Dec 18, 2014

Earth - Chapter Fifty-three

This serial is presented in draft form and will be updated each Thursday. Your comments are always welcome!

Ch 1 ~ Ch 2 ~ Ch 3 ~ Ch 4 ~ Ch 5 ~ Ch 6 ~ Ch 7 ~ Ch 8 ~ Ch 9 ~ Ch 10 ~ Ch 11 ~ Ch 12 ~ Ch 13 ~
Ch 14 ~ Ch 15 ~ Ch 16 ~ Ch 17 ~ Ch 18 ~ Ch 19 ~ Ch 20 ~ Ch 21 ~ Ch 22 ~ Ch 23 ~ Ch 24 ~
Ch 25 ~ Ch 26 ~ Ch 27 ~ Ch 28 ~ Ch29 ~ Ch 30 ~ Ch 31 ~ Ch 32 ~ Ch 33 ~ Ch 34 ~ Ch 35 ~
Ch 36 ~ Ch 37 ~ Ch 38 ~ Ch 39 ~ Ch 40 ~ Ch 41 ~ Ch 42 ~ Ch 43 ~ Ch 44 ~ Ch 45 ~ Ch 46 ~
Ch 47 ~ Ch 48 ~ Ch 49 ~ Ch 50 ~ Ch 51 ~ Ch 52

Zephryn stopped pacing and turned to face the door as he heard the lock disengage. A man dressed in a grey, non-descript uniform filled the doorway.

"Get back," he ordered, motioning with his weapon even though Zephryn was already well back from the door. "You're getting some company."

With a shrug, he raised his hands in mock surrender and backed up until his legs hit the cot against the wall behind him. When the man was satisfied he was far enough away from the door, he opened it wider and then thrust someone through, slamming the door shut again. Zephryn caught Chloe as she stumbled against him, turning the catch into a hug.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

She hugged him back. "I'm so sorry," she said, face buried in his chest.

"For what?"

"For this." She raised her head to look at him. "For you becoming embroiled in my troubles."

"It's not your fault." He kissed her gently. "We both know who's to blame for this." He drew her down to sit with him on the bed. "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you."

She sighed. "You couldn't have helped. In fact, it might have made things worse. If Gannon--" she broke off what she was going to say.

"What's the matter?"

"I don't want to say the wrong thing in case he's listening. I know he has a camera in here - he can watch what goes on from his office."

"I suspected as much," he told her.

"Is that why you're still here?" She framed the question in such a way that he could answer without giving anything away.

"There's some kind of a current running through the walls of this place," he told her. "It acts as a security field. Gannon may be able to see into this cell, but I doubt very much if he can hear. Still, it doesn't hurt to be careful."

Chloe tried extending her awareness beyond the cell and found herself blocked. She shivered and tried not to panic. "I'm cut off from the earth!"

"It'll be all right." Zephryn put a comforting arm around her. "We'll get through this . . . somehow. I've survived worse."

"I think this is going to get much worse before it gets better." A tear made its way unnoticed down her cheek. "He had me shut down the Lightning Strike mine, and now he's trying to decide what he wants me to do next."

He frowned."What do you mean, shut it down?"

"I created fissures in the rock beneath the mine and caused the tunnels to collapse. The entire mine is just a pile of rubble now. It won't be cost effective to dig it out - it's totally gone."

She sagged against him so she could whisper in his ear, and told him what she did to make sure there was minimal loss of life.

He tightened his hold on her just enough to show his approval, and then asked, "What do you think he has planned next for you?"

"I'm almost afraid to wonder," she said. And then, in case Gannon was listening, she added, "Collapsing the Lightning Strike took so much out of me . . . I don't think I'd be able to do the same thing to one of the larger mines."

"Maybe trying wouldn't be a bad thing," he told her.

She pulled away enough to look askance at him. "How would that be a good thing?"

"If you burn yourself out trying to shut down one of the bigger mines then Gannon won't be able to use you again."

"Do you think that's even possible?" she asked in alarm.

"I don't see why not," he said with a slight shake of his head.

She realized he was speaking for Gannon's benefit and relaxed a bit. "It might be a good thing at that," she said, playing along. "Although I would hate to lose my abilities over such pettiness."

"Did Gannon at least let you speak with your mother?"

"He showed her to me, although I could not speak with her." Despite her best efforts to hold them back, her eyes filled with tears. "She's in the cell next to ours . . . he has her in some kind of glass coffin with wires going into it."

Zephryn put both arms around her and held her. "It sounds like a life pod," he told her. "That's a good thing. It means she'll be safe until you've done whatever it is he wants you to do."

"She looked like she was already dead."

"No," he reassured her. "Not dead. Her bodily functions have been suspended until she's released from the pod. If it's a medical pod it might even be helping her."

Chloe didn't respond, but her tears stopped.

Zephryn eased her down onto the cot. "You've had a long day, " he told her. "You need to rest."

"I don't know if I can. I don't think I'll rest again until this nightmare is over."

He lay down beside her. By moving onto their sides and spooning together, they could both just fit on the cot.

"You're exhausted. You're body knows it, even if your head doesn't."

"Maybe just a short rest," she murmured, eyes closed.

Zephryn held her close, smiling faintly at how quickly her breathing evened out as she fell asleep. While he hadn't exactly lied to her about being in a situation worse than this, he doubted he could compare what they were going through now with his escape from the compound.

For one thing, he wasn't the only one who escaped the compound, and it wasn't exactly an escape. He'd been part of the group Dr. Arjun had chosen to save, so he wasn't alone as they moved through the erupting volcano. And by the time they'd reached the other side, help had been waiting.

In this situation they were alone. The energy field that prevented him from using his wind outside of the room also prevented him from contacting Da'nat. Was the Illezie even aware of what was going on? Martin had his own problems dealing with Gannon, and Granny was pretty much a wild card.

But they had two things going for them. Gannon didn't know just how powerful Chloe was, and had no idea Zephryn was an Elemental too. There had to be some way of working this to their advantage.

Dec 17, 2014

Of Christmas Superstitions . . .

I don't know about you, but I tend to be superstitious about a lot of things, so it seemed only natural to look up some popular Christmas superstitions to share with you. :-D

Singing Christmas carols at any time other than during the festive season is unlucky.

Failing to decorate a Christmas Tree will cause spring to never come – instead you’ll have bad luck and evil spirits.

A dog that howls on Christmas Eve will go mad.

If an apple is eaten at midnight on Christmas Eve, good health will follow for a year.

The gender of the first visitor to the house on Christmas Eve was said to foretell the sex of the child of the pregnant women in the household.

The gates of Heaven open at midnight on Christmas Eve. Those who die then go straight to Heaven (an Irish belief).

Christmas candles should be left burning until Christmas morning and should rest undisturbed from time of lighting until they are snuffed.

Never give shoes for Christmas gifts. Giving a new pair of shoes as Christmas gifts would make your friends walk away from you.

Snow on Christmas means Easter will be green.

On Christmas morning the first person down the stairs must quickly open the front door and sweep trouble out the door.

The child born on Christmas Day will have a special fortune.

After the Christmas dinner, a popular parlor game was to float walnut shells as boats with small burning candles in them in a bowl of water. The owners whose boat crossed across the bowl safely were said to be endowed with prosperity for the coming year while bad luck awaited those whose boats sunk in the bowl.

Everyone was given an apple after dinner, which was then cut in half lengthwise. If the core was star-shaped, the company was sure of meeting again safely next year. If anybody's core was in a different shape, their death was predicted within twelve months' time. The appearance of four-point cross was a particularly bad omen.

The Yule log should be lit by a piece of the log used on the previous Christmas. Once that is done, no evil spirit can then enter into the house. Yule Logs should never be bought. Once lit, it must burn all through the Twelve days of Christmas otherwise bad luck will visit the household. Any difficulty in lighting the Yule log was taken as a bad omen for the year ahead. Yule logs were burnt on the Christmas fire and many people kept a piece on the log from the previous year as a lucky talisman.

Small amounts of lead were melted over the Yule log then poured into a container of water. The resulting shape was then used to predict future about the pourer.

Christmas evergreens represent endurance while the berries represent resurrection of life. Since the 15th century, holly and ivy were essential part of Christmas decorations for church. If the holly used for Christmas decorations is smooth the wife will be master. If the holly used for Christmas decorations is prickly the husband is the master. Prudent couples use both kinds of hollies on Christmas to assure balanced and harmonious home.

Mistletoe, also known as Celtic-All-Heal was popular by the 19th century. Since the times of druids, it was associated with fertility and kissing. Luck favors those who kiss under the mistletoe but turn against those who avoid it. It is bad luck to take Christmas mistletoe down and it should only be replaced on the following Christmas. Burning old mistletoe was said to predict marriage prospects of an unmarried girl. Steady flames ensured happy marital life while the spluttering flames predicted bad tempered and cross husbands.

Whatever you dream on any of the 12 nights between Christmas and Epiphany (Jan. 6) will come to pass within the next year.

The weather on each of the twelve days of Christmas signifies what the weather will be on the appropriate month of the coming year as the weather is on each of these days, so will it be on the corresponding month of the following year. If you really want to know the rainfall for the next year, you can hollow out 12 onions, putting salt into each. Each onion is named after a month of the year, and there will be rain in every month where the salt in that onion is wet. And if Christmas Day falls on a Thursday, the following year will be windy.

A Christmas tree should never be thrown out doors or it will attract evil spirits and goblins. Christmas trees should be burned, but save a section to be used as next year’s Yule log.

Dec 15, 2014

Monomorphic Monday

monomorphic ~ having only one form

I swear we're trying to break the record for most grey days in a month. Sunny days are few and far between, and it never lasts the whole day. Ho ho ho, bah humbug!

As I said last week, it's really hard to get into the Christmas spirit without snow. It struggled over an entire day to give us about two inches of snow last week, but it's gone already. It turned mild and melted the snow away over the weekend, and the forecast for the next couple of days is not only more grey, but rain on top of that.

However, our tree is up - all three feet of it, although I haven't decorated it yet. One strand of lights ought to do it. But I like Christmas lights, so I'm seriously thinking about draping the bookcases in the living room with the other strands. :-)

And we pretty much took care of the Christmas shopping over the weekend. None of this a gift here and a gift there for us, we usually get it done in one fell swoop. Only a couple of presents left to take care of - two big ones and one or two little ones. And when I grocery shopped I also picked up the stuff I need to start my Christmas baking. Now I just have to find the energy to actually do it. LOL

I went on a lot of coffee dates last week - three of them in fact. 'Tis the season to be merry and all that. ;-)

And I had a friend crochet me a couple of hats to give as gifts, and decided they needed scarves to go with them so I started them on the weekend. And of course I waited until I had the first one over half done before deciding it was too wide. Yes, that meant I ripped the whole thing out and started over again, 'cause that's the way I am. But it crochets up quickly and I'm past the halfway mark again.

I've never crocheted a scarf before so it's kind of interesting. It's also tempting to try knitting the other one to figure out which method is faster - knitting or crocheting. It's probably six of one and half a dozen of the other, but I want them to match the hats and the hats are crocheted, so . . .

Considering how sociable I was last week, I managed to get a fair amount of writing done. Let's hope I can keep up the good work this week. I also need to remember to post an update on my writing journal blog - I did so well during NaNo and now that it's over . . . nothing.

This week the focus will be on the Christmas baking. I had the brilliant idea of resurrecting my old tradition of giving cookie baskets this year. If I get the cookies all made this week, I can post a picture next week.

Once I get some new batteries for my camera. ;-)

Dec 11, 2014

Earth - Chapter Fifty-two

This serial is presented in draft form and will be updated each Thursday. Your comments are always welcome!

Ch 1 ~ Ch 2 ~ Ch 3 ~ Ch 4 ~ Ch 5 ~ Ch 6 ~ Ch 7 ~ Ch 8 ~ Ch 9 ~ Ch 10 ~ Ch 11 ~ Ch 12 ~ Ch 13 ~
Ch 14 ~ Ch 15 ~ Ch 16 ~ Ch 17 ~ Ch 18 ~ Ch 19 ~ Ch 20 ~ Ch 21 ~ Ch 22 ~ Ch 23 ~ Ch 24 ~
Ch 25 ~ Ch 26 ~ Ch 27 ~ Ch 28 ~ Ch29 ~ Ch 30 ~ Ch 31 ~ Ch 32 ~ Ch 33 ~ Ch 34 ~ Ch 35 ~
Ch 36 ~ Ch 37 ~ Ch 38 ~ Ch 39 ~ Ch 40 ~ Ch 41 ~ Ch 42 ~ Ch 43 ~ Ch 44 ~ Ch 45 ~ Ch 46 ~
Ch 47 ~ Ch 48 ~ Ch 49 ~ Ch 50 ~ Ch 51

"How much longer are we supposed to wait here?" Zephryn demanded. He needed to be with Chloe. This waiting around was driving him crazy. As much as he didn't want to hurt Martin, he knew the man was something of a father-figure to Chloe, he didn't think he was going to be able to stay underground much longer.

"Granny said she'd come for us when it was safe," Martin told him, his voice betraying his exasperation. This was not the first time Zephryn had asked that.

"Granny!" he spat out. Spinning on his heel, he began pacing back and forth, as he had been for the last hour. He had a thing or two he wanted to say to that old woman, once he got his hands on her. There was a lot more to her than met the eye.

Fists clenched, he turned and paced back again.

Martin watched him for a few more minutes and then suddenly asked, "You're claustrophobic, aren't you?"

"Slightly," he admitted, not stopping his pacing.

"No wonder you're so antsy. Here," he held out a flask. "Take a swig of this, it might help."

Zephryn's steps faltered. He stopped beside Martin and opened his mouth to refuse, then shrugged and accepted the flask. Taking a large gulp, he handed the flask back and started coughing, eyes tearing up.

"What was in that?" he asked, voice raspy.

Martin grinned. "Just a little something me and the boys cook up in one of the storage sheds." He took a drink himself. "This is one of the smoothest batches yet." He held the flask out to Zephryn again.

Zephryn hesitated only a moment before helping himself to another drink. It went down a little easier this time, probably because his taste buds had been burned away by the first drink. Shaking his head, he said, "I'm pretty sure that's the same stuff used to fuel my ship."

Martin just chuckled.

"I can't stay here much longer," Zephryn admitted.

"Well that's a good thing, 'cause you're coming with us," a new voice said.

They turned to see three men holding laser rifles pointed in their direction. Zephryn hesitated using his wind - despite everything, he didn't want Martin hurt. He was unfamiliar with weapons and was uncertain how his wind would affect them. That slight hesitation was all they needed. The leader of the trio nodded his head and the man on the far right brought up a smaller weapon and fired at Zephryn.

A cold breeze swept through the cave and then dissipated as Zephryn sank to the floor, unconscious.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Chloe did not have to feign her headache as they sped back to Righteous Angels territory. Kefton kept shooting her nervous glances. She would have liked to have put him at his ease, but nothing she could say would have helped. At this point her best option was keeping quiet.

Fortunately, Ulrik kept silent as well. She was doubly grateful for this. There was no telling what might have happened if she'd had to deal with him. She'd been staring out the window of the hover car and suddenly straightened up in her seat.

"This isn't the way to my house," she said.

"Gannon's not done with you yet," Ulrik taunted.

Chloe refused to rise to the bait. Clenching her teeth, she stayed silent.

When they reached the mine office Ulrik reached as though he was about to take her by the arm. Chloe leveled a stare at him and the ground beneath his feet trembled ever so slightly. She had the satisfaction of seeing a flash of fear in his eyes before something ugly replaced it.

Gannon was sitting at a bank of monitors when they reached his office. "Well done, Chloe," he said, turning to greet them. "An excellent job."

"I did what you wanted, stolen the livelihood from all those innocent people. Now let my mother go."

"Oh, I think not. As I said before, this was just a test. Your true task will be waiting for you tomorrow. And I've even found some added incentive for you to co-operate." He motioned to one of the monitors.

Chloe stepped closer. It was without surprise she saw Zephryn, pacing back and forth in a cell like room.

Dec 10, 2014

Of The Twelve Days of Christmas . . .

I'm pretty sure you all have at least a passing acquaintance with the Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, but in case you don't . . . (the video's not the best, but the sound is great!)

Many people mistakenly believe that the 12 days of Christmas take place before Christmas, but they're actually the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany (January 6). Epiphany is traditionally celebrated as the day the three magi presented their gifts to the baby Jesus.

Day 1 (December 25) is Christmas Day when we celebrate the birth of Christ by feasting and the giving of gifts.

Day 2 (December 26) is Saint Stephen's Day, the feast day mentioned in one of my favourite Christmas Carols, Good King Wenceslas. Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyr.

Day 3 (December 27) is the feast day for Saint John the Apostle. He was the only one of Christ's apostles who did not forsake Him.

Day 4 (December 28) is The Feast of the Holy Innocents, the day which is used to remember all the infant boys killed by King Herod.

Day 5 (December 29) is Saint Thomas Becket's feast day. He was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century, murdered on this day for challenging the King’s authority over the Church.

Day 6 (December 30) is the feast day commemorating the death of Saint Egwin of Worcester, who founded the Abbey of Eversham.

Day 7 (December 31) is New Year's Eve, also known as Hogmanay. The life of Pope Sylvester I is traditionally celebrated on this day.

Day 8 (January 1) is the feast day for Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Day 9 (January 2) is the feast day for both Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory Nazianzen.

Day 10 (January 3) is Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, which celebrates the naming of the baby Jesus, and his circumcision - a memoriam of the first shedding of Christ's blood.

Day 11 (January 4) is the feast day for the first American saint, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, foundress of the American Sisters of Charity, which was the first sisterhood native to the United States.

Day 12 (January 5) is the feast day for Saint John Neumann, who was the first Bishop in America.

And there you have it. The real twelve days of Christmas.

And for those of you who are superstitious, it's considered bad luck to leave your Christmas decorations up after Epiphany, so make sure you take them down on January 6.

For more Christmas superstitions, join me here next week. :-)

Dec 8, 2014

Minargent Monday

minargent ~ alloy of copper, silver and aluminum

Got snow? Want to send a little my way?

It's really hard to get into the Christmas spirit without snow. Aside from that little spat of snow we got a couple of weeks ago, that lasted all of a day, we've got nothing. Of course even if we had snow it probably wouldn't last very long. Lately our weather pattern is a couple of cold days followed by a couple of really warm days. Which, of course, means everyone's coming down with colds.

So the big question is, are we going to get a white Christmas this year? The snow we got in November implied yes, but we've had nothing since and though cold, the weather hasn't exactly been cold enough for snow. Only 17 days left Mother Nature. Hop to it!

Yes, that's what I said, 17 (seventeen) days left until Christmas. Am I ready? Not even remotely.

The hubby got the outdoor lights up over the weekend and I've bought a couple of presents. And . . . that's it. Just a couple so far. And I'm left wondering about all those projects I was going to start in the summer time to have done for Christmas? *sigh*

And the Christmas tree is another problem altogether. The spot we usually put our tree is currently taken up by the hubby's recliner. We had to switch chairs for him in the summer time when he had to have his hip replaced.

However, our tree is actually in two parts and I'm thinking we could just use the top part and put it on the table that divides the living and dining rooms. It would mean moving the hanging that, well, hangs over the table, but that shouldn't present a problem. And I'm sure the plant would appreciate the break from the cats gnawing on it.

If it works - great. If it doesn't then it's no big deal. We'll either put the tree in the dining room or just do without one. It's just the two of us anyway, and it'll save us the trouble of having to constantly yell at the cats, who like to chew on it as well. Yes, they like to eat our artificial tree. Nobody ever said they were smart. ;-)

So, as you can imagine, this week will be devoted to getting ready for Christmas.

And writing. Lots and lots of writing. ;-)

Dec 5, 2014

What I'm Reading

Once upon a time, on a different blog, I did a weekly book review post. I never really thought of myself as a book reviewer, I just pointed out the things I liked about the books I'd read. And yeah, I'd usually find something nice to say about the book. If I took the time to read it, then there was probably a reason why, even if it meant looking beyond the poor writing or formatting. And the best part was, I had people wanting to send me free books to read and review, although I'd only accept them if I was actually going to read them.

This is not a book review post, this is just me sharing what I've been reading lately, and in some cases how long it's been taking me. But I'm still getting people offering me free books, and some of these books look pretty darn interesting. Maybe in the new year I'll do a proper book review post once a month. :-)

Anyway, NaNo's over now and I'm finding more time to read. Actually, I found some time to read during NaNo. You know, when I needed to procrastinate. ;-)

Electronic Books

You know, I checked George a couple of times just to make sure he was holding his charge or I didn't accidentally turn him on and run his battery down, but I didn't actually turn him on during the month of November. Poor neglected George.

That's not to say I didn't download any e-books during the month, I just didn't read any.

Tree Books

While I'm pretty sure I read a new tree book, I can't for the life of me remember what it was. It was one of those buy it and read it in the same day deals, and I didn't leave it out to remind me to list it. See, this is where keeping up-to-date with Goodreads would come in handy. I promise I'll do better with it next year. :-D


Oh . . . we're seeing a lot of action in this category. :-D

I finished Sisters in Fantasy, edited by Susan Shwartz and Martin H. Greenberg. It's an anthology I started way back when. There were too many long stories at the beginning, which made me think twice about picking it up a couple of times, but they were all really strong stories by women fantasy writers.

I had a couple of days where I really went to town reading Hunting the Corrigan's Blood by Holly Lisle. I really like this book - scif fi at its best, and even though the odds are against the two main characters, I'm really rooting for them. This isn't a romance novel, however, and I don't believe it's part of a series, so there's no guarantee how it's going to turn out.

I also started to re-read both The Best of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine Volume 1 and Volume 2. The title is pretty self explanatory. Marion published her own fantasy magazine from 1988 through 2000, and these two collections of the best of that magazine.

On a whim I pulled a couple of books off my shelf by a friend of mine who writes under the name of Annie Ottilie. These were The Lion in the Desert, her first book, and Further Than Beyond which was about her eighth book. There are no links to them because she prints up the books herself and sells them once a month at the local farmer's market.

They were quick reads, and if I'm perfectly honest, not very well done. She's a hobby writer, which means she has no interest in learning new things or improving her writing. Her books, novelettes really, have a niche market with the local seniors who get as big a kick out of being able to say they know a real writer as they do the books themselves, and the tourists that pass through our fine town looking for something to pass the time on the beach without straying too far from the waterfront.

As both a writer and an editor it's sometimes hard to keep my mouth shut when I know with just a little work she could have a book worth reading. But as my daughter would say, it's not my circus and it's not my monkeys. ;-)

So . . . what about you? What have you been reading lately?