Books by Debi Ennis Binder

Fantasy worlds. Magical inhabitants. Timeless battles between Good and Evil.

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Books by Debi Ennis Binder

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Time is Running Out! This is the Last Week! Free Fantasy Books With Strong Female Main Characters You have only until the end of September to click on the link below. After that— These spectacular books won’t be free… Oh, no!  

Dragon Rings
Enter the world of Ring-Witch Mayra, the magical sentinel for a large clan of powerful, vicious reevers. Mayra is ready to fight when the realm is attacked— until she meets two mysterious males. A Ring-Witch whose icy blue eyes want to make her forget everything else and a dragon who needs her help more than anything ever has— Stop that! You know better than to trust males! Whose side will Mayra take, if any?

Find out by clicking on the link below and find “Dragon Rings.” While you’re there, please take some time to enjoy the other free books—gifts from great authors and their Strong Women. You’re going to love them!

Click on the link to get your free books! https://books.bookfunnel.com/strongwomeninfantasy/9aj2bkhq5r

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I’m excited to announce I’m part of a promotion absolutely made for my writing passion—strong female characters! “I succeeded in an industry staffed primarily with males. I’m a strong female! I can do this! Yes, there are a couple out there already, but this one will be different!” Those were my words when I began a book about witches and dragons. The female witch would be like me—solitary, a bit salty. She’d live by Rules (hers are different)— Do not try to protect me. Do not allow me to win. Do not treat me like a weak woman. Violate any, and I’ll fry your hair off. All your hair. Don’t mess with this lady!

And the dragons! These wouldn’t be fire-breathing, virgin-eating dragons—well, they once were, but that was long ago. No, these dragons are altruistic, kind, and wise. They created life-altering Dragon Rings for witches to wear, protecting them and enhancing their magic. But someone has pissed them off, and they remember they have teeth and claws!

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A realm is invaded. People are massacred in a blue fire that flows like water. Unable to defend themselves, they scream out for help. When Nesht’s powerful Ring-Witches find the intruders, they hide the truth with promises to help. The invaders. How can the king deal with the mass betrayal of his most powerful warriors? How could the Witches change their allegiance in one fell swoop? Ring-Witches owe their magic—their very existence—to beings lost to mythos. Those beings have returned, and the realm won’t have to wait long to meet them. Angry dragons won’t stay hidden for long. Theirs is a dilemma only Ring-Witches can solve, and they won’t ask twice.

Click to find your free copy of Dragon Rings https://books.bookfunnel.com/strongwomeninfantasy/9aj2bkhq5r

It’s the Hottest Place in Town

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Late afternoon is the best time to visit The Patio. The place starts to come to life. The customers have finished for the day and are looking for a place to relax and enjoy some exciting entertainment. Welcome to the Hottest Place in Town!

Bob is always one of the earliest to arrive. He saunters in through the front door, runs up the stairs to the top balcony, grabs himself a length of bench, and settles in for some relaxing lady-watching. Bob is husky, known to throw his weight around sometimes, but he doesn’t mean anything by it, just a young guy who hasn’t learned a lot of restraint. He has a gorgeous tattoo of a sword on his back; he’ll let you see if you ask nicely. We like him here.

Fred and Wally follow him in, though Wally opts to jump onto a stool near the door. Short and slender, he’s kind of jumpy and likes to keep an eye on the place. The two aren’t the greatest of friends, though they’ll indulge each other if it’s convenient for them. Fred’s long, white-blonde hair and blue eyes are show-stoppers, but he’s too shy to do anything about it.

PeeWee ambles in next. He’s an older gent, though he also wears his black hair a bit long. He’s a favorite, with one of the odd nicknames The Patio members sometimes hang on each other. He doesn’t go much for watching the dancers anymore—and if he caught one, he probably wouldn’t know what to do with it. No, Wally is the one to watch out for; he has natural talent. And he knows what to do with his catch!

Uh, oh. Some trouble might be stirring. Excuse me, I’ll be right back. Fred just noticed that Riker has planted himself by the door, and the elder gentleman is frowning and muttering under his breath. Fred needs new glasses; he’s cross-eyed, and it’s hard to see what Riker’s expression is. Is he looking for a fight or just a night out on The Patio with friends? Fred decides it doesn’t matter. He hurries out the backdoor just to avoid any confrontation. He’s a lover, not a fighter. He’ll get a snack somewhere else, maybe look up an old friend and try out some new digs tonight—I’ve heard The Garage is a swinging kind of place.

And Riker, well, he’s the silent, brawny type, always a bit standoffish. I thought he’d bring his brother, Dodger, with him. They look like twins, both given to formal wear, but there are a few years between them. Dodger, with another of those hilarious nicknames, is getting a bit older and doesn’t make it onto The Patio too often, usually only when Riker drags him out. You don’t argue with Riker; you just go. Riker hops onto the bottom balcony and makes it clear—he doesn’t want to share.

The door slams open and Cookie appears. Cookie is one jazzy lady. With luxurious black-and-gold-streaked hair, she carries a bit of extra weight, but somehow, she turns it into some luscious curves. But what a mouth on that woman! She’ll make some sweet goo-goo eyes at a man, then turn around and slap him into next week. If she’s really agitated, she might even sink her teeth into him.

With so many regulars here, the place is starting to come alive! Winky has finally arrived, and his brother Bob joins him. Winky is older by minutes but smaller than Bob. While Bob keeps his dark hair cut short, Winky wears his golden locks long. He’s definitely a flirt. They settle on the second balcony to enjoy the show. Bob stares at the dancers as though he’s choosing something for dinner. I can practically see him drooling. He looks like he plans to put a finger on one of those ladies and start singing her a sweet tune to get her attention. He knows better.

Just about everyone we expected has made it here— Wait, there’s Chiisei, decked out in a gorgeous cream and brown fur. Our lovely Asian lady is a lot taller than one would expect. A bit fleshier, too, not that you should let her know that. She’s fast with those blades she carries and doesn’t care who she maims. She’ll just flash those baby blues at you, and somehow, you know it’s all your fault you’re standing there bleeding.

I guess that’s it for now. We have a diverse group here on The Patio, but they know the rules. Take the fights outside. Hands off the Rainbow Dancers. And if you bring any weed, you have to share it.

How else will nine cats on their catio watching hummingbirds possibly get along?

🎼Music Doesn’t Always Make the World Go Around🎶

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I love music of just about every type. I was raised on a steady diet of country music, which I no longer listen to. But as soon as I discovered Steppenwolf and the Doors (yes, I date myself, but I was far younger than most when I went to the Dark Side). While my young friends were listening to the nefarious bubblegum music, I would present my Mom with a new 45 from the Amboy Dukes (Ted Nugent), Deep Purple, or Iron Butterfly. When we were 6 and 12, my sister and I were sent to live with my uncle in LA. After the summer, he sent us to our grandmother in Savannah. I later learned he told her he couldn’t take that awful music any longer. Yes! At the proud age of 12, I was already making people crazy! I planted myself in the music of the 70s and 80s, and there I sit to this day–although some of the 90s and 00s do occasionally creep in. I listen to music when I write unless Word is reading my book back to me and always have it on in the car.

This brings me to another kind of music I seem to enjoy less and less as I get older—the ubiquitous “background” music out in the world at large, melodies I can’t seem to get away from. This blog began with a conversation hubby and I had recently. We went to a popular drugstore chain, so I could get my second Covid booster (yes, my arm is sore, but I feel fine). As soon as we stepped from the car, we were assailed by the intense, blaring notes of a funeral dirge. WTH? I kid you not! It poured from hidden speakers like some weird version of Phantom of the Opera (which it wasn’t). Was the pharmacy doing a haunted house in July? Actually, I admit, I liked it—we both did. I felt like I was watching Dark Shadows or something. We went inside. As we waited at the pharmacy for my shot, a weird mix of artists making up the store music screamed at us— Billy Joel, Elton John, Taylor Swift, Adele, plus some hip-hop I admit I don’t recognize. It was a bit loud, but I liked most of it. I understand where they’re going with the mix. Music is so personal that it’s impossible to please everyone. As we sat, I thought about all the music the public is subjected to, so I pulled out my phone and started cataloging the music I encounter on a day-to-day basis.

  • Book store music is creepy and makes me look over my shoulder to see if anyone is following me. It’s supposed to be quiet, so all those people reading the book or magazine they don’t want to buy can concentrate.
  • Music in the grocery store makes you boogie up and down aisles. If the customer gets lost in the music, they buy a lot of things and then wonder where they came from when they get home.
  • Another note about drugstore music—it’s so loud I don’t feel bad about calling out for hubby two aisles over, so he knows where I am.
  • Music in the bathroom at my doctor’s office is also loud, so you don’t have to hear someone else do their bits of business.
  • Restaurant music is set at just the right volume, so it isn’t overpowering. However, you can still talk about people at other tables. You do have to shout a bit at your server. Maybe they’re slowly losing their hearing!
  • Hardware store music is usually country music. It’s designed to either make you stay and browse and buy more than you need or get you out of there fast, so you don’t take up good ole boy space.
  • Big Box store music is like that drugstore— Mixed up for the customers; it keeps you moving happily through the store and again, buying lots of stuff. You usually fail to notice the lack of employees around to help you.
  • Malls are strange. They play a lot of seasonal music. Whatever the time of year, what’s in the background is usually soft and nonintrusive. I often wonder what those of other faiths think of the Christmas music playing. Maybe they don’t know the words, so they just enjoy the notes. I also wonder where they get some of those truly awful versions of carols.
  • Department stores (anchor stores) often have the same music playing as the mall. Because the store is enclosed, the music is usually louder. I can deal with this, but not the occasional customer I run into who insists on singing aloud. Why are they always off-key and one note behind the melody? I used to glare at them when I was younger; now, I just scurry off in another direction. Let them sing. I don’t know what’s happening in their world…but I don’t have to listen to them!

My take on my list? Wear earplugs when you shop!

Music is very emotional to me. It can make me cry, raise me up, inspire me, and soothe me. Once, long ago, I was asked, as part of some idiotic exercise at work, would I rather lose my hearing or my sight? I don’t know what they thought they’d get from that reply. I still can’t answer the question. For me, it’s impossible to give up either. So, no more loud music, eye examinations every year, and I hope both last a long time!       

How Do I Tell Thee?

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Recently, I purchased a book I’d been looking at for a while by an author who’s new to me. It starts out great, full of great world-building, characters, and action, then four pages in—bam. I’m jarred out of a promising new fantasy world by a significant grammatical error. A slap-you-right-out-of-the-book error. I start to get that awful feeling… Has he let me down (yes, I take it personally), or is this just a fluke? Should I go on? Look at how many books he has out. This has to be a one-off. I decide to give him another chance, settle back, and read on. Soon, I begin to notice a few more errors, here and there–a missing comma, oh, there it is. It doesn’t belong there. Then–another biggie! My bubble bursts! I know I’m not going to enjoy this book because I’m genuinely vexed. So, I start doing that terrible thing we obsessed readers can’t help but do—I look for mistakes, rather than enjoy the story. NOTE: Also, it’s because I’m an old-fashioned fusspot. I’m sorry, but I just can’t help it!

After a while (and a couple more small mistakes), I find a lulu—one phrase within a long sentence is repeated at the end. I figuratively toss the book to one side and go to the reviews. All concentrate on the story, quite a few 5 stars, with good supporting comments, leading me to believe they read the book. That surprises me a little bit—no one mentions the errors. Maybe that’s how we do things now… NO! I can’t— I refuse to believe that! However, this piques my curiosity. I ask about it in a few book-related chatrooms. I learn that people seldom chastise writers for errors in reviews, but one reason is mentioned that surprises me—they figure errors shouldn’t be there in the first place, so the writer doesn’t care. That’s harsh!

I’ve chatted with this guy a few times, and he’s a nice, upbeat person. I wonder–Does he have any idea about the errors? Or do people really care more about the story than a few errors here and there in today’s world? This wouldn’t be the first time I pondered over that incredulous possibility. A few years ago, I alpha read a book for someone I scarcely knew and found quite a few mistakes. When I told the writer she needed a better editor (and copy/pasted a few examples), I received that famous quote in reply— “Those don’t really matter,” she scoffed. “People care more about the story.” When stupid me offered to correct her errors for free, she declined, saying, “Most people just skim over them.” Well, I’m no skimmer, and that was the end of that!

I’m not an English major, but I really try hard to make sure I catch the biggies. I’d hate to have this happen to any of my readers! I’ve even started placing a page at the end of my books called, FOUND A TYPO? NOOOO…. It tells you what to do if you find one. I’ve never gotten anything… Gasp! Maybe only skimmers are reading my work. I’m disappointed!

I have a love affair with words. I love writing. I used to write plans and procedures for the government and loved it! Yes, people thought I was crazy. But if you’re going to be a writer, do your best. In fact, whatever your career choice, learn your job and always do it the best you can. If you don’t, then you don’t respect your craft!

Just to show you that I’m not above all this: I recently downloaded my third book, “Dragon’s Revenge” to look at how something looked on the Kindle page. Being idle, I began reading it. A few chapters later—Noooo! I found an error (surely you saw that coming)! Suddenly, I was on the other side of the page. I was the writer with mistakes! But I have only great reviews with content that shows they read the book! Gasp! What a quandary! Was I skimmed, or didn’t the readers care? Wow, talk about having the rug pulled out from under one! Still, no sympathy from this indie author. I pulled the book. I can’t stand it! I’m embarrassed! So now I have to fix them. A writer’s work is never done. Grumble. Guess I should have been a bit quicker at getting the “Found a Typo” link in this book!

OK, the lecture is finished. Glad I got it off my chest. This whole experience has been a revelation for me. Perhaps readers do skim over errors nowadays. Or perhaps, in the case of a good tale, it doesn’t matter very much. I admit I’ll read on if I see a little typo here and there if I’m loving the story. As an indie writer whose budget doesn’t allow for a professional editor, I believe a few minor mistakes should be excused. But I promise you writers out there who think significant errors don’t matter, you will be noticed and there’s an incredibly good chance your book won’t be finished or reviewed. And your book sales might also start to be skimmed. NOTE: That doesn’t look as clever as it sounded in my head. Oh well, you know what I mean.

There is Method to My Madness

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Someone on Quora asked me how I write a book, so I sat down and really thought about it. This is what I came up with. (They got a condensed version)

When an idea pops into my head—from a dream, something I heard or saw on TV, or heard in my (but more likely someone else’s) conversation—I write it down as quickly as possible, usually using a notepad app on my phone. Note: No matter what I’m doing, part of my brain is off in another world doing crazy things there. I just that notepad a lot!

Once I get to the computer, I open a blank Word document and write down everything I can think about regarding the new idea.

The first, most important thing is the story. Is there enough to my idea to find the basic who, what, where, why, and how that every story needs to be a “thing” that lets people envision it when they read. If I add people and a world, will the story take my characters through a specific time in their lives when something(s) happened to them, but they dealt with it, came through it, grew, became better or worse (became or already were the bad guy/good guy) and all the while, entertained people?

The next consideration is characters—not yet people with names and faces, but only what they are, and how and what they’ll contribute. What kind of magical folk, warriors, craftspeople, etc., does my story need (e.g., 1 f. seer, 1 m. griffin, 1 m. Elemental, 1 Magical Entity (no gender), several m. warrior/highborn Fey, 1 f. sprite = “Summerbird Rises”). Or is the story something different, requiring regular people? Or cats? Can I shape these characters into credible people who can take my idea and run with it? The development of characters is important to me, as they write most of my story.

Next is worldbuilding 101—basic stuff about the world and how it helps the idea and characters. Is it this world, alternate, alien, or something else? Medieval, modern, combination? What will the government be, the types of jobs, the currency, the power source, religion—but only if these things matter to the story. I don’t have a list because I’m only thinking about what impacts the concept at this stage. And all stories are different. Worldbuilding is critical to me. It’s also one of my favorite aspects of writing.

If I like my people and their world and think I’ve got something going, it’s time for a strategy meeting with myself. By the time my basic idea has transformed into a Project, I have a feel for it, knowing I can flesh out a 3D world, and populate it with various kinds of people who have an objective and a way to get to where they’re going, plus whatever little necessary subplots they deal with along with way.

Or it hasn’t— At some point, I’ve figured out things just aren’t going to gel. That actually happens; I have several ideas that fizzled in my Plots File. Some are chapters long, but they just didn’t go anywhere for me. Maybe another day. But we’re going on the assumption that this is a workable, decent idea. It deserves a basic plot to be developed, even if I’m a pantster. STOP! What the hell?

A moment to explain: Pantster—A person who writes by ‘the seat of her pants’ as opposed to a plotter, one who plans or outlines her writing. And that’s straight from the Urban Dictionary. And even though, by definition, I should be a plotter, I’m not. I just can’t get into it.

I don’t develop a plot from start to finish and use it. To me, it’s worth taking the time I need to do as I’m describing, and get everything saved in my Plots File. I have about 20 of them now, some with a lot of fleshing out, others with less than a page. It’s a wild and crazy process for me. I’m a slow writer, and my books are long, which is probably why I’m working on only the fourth right now. But thanks to my process, I also have three more that just need good editing and a wee bit of fleshing out. So much fun!

Once the complete first draft is written, I use Word Voice to read it back to me. Hearing mistakes is better for me than trying to read them. I know the document too well; my eyes often skim over typos and other errors. This is also an excellent time to catch things that can be foreshadowed and/or discussed later. I can ask and later answer questions (meaning I set up something to happen and resolve it later), find/add mysterious things that must be explained, remove what doesn’t belong, or put it where it works better. Also cut. Cut, cut, CUT! And I know I still don’t do enough. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch said it best—“Murder your darlings.” I find that very difficult.

I have a few people who alpha read for me, that is, read the book along with me as I edit. They’re great because things they’re patient, and find can affect the story as it goes and the outcome. It’s better to get those changes made as early as possible. Note #2: I can always use more readers, especially beta ones, who read when the manuscript is complete. Hint, hint.

After my alpha readers and I reach the end, I get to start over again. I read and make notes. I mostly jot down things that come up as plot points and make sure they’re dealt with. *Actual item on my list for “Summerbird’s Quest” which I’m working on now: Why did Orkey steal ribbon [from the Mart-hoor’s tent]. What’s a Mart-hoor? Make sure the hypen is removed. Yep, misspelled hyphen. See example (excuse my sloppy handwriting).

The checkmark means I went back and resolved the issue somewhere.

I have a process for creating names. Since I write epic fantasy, it’s not logical for my characters to be named Joe and Sally or live in Boringville. But I’ve tried to make them more easily pronounced due to snide remarks from some alpha readers (not necessarily you, who thinks she means me). I have a Word table where I list every character. It includes everything pertinent to them, from names to tattoos to what they like/hate to eat. I hate having to go back and look that stuff up!

Once I decide on people/place names, I google them. Why? you ask. One of my characters in a Work-in-Progress (WIP) was named Chyme. Such a gorgeous name, looks so nice. And it means—drumroll—the semi-fluid mass of partly digested food that is expelled by a person’s stomach (Wikipedia). That’s disgusting. It’s also the worst almost-error I’ve yet to make. Others haven’t been quite so bad—someone’s name or a place, but I always change them. And I always check. How couldn’t I after…Chyme? I mean, who knew?

I know I’ve probably missed some things in describing my process because they aren’t always the same. In another WIP, I took an event from American history and used that as a major event to build around. In yet another WIP, voodoo plays a part, it’s a time-travel piece, so I had to do a lot of research—stop the press!

I forgot about research! I mean, I can’t make up everything! In the WIP I mentioned with the lovely but disgusting name, I had to do a lot of research and finagling answers from friends and relatives about the engine propulsion unit I’d thought up—is it feasible, how will it work in these different situations—I think I drove them crazy! And in my “Dragon” books, water runs all their structural mechanics, so that took more research—I mean, it is my world, and I can run it as I please, but some part of me demands that it at least sound doable.

So, let’s get back to drawing things to a close. For me, writing a book is a life-consuming event; just ask my family. I like to share the process! I can’t not write; I have too much to share running around in my head. But I never forget I’m writing something to hopefully make someone else happy and enable them to escape reality within my story and characters. And my epic fantasies are long enough to keep them there for as long as they want to be!

And to that anonymous Quora person—thanks for asking!

An Odd Request

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Foster Kitten Update: We have a king size sleigh bed that sits so high off the floor, I need a step stool to get into bed. It’s kind of fun and romantic. Our two foster kittens, Winky and Bob, having been released from confinement in the bathroom, spent the last couple of nights out in the living room with the other kittens, wearing themselves out. Last night, though, Winky and Bob finally figured out where we go at night. After a few minutes of standing at the bottom of the bed and crying, they figured out that they too can use the stool, then scale my poor bedspread. Our bed has become the sight of the kitten grand prix, which starts on time every night at 1 am. It involves racing over feet, and attacking anything that moves. That means hubby and I quickly find the most comfortable position, then lay there like statues until the furballs get bored and go find other kittens to play with. Speaking of furballs…

Our two little fosters are now past two pounds, which means they can now be fixed. (Of course, we’re going to adopt both of them.)  Anyway, I called the shelter to set up the appointment and the tech was looking through their record and mentioned they were already at the correct weight, had setting up their altering appointment been discussed yet? I said no, and she made some pondering sounds, then said, “Oh, I see that on their last visit, one of the male’s testicle wasn’t descended. Then, the odd request. Would I mind checking to see if they were both there now? My daughter and I exchanged one of those glances which clearly said if there was going to be any checking going on, she wasn’t going to do it! She captured poor Bob and presented him to me with his little legs spread to me. I proceeded to gingerly feel around while Bob gave me scandalized looks. The tech comes on the phone and informs me I would be looking for TicTacs. Okaaaay… I think I found them! Bob is released and quickly starts to clean himself of my probing-fingers scent. OK, appointment is set up. I think this is probably the strangest thing I’ve ever done while fostering. So far.

STOP THE PRESSES! UPDATE!

Six kittens have now been fixed. In that time, either a miracle happened, or someone at our shelter needs a cheat sheet for sexing kittens. I should have known there’d be a problem when I was the one who had to give poor Bob his checkup. Yes–tragic as it is… When girl kittens come home, their tummies are shaved and they have a couple of stiches to keep an eye on. Boys have swollen–well, let’s just say, they sit down very carefully for a couple of days. So we brought our daughter’s four kittens back yesterday, three boys and one girl, everything was OK. We took our two in this morning and picked them up this afternoon. Winky enjoyed a meal, then jumped on me and ran by, and what do I see? Gasp! Swelling where there isn’t supposed to be swelling! Grab her up–no shaved tummy, so stitches! Winky is a boy! Her His paperwork says he’s a she. Daughter keeps laughing, while hubby says he doesn’t want a boy named Winky. Oh well, I’ll probably still call him a her. And he’s definitely staying Winky. But seriously, I’m the one who had to give Bob a physical to make sure he was ready to be snipped. You’d think they would have done the same for Winky!

The Co-worker and the Thing with the Leash

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I was going to title this “A Brief Moment About Someone I Used to Work With.” But where’s the fun in that? So I decided I’d be mysterious. This is a mostly true recollection of one of the many odd moments I had while working with a U.S. Federal Agency that I don’t want to name.

My co-worker’s name was Cindy (not her real name). She was a tall, thin, elegant young woman with a huge smile. We worked together for a year or so. Sometimes she worked directly with me, then went back to working with the team. Such was the life of me, a federal employee (a fed), and her, a contractor. She worked so hard, was so serious during work, I never could convince her contractors were the lifeblood of our organization. Or at least of me!

One day, another fed came from HQ to provide the team with some assistance. You know–“we’re from the government, we’re here to help.” Ours was a highly regulated and technical world and one of my jobs was to take all those laws, shake them up, and produce local plans and procedures directing how we’d implement federal and state requirements. Fun!

The guy from HQ was Joe (again, not his real name). He was a short, dumpy man whose clothes always looked slept in. His glasses were thick, smudged, and crooked. Yet, he was unerring polite and painfully kind. He just wanted to help. There was only one thing I found hard to overlook.

When I told Cindy about him and what he’d be doing. I’d worked with him before, so I told her a bit about him–he’s shy, a little awkward to work with at first. But he knows everything about anything related to our work. He was there to give advice and assistance regarding the writing some of us were doing.

I forgot to mention it. I suppose I’d gotten used to it…

This is how it all started– The day Joe arrived, close to the end of the day, he emailed a request for several documents to me. I passed that to Cindy, then sent an email to them both indicating she’d drop them by his office the following morning and meet him at the same time.

What I’d forgotten to mention to Cindy (or warn her, as the case may be) was Joe had one of the worst hairpieces, if not the worst, in existence. It was, and I am not exaggerating for the sake of the story, shaped exactly like a fat, golden brown rabbit, laying on top of his head with its ears, feet, and tail tucked under it–I mean, there was even the suggestion of a head there! No combing down to blend hair anywhere. Just a rodent, sitting there atop his head, with a few strands of his hair trailing down from its butt. This wonderfully intelligent, sweet man, unfortunately, wore a thing that was the target for double-and-triple-takes, long, unbelieving gapes, and not-quiet-enough remarks–and not only from the immature or young.

The rug was impossible to ignore. I saw the most dignified people see it for the first time and gape, their eyes wide, and their lips twitching until they seemed to catch themselves and look away. A lot of people were reduced to doing as I did–talking to his eyebrows. It simply baffled me–how did he not know how awful… how bizarre it looked?

It was late that morning when I looked up from my computer to find Cindy standing in my doorway. No smile, eyes round, she slipped into the chair by my desk and stared at me for a long moment. Just as I was about to ask her if I could help her (as if I didn’t know what this was about)–

“Did you see that thing on his head?” she whispered.

Deadpan delivery, voice worried. I couldn’t decide if she was serious, but experience told me she had to be–she didn’t joke around about anything. I sat there and said nothing, just gave her a bit of a nervous smile. Cindy simply didn’t make jokes at work–at least not to me, one of the feds. She was there to work, take her breaks, work, take her lunch, and go home. If it weren’t for what I’d heard from other people, I wouldn’t have known anything about her (What I did know wasn’t much. She had a small daughter, and she was terrified of cats). Our working relationship was good. Friendly, mutually respectful, even enjoyable. But No Fooling Around.

Just as quietly, she rose and left my office, going right, not left, which would have taken her past the office Joe was using. That worried me. Was she going to be able to work with him? Maybe she was afraid of it–she was afraid of cats. Maybe she should ask him was species the thing was–OK, stop. She’s a pro. She’ll get this worked out.

A couple of hours later, she’s in my office again. She looked pale, which was difficult for a woman of her glorious color. “I swear it made a noise. It whimpered. And I think it smells. Do you think he has a leash for it?”

Oh my stars, what am I supposed to say? A leash? I can feel my lips quivering now. I want to laugh. I mean, that’s really funny! Instead, I focus on her serious face. “Um…do you want to work in your office? I can bring stuff to you.”

She thought about it, then shook her head. I didn’t hear from her for the rest of the day.

She stopped by my office the next day around mid-morning. “He knows so much about (our profession),” Cindy said warmly. “He has a lot of great subjects for me to research. Did you know FEMA has tons of ready-written documents we can grab off their website and repurpose for our needs?”

I was glad to hear this happy news–FEMA and her contact with Joe. I even hoped she’d gotten over whatever she was going through regarding the toupee. I should have known better. We talked business for a while and looked over his research ideas. As she got up, she handed me a few papers and paused.

“I think I know why he walks with a limp,” she said matter-of-factly. “He puts a leash around it, runs the leash down his leg, and ties it there so it can’t get away.”

You know, people actually do snort coffee through their noses. It’s not pleasant, especially when you’re making funny, whiny little noises while you try not to laugh. That just had to be a joke. But I swear, her face is expressionless. Can someone else be feeding her these incredible lines? Cindy was the most tragic figure I’ve ever known–her baby’s daddy was killed. She was so brave! But not funny!

The next day, she comes running in. “I saw him petting it!”

Me (cringing) “Well, he does have a habit of running his hand over it, I guess to make sure it’s in place.”

Cindy: “No. No, he’s petting it”–eyes huge–” and it’s purring!”

I couldn’t help it. I broke down and laughed. Only not loud. Joe was just down the hall, and if I had a rug that looked that bad, every time I heard laughter, I’d know it was about me! She started laughing too. A tinkly laugh that made me so happy to hear it, I laughed more.

That was the last thing Cindy had to say about Joe’s hairpiece, at least to me. Perhaps as she got to know him better, she got accustomed to it. Sort of like me. I had wanted to give her the “look between his eyebrows to talk to him” advice, but I never felt comfortable bringing it up.

Joe spent ten days with us before returning to HQ. That rug was the subject of many whispered stares; I hoped he was none-the-wiser. But I slowly realized that somehow, knowing Joe changed Cindy. She was still an excellent worker, but suddenly, she had a sense of humor. She relaxed a lot. I don’t know, maybe she figured if someone as smart and nice as Joe could go through life with that thing on his head and be utterly clueless, may she should loosen up and not take life so seriously.

She found another job the following year, and I never saw her again. But I’m sure she made her new coworkers’ lives just as enjoyable as she did mine. I do sometimes wish I had asked her if she was trying to make me laugh. Perhaps she thought I was too serious too. She was a wonderful human, a dear person, and I often think of her. I still miss her.

Blogging–It’s Not for the Absent-Minded

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“OMG, how long since you blogged, Mom?” my daughter screeched at me today.

“I dunno,” I grumbled. “A month?”

“November! You haven’t blogged since November of last year.

She tends toward the dramatic. I mean, that was only…November, December, January… Ok, it’s been a while. But I’ve been busy with my Summerbird sequel, taking Covid tests (I’ve had six, thanks to clinics that require them before they’ll see you), avoiding Covid, getting vaccinations… Staying semi-healthy is exhausting. It also takes up a lot of time.

Soo… it snowed yesterday, last night, today…it’s snowing now. There are three coyotes in our backyard getting snowed on while they scrounge for food. We’re watching them on the security camera. Ho-hum. At least they’re having fun.

Since we moved to the mountains nothing much happens–no robberies, house invasions, murders, thefts. Hey, I can live with that! The coyotes are the most excitement we get here.

This! This is why I haven’t put out a new blog yet! Things are soon freaking boring right now. But I do have another story about half-done that I’ll finish as soon as I post this. It’s an old memory of an old friend named Candis who had a very odd outlook on life. I won’t mention in the blog about her that she has since passed on because I want only her sense of humor to stay with you after you read it. See ya!

Colonoscopies… The Older You Get, the More Fun They Are!

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As the year comes to an end, everyone seems to be jumping onto various health bandwagons, perhaps due not so much to health concerns as much as getting what they can before their new insurance deductibles start over. Now that makes sense! And now that my “procedure” is over, I can look back on it with fondness… You know, tell my tale, share my misery, share a chuckle— No, I don’t believe me either.

One lovely morning I get a letter in the mail. I don’t get many letters these days, especially from Gastroenterology. A chill goes down my spine because the time has finally come. It’s time for me to join the many humans across the globe—it’s time for a colonoscopy!

I open my letter and skim through it. Let’s see… I’m doing the “Nulytely/Golytely split dose prep.” I smile. That sounds so charming, like some sort of cotillion at a preparatory school. “Dear Southern Lady, please allow me this opportunity to invite your darling daughter to the Annual Golitely (I prefer that spelling) Split Dose Prep Party. Please, do let me know by the end of the week. Ta ta.”

I dutifully read my instructions. You’ll need to take the rest of the day off from work after your procedure. Okay, I’m retired. I write, so I work from home. No problem. Could I be looking at an excuse not to make dinner? Smile! You’ll need someone to drive you home after the procedure. Cool, my hubby would do that anyway; he’s such a sweetie.

Skim through the other instructions—three days prior, no food with seeds, no corn, no nuts. Sheesh, what are they going to be looking for up there? The day before, DO NOT EAT ANY SOLID FOODS! Okay, now we’re getting to the point. The day before the *procedure*! Breakfast, lunch, and dinner—clear liquids. No red, orange, or purple anything. Why would that matter–ewww. Never mind. I have to mix that weirdly named stuff and refrigerate it… okay, whatever. I’m off to get my supplies.

I go to the store/pharmacy and, while awaiting what the nurse called in for me, collect what I’ll need for the *procedure*. I purchase anti-gas pills, wondering if they really work. I should put one in some 7-Up and see what happens. Guess I’ll find out. Next, A&D Ointment. What’s that? Baby butt cream? I have a bidet; I shouldn’t need it, but I grab a small tube. You never know!

I muse over my list of liquids I can have. Not many… Funny, it specifically says nothing red, orange, or purple. I don’t recall eating that many foods in those colors. Funny though, how few foods one can find that aren’t red, purple, or orange! I get three cans of chicken broth, a jug of white cherry (??) Gatorade (everything else is in the forbidden colors), and some Jello. Two kinds—pink lemonade and lemon. Everything else—yeah, you know. Apple and grape juice to finish, and by now, my prescription is ready.

Imagine my surprise when I get to the counter, and they hand me a big white jug that looks like a 5-gallon container of antifreeze or something. The other customers are looking at me; I know they’re wondering what the hell that could be? I slink up to the front, trying to hide this massive jug that I’m starting to get a bad feeling about, and make the rest of my purchases.

Once I get to the car, I check out the jug. 4000ml. I whip out my calculator… OMG, they want me to drink 1.0 gallons of this stuff? I open it and sniff. Nothing. I get it home, fill it up, and stick it into the refrigerator. Now I wait.

The day before the *procedure* I can’t eat human food—only clear liquids NOT of a certain color. Everything red, purple, or orange suddenly looks delish. My hubby and daughter sit in their chairs in the living room, holding their food like squirrels, nibbling so I can’t see it. Hey, I can still smell that hamburger! You’re supposed to eat eggplant and tofu tonight! You promised!

I pout and drink my consommé… which is fancy bouillon cubes. And I eat pink Jello. Or yellow Jello. Actually, it’s pretty tasty. I love Jello. I think I ate three boxes in all. And wash it down with grape juice and apple juice. The Gatorade was a no-go.

The day before, at 6 p.m., after a day of not eating real human food, the process begins! I have to drink the liquid, one glass every 15 minutes, until I’ve finished half of it. 2 liters. One-half gallon. 2000ml. I pour out a glassful and take my first, big drink. Holy. Sweet. Crap. All I can see are the words—don’t throw it up! The taste is indescribable! OMG, now I understand why they call it bowel solution. They mean it tastes like— never mind. It’s so thick and salty and just… horrible! It still makes me shudder, just to remember it!

Remember when I was reading about the charmingly named gallon jug of powdered death and was told to fill it with water and refrigerate it. Somewhere in those instructions, some guy with a perverse sense of humor stated it “might taste better” if it was first refrigerated. What a joke!! It might turn into liquid gold if refrigerated. Or it might turn into a fully loaded brand new Jaguar—okay, okay. But really, refrigerating it can’t possibly help with how terrible this stuff tastes. You have to not only drink half a gallon, an 8-ounce glass at a time, every 15 minutes, but you have to keep it down! I tried to drink by holding my nose, not very effective, then hit upon using a straw, which I can hold past my taste buds. That works if I drink fast enough. And I think it being cold keeps me from gagging on it.

At 8 p.m., I take the anti-gas pills, then two more at 10 p.m. I’m tired, but did I actually think I was going to get to sleep? Ha, ha, I laugh at my naiveté. As the evening passes, the waiting game begins. First, my stomach starts gurgling and making a fuss. The same lively awakening then happens a bit lower down. And it was more than a fuss! Thank goodness for my bidet. As the evening… and the night… progress, the ointment and I get to know each other quite well. It’s a nice little ointment, just what an adult sore bottom needs.  

On the day of the *procedure* from hell—” I must cut in at this point for those who’ve done this before. I had no idea the fun was just beginning. Okay, back to the report. I had to drink the rest of the delightful concoction six hours before the event. Oh, and still keep it down. I can keep drinking liquids up to four hours before, but by now, I’ve figured out whatever I put in my mouth goes to my stomach, and it doesn’t stay there very long before putting in an explosive appearance at the other end. Like—just passing through on my way out your newly installed back-end cannon, ma’am. See you shortly!

I’m so tired of sitting on the toilet. Of leaning against the wall, sooo sleepy, but knowing there isn’t any point in going to bed. I’m not taking any chances, believe me. I don’t trust my legs to get me to the bathroom fast enough if I’m half-asleep.

As I write this, I recall reading the following droll statements from the instructions:

  • You will have diarrhea from the bowel preparation medications. Gasp! No! No fair; I was expecting a bit of diarrhea, not Armageddon of the Ass.
  • Because of the diarrhea, you will need access to a toilet. Plan your day with this in mind. Really? So that bit about my neighbor’s flower bed shouldn’t have happened—that was just an accident, you know. No, the instructions should have said, “plan your existence with this in mind,” because you can’t get more than a few feet from a toilet. We have two fairly close together in our house, and I made sure I was always somewhere between the two.
  • Most people have bloating and abdominal discomfort. This is normal, don’t feel alarmed. I’m not alarmed. I’m exhausted, cranky as hell, my butt hurts, and only later do I realize—this was just the beginning!
  • And again, with the, “we know you might throw the bowel solution up. Slow down but drink it!” I didn’t throw up, but I feel deprived, as though I might have been happier and somehow vindicated by doing so.

Later, you also learn that they might reschedule you if you aren’t “cleaned out” completely. OMG, what could possibly still be up– Maybe an octopus? Because it would have to be something with suckers the size of dinner plates to hang on after what my intestines just went through!

We get to the hospital. The whole time, I still feel like I’m going to explode, but I know there couldn’t be anything inside me. I haven’t even had water. I’m also having an endoscopy, which is another camera down the throat to look at the stomach. All I need are a couple of tubes up my nose and in my ears, and I won’t have a free orifice open anywhere. I am really grumpy! A lady in the waiting room keeps whining on her phone about how thirsty she is. She wants the person on the other end to sneak in something for her to drink. Really? I want to yell at her— After all you just went through, you’re going to screw it up? I only threw that in as proof of how crabby I am. Normally I ignore other people in waiting rooms. They don’t want to be there any more than I want to.

Despite my previous comments, there isn’t much to say about the procedures themselves because of that wonderful thing called twilight sleep. Such a beautiful name, so lovely, so calming… I hear harps play every time I hear the words. My anesthesiologist was a saint. Ray, I believe, was his name. We held hands and got to know one another through the power of my grip, which is surprisingly strong. Ask Ray. I can’t be put into twilight sleep (*harps*) because of a breathing problem, so it was a bit uncomfortable at times. For me, too. My friends and hubby who have gotten the complete treatment—all they can say is bring it on!

In closing, everything was fine with me. I have to do this more often than most people do. Getting this important but dreadful (to me) procedure is my legacy, left to me by my father, the first one in the family to have, and ultimately pass from, colon cancer. And I’ll stay on top of it, no matter how brutal I think the prep is.

Thanks to all the Gastroenterology people out there—you’re the best!

Looking for Mr. Covid-Test

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I want to start the recollection of this fiasco by stating that my hubby, Steven, is an angel. Or a saint. Or something like that. A few weeks ago, I got sick. That illness where you want to stay in bed and cry. But you have to get up and be with your family, otherwise there won’t be anyone to feel sorry for you. So, I’m in the living room in my jammies, with my towel for when I’m sweating and my blanket when I’m shivering, and moans for when I’m doing both. Let me state unequivocally that I don’t do sick very well. I’m not a pretty patient. Steven kept telling me to go to the doctor, which I’m too sick to do, and I probably couldn’t get one anytime soon, anyway. All right, all right, I called. I got an appointment for a televideo call the next day. Those things are the greatest invention ever, especially when you’re sick. I tried to convince my primary care physician’s (PCP’s) assistant (PA) that I had a sinus infection, but he wasn’t buying it. The longer I talked to him, the worse it got, till he put it all together–chills, fever, coughing, too tired and achy to even move–and bless his heart, he decided I had Covid. I’ve had two vaccinations, but he wanted me tested ASAP, and said I could go to any pharmacy and get one. Thus began our adventure.

First of all, you cannot walk into any pharmacy and get a Covid test. At least not one that Steven could find. So, he called the Dept of Health (DOH) and they made me an appointment with a well-known pharmacy downtown, and off we went. When we got there, the guy looked at Steven like he had lobsters coming out of his ears. Appointment? Made by DOH? We don’t do those. And you aren’t on our list for an appointment. Well, we’re here. Can you just do it? More lobsters, a huffy no, and we leave.

It’s now about 1 p.m. We call the hospital organization my PCP works from, which I’ll call Hospital, and ask what to do. Do they do tests? It’ll take too long to get a regular appointment, but you can go to one of our Urgent Care facilities and get one there. We pull up Google Map, find the nearest one, and off we go. My heart sinks when we get there–the parking lot is packed! Steven runs inside to find out how long it might take. Just as he gets to the desk an elderly lady steps in front of him and says she’s been here since 8 a.m. and still hasn’t been seen, has anyone any idea how much longer it will be? That’s not promising. He comes back out to tell me. We just sit in the car in the AC for a few moments and contemplate going home. But I promised the PA I’d get a test.

We know there’s a Testing Center, because this happens to be the third test I’ll be taking. But no one seems to know how to contact them. I had no idea at the time that you could make an appointment online. We decide maybe we should drive over there instead of the other Urgent Care. Steven calls another Hospital number to ask if there are any places other than Urgent Care doing testing. Cue harps– the miracle happens. The number he calls is the appointment maker for the Testing Center! Steven is already driving toward another Urgent Care on the other side of town, just in case I can’t get into the Testing Center.

I sound like a dying frog as I explain to the appointment lady all about my pathetic circumstances, my promise to the PA, and the Urgent Center woes, till finally, probably to get me to shut up, she makes an appointment for me. For today! And for Steven, too, since you know, I’m probably contagious. The appointment is for 4 p.m. That’s two hours away. We live in the mountains. We can’t go home; we’d just have to turn around and come back. I’m still hot, cold, shivering, sweating. I really want to go home and crawl back into my chair with my towel and my blanket so my hubby and my daughter can feel sorry for me. But I’m determined to get this over with.

We decide to head over there early, about 90 minutes early to be exact. But the place has no customers, so they take me immediately. Yay! We drive through all the rigamarole, I get my test from an RN who looks like she’s testing me for Ebola or the Black Plague. I haven’t had one dressed out like this before, I think she’s actually in Anti-C (contamination) gear. Wow. I must have gotten some special, “has symptoms” code or something, and got put into the special line, because the RN doing Steven on the other side of the car is wearing normal, disposable coveralls, gloves, mask, etc. I guess it’s for my RN’s protection, since we are in the same car. Oh, and this time, she shoved that QTip up my nose so far it made my eyes tear. She’s the same RN I had last time I got a test, but she wiggled it around too, like she was hunting for something. Steven just got the regular “up the nose a little bit” test, while I was worried mine was going to lose that swab up there. Finally, I get to go home! Then I waited. It only took a day and a half to learn I didn’t have Covid. I was still feeling crappy, but it started to diminish. I did finally convince the PA I also had a sinus infection, so he gave me some low-dose antibiotics, which means that as I write this, the infection is gradually returning. I have awful sinuses!

I’m happy I didn’t have Covid and feel truly terrible for people who do. As, a couple of days ago, when I ended my annual physical with getting my flu and pneumonia vaccines, I regaled my PCP with this tale, and we could laugh. Cause that’s what you have to do when faced with scary things. I look at her fondly, because I really like her as both a person and as my doc. She’s pregnant, working, caring about her patients while all this is going on, and I also worry a little bit about her. I wish all this would be over, but it won’t if we don’t do what we can to protect ourselves.

So–get your vaccinations, wear your mask, and stay out of crowds. Love all of you!

An Odd Request

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Foster Kitten Update: We have a king size sleigh bed that sits so high off the floor, I need a step stool to get into bed. It’s kind of fun and romantic. Our two foster kittens, Winky and Bob, having been released from confinement in the bathroom, spent the last couple of nights out in the living room with the other kittens, wearing themselves out. Last night, though, Winky and Bob finally figured out where we go at night. After a few minutes of standing at the bottom of the bed and crying, they figured out that they too can use the stool, then scale my poor bedspread. Our bed has become the sight of the kitten grand prix, which starts on time every night at 1 am. It involves racing over feet, and attacking anything that moves. That means hubby and I quickly find the most comfortable position, then lay there like statues until the furballs get bored and go find other kittens to play with. Speaking of furballs…

Our two little fosters are now past two pounds, which means they can now be fixed. (Of course, we’re going to adopt both of them.)  Anyway, I called the shelter to set up the appointment and the tech was looking through their record and mentioned they were already at the correct weight, had setting up their altering appointment been discussed yet? I said no, and she made some pondering sounds, then said, “Oh, I see that on their last visit, one of the male’s testicle wasn’t descended. Then, the odd request. Would I mind checking to see if they were both there now? My daughter and I exchanged one of those glances which clearly said if there was going to be any checking going on, she wasn’t going to do it! She captured poor Bob and presented him to me with his little legs spread to me. I proceeded to gingerly feel around while Bob gave me scandalized looks. The tech comes on the phone and informs me I would be looking for TicTacs. Okaaaay… I think I found them! Bob is released and quickly starts to clean himself of my probing-fingers scent. OK, appointment is set up. I think this is probably the strangest thing I’ve ever done while fostering. So far.

STOP THE PRESSES! UPDATE!

Six kittens have now been fixed. In that time, either a miracle happened, or someone at our shelter needs a cheat sheet for sexing kittens. I should have known there’d be a problem when I was the one who had to give poor Bob his checkup. Yes–tragic as it is… When girl kittens come home, their tummies are shaved and they have a couple of stiches to keep an eye on. Boys have swollen–well, let’s just say, they sit down very carefully for a couple of days. So we brought our daughter’s four kittens back yesterday, three boys and one girl, everything was OK. We took our two in this morning and picked them up this afternoon. Winky enjoyed a meal, then jumped on me and ran by, and what do I see? Gasp! Swelling where there isn’t supposed to be swelling! Grab her up–no shaved tummy, so stitches! Winky is a boy! Her His paperwork says he’s a she. Daughter keeps laughing, while hubby says he doesn’t want a boy named Winky. Oh well, I’ll probably still call him a her. And he’s definitely staying Winky. But seriously, I’m the one who had to give Bob a physical to make sure he was ready to be snipped. You’d think they would have done the same for Winky!

This isn’t a Home… It’s a Madhouse!

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As many who know me are aware, I live with five cats. Two are elderly (18 & 14), the other three quite a bit younger (3, 3, & 5). So, all are adults. Recently, we began fostering two kittens, about five weeks old. At the same time, our daughter decided to foster a litter of four kittens, about six weeks old. This becomes important later!

As we expected, our homeowner cats (HOC) weren’t happy. There was a lot of growling and hissing from the HOC, and scared babies. We kept the kittens in our bathroom at night, and within sight during the day. Things were gradually settling down.

Two and a half weeks passed, and our daughter moved back in with us. I’m happy she’s here; I love having her at home. It reminds me of when she was younger and we’d talk together about everything under the sun. But remember her foster kittens? Plus the two adults she already had, who already weren’t happy about the additions. It’s a package deal!

So, now our house is filled with nocturnal creatures, five of which were already mad about being invaded by babies, and don’t like sharing their space with newcomers, plus two that don’t want to be here. Add to that, five kittens that just want to play, eat, and sleep and don’t understand what the big deal is. A home is a home, right? When one goes bouncing up to an adult to play, they quickly have their little world turned around. It’s cute, but sad to see them blinking in surprise, then hide, terrified. We quickly move them away and cuddle them.

Needless to say, the night comes to life around here. We still keep our two fosters in our bathroom at night, only now they’ve figured out they don’t want to be in there–all the action is happening on the other side of that door. I still struggle to keep them in when I get up in the middle of the night and stumble in to use the facilities, but my hubby has given up and goes to the powder room. Kiddo’s babies are sleeping in her room, as well. That leaves seven adult cats roaming at night, and suddenly a 2400sf house doesn’t have nearly as much room as it needs.

Around midnight last night, a terrifying scream disrupted our nice, sound sleep. One of the cats wasn’t happy about something. Anyone who lives with cats knows they can sound as though they’re possessed by demons. Hubby jumped up and went into the office, while kiddo, at the other end of the house was calling out, “What was that?” Of course, there wasn’t a cat was in sight. As he stumbled back to bed, he relented and used our bathroom, and accidentally released Winky, the female baby. As soon as I laid back down she started crying–baby cats are very loud. She changed her little mind–now she wanted back into the bathroom. I guess she figured there were too many huge, violent cats roaming the bedroom. So I got up and put her back with her brother. She was happy then. And the rest of the night was relatively calm.

I’m afraid it’s the calm before the storm. The growling and hissing are nonstop this morning. I think our HOC is trying to tell us to send the interlopers home, while our daughter’s cats are searching for home. With cats hissing at babies, babies scurrying under the furniture, HOC growling and hissing at interlopers and trying to stand their ground, as the title says, this place is crazy! I catch Fred, our cross-eyed cat looking at me as if to say, Mom, what gives? What did we do? Who knows how many cats he’s seeing now.

There’s plenty of food and water, and kiddo is keeping the boxes clean. Toys are everywhere, as our feet can tell you. If the cats would just figure out how to can get along, they’d have fun playing with the kittens, and with each other. Cats. You just can’t tell them a thing.

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Bob and Winky

Quora Question

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I love Quora and the peculiar, funny questions I find there. Recently, I was asked–If your cat could read, what kind of novels (crime, romance, fantasy, etc.) would he/she be into?

I actually gave it some thought and this was my reply:

Chiisei – anything having to do with bondage. She’s a 25lb Ragdoll who sits on the others so she can bathe them.

Fred – Dr. Seuss. He’s the youngest and not the sharpest, but he’s a sweet baby. He’s cross-eyed, so I’d have to read to him.

Elliot – He’s 19, the oldest. He’d like to read something racy to get the old heart going. He used to be quite the alpha cat, but he’s mellowed now.

Cookie – Field & Stream (she loves them little mousies)

PeiWei – He’s 16, the second oldest, and would like any children’s books that has a cat hero, to remind him of his glory days.

It was fun. I rarely answer whimsical questions. Most of my replies are about cat behavior and family issues, but since the books I write always have cats in them, and I assign human characteristics to those cats (talking, being friends and companions, and heroics), I thought I would see if I could do the same for my cats.

I’ve been asked why I write cats into my books, often with a major role. Why can’t the feline companion/friend simply be another human? Where, I replied, would be the fun in that? Think of this way–if your characters are acting as characters are wont to do, led or even driven by the personalities I assign to them, how do you, the reader, act when my protagonist’s human friend (let’s call her Chloe) propels the storyline forward by suddenly jumping on a table and grabbing another character’s hat in her teeth. Chloe yanks the hat off, thus revealing that he is, in fact, a she. Wouldn’t the element of surprise at discovering this talented and mysterious swordsman was, in fact, a woman, be lost on you because Chloe was a human, and she’d just done a spectacularly weird thing no human would do? I know things would happen differently were Chloe human, but that’s not the point. Who better than a cat to use a tense moment to reveal something so monumental?

So, the cats are staying, at least in my books! And while trying to avoid Fred, who is on my desk and stomping on my keyboard, thus forcing me to go back and make many corrections, I will end this, short as it is and get back to editing Summerbird’s Quest, which is book 2 in the series, “An Act of Entreaty.” Editing is painfully slow, not helped by Fred, who wants to play.

Fred, getting ready to jump onto my desk, ignoring me saying, no.

Warning–Major Griping Ahead

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I use a BiPap machine nightly. It’s a one-up of a CPAP, because my lovely, full-of-fairies-brain has stopped telling my lungs when to breath. So I stop a lot! The BiPAP takes care of that at night, and since I actually forget to do it during the day, I’m on oxygen 24/7. Anyway, I recently changed insurances, and the new insurance requires all new studies and scripts to continue with my breather-helpers, as I call my equipment. The company that provides this equipment sent me a letter saying I have 30 days to get all new approvals, as the insurance won’t pay. Oh, wait, they already aren’t paying. No one told me till now I need all this crap.

So, I call the equipment company, which I will henceforth refer to as EC. So clever… Anyway, I talk to this nice lady, she tells me I need to see the doctor face-to-face (?–I guess so he can see I can’t breathe), I ask if Doc and I could do a video call instead, and she says the words that make my blood run cold, “I’ll have to check on that, I’ll call you right back.” I reluctantly disconnect the call–I mean, I’d just gone through computer hell, pressing button after button to actually get to a real human. So, I go back to editing my manuscript. A few minutes later, the phone rings. I’m surprised–it’s her! Yes, a video call will work! Happily, I get off the phone, and then I think, how sad that I’m surprised she called back so quickly. But, I have another call to make–the doctor’s office to make a video appointment for everything I need.

As I begin the call, clouds roll over the house and the room darkens. In the distance, dogs howl. A cold wind dances across my back. What the hell– I complete the call, go through all the numbers to get to a person. get put on Everlasting Hold, then I get Her. I explain what’s going on, that I got a letter from EC that says new insurance requires new everything, including the fact that if I don’t do an in-house sleep study within 30 days of seeing the doctor, insurance won’t pay, blah, blah, blah. Will I be able to get an in-house study that quickly? It’s a trick question, people. Of course I can’t get it that quickly, I already know that.

Her: “You can’t make an appointment for a Sleep Study without a doctor’s order. You can’t get an Order until you see the doctor.” It’s just the way she says it, like I’m utterly stupidAnyway— Me: “I have to get in within 30 days after I see the doctor, or the insurance won’t pay. What happens if I can’t get a Study in time?” Her: “Wellll, I can’t really answer that. I mean, that’s a different part of the Sleep Center. But they have cancellations all the time.” Me: Ok. Last week, I made an appointment for Feb. 3 to see the doc face-to-face, knowing I’d need to do this. I want to change it to a video appointment.” Her: Ok, I can do that.” click-click-click “The soonest I have is Feb. 9.” Wonderful. Insurance won’t pay until then, and this equipment isn’t cheap. But, whatever. So, we go through all the back and forth, and then suddenly–

The black clouds roil. The coldness in my office engulfs me. She can’t hear me. Her: “Hello? Hello? I can’t hear you, so I’m not going to change your in-house appointment to a video one. You will need to call back to change your appointment.” Click.

My temper is rising. The dogs are laughing. Black clouds are now in my office. I stare at my phone. Is she going to call me back? She just verified my phone number twice! No, of course not. I call back to the office, go through all the numbers to get to the person, got put on Everlasting Hold. All over again. As I sit there, again staring at the phone, I have an epiphany! How could I have forgotten–I can do this through MyChart, a wonderful app that keeps me from having to deal with human beings, the main cause of my anxiety. So it takes me about two minutes to make a video appt–on Jan 26!!!–with my doc. I start to cancel the Feb. 3 appt I made, then decide not to. Who knows?

Whew–that was quite a morning and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I was nearly driven to tears by the entire situation, set off by that second phone call. It would have been so simple for her to call me back so we could continue on. But she didn’t. And what’s more, I knew she wouldn’t. She wasn’t that kind of any employee–helpful. She was condescending, not quite rude, and talked to me as if I was sitting here playing with my building blocks and coloring. Ok, I like to color, but that’s not the point. It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy, and I daresay most of us are like that.

Sigh. Brave New World, my ass.

Keyboards — They Have More Power Than You Realize

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Recently, I’ve gone through what I like to refer to as the Keyboard Wars. Several months ago, I realized I was squinting, hunched over my laptop like some sort of gnome. Matilda wasn’t a small laptop either, a 17″ HP, quite a nice one. Yet here I was, forced to at last admit this wasn’t working for me any longer.

So… I took myself onto Amazon, my shopping partner, to look for a desktop, monitor, keyboard and mouse. I knew already I couldn’t work with the shoebox with keys that comes with just about any computer, as I’d already been experiencing that with the laptop. First I went to HP, which has been my go-to computer for–well, since forever. I couldn’t find anything I liked, so eventually, I ended up at Dell. I found one that suited my needs and purchased it. The tower is so small, it’s so cute. And powerful!

Next the monitor. Since I was going blind with the 17″ lappie, I went larger, and got what looks like a miniature movie theater screen on my desk. I then found a keyboard I fell in love with. The Logitech MK550 Wireless Wave Keyboard and Mouse Combo!

This keyboard was magical! It’s curved, the keys are a little more spread out that regular keyboards, I just loved it!! Unfortunately, MS Word did not. Nor did MS Word particularly care for the mouse. I went back and forth with Logitech. I uninstalled and reinstalled the software for the keyboard/mouse three times. It was crazy! At one point, I got twenty-three “e’s” in a row. The thing would just take off, typing multiple letters, skipping rows, then freezing up. And the mouse! It just sat there, doing nothing. They worked fine on everything else, just not Word. OK, believe it or not, I uninstalled Word and reinstalled it. Writers never uninstall Word! It’s like–like–I just can’t say how drastic that is. What if it doesn’t come back? But that’s how much I wanted this stupid keyboard to work.

Alas, it was not to be. I contacted Logitech again, they reminded me I had purchased a warranty, so they sent me a new set. Yes, as you’ve already guessed, it didn’t work either. At last, I had no choice but to go back to Amazon and with a heavy heart, find another keyboard. A writer without a keyboard is like a car without tires. Ain’t goin; nowhere. I bought another Logitech mouse–my old standby, the ball. And I got another keyboard, a curved one. NOTE: I have a congenital issue with my hands, instead of pointing upward, like most hands do, my point outward at a fairly significant angle. Curved keyboards feel better.

But this new keyboard isn’t quiet, the keys don’t feel like they’re riding on air (remember, tires?), it’s sort of clunky-feeling. I’ll never forget Henry, my beloved keyboard. But I managed to type this, so things are looking up. And as always, I love my rollerball mouse. It rocks.

Am I Reliving the French Revolution?

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If you read my blog once in a while then you know I’m a writer. An author. I try to give a well-rounded, if somewhat… not gory. No, not gruesome… What’s the word– preternatural. Ooh, that works! I have a female, she’s strong and usually a little wild and crazy, and so is the male, and you know, something evil is attracted to whatever it is they have or they’re doing. They save the good, kill the evil, and everyone is happy. Sort of. I mean, at least our heroes are always happy. So there might be a castration here, a decapitation there-

Wait! That brings me today’s subject, children.

I was browsing through Kindle recently and noticed a line of paranormal books across the bottom. It looked as though someone had taken a guillotine and chopped off the heads of all these insanely hot male bodies. Huh. I looked over some more. Yeah, all these books had covers with males on them, but only their torsos. No heads. Very weird.

When I read one of those books, it’s like I’m having an encounter with the Headless Horseman. The author can describe the male protagonist till the cows come home. I want to see a picture. Of both, if there are two, and there usually are. I want to see his handsome/OK face and her beautiful/cute face. His scars, if he has any, or hers! His gorgeous eyes and full lips. Or whatever. And I really want to see her too. That’s why I don’t understand the sudden onslaught of torsos on books online. I assume they’re on paperbacks too, although I haven’t been in a library or a bookstore in quite a while. And if you order a print version, yep–Guillotine Was Here. Why??

When I work with my cover artist, I want everyone to know what my characters look like, as closely as she and I (me is NM, her in Brazil) can work it. All the way to the eye color and earrings, if there are any, his or hers. I want the reader to be able to look at the cover whenever they want and imagine who is doing what to whom. It helps bring the tale to life in my head. I can use up my imagination or other things that don’t necessarily need to have a picture drawn!

I’ve included the cover for my current Work-in-Progress. Now that is a couple. Two bodies, two heads. Thanks so much to my artist, Adriana Musetti Davila. She’s a treasure. Please, authors, include an entire person on your cover so I won’t have to put a pumpkin there.

When Quarantine Becomes a Way of Life – Mail Order!

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Who knew it would last this long? I think I’m supposed to say if not for my family, writing, and Amazon, I’d have gone mad long ago. But for me, at least, it hasn’t been that bad. I’m a homebody anyway, being forced to stay at home is like sending your child to her room when it looks like Best Buy in there. Tell me if you don’t know what that means.

What led me to share today is the weird things that have ended up in my home through Amazon. The latest thing was a little kit to give myself acrylic nails. I haven’t tried it yet, as my own nails are short and I’m afraid there’s nothing for the acrylic to grab onto. It’s hard to believe at my age I’m a biter! But I’ll give them a shot soon and report back—success or failure.

Another thing I bought with the greatest of hope is a skin for my keyboard. I have a Logitech Wave, which is a curved keyboard. I love my keyboard, but with cats climbing on it and the everyday dust that happens in the desert mountains, I needed to protect it. I swear I searched for a solid month before I found something promising. It wasn’t through Amazon, which made me leery (I’m indoctrinated), but I gave it a shot.

What arrived looked just like my Wave so I proceeded to put it on. Picture trying to put a plastic bag of air onto your keyboard. When I pushed down one side, it poofed up on the other. Finally, I got it settled down at bit. I turned in over, peeled off the covers for the double-sided tape, smoothed them down, and turned it back over. I think I got a gerbil stuck in there the way it moved up and down. I used a butter knife to push the boofy cover down alongside the keys, but as soon as I moved to the next row, the previous one shot back up. After a while at this, I was ready to send it back. This was ridiculous. I emailed their customer service explaining the issue and got a reply the next day: use a hairdryer on low on the cover. Believe it or not, that worked quite well!

Life went on. I’d actually gotten used to typing with a keyboard condom. It was a bit strange, and squishy, with a few more typos that usual, but my keyboard was protected! Until now, a couple of weeks later. The tape has come up, and the cover is creeping up from the bottom and loosening every thing. I’m going to get some more tape, I will not give up my protection now. I’m spoiled.

However… if anyone out there knows of a Wave keyboard cover that just lies on top of the keys like my old one on my old did, please let me know before I have to drag my hairdryer into my office again.

And Life is Back to Normal

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Steven is adjusting to his pacemaker. Fred has come home. I can concentrate on my writing again! I’m working on a book that’s more sci-fi than my typical fantasy, although there are elements of fantasy too. The protagonist’s name is Whern. She’s an Indigene, a genetically pure native who is born with mysterious Abilities. She’s an Arbiter in the Corporation, the military-based entity that runs her planet. For many years the 9th Sector has been plagued by Hostiles, attacking and robbing spaceships like common pirates, and then destroying them. For reasons kept from her, Whern has never been allowed to go offworld. With the help of her conniving Commanding Officer, she finagles the assignment to find the Hostiles. But her CO feels she can’t handle it alone and has plans to sneak aboard her ship. She doesn’t need anyone’s help and she’s a lot more devious than he ever thought she could be. Devious is just what she has to be, because the Hostiles are so much more–and lead to something shocking, that Whern’s world isn’t ready to confront.


I’m having so much fun with this! I’m constantly quizzing Steven about military stuff, as well as Jerry Loeb and Bruce Berg. I originally wrote this almost twenty years ago and it sure is taking a lot of updating!

Hope — There’s No Keeping It Down

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My cat, Fred, had been missing for a few days now. He must have gotten out through the garage when we were getting rid of packing boxes. We moved here a few months ago, but were saving the boxes–oh, that just doesn’t matter.

He is MY boy, he sits on my lap. He’s soft, a flame-point mix with white fur and crossed blue eyes. He’s very timid. And he’s gone.

I keep telling myself we’ll find him, then I sink into depression and tell myself he’s gone, he’s too naive to make it out in the wild on his own. I convince myself to stop worrying and thinking, I’ve called around, I’ve put a notice on Next Door, and even on a national pet connection site. I called our old neighbors, in case he somehow makes his way back to our old house on the other side of town. It has been known to happen (that’s called HOPE).

As I’m doing other things, I go to the door and call him. He’s such a little scaredy-cat, so timid. Being cross-eyed, everything must look scary to him. After reconciling myself to the fact that he might be gone–hit by a car or taken by the coyotes or the huge dogs around here, I still keep catching myself watching out the windows to see a flash of white, and calling for him.

I suppose that’s what hope is. I can’t make it go away. Until I either have him back, or know that he is gone, I can’t make myself stop hoping he will return. Hope must be a gift, something to keep you from falling into a cauldron of self-despair while you’re waiting for the bad thing to go away. Like a virus or an illness or a condition.

My husband just got a pacemaker and it’s making him feel so much worse. I’ve gained 18 pounds in the last two months. How does a person even do that? But there’s that hope–I will try harder to get those pounds to shrink back down, and he will visit the cardiologist today to figure how why his new hardware is wonky.

And Fred will come home.

Furry Fred

Introspection from a Quarantined Family

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Being quarantined has resulted in some strange goings-on in our household of two humans and six cats. Since we’re retired, we spend more time at home than other people we know, so the cats are fairly accustomed to our hanging around in their house more than we used to. Yes, we have cats that old. While there are some disagreements as to whose turn it is to sit in what chair, we generally send them flying off the item in dispute by throwing the treat bag across the room and leaving them to fight with it for a while trying to get to the treats.

Another, more insidious issue, is the TV. We have a large-screen TV, a “must have; I’m retired” item that has taken over our living room. Hubby used to be a news junky, but not anymore, it’s just too repetitive and depressing. I thought—wonderful! No more of that awful news! He will spend more time in his workshop, leaving me at peace in my office (right next to home-theater-sized TV), and we can have a nice lunch, watch some TV… But no, instead, he has discovered YouTube. I watch YT at times 😉; I like to read about entitled people getting their comeuppance, and cheating spouses getting their comeuppance, and spoiled kids—yes, there’s a theme here. And I love to watch cats. Don’t we all? But hubby has discovered other kinds of videos. A man who demonstrates wood turning. Another one who talks about welding equipment and dismantling a pickup truck. We get the spend our lunch watching dashcams from various parts of Europe—those people have some serious driving issues! They are trying to kill each other. On a 5-lane road with no markings! It’s a free-for-all! And even more vidoes of people from here in U.S., trying even harder to kill each other! More videos, with people “brake-checking.” Apparently, this is something where you’re driving really fast, then out of nowhere, a car whips in front of you (I suppose at some time you irritated the driver, or your car is the wrong color), anyway, he jumps in front of you and slams on his brakes! And then they get incensed when you hit them! I just stare in wonder that these people are even driving. There’s a channel that does some nifty DIY stuff, he’s only marginally interested in that…so we watch it for a while. And then—this cracks me up—magnet fishing! Hubby used to have a metal detector many years ago; it’s in the garage sonewhere. He recently exchanged the idea of a metal detector for a magnet that must be 2-feet wide that he drags around the property, picking up metal objects. That’s legit—no one one wants the mower to launch a 4-inch nail through the air. But these videos show young men, or in particular, a young man and his dad, using magnets to troll rivers in the U.K. It’s great for bonding; that’s apparent, but can you imagine the wife at home—well love, what kind of crap have you found today and dragged home? Ah, an old, rusted bike frame and a road sign? You shouldnt have! And six old spikes and a piece of a bed frame? I can use those! They did find some money once, in fact, several bags of money… wrapped up with wax and other weird little things in bags–OMG, put those back! They’re voodoo or something! They found empty safes by the boatload. Where are all these safes coming from? That’s what I want to know! So, this is often our lunch and early afternoon viewing pleasure. I want to watch the cats—I get to watch a puma named Messi, who lives with a delightful young Russian couple! He is adorable! I recommend him: I Am Puma. But avoid the river magnet people. They are sooo boring. Even finding a gun or a grenade can’t liven them up.

Another quarantine issue, which I recently shared with FB friends, is that I am experiencing really dry skin now; unlike I’ve ever had before. Like “arms and legs with dandruff ” dry. Or “living on Mars in the summer with snowflakes coming off your body” dry! I don’t think the house is overly dry; I don’t get electrocuted when I walk across a carpet. Of course, I only have one carpeted room—my office. Where I spend a lot of time. Writing and being quarantined. And scratching.

My final quarantine observation has to do with ordering food online to pick up. Since a lot more people are doing this, the time between ordering and pickup can be two or three days. So I start out with an order of around $40, just essentials. And some pretzels. They’re important! Close up the order, pay, and tell Alexa to remind hubby a half-hour before pickup, the day after tomorrow. If you read my blog, you know that Alexa runs our lives. Anyway, not ten minutes later, I remember we need mustard. So I open the site, search for mustard, add it to cart, add that to order that hasn’t been picked up yet—anything else, dear?—and close. An hour later. Hubby: did you remember to put cat-litter in the order? 😬 Me: I asked you if that was everything! 🙄 Well sorry, I forgot! So shoot me. 😠 Open site, type in cat-litter, add to cart, etc. Order is now $48. By the next day, the order is up to $101. BTW, the first order had several large things–sodas and the like, so I didn’t request a 10¢ each, plastic bag for the things to be packed into. The employee could just toss them into the back; most of it was going into the garage refrigerator anyway. Once you say no to bags, you don’t get to go back and beg for bags. I’m not going to tell hubby that tomorrow morning, $101 worth of groceries are going to be tossed into the back of the car, while he sits up front, with the windows rolled up, in his mask. 😟

We will get over this, of course we will, even if it takes a little longer than we hoped it would. Some of the things that have changed in our lives are huge. But it’s still the little things that seemed to get under your skin. And make you itch.

A Room with a Scream

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When we moved to our idyllic little house in the mountains, I was so happy (still am!). A small slab of mountain behind us, and one across the freeway. Freeway? Yes, the freeway, or at least a small section of road, is visible from our front yard. And our picture window. But when we were viewing the house, we sat inside with the doors and windows closed, and then with the windows open, and we couldn’t hear anything, so we decided that really didn’t matter. We’re still in the beautiful mountains, in our sweet, little village. NOTE: There is also a substation next door, but I’ve addressed that in an earlier post.

The day comes when we move our furniture from the city to our little cottage in the–yeah, yeah you get it. We now live in the mountains. After an exhausting day of directing the movers where to put what (they don’t follow directions very well so there was a lot more work to do after they left), it’s time to make the bed and fall into it! It’s so quiet, serene, cold… we like it cold. It’s November, in the mount–yes. We open the windows and snuggle under our quilts. The bedroom cat crawls under. She’s like, what the hell? It’s cold out there! NOTE: Anny Catt (bedroom cat) is 4 lbs of terror; she hates everything on earth but hubby, tolerates me, tries to kill our other 5 cats on sight (remember, she weighs 4 lbs) so she lives in our bedroom. One of our cats weighs 18 lbs, another 20, the others aren’t much smaller A fight is not a pretty sight.

So, we’re all fast asleep, when in the middle of the night, coyotes run by. We’re accustomed to that, we had them running through the arroyo behind our old house, howling and freaking out the cats. It’s kind of a cool sound, sometimes it makes the hair on my airs rise, but it so nature! Only these coyotes sound like they’re standing under our window! They are so loud, they wake me up, my heart pounding. They go rushing by, probably running in the dry creek bed behind our house, or alongside the mountain on the other side of the creek. But they go by fairly quickly and me, hubby, and cat soon so back to sleep.

And then it happens. A ghastly scream breaks the dawn. We both fly up. Cat runs further under the quilts, growling. Silence, then another scream, and another. Dear God, is someone killing someone in our backyard? Hubby runs to the window and slams it shut. No dear, you can’t make the killer go away by shutting a window. By the time he gets to the other window, the next scream ends with a tiny, doodle-doo… Another scream-doodle-doo. It’s a freaking rooster. It sounds like a woman being stabbed to death! I swear!

“Why aren’t the damned coyotes eating that thing?” I demand blearily. “Is that what they’re doing down here, hunting for it?” Can we call animal control? Probably not, we’re living in nature now! Hubby Googles, “how long do roosters live?”

It’s now March and that damned thing wakes us up at dawn nearly every morning, unless we sleep with the windows shut, which we rarely do. Even in the middle of winter, they’re open a crack. Apparently, that’s all the room the sound needs to filter through.

I’m at wits end. I’ve wondered if there’s such a thing as a noise-sensitive floodlight. Or, we can get a screaming goat. You’ve seen them on YouTube. They also sound like a murder victim. If the rooster awakened them, would they scream back? Maybe an airhorn? I don’t know; it’s hard to think rationally at 6 a.m.

So, that’s the view from the bedroom.

In other news regarding the view from my office (substation), we’ve contacted the electric company. The bemused gentleman who came and looked agreed–we need something to put between our house and the eyesore. He wonders why the people who lived here before didn’t do it. I don’t care. I just want to look out my office window and not see an EMP-machine living next door.

Self-Quarantined? I'd Like to Invite You to Read Books One and Two from an Epic Fantasy Series

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The first two books from my series, The Ring-Witches of Nesht, Dragon Rings and Dragon’s Revenge are on sale through 04/04/2020, for .99 each! And as always, both are free on KU.

Something dark and terrible is striking unseen in the night, bringing death and ruin to the peaceable lands of Nesht, and then vanishing back into the cold mists of the surrounding mountains. Two powerful Ring-Witches, Mayra and Wolfe, join uneasy forces to investigate the ongoing—and very puzzling—destruction. How can something be formidable enough to incinerate entire villages and tracts of forests, slaughtering people and animals, yet leave behind massive amounts of valuable gold and jewels? What do these savage invaders want? As they investigate, they hear and feel a large, powerful presence—but it refuses to show itself. When they probe, it brings scorching, mind-rending pain to Mayra—and then inconsolably apologizes for its actions! When Mayra finds a huge, bloodstained talon, she finally knows what that destructive force is—a dragon. A creature so long unseen they are a myth. Once upon a time, dragons treasured witches as allies. What has changed? Why are they attacking humans? Mayra and Wolfe must learn the truth and stop a war the humans cannot possibly win. But joining the dragons would be more than just betraying their king, it could mean their deaths. For Mayra and Wolfe and their small, fierce assembly of witches learn that there are some things worth more than a life. Some causes that even mighty dragons will die for. https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Rings-Ring-Witches-Nesht-Book-ebook/dp/B075H39PVD/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Powerful Ring-Witches, Mayra and Wolfe have fled their kingdom, accompanied by their witch-warrior friends, escaping with the dragons they rescued. But once they reach the dragon’s cold homeland, they find an empty Aerie. Where are the dragon females and the younglings? Barely do the witches have time to rest before they are winging their way to rescue the stolen dragons—but this one is challenging from the beginning. The witches quickly find themselves trapped in a vast system of caverns with Hagan, an evil, fanatical dragon. With his helpers—a greedy shapeshifter and a wrathful gnome, he has stolen something precious from the dragons and hidden it away. Mayra is running out of time. If she doesn’t wrest a powerful talisman from Hagan’s control before he can use it, he will take control of all the noble dragons that Mayra loves. Hagan threatens to kill his hostages—the female dragons and their tiny offspring, unless Mayra leaves him to collect his terrible treasure from its hiding place. Can Mayra and Wolfe rescue the dragons—large and small—and the talisman before Hagan and his irrational accomplices destroy all that the mighty dragons hold dearest to them? It won’t be as easy this time, for Hagan, a wielder of dark dragon magic, dares the humans to battle him—the most savagely horrific dragon ever hatched. https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Rings-Ring-Witches-Nesht-Book-ebook/dp/B075H39PVD/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8tore

A Room with a “View”

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We moved to our wee village in November, 2019. When we purchased our property, we knew (since we can hardly avoid seeing it) that there was a bit of an eyesore on it, that is, the village substation which takes its royal place as part of our property. We went ahead and purchased it because we were aware of laws that require the electric company (EC) to put up landscaping to make our property a bit more pleasant. We can’t imagine why the previous owners never requested the EC plant trees to hide the Decepticon from view, but getting the EC to pay for and plant landscaping is just the sort of challenge Steven (hubby) lives for.

This Blight is what I see out my office window. Steven brushed up on the pertinent laws and contacted the EC. According to them there is money in the budget, and they sent someone out to have a look. We contacted them again yesterday, after giving them two months to think about our plight. The conversation:

EC: Yes, we should get trees. However… trees must be watered. Where will this water come from?

Steven: We have city water, and a well that we use to water our property. You can use that. We just want the Blight hidden so my lovely, patient wife doesn’t look out her window and think of Transformers, versus the elves and witches she prefers to write about.

EC: Hmm… not sure if that’s doable. We’ll get back to you soon!

So, here we are. I am sitting at my desk, looking out my window at the Blight. We installed lovely burgundy mini-blinds, so I can shut those, but then my cats can’t look out at the birds (those of us with cats know what blinds that are attempting to thwart a cat look like). I will update my woeful tale if or when details become available.

The View from my Office

The Warrior Vegetarian

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In my series, The Ring-Witches of Nesht, the female protagonist, Mayra, is a vegetarian. So is one of the males in her group of witch-warrior adventurers.

In Dragon Rings, a chef serves Mayra a delicious stew—I’ll let her describe it:

Mayra sank into her bed, pleasantly full of savory stew. She had enjoyed the thick creation, made from various vegetables and grain that a resourceful cook had used to create a thin dough. He had then shaped the dough into wide noodles—Mayra had smiled at the funny word. The kitchen retainer explained how he had cut the dough into long, threadlike pieces—the noodles—boiled them with the stew, and allowed them to soak up the spicy flavors. It was delicious. She would have to track down the means to prepare such food for herself. With thickly buttered fresh bread and crisp, sweet fruit, her solitary meal had been a feast.

from “Dragon Rings

While the gang is traveling, they take her food choices in stride. She simply ensures she has something nutritional to eat while the others are chowing down on a side of some sort of ungulate. Also, they are aware that she doesn’t want to watch any preparation.

In Dragon’s Revenge, Mayra and the other vegetarian in her crew eat fish for the first time. Again, from her perspective:

Mayra leaned back against Wolfe, savoring the warmth of the fire as it grew, fed with small pieces of wood, and enjoying feeling full. The fish—well, they were fish. Unintelligent, neither magnificent nor spirited, not the typical food of one who had always been a strict herbivore—but Wolfe had at last gotten her to try the cold, scaly things, convincing her that their nutritive value was essential to her well-being. Two of the witches had cooked the repulsive things within leaves that had made them tender and sweet, and almost palatable.

from “Dragon’s Revenge”

At last, we know Mayra’s reason for not eating meat—she sees animals as intelligent, spirited beings not deserving to be eaten. She does have trouble explaining that to dragons, but these great beasts are altruistic and they try to understand. Gaulte, their leader, has bonded with Mayra, and they will not be eating in front of the humans. That might say a lot about dragon table manners–dainty they are not, and they are considerate.

It would have been simpler never to have made Mayra a vegetarian, but it was such an essential part of her personality. In a world of warriors, being unwilling to eat meat is a shortcoming that others might perceive as a weakness which must be defended. But I never have either of the two vegetarians have to defend their choice. Accepting her choice is a testament as to how the witches feel about each other, and ultimately, how the dragons feel about them, as well. Dragons know all humans are odd, and some are more peculiar than others, but they have proven themselves to be fierce warriors, and because of the Enhancement Rings they wear, they are part of the dragons.

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Dragon Rings

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Dragon’s Revenge

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Autumn Returns (Again), Bringing Soup and Socks

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I want to make this an annual posting, as Autumn comes every year (I hope!), so if you’ve read it before–read it again! Maybe I snuck some stuff in below and you’ll never know!

Autumn is my favorite season, and not just because it’s so beautiful, nor because that’s the season when I used to have a birthday, back when I celebrated such an occasion. Alas, I stopped having birthdays two years ago, when the aging process stopped for me. I do love all the best wishes from my friends, but mentally, they are simply, Happy Happy Day. Which could mean anything! Just don’t forget the Happy Day present. And cake.

No, autumn is putting-on-your-sock-in-the house weather. Getting out your sweaters and long-sleeved shirts. Turning on the heater in the morning. Autumn means hearty soup for dinner and leftovers for lunch. Filling the birdfeeders so the birds can stock up on their way south. Digging up the garden and raking leaves (*snrk* I don’t do that anymore, since I had an a-fib, I lug oxygen around with me. See, I told you there would be changes!). 

I decided to add that part above quite intentionally, because as the years pass, we have things happen in our lives. But Autumn, and the other seasons, still pass. This is going to briefly turn into an object lesson. Get out there, rake some leaves, then kick them all over the place. Even better, have your kids/grandlings rake them up, and then kick them…you know the rest. Enjoy each season for what it brings.

As I did previously, I’ll finish with reminding you that family is so important to keep with you; they will be the ones to help you through the changes that time brings. Autumn means Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming and those are also my favorites–the holidays that bind families and make memories. But Spring is planting flowers, going camping, planning your summer vacation, and Summer is going on that vacation (unless you live in NM like me, then it’s sweating your butt off and figuring out how quickly you can move from your air conditioned car to the air conditioned store/house/hospital). And thank goodness, it’s Winter again! Freezing off my butt now–my butt is never happy.

I’ll close this time by noting that I’m not very good at these heart-felt posts, but that’s OK. A lot of my readers (yeah, my fantasy is kind of dark) have trouble relating to them! So enjoy life. You only get one.

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