Tuesday, November 1, 2016

NaNo Time Again

Okay, this time we're off to a better start. I have a writing schedule and a better idea of the pertinent info for a proper whodunit. I'll post updated word counts every day on the meter in my left sidebar and weekly here in a post. Here's my progress for day one, my best start yet.



1814 / 50000 words. 4% done!

Oh, and if you'd like to be a writing buddy, you can find me here.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Election

I was hoping to leave politics off my blog during this election cycle. I tried. I really did. But circumstances have altered somewhat. During the primaries I was extremely excited. I found the candidate I wanted in Bernie Sanders. He's basically a regular guy who cares deeply about all rest of us average people. He recognized that the money in politics were (and are) the leading factor in EVERYTHING that is wrong with our political system. Climate change won't be acknowledged as long as the fossil fuel industry has a say. Health care costs won't change as long as insurance and pharmaceutical interests can buy Congressmen. Keeping jobs in America won't happen as long as the corporations are allowed to outsource without repercussion. Bernie refused to accept corporate money because he was fighting against everything for which those companies stand. Follow the money and you find the source of the problems. But Bernie didn't win the nomination.

While getting fired up about a possible President Sanders, I watched the circus that was the Republican primaries with equal parts concern and amusement. As the primaries stretched on and the candidates all seemed to want to out-horrible each other, I was no longer amused. As candidate after candidate with some political experience fell out of the race, concern blossomed into fear. I fully expected at some point for clearer heads to prevail and not choose the one candidate that would be the worst choice.

But Republican Americans have spoken.

They want the outsider who speaks his mind. They don't care that most of what he says is not true; lies that are proven false through his own words. They don't care that he is racist, misogynist, and corrupt as hell. They're as bad as him. They revel in his racism and misogyny because it validates their own ugly thoughts. Like him, they call for violence and a twisting of our laws. He once said that he "could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters," bragging about the loyalty of his voters. He threatens. He lies. He promotes an environment of fear and hate. He denigrates veterans, disabled people, minorities, and women. But his followers still love and support him. They threaten anyone who disagrees with them. They're willing to overlook every truth that comes out proving that he's a liar, a crook, and a sexual deviant because he's going to make America great again.

When Hillary Clinton was officially announced as the Democratic candidate, I was conflicted. She made history as the first female candidate of a major party and that is wonderful. But I'd heard so much negativity about her during the primaries that I wasn't sure I wanted her to be our first female president. I made the mistake of believing the lies and half-truths without looking into the stories myself. I was mad that Bernie lost and was willing accept the stories at face value. Benghazi. The e-mails. Anything the Republicans could dig up.

And I fell for it.

For a while.

I was willing to vote for Clinton simply to keep the Republican out of office. Then I did a little digging for myself and slowly began to discover just how blatant some of the lies were that supposedly intelligent people like myself were willing to accept as fact. Take Benghazi. At this point I'm not certain anymore what she supposedly did wrong. Things were said in the days after the attack that didn't always match what was previously said but that is only to be expected when the facts are slow to come. Once new facts come to light, a new assessment must take place. The actual scandal in that incident was the fact that a year before the attack happened the Republican controlled Congress called for budget cuts to security at US embassies to the tune of $300 million with another $400 million to be cut over the next couple of years. Then Secretary of State Clinton warned the GOP that the budget cuts would be detrimental to national security. And don't even get me started on the foolishness that is the e-mail scandal. I admit she's not perfect. But, guess what? Neither am I. Nor is Bernie. We're all human and at the end of the day we celebrate our accomplishments and live with our mistakes. Clinton's opponent can't even admit to the smaller mistakes much less his hate, fear-mongering, and outright treason.

What matters most to me and what will decide my vote is that Clinton is qualified for the job. In fact, she is most qualified candidate we've had in my lifetime.  She has overcome so many obstacles while being held to a different standard simply by being born female. She understands my concerns in a way no previous candidate could. And she worked with Bernie to adopt some of his ideals into her platform. She fights the double standard every day; she is seen as too cold, too shrill, too old where a male candidate would be seen as rational, passionate, and experienced. America is past due for a woman as our leader. I'm ready for Hillary Clinton to be the first female President of the United States. I'm ready to see a leader that looks more like Goddess. I'm with Her.

I just hope the other side can accept it without the vitriol and violence we've had to this point.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Cozy Mystery Monday - Kitchen Witch Mysteries

I'm back for another installment of my book review series. Two weeks in a row! Isn't it amazing? :) This week's review for the first book in Kitchen Witch series was originally posted last week on my Goodreads account but I wanted to share it here as well. It's also my first review of a self published series. So here goes...

Miss Spelled by Morgana Best starts the series with the protagonist Amelia Spelled inheriting a house and a bakery from an aunt she never really knew after the worst day in her already sad life. When the town jerk dies in the bakery after eating a cupcake she'd made, naturally Amelia started out as the prime suspect. Throughout the story she discovers her newly acquired house is a bit odd, her aunt was a witch (an unexpected that gift Amelia has too), and all of her aunt's friends are witches. Oh, and she has to overcome a serious inability to cook to run her new bakery.

The story had potential and might improve as the series progresses and the characters become more than caricatures. I know some other reviews (on Goodreads and on Amazon) took issue with the magick aspect of the story. As the protagonist is SO new to even the basic concept of witches (someone had to explain what a familiar is), it's not as jarring as if she'd grown up as a witch her whole life. But it does overwhelm the mystery. The one older guy running the show did feel a bit like he was borrowed from Buffy. He even speaks with the same proper tone as Giles. The part I liked about the magic was the explanation of Amelia's untapped fire elemental energy potential and how her buried emotions from a depressing childhood were manifesting when she cooked, catching everything she made on fire. Emotions can affect our energies so that made sense.

What took away from the story for me was the lack of build up for the mystery itself. The victim and the suspects all come off as extremely two dimensional as Amelia never even has a decent conversation with or about them. Most investigations in a cozy need that one-on-one contact (seeing body language, gauging emotions) with the suspects so we can take a stab at who the killer is right along with the protagonist. Alibis are never established. Facts are never ascertained. Digging through trash and tailing the suspects for one day does not an effective investigation make. And that is mostly done "off screen" by the secondary characters so we have no detective work done by our heroine. Even the evolution of the suspect list was haphazard. The cops in the story are a side note at best. I also don't think it's a great plan to actually use the phrase "red herring" to try and suggest a clue might be a red herring. The mystery felt more like an afterthought as Amelia got settled into her new life as a baker and a witch in a new town.

I've never read any of the author's other works. I'm still debating on whether to try the next book in this series to see if character development improves. I really wanted to like this but the lack of attention to the mystery and the silly idea of using Amelia's odd house to ascertain guilt or innocence of most of the suspects was a bit beyond acceptable suspension of disbelief for me. Better to do a proper investigation when possible than depending solely on magick (which didn't actually help) to solve the crime.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Cozy Mystery Monday - Magical Cats Mysteries

After a long hiatus of completing my Bachelors and surviving a rough summer I'm back for a new cozy review. I've decided that when I talk about an established series, I'll review everything that's been written up to this point. With so many new cozies with a witchy and/or paranormal slant I don't want to miss promoting the good ones as they're released in order to help boost the author's promotion. This time I'm talking about the Magical Cats Mysteries by Sofie Kelly.

In the first book we're introduced to Kathleen Paulson, head librarian of the Mayville Heights Free Public Library, and the two feral stray cats (ones with magical abilities) who adopted her. She's new to the small town, hired to help with the renovations of the historic Carnegie Library over the next eighteen months. Throughout the series we get a great feel for all the people of the town and why Kathleen is torn between staying or moving back to Boston, not least of which is a believable love interest that evolves organically with ups and downs, quirks and sweet moments. The highlight of the books are the cats, Owen (can go invisible) and Hercules (can move through solid walls), as they help point out clues while remaining very much like regular cats in every other respect.

Sofie Kelly does an excellent job of creating plausible crimes with realistic motives. The protagonist is sensible and intelligent and never betrays those qualities to further the plot. She cares about her new home and her new friends, willing to put herself in the middle of investigations to protect the innocent. That doesn't mean actively putting herself in harm's way. Everything about the series works well. I'm always excited when the next book in the series is released.

Make sure to start with book one, Curiosity Thrilled the Cat, and read them in order as the cast of characters grow and the core group really grow and develop throughout the series. The eighth and newest book in the series, Paws and Effect, comes out October 4th. I look forward to catching up with Kathleen, Owen, Hercules, and the rest of Mayville Heights and sharing my thoughts with you. I hope you enjoy the series as much as I have.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Journal Progress

As you can probably gather from the last post summer has been a bit rough. But we've made it so far and times will get better soon. In the meantime I found ways to channel my stress into things more productive and creative. I posted in March about trying out art journaling. I kind of took that project and ran with it. Little did I know into what rabbit hole I was descending. I'm still working in the journal shown in the March post. I'm now also working in a bound mixed media journal (actually two) from Dylusions and a modified No Excuses Journal using the Arc system by Staples. One of the Dylusions journals is my Art Journal BOS and the No Excuses has turned into a gratitude journal, a way to let go of the retail job and be thankful for the little things. Just this week I also started something called a bullet journal (or Bujo) to keep track of my creative work. I'm hoping that with a checklist I'll accomplish more than scrolling FB or Pinterest. Getting check marks in the journal will motivate me to create and not dwell on the mundane stuff I let drag me down on a daily basis.

My original spiral-bound journal is in stages of done varying from not-at-all to a couple of completed pages. Oh, and it is no longer a spiral having been taken in and out of the spiral enough times to ruin the metal. Once I've finished all the pages I'll put them back together with some pretty ribbon or string. For now, here are a few of the pages from my first journal. Next time I'll share some of my BOS and my Gratitude NEJ.

Barely started
Made a little more progress


A completed page!

That completed page was my thoughts at the time about the Brexit vote. I don't live in England and didn't really know much about it before the vote. But I do have family there. After they voted leave, I was curious to know what it meant for them, what it meant for the EU. I know my opinion on it won't mesh with some others. I personally believe in the long run it will be a bad idea for the country and Europe as a whole. It has already been bad for the economy and some of the non-white citizens in the short term. The level of nationalism and hate I saw in news stories was quite disappointing (and very familiar). We're about to have a similar decision to make here in November and I dearly hope we don't make the same one. My journaling this summer has been very therapeutic and I plan to do as much of it as I can while finally getting my writing ass in gear with a couple of books.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Money

**I know nothing I'm saying here is revolutionary but I needed to say it nonetheless.**

We're told throughout our lives that money is the true measure of a life. Not in so many words but it is implied. Where you live, where you work, what you drive, what you wear, with whom you associate are all indicators of a successful human being. Or not so much if you do it "wrong." What you believe, how you treat others, the values you hold dear matter not at all if you don't have money. If the prosperity Christians are to be believed, even Jesus believes in amassing wealth.

I hate money. I hate what people become when they amass too much. I hate what it does to people who can't get enough to get by in our consumer culture. Mostly I HATE it because there is no longer any way to survive in this modern world without it. And those with the most money take great pleasure in reminding the rest of us just how little we have. Oh, you can live off the grid and spend as little as possible. But you can never get away from it completely.

Money buys power and power controls the money. Money poisons our air and water. It fills our food with chemicals; unnatural configurations of which we're only beginning to discover the dangers. All the while it deregulates any safety protocols that could protect us from the dangers. Money poisons our minds, pitting the poor and middle class against each other while the rich sit back, control the narrative, and get more rich. It teaches us that to be poor is to be less than human, not deserving of the most basic human rights. Don't have enough money? Get a better job. Can't get a better job? Get another job. It doesn't matter that the one job should pay enough for shelter, food, clothing, and transportation to said job. If you ask for (or demand) fair wages, you're ungrateful and a liability. If you ask for help, you're a taker and a drain on the economy. If you're willing to help others, you're an enabler. Money tells you who to hate and who to love.

Most problems of modern man can trace back to money or the lack thereof. I saw this clearly in every history class I ever took. America was built on the rich getting richer by using (or eliminating) anyone who stood in their way. Ask the Irish Americans. Ask the African Americans. Ask the Native Americans. Ask the Asian Americans. Ask women. Ask anyone who isn't a rich white male. We're simply tools they use to amass more wealth.

I don't want to measure my self-worth by the size of my paycheck. I don't want to be judged by the fact that I drive a Toyota instead of a BMW. I want to feel good about myself because I care about others and not what they can give me. I want the people I care about to know they are worthy of respect regardless of job title, bank account, or credit rating. I want everyone to have the same opportunities for self-improvement regardless of where and to whom they were born. I want children to never go hungry. I want all families to be able to spend time together. I want good health to be a right and not a privilege of the wealthy. I want what we'll never have: true equality.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Art Journaling

I'm finally making a go of art journaling. The last 9 months (or more) have been a bit stressful and maybe a tiny bit depressing with a few wonderful times mixed in. But the sheer lack of regular creative work has left my brain fried. So this year I actually managed to stick with journaling thanks to some very interesting prompts from Journaling Junkie on tumblr and A Writer's Book of Days by Judy Reeves and Janet Fitch. I don't have time to write every day but this is the first time I've kept going back to my journal instead of writing for three or four days and quitting when I missed a few. I'm learning that writing when I can (or when I remember) is better than trying to do it every day and getting frustrated with myself when life gets in the way.

With some confidence in committing my thoughts and feelings to paper, I'm also trying an art journal. I got two small Art Journal Kits with mixed media paper and several sheets of pretty textured paper for Yule. What you see here is my design for the simple teal cover. I've already made 6 pages (2 still works in progress) and I'll share them as I'm certain I don't want to add more layers or write more words. With another creative outlet, I really feel like can start improving on my drawing skills as well. I think the one that has kept me going is my roommate. She's super supportive and has all the best art supplies. Check back soon for my first few pages. I'm sharing them on my tumblr page also. If you have art journals you've shared, post a link in the comments. I'd love to see them!