Monday, March 17, 2014

Blown away! And Illustrations for The Last Summoning



Gosh it's windy today!!!!!!!!!!!!............................................ 
.......swish.............
 
That is seriously an understatement. It's like a hurricane outside. I can feel my room shake as the wind rattles my house. It sounds like an angry ocean outside. I can hear it howl, and toss various items across the sidewalk. Screech.

The sky is dirty from dust. The wind is cold, and anything that wasn't tied securely down has found a new home, I'm sure. 

Tumbleweeds, plastic bags, even birds, and fat doves and mallard ducks were among things I saw flying past today.

Despite the wind, I went for a run determined to go the full two miles. But the wind was chilly, savage, and relentless. It reminded me of my Land of The Living Wind in my second Book, The Canvas War. The wind was blowing 34 to 40 mph, with gusts predicted high as 55 mph. It took my breath away. 

About halfway through the run I had to just walk. It made my ears ache, my sinuses burn, and my eyes water.

I was not prepared for the buffeting I got.  My sister was my battle buddy today, and we both kept each other going. It felt weird with the wind whistling through my nose, and gusting into my throat. I've never felt the wind blow so strongly into my breathing passageways. Even when I swallowed I could hear the strange vacuum effect it had on my body. If I was a bottle, I'm sure I would have sounded like a flute. I felt like the wind was going to blow my soul out of my body. I hope I don't get a bloody nose now. Nothing like the wind doing CPR on you when you don't need it. Blustery, windy, crazy. No endorphin high today. Only exhausted. But I do feel victorious battling such a strong force, and coming out alive. 

I have a new respect for it's strength as I watch and listen to it's mighty blows out my window.

Today I am very glad for a house in which I can escape the buffeting of the winds. Sometimes I fancy that I could live in a tent, traveling from place to place, never stuck anywhere---thus honoring Mr. Henry David Thorau and his book, Walden Pond, and the simplistic views and ideas he had about living.  

Some of them are very desirable to me.  But considering that he had a nice little cabin and a green little forest, and a nice pond in which to fish, I don't think he'd fancy living in a tent here in this dry, flat, open, windy, desert, either. 

I've been to Walden's Pond, I've rowed a boat on it's glassy surface, and I think yes, perhaps there I would like to live outside for the most part. There tucked away in green trees, protected by hills and little glens, nestled in furns and wild grapes, and beautiful reflections, I would dwell like a wood elf.

Sigh. But not today. Tomorrow maybe.
Here, today, in the desert, with cold and heat, wind and windier always battling it out, dwelling in a tent is indeed as a desirable idea as sitting on a cactus to experience the outdoors. 

Today if I lived in a tent I think both tent and I would be gone, traversing somewhere airborne.


Okay, now for the reason of this post. I can be distracted. But that's the nature of writers. 
I wanted to share with you some illustrations I've done so far for my last book, The Last Summoning. I know is highly premature to be showing these pictures off. Seeing how I'm not sure when my the last installment of my fantasy series, The Last Summoning is coming out. I'm still waiting for edits to come in. All my beta readers have finished the book except for one. I guess I misjudged how long it would take my beta readers to get through it. It's about 740pgs. But so far they've really liked it. I'm really happy!
I've been holding my breath, biting my nails, wondering how everybody would like it---if it would pass inspection. If they liked the ending. 

One of my beta readers reads my books out loud to her kids, and her thirteen year old boy loved it. I asked him if there was anything I should change about it, and he said. No. I loved every part of it. Don't change anything. And knowing that, I feel as if I have already succeeded. 

 Some even said that it could stand alone, which is very good.  

So, without further waiting, I share these illustrations with you in hopes that you and I will both see them very soon in my very BEST book yet. My magnum-opus of all my vendors. The Last Summoning. 
Not that this is my last book, no not by a long shot.  I wanted to fill it with a lot more illustrations, but as the book is so big, and I'm limited by space, I'm not sure if I'll do any more.

 Anywho.
Here's to overcoming writer's block, and remembering the reason why I write. The story. The journey. The feeling. That I have something to say that matter's. That I love this bumpy winding road, the ups and downs, the words, the way they connect me to you, and you to me. The story, the battle, the struggle, the victory. All of it. Both good bad. Lonely, and friend-filled. The awesomeness of the private victory, and the friends who cheer with you when no one else does. The words that never die, and the people that can be brought to life. The Character that exists. The way one can weave, mesh, and write, communicating thoughts and ideas, pulling the invisible into the visible. From darkness into light. From imagination into reality.

I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to progress with me on my writing journey. One word at a time. One day at a time, one book at a time. Though I can't see you, I know that you are there with stories of your own, with words waiting to be written. With a voice that matters.




Whab, keeper of all unsaid, unheard words

Gogindy's bell tower


Bottled horse Sound-waves


Cracking---the light coming through










The Withers

Hope lives
The Drought

Gogindy reading the cryptic note
Andrew opening the chest of unsaid-unheard words
Andrew, Ivory, Talic, and baby Tavron
More trapped horse sound waves (different perspective)
Andrew and Freddie fighting in the Coal pits, with the Codes watching.
Drust's bottled footprints

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Amazing Health benefits of Ginger!



 Health benefits of Ginger
   
So recently I discovered that ginger has a lot of awesome health benefits. There are so many articles floating around on the internet, and this is what I gleaned from them.

1. Ginger is a very powerful anti inflammatory.
2. Helps with knee and joint pain.
3. Helps ease pain of monthly cramps.
4. Stomach upset.
5. Helps sooth coughs or sore throat.
6. Helps circulation.
7. Digestion.
8. Helps combat morning sickness.
9. It has antihistamine properties that help treat allergies
10. It helps to destroy ovarian cancer cells.
11. It helps prevent Colon cancer.
12. It helps combat pain.
13. It helps ease arthritis
14. It has high levels of antioxidants. 

These are among the few things that it helps to combat.
I for one am excited about this because I'm always looking for ways to combat pain naturally.

I've been taking it faithfully for a few days, and am happy to report that I really do think it really does help ease pain. I've used it for my knee pain, craps, and jaw pain. And I swear it really does help. 

Last night I had a horrible migraine and I was really considering breaking down and taking some Excedrin so I didn't spend the rest of the night in agony as is usually the case if I let the headache go on too long. 

However I decided to hold out and take a bunch of ginger capsules to see if they helped. Surprisingly I fell asleep and stayed asleep. 
When I woke up, my headache was gone. 
 (Happy!)
I'm pretty excited about this because I get migraines way too often. And if ginger helps nip them in the butt, I'm going to be one happy girl. I'm hoping that this ginger cure will stay a cure. But I guess we will see. If it was a fluke, then it was a fluke. But it was a nice one.

So if you're wanting to take ginger, you can brew the root as a tea, or buy powdered ginger or take it in capsules and eat it that way.
Also note: if you're taking blood thinners you're not supposed to take ginger at the same time.

This is a really brief explanation about the health benefits of ginger. So if you're interested in finding out more, I suggest you do a google search and see what other people are saying about it. 
   
I am by no means a doctor, and this information is not meant to replace normal medical practices as prescribed by your doctor. 

I'm just a country-girl who is looking for answers same as you.

 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Friday, March 14, 2014

Fermented Sauerkraut Recipe (Sounds gross tastes perdy good)









So this is a picture of my last batch of fermented sauerkraut. And it turned out really tasty.
So I thought I'd share my not-so-secret recipe with you.


Fermented Sauerkraut

Health benefits.
1. Loaded with tons of probiotics
2. Aids in digestion.
3. Helps fight cancer.
4. It's a good source of vitamin C
6.  Has vitamin U which is used in treatment of ulcers.
7. The fermented juice has anti microbial properties inhibiting the growth of Salmonella

This is a link to an interesting article on fermented cabbage juice and its health benefits. This recipe is for fermented sauerkraut, but I figure it's about the same.

Things you will need.
1. Cabbage
2. Sea Salt
3. Water
4. Vinegar to taste (Only if you like a little more pep to your kraut)
5. Garlic powder or any spices you might like.
6. Any veggies that you may like.

Just so you know, fermenting isn't an exact science. To me it's all about experimenting, tasting, and figuring out what flavors I like the best. And it's fun.

There are a lot of recipes out there for fermented Sauerkraut.
Most people hear the word fermented veggies, and they gross out.
I even went through that stage. I had this clipart image in my head of fermented foods. And it wasn't a very nice picture. It looked like some bubbly chicken slop, and smelled like it too.  

But if done right, fermented  foods can taste amazing. Ferments can enhance flavors, and be quite zesty. Before our modern age of refrigeration, our ancestors fermented foods all the time in order to keep their food from spoiling. Without even realizing it, they were creating a super food that we are just now rediscovering.

It sounds a little gross fermenting cabbage, but what the ferment really does is bring out all the flavors, and add a zesty taste to your food.
To make this particular sauerkraut, this is what I did, and my family liked it. So I'll share it with you. First off I want to say that this is my own personal recipe that I've altered to my liking. Feel free to modify it as you would any recipe.

I like to think of this sour kraut recipe more like a glorified coleslaw.
To make it, you make it like you would any coleslaw, only with a few different twists. Add any veggies that you would normally, and spice it up the way you would like any normal cabbage salad.

1. Chop as much cabbage you want, or use a cheese grater, or food processor to slice it up (That's a lot easier)

Then while you're slicing it or chopping it, squeeze it every once in a while, to bruise the leaves and press out its juices.

While you're doing that, toss in some sea salt, and mix it up with your hands. Add as much salt as tastes good to you. But note that the salt is the main ingredient that helps the cabbage ferment.

2. Squeeze the leaves some more until they look a little darker in color.
Then toss in whatever spices you like.
I chopped some onions, a green pepper, and some cilantro. Then I added lots of pepper, sea salt, and some garlic powder to the mix.
If you want, add some lemon juice too.

After you've done that, pack it tightly into a quart jar, and then dump water over the cabbage. (Some people let the cabbage sit about 20mins before adding the water.) But I didn't. Also some people use a salt water brine. It's up to you.

What I did was add salt to it as I was chopping it, until it tasted good.  Then when I packed the cabbage tightly into the bottle, I added some water, and then I added enough apple cider vinegar to give it a nice zippy taste.  (Note that most recipes don't call for vinegar) I just like the taste it adds to the cabbage.

After that, close it with a lid, or a cloth. Then let it sit on your counter for a few days---or weeks depending on how you want it to taste.  
Some people say to put your cabbage in a crock and let it ferment for a while. Or store it in a dark place. But I just put mine a mason jar, out on the counter, and it worked just fine.

Then after you've done all that, check on it from time to time to see how it tastes. It will usually have a strong smell, and be a bit bubbly. (That's good)
If the taste isn't to your liking, let it sit longer. The longer it ferments, the more strongly flavored it gets. If you taste it and it is to your liking, and you want to slow down the ferment, just put it in your fridge and eat it up. People say to eat it like you would a side dish, and not to eat it in huge portions.

My last batch took only a few days to get it to a nice flavor I liked. I know that sounds fast, but I used some old, yellow cabbage that was nearly ready to expire in my fridge. I'm glad I did, because it is now very tasty.

Also, note that fermented foods are oftentimes an acquired taste. So just be patient with yourself.  Work with flavors you like best.
And last but not least, if you have thyroid problems, I've read that certain properties in cabbage can inhibit the thyroid. So if you're having thyroid problems, I'd probably either, eat it very sparingly, or ferment something else.



 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

YUMMY Homemade probiotic Water Kefir Soda Pop Recipe

Some ginger pear soda. Kinda a weird flavor, but it tasted good to me.

Water kefir grains.
Howdy,

I had a friend request information on some healthy tips. So this week I'm doing a bunch of blog post about healthy things I do that actually make me feel better. Enjoy.


Homemade probiotic Water Kefir Soda Pop

Health benefits
This drink is a fantastic source of probiotics.

Before I get to the soda pop recipe, I just want to give a plug about probiotics.
I can't stress the need for probiotics enough. You need these little guys to help your gut stay healthy. And if your gut isn't healthy, then you're probably not going to be healthy.

Our modern lifestyle has moved in a direction where the faster food is made, the better.
We have forgotten the wonderful heritage and the importance of soaking grains before we eat them, and the benefits of fermenting our food. And now we are paying for it. Our poor gut-health has caused a huge decline in our health, and way of life.

I've included a link below to an article I highly recommend for anyone interested in learning the importance of probiotics.  (Gut health linked to mental health, autism and other psychological problems.)


Be sure to watch the video on the link.

Now for the recipe.
I'm going to be honest here.
I love soda pop.
I always have. I love the way it fizzes and makes my nose tingle. I love the sweetness of it, and I love all the fun flavors.

Once I learned about how bad soda was for you, I had a hard time giving it up. Then I learned about how bad Gmo corn syrup is, and then I really had to give it up. (Darn)
Sometimes it's really hard to give up the things you like. I find it especially hard to do if there isn't something better to replace it.
It's like once you give up something, a vacuum opens up, and tries to fill that empty space. And if you're not careful, you might end up eating worse than you did in the first place.

Always try find something better---more abundant to fill that hole, or the lack of the thing you gave up will return with a vengeance.

Only just a few weeks ago did I learn about a healthy alternative to store-bought soda.
A healthy homemade soda that, (I guess) has been around for a long time---longer than the unhealthy kind you can buy at the store.

I was skeptical at first. If you could make soda at home, how come nobody gave me a heads up? I never got the memo. Nothing could taste as good as store-bought soda? Right?
Wrong. It tastes even BETTER!
Seriously. Not only that, this soda is TONS BETTER for you. It has loads of healthy probiotics that make your body, skin, and belly happy. Many people in our modern culture are literally starved for healthy gut enzymes. And studies show that a healthy gut is the key to being healthy, mentally and physically. If our guts are messed up it could effect a multitude of health problems.

So what's the catch? How do you make this healthy soda?

The science is simple, the process pretty straightforward. And it's fun coming up with new flavors.

Things you'll need
1. Water kefir grains
2. Pure cane Sugar  (I use Zulka---a pure cane sugar found in most grocery stores)
C&H sugar would probably work just fine. But I like the purer sugars better.
3. Filtered water if you have some. I'm sure normal water would work, but if you have pure water, use it.
4. A must is sea salt or trace mineral drops.
5. (Juice or fruit of your choice)
6. A jar with a lid.

How you make it.

1. First I get my water kefir grains and dump them in mason jar, or a glass jar with a lid. Note that water kefir grains are only slightly different than milk kefir grains. The milk kefir grains get nutrients from the milk, hence the milky color of their curds.
Water kefir grains get their nutrients from the sugar, salt and trace mineral drops you add to the water. I've heard that can use milk kefir grains to make your soda, and it will work just fine.

2. Add some sea salt---or a few squirts---about a teaspoon of trace mineral drops. It just depends on the volume of juice you are going to add.

3. Add some fruit, juice, or whatever you want to the mix. I've tried some canned plum juice, and that's really yummy. We've also added some 100% juices from the store, and they're really good too. Usually if the juice is sweet that will be enough sugar for the kefir grains to do their thing. So you won't need to add your own sugar in that case.

4. If you're wanting to make something of your own, a lot of people say to mix your sugar and water in a pan on the stove, and then add your flavors.

I personally get kind of lazy, so I just add my sugar into the water, and add my pieces of fruit, and other flavors. So far it's worked alright with me. But you might like it better with the sugar more fully dissolved.

If you are planning on making your own mix, perhaps a ginger ale, a lemon soda, a vanilla cream soda, or other concoction, mix your flavors however you like.

I've done a ginger soda by adding some ginger powder to some water, sugar, and some cinnamon and whatever spices I felt like to my kefir grains. Pear juice makes a nice fizz, and is really tasty too. Just have fun experimenting with the flavors you can come up with---Apple, cranberry turmeric, raisins, pineapple, sarsaparilla root---for root bear, there's really no end to the fun flavors you can add. Just be sure that your flavors are pure, and natural. Also I've noticed that lime juice doesn't seem to go well with my kefir grains.

5. Then after you've added your flavors, I suggest adding some sugar or molasses into your drink. This is not an exact science. I'm not going to tell you how much to add, because it depends now how much juice or water you add, and how sweet you want it. Just make sure it's sweet enough the kefir has enough sugars to feed on. If you're not sure, just experiment.

6. Then after you've got your juice the flavor you want it, screw on a lid---the tighter the fizzier it's going to be.

7. Then you wait. In the case of water kefir grains, you usually don't have to wait very long unless they've been refrigerated. One to two days should be sufficient. You should see bubbles rising to the top. (This is good) And when you open the lid, it will probably fizz or bubble a bit. You can taste it. If it's to your liking then strain out the kefir grains and put your juice in the fridge in order to keep it at the stage that tastes the best to you.

9. If it doesn't turn fizzy, or it doesn't seem like the juice is tangy, you probably need to add more trace minerals, salt or sugar. Note that the kefir grains have natural yeast. So it might smell a bit yeasty.  

10. If you don't like your drink fizzy, don't put the lid on very tightly. Or don't put a lid on it at all. And it will be a subtle tangy drink. 

Note. That once it's past the fizzy stage and it doesn't taste sweet anymore, and tastes kind of yeasty, it's fermented too long. If that's the case, use it as a hair rinse, face toner, or discard the juice and try again.

A fun tidbit to note that kefir (means to feel good)

This soda is very refreshing, and a fun healthy treat. Enjoy.


 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Writer's block

Greetings,


I'm just sitting here thrumming my fingers up and down thinking about how I have nothing interesting at all to say, seriously.

Not one interesting word. Nope. So I guess you might as well quit reading, and go back to your facebook page, and kill time elsewhere.  It seems these days there are no end to the ways one may squander ones time, and absorb oneself into the realm of gleaning useful knowlages.

Actually, the problem isn't that I don't have anything interesting to say, I have loads of things I want to say.  But when you have lots to say, and you have to pick just one thing that is the most important  to say, I find that really hard to do. So most the time, I end up frozen. Then I end up not saying anything at all. 

Did that make any sense?

Probably not.

Among other things, I've been battling  writer's block----actually I don't just have writer's block, I have something more like writer's brick---solid, heavy, immovable. It let up for a couple days, and I've been trudging along, but I don't know...the words seem stuck.

Have you ever felt that way? You go along and everything flows smoothly, and then without even knowing why, the car quits, and you're left wondering what happened?
You still had somewhere you needed to be. Why have you run out of gas?

That's what I'm feeling like.
It's almost as if I'm afraid to write---afraid to create. It's weird.I can think of a lot of excuses not to write. There's so much other work I need to do...but actually it feels like I'm just running away from writing. I'm really not sure what brought this on. It just happened.

I think it has something to do with the fact that while waiting for edits to come in for my last book in my fantasy series, I've been faced with a blank canvas for my next novel, "The Unsame Ones."

I started book, The Unsame Ones," about a year ago, but I was still madly working on my fantasy series, so that book took the back burner.

Now that I have some extra time, I decided to go look over my notes for my next book.
However...for the life of me, I can't find the file. It is lost somewhere in cyberspace.
My ideas, thoughts, and a few rough chapter ideas are gone.

Vanished.
Not cool. It wasn't a huge amount of work. But it was something I could work with. Something I had down. Moving ideas around are a lot easier to do than staring at a blank page, and starting from scratch.

After feeling a bit sorry for myself, I began again. It's been good for me in a way. I've approached the story with some fun concepts that I know I didn't have in my last book file. But still, starting anything is the hardest part, at least for me. It's really intimidating.  I have to remember that it's about getting ideas down, and scratching up the paper. It's about writing scenes, and conversations as they come. It's about scribbling, and moving words around to see how they sound.

To get myself excited about the project I designed this cover. It's not finished, and the blurb is something to be desired. But it's a start. 

And another problem is, whenever I begin a new project my self critic "Olga," is jumps into action. She makes it her life's work to inspect, and supervise every word that I write.

 She smirks as I begin a new, waiting to jump at any flaw that might show itself. She folds her arms and watches, sure to point out anything that doesn't meet with her approval---which hardly anything does, if at all. She wants to know how the story ends, and how everything turns out. She wants things to be clean, pristine, purified, tidy, and for every word to have a purpose. She thinks that my writing stinks, and that when all is said and done, that my words are at best, amusing.

It is her that I fear.

She laughs at me.
Mocks me.
She waits for me to fail.
Points out a nasty review.
It is she who tells me that I have nothing more to say.
That whatever I have to say has already been said by better, more skilled writers.
It is she who I battle with.

This master of the arts, perfectionist teacher, grammar police extraordinaire, this...unpleaseable creature that will never be satisfied. 

With her looming over my shoulder as I write, I keep having this gnawing feeling that once the last book in my fantasy series is finished, I won't have anything else interesting to say.
I'm worried that nobody will like my books and that I'll be a failure.

I guess I have this general fear that maybe the words I write aren't useful to anybody, and if that's true, maybe I myself am not a valuable person.

I'm afraid that while everybody is living, and busy being busy, that me my writing will have not mattered at all to anybody.

I'm afraid that once I start to work on another book, that nothing will come, that the worlds will have dried up. Yes, those  are my fears.

They may seem small. But they are real to me.

The fear of failure is at the heart of it. The fear of my own flaws, and inadequacies.Of wanting to make something that everybody likes.
But I think everybody has these fears. These mental roadblocks that we all must overcome.
Yes. You, me, everybody. We battle with our inner Olga's. We all struggle with fear, and with the pains of creating---of feeling vulnerable.

Yes, to share and to create is to be very vulnerable.  And we must be gentle with ourselves, patient and kind. We must treat our inner artist as if it were a tender child.

I always try to keep a mental image in my head of a kid proudly showing a drawing scrawled with crayon to their mother---I notice how proud they look of their drawing.  They aren't ashamed of what they created. They aren't looking for the world to approve of their creation. Just their mom.

They are just happy to have created something.
I try to remember that as I share and create.
The joy is in the creation.
It's not possible to make something everybody will like.
Every artist has had their critics and they still created. 
Still they went on.
And so will I.
I will make and create something I like.
And then I will have succeeded.
What have I to fear then?






Saturday, February 22, 2014

Carrot Penny whistle, and an Author spotlight.

Hey everybody!

I wanted to thank everybody who helped to make my books release possible! 

I also just wanted to drop in and say hello, and happy Saturday!!! It's a beautiful day, and I intend to enjoy it, so this post will be short.

It's been a busy week. But a good week. Yesterday I spent the entire day outside roaming around in the desert  climbing rocks, and having fun with my family.


Also I wanted to share this video of my sister and her carrot penny whistle she made. :)
It's pretty funny because after she made the whistle, she left the carrot in the fridge for a few weeks, and then got it out. It looked horrible but it played rather well. I actually liked the sound of the old carrot better.


Stephanie Skeem's photo.


 Also I wanted to share a link. I'm featured on this website, well Ivory is---my elf self is.
Kinda creepy seeing my face on the sidebar, but cool. Ivory Autumn Featured on http://www.freeebooksdaily.com/2014/02/author-spotlight-ivory-autumn.html


That's all I have time for today.

Hope things are going well with you all.
Cheers!
Steph/Ivory

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Shade's Trees book release day! And St. Valentine's story!

Happy  Valentine's Day!

Here's you a virtual cookie to celebrate!



















My book is out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After much tribulation, anxiety, and rewrites, I can finally say this! I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way. 

I know I said this before but I've got to give another shout out to Taviann Justice Ho, Casey Smith, Holly Remkes, Jeanette Skeem, and Bessie Skeem.Thank you for your support, help and editorial skills. I'm indebted to you!

Also I want to thank you, and all the silent readers on my blog. Thank you for being here with me today.
I want to thank my friends, and those who have been willing to do reviews, and offer encouragement.  It means a lot to me. 

Thank you!   

Information about the book below.   And my Valentine's day Story is at the very bottom of this post.             

If you would like to review this book, send an email to junesbugs@hotmail.com, and I'd be happy to gift you a free-ecopy of my book in exchange for your service. 

If you haven't read the first book but would like to read it for free, here's several links:

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/andrew-and-the-quest-of-orion-s-belt-rise-of-the-fallen

http://search.diesel-ebooks.com/index.php?page=seek&id%5Bm%5D=&id%5Bc%5D=scope%253Dinventory&id%5Bq%5D=Ivory+Autumn

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/andrew-and-the-quest-of-orions-belt-ivory-autumn/1106550940?ean=2940011518690

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/87375

 Book cover for The Shade's Trees
                                       

Back cover Blurb for The Shade's Trees

 The Declaration of Dependance has been announced. A flag of the new order as been raised. Lies abound. The shadows await to consume their own. I see a very bleak future in the times ahead. And for good reason. Andrew has been separated from my companionship, lost somewhere in the hostile land Brittlewambers, and from there, to The Shade’s forest, no doubt, where he will face his greatest test yet---to stand before The Shade and face his powerful trees.

Yet, I am dubious as to the outcome, for the time of uprooting is drawing to a close. The earth can only be exposed to such poison so long before it takes hold forever. Be that as it may. I am glad to have you as a trusty companion on this journey, despite my warnings. In dark places it’s very nice to have a friend. A friend, for that is what you are.

You must be an especially good sort of person, for only the best kinds of people stay with you even when the road gets bumpy. And it has a been a bumpy road. After the Canvas War, everybody got all mismatched and separated. I even had a hard time finding myself. Perhaps it would have been better if I hadn’t found myself, because I have turned out to have a dark side. Yes. A very dark side, full of revenge, and sneakery. But I won’t dwell on it. You will see all too soon what a bad Twisker I can be.
Yours sincerely,
Gogindy,
the naughty two-faced,
 Twisker of the Dandelion den

The Shade's Trees 
                            
Trailer for one of my previous books----but I think it works well with the entire series.

Here's where you can buy copies of my book!

US Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shades-Trees-Andrew-Quest-Orions-ebook/dp/B00IB09F52/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392233461&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Shade%27s+Trees+Ivory+Autumn


Smashwords edition: Available in epub, mobi, irf, pdb, pdf formats, where you can download the first 20%free.
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396871

 Barnes & and Noble :http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-shades-trees-ivory-autumn/1118141594?ean=2940045576505

International venues  
Amazon In: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B00IB09F52

Amazon Uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00IB09F52

Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00IB09F52

Amazon FR: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B00IB09F52

Amazon ES:https://www.amazon.es/dp/B00IB09F52

Amazon JP: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00IB09F52

Amazon IT: https://www.amazon.it/dp/B00IB09F52

Amazon Br:  https://www.amazon.com.br/dp/B00IB09F52

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00IB09F52

Amazon MX: https://www.amazon.com.mx/dp/B00IB09F52


Now for my Valentine's Day blog post below...
My mom made tons of cards and cute Valentine's this year.

My mom's valentine's day projects

My ice skates. Love em!
My mom made a lot of fun Valentine's creations this year
I'm just sitting here looking at the clouds marveling over the warm weather we've been having. 
Yes, usually clouds = cold. But today clouds = warm. 

And warm = my ice skating rink is melted. 

(Sniffs sadly) 

But on a happy note, my sister and I are toying with the idea of taking ice skating lessons at a rink once a week, just so we can keep up our with our skating.

I went for a walk yesterday, and found bugs, lady bugs to be exact. I can't believe it. Bugs so soon after so cold. Just a moment ago there was nothing but ice, frozen earth and snow. This....to
My sister's lashes after we marched a mile in the snow to see the river. The temp was 8below Zero.
 ...Spring, grass flowers and sunshine?
Didn't have any spring pictures handy, so I just used a blog picture of a mailbox I painted.

Spring. At least for today. Who knows what tomorrow might bring. Snow? 

 I even saw big fat robin outside my window scavenging on my sister's playhouse for shingle rocks.

 When the snow melted, and puddles were everywhere my sister and I noticed millions of little black buggy things floating on top of nearly every puddle, every puddly footprint. At first I thought they were black ashes, but on further inspection I found that they were indeed masses of little, yucky, black, bugs, floating on the water like pepper.

Seriously, I'm having trouble figuring out how these bugs seem to pop out of the ground the second we have a warm day? It's like they've been planted in every partial of dirt waiting for just a bit of warmth. 
 -----
Okay. Now for The Valentine's day story. 

I'm always curious about holidays, and where they first originated from. There's a lot of information floating around on the net. 
 But the legend I love best, is about St. Valentine himself. Be it true, or legend, I still think it's a poetic story worth remembering and thinking about.

 I think I posted part of the story in an earlier blog post a few years back. But just in case you've forgotten, I'll paraphrase the legend behind this romantic holiday. 

 Now settle down in your seat, and enjoy my very short, very small summery of a Valentine's day legend.  I'm distracted today. Can you tell.
Once upon a time...
Long a go, and emperor called Claudias the second came to the (Insane) conclusion that men who fought in his armies would somehow fight better if they didn't have a wife or kids. 

Makes me wonder if he ever was married? I'm guessing not. Sorry. I'm interrupting myself. 

Anyway, he issued an edict outlawing priests to marry any young people. 

(Must interject my own opinion---how would this make anybody fight better? Super dumb Idea) 

That's where St. Valentine comes in.  He was a priest who acted according to his conscience and married couples in secret despite the edict. (Cheers for him!)

He was caught, tortured and imprisoned for his belief. While in prison, he made friends with the jailers blind daughter. He healed the daughter, and then on the day of his execution, he wrote the jailer's daughter, and signed the note with, "from your Valentine." 

 That's my super abbreviated version of the story.

Whether this story is fact or fiction, it is a wonderful example of standing up for what you believe in. It's easy to have integrity when everything is going great, but to stand tall when you know you might die for it entirely something else.

More links to the story.

https://www.olrl.org/lives/valentine.shtml

http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/ChurchandMinistry/churchhistory/st_valentine_the_real_story.aspx





Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Perma ebook free pay it forward list.


Howdy,

I decided I'm going to try and get a couple of my books perma free for a while on Amazon.
I've got two of my books free everywhere else, but in order for amazon to price match, (Free) I need some help reporting the lower price.

That's where you come in. (Smiles) 

I appreciate you taking the time. It really does mean a lot to me.

Go to the link  my amazon link. Then scroll below the description until you see a blue link that says: Tell us about a lower price. 
Then an icon will pop up asking where you saw the lower price. Then simply copy and paste the B&N link of my book into it.

Here are the links. Thanks!!!

Rise of the Fallen
Amazon Not Free
http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Fallen-Andrew-Quest-Orions-ebook/dp/B005PYXCT2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392253307&sr=8-1&keywords=Rise+of+the+Fallen+by+Ivory+Autumn

Free https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/andrew-quest-orions-belt-rise/id471756849?mt=11

Link for free ebook B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/andrew-and-the-quest-of-orions-belt-ivory-autumn/1106550940?ean=2940011518690


Flotsam:
Not free http://www.amazon.com/Flotsam-Stephanie-Skeem-ebook/dp/B004ASORLG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392253284&sr=8-1&keywords=Flotsam+by+Stephanie+skeem

Link for free ebook B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/flotsam-stephanie-skeem/1100075848?ean=2940011129704&itm=1&usri=flotsam


I've you're an author trying to get your ebook perma free, feel free to post a comment below and list your perma free link. Before you comment, I'd appreciate it if you'd pay it forward.
Thanks.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The official release date for The Shade's Trees-----Feb 14, 2014!

The official release date for The The Shade's Trees is Feb 14, 2014! Valentine's Day! I'd like to thank Taviann Justice Ho, Casey Smith, Holly Remkes, Jeanette Skeem, and Bessie Skeem. All of which helped me with this book! They are amazing! I appreciate all they have done in getting this book the best it can be! 

Thank you!

It's been a long journey. There were times when I felt like I might not finish this book. Writing it was the fun part. Even edits rewrites were okay.

However, I had a terrible time trying to get this book formatted. I think it was because of the large page count---500pgs. And I resized the original document to full bleed, which means that I wanted the pictures to extend all the way to the edges of the page. Arg.

Apparently doing that made all my words drift off the margins no matter what I did. I was formatting for over two weeks---not counting the time it took formatting for Kindle and smashwords. 

 I was at my wits end last Friday. My eyes were falling out of my head, my hands were falling off my arms, my brain was falling out of my head. I felt like I was in an never-ending cycle of doing the same thing over, and over again---tweaking this or that, only to have the book still not go through submissions. (Yanks hair!!)

It was one of the most awful feelings of being stuck, unable to move forward. It literally made me feel ill. 

I was just  about to toss everything out the window----it was that bad.  I felt as if I had come to a mountain too hard to cross, and I was about ready to give up. 

Part of the problem was I couldn't put my finger on what it was that I was doing wrong. When you know what to fix, things are ever so much easier. I did a lot of guessing, and that didn't work out very well.  If you ever want to frustrate someone to the point of insanity, tell them they have a problem, but don't give them any idea how to fix it.  It'll work for sure. 

I know.

 Last Friday, I reformatted my book twice more out of a million, and sent it off, praying all the while, hoping that it would go through. 

This video is demonstrates exactly  what I felt like trying to get my book out---all the things I tried but didn't work. 




Then on Saturday, I got confirmation that my proof file was ready to review!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That was one of the best days in my life. No, really. It was. I felt as if someone had given life back to this still-born child-book of mine---resuscitated it, if you will.

Then a couple days ago, I got the proof in the mail. It looked mighty nice. BEAUTIFUL. There were only a few things that needed realignment. Happy day!!! I went immediately and fixed the few things that needed fixing, and then resent the file in for review, sure of my success. 

Hah! It was not to be.

Somehow my few changes had made the file unable to go through. It was constipated again! 

I was baffled, frustrated---MAD!


But not to be outdone by almost completion, I set forth to fix the problems again---minimizing my changes as much as possible to the original document that had successfully gone through inspection. 

Low and behold, today I found that my document went through!!!!

What a beautiful day it is. Yes!!!!!!

My book lives!!!!

So, there ya go. I'm still a little baffled. I'm still not exactly sure what I did wrong. I have a vague idea. But nothing solid. 

Think I'll bask in my small success for a moment before edits come in on my next book. Hopefully I can forget all the pain from birthing this book baby before I have to do it with the next one. 
Hope I learned a couple things so it will be as lot easier with this much longer--- 740pg book. *shivers nervously*



So next time you feel stuck, and hopelessly unable to succeed. Keep on trying.

There are happy endings after all. The moment you feel like giving up may be the moment just before your success! 

 Don't ever give up. 




 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Illustrations For The Shade's Trees



Hi,


Thought I'd take a minute and post the cover, and illustrations for The Shade's Trees, in honor of it coming out soon. I decided to cut down on the number of illustrations this time around, especially because I'm trying to get both books out as close together as possible, and trying to get out two sets of illustrations can be time consuming.

If I didn't have to work on formatting, I'd gladly exchange that time for more illustrations.
But as it is, I do what I can.

Enjoy.

Steph








Trapped Tree souls
Coral and Lancedon in prison
Tree map
The Dream catcher
Mossbrush The Brittlewamber
The Shade
Snap "Dragons"
Waking the Tree
Watersmeter The Brittlewamber
Croffin reading his book, "Weeds"

Syntax eating bad books
Trebble the Tree
The Shade casting his Tree shadows
Ink Gryphons and their paper wings
Shellbee

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