Writers never stop writing. Ever.
You know that quip - "Be nice to your writer friend, or you may end up in her next book!"? Yeah, well, nice or not you may land there, because EVERYTHING is fodder. Sure, she will change names to protect the innocent, and fictionalize facts enough to disguise current events, but her brain is calculating just how your conversation this morning is going to sound coming out of her characters' mouths. A writer who lives in her own fantasy world doesn't let that stop her from borrowing from this one, so fair warning.
Now that I've got you paranoid...
I have been writing up a storm. At least... I was before getting sidelined by the Thanksgiving holiday. I don't work well with the house full of noise. I do, however, continue to collect manna casually dropped in my presence. And unlike that heavenly food, these delectable tidbits I am able to store up for tomorrow.
Which, by my reckoning, means today.
Now that the house is empty again, I'm back at work twisting plot lines, creating captivating images, and developing characters. My brain is back in overdrive, coming out of my food induced coma into a space where I can actually hear myself think again. As turkey soup simmers on the back burner downstairs - Mmm - it smells so good! - I am back to cooking up a fantastic new Emrysia novel for you, a prequel to The Three Sisters Trilogy.
Like any feast, a tantalizing tidbit before the meal is served is a guilty pleasure meant to whet your appetite. So - just for you - here is just a little taste of The Daughters of Ka'Dharron, featuring
a setting similar to the place I "borrowed" from, one of my family's favorite haunts - The Basin* in the White Mountain National Forest:
Like a sentinel, an immense granite boulder guarded the deepest part of the sun-dappled stream, as if dropped there by a giant hand to protect its watery secrets. The massive rock - mostly quartz and flecked with gray feldspar - stood throughout the seasons while the water rose and fell around it, never changing. Atop her favorite perch Leandhra watched patiently, awaiting just the right moment. One of her long, skinny legs was tucked up under her, the other stretched out behind her along the rock. Her wings - leathery, translucent, and glittering with a multitude of colors where they caught the morning sunlight - trembled ever so slightly with anticipation. From a distance, she might appear to be a giant dragonfly at rest among the many that flitted over the water in search of their supper, but midges were the last thing on her mind when the moment finally came. Silently, she opened her hand. A smooth, small stone slipped easily from her palm, plunking into the nearly still water with a sploosh. Humming under her breath, Leandhra leaned forward to watch the ripples widen until they disappeared altogether.
"LeLe! Why did you do that?! I was just about to catch him!" Kayanna threw her tiny hands up in frustration, letting them flop back into the water with a splash that wetted the lower half of her wings.
"Exactly - that is why I did it!" Leandhra replied. "You know better, Kay! Besides, what would you do with a glo-fish once you caught it? Keep it in a vase by your bed at night?" She looked skeptically at her sister, nearly four revolutions her junior, wading in the shallows nearby. A concave wall of solid granite towered over them both, hugging the stream in its bed; the same bedrock lay in uneven sheets beneath the water, hollowed smooth by eons of rushing, grit-laden spring melt. Now, however, the current was no more than a caress against the younger girl's short legs as she waded through the shallow water, for it was late autumn, and the stream was at its lowest. Within the basin the surface grew still again.
From the distant bank where she paced, Ladhonna piped up. "She would, too, and you know it!"
Kayanna nodded innocently, a sheet of fine, pale hair hiding her concentration as she bent over the water already in search of another glo-fish. Distracted, she tucked the hair behind her pointed ear. At her tender age, she had not yet learned the art of deceit.
Ladhonna smirked. "I told you so!" Satisfaction glowed clearly on her delicate, adolescent features. "One of these days your fascination with fish is going to get you into trouble!" she predicted. As eldest of the three, she felt it her responsibility to remind her sisters of life's pitfalls, but was equally used to them not giving heed to her warnings.
"Like you know anything at all, you who dare not even dip a toe in the water! Afraid you might melt, no doubt, or catch cold," Leandhra teased. As middle child, she was just as often defending one sibling against the other.
"I am not. That old rock is slimy... and who wants to slip and wet their wings? Not me!"
"I do not mind, Dhonna," said Kayanna still searching, her button nose skimming the surface like a water beetle. "I like getting wet!"
Ladhonna ignored her. "Anyhow, you both need to come away now. You promised we would play in the gardens again today."
"We will, but not while the pruning is happening - please, sister! It saddens me." Leandhra didn't say so, but the sight of the young Naturra workers sweating under the sun while the three of them played pained her nearly as much as the piles of pruned branches still green with life. "Come join us!" she called. "Use the stepping stones if you must, or just fly over. I will not tell, nor will Kay. If she does, we will tell Mother she waded out of the shallows again. I know she is just itching to."
This went unheeded by Kayanna, who had spotted another tantalizing fluorescent silhouette darting from the shadows of a watery crevasse. She looked about ready to dive under.
Ladhonna shook her head, shuddering in the shade along the stream's edge. She wasn't as daring as her sisters, and for good reason. She was somewhat accident prone - a rare thing for a luminarie - and not a good thing for someone with her delicate constitution. Even surrounded by more talented empaths - which, of course, both of her sisters were. There were other options if she got hurt, but who wanted to be always running to the Kandharril, especially when fledglings so much younger than her were already able to heal their own minor scrapes and bruises? That neither of them were supposed to be using their healing light yet never seemed to stop them, any more than being forbidden to use their wings for flight. But then, they had not suffered as she had while attempting an assumption either. She shuddered, a shockwave traveling all the way to her wingtips. She would not dwell on that now. Still, it rankled watching others - especially her sisters - do what she longed to do and did not dare. It rankled most severely.
"I am going back to the gardens now. Stay here if you wish," Ladhonna huffed, then turned and stomped away.
Leandhra sighed. Her sister had her own way of getting what she wanted. There would be no living with her if they did not follow. "Come on, Kayanna. Wade over there, and wait for me. I will help you keep your balance as you cross."
Pouting, and with a final splash, Kayanna did as she was bidden.
Leandhra stood up and scattered the rest of the pebbles she had brought along. A handful of ripples disturbed the water's surface once more.
"Wait up, Ladhonna! We're coming..."
For more on The Basin, visit:
To enjoy previews of my other books, visit:
My husband has a great policy: Never complain about food you didn't help make.
I'm a pretty good cook, so it usually isn't an issue for him. I do 98% of the meal prep in our home, so this has kept him in my good graces over the years. (Not quite as good as he could be, but since he does wash pots & pans - a task I try to avoid - I like to think of us as even. Almost.) He does offer to help sometimes, but I rarely take him up on it. The kitchen pre-dinner is my domain, the cars and yard are his.
Roger is a meat & potatoes kind of guy, but he has learned to love spinach salad, fried cabbage, Mexican & Indian food, and pea soup. I have seen him smile through brussel sprouts, kale, spaghetti squash, and falafel. He even tolerates tofu now and then. Out of deference I don't feed him liver, plain sauerkraut or artichokes, though I do sneak them into recipes occasionally, and still - not one negative peep! Gotta love a guy like that, and I do.
This policy of his is one he has tried to pass on to our children with limited success. When they were young, we insisted they at least try everything each time it was served. Some foods grew on them after a while. Those few that didn't they can live without. Everyone is entitled to their different tastes, after all. Since I provide a pretty varied menu, they still get balanced nutrition at my table.
Another rule we tried to live by was that everybody helps clean up. At the very least, each person is responsible for clearing their own dishes. Usually, though, we work together until the job is done.
What do my family's dining habits have to do with anything, you may ask? Stay with me while I digress a moment.
For years I griped about not being where I wanted to be in my writing career, as if that would fix it somehow. Instead, all it did was make me - and everyone around me - feel worse. I was a grumpy damsel waiting to be rescued. By not working toward a solution, I exacerbated the problem. Once I realized this and changed my attitude, it made all the difference. I began to see that the life I wanted had always been within reach, I just had to work for it.
Back to my cooking analogy, and the point of it:
We just elected a president and, like it or not, time for shopping is past. Now it's time to cook. Let's work together with what we have, and get dinner made!
Thanksgiving is this week. There are hungry people out there. We can be grateful that we live in a country with fewer empty tables than full, and where - if we are willing to share the work - we can make a difference. If you aren't going to help with the cooking, you shouldn't gripe. Now is not the time to sit at the table and grumble. If you don't like what's being served up politically, economically, socially, etc., complaining about it isn't going to change things! If you want concessions, you should be willing to help with the clean up.
And remember, in the words of Junior Asparagus - "A thankful heart is a happy heart!"
This article may contain controversial opinions, though respectfully submitted with the intent of casting light into the murky waters of gender inequality and political correctness. Please note the author recognizes that there are ripples in her own reflection, and with continued diligence works toward not seeing through the glass, darkly.
She’s funny, she really is! Who couldn’t love that infectious smile, her quirky dance moves and rapid-fire timing, not to mention her incredible generosity on the show - all with corporate sponsors’ money, of course.
I used to love watching Ellen Degeneres despite there being areas in which we just don’t see eye to eye. I can still appreciate her talents and how she shares them with the world without being simpatico on all counts. I respect her as a person though we disagree. That's called tolerance. But here’s the rub: I don't like double standards.*
I started to question the wisdom of watching her show years ago when her blatant sexism became apparent. You may or may not have noticed depending on how long you’ve been tuned in. Why guests tolerated her often disparaging sexist remarks I could never understand, but even more so her former deejay, Tony Okungbowa. The first time he was pictured in a tiny Speedo in some “humorous” picto-collage for the audience's entertainment, I confess, I was mildly amused. But when it happened over and over again, almost on a daily basis, I began to see it for what it was. Tony was being objectified.
I turned off my set.
Ah... but he was well paid, and most likely on board with it, you may argue. Maybe so, but how is that any different from what misogynists often claim? The problem lies in wanting to have it both ways. You can’t justify your own questionable behavior while vilifying someone else’s — at least, not without being hypocritical — and expect it to go unnoticed forever. Case in point: How many people knew about the Harvey Weinstein "issue" for years, and yet, turned a blind eye because it didn't affect them personally? It still came out, and found them culpable. And now? People - women in particular - are crawling out of the woodwork with decades-old accusations of impropriety without a care for the ripples they are creating. How many of them never even cared about Ellen objectifying people - or at least, not until the #metoo movement, and that one tweet about Katy Perry's breasts that got more media attention - and far fewer repercussions - than deserved?
Double standards are evident all over this country - in the workplace, on the street, in entertainment, you name it. Bigotry exists and sexism is rampant, but it cannot be rectified simply by dishing out more of the same, or by allowing the abused to become abusers.
Every day it seems another high-profile male figure is beset with accusations - whether true or false - of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Who was in the news recently adding her accusations about actor Steven Segal? Ellen's life partner, Portia. Double standard? She isn't the only one. Many who are still laughing at Ellen’s sexist remarks in public are maligning others' characters over things said or done in private years ago. How many of us blindly accepted Mr. Okungbowa — a man of color — being ogled as a plaything on national television, and yet cheer as yet another male celebrity is brought low for their indiscretion? Ellen, because she is a woman and a gay one at that, is basically untouchable except for a few conservatives' tweets. Why isn't she being held accountable? #doublestandard
As someone with her own #metoo story, I certainly don't hold with the "boys will be boys" justification for misogynistic behavior. I don't applaud crudeness in anyone: myself, my family members, my political leaders, or politically correct celebrities. My values don't change depending on who is in front of me, and wrong doesn't become right just because it is popular. But jumping into this tidal wave to bring down men who may have already radically changed their behavior since their infractions is pure spite. It is a "heads must roll" mentality that seeks punishment beyond the scope of the crime. How certain are we that those making such accusations are blameless, if not personally, then at least in what they condone? As Matt Lauer leaves in disgrace, are the female Today Show hosts forgetting their own lewd comments, say, toward the Australian Fire Fighters calendar crew? They definitely weren't ogling the puppies as much as the shirtless men in that segment. So why aren't they being called out?
In this culture of sound bites and journalists who seem to want to make news more than to report it, we suck up our personalized news feeds and spew out opinion and accusations uncaring of who gets hurt, as long as it isn’t us. We are being divided into unbreachable camps - Liberals vs. Conservatives, black vs. white, and now women vs. men. Instead, we should be finding the common ground of decency. If we say we are against intolerance, sexism, racism, etc., why aren't we always against it? How can we even make the claim unless we are consistent?
Let’s be reasonable. We’ve got to start thinking, stop overreacting, and respond appropriately.
I hung in there with Ellen until her own actions proved themselves, giving her the benefit of doubt, and then, when I could no longer do so, acted without hyperbolic fanfare. I bring her up now just as a case in point. Harvey Weinstein had years to prove what he's made of, and now it's catching up with him. It always does. In the meantime, let's not justify Ellen just because she's PC. If it's not funny when the horny gander squawks, stop laughing at the gay goose.
If you’re offended by these remarks, I am truly sorry. We are all offended by something these days. This is my opinion, and in this country I am still entitled to it. Yours may differ, but if you’re touting “love and respect EVERYONE”, then do so! Don’t be a hypocrite. That doesn't look good on anyone.
I am not out to harm Ellen's reputation, rather, because I believe she is someone of conscience she will come to the realization on her own. I found her little speech on the #metoo movement online while researching, and applaud her for it. If she's sincere about acknowledging sexual abuse/harassment as a human problem, not just a male problem, she'll recognize that she has been part of it and try to make amends - especially to Mr. Okungbowa. And, if she does, I just might just start watching again.
*For the record (lest someone tries to call me out on it) I have several LGBTQ friends and family members, lovely people all, who respect my religious beliefs and freedoms as much as I respect theirs. Holding sacramental marriage as beyond redefinition does not mean I would wish to inflict a solitary existence upon anyone, anymore than that they should insist I embrace a gay lifestyle for myself. Civil unions were created to legitimize domestic relationships that fall outside of the complementarity of lifelong heterosexual partnerships, not to debase them. A recipe with twice the salt, while possibly pleasing, is not the same as one with both salt and pepper, no matter how much you wish it to be. It is our differences that make us what we are, and how we blend them that make us into something new - and hopefully better. Let's try to remember that in our wonderfully blended culture before we lose our flavor.
I have always been a dreamer, hoping for and working toward a better day. Some might call that being optimistic, others delusional, especially given the current political climate in this country. But, I truly believe we can shape our world into a place where all can realize their dreams.
This week has been a challenge. As tensions soared and people grew frustrated with one another - some to the point of breaking off relationships that have withstood far greater "real" threats - we, as a nation of HOPE, have been found lacking. Blame is being thrown around like toilet paper on Halloween: fun, yes and maybe even satisfying in the moment, but a wasteful display that just creates a mess for someone else to have to clean up.
Do you want to really make a difference? Work to be part of the solution, not the problem.
Peaceful demonstrations are a right we enjoy in this land. Acts of hate and violence against ANYONE we should not tolerate. Being scared or angry doesn't make bad behavior acceptable; those who carry out racist or homophobic acts of violence are scared and angry too. Let's not forget that ALL of us, no matter what our beliefs or backgrounds, are free in this country because someone else sacrificed to give us that right. We can only pay them back by living in a manner that respects the gift.
Imagine what we - The American People - could accomplish if we backed up our words of LOVE with LOVING actions toward each other despite our differences of opinion.
Please, let's try to be optimistic. Let's be a people of hope. The world has always held dark places; let's not allow our minds be one of them.
There it is, right at the end of this electoral year tunnel - wonderful, glorious LIGHT!
I have never been so relieved. Except maybe after 11+ hours of hard back labor, when my firstborn finally decided better out than in. That, at least, was an experience I was willing to repeat, since I was delighted with the outcome. Not so sure I will be either way this time.
But enough politics! What we really need is more of that light!
Have you ever met a person who could light up a room just by entering it? How about someone whose quiet, inner light drew you in, like a moth to flame? What do folks like that have in common?
Some would tell you they are more genuine than average folks, but that isn't always the case. I've known hucksters & charlatans who were flamboyant and boisterous, and some who were quiet and deceptively sincere. (And, no! I am not still talking politics!*) What they do have in common is that they are human, just like you and me. No better or worse.
All of us have light. All of us can shine. But only those with eyes - and hearts - open can see the light in everyone. Even the hucksters and charlatans.
I may have to pry mine open in the morning, but I will. Will you?
Name That Naturra!
Have you ever wanted to name a character in a novel? Here's your chance!
I need a name for Jonazat & Quinna's daughter (Jonquin's sister) for a new
book in the Emrysia series. Post your best suggestions as a comment, and
I'll notify you if you've won. The winner will be listed in the Acknowledgments
in the back of the book!
Good luck, or as they say in Empa'ayan - CHE YANNA!
*God bless America - we're gonna need it!