So Long…Farewell…etc.

It has been a very long time since I posted anything here, and I decided its long past time to simply close the door and move along.

I’ve lost interest in this blog. I guess I just finally decided that my personal thoughts on religion and spirituality were best kept personal. I’m a bit disappointed in the long run. I had very high hopes that if I could get my theories out there, I’d find people who were practicing like I am.

I was wrong. It happens sometimes.

I have found a lot of people whose “company” I enjoy on a social level…but that wasn’t what I was looking for, and wasn’t what I needed at the time I started all this.

So in that vein…I’m starting a shiny new blog…far more “shallow” than this one was meant to be, when I began so very long ago. It’s going to be a more conversational, daily life kind of thing…the parts of my life I feel comfortable sharing with everyone…the stuff I have more in common with the rest of the world…or at least those I get along with on that “shallow” social level.

Shallow isn’t exactly the word I’m looking for…since I have a tendency to be pretty politically inclined…so maybe “mundane” is a better term. *shrug*

Maybe I’ll see you around there, maybe I won’t. But I wish you all well on your independent journeys…



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Art Imitating Life Imitating Art…and so forth…Trying this AGAIN

No, you’re not seeing things. I’m reposting this because it was supposed to have comments re-enabled…yeah, it helps a lot if you hit the “save” button. *sigh*

Alternative titles: “Yeah, My Muertos are Just that Good” or “Wow, I’m THAT psychic?”

Yeah, I know. I’ve been gone awhile. I’ve got an excuse this time, and a damned good one I might add.

First, let me say that I reopened comments. They’re all going to have to be approved first…and I have no problem deleting those that I feel need to be. New year, new outlook…

Anyway…what’s been distracting me lately? Well, it’s sort of a bizarre story actually…

You’ll remember that I’m writing a book. I’ve talked a bit about it, and the characters I’ve created for it. Essentially, there are two main female protagonists…one older, one younger. Essentially, the two are facets of myself. One a younger, more innocent and less jaded me…and the other a more callous, world-weary me. Not entirely, of course, because it’s fiction…but there is an awful lot of me in both of them.

However, the younger character came to my mind because of a family member I’ve never even met.

I haven’t seen my cousin in 20 years. In fact, the last time I saw her it was an accident. We’d driven to my mother’s hometown to visit my grandparents. Now, my mother has…emotional issues…with my dad’s side of the family, so we were avoiding them pretty much at all costs. My uncle had a habit of abducting my dad or at the very least talking at him on the phone for hours at a time, and we were only there for the weekend, so he was not supposed to know we were in town.

We had driven out in two cars, and were staying at a local hotel. We were going to go out for breakfast at a little diner downtown, but we lost my parents car and had no idea where we were going. So my brothers, myself and my then-boyfriend ended up driving down the interstate a piece where we found a restaurant something like a Denny’s so we decided to just have breakfast there and then meet them back at the hotel.

Wouldn’t you know my cousin was one of the waitresses? So after the initial shock…I had already not seen her for eight years at that point…I got her phone number and was able to call her from the hotel room that night to catch up a bit. Unfortunately, time didn’t allow me to see her again.

She called me a couple of times over the years, when she thought her husband was going to be in my neighborhood on business, but again, it never worked out. So it was at least ten years since I’d even talked to her on the phone. At my family’s Christmas gathering, my youngest brother warned me she’d “found” him on Facebook. Warned me. Well, he never really knew her. He’s five years younger than me…and I’m sure he wasn’t sure what my reaction would be. Like I said, my mom has problems with that side of the family, and I think that’s worn off onto my brothers over the years.

In fact, everything I knew about her came from my mom. My dad would talk to his brother on the phone for hours, complain about things to my mom, and she’d tell me. There’s some weird unwritten rule that my dad doesn’t bring his side of the family up in front of me, but it’s apparently ok for my mom to vent about them. Whatever…

So although I deleted my Facebook page for this persona, I kept the FB page for my real life persona because it was now my only real connection to my cousin.

This is where art and life run into each other…

See, what I’d heard about her from my mom is that she and her older sister married brothers (made Christmas a bit easier, I’ll wager…only one set of gifts to buy and one holiday to celebrate!). These brothers were involved with a church…that bordered on cult. They weren’t allowed to watch TV or listen to music. They could have computers, but had to remove all non-business software. They were not encouraged to socialize with people outside of the church, to the extent that my uncle was attending services there just so that he could still be in his daughters and grandchildren’s lives. I believed what my mom said just enough, and had proof to an extent because on that fateful day when I ran into my cousin, the first introductory words out of her mouth that supposedly filled in the most important details I didn’t know about were…”I’m married, but no kids yet. We’re trying.” I was 23, she would have been 24.

She did finally have a daughter. My second cousin is now 19, and graduated high school this past summer.

At any rate, this was what I based Hope’s background on. I thought to myself…what if my cousin’s daughter was like me? What if she were Wiccan…in a fundamentalist Christian household? And so I used that background…that town, that high school, that premise to begin Hope’s story. Without ever having spoken to or met my second cousin.

In fact, Hope’s story begins the day of the rehearsal for her high school graduation where she ditches the rehearsal and rides off to take a train to visit, and hopefully move in with her aunt. Not cousin, aunt, but still…

Flash back to reality here. So I’m on Facebook, and the majority that I do with it (because it’s all but useless except for keeping in touch with people I otherwise wouldn’t) is forward memes. Most of which have to do with British Television and movies…Doctor Who, Monty Python, that sort of thing. Turns out my cousin (who obviously wasn’t in that church anymore if she’s on Facebook, right?) is divorced and not as much of a redneck hick as I thought. Yeah, I know, I stereotyped her. Bad Camylleon. At least I acknowledged I was wrong…

And it turns out my second cousin is into these things as much as she is. So based on what she was seeing from her mom’s page, she “friended” me. Which was fantastic. Naturally, when I was able to, I began to snoop about her “about” page. Under religion, she’d listed “New Age.” So I sent her a message asking her what “flavor” of New Age she was. Hinduy? Buddhisty? Christiany? Pagany? Wiccany?

The response? Yeah, she’s Wiccan.

She’s a very young Wiccan, and hasn’t really practiced much on her own yet (as with her fictional counterpart, I might add). She is, however, moving in with her fiancée in the next month or so, and looking forward to putting her studies into action. And I’m proud of her because she really *is* studying. She’s asking me questions, even…and seems to be intrigued by all sorts of different paths. In short, I *like* her.


Which is something she and I immediately grokked. We were both excited and extremely happy not to be alone in the family. Quite a few jokes about the recessive gene in our family have been flying between us.

I was looking for community. In fact, my latest reading from my only trusted advisor had said I’d be finding it soon. I doubted it. After all, I’d given up on the subject, sure that no healthy pagan community would exist for at least another 50 years or so. (I have a theory on that…) Sure, it’s a community of two, and she’s three-and-a-half hours away from me…

But she’s there.

And weirder yet, in a way she is Hope.

Maybe I always knew she was there…


Posted in Emotional and Personal Reflections, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

This Time I Did It. I REALLY Did IT.

“What, oh what, Camylleon, have you done?” You may very well ask, given such a cryptic title.

Welllllll…I’ve gone and signed up for NaNoWriMo. Yeah, I know I’m crazy.

I just signed up to write a book in a month when I haven’t even finished the first one yet. That doesn’t make any sense at all, now does it?

I’ve been arguing with myself (as I tend to do) for quite some time about this. Two years ago, I thought about it. But I’d already started the first book. Last year I thought about it, but the one I was working on was too far along. In fact, it was well past the number of words necessary and already in the editing stage.

So I’m staring down the barrel of next year’s contest. Maybe because I woke up this morning and it wasn’t even 60 degrees for a change and it’s gotten me thinking about fall. And about commitments and postponing things. It’s got me thinking about the first book and how I haven’t even touched it for weeks because I’m at an impasse I just can’t seem to get around. I don’t know.

There’s a big old part of my brain that thinks it’s stupid to start NaNoWriMo until I’m finished with the first one. After all, how do I know what’s going to happen in the next one until the first one’s finished, right? I do have some other ideas I could pursue…other topics altogether and even some parallel ideas that would happen at the same time to a different group of people. Good ideas, but still…this series is what I think about the most. Constantly.

So there’s another part of my brain (not necessarily the wiser) that’s driving me to do this. Because, after all, one thing that drives me absolutely NUTS in serial fiction is when there’s no foreshadowing. It’s blatantly obvious that the author didn’t know what they were going to do, how they were going to keep the series going, when they wrote the first book(s).

Harry Potter is a great example of this. I adore the books and the movies…but the last 3-4 books seem completely disconnected to the first 2-3, because of a lack of foreshadowing. There’s no hint–at all–of horcruxes or the Deathly Hallows. I find it difficult to believe they would have been unknown or unrevealed before they just sort of fell out of the sky. The thing is, JK Rowling hadn’t thought of it yet. And that happens…and I manage to suspend my disbelief…but it does naggle the back of my head something fierce.

Here’s my thought…if I begin the second book as I’m editing the first, I have a good chance of making sure they’re streamlined. It gives me an opportunity to exercise some incredible foreshadowing, and drop hints about minor characters in book one who play a more significant role in book two.

I’m currently stumped in Book One, and it’s all my own fault. I grossly underestimated the number of words necessarily for a work of adult fiction. GROSSLY. By…oh 30,000 words or so. Which is fine. I know I can relax now, and under normal circumstances this would have been fan-fucking-tastic news. I’d have been able to describe more, get into more, add scenes in that I thought I had no room for…and, in general, make the back half of the book into the book I had dreamed…

Wait for it…wait for it…

BUT (there it is folks!) I realized that I needed an incredible climax. So I shoved one in where I thought it should be, and edited the bejeezus out of the manuscript to make it work. And it did. BUT (there it is again!) the new climax doesn’t work with the old dreams. It works with the new dreams just fine…

SO I can either keep on’ truckin’ on and pretty up the back half of the book as is OR I can tear the last half of the book apart, start over, and make it into what I had thought it would be.

Decisions, decisions, decisions

In the meantime, as I sort that whole mess out, I have an opportunity to start Book Two. Which I already have planned for, by the way, because all the best stories are told in trilogies. (Okay, sometimes four-and five-part trilogies, but still…) I had already worked out a very basic skeleton of what the next book will be about…and am chewing daily on what to do in the “last” book. (Last isn’t really the right word. I’m creating a world here. After all that work, I expect to play about in it for a while. Just maybe not with these people and this particular plot line.)

My thoughts then, as screwy as this sounds, is that by starting Book Two I might even be able to sort out some of the mess I have in the last half of Book One.

Yeah, maybe I am nuts. Maybe I’ll end up just confusing myself more and tossing it all out. Wouldn’t be the first time. I’ve tried two other times before to write a novel. The first one, in High School, involved time travel. BAD IDEA. I managed to confuse the hell outta myself. I don’t recommend that topic to amateurs or to people who haven’t watched a metric ton of Doctor Who episodes to get the feel for it (one word: PARADOX!). The second one…well, I started right after the first one when I was, more-or-less, still a teenager with a teenager’s brain. I had some momentous life-changes while I was in the process of writing it and…well, let’s just say that the part I wrote first didn’t match the part I wrote second. So despite the fact that I finished it…I threw it out. Stupid? Maybe. I might have been able to save it. At the time though, some of those life changes had left me with precious little self-esteem and I really didn’t think it was worth it.

You live, you learn.

Whether it’s a smart decision or no, I’m going to give it my all. I wrote 60,000 words in six months only working one day a week on Book One, and frankly not working all that long that one day. So I figure if I can up the stakes a bit and work on Book Two every day, I can do this. I have a brief outline in my head that I’m going to try to get down on cyber-paper which will make things much easier once I start. And there will be no stopping to edit on this one. Not unless I’m WELL ahead of the game. Like 20,000 words ahead or something. Which isn’t likely, let’s face it. I can edit AFTERWARDS. It will take all my restraint…I love to pick at my writing, and can’t seem to control that much. But I can do this, right?

I will do this.

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Cave’s Notes: Beware of Fake Stones

For those of us relying primarily on instinct, guides, or UPG when choosing and using our stones, this will be far less important. This warning is for the rest of us, and for the beginners, who are just starting their journey in working with minerals.

You don’t really need a lot of metaphysical books, but you do need to do some research and find providers you can trust. Because looks are often deceiving. Far too many stones can be imitated. These are just a few examples. If you’re using your intuition or what have you, it will matter less as the feel of the stone is whatever the feel of the stone IS. It won’t matter if it’s been dyed or radiated or is really some other rock altogether. You already know what it’s used for.

The rest of us might need to keep our eyes open.

The first one that comes to my mind is turquoise. I used to adore turquoise. I got over that…but I still have many turquoise-like pieces in my jewelry box from when I was younger. I say turquoise-like because they are most definitely not turquoise. But then I was into the “pretty” not the “validity” at the time, so it didn’t really matter much.

When JLo started wearing turquoise a LOT back about 10 years or so ago, the price of turquoise shot clear through the roof. Everyone was wearing it…supply and demand entered the fray and that was that. At the same time, the counterfeiters and imitators came onto the scene in droves…sometimes honestly touting themselves as substitutes, and sometimes not.

Howlite is one stone that is easily substituted for turquoise. It’s a gorgeous white stone with beautiful branches of light-to-dark grey running throughout it. It takes dye very, very well…and is often dyed light blue to imitate turquoise. It’s also died dark blue as a lapis lazuli substitute, but that’s far easier to catch because there are no flecks of gold that make lapis so wonderfully easy to spot. It’s also dyed red…for no reason that I am aware of except that perhaps there aren’t any real true red stones to work with. For some unknown, abominable reason, some of the ugliest jewelry I have ever seen was made in a “patriotic” tone using red, white, and blue howlite. *shudder*

It’s also possible to take scraps of poor quality (not “gem” worthy) turquoise and treat them with a resin to make them into viable beads. Still turquoise…but if you’re a purist the resin might affect any vibrations you were hoping for.

Black onyx is beautiful…but almost never truly black. It’s rare to find in pure black and 99% of the time is dyed…unless you’re paying an ungodly amount of money for it. As a matter of fact, almost all opaque black stones are dyed routinely…to make them blacker. This would only matter of course, if you’re a purist and feel the dye would affect your working with that stone. I’d stick with smoky quartz myself.

Ametrine again is rare to find in the wild but *very* easy to make…by heat-treating the crystal. If you’re being sold ametrine at an outrageous price, there’s a good chance you’re getting ripped off. It’s probably heat-treated and being sold as “natural.”

Obsidian is one of my favorites, but have you ever heard of green obsidian? It’s pretty popular in some new-age circles. Thing is, it’s easily faked. Just a bit of green glass. You’d better know the person  you’re buying this from.

Here’s another favorite for those of us who are money conscious…the difference between red agate and carnelian? Clarity. Carnelian will range in colors from light orange all the way to dark rust…but has minimal bits of white or transparency to it. If purity of color is your thing, by all means go for the carnelian. But if the exact same mineral and crystalline composition will do ya just fine? Red agate can often be far less expensive.

Oh, and “goldstone” is not a stone. Its glass mixed with copper shavings. Pretty, but not natural. Don’t get it confused with sunstone…which is natural but again occasionally faked. Not often, simply because there’s not that much call for sunstone.

Hematite is fabulous. It’s an iron ore…and will actually “bleed red” if you drill it. Thus the name, and its legendary association with blood issues. HOWEVER because it is an iron ore, it is far, far, far more economical to synthesize, melt it, pour it, and mold it than to dig it, pound it, and carve it. So allllllll those beads, rings, pendants, and what-nots made out of hematite are actually either “hemalyke” or “hematine” or some such name-brand man-made hematite. Especially the magnetized ones. Energetically? I find them to be almost identical. There are subtleties to me…but that’s me. You might not. So it may or may not matter, depending on how much of a purist you’re intending to be. For a collection? No, that won’t work. However, it’s not that hard to find pieces of chunk natural hematite if you’re interested. I’ve got quite a few myself.

This was another tip I’d gotten from my friend the rockhound. About five years ago or so there was a particular rock found…and it was claimed found only in this one precise location. It was given some obnoxiously white-light type name…Angel something-or-other. Only this particular stone from this particular region had these particular healing and meditational values…blah, blah, blah. This legendary gem was nothing but white quartz, often called snowy quartz. Seriously. That was all it was. And the rockhounds were openly laughing at the stupidity of the people who came in droves to buy these rocks. They sure as hell took their money, but they knew it was all bunk. Snake oil. Nothing but snake oil.

“Fairy crosses” otherwise known as staurolite really do grow that way. Really. But 75% of the ones found in stores are not staurolite. They’re carved rock made to look like staurolite.

Amber…gods I love amber…but again, check your sources. It’s very easily imitated with resin. The giveaway there is that if it’s warm…or burned…it will smell faintly pine-like. The odds are though that you won’t want to burn it…and can’t before you buy it anyway. This doesn’t mean that if it’s cheap, it’s not authentic, however. I’ve gotten some brilliant deals on the stuff from some fantastic jewelers who had connections in the Baltic. It’s more a warning for those of us haunting thrift stores and garage sales. Many of the older plastics can look amazingly like amber.

If you’re buying stones because they’re pretty…no big deal. If you’re buying stones because of the way they feel…no big deal. If you’re buying stones and minerals fora collection…there could be a problem. If you’re paying a shit ton of money because someone’s telling you this stone is the answer to all your needs…or because you need an amethyst, garnet, turquoise or what-have-you for some specific interaction…there’s likely a problem.

Get a good book with good pictures, hopefully one scientifically based, that will tell you the rarity, the hardness, and so forth so you have some background and knowledge before you buy anything. Read up on what you’re buying.

And if the person at the store sounds like a used-car salesman, back slowly away from the counter, put your wallet back in your purse or your pocket, and go home to do some research. You can always go back later…

Posted in Religion | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Cave’s Notes: Everyone Must Get Stoned

Let a new series begin! I’m done with the 101 crap. Everyone and their cousin is doing that. Besides, this AIN’T NO WICCA 101 PAGE! Instead, for your amusement, discussion, and sometimes edification, I introduce “Cave’s Notes.”

Like Cliff’s notes, only deeper…(*groan*)

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is into stones these days. From shiny well-formed crystals to lumps of rocks, everyone loves them. New agers, fluffy bunnies, white-lighters, heathens, pagans, witches, wiccans, ceremonialists and chaos magicians all grok our mineral brethren. We use them in ritual, wear them for protection, and use them in meditation and in spellwork. Their uses seem endless, they’re easy to find, simple to conceal or explain away, and best yet, real damn pretty too.

The last time I checked there were BAZILLIONS of books on the subject at Amazon. No, seriously here bazillions. I’m using the scientific use of the word as in…far more than fucking enough.

How many of these books are necessary? Well, I’m guessing not that many. In fact, I’m sort of biased on the subject. I can’t claim that my grandma was a witch as some do…but I cantruthfully claim my grandma was a rock hound. More than that. Born at a time when women weren’t really encouraged to work, and certainly not encouraged to indulge in any of the very manly sciences (*snort*), grandma was not only a member of the mineral of the month club and an avid collector of mineral specimens, she could (and would) explain the crystalline formation of nearabout any rock you quizzed her on, and could tell you how those rocks were formed, where on earth you’d be most likely to find them, and where in the sedimentary layer they would be found.

In short, my grandma rocked.

Unfortunately, she passed away when I was twelve or so so I was unable to truly appreciate her appreciation and bond with her over our mutual love of the earth. Fortunately, no one else in the family (except my dad who’s hogged the best specimens) shared in her passion. So, yeah, that was my inheritance. That and the seashell collection.

When I began making jewelry, I really had no interest in the metaphysical properties of stones. However, I found every single person (or nearly) asking me what the energetic usefulness of this, that, or the other stone was. Admittedly, I winged it on more than one occasion as I began studying the subject. Fortunately, I was more often right than wrong.

After I opened the store, I also had the advantage of having a friend who was a real dig-in-the-dirt rockhound. He used to make trips, going around the country, playing in the dirt and bringing his finds back to rock shows to sell. Between my grandma’s collection and books, my own research, and my friend the rockhound, I’ve learned an awful lot. Which I’m going to share with you guys, because you know, I love you.

Back to the bazillion books. As far as metaphysical books go, you can really choose any at all. Honestly. Because if you get too many of them, you’ll probably just end up confused. Everyone is an authority, and everyone has their own blasted opinion. Don’t get mired down too much. Eventually, the uses will be up to you anyway. It’s just a starting point.

I own three of the popular, most often quoted books. “The Crystal Bible,” by Judy Hall,
“Love is in the Earth,” by Melody, and “Healing Crystals and Gemstones,” by Dr. Flora Pescheck-Bohmer.

My quick synopsis/review of these three? Well…”The Crystal Bible” has real pretty pictures but not a lot of information and not a lot of range. “Love is in the Earth” is all-encompassing as far as every mineral I’ve ever heard of…and a few more than actually exist (I’ll get to that). “Healing Crystals and Gemstones” is much like “The Crystal Bible.” Not so many minerals, great pictures, limited information…however this one is well-organized, and also has geographical information as well as crystalline structure and basic chemistry. I find it helpful…if the stone is included.

These are not, however, the best books. Good, sure. But not the best.

My first pick for great books on minerals is the man who started the trend.

Original publication back in 1913. Such a hipster. He was into rocks before rocks were cool. But seriously…this is the book other books quote. Sometimes without actually quoting. All the different birthstone charts are in here…and there’s more than just the one Tiffany’s came up with to sell us more fancy jewelry. There’s different cultural birthstones, stones for different days of the week, as well as stones for zodiacal signs.

He also traced the urban myth involving opals…you know the one, that only Scorpios can wear opals because they’re bad luck for the rest of us? Patent nonsense. Apparently, this rumor began with a Victorian novel and just sort of took off. So relax, and wear those opals if you like them.

He points out that our ancient forefathers…or mothers…or whatever…had limited ability to “identify” gemstones, and likely didn’t care all that much. So all green stones were called emeralds, all purple stones were called amethyst, and so forth. Many of the “ancient” uses of stones therefore is related more to the color rather than the actual mineral. Interesting, eh? Oh, and apparently the idea that amethyst is a cure for drunkenness is probably a confusion between amethyst and garnet…garnet being the color of wine. Again, name confusion comes into play. Fascinating.

My rockhound friend turned me onto the next book.

This book may annoy my readers on two different points, but I feel it’s well worth it. After all, there is room for logic in witchcraft, if you ask me.

First, the author is very Goddess-centered. Some people will have some trouble with that. Get over it. It’s worth it for this book.

Second, she’s very critical of the “New Age” movement, hostile toward the idea of using crystals for healing in any physical manner, and the third chapter is entirely devoted to the “Real History of Atlantis,” so if you’re in any way, shape, or form partial to believing in Atlantis…you might want to skip that chapter.

Third, despite the title, the author is scathingly critical of other writers of metaphysical gemstone books. Scathingly may even be an understatement. She quotes from many of the older authors…and points out silliness, blatant lies, and outright stupidity. Yes, this includes the ever-popular and well-liked Scott Cunningham. The book was published in 1989 however, so many of the now-popular authors missed her ire. The point is made, however…and made well. I highly recommend this book so that you get a look at the other side…the scientific side, the practical side, the logical side, the side of reason. It also gives you a good idea of why you really don’t need many books on the subject. It’s immediately clear that no two authors agree about what stones are good for what.

On the positive side, she is very pro-meditation and creative visualization, has a true love for minerals, and highly recommends immersing oneself in their beauty to unlock your own subconscious. Which is really cool.

I’m not telling anyone not to work with stones…far from it. My own experiences with stones would have me extolling their virtues to the skies. Selenite alone…well, let’s just say I’m very partial and leave it at that. I’ve experienced the vibrations of stones, even if they don’t “put off energy” as Ms. Walker would claim. But I do believe Pythagoras was right. Everything vibrates. We know that now. We know that there is no such thing as “solid” matter…just slower moving molecules. I do believe that stones can influence us. A lot.

However I also believe that con-men and snake oil salesmen will always take advantage of a believer. Protect yourself. Use that mind of yours. It’s the best tool any of us have.

Posted in Religion | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

Gnome if You Want to…

So I’ve shared with you all the wonderful po-dunk white trash container garden that I started. You’ll be happy to know it’s doing reasonably well for my first effort…YAY! They are growing, I’m remembering to water them, and they seem to be getting enough daylight. So there is hope. I don’t expect much from my first attempt…I expect to learn. Any actual produce will be an added bonus at this point!

At any rate, we’re slowly reclaiming the yard from the wildlife around us. And let me tell you, that’s been a bit of a battle. The previous owners didn’t do jack squat with their yard…and by that I mean they neglected to the point of destruction. There are trees where there shouldn’t be trees, odd piles of stones and gravel in various places, the ground is too high around the foundation (which led to a basement flood the first few months we lived here), the ground is completely uneven…oh yeah…and as an added bonus, there was a four-foot high, at least ten-foot around “burn pile” in the yard. By burn pile, I mean assorted garbage one should never ever burn. Like old plastic containers and plastic fake grass welcome mats. Yeeeeeuck.

So one of our summer rituals is my hubby’s weekly trips to the hardware stores. He’s in charge of most of the actual battle. You know…the mounds and mounds of ants that seem to think they have more a right to live here than we do? The wasps that build their nests where they always have right next to our bedroom window? The ground squirrels who seem to think it’s their garage? The battle of man vs nature is endless.

On Hubby’s last trip to his personal Mecca (otherwise known as Menard’s), he rediscovered his love of wind chimes. So he bought one…and then decided that since they were on sale we needed more. We now have one on each side of the house…and have given one to each of our fathers. Hubby likes a good sale.

He also brought this fellow back for me…

He’s a cutie, ain’t he? A bit of a slacker tho…but that’s another story.

Thing is, Hubby didn’t know exactly how funny this really is. See, he’s never read the manuscript. In fact, I rarely even discuss it with him. Not because he’s not supportive…in fact, he makes comments about how he knows I’m going to be the next J.K. Rowling. I think not. In fact, I wouldn’t want that title. Nope. Not my goal at all. Point is tho, I haven’t told him anything at all because, well, in an odd way it’s just too personal. Seriously. I’ve always been this way. I never share anything at all with family. I guess I’m weird that way.

Anywhoo…the reason this is so funny? I’ve always rather disliked garden gnomes. They were all the rage a few years back, with books being written about them and all that nonsense. All about their pointy red hats and what they like to eat and all of that. It annoyed me. I’ve always figured if gnomes really did exist, they wouldn’t look a thing like this fellow here.

So in my book I took that to the next level. Because one of the first victims are…yep, garden gnome statues which are being randomly smashed by annoyed bands of actual gnomes.

When this fellow was handed to me, I laughed. A lot. Then I called Mousie up (my alpha-reader) and she laughed. A lot. Hubby is still not in on the joke but I have to admit I have a new-found fondness for garden gnome statues.

This may be the beginning of a very silly collection.





Posted in Daily Life Nonsense, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Take a Giant Step

Well, Aubs can do it. Guess I let her be the brave one! 😉

What did she do, you may very well ask. She posted over at her blog… snippets from TEH NOVEL ™, her very own Work-in-Progress. It’s password protected, because she’s smart.

I should have thought of this, but I didn’t. So call me a copycat. Imitation and flattery and blah-blah-blah, right?

So I’m taking a giant step (extra credit bonus points for anyone who caught the Monkees reference…) out of my comfort zone. I will be posting here Da Book in pieces. It will also be password protected. If you would like to be a beta-reader, slip me a line at Twitter, nudge me over at Facebook or if you’re really old-fashioned, send me an email at Camylleon hosted by hotmail.

I have several worthy volunteers already…

Please do not be offended if I do not send you the password. Either I don’t trust you enough (yet) or…maybe I have enough readers at the moment. It is very possible you could get added to the list later after I’ve gotten to know you a bit…or when I need a new round of beta-readers. (After all, once you’ve read it, I’ve lost the element of shock and surprise…new victims readers will be necessary!)

So with shaking fingers, dilated pupils, and ragged breathing it begins…


Be gentle with me.

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Building a Better Villian from Scratch

I’ve been lazy. I admit. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve worked on the book now. Not just because of laziness but because life seems to somehow get in the way. I had all sorts of great thoughts about how to fix what’s wrong with the last three chapters or so…but they’ve evaporated now. I’ve planned time to work tomorrow, but being unable to remember what it was I was going to do has left me a little lost. It’s okay, I’m sure that once I get into it, things will occur to me. That’s the way it usually seems to go, at least.

In the meantime, I’ve been contemplating ideas that are important to the plot not just of this book but of the subsequent books so that I have a better idea of what I’m doing once I get back into the swing of things.

One of these things is growing my own bad guy.

This first book is largely “man vs. nature,” or in this case, “man vs. supernatural.” So there’s little need for an actual villain. There are creeps and jerks, to be sure, to add to the day-to-day drama and tension. But they’re little more than subplots and human touches to enhance the characters. They’re not the down-deep-in-the-bones villains. Annoying, to be sure. Making life more difficult, definitely. Just not necessarily “evil.”

And evil villains make for good stories.

This book is really the beginning. The story of survival, and of the bonding together of the core group who will lead a “rag-tag band of followers” (heh. Stealing Battlestar Galactica quote. Extra geek points for me!) out of the dangerous city into a just as dangerous suburban area in order to survive. If you don’t remember, or this is the first time reading about my plotline…here’s the basics. Otherworldly, heretofore mythical creatures break down modern existence, attack humans, and in general make life difficult.

If you’re living in a city situation, this gets even more complicated. If supplies are not forthcoming from the farmlands, how do you survive? The average city, according to statistics, only has on hand enough supplies for 3 days. Three. Days. That’s it. Sure, if you had a house you might have a yard to convert to a garden to live off of. But what do you do until then? Where would you even get seeds to plant? What would you do if you were in an apartment and others wanted to use the land as well? There wouldn’t be nearly enough “plantable” land to support one of the large apartment buildings…and then there’s the gangs and the newly turned vigilante police men who would have the weapons to take whatever you had from you. If the creatures didn’t get you or them first. There’s also then the question of fresh water (necessary!), sewage containment, and, well, the dead bodies to contend with.

So it becomes painfully obvious that our little group of survivors have to leave. And they know exactly where to go. But getting there…without much in the way of transportation (gasoline powered vehicles would be more than a little difficult at this point, and horses are almost unheard of in a city environment)…yeah. Imagine 30-40 people walking from the city out through the suburbs into the rural areas. An 1 hour drive turns into…well, a multiple-day (minimum) adventure.

Then there’s the creatures.

So book 2 is primarily dealing with the journey and the creatures. Got it.

Book 3 begins with them arriving in their “Utopia.” Yes, there’s more about the creatures, I am sure. They have to negotiate and begin to rebuild something resembling a normal life. It is, quite literally, a whole new world.

In the meantime, I am carefully cultivating a bad guy. Because I can. Life experiences have led me to believe that one of the worst feelings in the world is that of betrayal. So where better to find a bad guy than within their own fold? Someone trusted, someone counted as a friend. Someone who has baggage, someone who wants to be the leader, someone who wants to be worshipped and adored. Someone who wants all of the attention but is frequently outdone and overshadowed by others. Someone who makes a deal with the devil…

Or a devilish creature, at least.

Because the desire for power and adoration is unbearable, unquenchable. There are no reservations, no limitations. Of course, this includes the darkest aspects of magic.

Naturally, if the creatures are now real, the magic will be as well. And the Bad Guy will be the first to discover the new laws, and the first to exploit them.

So as they begin their journey from point A to point B, there will be problems besides basic survival and creature encounters. There will be backstabbing. There will be invoked complications. There will be personal attacks.

And it’s going to take a while before any of our heroes figure it out. Of course, I am sure the reader will have figured it out…and will be screaming at the book. This is one of my favorite parts. You know, its like yelling at the characters in a horror movie you’re watching on television NOT to go into the basement, but they ALWAYS go into the basement. You know it’s coming, it’s frustrating, but it’s part of the plot. If they don’t go into the basement, there’s not much point in continuing the story, is there? The problem is never confronted, the story isn’t finished, and they live happily but ignorantly ever after…or something.

If you’re looking for a heads up on this, Brownie is the voice of reason. One of the reasons I created her character was for clear vision. She sees people as theyare, not as they portray themselves to be. If Brownie don’t like them, they’re probably up to no good.

Of course, there are more than a few people Brownie doesn’t like. Which might give the revelation of the bad guy alittlesuspense, at least. After all…I want the reader to figure it out, but not too soon. In order for this to work well, the characters can’t be the only ones feeling betrayed. For best emotion, I feel the reader needs to feel betrayed as well. Not by the author…but by the character. To understand why the protagonists are hurt, to feel their pain as well.

So I get to grow my own bad guy. Slowly. Over the course of this first book, and a little through the second. I’m not quite sure exactly where I’ll begin to make it known who the bad guy is…and I wouldn’t want to give that away just yet, anyway.

I’m sure I’ll know when I get there.

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The Depths of My Depravity

So yesterday I was whining here and around the internet about the imbalance I feel are in my posts as of late. I was on a quest to find new topics…topics I felt I could talk about to balance out the blog.

And the most prominent question was, why? Why did I care about it being imbalanced? Why did it matter? Why do I schedule my posts? Why don’t I just talk about whatever I want whenever I want?

The answer? Because I’m a sick, sick person.

Probably not sick in the conventional sense of the word, but sick nonetheless. No, I’ve never been diagnosed, and I don’t know if I’d quite qualify. And I’m not mocking those who are really ill and diagnosed and medicated. I don’t use this term lightly.

It’s OCD. For those of you who don’t know what that stands for, it’s “obsessive-compulsive behavior.” And though I’m functional and not-medicated I know it’s more than a partially true diagnosis. In fact, I sometimes feel like the only reason I am functioning is that I am extremely lazy and aware of my laziness. I know that if I start doing some things…it won’t be long before I’m at them with a magnifying glass, toothbrush, and toothpicks for hours. So I just don’t start.

There are other rationalizations that save me. Like floors. I don’t understand cleaning floors. I do it, but not nearly as often as I should. Get them clean, they get dirty again. Yes, the room looks better afterwards…but it only lasts about five minutes. And I have yet to find a method of washing the kitchen floor that I’m satisfied with. I feel like I’m just swooshing the dirt from side-to-side.

My time is better spent elsewhere.

So my mind turns to organization. Which feeds both my illnesses…that need to control and organize and my inherently lazy nature. Because anything well-organized is a boon to laziness. Everything is where you can easily find it without trying. I hate searching for things…

How sick am I? Ok…as an example. Some of us witchy-types have a “book of shadows” right? Yeah. Well, I’ve got a “disc’o shadows” (bad joke, I know!). For about…oh far more years than I will ever admit publicly, I’ve been saving information. At first on paper, and then later via text files. I was a member of way more email lists than anyone wants to know and for at least 10 of those years, I saved nearly every email into a text file.

I have just finished transcribing them (yes, re-typing each and every one I felt worthy of keeping) and organizing them into convenient, well-organized folders. In fact, the next stage is to convert all the files into RTF format so that I can send them to anyone regardless of what word processing program they’re using.

When I started the transcription, I had 170+ text files, each of which contained a minimum of 100 pages. Some had over 500. The good news is I ended up trashing quite a bit of it because it was a duplicate or I felt it was worthless information. It would have taken much longer otherwise. (The other good news is that I actually have decent word-per-minute typing skills!)

Not impressed? Okay, check this out. This is my herbal cabinet…








So the left is last year, the right is this year. That third shelf is kinda messy…mostly because I ran out of containers for some of the bagged herbs. Yes, I’ve used some things there…and as you can tell, I’ve added some. But isn’t it wonderfully organized? Still?

I’m a sick, sick girl.

But what does this have to do with writing, you may well ask, knowing how obsessive I am with my schedule?

Glad you asked.

I write in an overly anal-retentive, OCD fashion. Seriously. Beginning to end, streamlined, as it happened. This is great in some ways, and detrimental in others. It’s great because it’s easy for me to follow, easy to remember where I was, easy to know what’s happening next. It’s detrimental because I have a tendency to add segue scenes where none are necessary. There’s an awful lot of walking to, who is in the room, when they got there, and why, and other superfluous crap that no one but me cares about.

Stuff I am now having to edit out. Because I’m at 77,000 words (okay, to be fair, I’ve since gotten this down to just over 72,000) and I’m not done. I’ve devised scenes I want to intersperse with scenes as they are now so I can show what is happening around the world without having to use the very dated, very boring, tell-not-show method of having my characters read it in the newspaper, hear it on the radio, or see it on television or on the internet. I mean, really…*yawn*

So I figure I want to get the manuscript closer to 65,000. I’d be happier at 62 but I’d work with 67. There’s a lot more to go, in other words. I’m evaluating, quite literally, every single word I choose for maximum impact, minimum space. It’s not easy. I like words. I like a lot of words. I’m pretty verbose.

The other problem with beginning-to-end writing…is when you realize there’s a problem. Like I did some time ago. I realized that my climax wasn’t very climactic. It was fixed easily enough, in some ways. After a little head banging, I figured out what I think is a pretty fantastic and climactic scene. Inserted it just where I wanted it and…

Realized in doing so I’d completely screwed up the last half of the book. So more editing, smoothing out wrinkles, making that all fit in…

And then realized I had more to pull out because of the scenes I’m inserting. A lot of the dialog is now irrelevant and unnecessary…I’m showing what happened. My characters no longer have to passively discuss this.

This is getting on every single one of my OCD nerves right now, let me tell you. It’s disorganized, and here I am rewriting the last three chapters. Again.


Hope I didn’t scare too many of you with this little glimpse of how my mind works. It could have been so much worse. I thought about posting pics of my broom closet. As in real brooms, where my cleaning supplies are? Yeah, probably better not to show that. I’d like to have some readers left!

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Mmmm, Salty! Or, Words as Seasoning

I love to cook. So much so that my “spells” are often referred to as “recipes.” Likewise, my personal recipe book is fondly known as my “spellbook.” Food is magical. Words are magical. So it’s no surprise to me that I think of words as seasoning.

Just stay with me a minute, here…

There’s a few blogs I read regularly, many of which are overly fond of the “F-bomb.” One, I understand why. She’s a rebel, she’s a fighter, she’s throwing convention out the window, making a point, and appealing to her audience. The rest seem more like teenagers trying too hard to rebel, pissing off their parents every chance they get just to be “cool.”

Let’s just look at that word, f*ck. We all know which word I’m talking about here. I’m not afraid to use it, just trying to be polite. And we all know what that word really means. By that, I’m talking about dictionary-definition. You know, coitus. In fact, more of us know what f*ck means than coitus. But that’s a completely different topic.

When I write, I do use this word. (F*ck that is, not coitus.) Not often, I think there’s maybe one or two f-bombs in over 70,000 words. The use depends on the situation and the character. I have striven, each time, to make sure that the word is appropriate where it is. Because it’s seasoning. To me, cuss words are salt. Not just because of the multiple uses of the word “salty,” but because if you use too much salt when you cook, that’s all you taste. And all you want is a big ole drink of water. It leaves you thirsty. Great if you own a bar (which is also ironically where you hear a lot of swearing), not necessarily so great in literature.

Some characters would, by their natureneverutter this word. Others might start, and catch themselves. There are some, who like the author of some of these blogs, would use them every other word. I don’t have any characters like that, nor do I think I ever will. Not as major characters, anyway. Maybe as dragon fodder…because rebellious teenagers aren’t really good for much plot-wise. Many of the characters I have right now use alternative cusses, or use less offensive swear words. It all depends on who they are.

I do avoid the term “f*cking.” Hold on, I’ll make sense here in a minute. I use it an awful lot in daily life…it just rolls off the tongue just right, I’ll admit. But when I’m writing the literal definition of the word just sticks in my craw. I mean, “pass the f*cking salt?” When was the last time salt was used inthatfashion?

Although, on a rather disgusting side-note, I did hear tell of a young woman who was using the spoons at a local restaurant in a creative fashion for personal pleasure, so “f*cking spoons” in that context would make sense. I know, ew. *shudder*

To get the absolute most use out of my analogy here, there are other kinds of seasoning, both in writing and in real life. Let’s look at my (semi-infamous) rant about fantasy fiction, for example… Over use of proper names that start with Q and X could be looked at as…well, something exotic like, say curry. Some people love curry and can’t get enough of it. Some people can’t even abide the smell. No matter how much you love curry, there is such a thing as too much…and that could easily ruin a dish no matter how well prepared it is.

So as much as I ranted in that post, I’ll admit that occasional use isn’t bad. Sometimes I’m in the mood for curry. I don’t want it all the time. I don’t want something that’s got so much curry in it I can’t taste the meat, vegetables, rice, or noodles however. That’s curry abuse. Or in this case, apostrophe or consonant abuse. Whichever.

Science-fiction has its own flavor as well, with all the jargon, lingo, and technical terms that get bantered about. Again, some people crave it regularly. Others pick it up and end up with an agonizing headache. Romance is much the same way…how many different words are there for various parts of the anatomy? Yeah, the phrase “throbbing member” is enough to make me throw down a book and start laughing. But many, many people can’t get enough of it.

Then there’s the people who really have a craving for something even though they know they aren’t going to take it well. Like horror movies and books right before bed. Bad for the mental digestion for many of us, others can watch or read morning, noon, and night with nary a disturbing thought or case of indigestion.

So I guess personal stamina might have something to do with it as well.

On the same note, sometimes I start something and realize I’m not in the mood for curry, I’m in the mood for Oregano. Nothing like pizza, right? And then that book will hit me all wrong. Not because it’s bad but because it’s just not what I was craving right then. I suppose I shouldn’t blame the book. Just put it down, find something else, and go back to it when I have a craving for its particular flavor.

There are some diehards out there who claim you should absolutely never-ever use swear words. You’ll never get published if you do. Seriously? Because I see it all the time in print. Again, not every other word…and some words seem to be more easily digested than others. I figure after the publication of Catcher in the Rye, we’ve pretty much seen everything. Ok, maybe not. There are some “new” words out there that I don’t even use. Well, not often anyway. Point being, I’ve seen plenty of published works with moderate to liberal use of the various “unacceptable words.” It seems that publication would be dependent on the publisher and the audience. After all, you’re not likely to see these words even referred to in “Christian” fiction, are you?

I’m going to forge ahead. I’m an artist after all. The words I choose are my seasoning, my flavor. Hopefully, I’ll find enough people out there with a healthy appetite and a fondness for my cooking.

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