This is going to be a fairly short post this week. Why? Because I have very few beauty products that are favorites. I have really, really sensitive skin – that has gotten even more sensitive in the past, oh, two years or so. I have yet to find a facial cleanser that does not make me feel like my face is on fire and in danger of falling off my skull – even the so called “for sensitve skin” products. Same goes for moisturizers. Which really sucks because my skin is dry too – I can play pictionary on it with my fingernail. It’s just sad.
BUT there are some things I have found that work for me, though, and have a permanent place in my life.
Coconut oil – Seriously, I love the stuff. So many uses and I definitely use it because it doesn’t make me hurt or make my skin break out. I use it as a eye makeup remover, hair treatment (sometimes with other things but it’s fabulous on its own), on dry, cracked skin in the winter, as lip balm in a pinch. And there are other uses, too, but those are hte big ones.
Aloe Vera Gel– Not the kind with any alcohol or coloring or all the things you can’t pronounce. The best is straight from the plant but if you use a good amount, hit Amazon and find some. It’s worth it. Aside from the wonderful healing properties of aloe vera, there’s a lot you can do with this stuff. Seriously, Google it. The big thing I use it for is “aloe packing”. Since my skin is so sensitive and try this has been a life saver (and you would never use the icky green gel that is full of chemicals and alcohol for this!) and I just started doing it. Basically, you put the gel on your face, and you wait for your skin to soak it all in, then you put on an other layer. You do this until your skin just won’t absorb anymore. It’s lovely and soothing.
Say Yes to Coconut Lip Balm – This is the lip balm I carry with me everywhere. I love it. And my lips thank me for it. Slow It Body Wash and Lotion – I discovered this whilst getting the hair ripped from my legs. A truely joyous experience. I don’t use this on my face, mind, but I love it for everything else. The first ingredient listed? Aloe. LOVE. It keeps my dry-ass skin hydrated and feeling smooth. And it really does seem to slow hair growth down. So win. These are products sold through European Wax Centers, and I’m not sure you can order online or anything. I just get mine when I endure the torture in the summers. (But I buy enough and still use even when I’m not waxing. It works and I’m not straying from it).
And that is it from me. I don’t really have any fave makeup – mostly because I suck at makeup so I rarely wear it.
Happy Wednesday! Today’s topic is whether we agree or disagree with the old adage “Write what you know” and why.
I didn’t realize how tough a question this was until I settled in to write this post. I actually don’t have a definitive answer to this.
As a writer, I write plenty I don’t know – I don’t know what it is to be a vampire or a faery or a witch or a reincarnated king, and I’ve written every single one of those. Aside from the fantasty aspect, I don’t know what it is to be a man, yet I write from my heroes’ POVs in every book.
But (you knew that was coming, right? The big “but”), when it comes to writing, say the fantasy stuff, I do know it, because I make it up. It’s my creation, my worlds. I write notes (lots and lots of notes), I make sure everything is consistent and don’t change willy nilly. The rules of those worlds are concrete and remain so through the book and/or series.
As for writing from a male POV… Well, conversations in this house do get interesting. I’ve been known to ask the hubs and any other male foolish enough to hang around how they would react to a situation, etc. Not saying I write how a typical man would react, think or feel, but again, I build the character and him consistent thoughout.
See how it’s complicated? Yes, write what you know, but if you don’t know it…
1) Research the crap out of it – a profession, a specific event, a locale, a time period, etc.
2) Make it up, create something, but make sure it’s consistent.
And here comes another BUT… When it comes to making it up? That works when it comes to fantasy and paranormal. Even when it comes to building an individual character, but I’ll be flat out honest here, there are things I won’t write because I don’t feel I have the perspective or knowledge, even with research, to do it well. There are some things, I believe, that without firsthand experience, I can’t write effectively. And I’m okay with that. I’ve enough to work with, and plenty of fantasy/paranormal stuff to keep me busy. LOL
So yes, write what you know. Research. And feel free to make stuff up, but FFS, be consistent. There, that’s my answer. LOL
And that’s all I’ve got this week. It’s been a rough one, a tad stressful so far. So this is me tonight….
Okay, that MAY have been averted by channeling Olivia Pope (from Scandal)
Totally late on this one… Got in super late from a weekend away last night and passed out. And I’d spent the 4 of the last 10 days in the car. Not particularly fun, even though the visits in between were lovely.
Anyhoo, I’m not wimping out. I have a flash peice for this picture. The upside to hours upon hours in the car by yourself? Lots of ideas pop up and there’re no distractions as they come to ilfe in your head.
This is another glimpse into Delia’s life. She’s the heroine from my NA serial that will begin next week. Squee! So excited about it. You can check out the last tidbit from Delia HERE before reading on…or just read on….
Lying in Wait
I leaned against the tree, scratching the growing number of bug bites on my exposed skin. And there was a fair amount of it. Should’ve changed out of the thin, short dress I’d thrown on that morning, but I hadn’t expected to be standing here long after night fell. And honestly, the air was heavy and thick with humidity, even now, and I’d be sweltering in anything else. The small amount of relief I felt as the stingy breeze coasted over my damp skin was worth it. I smacked my neck, grimacing at the smear of blood on my palm. Mostly worth it.
Where was he? I peered down the dark street. This was the way he’d come back, the way he always came back whenever he left for…whatever he was doing. He still wouldn’t tell me anything, saying I was too young, that Mom would have his ass if he involved me at all. Of course, Dad just talking to me about magic, in general, was enough to get her blood boiling something fierce. Which was why I’d waited for her to doze in the recliner before slipping out to meet Dad when he returned. I figured this was the only way I’d get him to share anything about his secret outings. Not that I’d been successful to this point, but at home? No chance there.
Oh, he’d be annoyed when he saw me. He’d get out of the car, all frowns and glares, but that would only last a moment before he’d shake his head and and nod for me to get in. And even if I couldn’t get him to spill about, we’d talk about magic. Freely and without worried looks. I swatted at another mosquito buzzing around my ear and sighed. I knew Mom didn’t mean anything by it. She really didn’t understand why we needed to talk, why I needed to learn about what was inside me. How could she? She wasn’t a magic user. She didn’t feel the power thrumming through her, pushing ever outward as she had to hide that part of herself from everyone out of fear. She couldn’t imagine what it was like to feel as if she were dying because something that was so essential to who she was was being smothered.
I spun at the soft call, grabbing the tree truck for balance as I tripped over my own feet. Squinting into the night, I tried to find the source of the voice, and nearly fell on my ass when a tall figure stepped from the shadows across the way onto the asphalt.
“Kyle? What are you doing here?”
He braced his hands on his knees and bent forward, gulping air. I hurried closer to him, joining him on the road. and saw he was drippping with sweat. His jeans were torn at the knees, filthy, and when he straightened, my stomach roiled when the streetlight illuminated a nasty gash along his temple and the blood coating half his face.
I closed the distance between us and reached up. Before I could touch him, murmur one of the healing spell Dad had taught me, Kyle grabbed my wrists and shook his head, wincing as the movement obviously pained him. He glanced around nervously.
“Not here. Not now.”
“What’s going on? What happened to you?”
“There’s no time to explain. You have to get home. Now. And when they come, you know nothing.”
“When who comes?” I pulled free of his grasp but didn’t move back.
“I was with your dad and mine. They…they…” He pressed his lips together and swallowed audibly. “They were taken, and there are going to be people asking questions. About your dad, about…”
Kyle and his father were the only people other than my parents who knew what I was. Because they were magic users, too. What the hell had they been doing? Who had taken our fathers? Where were they? What was going to happen to them? The questions battered at my skull, and I clenched my hands into tight fists.
“Fuck, Dee!” Kyle grabbed my arm and hauled me to the side, off the road and into the cover of the surrounding forest. “You need to pull it in.”
I followed his gaze, looked down, and saw my hands glowing as my emotions spiraled out of control.
“Where are they?” I gasped.
“I don’t know. They told me to run, and I did. I ran. I didn’t even try to–”
His shame bore down on me, heavy and suffocating. I shoved through the worry and fear and wrapped my arms around his waist. He was just sixteen – a year older than me. If someone had managed to take down both his and my dads, Kyle wouldn’t have stood a chance.
“They said run, you run. That’s the rules,” I said softly.
“We have to go home now.” His voice was flat and dull as he held me tightly. “And when questions are asked – ”
“I know nothing,” I finished, pulling back and looking at him. Before he could see what I was doing, I whispered the spell and touched my fingers to the cut on his head. When he opened his mouth to protest, I spoke first. “They’ll ask more questions if you’re injured.”
He nodded reluctantly. “Yeah, they would. Come on.” He grabbed my hand and started pulling me through the trees toward our homes, rather than along the road.
“You tell me what happened, right? What you were doing?” I asked quietly as we stumbled along in the dark.
“Yeah, I’ll tell you everything I know,” he assured. “When it’s safe.”
It was quiet, except for the sound of our feet in the brush, for several minutes. Then, I could taken it anymore.
“They’re gone, aren’t they? Our dads, I mean. They’re not coming back.”
Kyle tripped slightly ahead of me, and he glanced back, face pale, still streaked with blood. And his blue eyes shining with tears. “I don’t know, Dee. I really don’t know.”
Today, we’re doing another Favorite Things post, talking about our favorite season.
Anyone who knows me KNOWS it isn’t winter. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the tail end of that season! The other seasons I don’t mind, but if hard-pressed to choose one, I’d pick summer. For several reasons.
One – I don’t like being cold. And living in Minnesota… *sigh* …it gets cold.
Two – Less running around. Oh, we’re still busy in the summer with camps and trips etc, but the day-to-day running is sooooo much less than in the school months. So there’s less of this….
…and more of this…
Okay, I may not be doing it up like drunk Ron Swanson, but in the summer, I definitely sleep better and have more energy.
Three – Believe it or not, I’m going to say camping trips. I know, it’s a shocker, but I do enjoy myself when camping. Time with my family – immediate and extended – is awesome, and I always fine some alone time to do what I love to do…
And to be honest, it’s the camping prep and set up (and then inevitible take down) is what I really hate about camping. The actual camping? I can get on board with that, and I can admit that it’s part of what makes summer my favorite season.
Four – WRITING RETREAT! A week on beautiful Lake Superior
Lots of writing happens, good food is eaten, lots of wine is consumed (by me anyway), I laugh so hard my face and belly hurt, and I get to be with some of the greatest ladies I know.
Well, I’m hoping this posts… I have been having blog issues lately – my blog has been down more than it’s been up. People are on it. People who actually know what they are doing (Meaning, not me) and hopefully will figure out what the issue is. *fingers crossed*
Anyhoo, the topic for this week is How Writing Affects My Life & Vice Versa. Fun, yeah? LOL
Being a writer…that’s not something I can turn off. I’m constantly thinking about the book I’m currently working on (Or another one. *snort*). So, sometimes, I…zone out. I admit it. The hubs is talking about something or one of the kids and tra-la-la, my mind wanders to a scene or something. I apologize a lot for not listening, and it’s not intentional. They’re all pretty used to it right now.
My family also get to hear my plot stuff out. My oldest son worked as a counselor at a camp over the weekend in the winter. It was an hour or so away, and I think I plotted out the enitre first Albion’s Circle book while driving him out there. Poor kid had to hear so much. BUT he’s pretty awesome and helped me figure shit out. So yay!
Writing affects my life in a somewhat negative way is when I’m on deadline, I pull late nights and am very crabby – especially in pre-caffeinated state. I don’t like being tired, and sometimes that seems like that’s all I am. LOL
Okay, now – how my life affects writing… Well the biggest way? It means I don’t get to write as often as I’d like. My husband and I have four children. Over the past 18 years, that has affected my writing. A LOT. It’s easier now that the kids are older; my youngest is 12. But still, school functions, concerts, programs, etc still hit the schedule and make fitting writing time more difficult.
That being said, I do childcare and most days of the work week, I three young kids here. You can imagine how writing what I write is difficult to do. So I focus on the children and the *other* day job. Yeah, another one. Why you ask? Well, the kids like to eat and the college years are upon us. o.O So I do what I can to help bring in some income. Not so different than most families out there, yeah? So after chasing kids, working, doing family stuff…some nights, it’s all I can do to stay awake, let alone get words in. But I’m working on a balance there, and some day, I may just find it.
(Okay, I’m horrible at the wordless… I don’t really have pics from my childhood so I’m going with posting pics of things that come to mind when I think of my childhood… Some of them should embarrassment but I feel no shame. NO SHAME.)
That’s it from me – time to get back to work. I’m certain the other ladies will have much more entertaining posts this week. Make sure to go check them out.
This week’s weeks song is “The Hammer’s Coming Down” by Nickelback. Kris and Paige are so happy about this. 😛
I’d planned on writing more about Aric and Michael, but this song really didn’t lend itself to their story. As I listened to it, I kept thinking of Merlin and Anna from my Albion’s Circle series. Probably because I’m back writing them. I don’t know how well I kept to the song itself, but this was inspired by it… So, I went with it – though I’m sure I’ll be back with my boys soon. 🙂 They’re still talking to me.
So, here is a glimpse into Merlin and Anna’s past – the eve before battle, the very first time they faced Mordred, back in the days of Camelot.
If you want to take a listen before you read… Click Here
The quiet surrounded me as Camelot’s great army slept. I’d been unable to do the same. I’d tried—mostly for Merlin’s sake as he’d fussed at me the night before. And for Arthur and Galahad and the others who kept casting worried glances my way as we’d sat around the campfire. So, I’d retreated into our tent with Merlin and curled up beside him on the fur-covered pallet. Being in his arms had helped—it always helped—but it hadn’t brought me rest.
Frustrated and unable to stop the doubt and fear vibrating inside me, I reluctantly slid from Merlin’s embrace, not wanting to interrupt his sleep. And, even if I lay still as a stone, eventually he would sense my unease. Particularly since controlling my power was becoming more difficult by the minute. The air in the tent teemed with it, and I tried to rein it in as I quickly dressed. With one last look at the man who slept surprisingly peacefully, I slipped outside.
A few men sat around fires throughout the camp—either on watch or, like me, unable to sleep. I paid them no mind and made my way into the trees. I didn’t go far—just far enough to be away from the bustle when everyone began to wake but close enough I’d hear if there was trouble.
I stood in a small glade and stared into the darkness, struggling against tears that welled up, that nearly choked me. Swallowing the lump in my throat, I closed my eyes and reached out mentally, letting my magic touch on all the wards and protection spells we’d woven around the encampment. All intact and strong. I sensed each of the men—Magical and non-Magical—on watch around the perimeter. Everything was as it should be, and yet, an uneasy feeling curling around me, squeezing me to the point I couldn’t breath
Morning would soon be upon us, and battle would begin. And I, Camelot’s strongest Seer, saw nothing.
I had tried everything in my power to see what was coming, to glimpse any hint of what the battle would bring. Even going so far as ingesting a complex combination of herbs said to induce visions. That had only succeeded in making me unable to control my magic at all, and had spent an hour vomiting in my chambers as my belongings either shattered or floated around me. The only redeeming thing about that entire experience was no one had been around to witness it.
I sighed as Merlin’s arms came around me, pulling my back against his front. I covered his hands with mine and let my head rest against his shoulder.
“What’s the matter?” he asked, pressing his lips to my temple.
“I can’t see,” I said softly. “I’ve never been so blind to what is ahead.”
“All will be well,” he assured. “This is hardly the first time Camelot has been at war.”
But it was the first time they’d ever faced such a Magical threat led by someone who once claimed friendship and swore loyalty to Arthur and Camelot, someone who’d betrayed them in every way possible.
“I wish you wouldn’t go onto the battlefield,” I whispered, selfishly. I couldn’t shake the feeling something bad was going to happen to him. And being unable able to see…only strengthened that fear. But, while I knew he could provide protection from afar, he never would. It wasn’t who he was.
“My place is by Arthur’s side.”
“Funny, I thought it was by mine,” I snapped, jerking out of his arms and stepping away.
I pressed the heels of my hands to my eyes, hunching over as I tried to calm down. I felt the comforting touch of Merlin’s magic, twining around me, gliding over my skin.
“Annwyl, please.” Desperation filled his voice, and straightening, I turned around. “I love you, more than anything, you know this.”
“Just as I know you love your king, and you will do everything in your power to protect him.” I closed the distance between us and reached up to cradle his face in my trembling hands. “Forgive me. I’m tired, and not being able to see makes me… I’m uneasy. But I know you need to be with him.”
His hands settled on my hips, fingertips pressing hard. “And I’ll come back to you. Always.”
“I know.” I brushed a thumb over his lips, enjoying the resulting shudder and swell of power.
“Mordred will not win,” he said firmly. “We’ve ensured that by creating the Circle. You ensured it by finding the spell to do so. We’ll stop him, Annwyl. And, after…”
“Yes?” I moved closer, biting back a moan when his hard length pressed against my stomach. “What happens after?”
“After,” he drawled, “we return to Camelot and ignore our friends and our duties for days while I keep you in my tower and show you again and again how much I love you.”
“Bold promises,” I teased.
“I always keep my promises, love.” He dropped a quick kiss on my lips. “Actually, why wait?”
I huffed out a laugh as he let go of my hips and grabbed my hand so he could pull me behind him as he walked.
“Merlin,” I said, trying to keep my voice hushed.
He said nothing as he led me back to camp then into our tent. Once inside, he muttered and the candles inside the space flamed to life. His bright blue gaze seared as he turned toward me.
“We’ve hours yet before the sun rises,” he said slowly. “If you can’t sleep, let’s not waste them.”
I let him tug me back over to the pallet and followed readily as he stretched out on the furs. I shoved aside the fears and uncertainty that still filled my head, anxious to lose myself in him. In the way we came together, the way he made me feel.
But, even as we moved, loved each other, I couldn’t help but feel as if this were the calm before the storm. That, come morning, once the battle began, there was no turning back. Everything was going to change.
Before we get to today’s topic, I want to give a shout out and huge welcome to Paige Prince who is joining for the Wednesday Random fun times! Paige, my lovely, lovely Paige, so happy you’re here, darling. MWAH
Now, this week, we’re talking inspiration…and presenting it to you A-Z. My list – some of it is what inspires me writing-wise (most of it probably) but some is just what I find inspiring in life. I feel I should apologize for the complete and utter…well, silliness of it. But…
And, really, no one who knows me will be surprised by this list.
All Things Arthurian – King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin, magic, swords, epic battles, good vs. evil… How can I not be inspired? All of the legends I love pushed me to write my own Arthurian-inspired series, Albion’s Circle.
Bradley James –
Need I say more?
Colin freaking Morgan – Admit it, you knew this one was coming, didn’t you?
No words…just, Guh.
Dreams – This one is probably weird, but I’m going with it. This definitely falls in the writing inspiration column. I’ve had a few books start out of a dream I’ve had. Not that I dreamt the whole book or anything. It could be just a moment, an event that just triggers something and it all comes from that.
Encouragement – Complete honesty, my friends’ encouragement is crucial for me in writing. Knowing that they will read through something and tell me the truth, no matter what? That’s pretty much the greatest thing ever. And whether I crank out something good or not so good, the encouragement is always, always there – to keep going or to fix that shit! 🙂
Family & Friends – Wasn’t even going to attempt to list people individual for something like this. o.O I’ve been so blessed – with the family I was born into, the and the friends I’ve had the good fortune to have come into my life. And I’m inspired by them every day.
GIFs – I will admit I love GIFs (this doesn’t surprise anyone, probably). I have huge files of them and many many of them are quite inspiring. If you message with me on the regular, you’ll get GIFs (and reg pics) too thrown at you often. Behold…
Husband – And not just in the bow-chica-bow-wow way either. He’s the strongest, kindest, most loyal and dedicated person I know. And he inspires me to be better. And, he’s pretty easy on the eyes, I’ll admit. Rowr. 🙂
Inspiring Things – Cut me some slack… Pretty please? This is one of the last letters and I can’t brain anymore. So inspiring things inspire me. Let that little truth bomb ruminate for a while…
Jess’ Strangely Specific Fetishes – A phrase coined by the lovely Bron during Merlin Club. I don’t think they’re strange…but I suppose I can see how they would seem as such to others. What are they, you ask? Well, hands, collarbones, forearms, Merlin’s Dragonspeak Voice, King Arthur’s use of the royal “we”… To name a few. ENDLESS inspiration for the writing, let me tell you.
Kids – As infuriating as they can be, they inspire me so much. Most often when they don’t even know I see or hear what they’re doing. They make me believe I’m doing SOMETHING right with my life.
Love – romantic love, platonic love, parental love… C’mon, love is just inspiring. Not much to expand on that.
Merlin – not specifically Colin Morgan’s Merlin (though he certainly is inspiring). The character of Merlin and all it’s incarnations intrigue me. There’s a reason Albion’s Circle centers around Merlin and the woman he falls for.
Nature – Although I would never claim to be an outdoorsy girl, I have a healthy appreciate for nature and it does inspire me. Sitting on the lake, or by the sea, hiking to a little known waterfall in the woods… Thunderstorms are the best thing ever. Yeah, see? I like me some nature.
OneRepublic – Don’t laugh. Their music is especially speaking to me as I write the Albion’s Circle series. And darn it, I know some people are go to have Nickelback on their lists!
Pride & Prejudice – I love Jane Austen, but P&P is my fave. And it also inspires me to write the best damned books I can. Particularly when it comes to characterization because that is one of the first books I read that I connected so greatly with the characters. (Not saying it’s the first book I liked or I didn’t like characters in other books before, but I felt particularly invested in Lizzy and Mr. Darcy.)
Quiet – This one may actually surprise because I always have headphones on or background noise (TV) going when I write. BUT I’ll let you in on a secret – that started as a defense mechanism. An effort to drown out the general chaos that is around me. Then, I got used to some kind of noise while I wrote and it stuck. So yes, I need that when I write, but when I’m thinking through a story, plotting, etc… When trying to come up with somthing…quiet is the trick, my friends. Don’t know if that counts as “inspiration” but hell, what the fuck else am I going to come up with Q????
Readers – Readers saying they liked a book or asking about the next book in a series… Yeah, that inspires, big time.
(Lake) Superior – I grew up where I could bike to Lake Superior. That is my happy place. Some friends and I go there every year for a retreat, and it’s honestly my light at the end of the tunnel when stress gets to me (and by that I mean ALL. THE. TIME.)
Tumblr – It’s my OTHER happy place. And so much more accessible than my dear lake.
United Kingdom – Big part of this is because of my love of history and my family background. Always felt a pull. I finally had the opportunity to travel there this last year. Spent most of my time in London but spent some time driving across Wales and a day in Bath, as well. LOADS of inspiration. Hell, my upcoming book’s title is London Bound so… there you go
(Bon) Voyage – I know that’s sort of cheating, but… V…. Veeeeeeeeee!!!
Anyhoo, love to travel – or Voyage, if you will – and find inspiration in the history, the architecture, people watching, the surrounding scenery…
Wine – Some of my best ideas and most brilliant moments happen under the influence of good, cheap wine, my friends.
X-rated – I write erotic romance. Hello?
(Da) Yoop, eh? – Since I already had something for U, I couldn’t put Upper Michigan or UP (Upper Peninsula). It’s where I grew up. I adore it up there. And I’ve definitely been inspired to write stories set up there because of my neverending love. Hey, once a Yooper…
Zeal – Seriously, I know the look on your faces right now….
…but hear me out. One, Z is hard, people. Two, I admire zeal. I find it inspirational when I see someone passionate about what they believe. Unless, they’re dicks about it. Then, well, I’m the one with the expression above on my face.