31 December 2022

See You Next Year

The Intrepid Author in the Wild, CRF Time Traveling Authors 2022

So, it's a Dad Joke. See you next year - which is tomorrow. But today I wanted to talk about why that is all I will say, going forward. I hope that this may reach others with the same anxiety related unrest when this time rolls around every year.

I like to pretend that I like New Year's Eve. I mean, what's not to like? Excuse to party. Excuse to be very loud. Excuse to snog. What's not to like? 

Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen on CNN. Yes please. Jool Holland's Hootenanny. The top of my bucket list, Hogmany in Edinburgh. But those aren't all the things floating like Times Square confetti in my mind.

In all honesty, I really hate New Years Eve/Day.

I have a lot of trouble with change. I'm sure I have told the story already that my mother remembered about me (because she remembered everything about me) of how I would burst into tears at the end of TV shows and be done with my tears by the start of the next show. I didn't like the ending. I didn't like the change over to a new show.

Make that 30 minute sit-com into the end of 365 whole days and it is almost more than I can take. In looking back at my memories of past posts on social media, it isn't a coincidence how many times I've gotten sick on or just before New Year's Eve. Throw in two full years of uncertainty that came along with the pandemic and my anxiety has just moved in and started picking curtains.

But I'm aware of it, and I'm working on it...and, predictably I have a slight sore throat and even more slight fever today. Because of course I do.

So, if you have this same issue that I do...if you are more nervous than excited about the upcoming year...iI you'd rather the ball get stuck on it's way down just because you aren't sure you can handle what will happen when it hits the bottom, I'm here to remind you that it always has. It always will, and we are still here. Rather than looking ahead with resolutions that we all know will not stand, look back at 2022. Think about everything that happened, good and bad. Celebrate the good things and make a promise to do better with the bad things when they rear their heads...because you know they will. If you have to make a resolution, make one to be a better friend to yourself.

See you next year.






02 December 2022

Welcome to when The Lettuce becomes the Hiatus...

I always take December off...or try, anyway. Nanowrimo has left me with NOT MUCH IN THE TANK, and while I would love to say I don't do anything toward my writing career, but I do. I will. 

For now, though, the Lettuce is going on hiatus at least...and I'd like to invite you to join me by my virtual fireplace, listening to Christmas music (NO WHAM, ONLY INSTRUMENTAL) and trying desperately to let my mind take a break for a bit.

Yeah, I don't think it will happen either - who scheduled the world cup during my winter holidays?

Anyway...Thanks for reading all my rambling. I hope you've picked up a new song or artist, and if I've seen you at one of my signing events, thanks for coming out. See you in the new year, y'all.

28 November 2022

Music Monday: A Bit of Heartbreak, after a Win

 First things first, I finished Nanowrimo this weekend. The lucky thing about having it in November is that there is a holiday in there that sees me off work and full of cheese, wandering about and asking what day it is...and with plenty of time to write. The manuscript isn't done but I can slow my pace a bit.



Now, that said, the story is turning out to be a lot darker than I'd originally thought, and with that darkness comes me seeking out writing inspiration that matches. This is one of the most emotionally evocative songs I know and when it came up in my playlist I had to take a moment and just live in the feelings. The first time I heard it I think I gasped out loud in the third act. I would say enjoy, but...sit with it for a bit.



The Highwayman
by Loreena McKennitt

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon the cloudy seas
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moon
A highwayman came riding
Riding, riding
A highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door

He'd a french cocked hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin
A coat of glaring velvet, and breeches of brown doe skin
They fitted with never a wrinkle, his boots were up to the thigh
And he rode with a chill and a twinkle
His pistol butts a twinkle
His rapier hilt a twinkle, under the jeweled sky

And over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark of night
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter
Bess, the landlord's daughter
Plaiting a long dark red love-knot into her long black hair

One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize tonight
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light
Yet if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day
Then look for me by the moonlight
Watch for me by the moonlight
I'll come to thee by the moonlight, though hell should bar the way

He rose upright in the stirrups, he scarce could reach her hand
She loosened her hair in the casement, her face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight
Oh, sweet waves in the moonlight!
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west

He did not come at the dawning, he did not come at noon
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moon
A red-coat troop came marching
Marching, marching
King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door

They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed
Two of them knelt at the casement, with muskets at their side
There was death at every window
Hell at one dark window
For Bess could see, through the casement
The road that he would ride

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest
And they bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast
Now keep good watch and they kissed her
She heard the dead man say
"Look for me by the moonlight
Watch for me by the moonlight
I'll come to thee by the moonlight, though hell should bar the way"

She twisted her hands behind her, but all the knots held good
She writhed her hands 'til her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness and the hours crawled on by like years!
'Til, now, on the stroke of midnight
Cold, on the stroke of midnight
The tip of one finger touched it!
The trigger at least was hers

Tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear
Tlot-tlot, in the distance, were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill
The highwayman came riding
Riding, riding
The red-coats looked to their priming
She stood up straight and still

Tlot in the frosty silence, tlot, in the echoing night
Nearer he came and nearer, her face was like a light
Her eyes grew wide for a moment, she drew one last deep breath
Her finger moved in the moonlight
Her musket shot her in the moonlight
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him with her death

He turned, he spurred to the west, he did not know she stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood
Not 'til the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter
The landlord's black-eyed daughter
Watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there

And back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky
With a white rope smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high
Blood-red were the spurs inthe golden moon, wine-red was his velvet coat
When they shot him down on the highway
Down like a dog on the highway
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat

Still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees
When the moon is a ghostly galleon, tossed upon the cloudy seas
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moon
The highwayman comes riding
Riding, riding
The highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door

21 November 2022

Music Monday: A little bit of Tennyson

One of my favorite painters is Waterhouse, and one of my favorites of his paintings is The Lady of Shalott, a lovely poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, that tells the tale of a woman cursed to live in a tower who can only view the world through a mirror. She weaves what she sees and is dreadfully bored but knows that if she takes her gaze from the mirror something awful will happen. It's just beautiful and this video has lyrics in it, so win-win!

10 days left in this Nano and this song is perfect for talking me out of my real life and letting my creative mind go roaming around...no mirror required. Enjoy.


14 November 2022

Music Monday: Terribly and Beautifully Tired

I spent the weekend back at the Carolina Renaissance Fair as one of the Time Traveling Authors and y'all, I am exhausted...but in that giddy, happy kind of way that needs a cozy bed and some cider and no responsibilities for about a week so I can just reflect. Ah well, I got the cider and the bed, two out of three? 
Anyway, I was surrounded (quite literally) all weekend by fantastic music in the spot they set up for us. So for today's Music Monday, I want to share some out-of-the-box music that I ran across on TikTok that is a happy fusion of two things I love: bagpipes and Punjabi bhangra music. This mashup version of Toss the Feathers - an Irish song - is guaranteed to get you moving. Enjoy - somewhere that you can turn the volume up. (No lyrics this week because are on the video!)


10 November 2022

An Upcoming Signing Event and a bit of Gratitude

The book that started it all, in Orana, anyway...

Once again, I will be at the Carolina Renaissance Festival for Time Traveler's Weekend, hanging out with a bunch of fellow SciFi/Fantasy authors to sell signed copies of our books. You may remember that in 2019 I was there for the first time, selling a book that I'd started during the 2010 Nanowrimo. It came into the world as a ginormous 350K manuscript called - because I'm clever like that - Superginormous_Manuscript.doc. Yeah. That became the Nature Walker Trilogy, then the Orana Chronicles which has just seen the launch of the 8th book set in the universe of Orana, The Temple.

But this post isn't about that. Not really. 

This is about working for so long at CRF and seeing the authors set up on that weekend and wishing I could be one of them. This is about finally sending the email and seeing my name listed on the CRF website as one of the authors. This is about remembering how scared I was that first weekend, and how others around me had to basically pull information from me about my books.

I'm not going to lie and say that it has gotten any easier - if anything with so many titles it has gotten worse. But here's where the gratitude comes in.

I'm not really a part of any writing groups, not formal ones. I belong to two writing/author groups on social media and I am a proud member of the Broadleaf Writers Association in Georgia...but only because I attend their annual writer's conference and want to support what they do. So that first weekend at CRF I didn't know how to be an author. I'd sold books before, but they were never mine. I think I came back home after the weekend with almost as many copies as I'd taken with me.

But that's not the point. I am more grateful than I can ever express to the authors that were there that first weekend for treating me like I belonged there. I listened to them talk to people that came up to look at their books. I practiced saying what they said and working on my elevator pitches for the two titles I had with me. I have used Tell me what you like to read? and What kind of books are you reading right now? at all of my signing events since then, and it gives me a not-so-scary way to start a conversation.

When I returned in 2021 (2020 was cancelled because the faire didn't happen) I thought I was ready, but I still listened and still learned. And now, in 2022, I'm ready to spend a weekend up there hanging out with people who get the writer side of me. People who live in fantasy worlds and have characters on their mind day in and out. And I'm going into this on my own, without a Sherpa or a sidekick, and I'm gong to keep listening and keep learning.

Come see us, won't you? We will be there cannon to cannon this Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for the faire are advance purchase now and there are only a limited number. 

I'd love to see you at my table and have you tell me what you like to read. 📚

07 November 2022

Music Monday: Nano Week Two

Y'all, the first week is always so easy. The target wordcounts are lower. The project is new. Your characters are still paying attention to what you want them to do. None of them have gone off the rails...yet. It's coming though, you know it is. And that complete nightmare happens in week two, but you need hope. Hope that the characters will finish running amok and come back home to where you want them - or that where they've gone is where the story needs to go. You've got to be unbreakable, so that at the end of the next two weeks, you remain undefeated.

(no lyrics this week because they are in the video)

01 November 2022

Nanowrimo 2022 - Here goes nothing, again.

I bet she'd told me I couldn't have any cake. Stand back...

Yeah, it's here. Allegedly I'm going to work on the next in the Orana Chronicles series, Hero, but all I have so far is the cover. Cart before the horse, I know. 

I mean, I have a rough idea, but as a die-hard pantser I really don't have an outline. As my poor mother could have told you, "Nancy doesn't work well with an outline unless it is filled out after she's done writing." Sorry Mom.

Anyway, so I'm off and away today on this month long, coffee fueled expedition that I have taken every November since 2010, when I was here visiting my family from the UK and happened to hear about Nanowrimo somewhere. I thought I'd give it a go, and the bare bones of the Nature Walker Trilogy was born. 

Very bare bones. Like strung together with duct tape and bandanas and hope. 

I like to think back on that, though, when I am getting frustrated and starting to believe that the impostor syndrome is speaking for the collective universe when it says I need to give up this writing thing.

Another thing my mother could have told you is how stubborn her eldest daughter is. So I will be thinking of you this month, Mom, and how you believed that all you had to do to get your Nancy up and moving was suggest that maybe she couldn't do something. I will try, once again, to prove that wrong...and make you proud.

31 October 2022

Music Monday: Mad [Author's]World

Well, that sums it up, doesn't it? The first time I heard this one I thought that it was spot on, what with everything going on in the world these days, but then I listened to it through the lens of a writer/creative...and it meant so much more. We want to scream our pain and break away from the dark. Yes. YES. Enjoy that last day before Nano starts, won't you?


(No lyrics because they are in the video.)

24 October 2022

Music Monday: But where IS home?

I may have already featured this song on Music Mondays past, but it is such a favorite and a good writing inspiration that I'm going to do it again. I make no secret of my love for both Genesis and Phil Collins as a solo act, and this song was on my radar way back in 1995 when my family and I spent six weeks living abroad in the UK. I can't hear it now without cringing at how much I ignored all of the fantastic things I had to learn in favor of six weeks of homesickness and longing for friends far away. Spoiler alert: all those things were still there when I got back, but I won't ever live in that house with my parents and my sister again. So now I listen to this and I think of home as where you need to be at that moment in time, with those that you are meant to have around you...just as my main character will discover in the Nano project that starts in...JUST OVER A WEEK. WHAT?


Take Me Home
by: Phil Collins

Take that look of worry, I'm an ordinary man
They don't tell me nothing, so I find out all I can
There's a fire that's been burning right outside my door
I can't see but I feel it and it helps to keep me warm

So, I... I don't mind
No, I... I don't mind

Seems so long I've been waiting, still don't know what for
There's no point in escaping, I don't worry anymore
I can't come out to find you, I don't like to go outside
They can turn off my feelings like they're turning off the light

But, I... I don't mind
No, I... I don't mind
Oh, I... I don't mind
No, I... I don't mind

So take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home, oh Lord

'Cause I've been a prisoner all my life, and I can say to you

Take that look of worry, mine's an ordinary life
Working when it's daylight, and sleeping when it's night
I've got no far horizons, I don't wish upon a star
They don't think that I listen, oh, but I know who they are

And, I... I don't mind
No, I... I don't mind
Oh, I... I don't mind
No, I... I don't mind

So take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home, oh Lord

Well, I've been a prisoner all my life, and I can say to you
But I don't remember

Take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home

'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home
'Cause I don't remember, take, take me home

'Cause I don't remember...

17 October 2022

Music Monday: Peak Autumn

Well, I don't know about you, but all that this piece of music is missing is a comfy blanket, a good book, a steaming mug of cider, and a cabin in a autumnal colored wood to hold it all. I'm seeing retellings of fairy tales and epic battles and...well, the rest would be a spoiler, wouldn't it? Roll on, Nanowrimo 2022. (No lyrics because it is purely instrumental.)

10 October 2022

Music Monday: Talk to Me

 Oh, the Nano prep is swinging into high gear, and while I think I know where this year's project is going (never mind the whole OVERHAUL and REDO process), I don't ever really know until 1 November. Until then, all the characters yammer on inside this writer's brain, hoping to be able to join the fun next month. In that vein...I discovered this song while building out my playlist and it is stirring the muse a bit. Lzzy Hale never disappoints. (No need for lyrics this week - they're in the video!)

05 October 2022

It's here! Pre-Order is here!

Today is the day!!! For more info on The Temple, visit this link to go to my website for a sample. The Temple will release in Kindle ebook and paperback formats on 5 November. I hope you enjoy this tale of mystery, murder, and reunited soulmates as much as I've enjoyed writing it!

Yellow text on a starry blue background reads Coming Soon, The Temple. A Guardians of Orana Novel. Preorder Opens October 5th!


03 October 2022

Music Monday: Preptober Week One

Here we are in October already. What on earth? For those of us that are Nano junkies, October becomes "prep-tober" as we get ready for our upcoming 30 days of writing and losing our minds. 

Well, it would if I were a plotter. However, I'm still firmly in the pantser category, so this month is for getting my 5 November release ready to go, my stock ready for a signing event mid-November, and generally clearing everything else off my calendar for the month of my birth.

Yep. I'm a November baby - a Sagittarius to be exact, so the pantser aspect shouldn't be a surprise. Anyway, this song has jumped out at me as I'm driving and singing like the mad GenX'er I am and whispered all sorts of things in my ear about my project for this year's Nano...enjoy.


High on You
by Survivor

There you stood, that'll teach her
To look so good and feel so right
Let me tell you about the girl I met last night

It's understood, I had to reach her
I let the wheel of fortune spin
I touched your hand before the crowd started crashin' in

Now I'm higher than a kite
I know I'm getting hooked on your love
Talkin' to myself, runnin' in the heat
Beggin' for your touch
In the middle of the street

And I, I can't stop thinkin' about you, girl
I must be livin' in a fantasy world
I'm so high on you

Smart and coy, a little crazy
The kind of face that starts a fight
Let me tell you about the girl I had last night

Piercin' eyes, like a raven
You seemed to share my secret sin
We were high before the night started kickin' in

Now I'm screamin' in the night
I know I'm getting hooked on your love
Talkin' to myself, runnin' in the heat
Beggin' for your touch
In the middle of the street

And I, I can't stop thinkin' about you, girl
I must be livin' in a fantasy world
I've searched the whole world over
To find a heart so true
Such complete intoxication
I'm high on you

There you stood, that'll teach her
To look so good and feel so right
Let me tell you about the girl I met last night

Now I'm higher than a kite
I know I'm getting hooked on your love
Talkin' to myself, runnin' in the heat
Beggin' for your touch in the middle of the street

And I, I can't stop thinkin' about you, girl
I must be livin' in a fantasy world
I've searched the whole world over
To find a heart so true
Such complete intoxication
I'm high on you

I'm high on you
I'm high on you
I'm high on you

26 September 2022

Music Monday: It probably won't do...

I know. It was used in Spiderman. It's by Nickleback. I know all these things, but I also know that it is A-List for belting out in the car, slamming my palm against the steering wheel to keep time, and trying NOT to bang my head or break into interpretive dance like the GenX kid I am. But with the upcoming Nano being...most likely, I mean it is only September still and I've lots of sleeps to change my mind between now and then...right, the next Nano is PROBABLY going to be focused on the next Guardians of Orana novel, Hero, it seemed appropriate. Enjoy.


Hero
by Nickleback

I am so high. I can hear heaven
I am so high. I can hear heaven
Whoa, but heaven
No heaven don't hear me

And they say that a hero can save us
I'm not gonna stand here and wait
I'll hold on to the wings of the eagles
Watch as we all fly away

Someone told me love would all save us
But how can that be, look what love gave us
A world full of killing, and blood-spilling
That world never came

And they say that a hero can save us
I'm not gonna stand here and wait
I'll hold on to the wings of the eagles
Watch as we all fly away, Hi-ii-igh!

Now that the world isn't ending, it's love that I'm sending to you
It isn't the love of a hero, and that's why I fear it won't do

And they say that a hero can save us
I'm not gonna stand here and wait
I'll hold on to the wings of the eagles
Watch as we all fly away

And they're watching us (Watching Us)
And they're watching us (Watching Us)
As we all fly away!

And they're watching us (Watching Us)
And they're watching us (Watching Us)
As we all fly away!

And they're watching us (Watching Us)
And they're watching us (Watching Us)
As we all fly away
Whoa, whoa

19 September 2022

Music Monday: My Love, Florence...

I will admit right here and now that I have a crush on Florence...and probably the Machine too, if I'm honest. She is an amazing human being with an outstanding and mind-blowing talent and I will be honest, she's creeping up on Imagine Dragons for having the most songs in my writing playlists. Enjoy...it has captions!


12 September 2022

A Happy Birthday Wish, One Day Late

The McDonald Children
Yesterday, September 11, would have been my Aunt Mary's 93rd birthday. She never married or had any children, so I try to remember her birthday because, like my Aunt Inez on my dad's side, she was very special to us growing up. 

While my dad's sister could very well have been a second mother to us, Aunt Mary was like the older sister I never had. She had impeccable taste when it came to picking out jewelry, she made fudge that could have started a fight it was so good, and she could stand up to my mother and her older brothers in her soft-spoken way that I wish I'd learned to do.

In fact, I remember suggesting to my mother that Aunt Mary move in with her since my father was in care and she was living alone. "Oh, no," she replied, "Mary and I wouldn't live together well. Neither of us wants that." 😄 (After hearing tales of how Aunt Mary and my Uncle Lewis couldn't ride long distances in the car together because they both liked to wind each other up and seeing her square off with Mom over holiday meal prep, I believed it.)

So happy Birthday, Aunt Mary. I hope all 5 of your siblings are with you for a glorious birthday dinner where -
to quote my Uncle Harold's famous proclamation when my father met my mom’s family, "nothing makes anyone sick." I also hope you and Uncle Lewis don't end up in a "debate."  

I love you and miss you very much. Please hug Aunt Jane, Mom, Uncle Sanford, Uncle Lewis, and Uncle Harold for me. 

Music Monday: Love Of Mine (Lyrics)

If you know me, you know I love Imagine Dragons, and I've said for ages that if I were to ever work on a soundtrack for a movie version of my books, they would be my first stop. There is so much in their catalogue that IS Orana and all my characters that live there...but this time I'm hearing them in a new light and with a new story in mind. My new project is the combination of several manuscripts in my never ending quest for a vampire story - kind of a Lost Boys meets Pretty in Pink urban fantasy...and this might be a good place to start. (No lyrics because they are in the video!) Enjoy.

07 September 2022

Book Signing News! The Upstate Renaissance Faire In Greer, SC

Author Event, 742 in Rock Hill, 8/6/2022
So, I'm taking this crazy show on the road again, but not that far up the road this time. I will have my own booth (provided I can get that sucker set up and it isn't too windy that day) at the Upstate Renaissance Faire in Greer, SC this coming Saturday (Sept 10th). 

Y'all... I'm nervous. The good thing is that if I need something I have loads of people nearby that can come help - instead of at least two hours away like at the Carolina Ren Fest or the Atlanta Steampunk Expo. My trusty Sherpa, Anne, will be at the same faire but is working with the Hounds of East Fairhaven, and while hubs has the day off we don't want to leave the dogs alone that long.

You know what will make it better, though? If you come out to see me! You don't even have to buy a book (though that would be amazing, I really don't want to have to take all this stuff back home with me). Just come say hi and hang out in what I hope is a properly decorated booth run by a mostly properly decorated author.

Question...can I actually sign books while wearing my usual rennie garb? Only one way to find out...for more info, check out the link above or go to my website.


05 September 2022

Music Monday: If you didn't see it...

You need to find the bit of the tribute concert that happened over the weekend at Wembley in London for Foo Fighters late drummer, Taylor Hawkins when his son Shane hopped on the drums and LEFT EVERYTHING HE HAD ON THAT STAGE. I mean, the entire event was emotional and I'm so upset that I didn't get to see the entire concert, but if you can find it, look for My Hero. I've posted the song and I've got to say that if the Foos don't recruit that boy they are missing a trick. 

You might also check out Wolfgang Van Halen performing Hot for Teacher along with Foo Fighters and the lead singer of The Darkness. That was something else, and just proves how strong genetics can be.


My Hero
by Foo Fighters

Too alarmin' now to talk about
Take your pictures down and shake it out
Truth or consequence, say it aloud
Use that evidence, race it around

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He's ordinary

Don't the best of them bleed it out
While the rest of them peter out?
Truth or consequence, say it aloud
Use that evidence, race it around

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He's ordinary

Kudos, my hero
Leavin' all the mess
You know my hero
The one that's on

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He's ordinary

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He's ordinary


29 August 2022

Music Monday: Diabolical Blue

This song came up on a playlist recently and while I'm not sure yet, I think it will be very important come to November's Nanowrimo. Or I just like Elbow. One or the other. Or both. Enjoy.



What Am I Without You?
by Elbow

The universe keeps singing this song
Your eyes are diabolical blue, ooh
I've been watching you walk on the water lately
My arms outstretched when you do

What am I?
What am I on the earth for
If not to put you to bed?
If not to remind you to eat sometimes, if...
If not to cradle your head?
What am I without you?

The universe keeps singing its song
I can't get it out of my head
It skips right along like a stone on water
And I think I know how it ends

The last eyes I wanna see
Are yours, are brown and diabolical blue
They never once criеd without laughing, baby
So I'll line up a zinger for you
That's what I'll do

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
What am I without you?
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
What am I without you?
What am I without you?
What am I?

25 August 2022

Man, it has been a week...

Cover Art: The Temple
So I am back at the DayJob™ now and...y'all. How did I forget everything that it entails in one short summer break? I mean, I haven't forgotten how to interpret, thankfully, but the other stuff has put me in the front seat of the struggle bus. It's also made me put off things that need to get done for my other life as a writer.

One thing that is coming up sooner than I'd thought is the release of my 8th Orana Chronicles novel, The Temple. EIGHT! I don't know how that happened or what I was doing when it did, but this beauty will be in preorder for e-book starting in October and released in all formats on November 5th. What?

I look back at those seven books in line ahead of The Temple and I can see a definite progression in the story arc, in my writing, and in character development, and that's a good thing. But it is leading me to think more broadly and after I got book two in the Arcstone series pulled into a second draft for last July's NaNoWriMo I think I might be ready to add a second book to the Luminous Beings series as well as branch out into some vampire fiction.

And here is where I can clearly hear the voice of my mother in the back of my mind cautioning me to finish one thing at a time because she knew me very well and she knew that often my excitement can override my ability to manage my time. 

So for now...let's just focus on The Temple, which follows the events of Red. Where that book gave Tairn a chance to step into the role of the main character, this one gives that same ability to Hack and Elys. I say every time that this is my favorite of the Orana characters, and while I love Hack and Elys dearly I still have a soft spot for Tairn. They have a strength of character that she has only just developed - and they have each other.

And that's all I can say without pulling my usual spoilers, so there ya go. Watch for more information on the release of The Temple...and be good to yourselves. Time flies by, whether you're having fun or not, it would seem.


22 August 2022

Music Monday: A Journey to the 80s

The year was 1983. I was in seventh grade. And this magnificent band put out hit after hit...and now, a few years later (I'm not going to concede that the 80s were more than about 15 years ago, so don't try) this song hits differently. And when you put it with my WIP that you will have the chance to read in November, it just speaks to me of REDACTED and REDACTED and what happened at the end of Red. Also...it is a perfect example of 80s ballads at their best. Enjoy.


Send Her My Love
by Journey

It's been so long
Since I've seen her face
You say she's doin' fine
I still recall a sad cafe
How it hurt so bad to see her cry
I didn't want to say goodbye

Send her my love
Memories remain
Send her my love
Roses never fade
Send her my love

The same hotel
The same old room
I'm on the road again
She needed so much more
Than I could give
We knew our love could not pretend
Broken hearts can always mend

Send her my love
Memories remain
Send her my love
Roses never fade
Send her my love

Callin' out her name, I'm dreamin'
Reflections of a face I'm seein'
It's her voice that keeps on haunting me

Send her, send her my love
Roses never fade
Memories remain
Send her, send her my love

15 August 2022

Music Monday: A Bit of Shakespear...

I don't know what I was doing this past week when this song came to my attention...because I hadn't heard it in...well, several years. But I really listened to the lyrics and...Em. Lex. Arcstone. That's all I can say because of SPOILERS but...that manuscript is in the cooling-off time now and STILL, they are asking for me to tell more of their story. Yeesh.



Stay
by Shakespears Sister

If this world is wearing thin
And you're thinking of escape
I'll go anywhere with you

Just wrap me up in chains
But if you try to go alone
Don't think I'll understand

Stay with me
Stay with me

In the silence of your room
In the darkness of your dreams
You must only think of me

There can be no in between
When your pride is on the floor
I'll make you beg for more

Stay with me
Stay with me

You'd better hope and pray
That you make it safe
Back to your own world

You'd better hope and pray
That you'll wake one day
In your own world

'Cause when you sleep at night
They don't hear your cries
In your own world

Only time will tell
If you can break the spell
Back in your own world

Stay with me
Stay with me

Stay, stay with me
Stay, stay, stay, stay, stay
Stay with me

08 August 2022

Music Monday: Fighters, in All Forms

I write a LOT of female characters. Some of them are strong from the get go (Em/Madelyne, Annie, Elys) and others have to come into their strength (Gin, Lucy). But one thing that both types have in common is that they have an opposite, a motivator, and that isn't always the antagonist. Tairn, for example, could sit back and blame Taeben for her woes but her motivator is herself, really. She is fighting against years of letting herself believe that she is inferior to her sister, Nel. That's what makes her a fighter...


Fighter
by Christina Aguilera

After all you put me through
You'd think I'd despise you
But in the end, I wanna thank you
'Cause you made me that much stronger

Well, I thought I knew you
Thinkin' that you were true
Guess I, I couldn't trust, called your bluff
Time is up 'cause I've had enough

You were there by my side
Always down for the ride
But your joy ride just came down in flames
'Cause your greed sold me out in shame

After all of the stealing and cheatin'
You probably think that I hold resentment for you
But uh-uh, oh no, you're wrong
'Cause if it wasn't for all that you tried to do
I wouldn't know just how capable I am to pull through
So I wanna say thank you

'Cause it makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
Makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh-oh, yeah, yeah, yeah ohh

Never saw it coming
All of your backstabbing
Just so you could cash in on a good thing
Before I realized your game
I heard you're goin' 'round playin' the victim now
But don't even begin feeling I'm the one to blame
'Cause you dug your own grave

After all of the fights and the lies
Guess you're wanting to hold me
But that won't work anymore (no more, aha, it's over)
'Cause if it wasn't for all of your torture
I wouldn't know how to be this way now and never back down
So I wanna say thank you

'Cause it makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter

Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

How could this man I thought I knew
Turn out to be unjust, so cruel?
Could only see the good in you
Pretended not to see the truth
You tried to hide your lies
Disguise yourself through living in denial
But in the end you'll see, you won't stop me

I am a fighter and I (I'm a fighter)
I ain't gon' stop (I ain't gonna stop)
There is no turning back
I've had enough

Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder (oh)
It makes me that much wiser (oh yeah, oh yeah)
So thanks for making me a fighter
Made me learn a little bit faster (yeah)
Made my skin a little bit thicker (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Makes me that much smarter (yeah)
So thanks for making me a fighter (Fighter)

You thought I would forget but I, I remembered (ooh-ooh-ooh)
'Cause I remembered (ooh-ooh-ooh)
I remembered
You thought I would forget (ooh-ooh)
I remembered (ooh-ooh)
'Cause I remembered (ooh)
I remembered

Makes me that much stronger (ooh-ooh)
Makes me work a little bit harder (ooh-ooh)
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

01 August 2022

Music Monday: Bringing the...Hell?

So, in another Tiktok introduction, I bring you this song that follows the folk song tradition in that there is a story within its three and half minutes...but I came up with at least two more as I listened. This kind of music is what writers like me (pantsers) listen to when we need inspiration...or we just want to stare at a blank screen and pretend that we know what we are doing.


Hell's Comin' With Me
by Poor Mans Poison

They all laughed as he turned around slow
They said you ain't welcome 'round here anymore
You just might as well go

He wiped the blood from his face as he slowly came to his knees
He said, I'll be back when you least expect it
And hell's coming with me
Hell's coming with me

There is a hill at the bottom of the valley
Where all the poor souls go when they die
And if you listen real close
You can hear em' like a ghost
Saying you're never gonna make it out alive

There is a town at the bottom of that hill
They got a secret that they keep like a slave
They got a black magic preacher (ooh)
We'd do well to let him teach her
You'll be heading up that hill to the grave

And it is well, with my soul
You line your pockets full of money that you steal from the poor
And on your way down to hell, you hear me ring that bell
I'd pay the devil twice as much to keep your soul

There was a drifter passing through that little valley
See he had promised he was coming back to town (coming back to town)
They didn't know him by his face, or by the gun around his waist (ooh)
But he come back to burn that town to the ground

First there was fire, then there was smoke
Then that preacher man was hangin' by a rope
Then they all fell to their knees and begged that drifter
Begged him please, as he raised his fist before he spoke

I am the righteous hand of God
And I am the devil that you forgot
And I told you one day you will see
That I'll be back I guarantee
And that hell's coming, hell's coming
Hell, hell's coming with me

And it is well, with my soul
You line your pockets full of money that you steal from the poor
And on your way down to hell, you hear me ring that bell
And I said, hell's coming with me (hell's coming with me)

25 July 2022

Music Monday: I'm Only Real...I Mean Human

I may have posted this one before, but it occurs to me how perfect it is for my current WIP for this month's Camp Nanowrimo. The discussion of who is human/real and who isn't is at the center of this second foray into Arcstone, and while it is on the second draft it still needs a lot of work. But...I'm only human...don't put the blame on me, hey?



Human
by Rag'n'Bone Man

Maybe I'm foolish, maybe I'm blind
Thinking I can see through this and see what's behind
Got no way to prove it so maybe I'm blind

But I'm only human after all, I'm only human after all
Don't put your blame on me

Take a look in the mirror and what do you see
Do you see it clearer or are you deceived in what you believe

Cos I'm only human after all, you're only human after all
Don't put the blame on me
Don't put your blame on me

Some people got the real problems
Some people out of luck
Some people think I can solve them
Lord heavens above
I'm only human after all, I'm only human after all
Don't put the blame on me
Don't put the blame on me

Don't ask my opinion, don't ask me to lie
Then beg for forgiveness for making you cry, making you cry

Cos I'm only human after all, I'm only human after all
Don't put your blame on me, don't put the blame on me

Some people got the real problems
Some people out of luck
Some people think I can solve them
Lord heavens above
I'm only human after all, I'm only human after all
Don't put the blame on me
Don't put the blame on me
I'm only human I make mistakes
I'm only human that's all it takes to put the blame on me
Don't put your blame on me

I'm no prophet or messiah
Should go looking somewhere higher 

I'm only human after all, I'm only human after all
Don't put the blame on me, don't put the blame on me
I'm only human I do what I can
I'm just a man, I do what I can
Don't put the blame on me
Don't put your blame on me

21 July 2022

Three Years That Feel Like Three Minutes

Martha Ann McDonald
9 Aug 1932-21 July 2019
The first year was a blur. She had been declining for a little over a month, so when my sister called me to tell me that she had passed there was a feeling of relief. she wasn't suffering. She was with Daddy, finally, which I think is what she wanted most from the moment he left us in 2018.

Then there was the pandemic. It was easy to not let the grief take over in 2020 because I was so focused on this Big Bad Scary Thing that was taking over the news cycle and driving us into our homes, separated and safe. I often said during that year that while I missed her desperately I was glad, in a way, that she didn't have to experience this time. And while that was very true, there were many times when I felt desperately alone and just needed to hear her say "Hey, Nancy," on the other end of the phone.

I was ready for the pain in 2021, but the pandemic held on a little longer, so I could put a pin in all that awful for a little longer. But this year, 2022, it has hit me and now it's almost like it is happening all over again. 

I remember with visceral clarity how small her hand felt in mine as I sat by her bed at Emory. I remember thinking that my sister was a superhero because she had now walked alongside both of our parents through this last stage of life while I just flew in and out like a hummingbird, never landing long enough to let any of the pain seep into my soul.

My mother was a force of nature kept in check by a very strict southern American upbringing. She told us that the girls in her family (of which there were three) took care of things inside the home and her brothers (also three, and all older than their sisters) took care of things outside the home. My mother didn't know how to change a tire and was very uncomfortable writing a check. She was a product of the Great Depression that came of age in the 1950s. She "didn't get the whole hippie thing" during the 1960s and suddenly found her purpose, I think, in the 1970s when her daughters were born. I honestly think that in 1971 they stopped being Hoyt and Martha and became Nancy's mom and dad...and then in 1976, that purpose was cemented when they became Susan's mom and dad.

She had bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Georgia in English, with a concentration in Elizabethan Literature. She knew a bit of French from having to fill in for a French teacher at one of the high schools that didn't have one. She was a teacher down to her very bones, and to be honest I'm not sure which age group was her favorite. I do know that she enjoyed teaching preschool at the churches where Daddy served.

She was always my biggest fan, and truth be told I was hers even though I didn't show it. Her relationship with my father was the best example of faithfulness and love I could have had growing up, and I know that I was luckier than most.

And now it has been three years, and I am still picking up the phone to call her when I have a good report selling books or a challenging interpreting assignment. I have been adrift for three years now, and that part doesn't feel like three minutes any more than it feels like it will get better.

For all of you that have lost someone either before or during the pandemic, I see you. I hold space for you. This is hard stuff, the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. I remember sitting with my sister that Sunday afternoon when she died and asking her if we were orphans now.

I still don't know the answer to that, but I will never stop missing my mom.

 

18 July 2022

Music Monday: 80s Throwback, Part 1

Confession time: I love Survivor. I mean, I love 80s music, don't get me wrong, but...their album Vital Signs by Survivor was a revelation for teenage me, and was Most Likely To Be Played At Every School Dance when I was in high school. I know it may come as a shock since I've NEVER EVER written romance into any of my books...but I'm hopeless in that category and these songs...just...

The video for I Can't Hold Back is 80s gold, complete with big hair, leather trousers, smoky dance sequences and, of course, well fitting blue jeans. The lyrics also resonated with me in terms of the current WIP, Camp Nano Take Two, which involves one of the most complicated couples I've ever written: Valentin and Henri. Have mercy. 

Valentin is very much like Taeben from my Orana Chronicles: a villain who is motivated by misplaced notions of love and control. Morally gray? Not so much. Morally deficient? Nope, not that either. Just men who were hurt by someone in their formative years with strange ideas of what love is.

Enjoy.



I Can't Hold Back
by Survivor

There's a story in my eyes
Turn the pages of desire
Now it's time to trade those dreams
For the rush of passion's fire

I can feel you tremble when we touch
And I feel the hand of fate
Reaching out to both of us

I've been holding back the night
I've been searching for a clue from you
I'm gonna try with all my might
To make this story line come true

Can ya feel me tremble when we touch?
Can you feel the hand of fate?
Reaching out to both of us
This love affair can't wait

I can't hold back, I'm on the edge
(I can't hold back)
Your voice explodes inside my head
I can't hold back, I won't back down
Girl it's too late to turn back now

Another shooting star goes by
And in the night the silence speaks to you and I
And now the time has come at last
Don't let the moment run too fast

I can feel you tremble when we touch
And I feel the hand of fate
Reaching out to both of us

There's a story in my eyes
Turn the pages of desire
Now it's time to trade those dreams
For the rush of passion's fire

I can't hold back, I'm on the edge
(I can't hold back)
Your voice explodes inside my head
I can't hold back, I won't back down
Girl it's too late to turn back now

I can see you tremble when we touch
Oohh, and I feel the hand of fate
Reaching out to both of us
This love affair can't wait
I can't hold back, I can't hold back
I can't hold back, I can't hold back

11 July 2022

Music Monday: Heavy is the Crown...

I'm behind on my intro to Daughtry, admittedly. But here is one that strikes me as more Orana than Arcstone...and I'm hoping putting it out here will get it out of my head and stop distracting me. This Camp Nano is Arcstone, dang it! Enjoy.



(Captions/Lyrics in the video! Yay!)

04 July 2022

Music Monday: Not Stranger Things. Nope.

I'm sure you've seen the Stranger Things season finale/last two episodes/massive LOTR length movie pretending to be two episodes of a television show, and that you have all the feels. Well, I'm not spoiling anything here, so I'll just leave you with something I found on Spotify the other day that slots in amazingly well to the playlist for this month's Camp Nanowrimo. 

But never fear, I have a whole bunch of ST4-related song post ideas. A WHOLE BUNCH.




Bad Romance
lyrics by Lady Gaga

Want your bad romance
Want your bad romance...
I want your ugly, I want your disease
I want your everything as long as it's free
I want your love (I want your love)
Love, love, love, I want your love (I want your love, I want your love)
I want your drama, the touch of your hand
I want your leather-studded kiss in the sand
I want your love (want your love)
Love, love, love, I want your love (want your love, I want your love)-
You know that I want you, and you know that I need you
I want it bad, a bad romance
I want your love and I want your revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh)
I want your love and all your lovers' revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh
Caught in a bad romance
Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh
Caught in a bad romance
Want your bad romance...
Want your bad romance
I want your horror
I want your design
'Cause you're a criminal as long as your mine
I want your love
(I want your love) love love love
I want your love (I want your love I want your love)
I want your psycho, your vertigo stick
Want you in my room when
Your baby is sick!
I want your love
(I want your love) love love love
I want your love (I want your love I want your love)
You know that I want you, and you know that I need you
I want it bad, a bad romance
I want your love, and I want your revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh)
I want your love and all your love has revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh-oooh-oh
Caught in a bad romance
Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh-oooh-oh
Caught in a bad romance
Want your bad romance...
Want your bad romance
(Na na na na! Na na-na na na! Na na na na)-
Want your bad romance
I want your love, and I want your revenge
I want your love - I don't wanna be friends!
Je veux ton amour
Et je veux ta revanche
Je veux ton amour
I don't wanna be friends
(I don't wanna be friends)
I don't wanna be friends
(I don't wanna be friends)
No I don't wanna be friends!
(I don't wanna be friends)
Want your bad romance
(Want your bad romance)
Want your bad romance!!!
I want your love, and I want your revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh)
I want your love and all your lovers' revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh-oooh-oh
Caught in a bad romance
Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh-oh-oooh-oh
Caught in a bad romance
Want your bad romance
(Na na, na na! Na na-na na na! Na na, na na)-
Want your bad romance

27 June 2022

Music Monday: Saudade

So...it has been a few days, hasn't it? I am unapologetically pro-choice and pro-women and the actions of the SCOTUS last week have shaken me to the core. Where ya going, US? 1965? 

This song struck me as describing the feeling we all have after hearing that decision:  "Saudade is a word for a sad state of intense longing for someone or something that is absent." (Per Google) In this case, I think, it is a longing for feeling like an equal part in society...the absence of feeling like we matter, or that someone has our back. 

Of course, by Saturday we were all ready to fight...but that is a different song.

Saudade

By Maro

I've tried to write a million other songs, but

Somehow I can't move on, oh, you're gone

Takes time, alright

And I know it's no one's fault, but

Somehow I can't move on, oh, you're gone


Saudade, saudade

Nothing more that I can say

Says it in a better way

Saudade, saudade

Nothing more that I can say

Says it in a better way


Tem tanto que trago comigo

Foi sempre o meu porto de abrigo

E agora nada faz sentido

Perdi o meu melhor amigo

E se não for demais, peço por sinais

Resta uma só palavra


Saudade, saudade

Nothing more that I can say

Says it in a better way

Saudade, saudade

Nothing more that I can say

Says it in a better way

Nothing more that I can say

Says it in a better way


I've tried, alright

But it's killing me inside

Thought you'd be by my side, always


[Translation of Portuguese lyrics in verse two:]


I have so much that I bring with me

It was always my haven

And now nothing makes sense, I lost my best friend

And if it's not too much, I ask for signs

Only one word remains


20 June 2022

Music Monday: On Grandmothers and Bananas

I'm going to revisit this year's Eurovision for today's Music Monday because I cannot help but smile when I hear this song...and I have a wolf(hound) that doesn't like bananas. Enjoy. (Hooray for YouTube videos with captions, right?)

13 June 2022

Music Monday: I Got Nuttin

I forgot Music Monday until Wednesday last week because everything has been just too much for the past few weeks. ConCarolinas was too much fun, but it was just a temporary respite from the very sick dog I have at home. Now, a week later, she is better...but she is older and the ick was pneumonia which is hard. So...I was watching the Tony Awards and wishing, as I do every year, that I had not given up on theatre when it got hard and I was doing the thing that makes my heart happy...and I came across Paradise Square and it is now on my TO SEE list. The last note that the actor hits had me plastered to the back of the couch. I'm talking Christine from Phantom, Javert from Les Mis and Phillipa Soo in Hamilton PLASTERED. Hopefully things will be better by next Monday.

(Lyrics not added because the video has CC capability, hallelujah.)

30 May 2022

Music Monday: The Power of Kate Bush

 If you watch Stranger Things, then you know why I titled this post what I did. If you don't, and you are somehow not familiar with Kate Bush, you need to rectify that, soon.



Running Up that Hill
by Kate Bush

"If I only could, I'd be running up that hill.
If I only could, I'd be running up that hill."

It doesn't hurt me.
Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know that it doesn't hurt me?
Do you want to hear about the deal that I'm making?
You, it's you and me.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
If I only could, oh...

You don't want to hurt me,
But see how deep the bullet lies.
Unaware I'm tearing you asunder.
Ooh, there is thunder in our hearts.

Is there so much hate for the ones we love?
Tell me, we both matter, don't we?
You, it's you and me.
It's you and me won't be unhappy.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building,
Say, if I only could, oh...

You,
It's you and me,
It's you and me won't be unhappy.

"C'mon, baby, c'mon darling,
Let me steal this moment from you now.
C'mon, angel, c'mon, c'mon, darling,
Let's exchange the experience, oh..."

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.

And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
And I'd get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.

If I only could
Be running up that hill
With no problems...

"If I only could, I'd be running up that hill.
If I only could, I'd be running up that hill."

Upcoming Appearances, 2023

At 742 North, Rock Hill, Fall 2022 So I sat down the other day and looked at my travel calendar for this year. Whew! There is a lot coming u...