Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Peace and Gratitude

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the U.S.A. I have so many things to be thankful for. Today is my birthday. My son didn’t have school, and slept badly last night, but is currently taking a rare nap. I already opened the presents my mom brought up (what better way to entertain a 5 year old than open presents??). I had a lovely outing with my mom on Monday. I was thankful to have the one-on-one time. My husband won’t be home for another hour. He will be cooking dinner for me tonight. My father-in-law is doing well post-surgery. It is a good day. I think I will have a piece of cake then do some writing.

Happy holidays everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

‘Nother NaNo News Note

It’s safe to say that I won’t be winning NaNoWriMo this year. So I’m not going to kill myself (or my hands/wrists) trying. New goal: finish by end of year. I still plan on working on it the next two days, as well as next Monday.

Looking at the 17k+ words I’ve written this month, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come. That’s with not writing weekends, getting sick, hubby getting sick, the death of our cat, my son getting punched in the eye, my father-in-law having a minor heart attack and going into surgery over Thanksgiving week, and a pre-birthday outing with my mom today.

Being positive, I’m enjoying this story and it’s not one I would have written otherwise. I may have written about Tilara, but I would not have combined her character with Race to 100 Deaths if not for Lynn’s suggestion. No regrets.

Yay for NaNo! How are you all doing?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Helping Rayna live on

Thank you to Liana, who included our cat Rayna in her NaNo novel. She shared the excerpt on her blog.

She now lives on in my story as well. Here is her introduction:


Tilara stared at the broken bodies Sable had left. She had seen so much death, she didn't know if the tears streaking her cheeks were sadness or merely result of the smoke stinging her eyes. She turned to leave.


The sound came from above. The loft. Flames shot up between her and the ladder. Tilara took a deep breath. Her own injuries would heal, but the cat wouldn't have any future without her. She dashed through, flames licking at her bare arms and legs. She pulled herself up the ladder. The thick smoke obscured even her elf vision.


Tilara held her breath, ducked her head, and crawled toward the sound. A bundle of fur huddled against the far wall. Tilara scooped it up and kicked the weakened wood. She jumped through the hole down to the ground. Her throat burned as she coughed. She stumbled to the trees nearby, upwind.

The cat trembled in her arms. Tilara found herself petting the smooth coat with its unusual markings. It was mostly black, with patches of orange and cream. "You're safe now. I'm sorry about your family and your home. I guess you're on your own now." She set the cat on the ground. It sat on its haunches and looked up at her. Tilara couldn't resist the plea in those golden eyes. She sighed. "I saved you, so now I'm responsible for you. Is that it?


The cat turned her head, hearing the approaching footsteps a moment before Tilara did. Its tail poofed as it arched its back. It hissed as Daon dragged a reluctant Sable past.

"Found him cleaning up at the river. Thought he had lost me. Thought wrong." Daon, the strongest of the three elves, pinned Sable against a tree trunk. "There's twine in my pack. Bring it over." Between the two of them, they tied his hands together, and then to a branch over head. Then tied his feet together so he couldn't use them to climb up.

Sable spit in Tilara's face. "There's no point fighting what we've become. We can't stop the war."

Tilara wiped the spit off her cheek and put her face close to his. "If there's war, wouldn't you want to be on the winning team? The elves?"

His laughter had a hint of madness. His breath was rotten. "How can the elves win if they stick to their lofty morals? Humans will do anything to survive."

Daon pulled Tilara away. "Leave him. Hopefully a night of discomfort will return his senses."

They set up their hammocks in a nearby tree. Tilara relaxed as the netting hugged her. With another meow, the cat climbed up beside her. Tilara got quite a view as it, she, walked over her face to wedged itself in between her chest and legs. She felt the purring, and it steadied her own heart.

"A warm ray of light in the gloom my life has become. I will call you Rayna."

Monday, November 16, 2009


This is our beautiful Rayna. We have one other picture of her, a black and white photo that came with her file when we adopted her.

Rayna and family

The photo here was taken when we took her to the vet on Saturday. We asked if they had a camera, and had them email us the photo. This is a crop, the full image is a family photo. My husband is holding her up for this. I know it’s not her best picture, but it’s all we have.

Last Thursday we noticed Rayna wasn’t acting normal. She stopped eating, didn’t want to play, and slept more than usual. She would drink, but that was it. She wasn’t getting better on her own, so Saturday we took her to the vet. We had hoped to get her some antibiotics, and have her back to normal in a few days. But it was so much worse than we thought. In addition to her liver failing, either from not eating or another cause, she had fluid in her abdomen. They took a sample, and it was filled with pus. The vet said that was really unusual, something she’d see in dogs sometimes, but not cats, especially so young.

She wasn’t sure the cause, and said that Rayna was in very bad shape. If we took her home for the weekend, she wouldn’t last until Monday. The vet could recommend a specialist for more testing – Rayna would get hooked up to tubes and cut open and they would try to find the problem and see what they could do. But the vet said even if they did “fix” her, she probably wouldn’t recover from the surgery. We talked it over, and agreed with the vets (got a second opinion from the other vet at the clinic). Rather than spend a lot of money and discomfort, for such a low chance of recovery, we had her put down.


When we first went into the Human Society (on a Thursday), we were just going to look, then check some of the other shelters, and get a cat that weekend. My husband was liking a Siamese, I wanted a gray striped little kitten, and B liked the black ones. Then I saw this gorgeous little tortoiseshell short hair curled in the back of a cage. I pointed her out to my husband, and we both fell in love. We took her to the visiting room, and all three of us decided to take her home that same day. We had no desire to look elsewhere.

The name on her papers was Raynie. We didn’t like the sound of that, too much like a rainy day, so changed it slightly to Rayna. It means song or queen. Rayna was born on March 30, 2009. We adopted her on May 28. She died on November 14, not even eight months old.

She was such a perfect addition to our family, and we don’t regret any minute we spent with her. We had hoped that being an indoor only cat we would have her for another ten years. Rayna was so loving. She loved to sit on your lap, get petted. She was very tolerant, rarely got upset. She liked to play, and had a string toy she would play with for as long as you’d play with her.

Rayna had a pink blanket that she came with, and we buried it with her. Now we walk by her everyday, as she’s in our front flowerbed. I miss her so much. Usually the first thing I do when I get home from walking B to school is let the cat out of the laundry room. But I didn’t get to do that today. I don’t have her sitting patiently by my chair for me to give her permission to jump up. She’s not here to play with my pen. I will never hear her demanding meows when I open a can of tuna. The house feels so empty.

When my husband took her in for her six month shots, I didn’t go with him. I have allergies, and though I’d become used to Rayna, I don’t do too well in a vet’s office. But I’m so glad I decided to go with him on Saturday. I got to hold Rayna one last time, and say my goodbyes. And I got to be there for my husband. He took it the hardest. Rayna was truly his cat. And she knew it. His lap was her first choice in the morning, and he gave her the best rubbing.

B understands that she is gone. He watched us bury her. But he wasn’t as attached as we were, and it didn’t have the same impact. His only question when I explained she was gone was if we would get a new one. We will. Eventually.

I wish I had more pictures. With all the house expenses, we hadn’t wanted to spend the money right now on a new camera. We thought we had missed out on some good pictures of a tiny kitten, but thought we’d have plenty more picture opportunities. And now those chances are gone. We have our memories. So many good memories. Rayna really was the perfect fit for our family. And we’ll always miss her.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tilara Scarlet (NaNoWriMo character)

Not meeting my word count for the week (hubby took sick day yesterday). I’ll just spread the word count over the next few weeks. Rather than stress, I’d like to share one of my characters with you. I first created this character for a joint story/game that I never ended up participating in. It’s exciting finally getting the chance to write about her.


Tilara is an elf from the Scarlet Clan, named for the Scarlet Oak and known for making wine from the acorns of such trees.

Tilara and two other elves from trusted families were chosen by Queen Baowen Willow to serve as diplomats to Pallovia, the neighboring human kingdom.

Tilara is taller than most humans at 6’3”. Like most elves, her skin is very pale. Her chestnut hair is very long. She wears a black key around her neck to remind her of a box waiting at home, a gift from her favorite niece.

In my initial character sketch, Tilara is uninterested in romance, and a vegetarian. I have learned that in Race to 100 Deaths she doesn’t start that way. By the end of the story, she will have very good reasons to acquire those traits.

She is very loyal to her queen and people. She wants to complete the task set by the queen, and return to her family. She is calm, trusting, and has no prejudice against the humans.

Along with her fellow elven diplomats, Tilara is taken captive by a human baron that wants war. He forces them into a contest, a Race to 100 Deaths. The first to get their kills and return will become his personal assassin. The other two will die. With the restrictions and spells in place, Tilara soon learns that the only way she can serve her queen and return home, is to first conquer the baron’s challenge.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NaNo Update

I should be up to almost 17k words, but I’m behind. Took a couple sick days last week, and had a surprise mid-day date with my husband yesterday. My current count is 10,645. I am my own worst enemy. Too easy to get distracted and let a valuable hour disappear. I haven’t been writing on weekends. If I get near the end of the month too far behind, that may change.

My goal for this week is to get to 25,000 by the end of Friday. My half way point.

One tool that has helped me get this far is Write or Die. I set a word count and/or time goal, and go for it. With the screen going red, and warning sounds when I don’t write, I’m encouraged to write without over thinking. I can’t stop and spend ten minutes coming up with a name, or looking up a fact that is overall unimportant. I have to go with my gut, let the story take me. My monitor is big enough that I can have a word document open on the left with my outline, and Firefox open on the right with the Write or Die box. That way I don’t even have the excuse of stopping to look up what comes next. I have my one paragraph description per chapter, and go from there.

Without Write or Die: average 1000 words/hour.

With Write or Die: average 1600 words/hour.

Best uses: to start of the day. Great encouragement starting off with a big chunk in half an hour. Also to make most use of short period of time.


Here’s the banner for my NaNoWriMo Novel:

Create your own banner at!
Make your own banner at!


Death count: 1.

99 + to go.


Other interesting tidbit: Race to 100 Deaths has now matched Trinity Coven in word count. In a matter of ten days! I need to be this disciplined all year round. :-)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday Tally, Micro version


Last week goals done.

This month = NaNoWriMo

Today: woke up sick (sore throat, aches, blahs). will write something anyway, but no set goals. priorities today will include nap.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mixed Bag of Updates

I survived Halloween. B was a pirate. He didn’t care that he didn’t have a hat, or a fancy costume, just a printed shirt from Walmart. This was B’s first time trick-or-treating. He was happy and excited, and that’s what matters. Plus, he had a pumpkin bucket. Pumpkin = B’s favorite thing about fall.

We went to the school carnival on Thursday, then Saturday went trick-or-treating at the mall. My husband and I wore our long, hooded cloaks.  We had no idea how packed the mall would be, and next year will go at the start instead of an hour in. After shuffling around the mall line for treats, B had a decent amount of candy (at least for him).

I’m guessing we missed some visitors during the hour we were gone. Only got one late group of six or so kids. We have LOTS of extra candybars. Mmm, chocolate.


Being a weekday writer (less distractions), today is my official NaNoWriMo start. Went to the site this morning, and it logged me out. :-( After being logged in for a month, I have forgotten my password! None of my usuals work, or some of my not so usual combinations, so did a password reset. But with the huge backlog of site emails, it may be another day until I get mine.

Once B is off to school, I will get started. Armed with chocolate for progress rewards, and Mountain Dew Voltage for the slumps. I have a water bottle for my desk and will break every hour to get house stuff done, snack, and move around.

I have 17 days for my writing (after accounting for weekends and holiday). That means I need about 3,000 words on my working days. I’ll post periodic updates in twitter. Wish me luck!


And now to get an unusually reluctant child ready for school.