Friday, December 30, 2016

#Furkid Friday: A Very #Rodent #Christmas 2016 (FD)

Hi everyone. This is Star the rat.

Well, we didn't see him again... Even my chinchilla sisters, Mollie and Maizie, who are nocturnal, so awake at night, didn't see him... But that Santa Paws made his yearly visit, and left us loads of goodies. See:



Since I know you can't even see most of it, let alone tell what we all got, with it all mixed up together in the box like that, I'll tell you what Santa Paws brought for us this year.

Baggins (gerbil):

*A pack of small animal fruit loop treats.
*2 packs of small animal yogurt drops.
*A pack of cheese and cranberry gerbil treats.
*A wooden gnaw toy in the shape of a carrot.
*A Christmasy wooden gnaw toy.
*A small seagrass holiday reef (which he's chewing on in the above photo).

Joshua (degu):

*A pack of degu breakfast cookies.
*A pack of carrot slims treats.
*A pack of dandelion and rosehip treats.
*A wooden gnaw toy in the shape of a carrot.
*A Christmasy wooden gnaw toy.
*A small seagrass holiday reef (which he's chewing on in the above photo).

Mollie & Maizie (chinchillas):

*A pack of chinchilla cookies.
*A pack of dandelion and rosehip treats.
*A calcium stick each.
*An apple and cranberry treat each.
*A wooden gnaw toy in the shape of a carrot each (one of which Mollie is chewing on in the above photo of her).
*A Christmasy wooden gnaw toy each.
*A small seagrass holiday reef each (one of which Maizie is chewing on in the above photo of her).
*A larger seagrass holiday reef for in their playpen.
*A couple of small logs to gnaw on while in their playpen.

Star & Skye (rats):

*A pack of carrot slims treats.
*An apple and cranberry treat each.
*A pack of rat chippies treats.
*A gnawable tree shaped treat.
*A wooden gnaw toy in the shape of a carrot each.
*A Christmasy wooden gnaw toy each.
*A small seagrass holiday reef each.

(It's me, Star, you see in both photos. I was all over the place checking out our new toys, while Skye took her time coming out to see what all the fuss was about, and then took her time investigating the new toys carefully before deciding what to gnaw on... Skye takes her time with everything these days).

Plus, there was a bundle of sticks, a packet of dandelion roots, and a box of nibble rings, which are for us all to share.

When they say Santa Paws delivers, they really mean it, don't they?

Squeak soon,
Star

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

#Writing Wednesday: 2016 In Review

I said at the start of January 2016 that my writing goals for 2016 were:

*Finnish and publish both "Zeena And The Mermaid" and "Zeena And The Phoenix" (books three and four in the "Zeena Dragon Fae" series respectively).
*Get the last few books already published as eBooks out in paperback, and arrange for new books to be made available as paperbacks as soon as possible after the eBook releases.
*Publish a new poetry collection.
*At least start writing some of the stories I have ideas for, and publish them as they're ready.

So, how did I do?

I managed to check everything off my list!

*"Zeena And The Mermaid" and "Zeena And The Phoenix" were published in February and May respectively.
*With the exception of my newest release, which I haven't had a chance to sort the paperback for yet, all my books are now available in paperback as well as being available as eBooks. I've even sent paperback copies of them all to The British Library's Legal Deposit office.
*I published my poetry collection "The Ocean's Lullaby And Other Poems" in July.
*I wrote and published four other stories: "Rhubarb The Red-Nosed Rabbit" in March, "Jeffrey The Orange Alien" in August, "Eadweard - A Story Of 1066" in October, and "Ulrike's Christmas" in December.

All in all, a pretty productive year, I think, which surprised me when I realized it, because I felt at first as though I hadn't done half of what I'd planned to this year. It was only when I was looking at my list of 2016 goals that I realized I'd actually done everything I planned to do in 2016. Yep... Turns out I did better than I thought... Go me!

My 2016 sales figures weren't too bad either, which is amazing considering how much I suck at the marketing side of things. Honestly, I could do with figuring out a proper marketing plan one of these days. Yeah, yeah. I know, I should have done that already. Like I said, I suck at the marketing side of things.

Anyway, thank you to those who have been there beside me throughout it, or joined me along the way. Especially those who have supported me as an author in some way. You're all awesome!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kishi And Luke In 'Lost In The Forest' - Via @VictoriaZigler And @cyallowitz

The magical worlds of two different authors collide when half-elf hero of Windemere, Luke Callindor, has an encounter with a dryad named Kishi.  The very same dryad, as it happens, who helped Zeena the faerie dragon at the start of her adventures.

This is taking place via the blog of fantasy author, Charles E Yallowitz, in a post co-written by me and Charles especially for this event.

You can go directly to the post by clicking here, if you want to check it out.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Huge Thank You To #Author @MichellePaver

I first learned of the existance of Michelle Paver's books when I was losing my sight. My Mam and I were looking for something for me to listen to among the audiobooks in one of our bookshops, and stumbled across Michelle Paver's "Wolf Brother" (the first in her "Chronicles Of Ancient Darkness" series). It sounded so good that I grabbed the audio copy, and my Mam grabbed herself a paperback copy. We loved it, and were instantly hooked on the series, and devoured the rest of the books eagerly. Waiting for the sixth and final book "Ghost Hunter" to come out was like waiting for the last Harry Potter book to come out for me, and my Mam wasn't much better. I clearly remember clutching my audio copy of "Ghost Hunter" all the way home, and eagerly listening to the book that evening.

When Michelle released her ghost story "Dark Matter" a few years ago, I was excited for a new Michelle Paver book, but didn't expect to be scared. I mean, the only times I've ever been scared while reading a book have been due to external influences, like the time my cat, Topsi, grabbed my foot during a particularly tense moment when I was reading one of R L Stine's Goosebumps books in my teens, or when my Westie, Kero, moved enough to cause the blanket to shift on my leg right when I was reading about a creature in J K Rowlings "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them" that creeps along like a shadowy fluid cloak. But, as it turned out, Michelle Paver's "Dark Matter" actually scared me. I'm talking curled under the blankets with shivers running up my spine, too scared to even go to the bathroom, kind of scared.

When I heard Michelle was bringing out a new ghost story called "Thin Air" I was eager to see if she could pull that off again. But whether she did or not, I was excited for a new Michelle Paver book, and eagerly shared the prank video that was part of the pre-release publicity. It turned out she did pull it off again, as I mention in my review of "Thin Air" on Goodreads. But that's not the point of this post, even though her ability to do so was an excellent achievement.

The point of this post starts with the prank video going viral, and me getting an eMail thanking me for helping to make that happen. In the eMail, it's mentioned that if I requested the signed book plate that people signed up to her mailing list had been invited to request if they eMail proof that they brought a physical copy of "Thin Air" this would be sent out soon. To which I sent a reply containing the following paragraph:

I didn't reply asking for a signed book plate.  Having something signed by you would be great, but I have to stick to audiobooks or eBooks because I can't see to read print ones, so I figured there wasn't much point in my asking for one.

Honestly, I kinda thought it would be ignored, and that the eMail I was replying to was just an eMail sent out to the whole mailing list. I mean, despite the fact I've seen it mentioned several times that Michelle always replies to fans, I didn't expect any kind of response. But I sent my message anyway.

To my surprise, a few weeks later, I got a reply that contained the following short message from Michelle's literary agent, Peter Cox:

Michelle would still like to send you a little something... what is your postal address?

So, I sent him my postal address. I mean, I'd heard the guy's name in connection with Michelle's a bunch of times, and he had a copy of my response to the original message, so I figured it couldn't hurt. Besides, getting something in the post from one of my favourite authors would be amazing, and I wasn't about to let that chance slip through my fingers.

That was a few weeks ago.

A few days ago, these items arrived in the post for me:


The items include a pin badge (or button, to most of those outside the UK) and wrist-band style bracelet from Michelle's "Chronicles Of Ancient Darkness" series, a signed book plate, and a picture of Michelle with a young wolf named Torak (who I think was actually especially named for her character by those who run the zoo or wildlife preserve he was born to, if my memory serves me correctly, though I don't remember the full details, unfortunately). The wrist-band is even semi-tactile (the symbols are tricky to feel, but I can feel they are there). Besides, tactile or not, it's the thought that counts. I mean, it's nice to be included, even though the official requirement was that you had to reply to your mailing list eMail with proof you'd brought a physical copy of the book, which I couldn't do, though I did grab an audio download from Audible a few days in to November.

Anyway, I've included Michelle's Twitter name in the subject of this post, because I'm hoping she'll see this and know how grateful I am to her and Peter. So, Michelle, if you see this... Thank you!

I hope, one day in the future, I will get the chance to pay it forward, and make a fan of mine as happy as Michelle Paver and Peter Cox have made me.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The #History Of Traditions Associated With #Christmas, And Other Winter #Holidays

Want to learn about the history behind many of the traditions we associate with Christmas today? How about learning a little about how the holidays are celebrated around the world? Or, perhaps, you're just looking for some holiday fun, so you can make the holidays last a little longer?

If any of those applies to you, check out Why Christmas?. It's an interesting site.

Whatever you're celebrating, or have recently celebrated, be it Christmas, Yule, or some other holiday that happens around this time of year, I hope your celebrations went well, are going well, or go well when you get to them.

Happy holidays, whatever you celebrate!

From me, Kelly, Joshua the degu, Baggins the gerbil, Star the rat, Skye the rat, Mollie the chinchilla, and Maizie the chinchilla.

Friday, December 23, 2016

#Furkid Friday: For Those Missing Someone This #Holiday Season

Hi there humans, rodents, and anyone else reading this. This is Joshua the degu.

The human caretakers were messing about with those things they call "holiday decorations" recently, and I heard them say Santa Paws was coming for his yearly visit soon. In fact, my gerbil brother, ratty sisters, chinchilla sisters, and I wrote a letter to Santa Paws, which you may have seen when it got posted on this bloggy thing last week.

I'm really excited about the toys and nibbles Santa Paws will hopefully be bringing, but I'm sad that my degu brothers won't be here to share them with me too, which stops me being quite as excited as I usually would have been.

I'm trying to be happy; trying to just enjoy the rest of my life, like my gerbil brother, Baggins, has been doing. But it's hard, and sometimes I get sad and miss my brothers terribly.

The Mummy human says she understands, and that humans have the same problem when they lose someone they love, especially when the holidays arrive, and especially if it was as close to the holidays as losing the last of my brothers, Jacob, is for me. So I'm hoping at least some of you who read this will understand how I'm feeling.

Although, in some ways I hope you don't, because it hurts to miss someone so much, and makes it hard to be excited about things when you do, especially if the thing you would have been excited about is something they loved as well.

For those who share my pain, and are missing someone so much it makes it hard to completely enjoy the holidays, this post is for you, to let you know that you aren't alone, and someone else is missing someone this holiday season too.

If you need a little help dealing with the holidays this year, you might want to take a look at this post the Jeanie human did. The Jeanie human is a friend of the Mummy human, who often comments on our posts, and I happen to think she gives some great advice in the article. I know the Mummy human thinks so too, and hope you will agree.

Squeak soon,
Joshua

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - December 21st 2016

First of all, here's an announcement about PiBoIdMo becoming STORYSTORM. If you're planning to make any new year's resolutions that involve doing more writing, you may want to check it out... Regardless of the genre or age range you write for.

Anyway...

In case you missed my post about it on Saturday: You can now buy Ulrike's Christmas from Smashwords. It's available in formats that work for just about any eReader or tablet, as well as for your average computer. It's also available from some other eBook retailers... Just like all my other books.

Even without the postal strikes currently happening over here, it would be impossible for me to get the paperback version of "Ulrike's Christmas" organized in time for those of you who prefer a physical book to have it in time for Christmas, and I'm not even going to try. One will become availabe in early 2017 though, and I'll post about it on this blog when that happens, which hopefully won't be too far in to the year.

I know this is really short, but I'm going to leave it at this for this week, since I'm sure you're all busy with holiday celebrations, or last minute arrangements for holiday celebrations, or whatever. Today is the Winter Solstice - in fact, this post is being scheduled to go up at the exact time of the astronomical event itself, which is on Wednesday December 21st 2016 at 10:44am UK time - and Sunday is Christmas day, after all. So happy whatever you're celebrating... Stay safe during your festivities!

Monday, December 19, 2016

The #Holidays Are Upon Us (FD)

Today is my Mam's birthday. I don't know if she'll see this, but I'm going to say it anyway... Happy birthday, Mam! Also, my Grandad celebrated his birthday on December 4th. I know for a fact he won't see this, but - again - I'll say it anyway... Belated happy birthday, Grandad!

OK... The Winter Solstice - or Yule, if you prefer - is in two days time, and Christmas is less than a week away... How'd that happen? Pretty soon we'll be starting a whole new year...

It's OK though... We're ready for it. I wasn't when December first arrived. At least, I wasn't ready for the holidays when December first arrived. I've been ready for 2016 to end since around my birthday, along with most other people, I'm sure.

But I am ready for the holidays now! Our holiday decorations are up. The gifts and cards we're sending are brought and sent out, and should be with the people now (or will be in the next day or so, if they haven't yet arrived). Also, our presents to one another, and those people have sent us, are wrapped up under the tree. We also have plenty of good things to eat over this next week. Though I confess I cheated and brought all our cakes and cookies this year, because I just didn't have the time or energy to bake them.

So... Regardless of what you're celebrating... How about you? Are you ready for the festivities to begin? Is all your holiday shopping done, or are you one of those people that always leaves it until the last minut? Are you free to relax and enjoy the holidays, or will you be scrambling around to get everything done at the last possible moment?

To be honest, with everything that's been going on lately, I'm glad we'd planned a quiet holiday celebration this year. Not that I've done anything big for the past couple of years, but still. So it will just be me, Kelly, and the rodent gang, enjoying our presents, eating treats, and having a nice holiday meal together. I'm pretty sure the rodent gang is already dreaming of the tasty nibbles they've asked Santa Paws to bring them this year.

How about you? What are you celebrating? Also, what are your holiday plans?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Of Real #Christmas Trees, #Reindeer, And 2016 #Holiday Decorating



I usually get an artificial tree, and had planned to get a new one this year, since I accidentally broke the base of the old one last year, and the fibre optic trees are no good without their base. But then I decided I wanted a real tree this year, especially since our friends, Lorna and Andy, are having a wood burning stove installed in their new house, and it can go to them for firewood once the holidays are over.

When I mentioned this to Lorna, she offered the use of her car to go get one. So, on December 7th, we all went to the tree farm (pictured at the top of this post) to get a tree, and while we were there, we said hi to a couple of deer they had at the farm (pictured below).



We were allowed to pet the reindeer, but they wouldn't come close enough. I was a little disappointed about that, but not all that surprised. The frustrating thing is, they came almost close enough for me to touch them, but were just out of my reach. I got to hear them snorting, eating, and drinking, so that was cool anyway.

So... Back to the tree...

The original plan was for Lorna and Andy's car to transport the tree, but the guys at the farm delivered it with their lorry instead. They even carried it up the stairs for us, which I'm sure Kelly and Andy were pleased about, since I'm sure neither of them was looking forward to carrying the tree up all those stairs.

So... A couple of days before, Kelly and I had used our old bucket to collect some stones from the beach, with plans to use the bucket of stones to stand the tree in. We figure we'll take the stones back to the beach after the holidays are over. Our plan worked, though if we get a real tree again next year, it will probably be best to invest in a proper stand for it, since getting both tree and stones to cooperate was a lot of work (not to mention how much fun carrying a bucket of stones up three flights of stairs wasn't for Kelly). Still, as I said, our plan worked, and the tree happily stood among the stones waiting to be decorated...



...Which we started doing the day after we went to the tree farm, and finished doing the following day, since it was being done between other activities.

I'm glad I had Kelly helping me with decorating it, since I'm not sure I'd have reached the top of it even if I climbed on a chair. We got an eight foot tree, since we had the ceiling to allow for it, and I'm only just over five foot tall. Actually, we only just have the ceiling to allow for it, and had to nestle my new snowflake tree topper among the branches, since the tree almost touches the ceiling, so we couldn't really get it on there. Yes, we could have trimmed the top, but I didn't want to.

Anyway, we got our tree decorated between us, so here it is all nicely decorated:



(If you're wondering why I took separate photos of the top and bottom, it's because there's nowhere we could stand and still get the whole tree in the shot, so I had to do it that way).

Some of the tree ornaments are ones I still have that I've made or collected over the years, some - like the snowflake that's meant to be a tree topper - are new ones I brought this year, and some - like most of the baubles - are ones Lorna and Andy gave us that they no longer use.

We don't have lights on the tree (other than the snowflake) because we'd originally planned to just get a small tree, so we only got a small string of lights. When we realized there was no way we'd be able to light up the whole tree with the lights we have, we decided to leave the lights off the tree this year. We strung them up elsewhere instead, since I wanted my star shaped lights to be up, even if they aren't on the tree. So, these are my new star shaped holiday lights:



The tree is in the computer room, because where we're sorting some things out, the computer room is the place with the best space for it. But the lights are in the living room, along with the polar bear and penguin enjoying some fake snow...



...A mini figure of Olaf the snoman who is also enjoying the fake snow...



And the window display I set up...



(Which, again, had to be done in two shots to get it all in the photo).

So, there you go, those are our holiday decorations for this year, with a couple of real live reindeer thrown in for your holiday viewing pleasure. I even made sure my iPhone was charged so I could get decent shots for you.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

#Children's #Holiday #Book Release: Ulrike's Christmas



Ulrike knows all about the Winter Solstice celebrations of the giants, being one himself. But what he doesn't know is why the humans cut down whole trees, only to take them home to decorate. Other giants tell him to forget about it, but Ulrike is curious; he needs to know why they do it.

Finally, when he's puzzled over it so much his head is sore from all the thinking, he decides that this is the year he'll figure it out, and risks a return trip to the home of the last family he watched to look for clues, despite almost being spotted last time he was there.

That's how he meets Billy, a friendly little boy who loves stories, and is happy to tell Ulrike all about tree decorating, and Santa Claus, along with a couple of stories he knows about them. Stories which Ulrike loves, and which inspire him to add some of what Billy says are Christmas celebrations to his own this Winter, in the hopes that Santa Claus will visit him too.

Yes, that's right, the official release date is today, and you can now buy Ulrike's Christmas on Smashwords in all formats they offer, as well as from other retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, and Kobo, among others. That means you should be able to find a format that works for you, regardless of your prefered eReader; whether you prefer a Kindle, a Nook, or some other eReader or tablet. In fact, if you can read this post, there's a way you can read the book, since Smashwords also offers an online reader option.

However, having said that, a paperback will become available early next year for those of you who prefer a physical book.

Friday, December 16, 2016

#Furkid Friday: Dear #Santa Paws (FD)

A letter from the rodent gang to Santa Paws:

Dear Santa Paws,

We've been very good rodents this year.

OK, sure, we know Mollie can be a little grumpy sometimes, and Maizie and Star are often a bit stricter than they should be on the human caretakers (especially Maizie, who likes things done her way, and isn't very good at being patient with the human caretakers). But everyone has their faults, and humans need to be properly trained. Besides, technically none of that stuff is bad, so we really have been good... Honest!

So, since we've been so good, can you please make sure you bring us plenty of great nibbles this Christmas? Some wooden toys and things like that we can play with and chew on would be nice too, come to think of it.

Anyway, we don't really mind what kinds of nibbles you bring. Although, Mollie and Maizie are particularly fond of those treats called "chinchilla cookies" the human caretakers sometimes buy, and so is Joshua. Star and Skye just want anything tasty they can get their teeth in to, especially if it's fruit or cheese flavoured. As for Baggins, he wants you to remember that he's allowed sugary treats sometimes, and those are the best kinds.

Squeak soon,
Baggins, Joshua, Maizie, Mollie, Skye, and Star

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - December 14th 2016

I made it! Ulrike's Christmas is pre-released. The official release date is set for Saturday December 17th 2016, and clicking on the book's title in this post will take you to the page for it on Smashwords.

I nearly didn't make it, thanks to a lot of stuff going on (holiday related and otherwise). Although, mostly because of JAWS (my screen reader, for those who don't know). JAWS version 18 came out a couple of months ago, and I got my copy last month, so I'm all up to date now, which is great. But what wasn't great was the fact that one of the free update patches you get between upgrades came out during this past week, and installing it did something that stopped JAWS working on my computer. Kelly checked, and everything else was working fine, so I called my brother, Carl, since he also uses JAWS, and also recently got JAWS version 18. But his version was working fine. Regardless, we agreed it was quite likely it was something to do with the update, and decided the best option was to try uninstalling JAWS, reinstalling it, and not allowing it to install the new patch. Apparently that was the right thing to do, since it's been working fine ever since (though I've had to tell it it's not allowed to update, and I don't want to know about updates for the time being). If you're wondering, the reason I called my brother rather than the company we get JAWS from, it's because this happened on a Saturday, and Sight And Sound are only open Monday through Friday. Of course, without JAWS, my computer is useless to me, and working on things like formatting and uploading the final document for an eBook are impossible. So, no JAWS would have been a huge problem. I could check my eMail on my phone... It would be frustrating, but possible... But formatting a word document? No way!

Anyway, despite my JAWS issues, the eBook version of Ulrike's Christmas has now been uploaded to Smashwords for official release this coming Saturday, and will soon be on other sites like Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo, if it isn't already.

I'll deal with the paperback after the holidays are over.

***

Are you an author too? Do you have business cards? I don't yet, though that's something I'm considering changing next year. If you're still undecided about it, here's a post that explains one person's reasons why authors need a business card.

Obviously if you have a book out there you want to market it. Of course you do. You want people to buy your book, because if you didn't you wouldn't have it up for sale, would you? So you need to market it. However, I happen to agree with this post about writing for yourself, and with what Barb said in her post from last Wednesday (where I originally saw the post linked). Like Barb, I write for myself, though I hope to find people who enjoy reading what I write as much as I enjoy writing it.

By the way, if you need some tips on naming your characters, you may want to check out this how to survive naming your characters. A couple of the points matter more if you write romance, but some of them are actually pretty good tips regardless of what you write. At least, I think so. If you'd prefer some tips that are more generalized, you can check out these seven tips for naming your characters.

Also, if you're using your Thesaurus to find fancy sounding words so you can sound really smart... Stop! A Thesaurus can be your friend at times, but it can also be your worst enemy. Find out how by reading this post.

***

Ever wondered what goes on inside a writer's brain? Then check out this article on how creativity effects the brain. Also, regardless of whether your chosen way to be creative is with writing, drawing and painting, or something else entirely, this article written by Jeanie on finding your creative soul during the busy holiday season is worth reading, and will potentially keep your muse happy this holiday season.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Frost Fair 2016

The anual Frost Fair to welcome Winter in, and kick off the holiday celebrations for our area, was on Saturday November 26th 2016. The day was a little chilly, but otherwise really nice.

I meant for us to go down to watch the Frost Fair this year. I also meant to make sure my phone had a full battery so I could get some better shots, since my iPhone takes pretty good photos, but our ordinary camera isn't that great. Unfortunately, neither thing happened. I only remembered at the last moment that it was the day of the Frost Fair, and my phone's battery died just as I went to try and use it. So you'll have to put up with the slightly blurry photos we got from our living room window with the ordinary camera. I hope you enjoy them regardless of the poor photo quality. I need to get a new camera... *sigh*

Anyway... Here are the photos:


Sunday, December 11, 2016

#Book Release: The Spirit Well (Legends of Windemere) by @cyallowitz

Return to Windemere in THE SPIRIT WELL!

[caption id="attachment_17867" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Cover Art by Jason Pedersen Cover Art by Jason Pedersen[/caption]

Born from the light and darkness, Dariana can no longer avoid her fate.

The final corrupted temple stands between the champions and Baron Kernaghan having their great battle. Only one problem: the Compass Key refuses to work with Dariana, who long ago wiped all memories of the Spirit Well from her mind. Now, they are forced to follow a trail of clues that Dariana’s former self left behind centuries ago. It is a path that will lead the champions into a part of their friend’s past that could tear them all apart.

Will the bonds of friendship be stronger than the call of blood?

Grab it on Amazon!

Add it to your Goodreads 'To Read' List!

Excerpt: I'm Sorry . . . Again

“I’m sorry, but I told you that my powers make the Compass Key argumentative when it comes to the Spirit Well,” Dariana sheepishly explains while rubbing her clear ring. She smiles when Fizzle lands on her head, the drite’s cool tail running down her spine. “This is very scary for me. None of the champions have made it to this temple, much less the final battle with my father. It’s hard to take in after this destiny being my entire life for so long. I used to always dream of how I would handle my temple, but things are different now that it’s no longer a distant dream. What if I make a mistake and get someone killed?”

“We trust you, my friend, and know that you will not fail,” Timoran whispers as he slides the Compass Key across the table. He is confused when the relic sparks at her touch and gets pushed back into his hand. “That is fairly disheartening. If you cannot use the Compass Key then there is no way to find this Spirit Well. Perhaps it does not like your physical touch and will respond to your telepathy. I wonder why the gods would create this obstacle.”

“It’s possible that we did this,” Delvin suggests while using one of his enchanted rings to create a delicious cup of coffee. He gestures for the barbarian to throw the relic over to him, but the red-haired barbarian refuses. “You’re right, Timoran. Probably not a good idea to toss something like that around. Anyway, we had the Compass Key warded against agents of the Baron. They aren’t able to see it, which means they can’t find or use it. The decision made sense at the time, but things are different now. Maybe our spell has a small effect on Dariana. Not saying you’re working with the Baron, but there could be enough of an aural touch to cause this problem. Do you think we should cancel the spells, Nyx?”

The channeler heats up a cup of tea, which she sips at while considering the possibility of her magic being the issue. “They should stay because I don’t think they’re the problem. Dariana said this has happened before, which means the gods made a mistake. Sorry for how that came out. Gabriel, who better not get angry at this conversation, created the Compass Key first and then turned Dariana into a champion. He couldn’t fix the problem thanks to the Law of Influence, so it’s remained all this time. Though he had to have created something to help us move on.”

“Maybe we have to find Isaiah and he’ll lead the way,” Sari says from the couch. Flipping to her feet, she joins her friends and immediately takes a strawberry off Luke’s plate. “He hasn’t been much help since the first temple, so one has to wonder what his purpose is. I doubt we need his protection any more, which means he has to have another role to play. What do you think, Dari?”

The telepath rubs her temples while scanning the city for a sign of the fireskin, part of her praying he is not nearby. Dariana finds evidence that Isaiah has been spying on them until recently, but the caster is long gone. She considers tracking the faint trail and goes as far as the outer wall, which is where the psychic tracks make an odd leap into the sky. The strain of following Isaiah any further makes Dariana pull back and return to find that everyone is staring at her again. Realizing that she can no longer delay the inevitable, she gets out of her chair and kneels to her friends. Fizzle is still clinging to her head, which makes the apologetic bow both amusing and awkward.

“I know I say this a lot, but I really am sorry, my friends,” Dariana states while keeping her forehead pressed to the stone floor. She looks up at the sound of rustling feet and is surprised to see that everyone is approaching her. “Long ago, I managed to avoid being put back to sleep long enough to track down the Spirit Well. My curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to know where my path would meet its end. I was still forced to wipe my memory of the location, but I do know that I left a map behind. There are a few clues that I buried in my subconscious where even I could not dislodge them after erasing the original discovery. More may come to me as we get closer, but all I know now is that we should go to Rodillen. I was hoping the Compass Key would work and we could avoid this extra journey.”

“Like our luck would be that good,” Nyx mutters while she helps Dariana stand.

Need to catch Legends of Windemere from the beginning? Then click on the covers below!

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Also Available in Single eBooks:

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Interested in a new adventure? Then grab your Kindle & dive back into the world of Windemere! Don't forget an apple for Fizzle.


Author PhotoAbout the Author:

Charles 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.

Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com


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*NOTE: Formatting for this post was done with a Wordpress blog in mind, not the Blogger blog I have, and the two don't always work well together, so please excuse any formatting issues in this post.

Friday, December 09, 2016

#Furkid Friday: #Rodents Are In Charge (FD)

Hi everyone! This is Maizie the chinchilla.

I've been doing some training - or, more to the point, retraining - with my human caretakers. They were under this mistaken impression that they were in charge around here. I soon put them right. They need to learn that we only keep them around as our personal slaves to do things we can't manage ourselves, and sometimes for entertainment value. They need to remember that things should be done when we say so, not when they feel like getting around to doing them. I thought these human caretakers already knew that; I thought these human caretakers knew that we rodents are in charge around here.

I guess I thought wrong.

The stupid human caretakers thought they could sleep late and bring me and my rodent siblings our breakfast when it suited them. Um.. No! I'm already flexible enough to give them a three hour window in which to provide breakfast; the rule is that breakfast should be provided between 6:00am and 9:00am. You'd think that would be enough to make sure they could manage it, right? You'd also think they'd know the rules by now, since they've been my servants for more than six months. Plus, it's not like Mollie and I are their first furry masters. First chinchillas... Yes. But they've had other furry masters, some of which they still have. So you'd think they'd know the rules, right?

Apparently not!

Do you know what time they showed up to give us breakfast the other day? Noon! That's 12:00pm, which is three hours after the deadline for the latest breakfast should be served... THREE WHOLE HOURS!

OK, so it was a really good breakfast... It was an oatmeal day, which we love. My chinchilla sister, Mollie, and I are especially fond of oatmeal. But that's not the point. In fact, in some ways that makes it worse, because we had to wait all those extra hours before getting the oatmeal we love so much.

The Mummy human gave me some speach about how she was sorry, and she'd slept later than she planned. But I wasn't having it, and let her know I was cross with her, and that I expect better service in future. Breakfast hasn't been late since, so I think she got the message. I hope so, anyway, because I'd hate to have to waste my precious playing time and energy to train her yet again... I have better things to do, you know!

Squeak soon,
Maizie

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - December 7th 2016

We're a week in to December, Christmas is only a few weeks away, and "Ulrike's Christmas" has been through all the editing phases my books all get put through. I just want to give it one final proof reading session before I do the formatting for the files that will actually get uploaded. All being well, I'll be able to give you an official release date next week.

Basically, I'll be giving you the official release date next week, unless something huge happens to stop me doing so, which is unlikely. But I'm saying, "all being well," just in case, because you never know, do you? After all, I'd originally planned to have the book pre-released by now, but then stuff happened... You know how it is, I'm sure!

Anyway...

If you're working on editing your own book, or doing so for someone else, you may want to take a look at this list of 35 questions to ask when critiquing a novel.

Are you struggling to stay focused when writing? Then take a look at these basic tips to help you stay focused when writing a book. After all, sometimes it's the little things that make the most difference when it comes to avoiding the issues that stop you writing that book you want to write. These tips may help you avoid writers' block too.

Finally, take a look at this great post on learning as you write.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Ancient #Egypt: The #Mythology

Are you interested in Ancient Egypt and its mythology?

If the answer is yes, you may want to check out this website: Ancient Egypt: the Mythology.

Enjoy!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

#Reading Ramblings: November 2016 #Book #Reviews (LBE)

It's time for this month's book reviews post. Well, it's technically last month's book reviews post, since the books reviewed in it are ones I read during November. But, either way, it's time for me to post some reviews.

As with the previous posts like this one, the format reviewed may not be the format I read the book in. Also, please remember to bear in mind the fact that I read across multiple genres and age ranges, and you should always check suitability of content before reading, especially when children are involved. Finally, if you want to know more about the book, or the author it's by, simply click on the book title, or author name, to go to the appropriate Goodreads page.

OK...

Not Just a WitchNot Just a Witch by Eva Ibbotson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a fun and entertaining read.

Wake the HollowWake the Hollow by Gaby Triana
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For the most part, this was a great story, which did a good job of combining the legend of Sleepy Hollow with "real" life. However, I think it would have been better if the romance element was removed, so that the main character hadn't spent so much time focussing on how good looking people she was supposed to be afraid of were. Also, I thought it was stupid how she was more open with people she didn't know and had reason to be suspicious of than she was with people she was supposed to have been close to in the past.

Creature Teacher: The Final Exam (Goosebumps Most Wanted, #6)Creature Teacher: The Final Exam by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a great book, which makes a wonderful addition to any Goosebumps collection. It's another that big animal lovers may find a couple of scenes a bit disturbing in though... Just to warn you. Oh, and a little tip: don't eat while reading this one, especially if you have a weak stomach.

Kaylyn the Sister-in-DarknessKaylyn the Sister-in-Darkness by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a great book, which makes an excellent addition to the series. The plot itself is interesting, there's a wonderful mixture of characters, and the historical facts dotted throughout the story are fascinating.

Unpredictable (Lady Jenniviere's Quill)Unpredictable by Lady Jenniviere
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you're looking for something strange and unusual, this story will deliver. There are a few places where I think it could use a little work, but for the most part it's a pretty good read, with a very appropriate title.

A Tapestry of TearsA Tapestry of Tears by Gita V. Reddy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Some of the stories in this collection are better than others. Some give you a lot to think about. Some are potentially upsetting, especially to more sensative readers. But all are beautifully written, and combine to make a collection that's worth reading.

Never EverNever Ever by Gita V. Reddy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I first read this story, I had some serious issues with it, because some of the characters' behaviour didn't sit right with me. But then I read it again with the fact the family is from a different culture to my own in mind; a culture the author would be more familiar with than I am. It then occurred to me that most of my issues were based on differences that can be explained by cultural differences. Being open to this idea improved the story for me. Bearing the difference in culture in mind still didn't make it one of my favourites by this author, but it certainly increased my enjoyment of the story.

MarginaliensMarginaliens by Philip Gross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was an imaginative and fun read, which I really enjoyed.

An Old-Fashioned ThanksgivingAn Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a beautiful little story.

Gods in the MachineGods in the Machine by Marilyn Peake
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The idea behind this story is a great one, and it has the elements it needs to have the potential to be a great read. However, it was poorly done. The author spent too much time fussing over minor details that weren't important, which would later be repeated in full detail every single time there was even the smallest link between those details and the story's events, and not enough time moving the plot forward. Not to mention, there were so many characters we got the full backstory for, that I'm still not entirely sure who was meant to be the main character. Also, some of the characters' reactions felt over done, as though the author thought it more important to be as dramatic as possible, rather than being believable, so that when something potentially important to the plot did actually happen, it was lost in the confusion of false drama. On top of that, the ending was way too sudden. Is this part of a series? I'm not sure... I've not seen a series listed for it. Even if it is though, that was one really sudden ending, especially after how slowly the plot had been moving from the start.

RedemptionRedemption by Elora Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
OK... WOW! This book was amazing! The plot grabs your attention from the start and holds it until the end, the worldbuilding is great, the emotions are powerful, the characters are well-rounded with complex personalities, the descriptions are excellent, the plot moves at a nice pace, the way you see the relationships between characters grow and evolve is wonderful, and that ending was incredible!
*NOTE: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. That fact has in no way influenced either my opinion of this book, or the contents of this review.

Misery, Rancor, and Angst: Or, The Three GracesMisery, Rancor, and Angst: Or, The Three Graces by Kirsten B. Feldman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The plot is interesting and moves at a nice pace, the characters are well-rounded and have different personalities, and the writing style is easy and enjoyable to read. All in all, this book is a great read. The only reason I don't give it the full five stars is because I felt that we were missing a few details of the backstory, as well as a couple of details of how the ending came about; it was an excellent ending, apart from the few details I felt we were missing to fully understand how it happened the way it did.
*NOTE: I was given a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This fact has in no way influenced either my opinion of this book, or the contents of this review.

VoidVoid by David M. Staniforth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book begins with a note about how the author recommends that you take a moment to listen to the songs mentioned in it as you read. I ignored the suggestion and read it without listening to them, despite not being very familiar with them. Even so, I thought this was a beautifully written and powerful read. I can only imagine how much more amazing the reading experience would be if you were to take the author's advice.

Pilgrim: The Collected Series 1-4: The BBC Radio 4 Fantasy Drama SeriesPilgrim: The Collected Series 1-4: The BBC Radio 4 Fantasy Drama Series by Sebastien Baczkiewicz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Each episode has an interesting cast of characters, as well as an entertaining storyline, and all the episodes work together well.

Pilgrim Series 5-7: BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramasPilgrim Series 5-7: BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramas by Sebastian Baczkiewicz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The episodes in this volume were an enjoyable addition to the series, with a plot that continues to be entertaining, and an interesting cast of characters.

It Came from Beneath the Sink! (Goosebumps, #30)It Came from Beneath the Sink! by R.L. Stine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There were a few things the characters did that either didn't make sense to me, or felt like they were done only to move the plot in the direction the author wanted it to go in. But other than that, this was another great addition to the Goosebumbps series.