Nimoy was a Timeless Vulcan

Leonard_Nimoy_Mr._Spock_Star_TrekThere are individuals we ‘meet’ in our lifetime that we believe will always be there, like the sun behind the clouds. We think them invincible, immune to death, exempt from leaving this world even though we are led to believe they were not from here to begin with.

These heroes are timeless. They entertain us decade after decade, from one century to the next, across the universe and beyond. Their respect for life rubs off on us, and we take on some of their values because we believe them to be true.

We respect their logic even if at times we don’t fully understand it. We raise our hands in greetings—two groups of fingers splint in the middle, thumb thrust to the side—because we have been taught that this is the way things are done…in their culture. We silently delight in showing our knowledge and our ability to perform this simple gesture.

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Old Habits are Hard to Kill

The other day while driving home from picking up hay, I ran through the current scene I was writing in Healing Stones. I played it out in my mind as if a movie. The actors spoke their lines and I analysed each one. I got inside their heads and thought about how they were feeling, what they were smelling and what they were seeing. Did their equipment dig into them uncomfortably?

Then something disrupted the scene. The image of the story on the computer stuck there like a sore thumb. Had I done it again? Had I started this manuscript, which will most likely end up around 150,000 words, just as I would a genealogy column?

In other words, were there spaces between all the paragraphs? If I were only a fiction writer, the habit of creating an easier to manipulate document would become habit. But I switch from fiction to nonfiction weekly, so sometimes, I begin on the wrong foot…in the wrong format.

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Wild Horses of Milford

2014 07 5x5Horses are creatures born to run free.

Tail and mane flying in the wind, hooves beating the ground and muscles straining with the effort as they gallop through the fields of snow is a majestic sight. If only every horse could feel the freedom they crave.

But the harsh reality is horses in today’s world are more like caged animals, forced to do the bidding of their master. I see it all the time.

  • Horses locked in stalls day after day, taken out now and again for short rides.
  • Horses abused and scared forever, so they can perform at shows.
  • Horses forced to perform awkward, unnatural gaits for the pleasure of the rider.
  • Horses poorly fed by misguided owners.
  • Horses sold for meat because they were no longer manageable or wanted.

The list goes on…

For the past 18 years, I’ve watched horses at a nearby farm live their lives as close to natural as possible in this every-expanding population province. They have the freedom to roam the large property (about 20 acres) at will, and come and go to their shelter when it suits them. Often, regardless of the weather, they choose to graze in the open or find shelter in the stand of trees when storms blow through.2013 02

Lately, a group of concerned individuals have decided this natural state is not good for the horses. They work to have the horses removed, dispersing the herd to places far and wide. While it is true that a few horses were not in the best of shape and removed from the farm, the majority of the horses are far from ill.

It is true that horses have died. It is said they were all from the same line: mother, daughter, granddaughter. This would indicate a weakness in the line, one that nature took care of.

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My Library of Books for Writing Fantasy

5x5 fantasy bookA short time ago, Ernesto San Giacomo posted his 2015 Reading List. In the list was Writing About Magic by Rayne Hall.

I commented, saying I had several books about magic, herbs and stones to help me with writing my fantasy stories, but I hadn’t read that one. A list was requested, but I hadn’t gotten around to making it until tonight.

Some of these books are one-time reads, but others I keep on the shelf as references. I can’t remember all the properties of stones and herbs, and I can’t recall all the spells (though I make up a lot myself), so these are keepers for me.

Natural Magic – Spells, Enchantments & Self-development by Pamela J. Ball: This book provides insight to magic and how a sorceress might work her spells. Not every magic-user is the same, so you can take a little of this and a little of that to create a character. This book was okay, worth buying, but not my favourite.

The back cover states: Before there was formal religion there was magic, and to this day there are people who purport to perform ‘miracles’ with the aid of magical powers derived from nature or the spirit realm. These powers are still out there to be tapped into by us. All you need is the knowledge and know-how contained in Natural Magic.

This book reveals: How to become a natural magician, using knowledge gathered over thousands of years by magician and mystic alike. Techniques employing plants, trees, crystals and incense along with meditation, ritual, chanting and dreams. The tools to give expression to your creativity and beliefs. A wide range of methods to bring about positive changes in your life.

The Druid Magic Handbook – Ritual Magic Rooted in the Living Earth by John Michael Greer: This book speaks of Life Force, the alphabet of magic, the elements, enchantment and Ogham writing. It gives a great history on the druids, which I thoroughly enjoyed and ‘connected’ with. I discovered many potential story lines by reading it.

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Keeping Score with your Credit

5x5 Credit ScoreWe finished our three-day business program today, the one that was postponed from last Saturday due to the weather. The big “wow, I didn’t know that!” moment came when we were talking about credit scores.

I don’t pay much attention to my credit score; it is what it is when you are working here and there, not holding a steady job since 1997 because of giving birth and taking care of kids. But today, I learned about something that may affect my score negatively without me realising: forgotten, unused credit cards.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one in the group who had a credit card, but never used it and thought nothing about it. My story is a simple one, one many others may have.

Once upon a time, I had a credit card. A few years later, I was offered another card from a different company. They were giving away a special gift just for signing up, so I did. Who doesn’t love a gift?

A few years afterwards, I got another card from a different company for the same reason: a gift. Like all creatures of habit, I used the credit card I always did to make purchases and only occasionally used the other two. My credit rating with these companies rose, and in turn, they raised my spending limits.

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Snow Day from Business Program

SnowmanWell, this was unexpected. A snow day. My plans were to complete a three-day business program today, but I received word before 7:00 am that due to hazardous road conditions, it was postponed until next Saturday.

Today we were going to delve into marketing. I was looking forward to it more than the ‘business side’ of business. The business side of business is often the side many like to forget about, ignore and put off until they absolutely have to deal with it.

You know what I mean: bookkeeping, accounting and taxes.

I’ve learned a lot in the past two days about all three of these items. I am still far from being an expert, but I have a better grasp of keeping track of my financial responsibilities. This will not only help me in my new soap-making adventure, but with my writing, publishing and personal finances.

I would recommend anyone going into self-publishing to take one of these programs. Sometimes they are offered for free through your employment centre. Other times you can find them listed in night course programs (We call them continuing education in Nova Scotia). Local business organisations may offer them. I was told local commerce groups hosts similar workshops periodically. In fact I’m signing up for a marketing workshop hosted by our local group.

Although you might find one for free, more than likely you’ll need to pay a small fee to attend. Sixty bucks, however, is a great investment in your self-publishing company if it’s going to save you money and headaches, and get more sales.

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Year End Review

animation_candle_flameMy year in 2014 doesn’t quite feel like twelve months long. Somewhere amongst the full moons, I missed seven of them because of working mega hours outside the home and away from the homestead.

So, while I could offer up the excuse of not enough time, I’ll just note the things I did accomplish during the year.

Writing Projects I Hoped to Complete

*Stories that are started, but not finished

**Stories that are not started (except perhaps a chapter or outline)

*Fowl Summer Nights: Humourous Novella: COMPLETED/PUBLISHED

Completed Writing Projects I Hope to Edit

Scattered Stones: Traditional Fantasy Novel: WORK IN PROGRESS

Stories I Hope to Publish

Fowl Summer Nights: Humourous Novella

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The Story behind NORAD and Santa

I was lucky enough to grow up when there were no computers, cell phones or cable television. I know many won’t think that’s lucky, but looking back, I feel I was very fortunate. What we did have were two English channels that showed great Christmas specials on Christmas Eve and a radio that tracked Santa’s every move.

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Fowl Summer Nights by Diane Lynn McGyver

See what happens when empty nest syndrome and retirement are taken to their “Nth degree.” The exchanges between the main character and her neighbors make this work into a light-hearted romp. Diane spins a great humorous tale filled with comic believability laced and with a healthy dose of outlandish circumstances.

FSN

Despite the humorous, I think McGyver is also giving us a lesson about aging, family, and society in general without a heavy hand.

…to read more, visit San Giacomo’s Corner blog.

Happy Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice Happy

Potential High School Drop-out

When I was in grade nine, my English teacher Mr. Nauffts assigned an oral presentation. I can’t remember the topic, and I can’t recall any formal oral presentations before this time. I do however remember reading sections of a story while seated in my desk, and the joy of answering questions and even going up to the board to show off my math skills.

Formal oral presentations were a new thing though. If we did have them, I know I would have bowed out (aka stayed home ‘sick’). This particular one in grade nine however was the first one I remember vividly because of what transpired on the day I was to give the talk.

When my name was called, I walked over to Mr. Nauffts and gave him the written assignment. He said that I now had to present it. I told him I wouldn’t. I didn’t say in a snarky way; I simply stated I did not do oral presentations. What I didn’t tell him was that I hated them, that they made me feel too paranoid and self-conscious. I’d rather jab a pencil in my hand then stand up in front of my classmates and talk on a subject.

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Supporting Your Author Friend

Originally posted on Laura Best:

This post could have been written by my family and friends. It’s all about how to support your authorly friends out there, and since my friends and family have been awesome enough to support me through the publication of two books I wanted to let others in on their tips for supporting an author friend. (I bet most of them didn’t even know they had such tips!) Through the years my friends and family have come up with some ingenious ways to put the word about my books “out there.” I thought I would share these with everyone else out there who would like to know ways to support a certain author but are a bit uncertain about how to do that. Believe me there are plenty of ways, and my friends have done a super, stupendous job.

1. Buy the book-– A lot of my friends bought the…

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The Confusion of Had

I learned a lot about proper writing (punctuation, spelling, grammar) in school back when the education system thought it was more important to be able to write well than to dissect a literary story.

Over the past sixteen years, I’ve relearned a lot of these rules and honed my skills with the written word, so I could write well, be understood by readers with various education levels and tell a good story.

Still, writing is a big ‘process’. It’s full of intricate details we need a life time to explore. Sometimes I think it’s impossible to know it all. Each aspect of it must be scrutinised individually to decipher how it works.

One of those instances for me is the proper use of ‘had’. I know the basics, how it might be used and how a sentence sounds better when it is included. But I admit, it’s a challenge when the nit-picking begins.

I was faced with this today when I once again, faced with the dilemma of using ‘had’ or leaving it out. Here’s the paragraph in question (Scattered Stones; Book 2 of The Castle Keepers):

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Kitchen Counter Radios

Apparently I’m a dying breed. I’m one of the dwindling few who want a radio with a built in CD player for the kitchen counter. I visited several shops one day last week and all had one or two machines available. And they weren’t cheap…in price.

I asked a salesperson if I could hear the speakers of $65 unit, and he plugged his phone (or other gadget from his pocket) into the machine. The unfamiliar song sounded horrible, and I told him so. I asked him if the sound was that horrible on his device. He said the quality might not be that great.

He asked for a song or singer I’d prefer to hear, and I told him. He called up Keith Urban in seconds—he must have a direct line to the man—and a sweet voice began to sing. I turned it up, but still the speakers sounded ‘airy’ to me. There was no solid sound.

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Murder in the Sky

This evening I stepped out the back door to feed the animals before tucking them in for the night, and I was met with an amazing sight: dozens upon dozens of crows flying over the back yard, swooping, squawking and following their ancient instincts to flock together before darkness settled the land. I stood watching, the gusts of wind blowing my hair, as the endless line of birds flew into the distance only to be replaced with more birds, coming from away.

This was not the first time I saw this number of crows fly over our property coming on dusk. It seems to be a regular occurrence these days. Two days ago while working at the new fence, my mind completely immersed in hitting the nail on the head and not my finger, I had looked up and saw the sky filled with the black birds.

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Benefits of Writers’ Groups

Are you a writer? Are you a member of a writers’ group? You should be…unless you can’t find one locally that suits your needs.

What are the benefits of a writers’ group?

1) You learn a lot about writing and the writing business.

2) You become exposed to the writings of others.

3) You gain support with your writing because let’s face it, writing is a solitary activity, and it’s difficult to always get the inner strength to support your writing.

4) You become inspired by just talking about writing and rush home with a million ideas in your head that you can’t wait to get down on paper.

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A Promise of Spring

The rain predicted for Friday afternoon arrived as snow. The low temperatures meant it stuck around, and Saturday’s showers were flurries.

Freezing temperatures aren’t entirely horrible. They turn mud into solid ground, which translates into less slipping and sliding and dirty boots.

Below zero Celsius temperatures also mean those nasty parasites that dwell on top of the soil and in short grass will die, making the pastures safer places for our goats. Goat safety is high on our priority list.

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Diane the Writer

I’ve been off now for eleven days. Each day brings a new challenge, a new chore and thoughts of getting back into what I love to do: writing, blogging and publishing.

It feels like I’ve been away for ever; that I’ve lived in a different body in another world. I had not written one word of fiction since the end of March. This is so unlike me.

But it was necessary to complete the commitment I had made to an employer so many months ago. Although I loved my job, by the middle of summer, it had exhausted me. That’s what seasonal jobs do; you work long hours almost every day because everyone knows it doesn’t last forever.

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Update on Canada Tax Information with the United States

Something amazing happened during my seven-month hiatus away from writing: the tax worries and hassles that plagued writing entrepreneurs in Canada had eased. In fact, it’s so darn easy now that no one—absolutely no one—has an excuse for not completing the tax form to prevent the IRS from claiming 30% of your royalties from your books.

More than a month ago, CreateSpace sent a message to update my tax information. I meant to take care of it, but like many things since March, it got lost in the chaos of life. The deadline came and went, but fortunately CreateSpace—who really wants my business—extended the deadline.

If I didn’t update my tax information, I would no longer be able to sell through CreateSpace. They certainly didn’t want that to happen, so a grace period of thirty days was awarded. This time I took advantage of the notice and stayed up late one night to see what the fuss was all about.

The questions were straight forward and easy to answer: Was I a US citizen? Did I have a business in the US? Etc.

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In the Village: EBSNS supporting young artists

Originally posted on Libby Schofield:

“Think of the long trip home. Should we have stayed home and thought of here? Where should we be today?”
― Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop is one of those poets few people know about, but there’s no particular reason she isn’t a household name. A writer who went on to earn international acclaim, she spent some of her childhood living with her grandparents in Great Village, NS. I’m not entirely sure why every Nova Scotian isn’t yelling her name from the rooftops, but Great Village is one place where Bishop is praised and raised proudly to the lips of many of the people I’ve talked to.

I first became involved with the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia (EBSNS) three years ago when I entered their writing contest for the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Festival, celebrating the poet’s 100th birthday in 2011. The contest revolved around the theme of home, an homage to…

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