Friday, January 19, 2018

#Furkid Friday: Maizie The #Chinchilla Turns 2 (FD)

Hi everyone. This is Maizie the chinchilla.

I had one of those birthday things. It was this past Saturday (January 13th).

I'm now two years old. That's my age in human years, of course. Chinchillas don't age the same way as humans, so I'm older in chinchilla years. But we won't get in to that right now.

I'm glad the Mummy human was home before my birthday happened. I don't like that she left, but I would have hated it even more if she was gone when it was my birthday.

I had oatmeal and raisins for my birthday, which I thought was great! I had to share them with Mollie, but I didn't mind that, because I love my adopted chinchilla sister. Mollie and I also got to spend the day watching NCIS, which was great! We love that show!

The human caretakers tried to get a birthday photo of me, but I didn't feel like having my photo taken, so kept hiding when they pointed the flashy thing at me. Mollie and I really aren't fans of that flashy thing. Eventually they gave up and let me enjoy my nibbles and NCIS in peace.

Squeak soon,
Maizie

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

#Writing Wednesday - January 17th 2018

I've done very little writing so far this month. Between getting ready to go away, actually going away, and then trying to catch up with things from being away... Well, you know how it is, I'm sure. I knew it would be the case. Anyway, I'm hoping to change that during the second half of this month, since I'm now caught up on the mountain of eMails I came home to.

For me it's time that's stopping me writing as much as I'd like to be. However, if your problem is finding ideas, check out some of the posts for STORYSTORM 2018 to help you get inspired. Posts like this one on how you can beg, borrow, or steal from yourself. If you're still struggling to find those ideas that are supposedly all around us, try adding the most important ingredient: yourself.

On the other hand, if you've got too many ideas, and they're all fighting to get your attention, this post on how to get a new, distracting idea out of your head (for now) may help you.

But, no matter how well you're writing is - or isn't - going, if you're a writer too, feel free to share your progress in the comments section of this post. Oh, and remember to stop memorizing so many writing rules. Rules are great sometimes, but don't let them stop you from being creative, and remember that most writing articles are only advice you can follow if you wish, rather than rules you must obey.

Speaking of which, here are some more articles I think are worth reading:

Are you writing something with ruins in? Then check out these tips to writing about ruins, and make it believable that they'd be the way they are.

This post about including unique weapons in your story is worth a read too, especially if you plan to do just that.

Hey, did you know there are nine types of characters in fiction? Well, you do now! Whatever kind of character you need for your story, here are seven helpful and fun ways to create characters. Don't forget that your supporting characters need love too.

Regardless of the characters your story contains though, remember to show, don't tell.

However, if writing poetry is more your thing, take a look at these ways to improve as a poet.

Finally, regardless of what you write, here's some advice for when writing reminds you you're not very good at this (yet).

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mental Noise On #Crafts

The photo shows a card we got from Rita recently. Rita makes most of her own cards, and everyone who sees them agrees they're always beautiful cards. I've even been lucky enough to get several of them over the years. Actually, Rita does a lot of great craft projects, so if you like that kind of thing, and aren't already doing so, you should pop over and read her blog. Anyway, thanks for the card, Rita!

Personally, I haven't done many crafts recently.

I stopped making cards, because I wasn't enjoying it so much any more. Making the odd card here and there is fun; I like playing with glue, glitter, ribbons, and various other things from time to time to make something creative. But making cards for everyone started feeling like a chore, and then I'd feel guilty if I made cards for some people and not for others. So I stopped. Part of it was that I felt like I needed Kelly to step in with sighted help to see that things were good enough, and then felt bad for dragging him in to it when cardmaking isn't something he enjoys. He insists he doesn't mind - no doubt that's true - but I still felt guilty, and it took the fun out of it for me.

As for knitting and sewing - which was the other main thing I was doing as regards crafting: I took a break from knitting and sewing while deciding what project to work on next, and life happened, so I didn't actually end up picking a project. I never needed Kelly's help for more than identifying colours when it came to these kinds of projects, and that somehow made it easier for me to accept. So I actually miss doing these kinds of craft projects (even though I still have the worry that what I make won't be good enough). Maybe I'll pick up my needles again soon? Maybe I'll pick something from this list of 150 sewing projects I found online? You never know!

There are a few other random craft projects I've thought - sometimes even talked - about doing. But I never got around to them, and can't even remember what most of them were any more. Maybe I'll get around to figuring out what they were, and actually doing them? Maybe...

I haven't yet. I still have a stack of craft supplies, and often think of starting a new craft project, but that's as far as I seem to get. One of these days I'll start a new craft project, and when I do, I'll share it with you. Just be warned: this is not me making a promise of craft projects coming soon, and it will probably be a while before this happens. In the meantime, you could always check out the list I linked to above for inspiration for your own craft projects, especially if you enjoy sewing.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Looking Back At 2017 And Ahead To 2018 (LBE)

I know most people did this a week or two ago, but I had several other things I wanted to post first. I mean, I only got around to posting about my holiday celebrations yesterday, after all. Better late than never though, right?

Anyway, to be honest, I'm not sure how I'd describe my 2017.

There were positives in 2017, my year was better than those of some people I know, and I did well with many of my goals for the year, as you'll see when we take a look at those in a moment. But somehow those things feel as though they're overshadowed by the bad things, whether those things happened to me personally, to people close to me, or happened on a worldwide scale.

For me, personally, the worst things that happened this year were us losing our ratty girls, Skye and Star, and then our gerbil, Baggins, during the start of the year. But there were other things too. For example, for my family as a whole, there was the loss of my Auntie Sylvie at the start of the year, my Mam's Cocker Spaniel, Ebonie, in early July, and my Grandma's Yorkshire Terrier, Jayde Bramblerose, less than a week before Christmas. I also know of losses online friends have suffered, including - but not limited to - one who lost his young puppy around the time Mam lost Ebonie, and one who lost her Mother right before Christmas. That's without going in to all the things that are happening on a larger scale as the forces of nature, and the nature of what feels like most of mankind, battle it out to see who can make a bigger mess of this planet.

I'm trying to let the positives shine through, like the addition of Lilie the Westie to our family at the end of May, and the amazing keeper for a day zoo experience I had at the end of March. But it's not easy, and somehow it feels like a terrible year, even though it could have been worse. From what I've seen from others posting their 2017 evaluations, it's not only me who feels this way.

With that in mind, I'm going to try to focus on how I did with my goals, and try not to dwell on the other stuff. So, let's take a look at my 2017 goals, which were as follows:

Reading goals:
*Read at least 217 books.
*Focus at least a large chunk of my reading on those books I've had waiting to be read for longest.
*Complete the A-Z title reading challenge.

Blogging goals:
*Continue to post writing themed posts on Wednesdays.
*Continue to post "Furkid Friday" posts on Fridays.
*Continue to post about other things on Sundays and/or Mondays (preferably both).
*Make use of hashtags in post titles, in hopes of increasing post visibility during social media shares.

Household goals:
*Finish unpacking and organizing the things that have been in boxes for way too long.
*Get the jobs done that are our responsibility to take care of. (I can't control what happens with the jobs the landlords need to do, so I'm not officially including that on my goals list).

Personal goals:
*Start meditating daily again.
*Attempt to break some bad habits I've gotten in to, and try to replace them with some good ones I wish I had, or used to have and want to have again. This especially applies to exercise, and the fact I should start making some effort to go out more.

You can see the list of blogging and reading goals in this post, and the household and personal goals in this post - both from January 2017.

So, how did I do?

Reading goals:
*I read 183 books in 2017. You can see the full list of the books I read by checking out my year in books on Goodreads. As you can see, I didn't make my goal of 217 books. I don't mind. Not really. OK, maybe a little. But mostly I'm glad I did enjoy most of what I read, which is more important than how many books I read anyhow. I mean, it would have been nice to have reached my goal... I usually at least make it, and often read a lot more than planned; this is the first year I haven't managed to. But... Well, I still read a lot of books, and - as I said - I enjoyed most of them, which is what matters most at the end of the day... Right?
*I did manage to read several books I've had waiting on my Kindle for ages, but also read several new ones. I forgot to keep track after the first couple of months though, so I don't actually know how well I did with this one. Oops! I can't check on Goodreads either, since the date on my "to read" shelf is the date I marked the book as "want to read" and not the date I purchased it, so I can't be sure which books I had for ages and finally read, and which books I brought and read after wanting to read them for ages, if that makes sense. I know I read several books I'd had for a while and not gotten around to reading though, so that's something.
*I completed the A-Z title reading challenge in October. You can see my challenge post here. I'd have finished it sooner, but added a little extra to the rules to make it more challenging for me... Check out the post to see the rule I added for myself.

Blogging goals:
*I did continue to post writing themed posts on Wednesdays.
*I also continued to post "Furkid Friday" posts on Fridays.
*Every Sunday and Monday also had a post during 2017, along with a few other days of the week when I needed to post on spacific dates, or needed more posting days in a month due to having a lot of things I wanted/needed to post about, the latter of which happened a lot during the last couple of months of last year.
*I made use of hashtags in most of my post titles. I'm not entirely certain if it helped or it was a coincidence that my posts got more attention last year than they did before, but it did seem to help a little... I think.

Household goals:
*All the stuff is out of boxes and on to shelves, though perhaps not as organized as it should be. It wouldn't have been so bad, but we had to move things around after Lilie ate the modem wire, chewed the plug off the paper shredder, and almost ate my speaker wire. We haven't had a chance to organize it properly since that was done. Our aim at the time was to just get things moved, and attempt to ensure chewable items weren't within easy reach any more (which we thought we'd done before, but apparently hadn't).
*When it comes to other things that needed doing, the only thing that wasn't done around here that was our responsibility to deal with was the shower. We still don't have the shower rail and curtain put up. The landlords got most of their jobs done too, though the windows could do with actually being replaced properly, and they're supposed to be coming back to paint the bathroom where they had to replaster it after the water damage. The landlords also got some jobs done that neither we nor they knew needed doing, but they're done now, which is a good thing.

Personal goals:
*Daily meditation hasn't become a habit again. I'm still only meditating from time to time. I'd make excuses, but since they don't even convince me, there's not much point in me trying to use them to convince anyone else.
*I went out more, and worked on some bad habits I wanted to break. I didn't do as much with this goal as I originally thought I might, but ended up realizing that there's a difference between what I'd like to achieve, and what my body will allow me to achieve. And I'm OK with that. Well, mostly. OK, sometimes. Maybe not so much on bad days, but certainly on good ones, which is the best I can manage nowadays, and I'm learning to accept that this has to be good enough.

Anyway, I didn't do too bad of a job with my 2017 goals overall. At least, I don't think I did too badly with them. Don't you agree? I mean, I didn't do as well as I'd hoped with the reading goals, my body wouldn't let me do as much as I'd hoped with some things, and I was very unsuccessful when it comes to the meditation thing, but I didn't do too badly other than that. Could have done better, could have done worse. It's just a shame the other stuff is making it difficult for me to call the year a successful one from a personal point of view.

Like most people, I feel more than ready to move on to 2018. With that in mind, I think it's time to look at my 2018 goals.

Reading goals:
*Read at least 150 books. Yes, only 150 this year. At least, that's the number I'm setting on my Goodreads reading challenge. I'm hoping to read more than that, but I'm setting the challenge at 150 books so I can focus on enjoying what I'm reading, while also dealing with my writing and publishing goals for 2018, and a few other things I'd like to achieve this year.
*Do the 2018 A-Z title reading challenge, which the same group is doing again this year.

Blogging goals:
*Continue blogging on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, using hashtags when appropriate.
*Start blogging more about other topics besides books and writing. The themes for Wednesdays and Fridays will stay the same (writing and pets respectively) and some of my Sundays and Mondays will too, but I want to make a habit of blogging about some of my other interests as well, rather than just focussing on books and writing, since it seems lately as though only my pet themed posts have given you a break from book/writing related posts - sometimes even they haven't - so I'll be trying to do that with some of the Sunday and Monday posts, and with some Tuesdays too. There will still be a lot of book/writing related posts - especially while I'm catching up on getting my backlist produced in audio - but I want to make sure you regularly get a break from those, while also taking the time to talk about some of the other stuff I'm interested in... Music, for example. Plus, I know there are those who wish I'd share more of the random day to day goings on in my life. Not that they're usually all that exciting to me, but I know I enjoy reading posts about the daily lives of others, and am told they enjoy mine, so... *shrugs*

I've got a sort of blogging schedule that looks something like this:

  • First Sunday of the month: book reviews for books I read the month before.
  • First Monday of the month: music Mondays, where I'll be sharing some of my favourite music by artists I've loved for ages, newly discovered music I've recently enjoyed, etc.
  • Last Sunday of the month: reviews for new to me movies and TV shows, or thoughts on some favourites if I've not watched anything new that month.
  • Last Monday of the month: motivational or inspirational quotes.
  • The other Sundays and Mondays: a variety of posts on themes ranging from day to day life, crafts, book releases (mine and those of others) and any other topics I have an interest in and want to post about.
  • Every Wednesday: writing Wednesdays, where I'll be sharing details about progress on my own writing projects, news about any guest posts or interviews I've done, and any posts or articles of interest I've read during the week in question.
  • Every Friday: a post from the point of view of one of my furkids, sometimes on recent events, other times on random topics (the latter being if nothing of interest has happened for me to have them write about).
  • Some Tuesdays: extra blogging spots, for those times when there don't seem to be enough Sundays and Mondays in the month.

Household/Personal goals:
*Finish organizing the things on the shelves.
*Arrange to finally get the shower rail and curtain put up.
*Get back in the habit of meditating daily again.
*Actually remember that it's OK to take time off from working on the computer sometimes, and have a day off at least once a week.
*Teach Lilie the difference between what she's allowed to chew, and what she isn't. Hint: my stuff isn't supposed to be chewed on, but she can chew her toys as much as she likes.

Perhaps not the most impressive list out there, especially compared to some I've seen. But it works for me. Remember, I've got my writing goals to consider too. Besides, I know I tried to fit too much in to most of last year, and need to slow things down a bit for the sake of my own health and sanity. Well, what's left of those things... Neither is in particularly great shape these days, after all.

How about you? How was your 2017? Did you reach all your goals? What are your goals for 2018? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Celebrating The #Holidays - 2017 To 2018; #WinterSolstice #Christmas #NewYear (FD)

I didn't do much in the way of decorating for the holidays. For one thing, Lilie is still very much in puppy chew mode, so I needed to make sure nothing was anywhere she'd be able to reach it. For another thing, I've been feeling really run down lately, and not sleeping too well, so I didn't feel up to doing much. Also, I'd have had to rush to put them away after Christmas, otherwise I'd have been trying to put them away while also trying to get ready for going away. The "going away" part is a trip to Wales that I'll already be home from at the time this post goes live, and which I'll tell you more about another day. Anyway, as I was saying, I didn't do much decorating for the holidays. But I felt wrong not having a tree at all. So I got a little wooden tabletop one - perfect for keeping out of Lilie's reach - and set that up on the table, along with a polar bear my Mam gave me. Here they are:


My celebrations themselves were quieter than normal too. Not that I usually do a lot over the holidays anyhow. But things were quiet even by our usual standards. I wasn't feeling up to doing much, so I didn't.

The Winter Solstice was acknowledged, but my celebrations were about as quiet as you can get while still celebrating something: a very short bit of meditation, the eating of carrot cake (frosted, with walnut pieces on top) and the eating of a bit of chocolate Yule log (brought more for Kelly, but I had a small piece) was all I managed.

On Christmas Eve, I'd planned to watch several Christmas movies. Well, I watched "Santa Clause - The Movie" while eating mince pies with squirty cream (pictured below on my penguin plate) but didn't watch any other movies. I read less than planned too. There were five Christmas stories I wanted to read over the Christmas long weekend, and I only managed three of them: two new to me ones you'll see mentioned among my December book reviews - if you're interested in looking - and "The Bear Father Christmas Forgot" (my traditional Christmas Eve quick bedtime read). I only managed the three by finishing one of them on Christmas Day.



Christmas Day started with our stockings...


...You can tell which is mine and which is Kelly's by our names on them. Lilie's is the polar bear one, and the other one is the one for the rodent gang (this year shared by Joshua, Mollie, and Maizie). Yes, I know the furkid stockings are in both shots. With how we had the stockings set up on the table that was the easiest way to get them all photographed.

The rest of the day involved a very excited puppy, presents for everyone - rodents, human, and puppy alike - and phonecalls to and from various family members. There were plenty of things available to snack on, but I didn't eat much. I did enjoy a nice cheese and cranberry sandwich though (something I made after having enjoyed a bree and cranberry sandwich Kelly brought me home for lunch earlier in the month). I was feeling really rough though, so just wasn't all that hungry.

I got some great presents, mostly revolving around the themes of DVDs, books, and animals, along with a bit of money I haven't spent yet. The animal things are technically toys, but I don't care, because I happen to think they're fun. They double as ornaments, and things to keep my hands busy when I'm thinking, reading, or watching a movie. Anyway, I had Kelly take a few photos for me, so here's some of what I got:

A unicorn:


A cuddly lemar:


A wind up robot (who has been cheerfully walking back and fourth across my desk while I've been waiting for the various photos in this post to upload) and a little Santa on a shooting star ornament I got in a Kinder surprise chocolate Santa:


And this thing here, which is called a fidget spinner:


It's a stress relieving toy, which also makes a good thing to just fiddle with when you want something to do with your hands. I'd never heard of them before opening mine on Christmas morning, but have had a lot of fun playing with it since then.

Anyway, there was also a tub of zoo animals, a couple of ponies, and a dinosaur, which aren't among the things I had Kelly take photos of. I also didn't bother getting him to take photos of the DVDs and such. I got a load of treats too, but I didn't bother getting him to do photos of those either.

Oh, and here are the Christmas cards we got this year:


By the way, thanks to everyone who sent presents, cards, or even just holiday greetings!

Anyway, we have our Christmas dinner late most years these days, and this year was no exception. Being a vegetarian, I'm always on the look out for something new to have alongside my roast potatoes, sprouts, etc. Earlier in the year I'd seen a recipe for a woodland pie, and another for savory lentil mushroom hand pies, which I liked the look of. I'd considered making one, or both, this Christmas. As the day was approaching, I knew I wasn't going to be feeling up to making both though, and couldn't decide which I wanted to try more, especially since I liked both, but disliked parts of both too. So I made my own version, which I've been calling a "vegetarian Christmas pie" (though I believe the pie is actually vegan friendly too). It consists of mushrooms and onions fried up together in some apple cider vinegar, and then put in a pie with a mixture of chestnuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, dried cranberries, and cranberry sauce. I can't tell you amounts, since I didn't really measure or weigh things. It was cooked until the pastry was golden brown, and served with honey roast parsnips, roast potatoes, sliced carrots, and sprouts. I was the only one who was eating it, since Kelly and Lilie had honey roast ham, so you'll have to take my word for it on how it tasted. Actually, it was only the fact it was only me who'd be eating it that made me consider an experiment with cooking to be a good idea for a holiday main meal: I'm the only one who would have been disappointed if it didn't work out. As it turned out though, I wasn't disappointed. It wasn't the most amazing of the recipes I've come up with, but it was quite tasty. I probably should have chopped the nuts a bit more, but other than that, I think it worked out really well.

That was it for our holiday celebrations, since we never do anything to celebrate on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day these days. If I'm awake for it, I listen for the nearby fireworks at midnight, but that's about it. This year I still wasn't feeling too well, so wasn't bothered if I heard the fireworks or not. As it turned out though, I was awake for them, since I got woken up just before they started. There aren't any photos or videos to share with you though.

Oh, and... If you're wondering... No. I didn't get any more snow. Plenty of wind, a fair amount of rain, but no snow, despite a snow watch being issued for our area two days after Christmas.

Friday, January 12, 2018

#Furkid Friday: A #Poem From Mollie The #Chinchilla

The Human Went Away Again
© 2018 Victoria "Tori" Zigler
~Written on behalf of Mollie the chinchilla.

She wasn’t here at dinner time,
Nor when breakfast time rolled around.
My sister and I called for her,
But she could not be found.

It’s true that someone else was here
To ensure we were fed,
And fill our water bottle,
Both before and after bed.

But we like when she does it;
We like things done just so,
And though she tells them how it’s done,
It’s clear that they don’t know

I think she needs more training;
She’s forgotten the rules again.
To want company other than ours
She must be really insane.

You know, this disappearing act
Is quickly getting old.
I wish she’d stay home with us
(Just like she was told).

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

#Writing Wednesday - January 10th 2018

"Filicity The Musical Platypus" is now available in audio - in case you missed my post about it at the end of December. It's narrated by Jenny Bacon, who has done a couple of my other books too. I love working with Jenny, and hope to have her narrate more of my books in the near future as well. Anyway, if you want to get your hands on a copy of the book in audio, you can do so via Audible, Amazon, or iTunes. If you'd rather an eBook or paperback version, that's an option too. Either way, check out the post I just linked to for more details on the book, as well as for purchase links.

***~~~***

Are you an author/blogger or a bloggr/author? Either one is fine, but I'd love to know how you'd answer that question - assuming it applies to you. Personally, I've been feeling more like an author/blogger lately, but want to return to being more of a blogger/author. That's the reason for a certain blogging goal I have for 2018 (which you can read more about innext Monday's post).

Regardless of which you are, there's something you should beware of when it comes to strict writing routines. Since I can't stick to a daily routine, I don't have to worry too much about the dangerous consequence of writing routines. I wanted to make sure you were aware of it if you're a writer who writes to a routine though. Also, here's a post on writing with anxiety, in case that applies to you.

Regardless of how - or when - you end up writing your story, a hero's fate is not always simple... So give plenty of thought to how you will end your story.

No matter how you plan to end it though, the scenes and characters in your story need to be fleshed out, and food can often play a big part in that. With that in mind, here are some thoughts on food and drink for you to consider.

Writing a series? Here are some tips on writing a series, some more tips on writing a long series, and another post containing series writing tips. The author of these particular posts is one who I've shared much from recently. His name is Charles Yallowitz, and he's written an awesome fifteen book fantasy series, so I think it's safe to say he has some idea what he's talking about, or is good at pretending he does. Either way, his tips are worth checking out, and so are his books.

Anyway, if you're struggling to come up with writing ideas, check out the posts from this year's STORYSTORM, including this one on exploring culture and family tradition, and this one on taking inspiration from songs and rhymes that already exist - the latter being something I've done several times in the past with some of my poetry.

No matter what though, remember to write your own story.

Once you have your book, you'll want to let people know it exists. One way to do this is by making use of things like N. N. Light's new author services and packages. There are plenty of other bloggers out there happy to help you promote your work too, many of whom will do it for free.

Last, but certainly not least: while writing advice is often helpful, you need to consider how some writing advice can actually hurt you, and only make use of the writing advice that actually does work for you.

Monday, January 08, 2018

#Book Release: Remembering Warriors Bundle - In commemoration of the World War One Centenary

Remembering Warriors Bundle
In commemoration of the World War One Centenary


One hundred years ago, in 1918, the Great War ended after four terrible years. Never had the world seen such a conflict. All touched by its scythe hoped we would never be thusly reaped again. Their hopes were but desperate dreams. Since that first armistice, there have been many more battles, and thousands have given their lives or their health to preserve freedom and escape from tyranny.

A hundred years after the first armistice we still remember and honour those brave souls. But still, the soldiers fall, for the War to End All Wars did not.

Grab your copy via Bundle Rabbit, Kobo, Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, or iBooks.

What's inside:
Book #1: Comrades in Arms by Kevin J Anderson
Book #2: Outside the Walls by A.L. Butcher
Book #3: Norman Blood by Barbara G. Tarn
Book #4 :The Rise of a Warrior by Harvey Stanbrough
Book #5: Total War by Russ Crossley
Book #6: Resonant Bronze by J.M, Ney-Grimm
Book #7: Siren by Blaze Ward
Book #8: The Museum of Modern Warfare by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Book #9: Nothing for Nothing by Harvey Stanbrough
Book #10: The Rescue by Blaze Ward
Book #11: Soldier, Storyteller by Linda Maye Adams
Book #12: Heroes of Old by Russ Crossley
Book #13: With a Broken Sword by Stefon Mears


10% of the royalties from the Remembering Warriors bundle will go to the http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/, plus another 10% to https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/. Two charities that support wounded and ex-service personnel and their families, in commemoration of the World War I centenary.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Tori's December 2017 #Book #Reviews (LBE)

It's time to take a look at what I read in December.

Before we do, I'd like to point out that if there are any authors reading this who want some advice on writing their blind characters, they can feel free to get in touch with me and ask any questions they may have. This statement was prompted by my thoughts while reading the last two books I read in December 2017, where the book was spoiled for me by completely unbelieveable blind characters, where the author alternated between forgetting their limitations and having them do things a blind person couldn't do - especially in an unfamiliar environment - and believing the untrue myths about blind people. Not to mention forgetting that adjusting to changes in sight would take a while, and work both ways. Please, authors, if you're going to write about a character with a certain disability, do your homework, and learn the truth first. If possible, speak to someone with that disability. Your readers will thank you.

Anyway...

As with the previous posts like this one, if you want to know more about the book, or the author, click on whichever it is you want to learn more about, and it will take you to the appropriate page on Goodreads. Clicking on my rating should take you to my actual Goodreads review for the book in question.

Don't forget: the format I've reviewed may not be the format I read. Also, please remember that I read across multiple genres and age ranges, so you should always check if a book is suitable for the intended reader, especially when children are involved. Sometimes reading the book's description on its Goodreads page will be enough for this, but other times you may need to check elsewhere to figure out the genre and/or recommended reading level.

OK... On to the reviews!

WrenWren by Alice Longaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A beautifully written story, with some touching moments, some amusing moments, and a great main character that readers can relate to.

The Murano Glass Slipper: A Cinderella RetellingThe Murano Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Retelling by Victoria Leybourne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a well-written book, where the main elements of the story of Cinderella are woven in to a unique and beautiful tale.

Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, #7)Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An action-packed, and often entertaining, addition to this series, which I found to be an extremely enjoyable read.

Sam, A Shaggy Dog StorySam, A Shaggy Dog Story by Sally Cronin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a beautifully written story, about a dog who is clearly very sweet and special, not to mention really smart and funny. I can see why the author would want to immortalize Sam by writing a book about his life, and am glad she did.
*NOTE: I was given a free copy of this book by the author. This has in no way influenced my opinion of the book, nor the contents of my review.

Dylan and the Lights of UlvaDylan and the Lights of Ulva by Jemima Pett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An exciting and entertaining story, which is a great addition to the series, and a wonderful tale in its own right.

Make a WishMake a Wish by Gita V. Reddy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a wonderful story. It's sweet and touching, and the main character is believable and likable.

Shashank the FledglingShashank the Fledgling by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It was interesting to get to read the events from Shashank's point of view, and have him fill in some gaps for us. It was also fascinating reading the parts of history he observed as time passed. George's journal entries were a nice addition to the book too.

Ghostly Writes Anthology 2017Ghostly Writes Anthology 2017 by Claire Plaisted
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Some of the stories in this collection were enjoyable, others weren't entirely to my taste. Some left me feeling I'd read a whole story, others felt like they should have been the start of something longer. But this was a great collection of stories and poems overall.

The Snow Spider (Snow Spider Trilogy, #1)The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I remember watching this when I was a child, and loving it. The book is even better!

Emlyn's Moon (Snow Spider, #2)Emlyn's Moon by Jenny Nimmo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a beautifully written and magical story, which I considered to be an enjoyable read.

The Chestnut Soldier (Snow Spider,  #3)The Chestnut Soldier by Jenny Nimmo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is a wonderful addition to the series, as well as being a beautiful and magical tale in its own right.

Chase Tinker and the House of Magic (Chase Tinker, #1)'Chase Tinker and the House of Magic (Chase Tinker, #1)' by Malia Ann Haberman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a fun and action-packed read, which is well-written and very imaginative.

House of SecretsHouse of Secrets by Malia Ann Haberman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is an excellent read. It's a wonderful continuation of the series, filled with magic and mystery.

Chase Tinker and the House of Destiny (Chase Tinker, #3)Chase Tinker and the House of Destiny by Malia Ann Haberman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Having read the first two books in the series, I have to admit to going in to this one with high expectations. I'm pleased to say I was not disappointed! This was another excellent read.

House of MistHouse of Mist by Malia Ann Haberman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The whole series up until now has been an action-packed magical adventure, filled with excitement and mystery, as well as an excellent cast of believable characters. I'm pleased to be able to say that this book was no exception, and was an excellent ending to the series.

The ChristmasaurusThe Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a creative and entertaining read, which would make a fun holiday read for anyone, especially dinosaur lovers.

Doctor Who: Twelve Doctors of ChristmasDoctor Who: Twelve Doctors of Christmas by Jacqueline Rayner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Doctor Who Christmas stories... What's not to love? That is all I have to say.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I don't know what to say about this book. I didn't love it, but didn't hate it either; some parts were enjoyable to read, other parts were disturbing.

A Swamp of Bones: Book 1A Swamp of Bones: Book 1 by Abigail Fero
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The story was interesting and mostly enjoyable, but I struggled to accept some of the characters as believable. I don't want to post any spoilers, so I'll just say that it might have been an idea for this author to have a discussion with a blind person before writing about one. Still, the book was a pretty good read, and I am eager to read more.

A Swamp of Souls: Book 2A Swamp of Souls: Book 2 by Abigail Fero
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Like with the first book in this series, this was a really good read, which would have been better were it not for the issues I have with the blind characters in the story. I mean, I'm glad the author is showing that blind people can do more than many people think, but there are limits.

Friday, January 05, 2018

#Furkid Friday: Joshua The #Degu On #Christmas For Him And The #Chinchillas (FD)


Hi everyone. This is Joshua the degu.

Santa Paws didn't forget me!

OK, so I didn't see him... Again! But when I got up on what the human caretakers assure me was Christmas morning, there were nibbles and wooden toys in my stocking... Just like I asked for!

There was a snowman toy, but I liked this snowflake one best:


In fact, here's a video of me enjoying a good nibble on it:






There were also various nibbles that I like, and some oatmeal that the human caretakers gave me for breakfast. I don't know if that was anything to do with SantaPaws, since the oatmeal wasn't in the stocking - or wrapped up at all, come to think of it - but me and my chinchilla sisters had oatmeal for Christmas, which is all that matters.

Speaking of my chinchilla sisters, Mollie and Maizie, they had the same things as I did. The human caretakers tried to get photos of them with one of their new toys too, but they said they weren't going to stick around if the flashy thing was being pointed at them. After a couple of attempts, the human caretakers gave up, so you don't get to see photos or videos of them from Christmas time. At least you got to see me enjoying my presents from Santa Paws.

It was a really good Christmas, and we were all happy with what Santa Paws gave us.

Squeak soon,
Joshua

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

#Writing Wednesday: 2018 Goals

I did a post last week looking back at how 2017 was for me as an author. So, now let's take a look at my goals for this year. Here they are:

*Continue audiobook production until I'm caught up with making my backlist of books available in audio.
*Finish that pirate themed adventure story I keep promising you, and get it published in all the formats my books are now available in (eBook, paperback, and audio).
*Get my new pet themed poetry collection published. I have enough poems for it now, I just need to sort it ready to be published and arrange a cover for it. A clearer idea of a publication date will be revealed when I actually have one.
*Update my website and social media profiles so they mention audiobooks too (they currently only mention eBooks and paperbacks, despite around half my books now being available in audio).
*Change the paperback links on my Smashwords book pages so it lists the links for Amazon instead (they currently list the CreateSpace eStore links, despite the CreateSpace eStore being closed now).
*Just write, and enjoy the process.

How about you? Do you have any writing/publishing goals for 2018? If so, I'd love to know what they are. Tell me in the comments!

If you want to make some writing goals for 2018, but aren't sure what to pick, check out these ways to challenge yourself and level up your writing in 2018 for inspiration. Or, perhaps you want to focus on what you're not going to do this year instead? Either way, once you've made your goals, I'd love to hear what they are. As mentioned above, let me know in the comments.

Oh, and... There's still time to sign up for STORYSTORM 2018... If you want to, that is. I won't be signing up, but I always think the posts are great, so will be checking them out.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Sunday, December 31, 2017

#FREE #KidLit #Audiobooks

If you missed my post from Tuesday, you may want to check that out. There's still time to take advantage of the chance to get all my books as eBooks for half price.

On the other hand, if you're the kind of person who prefers audiobooks, this post is for you.

You see, I've still got some codes left for some of my audiobooks, and I want you to have them.

Yes... You!

I have codes for Audible.com and codes for Audible UK for the five books in my Toby's Tales series, the two books in my Degu Days Duo, and the seven books in my Kero's World series. You can request codes for one series, or all three.

In case you don't know: My Toby's Tales series is a series about a little boy named Toby's struggles to adjust after sight loss, and deal with the fears and frustrations of being blind. My Degu Days Duo is a short series that tells the story of two different days in the life of a group of degus, based on the lives of my own degus, Jacob, Jasper, Jenks, and Joshua. And my Kero'sWorld series is a series of stories based on events that happened in the life of my West Highland White Terrier, Castellan Keroberous.

All you have to do to get your free copies of these books is to send an eMail with the subject "free books" to keroberous2004@gmail.com (the subject requirement is to make sure I don't dismiss your eMail as potential spam). Please tell me in the eMail which series you want, or that you want all three, and whether you want your codes to be for Audible.com or Audible UK. I will then reply with your codes and links.

No catch. It really is as simple as that. As long as you get in touch before the codes run out, they're yours!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

When Zeena Met Fizzle



Zeena lay back against the trunk of the tree, her amethyst scales glittering like jewels in the shaft of sunlight that shone down on her from a gap in the tree’s leafy canopy.  Glancing at the apple held in one front claw, the faerie dragon licked her lips as she anticipated the sweet and refreshing snack she was about to enjoy.  Then she tossed the apple in to the air, preparing to catch it in her open jaws.
However, the apple’s journey from her claw to her mouth was never completed, as something invisible came out of nowhere and caught the apple in mid-air.
“Saarik? Is that you?” Zeena asked, squinting in the direction her apple had gone, as though she could see through the invisibility cloaking the creature to the pixie she was sure had just stolen her snack.  “Show yourself.”
But as soon as the creature revealed itself, the faerie dragon knew she’d been mistaken about the identity of the apple thief.
Fizzle wiped his mouth on a leaf as the purple-scaled drite gazed around the unfamiliar surroundings. The crimson dragonfly wings on his back repeatedly fluttered to help him balance on the thin branch. At the sight of the other dragon, he cocked his head to the side and let out a puff of rainbow smoke from his nostrils. The other creature looked like a drite, but there was something different about her that he could not put his finger on.
“Sorry about apple. Fizzle got hungry,” he said, scratching his head with his long tail. “Fizzle lost. Followed friends to big battle. Big things attack and make mess. Fizzle need find friends. Almost drite see friends? One girl with blue hair. Other big man. Another girl smell like magic. Fizzle hope they okay.”
“Oh, you are a drite, not a pixie,” Zeena observed.  “It is fine about the apple.  I thought you were my friend up to mischief.”  She paused then as the words of the other form of dragon fae registered.  “Big battle?” She asked, her eyes widening with alarm.
“Yup . . . Though not here,” Fizzle explained, the strange scents warning him the he was not in his world. He darted above the canopy and went limp to fall back into the trees. “This not Windemere forest. You safe. Fizzle and friends travel long to beat bad man. Many tests and fights. Now, we ready to face bad man. He win then world his. Fizzle and friends win then he die. People already go mad. Not good.”
“That sounds terrible,” Zeena said, despite her relief that her world was safe from the battle of which the drite spoke.  “Tell me more about these friends of yours.  If it is easier for you, you can do so in draconic.  I assume you speak it?”
“Fizzle can speak. Never sure if others know,” the purple-scaled drite admitted as his cheeks turned a little red. He cleared his throat until his voice was much deeper and gruff. “I am traveling with six people who are fairly easy to spot. Aside from those who physically stand out like Timoran with his barbarian height and Dariana with her silver hair, they are not very good at keeping a low profile. If it is not Sari starting a party or Luke getting into trouble then Nyx causes a scene with her temper. She has improved a lot since I first met her, which is good considering the amount of magic that she wields. The one you might miss is Delvin, who you might mistake for a knight and tends to be the most low key of the champions. He does have an enticing scent for anyone with a magical sensitivity. Considering you are asking for a description, I assume they have not come through here.”
“I am afraid not,” Zeena replied, also in Draconic, ignoring the drite’s embarrassment and shaking her head regretfully.  “As you say, I would remember such a group.”  Frowning slightly, the faerie dragon gave the drite a quizzical look.  “They must be really special for you to be so keen to find them.  No offence, but I was under the impression that a drite was more like a pixie in attention span, and unlikely to stick with someone for long unless something forged a strong bond between them.”
“Fizzle know rumor. Not all true,” he replied, returning to Tradespeak out of habit. “Drites not big on wandering. Some get curious. Yet, we stay with forest. Fizzle protect Visindor for long time. When meet Luke, Fizzle see he needed. Fizzle have friend. Friend save forest and world. So, Fizzle help friend. Simple as that.”
“I see,” Zeena replied, also reverting back to the more commonly used Tradespeak.  “Well, if you are going to find your friends in time to join that battle you mentioned, you should probably get back to looking for them,” she suggested.  “There is an apple tree over there if you would like to grab another apple to keep you going until you do,” the faerie dragon added as an afterthought, pointing in the direction of the tree in question.
“Thank you,” Fizzle said before he darted to the tree and returned with an apple in each claw. Still feeling bad about the one he stole, the drite placed one on the branch. “Fizzle hope you have good day. If hear battle, stay safe. Fizzle no know if danger spread. Bye-bye.”



Author Bio & Social Media
Charles E. Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

All cover art done by JASON PEDERSEN




Friday, December 29, 2017

#Furkid Friday: Lilie The #Westie's 1st #Christmas (FD)

Hi everyone. This is Lilie the Westie.

Well, I never saw him. Santa Paws, I mean. The squeaky things in cages say they aren't surprised, since they haven't ever spotted him either. He must have come to visit at some point though, because our stockings were full, and the humans said he'd been. I mean, they seem to know all about him, so I suppose they'd know, wouldn't they? How he got past me is a mystery though. Either way, he came, and he obviously agreed that trying to be good counts, because I had lots of toys and treats.

My stocking had treats in it, as well as this fluffy squeaky snowball:


And this squeaky toy the humans say is what Santa looks like:


(I'm still not sure how I missed someone wearing a bright outfit like that coming in to our home in the middle of the night).

There were other presents to open too...






...Like this rawhide candycane, which is what I'm opening in the above video...


...Plus other treats - which the humans wouldn't let me have all of - and loads of toys. By the end of it, I had a nice stack of new toys that included balls, squeaky toys, tuggy toys, and some that doubled as more than one thing (squeaky balls, for example). Here I am checking them out where I gathered them together on the big bed the humans insist is their bed:


Later, there was honey roast ham as well. It was amazing!

I love this Christmas thing! Can we do it again?

Lots of licks,
Lilie