Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Quiet Young Woman With the Adventurous Heart

When Celestine has her first confrontation with Cat-ara, Ka-puki steps in and smooths things out. The reader meets this young Jabuani woman in Travels to Fahdamin-Ra, and Kapuki's story continues in Across the Savannah, and in Firebloods.

 Mary McAvoy edited Travels, and she thought that Ka-puki was as young as Celestine. I had to go back and correct things, because Mary knows what she is talking about. I thought of Ka-puki being an eighteen-year-old, and she hung around with sixteen-year-old Cat-ara, because being older and wiser, she knew that the insolent Cat-ara was lacking manners, good judgment, and friends. Ka-puki is loyal to her friends and family, and does not want to hear gossip or criticism of them. She is soft spoken, small of stature, but has a strong will and a big heart.

Ka-puki's mother is Artist Teacher Fay-ola, so she is one of the Becca, the five women who govern the tribe. Her father is the quiet O-nani, who slips in and out of scenes occasionally. I wanted a female character that was cute and nice, but had a lot of depth to her once the reader got to know her. She comes from a quiet, hardworking family. She had two older brothers who were a year apart in age, but they disappeared. Her parents believe that the boys were killed by crocodiles, which live in a swampy area near the ocean, and are a hazard to the Jabulani that pass by them on rafts.

Both Cat-ara and Ka-puki were in training to be possible future Becca in their tribe. Fay-ola taught Ka-puki from birth about the making of pottery and tiles, weaving and decorating of cloth, and other crafts in which the Jabulani excel. Ka-puki, like her mother, tends to listen to other people talk and then work for a way to have everyone come to a compromise. This has made Ka-puki mature for her age, and most Jabulani tend to favor her to follow her mother into the post of Artist Teacher. Cat-ara, on the other hand, is disliked by most of the Jabulani and only her foster mother, Qui-ana thinks that she would be a fit leader of the Becca one day.

When Ka-puki becomes an Exchange Youth and goes to Harun, she, like most Jabulani, does not know how to read or write. Prince Kayin decides to personally teach her and the other Exchange Youth, Nas-sor. Ka-puki is thrilled with learning and after she and Nas-sor have to leave Harun, Prince Kayin talks to Councilor Raymond about continuing to teach them in Jabulan. Raymond was all for education, so he asks King Zayas to spare his son, so of course the king complies, and Kayin happily moves into a hut at the stone circle and starts teaching at Jabulan every day.

Stop right here if you haven't read Travels to Fahdamin-Ra, because I am going to give some story line away. Kayin and Ka-puki start seeing one another. Kayin is infatuated with her, and she is very attached to him. Even though the City Director is looking for another bride for Kayin, he does not care and is determined to have his fling with Ka-puki. The young Jabulani woman knows that Kayin will go back to Harun one day, marry a hand-picked bride, and settle down to a somewhat happy life, so she decides to have a fling with him as long as she is able. It is sheer luck that Ka-puki and Kayin are chosen to go across the savannah with the Creators, giving them a chance to be away from their tribes, and giving them more time. By then, Kayin has a bride that he knows about, and Ka-puki resigns herself to the fact that when the journey ends, she will have to give up the prince, return to her tribe, and eventually select a husband from the many men who adore her.

Or so she thinks.....

Monday, August 27, 2012

Firebloods Hit Town

I am so glad to be blogging again. There was a problem where I could see my blog but not have access to it, so, just when I was thinking that I would have to start another, I gained access to it again. In July, the third book to the Fahdamin-Ra series came out as an e book, which was exciting. It is fun to write a series because it is like temporarily moving back to a neighborhood where you used to live and seeing old, familiar faces again and some new ones.

As I write the Fahdamin-Ra series, the books get more difficult. In the first one, Celestine and Joel arrive in Fahdamin-Ra and have no idea of their abilities, so I spent most of the book with them getting acquainted with that world and their supernatural abilities. They did not need much of a protagonist because so much was unknown to them.

In Across the Savannah, it was a little harder because they are familiar now with their magic and they do more experimenting. They had to have a more powerful foe because they are more powerful first.

By the time I started writing the third book, the kids had figured out a lot of things and found, that by putting their minds to it, they could figure out more. I wanted this foe to be scary. The first two books were not really scary. It is fun coming up with bad guys and I wanted the Firebloods to be as despicable as possible. Usually, there is something that the reader likes about the villain (isn't that one reason why Hannibal Lecter is so compelling?) However, there are a few moments here and there, where Celestine has compassion for the Firebloods.

I changed the book covers for the e books because my very wise publisher pointed out that potential readers would see the animals on the covers and think that they were books about animals, so I changed to simple pictures of people. On Travels to Fahdamin-Ra, it is a silhouette of Celestine, and on the cover of Across the Savannah, it is a silhouette of Joel. On the cover of Firebloods, is a sort of silhouette of a Fireblood, of course.

Travels to Fahdamin-Ra, soft cover
Travels to Fahdamin-Ra, e book

Across the Savannah, soft cover

Across the Savannah, e book

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


My daughter loves foxes and so do I. Here in Maine, we have red foxes, like the one in the photo above, and gray foxes. Growing up out in the country, I would occasionally see a fox crossing the fields, bushy tail floating along behind it. In the winter, it was fun to see a fox hunting for mice underneath the crust of the snow, cocking their ears to listen for the rodents running along and then pouncing when a mouse showed themselves on top of the snow.

This fox lives at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine. It has been there my whole life and I love to visit. Wild animals are brought there because they have been hurt or people have picked them up when they are young and brought them home as pets. Oftentimes, people think that the babies are abandoned when the parents are out finding food or are hiding when people intrude into their area.

It is ironic - I was taught to leave wild animals alone when I was a child, but we also had a raccoon for a while and a great horned owl. The raccoon was a baby when it's mother was killed and my father brought it home to raise. It was fun for a while, but then it grew up. One day, it climbed on top of the oven and started feasting on a cheesecake that was cooling there. My father went to get it away from the food and the raccoon (naturally) bit him. After it finished eating, my father put it in a burlap bag and took it to a remote wooded area and let it go. I sometimes wonder how long that raccoon survived after it was let go.

My father also brought home a great horned owl because he was driving home from work and saw an owl that a local doctor had captured and staked out in a field. Its natural enemy, crows, were coming down to plague the owl and the doctor and his friends were shooting them. My father ran out in the field, pulled up the stake, got the owl, and brought it home. It stayed with us for a little while until its wing healed. It was very expensive to feed it raw meat!

I have taught my children to leave wild animals alone, and I practice what I preach. It is fun to go look at the animals at the Wildlife Park, but sad to think that some of them are there because people interfered.

On a happier note, if you like foxes, there is a talking fox in my book "Spellbreaker". My daughter and I also love fairy tales, so Tansy, the main character, gets pulled into a fairy tale. The talking fox is named Reynold and of course, Tansy loves him, letting him cuddle up beside her at night and eat off her plate. I will let you know when "Spellbreaker" comes out as an ebook but in the meantime, support your local Wildlife Park!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Overcoming a Broken Leg

Today, I walked to work for the first time since I broke my leg on January 30th. I was a little nervous at first, but once I passed the place where I fell, it was a great relief.

I walk to work because it is only about 1 3/4 miles from where I live and the exercise is great because I sit at a desk all day. Last summer, I rode my bike, which is another story. Anyway, it had just started snowing that fateful day when I started to walk, but I did not worry about it. I had on boots, a warm jacket, my stuff in a knapsack and was using ski poles. Even though the snow started coming down harder, I kept on because I did not want to turn back and get my car.

Besides there being snow and ice, I got out my cell phone and called a friend. So there I was, walking along, holding my cell phone up to my ear and carrying ski poles with the other hand, when I slipped and fell forward, dropping my cell phone on the sidewalk, where it broke open and the battery fell out. There was a flare of pain up my right leg, but I thought that I had sprained my ankle. I sat on the sidewalk and tried to wipe off my phone and put it back together, but the snow was falling too fast and thick, so it was impossible to get it dry and working.

I got on my hands and knees, but the pain was really awful when I put pressure on my right ankle. I tried to get up on my feet but the pain made me feel woozy and everything started to look gray. I remember looking at my watch, and it was a few minutes after 8 am. I tried waving to people, but everyone drove by. I was wearing a bright yellow sweater and a red coat, so I didn't blend in with the snow, and the area was by a school, so everyone had to drive 15 mph. No one stopped.

After a while, I looked at my watch and saw that ten minutes had passed by. I was cold and in a lot of pain. One of my coworkers usually took that route to get to work by 8:30, so I hoped that he would see me and come to my aid. I sat there, watching the cars go by and felt like I was in a daze.

Then, a school bus stopped on the other side of the street and the driver called out the window and asked if I needed help. What a wonderful person! I replied that I did need help, and he apologised that he could not leave the bus because he had little children on it. He did put on his blinking lights, forcing cars to stop so that he could alert drivers that I needed help.

A bunch of people stopped and helped and a very nice couple that I did not know gave me a ride to the hospital, where the doctor told me that I had snapped off the bottom of my fibula. I was issued crutches and had a cast put on the next day. Since I had broken my right leg, I could not drive and had to depend on family, friends, and co-workers for rides.

After 7 weeks in a cast, 5 weeks in a brace, I now am able to work on getting my leg restored to normal. At first, I could only walk a few blocks before my ankle would really start hurting. Today, I walked to work and my ankle only bothered me a little.

I am thinking of having one of my characters break their leg, and have them lay somewhere, unable to move....

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'll Make it Myself

Sometimes it is satisfying to sew something for myself. I have been sewing for years, since I was ten years old and my mother signed me up for a sewing class because I kept begging to use the sewing machine. Being a chunky kid, I sewed a lot of my own clothes by the time I got to high school and when I was a stay at home mom, I sewed clothes for my family, curtains, drapes, and other stuff for my house, and even a wedding dress for a friend.

When I was sewing a new dress the other day, I thought about how many people I know that don't know how to sew or find it difficult, so I decided to pass on some helpful and timesaving tips.

First of all, I have a grid printed on cardboard, which I open up and lay on the dining room table. I cut out everything at once (I was making two dresses, a scarf, and a pillowcase.) For the dress I am going to show you, I ironed the fabric (having washed and dried it beforehand to pre-shrink it, and important step) and ironed the pattern pieces I needed before cutting them out. After cutting, I made marks for the darts with a special washable marker, then took the pins out and folded the fabric once or twice with the pattern, so I would know which pieces were which.

Next, I pinned all the darts and pieces together where I could. There are two important things to making something look great - sew it well and press as you go. I made a pile of items that were pinned and sewed each one, putting the sewn pieces in another pile, and then I pressed the seams:


After that, I kept sewing and pressing. I have a serger set up with the correct color of thread and I usually sew with that for most of the garment. In this case, I decided to line the dress, so I did not need to have serged edges.

The dress I made is like the purple one on the pattern envelope. The bodice is supposed to be lined but I decided to line the skirt, since the fabric is mostly white. It makes it easier in a way, but on the other hand, I am really sewing two dresses and putting them together. Once both the dress and the lining were sewn together, I basted the zipper in place (SOOO worth the time and effort!) and sewed the zipper, hemmed the dress and lining and I was done. I have a white belt that I put with it, though if I hadn't I would have bought the materials needed and made my own. (Maybe that can be another blog.)

My dress when done:

 The best part is while I was sewing it, I came up with the idea for a new book.....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Things I Like To Do - Refinishing Furniture

Besides being a writer and artist, I like to do a lot of other creative things. Today, I am going to talk about refinishing furniture.

I like to decorate, resulting in a lot of changing furniture arrangements. When I was a kid, I was recruited to paint things from spray painting dried milkweed pods and pine cones gold to painting the picnic table. We always had leftover paint around, so I used it sometimes to paint furniture for my room.

When my husband was in the navy, we did not have a lot of money, so after we found furniture at yard sales, I painted it. I also inherited some old furniture that my great-grandfather made, covered in dark brown varnish that came off like chewing gum when the wood was scraped and sanded. I figured out how to make upholstered seat cushions and even though everything wasn't a collector's item, the furniture started to blend together.

One of the best pieces of advice that I have ever read was to have all the furniture in your house be roughly the same color. It has worked well - a bookcase in the living room can be moved to an upstairs bedroom or into the kitchen and not have to be refinished. A small table can serve as a beside table or end table. I have a few pieces that I paint, usually white to match the woodwork, and they go anywhere.

I took a class to learn how to cane chairs and I caned most of the old chairs that I was given with broken seats. I have a few more to do. One chair is a neat old wooden high chair that was my grandfather's. It was painted light blue, so I stripped it down then refinished it. I have the finer cane to do the seat, which I have not gotten around to and need to soon because it could be used by some little children that visit.

There is something inside of me that likes to improve things and the feeling of accomplishment is a great feeling, when I look around my house and see how many pieces of furniture I have improved. It kind of makes me feel like my furniture had a beauty makeover.