Tuesday, August 30, 2016

We all need a bit of sass now and then

Hello everyone!  Today I'm going to start something new and fun.  On occassion, I'm going to post about new releases and preorders to help out other indie authors.

So here is the first and what looks like an excellent, fun book!  Yes, we all need a little sass in our lives.  Here is your chance to add some fun to your life and contribute to a good cause with Ellie Mack's new nonfiction and humorous book.

Quotidiandose: 30 Days of Sass

by Ellie Mack

GENRE: nonfiction; humor


This collection of daily musings combines edgy, funny, practical, everyday reality with a dose of personal sass. There are life-lessons in the words that are applicable for everyone. I hope they will put a smile on your face and brighten your day!

A portion of proceeds from print copies of this book will go to 
Action for Autism.

You can preorder here:

Buy Links:


Why continue in unhappiness?  Change is inevitable, but most people fear it.  Better the devil you know than the one you don't know sort of thing.   That attitude leads to a mundane, unhappy existence.  I want to live and thrive and be about living my life, not watch it pass me by while I sit on the bleachers and wish I could or worse, wish I would have gotten in the game.

It is a brave step, that first step off the bleachers. Pulse quickening, mouth going dry, butterflies in the stomach yet continuing to put one foot in front of the other, moving away from the bleachers. The scenery is all new and fresh. Nothing is familiar because I haven't gone this way before.

Life is a grand adventure. It becomes thrilling and exciting; an element of danger is always there. Safe and orthodox is not safe, now is it?   Because if you remain in a safe job, doing the safe thing that sucks the life out of you, you are dying a little each day inside. Eventually, high blood pressure, pot bellies, drinking and eating in excess and various other vices because the insanity of safe breaks our need to live, breathe, and thrive.

Author Bio:

Ellie Mack received her BS in cartography from Southeast Missouri State University. After leaving the corporate world for the title of MOM, she has pursued her writing dreams. Nowadays Ellie charts unmapped territory through her fiction and humor writing. She lives near St. Louis with her husband of 30 years and their two teen daughters. When she's not writing, she can be found scrapbooking, crocheting, or cooking. You can find her musings on her blog Quotidiandose. (https://quotidiandose.wordpress.com

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Learning and Writing

A few months ago, Russ and I decided to spend $20 a month for a subscription to The Great Courses Plus (https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com), which gives us access to so many courses that we have a hard time deciding which ones to do next, both in our 'together' courses and in the ones we do on our own.  I've watched over 63 hours of courses since June 1 when we started.  These are presented in half-hour lectures sets.  A History of India (the first one I did) was 36 lectures (18 hours).  I was never bored.  I did a short Neil DeGrasse Tyson set on The Inexplicable Universe (6 lectures, 3 hours).  Others have been Introduction to Archeology, Origins of Great Civilizations, Museum Masterpieces: The Louvre, The Nature of Earth, Geological Wonders, and Alexander the Great and the Macedonian Empire.  I'm about to start one of the writing/literature courses, too.
The courses are divided into categories:

Professional & Personal Development
Health, Fitness & Nutrition
Food & Wine
Hobby & Leisure
Economics & Finance
Music & Fine Arts
Literature & Language
Philosophy, Religion & Intellectual History

As far as I can tell, all the presenters are college-level professors at major institutions and most (if not all) with awards in teaching. None of them have been boring.
On the other hand, many people prefer documentaries to lectures. They're more dynamic and easier to engage all the senses.  I like some documentaries, but I take the lectures more seriously since they are less like a television show.
I've started using what I'm learning in my writing.  The new idea I mentioned in last week's blog post came from A History of India.  I know far more about the structure of the world in Silversun because of the two geology courses.  The Alexander the Great course is so filled with fascinating ideas that I'll have to watch it twice to really pull all the material out of it.  Am I going to write a novel about Alexander?  No.  Mary Renault wrote the best trilogy about him with Fire From Heaven, The Persian Boy, and Funeral Games.  However, that doesn't mean I can't look at the world of Alexander and find some fascinating bits and pieces to adapt to another story -- like that new one from last week.
I believe that there are two reasons why the world of publishing (both traditional and indie) get caught up in 'latest best great thing' cycles.  Part of it is that writers (new and old) read the new stuff, get inspired, and write their version of it.  There's nothing wrong with that except that it can get repetitive and insular before long.
This is where reading (or watching) nonfiction can give you ideas outside of the fiction world.  Rather than leaning on someone else's imagination, try exploring some new paths of your own.  Have a fascination with Egypt?  Then pick up a couple books and see what ideas leap out at you.  They don't have to be massive academic tomes about the subject. Remember, you don't have to write about Egypt itself -- unless you want to, of course.  However, Egypt can provide a wonderful bedrock for a new fantasy world.  How about a place less known, like the island of Cyprus?  Historical incidents can be twisted and the reasons behind events can be great insights into why something is happening on your own world, from court intrigue and customs to the outbreak of wars and rebellions.
Many people come out of school with a sense of relief that having to learn anything is over.  It's not true, of course, but the things we learn in everyday life is dull and boring compared to finding some little spark of an idea that you come across that isn't based on someone else's fiction.
Besides, original ideas are how the 'new best things' sometimes happen.  You could be the person to lead the way, at least if you take a chance to find your own path instead of following those of others.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Flash Fiction #213 -- Journey to the Lowlands

The first towns I'd traveled through had been unnerving; small places with mostly wood and mud buildings, dirt roads, and people who stared at me from shadowed doors.  Strangers were not welcome in any of them, and especially not strange men with double swords strapped to his back.  By those swords I made it plain that I would brook no trouble and villagers kept their distance.  Mistrust had become inbred in the little spots of habitation on the trails.  The largest village I had passed through had been no more than a couple hundred people and no friendlier than the rest.  Even their pigs, chickens, and dogs had slid away into the shadows as they saw a stranger approaching.
I was a stranger and strangely dressed.  I rode a fine gray gelding, which was the sort of beast that belonged to nobles.  A large, gray-stripped cat sat on the saddle before me, ever watchful and an excellent guard at night.  We'd survived with little trouble over the last seventeen days since we left the highlands, heading towards the sea and the capital.
I missed the mountains.  The lowlands stunk of rot, death and decay.  No fresh breezes blew across the lowlands, at least at this time of the year.  Winter, I knew, would be wet and muddy, not white and clean.  Lady Gray felt the same as I did; I could tell from the way she all but snarled every time she had to walk across the ground.
We were nearing the ocean, though.  I could tell, if for no other reason than the midden heaps of fish debris.  Unless there was a huge lake or overcrowded lake that fed the four villages I passed in the last three days, I suspected I might have finally almost reached my first destination.
Wide stretches of cultivated land began to become more prominent than stands of trees.  The mountains were far behind us and even the hills gave way to flat plains and finally to a descending series switchback and glimpses of a very large city below.
He was more than half way down before he realized the wide expanse of blue had to be the ocean.  He had known what as ocean was, but he had never truly held the concept in his mind.  Blue as the sky on a spring day -- at least in the mountains.  As the trees cleared, he could see all the way to the bay and the distant white-sailed ships that danced upon the water.
People began to watch me more carefully as I neared the city gates.  After all, the swords marked me as a dangerous man, though in truth they were the least dangerous part about me. 
"What is your business in town, stranger?" one of the guards asked.  He had a hand on his sheathed sword as though he expected me to launch myself from the saddle and attack.
"I come to visit," I answered, though I didn't say who or what I would visit.
The man looked over me, the horse and the cat.  Then he gave a nod and let us enter.
They were more used to strangers here, I soon realized.  That came from the port, I realized. Ships came on longer journeys than I had taken from the mountains to the shore.  I saw a plethora of different costumes, bright colors, and heard words I did not recognize.  The city called to me in ways I had not expected.
Before we had gone far, Lady Gray jumped from the horse to the ground and went off on her own work.  I had expected it, but I watched her dart up the street with some trepidation until she disappeared in the mass of people and buildings.  I rode on, up towards a tower in the distance.  I let myself watch the world around me and realized I had already become intrigued by this strange place.
"Mage," a voice said before me.
I looked up to see Lady Gray, a tall woman in fine clothing, and a bright orange cat coming my way.  People parted for this woman, whom they knew well since she had served the local lord and lady for three generations.
I swept off the horse and gave her a proper bow.  "Magestra," I greeted her.  "Your message was received and the signs read. I am here to take your place so that you can go home to the mountains."
Her ageless face turned towards the direction from which I had ridden and she smiled a little, as though she could see the mountains already. 
"You have come in good time, my friend," she said.  "Let us go to the tower and I'll introduce you to the Lord and Lady.  I will leave in a few days.  There are things you will need to know."
"I am grateful," I replied and walked beside her.  Lady Gray took her place to my left and the horse followed behind.  "The city is overwhelming -- but I find it intriguing, too."
"Yes, it is that.  I'm glad you find it interesting.  I should not like to leave you here if you were not wise enough to realize how interesting a place this is."
"And dangerous."
"Something is changing," I said and looked out at the sea.  "The signs were strong.  My service here will not be the same as yours, but I hope to do as well."
A wind blew, sudden, cold, and filled with a sense of dread that others who had no magic even stopped and looked out at sea.  Far out on the horizon, dark clouds appeared for a moment and then disappeared again in an eye blink.
Not yet, not yet: but the danger was coming.  I had little time to prepare, but I was here.  I would be ready when the clouds returned.

  979 Words