Category Archives: Interesting

Goals for 2018

I think everyone gets at least a little introspective this time of year, looking back at the progress made, the failures, the successes, the gains and the losses. There’s a lot about life you can’t control so goals don’t always come to fruition but I really like to have them. I like to separate them into categories also – personal stuff, professional stuff, and the stuff that doesn’t really fall into either category.

Personally: I’d like to lose the weight I’ve gained (or rather, never lost after my youngest kid). I’d like to be comfortable in my own skin again – or at least as much as I can be. I would like to find a foundation or concealer that actually covers all my stupid red splotchies that have suddenly decided to be part of my life (yay weird effects of my RA or the medication for it). I’d like to be a little better at peopling this year also – less tripping over my tongue and more making sense. I’d really like to feel comfortable enough with myself and my anxieties to get pictures done – we haven’t had a family photo done since before my youngest was born and we should really do that – I just really hate being in pictures.

Somewhere in between the personal and professional is journaling. Not blogging. Not really a bullet journal. Just a journal, for me. It’s always helped before to get all this ick out somewhere and I just happened to get a pretty awesome Solo in Carbonite journal for Christmas.

Professionally: I’d like to write three books, four short stories, and forty poems. Those seem like doable numbers for me. I’d also like to do a little more artsy stuff than craftsy stuff – maybe not for the craft fairs but for the Etsy shop. I’ll be happy if I can get three of the things in my head to be real tangible things, especially some of the mixed media type art in my head. I’d like to do at least five vendor events and maybe a little convention. Maybe. I’ll be ridiculously happy if I can write some words no fewer than five days a week.

The stuff that doesn’t fall into either category are more like hopes than goals. I’d like to go a year without a panic attack. I’d like to go a year without a major loss in my life – real, imagined, personal, or otherwise. I hope we can get my RA under control. I hope my kids continue to do awesome in their classes and in just being awesome people. I hope my husband has the best year ever. I hope my friends and family have awesome years also.

I’m just tired of being sad so I’m really hoping for a year with a lot less of that. I’m taking steps to do what I can do feel better – it’s not working just yet but these sorts of things take time. Much more time than I had imagined.


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2017 In Review

There isn’t a lot of good in this year really. It has been one of the worst years to date for me. The loss of my Dad hit me really hard in some really unexpected ways. My stepmom moved to be closer to her brother, which is really great for her and I know it’s the best thing, but I’m missing her a lot too. Skype is great but it’s not the same. Finding the answer to my crazy hurting, swelling, and mobility issues was great, even if it showing up was not. I’ve had a bit of a time of things coming to grips with all of it but I’m grateful not just to have answers but to have it be something fairly treatable, even if it changes everything for me. There were far scarier words than Rheumatoid arthritis bandied about prior to all the bloodwork so I’m relieved it wasn’t any of those.

On the writing front, there’s not much to report beyond nearly being done with the sequel to Hunter’s Crossing. I’ve written less this year than any year since the 7th grade, when I finished my very first book.

I did open my Etsy at long last, even made my first sale, and started doing craft fairs with my books and weirdness. I met a lot of interesting people and had some fun – even with all the health crap that was going on.

There’s been a lot of loss in my life this year, not all of it is really something I can explain right. I try but words really don’t do it justice. I know there’s a lot of weird in my life – the prednisone makes all my emotions so much bigger and more annoying so all of this introspective crap is even worse. I think this year is just a lost year, more or less. One best forgotten and moved past and never spoken of again.


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Pressed like a grape

I went to my rheumatologist today – who I discovered that I like much better when I’m not hyper-emotional with the prednisone – and the difference is night and day. If I wasn’t worried about injuring myself again, I might even dance I’m feeling so much better.

The knee was about half as swollen as it had been but he still managed to get six full big syringes of synovial fluid out of it. The moment he said he was going to drain the knee, I was a little bit panicked. Big needle = scary. Hell, little blood draw needle = scary and ouchie too! Apparently, my rheumy is really good at draining joints. The worst part wasn’t the needle at all but the manipulation of my really stupid and crooked patella (My kneecap moves in an arc instead of properly up and down). Between the drainage and the cortisone shot (that I didn’t even feel), the difference is amazing. Absolutely worth being pressed like a grape. I almost asked if this was a thing they could teach me to do at home since it will undoubtedly happen again.

It’s my medication day so I’m still super tired and all that but I’m going to make the youngest kid’s day and meet him at the bus stop, something I haven’t been able to do all week. I can’t even tell you what a relief this is. I feel terrible scaring the kids like this and it just keeps happening. My stupid immune system just refuses to roll over and play dead. All my life, it’s done a great job, maybe too good and now it just won’t stop even though there is no reason for it to be at war with anything. I’m just so damn happy that I’ll be ambulatory for Christmas and the short one can settle out a bit about that.

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Lessons Learned

We’ve come to the part of the year where I over-analyze everything and, since I happen to be laid up a bit, I might as well share more than I should. Every situation we come to is an opportunity to learn something. It may not always be something you wanted to know, but the truth remains. Just the other day I learned that I know way too many obscure Christmas facts and, according to my son, no one ever remembers who wrote what. Even if it’s Charles Dickens. And far too few people have seen one of our family favorites, Olive the Other Reindeer. This bit of knowledge makes me very sad.

I’ve learned a lot this year and very little of it did I want to know.

Good things I learned: I can laugh at almost anything. My stepmom has a really great family. My kids are awesome when the chips are down, even if they really worry too much. I was incredibly fortunate to have the parents I did. It is absolutely ok to stand up for yourself when people are being unkind or cruel, even if no one else sees past the official public face of said people.

Less than good things: Ibuprofen makes me rashy. There are not enough handicapped accessible facilities when you are limited in your mobility. And I was only on crutches – I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to try and get around when you’re in a wheelchair though the time may come when I find out. Prednisone makes me ragey and weepy. Some people are just plain compelled to one-up you in life, even (sometimes especially) when it’s about the terrible things (Is Munchausen by bragging a thing?). I do not understand that one. And the past never really goes away, ghosts crop up to clang their chains and muck you up just because they can when you least expect it. I also learned that even the smallest injuries can take me out now – for DAYS.

I like to sandwich the ick with better so I’ll go back to the good now. There are support groups out there for RA that don’t require me to physically go anywhere and they’ve helped me immensely in figuring this all out, especially understanding my bloodwork. I’ve learned by necessity to try and drink more water in the day before my bloodwork also but it really does make it easier and so much less ouchie. And best of all, though maybe bittersweet, it doesn’t matter how much time goes by, some ghosts still come to visit and I embrace them, even conjure them through perfume and shirts and I will never ever not want them to come and tell me stories in my sleep.

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What a Difference

medication (or the lack of it) can make! We’ve started tapering my already low dose prednisone and I’m feeling a lot less … boom. I’m not exactly sure how to explain it. It’s like I was feeling things too big if that makes sense. It couldn’t come at a better time as I always get weepy in December and this year, Thanksgiving is already going to be difficult. I’m a little more sore and achy than I was before but I’m definitely willing to push through that in exchange for not flipping out over everything or feeling like I want to cry all the time.

I’m definitely not going to win NaNoWriMo this year but I will have a draft for Leilani and Blake’s second book before the end of the year and I’m really happy with that. I have a lot of projects in my head, it’s just a matter of putting them on paper. It used to be I could work five projects at once but my brain is not working with that right now so, I’m going to have to focus on just one. If I can write a minimum of 500 words every day – which isn’t really that much when you break it down – I can get all of my projects finished. I’m really excited for some of them to get out of my head and into the hands of readers. I expect to have Hunter’s Hell finished by the end of the year and Eldercynne Knight by Valentine’s Day and Gods of the Fallen by my birthday. In that order. If I keep it in that order, maybe I’ll get done a little faster because I am super excited by Gods of the Fallen – some of the ideas are just so neat to me. I’d also like to get back to my poetry a little more but I have to figure out how that will fit into my writing schedule.

I think there’s more of my anxiety and depression rearing up than I usually like to admit to. I don’t think all of my sleepiness is just RA related and I know my inner critical voice is just going bananas over every misstep I’ve ever made in my life. It’s not like this part of things is new, I should be old hat at this by now and have it under control already. Except we all know that’s not how these things work in the real world.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’ve got plenty to be thankful for, even if this year has been just a gaping hole of I’d really rather not. The kids are awesome, the husband is awesome, they’re all healthy and that’s enough for me right now. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and get to spend some time with family and eat some yummy stuff. Tomorrow, I make pumpkin pie and a veg and that’s all anyone is expecting of me and that is glorious.

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Pokemon Go – A Rant

My family plays Pokemon Go. We have, thus far, really enjoyed it – even if I can’t find a Ponyta to save my life (Husband and oldest child both have one and I really want a Rapidash!). Some people don’t care for it – think it’s silly, useless, or even lazy (since apparently no one should need a game to encourage them to be active). Fine for them and all but I call BS on the useless and the lazy. I am a writer – I live a fairly sedentary life because there are no sports I like to play (and the ones I do enjoy, I can’t find anyone to play with or I prefer the position that requires the least movement but relies on skill – goalie, catcher, etc) or hobbies I enjoy that are physical. I am trying to lose a great deal of weight at the moment and if I have a game that’s encouraging me to walk a mile and a half to two miles every day, how is that bad?  I have a son who would rather play games on his computer or write or watch anime than go play outside – he’s too much like me for his own good – but he’s willing to ride his bike five miles to try and hit pokestops (and catch something bragworthy). How is that a bad thing?

I’m not saying you have to play it or even understand it but don’t trash something that is getting kids (and parents) out and about – even possibly doing this as a family! My family doesn’t have a lot of shared interests – half of us are hermits and the other half are social butterfly extroverts – so having this one thing we can do together is freaking awesome. Yes, I require a game to force myself to exercise some place not inside my home. Short of dancing around like a lunatic to 80’s and 90’s punk and goth music when no one is home, it’s probably the most active I’ve been since we used to play paintball every weekend (eight years ago or so). I don’t run, I don’t care to go for walks (too quiet and boring) but apparently, I’m more than willing to walk 85 km (so far) to hatch a bunch of pretend eggs – even if I do end up with 10K eevees sometimes (10K Magmar totally makes up for that sort of).

As of this moment, my pride and joys are a 1229 Magmar that I hatched and an 898 Ninetails that I evolved (Kitsune!) and my son has a big Snorlax and a Wartortle and my husband also has a good Snorlax and the Dragonaire that he evolved. What do you have in your Pokedex?

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Eldercynne Rising

There are varying opinions on book trailers but my goal is to make one for each of my books. I’ll be posting two more next week: one for Guardian of the Gods and one for Hardwired Humanity but today is for Eldercynne Rising. If you like murder, dragons, warriors, magic, and a little romance, it might be something you’d like.


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Eldercynne Rising

Eldercynne Rising from Boroughs Publishing Group

Eldercynne Rising from Boroughs Publishing Group

It’s alive! 

My book, she is alive!

I really enjoyed writing this book and am looking forward to seeing what is next for Reina Cahill. She’s got a lot on her plate in this book – searching for some killers, having a face to face with the entire dragon nation, making friends with monsters, and meeting her soulmate.

One other bit of news for today – I’m starting up a monthly newsletter, The Stake and Dagger. It’ll have snippets not available here, information on whatever I’m currently writing, and information on interesting things. If you’re interested, pop over to my sign up page.

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Guest Post: Val Griswold-Ford Finally Reveals how Schrodinger met Molly!

Every December, I post about my favorite writer’s advent stories and now, she has released the first advent story, Winter Secrets in book format. In celebration of the event, she’s touring the internet granting wishes. The following story has long been one of mine and I’m so grateful that Val let my blog be the one to host this particular bit of the Winter Secrets Tour. ~Sarah


Winter Secrets - Year 1 of the Carter's Cove Advent Series by VG Ford

Winter Secrets – Year 1 of the Carter’s Cove Advent Series by Val Griswold-Ford

One of the biggest questions that I get is how did Schrodinger come to live with Molly in the Cove? After all, CrossCats are not native to Earth, and they tend to be wanderers, although Schrodinger does mention that his uncle lived at the Winter Court for a few years. In addition, Schrodinger appears to be (and even says he is) a younger CrossCat, who has just started his life’s journey. So how did he end up living with Molly?

Well, that’s a story, of course, that needed to be told at some point….


It was a dark and stormy night. The winds howled around the entrance to the Den, driving rain into the front tunnel almost to the edge of the curtains that protected the rest of the rooms from the elements. Schrodinger, seated just to the right of the opening in a shielded corner, let the wind bring the various familiar scents to him as he thought.

Green, growing things; the ozone from the lightning that periodically lit the darkness; a warmth underneath everything, letting him know that even though the rain itself was cold, spring was coming. It had been a long, harsh winter, and there were still patches of snow clinging to the underbrush. Or there had been. After this night, he’d be surprised if they’d survived.

His thoughts were as dark as the night he stared out at. Once the rain ended, he’d have no more reasons to hold off on his journey, and he still had no idea where to go. He sighed, putting his chin down on his paws, and stared moodily out in to the darkness.

That’s an awfully heavy sigh.

Schrodinger didn’t move. The thought had drifted up to him from below, and he knew the Librarian hadn’t come up to the Den’s entrance. I think I’ve earned it.

Her chuckle had a dry edge to it. So cynical at so young. Are you too busy brooding to come down here, or should I find someone else to help me?

I’m on my way. The young CrossCat stood up and went into the Den, shaking raindrops from his coat as he went down to the Library.

Every CrossCat Den had a library, a room where the knowledge of that clan was stored and protected, where kittens were taught their history. But only this Den was home to the Librarian, one of the oldest and wisest CrossCats still on the mortal plane. She kept not only her home clan’s history, but the combined histories of all the CrossCat clans, as well as other tomes that interested her. Her library consisted of one full tunnel, long and winding, with many rooms off of it, full of things. Schrodinger adored it, and it was one of the many reasons he was reluctant to leave.

The Librarian was in her usual spot, sitting at her desk, the fireplace behind her full of warmth and dancing flames, chasing away the damp and cold. Mage lights danced in their sconces on the walls, throwing a pattern of shadows and light across the shelves full of scrolls and books. It’s still raining out, then, she observed, looking up from the book open in front of her as he came in. I was hoping it had blown over.

Not for a while, according to Augustin, and he’s rarely wrong, Schrodinger said, settling in on the other side of the fire. Although the lightning has died down.

Which means you could leave soon. The Librarian used one ink-black paw to turn the page on the book. Doesn’t it?

I suppose. Schrodinger shrugged. I still don’t know where to go, though.

You could visit your sister.

Schrodinger wrinkled his nose. I know. I just don’t feel the draw towards it.

You might once you hit the Roads.

That’s what Father said, Schrodinger admitted. I just don’t know.

The Librarian looked back at him, her emerald green eyes clear and calm, not judging, but considering. What do you want, Schrodinger?

I don’t know. That admission made him feel ashamed, and he looked away from her.

You can tell me, you know. I won’t judge you.

I want to remain here and learn. He made the statement, and dared to look back at her when she didn’t immediately answer. I don’t want to travel. I want to learn.

You can learn while you travel, you know.

It’s not the same, Schrodinger said, and dropped his head. I’m afraid that I’ll screw it up.

And that’s the real reason you don’t want to leave, isn’t it?

He didn’t answer her. He didn’t need to. She knew the truth, and he felt like a kitten again, being berated for breaking something.

Then a soft paw landed on his head. He hadn’t heard her move, but he looked up to see the Librarian next to him, a gentle look on her face. We all have that feeling, Schrodinger, she told him. You’re no different. Every CrossCat that leaves the Den feels like he or she will do everything wrong, and come back covered in shame. Do you know how many actually do?

He shook his head.

Almost none, she said. And neither will you.

I wish I shared your optimism.

She chuckled, patted him on the head again, and moved back to her book. Would it help if you had a destination in mind for your first part, anyways?

Maybe. Schrodinger looked over at her. Do you need something?

I have a book that I need delivered to Carter’s Cove, which is three Realms over on the Road that runs near here, the Librarian said. I was going to send someone else, but if you have no plans, you could go and deliver it for me. The Cove has two Gates and is a rather large hub as human CrossRoads towns go, so you would have options. She looked over at him. Unless you have somewhere else to be?

Schrodinger considered it. His interactions with humans had been limited to the few that had come to speak to the Librarian and look things up in her books, but he’d read of them. Who do you need it delivered to?

Her name is Margie Barrett, and she owns a bookstore, the Librarian said. She is also writing a book of her own, and needs to borrow one of the herbals that I have.

You must trust her greatly, Schrodinger said. The Librarian did not usually allow her books to leave the safety of the library, never mind the Den.

She is an old friend, the Librarian said. In fact, I met her on one of my own travels.

Schrodinger gaped at her. You? Traveled?

All CrossCats travel, Schrodinger. What makes you think I would be exempt? She closed the book in front of her, and went over to the nearby shelves. Her long tail snaked up over her shoulders, deftly snagging a waterproof bag. Schrodinger watched her slide the book in with paws and tail, protecting the herbal from the weather. Then she handed it out to him.

No more excuses, she said. It’s time for you to go, Schrodinger.

And that was how he found himself running through the rain towards the nearest Road, the precious herbal banging against his side, heading for a town that he knew nothing about.

It’s very easy, the Librarian had told him. This is the smell you’re looking for. She’d opened a jar on her desk, and the smell of salt and water and something else that he couldn’t really describe filled his nostrils. That will take you to the Gate. When you get there, you’ll want to ask to speak to Mal – he’s the Station Manager. I’ll send ahead, so they know you are coming. He’ll tell you how to find Margie.

Schrodinger could only hope that it worked out that well. The scent of the salt and water drew him along, and his fur shivered as the Road approached. He gathered himself together and jumped through the Veil, landing lightly on the Road itself.

This was a well-traveled Road, as it was the closest to the Librarian. Schrodinger himself had gone to various Dens along it, but he’d never traveled beyond the CrossCat realm. The salt smell went to the right, away from everything he’d ever known, and for a moment, he hesitated.

All CrossCats travel, he reminded himself fiercely. And even if all I do is go to Carter’s Cove for the Librarian and back, that will be traveling. And then I can go back to the books I love.

He gathered his courage, and started off down the Road.

After only a short while, the whiff of salt and water came through the air, and Schrodinger turned towards the arched opening. CrossCats didn’t need to use Gates, but it was considered common courtesy, especially when going on an official visit. The Gate glowed briefly as he passed through and emerged into a large warm, green room.

“Welcome to Carter’s Cove!” said a young voice, as Schrodinger stopped to check in. A tall young man with dark hair and green eyes came over to him, holding a tablet in his hand. “I’m betting you’re Schrodinger?”

Yes, Schrodinger said politely, sitting down to catch his breath. Are you Mal?

“No, I’m Luke, one of the Gate techs,” the young man said, squatting down. “But Mal said you’d be through.” He held out the screen to the CrossCat. “Sign, please?”

Yes, the Librarian said he could tell me how to get to CrossRoads Books. Schrodinger pressed his paw to the tablet’s screen, next to his name.

“We’re going to do one better,” Luke told him, taking the tablet back and pressing a few keys on the screen. “We’ve got someone else going there as well, so if you don’t mind waiting for a few minutes, you can all go together in their cart.”

Schrodinger considered it. It would be easier than trying to navigate his own way through a strange human town. That should be good, he agreed. Where can I wait?

“You can wait here with me, if you want, or I can show you to the lounge,” Luke said, getting up and going back over to his terminal. Schrodinger followed him, the grass on the lawn soft under his paws. As he looked up, he realized that there was a glass ceiling above him, showing the blue sky and bright sunshine.

Here is fine, if you don’t mind me asking questions.

“Ask away. I might not know the answer, but I’ll do my best!”

As the tech settled himself in a chair, he patted the chair next to him. “Tom’s not around, so feel free to hop up,” he said. “You can see better that way.”

The precious book he carried smacked against his side as Schrodinger jumped into the proffered seat, but he quickly forgot it as he gazed at the screens in wonder. He’d seen several computer screens before, but the CrossCats didn’t use them much, so something like this was amazing. There were four spread out over the console, each one with something different. The one to the right of Luke contained constantly scrolling text and numbers in a slow, steady stream. He glanced at it occasionally, but most of his attention was held by the two center screens.

What are those? Schrodinger asked, pointing with a paw to the two screens. Each one held a split screen: half picture, half chat screen. One was the Gate he’d just come through, he realized, as the view shifted a bit and he could see the grass. The other showed a half-submerged arch, with gentle waves flowing through it. As he watched, the arch stones began to glow, and a stout boat chugged through, steam or smoke rising from the smokestack.

Luke grinned. “These are to monitor the Gates in the Cove,” he said. “Because we have both the Land Gate and the Sea Gate, it can get pretty busy. Most CrossRoads towns only have one or the other, unless it’s a big city, like Boston or Baltimore.” He tapped something into his console, and as Schrodinger watched the steamboat move off the screen, the stones’ glow fading behind them, a line of text came up next to the picture. “That’s Captain Grappin’s boat,” he told the CrossCat. “He’s bringing in another shipment of ore for his brother’s foundry.”

What do they make?

“Chainmail. It’s really fine stuff, and in high demand.” Luke tapped a few more keys, then glanced at the fourth screen, which was rotating through a series of pictures. “Ah, good, Yava’s on time.” He pointed to a wagon that was trundling up a hilltop. “There’s your ride.”

The wagon was large, and brightly painted, covered with various sigils and stars. Pulling it was a large horse with flowers braided into its long black mane. The person sitting on the wagon seat was similarly bedecked, with flowers tucked into the braids coiled around their head. Flowing robes of green, purple, silver and gold fluttered in the breeze caused by the wagon’s movement, and there was a long pipe clenched in Yava’s teeth.

What are they carrying? Schrodinger watched in fascination as the wagon moved towards them.

“Tea, among other things,” Luke told him. “Yava travels all over, and he always stops to bring tea for Molly at one of the nearby Realms. He comes through every so often.” He looked at the scrolling text. “Davin’s powering up the Gate now, so we should see him soon.”

True to his word, it was less than 15 minutes later that the Gate in the green room began glowing again, and the wagon creaked in on to the grass.

“Ho, Yava!” Luke called, as Yava pulled on the reins and the horse stopped. “Welcome to the Cove!”

“Ho, Luke!” Yava’s voice was high, and bright, and the pipe wiggled as he spoke. “How’s the weather?”

“Fine and bright.” Luke came down to the wagon, patted the horse, and held out the tablet to Yava, who signed it with a flourish. Schrodinger suspected he did everything with a flourish. “Still planning on heading to Molly’s first?”

“Of course. I have a special tea for her to try and I want to make sure I don’t forget.”

Luke turned and gestured to Schrodinger, who dropped from the chair and trotted over. “This is Schrodinger, who is making a delivery there as well,” he told Yava. “It’s his first time in Carter’s Cove, and Mal thought perhaps you wouldn’t mind a passenger for a few minutes.”

“A CrossCat! My stars and garters, I’d be delighted!” Yava shifted over and patted the seat on the wagon next to him. “Come up, come up, my fine fellow, and I’ll show you this lovely town.”

Thank you!

It took a bit more than that – with the herbal on his side, Schrodinger actually needed to have Luke help him up, but eventually, he was seated next to Yava, who twitched the reins and said, “Go, Chaos, go!”

Why is his name Chaos? Schrodinger asked curiously, as the large horse started moving forward.

“Because she is so beautiful that when she is in the fields with the other horses at home, they all vie to be near her, and it creates much chaos,” Yava told him, as they passed through a large set of doors at the back of the room out into the sunshine. “This is why I take her on the Roads with me, so she gets some peace.”

Schrodinger looked over at the placid horse. She is very beautiful, he agreed, and Chaos turned her head to wink at him before looking back out.

“So tell me, young CrossCat, what brings you to Carter’s Cove?” Yava asked, as they moved through the streets. “You are on your initiation journey, yes?”

Yes, Schrodinger said, trying not to goggle at the buildings around him. There were people moving, and cars, which he’d only heard about in books and from other CrossCats. The very amount of living beings in the area amazed him. I’m delivering a book for the Librarian, and then I’m not sure where I’m going.

“You have plenty of choices from here. What is it you wish to study?”

I’m not really sure yet, Schrodinger said. That’s why I’m having issues with this. I want to learn everything, but I know that’s not possible.

“Anything is possible,” Yava said, chuckling a little. “It may take you forever, but you could learn everything. But you might want to narrow it down to start, as I’m sure the Librarian told you. No wonder she chose you to come here. She was very much like you when she was younger.”

You know the Librarian?

“Yava knows many people,” Yava said. “But yes, she traveled with Chaos and I years ago. Not on her initiation trip, but afterwards. She wanted to know everything. Couldn’t make up her mind on what to study.”

Where do you suggest I start? I’m open to almost anything. Schrodinger thought that was probably the best way to figure things out. He was starting to get overwhelmed by the choices being handed to him.

“Actually, you are starting in the right place,” Yava said. “We are headed to a bookstore, a store that stocks books from all sorts of Realms. Margie Barrett can help you look some things up, and I know that they can help you find a place to stay for a few days while you make a decision, if you don’t want to stay at the Gate Station, which you can.”

Where will you be staying? Schrodinger asked.

“I have a room at the Captain’s Inn,” Yava said. “They take good care of Chaos, and the beds are soft and not expensive.”

Expensive. Schrodinger hadn’t even thought about money – CrossCats didn’t use it, and the Librarian hadn’t mentioned it either. Oh, he said, his ears wilting a little.

“I take it that the Librarian didn’t mention money, eh?”

No, Schrodinger said. Why should she?

“Because you will need it, especially in the human Realms,” Yava told him. “But perhaps the parcel you carry has a delivery commission on it?”

She didn’t say, Schrodinger said. Oh well. I will make due. He’d slept outside before, and the Cove’s air was warm and sweetly scented.

“If you need, come to the Captain’s Inn – I will be glad to cover you,” Yava said, and Schrodinger blinked up at the man.

Thank you, but why would you? You don’t even know me!

“You are a trusted friend of the Librarian,” Yava said, as if that explained everything. “Besides, it is good luck to help another.”

Schrodinger thought about that as Chaos stepped calmly through the streets, turning the concept over in his mind. By the time they pulled up in front of the big building that said “CrossWinds Books” on it, he had decided that if he could, perhaps traveling with Yava might not be a bad thing.

“Here we are!” Yava said, pulling Chaos to a stop next to the building. “Come with me, young Schrodinger, and I will introduce you.”

The first thing that Schrodinger noticed when he and Yava walked through the door was how quiet it was. There was a small hum in the background, but for the most part, it was like walking through the woods at home – peaceful, calm, and welcoming. The scent of something baking, not quite like the bread his mother made, but close, wafted towards him on the air, interspersed with something sweeter, like fruit.

“Hello, DC!” Yava said, as a young woman came around the corner. “I see Molly is baking tarts again, yes?”

“Cherry muffins, actually,” DC said, and looked at Schrodinger. “She’ll be happy to see you, Yava. And who is this?”

“This is Schrodinger, who is here to see Margie with a delivery,” Yava said.

“She’s out at lunch with Uncle Art right now, but you’re welcome to wait in the tea room for her,” DC told Schrodinger. “Or, if you’re in a hurry, Molly can take care of it for you.”

No hurry, Schrodinger said politely. I can wait.

“I will take him back,” Yava said, and led Schrodinger through the room to another room that had tables and chairs. The tall man tapped politely at a door at the rear of the room. “Miss Molly? May we come in?”

“Come in!” a cheery voice replied, and Schrodinger followed Yava in through the door, to a kitchen where the delicious smells were coming from.

The owner of the voice was a young woman with short dark hair and a ready smile seated on a stool at the island in the middle of the room. She was holding a tea cup, but put it down and got up as they came in.

“Yava!” she said, hugging him and then wrinkling her nose. “You’re still smoking that awful pipe, I see.”

Yava, who had put the pipe away before they’d come in, hung his head in mock-shame. “I am,” he agreed with a sigh. “It is to help those who would otherwise mourn my perfection. I must have some vice to offset the rest of my virtues.”

“You’re terrible,” Molly said, and then looked down curiously at Schrodinger. “Who is your friend?”

My name is Schrodinger, the CrossCat said politely. I have a delivery for Margie Barrett from the Librarian.

“He is on his initiation trip,” Yava said. “Since he had not been to Carter’s Cove before, I was asked to bring him.”

“Welcome to the Cove, Schrodinger!” Molly said, kneeling down to speak to him. “Aunt Margie’s not here right now, but you’re welcome to stay and have a cup of tea and a muffin, if you’d like. I’ve never met a CrossCat before.”

He hesitated. Part of him wanted to accept her offer, but this new concept of money was still worrying him a little.

Molly must have seen something of that, because she smiled. “Please, don’t worry about cost,” she said. “Friends of Aunt Margie’s have a running tab, and the Librarian is someone I’ve heard her speak of. What kind of tea do you like?”

I’ve only ever had herbal tea, Schrodinger admitted, a little surprised. But I do like bergamot.

“Oh, then you must try Earl Grey!” Molly said, getting up and going into another room. Her voice drifted back. “Your usual, Yava?”

“Please.” Yava sat on another stool and pulled a parcel from beneath his voluminous robes. “I have something new for you to try, though.”

“New tea? I’m intrigued. Continue.” Molly came back out into the kitchen carrying two mugs and two tea balls. She put them all down on the island, then picked up a large copper kettle and filled the mugs. Once the tea balls were in, she set one in front of Yava and then the other one (which Schrodinger noticed was larger than Yava’s, so he could drink from it) she put in front of another stool. “Let me take that package, so you can jump up,” she said, lifting the precious manuscript carrier from his shoulders. She put it on the side counter, away from everything, and once he saw it was safe, Schrodinger leapt up to the stool.

It was a little smaller than he was used to, but after a moment, he managed to settle himself (mostly by putting his front paws up on the island, and balancing a bit with his tail). In the meantime, Molly had set out a plate of muffins and sat back down. “What have you brought me, Yava?” she asked, opening the package. Schrodinger craned his head to look. The box was full of small brown paper-wrapped parcels.

“This is a tea I’d not found before,” Yava said, taking a muffin from the plate. “Chaos and I took a wrong turn on one of the Roads, and found ourselves in a little village. I’m not even sure it had a name, although the Realm is called Ishti. The area was surrounded by tea plants, as far as you could see.” He paused to take a bite, then continued. “This tea is a fruit-infused blend – they use berries to give it some sweetness.”

Molly lifted one of the little packages to her nose. “Oh, I can smell strawberries!” she said excitedly. “This is lovely! I can’t wait to try it!” She sniffed again. “Black tea?”

“Some are. Some are white. The white ones are marked.” Yava indicated the stamp on several of the packages. “I tried to get you a variety.”

“Thank you!” Molly said, going through the packages as Yava ate his muffin. She paused to take the tea ball from Schrodinger’s tea. “That should be good now.”

The CrossCat leaned down and sniffed the tea curiously. It did smell strongly of bergamot, along with a sharper scent – the black tea, perhaps? He lapped up a little, and almost fell off his stool in amazement. This is incredible!

“I thought you would like it!” Molly said, grinning at him. “Would you like a muffin?”


She set one on a small plate in front of him. The crumbly topping was rich with butter and sugar, and the taste of cherries, something he’d only had as jam, exploded on his tongue. The muffin quickly disappeared, as did the tea.

“I think you have a new fan,” Yava said, and Schrodinger nodded. The robed man sighed and stood up. “Alas, if I leave Chaos alone too long, she will find new admirers as well. Schrodinger, if you wish to join me at the Captain’s Inn, feel free to come along. We will be there for two days, until we move to our next destination. You are welcome to join us.”

Thank you, Yava, Schrodinger said politely, jumping down from the stool to give a proper bow. I will definitely consider it.

Yava bowed back to him and to Molly, who handed him a small package of muffins “for the road,” she said. “Would you like another cup of tea, Schrodinger?”

I would love one!

Molly refilled both their tea cups, and settled back on her stool. Schrodinger did the same.

“So tell me all about your travels,” Molly said. “Have you been many places?”

Not really. This is my first time away from the Dens, Schrodinger said. I’m supposed to be traveling and learning, but I’m not really sure where to go from here. I’ve never seen so many people in one place!

“Well, the Cove isn’t really normal,” Molly said. “Because we have the two Gates, we have a lot of people come in and out.” She cocked her head at Schrodinger. “You could stay here a while, you know.”

Only if I can find someplace that won’t charge me, Schrodinger said. I don’t have any money. We don’t use it.

“I have a couch you can crash on, if you want,” Molly said. “It’s not a big apartment, but it’s just me and sometimes Tom, my boyfriend. And I can introduce you to more tea.”

Schrodinger considered it as they chatted more. It would be a good introduction, and from the taste of Molly’s food, he’d be well taken care of. And she seemed very nice.

Then she took him up to the second floor, and Schrodinger stopped at the top of the stairs in awe. Lines and lines of bookcases marched down the room, filled with more books than he had ever seen in his life.

“Haven’t you ever been to a bookstore?” Molly asked him, and he shook his head.

And they’re all for sale?

“Yes, but Aunt Margie would let you read some of them if you wanted,” Molly said, leading him back to a small office. “It’s one of the perks of working here.” She knocked on the door. “Aunt Margie? Are you there?”

“Come in, Molly!” The voice was very similar to Molly’s, and the woman who greeted them as they came in had the same smile. “Oh, you must be from the Librarian!”

I am, yes. Schrodinger bowed, and then shrugged out of the carrying case. She sends her greetings, Mistress Barrett, and hopes you are well.

“It’s Aunt Margie, and thank you,” Aunt Margie said, accepting the case. “What are you called, youngling?”


“Oh, I’ve heard of you! The Librarian says you love books!”

Schrodinger blinked. The Librarian had spoken of him? Yes’m.

“And so polite,” Aunt Margie continued, unwrapping the herbal. “Are you staying for a while, Schrodinger?”

I’m not sure, he admitted. I’m on my initiation journey.

“Ah. And what are you studying?”


She laughed. “This is a good place to start!”

“I’ve offered to let him stay with me,” Molly added. “You wouldn’t mind if he came in here with me, would you, Aunt Margie?”

“Of course not!” Aunt Margie said. “Please, Schrodinger, stay as long as you like.”

The CrossCat blinked. But you don’t know me at all, he said finally, looking at the two of them. Why would you do that for me?

“Because you are a kind being, else the Librarian wouldn’t have trusted you with this,” Aunt Margie said, holding the herbal up. “I know how deeply she treasures her books. And I trust her judgment.”

“And I trust mine,” Molly added. “And Yava’s. Yava brought him in,” she told Aunt Margie, then turned back to Schrodinger. “My instincts say you’re a good person, and you need some help.” She knelt down again. “Won’t you let us help you? At least for a little bit?”

He looked from Molly to Aunt Margie and then back again. In Molly’s hazel eyes, he saw a kindred spirit shining, and that decided him. Yes, I will, he said, nodding. I think I will enjoy it here.
And that is the story of how Schrodinger and Molly became roommates. Needless to say, he’s decided to put off his initiation journey indefinitely. Or maybe it was just a really short one?

Winter’s Secrets, the first in the Carter’s Cove Advent Series, is currently available on Amazon.

You can find me on Patreon under Valerie Ford, and at my blog at

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Science Shows

It’s Monday so I still want to talk science but today, I want to be a little less specific than usual and a little less actual science related and more engaging science related television related. With the finale of the Mythbusters having come and gone, I’ve been thinking about science related shows. We actually watch or have watched a number of them. We had Mr. Wizard, Bill Nye, and Beakman. My kids had reruns and the Mythbusters. My youngest boy watches How It’s Made quite often but it isn’t the same thing.

It feels like there’s a void now – at least on television – and it makes me sad. Those kids science shows encouraged a love of the scientific method and experimentation. I know some adults who could still use a refresher – especially where causation and correlation is concerned. We watch a lot of the Science Channel – NASA’s Unexplained Files and most especially Outrageous Acts of Science – but it doesn’t actually feel the same. My kids end up watching their science online more often than not and there are perils and pitfalls there as not all YouTube videos are trustworthy but who doesn’t want to see what a ball of molten copper or nickle does to anything?

There is one season of Bill Nye The Science Guy on Netflix that we’ve watched and we’re waiting for more but there is an enormous void now and I hope someone comes along to fill it up. There are a few geared more for adults but not so much the kids and that’s who we need to focus on!

My favorite when I was younger was Bill Nye but Mythbusters took that spot when they premiered. It seems my youngest shares my preference – Nye and Busters both. My oldest son preferred Beakman’s World (probably because he was a little sillier). We need more smart TV that’s geared for kids and tweens – if they’re going to watch the idiot box, then put something a little more engaging on it!

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