The Pandemic: One Year In.

Today is an odd sort of anniversary, but this is a date I will remember for the rest of my life.

Today is the one year anniversary of the day the pandemic officially affected my life. One year ago today, I was at work, nervously talking with co-workers about the increase in cases, and how stores in the mall were already closing down; wondering if we were going to follow. The WHO had issued a global pandemic and all this was so new, so strange. We wondered how long it would last, or if it was as bad as the news said. There was a lot of worry, and sometimes I wonder if we didn’t worry enough. There was a lot of denial and confusion; nothing like this had ever happened before, not in a hundred years, and so much had changed since that time.

A year later, and wiser, covid has become a daily thing in my life. I wear a mask when I go anywhere, vinyl gloves at work, and douse my hands with sanitizer and soap. There are new variants in the illness. Some are worse than the original, some not as much, and as I write this I wonder if life will ever get back to a place where I can say normal again, or is this the new normal?

A year ago I was dressed for St Patrick’s Day; green clothing, eye makeup and lipstick. My shift was until 9pm and we were slow. No one was out. I had the next day off and was to work a close on Thursday, but the next day, as more stores closed, I got the notice that my workplace would close too. Now it was becoming scary. I was officially laid off on April 2, but I was lucky. My workplace was honouring my scheduled hours and paying me for them. The Federal Government was already implementing special unemployment benefits (taxable) and I was able to draw on that. From March 18th until June 1st, almost ten weeks, I was in lockdown. We only went out for groceries, my husband didn’t visit (we talked on the phone), and I tried to keep myself and my mind busy, and not get too deep into ‘doomscrolling’. Some days were better than others, and I thought I had a good grasp on what was going on, but the fact I quit doing the things that I loved (writing mostly), meant that it was affecting me in ways I didn’t know.

Going back to work at the beginning of June and everything felt different. Plexiglass was up around the cash regisers, we had to wear masks for our entire shift, and we had to keep six feet from customers AND co-workers. That last one was the hard part. I played traffic cop and had to direct customers and break up groups that huddles around tables. If you were going the wrong way, I’d tell you.

#SorryNotSorry.

Now, one year later, it took a while, but we eased into a routine and learned to block out, if not ignore completely, the constant barrage of covid related news. I take a quick look when the new numbers pop up, but then go back to what I was doing. I have a dozen masks ready to go, seven cans of Lysol and I don’t know how many small bottles of hand sanitizer, not to mention my own stash of vinyl gloves. They say we’re on the verge of a third wave and a possible third lockdown. Vaccines are out and being distributed, but I’m not sure when I’ll get mine. We’re still working on the elderly, and front-line workers, and to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel safe again.

So here we are, one year in and I’m still trying to keep busy. I went from doing nothing to doing too much, so I’m still trying to find a healthy balance. I went for a nice long walk this morning, and it felt good. Maybe I’ll start doing that again. It seems to ease my mind, and these days, that’s the key to surviving all this.

Stay safe.

What’s on the eReader: [Good question]

I’m sorry, folks. No book review this month. Getting back into the swing of reading again now that I’m back to work, has been a little more difficult than I thought. I’m exhausted at the end of my shift and other than relaxing in front of the tv, I haven’t done much reading. Too much strain on the eyes.

So what’s on the ereader? A hell of a lot, to be honest.  Here’s a rundown;

10 Gothic

5 Science fiction

20 Classic

9 Zombie

5 Paranormal

1 Mystery

1 My book

4 Other

Total: 55

Most of these are just samples. I refuse to purchase a book until I’ve read a small excerpt of the author’s writing. I’m particular when it comes to the books I read, and a lot of these samples I downloaded while I was working on certain books. The Gothic and zombie ones I downloaded to get a feel for the genres. Most of the gothic are classic as well, so I suppose there’s a bit of cross-genre going on here.

The classic books I think everyone should have in their library just because, and I’ve always been a fan of scifi. I don’t normally read Paranormal but one was recommended by a friend and I enjoyed that so I downloaded more. The mystery book was written by a friend who has a whole series which I now plan on reading.

In total, I’ve finished seven.

I’ve read some of the classics; Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Frankenstein, Dracula Carmilla, and the Castle of Ontorno. You can imagine my surprise when I first read Frakenstein only to learn that it was NOHTING like the 1950’s movie.

The zombie ones came a while later after I was able to sit through a whole episode of The Walking Dead and started writing my own zombie plague novel. I must have downloaded a good two dozen of them, only to delete them after the sample. Most were self published, and no, I’m not going to get into a rant about that, because there are good self-published novels, but with the zombie genre, I just found that it was the same story over, and over, and over. I don’t know, maybe people like that sort of mindless shooting spree/survivalist story without any sort of a plot, but it’s not my cup of tea.

The crime novel was written by a friend, and to be honest, I don’t read a lot of novels by friends. What if I don’t like it and they ask me if I did? I don’t want to be stuck in that awkward situation, so I tend to avoid it all together. Having said that, the ones that I have read are good, but I’m not going to push my luck. So yeah, back to the crime novel. You might have read my review of it on my blog a while back. I did like it and I am going to read more in the series once I’m back on track. There are a few horror ones I want to check out as well, but I want to get through this lot first before I add more to my ToBeRead pile.

Oh yeah, and one of my co-workers suggested I read The Witching Hour by Anne Rice, so I’ve added that which means that if I like it, I’ll get the other books. This list just keeps getting longer and longer.

What book[s] are you currently reading? If you like them, maybe I’ll add them to my list.

Of Writers & Prose: When the mind says YES, but the body says NO.

I am the most indecisive person I’ve ever met. My ideas flow like crazy but making them a reality is a whole other story. My on-again-off-again desire to make YouTube videos consumed me for the nearly eight weeks I was off work, until it culminated into a health problem. A minor one, but still it forced me to stand back and take an honest look at what I wanted to do compared with what I could do, and I’m afraid the latter won.

I had a slew of video ideas all planned out. There would be interviews with writer friends on their new books or whatever they wanted to talk about, and I had a series of five minute videos entitled 5 Things Every Writer Should Know, that were quick takes on all sorts of writing related subjects. I did this to keep my mind engaged during lockdown. Last time I did nothing but doomscroll, eat and play video games for six weeds. What I didn’t realize was with the schedule I’d made, I was adding more stress on top of the stress of being in lockdown, and my body (and computer, for that matter) decided I needed a wake call in the form of heart palpitations. My maternal grandfather died of a fatal heart attack at 50, so needless to say I was a bit concerned. I had this years ago when I was drinking a lot of coffee, and they went away when I switched to tea. Quite frankly I feel stupid for it (I know I shouldn’t, but I do), and once I cancelled the interviews everything went back to normal literally overnight. I did toy with the idea of starting them up again, a part of me isn’t willing to risk another round of problems.

Having said that, I still like both of these ideas, but I’m going to make them more me-friendly. The short series I’m going to put up on my blog. I think it’ll be a nice addition to my Writers and Prose posts, and as for the interviews, well, I still want to do that as well and I’m working on making it a reality, just in a different, less stressful way.

Stay tuned . . .

Writing Update: February, 2021.

Not a lot to update anyone on. I crossed the 50k mark with my magical realism novel and extended it to 85k. I’m at 63k right now and have just finished the scenes where they make the dye. I know the first draft is meant to just get the story out (as I keep telling people), but I’m concerned that even with edits and revisions it might still be too long. I know, I hear you all saying to keep writing. Just get the story out and worry about the rest later, so I will.

The only other thing I’ve worked on are blog posts and one of my tv scripts – Scavengers. I do love this story. I write and plot as it the script has been picked up. It makes it more fun to think that I’m writing something that will actually be seen by people. I have five and a half episodes done, and I plan on writing another six. Twelve episodes per season. The first half of season one deals with a plot that will follow the crew for most of the first two seasons, BUT, I’ve made it so that if this show doesn’t get ratings or they decide to cancel for whatever reason, episode six neatly wraps up the story line. It may not bring it to a meaningful conclusion, but the viewer won’t be left wondering. At least, I hope not. It’s like writing the first book of a series. You tell the story and come to an ending that could see a second book, or could stand by itself.

Eva and Skye’s Magical Hair Solution – As I said, I’m at 63k right now. That leaves me with 22k to write out the consequences of what’s happened so far. I’m not going to skim on the plot, not at this point, as there are a few big scenes that need to be written that leads to the conclusion, and like with the script, I need it to feel like the story is complete, but could also be continued.

Word count – 63,000 of 89,000.

Scavengers – I have episode 6 done and now I’m going to re-read all six episodes and tighten them up. There are a few places I know of where the storyline sags, or the characters do things for dumb reasons. I even have a series bible written out. Once the first six are good, then I’ll move on to the second six. I have a rough outline of what those will be about, and a way to end the first season the same way I did episode six, just in case. I feel this is beneficial for all involved. It gives the network and showrunner a clear exit. Although, I don’t know if I want to be a showrunner  . . .

Episodes – 6 of 12

Blogs – Yes, as you can tell, I’m back to writing blogs. Not as many as before, just a few each month, and they’ll be written, not video. I found setting up for video too time consuming. I don’t mean the mechanical part of it, but more getting me ready. I like to put makeup on and do my hair, but with everything else that I do, honestly, it was just too much. That doesn’t mean I’m not experimenting with other mediums . . .

So that is it; all that I’ve been up to. I deleted my YouTube account so if there are posts with blank screens, you know why. It was just too much, but I don’t regret trying, because it was fun.

Until next time, stay safe.

The Crystal Realm: Healerite

I found a new stone when I went to by some new crystals. It’s called Healerite. Healerite is a soft, smooth, yellow/green stone and a form of Serpentine. A few sites I researched refered to it as ‘Nobel Serpentine’ but these sites seemed to copy and paste off the original. Some sites called it a ‘new’ stone, but there were others who claim it’s just Serpentine, but in a different colour. Most of the research I found on it either contributes the metaphysical properties of Serpentine to it, or lists it with so many attributes that it could only be described as a ‘cure-all’ for anything chakra related.

The information on this stone was gathered from Crystalpedia.

CHAKRA(s): Solar Plexus, Heart

ENERGY: Healing, Luck

PROTECTION: Protects Cellular Structure, Shields the Etheric Field, Guards Against Radiation

STIMULATION: Purification, Chakra Alignment, Chakra Energizing, Cleaning of Energy Meridians, Hope, Faith, Emotional Stability, Emotional Healing, Lucid Dreaming, Self-Love, Compassion, Self-Acceptance, Balance, Physical & Etheric Harmonization

METAPHYSICAL PROPERTIES: Restructure misaligned Chakras and meridians, Reinvigorates the etheric bodies, Brings a great beneficial infusion of subtle matter-energy, Offers waves of well-being to the body, mind, and soul

HEALING PROPERTIES: Harmonizes Cellular Structure.

As you can see, there is a lot connected to this stone. Personally, I’m not too sure what it does as I’ve not had the chance to work with it yet. I bought it a short while after the first lockdown was over, to help with weight loss (cos we all ate too much during lockdown) and had to cleanse it with the full moon, but at that point, there was so much political turmoil going on, that I wasn’t in the right mindset to use it. It is worth mentioning that all the sites that offered information on this stone, was just a repeat of each other. Have you worked with this stone? What was your experience?

What’s on the eReader: Burn the Dark.

Cover for Burn The Dark

Robin is a YouTube celebrity gone-viral with her intensely-realistic witch hunter series. But even her millions of followers don’t know the truth: her series isn’t fiction.

Her ultimate goal is to seek revenge against the coven of witches who wronged her mother long ago. Returning home to the rural town of Blackfield, Robin meets friends new and old on her quest for justice. But then, a mysterious threat known as the Red Lord interferes with her plans . . .

DISCLAIMER: I did not receive this book as a gift or in exchange for a review.

Review:

Burn the Dark is the first book in the Malus Domestica trilogy, and I was excited to read this, as I like to read books written by people I know. The main character Robin’s journey is a hard one. Her backstory is tragic, and serves as a strong motivation for her actions; specifically hunting down and killing witches. She also videos this and puts them on YouTube, monetizing her videos for income.

After many years, she returns to her hometown with one goal in mind; to kill the coven that murdered her mother. Along with happier memories, the horror of her mother’s death comes back and she begins to remember things that she thought were hallucinations.

The story is told through the eyes of a myriad of characters, each of which have, or will have, a connection to the evils that still lies in the town of Blackfield. As she gathers herself to attack the witches, she learns that a more deadly enemy is waiting for her; the one her mother warned her about with her last breath. One that has haunted her for all of her life.

The story starts out with a bang and soon dissolves into a drawn out setup of backstory. The array of characters sometimes makes the plot hard to follow, but once the reader is past the excess scenes, the story takes on a frightening atmosphere as all those involved come face to face with the evil that not only haunts Robin’s old home, but the witches who use their powers in some very gruesome and intimidating manor.

Ms. Hunt’s grasp for description is beautifully detailed and enough to make the reader feel like Blackfield is their home town. The characters are engaging, colourful and witty, and keeps you routing for them when things become desperate.        

There was only one drawback that I found; the book ends just as it starts to delve into the heart of the story. I understand that this is a trilogy, but it felt as though Burn The Dark was just a long set up of world building and character introductions with a few, minor altercations between said characters and the coven. First novels in a series can be a daunting task to write, unless the world created by the author draws you in and make you care for the character’s well-being, and I believe that Ms. Hunt does accomplish this with her book with the wit and caring. It will be interesting to see how these characters interact with each other to help Robin fulfil her revenge.

4 out of 5

A Wiccan Journey: Cooking for the Sabbats.

I love cooking things from scratch. I can’t do it all the time, but when I have the time to put together a home-made meal, I go for it. One way of honouring my beliefs is creating a meal specifically using ingredients for that occasion. For example, part of a full moon rite is eating ‘moon cakes’ afterward and I’ve been known to put on a Beltane dinner prior to doing a rite. For the major Sabbats, these are wonderful ways to connect to the season and all that it has to offer.

Each season has its food preference. Many times these ingredients will overlap, but generally there is a new ingredient[s] for each of the eight points on the Wheel of the Year. These also include herbs and wine/meat/ale as well. It’s very easy to use a substituted. For instance, I’ve used fruit juice or milk in place of mead or wine and once for a full moon ritual in December I used a shortbread cookie.

As an eclectic Wiccan, I tend to take bits and pieces of different things to use in my rites. I feel it brings a personal touch to the ritual and for me that’s more important than doing it ‘by the book’.

Since its February and Ostara is right around the corner, let’s take a look at food and ingredients you can use to make a celebratory meal.

Ostara

Ostara, or the Spring Equinox, is the second of three spring celebrations. When I think of foods to serve, I think of things that represent what the celebration is about – new life and renewal, rebirth and beginnings. I did some research and found a list of ingredients that you can use to create your Ostara meal.

Eggs- the egg is the most recognizable symbol of spring. Who doesn’t know what an Easter egg looks like, and it represents new life. All sorts of egg dishes from devilled eggs to quiche can be made.

Chicken and duck.

Seeds such as sunflower, or poppy.

Lamb.

Rabbit or Hare (there’s a difference).

Fish.

All dairy foods.

Early green vegetables such as asparagus, lettuce, peas, and sprouts. I’ve only lived in a cold climate so the idea of these being ready for spring amazes me.

Edible flowers such as lilac, chive, clover. Again, living in a cold climate country means that most of this won’t be available until June or early July.

The internet is full of wonderful Ostara recipes that you can make and add to your celebration. Many are vegan as well, while others are a Pagan version of an Easter dish. Experiment and enjoy!

Of Writers & Prose: The Muse is a Tricky Bitch . . .

I have been a sci-fi fan since 1975 when I saw my first Godzilla movie. More so when Star Wars and the original Battlestar Galactica came out. When I entered adulthood, I discovered dark fantasy and paranormal, so it was a given when I started writing stuff that I would, naturally, gravitate toward the genres that captured my imagination. When I was in my twenties, so where my characters, and as I grew older, they did too, so imagine my fucking surprise when my Muse gives me a story idea that can only be written where the MC is a teen!

Look at my Twitter account. It says ‘Author of dark Adult Scifi & Urban Fantasy novels & scripts.

Adult. ADULT!

So where the hell did this idea come from and why am I so excited about it? I tried to envision the story as an adult novel. Nope. So then I tried with a young adult age, but it still wasn’t right. This story had to be written from a teens POV, problem is, I haven’t been a teen in DECADES, and I just briefly encounter the teens at work. Sometimes I can listen in on their conversations, but a lot of the time it’s more work related than general teenage banter. Not to mention the dialogue.

That’s another problem, I’m not ‘hip’ with the slang of today’s teens, so I decided to set it during the 80’s; a time I am very familiar with. This turned out to be a blessing in several ways:

  1. I remember how the world was back then. You could get away with a lot more then than you could now.
  2. Technology was in its primordial phase. There were no cell phones or laptops. We had computers but everything was run on DOS.
  3. Socially, things were much, much different. While there were bullies back then, the entire bully culture is taken so much more seriously now. For which I am grateful.

These three reasons alone excited me enough to want to work on the story. Plus, I have another set of magical realism novels that I could easily attach to this.

As of the writing of this post, I have cleared the 50k wordmark. Quite a feat for me. I’ve also decided that while the characters may be teens, the novel will be for adults; especially those who remember the 80’s and how we used to act. My memories of the ’80s are from a teen’s POV. Was it all sex, drugs, and rock’n roll? Pretty much, at least for me, it was and I think these characters will reflect that culture. I’ve already written a few scenes that are right from my memory and I will admit, it’s kinda fun looking back.  

Of Writers and Prose: Is It Time to Write That Story; Part 2

Ten years ago I wrote a blog post about writer’s block, but suggested that it’s not really a block, but more of a stall. I suggested that perhaps it wasn’t that we couldn’t find the words to write, but that it wasn’t the right time.

I believed it back then, and I still do now. Hear me out.

There isn’t a writer who hasn’t come across the infamous writer’s block in one form or another. Sometimes, for example this year, has seen a lot of creative people stop doing what they love because of the stress of the pandemic or a shutdown; myself included. Stress can be a serious problem for writers, but I’m not talking about any of that; what I’m talking about is the real idea that there is a certain time for stories to be written. A que, so to speak.

All writers know that a first draft is just word-vomit and the first stage of creating a novel. As a rule of thumb, we put that first draft away and go off to do something else, coming back to that novel after some time and looking it over with fresh eyes. Yet that’s not always the case. Sometimes we look at a particular story and either find no excitement for it, or doing revisions and edits just doesn’t flow. If you’ve read any of my writing updates you’ll see that this happens to me A LOT, and I’ good with that because I understand that wherever I draw my inspiration and creativity from, it’s letting me know that now is not the right time to be focusing on that particular story. Maybe I need to work on something else to improve my skills, or research something to make sure what I will right is correct and plausible. Whatever the case, when the words finally do flow, it allows me to finish the project and be happy with what I’ve done.

So, how do I know when the right time it? That’s easy; when the plot starts poking at me again, but I don’t jump right into the story. I’ll write things down, little ideas or scenes that come to me, and slowly, the poking increases until I have to open the file and work on it. Sometimes, like with the WIP I’m working on now, the poking takes over and pulls me away from a project I was already working on. My magic story had been dead in the water for a while, and I was working on a Steampunk story when a small idea popped into my head and I had to explore it. Now, I’m forty-thousand words into the first draft of Eva & Skye’s Magical Hair Solution and I’m confident that I’ll have the first draft finished by the end of January. Funny that, as I first thought of this story idea two years ago this month.

If you’re interested in reading a small excerpt of Eva & Sky’s Magical Hair Solution, join my email list for this and future content that only subscribers will receive.

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Stay safe, everyone.

Movie Night: Beyond Skyline

IMBd Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1724970/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt

Rating: 5.3

Tagline: A tough-as-nails detective embarks on a relentless pursuit to free his son from a nightmarish alien warship.

Genre: Action/Adventure/Scifi

Synopsis: Strange lights descend on the city of Los Angeles, drawing people outside like moths to a flame where an extraterrestrial force threatens to swallow the entire human population off the face of the Earth.


Review:

If you remember my review of the movie SKYLINE (read my rant HERE) then you’ll understand when I say I was a little skeptical of watching another movie based on the original. I’m glad I did.

BEYOND SKYLINE begins shortly before the aliens attack. Everything about the attack is the same as in the first movie, but this time, people actually try to do something. This movie picks up were the other movie should have went, and we see what happens when a human brain in integrated into the alien technology.

This is the movie that SKYLINE should have been. Okay, maybe some of the plot was a little ridiculous, but at least it HAD a plot. There were a few things that made me shake my head, but it wasn’t as bad as the original.

If you’ve seen SKYLINE, I highly suggest you watch this movie as well. It isn’t the best, but it’s an enjoyable movie that actually makes sense and has a complete story arc to it.

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