Meet Guest Author, Brad C Baker…

Brad is a member of my real life writing group and so happy his dream is finally coming true!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

I was born in Toronto, Ontario, where I now live with my Malamute huge dog called Crallick. Crallick is named after the primary character in my debut book and is probably just as big a force to be reckoned with!

My love of storytelling really began when I discovered roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons, which allowed me to explore the different facets of a character and the different routes each scenario could take. However, even before this, I was a fan of many sci-fi and fantasy franchises and loved the work of Tolkien.

My love of travel and adventure began to develop as I grew older, seeping out into the real world. This led me to hitch-hike across Canada once and also across North America on two separate occasions. My wanderlust knew no bounds! I loved meeting new people and hearing their stories, as there was always something…

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Movie Night: The Kingsmen; Golden Circle.

TheKingsmen2IMBd Link  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4649466/

Rating: R

Tagline:  N/A

Genre: Action/Adventure/Comedy

Synopsis:  A devastating attack leaves Kingsman with just two surviving agents, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong). They must travel to the United States to find Statesman, a forgotten ally operating out of Kentucky with its own distinctly American way of doing things. New allies and old friends band together to face the global threat of Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) and the Golden Circle.

Cinemaniacal

***

Review:  We loved the first movie. There was so much action and I love the choreography of fight scenes. There’s something poetic about them. We both went into this excited because we like the first one so much, but this one was a little disappointing.

First off, before you read any further, there are spoilers.

There was plenty of action and the much loved choreographed fight scenes, but it felt a little forced. First off, I wasn’t convinced that the spies working for both agencies (one British, the other American) would NOT know about the other. Also, why the US? Britain is part of a Commonwealth so wouldn’t it make more sense that if the UK offices were gone, they would fall back on say Canada or Australia? About the US branch, I got the whole distillery background, but the rest of it didn’t fit and throughout the whole movie I couldn’t understand why they’d have a character in the movie that was supposed to help, but is rendered incapacitated for the majority of the film. The MC’s girlfriend had the disease already, there was no need to infect the US agent. Like I said, it all felt forced and it was enough to taint it for me. It’s a good movie, but it could have been a lot better.

 

3 out of 5

Adventures in Restaurants: Our Anniversary Dinner.

RestaurantLogoLast November my husband and I celebrated our 24th anniversary. I still can’t believe we’ve been together for so long, but looking back over the years we’ve done so much together that it’s true.

When we first got married we went out to dinner on every anniversary and always to the same place. One year we took his grandmother because her birthday was the next day. When we had our son we changed to celebrating it as a family, so naturally we went places that were a little more ‘kid-friendly’. Now we’ve come full circle and are back to making it a nice romantic dinner for two, and we headed right back to the same restaurant.

As usual, I started off with escargot. This was as cheesy as it looked. Some places make their appetizers almost like a meal and after eating this I was worried I wouldn’t have room for the entre. Hubby had French Onion soup. Again, it was so much.

When our entrée’s did come, I was relieved to see they were normal portions. Husband had lamb chops while I had a steak. I asked for it to be med-rare and it was a little more on the rare side than I would have liked, but wonderful and tasty.

We even had room for desert! Husband’s slice of cake was larger than we thought, and I had a caramel Brule. This was not what I expected. While the pudding itself was very good, I didn’t care for the sauce. It tasted burnt and bitter. I didn’t say anything as I didn’t know if this was the way it was supposed to taste but I doubt I’ll try it again. I scraped off as much as I could and finished it. That was really the only disappointed part of the night.

Do you go to the same place every year to mark a special occasion?

It’s a WIP!: An excerpt from Arlington Creed and the Case of the Marinated Mariner.

It’s been a while since I posted any of my Steampunk. This scene is from chapter two; Arlington has gone back to the crime scene when a guest arrives and brings some rather interesting news.

***

The sound of a horse-drawn carriage echoed through the woods. Creed glared hard at the driver and passenger as they came closer. This was all he needed. Spectators walking through his crime scene.

The buggy stopped just short of their carriage and the young male passenger hastily jumped down. He looked no older than early twenties and his clothing hung awkwardly as though it didn’t properly fit. He pulled a large black bag from the carriage and gently swung it over his shoulder.

Creed threw down his glove on the small table. “What the devil is this nonsense?”

The young man gave a wide smile as he walked toward the men. “Detective Creed, I presume.”

“And who might you be?”

The young man held out his hand. “Daniel Harriden of the Department of Unusual and Dubious Events.”

Creed eyed him carefully. “I’ve never heard of it.”

Harriden seemed out of sorts and he retracted his hand. “I’m not surprised. It’s part of a new branch of the Government. Her Highness, Queen Victoria, has decreed that all commonwealth countries establish their own branch of D.U.D.E., to better protect the Empire.”

Creed exhaled deeply. “And what exactly does this department of unusual and doubtful-“

“Dubious,” Harriden corrected.

Creed nodded. “My apologies, this department of unusual and dubious events want with me?”

The young man looked surprised. “Did you not get the telegram from Chief Inspector Patterson?”

Creed frowned. “No.”

“Oh, well my superiors at D.U.D.E have gone over the original report filed in Montreal and determined that this drowning warrants an investigation from our department, and that you are to assist in any means possible.”

Creed took a sip from his glass. “Is that so?”

“Yes.” He carefully put down his large bag and rummaged through the various pockets in his jacket. “I have the telegram here from Her Majesty, affirming your new appointment.” He brought out a crinkled telegraph from the inside breast pocket and handed it to Creed. “We report only to Queen Victoria herself.” A look of embarrassment appeared on his face. “I mean, my superiors report to Her Majesty. I don’t ever speak with her. Ever.”

Creed read over the telegram. It looked real enough and like most telegrams he’d read. The emblem of the office of Queen Victoria was prominent in the top center of the letter. He handed it back to Harriden. “So I am to assume we are working together for the foreseeable future?”

Harriden nodded, taking the paper and stuffing it back into his breast pocket. “It is my pleasure to inform you that as of this date, September nineteenth, eighteen-hundred and sixty, you and I shall be working together as a team.”

“Lovely.” Degan’s dry tone made Creed smile.

Creed let out an exasperated sigh. “Well then, Mr. Harriden, if Her Royal Highness has bequeathed that we become a team, then who am I to argue?”

Harriden nodded and smiled. “Good. Glad to see you’re in good spirits about this.”

Creed stabbed at his food. “Why wouldn’t I be? Nothing wrong with having someone younger to do all the heavy work.”

Harriden scanned the woods around him. “I would be all too happy to carry on your investigation while you eat.”

Creed nodded. “Thank you.”

“Now, if you don’t mind catching me up on our case.”

The detective wiped the corner of his mouth with a linen napkin. “Nothing really to it. A body washed up on shore several days ago and I-” He caught himself. “We are now left to investigate.”

“Any clues?”

“None that I’ve found, but we have a meeting with the local coroner later today. He might give us something more to investigate.”

“Splendid. In the meantime where should I begin?”

Creed made a thoughtful gesture. “I’m thinking…the lake.”

Harriden looked out over the water. “The whole lake?”

“If you prefer, but I would start where the body was found.” Creed pointed to a patch of long, flat grass along the shore. “He washed up over there in the bulrushes.”

Harriden nodded and carefully made his way down to the shoreline with his black bag. Creed eyed him suspiciously and his doubt returned. Was Chief Constable Patterson trying to removing him from the constabulary because of his injuries?

“Perhaps they recognize your knowledge and experience and wish to incorporate it into this new endeavour?”

Creed looked up at his butler. “What are you talking about?”

“I’ve seen that look before.” Degan removed the empty plate. “You’re suspicious of this decision from your superiors. Am I correct?”

“Am I that transparent?”

“Only with me, sir.”

A Darke Kind of Beauty: Winter Skin Hydration

DarkeBlogClipThe colder weather has arrived and baby is it cold! We’ve had temperatures drop close to -40C several times overnight. Even our poor truck didn’t want to start. With the colder weather comes a change in skin care. Up here the cold weather is dry and the wind can pull moisture from the skin. Dry, flaky patches become very prominent and when that happens, it’s time to boost up the moisturizer.

I started using a couple new products. The first is called Mineral 89 by Vichy. It contains  hyaluronic acid which grabs moisture from the air to plump up my skin. I especially like it around my eyes to lessen the droop and plump them up. My eyes are large and hooded and I’ve found plumping them up helps me to apply eyes shadow. It’s hyped as an anti-aging, but it isn’t. Not really. I’ve also started using a vitamin C serum too. The serum is wonderful for stimulating collagen in the skin, not to mention at least a dozen other reasons. Along with moisturizer, primer and foundation I have a pretty solid barrier for my skin for winter. I’ve also noticed that the dry, flaky and itch has gone too. Another reason for me to keep using these products.

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Now Vichy and vitamin C serum are pricey. I use them twice a day when I go to work; once in the morning under my makeup and again at night before bed, and only before bed the other days. This way it holds out longer, but not so long that it expires. There’s also an order to application. I use the serum first and the mineral, primer, concealer, foundation and then powder. This all might seem like a lot, but when you’re dealing with temps that range from -38C in winter to 38C in summer, my skin needs all the protection it can get.

I still use the products I posted about last year, especially the FRESH masks. The masks are more of a deep hydrating treatment. You can read that article here. I still use a night cream during the winter months. As I wrote in my earlier post, the thickness of the night cream adds to my protection. It can be pricey too, so I keep an eye out for when it goes on sale.

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Another regiment I do is for the rest of my body. I’m in love with Aveeno Active Naturals.  I discovered them a few years back when I had a serious itch outbreak. My entire body was so itchy for two weeks, to the point I was scratching so much and so hard I bled. I haven’t had a bout of it since, but then I’ve been moisturizing so that may have solved that problem. I put it on after my shower and I have two hand cream lotions; one for home, the other in my purse. Again, I’m dealing with such drastic temperatures that my skin needs this protection. Besides, who doesn’t like to pamper themselves. I told Husband I am now ‘high-maintenance’. I think he agrees.

The Crystal Realm: Taking stock of your stones.

crystalsI’ll be honest; this post is more for me. I have so many I need to list them someplace where I can get quick accesses for when I’m out. I don’t mind having more than one of the same, but it’s nice to get new ones to have in my collection. I also want to show them off. I have a few ‘high vibration’ stones too. They are a bit more expensive than others, but good to have. If you’re curious to know what each stone does, I’ve linked them to online sites that I trust and use quite often for information and reference. As I stated in an earlier post, almost all stones do more than one thing, and you can find help and/or healing for; physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

So, here goes.

Agate, bandedAgate, mossAgate, blue laceAmberAmazoniteAmethystApatite, blueAventurine, green

Bloodstone

Calcite, green, Calcite, orangeCalcite, goldenCarnelianCiterine,

Hematite

Jasper, brownJasper, red

Kyanite-blackKyanite-blue

Lapis lazuliLepidolite

MalachiteMoonstone

Obsidian-snowflakeOnyx

Pyrite

Quartz-clearQuartz-roseQuartz-smokeyQuartz-wand (large)Quartz-wand (small)

Selenite (H)SerpentineSodaliteSunstone

Tiger eyeTourmaline-black

(I also have two very different pieces of coal, but there is no metaphysical use for them. They are strictly a money-spell item.)

Okay, that’s a lot of stones. I love collecting crystals and working with them. I was especially excited to acquire my ‘high vibration’ stones last summer, and I’ve incorporated them into my Chakra cleansing rituals, not to mention how the help me every day. I’m thinking about doing a series on crystals and how we can use them to enhance our lives. Nothing too crazy or pricey. Just a little thing for beginners.

What about you? Do you use crystals? If so which ones? If not, are you interested in learning more about them?

Writing Update: January 19, 2018.

writingupdateWow, it’s been six months since my last update. I seriously didn’t think I’d let it go that long. Ouch.

Okay, so it’s been a little hectic since then. Sithboy started college again and it all went downhill from there. No excuse, right? Except that if I don’t feel like writing, I don’t and that’s what happened.

I tried to do NaNoWriMo last year and didn’t get as far as I thought I would. Meh, I haven’t been able to keep up with that for a few years now. No big sweat and I don’t ever see my not completing it as a failure either. I got words done-check. I got into a schedule of writing every day-check. Those two things alone made what little I wrote for NaNo an accomplishment.

So, what do I have to update? Well . . .

 

WIP Novel #6: Down Finnegan’s Hollow (thriller)

This is a bust. I trunked this novel because I couldn’t get into the revisions. Whether it was removing excess characters (I took out several) or trying to mesh a new line of events, every time I thought I had it worked out, something would mess up. I finally threw up my hands and said fuck it. I’ve messed with this story for a good three years and each time I pick it up, I screw it up even more. All writers have those kinds of novels, and this is one of them for me. The other is The Possession of Mercy Moreau. Such a clusterfuck. I don’t even want to talk about it.

I have worked more on my plague zombie novel, SURVIVAL RULES. I keep coming back to this one. Maybe because it’s more of a dark story than the others. I am about 2/3 the way through at sitting at just over 50k. I know there are two other stories that go with this, but I’ll be happy if I can get just the first one done.

I’ve also poked at my Steampunk Detective novel, ARLINGTON CREED AND THE CASE OF THE MARINATED MARINER. Again, another one that keeps poking at me. I did come up with four other novels with these characters. Each a stand-alone, but together making up a larger story. Again me=procrastination Queen.

One thing that is exciting, I came up with a new four book series that is, get this-YA. I’m not even kidding. The MC is fourteen and starting high school during the 80’s and each book will be one year of school. Kinda like Harry Potter. The exciting thing about this is that I can connect this group of stories to my magical realism story I worked on earlier this year. Also, I can connect to another group of stories I started last year. Ugh, this never ends.

Anyway, I’m going to (try) and focus on the zombie plague and Steampunk for now.

What are your writing plans for 2018?

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