel session "You've Written a Book, Now What?: Tips and Tricks for Getting Published" by Chuck Sambuchino, author of Red Dog, Blue Dog: When Pooches Get Political. Also, I'm *hopefully* going to check out the 1pm panel session "Children's Lit Chat: Writing and Illustrating Children's Books" with Derek Anderson (Walking Dragons), Mac Barnett (Danger Goes Berserk), and Rafael Rosado (Giants Beware!).

The whole event looks to be a fantastic time for everyone. If you are local, you should stop by. I mean, free admission is awesome. All you have to pay for is parking and that is $1-12 depending on where you park. That isn't a terrible price by any means! I'll be there with my editor and his family, browsing books, speaking to other writers and readers, listening to discussions, and generally enjoying the atmosphere for a few hours.

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writing Writing Writing

It has been a while since I have posted. Lots going on, including the kiddies' having issues at school (I know, they have only been back a little while- this was the 2nd freaking week!), writing, a week long stint at the county fair, crafty stuff, more writing, and medical issues. You have my sincere apologies for staying gone so flipping long. I really think I'm turning into a zombie. Anyways...

Back in mid-August, I posted about my writing goals. For those that don't remember, here are those goals:

  • Research specific topics
    1. realistic and descriptive battle scenes
    2. 15th century Moldova
    3. colonial America
    4. Cincinnati in the 1800's
    5. antiques from 1300's and up
  • Write something daily
    1. back story for a few other stories in the works to pick up on next year
    2. journaling through NaNo prep
    I figured an update was in store. Let's see. Research... I completed 2-5 a lot faster than I expected, along with research on Gothic and Revival architecture, architecture in Cincinnati, and a tiny bit of botany research. By the end of August, I finished all that and #1 of the Write Daily list. So in September, I decided to start writing on one of my side projects, the focus of all that research. Using Liquid Story Binder to keep track of my writing sessions, I managed to get down about 62,000 words over 12 writing days. My total writing time amounted to under 55 hours. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I finished the story?! I'm a pantser as you know so when I reached the end (and realized it was the end) I was in shock.

    This new story doesn't resemble anything like The Immortalis Trilogy.

    My newest story (and 3rd novel if you are keeping track) is a YA urban fantasy set in present day Cincinnati. It is a stand alone novel but with so much possibility for a series. 62,000 words is a bit on the slim side for my tastes (Journey of Shadows ran around 83,000 in its last incarnation and the 2nd in the series, still untitled, is sitting at around 130,000) but it feels complete to me. We'll see what happens after my Beta readers have a look.

    With that 1st draft done an
    d the story out of my head, I am finally able to relax. Or can I? Crap, its mid-October already and I haven't done any NaNoWriMo prep. At all. Son of a- I'm off to start research for #1 above (battle scenes) and try to forget about the children's fairy tale that keeps bouncing around in my head until after November. Maybe I'll just make a few notes first...

    Love is love, no matter the back story. <3

    Sunday, August 26, 2012

    Botany Research

    It has been a rough week so I'm throwing myself into research with the hopes that I can get lost for a while. For the record, there is not enough coffee or alcohol in this county to make this week any better. *grumble*

    Anyways, so I have seen some beautiful pictures of rural roads with flora and fauna tunnels. I have seen such locally way out in the boonies, as well as in some suburbs. The rural ones are natural formations following the creation of a road. The suburban ones are a result of meticulous landscaping and planning usually covering a driveway. Either way, they are very beautiful. Check out a Google search of "tree tunnel" for some amazing photos. I wish I could post them here, but I really don't want to be sued.

    Think of the literary possibilities for such a driveway or road. Different times of day. Different weather. The scenes are literally running rampant through my mind right now. Off I go to do some research on local flora and fauna involved in natural tree tunnels and in landscape based tree tunnels.

    Someone drink a few shots for me today. Espresso or vodka, I'm not picky.

    Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Back To School

    It is 8:24 pm and the girls are in bed. *breathes sigh of relief* School break is over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    E&L got their showers and school clothes are set out. Their backpacks have been filled in true minimalist style (1 folder, 1 notebook, 1 pencil case with 1 pencil each of 5 different colors, and 1 little pencil sharpener). The rest of the school supplies are inventoried and put away.

    • 3 packs of loose leaf paper? Check.
    • 5 spiral bound notebooks of varying colors? Check.
    • 1 pack of highlighters? Check.
    • 5 folders of various adorable animals? Check.
    • 1 pack of pencil top erasers? Check.
    • 2 packs of crayons? Check.
    • 2 packs of colored pencils? Check.
    • 2 packs of markers? Check.
    • 4 glue sticks? Check.
    • 1 extra pencil box? Check.
    • 1 extra pencil sharpener? Check.
    • 1 pair of children's safety scissors? Check.
    • 2 20-packs of pencils? Check.
    • 1 pack of pens? Check.

    We should be good for the first week of school. And by that, I mean Thursday and Friday. I am betting that come Monday, they will be "out" of paper or pencils. They are so not liking the fact that when they went to bed, it was still light enough out to read outside. *snicker* I know, I'm mean. But damn, I've been looking forward to tomorrow since the end of May!

    We are eagerly awaiting the list of required school supplies. I'm sure we will end up having the wrong color/type of notebooks, the wrong brand of crayons/markers, the wrong kind of glue, etc. Also, I'm sure they need 100 boxes of Kleenex and 50 bottles of hand sanitizer from each child. At least, to hear my mom talk about what they had to send last year, that sounds about right. I recall asking students to bring in 2 boxes of tissue, 1 container of clorox wipes, and 1 bottle of hand sanitizer when I taught. But that was 1 item per quarter. I had about 150 students and no classroom so storing 300 boxes of tissues at the beginning of the school year would have been an interesting feat.

    Have your children/siblings/grandkids/neighbors/students started back yet? Did I leave anything off the list of needed school supplies? Have ideas for useful things for others to send into the classroom?

    Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    Essentials for Writers

    Writer's Digest posted Erik Larson's top 10 Essentials for a writer. Find it here. The article is a list of things that Erik, author of In the Garden of Beasts, see as must have items for successful writing. This is just his opinion, but I think its pretty good essentials. Read the article then come back here for my own list of writer essentials.

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    What I'm Reading

    Over the weekend, I found myself swallowed up in the architectural history of Cincinnati and neighboring Covington. I took a walk in historic Covington a little while after the last Red's game and got an amazing tour of some of the older buildings along the river while Mercy Me played in the stadium across the bridge. When I got home, I continued the research. I thought I would share some of the articles I have been reading.

    Architecture of Cincinnati
    Gothic Revival Architecture
    Gothic Architecture

    I have found so much good information just between the 2 Wikipedia links and the Cincinnati page. Very interesting reads if you are of that kind of mind-set. I find the information fascinating now, though 8 years ago when I took art history in college it was so very boring. At least I have found myself nodding in understanding or at least recognition of different terms and bits of information!

    Here are a few more pages to browse!
    Architecture diagrams
    Gothic Revival diagram

    Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Images Removed

    If you glance through previous posts, you will find

    Edit: 8/15/2012 Image(s) removed. I don't want to be sued.

    in place of pictures I have posted. The reason is here. In short, while nearly every image I have posted has been posted along with credit toward the originator and/or a link to where I got it from when possible, it still would not cover me if the owner of a photo decided to sue for copyright infringement. As I have already ran into the issue of copyright and fair use once with a clipart image I used when I first started this blog, I figured I should cover all my bases. I spent several hours pouring through almost 400 posts to delete all photos that are not mine or that I do not have permission to use and replacing them with the above statement. My own photos, those that my editor Steven has taken, and the cover for Journey of Shadows are still around. Some images removed included a link to find the image elsewhere online, but others were stricken completely as I have no earthly idea where they came from now. This purge included pictures that became viral, a Google Doodle, and several comic strips.

    What I didn't remove were video trailers and clips from YouTube. I am still a little confused about those. Most movie trailers are from "official" YouTube accounts that suggest sharing it with your friends. So I'm thinking this is a gray area. If anyone has clarification on this, let me know.

    Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    Weekly Writing Goals

    Since I am in "downtime" between waiting for Immo2 to get through editing and waiting for NaNo2012 to get here to start Immo3, I have a list of items that I am working on.

    For Immo3, I have some research on writing battle scenes as that is something I am feeling iffy about writing. Although, I have never written about sailing before (and honestly can count the number of times on a boat on one hand) yet managed to do so fairly well in Journey of Shadows. So winging it isn't out of the question. 11.5 weeks until NaNo starts so I have a decent amount of time.

    My writing goals are:

    1. Research specific topics
      1. realistic and descriptive battle scenes
      2. 15th century Moldova
      3. colonial America
      4. Cincinnati in the 1800's
      5. antiques from 1300's and up
    2. Write something daily
      1. back story for a few other stories in the works to pick up on next year
      2. journaling through NaNo prep
    Do you have writing or goals related to your profession that you are working through?

    Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

    Sunday, August 12, 2012

    My Writing Posts

    Below is a list of the blog posts I wrote since June 2011 related specifically to writing:

    The Writing Process Part One and Part Two
    Writer's Block
    Writing Tech
    Writing Your Bio
    Giving Feedback
    Applying Feedback
    Short Story vs Novel
    Writing for Prestige
    Twitter Hashtags for Writers

    So out of 375 posts to date, 11 have really been about writing if you don't count the NaNo prep through October. If you do, add another 31 days of writing talk that doesn't always include stuff about actual writing. Let's see if I can fix that.

    Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

    Clearing up the Clutter

    I spent a lot of time writing daily posts about random things when this blog started. I have posted some neat art, funny comics, political commentary, NaNoWriMo information, and the occasional writing post related to writing/my projects. I ran full tilt for a while last year, blogging an average of something like 1.3 posts a day between June and December.  Daily posts, NaNo info, and my NaNo journal make up the bulk of my posts. 

    When my computer decided to crash back in January, it came about just as I started a new job. Prior to that, I was unemployed so I had all the time in the world to blog, research, write, and generally waste time on the internet. Since then, I have posted a little over 60 posts as a result. Not great. I’m averaging less than 1 per day, and that is only because I have random spurts of 2-3 posts in a day. I decided to dig deep and find out the real reason why I am not posting as much now compared to last year. The reason is this: I would rather be writing. Yes, blogging is writing, but it isn’t the kind of writing I would like to do, so I haven't been as good about it lately. My entire blog is a mashup of various ideas with no cohesiveness or clarity of thought. If you came to this page today and browsed the blog posts on the left, I highly doubt you would know that this is a blog for a writer trying to build a platform. It is exactly as the sub-title describes: random.

    I am going to try to make an effort to clean that up a little bit by focusing on more writing and less random. This is just a trial like everything else so we’ll see how it goes. So what am I going to blog about? No, I’m not going to blather on about “buy my book” over and over again. I am still abjectly against that. But I am going to blog about my life as a writer. I just posted a blog about Twitter hashtags and have decided to streamline my posts into similar categories. Check it out: