Thursday, April 30, 2020

What's Your Q Style?

Posted by: PG Forte
It’s occurred to me lately that we’re all developing our own methods of quarantining, our own personal style. Some people might call them coping mechanisms, I prefer to think of them as flair.

Take me, for example. I think of my own style as being very much Little Quarantine On the Prairie. I blame a lifetime spent reading  dystopian fiction (bolstered by random childhood classics like Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain and the collected works of Laura Ingalls Wilder). I’d always assumed that homesteading skills would be of critical importance during any time of global disruption. And, even though that doesn't seem to be the case, at the moment,  I’ve still found it intensely calming to spend a lot of my time baking and gardening and knitting…

Okay, I have to admit that last one is a little surprising. Up until last week, my one and only foray into knitting (which was way back during my tween years) had been a complete disaster.  I’d hated it. I thought knitting was boring beyond belief. And I was terrible at it. My grandmother lost patience and gave up on the whole idea of teaching me, and she was not a woman who gave up easily.  She finally decided that perhaps the problem had something to do with the fact that I’m left handed. (Pro tip: It doesn’t. If possible, I was even less proficient when I tried reversing the process.)

BUT now, many years later, on my imaginary homestead, I managed to turn out a very creditable scarf in only a couple of days…well, sort of. I had to go through five or six days of frustration—knitting and unraveling and reknitting the same several inches, over and over again, adding stitches, dropping stitches, making all sorts of mistakes, but then it all came together, somehow. And I went from cast on to cast off in a day and a half. It was awesome.  And, now…well, just between us, everyone’s getting scarves for Christmas. 

Luckily, my Q style meshes pretty well with my husband’s, although his is definitely more Winter is Coming, with an emphasis on keeping our larder well stocked, because God only knows how long this thing is going to last! He’s drawing on decades of earthquake preparedness practice, mind you, so we have candles and canned goods, camp stoves and flashlights, every food plant we can think to grow, and every solar appliance he could find. You may think I'm exaggerating, but I’m reasonably confident we can survive in our ark for a couple of years. Seriously. There are only two of us, and I’m looking at 50 lbs of flour.

Do you know how many loaves of sourdough I can make with that? Not to mention sweet potato roti.

But, obviously, ours is only one style of coping. My brother’s, for example, evolved as a result of the rather atypical circumstances in which he found himself. He and my sister-in-law were in the midst of remodeling their house when their state went into lockdown. And, apparently, construction is not considered essential in Pennsylvania…or maybe trucks were the problem? I’m not sure. Luckily, they had just gotten their walls and floors installed. Unfortunately, however, they were still several, critical days away from having a kitchen. They’ve been stuck for weeks now in Urban Forage mode, doing all their cooking in a toaster oven and on a hotplate set up in their laundry room.

So what’s your style? How are you coping with your own unusual circumstances? And what skills have you picked up or revived in the past weeks?

Below are some videos that I’ve found enjoyable and/or useful. It was only after I’d put them together that I realized how heavily weighted they were toward carbs and fermentation.  Hmm.  Interesting. Anyway, I added a few videos for entertainment as well—the “That Thing You Do” cast watch party is a treat for anyone who enjoyed the movie. More casts need to do this!  And the Les Miz cover is definitely #goals #lockdown #familysingalong GOLD—because, after all, you'll need something to watch while you're eating that popcorn, or knitting that scarf!  

Feel free to share your own vids in the comments!

How To Knit A Scarf For Beginners:

9 Survival Gardening Crops to Grow in a Post Apocalyptic World:

5 Ways to Quickly Become More Self Sufficient:

Quarantine Quitchen:

Sourdough Beginner? This is the BREAD RECIPE You Need!

Sweet Potato Flatbread:

Pantry Raid: Popcorn Edition:

6 Dairy Free Ice Cream Recipes (Vegan, Whole30, Sugar Free, Gluten Free):

Easy Lacto-Fermentation Pat 1 - Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Dill Pickles, Jalapeno Hot Sauce:

The Complete Beginner's Guide to Fermenting Foods at Home:

Quarantine Activity - Make Ginger Beer at Home:

How to Make Dandelion Wine | FERMENTED:

That Thing You Do Watch Party to Support MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund:

Marsh family from Faversham go viral with lockdown adaptation of Les Misérables song One Day More:

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

LADDER OF GLASS, a Paranormal Flash Fiction by Linda Mooney

Posted by: Linda Mooney

Ladder of Glass
A Paranormal Flash Fiction
by Linda Mooney


            She held the red rose in her hand and lightly traced the curves of the half-opened petals. Feeling the soft silkiness with her fingertips. Her sigh was caught by the breeze and carried over the surrounding stone monuments—carved tokens of unforgotten love.
            Behind her, the nearly full moon cast her shadow across the grave. The dirt had long ago sunk back into the earth, allowing the grass to cover the burial plot in a blanket of green. Green in the spring and summer, turning yellow and brown in the fall and winter, until the fallen leaves and snow had their chance to cast their own seasonal quilt over the plot.
            Bending over, she placed the rose in the slender bronze urn set in the simple headstone. Dropping to her knees, she continued to stare at it.
            “I miss you, Daddy,” she whispered. “I miss your sense of humor, your gentle rebukes when I’d done wrong. Your solid bits of wisdom, some of which I’m just now beginning to understand.
            “Do you remember telling me the search for true love was a lot like climbing a ladder of glass? You said I had to take each step very carefully while reaching hand over hand to the top, or else I might accidentally break a rung. And if I did, I’d fall and hurt myself. Or possibly cut myself on the shards, and bleed. But once I got to the top of the ladder, the sense of fulfillment made that long, dangerous climb worth it.”
            Glancing up at the trees swaying overhead, she wished she could take a deep breath and smell them. She wished she could smell the way they used to be. Not the way she smelled them now. Now that she was…different.
            But it, among other things, had been a small price to pay for what she had now.
            “Well, Daddy, I want you to know I climbed that ladder, even though I never thought I’d make it. I even shattered a few rungs on the way up, and it hurt terribly when I got cut. It hurt like hell, and it bled. It bled a lot. But I finally managed to reach the top, and the view…”
            She paused to glance over her shoulder at the dark figure patiently waiting for her by the cemetery gate. Reassured, she turned back around to look at the headstone.
            “Remember that sense of fulfillment you told me about? I know now exactly what you meant, Daddy. A ladder of glass is pure and delicate, just like love. But if you take the greatest care, you gain the greatest achievement.”
            Slowly, she got to her feet, dusting grass and dirt from the knees of her jeans. Giving the grave one last look, she walked over to rejoin the figure.
            “I sense you’re at peace with yourself…at long last,” he murmured. Taking her by the arm, he guided her through the bright moonlight toward the grove of trees located at the far end of the cemetery.
            The young woman smiled, more to herself than to him. If she could cry, she would. But, again, like her sense of smell, and taste, and touch, that was one of many things she had yet to fully adjust to, now that she was like him.
            “You no longer blame yourself for his death,” he commented.
            She shook her head. “Let’s say I’ve accepted it, just like I’ve accepted my fate.”
            He stopped to face her. “Have you? Darra, do you regret your decision?”
            This time her loving smile was meant for him. “Why would I regret being with the man I love? Why would I ever regret spending the rest of eternity with the man who loves me just as strongly?”
            He glanced over her shoulder at the gravesite. “We can come back any time you wish. This doesn’t have to be the final time.”
            “Thank you. I’d like that. I always felt better after we’d had one of our father-to-daughter talks.”
            “Even when he’s no longer among the living?”
            “It doesn’t matter. I believe he can still hear me.”
            The man bent over to give her a kiss. She opened her mouth to him, feeling the sharp points of his teeth with her tongue. Closing her eyes, she luxuriated in the way his hands caressed her as he broke the kiss. His lips brushed her cheek and down her neck until he found the sweet spring lying just beneath the surface of her skin.
            The piercing no longer hurt. Instead, it jolted her senses, heightening the ones she thought she’d lost when he’d first claimed her. As he drank, she clutched him tightly until he finished and lifted his head.
            “A ladder of glass?” he murmured.
            “Yes.” She kept her eyes closed, and luxuriated in his touch.
            “That is an odd way to describe love, but…it seems fitting. Especially ours. Fragile. Delicate.”
            “And beautiful. Like you.” Opening her eyes, she lifted a hand to his face. She traced the strong, aristocratic features with her fingertips. “We may be able to share eternity together, but we both know that could be shattered at any moment. At any time when we’re not careful. When we lose sight of what’s important. Or when we forget our limitations because of what we are.”
            “You’re right,” he whispered in that warm, sensuous voice she loved to hear. He checked the sky, noticing the position of the three-quarter moon. “We need to hurry. I found a place where we can sleep in safety. Darra.” He stared deep in her eyes, and for a moment she thought she saw fear.
            “What?”
            “I will love you forever. Please remember that.”
            “I will.” She smiled and patted the hand holding her other one. “You have nothing to worry about. You’re stuck with me,” she lightly jested.
            He snorted, but she couldn’t help but remember what he’d told her of his past before he’d met her. Of the terror. Of the agony. Of the years, the decades, the centuries of emptiness.
            He slipped his arm around her shoulders. “Are you ready, beloved?”
            “Yes.”
            Together, they disappeared into the night to seek sanctuary before daybreak. There, they would lie in each other’s arms until after sunset, when it was safe enough to emerge back into the world.
~~~~~~
New!

MALEVOLENT INTENT
Noir Fairy Tales, Book 2
(Based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
by Linda Mooney

Paranormal, Fantasy Romance
Word Count:
39.5
$3.99 e / $9.99 p


The 1940s. Life in Grimm City can be just as fabulous as it is dangerous. But it's not a place that can be found on any map. Welcome to a world of gun-toting, hard-drinking, cigarette-smoking fairies, elves, dwarfs, shifters, and witches, as well as human beings.

Welcome to Noir Fairy Tales.

Rose White has had a string of bad luck, and it doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon. When two fairies are found dead in her nightclub, her livelihood is shut down until further notice. With no income coming in, and her employees left hanging, she’s forced to look for other alternatives.

Detective Rich Florian is on the case of the dead fairies, and soon learns they were poisoned. The nightclub owner and the Miner gang, her partners, are his first suspects, but Rich isn’t so quick to pin it on them. He’ll need to investigate further, and not just the DBs—something about Rose is drawing him in as well. And he’s convinced she’s innocent.

Just like every other bad thing that’s happened to Rose, her stepmother, Queenie, seems to be right in the middle of it. She offers to loan Rose the money to pay her way out and stay afloat, but as always, Rose knows the help would come with a much higher price.

How far would Queenie go to get what she wants? Murder? Arson? Even with the protection of the gang and her handsome detective, Rose still needs to keep her eyes open. But sometimes the most obvious suspect isn’t who you need to look out for.

As we’ve learned before, things in Grimm City are almost always not what they seem.

Warning! Contains a well-kept secret, passing the hat, a red pickup, dinner for two, involuntary manslaughter, smooth whiskey, and a man willing to risk it all for a kiss.


           

Monday, April 27, 2020

HERE BE NEWS for April 27, 2020

Posted by: Dani Harper, Author



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Monday, April 20 
"HERE BE NEWS" - The latest from the fantasy romance authors at Here Be Magic, including something something something.  

Wednesday, April 22 -

USING THE HEROINE'S JOURNEY FOR PLOTTING YOUR BOOK – Stuck? Need inspiration? Paranormal romance author Deborah A Bailey shares a story structure method where the main character must face their deepest fears and desires.

Friday, April 24 -

SHAKESPEARE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19 – On The Bard’s birthday, author Shawna Reppert celebrates the value of the arts … including the art of handwashing, Macbeth-style!


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Friday, April 24, 2020

Shakespeare in the Time of COVID-19

Posted by: Shawna Reppert

Today is William Shakespeare's birthday. It is also about two months into the Corona crisis miss in my country and, frankly, I'm having difficulty concentrating on writing a blog. I thought about writing about Shakespeare, I thought about writing about Corona. Finally I decided to on the subject that touches both a little bit.
The glory of Shakespeare is that his work has lasted so very long. I don't think in his lifetime he imagined that centuries later his works would still be performed all over the world in different languages in different formats. If not, in my home state of Oregon. There's a festival that runs from roughly March to October every year performing his plays as well as other works. The whole town of Ashland is almost completely devoted to the festival and to Shakespeare. You can go into any restaurant and the waitstaff will have an opinion on the current plays and on the actors in them for that season. In Shakespeare's time there were occasions when the theaters had to be shut down because of plague. The people in that time didn't have all the access to entertainment that we have now.
We’re lucky. We have our books. Most of the people in his time were illiterate. We have audiobooks, we have movies streaming on I don't even how many services. But if living through this time doesn't teach us anything else, it teaches us the value of the arts, of storytelling. I've had people reach out to me and tell me that my books are among some of things that help them get through another day of staying at home. For myself, I look to other authors to help me find an escape from the worries of today. And oh yes, by the way, you can stream many Shakespeare plays for free, including the David Tennant version of Richard the second.
And a friend of mine realized that the lines Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene can be used to time the CDC-recommended handwashing method.



Stay safe out there, friends.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Using the Heroine's Journey for Plotting Your Book

Posted by: Deborah A Bailey

Years ago, I read “The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers” by Christopher Vogler. It's based on Joseph Campbell’s work with the Hero's Journey (also referenced by George Lucas for Star Wars). What I didn't know, was that there’s also a Heroine’s Journey.

 That journey is the inner journey for the heroine to face her deepest fears and desires. When she finally faces them, she can come to terms with herself and her place in the world.

Using that structure has been helpful in plotting my own novels. That's often been my least favorite part of working on a book. So, I'll refer to the Heroine's Journey when I'm stuck on a plot point (or two).

There are different versions of the Journey, but this is the one I usually use.

1. Perfect World – the heroine’s everyday world
2. Realization/Betrayal – an inciting incident and decision point
3. Awakening – decision to take the journey
4. Descent – the heroine faces her fears and can’t turn back
5. Eye of the Storm – tests and ordeals
6. The Death – an actual or symbolic death
7. Support – help comes, possibly from the larger community
8. Moment of Truth – rebirth and facing the biggest challenge
9. Full Circle – heroine returns to the perfect world with more self-awareness

My story may not include every step, but usually I'll include these: Awakening, Taking the Risk, Dark Night, Learning to Trust, and Transformation.

 Awakening

Usually the Heroine is being called to level up and experience something larger.

Taking the Risk

The Heroine answers the call and takes a leap of faith out of her comfort zone.  

Dark Night

It may seem like everything is falling apart, but it’s really falling together. Unfortunately, the Heroine has to experience this in order to get what she wants.

Learning to Trust

If she wants to move forward, the Heroine has to accept support and help from others.

Transformation

Stories start out with a character wanting something. The Heroine has to get from her starting point to achieving her desires at the end. At the conclusion of the Journey (and the story), she’ll be transformed by her experiences.
  

The Heroine's Journey & The Hero's Journey

Even though it’s called the Heroine’s Journey, it isn’t gender specific. Your Hero can also take this journey for his emotional transformation. (And, female characters can take the Hero’s Journey as well.)

For instance, in my fairy tale inspired novella, "Once Upon A Princess: Heart of Stone," the princess goes on a quest to find riches. She needs them to help her people, who are suffering after dark magic has devastated her lands. But, she's also on an emotional journey that begins when she meets a shifter who offers her assistance.

LIFE LESSONS

Stories entertain and can also teach us how to deal with adversity. They allow us to feel exhilaration when the conflicts are resolved.  

 As your characters explore their worlds, your readers will be right with them. By using these journeys as inspiration, you’ll create stories that your readers will find impossible to put down.

If you'd like to learn more, there are variations of the Heroine’s Journey, including one by Victoria Schmidt and a version in Kim Hudson’s book, “The Virgin’s Promise.”

Looking for more reading material while you're sheltering in place?

My book, "Once Upon A Princess Duet: Two Paranormal Fairy Tales" is on sale for 0.99 on most online bookstores until April 30th. Included are the novellas, Heart of Stone and Beauty & the Faun.




Monday, April 20, 2020

HERE BE NEWS for April 20, 2020

Posted by: Dani Harper, Author



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Monday, April 13 
"HERE BE NEWS" - The latest from the fantasy romance authors at Here Be Magic, including something something something.  

Tuesday, April 14 -

NATIONAL DAY HOLIDAYS” – There’s something to celebrate every day of the year, but did you know there’s an Ex-Spouse Day? Plus, author Ruth A. Casie reveals a NEW historical romance anthology! 

Wednesday, April 15 -
"JUST DON’T USE AN ORANGE CRAYON" - Every writer starts somewhere, and some start early. Dani Harper recalls her first adventure as a wannabee author.

Thursday, April 16 -
Is there a way to find some happiness in the midst of chaos? “GET MORE WINS BY REEVALUATING EXPECTATIONS” – Author Maureen Bonatch shares how she’s making the most out of unexpected changes. 

Friday, April 17 -
Did you know... April 17 is National BAT Appreciation Day! In honor of the occasion, author Dani Harper dusted off a post she wrote about "BATS IN MYTH AND LEGEND"






Books 1 and 2 of the STAR GIRL series by Linda Mooney
Ebooks just 99 cents each for the month of April!

THE GIFTED - One man's love stood between her powers and Earth's annihilation.
THE GIFTING - Her world had sent her into space to die. Now it wants her back to make sure she does.

Read excerpts and find purchase links at
https://lindamooney.com/TheGifted.htm 

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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Get More Wins by Reevaluating Expectations

Posted by: Maureen

by Maureen Bonatch 

This year was already going to be different. My twin daughters had started college in the fall, so we contemplated how we would celebrate Easter. My husband and I decided we’d drive down to the college that weekend. It would be the first Easter we’d ever celebrated without our parents and extended family, but we knew things were going to change now that our girls were in school. We just didn’t realize how much things would change this year—for everyone.

Chaos and Corona

The coronavirus caused chaos for just about everyone’s life in early 2020. Outside of concerns about health and wellness, many plans were cancelled or delayed. The virus had taken control of our lives and left us with uncertainty, and stress. That Easter weekend at the college didn’t happen, along with many other things, and the girls are finishing their second semester virtually from home.

Changing Expectations

Changes often lead to a lot of disappointment when things don’t turn out how we expect, unless we look for ways to reevaluate our expectations and make the most of a situation out of our control. We still didn’t get to celebrate Easter with our parents and extended family, but we got the gift of having the girls at home for Easter—the first one we’ve ever spent with only our immediate 
family.

Scruff has a lot of toys- but he can have just as much fun with a stick.

Winning With Writing

Nothing gives me, and most authors, more pleasure than sharing my stories and characters with the world. I wrote a lot of flash fiction when I started writing. Most of these short stories are tucked away on my computer, until I found an opportunity to unearth one, Detective Paws and Lip Gloss, and release it in an anthology. It gave me great pleasure to revisit these characters and release it in an anthology for a good cause.

Detective Paws & Lip Gloss is featured in Book 1

I have many stories in draft form. Some need polishing, while others are far from finished. These stories weigh on my conscious. They’re more impatient for my time and attention than a toddler, filling me with guilt at leaving them unfinished.

One of those partial stories was from last November. It first year in many that I didn’t ‘win’ (write a 50,000 word story) in National Novel Writing. I had a great story idea, but with an overloaded day-job schedule, I didn’t get very far. It left me very disappointed. I’ve decided to change my expectations for that story and release it in an anthology this fall. So perhaps I didn’t fail, and I can still ‘win’.


Other Ways My Expectations Have Changed During COVID

  • Less going out to eat = more time having dinner with my family & save money
  • Less time for concerts, and getting together with friends = more time to walk and exercise
  • Girls not getting to return to campus = more time together, including Mother’s Day
  • Challenges getting paper products and cleaning supplies = becoming more mindful of what I use

Look for Happiness Today

Sure one day I might be one of those old ladies hoarding cleaning wipes and toilet paper because of COVID-19, but for now, I can challenge and change my expectations to be happier today.

How Have You Changed Expectations to Increase Your Happiness?



Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four
seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter

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