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To all my friends who celebrate.

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jana_denardo: (kept tears)
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To all my friends who celebrate
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
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To my friends who celebrate, have a wonderful holiday.

And here have a full album of steamy holiday music.

jana_denardo: (kept tears)
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Happy World Kindness day!

I didn't actually miss last sunday. I tried to crosspost from my other blog. It failed and then my internet was out so...

I wanted to talk a little bit about something I need to inject more into my current nano: raising the stakes for the character, giving them something to overcome.

I was thinking on two manga in particular I thought did this very well. A lot of manga I like for the art and the fun characters but many are just 'beach reads.' Some however are much deeper than that (not that there is anything wrong with entertaining beach reads). Some are truly transformative and their stories truly stand out (and it's a shame in a way that the younger manga reading crowd jump from one thing to another so fast that stories are often quickly forgotten before they're even finished).

Fullmetal Alchemist is one such read. Not only does it have the fantastic art and fun characters, it's storyline is so very well done. I would prop it up against any fantasy novel as one of my favorite all time reads. We have several characters for whom the character stakes keep getting raised. Ed and Al start out trying to recover their bodies from the alchemical mistake they've made. This draws them in Roy Mustang's military world and into a huge drama that threatens their entire country, if not the world, and has roots in their father's past. Worse, Al's soul is showing signs of becoming unanchored from his metal body so there in the stakes are upped. They must reach their goal before the last remnants of Alphonse are lost.

Roy has his own goals of becoming the leader of the country because he sees the corruption and wants it gone. He doesn't want to ever be forced into another war like the one he was in in his youth. But this is no ordinary corruption and the alchemical monsters he's fighting think nothing of threatening his 'queen' and his family and have already cost him his best friend. Then there is young Ling, one of the potential heirs to the throne in Xing. He wants something to make him the best emperor he can be but when he gets it, he faces the loss of all that makes him human. All the way to the end of the manga you felt there was a chance that not all of them would make it (and some did not).

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And there is one I'm reading now Noragami: Stray God that is shaping up to be equally good story wise (with very good art too), which surprising story arcs and huge stakes for the characters. In a nutshell Hiyori is a school girl who has a problem, her soul keeps slipping free, leaving her comatose. Her path crosses Yato's, the titular stray god. He's a war god (in reality a calamity god) who is struggling to keep his name in the consciousness of the people by doing odd jobs for them. His most desperate wish is to have his own shrine. He agrees to help Hiyori with her problem and soon they meet the soul a dead boy, Yukine who becomes Yato's shiki, sort of a spiritual weapon and together they fight corrupt spirits. Simple enough, not even really unique in the world of manga.

But quickly the stakes begin to rise. Hiyori faces being lost in the world of spirits if she doesn't find a way to keep her soul in place but she always wants so much to help Yato and Yukine that she's putting herself at risk. Yato wants to help her but knows if he does, he could be forgotten entirely and if that happens, Yato will fade from existence. Yukine doesn't want to be with Yato but his path quickly changes, escalates and has very high stakes indeed. And as if fading his own death, Yato wants something more. He wants to switch from being a god of calamity and destruction to one of happiness. It's these sorts of stories that drag you in because it's not a sure thing that all three of them will be happy or even survive.

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Then I have my story and yes it is a nano and will of course require much revision but the stakes are slow in coming and that's not really a good thing.

For Cam, this is somewhat clear. He wants his freedom. He's been in thrall to the war goddess for so long he can't remember (it's been centuries). Equally important to him is to keep free of those who have had him imprisoned for nearly that long (a cabal of mages but he doesn't know that as his mind is clouded with magic). He's at risk of being lost both back to the cabal, someone who wants to replace the cabal and to the goddess herself. His stakes are fairly high.

For Tenaldi there really aren't any stakes yet. He's happy as a journeyman poison gardener for the queen, content to make poisons and healing potions for his ruler. His only real ambition is to take over the garden as a master gardener some day but he's too young for that. So...not the most compelling of stakes in what should be one of the three main characters. However, his stakes will come and I know that. Caught up with Cam and the drama, he'll be fighting for his life.

It's Solan who is giving me fights. She's supposed to be the third main character and so far she's not really holding up her own end. All I really know about her is that she wants to be a general (or whatever I'll be calling them) in the Queen's cadre of warrior mages and she's well on her way. I know she'll be caught up with Cam and Tenaldi but I really have no separate stakes for her and that is a problem. It's something I need to work on.

The nano is going slowly too between depression and a lack of time. I have learned something rather depressing about my writing. If I have no competition, no goal to beat no stakes of my own I just wander about. Give me a word war against friends and I'll crank out 2K in an hour. I don't like this about myself. It's something I need to work on. I'm closing in on 18K though.

No news on any of my other projects other than we'll have the links for Once Upon a Time in the Weird West soon.
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
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Or maybe I should call this the continuing tales of the allergic Druid.

I've been meaning to write this post for weeks but I'm lazy, I don't budget time well, I forgot, the excuses roll on. But today at the autumn equinox is a perfect time because this post all ties into that. Because I think this fall and winter are going to be weird. The signs are there to be read (and helps that I'm also a biologist).

When I headed back to Ohio in August I noticed something. I was already seeing Ironweed and Joe-Pye weed which are typically not seen until late September. They're fall flowers. Usually I see them with golden rod and fall asters. Looking out the windows now, I only see the latter as the two 'weeds' are already spent and gone. Just a few years ago I collecting those weeds for a 'witch's hut' in a haunted village thing I was part of. This year they came early.

Also early were the birds. Even before I came back to OH, birds were massing and flying south way in advance of their usual time.

The leaves have already begun to fall. Not change color and fall, just dropping off dead. That I can at least attribute to the dry summer. We are in near drought conditions this year, I'm sad to say.

But I can't shake the feelings that the animals and plants know something I don't, something I should pay attention to.

I fear a bad winter. Now winter is my favorite month but as I get a bit older and sicker, I am wary, especially as my apartment has no generator and is all electrical. I've had many a winter when I've had to leave because of the extended intense cold. If I can't find a gas-heat house, I will have to buy myself a generator but that's for the future.

In the meantime, I plan to enjoy my favorite time of year. Pumpkin everything!

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I've been interested in druidism for years (and now it's easier to keep in touch with that side of me, thank you internet.) So it seems a natural for me to go out into the woods for some quiet contemplation and a little picture taking for Earth Day.

This is actually not as easy as you'd think. I'm allergic to most everything about nature in the spring (looking at you pollen). Last week was so bad the asthma attacks left me on the couch most of the day. So yes, allergies and asthma do not make for easy hiking for the poor druid. Now let's couple it with some torn hamstrings, damage hip cartilage, spine arthritis and nerve damage (and this is just the latest lower limb boo-boo). It all adds up to me not getting out into the woods as much as I want to.

But today is Earth Day and the weather was hovering around 70 with the threat of rain. It couldn't be more perfect. So I headed to Lake Katherine because there's about a mile of trail if you count getting too and from the parking lot and 98% of it is flat even walking. That's not outside of what I feel comfortable doing alone.

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I was alone in the woods and they were filled with dogwoods in bloom. Those are my favorites. I love them and it was beautiful to see them like a tunnel leading to the lake. Sadly I couldn't quite capture the intensity or the magnitude of how many there were but I tried.

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As I walked, I thought about life. The birds sounded distant but the bumblebees were all around me, getting some of their first bits of pollen, doing their thing to keep life rolling on. Without them, there's no us. None of them cooperated with me but there's this rather drab butterfly who helps with the pollination, too (Ah cryptic coloration, it's not really pretty but it does a good job of hiding them).

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But all around were reminders that life is fleeting and nothing lasts forever. The rangers are just starting to clear away the trees that didn't make the winter. 2016 has been good at reminding us that everything and everyone ends.  photo 100_5122_zpsnhhjasno.jpg

But even in death, life begins again.  photo 100_5123_zpsdnwisq6d.jpg

The dead are returned to their component parts and give life to that which comes next.  photo 100_5144_zpssxuodrzj.jpg

I was also reminded that sometimes you will get used. Others will climb on your shoulders to reach the sun. You might get discarded. Some will not survive the experience. Most will end up a little bent and changed by the experience.

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But even when everything around you is hard and seemingly impossible, life still happens.  photo 100_5138_zpspjbfqzdw.jpg

It adjusts. It still reaches for the sky and eventually even the hardness wears down.  photo 100_5141_zpsneo2as0x.jpg

It rained a bit when I was there but the trees overhead kept me dry even though their leaves are just beginning to poke out. It’s a good reminder that with friends you can weather the storm.  photo 100_5133_zps5wm7y3iq.jpg

So take a moment to step out into the wild, soak it in. Set those problems aside and just live a little.  photo 100_5130_zpst3tctr5s.jpg

Happy Earth Day
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To all my friends who celebrate, have a blessed Easter.

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I played a little with Paul Richmond's great cover for Kept Tears. I hope you have a great Valentine's Day. I'm spending mine nursing an injured knee and eating chocolate covered strawberries Mom sent me. Ah the life of a single person.

I've not done as much as I'd like because well I fell a week ago and ripped my knee to shreds. Sitting at the desk computer is insanely painful. Balancing the lap top on my lap isn't much better. Sigh.

I've made some major head way into editing Blood Red Roulette enough to find that during the expansion I really worked in some repetition and/or put scenes in the wrong order. Sigh. I have THREE scenes were Eleni stalks Luc in the Alibi bar for the first time and one of those three is a word for word repeat of the previous scene one chapter before. I obviously pasted it in twice. How this was missed by me and my beta readers? Well, I do give it to them chapter by chapter but you'd think one of us would have said 'hmm this feels familiar.' Ah well, at least that is an easy fix and it allows me to slice out 1000 words from this overly long story. Yes! Now to meld the other two scenes into one and ditto a couple of Arrigo/Siobhan's scenes and maybe even one with them and Michael/Ayako. There is some clunkiness there.

And once I get Riding with Strangers expanded some year, if you hear I want to expand a short story into a full on novel, feel free to shoot me.

I have set both Cassadaga & Deadwood on the back burner if not just throwing them into the fire.

I absolutely must get back to my Weird West. I've been having a huge crisis in faith about that one to the point of paralysis. I need to get it moving. I will not fail in this. I'm just terrified it sucks.

I was thrilled with the response to Kaleo's snippet in yesterday's Rainbow Snippets. I'm really glad to find a supportive group like that.

A New Start

Jan. 2nd, 2016 12:17 am
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
Happy New Year's everyone.

I've already outlined my writing goals for the year so what are some of my other goals?

For one I want to continue to help people as much as possible. I can't promise to beta read more (but am willing to try as time allows) but I can make my small blog available to anyone who wants a little promo space. That doesn't take much of my time and pretty soon there'll be mirrored blogs so there's that.

Secondly I want to concentrate a little on the more mysterious parts of this job, like what the hell actually works for marketing and visibility. I'm literally at a loss. I've tried most of the suggestions and I can barely get the attention of the people on my facebook and twitter let alone reach new people.

I need to concentrate on my health as well. It needs to improve and there are more tweaks I can try. Wish me luck

Here's to a prosperous 2016.
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
Happy Holidays to all my friends! I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful weekend!

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And here's to a prosperous New Year.
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Have a blessed Solstice my friends.

jana_denardo: (kept tears)
The biggest news this sunday is the Rainbow Snippet community launch on Facebook. I posted my snippet last night and got to read several more. Here's hoping it leads to some fun for the writers and to some sales with the readers.

Other than that I've been swamped with end of semester insanity, you know writing exams, making torture devices lab practicals, consoling student fears, trying not to throttle the ones who suddenly realized a semester of slacking off will earn them a failing grade and 'what extra credit can they do to pass.'

However I write while they test and I knocked out 10k on my Deadwood shifter story. It might, in fact, be too long. Head desk. I'm not even looking at that right now. I'm going to finish it (but not as soon as I'd like. I have 30 research papers to grade and as minor surgery this week to prep for). Once it's done I'll worry on word count.

So I'll just keep this short and sign off here.

And Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends!
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Have a wonderful day to all my friends who celebrate. I'm thankful to have all of you in my life. I'm thankful to my readers and fans. I'm always amazed that people want to read my stories. You make this all worthwhile.
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
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Have a WONDERFUL Samhain and a Happy Halloween. Right now mine's cold and rainy.

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To all my friends who celebrate, have a wonderful Easter.

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jana_denardo: (kept tears)
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I played a little with Paul Richmond's great cover for Kept Tears. Dreamspinner is having a 25% off everything sale. You can find my stuff here and follow the DSP links to find other great authors too.

Have a fantastic holiday everyone.
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
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Here's to a fresh new year filled with promise.

My one resolution is to make more time for my writing (i.e. play around on the internet less!)
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
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I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with time to just relax and be at peace. Here's a picture of something that makes me feel at peace, the wilderness in snow.

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And my friend ES sent this one along. How could I resist? I love Groot (and I want Quill's jacket, just saying).

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And here are a few steampunk Christmas Carols

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I hope your holidays go well.

Happy Yule

Dec. 21st, 2014 10:18 pm
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Or Solstice or Alban Arthan, whichever you'd like to call it. I'm still in shock that it's this late in the year. It doesn't seem real in so many ways. I'll be back next week with some thoughts on this year and the hopes for the next. May it be a good one for us all.

This is the day celebrated in my short story The Light of Winter in Dreamspinner's Advent Calendar. I thought I'd share an excerpt featuring the prayer I wrote for the holiday. It is set in Wales on the Isle of Angelsey in the Neolithic site, Bryn Celli Ddu.

Gareth blew out the candle. “It is the darkest time of the year. The summer’s warm breezes live on only in our memories. The oak has been laid bare, and the earth slumbers under the darkness. Hope feels as cold as the frost whose kiss has felled the green. This is the longest night, but it marks the pinnacle of the Holly King’s power. As the Oak King begins his return, we are reminded that without the darkness, the light could not arise. Without death and our tears as we mourn our loss, there can be no rebirth. The Wheel of the Year revolves, taking us from death’s grasp into life, out of the darkness and into the light. Today is Alban Arthan, the light of winter.”

The monument fell silent except for the faint sounds of winter birds greeting the dawn. It could have been five thousand years ago when Bryn Celli Ddu was new. Gareth drank in the beauty of the moment. Warun slipped an arm around him, pulling him closer.

“That was beautiful,” he whispered.

 photo 100_1750_zpsd3c20971.jpg This is Bryn Celli Ddu (picture taken by me in 2012 when I was in Wales doing research on the stones).

 photo 100_1756_zps4d2a4cc8.jpg This is the view Warun and Gareth would have as they wait inside the passage grave monument for the first light of winter (okay this is mid day but you get the idea).

If you'd like to find the story it's here (and it's even on sale!)

Merry Alban Arthan everyone.


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