Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Second Published Story

Source: KazkaPress.Net

KazkaPress.Net selected my story for publication for a second month in a row! KazkaPress does offer some amazing prompts for their speculative flash fiction requests. I've enjoyed it immensely! And, have reveled in the fact I've been published...TWICE!

Drake's Hoard is now live!

Here's what KazkaPress wanted for the November Contest:

The November 2011 issue of National Geographic featured an article on the Staffordshire Gold Hoard. If you don’t know, this hoard of gold is an treasure trove of Anglo-Saxon…well, treasures…from 1,300 years ago. It was discovered in 2009 by a bloke with a metal detector. However, no one knows why it was buried in this ground 1,300 years ago. Here’s a tidbit from the article, which you really want to read all of: 
Much plunder was carried away—possibly down the old Roman road Watling Street, which leads past the site where the Staffordshire Hoard was found. Event and place are commemorated in the Welsh poem “Marwnad Cynddylan—The Death Song of Cynddylan”:
Grandeur in battle! Extensive spoils
Morial bore off from in front of Lichfield.
Fifteen hundred cattle from the front of battle;
four twenties of stallions and equal harness.
The chief bishop wretched in his four-cornered
house, the book-keeping monks did not protect.
A retinue of 80 horses and spoils from a “wretched” bishop (a detail that conjures the gold inscription and crosses): The poem offers a tempting explanation for the hoard, an explanation, alas, built from slender, circumstantial evidence that has happened to survive from an era from which most evidence was lost. We can conjure other teasing theories. Our unknown travelers may have chosen the burial spot because it was obscure—or because it was conspicuous. The burial might have had a marker for rediscovery, or it might have been intended as an offering hidden forever to all but their gods. The hoard may have been ransom, or booty, or a votive thanks. It may have been a collection of Anglo-Saxon heirlooms buried at a later time. [by Caroline Alexander in NatGeo] 

We at Kazka Press want to know: What’s the story of this treasure? Why was it buried? In 713 words exactly, excluding title, write a piece of flash fiction that tells the story of this treasure. And your story must have a speculative fiction backbone to it–fantasy, sci-fi, slipstream, cyberpunk, steampunk, etc. We’ll be especially pleased to see a strong, fantastical historical fiction element to this month’s entries. 
That’s the theme, the whole sum and total of it.
You can read the whole Staffordshire Gold Hoard story if you wish, and then my published speculative fictional piece about it. Let me know what you think. I hope you like it! If you do, please vote for it as well! The ones with the most votes get a chance to be published in their print anthology! Thanks!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Vacation Is Supposed To Be Relaxation, Right?

Vacation is supposed to be relaxation, right? Especially when you don't go anywhere. At least that's what I thought.

I took off of work from November 18th through the 27th. I really haven't had any time to relax except this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I am utterly exhausted coming back to work.

Friday, the 18th we were getting ready for our son's birthday party. His birthday is not until the 26th but we decided to have it before everyone went on their Thanksgiving vacation. I decided to have it a Jump!Zone rather than our house. I just could not handle other people's kids in my house. We've already had to deal with our son's friends in the house and they just don't seem to respect our stuff and/or their behavior is just atrocious. Besides, we spoke with other families who recently had birthday parties at their house. They thought they could save some money that way, but in actuality they spent about the same, if not more plus they had to do PRE and POST cleaning. No thank you! We'll let someone else do all that. :)

So, Saturday morning was our son's party. We were concerned no one would show up, despite the RSVPs. That's the way my parties went, as well as my husband's, when we were growing up. The closer to noon it got, the more our tummies roiled!

It all worked out in the end, and we had 20 kids show up. Some didn't RSVP. Everything worked out, except the fact I didn't have enough pizza. But at least everyone got one piece.

He made out like a bandit too! So the next couple of days were spent going from store to store to buy his birthday presents he got with the cash and gift cards. We didn't stop for two days until the money burnt completely through his pants pocket. :) We did make him take half and put it in his savings account though.

After all the birthday festivities were done and the presents bought, I needed to clean the house for Thanksgiving, which included moving my sewing machine back upstairs. I've been putting off making my curtains for two and a half years so I broke it all out in hopes to get it done before Thanksgiving. HUGE TASK! Anyway, I quickly found out that I did not have the room to cut my curtain fabric, but my local Jo-Anne's was AWESOME and let me "borrow" their cutting table. I had to go when their first opened and they let me use their table. How I WISH I had one of these in my house...and the room! LOL I got half my curtain's done: the biggest half! I only have the small window left.

I also have plans on making my own Christmas postcards this year and only slightly touched on that. Well, I had a couple of days, so I started sewing those up. They were going to be origami poinsettia's attached to the fabric postcard so sewing took less time than I thought. It's the folding that takes so much time. And then it will be back to sewing, to finish off the edges of the postcard. So, before Thanksgiving, I completed half what I intended to do on that sewing machine--which I am proud of, actually! :D

We did have one unexpected thing happen. Two days before Thanksgiving we had to rush my DH to the ER. With the type of medication he's on he's more susceptible to stroke and heart attacks and the pain medications he uses tend to mask a lot of pain. He was complaining of chest pain--deep within his chest. It wasn't radiating down his left arm or going into his jaw. But like I said, the pain medication he takes tends to dull and mask. We didn't want to risk it so we went to the ER. His heart checked out fine and his blood work came back fine as well. So, this is the biggest THANKS for this Thanksgiving.

We had my parents over, as we do every year now since we bought our house. On Christmas, we always go to my parents house, so this kind of gives my mom a break. I could have really used it this year! But, no bust. We made it through. Everyone was happy. And, I was able to rest a little before I had to go back to work.

The only thing I was sad about was that I didn't get a chance to do any writing. Although, I did manage to get some more "back story" and possible mapping out of my WIP with my husband! He was such a great help! I just need to record him when he starts talking! LOL

For those who are in the US, or American's living abroad, I do hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. For those who do not celebrate, I hope you had a wonderful time while I was doing all this!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Campaigner Challenge E-book Anthology Benefiting Help Harry Help Others

Interested in reading Flash Fiction? Here is a collection of 176 stories to peruse through. While everything may not fit your taste, there is bound to be something in this anthology that you will like. 

Based off Rachael Harrie's 3rd Writer's Platform Building Campaign, this is a collection of participant's flash fiction pieces for each of Rachael's three challenges. The reader will not only be supporting a good cause, but can determine if the writer met the challenges presented. 

All proceeds from the sale of this Anthology go to Help Harry Help Others. It's a wonderful charity started by one little boy. Diagnosed with brain cancer, Harry "single handedly raised over £85,000 (roughly $137,000) for brain cancer research by fundraising and selling hand-made bracelets." You can read more about this cause by visiting Help Harry's Website. I could not do it justice. 

Please consider purchasing this e-Book anthology. You can find purchase details here:

Amazon (US):
Amazon (UK):
Amazon (DE):
Amazon (France):
Barnes & Nobel: [To be Announced]

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Everyone Should Have A Pet

Everyone should have a pet.

I grew up with dogs. We didn't always have them, due to our living circumstances. But, when we had the opportunity for a pet, we had dogs. I like dogs as much as the next person. But what I always found fascinating were cats.

Both my parents hated cats.

My mother had a dog when she was pregnant with me--a little miniature Dauchsund. I don't remember anything of it but my mom tells me I would always pull it's tail as a toddler. I don't know whatever happened to that dog when my father received orders for Germany. But I could warrant a guess based on my history with him and dogs.

We had to give him away. 

After we returned to the states, we got another dog. Although my dad surprised me with it, Dusty became his hunting dog--his tool. Although he was never allowed in the house, I spent a lot of time with him. I loved him like he was part of the family.

And then, my father came down on orders for England.

The military would not pay to move a pet, and the amount of time and money we would have to pay to keep him in quarantine--my father would have none of it. My father has only ever considered animals as just that--animals. They have their purpose but it's never a part of the family. Mom, well, she just sees more of a mess she has to clean up. Me, my heart always attached to them. Dusty was really the first one. I hated leaving him behind with one of my father's friends. And spending 4 years without a pet ended up being lonely.

Maybe it's because I am an only child I grow attached to them so easily.

When we got back to the states again, my parents decided to get a Cocker Spaniel AND a Cockatiel. Again, our dog was a tool. She was sent out for breeding purposes. But at least she was allowed in the house now; although Mom confined her to a certain part of the house. And, again I went out of my way to include her in my life.

The bird, was just a bird. He remained in the cage most of the time, with occasional outs. But I think he grew on my parents more than any of our previous pets. After I left home, my parents gave away the dog but kept the bird.

He lasted nearly 20 years.

As for me, the day I moved out of my parents house, my husband and I went to the SPCA and got our first pet--an 8 week old kitten!

GoofyKat was our first child (he had the wrong name nearly the whole time, until our son renamed him). We saved him a couple of days after we were married. We happened to go to the SPCA and just as we did, someone brought in a box of kittens. Jamie wandered over and took a peek. She opened up the door, and the first one to wander out was the one we took home. Jamie said he was the bravest of them all. Boy, were we surprised! StupidKat is black with a white belly and all four paws. So, his name started out to be Mittens. But, as time progressed and he did all the silly little things a kitten did, we kept saying "Man, what a stupid cat!" And it just stuck. He will NOT answer to mittens. He only comes when we call him by his name--StupidKat. He learned to play fetch. He loved to climb up people. But the silliest thing of all--he played, what we called puss-n-boots. StupidKat has foam golf balls. He used to put them in Anthony's Army boots. Then he would stick his head all the way in the boots and bat at the out side of the boot like he was playing with the ball. Then, he would pull his head out and put his paw in the boot. And the whole process would repeat. Every time we witnessed this all we could hear was StupidKat saying to himself "I can see the ball, but can't feel it. Then, I can feel it and not see it. What's going on!" You tell me that's not a stupid cat!

After a couple years, we decided he needed a "friend". We went back to the SPCA and brought home another cat we completely fell in love with.

MikeyKat got his name in about an hour from the time we got him home! It was about lunch time and Anthony made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The grey cat just looked at him crooked and begged. So, Anthony offered it to him. The grey cat not only sniffed and nibbled it; but, once he caught a whiff of that peanut butter, he snatched the entire sandwich out of Anthony's hand and RAN! About an hour later, we had chocolate cake and the cat did the same thing. So we set up an experiment to see what he DID NOT eat. Wasn't much! He seems to like peanut butter the best, then chocolate. He eats vegetable oil, pickles and coffee grounds (found one morning when the trash was knocked over and the grounds were nearly gone), he practically eats everything (hence the name--Mikey) We discovered he will not eat anything he cannot smell--i.e. plain yogurt and sour cream. So, needless to say, he has gained quite a few pounds since we first got him.

Jan 16 2006, we took our oldest cat (GoofyKat, 16) to the vet. His insulin will be discontinued and we wanted to get a new prescription. Well, before the blood work came back, the vet offered us a new insulin along with a diet of prescription food (much like the Atkins diet). We would have to make the transition over the next couple of months. After the blood work came back, however, things didn't look so good. His blood sugar levels were actually quite good (212). But there were about 5 or 6 different things that came back very wrong in his blood. He had kidney failure. The vet gave us some options, but had little hope. Because he's diabetic most of the treatment for liver failure would actually end up hurting his sugar levels. And, if we continued with the new insulin and diet, it could aggravate and speed up his kidney failure. We could also do dialysis and clean out his kidney. Nothing is guaranteed and the added diabetes complicates things even more. The vet also said we could just take him home, change nothing, and spoil the heck out of him these next few months. He's 16. He was our first baby. We got him a few days after we got married. This is so hard. It's going to be even harder when he gets so sick we cannot help him and will have to put him down.

GoofyKat passed over the Rainbow Bridge, 19 Apr 2006 at 2:30pm.

He crashed hard on that Monday. He refused to eat or drink. He couldn't walk anymore. He had been hiding. And when he did come out, he would not move, raise his head or anything. We knew it was time. We tried everything that night to bring him back. We've had him refuse to eat before and brought him back with canned tuna, salmon and chicken. But not this time. This time he refused all the good stuff. We knew. We went to go take him in to end his suffering, but it was after-hours and it was an additional $100. Unfortunately, we couldn't afford this so we tried to make him as comfortable as possible on Monday night. We stayed up with him most of the night. We had to break the needle off his insulin needles to force water in his mouth. He was so dehydrated. I had to go to work, which was really hard being up most of the night. I had a hard time driving. DH, took a nap. And then, later, he took GoofyKat to our Vet, who agreed it was time.

When I came home from work, there Anthony sat on the couch, next to the cat carrier. GoofyKat was inside, wrapped in his quilt I made him when he was a kitten. He is buried in that too. It is so sad. We had him for 16.5 years. He was our first baby. And Joshua didn't understand. How can you expect a 3 year old to understand?! Though, he did try to comfort us. The words out of his mouth last night were amazing. "It's ok. He's safe with God now".

It wasn't even a year later when it was Mikey's turn.

Within 3 weeks, MikeyKat went from 17 lbs to 11lbs. He wasn't eating, he couldn't walk. He was sleeping too much, hiding and such. At first we contributed it to his hearing loss. But, when he stopped eating....and Mikey never turned down food....that's when we knew something was horribly wrong. When I took him to the vet yesterday, his temp was 96 and the vet did the blood work. His test came back renal failure. The vet said with his temperature the way it was and how he was acting, he didn't have much longer. I brought him home and spent one last night with MikeyKat....and now, I don't have him anymore. He loved everyone, unconditionally.

To this day, I still call out for him. On occasion, I call one of my other cat's his name, sort of a Freudian slip. Little things Theo does reminds me of him. I still cry for him.

Both of these cats were a part of the family. They were our first children. So much so, they went on vacation with us and even moved when we moved. They went from Virginia, to Germany, to Texas, and finally Florida. They were worldly. And they were loved. 

I refuse to come home to an empty house, with no cats! We now have 3 more!

Sofius-Katus Ear-NonFoldus

We knew we wanted to get a Scottish Fold. We had seen them so much at Cat Shows, researching their personality and their character. Besides a true folded fold is so adorable! After much research we had determined that MikeyKat was really a non-folded Fold. When we decided to get another cat, after GoofyKat passed, we looked around for a Scottish Fold Breeder in our area. There was a breeder about 80 miles from us that we see each year at the Cat Show. Luckily, we found on closer, in our home town. Ironically, she and Linnea (the one 80 miles from us) were corroborating together.  Lizz did not have a litter at this time, but she was working with Linnea . She had paired up one of her girls to one of Linnea's boys and was hoping within a few months to be expecting. It didn't take long, thankfully, and on May 10th, a litter was born. Of course, the breeder gets first pick and Liz wanted to see how many, if any, folded back down. Nine weeks went by and unfortunately,   not a single kitten's ears folded.

When we went to visit Lizz and her kittens, it was amazing. Joshua was trying to get all the kittens to play with him with string and balls. It was only Sofie who pounced out from her hiding place to attack the little pop pom Joshua has just threw. It scared him so bad he squealed. Lizz was so flabbergasted. She said Sofie was the only one in the litter who did not have a personality. Apparently, she was waiting until her human came so she could shine! She picked Joshua that day. And every night she watches over him from somewhere in his room. When she thinks he needs to be awake, she will head butt him or stuff her whiskers up his nose. She puts up with so much from such a rambunctious little boy. She is definitely his kitty, and he is definitely her human. But now, she's come around to Anthony! He is now her favorite pillow! :)

They are our Oxymoron Cats. :) Non-Folded Scottish Folds.

Theo-Katus Ear Non-Foldus
Theo came from the same litter as Sofie. He is our tender soul.  It was such a sweet gesture when Lizz said we could take him along with his sister. But when we came to pick them both up, Theo freaked so bad he tore Lizz up. We were so afraid he would not work out. But we were determined to make it work. We met on neutral ground the second time. Lizz brought him to the cat show with her and he stayed in his carrier. We met her there and did a quick change up and brought him home. It wasn't as bad as the last time. When we got home, we just opened the door to the carrier and let him come out on his own terms. He had been without his sister for a week or so. Lizz had said when she left, he cried for her every night. But when he saw her at our house, it was like he didn't remember her. After a few hours, Theo had ventured out and made his way to his "safe spot" in our room. It didn't take too long for him to get used to us, but he freaked at any sudden movement. I don't think he really likes Joshua much. :) 

It's been a few years now, and Theo has warmed nicely to us. He's not a lap cat, he doesn't like to be picked up much, and he still freaks at any loud noise. But he is such a loving cat. He has such a tender soul. We love him and will take care of him forever.

We saved Itty Bitty from a house full of bully cats. She's a Folded Fold, but the physical characteristics make her look more like a regular American Domestic Short Hair with mutated ears.

Itty Bitty
We got her in March, and she was so skittish--worse than Theo. Poor baby! It has taken her from March until now to finally warming up to us. Sometimes she will tolerate the others. But there are times she will  hiss at them still. I am not certain if she will ever completely accept them, even though Theo and Sofie attempt to play with her from time to time. But, she is safe from the bully cats. And she is well loved.

We love all of our cats. And they are a part of the family. Not tools. Not animals left outside.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Doctor's Lady - A Book Review

The Doctor's LadyThe Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is amazing to know what God's plan is for you. A lot of people do not know what God plans for them. They seek it their entire lives. But Priscilla White knew it from a very early age. Her only obstacle--the Mission Board. Vowed never to marry, Priscilla's rejection to Mission in India comes with a caveat--should she marry, the Board would approve her as a missionary. Her solution walked in through the Church doors.

God called Eli Ernest to medical practice--not just any medical practice, but to those of the Nez Pierce out West. His scouting mission had been paid by the Church. But his second trip would be hindered by the Mission Board as well. Faced with the same dilemma as Priscilla White, their only option was to break their vows to not marry.

This story is deeper than the love that builds between the two. It is a trial of their faith. Priscilla joins Eli and another couple to minister to the Native Americans in the Western Country. Both Priscilla and her female travelling companion become the first women to travel to the Western Country that would become the Oregon Trail. It is a long and treacherous path, and Priscilla is determined to show both Eli and herself that she is strong enough to survive it. But can she? Riddled throughout this story is tension in love, in faith, in etiquette, and in physical security. You will not want to put it down.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Flash Fiction Contest Winner & Publication with KazkaPress

Source: KazkaPress.Net
As many of you know, I recently signed my first publishing deal. If you didn't know, you may be interested to read about it here.

If you are interested in reading my piece, you can read it off KazkaPress.Net. Please understand, parts of this are real, and parts are not. We were to speculate the purpose of the numbers station, UVB-76. If you like military, spy, spooky, sci-fi, conspiracy theories, all rolled up into one,  I suggest you read this first, then read my story and what I speculated the purpose of UVB-76.

If you like it, I'd be most appreciative if you rated it. The more ratings I get, the more chance I have in this piece being selected into their 713 Anthology. Be sure to read the other stories they chose as well.

Thank you for your support and your votes! I hope you enjoy the short story.