Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Feel Like Gollum...

...like I've been in this dark and desolate cave, without hope of emerging, and have been petting my baby and calling him "Precious."

Okay, so maybe I'm being slightly melodramatic.

But, really. I'm not sure where the past few weeks have gone. They've all sort of blurred together in a giant mass of chaos, where Sleep and Order have been completely overthrown by a cute little tyrant called Baby.

How DOES he get away with such madness?? Oh, wait. I know. Like this:


How does one build up proper defenses to such a creature? Well, one doesn't. Somehow, through the sleepless nights and MOUNTAINS of diapers and laundry (SERIOUSLY?!), that beautiful little tyrant steals your heart away. His gummy smiles turn you into a puddle of goo, and the way he stares at you - a beautiful combination of discovery and comfort - you forget what you were doing. You forget that you were in the middle of The Great War Against Dust Bunnies and that you were losing - dreadfully - because you can't help but stare back into those eager eyes while making funny faces at each other.

But initially, it just feels like chaos.

His days are your nights; he poops his body weight multiple times a day. You're peed on, pooped on, puked on, and then he pees on the PJs you JUST washed because he peed on them 3 hours ago... When "they" say a newborn can eat every two hours, that doesn't mean in between feedings. No, it means everything happens WITHIN a two hour period. IE you feed him for 30-40 minutes, change his diaper, play with him, put him down for a 1 hour nap, and then he's hungry again.

But it was more than that. Nothing in the world could have prepared me to be so entrusted with another human life. The first week of his life, that responsibility hit me...hard. I felt completely overwhelmed (and undeserving), which, of course, displayed itself every day via an outpouring of tears... (thank you, Hormones...poor Ben...)

And then...the chaos changes.

It's a strange thing to have your life work in one fashion for so long (30 years!) and then to have it all flipped upside down and turned inside out. I've realized a lot about myself, and the biggest realization has been just how selfish I am. I've always been very protective *UNDERSTATEMENT* with my time, and now time isn't mine to protect.

But, interestingly enough, I don't mind.

It took me a good three weeks, but the chaos finally transformed into some form of predictability. And now that the dust is settling (on all the black furniture - WAR!), I'm starting to feel myself again - a different me, but me, no less. I'm recovering fast and getting some sleep, albeit incrementally (BTW sleep training is HARD, but it does wonders! I'm so thankful for the advice and encouragement from friends that were successful with it. And I'm thankful for my noise-cancelling headphones :D).

Just last week, Baby Kloss and I had our first "outing" together: Target. Of course he slept the entire time, but I count it as success and a mark that some form of normalcy shall be restored. Also, I've commenced working on book #3; my inspiration has RETURNED! And oh, it's a glorious thing...it was gone almost the entirety of pregnancy. My only problem now is that I can't type fast enough during those 30-45 minute segments of time I'm granted.




I'll never understand how such a tiny person can run away with your heart. He is absolutely perfect and healthy and beautiful, and it's astounding how much he grows and changes EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. He's almost a month old and already a pound heavier (he's got a ways to go to catch up to Daddy), and each day he's more alert, making more noises *MELTS*, and smiling more. (I've already doubled the photo count on my phone.) One of my new favorite things is to watch him with Ben. They already have a bond that's unique to them, and Ben always seems to be able to get him to relax in a way that I can't. Samson is also adjusting. The first time he heard Baby Kloss cry, Samson barked at him, and now he's bringing Baby Kloss his toys, expecting him to throw them.



And now it's time for me to go... gotta wake Baby Kloss so that we can go to Target and get sprinkles to make Christmas cookies :D

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Creativity: A Mental Disorder

WHAAAAA?!

Okay, so if you look at any published book on the topic of "Mental Disorders," you probably won't find "Creativity" in the bulleted list. But, see...that's what makes it so dangerous. It's the sneaky cousin to Bi-Polar, father of Anxiety, and the mother of OCD.

I came to this horrendous realization whilst I was making a kind of craft project for The Hubs for our anniversary. Now, those of you that know me know I don't do crafts. I repeat: I. DON'T. DO. CRAFTS. (I prefer things with a delete key or Edit --> Undo.) But for whatever reason, I thought it'd be fun to try something different this year - something The Hubs wouldn't be expecting (...at all...). And most of that craft had to do with computer stuff - which is right up my alley - but then came...the paint and distressing.

O_O

By the end, I didn't know which was more distressed: my project, or myself.

I smiled; I cried. I loved it; I hated it. I wanted to hang it on the wall; I wanted to throw it in Dante's Inferno. I couldn't stand to look at it anymore, so I shoved it in a closet for a few days and when I pulled it back out... (repeat aforementioned sequence)

What was WRONG with me? It was like I was Bipolar, or something. And then came Anxiety: What on EARTH would he think? Would he hate it? Was it cheesy? Of course, OCD-like tendencies kicked in, and I COULD NOT STOP OBSESSING about it.

Then I realized that I do this very thing with writing. I don't seem to recognize it with my stories, though, because I'm so wrapped up in them that I wouldn't see the warning signs if they were tattooed on my fingers.

Some days, I love my story. Others, I think a five-year old could do better. I obsess and obsess, scribble notes all over everything, and when it finally comes time to hand it to my betas...















Creating is HARD. Yes, it's one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things, but it's also one of the most challenging - at least it is for me, anyway. There's nothing else that makes me oscillate between such emotional extremes. Or gives me a minor panic attack when I hand it out for feedback. Or makes me obsess so much that I forget to eat or finish my sentence while plot bunnies jump around in my brain.

*side note* If this has happened while you were talking to me, I do apologize. I have no control over those bunnies. 

*side note to side note* Also, in my defense, "plot bunnies" are not as innocent as they sound. They're more like the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog in Monty Python and the Holy Grail... (see below)




So maybe calling "Creativity" a "Mental Disorder" is a bit of a misnomer. Maybe referring to it as a causative agent is more accurate. But how - OH HOW! - to deal with it?

Unless one stops creating altogether, I don't know if there is a remedy. BUT! I do like this quote, because it helps me understand the very root of those bipolar-esque extremes...


...and it also supports the OCD argument... =)

I'd like to hear if (1) any of you can relate and (2) how you deal with it!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ben, Babies, and Justin Bieber

Just a little something funny to end the week...

Amidst my ramblings and updates, I've been asked, "Just how IS Ben handling everything?"
(Everything = dental school + being D2 Class Prez + taking care of a sick and pregnant wife for almost 9 months + insert malady here)

Well, rather than TELL you that he's nothing shy of amazing (anyone find a halo for him yet?? I'm still looking for one that's big enough...), I thought I'd just show you. Or, more accurately, let him show you himself.

He's been keeping sane in "other" ways....

(ahem)

A parody of Justine Bieber's "Boyfriend," as told by his D2 class.

Watch & ENJOY!!  =)

(He's Dr. KlossyFloss...)

 

Have a great weekend, everyone!!

...I'll be writing... :D

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Feeling a Bit Spoiled...

...and I don't mean like bad food.

Ew.

No, I (finally) started organizing things for Baby Kloss' room; after all, he'll be here NEXT MONTH. O_O But whilst I was busy, washing miniature clothing and socks and blankets in Dreft, I was...completely humbled.

Everything he has - every single item in that room - was a gift.  I couldn't - and still can't - believe all the support given by family and friends. Whether wrapped in paper or an email, it's all been incredibly overwhelming and humbling. That you would send anything to welcome our little boy to the world means soooooo much to us, and I just needed to reiterate THANK YOU.





Thank you for showering him (and us!) with so much love and support; we can't wait for him to meet you all!!!

That's all =)

Love,
The Kloss'

Thursday, September 20, 2012

...SURVIVAL...(a.k.a. the 3rd Trimester)

   "Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you."

~ Albus Dumbledore


Probably one of my favorite quotes ever. 

No, it's not earth-shattering or philosophical, nor does it even make sense, but that's PRECISELY why I love it. In fact, I wish I could choose one of those words at random to deploy when necessary. Like when people notice my rounding waistline and ask, "How are you feeling?" I could reply, "NITWIT!"

Ugh.

UghughughughUGH.

Well, some of you know that I haven't EXACTLY had a pleasant pregnancy (<---see earlier post) - granted, it could be worse. Much worse. But SHEESH. 32.2 weeks of nausea, food aversions (to, like, EVERYTHING), and persistent brain malfunction does something to a person's psyche, ya know? 


I had HOPED it would get better - and in some ways it has. But there are a few additional "minor" things I wasn't adequately prepared for. And how should one handle these so-called "minor" things? I'll tell you how I'm doing it: It's called SURVIVAL MODE. 

- BLUBBER! - 



1st Minor Addition: BABY MOVES...A TON.

At first it was cute - really cute. But then he started kicking my ribs and jumping on my bladder (had to pull over TWICE on a 1.5 hour drive to Tucson. NOT cute.) and shoving his back against my side so hard it felt like my skin's about to rip open.

How to survive? ... Acceptance. There not much else one can do about it, because there really isn't much space for the little man in there. So, I've succumbed to my fate of having my insides warped and rearranged, which leads me to...


2nd Minor Addition: ACID REFLUX.

I had a couple of friends warn me about this, but OHMYGOSHIHADNOIDEA!!

There I was, so happy I could stomach a bratwurst and beans AND dessert. I can count on one hand the number of times I've been able to eat a full meal in the past 8 months. In fact, I can empathize...



 ...and eating that full meal made me happy because that meant maybe - MAYBE! -  I might actually make it through the night without having to get up and drink a glass of milk!

- ODDMENT! - 

I woke up at 3AM with SEVERE burning in my throat. TUMS? Yeah. Didn't do a thing. The result? Waking up sick with a slightly burnt esophagus. There are a couple of reasons acid reflux is so common during pregnancy. (1) The obvious - Baby Kloss is pushing against my stomach and (2) the increase in prolactin (amidst other lovely hormones) relaxes your esophageal sphincter...

How to survive?...Zantac. It's my new best friend. Oh, and so are pillows. I've got a nice tower of them propped against our headboard so that I can sleep sitting up. Also, I don't eat much in one sitting, and instead have a snack 128931092410293801298309128309821 times per day (and drink a glass of milk in the middle of the night, and in the morning, and throughout the day...). That's a little bit of a challenge when I'm working in a lab and wearing gloves and a lab coat, but now it's obvious that I'm pregnant, so customers tend to be more understanding and sometimes offer up their own preggo horror stories. :D



3rd Minor Addition: DISCOMFORT.

Okay, so "discomfort" is something you feel when your foot rubs inside your hiking boot or you ate too much cake or you're trying to sleep on a 10-hour plane ride. 

- TWEAK! - 

This week: 3.5 hour drive to an elevation of 6100 ft. Not too bad, eh? Um...right leg cramped and went numb, spine felt like it was pulling itself apart. Got to hotel feeling like I was going to throw up from the combination of driving and altitude. Stomach muscles cinched so tight I had a hard time walking, but Baby Kloss didn't seem to notice. He still tried poking holes in my dermal layer. Drank lots of water and took a shower (lower back threw the mother of all tantrums). "Lay down" with my pillow tower to watch Nanny McPhee on TV, then vertigo set in. Needed food but was too sick to eat dinner, so acid started creeping up...couldn't sleep for aforementioned reasons. Woke up and went to work (whilst smiling).

O.o

How to survive? ... Probably don't drive that far when you're 8 months pregnant. 



4th Minor Addition: FATIGUE.

....
....
....




I am tired ALL. THE. TIME. It's not an I-need-a-nap tired, either. It's more like an I-could-sleep-for-the-rest-of-my-life tired. And lots of times when I'm talking, I talk myself right out of breath. (Yes, I know some of you would love to see that.)

How to survive?... Video games. I'm serious! I can sit there and stare mindlessly without talking, and it keeps me awake and entertained for hours. Ben and I have gone through all the LEGO PS3 games (anxiously awaiting LEGO LOTR next month!), Rayman, and are currently blowing up aliens in Ratchet and Clank - so much fun!

Dr. Nefarious ( my favorite): "Is my superiority EVER IN QUESTION?!"


But wonder, merriment, and Dumbledore aside, I DO need to say a few words. And that would be:

- THANK YOU -

To all of you that have been soooo supportive and offered encouragement (a.k.a. LIFE SUPPORT!) to me while I've struggled to keep a good attitude for the past, well, 8 months. Also, because of you, Baby Kloss is successfully spoiled with so much love and thoughtfulness and gifts. Thank you for giving him such a warm welcome to the world, and for giving Ben and I incredible support as we launch into parenthood!

And now, after all of that, I think I shall take a nap... :DDDD

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hello? Brain? Where Are You?

I think I've probably started three different blogposts, but none of them have gone anywhere because I can't seem to get past sentence #1.

I stare and stare (and stareandstareandstare), wondering what in the heck I'd sat down to write about in the first place, and then I'd do the following:




For about an hour.

O_O

(SIDE NOTE: I've been staring at this screen for fifteen minutes already. On the plus side, I've made it past sentence #1!!!! I WILL SUCCEED!!!!)

It's the same with reading, too. And talking? Yeah...

















My vocabulary has been reduced to a grab bag of words commonly carried by a toddler.

*ahem*

Me: "Oh, how cute! Look at those teeny...er...um..."
Ben: *waits patiently*
Me: *points* "On that little boy over there. You know, those little shoes...the ones like you have that you wear outside...you've got two pairs, and..."
Ben: *arches brow* "Crocs?"

Did you know your brain shrinks during pregnancy? I certainly didn't (thanks, Laura!). So, I am patiently waiting for Baby Kloss to hand me my full-sized brain back in November, along with some of my energy. SERIOUSLY. I didn't suffer from Severe Energy Loss in the beginning, but now...? I come home from work and it's like...




Really, though, despite my cognitive inabilities, I wanted to "check in" and say, "HIIIIEEEEEE!" because it's been a while and WE'RE OFFICIALLY IN THE THIRD TRIMESTER!

It's been an interesting 7 months and BK moves A TON. I think he's in there doing this...



...right now, in fact. Anything I set on my belly, he punches. It's especially great when that "anything" happens to be a full cup of coffee. (I ONLY DRINK ONE CUP!)

I get to fly "home" this week (I am SO excited to see my family and friends!), one more trip to Delaware the following week, then no more flying for a while. I can't believe how fast this is all going by, or that there will be a little man living with us in less than three months. Needless to say, we are VERY excited to meet him!

And I must add...my incredible husband, Ben, should be sainted. No, really. He has been waiting on me hand and foot, picking up ALL the slack when I've been couch-bound, and not once complaining about it.

So, yeah. Thanks to all of you for your patience - whether you've voluntarily offered it or not. I'm here...just not really. :DDD

Oh, and feel free to share any crazy pregnant brain stories. They make me feel better about myself.

Happy Monday!!


ps. for any of you that may be wondering how this affects book 3 progress, know that the comprehensive outline for it is done, and i will commence writing it once my brain cooperates. if i push the matter, i'm afraid of mutiny.


Friday, July 6, 2012

My Sequel is AVAILABLE!...

...and one month ahead of schedule!

Thanks to so many of my readers for the enthusiasm and support and PERPETUAL NAGGING *winks* I have finished book two, THE KEEPER'S FLAME, and it is available for purchase!

You can find it available at the following links:




Winter has fallen upon Valdon.

It's been five months since Daria Regius arrived at the castle, and her grandfather, the king, has stripped her of all freedoms, building even more barriers around her lonely life.

But darkness moves. Rumors abound about a dark rider, sending ancient and unspeakable horrors to the territories, and the citizens of Gaia are filled with fear. And fear blurs the lines of loyalty and trust, honor and allegiance, and cultivates dissonance throughout the kingdom. The people are anxious for this year's games, because this year, according to prophecy, selecting a champion means a true king can be chosen, and only once that true king is chosen can the people have any hopes of defeating the evil amassing around them.

Propelled by fear for those she loves, unexpected friendships, and harrowing betrayal, Daria must gain the courage to escape the barriers set around her life and confront the evil that threatens to destroy Gaia—before it finds her and takes her life first. 



Hope you enjoy, and have a FABULOUS weekend!

Barbara

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Belly Bands and Barf Bags...

DISCLAIMER: The following is merely an account of my personal experiences thus far and is by no means intended to set the expectation of all pregnancies. However, if you prefer to maintain the idea that maternity is as beautiful and glorious as Cherry Blossoms in Spring, I suggest you stop reading. Immediately.




Pregnancy.




Typically, it's met with the following reaction:























It must be an incredible experience, right? I mean, why else would everyone get so excited? I've heard many women say they LOVED being pregnant. I am not one of those women. 


In recent months, it has come to my attention that all mothers suffer amnesia. "What do you mean?" you ask. Well, it's a specific type of amnesia - a little convenience that happens once you see your baby for the first time. All prior nine months of misery have all vanished into a swirl of sugar plums, and all you can seem to remember is how glorious childbirth is. 


But sitting here, smack dab in the middle of that nine months, I feel deceived. 


(ahem)


The 1st Great Deception (aka the mother of all lies): MORNING SICKNESS


MORNING?! Whoever decided to give it that little euphemism should be publicly flogged. Seriously. It's all-day-all-night-even-in-your-dreams sickness. You wonder if you'll ever feel normal again, you stare longingly at all the healthy people smiling and running around while remembering "how it used to be," the first thing you do when you go anywhere is locate the nearest trashcan...


The only thing that makes you feel slightly better is eating, but that leads me to...




The 2nd Great Deception: FOOD AVERSIONS ARE FUNNY


There's nothing funny about it.  For a few months I couldn't even step into our pantry because every time I opened the door, it smelled like we hadn't emptied our trash in a year. I started plugging my nose every time I needed something. And meat? Forget it. Don't even TALK to me about food.


You're supposed to be eating all the time, but you spend more time just trying to find foods you can swallow without gagging. You get all excited when you find something, but then one day you'll be sitting there, minding your own business, and with that next bite your stomach turns and you never want to see another Goldfish for the rest of your life. Ewww, even typing that word turns my stomach....




The 3rd Great Deception: HORMONES MAKE YOU EMOTIONAL


Okay, yeah, they make you emotional. AND angry and irritable and irrational, and you say things to people while thoughts like, "I can't believe I'm saying this right now," run through your head, but it's too late. You've said it and you can't take it back, and besides, you don't really want to take it back. Because you're not just emotional, YOU'RE POSSESSED. It feels kinda like this:























and this...







The 4th Great Deception: PREGNANCY IS BEAUTIFUL


Sure...ON EVERYONE ELSE. But when you look at yourself in the mirror and see this strange roundness at your belly and lower back, and you can't fit into your pants anymore without belly bands, and you can't even workout to help it because you feel too sick and it wouldn't matter anyway because you have no choice but turn cylindrical....it's hard! Your body doesn't look like your body anymore. It doesn't feel like your body anymore. In fact, you start wondering if you watch too much sci-fi because you keep seeing images of an alien ripping through your belly...




The 5th Great Deception: PREGNANCY RHINITIS


Know what it is? About 30% of pregnant women experience it. You start off sneezing. Lots of sneezing. But then your nose gets all stuffy and you start coughing, and you think maybe you just got a cold, but you don't feel like you've got a cold, and it's been a month and now it's getting worse....


It's because your mucus membranes in your nasal passages swell. It gets worse throughout pregnancy.




The 6th Great Deception: IT'LL ALL GO AWAY AFTER THE FIRST TRIMESTER.


Pshaww!
When I still felt crappy at 14 weeks, I started asking around. You know what I found? Many people didn't start feeling better until they neared their third trimester. Some never felt better. It's no guarantee. 18 weeks and 2 days...still sick.


Now, some women really are fortunate enough to feel great the whole time, and I'm sure once I meet baby for the first time I'll forget all of this. It seems to be a mental disease I can't escape. But when you ask me in 5 months and I tell you pregnancy was fine, you'll know the truth :D






Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Sequel has a Cover!!!!

EEEEEP!

One of the most exciting parts for me about writing is when my story gets a face. You spend months and months equipped with an imagination and a (limited) vocabulary, but the cover...it brings another dimension of life that words simply can't reach. (Plus, it's easier to mentally categorize in snapshots rather than 400+ pages... O.o)

And I'm SO excited to share the face of my sequel to GAIA'S SECRET, also known as THE KEEPER'S FLAME, which will be released this August!





In honor of book 2, I'm doing a book giveaway of GAIA'S SECRET on Goodreads. The giveaway is from May 24 - June 23, so you can sign up for it now. The link is HERE.

Thank you ALL for your support and enthusiasm and pestering along the way!! *HUGS* *SQUEEZES*

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Non-Near-Death Experience

So, I haven't been on blogger for, uh, MONTHS. I've thought about blogging. Sorta. Okay, so not really. I've been distracted by going through beta feedback on my sequel, traveling all over for work, and...other things.

But! I've been inspired to blog about my most recent trip for work. Why? Because I thought I was going to die.

I'm serious.

...ahem...

I had been told that I'd be going to an indian reservation somewhere on the border of Arizona and New Mexico.

My first thought? "Ooooooo! Turquoise!"

(don't laugh.)

About a week before I go on this "exciting turquoise trip," I mentioned to a coworker where I was headed. This coworker's jaw drops as her eyes double in size, as she proceeds to say in a low, ominous whisper, "Has anyone warned you about it, yet?"

She then proceeds with the following list of happy things:

(1) Get off the reservation before the sun goes down.
(2) If you see a baby carrier in the middle of the road, drive around it.
(3) Don't stop - not for ANY reason! - until you get to your intended destination.
(4) If the road suddenly turns to dirt, turn around immediately.
(5) You probably won't get cell reception, either, if you need help.

This was my response...

O_O


...and I forgot all about turquoise. Instead, I started thinking about zombies...

Apparently, gangs are prevalent on reservations. I did not know this. I also didn't realize that major freeways didn't access these reservations. You have to turn down roads called Indian Routes. They wind all over who knows where, and many of them are dirt roads - or they turn into them.

You bet I Google Earthed my route.

The day arrived, I took my GPS - I even printed a map just in case - and I embarked on my 5.5 hour drive to my doom.

And....

It was totally and utterly uneventful. *wipes brow*

HOWEVER! I got some photos that I wanted to share. because I think the scenery was wild and beautiful. Of course, the pictures are from the car because I refused to stop and get out to take them :D I apologize in advance for the lackluster quality.


On my way there. Highway 40 runs from Flagstaff to Albuquerque.
THREE HOURS OF THIS. *dies*


HOPE. Scenery change. THREE HOURS of flatlands,
and I'm about to turn on my Indian Route. I'm also a little
scared at this point, but distracted by the colorful rock.

My PAVED Indian Route. *preens*
It was a very pretty drive, too! Sorry about the bug
splatter on my windshield...You already know
why I wouldn't stop...

My biggest adventure: avoiding livestock. There were NO fences along
the 30ish mile RTE. I drove through a pack of about 6 horses, happily eating grass
on both sides of the rode. And cows, and sheep...



Navajo country, and the reason for this blog.
Rock formations like this were everywhere! So beautiful.

And now I'm back "safely" in my hotel room, reveling in life and enjoying the scenery. :D Since I'm feeling so safe, I may even try and find some turquoise tomorrow...

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

When Torture Chambers Become Life Changing Ideas...

I have found inspiration once again, and this time it is from a very, very unlikely source.

Torture Chambers.

Yeah. 

The Medieval kind. 

Before you write me off as completely-crazy-and-so-sadistic-you'll-never-even-let-me-near-your-dog, please let me tell you WHY I found inspiration in the dark, cold chamber of torture.

Ahem.

Please take a moment to observe this castle:

Castello di Amorosa

This 107 room, 121,000 square foot castle is not in Italy. In fact, it's not anywhere NEAR Europe. It stands majestically in the hills of California's Napa Valley. But don't let its modern location fool you. It's got all the right parts: murder holes, dungeons, a moat, great hall, church, stables, loopholes (archer windows), room of whispers (MY FAVORITE!!)...it's even got a "working" drawbridge! (I say "working" because California regulations prohibited the "working" part. The crank and pulley system is now cemented.)

We paid for the tour, and it was about as private as you get. No, really. We lucked out because no one else had signed up for our tour time (group sizes average around 15). If you ever tour this castle, you MUST MUST MUST ask for Wendy. She was fabulous - knowledgable and spunky and soooooo much fun!

Me, Wendy, Margaret


Ben and me at entrance.

Iron work designed in Assisi - hooks used for tying horses


View from tower

Imported armor in weapons room

More imported. See the one with the huge gash?
The one with the pointed nose was used during jousting tournaments


Aaaaaaaaand construction all started in 1994. 

WHAAAAAAA?

Now, why, oh why, would someone decide to build a medieval castle in the 21st century?

This is where I (and hopefully you) become inspired.

It all began with a man named Dario Sattui.

He is a fourth generation Italian immigrant - his great grandfather founded the V. Sattui Winery in 1885 in San Francisco - and he was bound and determined to bring a piece of Italy, mixed with his passion for medieval architecture, to our own Napa Valley.

After 15 years of research, and importing a man from Austria with experience in medieval architecture, Sattui began building his dream. But that dream didn't come without challenges. 1000 pound doors, authentic stones and bricks , iron work from Assisi, a real Iron Maiden *shudders* - just a fraction of items hauled over from Europe. The entire project took 14 - FOURTEEN! - years to complete, and Sattui talks about a time when there was "No End in Sight."

Not to mention, people in the valley scoffed and sneered at "the man trying to build a castle." Try dealing with that when you're pouring everything you are into building your dream. Even if it happens to be the first modern-day medieval castle.

That night, we watched Moneyball (you know, the baseball movie with Brad Pitt). A line in that movie really stood out to me: "The first one through the wall always gets bloody."

And then I thought of Sattui.

When people do great things - the ones that really change the way the world works - those "successes" aren't met overnight. Sure, we see a gorgeous castle on a hill that happens to make great wines and we think OF COURSE it would be successful. Or we see a world-changing book series like Harry Potter (had to slip Harry in there somewhere :D ) that has movies and theme parks bringing it to life. But what we NEVER see is how those people struggled to get to that point. The times of doubt and despair, the sleepless nights and overwhelming sense of failure. But in the face of all the varying adversity, what all "the greats" have in common is that they never quit trying.

Even if all they wanted was to build a non-functioning, authentic torture chamber in their medieval castle. :)


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Release of Rising Book 1: Resistance, by Laura Josephsen

I couldn't be MORE excited to announce the release of this book! 







Blurb:


All Alphonse wants is a quiet summer at home before his final months at university. What he gets is a half-dead stranger on his doorstep and the task of delivering a package to the leader of his home country. Not long after he boards a train toward the capital, he's attacked by knights, elite soldiers of the neighboring king.

Alphonse is temporarily rescued by Mairwyn, a mechanic with a haunted past and a deep hatred of knights. Together, they attempt to carry out Alphonse's urgent errand, only to learn that if they fail, countless people will die.

And even if they succeed, they may not be able to prevent the war that lurks on the horizon.



Now, I had the pleasure of reading this myself a few months back. First of all, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Laura's writing. She always yanks you right into the story and writes characters that refuse to leave you alone when you are trying to sleep at night. Her book, Resistance, does all of the above! 

It's such a unique blend of fantasy, sci-fi, and romance (my favorite!) with characters you either love at first (um, headstrong Mairwyn!) or grow to love (the endearing Alphonse.) The character development was rich and solid and completely intriguing - sometimes those tortured pasts were difficult to read - and the romance unfolded beautifully as Mairywyn and Alphonse discovered their love for each other while discovering themselves. I can't wait for the sequel! (Seriously, Laura, get on that! *twiddles thumbs* *waits* *WAITS*)



Author Bio:






Laura Josephsen lives with her family in Tennessee. She is a co-author of the Restorationseries and the author of Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School). She likes music, reading, socks, rainy days, chocolate, coffee, and sci-fi and fantasy tales.



Now, for the good stuff...


The links!

Rising Book 1: Resistance:

Kindle at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0079DJ3HC
Paperback at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rising-Book-1-Resistance/dp/1469904357/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329773440&sr=1-4
Nook at B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rising-book-1-laura-josephsen/1108828628?ean=2940013930056
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/132824
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13412367-resistance


Also, go check out her awesome blog at: 
 http://laurajosephsen.blogspot.com/

HAPPY READING!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Inspiration and Talking Frogs...

KERMIT.






I. Love. This. Billboard.

I don't know why, really. Maybe it's because I grew up on Big Bird and Miss Piggy and Vampires that "count." Maybe it's because I like talking frogs. Whatever the reason, I saw this, and could not stop laughing.

But then, of course, like any good ad will do, it made me think...

People may not always understand your dreams. They may not agree with them or like them. They might sneer and snicker and smirk. They might stand back and ogle you like you've grown a third arm and suddenly started speaking parseltongue...

And that's okay. They're YOUR dreams, not theirs.

Like Mark Twain said, "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

I love things that inspire us to be better and challenge us to conquer the world, so after seeing this brilliant billboard, I decided to look into its sponsor: The Foundation for a Better Life.

Their values?

"The Foundation for a Better Life recognizes that everyone views the world through a unique lens and our objective is to provide a wide spectrum of values that are universal, encouraging and inspiring." 

"How wonderful!" says I, and then I started clicking around.

They've got more slogans like Kermit's, and loads of quotes (my favorite!...if you couldn't tell...), like this one:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Mark Twain (1835-1910)

(I know, I know, another Mark Twain quote...)

You can find the website HERE.

Go have a look around, and be inspired to do something great!


What are your dreams?...And what are you doing to live them?


More eyewitness accounts...









***If you like YA Fantasy, check out my book, GAIA'S SECRET. The sequel is coming soon!



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Sequel!! (An Update)


First of all, I must say THANK YOU for all of your support and encouragement, comments, feedback, and enthusiasm for GAIA'S SECRET! Without you guys, I wouldn't be sitting here today, writing a post about her sequel. 

That being said, the following is a result of your pokes and prods regarding GAIA #2 (thanks for the pressure, guys :P ), so I decided to shed some light on the matter. Publicly. 

I've been working on GAIA #2 for about a year, now. I had her outlined, wrote an entire draft and it was, well, all wrong. Wrote more drafts...still all wrong. SHE JUST WASN'T COOPERATING! Then the holidays hit, and no matter what I wrote, she sat and glared at me, like this:





So, I stopped working on my current draft, sucked it up, and spent a few weeks fixing everything via writing an extensive outline (it's a lot easier to alter points in an outline than it is to alter entire chapters). The result? A TWENTY-THREE PAGE OUTLINE with a separate character reference guide! O_o

Needless to say, I am quite excited and the story is moving forward at ludicrous speed (Space Balls, anyone?) and I HOPE to share her with you this summer :D

Thanks for your patience! (I know, you don't REALLY have a choice in the matter...)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Tribute to Jim Butcher...Or, More Accurately, His Tribute To Himself...

Every so often, I'll search the world wide web for information on authors I love. You know, it's kinda like that quote by J. D. Salinger in the Catcher in the Rye (one of my favorite books, btw) :

"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though."

Well, for me, one of those authors is Jim Butcher, who wrote The Dresden Files and one of my favorite fantasy series, Codex Alera. I even have an autographed map of Alera (thanks, John!!).

His books are so much fun - I LOVE his sense of humor - and he writes some of the best battle scenes I've ever read. Not that I'm an authority on the subject...

Which brings me back to the topic of "the author bio." Yeah, yeah...I know what you're thinking. "He went to X school and studied INSERT-ENGLISHY-SUBJECT and currently lives in Z, Washington."

Pshaw! If only....

This is JIM BUTCHER.

His author bio is as entertaining as his novels!

Ahem! *clears throat*


"Jim Butcher read his first fantasy novel when he was seven years old--
the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. By the time he turned eight,
he'd added the rest of the Narnia books, the Prydain Chronicles, every
book about Star Wars he could find, a great many Star Trek novels and
the Lord of the Rings to his count.

So he was pretty much doomed from the start.

Love of fantasy, his personal gateway drug, drew him toward a fairly
eclectic spread of interests: horseback riding (including trick riding,
stunt riding, drill riding, and competitive stunt racing), archery,
martial arts, costuming, music and theater. He played a lot of role-
playing games, a lot of fantasy-based tactical computer games, and
eventually got into live-action roleplay where players beat each other
up with boffer weapons.

So, really, he can fly his nerd flag with pretty much anyone, and
frequently does.

He took up writing to be able to produce fantasy novels with swords and
horses in them, and determinedly wrote terrible fantasy books until,
just to prove a point to his writing teacher, he decided to take every
piece of her advice; fill out outlines and worksheets, and design
stories and characters just the way she'd been telling him to do for
about three years. He was certain that once she saw what hideous art it
produced, she would be proven wrong and repent the error of her ways.
The result was the Dresden Files, which sure showed *her*.

She has not yet admitted her mistake and recanted her philosophy on
writing.  ( <-- I love this!)

Jim has performed in dramas, musicals, and vocal groups in front of
live audiences of thousands and on TV. He has performed exhibition
riding in multiple arenas, and fallen from running horses a truly
ridiculous number of times. He was once cursed by an Amazon witch
doctor in rural Brazil, has apparently begun writing about himself in
the third person, and is hardly ever sick at sea.

He also writes books occasionally.

Jim stands accused of writing the Dresden Files and the Codex Alera.
He's plead insanity, but the jury is still out on that one. He lives in
Missouri with his wife, romantic suspense and paranormal romance writer
Shannon K. Butcher (who is really pretty and way out of his league), <--I love this, too!
his son, and a ferocious guard dog."

Awesome. :)


See why he writes great battle scenes??  :)

FLY THAT NERD FLAG, JIM!! (while you're writing more books, please :D  )




***If you like YA Fantasy, check out my book, GAIA'S SECRET. The sequel is coming soon!







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