My First Ebook — A Christmas Story

In time for Christmas, my first ebook is now published! I have published a Christmas short story about the wise men called Star of Stars.

Star of Stars 1563x2500It is a story of a young magus (singular of magi) named Rashan who makes two journeys — one of faith and one to the West to find a new king, heralded by a new star in the sky.

For centuries the nightly dance of the stars has been observed and recorded and can be used to predict the destinies of men and, it is believed, also the gods. Rashan believes in the stars, and he also believes in the prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster) who prophesied of a coming king. And so when a new star is discovered that clearly heralds the birth of someone very important, he is excited, until it is found that the star indicates the Great One has been born in the West, not the East, as the prophet had predicted.

Rashan joins the expedition to find the new king and pay him homage but not without doubts. All his beliefs and certainties about religion and the way the world worked is now put into doubt. On the journey he struggles with his doubts, trying to discover what he truly believes and what is real. And when the magi arrive at their destination Rashan finds an answer that transcends even the stars.

For an excerpt, click here.

This would make a great story to read and share during this Christmas season.

Available at online retailers like Amazon.com, Smashwords.com (which offers a variety of formats, including epub), and other online retailers. Links will be added as soon as they go live.

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I Won Nanowrimo 2012!

Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) is over for another year. That’s why the blog was inactive for all of November — I was busy writing a novel for nanowrimo. And I succeeded! I started out the month behind, but I made it to the finish line of 50,000 words by November 29, with one day to spare.

My story I was working on (and still am as I’m trying to finish it) is about ninjas, although as I explain on the story’s page, I’m going to eventually call them something else. People have expectations about what ninjas are and what they do and I want a lot of creative license with mine. So to avoid confusion I’ll be changing what I call them just as soon as I think of something I like. After that only me (and you who are reading this) will know they ever were ninjas.

I had a real fun time this November as I met up with a group of local people who were also doing Nanowrimo. They kept me motivated, and the write-ins I attended and the Word Wars (a friendly competition to see who can write the most words in a specified amount of time) we had helped my word count. So a big shout-out to the Cola Wrimos!

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Converge SE

Don’t ask me what the SE stands for. And don’t ask me what Converge means either. All I know is that it is a web design conference being held right now in Columbia, SC at It-ology, a non-profit dedicated to advancing the IT profession by getting students to choose IT careers and also educating the public whether by classes or professional development opportunities such as conferences. My husband works there and was given the opportunity to attend the conference. So he’ll be unavailable for the next couple of days.

I think web design is interesting, so I checked out the website, but the topics listed are over my head. I think the website is cool, however. The mascot or logo of the conference is this cyborg Tyrannosaurus Rex. When you load the website you see him at the top of the page. As you scroll down he doesn’t scroll but appears to stay put, so that the information about the conference appears to scroll right over him and cover him up. Every so often, though, they have a “clear” section with a quote about the internet where you can see cyborg T. Rex. And he’s different every time he shows up. He goes from being a cyborg to an ordinary dinosaur T. Rex to a muscular dude that is being built into a cyborg to just dinosaur bones. I suppose if you read the website from bottom to top you could see the transformation of a dinosaur skeleton into a cyborg dinosaur. I think it’s really cool. I guess it’s good that a website about a conference devoted to web design has a cool website. It only makes good advertising sense.

You should check out the website even if you’re not interested in the conference or web design if for no other reason than to check out the transformation of the cyborg T. Rex. And if you are interested in the conference or in web design and couldn’t attend, the conference people will probably be posting about it. And I’m sure my husband will be posting about it at Just Jeremy when he gets a chance, so check that out too.

P.S. Ooh, they got a cyborg pterodactyl bird thing (it’s got feathers or fur — it’s hard to tell) on the other pages.

Partying with Pangolins and Penguins

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Today is the official release day of Ubuntu 12.04, also known as Precise Pangolin (a pangolin looks like a cross between an anteater and an armadillo). My husband is one of the developers, and he’s been working really hard on it. He’s been coming home from work and then working all evening and sometimes into the wee hours of the morning on it: fixing bugs, packaging, and writing documentation. I’m really proud of him.

So when he asked me last night to make a cake for his release party, I said I would. He wanted it white with orange frosting and white letters. Since I had no white cake mix in the house, but I did have cake making ingredients on hand, I decided to make it from scratch.

I think it turned out well. It was my first time separating egg whites from egg yokes (it’s the yokes that make cakes yellow — I didn’t know that before). I also made the icing from scratch — buttercream frosting is so yummy. This was also my first time decorating a cake with more than just words. The curled up pangolin, the logo of this release, was tricky, but it’s a tricky design. I’m proud of my accomplishment of this cake.

So Jeremy and I went to the party and had fun, and Jeremy helped some guys install the new release while we were there. So happy release day, Precise Pangolin! And bravo zulu (great job), Jeremy and the development team. Job well done!

Kitten Update

Sorry about not posting anything for a month and a half. Life kept happening. I had to take time to take care of my kitten as well as spend time taking care of other family and work obligations.

The weekend after I wrote my last blog post I was able to bring my kitten home from the hospital. She needed a lot of care those first weeks. She was like a brand newborn kitten in a six month old body. She had to learn everything over again. (Where’s a mother cat when you need one?) She’d learned to eat soft food and to walk — sort of — at the hospital. When my husband saw her for the first time he said she looked like she was drunk. She still walks like she’s drunk and maybe always will, but at least she’s not as wobbly as she was back then.

For the first two weeks I mixed water into her food, because I wasn’t sure she could drink water without drowning herself. Over a period of three weeks I weaned her from soft food to dry food. The soft food, even the cheapest stuff, was getting very expensive to buy, especially as her appetite came back. She’s totally on dry food now and drinks water quite normally out of a dish.

Kitty's sick room in our "box room"

Another thing we worked really hard on was litter box training. She’d always been real good about it, but she hadn’t been able to use a litter box at the hospital, so she had to be re-taught. I got the cat attract litter which seemed to help. And I cleaned up lots of messes. She still has some messes but uses the box at least 60% of the time. She doesn’t dig although she does scratch; it’s as if she sort of remembers what to do but not quite. It seems she doesn’t like to use the box if it’s already been used, as she tends to have her accidents when there’s a deposit already in the box. So I’ve started cleaning it after each use instead of once a day like before. I’ve thought about getting a self-cleaning litter box since they clean the box after each use, but I have some concerns. One is that if it went off while she was inside it would scare her, and she’d never use it again. Another is the price — they’re expensive. And the last concern is whether she could even get into one. You see, she can’t climb or jump. And she hasn’t shown any sign that she can walk up a ramp either. Her sense of balance and eyesight just aren’t good enough.

The last thing to return was her eyesight. And I’m not sure how well she can see. I suspect not well. Sometimes she seems to see better than at other times, but it’s hard to know. She doesn’t really play, and she totally ignores the laser pointer which she used to love, but sometimes she shadow boxes. So what is she seeing? Anything?

So I’m left with a neurologically impaired cat with an impaired sense of balance, impaired vision, and not completely reliable with the litter box. On the other hand she’s snuggly, she purrs, and I don’t have to worry about her getting on the counters.

Cimorene wearing purple to celebrate Mardi Gras. In this photo she still can't see much, if at all.