Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Whatever Wednesday - Happy Thanksgiving, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

This post is partially to let you all know how thankful I am for each and every one of you.  You keep me motivated and happy.  Thank you!

Another thing I've been meaning to post about is the blizzard we had back in October.  I have much to be thankful for.  And though I knew most of what I realized that day, that storm helped me to appreciate it just a bit more.

As a resident of South Dakota for my entire life, blizzards aren't anything new, though they have become less severe and less frequent since I was a kid.  The weather has turned fairly mild for our area over the past fifteen years or so.  We've had some bad storms, but only one or two every year or less.  

I don't know about you, but I've read my fair share of books that talk about blizzards.  Of course, I can't place any of them, but I do recall reading about the terrible hardships people endure during a blizzard and how trying they are, and more importantly, how fast things can turn bad.  (Probably my Jack London experiences.)

In my life I've been extremely fortunate to have been able to ride out all the storms at home.  I've never been stranded in a vehicle during a blizzard and I've never had to venture out into the weather.

This year, however, I thought I was going to die.  (Seriously.)

This year...  in October...  We had a winter storm warning with large amounts of snow expected in a short time frame.  Okay, been there, done that.  We'll probably lose electricity, be bored for a few days and then have to shovel.  Nothing really new to me, so we treated it as just another day.  What we didn't expect was how wet and heavy the snow was going to be.

On Thursday night it started to rain and later turned into snow with thunder and lightning.  Something I've learned over the years - a winter storm that produces thunder and lightning isn't something you really want to be near.

Our electricity went out about 5:00 AM Friday morning.  Inconvenient, but not unusual.  The snow was accumulating as expected and was making everything white.  I am not a winter lover, but I love the snow (for a couple days).  It's so peaceful as it falls and if you go out at night, while it's snowing, it's almost as if you are the only person on the planet.  The snow muffles all sound and drifts slowly to the ground.  There's something about it that makes me feel as if I'm actually connected to this earth, a part of it all.

When the electricity goes out we know we are going to be without our normal, every day distractions such as television, computers and internet.  Again, inconvenient for our way of life, but kind of fun in a camping sort of way.  (We do enjoy camping.)
I took this picture on the drive home from the local grocery store before the storm got bad.

The roads weren't too bad yet, so my husband and I took a trip to the local grocery store to get food that we didn't have to cook.  Within half an hour of returning home the electricity came back on around 3:00 PM.  We rejoiced even as the snow fall became heavier.  The roast in the crock pot wouldn't be wasted after all.
Some of the branches on our smaller tree in the front yard were bent to the ground from the weight of the snow when we got home.

I think our tree is a boxelder.
With things back in hand, my husband took the youngest girl and laid down for a nap, my middle girl fell asleep in the living room, my oldest was watching television and I was playing around on my computer.

Around 5:00 PM, seemingly out of the blue, my oldest and I heard this terrible cracking sound.  It seemed to last forever but I couldn't make myself move from my seat to see what was going on.  Part of that was the realization of what was going on.  


 My dad's house is over 100 years old and he has five cottonwood trees that are just as old and they are huge.  I knew we were losing a limb or maybe even an entire tree and I was frozen in fear, trepidation, and wrapped in a prayer that we'd all be safe.

When the terrible noise ceased with a house shaking crash my oldest was frantic.

"Mom.  That was a tree.  That was a whole tree."

I couldn't find any fault in her assessment and immediately woke my husband.

"Rick.  Wake up.  I think a tree just fell."

It didn't take him long to become fully awake and get his shoes on.  He and I, as well as my oldest, understood that if the tree had hit my dad's house, we may be without some of our favorite people in the entire world.

He hurried over to the house as I readied the girls to get out of our own house.  The trees, if they fall the right way, have the potential to crush our house as well.  We could not stay here any longer.

I'd been worrying about this all day since we'd been losing limbs and had even lost our internet because of a falling limb that ripped out the wire from the pole to the house.  So, even if I was worried about the damage, I wasn't surprised.

My husband came back and let me know that the tree hadn't hit the house but my dad's garage.  I let out a sigh of relief and made sure my dad and brothers, if they hadn't already, were going to leave the house and go to our place of business. 

Thankfully, they are smart men and were already out of there.  But, with this new hazard staring us down, we knew we had to leave our house as well.  We've had a few emergency types of experiences - blizzards and flooding - and we usually gather as a family at our bar and this was no exception.

The tree fell in such a way that it missed our Chevy Impala by less than two inches.  This is not an exaggeration, the branches were very nearly touching our car.  I told my husband that we needed to move our vehicles, so we tried.  He was able to back up a few feet but wasn't able to turn around and ended up against the branches as he tried to maneuver out of the line of fire. Unfortunately, the car was stuck.

This picture was taken the next day.
I got a tiny bit further than my husband.  Just a tiny bit.
We aren't the only ones who got stuck.  My brother's car somehow found it's way a little further down the driveway than ours did.

 My vehicle has all-wheel-drive and I was able to move away some.  I was going to continue to drive down to The Barn to rendezvous with the rest of the family but found myself stuck as well.  The girls and I sat in the vehicle as my husband went back into the house to retrieve some blankets, pillows and food.  He didn't want any of us to help him, just in case another tree succumbed to the tons of snow that blanketed them.

By now, the snow was coming down so thickly that visibility was down to only a couple feet and the wind was starting to pick up.  We sat in my Trailblazer for half an hour to forty-five minutes watching the storm and started to lose the light.  I told my husband if we were going to join the rest of the family, we'd better get a move on.

This is a real picture of the hill in front of our house.  The visibility was down to a few feet.
After I took the previous picture I made sure to get the mirror in the picture for reference.
Our view of the Impala near the fallen tree.
My dad's garage should be in this picture, but it's covered with tree.

 Our bar is probably less than five-hundred feet from our house and I could walk the distance with my eyes closed.  No problem.  Lets get this done.

We struck out and the wind was much more biting than I'd expected.  It took my breath away when it hit me in the face.

My husband carried the five-year-old, my oldest carried the three-year-old and I was in charge of the supplies stuffed inside a couple of sleeping bags.

We trudged through the snow for about fifteen feet and had to take a break.  It took forever to make our first landmark, the empty diesel fuel tank that sits on the property.

The difficulty of slogging through the hip high snow along with the wind that made it impossible to catch my breath was an amazing development and I figured, fifteen feet into the trek, I'd probably not make the well worn journey.  The journey I'd taken almost every day of my life for the past seventeen years.  The journey I'd taken late at night with no moon or star light.  I know this path better than any other and I was sure I'd not make it this time.

I told my husband, "I don't know if I can do this."  Looking back on it, I'm certain my voice was filled with shock.  Again, I'd read about the difficulties of moving through weather such as this, but it never registered until I experienced it.  

I was resigned to being left behind.  My husband had better get my girls to The Barn.  Just go.  That thought kept repeating in my head.  Just go.

The only things that kept me moving were my husband and my children.  

My dear, dear husband yelled at me with terror in his voice.  "Get up.  We have to keep moving."

In my defense, I wasn't just laying around, watching the snow drift down on me.  I kept finding myself stuck in a snowbank in a standing position. I could barely find the strength to lift my legs.

Thank goodness for cell phones.  I called my brother.

"Come and get us!  We are by the pond!"

"What?  You're at the bar?"

"We are by the pond and might not make it!"

We have a small pond about thirty feet from the bar

My brother's tone told me he didn't feel the urgency I did. "Well, come inside."  

I don't think he fully grasped what we were experiencing out there and I know he wasn't able to hear me very well over the howling wind coming through from my end.

"Come and get us!" I screamed and hung up the phone.  

My oldest stopped in her tracks and wasn't moving any further.  She just couldn't.  I could understand, but I couldn't allow it.

"Just go!"  I told her as my husband took the three-year-old from her and the supplies from me.

My brother came out and took the little girls into the building.  We all knew how close we were, but the only one with the drive to move on was my husband.  And, the only reason I continued to move was because it was the only thing to do.

I find myself afraid of death every day of my life, but when I stared at it, in that moment, I was okay with it.  However, I wasn't alone out there in the biting wind and wet snow.  My husband stood by my side and urged me on, my daughters' cries of terror and dispair pushed me forward and gave me the drive to lift my legs and plow through the heavy snow.  Had I tried to make that journey alone, I don't think I would have made it.

I am thankful for my family.  Because of them, I have the drive to pick my feet up and keep moving in whatever direction I'm going, through whatever disaster that we are experiencing together.  They motivate me to just go.

The pictures below show the fallen trees, there were two of them, the depth of the snow and the damage to our place.


















A friend of the family stands near the fallen tree.  He's about six feet tall to give you a little perspective on the size of the trees.


























Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Featured Book - Ill-Fated


Ill-Fated
by
Evelyn Ink




Description

This is the story of a girl.
A quest she does not expect to survive,
a boy without a memory,
and a vague, ill-fated prophecy...

Crossing the wall for the first time in her life, Leila Edgewick finds a world where magic meets machine. Skyships, daguerreotypes, and automatons merge with the ‘earthdolven’ magic of the South, leaving her to question, “What is sorcery and what is science?”  
Simultaneously, an unknown boy wakes up in the sunken hull of a decrepit cargo ship. Captured and mind-locked, the boy– dubbed “Sam” by the ship’s crew– must escape the infamous Bonesplitter and the dark schemes of one Captain Erastacus Oren.
When Leila and Sam’s paths finally cross, fate ties them together, sending them deep into the Ramble in search of the Wasteland Witches. Plagued by Sam's erratic memory and Leila's dubious rationale, they must outwit the Southland drudge hunters while taking on the dangers of the Ramble. Their friendship develops quickly, but as Leila’s quest unravels, Sam’s past is pieced together– and when Sam’s identity is finally revealed, Leila must face up to a bloody family secret that could rip their friendship apart...


Author Bio:

The plaque on Mrs. Ink’s lawn reads the Edgington Mansion, it was once thought to be lovely, though now rather decrepit and certainly full of secrets. She lives here with her husband. He is a philosopher, and said to be quite mad. According to Mrs. Ink their house is full of books, “Stacked, piled, and always advancing out and away from the shelves that ought to keep them in.” She paints and draws, writes and reads, and occasionally goes down into the dark, dismal, cobweb-creepy dungeon, to do laundry.

Evelyn Ink is the author of the YA fantasy novel Ill-fated and the children’s trilogy Sticks, Stones, and Dragon Bones. She was formally trained to be a parachutist, but found it did not fit her longstanding desire to avoid heights and thus decided to study the much less vertically horrifying subject of English Literature.

If interested, you may choose to follow Mrs. Ink on her blog or check in with her on facebook. However, due to her absolute terror of electronics and a crippling phobia of the social media (technical term: Socmephobia), her blog posts tend to be infrequent and erratic. Also, due to several post exile investigations she is generally prevented from giving any specific information regarding her whereabouts...


Connect with the Author

Monday, November 25, 2013

New Release - The Twilight Swimmer


The Twilight Swimmer
by
AC Kavich






Description

One year after her beloved sister drowned while swimming in cold New England waters, sixteen-year-old Brandi Vine is still struggling to understand what happened. As she mourns on the rocky beach where her sister's lifeless body washed ashore, she is unaware that a pair of haunting gray eyes is watching her from beneath rolling ocean waves.

When Brandi attends a party that goes horribly awry, the mysterious owner of the gray eyes emerges from the ocean depths and comes to her rescue. She only sees him for a few brief moments, but that's all it takes to turn Brandi's world upside down. What were the strange markings on his neck that seemed to flutter with every breath? How did he possess such inhuman strength and grace? And why did he look at Brandi with such longing?

Brandi's fascination with the Swimmer grows. She makes it her mission to find him again and learn who - and what - he is. Meanwhile, the Swimmer’s fascination with Brandi compels him to leave the safety of the ocean behind, to be with her at all costs. They are from two different worlds, but neither of the star-crossed romantics can resist the pull of the other.

Ultimately, as her feelings for the Swimmer swell beyond her control, Brandi comes to realize that the strange young man from the sea can unlock the secret of her sister's final swim.

ALSO BY AC KAVICH

The Dragon Tree (Book One of The Dragon Tree Chronicles)



Click here to buy from Amazon for Kindle





Click here to buy from Amazon in Paperback



Friday, November 22, 2013

New Release - Trust Me?

Trust Me?
by
K.E. Osborn









Description

This book is for mature audiences 18+ It contains explicit language and sexual content.

Jenifer Taylor is content with her life, dull and boring as it is. Being absent from the dating scene means she doesn’t have to deal with the major trust issues she has with men that stem from a controlling and aggressive ex-boyfriend and an absentee father. She’s happy being alone, sharing her life with her friends and family.

When Jeni starts a typical day in the big city of Mornington Vale, California, it turns from bad to worse when she’s involved in a chain collision on her way to work.
Her world changes forever that day because she meets Aiden O’Connell, the billionaire son of Alistair O’Connell, who owns Mornington Vale’s largest financial corporation. Aiden is an up-and-coming young businessman who's ready to take on the vice presidency of his father’s company. He is the good son, and it’s imperative to Alistair that Aiden succeed and follow in his footsteps. Life for Aiden involves working hard and not much else.

After the accident, however, Aiden’s world changes as well. He finds Jeni irresistible and instantly pursues her. With some coaxing, she eventually agrees to a date, and the attraction is mutual.

Jeni finds love quickly with Aiden, but trusting him is another issue. When to trust is tested in many different ways but comes to a head when Aiden is investigated for a serious crime. As her trust issues spark, she is forced to go through a journey of self-discovery.

She must decide once and for all whether she trusts the man she loves when she’s asked the ultimate question: “Do you trust me?”

This is book one in a series of three. Book two "Love Me?" is coming soon. 


About the Author

K E Osborn is the Adelaide based Author of the Trust me? Trilogy, a romance series with love, laughter and plenty of lust!

Biography

K E Osborn was born in September 1984 and raised in Adelaide South Australia. She had a love of writing throughout High School but went down a different path to Design instead. It wasn't until she had a vivid dream about a three car pile up that the characters of her first book came to life.
Aiden and Jeni are the amazing couple from the Trust me? Trilogy and they were born into the world through the imagination of K E Osborn in 2012.


Connect with the Author

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/froggy585


Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Release - The Wronged Sons


The Wronged Sons
by
John Marrs






Description

What would you do if the person you loved suddenly vanished into thin air?
 
Catherine’s cosy life as a housewife and mum-of-three is quickly thrown into disarray when husband Simon disappears without explanation. She is convinced he hasn’t left by choice as confusion and spiraling debts threaten to tear her family apart. 

Meanwhile Simon has begun a carefree new life travelling the world. And he’s determined not to disclose his past to all he meets, even if it means resorting to extreme and violent measures.
But why did he leave? 
 
Catherine only gets her answer 25 years later when Simon suddenly reappears on her doorstep.
During their furious final confrontation, they discover the secrets, lies and misunderstandings that tore them apart, then brought them face-to-face one last time.

About the Author


John Marrs is based in London, England and has been a journalist for 20 years. His day job is to interview celebrities from the world of film, music and television for national British newspaper and magazines. 

Click here to buy from Amazon for Kindle







Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Whatever Wednesday - It's beginning to look a lot like... Thanksgiving

I haven't done a Whatever Wednesday post for a long time and a lot has happened over the past few months.  First of all, I finished writing the fourth book in The Alexis Stanton Chronicles and titled it Traces of Grey.  THEN, I finished editing it in October and it went on sale late Halloween night.
  
The support I've seen from my readers is amazing and I want to thank you all for hanging in there with me.  

The next thing on my list is Thanksgiving.  We will be having my brothers and dad over this year.  I'm excited to be entertaining, but will definitely notice the change in venue.  I used to make the meal and cart it over to my dad's ever since my mother passed away.  But, now that we have moved into a larger house, I think it would be easier to just have the meal here.

I do have ongoing projects.  Book five is one of them.  I am working on it in the midst of all the holiday cheer.  As I think of Thanksgiving, I'm also trying to get some of my Christmas shopping done, as well as the gifts I will be making this year.  

I'm not all that crafty, but there are a few things I can do.  Crocheting is one of those things.  I'm not all that great with crochet, but I can do simple projects.  I found a cute pattern for hats with flaps and mittens that are fast and easy.  And, I reverse engineered a beanie I crocheted for my brother several years ago.  He still has the hat and loves it, so I thought it would be good to make my brothers a few more.  Plus, some of their friends have expressed interest in beanies of their very own.

Here are all of my projects I've finished in the past two weeks.  I will include links at the bottom of the post to the patterns if anyone is interested in making your own.

I crocheted this hat a while ago from a pattern I ended up not liking.  It made a fairly cute beanie but took more time than I'd hoped and is much too small for an adult sized head.

This is a child's hat with flaps.

These are the matching mittens that go with the above hat.

I'm mixing it up - These are the mittens (child's size) that go with the below hat.

This is child sized hat with flaps and I see there is a stray piece of yarn hanging out.  Funny how I didn't see it until I was looking at the pictures.  (Gotta fix that!)

This is the same pattern as above, but made for an adult with bulky yarn.  The colors aren't showing up the best, but this hat is gray and will go to my husband for Christmas.

Again, adult sized hat made with the bulky yarn.  This is a cream colored bulky yarn and will go to my oldest daughter for Christmas.

A brown adult sized hat made with bulky yarn.  I made the hats that were intended for men with shorter tassels, but I may end up keeping this one for myself.

Now we get into the beanies section.  This hat and the one below are gray and the same basic pattern.  I have done a few things to make them unique.  It might be a little hard to tell the difference, but I know they are there.

This beanie ended up being a bit bigger than the one above.

I used a variegated brown yarn for this hat.  I try to make most of my beanies with men in mind, so the colors will be mostly neutral.

Another beanie made with gray variegated yarn.  I am in the process of making another just like this one.

I made a hooded scarf for my oldest daughter.  It looks a bit strange on the mannequin, but I think my daughter still might like it.

Another way to wear the hooded scarf.

These are the women sized mittens.  I made gray to match the hooded scarf.

Another pair of woman sized mittens in black - also to match the hooded scarf.


Link to the pattern for the hat with flaps:  http://www.allfreecrochet.com/HatsforChildren/The-Basic-Helmet

Link to the pattern for the mittens:

I haven't typed up the reverse engineered beanie pattern yet and I got the hooded scarf pattern from a book.  I'm not sure I'd have the right to repost the pattern.