What I learned in 2018

I went back and looked at my first post for 2018, back when the year still had that new, fresh smell. Ah, I was so optimistic.

My word for this year was Steadfast. And that was a good word, because it wound up describing everything I did, including getting unexpectedly pregnant and hanging on to life by the skin of my teeth.

I had mentioned wanting to publish a new Spacetime book, as well as the second dragon cozy. Welp. I published the cozy. But the Spacetime book got 30k in, and I had too much of the old books in my head. So I set it aside to get some distance.

I had planned to write a fairytale book. And I did wind up writing a short story with the idea I had, and it appears in this anthology. (A guy and a girl share a psychic link, which gets more interesting when she is cursed and turns into a dragon. The idea of the story was that psychic links would let you share too much information with the other person, so the story is called Too Much Information.)

I also revised and launched the first book in a series that is superhero fantasy. People with powers fighting each other and such. I have two other books in the hopper that only need revisions and editing, but I didn’t have the brain.

What did I wind up writing? Fanfiction for the game Destiny. The space opera setting just appealed, for some reason, so I wrote 17 fanfics in it. I really wanted to read official novels in the setting, but there aren’t any, so I had to write my own. It was kind of a self-therapy, working through being pregnant for the sixth time. I was so very sick with this baby, and when I stopped being sick, I was in massive pain. And I was so scared of labor. So all that got rolled up and dumped into the fanfics.

I now have a whole bunch of readers who like the slush I was cranking out, and I don’t know if I can write it anymore, since I had the baby. Sorry, readers!

I did come up with some really great characters who I’d love to transplant into other stories someday. And I found that I really dig writing space opera. Writing the physics of space ships and battles and space marines on other planets was totally fun.

But yeah, this year went nothing like I expected. I’ll write a goal list tomorrow, so I can laugh at them next December. 😀

Destiny fanart. Nell is sitting in a tree, chatting to her ghost Hadrian.

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Falling off the blog hop wagon

Guess I blew the blog hop, didn’t I? Here it is, the day after Christmas, and I only just now remembered, oh yeah, I was doing that blog hop thing. 😀

We had a very nice Christmas. It was just us, so on Christmas Eve, I introduced the kids to the wonders of clam chowder in bread bowls. It was a huge hit. My recipe made so much chowder that we ate the rest for dinner on Christmas Day. Sans bread bowls. Since those were already gone. 😀

For dessert, I made this stuff we call mint cake, but is more like mint brownies. My mom made them every year for years, so I’ve decided to make them a tradition. So far we’ve eaten half a pan and nobody is sick yet.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to all the New Years blog posts. “Top Ten things I learned this year” and so forth. I’ve got a couple of ideas for things to write about book stuff. This blog hop was fun, because it got me back into blogging after having the baby, when my routine was all shot to heck.

I’ve also been trying to make more artwork, so I hope to be posting more of that here, too.

A walk down the wash (Christmas blog hop)

The weather has been perfect down here in Arizona. The kids and I went for a nice, long walk up a nearby wash to the dry culverts. They have been dubbed “the tunnels”.

The wash also doubles as an alley, so there’s always interesting junk out here to look at.
Here’s the culverts. The only time they have water in them is during a rain. As you can see, it hasn’t rained in a while.
Culverts are huge caves when you’re three feet tall.
Gorgeous clear day with mountains in the background.
A variety of prickly pear cactus with fuzzy spots instead of big spikes. The fuzzy spots are also horrible spikes, so don’t touch.

It’s always such a nice walk, with lots of things to see. In the spring, there’s quail with chicks running around.

Kids’ ornaments (Christmas blog hop)

This past week, our apartment complex had their big Christmas event, which was a wrapping station for presents for the adults at one end of the complex, and a craft station for kids at the other end of the complex. So I got presents wrapped, and the kids got to make ornaments.

Here’s the first two glass ornaments
A glittery one
And two more!

They had a ton of fun, and devoured the snacks provided (which was the main draw).

Christmas is getting closer!

All Is Well (Christmas blog hop)

Did you know that Frank Peretti, author of supernatural thrillers, wrote a Christmas story? And recorded an audiobook of it? Which is on Youtube, complete with illustrations from the children’s book version?

All Is Well, by Frank Peretti

When Penny and her mom run out of money and can’t pay the rent, it looks like they’re going to have to move. To help any way she can, Penny goes door-to-door selling whatever isn’t nailed down – including a box of Christmas ornaments. Through kindness and compassion, Penny, her mother and the whole neighborhood discover that all is well and that God does provide.

Christmas Story: A Candle in the Forest

It’s time for Candle in the Forest! This is my favorite Christmas story ever, and reading it is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.

K. M. Carroll, Author

It’s almost Christmas, and that means it’s almost time for Candle in the Forest! This is a sweet little story that I like to post each year. It’ll get you into the Christmas spirit in a jiffy.

christmas_by_lucky008Christmas by lucky008

Candle in the Forest
by Temple Bailey

The small girl’s mother was saying, “The onions will be silver,
and the carrots will be gold–”
“And the potatoes will be ivory,” said the small girl, and they
laughed together. The small girl’s mother had a big white bowl in her
lap, and she was cutting up vegetables. The onions were the hardest,
because she cried over them.
“But our tears will be pearls,” said the small girl’s mother,
and they laughed at that and dried their eyes, and found the carrots
much easier, and the potatoes the easiest of all.
Then the next-door-neighbor came in and said, “What are you doing?”

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Christmas speculation (Christmas blog hop)

I’m sitting here with this cute little guy asleep in my lap. He just had a bath, and this is his favorite place to be. It’s a chilly evening tonight in the desert, kind of cold and damp.

I was thinking about the Christmas story, how Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem. But did you ever think about how they didn’t leave Bethlehem? They were still there two years later, when the magi showed up. Then Herod had the babies killed, trying to catch Jesus in the net.
I imagine it would have been too hard on Mary and the baby to travel, so Joseph just set up shop in Bethlehem for the next few years. Then the magi arrived, gave them all this extra money and expensive goods, so they could afford to hide out in Egypt until Herod died.
Maybe it comes from writing stories all the time, but I get hung up on logistics. The Bible gives just enough information to speculate about the logistics of travel and survival. Joseph was a carpenter, so I imagine he could work anywhere. They need wooden stuff built in Egypt, too. 
Then when they moved back to Israel, they settled in Nazereth, which, according to Nathaniel, later on, was kind of the armpit of the area. “Can anything good come out of Nazereth?”
Another thing I always wondered about. By the time Jesus is crucified, he has his disciple John look after his mother Mary. So Joseph must have died by then. Do you think Jesus healed Joseph or considered resurrecting him? Jesus didn’t do it for everyone. He allowed his stepfather to die. That’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? God doesn’t operate the way we do.

Fictional Christmases (Christmas Blog Hop)

I’ve been trying to think of what books have my favorite Christmases in them. Like, ones that made me all warm and fuzzy.
I was thinking of the one in the Four Story Mistake, by Elizabeth Enright. The dad tells the kids that he’s pretty much broke and they won’t have much for Christmas. So the kids get busy and make presents for each other, or save pocket money to buy special things. And between that and presents from friends, they wind up having a great Christmas. But it was because they had given so much that it was so good.
Another favorite is the Christmas in the fourth Mitford book, Out to Caanan, by Jan Karon. Christmas is always good in the Mitford books, but that one is special, because that’s when the hardened construction foreman, whom the hero had butted heads with the entire book, has his huge change of heart. It’s wonderful.
In the first Harry Potter book, Christmas is especially nice because Harry doesn’t expect to get anything. And not only do his friends give him presents, but a mysterious benefactor gifts him his dead father’s invisibility cloak. Of all the Harry Potter Christmases, that one is the nicest, because the mystery is so pleasant.

(Although I do like the one in book 3, when he gets the new broomstick.)
What book Christmas is your favorite? Have you read any of the ones I mentioned?

More thankfulness (Christmas blog hop)

It’s two weeks until Christmas. Cue the screaming and panic.

I haven’t done any Christmas shopping at all. Mostly, all I’ve done is take care of a baby, and keep my head above water when it comes to school and housework. A night when I get enough sleep is a big deal. Christmas presents? I’ll get there. 

Especially since my kids want gift cards and kazoos for Christmas. Not kidding.

Me, I’m content to just be not pregnant. I’m not sick or in pain the way I was since March. I’m getting strong again, and babies are fun. That’s all the Christmas present I need. Heck, I can play video games with my husband again, instead of being in too much pain to even sit in a chair.

Let me tell you, I’m excited to head into a new year of not being pregnant. Whatever adventures transpire, at least I won’t be a bloated whale. So thankful for good health!

I do have a writing blog post brewing in my head. Not very Christmasy, so I’ll try to save it until New Years. Blogging every day is hard, but it also gets that brain working. I keep realizing that I do have things to blog about. 🙂 

Thankful for a battery (Christmas blog hop) 

 I know we just had Thanksgiving, but Christmas is a great time to be thankful, too. And right now, I’m thankful for a car battery.
I was due to have a baby on November 3rd. My parents watched the other kids as the clock counted down. My husband and I did last minute errands, ferried kids back and forth, and grabbed last-minute dates. 
I went into labor in the early morning on the 4th. We want to the hospital that afternoon, and I had the baby that evening. My hubby went home for the night, and came and got me when they released me and the baby from the hospital. The car acted just fine through all this.
Two days passed, and it was time to take the baby for his first checkup. We get in the car, and it won’t start. The starter just makes that buzzing sound when the battery is dead.
Fortunately, my parents had come over to watch the kids, and were able to whisk us to the appointment. Then my dad and hubby jumped the car and took it down to get a new battery.
It wound up being a non-issue. But imagine what might have happened if that battery had died when I needed to go to the hospital. Or if it had died in the hospital parking lot. Or any of the times we took the kids to where my parents were staying.
It could have died at all kinds of really rotten times. But it held on until the kerfuffle was past, and the best possible circumstances were in place.
If that’s not the hand of God at work, I don’t know what is.
So that’s why I’m thankful for a car battery.