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Halloween is that time of year that inspires all manner of things.  A week ago, I put out a cute flag with a pumpkin on it that says "Boo!"  Today, I pulled down the light-up pumpkins, the ghost lights, the cauldron we use to hold candy and a few other things.
As a rule, I have always tried to draw a "Halloween" type picture.  Last year, I broke this tradition for the first time.  My mother was in a nursing home, and I was dealing with the household crisis as well as doing my darndest to get her out of the nursing home and back on the road to health.  Mom wasn't having fun.  I wanted her well.

But last Halloween, it was me alone in the house, handing out candy, watching Dracula, Dead and Loving It (a long time favorite of mine) and watching a terrible storm move in and scare away all the Trick or Treaters.

Suffice to say, I got Mom home just a week before Thanksgiving, and only to have my stepfather go into the hospital a week before Christmas and pass away on New Year's Day.

My doll collection was probably my only real solace during those troubling times.  They surround me in my room.  My mom adores the dolls.  She asked me once, "Do you find comfort in having all those dolls watching you as you sleep."

Oddly enough, the answer is yes.  While I am still in the category of "They are Just Dolls," I won't deny that I talk to them, say their names (more as a memory practice) and redress a few of them for the holidays.

Which leads me back to Halloween and "Creaking Dolls."

Resin dolls creak.  Being held together with elastic, they are subject to heat and cold.  Heat relaxes the elasticity of rubber and cold tightens it.  A fact of life.  Or chemistry.  I took chemistry in HS and know whereof I speak.  While I never had much use for it, understanding chemistry helps.

But Resin dolls creak.  They shift positions from time to time.  That is one aspect that often has doll owners going on about how "alive" their resin dolls are.  The truth is their resin joints do wear and slippage occurs.  One generally suedes (aka, add hot glue in thin layers) the joints to prevent this, but even the sueding will eventually give out, and a doll you sit in one position can easily shift into another.  It does not mean they are alive or possessed.  It is just one of the things one learns as a doll owner.  That and the fact that I thrash enough some nights that dolls closest to me might end up in my bed.  Since I know I kick in my sleep, or throw out my arms (I have awakened with pains and bruising from cracking my knuckles on close by furniture--one of the hazards of sleeping in a twin bed in a tight room), this does not surprise me.  No more than it surprises me when dolls shift positions or creak.

I can live with the creaking.  I live with all manner of noises in my room.  The fan, the music out back (though I get annoyed with that).  The house is old and it rumbles and creaks too, so having dolls make noise is not really that much of an issue.

On the other hand, I also notice most of the creaking happens when I am having a restless night.  My movements on the bed tend to jar the furniture around me, an because the dolls are on those spaces, they get a bit shaken.  And they creak more.

On an amusing note, this seems to fit the nature of Halloween.  I have relations who are creeped out by the dolls.  I don't care.  My more mischievous side has no qualms about putting up "creepy" pictures of my dolls this time of the year.  I actually made a giraffe costume for one of my Makies.  I dressed my newest Goodreau in a Halloween themed fabric.

There is often a temptation to do a selfie of me and one of the creepier dolls, and maybe include props that make it look like the dolls are attacking me.  But there are too many people already upset with dolls and doll owners.  Frankly, I don't give a rat's hind quarters what upsets people who just don't understand the bjd hobby, but I will behave and not do anything TOO creepy for Halloween.

Though I still want to get one of those Target Skeletons and dress it up as Little Red Riding Hood and have my werewolf puppet propped beside "her" gnawing on an arm, just for a silly effect.  Of course, that idea could just be the aftermath of watching the final episode of Halloween Warz last night.  Those skeleton/Zombies were cool.

We will see.  Don't have but six days left.  Time flies.

And I am having too much fun. ;-)

The Writer Writes...Slowly but Surely

As of late, I am in the mood to work on Anwyn stuff.  It started when I was poking around looking at harps on the web.  From there, it escalated into thinking of my own harps, and of course, I own the original Glynnanis harp, so naturally, I think of Anwyn.

And once I think of Anwyn, I start thinking of the stories that lie unfinished, mostly the novel now titled Magic's Song.

This book started out so long ago, I cannot really pinpoint the date.  But suffice to say I was writing Anwyn's story about ten years or more before I sold his first story to Marion Zimmer Bradley's FANTASY Magazine in 1990.  The stories had been circulating around for about five years before that, but the original tale of Anwyn and the harp Glynnanis was born in the days of playing Dungeons & Dragons with my ex-boyfriend and his roomie.

The story itself owes older origins to a series of tales I started back in my teens (yeah, that was a long time ago) and then a series of stories I went on to write in my twenties (also a long time ago--hey, I AM 60, you know).

I was calling the novel Songs of the Magister. I had it in my head that I was going to be very forward thinking in writing about a character who was gay.  What I didn't expect was an in-your-face refusal of publishers to even consider the novel because it was, after all, a coming of age story about a young man learning of his magical heritage and how to harness that power to help a friend in need.  They tended to see it as "this guy is gay--not interested..."

One such story was submitted to Dragon Magazine, and I really took out all the "gay" references in the hopes that they would see the story and look past the character's sexual preference.  Nope.  Got a nasty rejection from the then editor (will not name names) who stated, "We do not consider homosexuality to be a proper subject for our readers."

Seriously?  It did not stop them from going on and using the term "harper mage" to create a character class.  I was calling Anwyn the Harper Mage long before the D&D folk got their mitts on the title.  But that was long ago, and I got over that rejection because a year later, I sold the story to MZB.  Meanwhile, I noticed that Dragon Magazine had an editorial where the chief editor stated that players should not be so hostile towards gay characters.


Oh, well.  I went on to sell quite a few Anwyn stories.  Collected some old ones with some new ones and got them published under the title's Magic Song; Tales of the Harper Mage, and another set under the title of Song of Silver, More Tales of the Harper Mage.  There is even a novella titled The City Under The Bridge available through Wolfsinger (but you better hurry up and get a copy since it will be going out of print soon).

And meanwhile, I am working on the novel that I have been writing for over thirty years.  If not longer.  But this time, I am hoping that the new version will have more appeal.  And maybe one day, I will finally be able to offer it to my readers who are fans of Anwyn.

Until then, I will keep plugging away at the novel.  That is what writers do.

Write, write, write...
I have actually been traveling a bit with my mother.  We took a wonderful trip down to Disney World and had a blast.  Yes, we bought a lot of stuff.  I added several new dolls to my collection including the Precious Moments version of the Brave Triplets (I already had Merida).  I also acquired a Kurhn doll and a Attractionista named Gracey (The Haunted Mansion).

Mom was in hog heaven.  She is already almost done for Christmas NEXT year.  Yep.  She likes to get her shopping done early.

Other than that, I have been trying to get my writer brain back on track.  I have finished one short story and one novella.  I am looking at a long overdue novel that I really needed to finish years ago.

And I still play with dolls.

Lately, I have been looking at harps again.  I don't need one.  I have a perfectly good one.  I have one in the works as well (one I am building--yes, it takes a while because my free time is precious and limited these days).

But I like to look at them, price them, debate what it would be like to own one of them.  Money is the factor.  Harps run thousands.  Yes, you can get cheaply made ones of plywood that buzz like bees and will come apart in a year or two.  But good harps are not cheap.  I see lap harps selling for $1000 to $2000, depending on the maker.  The more well-known the maker, the more the harp will cost.

And then there are the floor harps.  Pedal harps that start at $5000+ and just keep going up.  You want harp heart failure.  Go to the Lyon & Healy website and take a peek at the gilded model.  I could get a small house or a large car for that.

Which is what keeps me from clicking the buy button and putting such beauties in a cart.

I know I spend money like there was no tomorrow at times (which is not to say I do not have a nest egg and plans for my future), but I cannot throw down that kind of money.

So I just satisfy myself with looking and dreaming.  I go home and listen to harp cds before bed (yes, I still play cds).  I stroke Glynnanis' strings, or noodle on the tiny 8-string harp I gave in and purchased a while back for a photo prop.

And then I start rethinking my life as it is, pretend that one day it will be as it should be and get my butt in gear and write.

The Writer Writes...Catching Up Yet Again.

Suffice to say, I have been busy of late.  I have been working on my writing with more enthusiam.  I have been getting a book together to release on my Lulu store page.

And I am in the process of getting some long needed stuff out with my regular publisher.

Add to that, there is preparation for Future Stuff that I cannot speak of now (because Mom worries when I speak of such things).

My mood is improving.  My mother's health is still a work in progress, but her own determination to get better is starting to take charge.

That makes me happy.

So at any rate, I am out here more because I just want to let people know I am still at the game of writing, and I am still getting on course for the release of a novel (though I might wait a bit until Other Things are out of the way).

At least I am making progress.

Progress is good.

Writer brain is kicking in as it should be.  The desire to get cracking on all the stories and books I have neglected is now swinging into a new high.  I love it.  I want to get going on so many things.

There are times I wish I could retire from my day job and give myself more time, but I know perfectly well the day job is necessary at this point.  I do have bills to pay.

And those are the responsibilities that keep me from going full time.  But, if the opportunity ever offered itself, I would not hesitate.  I am 60 years old.  I can take early retirement in three years if I want to give up full retirement at 67 (which means less money in my old age).  I have a pension and SSI (though one cannot count on the latter considering the politicians who will not keep their hands out of that till).

So many things I want to do.  Like drive my mother up to New England along the coast to see the fall colors in Maine.  Like several more trips to Disney World.

Time will tell.

So I keep plugging and hoping that some day all my hard work as a writer really WILL pay off.

It is a dream I have...

The Writer Writes...Writer Thoughts

I am taking some stuff into careful consideration.  I stopped trying to be so commercial, and as a result, I am writing more again.  I am letting writing be my release from family stress (and I will add that family stress is going away for the most part, so that is a Good Thing).  I am writing what I want to write.

But I am also aware that a writer who has written professionally as long as I have (really, I sold my first article when I was only 17, and people have been giving me money to write for over 40 years now), needs to either keep their writing in the public eye or forever fade from reader memory.

So to this end, I am making some serious decisions.

I am going to self publish some of my work.

This does not mean I am deserting the one publisher who has been faithful to me all these years.  I will continue to let them publish certain series so that my readers can continue those stories.

But I have other books that are important to me.  Books I have long wanted to get into the hands of my readers.

For instance, my novel ANGELS OF MERCY, which was supposed to have been published by Five Star, but got kicked out of the lineup when they decided to shorten their year of finishing off the fantasy books they published.  The book is good.  Seriously good.  I want to get it out there so my readers can see it.  And while I have talked to one of my regular publisher about it, I catch myself thinking that maybe this should be my solo novel.  I am already thinking of a sequel for it.

There are also things like "The Mageborn King" series and "The Blood Mage Trilogy," books I have written but never found a market for.  And there is my Hammer Maid novel, THUNDER HAMMER.  Arula's due some noticing.  I love that book.  I had a blast writing it, and I think readers will have a blast reading it.

But the options in the industry are becoming so limited any more.  Newbies are bypassing the traditional system and going it on their own, and only a few of them really shine.  Old pros are starting to look at the way of the industry and deciding that selling well to a smaller audience is better than a fat advance and a big audience.

As a librarian, I have seen so many Best Sellers fade from sight.

I want to be read.  I want to be read by the people who like what I write.  I want to expand that audience by word of mouth.

But first, I need product.

So I am letting people know that hopefully, by the end of this month, I will be releasing a novel.  Not sure which one, but once I make up my mind, I will work hard at making it happen.

And who knows.  It might be just the thing to push me back into the right state of mind that keeps me writing stuff.

We write to be read.

We write to be remembered.

I want to be remembered as a good writer who people enjoyed reading.

Even if I don't ever make the best seller list, as long as people enjoy my books and keep asking for more, I will keep writing.

The Writer Writes...About Dolls

As people who are in my innermost circle know, I have become a doll collector.  Yes, there are those who hint that I have joined "the creepy doll people."  I am going to tell you there is nothing creepy about collecting dolls.  It is just another art form.  So get over it. ;-)

Now one of the dolls I have become obcessed with are Makies.  You can visit their website here:
https://mymakie.com/ and I can assure you they are very child friendly as well.  There is an app you can download to your iPad to design and make your own doll.  Once you design your doll, you can order it (about $115 USD).

I now own four of these little darlings, and I have more on the way. The great fun about them is choosing eye color, hair color, and even the shape of the face.  Yep, YOU design the doll's face, select a skin color, pick clothes and even decide on human or elfin ears, with or without earring holes.

The amazing part is these dolls are "printed."  Once you have decided to purchase your doll, the Makie Lab folks send the info over to a nylon 3-D printing company and make your Makie.  They then assemble it, dress it, give it a mild faceup (very mild) and ship it to you.

Here are a couple of my Makies.  The first one I designed and ordered was Oona.

This is how she looked on the web when I designed her.

This is how she looks now:

The rest of my gang consisted of Niall (the blond boy with glasses), Penelope (the striking redhaired elf) and Kyle (the dark-haired elf boy).

Kinda cute, aren't they.  I redid all their faces (Niall just got his done this weekend).

And I have another on the way.

I recommend watching for the sales when they discount the dolls.  You can make one and get it cheaper.  I also know that they are discussing using mold injected bodies (less costly that 3-D printer) which will allow them to lower the price and make them more Child Friendly to Purchase.

But I also recommend them because they are aimed at children 6 and beyond.  Imagine what your child would think if they could make a doll that looks like them.  Or like their favorite character.  It is fun just to design the dolls.  I have a number of saved dolls on my account, and one day, I might own them all.

So go take a peek at the Makies dolls.  You might become addicted.

The Writer Writes...Another Month Gone...

Seems like I am getting neglegent in posting to this site.  Not for a lack of better things to do, mind you, but I do have a lot on my plate.

I am writing, though I think I am mostly editing, but that is a sort of writing.  I did finish a story that has been pestering me for a while, and I am getting a few others into the proper format for submission.

Just seems like time flies by, and I suddenly realize I am falling behind.

Part of it is due to the weather.  We are either horribly fricking hot, or we are being flooded with cats and dogs and hogs and frogs from the sky.  Storms move in, wreck havoc and move on.  Or miss us and cause problems elsewhere.

At the moment, I am a little depressed.  I work hard at my job, and I am still trying to get my mother's stuff done.  She has a long list of things she wants done, from getting a new shed so we can store stuff to setting up her estate (she swears she has not got long on this earth, in spite of what doctors tell her).

I was doing fine until a patron came in and got in my face and accused me of purposely being unhelpful.  His screaming fit in which he shouted curses at me and threatened my job security left me tired.  I hate the fact that I am not allowed to be the dragon in my soul and stand up and breath fire on those folks who step on my toes and falsely accuse me of things.

The truth is the old man is dying from Agent Orange and he has ptsd, and he is just taking it out on us because we are unable to do what he wants.  He came in just before the computers were about to shut off, and when I tried to be nice and tell him there was no time for him to get on the computer, he turned and pointed a finger at me and started shouting that I "damn well better fix it so he could use the computer."  We tried to explain to him that we had no control of the computers--that it was the software that shut them down ten minutes before closing, and he accused us of never trying to help him.  When we offered him alternatives (and indeed, this was my third encounters and I told him where he needed to go the first time, but he didn't want to do that, he wanted ME to get online for him and fill out forms for him--which I cannot do because it involves personal information and polities).

If I *could* help him, I would have, but there are policies in place that prevent me from doing so, and his screaming cursing fits do not help matters.  He left here threatening to get me fired for my attitude.  I left work alternately screaming and crying as I drove home.

A lot of nice people come in and ask for my help, and I do what I can.

But that one rotten apple ruined my day and left me dazed and angry and upset.

So now I am slowly filtering through my minor depression with cookies.

Cookies cure everything.  ;-)

Writers don't need depression.  They need clear heads to work.

So working through this is going to take time.

The Writer Writes...A Month???

A whole month has passed since the last time I was out here.  I apologize for that, but life still has a way of interfering.

Not that things have been TOO bad.  Oh, there are some fights going on.  I am still trying to get Mom's stuff taken care of, and I am not always having a lot of luck (I seriously hate playing phone tag/push the button for options with businesses--it is crappy and inhuman of corporations and government offices to be lazy and irresponsible and uncaring by not having humans talk to you).

But I digress.

I am writing.  It takes longer to finish my own things with so many external interruptions, but they do not stop me from doing what I want to do.

And I am planning future trips.  I have a con coming up at the end of this month.  I am going to be a toastmistress at MidSouthCon next year (my first big gig since I was keynote speaker at a writer's conference).

Sometimes, things still feel a little surreal.  I only have one parent to care for now.  I am making plans to move upstairs so my mother doesn't feel lonely.  We don't have as much of a household income, so I am having to take over things from time to time.

But otherwise, it is a life.  It goes on.

That is how it should be.

And for those wondering, I do have things coming out in the future.  YDP will be releasing some of my older items in ebook format.  I am trying to finish a couple of books for publication.

So yes, I am working on my career.  Just takes a little longer now.

The Writer Writes...Is it Friday Yet?

Unfortunately not, but it has not started out too badly, this week.  I only have two days of work, and then I am off three days (though two of those days will be spent squiring my mother about to the doctors and to the grand nephew's graduation ceremony).

Other than that?

The writer writes, and she is slowly getting back in the habit of editing stories that have been sorely neglected.  She has been getting one story ready for submission, and others that were incomplete are now getting her full attention.

Why?  Because she stopped caring about whether or not she was getting published anymore and went back to writing the stories she loved instead of the stories editors were telling her they wanted.

Which makes the writer seem more like a hobby writer than a pro, but one thing I have learned as a pro is you must love what you write or you will stop writing.

And I do still play with dolls, though now they are being put aside for the writing.  So things do come full circle.

Besides, I got my first invitation to be a Toast Mistress at a convention.  Yep.  Me, the Bridesmaid Writer is going to be a Toast Mistress.  And I am looking forward to it.

Not until next spring, of course.  But it happens to be close enough that if the weather is bad, I know many other ways to get there.  ;-)

So the Writer Writes.  Which is all that is really important in her humble opinion.
Terry Pratchett is gone.  He went peacefully, if the articles I have read today are correct.  He was facing a future with alzheimer's disease, and while I am sad that he is gone, I am glad he will not have to face the ugliest part of that affliction.

Sir Terry has always been someone I admired.  From the witches in his Discworld novels to the hilarious shenannigans of his (and Neil Gaiman's) novel Good Omens, I have enjoyed his work. He proved that you can use humor as a weapon as easily as magic in fiction.

I always remember sitting at a table in the restaurant of the old MidSouthCon hotel with Lee Martindale and Esther Friesner when Sir Terry toddled over and asked if one of us ladies could assist a "dottery old Englishman" to find a cereal without sugar.  Of course, the three of us leapt to the task (pretty impressive for Lee since she lives in a wheelchair) and were able to dig down in the bowl and find Rice Krispies for him.

Years ago, when I was manager of Periodicals, the reference librarian called me up and asked if I knew how to find out who a certain character in a Terry Pratchett novel was.  The patron had asked "Who was Chlority?" and when I asked for clarification, they said the quote had been that a certain person was "richer than Howard Hughes and Chlority combined."

I KNEW Chlority was just a character, but someones you have to prove things to patrons.  And since I could not find a source "stating" this, I decided to take the bull by the horns and wrote to the man himself.

And he answered, telling me I was quite right in my assumption that Clority was a character and went on to point out that she was a character who had "yet to be born" since it was one of his SF novels.

But then he asked, "Do people often ask you questions like that?"

I explained various things from the National Geographic bit where patrons came in wanting to find the article written by Robert Kincaid from the novel BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY to folks demanding actual photographs of "The Last Supper" as it was taking place.

He wrote back and declared, "Do people really think writers live in their fantasy worlds?  Do they not understand that in order to write fantasy, one needs to have both feet firmly planted on the ground?"

It is a statement as a writer I have never forgotten.

I am keeping both feet on the ground, even when I am delving in fictional incarnations.

Because it is the only way one can write.

You will be sorely missed Sir Terry.  I hope you and the Death you created in Discworld are having a delightful time.

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