The Tireds

It took me until this morning to finish that In Death book, for the second time around. I did remember reading it about halfway through but I finished it anyway, just not in any rush. The problem I’m having now is being clobbered all the time by the tireds.

Every time I turn around, I’m desperately needing a nap. I’m hoping it won’t be too terribly much longer before we get my iron and hemoglobin levels where they should be and I can do the things I want to do without needing a whole day to recover.

In the last few weeks, I’ve made a couple of perfume sprays (with inspirational help from my younger sibling). I really love the one blend – it’s light, sweet, and yet darkens up really nicely by the end of the day. I like them all but that one is my new daily wear for a while. I really considered maybe not putting it up in my little shop but I did because that’s literally why I made it.

As far as the book – Shadows In Death it was – it was a solid entry in the series, if you like the series, you’ll like the book. It’s definitely not the one to pick up if you haven’t read any of the others. At this point in the series, even though introductions are always sort of made, it’s likely much better when you already know the mechanics of the relationships. There’s really only been one book that made me roll my eyes (and that had more to do with the fact that the title alone spoiled everything) even if there are moments in every book and things about the main character that annoy me. I’ll still keep reading them. Hell, I’m 35+ books along for the ride, I gotta know how this ends. If it does.

Now I’ll get back to The Only Good Indians though it’s dragging a LOT more than I expected from the reviews I read. I’m really hoping this doesn’t become a Twenty Days of Turin which was hugely dragging despite being worlds ahead of it’s time. I love a good scary book but apparently, I’m a lot more picky than I used to be on what makes a scary book good.

I also finally watched Doctor Sleep last night. I loved both books and the shining movie and this is a wickedly good entry – serving to tie the books a little closer to the film universe but still staying separate. I do like the book’s ending better but the casting was crazily spot on and I really think Ewan McGregor and Henry Thomas should be in more things that I like to watch.

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Among Other Things

I may have written about these things before – if this is a repeat of previous words, I’m sorry, I’m still playing catch up apparently.

I found a book on my dining room table that I don’t remember. I know I read it as it’s an In Death book and I read those as soon as I get them every single time – it’s my favorite clear-the-cobwebs series – excellent escapism with great pacing and characters, even if they aren’t really mysteries. I didn’t realize how much of a year just didn’t get filed away in my brain. Thank goodness for doctors, bloodwork, and science.

At one point last year, I literally was forgetting entire conversations had just hours earlier. It scared the hell out of me. I wrote it off at first as fibro-fog or part of my rheumatoid arthritis (or a side effect of any of the medications I take for them) but I added it to my running list of questions for my next appointment. It probably didn’t get asked as soon as it should have been but I really hate being a bother. Rheumy assured me the kind of forgetting I was talking about wasn’t any part of those conditions or medications.

It wasn’t until I started getting the headaches – huge, painful, and pretty much on a schedule – that I brought any of it up with my regular doctor. I love her so much. MRIs, visits to the neurologist, visits to the vampire’s office. All of it down to serious vitamin deficiencies. I got those evened out and I haven’t had the memory issues since – but finding the evidence of just how much I have forgotten, how much I missed, is still disconcerting.

With those deficiencies out of the way, new issues have emerged. Technically they’re not new at all. Probably they’ve been a borderline problem since I was a teenager. It was only with the added stress on my system that they really got bad enough to be of issue.

In many ways, I feel like my body’s warranty expired in 2017 and now everything is clicking and clunking and falling apart. It was running fine until it suddenly wasn’t and now, as soon as I get one thing fixed, another thing screams for attention. (though this reminds me that I need to make an appointment to get my oil changed – on my car, not continuing my weird analogy)

I suppose this is all to say – I have a fun book to read today.

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Book Review: Seasons of a Magical Life

Seasons of a Magical Life

Seasons of a Magical Life by H Byron Ballard

I’ve been delving into books that have Appalachian roots for a bit now and to find that here was a happy accident. Appalachia may not speak to me in the same language as the Pacific Northwest or New England but it has a call all its own – a lilting, rural call. Instead of whale song there is mountain call. Instead of ocean, there is stream. Different but still good.

There’s a lot to this book that strikes a right chord for me but I am very much drawn to the rural landscape, the forest-farm. Cities just aren’t for me. I’ve never been really good at special day type things – to be honest, I’m lucky if I remember what the date is and only remember the day of the week because of my youngest kid’s school schedule but I do enjoy seasonal workings – whether it be food, decoration, crafty things.

I loved that Ms. Ballard’s approach was so inclusive – to other traditions, secular and otherwise, to those with disabilities, to newer and experienced practitioners. This is definitely geared more toward the suburban and rural over city-dwellers but that doesn’t mean there aren’t valuable things for everyone.

One of my favorite take-aways here is the division of the day. On the face of it, the day starts at midnight, in the dark, with sleep. It is something of a perspective thing but beginning the day with sleep – all cozy warm and soft – seems idyllic and wistful in a time when so little else is. It certainly allows for more patience upon rising. I find that many are far more patient with themselves upon waking from a luxurious nap than from a good night’s sleep.

That’s not to say I agree with everything – there is little meditative to me about washing dishes (my hands are not always in good shape and just about every plate I own is chipped). Laundry is a definite chore in my book. And I’m not at all sure how I feel about incorporating so many different elements but, my own traditions are rather patchwork as it is: a bit from culture A, a bit from culture B, a dash of the cultures of ancient ancestors who wouldn’t know me if I called on their spirit.

While this still isn’t the book I’ve been searching for these last couple of decades, it’s a book I’m glad to have on my shelf and one that will likely get reread down the road.

Find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Seasons-Magical-Life-Pagan-Living/dp/1578637236

And more about the author here: https://www.myvillagewitch.com/

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A Lovely Thing

I had a lovely thing happen today that’s just got me floating a bit. We’ll set aside the fact that the amazing people who work in my local medical lab thing (as I say, the vampire’s office) see me so often they know me by name and like me enough to support me. Today, my favorite of the women who work there (because she’s the only one who can get all my blood without having to stick me 8 to 10 times) asked me a question about one of my books. A really good question at that.

Generally speaking, I don’t really run into people who have read my books that didn’t buy it directly from me at any number of my local events and I don’t think anyone has ever really asked me where a particular element came from. I love questions like that and I thought maybe someone else might be interested in the response also.

The question was about Hunter’s Crossing – where did the gray road come from?

To my knowledge, there isn’t such an artifact in the real world mythology but the basis of it is sort of there, in a way. The foundation of it comes from Greek mythology. The River Styx forms the boundary between Earth and the Underworld. It seems to me, if there was a third plane, the Otherworld, a similar boundary would exist and thus, the Gray Road was born. It is not a place without cost or without danger. Because it was an artificial boundary, designed when magic stepped away from the regular world, it had to have rules. Because it was designed to keep the planes separate and humans are insatiably curious, it had to be hidden. It is a dead space between worlds but the things that lived there when it was created were accidentally granted immortality in the process. Being a dead space, there is no color, time is a bit weird, and death is ever-present. Not the sort of place where you want to vacation but an important place in the story (and later stories too).

Hunter’s Crossing can be found on Amazon, your local bookseller, or direct from the publisher.

Hunter’s Crossing by Sarah Wagner from Boroughs Publishing Group

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The History of Things – Newel Post Cap

Grief is an interesting thing – it’s an emotion and an energy that clings to us for far longer than we sometimes even recognize. It lurks in corners, waiting to take us by surprise. It gives certain words a different weight. I firmly believe that grief can linger in places. Where there is true grief, there is love. Where there is love, there is power.

As a little girl, in the moments when my grandparents’ funeral home was not hosting someone else’s loved ones, it was my playground. I remember being as crafty and sneaky as I could to slide down the banister of the biggest most beautiful staircase I’d ever seen. I had a little help from people who should have probably known better. When I had to leave that place to go to the place I lived, I’d pat the newel post with tiny hands and be on my way, knowing she’d be there when I got back. As a bigger girl, I leaned there, against the post, stalling as long as I could before I had to say goodbye to my mother, held up and bolstered by that same newel post. As an adult, each time I’ve said goodbye to that place, I’ve patted the newel post and hoped she’d remember me fondly and know she was as loved as a building could be before they tore her down.

A touchstone and a gift

Today, I was given a great gift. The cap of that newel post, that touchstone of my life where I can mark the important moments in pats like some mark height in a doorway. I know it might seem silly to some but it means the world to me.

How many thousands of people took strength from that post? Touched it to keep themselves standing in the face of great loss? I like knowing that it will continue to be loved, to be something that matters, at least as long as I’m still living. I like knowing that it’s always going to be where I can touch in and remember.

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The Start of a School Year

It’s that time of year again – the stores fill up with blank notebooks, reams upon reams of blank paper, full pens, and unlimited potential. Kids shuffling back to the routine, dragging their feet a bit, clinging to the last tiny shreds of summer. And then there’s me – thrilled to have my own space, my own time again, but sad to get one more first day closer to an empty nest, and, this year, doubly sad for completely selfish, non-kid related reasons.

I’m pretty sure I’ve posted about the funeral home my grandparents owned multiple times and will post more about it in the future – it was a very special place. Was. I’m struggling with the idea of putting it in the past tense. It’s always been there – even when it stopped being ours, I was sure it would always be there – a touchstone to the past I could visit if I needed or wanted. A monument, a headstone marking my childhood. But it’s going to be torn down. Right now, there are people in it, around it, pulling pieces out to put in other houses. My husband being one of them and my house being one of those other houses.

I’m home, not feeling so great, watching the new pup who is determined not to be more than 2 inches from me at any given time, and waiting on my youngest to be done with his first day of school.

Usually, the first day of school is a cause of great celebration and horror movies. Today, not so much. I’ll get my horror movies next week. Today is for wallowing.

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The Histories of Things #1: The Teak Ladies

I collect old stuff. This might be an understatement maybe. I do love it – I love these things and all the stories that they may or may not have to tell. Some of them, I love how they’ve come into my life or where they were before I got them. Some of them I fell in love with in a shop or on a screen.

I thought I’d told the story of my two ladies and I went to link it only to discover that I did not. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my grandfather’s funeral home a time or three. A good number of the interesting old stuff that I have came from there, either my grandparents time there or from the woman who owned it prior to them.

Many years ago now, my grandparents sold the business and my husband and I went to help them pack up a whole lifetime of stuff. While we were packing up, my grandparents gave us a whole bunch of amazing things including a teak bust of a woman which I dusted off and put in my curio cabinet to sit for about a decade. She’s really pretty and it felt like a nice goodbye to the funeral home that was my only consistent home in my childhood.

Last year, we found out that the funeral home’s building was up for sale and likely going to be demolished and were given the opportunity to go in and purchase a few things (oddly enough, I don’t think the sale has actually gone through as no one has called us to let us know that we can get our fireplaces). I did a lot of reminiscing on that trip through the building. It still feels like home to me, even if parts of it have been rearranged or redone. I brought home some slate from the basement, some tools from what had been the embalming room, and my fabulous husband found something in the garage, just sitting on a shelf all by her lonesome as if no one else had ever noticed her. A very nearly but not quite matching teak lady.

I know for sure that they came from the many adventures of the woman who owned the funeral home before my Pap. She traveled the whole world and brought home so many interesting things, these lovely ladies among them. And now they’re both mine. Two goodbyes from my favorite place. My oldest kid used to think it was weird, to talk about places like they have any sort of intelligence (fortunately, they’ve met a few interesting places since then and now at least pretend to understand what I mean). I loved that house and I swear that house loved me right back. To me, these ladies prove it.

Someday she (the house) will make it into a book or star in one but I haven’t quite found the right story for her yet.

I might just make this a series – I have so many neat old things – some of them the stories I know are amazing but for some, it’s the story I don’t know that makes them interesting. I’ll likely write a good bit about the lady who owned the funeral home before my Pap: what I know of her is interesting, what I remember of her is very little, but she remains the only actual ghost I’ve ever seen (and apparently, the only instance of any paranormal anything going on in that funeral home after being a funeral home for some 50 years), and I know she collected some of the most interesting things.

Next time though, it’ll be something different. Next time, I’ll show you one of the things my father brought back with him from the USSR in the late 1980s.

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New Baby in the House

And he is TINY. Our Fred has been a little sad and lonely since RedDog’s passing and we’d been talking about a little friend for him for a while. The baby we got is so small right now it makes me nervous. It’s going to be a long month or so but then I think he’ll be solid enough that all my maternal instincts aren’t screaming FRAGILE.

Sleeping Bruce

I’m a bit of a hovermom at the moment – the Fred is a giant by comparison (for now, Bruce will probably be bigger down the road) – but for the most part, Fred might be the most excited of us all. It does mean that getting stuff done might get a little more difficult for a couple of months while we go through all the puppy phases but, in the long run, it’ll be well worth it.

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Why Write

Why do I write? I write because I love to read and there are some books that I want to read that won’t exist unless I write them.

Mostly, I stick to my favorite genres – those fantastical, out-of-this-world, big scary or big science genres I love so much – fantasy, science fiction, horror, paranormal romance. I do so love writing in those genres. Part of it is because, in those genres, the worlds can be what I want – places where the only laws that matter are the ones I’ve made up myself, so long as I can make a logical(ish) enough case for them in the writing.

I do dip a toe into nonfiction sometimes, usually about my parents or my children or my chronic illnesses. But I’m finding myself searching for a book that, so far, doesn’t exist. By the time I figure out the words, it may exist by someone far more qualified than myself but I may give the writing of it a go, even if just for myself. It’s the sort of something I’ve been mulling off and on for very nearly twenty years.

My grandmother would like me to write children’s books (I think she’d find that far more palatable than paranormal romance or (gasp of distaste) horror) but that’s really not my cuppa – I, of course, told my children stories but they didn’t much care one way or another and neither have any recollection of them now, as a teenager and an adult so I don’t much figure they were any good.

I’ll never step away from fiction – its rooted too deeply in my existence and I have stories I want to tell that don’t exist yet so it’s my job to write them. Like my hedgewitch granny book(s?) and my Hell’s Redemption story that’s been percolating for about five years and my bog witch story that keeps trying to find form. My problem isn’t finding my words or finding my stories but finding my audience. But, I’ll keep plugging along and reaching out and doing my best to draw you all in and hope you want to hear my stories.

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Mistakes & Regrets

I’ve been writing pretty much since I could put words together – my first poem was dictated to my grandmother when I was about 3.5, just after I got my first cat. I wrote my first book in 7th grade so that would be 13 or so. I still have that one – it’s a fantasy and pretty terrible (though good for my age I was told). I wrote the first half of my second book directly after and this is one of my biggest mistakes and regrets in all my years of writing – I literally threw it away.

I know it took place in the Maldives because I had this oversized illustrated atlas and it was the most foreign, most interesting place in it (this was before I had access to the Internet). I know it was a horror story that contained a series of murders. I know I threw it away because it creeped me out. Me. The girl who spent lunch periods reading Silence of the Lambs (and that one got a phone call to my mother). The girl who bought an extra pregnant shark in biology class earlier that same year to do a proper autopsy style dissection on the table in my grandfather’s funeral home.

I’ve spent years looking for a book that replicated that feeling – being utterly creeped out, the kind of creeped out that crawls in to the blood and festers. Years. And I had it right in front of me, from my own mind and I have very little idea of what it was that got under my skin so badly that I had to throw it away.

I know there was a girl who found the body of her best friend, partly decomposed and explained in as much detail as a child with no access to the sort of research that would make that realistic could do. I have no other recollection of the story. What I wouldn’t give to remember that story – specifically what it was that made it different from all the rest of my stories, of the many many horror novels I read in that year, the following years, that never got to me so badly that I threw it out. Maybe someday I’ll remember but until I do, my biggest regret in my writing life will be throwing that away.

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