Red Panda Dragon Christmas

Carrot kitchenHad a really nice Christmas with my family, hosted at my younger daughter’s. Much enjoyment was had by all…well, maybe not her two cats, Carrot and Orly, who took a lonnggggg time to warm up to the new people under their roof. Never mind they’ve seen us all before! They used to live with me and I fed them twice a day but alas, cat memories are short (in this case anyway). This is Carrot, in his kitchen lair, supervising my son-in-law while he cooked dinner for all of us.

012If what I received had a theme, overall it would be dragons mostly. Anyone who receives a handmade red panda dragon from 010Russia must be said to have had a fabulous Christmas, yes? I LOVE him! (Thank you, DD2!) Although at times I was totally distracted by the box he came in,  dredging up the two years of Russian I had in long-ago college, amusing myself by trying to translate the postal warnings.

And here are my new iridescent dangly 003purple dragon earrings!

I also got a terrific Mulan T shirt with dragons, and a charming Mushu and Cricket. I decided they were going to live with my collection of Lena Liu princesses….

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My grandson used to give me crocodile-themed gifts, due to my attachment to Sobek the Crocodile God in my novels, but now he seems to have shifted to cardinals. Last year it was a pillow and this year it was these singing birds. They remind me of “It’s A Small World”!

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I also received some new plants for my balcony from B, my son-in-law, shown here with one of my collection of ancient Egyptian statues.King Tut’s not new but I like to show off my knickknacks when I can.008

Speaking of which, I invariably buy something for myself while Christmas shopping for everyone, and this year was no exception. I have a THING for Roman centurions, so I couldn’t resist this guy shown at the end of the post. He now lives on my writing desk, along with a Pharaoh and an ancient Egyptian dancer.

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year!

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Where Am I? Weekend Writing Warriors

Warriors logo revisedI hope your holiday season has been full of good times, family, peaceful moments and happiness! Best wishes for a very Happy New Year ahead!

Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…a fun way to sample new books and find new authors! (Also welcome to the Sunday Snippet visitors!)

Continuing with science fiction romance today. Here’s an excerpt from Lady of the Star Wind,  an epic portal fantasy, which is undergoing a final edit and will be released after Star Cruise: Outbreak sometime early next year.

Sandy and Mark have been transported to an unknown world after breaking the Globe of Amarkana (you may remember those excerpts earlier in the year?). They found themselves in an oasis-like area with no exit. This snippet is from  quite a bit further in the novel, after Mark and Sandy have left the mysterious mountain oasis (which wasn’t a zoo after all), in the company of some new friends… Sandy is bitten by a snake, went into the green light with a woman unknown to her and now is sitting in a room she’s never seen before:

Voices came from the hallway, and Sandy decided her best course of action was to seek out the other people. Before she could leave the chair’s deeply cushioned embrace, however, four women entered the room as if dancing, so light and graceful were their movements. Arguing amongst themselves in a language Sandy didn’t comprehend, the newcomers talked over each other.

“Excuse me,” Sandy said in Outlier, cutting through the chatter as she rose. “Where am I? Where’s Mark?”

The quartet swung to face her, and Sandy was struck by the likeness each had to the others, clearly sisters, although the eye and hair colors differed. The tallest stepped forward and answered her in the unknown tongue.

Sandy shook her head. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

I’ll keep going with this scene for a few more weeks and then we can go back to excerpts from Star Cruise: Outbreak, which is my current WIP.

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Dogs of the Christmas Village

010Since I did a post last week with our cat ornaments and holiday figurines, I figured I should give the dogs equal time this week. We’re pretty much a cat family – nothing against dogs! We just never adopted any. I only had two dogs as a child – Teddy, who loved to chase cars, so we won’t say any more about him – and Sara, who was wonderful but when we moved from upstate NY to Alabama we had to leave her behind. We gave her to the son of one of our neighbors (I had a HUGE crush on him!) and from the photos and letters over the years, she was wildly happy herding cows and living the country life. She looked a lot like the dog in the figurine above.

The only other significant dogs in my life were my maternal grandmother’s Boston terriers, all named Christopher, who I just really never cared for, and my grandfather’s rescue dog Spooky, who I loved with a wild passion. If all dogs were like Spooky, I’d have had a pack! My best friend nowadays has two Wheaten Terriers and I do adore them.

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OK, so I enjoy this Dept 56 figure from our Christmas village, of the boy walking a few popular breeds of dog.

008A lot of the figures in our village are “found” objects from when I used to go thrifting all the time. We were big eBay sellers for a few years. I think this chipped guy is the RCA dog, but I’m not positive.

And we have some Hallmark Merry Miniatures….012

And our Nativity scene is primarily the Fontanini 5″ scale figures. We have two dogs for that, who accompany the sheepherders. (Only showing you one dog since they’re identical.) I always wish the figurines were painted more lifelike colors  but such is life.

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017This Dalmatian may not be the official Disney version but we loved her long red scarf…we did have “101 Dalmatians” on repeat viewing for years in this house. And “Homeward Bound”….

And last but not least, this Snoopy as Robin Hood has several threads to his tale. I loved Robin Hood as a kid…and who doesn’t love Snoopy? But actually this ornament was a gift from me to my Dad in the 1970’s because he taught me to shoot archery.He and my Mom met as summer camp counselors in the 1950’s. He was the chief archery instructor. Over the  course of the summer, my Mom got jilted by her boyfriend and Dad was right there to 016offer his strong shoulder for her to cry on. One thing led to another and…So romantic. Like a romance novel! When I got married, my Mom returned this ornament to me for our tree.

Happy holidays to everyone!

 

 

 

 

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We Missed You Weekend Writing Warriors

Warriors logo revised

Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…a fun way to sample new books and find new authors! (Also welcome to the Sunday Snippet visitors!)

Switching back to science fiction romance today. Here’s an excerpt from Lady of the Star Wind,  an epic portal fantasy, which is undergoing a final edit and will be released after Star Cruise: Outbreak sometime early next year.

Sandy and Mark have been transported to an unknown world after breaking the Globe of Amarkana (you may remember those excerpts earlier in the year?). They found themselves in an oasis-like area with no exit. This snippet is from  quite a bit further in the novel, after Mark and Sandy have left the mysterious mountain oasis (which wasn’t a zoo after all), in the company of some new friends… Sandy is bitten by a snake and finds herself going into the green light with a woman unknown to her:

The woman reached to take her hand, easily lifting Sandy into the air and drawing her inexorably deeper into whatever corridor the light provided.

“No, wait, I have to stay with Mark,” she said, frightened now, trying to retreat, tugging at the woman’s hand, struggling to remain in the temple. “I can’t leave him.”

“He’ll be fine. Come abide with us for now—we’ve missed you.” The woman touched the center of Sandy’s forehead, and she knew no more.

When she woke, she reclined in a comfortable, white, cushioned chair, feet propped on a footstool carved in the shape of an intricate flower, a brightly hued, tufted cushion as the bloom. A bewildering variety of beverages in cups and goblets rested on a wooden table at her side. As she pulled herself from a slumped position, she realized she’d donned, or been dressed in, flowing robes of pure white dotted with tiny iridescent stars. 

The brightly illuminated room was empty…

So this mysterious lady thinks she knows Sandy but everyone is in for a big surprise in this Chapter…No cover and no blurb as yet….

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12 Christmas Cats for Caturday

002Continuing on with my holiday theme, I’ve pulled twelve (or thereabouts) of my cat-themed Christmas decorations to share with you today, for the holidays. This is a music box we’ve had forever….

And here’s a cat my daughters painted for me 004back when the “paint it yourself” pottery stores were everywhere.

How about something from Disney, like a Cheshire Cat Mouse Hat ornament?

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Or a Lenox cat in a basket?

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012This felt marmalade cat decorated my day job office door and was meant to be Jake (although he’d tell you the real cat is much cuter)…

And then we have an adorable angel figurine carrying two white kittens – who could resist? Or instead of a bell for the cat, we have a bell with cats.

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There’s an entire set of different Lenox carousel animals 009and here we have the cat…
My late husband loved to ski, so on one of the last Christmases we all were together, he was given this Garfield, fiercely leaning over his tips.006

And of course the merry collection of Fancy Feast ornaments we gathered over the years. We don’t have all of  them by any means!019

And just a couple more felines to round out the dozen…

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This is what happens when I have time to unpack all my boxes of ornaments and decorations, apparently – I put them up on blog posts too! Happy Holidays!

RESTOREE A Fond Look Back

004I’m not by any means a book reviewer – I like what I like, and I don’t dissect the components too much. Conversely, if I don’t like a book, it becomes a Did Not Finish and I won’t waste time talking about it either. But for a while now I’ve been wanting to pay affectionate tribute to Anne McCaffrey’s Restoree, which was probably the first true science fiction romance  I ever read.

And reread. And read again. I’ve worn out three paperback copies, although I kept my original (seen to the left) for sentimental reasons. It lives on my kindle too. This is one of my favorite books of all time, people.

Andre Norton was actually my favorite science fiction author and she occasionally had hints of glimpses of glimmers of romance (squint hard) but when I found Restoree I was enchanted to have the SF and the R in one place, with no need for me to privately expand the story in my head.

I think the competent heroine Sara is every ordinary Earth girl who gets abducted by aliens, makes her way admirably through the complicated alien society, finds true love and a lofty place for herself at the center of the new civilization. (The sex was much tamer in that era though!). I LOVED that she was a librarian. I was enchanted at her modesty, not just assuming the Warlord Harlan would ever really fall in love with her. (Spoiler Alert: he does.) She has a great sense of humor too.  At that age, I liked to test myself against SF heroines – could I manage to do the things they did? With Sara, I felt I could probably manage it.

I really liked the character of Harlan, and the worldbuilding of the planet Lothar, although I remember being a bit annoyed at all the politics.

I didn’t exactly understand all the “restoree” stuff when I was younger, although I get it now. I didn’t let it distract me from the story when I was a kid.

I was ALWAYS – and still – frustrated that there was never a sequel. I didn’t appreciate that Harlan disappears offstage at the end of the book, leaving the final pages covering Sara’s fight more or less alone against  Monsorlit, the is-he-evil-or-not physician. (I never really was satisfied with how things turned out re Monsorlit. HE got off too lightly IMHO.)

Nowadays of course, there’d be a sequel for each of the brothers, Jokan and Jessl. There’d be a sequel for Ferrell. There might even be a sequel for one of Sara’s brothers, come to Lothar to check on her maybe, and falling in love with a Searcher of his own. Although as her brothers were described in the early going, not sure they could be made sympathetic enough. Perhaps she had a Navy SEAL cousin who could volunteer to go to Lothar to fight the Mil and check up on her…..

But it’s pretty much a little jewel of an SFR story as it is and one I’ll always have deep affection for.

Yes, I went on to become a total addict to Ms. McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern and other series, but nothing will ever take the place of Sara and Harlan in my bookloving heart.

(I never liked this cover but here it is anyway…)002

 

 

Wednesday Whimsy Ornaments and Villages

015Since quitting the day job and becoming a fulltime writer, which happened earlier this year, I’m actually having a bit of time where I can go through boxes  in storage. I invested about three days total to going through all the Christmas decorations, some of which hadn’t been looked at since 2007, according to the dates on the boxes. I really enjoyed seeing all the sparklies again and setting out the Nativity scene and our family’s version of a Christmas village. So I thought for today’s Whimsy post, I’d share some of what I found. (I’ll probably do the Nativity next week…)

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I always envied people who had those big, elaborate Christmas village scenes. The Dept 56 company makes the most wonderful, detailed high end buildings and vignettes and accessories you could EVER want. Well, I couldn’t afford those so I decided early on that our village would be composed of whatever we found that we liked. So I have a few key pieces of Dept 56, like this Regency mail coach, and I have a lot of figures and accessories from everywhere!

003The Royal Doulton company does a series called Bunnykins, and we have the Santa and the kid bunnykins on a sled, going over a Dept 56 bridge.

We also have a few Disney visitors to the Village….007

And some of Hallmark’s Merrie Miniatures,as well as their Cat Ladies:

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My best friend brought this charming little Swiss chalet back from a trip to Europe in the 1960’s, and the little couple beside it were my Grandmother’s salt and pepper shakers.

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Not sure where I acquired this little mini village of colorful straw houses:

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And I went through a big phase of loving all things Lenox (kinda still do, actually), so I was charmed by these two ornaments. Imagine having an entire dollhouse furnished with Lenox!

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I also like big, colorful, glittery and flowery ornaments on the tree:

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But I’ll leave you with my shy little patchwork deer from the 1970’s (I think that’s her time frame):

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Into the Green Light Weekend Writing Warriors

(If you’re here for the SFRB Showcase, it can be found at this link.)

Warriors logo revisedHere’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…a fun way to sample new books and find new authors! (Also welcome to the Sunday Snippet visitors!)

Switching back to science fiction romance today. Here’s an excerpt from Lady of the Star Wind,  an epic portal fantasy, which is undergoing a final edit and will be released after Star Cruise: Outbreak sometime early next year.

Sandy and Mark have been transported to an unknown world after breaking the Globe of Amarkana (you may remember those excerpts earlier in the year?). They found themselves in an oasis-like area with no exit. This snippet is from  quite a bit further in the novel, after Mark and Sandy have left the mysterious mountain oasis (which wasn’t a zoo after all), in the company of some new friends… Sandy is bitten by a snake:

The pain from the snakebite was intense, like she imagined being shot with a blaster might feel. Sandy heard herself screaming, understood Mark was trying to hold her, but gradually the world grayed in her vision. She felt more and more distant. The sensation was as if she stood off to the side, watching someone else slump to the floor, hitting her head on the base of a column. No anxiety, no medical urgency occurred to Sandy as she watched bright red blood pool around her  own unmoving form. Someone needs to take care of the bleeding.

A compulsion pulled at her, drawing her away from where her body lay. She half turned to see a bright green light over the altar where she and Tia had placed food and drink. Curious, Sandy abandoned Mark and the spot where her body lay bleeding, and walked through the ancient temple. As she got closer to the intricately carved altar, she realized a woman stood in the center of the light, beckoning to her. 

No cover, no blurb as yet…all in good time!

Hubble-Cosmic

 

 

Victorian Fairy Tales for Wednesday Whimsy

032The holiday season all seems magical to me, so I thought I’d share some of my Victorian trade (advertising) cards which feature fairy tales, nursery rhymes or myths! The card above needs no further explanation, I’m sure. Lion Coffee ran quite a series of nursery rhyme cards.

019My favorites are these three from Au Bon Marche, the first modern department store, founded in 1852 in Paris. These cards are from the story of Cinderella, and I wish I had the entire set because they’re quite charming. We have her helping the wicked stepsisters to dress for the ball; the Fairy Godmother’s arrival – and I have to say the 018FG looks like she’s been imbibing a bit too much or something, her expression is a hoot! – and then the Prince finding that the glass slipper fits Cinderella. Typically the cards from this store are lovely…

Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales whose gates are guarded by dragons: we must fight in order to conquer it.   Alexandre Dumas

All the ancient classic fairy tales have always been scary and dark.   Helena Bonham Carter (She was my favorite EVER Fairy Godmother in the recent live action Disney “Cinderella”.)

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In kindergarten that used to be my job, to tell them fairytales. I liked Hans Christian Andersen, and the Grimm fairy tales, all the classic fairy tales.  Francis Ford Coppola

020With ‘Stardust’, I hope what I was doing is giving 30-year-olds and 40-year-olds and 25-year-olds and 60-year-olds a chance to get the same sense of wonder, the same feeling, the same magic, that they got in reading the classic fairy tales as children.   Neil Gaiman

I think that Shakespeare himself raided fairy tales and chronicle writers, and he always looked to people who worked in the mythic genres, whether it was folk tales or popular novels.   Kenneth Branagh

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I also like these charming fairy tale cards featuring children….

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Zoo? Weekend Writing Warriors

(If you’re here for the SFRB Showcase, it can be found at this link.)

Warriors logo revisedHere’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…a fun way to sample new books and find new authors! (Also welcome to the Sunday Snippet visitors!)

Switching back to science fiction romance today. Here’s an excerpt from Lady of the Star Wind,  an epic portal fantasy, which is undergoing a final edit and will be released after Star Cruise: Outbreak sometime early next year.

Sandy and Mark have been transported to an unknown world after breaking the Globe of Amarkana (you may remember those excerpts earlier in the year?). They found themselves in an oasis-like area with no exit. Mark is speaking.

“I think our pocket paradise was built into a plateau. Took master builders to carve all this. Let’s explore the boundaries, shall we?”

After another few moments of walking through a haphazard orchard of various types of fruit trees, they reached the outer wall. A ten-foot wall of stones stacked together with no mortar, yet linked perfectly, formed the barricade, running in both directions as far as he could see. He couldn’t insert so much as a fingernail between the blocks. Troubled, he gave her a look, “The zoo-like aspects of this bother me.”

“Zoo?”

“Perfect human habitat enclosed by a stone wall, male and female specimens trapped inside – the confined surroundings don’t concern you?”

Eyebrows raised, she stared at the wall, “Now that you mention it, yes.”

No cover, no blurb as yet! All in good time…..