The College of the Crones Chp 2

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Chapter Two Part One- Masquerade Ball

Although there were nightly parties at the prince’s castle, everyone’s favorite event was the harvest festival masquerade ball.  All the landowners and townspeople came dressed in elaborate and often ridiculous costumes.  The prince savored a sip of Eldertown’s best red wine, as he pictured the party guests. For most of my subjects the foolish apparel is an improvement. Except for the ladies, of course. At least the ladies, thanks to his beauty potion, did not offend his sensibilities. He downed the rest of his goblet.

All the preparations were complete for the masquerade ball. But of course all is ready. I will not tolerate anything less than perfect. Hours of labor had produced a glossy shine on the tile floors. The entire castle had been decked with garlands of ivy and blood red roses. From the kitchen came a whirlwind of noise and aromas, escalating as the hour of the guests’ arrival approached. The band was tuning their instruments. Court ladies reclined in their dressing rooms, allowing their servants and handmaidens to add last minute details to their costumes. All the lanterns and chandeliers had been lit. The castle glistened like a giant star upon the hill. Since it was the end of the harvest season and winter was approaching, it was already quite dark and crispy cool. It was the perfect night for a ball.

Away from the clatter of preparation, the prince relaxed in his sitting room, his chair facing a crackling fire in a massive stone fireplace. The fireplaces were always roaring in his private rooms. All the changing seasons in this world are quite unsettling. He was always layered in fine wool and furs after the leaves began to turn fiery orange and red. His shivering wouldn’t cease until springtime warmed his face once more.

The gold trimmed mirror over the mantle was tipped to catch his reflection. He couldn’t help noticing the way his wavy black hair caught the glint of the firelight, and how his neatly trimmed beard accented his piercing green eyes and prominent nose. No man in this world can captivate hearts the way I can.

            Still, he was too thin, despite his feasting, and not as tall as he would have liked. His narrow pointed ears he kept hidden under his hair. He didn’t need to draw attention to the few differences between mortals and faeries. His people thought his never-ending youth was due to another potion that he kept for himself. If they discovered I was a faerie, they wouldn’t be so eager to trust me.

Looking Back at 2015

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Part of being a good teacher is the ability to reflect and respond. After the kids leave, and you’re sitting in a mess of broken crayons, glue-crusted desks, and overflowing trash cans, it’s time to go over all the lessons that day. “I’ll never do that again!” and “Wow! I can’t believe that worked!” are the thoughts that guide me for future instruction.

But I can’t help being that lifelong learner when I go home. And now it’s New Year’s Eve, and time to clean up the mess and plan for next year.

My husband and I have been going on a planning weekend in January for the past seven years we’ve been married. Besides spending quality alone time together, we have a notebook that we use every year. We go over the goals from the past few years and evaluate our progress toward them. Some ideas make us laugh as they aren’t even concerns anymore. Others make us groan as we realize we didn’t do anything about them.

At the end of December, I have enough free time to start thinking about what I will add to our notebook this year. And to prepare my defense for those goals I didn’t reach.

Financial goals always make me cringe, but this year I want to save more money. I really bombed on this one last year, but my attitude toward spending has evolved. It’s amazing how much stuff you don’t need as you get older. Well, maybe except my phone and computer. And wifi.

In the category of personal goals, 2015 was going to be the year I reached out with my writing. A writing friend suggested joining The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. When I finally did, I had the opportunity to meet with an agent and have professional editing at a writing conference. In addition, I met some great creatives and listened to their stories of being published in the traditional way. But this group doesn’t meet often, so I found The California Writers Club online. The Inland Empire Branch meets monthly in Ontario so I could quench my thirst for literary conversation and learn more about self-publishing and promotion. Both groups helped me communicate my stories in a more confident and professional manner.

Still questing for additional critique of my almost completed book The College of the Crones, I decided to go back to college—University of California Riverside Extension Program. In September I started working on my Fiction Writing Certificate, a 20 unit program to shore up the structure of my writing. Writing definitely stays on the list for 2016.

In the category of shared goals, my husband and I joined the Harley Owners Group in November, after agonizing about it for over a year. Originally we had wanted to start our own motorcycle riding group, but after wise counsel, we decided to see how it was done first. It has been a great adventure, riding the back roads and starting new friendships. We also started riding with The Black Sheep, a Christian motorcycle ministry. Much to our surprise, the HOGs were much tamer than the Black Sheep. But that’s another blog. It will be interesting to see how the miles will add up this year.

As the hours tick down to 2016, I find myself at peace. There were some events I regret, but mostly it has been a year of growth. Each day is a learning experience, and as long as I remain teachable, the coming year will provide many opportunities to shape my life.

 

 

 

A Perfect Day

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The 5:10 a.m. alarm wasn’t as shrill as most Mondays. Instead of stretching out my back and doing some twists in bed before my feet hit the floor, I jump up and out to the kitchen to turn on the coffee. Aside from the whispering dream of walking all the way into the mountains to visit my grandkids (Where does that come from?), my mind is as clear as a desert sky. It’s going to be a perfect day.

I’m busy constructing my husband’s lunch as he emerges from the bathroom. His ham and cheese sandwich looks more purposeful than usual. I even remembered the mayonnaise today. This morning, I even take time to make peanut butter celery sticks. My husband looks awake and ready for his forty-five minute commute to Murrieta.  He watches me curiously as I wrap them in foil.

“Why didn’t you stay in bed? I could have made my lunch this morning,” he says while wrapping me in a hug.

“I needed to get up,” I insist. “It’s going to be a perfect day.”

He nods with the understanding he alone has of the innermost workings of my mind. After pouring his coffee into his travel mug, and thermos for later, he gathers up his lunch and keys, kisses me, and heads out the door.

My day begins with devotion and meditation time. This involves a stack of pillows, a fleece blanket, a steaming bowl sized cup of coffee, and my Bible. Time to mentally and spiritually prepare for the day.

Some time passes, and I don’t look at the antique clock on the mantle once. This is a perfect day, and I don’t care about watching the time. When I’m ready, I unwrap myself from the couch and head into the kitchen. Instead of a quick bowl of instant oatmeal, I make myself an egg on an English muffin. I can nibble it slowly while I check social media on my phone. The sandwich actually has time enough to cool before I finish it, but this doesn’t annoy me because it’s going to be a perfect day.

Clean up can wait, and it’s time to plug in my lap top. I haven’t made a To Do List, but I’m not worried. Today I can post on my blog, do revisions on my book, and anything else I feel like doing. I might even watch a movie. Or maybe even DO NOTHING. The scandal of this thought causes me to shudder, but the moment passes quickly as I open up my computer. It’s going to be a perfect day.

The angle of the sun glaring through my kitchen window onto the breakfast bar where I sit typing measures the progress of my day. I write and drink coffee; I plan out my contribution to the Thanksgiving feast approaching in a few days. I pause to consider my own thankfulness. The whirlwind of my life contains many blessings- a husband-friend-partner, six children between us, six and a half grandchildren, supportive family, a teaching career, and the pursuit of a writing career. All of this is time well spent, but I do enjoy my vacation days, especially at the onset of the holiday season.

Today I won’t use my truck. Don’t expect me to call or text you. I might brush my hair, but I won’t put on makeup. When my husband returns at the end of the day, he won’t be surprised to find me curled up on the couch with my Kindle. After all, it’s a perfect day.

 

 

 

 

The Dragon of Doubt

The hardest part of being an unpublished writer is the doubt. Even though you may try to surround yourself with your companions (spouse, coworkers, friends, writing groups) eventually you must face it alone.

A writer must be as brave as a knight on a quest. Stories are adventures, but the greatest adventures contain dragons and trolls. That’s why writers wear armor and carry big swords. Every time I sit down at my computer, I am ready to do battle.

In the middle of an early chapter, a huge Doubt Dragon swoops down on me. “Hey, I’m trying to work here!” is the sharp edge of my sword that bounces off the dragon’s diamond scales. “But you’ve never published the first book! You’re wasting your time!” the creature roars, its fiery breath scorching my cheek with truth.

Desperately, I glance down at my armor for strength. The plays I’ve written and performed for over 1,100 children are reflected in my breastplate. The chain mail peeking out from the joints remind me that my story is worthy. My helmet whispers that my story must be told, in my way.

The Dragon regards me with hesitation. I have not fled in terror. I cannot. For I have not chosen to be a writer- writing has chosen me. With renewed strength, I thrust my sword once more, this time piercing the creature’s critical eye. With a piercing scream, the Dragon beats its wings raggedly and flies away.

Victorious once again, I return to my work. After I clean my weapon, of course.

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