Fangirling over The Dragon and the Scholar

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I recently caught two colds in a row. I was sick last weekend, got better midweek, ate far too much ice cream, and got another cold.

I blame the ice cream. It was chocolate mint cookie.

Anyway, I’ve spent a lot of time just lying around, staring blankly at the wall or my ipod, and I’ve let the kids play far too many games. I’m at this moment calculating how many naps I can grab if I get them Pokemon Uranium.

Then I noticed that one of my friends, Heidi Lynn Burke (or H. L. Burke), had released the final book in her Dragon and the Scholar series. I’d read her lovely Beggar Magic
back in December, and I know she’s a great writer. And hey, if the series was good, I’d read the whole thing.

Oh my. The first book, <a href=”http://Dragon’s Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar Book 1), was so very excellent.

Here’s the official summary:

On her first assignment out of the Academy, young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous.

Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family?

So you get the gist–Shannon is a bookish healer with impressive credentials, and almost zero real life experience. She can’t wait to get out of the Academy and have an adventure, so she persuades her superior and friend Martin to let her go. He does, grudgingly, and she comes to the court of King Edmond.

Edmond has been badly burned and poisoned by dragons. See, his brother got eaten up by a dragon, leading to the death of his dad. Edmond tried to kill the dragon in question, but this became a campaign against all dragons. Which worked fine until he got chewed up.

A dragon comes to live on a nearby mountain, and Edmond froths at it, but he’s too sick to do anything about it. Shannon, however, is fascinated. But she’s also being stalked by one of those puffed up jock-type knights that we all love to hate, and he tells the king that he’ll kill the dragon if the king will give him Shannon for a bride.

Seeing as this is horrible and awful, Shannon goes to the dragon to warn it off. Except the dragon is just as smart as she is, and snarky, and funny, and lonely, and likes for her to read him books. After the dragon defeats the knight, she does just that … and we begin to suspect that there’s more to this dragon than meets the eye.

This book is kind of like The Enchanted Forest Chronicles for a YA audience. (You know, Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, etc. by Patricia C. Wrede). I say an older audience because of the insinuation of what the knight wants to do to Shannon, and the growing romance between her and the dragon. (The final book is called Dragon’s Bride. We can kind of see where this is going.)

Oh, but the cover is so terrible. Look at it.

dragons-curse

That cover alone is why I haven’t read it before now. It definitely needs something like this.

Via Tumblr: http://teacoffeebooks.tumblr.com/post/5635523747
Via Tumblr: http://teacoffeebooks.tumblr.com/post/5635523747

Or this:

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Or even this:

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But yeah, I intend to pick up the rest of the books in this series posthaste.

Vitamins sharply reduced my morning sickness?

I heard about this vitamin complex stuff a month or so ago–Beyond Tangy Tangerine 2.0, by a guy named Dr. Wallach. Apparently he’s a vet who’s done animal studies for years of how common degenerative diseases (like arthritis) are actually caused by vitamin or mineral deficiency.

I got online and tried to debunk him, but people can only complain about some of his methods, and that he sells expensive vitamins. There’s a huge, huge number of people online talking about how this stuff cured this and that oddball ailment. And really, a lot of his science matches up with Weston Price, whose work I’m a big fan of.

So, having some Amazon gift card credit left over from Christmas, I ordered a container of the stuff.

It’s a powder that you mix with water. So the taste is … not horrible, but not exactly delicious. My hubby and I tried it a few times and noticed an immediate burst of energy, but then I found out I was pregnant. Then morning sickness set in.

Oh man, did it. I haven’t been this sick since my first kid. There’s been nights that I crawled into bed at 7 and went to sleep, just to make the nausea stop. I barf before every meal–pretty much any time I get hungry.

I’ve been taking my regular prenatal vitamins at night before bed, because that’s when I’m most likely to keep them down. But then I got to thinking about that expensive vitamin powder sitting in the fridge. It has more stuff in it than my prenatal, so as long as I matched the dose, it should be okay.

Here’s the label on the thing. Click to enlarge.

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My prenatal has everything on the left column, except for the magnesium and the pantothenic acid. On the right side is all the trace stuff normal vits don’t have: selenium, copper, chromium, and potassium. Since I’m taking a half dose, it’s really very tiny, tiny amounts.

The morning after I took my first shot, I woke up with no morning sickness. Zero. I felt a tiny bit of nausea in the afternoon, but I ate a snack and it went away.

Thinking it was an anomaly, I did it again. Second day. No nausea, except a tiny bit in the afternoon, when I had been so mega-sick before.

Today’s day three. No nausea, except in the afternoon. I’m starting to think that there might be something to this particular mix of vitamins and minerals. My regular prenatals don’t touch morning sickness.

So, is morning sickness caused by a vitamin or mineral deficiency?

In trying to research this, I’ve come across two schools of thought. One is that nobody knows what causes morning sickness. Another is that the different hormones cause your digestive tract to slow down, making you sick.

Mommypotamus swears that morning sickness is a magnesium deficiency. After three days of massively huge turnaround, I’m inclined to agree with her. I know my body is lacking in all kinds of things after having four other kids, and also not having the greatest diet in the world. Would I see the same results with a cheaper magnesium supplement? Or is it this particular mix of vitamins and minerals?

Whatever it is, I’m going to keep taking this stuff. I LIKE not upchucking every single day.

Grumpy elves and a spiffy dragon

Hey guys, Rebecca Minor is re-releasing Diving Summons, and she’s running a giveaway for a poster of the cover art. Check it out:

Dragon poster

Isn’t it lovely? Anyway, I just reread Divine Summons, which has been lightly revised for its rerelease. Here’s the summary:

When Captain Vinyanel Ecleriast, an officer in the elven cavalry, narrowly escapes a devastating reconnaissance mission, he discovers a new calling to establish the first airborne unit of mounted warriors his people have ever known. Joined by an enigmatic half-elven prophetess and a silver dragon, Vinyanel struggles to come to grips with this responsibility, while mourning the recent loss of his unit and only friends.

A subversive plot to undo the task Vinyanel’s unit died in accomplishing takes shape, right within the walls of the elven capital city. Only with the prophetess’s help, however irritating she may be, will he unravel the mystery behind the enemy’s plans. Vinyanel barrels headlong into territory where he will need more than a sword and shield to prevail. Only if he can look beyond himself for the strength to defeat his enemies will he survive to answer his divine summons.

And here’s my review:

I bought/read this book in its early version. Reading the new, improved version was sheer delight–especially since I’ve also read the next novella, and the novel that comes after that. Vinyanel, grouchy elf captain, is hilariously snarky and irreverent. For me, the best part is the subtle lampooning of Christian fantasy tropes. It never fails to make me chuckle.

Yes, this novella is short–but the next one I think is longer, and the novel after those is a long, lush romp as Vinyanel’s pig-headedness gets him into deep trouble.

Here’s the Amazon link! If you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free!

Showing off a cool book cover I designed

A few months ago, my friend Kat Heckenbach got the rights back to her books and decided to self-publish them. But she wanted the cover of book 1 to match book 2 a bit more.

Book 1:

findingangel-old

Book 2:

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Serviceable covers, but they don’t really scream “series”. So Kat enlisted me to build her a cover for book 1 that matched book 2 a little better.

After many, many iterations and design dead ends, we wound up with this:

finding-angel-new

It matches the feel of book 2 much better, I think! Here’s the book summary:

Angel doesn’t remember her magical heritage…but it remembers her.

Start with a struggle revolving around the source of magic. Is it genetic–or is it part of your soul? What if someone was using his powers to run experiments based on a complete misconception of the source of magic?

Throw in a twisted family tree that’s rooted in a centuries’ old feud, a painting that (literally) holds the key to the truth, a mysterious and talkative beetle, and an Elven rocker who can play the songs of the stars on an electric guitar.

This is the world Angel Mason was born into, thrust out of, and returned to seven years later. To top it off, she must rediscover her identity and save her home from a madman at the same time.

Amazon link

It’s a really fun young adult book, kind of the younger end of the spectrum, and entirely appropriate for 12 year olds. I’m impatiently waiting for book 3. 🙂

Birthdays are fun when you’re 4

It was my third daughter’s birthday this week. First she got to go out to lunch with Daddy and do some birthday shopping. Then she came home and we sang happy birthday.

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She blew out her candles very well, and then we enjoyed the cake. Then they all ran around like maniacs, hyped up on sugar. 🙂

She’s very ready to be four. She’s grown so much in the last year, and it’s been such fun to see her turn from a baby into a child with opinions and thoughts. She’s my dragon-lover, and for her birthday she wanted a plush of the Minecraft Ender Dragon. He’ll join the four other plush dragons that live on her bed. 🙂

My writing process in meme pics

I was tagged by Bethany on Facebook. Since it’s kind of a long meme, I told her I’d answer the questions on my blog.

Basically, it goes like this: List seven things about your writing process. I thought it would be funnier if I answered them in meme form.

Step 1:

idea-magic

Step 2:

idea-is-awesome

Step 3:

badass

Step 4:

scary middle

Step 5:

disturbing

Step 6:

party

Step 7:

critique-group

Annnnd that’s how it goes. 😀

Buying an island – writer research

The last few weeks, I’ve been writing a story about some characters who have adventures on an island, and ownership becomes a key factor. But I knew nothing about islands, or how to buy them. So this called for a little research!

private-island1

Here’s what you need to know when shopping for an island:

Islands run from roundabout 3 million for a really good island, to 30k, for a not so great island.

There are three kinds of island climates: Caribbean (tropical and rainy), Mediterranean (hot and dry), and Temperate (think Canada).

Location matters, and this applies to islands. An island closer to commercial and residential services (where you might buy food and possibly get cell service) drives the island’s value way up. An remote island sounds fun for a vacation getaway, but the commute gets expensive.

private-island2

Can Do Finance recommends renting your target island and hanging out there to see what it’s like. Not only do you get a chance to see what the living conditions are like, but you can experience the local weather. Visiting an island on a calm, sunny day won’t tell you what it’s like in the middle of a monsoon.

Other things to consider are things like:

What’s the island’s water table like? Are there wells available, or can you drill one?

Is there good anchorage?

Is there a nice beach or two?

Is there any place to build a house, or is one already there?

private-island-fiji

Once you have a house there, if you don’t plan to live on the island full time, you’ll need to hire someone to live there for you. This prevents the elements from wiping your stuff off the map, and will help protect your island from squatters.

Can you imagine the fun of being hired as a caretaker on some island mansion?

private-island-temperate

The story possibilities for island life are endless. Imagine finding a murdered body, or a castaway washed up on a beach, or other mysterious happenings. A book practically writes itself!

Hopefully this gives you some ideas. 🙂