Quote of the Week: Dec. 31

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. 

We are going to put words on them ourselves.

The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.

~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce 

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My Top 10 parenting blog posts from 2014

As this year comes to a close, I wanted to take this time to highlight some of my parenting posts from this past year (in no particular order). If you missed out on these and want to read more, simply click the “more” link to see the complete post.

listening1.) Eight tips to end the “my kids never listen to me” dilemma – You’ve repeated your request a thousand times – or at least if feel like that. But there sits your child ignoring what you just told them to do. The funny thing is that even though we know our kids may tune us out and choose to focus on their TV program we keep doing the same thing. Sometimes it feels the only way to get the kids to listen is to raise my voice. Then I feel guilty about yelling at them. (more)

2.) If you have children, you need a will (and life insurance) – Most people don’t like to think about death or dying – especially when it is their own life they are considering. And this fear of thinking about it causes many to ignore the subject all together, falsely believing that it won’t happen to them. Or perhaps they have decided that they don’t care what happens after they die. I mean they are already gone, right? (more)

3.) The thing I hate most about party planning – the RSVP (part of 3 part series on parties) – Throwing a party for your child can be a lot of work. I don’t mind the actual party or even the planning of my kids’ parties. In fact, I love designing their invitations. What I hate is waiting for people to RSVP. (more)

4.) Adding a Lego-twist to an army-themed birthday party – After Jase’s birthday party in 2013, I decided that we were done with throwing a party and inviting the whole class to some sort of party place. As Jase gets older, I want to scale back his parties. So we started talking about doing one at home or maybe something with just a few friends at another location. (more)

5.) My kids’ lack of care with their possessions – Just an instant before it hit the water, I realized the doll my daughter tossed into the bathtub was a singing (electronic voice box) doll. Even though my son fished it out quickly, I feared the damage had been done. (more)

CIMG28986.) Planning a trip to Disney World – Part 3 – Our Disney World vacation is getting so close – just a few weeks away in fact. There are so many things I could cover, but I think today I will talk about an ever-changing development as well as one of their annual events. (more)

7.) One down, three ups – “You’re stupid.” “You’re so ugly.” “Poopyhead.”  “You big baby.” Yep, these are all things out of the mouths of children – specifically those would be my children earlier this summer. Some people may brush this off as kids just being kids. Often times kids simply repeat things they hear on TV or from other kids without thinking that these things can hurt others. But they can and they do. (more)

8.) Scheduling Time for Family Dinners – My kids are lucky enough to live within close proximity to both set of grandparents. My parents moved to a city 20 minutes away before my son was born, and my in-laws moved to a small town about 20 minutes north of here about 2 ½ years ago. (more)

9.) Avoiding the Summer Slide – school work in the summer – “Ahh, mom, do we have to?” This is the typical response I receive from my kids when I announce we are going to do school work today – during school vacation. Yes, this summer I am making them review school work and read books so all the knowledge they learned last school year stays “fresh” in their minds. (more)

10.) Why the Otterbox Commuter is so worth it  – When I got my iPhone 4 back in December of 2011, one of the first things I did was look for a cover that would protect the phone if I (or more likely, one of my kids) dropped it. I had heard Otterbox phone cases were very popular and after reading reviews decided I needed one. (more)

So here is to hoping everyone has a wonderful 2015 and I hope you will join me in the new year for more parenting posts.

Today’s Featured Author: Patricia Leslie

Please welcome author Patricia Leslie to Into Another World. Her book, The Ouroboros Key, came out earlier this year.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

This is where I stand up straight and tall, and declare that “I am and always will be a book-aholic!” I do not go anywhere without a book. I usually have a notebook and pen stashed away somewhere as well. I have managed to raise three intelligent children who also carry books around with them (and quite often have notebooks and pens too). I am very proud.

My background is purely non-academic though always creative – from writing, drawing, and photography to desktop publishing and graphic design. And (in the privacy of my living room with the blinds drawn sharply closed and all doors locked) I love to dance! I also love art galleries, exploring old buildings, listening to music that makes me feel, and walking on thick grass with no shoes on.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I was quite young, I filled a page with squirly scribbles and believed that I had written a story. And then I started school, which helped people understand the stories I was writing. In all seriousness, I knew I was a writer when (many years after I started school) I started writing fiction. Lots of it. I entered a few short story competitions, did okay, and realized that years of jotting down notes, writing articles and book reviews, overwhelming distant friends with long letters, and penning bad poetry had a purpose after all.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Like my reading list, my project list is juggled with daily living. I am reading two books at the moment (having just finished the third one) and working on two research projects that are slowly turning into novels. One is set in Ancient Gaul and the other (and newest project) is set in Sydney, Australia. I’m a history buff at heart and these two are more historical fiction than fantasy. The Ouroborous Key also has a lot of history in it, but much more magic (so far) than my new works. I do have a hidden desire to create magic though so I’m sure the supernatural arts will creep in to anything I write eventually.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

No I don’t. By day I am an event coordinator. This is my busiest time of year as we have big celebrations (which means a lot of events) on 26 January for Australia Day. My average work day includes spending time monitoring and uploading content for social media for our events as well as local community events, collecting images to use for general event marketing, planning/organizing/implementing a variety of events (this year, I’ve worked on a debutante ball, several Openings and a number of receptions – plus one Coffee Festival).

I write at night, in the morning or on the weekends. More often lately on the weekends as writing at night keeps me awake and I’m far too lazy now-a-days to get out of bed any earlier than I have to.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best thing is that I see scenes for stories everywhere and describe things (in my head, not out loud) to test out the best words to use. The sunlight catches the glittering of the bitumen as if stars have been captured and laid on the road for me to walk on…. Okay, so it sounds much better in my head…

The worst thing is that I see scenes for stories everywhere and watch/experience things and people with a view to fitting them into a story. I have a very active imagination sometimes and it can be hard to turn off.

Please tell us about your current release.

The Ouroboros Key touches on alternative history especially in regard to Christianity and the varying stories dealing with Adam and Eve, and early humanity. Where did we come from? The Christian version of life or the version where humans were created by other Gods? Rather than discuss or argue between the two, this novel melds them together, and has life as we know, well, not quite as we know, it.

The story also deals heavily with the theme of friendship and commitment, one to one and as a group with the main characters supporting each other throughout the adventure. And adventure it is, there are bad guys, bullets, magical creatures, weird happenings, treks into the Rocky Mountains, a spot of caving and, finally, a discovery that has the potential to change everything.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had been doing lots of reading on Celtic and Native American culture, and moved into Women’s History and Christianity (they are so intertwined after all). I wanted to write a story that combined as many of interests as I could. Then one day I was reading this article on the hidden tunnels under many of our cities and, at the same time, was reading Sir Laurence Gardeners book, Realm of the Ring Lords, and thought, “What if…”

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I read copious numbers of books on early Christian history including the Cathars and their beliefs, Laurence Gardeners books on the Ring Lords, and some books on the Annunaki and Ancient Sumer. For the characters, I did some “family history” research to build a life and, therefore, a personality that could react realistically to the situations I was putting them through. I had originally wanted to set the story in Australia but I needed bigger mountains and wanted a link to a real geographic feature – Snake River. I discovered there was a Little Snake River in the Rockies and went from there.

Before I finished the next to next to last draft of the manuscript I decided I needed to experience some of the locations first hand and went on a road trip through New Mexico, Utah, the edge of Wyoming following Little Snake River, and Colorado. There was also a side-trip to Florida to visit friends (it’s a long flight from Australia to the USA, I wanted to squeeze as much in as possible).

Do you have an all time favorite book?

Several actually… John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and the Crystal Cave series by Mary Stewart. (I’m also mad keen on King Arthur stories.)

What book are you reading right now?

Almost Invincible: a biographic novel of Mary Shelley by Suzanne Burdon and Van Gogh The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. The one I’ve just finished is The strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender by Lesley Walton, and next on my list is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.

Book Blurb

ouroborosThe Ouroborus Key is set mostly along the Colorado/Wyoming border in that part of the Rockies that remains obscure; hidden by snow and rocks and mysterious woods.

Now imagine a world that we all know about, one we read about in books, see on film, hear about on dark nights around campfires. A world where magic is commonplace and the gods involve themselves in mortal lives. Our world, in fact. Out in the open yet disguised as myths, legends and fairytales.

Daniel is a budding photographer about to launch his art to the world when he mysteriously disappears.

His friend, Nick, is investigating another missing person. A professor specialising in myths and legends has vanished from her Denver home.

Sisters, Eliana and Serena, understand the meaning of service and sacrifice better than most. They live between two worlds, the known and hidden, and await only the arrival of The Ouroborus Key to unlock their shared destiny.

Deep in the Rocky Mountains, destiny is about to hit everybody ready or not.

About the Author

Patricia leslieA Sydney writer who grew up by the beach, Patricia Leslie spent six months as an exchange student in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and has been fascinated by mountains, and what they might be hiding, ever since. The idea for The Ouroboros Key came from her interest in myths and the connections they have with history and religion as we know it. Every country has their own worldview; every culture their own truths. If you go back far enough, you just might find that many of these views and truths are the same.

Patricia also writes short stories with an historical edge and usually with a dash of the supernatural. She lives with her family south of Sydney where she plots and plans her next novel and the inevitable research trip that will be required. Coincidentally, it will be set in France, a country she’s always wanted to wander through.

You can find out more about Patricia on her blog or you can follow her on Facebook.

You can buy The Ouroboros Key on Amazon, the Book Depository and from Odyssey Books.

Holiday Sale – #Free or reduced #fantasy books

Welcome all you new e-readers out there. I hope many of you received a Kindle, Nook, iPad or Sony e-reader this holiday season. As my present to all the new e-reader owners, you can get two of my books for FREE! Or get my trilogy for just $2.99! 

Please use the coupon codes on the Smashwords website where you can download these stories in whichever e-book format you need. All coupons are good thru December 31st. Enjoy!

The SearchTHE SEARCH – a fantasy short story

For over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

FREE -No coupon needed  Smashwords   Barnes & Noble   Kobo Books

SummonedFINALSUMMONED: Book 1 of The Elemental

At the age of four, Lina discovered she could start fires with a mere thought – a trait which had died out long ago. Cautioned by her telepathic cat, Tosh, she kept this Elemental power a secret to avoid being an outcast. That was easy to do growing up in the remote grasslands of Zena.

Now as an adult, she had no plans to leave her beloved homeland. So when a strange urge compels her to travel north to an unknown destination, Lina resists this unnatural feeling. But her plans to stay in Zena are taken out of her control when she is kidnapped by gypsies and wakes in a foreign land. The desire to travel north is as strong as ever. She fears she will have no choice but to give into the compulsion. When a raging fire prevents her return home, she realizes she must find out once and for all what or who is summoning her.

On her journey, Lina befriends an odd assortment of allies. Together they battle mystical creatures and unnatural forces despite the fact that such magic had died out over 800 years ago. Lina reluctantly begins to use her innate Elemental power as she becomes more certain that someone is using magic against her. When she discovers the shocking truth, it will change her life in ways she could never imagine.

FREE – Smashwords Coupon Code: KH73U 

THE ELEMENTAL TRILOGY 

box setGet all three books in the trilogy for one low price. The adventure begins in Summoned (see description above). Lina’s story continues in Quietus and concludes in Destiny.

Quietus:

In the shadow of Ben Dar fortress, Lina learned she was the center of a thousand-year-old prophecy claiming the rebirth of the Elementals – an ancient race dedicated to caring for the Land.

Now Lina and those with traces of Elemental power train in the mountains of South Point in the hopes that they can defeat this unknown danger to the Land. Will her powers be enough to stop the destruction of her homeland?

Destiny: 

Destroying Quietus should have stopped the destruction to the Land. But it hadn’t. Slowly, the barren areas continue to grow destroying everything in their path. None of Lina’s Elemental powers can repair the damage while the Land remains contaminated by magic.
But there is an ancient scepter created by a Learner that may lift this magical barrier. Before Lina can claim it, the scepter is stolen. Now Lina and Val must race to find the scepter and end the destruction to the Land once and for all.

Reduced Price – NOW $2.99 – Smashwords Coupon Code: SL92A

52 Week Organizing Your Home Challenge

One day two weeks ago, I saw a post on Facebook for a 52 Week Challenge to organize your house. Our house could certainly use that so I clicked on it. So on this website, they have divided organizing your home into 52 different weekly projects.

P1040122Now in the past, I have tried to establish my own weekly projects. It usually only lasts a week or two before I get busy and forget to work on a project each week. Or sometimes the chore seems so big, I don’t want to tackle it.

This website will email you every Monday with a new challenge. If you don’t want more e-mails in your inbox, you can simply go to their site to get a PDF of the 2015 schedule.

2015-52-week-organized-home-list-largeNow, looking at the list, I can see some items that I may not care about or that don’t apply to me. We don’t store anything in our attic so I won’t need to organize that. And I already have a laundry schedule that works for me so I will be skipping that week. But there are still plenty of areas we do need to organize.

And this isn’t just a list of what areas to organize. Every week there will be an article with organizing tips related to that area as well as ways to keep it organized. I really need that second one. I don’t know if challenge will help me or not but I am willing to give it a try.

P1040123In addition to taking the 52-week challenge, I might also consider the Declutter 365 missions section.  On this portion of the website, you are assigned daily decluttering missions. Each one is only 15 minutes long.

Several are listed on the site but if you want the calendar with all 365 missions, you have to sign up (it’s free) on the site. But even if you would rather not sign up, there are tons of helpful hints on this site for decluttering your house.

Right now as I look around at our messy house, I could certainly use something to declutter and organize it. Whether this website is the answer or not, I am not sure. But I will give it a try starting in January. I will let you know how it goes.

Finding a lost toy tip

I just thought I would throw this story out there in case it helps anyone else.

P1040128Jase and Lexie were playing in the grass with some toys. The helmet to one of Jase’s Star Wars clone troopers lost its helmet. The kids and I searched everywhere in the grass but couldn’t find it. Jase was upset because it was a helmet different (Cody’s) from the rest of the clone troopers.

Enter my husband with his solution. He waited until that evening and then looked with a black light. Within minutes he found the helmet in the grass. So next time you lose a little white or light colored toy, consider using a black light to look for it. I hope this can help someone else.

Today’s Featured Author: Rebecca Burns

Today, please welcome author Rebecca Burns to my blog. Here is an excerpt from The Settling Earth, her collection of short stories.

Excerpt

A PICKLED EGG

Sarah woke to a fierce north wind. She lay in the creaky marital bed, listening to the wind whip about the little wooden house and, watching the pasted wallpaper billow and bulge as warm air wove between the slats, decided to bake a pie. The bed was deep and comfortable-they had taken an extra trip up to Christchurch to fetch the iron frame, William had insisted upon it. He’d stuck out his chin, a jutting corner of stubbornness. Of course, the bed had made it down to the station-somehow it hadn’t dared break. As a rare indulgence, William had ordered a feather mattress from Wellington, and it now lay on the frame like a delicate fruit topping on a sponge base. Sarah pondered. Maybe a fruit pie would be too light after William’s long trip.  Mutton would be more satisfying.

Her grandmother’s carriage clock ticked on the dresser and Sarah turned her gaze from the wallpaper to its opal face. She felt a faint pang when she saw it was a quarter past nine in the morning. She had gone to bed early the night before, but these days she felt so tired. Her limbs and thighs ached as she wriggled beneath the bedspread. Perhaps it’s the weather, she reasoned. It had been oppressive recently; the air hung about the house and garden with a stifling heaviness. Yet it was dry, almost unbearably dry, and the heat accompanying the wind felt like blotting paper on the skin, drawing out all moisture. It had turned the dogs crazy-even Bessie, her favourite. The shaggy black-coated animal had lain panting beside her pen and then, in a thrash of foaming energy, had run off, barking and growling. Sarah hadn’t seen her for days. And hadn’t she changed her own clothes three times yesterday? Finally she’d removed her corset altogether and sat around the house in a white linen underdress. Sarah nodded to herself and stroked her stomach absently. Perhaps a mutton pie could be baked and left to cool. Hans had slaughtered a wether only yesterday. William might like a cold mutton pie, served with a pickled egg.

But were there any eggs left? Sarah frowned and shook her head, trying to clear the fog in her mind. She could almost see the little cupboard in the kitchen where jars of jams and preserves were neatly stacked, but when she tried to focus on the row of pickled eggs, a cloud obscured her view. It was quite maddening. A shapeless grey mass drifted in front of the labels on the jars. In fact, not just in front of the jars. This baggy grey haze seemed to be there all the time these days. Sometimes, if Sarah tried to remember something important William had said-like when he would leave for town or what shirts he needed her to darn-she could see his mouth and lips move, but the grey cloud would obscure his tongue and suck up all the instructions. It seemed malevolent.

But hadn’t she pickled a dozen eggs just last week after wrestling them from the defensive hens as they strutted about in the backyard? She could distinctly remember standing by the fence, watching intently for her moment before shooing away the birds (especially that arrogant speckled one who always seemed to know how to frighten her) and braving the pen where warm brown eggs waited for her. She was sure she had bundled them into her apron, deliberately avoiding the baleful gaze of the birds. Well, hadn’t she fed them and kept them clean? Hadn’t she protected them from rats and hawks that pecked, pecked, pecked the chicks until their soft yellow bodies fell to the earth? Eggs are eggs, she reasoned, and these eggs are my payment. Still, she hadn’t looked back at the hens once she’d left their pen, and she was sure they were still cross with her a week later.

But the fact remained that she had collected a dozen eggs. Hadn’t she? She remembered the pent up energy balling in her stomach that day when William had gone away again, and Hans had been on the prowl. Remembering, Sarah sat up a little in bed. She recalled that William had risen early and flapped around the bedroom in his nightshirt, muttering about saddling his horse ready for the trip. She had watched him sleepily, sensing that she should get up and make him breakfast-indeed, that William expected her to-but somehow, she just couldn’t. Instead, the vivacity that should have gone to her legs gathered at her centre in a tense, tight knot. It gnawed all day, prompting indigestion that would not shift even after drinking a large glass of warm milk. She had been restless and strolled around house, moving from bedroom to parlour, parlour to kitchen, kitchen to scullery. And, when Hans slid into the kitchen, his eyes wandering over her dress and mumbling something unintelligible, Sarah finally burst into movement. She had hurried out of the way, shrugging off Hans’s fingers on her arm, and bustled into the yard. She gazed out at the run, spying the white merino sheep grazing on the horizon. The Southern Alps were pale and blue in the distance, and she lifted up her hands, cupping their silhouettes in her palms. She felt a sudden desire to run along the burnished flats in her bare feet, feeling the rough grass push between her toes, running to the bottom of the hills where jagged grey rocks marked the beginning of the trail. Would the rocks be sharp against her skin? Would they cut her if she scrambled up the mountain? Would they tear her clothes to pieces? She stared at the unreadable hills in the distance, feeling a trickle of perspiration prick her skin. Her clothes felt tight on her body.

Book Blurb

The Settling EarthMarriage transplants Sarah thousands of miles from home; a failed love affair forces Phoebe to make drastic choices in a new environment; a sudden, shocking discovery brings Mrs Ellis to reconsider her life as an emigrant – The Settling Earth is a collection of ten, interlinked stories, focusing on the British settler experience in colonial New Zealand, and the settlers’ attempts to make sense of life in a strange new land.

Sacrifices, conflict, a growing love for the landscape, a recognition of the succour offered by New Zealand to Maori and settler communities – these are themes explored in the book. The final story in the collection, written by Shelly Davies of the Ngātiwai tribe, adds a Maori perspective to the experience of British settlement in their land.

About the Author

Rebecca BurnsRebecca Burns is an award-winning writer of short stories, over thirty of which have been published online or in print. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2011, winner of the Fowey Festival of Words and Music Short Story Competition in 2013 (and runner-up in 2014), and has been profiled as part of the University of Leicester’s “Grassroutes Project”-a project that showcases the 50 best transcultural writers in the county.

The Settling Earth is her second collection of short stories. Her debut collection, Catching the Barramundi, was published in 2012-also by Odyssey Books-and was longlisted for the Edge Hill Award in 2013.

You can find out more about Rebecca on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can buy The Settling Earth on Amazon UK & Amazon US.