It Really Works

Application of bottom to chair, that is.

I’ve been having a rough patch of late. My last two works-in-progress, I managed to complete in six weeks or less. My current work-in-progress, however, stalled, and I am feeling neither passion nor fire for it. Combine that with some pretty nasty headaches and a dash of laziness, and you have a recipe for accomplishing nothing.

While my muse is very real, I also know I need to write whether she’s sitting on my shoulder, jumping on the keyboard and cursing because I can’t type faster, or off flitting around wherever muses go when they’re basically telling you to f-off.

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After getting my headaches mostly under control, I made a bargain with myself. I would banish myself to the living room with my computer for at least thirty minutes a night. My goal was to produce 1,000 words. They didn’t have to be good words, they just had to be words. I told myself I’d rely on the editing stage to make them good words. Which, if I’m honest with myself, my first draft tends to suck anyway.

If I could do this, I’d prove to myself I was serious about writing. If I’m really serious about it, I would consider shelling out for an editing service once I’m “done” with Crowned Prince.

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Guessing it’s about this expensive.

I’ve kept this promise for some time now, trying to do mini sprints of 15, 20 or 30 minutes and then recording my progress. Some nights, I can get my 1,000 words in about 45 minutes. Other nights, I’m at 800 and I’ve been in the chair for 90 minutes. But here’s the thing. I’m still 800 words closer to the end.

I pushed past the part I was struggling with in the WIP. Was what I wrote any good? I’m not sure. Just because it was hard to write now, doesn’t mean it completely sucked. Either way, I’m not going to dwell on it. I’ll deal with it in editing. This may be why it takes me three times longer to edit a book than to write it . . .

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I’ve pushed past the 40,000 word mark and am now racing towards the climactic ending. Yeah, my first drafts are only 50-60k. I write a skeletal first draft and go back and add a lot of description, a few extra scenes to better explain things, and a few more steamy scenes. I know this about myself, and I work with it.

I have now also learned I need to be sequestered to write. I know sprints make me more productive.

I know it’s not going to be easy to maintain the momentum and finish the book, but if I keep at it, I’ll get there. Once the words are on the page, I can make them better. First, the words have to get there.

 

How about you? Anything you’ve ever had to push through to complete? Do you reward yourself for doing things you’d rather not? Or maybe your muse is far better behaved than mine, and if so, how do you keep her so happy?

More Construction

It’s spring, so the season for it!

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I am making some changes and getting ready to move to a new web hosting service next week. You shouldn’t see any disruptions, but if you do, this is what’s going on.

After seeing a friend have her site hacked twice, and then watch her fight ongoing attempts, I decided to find a place I felt was more secure, focused on writers, and maintains excellent back-ups. Yeah, it’s more expensive, but when I look at how many hours I’ve put into this blog, I’d be devastated to lose it.

Some things are worth the cost.

 

8 Steps to Out with the Cold

It’s that time of year. Time to move the heavy winter sweaters to storage and start bringing out the spring and summer gear.

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This feels like a Herculean task this year. First, I have to get both of my little ones situated. Then I turn to my own closet, but the steps I follow are pretty much the same for all three of us.

  1. Is It Damaged – Anything damaged that isn’t easily repaired (or that I’m willing to pay a tailor to repair) is turned into rags. No one is going to wear it. If it is easily fixed, it must be fixed now. If it isn’t fixed now, it’s never going to be.

2. Does It Fit – If it doesn’t fit me or the toddler, the garment in donated. If it doesn’t fit DD1, it gets boxed up and the box is labeled with the size and the appropriate season. This makes it so much easier when I bring them out for DD2.

3. Has It Been Worn – This is really only applicable to me versus the kids. But I try to look long and hard at what’s being taken down to storage. Did I wear it a lot that year? Maybe not at all? If not, why not? Was there something that bothered me: the style, the cut, the color? If so, I donate it. My taste is probably not going to change in a couple of months. This year, I am giving my big heavy sweaters a second chance. It simply wasn’t cold at all this winter, which is very, very odd. Other things, though, I was ruthless on.

4. Will the Child Wear It? – While DD2 is getting a lot of hand-me-downs from DD1, there are certain things she simply won’t wear. I donate them. Mornings are hard enough. I don’t need to add trying to get kids into clothes they hate.

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5. Create the List – If there is anything I am donating that clearly needs to be replaced (say a ripped winter coat), I make note of it so I will replace it rather than forget.

6. Repeat – Once this is completed for everything going into storage, I then have to take stock of everything coming out of storage for DD2 and me. I go through everything, pair up outfits, and make a list of what we need. This is especially critical so there are no orphans (you know, that pair of plaid trousers you had to have only to realize it matches nothing in your closet. Not that I’d know anything about that…).

7. Take Stock – I now need to take stock of what everyone needs to make it through the season, but especially DD1. She’s not getting any hand-me-downs, so I have to buy most of her stuff new or through consignment sales. I want a solid list of what she needs so I can hunt it down.

8. Shop – The joy of online shopping! Yes, I do most of my shopping online, even for the kids. I buy at a handful of stores, so I know their sizes. It’s not like I’d have them try on clothes if we went to a store, anyway. I’d love to say I’m a shopping pro, but the truth is, I’m not. I know there are ways to shop resell shops and save a lot, but that takes time and time is something I don’t have. My favorite places to shop all have free shipping and I can return to the brick-an-mortar store for free. Some even have free shipping on returns.

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As you can imagine, this is a huge undertaking, and I have to do it twice a year. Still, there’s a lotta things I have to be thankful for. The two amazing kids I do this for is a start.

I really envy my husband on this. Khakis and polo shirt. All year. *sigh*  Add this to my list of things I envy.

 

How about you? Do you have to switch clothes out for the season for you or your kids? How do you do it? Any tips for shopping for kids? I don’t shop after season sales because my kids growth spurts are too unpredictable right now, but there has to be others for busy moms.

 

 

 

 

To Catch a Dragon (Part 4)

You can catch up on the story at Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.

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To Catch a Dragon (Part 4)

They followed the shoreline not sure what they were looking for. Perhaps another footprint. A scale. Or even a dragon bathing in the lake.

Instead, they found a handful of deer, a couple of moose, and even a flock of sheep. All which should have been tasty morsels for a dragon, but no such creature was tempted from the sky.

“Any people missing?” Ndrek asked as he glanced over his shoulder at the sheep.

“No. Livestock seem to be accounted for as well.”

“What I felt may not have been a dragon, but whatever it was, it was far more powerful than the lich Sir Marcus destroyed.”

Knight Kailis frowned. “Maybe you just drank too much ale.”

“It takes far more than Tamarian ale to make me fall down drunk.”

“Maybe it was spiked with something.”

“Let’s say it wasn’t spiked ale that knocked him out,” Vaiya said. “And, for the sake of argument, let’s assume it wasn’t a long dead dragon or elven arch mage. What does that leave?”

Ndrek thought for several long moments, then ticked each off his fingers. “A supremely powerful but untrained and undiscovered sorcerer. A magical relic of immense power. A dragon. An elven arch mage.”

“An untrained sorcerer would be hard to hide,” Vaiya said. “They tend to set themselves and those they love on fire while still in the cradle.”

“That leaves a relic.” Kailis frowned. “I suppose it’s possible.”

“And if true, very dangerous,” Ndrek said.

“We’ll spend the next couple of days searching for any additional clues and following any leads the locals can give us. If you sense that kind of magic again, I’ll send an urgent request for back-up to the Dragon Church.”

“And if not?” Ndrek said.

“Then I make a full report and let the Dragon Church decide. Not sure how much manpower they want to spend on this when they’ve got undead walking the streets in the eastern provinces.”

“I would not wish to return to the eastern provinces. Hard to believe, but the food is better here. So is the smell,” Ndrek said.

Knight Kailis shook her head and led them back to town.

 

Curiosity burned. Ndrek knew something was out there, something of immense power, but not necessarily hostile. If it were, Kelleran would already be dust.

Church protocol bound Knight Kailis, but it didn’t bind him.

He watched the Knight of Valor conduct the investigation with by-the-book precision, but they knew nothing more when they retired for the day than they had at the beginning.

Ndrek lay in bed and studied the whitewashed ceiling. There was something out there. He could almost feel a whisper of its power. Almost.

Perhaps it was his desire to find the source of the magic that he felt rather than anything else, but he had to know.

His companions were asleep when he slipped out of the inn. He didn’t bother with the invisibility or silence spells. If he did find the presence, such magic would be of no consequence to it.

A sliver of a moon lit his path, and Ndrek augmented it with a faint light spell. No point tripping over a rock, and if this was a dragon, it already knew he was coming.

The familiar patter of his heart fueled him, and Ndrek felt himself come alive. His hearing was sharper, his eyes keener, even his sense of smell heightened.

A dragon. An elven arch mage. Something was out there. Waiting for him.

It would’ve been wiser to wake Kailis or Vaiya, but he didn’t want to endanger them. He had to find the truth, but he wouldn’t let anyone but himself die for it.

Ndrek crested the last hill and saw Lake Meade sparkling in the faint light. A man stood shirtless beside the water. His skin was pale as new fallen snow, and his hair shimmered as it reflected the faint moonlight.

“I knew you would come.”

Ndrek’s magelight spell evaporated as the words rumbled over his flesh. The wizard swallowed back the metallic taste of fear as his entire body trembled.

“You are not the one I seek.” The pale man continued to stare across the lake.

“Who is?”

“I don’t know. I thought I felt her, but I no longer do.”

Ndrek said nothing as the water lapped the shore. He could feel whispers of the same magic pressing against him, but this time, the magic was contained. Wrapped in strong wards that even now were weaving ever tighter and locking away the power.

The man turned to look at him, and Ndrek felt the weight of a thousand mountains in those violet eyes. Millennia of loneliness, isolation, and longing seared Ndrek’s mind in the time it took a firefly to blink. In the same moment, Ndrek’s soul was laid bare, exposing everything he was and all he wasn’t.

The man turned back to the lake, breaking the link.

Managing to stay on his feet, Ndrek forced himself to breathe.

“Go. You will find no dragon here.”

Ndrek nodded and fled to the inn, never looking back.

 

Ndrek accompanied Knight Kailis and Priestess Vaiya as they spent seven more suns following leads and looking for signs of a dragon, mage, or relic. They found none.

When Kailis asked him over and over about what he’d felt the night they’d found him on the road, Ndrek deflected, saying that perhaps the innkeeper had given him a stronger drink. Or perhaps he’d reacted poorly to something in the rocks or soil.

Kailis didn’t believe him, but she eventually stopped asking.

Three days after they returned home, Ndrek swore under his breath as Sir Leopold tromped into his bar and dropped payment onto the counter.

The Knight pinned him with his faded blue stare that always saw more than Ndrek wanted. “Knight Kailis thinks you found something but won’t tell her.”

Ndrek collected his payment and dropped it into the folds of his cloak. “You will not find a dragon in Kelleran.”

“Not what I asked.”

Ndrek closed his eyes as the memories flooded him, and even in the quiet warmth of his bar, he shivered.

“You look like you saw a ghost.”

“Those are easy to deal with.”

“What did you find?” Leopold folded his arms and waited.

“Doesn’t matter. It didn’t find what it’s looking for.”

“And what was it looking for?”

Ndrek paused a moment. “I think its mate.”

“Then it’s gone for good?”

“I hope so.” But the prickle down Ndrek’s back warned it was an empty hope.

To Catch a Dragon (Part 3)

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You can catch up on the story at Part 1 and Part 2.

To Catch a Dragon (Part 3)

He awoke to the warmth of a healing spell followed by a most un-Knightly curse.

Ndrek smiled up at Vaiya. “Thank you, though I think Knight Kailis would have preferred you to let me die.”

Knight Kailis balled her fists as she turned on her heel to face him. “What in the seven hells were you doing out here alone?”

A bit of the fire he’d seen in her once was peeking through her paladin veneer, and Ndrek couldn’t help but smile. “Looking for dragons. Alas, I fear they prefer beautiful young virgins. As I am none of those, I might have been more successful if you had joined me.”

“This isn’t funny.”

“I was not laughing.” Ndrek stood and waved his hand across his robes. The mud, sticks, and grass vanished. Though Vaiya’s healing spell had repaired the worst of his injuries, he still felt as if he’d spent the night drinking hellfires and black phoenixes.

“Who attacked you?” Vaiya asked.

He looked at the petite woman with russet hair and jade eyes who seemed all the smaller compared to the Valkyrie beside her. But Ndrek had learned long ago never to judge a person by their stature, especially when they channeled the power of the gods.

“I was not attacked. Not exactly,” Ndrek said.

“Then how’d you end up face down in the dirt?” Kailis asked.

“Some sort of magic force.” Ndrek waved his hand as he stumbled with the words. “Whatever it was, it knocked me aside.”

Kailis tightened a hand over the hilt of her sword. “Magic. But we didn’t feel anything, and none of the townspeople complained of it.”

“How many of them are wizards?” Vaiya said.

“You think it’s targeting magic users?”

“I do not think it cares about magic users,” Ndrek said. “If it did, it would have killed me. It had ample opportunity.”

“Then why attack you?” Kailis said.

“I believe I was an accidental casualty. If you had felt the power…” Ndrek shook his head. “I am not a threat to it. Not even a lich is a threat to it. I have never felt such immense power.”

Kailis frowned. “Do you think it was a dragon?”

“Perhaps. Or an elven arch mage.”

“Those don’t exist either,” Kailis said.

Ndrek shrugged, hiding his curiosity under a bland expression. For the first time since he’d joined Sir Marcus, he felt a prick of excitement. Danger, yes, but finally here was something unknown. Something new.

“What do we do now?” Viaya looked at the Knight.

Kailis fidgeted then looked down at the dragon on her shield. “We follow orders. We go to Kelleran and see if we can find evidence of a dragon.”

“And whatever it was that attacked Ndrek?”

“If it’s after magic users, he’s the only one in the area. It’ll be back, and we’ll be ready.”

Ndrek only smiled. The being may come back, but they would most assuredly not be ready.

 

Ndrek was rather disappointed when they arrived in Kelleran without coming across the source of the immense magic.

Unlike the other villages, Kelleran was quite crowded as people from the surrounding areas and as far away as Aerius had descended on the town in hopes of seeing a dragon. Kailis’s presence confirmed to those gathered that the dragon was, indeed, real.

Still, her popularity meant everyone was telling her what they knew. While the stories varied from improbable to impossible, the trio quickly learned that none of the stories matched. The only thing any of them could agree on was the dragon footprint they’d found near Lake Meade.

“Is the footprint still there?” Ndrek asked.

“Gone,” Kailis said. “Wiped away by rains.”

“Did you see it before it was destroyed?”

Kailis thought for a moment too long.

“You saw something. What was it?”

“Faint outline at best, and the locals had to point it out to us. If it was a footprint, the creature that left it had to be as big as the royal palace.”

“Hard for villagers to forge such a thing, yes?”

“Not saying they made it up, but they might have been seeing what they wanted to see.”

“The sun is still high. Let us investigate this lake.”

“Can’t take another night of weak ale and local gossip?” Vaiya asked.

“I would rather have hot coals placed on my back.”

“You might like that a little too much,” Vaiya said.

Ndrek grinned at her, and Kailis frowned at them both.

After packing a lunch of fresh bread, dried meat, and cheese, the trio followed a cow path to Lake Meade.

Ndrek sucked in a breath as he looked at the massive expanse of water. Lake did not convey the immensity of the body water that extended beyond the horizon. It reminded him of the ocean, but rather than the tang of salt and fish, it smelled like the morning after a rainstorm.

Watching the waves lap the shore and the sun illuminate the water, Ndrek eased his horse to the edge of the lake.

“How deep is this lake?”

Kailis shrugged. “Deeper than most. Mountains further south feed it with spring run-off, and there are several underground springs that empty into it as well.”

“Deep enough for a dragon the size of the royal palace to dive into for a snack?”

Kailis paused. “Yeah. I suppose it is.”

Ndrek nodded. “We should proceed with caution.”

 

To Catch a Dragon (Part 2)

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You can catch up on the story here.

To Catch a Dragon (Part 2)

Ndrek watched the rolling hills of the Tamarian countryside slide past. The scent of green growing things and manure filled the air, and the afternoon sun was warm on his back.

Not much more exciting than tending his bar.

And he couldn’t practice any spells as it would spook his horse and probably his companions’ mounts as well.

Magic users were uncommon everywhere, but even more so in Tamryn. The few that did exhibit both desire and potential were trained at the lackluster University of Magical Arts where the Dragon Church could keep a close watch on them.

Ndrek was uncertain why so many Tamarians feared magic, but it did explain why he hadn’t been able to find a horse that magic didn’t bother. The beasts were too much like their owners.

He’d have to pay Mara handsomely to find him one, but he doubted she’d accept such an offer. No, she’d want a favor in return. That’s how her kind worked. Gold was too easy for her to come by on her own.

But that would have to wait for his return to Aerius.

In the meantime, Ndrek whispered a tiny spell to make the saddle more comfortable, and his horse stamped a foot and snorted.

“Told you not to cast any spells,” Knight Kailis said.

Yes, he would trade Mara a favor for a real horse.

Glancing across the idyllic farmsteads with their grazing animals, rich crops, and tended barns, Ndrek had to admit it was better than the last time he’d traveled with a Knight. The roads were tended, riding was easy, and there were plenty of inns along the way. There were also no undead wondering around, a blessing in itself.

“We’ll stop in the next town,” Knight Kailis said.

Ndrek glanced at the sun still well above the horizon. “We could make it to the town after that without difficulty.”

“Protocol says…”

Ndrek sighed loud enough to silence her. “Very well. We stop in the next town.”

Kailis glared at him, but said nothing the rest of the way to town.

As they rode into the village, Ndrek groaned when he saw that it looked exactly like the last five they’d stayed in. Sure, the houses were painted different colors, and there were different flowers in the planters, but the same Dragon Church surrounded by massive oak trees dominated the center of town. Merchant shops lined the main street, and an inn was tucked in the center of them.

As they entered the inn, it was clean and furnished with the same practical heavy wooden tables and chairs that were well-worn from use. A smattering of locals were already comfortably seated, mostly the elderly and very young.

Ndrek could smell a thick stew simmering that would be served with fresh bread for dinner. How he longed for a bowl of spiced meat stew so hot his eyes would water. Something to make his taste buds work again.

He settled for sitting down at the bar and listening to the hum of conversation.

Just as she had at the last five inns, Kailis showed the innkeeper her credentials and secured them a room, a meal, and fresh traveling supplies. And just like in the last five inns, the young Knight was soon surrounded by locals, all wanting news of the happenings in the capital city and stories of her adventures.

While Kalis obliged them with the same boring news she had in the past five towns, Priestess Vaiya tended to the sick or injured of the town.

He should be happy, relieved even, after everything he’d seen. No ghouls. No vampires. No zombies. Another perfectly normal, perfectly quiet Tamarian town.

It was enough to make Ndrek want to vomit.

He watched Knight Kailis talk to the locals as he drained his mug of ale. Decent stuff, but nothing like a Fire and Brimstone. After five days on the road with her, he needed something a lot stronger than ale.

Even after a day of riding, her strawberry-blonde hair was in the same tight braided bun so many female Knights wore. He wondered if they took a course in it so they all did it just right.

Ndrek snorted into his empty glass.

Of course they did. They all had to be the perfect protégés of Dracor.

Knight Kailis wasn’t awful, but she was everything that was wrong with the Knighthood.

He’d seen a glimpse of fire in her, a spark, back in her early days as a Knight. He’d thought she’d be different. Had expected her to shake up the place, but now, she was just like all the rest.

Perfect braids, the blue eyes so common in Tamryn, and pristine armor. She looked like a Knight, and she had the same polite but commanding tone they all used. Must’ve had classes in that, too.

The barkeep stopped over and offered to refill Ndrek’s glass, but he waved the man away. He’d had enough. Enough of beautiful Knights, following orders, and basking in boredom.

He was going to find this dragon.

Making sure Kailis was occupied with the locals, Ndrek flipped up the hood of his traveling cloak and walked out of the inn.

The night was cool, and the songs of frogs mixed with the chirping of crickets. He smiled as he realized some might consider the summer night hot, but they’d never suffered through the Qumarefi desert. Boredom was better than some things.

Still, he couldn’t imagine much that would be a challenge for him anymore. Especially not after his travels with Sir Marcus. But better to be safe than dead, and once Ndrek was at the edge of town, he cast an invisibility and silence spell on himself.

Time to see what the local smugglers knew about dragons.

Of course there were smugglers out here. They had to be more careful in Tamryn than in other places Ndrek had been, but that just made the rewards richer. And there were plenty of goods Tamryn outlawed that would be well worth the risk.

Following the road south, he looked for telltale signs when he felt a prickle on his skin.

Magic. Strong magic.

Stronger than anything he’d ever felt.

He stopped and strengthened his wards.

The magic increased from a whisper to a grinding pulse, pounding against him and driving into his chest. Into his heart. Into his head.

He tried to scream, but he could make no sound.

Ndrek fell to his knees as blood gushed from his nose and soaked the ground in front of him.

The magic intensified until spots danced in front on his eyes. Clutching his chest, he glanced towards the heavens, a prayer Sir Marcus had taught him on his lips, when a shadow glided over the trees.

As it drew closer, the darkness closed in on Ndrek and unconsciousness took him.

 

To Catch a Dragon (Part 1)

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As I’ve been working through my novels, I ocassionally take my characters on a “test drive” in different scenarios to see how they’d handle them, if there’s any chemistry, etc. I thought I’d share some of those on the blog. Let’s me do some character development, and gives you some (hopefully) fun short stories.

As always, comments are welcome.
To Catch a Dragon

Ndrek sat behind the bar, sizing up each of his mid-afternoon customers. Some had started drinking early, others had rented a room for the night and were just starting their day. Boredom itched.

Now was as good a time as any to start work on the new spell he’d discovered.

As he slid off his stool, the door to the bar opened and the man that entered had to stoop to get under the doorframe. His shoulders matched his height, and the gold dragon on his breastplate seemed to glow in the dim light.

The archetype for the Knights of Valor.

Sir Leopold grimaced at the sticky floor.

“To what do I owe this…” Ndrek paused. “Honor?”

The Knight leaned against the bar, his back to the wall as his faded blue eyes surveyed the tap room. “Don’t believe for a minute you’ve settled down as a barkeeper.”

“That is not what brought a High-Knight to my humble establishment. Perhaps you came for a Fire and Brimstone? My establishment is said to make the very best.”

Leopold looked at the pristine glasses behind the counter. “At least those are clean.”

“Too much cleanliness would scare away my best customers.”

Leopold’s eyes narrowed. “Not what I came to see you about, though I probably should.”

“What has brought you here?”

The Knight reached into his cloak and withdrew a sheaf of papers imprinted with the wax seal of the dragon church.

“A writ?”

“Interested?”

Ndrek sucked in a breath as he looked at the sealed documents. “You have an army of Knights blessed by Dracor Himself. Why would you have need of me?”

“We’ve been issuing more of them lately. Not enough Knights to oversee all of Tamryn and the eastern provinces.”

“Then you need more Knights.”

“That’s up to Dracor,” Leopold said.

Ndrek bit back his quip about fickle gods.

“Figuring you’re getting bored about now. This’ll keep you busy and out of trouble. Pay’s not bad either.”

Ndrek grinned and took the papers, but he frowned as he read them. “This is a goose chase, as you Tamarians say. Dragons have been extinct since before men walked these lands.”

“Locals of Kelleran don’t agree with that assessment.”

“A dragon.” Ndrek rocked back on his heels as he tried to wrap his brain around the thought. “Are you sure?”

“Nope, but that’s where you come in.”

“Would not the followers of the Dragon God Dracor wish to be first on the scene?”

“Already sent a contingent of Knights.”

“Let me guess. They did not return?”

“Of course they did. They didn’t see any dragons, and they didn’t find any proof that there’d ever been any.”

“Then why send me?”

“Found a few things that made some folks worry there might’ve been a dragon. Knights couldn’t tell if it was real or a hoax.”

“Would not the Knights know this best?”

“Dracor might take the form of a dragon, but dragons are magical beasts.”

“No wizard was with the team you sent?”

Sir Leopold shook his head.

“So you think I will be able to tell for sure.”

“That’s the reasoning, anyway.”

Ndrek looked at the bundle of papers, including the generous payout. Far more interesting than tending bar.

Sir Leopold pushed off the bar. “I’ll send Knight Kailis over. She was on the original expedition. And Priestess Vaiya.”

“Was she on the original expedition as well?’

“No, but I figure if you find a dragon, you might want the healing skills of Priestess of Thalia on your side.”

Ndrek frowned. “You think there might actually be a dragon.”

“Doesn’t much matter what I think. It’s what you find that counts. I’ll send Knight Kailis over in the morning.”

Ndrek watched the High-Knight leave and looked down at the papers in his hands.

If Sir Leopold thought it was a goose chase, he wouldn’t be sending Ndrek, a Knight, and a Priestess of Thalia to investigate.

Sir Leopold hadn’t become a High-Knight by being wrong.

 

Where Are the Dragons?

The current books I am writing all take place in the same world. You’ll see the same characters, but each book is stand alone and has its own romance.

To date, I have not introduced a dragon character. Do I have them in my head, you betcha. At the moment, though, the people of my world believe that humans may carry a drop or two of dragon blood in their veins, but that dragons themselves were destroyed by the god that created them.

So, I love dragons, and I want to add them to my story, but a dragon takes things to a different level. They aren’t something you can just add without potentially unbalancing the world.

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As a romance writer, if I add a dragon, I also have to have an appropriate female love interest in the story. That’s a core part of the genre. That means we need an appropriately formidable female protagonist.

I have no issues with this as I enjoy strong female characters. No suitcases, please. But, that adds another layer of complexity if I have two such powerful characters.

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But, I still want them!

Anderantamosien, who goes by Ander to us mere mortals, is all ready to make his entrance. I have a full backstory for him, his character flushed out, and a motivation. I even have an idea for his love interest. The downside is that love interest would be the daughter of two characters whose story I’ve already written. I’m not sure I want to move time along in my world that much just yet. Although, strangely, I already have ideas for the children of other characters whose stories I’ve written as well. Perhaps this is because I already know so much about them and their parents.

What I’m struggling with is giving Ander an appropriate antagonist without becoming too Dragon Ball Z. I need to give this more time, let the thoughts percolate, but I most assuredly need to bring dragons into the world.

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For the moment, I’ve established the Dragon God, a symbol of justice and righteousness. He’s part of the Holy Trinity that includes the Goddess of Wisdom and the Goddess of Mercy. There’s the Unholy Triumvirate to oppose them. There are other gods, such as the god of death, that are part of the pantheon, but not really on the side of good or evil.

So, yes, I have established that dragons once existed. Ander’s story will talk about their fall and their current place in the world.

But I still need to give him a true challenge, a true adversary that could take all he wants. And I’m not looking to retell a Beauty and the Beast tale. Ander can, and does, take human form. Still haven’t decided if that should have an impact on what buildings he can walk in  or if, you know, magic. Because if a dragon has the kind of magic to take human form, of course he can adjust his mass accordingly.

 

How about you? Ever write or read a book with something as epic as dragons? How did you or the author you read handle them? Did you like it? Why or why not? Also, if you know any good romance novels with dragons in them, please put them in comments! I have been searching for books with this done right, and it’s been very difficult to find.

It's Like Dating All Over Again

That sick feeling in your stomach. Are they going to say yes? What if they say no? If they say no, does that mean they don’t like me? Or does it just mean they’re already busy that weekend.

Sounds so much like dating, but it’s really just me trying to make other “mom” friends.

Making friends for an introvert is hard. Making friends as an adult introvert is even harder.

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Funny thing. I’m not even a dog person.

 

It’s an introvert’s nightmare.

I didn’t grow up where we live now, and lots of people in this area have never lived anywhere else. The rust belt isn’t exactly a hot spot for people to move to, so that means most people around here have known each other since grade school.

It also means there aren’t a lot of new people moving into the area. One of the hazards of falling in love with someone from the frozen tundra.

My situation is further compounded by the fact that most of our current friends are either childless or their children are older. As in getting ready to graduate from high school older.

So, you can see how I’ve become a bit of the odd-man-out. Not because anyone is trying to be mean, but it’s a lot harder for us to do stuff now than it was before having children. Especially having two children.

So, I decided the best thing to do was try to make other mom friends. Ideally, we could send the kids off to play and the moms could hang out together.

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Except, that’s a lot easier than it sounds. Especially for an introvert.

I’m at the beginning of this journey, and it makes me scared and nervous. Still, I joined a Facebook group for working moms in my area. We’ve been trying to meet, but the weather has been awful. Of course, we all want to meet on neutral ground and scope each other out to make sure we’re all okay. Maybe this summer.

My daughter was begging me for a play date with one of her friends, so I did ask her friend and her mom over for lunch. They came!!

Interestingly, when her mom e-mailed back that they could come over, I was elated. Until we got closer to the actual day, and then I got that sinking feeling all over again.

Why?

Because this is not my preferred way to spend time. I love hanging out with a few select people that really get me and I get them. But someone I don’t know? *shivers* Still, how do you get to know someone if you don’t go through the awkward stage first?

It was a tough stilted conversation at first, mostly talking about our kids as that’s what we had in common.

*sigh*

There has to be more to me than kids now, right?!?

I hope it’ll get better. Of course, it doesn’t help that interacting with people I don’t know is hard for me.

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After the three hour play date, I was literally worn out. I had a person I didn’t know, in my home, and I was trying to talk to them.

Yeah. Like running a 5K for an introvert.

 

How about you? Ever try to make friends as an adult? How did you do it? What worked, what didn’t? Maybe you have a funny story?

 

He's How Big?

Our Maine Coon has decided that my laptop is an offensive creature and should never claim my lap. It has been quite difficult for both my writing and my work.

Why do I care what my kitty thinks? Ah, you are also unaware that adopting a Maine Coon is quite similar to bringing a small mountain lion into your home. I was once, too.

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Yeah, about the right size for a male Maine Coon.

But let me explain how this happened.

Several years ago, we lost a kitty to lung cancer. It was very hard as we’d had him for many years, and it came fast. From the time he started showing signs of being sick until we had to make the very hard choice was less than a week. In that time, he’d lost 1/3 of his body weight and couldn’t breathe without great difficulty.

We were also three weeks away from the birth of our second child.

We had a second cat, and he was incredibly lonely with the loss of his brother. So, I did a lot of research on cats to see what kind would be good with kids. The internet was all but unanimous in saying a Maine Coon was great with kids and perfect for families. The internet is seldom in that much agreement, and when I learned my mother was friends with a Maine Coon breeder, I figured it was fate.

So, I called my mom’s friend, put our name in for a kitty and sent her the deposit.

She did tell us that Maine Coon males were around twenty-five pounds, sometimes more, and were we okay with it.

I thought of my sister’s twenty pound cat and figured, yes, sure.

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Some of you are thinking, five pounds is a large difference. It’s 25% more cat than your comparison point.

Others are laughing at my naiveté.  You see, the size difference between a fat 20 pound cat and a full grown Maine Coon who is not even remotely fat at 25 pounds is, well, you can see the picture above.

Yeah. The cat carrier we had for him? He doesn’t fit. We had to get him a dog carrier. He doesn’t fit in any cat bed we’ve bought him, but he has commandeered the toddler sofa. He can’t sprawl out in it, but he fits. Mostly.

He is a beautiful, majestic creature. By and large, their reputation as gentle giants is well deserved. He has been amazingly good with the kids, and it helps that he almost outweighs them. See, they can’t pick him up even if they want to, so there’s no carrying him around the house by his upper half without supporting his lower half.

He loves to be part of the family. There is no hiding under beds for this cat. Nope. He greets guests at the door and demands worshipful pets. He then sits down in the family room so he can be one of the crowd.

Some have told me he reminds them of a dog in a cat body.

But no. He is still an Egyptian god. Just ask him.

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When he is displeased, it is not like displeasing an eight pound cat. Oh no.

He hates my curling iron. The other morning, he reminded me of this by sending it careening across the bathroom. He then looked at me, and I swear he raised a brow, challenging me to do something about it.

Normally, he’s good about being brushed or having his claws clipped. When he’s not, it takes DH to pin him while I clip.

This brings us back to how large and how sweet he is when I was trying to write on my new laptop.

Imagine being curled up on your recliner, snuggled into your favorite blanket. Now, imagine your Maine Coon has also decided it’s his favorite blanket, but only when you’re warming it for him.

Now, imagine the cat you see above coming bounding across the room on thunder paws and launching himself onto your lap.

He landed with enough force to send the recliner into the wall behind it and knocked the breath out of me.

He then proceeded to curl up on my “lap”, spreading himself from just under my chin to down across my knees. He then rolled over to give me his tummy to rub as he purred.

Fortunately for my new computer, I got it onto the side table in time. Barely.

So, while the computer survived, writing was done for the night.

And my Maine Coon claimed his rightful throne. Just ask him.

 

How about you? Have any pets that are less than fond of your electronic devices? How do they respond? What do you do about it?