Friday, November 6, 2015

NaNo time again!

Once again I'm participating in the writing torture known as NaNoWriMo. But this time I've done something I never tried before. I plotted. I liked the idea of being a pantser, but alas I'm plodding, planning, pantser. Now, with outline in hand, I've started to make real progress on the cozy mystery I've threatened to write for three years. I have almost three chapters. Well, first draft chapters because first rule of NaNo is no editing. You just keep writing until you're done. Editing happens after you have a completed first draft, which a point I haven't yet reached. So I'll try to keep a running total of my work, for better or worse.

Here's where I am right now:

2842 / 50000 words. 6% done!

Yep, already a bit behind but if I can manage 1887 words a day instead of the usual 1667, I can cross the finish line on time with 50k words. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Review: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was exactly what I needed to inspire me before starting NaNoWriMo this year. Pressfield has great way of cutting through the nonsense and getting straight to the point. He explains the how and why of creative Resistance and the best ways to overcome that nasty inner critic we all have. The book ends on the right note to make anyone ready to jump right in with both feet and create and innovate no matter the struggles it took to get to that point. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to do more with their lives but have let negative habits take control instead.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future

Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future by Ly de Angeles
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

UGH! No wonder it took me so long to finish this (over two years).

Maybe it was my preconceived notions about the book but I was underwhelmed. I was expecting...umm, what's the word here? Oh, right! Practical information on being Pagan and working towards sustainability. What it turned out to be was basic attitudes a Pagan should have toward the world we live in, also without any practical suggestions. I already knew that a deep connection with nature, the need to live as green as possible, and trying to get along with and embrace different cultures were important. The problem I, and other Pagans I know, run into is how to accomplish the high-minded ideals (or something close to them) expressed in many of the essays while living in a capitalistic society on a tiny budget.

Basically, I would've been better off simply reading Starhawk's works and skipping this book altogether. Her name on the cover was my primary reason for buying the book in the first place. I'm going to try David Suzuki's "The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature" and hope for more helpful information.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review - Armada by Ernest Cline

**There may be mild spoilers ahead but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.**

Having never read Ernest Cline’s first novel, Ready Player One, I seem to have approached his second book without the preconceived notions I’ve read in most other reviews whining that it was just a rehash. I got to enjoy the sci-fi/fantasy book, movie, TV show, and video game nostalgia of my childhood unfettered of expectations.

Armada, the story of a high school kid turned galactic hero, lets you know early on that it’s a mash-up of Ender’s Game, The Last Starfighter, and a few others. And yet it worked. Zack Lightman, the main protagonist of the story, was for me a refreshing change from the special snowflakes that seem to inhabit a lot of stories these days, all of the chosen ones destined for greatness from birth. Zack is one of many talented people capable of saving the day because they were trained to do so. He’s smart but not smarter than all the grown-ups around him. He has anger management issues. He disobeys orders. He’s an average teenager thrown into an extreme situation and responds as I’d expected the teens of today to react; with skepticism, sarcasm, and hidden awe. I especially enjoyed his relationship with his totally cool mom.

The biggest issue most have with Armada is the name-dropping, or as one reviewer called it, the “cheap pops” of all the 70s and 80s cultural references. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it until I got to the end, to see what direction Cline would go with the conclusion. In the end, they were more than just “an attempt at cleverness” as suggested by A.V. Club’s review. Or trying to be cool or flashing sci-fi “street cred.” I thoroughly enjoyed how the pop culture was part of the plot, how all of our years of consuming the culture were simply preparing the human race to not freak out when aliens do actually show up, like in the many scenes of panic in Independence Day (also referenced in Armada). Cline taps into the language of sci-fi pop culture. Not the obvious quotes that anyone could google, but the minutiae that only true fans obsess over with lines like:

When Zack is contemplating why an alien ship would be in his small town, he thinks, “If there was a bright center to the universe, I was on the planet it was farthest from. Please pass the blue milk, Aunt Beru.”

“And now, like my father before me, I was paying the price for my lack of vision.” In reference to Zack thinking about how he wasted his time playing video games to the point he though he was hallucinating them.

Those aren’t just quotes from Star Wars. They are an immersion into the story and reflecting it into real life as “nerd” culture does. We have our own language and he uses it well to tell this story, like when Zack’s best friends “the Mikes” are debating the merits of Bilbo’s sword Sting versus Thor’s Mjolnir. They are personally invested in the outcome. I also liked how Zack doesn’t blindly trust in how things ended. He has his father’s gift of skepticism in the face of a supposed Utopia.

While the characters all acted as you'd expect of gamers and sci-fi nerds, they were believable, likable, and very diverse in age, race, and gender. I’d definitely recommend this to any sci-fi fan and all of my sci-fi customers at Half Price Books. And I think I’ll need to read it more than once to pick up on things I might’ve missed the first go-round.

Oh, and I almost forgot one more thing. I’ve read several reviews about how it isn’t really a young adult novel because they wouldn’t necessarily get the references. That’s because it wasn’t written to be a YA novel. Just because the protagonist is eighteen does NOT mean it’s YA fiction. “Perks of Being a Wallflower” has a teenage protagonist but that isn’t YA either. It’s literature. You know, like the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird. 

**I did receive a copy of the book from Crown Publishers (Penguin/Random House) through the Blogging for Books program for an honest review.**

This review will also be posted on my Goodreads account.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

More Reading Challenge Stuff

 and a new book for review! I recently signed up for Blogging for Books through Crown Publishing Group and my first free book, Armada by Ernest Cline, arrived two days ago. A review should show up in the next few days as I'm thoroughly enjoying the book so far (only up to pg 71). One unexpected and totally amazing thing turned up before I'd gotten past the first chapter. I tend to remove the dust jacket from my books as I read so as not to damage it. I know, I know. The point of a dust jacket is to protect the book. What can I say? I'm weird. I like it to look beautiful sitting on my shelf, dust jacket intact and pristine. Anyway, the point of that book ramble is that when you remove the dust jacket, it looks like this:
Picture borrowed from the Blogging Bookshop

As soon as I've finished, I'll let you know just how amazing it is with some quotes, some nerd info, and maybe a bit of squeeing. Then I'm going to acquire Cline's first book Ready Player One and repeat the process. How can I be so sure that the books will be awesome? They got Wil Wheaton to read the audio version! So, yeah. Kind of a duh for me. :)

As far as the reading challenge stuff, I've finished three more books on my list. They are as follows:
  • Secret of the Haunted Mirror (Three Investigators Series) by M.V. Carey for the category of book from my childhood
  • Paper Towns by John Green for book that became a movie (which I totally want to see)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a book that got bad reviews, which still amazes me
When I first started reading Gatsby, I was annoyed by the shallow characters and their vapid lifestyles. I came close to putting it down and moving on to the next book on my list. I'm glad I didn't. The whole point of the book was to illustrate just how shallow and vapid those people were, how having money made them into pretty much horrible human beings. Only Jay Gatsby, and to a lesser extent Nick, had any redeeming qualities, any humanity at all. Even now it's very timely and indicative of how the current ruling corporate class feels about the rest of us. I plan to check out the Baz Lurhmann adaptation of the book as I hear it is well worth watching and captures the spirit of the story if not the exact details.

My next book for the challenge will be either Looking for Alaska by John Green or one of the Bronte classics. I'll be using Armada for my book that came out this year instead of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee as I've heard lots of negative feedback that make me hesitate to read it. Apparently the representation of Atticus Finch in the sequel isn't very flattering and I don't want to ruin a story I love by tarnishing the image of the hero. And I really can't invest time in a book that is sure to piss me off by making said hero into a racist, especially after what made him a hero was to stand up against societal pressure of the time, to not be a bigot like his friends and neighbors. No thanks. I get enough disgusting racism and hate in the news and on social media without putting it in my relaxation time too. Okay, rambling done for now. I'll be back very soon with a new Cozy Mystery Monday review and the review for Armada. I'm also sorely lacking in reviews for all the great stuff I got from NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion. Off to read lots!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Reading Challenge Update

Earlier this year I posted about trying a reading challenge with specific categories. I took the challenge to read fifty books with ideas ranging from "Friend Favorite" to "Written over 100 years ago" by the end of 2015 to coincide with my Goodreads challenge to simply read 50 books in a year. I'm on track with the Goodreads count (24 of the 50) but not so much on the other one. With CampNaNo coming in a couple of days, reading time will be severely limited. Then the new semester starts in September where my instructors choose most of my reading until December. As it is, I've completed only these seven categories:
  • Number in the title - One of Chuck Wendig's writing guides
  • Female Author - The Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan
  • Short Stories - Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (a cool anthology from the '80s)
  • Story with Magick - Spell Booked by the Lavenes (see review on this site)
  • New-to-you Author - If You've Got it Haunt It by Rose Pressey (CMM review coming soon)
  • Book you can finish in a day - Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (FABULOUS BOOK)
  • Recommended by a friend - Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (MUST READ for everyone)
As you may have noticed, I have several cozies on the list so far. They're quick and easy to read so they fill the list better than more serious fiction. I plan to read only two more cozies (the latest two Magical Cats mysteries by Sofie Kelly). The rest will take me out of my comfort zone to include several literary titles I should've already read and lots of things I'd never heard of or considered. Since I've completed so few I'll just continue reading until I've read them all, challenge or not. Next on my list? A book that got bad reviews - The Great Gatsby. This fact surprised me quite a bit. A literary classic on pretty much every school reading across the country got bad reviews. But then so did To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird and can't wait for the sequel in July (filling the category of book published this year). It just goes to show you shouldn't always buy into the reviews (mine included) if something sounds good to you.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

New Altar

I finally got the new shelf for a small wall altar. Keeping my felines out of my magick should be a bit easier now. It has a dreams candle and my "wishes & dreams" jar with focus elements for learning genealogy professionally and writing. The incense is for meditation to put me in the right frame of mind to accomplish my goals. The bracelet was created by a dear friend who always encouraged me to do my best. I'll keep you posted on the results. :)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cozy Mystery Monday - Charmed to Death

My next review returns to the Ophelia and Abby Mysteries with the second book in the series, "Charmed to Death" by Shirley Damsgaard. I'm pretty sure I'll start to sound like a broken record when discussing this series. Even with all the new paranormal/witchy cozies being published, I've yet to find any that can knock Ophelia and Abby out of the top slot.

The story picks up a few months after the first book. Ophelia Jensen has accepted her talents and begun training with her grandmother to learn the right way to use her gifts. It's in this second story that Ophelia received a set of runes, passed down from her great grandmother, that will become a major tool for her magick throughout the rest of the series. She's still hesitant, and occasionally impatient and flippant, about her abilities out of fear and ignorance. She'll eventually grow out of that as she fully embraces her magick.

This time around Ophelia must find out how the death of a kind local man is tied to the new corporate pig farm that just moved to Summerset, angering most of the farmers in the area (including Abby), and possibly the murder of her best friend Brian five years previously. It was his murder and her inability to prevent it that caused Ophelia to turn her back on her gifts. The pace of the story flows well, and though the who in the whodunit was fairly easy to figure out, the depth of their insanity was unexpected. My only quibble with it was the tired trope of modern witch hunters having direct ancestral ties to someone involved in the Salem Witch Trials. There are enough present-day paranoid (and sociopathic) people who fear witches without the need to dredge up Salem for an antagonist.

One of the things I like about this series is the author's respect for her protagonists. Abby is the strong, loving grandma we all know and love dearly but know better than to cross. Ophelia is intelligent and growing into her strength after years of hiding from the world. She doesn't generally wander off looking for trouble. It finds her and she uses her head (and her magick) to get out of sticky situations. A ditzy protagonist will turn me off a series every time, no matter how educated the person is supposed to be. Damsgaard also handles the magick with utmost respect, both with Abby's vast wealth of knowledge and Ophelia's realistic growing pains.

Three pistols for an interesting mystery, even if it was not a surprise. Four flying brooms for realistic representation of elemental magick and rune divination. And Abby. She's more than worth the price of the book all on her own.
June Reviews Link-up

Monday, May 4, 2015

Cozy Mystery Monday - Spell Booked

Cozy Mystery Monday is back after a bit of a break for mundane muggle stuff (the semester of homework ended yesterday). I debated whether to continue with the Ophelia and Abby Mysteries or to introduce another series. I've decided to alternate. Today I'm introducing the first book in a new series. Next week I'll go back to Ophelia. Then another new or new-ish series and back to Ophelia until I've reviewed all seven. The paranormal cozies have exploded onto the scene and there are so many new authors and series I want to explore. At the same time, I don't want to neglect the long running series that got me hooked in the first place. Now, to the new stuff!

This week I'm reviewing the first book in the new Retired Witches Mysteries, "Spell Booked" by national bestselling author couple Joyce and Jim Lavene. They've been writing cozies individually and as a couple for at least fifteen years, so they seem to do well. This is also the first of their books I've read so far.

The basic plot on this is a small coven of older witches, comprised of Olivia (the diva), Elsie (the ditz), and Molly (the practical one), are looking to retire as their powers are waning. The witches need to find replacements to inherit the coven and their book of shadows. They have one witch in their sights already, a librarian named Dorothy. Before they can make contact, Olivia is murdered. Naturally, the remaining witches and their new protege must find out who killed Olivia (with help from her spirit) without letting on to anyone (including Molly's husband who is a cop) they are witches.

From here the story gets a little iffy for me. The particular version of "witchdom" presented seems patched together in order to further the story without much cohesion or forethought. It's part modern Pagan and part Hollywood witchcraft. The women seem intelligent one moment and completely flighty the next. I think my biggest problems with this were the new witch, Dorothy (who is a blithering idiot most of the time), and the "Witches Council" that comes across as useless or adversarial by turns. Oh, and the idea of a witch losing her powers as she gets older. As someone heading into her Crone years, I was bothered (read insulted) by the idea that age meant weakness or loss of power. The women could no longer perform the most basic of spells without the spell backfiring on them. And the waning of power was not balanced by the wisdom we gain with age. It also included my biggest pet peeve when portraying modern witches; the instant spell. This is not Harry Potter. We don't wave a wand or light a candle and POOF! Spells take time, patience, and much more effort on the part of the caster. And the outcome is not guaranteed simply because we want it.

I didn't care for the constant need for absolute secrecy about the magick for fear of reprisal. Not from the muggles. From their own council. Yes, I know it's mainly to protect the witches from ignorance and prejudice. But a witch should be able to confide in her spouse about her magick. That aspect felt contrived to create conflict between characters that would otherwise have no drama. Not even the cat familiars could elevate this story for me. All in all, I'm not sure I'll bother with the rest of the series. And I'll have to think long and hard before I decide whether I'll try anything else by the Lavenes.

 for a whodunit that tried to keep you guessing. The who in the whodunit, while unexpected, had no lead in for the reader to even hazard a guess.

Two brooms for a magick system that might improve as the series progresses *crossing fingers* here. Though I'll never care much for the insinuation that old witches should just give up and retire to Boca.

2015 Witches &a Witchcraft Reading Challenge

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Holding onto Anger

I recently had a discussion with a relative about holding onto anger. I know everyone says that's a bad idea, it's harmful to my own psyche, it lets the other person win, and all that jazz. And with the class I'm taking, a semester learning about the Holocaust, I am torn. I'm learning in detail what hate, blind hate that ignores ethics and morals, can do to people. It reminds me of a line from Theoden in "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. When the people of Rohan are losing the battle against the Orcs and the Uruk-hai, Theoden asks, "So much death, what can men do against such reckless hate?" And there is no easy answer. Though I never want to feel the kind of anger that would push me to take a life or stand aside and let it happen, there are times I don't want to let go of my anger. There are individuals who've made me so angry or taken something so important that I don't feel that forgiving them is the right thing to do. Is this childish? Selfish? I'm not sure and frankly, I don't think I care. I will say that it has to be something EXTREME for me to be willing to continue to be angry or even hate a person. I don't wish to hold onto negativity for something simple.

Five years ago something happened that I can never forgive and forget. I will NEVER stop being angry about it. In the early morning hours of 2 Jan 2010, my oldest niece (who would've been 24 that April) was driving home from visiting a friend. Her car ran out of gas on the Dallas North Tollway, a freeway with no shoulder. In the minutes it took her to text someone for a ride a drunk driver, one Khary McWilliams, slammed into her car, killing her instantly though we wouldn't know for certain until they got her body temperature up to check for brain activity. That is enough to make anyone furious but that isn't even the end of it. Two years later, it was decided by the courts that the man who did this, the man who drank well beyond his limit and got behind the wheel of his car, the man who took my niece's life was given probation as his punishment for taking a life. His attorney said this about putting McWilliams in prison, "with all due respect to the Richardson family, sending Khary to the penitentiary is not going to bring their daughter back. … At some point he's going to get out and is he going to be a different man than he is today? I submit to the court the answer to that is yes. I don't have to educate the court on how hard being in prison would be on someone like Khary McWilliams." Is that not the point of prison? To be hard on someone who committed a crime, who took someone's life, so they don't do it again? Why be soft on the criminal when the victim got no such consideration? And at the time of sentencing, the criminal admitted "to having driven after drinking on other occasions. He also admitted to having drank alcohol in the time since the accident." Unfortunately, it'll take the death of another innocent motorist before my niece receives any justice.

So hell yes I'm still angry. I want to be angry. Someone has to be angry for the sake of potential victims. He's living his life, celebrating holidays, and being with his family. My niece will never have that chance and our holidays are all bittersweet. I'm willing to say I HATE the man. Always will. I know it won't bring my niece back but neither will forgiving the killer of his crime. He doesn't deserve it. He'll never earn it. Nothing he can do will change the fact that he killed her and got away with it.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Reading Challenge Witchy Style

I've already posted my plans to read 50 books this year. Goodreads tells me I'm currently 3 books behind schedule. This doesn't surprise as I'm in the middle of three textbooks for my class on The Holocaust and creating a workshop piece for my writing class. After the spring semester I should be able to kick it into high gear before the fall semester. I'm going to combine my Goodreads challenge, the one I found on someone's blog (see previous post), and this new one:

2015 Witches &a Witchcraft Reading Challenge

The 2015 Witches and Witchcraft Challenge also goes well with my Cozy Mystery Mondays since most of my cozy choices have a witchy theme. I also have several galley titles I need to review for Llewellyn for being kind enough to share them with me. Updates coming on my many reading challenges and a new Cozy Mystery Monday review will be here as soon as possible.

Oh, and I almost forgot to include the challenge rules and my goal of Maiden level.

Challenge Rules:
  • This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2015 – Dec 31, 2015. I will be posting a place to link up a sign-up post (below), reviews and a wrap-up post. (Note: You do not have to review the books to participate, but only those who link up reviews will be entered for the prize)
  • Grab the reading challenge button (code & button below) and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. You do not have to be a book blogger to participate- you could track your progress and post reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc.
  • Any full length book that includes a witch as a main character or includes major witchcraft elements counts. They may be fiction or non-fiction. However, they should not be reference books which are not read cover to cover-I will leave this to your discretion.
  • Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio).
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  • When you sign up in the linky put the direct link to your post about joining the 2015 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge, not just a link to your blog.
  • You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  • Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2015, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  • Have some Witchy Good Fun !!!

The Levels

Initiate: Read 1 – 5 Witchy Books
Maiden: Read 6 – 10 Witchy Books
Mother: Read 11 – 15 Witchy Books
Crone: Read 16 – 20 Witchy Books

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Challenge with a Twist
Because I'm apparently a glutton for punishment and don't have enough on my plate yet, I found this challenge and decided to combine it with my Goodreads challenge of reading 50 books in a year. One book for one challenge. No cheating and applying more than one category to one book. Not one to do things the normal way, I want to choose as many of my cozy mysteries as possible to fill the requirements. It might be a stretch for a few since I generally don't care for romances. Last week's cozy will fill the slot of "A book you can finish in a day" as it only took me a few hours to read it (again). That will probably be the only book that isn't new to me. I've read it a couple times so far.

A few of the categories will have to be something other than a cozy since none that I know of are based on a true story, published more than 100 years ago, or are considered non-fiction. I also have yet to come across one with more than 500 pages. I want to use Pagan titles to complete the tougher categories. I am also open to suggestions from my readers. I already a book in mind for "a book that scares you". I started Heart-shaped Box by Joe Hill a couple of years ago and haven't finished it yet. The creep factor is much higher than my usual but the story is well written. I just need to clear some reading time during the day. Reading a quality ghost story at 2 a.m. leads to very little sleep and I need my sleep.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cozy Mystery Monday - Witch Way to Murder

Welcome to the first installment of "Cozy Mystery Monday." As I mentioned in my previous post, I love a good mystery and like them even better when not bogged down in detailed accounts of sex or violence. That tends to get in the way of the whodunit. My intention here is to introduce my readers to as many of the witchy/paranormal/magickal cozies as I can find. I'll discuss each book in a series separately as the writers worked hard on each and deserve proper recognition for every story they share.

I've decided to start with Witch Way to Murder, the first book my all-time favorite witchy series, the Ophelia and Abby Mysteries. It is a seven-novel series about Ophelia Jensen, a small Iowa town librarian and reluctant clairvoyant, and her grandmother Abby McDonald, a wise woman with powers passed down through many generations. They use their gifts to solve crimes and protect those they care about. In this first story, Ophelia is still emotionally crippled by a tragedy from four years past, shutting out everyone for fear of hurting someone or getting hurt herself. That all changed when Rick Davis strolls into town claiming to be a chemical salesman, asking tons of questions about several recent petty crimes, including theft of anhydrous ammonia. Shortly thereafter, Ophelia stumbles onto a dead body and the investigating begins. I don't want to go into too much detail because every part of this story was a joy to discover without having it spoiled. What made this stand out for me over other series was the protagonist's struggle with her abilities and her trust issues. She never once shows disrespect for her grandmother's magick. She only fears letting herself embrace what she can do after she feels her gifts failed her (as she believed it did in the tragedy four years earlier). The story never felt forced and all of the secondary characters were believable and (mostly) likeable. It's also nice when law enforcement is not portrayed as bumbling idiots, forcing the protagonists into action.The answer to whodunit was well-plotted and not immediately obvious, at least not to me. Most importantly, the magick was handled very well. No silliness, no gimmick, no wand waving and shooting out a spell. Just respect. I appreciate when an author can pull that off.

Favorite quote: When asked if she is not Wiccan then what is it, Abby responds, "It's hard to explain. Some might call it sympathetic or white magick, but I think that's too simplistic. It's a seeing in your mind, looking beyond the physical. It's an understanding of nature and the world around you. Every thing, every place, has energy, a power--some more than others. I'm just a conduit for that power, to pull it inside me and send it back out. The power isn't me. It's there with or without me."

Five smoking guns for a great plot and five wands for the respectful magick. Oh, and a bonus for Ophelia's cat Queenie and her dog Lady and not making romance a huge factor in the story. (the ratings system will have handy icons soon)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cozy Mysteries of the Magickal Variety

I’ve always been an avid reader and mysteries were my first love. I started like most kids, with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Then I found the best (IMO) mystery series for young adults of the time, the Three Investigators Series. The three boys from working class families were easier to relate to than Nancy’s upper class lifestyle. They were smart, resourceful, and expected to be home for dinner. They were my kind of protagonists. Over time, my reading tastes expanded to include science fiction, fantasy, and the occasional literary title. Then a co-worker introduced me to the Cat Who Series by Lilian Jackson Braun and my obsession with cozy mysteries was born. They have a slow-paced, charming quality I need after hours of retail work.

For those who aren’t aware of them, cozy mysteries “are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.” --definition courtesy of Wikipedia. The main character is usually not in law enforcement and the murder doesn’t happen on-stage. The most popular series have a theme of some sort, such as Laura Childs’ Tea Shop Mysteries, Monica Ferris’ Needlecraft Mysteries, and the aforementioned Cat Who Mysteries. Name a hobby and there is probably a cozy series to go with it. There are also lots of them with magickal or paranormal themes. These are my preference right now. Well, that and cats. I'm a sucker for cats. One fairly new series (6 books since 2011) combines the two with a pair of magickal cats. One can walk through walls and the other becomes invisible in the quest to find out whodunit. Naturally, those are high on my list of favorites. Next week, I start a regular series of posts talking about magickal/paranormal cozies, one book at a time. So join me on the 19th for Cozy Mystery Mondays where I'll introduce you to "Witch Way to Murder," the first book in the Ophelia and Abby Mystery series.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Do or do not. There is no try.

Gotta love that quote. For a fuzzy green muppet, Yoda was a pretty smart guy. :)

Every new year I make resolutions; blogging more, getting the online business in order, getting past roadblocks in my genealogy, writing my cozy mysteries. And every year I fail do any of it. Bragging about all of my big plans seems to just make me feel like a loser when I can't follow through. My results from NaNoWriMo 2014 are a prime example. I committed to 50k words knowing that much writing is beyond my capabilities for now. It'll take more experience as a writer to be that prolific that quickly. I don't intend to quit trying. The blog still needs posts. The stories must be written. Ancestors are waiting to be found. I simply won't make public proclamations about my intentions. Better to do what needs doing than talk it to death. I look forward to reporting my many successes instead.

The first thing I've done is merge my two blogs back into one. Trying to separate business and personal only made it twice as hard to accomplish either. And it made me feel like I was trying to be two different people. My spirituality informs everything in my life, so I don't really need to keep things separate. I only need to be myself and accept that not everyone will agree with my opinions. Second, I managed to survive another holiday season in retail with my sanity intact. The key was to stop letting the day job be so important to my self-worth, to stop letting it occupy so much of my life away from work. I don't plan to be at that job forever, only until I create something better for myself. In the meantime it pays the bills and gives me access to lots of books. My roomie recently helped me realize a way I already express my spirituality without even knowing. I have ancestor magick. Not in the aspect of literally speaking with the dead but through my genealogy. I've been working on improving my affinity for finding lost family hidden in historical records and honoring them properly. Goddess helps me in unexpected ways, such as the aforementioned access to books. Just last week we got in this book I can't wait to read. "Discovering more about our forebears and identifying inherited traits can help us realise our potential and assist us in overcoming obstacles that may be holding us back. As we learn about our ancestors, we can reclaim who we are, discover our creativity, and find our true soul path." This sounds absolutely fascinating and right up my alley. It was my need to connect with someone like myself (and a huge album of old family photos with names and dates) that started the search for my roots. It would be even better to connect on a spiritual level, to feel a connection beyond names, dates, and locations. Why do I feel an immediate connection to my maternal great-grandmother? Do we have more in common than basic genetics? Why don't I sense any real connection to my paternal line?

Okay, enough for tonight. I'll be back when I have progress to report. Or something important I need to share or vent. You never know what the day holds.