A to Z Challenge

Saturday, December 29, 2012

On your mark, Get Set, Flashback!!!


You are cordially invited to participate in a fun and exciting Blogiversary of the fantastic Fel Wetzig and her crazy peasants that are in constant revolt! Then participate in the fun with a Flashback Blog Hop.

Psst, come closer...I hear, there will be gifts. Yes, if Christmas didn't gift you up enough, there's chances to win lotsa good stuff! Yippee!

So, ring in the new year in a Flashy Hoppy style. (That doesn't mean just sequins and beer, though that's acceptable too! : )

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Where can a girl find a couple extra hours...

I am busy. Busy prepping to enter the Amazon Breakthrough Contest in a couple weeks. This entails re-editing a published novel to see if I can make it shine even more. It means crafting a savory pitch that will get people salivating.

It means taking a hard look at Return to find any niggling little irritants that need to be removed, and finding errors that have snuck past (I know there are still some in there), though its been edited and proofread more times than I can count.

And, while I'm trying to accomplish this, to help Ravyn and Zelera get a little more acclaim, I've got all the normal daily life activities to pursue.

There is an Iphone that needs replacing, as the dog decided to eat it. The Lifeproof case does not protect against Doberman, in case you were wondering.

Christmas decorations need to go away...sigh. Back up into the garage attic I go.

Child number three's Bell kit was stolen from the car two days before Christmas. So, I need to find new bells...preferably used. And, buy the book again. It's a convenient excuse for her to not practice at the moment.

A couple Christmas gifts need exchanging. I refuse to do those today. Augh!

The bookkeeping for our business needs to be done, so we can decide if we will be jumping off the fiscal cliff, limbs flailing, wallets drained. Gotta have the numbers in order to plan...would be so nice if our government would do that as well. Oh, but I'd better not get started on that...that's a whole 'nother post...

The house could use a top to bottom clean-up. After the chaos of NaNoWriMo and the joys of the holidays, this place is a disaster. Okay, who am I kidding, it's always a disaster, but still...it'd be nice to get it tidied.

Then, there's the whole keeping up with blogs, twitter, Return's facebook page, etc. Something I've been not so good at the past couple months.

My dear sweet husband gave me a wonderful new camera for Christmas! The Sony NEX-5R! Oh the things it can do! I'm so excited, I can't wait to start fiddling with it. Another tiny nibbler of my time. But, I fear it's not high on my priority list at the moment. (Sad face)

So, it you know of a way to turn back a little time, or extend it and would like to share that information with me, I'd be ever so grateful!

Hope your Christmas was Merry, and you are looking forward to 2013!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Missing Momma




Christmas brings with it a frenzied burst of activity, buying presents, attending parties, reconnecting with friends. It is also a time when many people find themselves missing someone special. Someone no longer here. My mother passed several years ago. I miss her daily, though like many others, I feel the lack of her presence at this time of year. She, so loving and giving, a truly unselfish angel on earth. I wanted to take the time to post a little something I wrote the day after she'd died.

I am sitting here at Clear Lake, on the balcony of a condo, waiting for the sun to rise. I can't sleep anymore. I need to watch the sun come up, hear the birds, and reflect. I am not feeling overly sorrowful, and in fact, feel glad you are at peace, and had the courage to let go. I'm glad pain is unable to find you. Rest easy in death's gentle hands. For now, it is easy for you. A quiet repose until your savior gently wakes you with a kiss and a good morning sunshine.

You have given of yourself tirelessly over the years, and have suffered so many trials. Peace be with you, Merbles.

You have taught me so much. It was you and daddy that turned me into the person I am today. Though I know I am far from perfect, I think I turned out reasonably well, and that speaks volumes about you. The most important thing I received from you throughout my life was love. Unconditional Love. Thank you.
Thank you for all those hugs and kisses, especially those on my forehead. They were the most special.
Thank you for letting me crawl into your bed to cuddle, even when I'd grown far too old to do it.
Thank you for letting me squash you as you sat in your comfy chair, just so I could prove I still fit on my momma's lap.
Thank you for being firm, and teaching me definite rights from wrongs, and setting parameters. Those things I pushed so desperately hard against. Even as I rebelled, I knew you placed them there to keep me safe.
Thank you for instilling a love of music in me.
Thank you for expecting the most out of me, and not accepting mediocrity.
Thank you for encouraging dreams and goals.
Thank you for seeing beyond the mischief maker.

I hope you know it was an honor and a privilege to be your daughter.

A kiss on the forehead is special
When given by you
No one does it better
It erases fears
Eases tears
Restores happiness and hope
Give me just one more - Please

I wish I could have been there with you, to kiss your forehead, to let you know it was okay.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Human Resources: A tasty treat





Geoff Neil has created a sinfully delectable read. The story flows across the mental palate, paced to perfection, allowing one to savor the different flavors of the story - humor, action, tension, shock, mystery. All prepared in a Chrichtonesque recipe. Take an unlikely hero, sprinkle in some technology and scientific zest to capture the imagination, spice it all up with a nemesis that sets your nerves afire with her ruthless cold-heartedness.

I mean to impart to you, my pleasure at having read this five star gourmet literary meal. Mr. Neil's first book Dire Means - a delightful appetizer. Human Resources - a well-rounded meal. I am hungering for dessert,with Wanton Disregard. I can only hope that there is a nightcap planned as well! I encourage you to feast on Human Resources, but let me give you caution, if your nerves get your stomach all tied up with butterflies, you may want a bottle of Tums close at hand.

Please check out the works of Mr. Neil here Geoffrey Neil.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NaNoWriMo Success!

So, this month has passed in a blur. Words, words, tumbling from my head. A frantic daily push to win that thing called NaNoWriMo. I have to admit, it is worth the mind-numbing frantic finger cramping dash! My sequel has grown a little fatter, and for that I am thankful. I hit over fifty thousand words today around noon. A wave of relief washed over me, I did it! But, sloshing around behind me is a huge pool of words, ready to burst the dam. So damn it, the relief is short-lived.

I'm hoping I learned a little something about writing every day. I'm hoping I'll keep it up. Hope does spring eternal, doesn't it?

The reality of life is, that when there is pressure tremendous things can be done. You do or die! When the pressure is removed, old habits sneak back and it's easy to let the words linger in your mind instead of on paper.

So, I think I may have found a solution. I'm going to keep my Calendar on the month of November. I'll see that eight letter word, my pulse will pound and panic will set in. No, I have at least 1,600 words that have to be written, today! Yes, I'm sure this will work. The stores put up Christmas decorations in November anyhow...it'll be a snap to keep up my illusion.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wildest Moment

Oh, how exciting to participate in the Wildest Moment Bloghop.

I think of thinks that set my blood pulsing, wild adrenaline junky that I am. I love a variety of outdoor activities that involve speed, or heights, or a sense of danger. Dirtbiking, snowboarding, scuba diving, wakeboarding, backpacking out in the middle of nowhere. Of all these sports though, one sets my spirits soaring with more intensity than the others. Rock Climbing.


Years ago, when I first fell in love with scaling great heights, I went on an adventure I will likely never match. Four of us set out to Phantom Spires, huge pillars of granite jutting up into the bright blue skies in the Sierra Nevada's. Climbing late in the season, late-November, the adventure started with the drive up a road thick with snow. The Suburban in 4WD, kept the sliding to a minimum, but each time the car drifted my shoulders tensed and I gripped the dash.

Eventually, we parked and started hiking out across the snow to reach the Spires. My boots punched down through the top layer of ice, and I sank knee deep into the powder below. Snow clumped on my pants and the chill seeped into my skin. Each step required gargantuan effort, but we wouldn't be averted from the Spires, our prize. What seemed an eternity had passed before we finally found ourselves standing in the shadow of the Spire.

Up the first of our group went, anchoring in every 8-10 feet, setting a solid safe track for us to follow. He reached a ledge and anchored in, clearing himself of the rope to allow me to proceed.

I'd spent most of my time climbing indoors at the gym, though I'd top-roped outside before. There's nothing so fine to me as the rough edges of granite against my skin as I cling to the rock defying gravity. I began my ascent, hauling myself up over knobby projections, wedging my toes into little cracks. I could feel the pressure of the granite cramping my toes, augh it hurt! But, the feeling is good, I know I'm secure. My eyes scanned the cliff face above me, searching for the next hold. Reaching, stretching, pushing my limits. My bare hands are moving, I see them grasp an edge. I see my fingers curl, the tendons straining as I pull my body higher and higher, but I don't feel them. Numbness has stripped me of my sense of touch. I see my partner perched under an outcropping above me, like a hobbit peering out of his door. Not much further and I can put my gloves on.

"Tension," I shout down to my belayer below. My husband holds my life in his hands. I feel the rope grow taught. The next move is the crux, I swing my leg out to the side and hook my heel over a nub in the rock. I press down on my leg and lever myself higher, the next handhold is now within my grasp. The delicate dance up the icy rock is near an end. I tie in to the anchor, before releasing myself from the climbing rope.

Sitting on a ledge ninety feet in the chill mountain air, legs dangling over the side fills me with wild delight. I shiver as the wind races past, the afternoon sun cannot compete with the chill, but its worth it.

Two more ascend and the ledge gets cramped. At times, you can top a climb and then walk down the hill along a safe trail. Not on this spire. The exhilaration of the climb has a thrilling counterpart, a rapelling descent.

Taking a step backwards off a cliff face sends my heart racing. I stand on the edge, leaning backwards away from the safety of the stone. I jump backwards, pushing with my feet, the rope slides through my hands, and I drop like a lead balloon. The weight swings me forward back into the wall and I kick off once again, I hear the z-z-z-ing of friction as I grip the rope with just enough pressure to control my descent. Cold hands and rapelling make my nerves flutter, and I land with an ungracious thump on the hard winter ground. Up safe, down safe!

Someday, my grandchildren will sit on my lap, and wonder if the book writing grandma has ever done anything as exciting as the characters in her fantasy adventures. I'll smile a knowing smile, for wildness lives here.

If you enjoyed this tale, take the time to peruse other blog's for wild tales. Stop by here to check out the founder Krystal Wade.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

With a Rebel Yell!


Oh, do I feel good! I wanted to participate in the Nanowrimo in two days, but didn't want to start an entirely new project, I wanted to use the process to get me focused on what we'll call Zelera's Revenge (for now). But, I didn't want to cheat, as I already have around 10,000 words down. But, lo and behold, I discovered this lovely category of Rebels, and found myself feeling right at home...how appropriate, that I should find myself a rebel ; )

So, here's the deal, I'm going to participate and add to my already 10,000 words and hit that damn goal of 50,000 new words to give me over 60,000 words, and I'll call myself a winner! No stigma, for I will revel in my rebel status! Yahoo!

I will try to update with some short little blurbs, letting you all know how its going. I'm so excited. If any of you are participating and would like to be my nanofriend...my username is Milster : )

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Next Big Thing!

Hot Damn! I was nominated for the Next Big Thing, and it makes my little heart skippy flippy with joy! The awesome Shell Flower of the fantastic TangentShell was kind enough to give me a little nod! So, I've copied the questions from her blog and here are my answers to the burning questions you all have about my WIP!


What is the title of your Work in Progress?
Oh, I'm not sure yet...Zelera's revenge? I dunno. She's a bad bad girl and she's back to make trouble. I'm about 99% positive that name won't stick, it doesn't have enough...!

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Zelera, the villain from Return of the Crown, of course is making a comeback, and if you thought she was nasty before... A lot of the old crew is coming back for round two and I will introduce a whole new host of characters to spice things up. Let the adventure begin!

What genre does your book fall under?
It's fantasy, sort of in the classical sense. Adventure, magic, fantastic creatures! The heroine's age places it in the YA group, but I'm hoping to write it in such a way that it'll be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Return of the Crown has a fan base as young as 9 on up to Grandma's and Grandpa's, who gladly thank you to not speculate as to their chronological years.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Oh, Jennifer Lawrence(Katniss Everdeen) would make an excellent Ravyn. Hayden Christensen(the youthful Anakin Skywalker) for Blade. Jim Carey would make such a killer Connor, due to Connor's love of disguises and great sense of humor. Katie McGrath(BBC's Merlin's Morgana) would delight as Zelera, beautiful lady who does wicked oh so well.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?
Classic-style fantasy adventure brimming with magic, mayhem and new and engaging mythical creatures.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Return of the Crown was self-published, and I have not chased down any agents yet. It could go either way, and I'd still be a happy camper. It's all about sharing the story, however it gets out there!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I am a little over 11,000 words in. I write in the little cracks of time I can sneak into my day. I am hoping to finish the first draft by Christmas. I might just join the Nanowrimo folks this November. Now that I've written that down, it's going to help me meet my goal? Right?! What a great Christmas gift that'd be!

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?
I believe this is similar to the Rogue Wizard series by Christopher Stasheff. Quests, mythological creatures, humor mixed in with the action. I have a strong female protagonist rather than a male.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My fans! Those wonderful folks who read Return of the Crown, started clamoring for more. I left the first book open at the end, hoping readers would want more, and by golly they do! Zelera's really outdone herself this go around. I can't promise you everyone will make it out alive this time...

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Dragons? Who doesn't like dragons? Will Blade and Ravyn finally tie the knot? Which character is going to Return to the Light?

Okay, so here're the five fine folks whose WIP I'm interested in seeing more of. Please take a moment to check them out! Tag--you're it!
Richard Long
Wodke Hawkinson
Fel Wetzig
Jessa Russo
Jossie Marie Solheim

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lovely Blogger Award for Me? Aw shucks...

Thank you to http://helenamallett.wordpress.com for the honor! You are a wordsmith talent, and I'm humbled by your nomination.

Seven random things about me...




1. I'm the baby out a family of eleven children
2. I love rock climbing, though I don't get out enough
3. I'm an extremely proud momma and wife
4. Words give me a warm fuzzy tingle inside...what can I say, I love 'em
5. I love The Nightmare Before Christmas (Halloween and Christmas!!!)
6. I just got a new love in my life, his name is Dex. He's a Doberman puppy!
7. I tried Stand-Up Paddle boarding and loved it! Wish the boards weren't so expensive.

And the nominees are (drumroll please)

http://sharonbayliss.blogspot.com/
http://krystal-wade.com/
http://wizardofotin.blogspot.com/
http://tangentshell.blogspot.com/
http://www.colleenchen.com/
http://www.sylviavanbruggen.com/
http://glosdrumbeat.blogspot.com/
http://jessarussowrites.blogspot.com/
http://dreamersloversandstarvoyagers.blogspot.com/
http://www.waynewsmith.com/2012/10/wordless-wednesday-guest-photographer.html
http://lindabloodworth.wordpress.com/
http://www.create-with-joy.com/
http://odetomyabode.com/
http://www.scotzig.com/
http://emmyneal.wordpress.com/

Okay, so for some reason, my ability to use the linking tool is sadly lacking. Instead of figuring out how to do it properly, I'm just listing the links. You all know how to cut and paste. I admit, it seems lazy, and you're right, it is. But, that new puppy I mentioned above is needing a walk...like now! If I don't do it this way, it won't get done at all! Sigh.



Wordless Wednesday


Thought I'd finally participate in Wordless Wednesday. This little guy was not at all shy. Pic taken about a year ago on Central Coast of California while out abalone diving. Have a fantastic Wednesday!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Let sleeping dogs lie...on top of me?

So, our dog Topo is getting old. He's going to be 14 next month. We couldn't ask for a better guard dog, and he did his duty proudly for many years. He's a cute old man, and we love him dearly, so we're letting him retire and getting him a friend, one younger and ready to take on the guard dog responsibilities.


So, yesterday we headed off to just "look" at a 5 month old Doberman. Both hubby and I thought for sure we wouldn't really want him, because he's not black and rust. But oh boy were we wrong. He has a very sweet temperment and is beautiful to boot. He melted my heart! We tossed some names around and stuck on Dexter, which almost everyone agreed on.

This dog is already completely, thoroughly rotten spoiled. Dexter came home with us last night, and as we were going to bed, we weren't sure how we were going to get him to lay still. Topo sleeps in the crate and he's not much of a sharer. I thought I'd gotten Dex to sleep alongside our bed, but as I climbed under the blankets a wet nose was snuffling my cheek. Hubby says,"just let him up." I'll be darned, I wasn't expecting that! Dexter snuggled down right between us and nodded right off. But, just like any other kid, he sure is wiggly. And at one point in the night I woke up with 40 or 50 pounds of Doberman draped across me. Let sleeping dogs lie? Not if they're keeping me awake!

I'm guessing there'll be more posts about Dexter in the near future. Luckily he's pretty much potty trained, and he did very well today on a lead for the first time. Just going to be working hard on all those basic commands and then some. Good thing Dobie's are so smart!

Monday, October 1, 2012

What Kind of Mom Says this...

The other day, my daughter's teacher noticed I wasn't wearing the sticker from the office and I was on campus after the bell rang. Oops. I kind of laughed and shrugged my shoulders. She proceeded to say, "Your daughter told me on the second day of school that 'rules are meant to be broken.'" I noticed her raised eyebrow...

Hmmm. She got me there. I did actually say that to my dear sweet nine year old. What kind of mom does that? Sometimes, believe it or not, a really good mom. Lucky for me, her teacher and I go way back, and she really just wanted to know what prompted me to tell my daughter such a thing. She was laughing at me. So, I told her.

My daughter is a see's things in black and white kind of girl. In fact, out of my three girls, two of them are very straight laced by the books kinds of kids. And while on the whole this is a wonderful thing, there are times, when rules are meant to be broken. Or at the very least bent a little.

Okay, here's what started this whole thing. This sounds silly, but last year, my daughter had an autobiographical book report due. She read about Walt Disney, and wrote her report in the first person. She was supposed to dress up as the character she researched for extra credit while delivering the report. She has this very cool red velvet robe I'd made for big sister a long time ago (Harry Potter Quidditch Robes for a Midnight Sale). I thought it'd be great, if she wore the red robes and her Sorcerer Mickey Mouse Ears Headband to deliver her report. How fun is that? Walts best buddy delivering the speech about him...so clever. But, my rule following kid wouldn't hear a word of it. "Teacher said we have to dress like the person our book's about." I tried reasoning, explaining this was Walt Disney out of the box thinking, that it'd be cool and her teacher would love it! When that didn't work, I told her that rules were sometimes meant to be broken. She showed up at school in a blazer, slacks, shirt tie and shoes we'd picked up at Goodwill. So put in context, IMHO, it wasn't a horrible thing I'd told her.

This year, we were presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. The shuttle Endeavor took it's last flight over the State of California. We could take a morning off school, play a lil' hooky, and bop on down to the Capitol to see something truly amazing and once in a lifetime. Endeavor piggy backing a big old plane, flying low to the ground, the air thick with jet engines roaring overhead! I begged, I pleaded. I promised the school wouldn't get its panties in a twist. But, nope, my rule follower would not take me up on a little hooky and she went to school like a good girl.

Later, she confessed that a boy in class had done just what I wanted her to do. Went downtown with his parents to witness a little slice of history. She sounded kind of bummed that she hadn't taken me up on the adventure. Sigh. Maybe next time, she'll be ready to venture into gray, maybe just a little.

Now, don't get me wrong. Most rules are there for a reason, and I don't want her running around willy nilly breaking them just for the heck of it. I want her to use her brain, and know when it's okay, when the rules are actually begging to be broken. Because sometimes, rules are meant to be broken.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Blessings

I am sitting here thinking how lucky I am. Really, truly lucky. We make so many choices throughout our lives, and many of them can have serious, even deadly repercussions. But despite my making a few stupid ones, I sit here largely unmolested by personal demons, unscathed even though certain choices made could have ended very badly. Glad that the most important choices met with fantastic success.

I love and am loved. I have a roof over my head. I have food in my belly. I have children who are growing and maturing before my very eyes. I can sit back and smile, because they know about honesty, responsibility, and perseverance.

I write, something I've always wanted to do, because my dear husband has always had more faith in me than I have ever had in myself. I sometimes feel like 'Mater, "I know I done good." "With What?" "Choosing my best friend." That day so many years ago, when he knelt in the sand on a beach in Santa Cruz, was the most important day of my life. The most amazing blessing I could ever ask for, made me know there is a God in heaven, that he would place this wonderful man before me. And today, his blessing continues, as that very same wonderful man, still loves me with all his heart.

Yes, I am blessed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Busy writing...

I've been a lil' neglectful of this humble blog. Not that I have intended to, but my excuse is rather good.

I've been writing! It's so much fun to plot and plan new adventures for Ravyn and the whole gang from Return of the Crown. I've spent some time researching a few new characters who can't wait for their turn on the printed page.

I can't say my domestic goddess duties have been getting much attention either. So, sorry house. Sorry laundry. Sorry messy desk. You'll all just have to wait for your turn!

And so, I know, this is very short. But...Zelera's up to her nasty tricks again, and the pull of the story is calling. Adieu for now, I must return to Aigerach!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A little Look-y Loo


Fel Wetzig of the wonderful Revolting Peasants Blog www.scotzig.com tagged me in "The Look Challenge." I am excited and delighted to participate!

If you have never heard of this challenge, don't worry, I hadn't heard of it either. It goes just like this...find the word “look” in your WIP and post the paragraphs. Easy Peasy!

As my WIP is in its earliest stages, I feared I may not have the word look written down yet. But guess what? Yup, it appeared. So, without further ado, I share with you a tiny peek into what happens after Return of the Crown (I haven't decided on the book's title yet...)!

Lareina shook her head, clearing away the frailty of moments before. She sobered up, once again wearing her queenly expression and rose to her feet stiff but proud.

"Mom, I think you should sit back down. You still don't look well."

"Ravyn, I'm fine. I was being foolish, we have important things to do."

"You were reacting to a frightening situation, you're still in shock." The hard expression on her mother's face showed only determination and anger, no hint of weakness or fear still lingered.

Ravyn traced the petal of a soft rose in her wedding bouquet. Tears welled below the surface, the dam holding them back threatening to burst. She patted her cheeks and took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. The little oak chest containing her wedding ring sat forlorn by her bouquet. Kes was to carry that chest. Nothing is ever easy. She looked into her mother's eyes, "You don't think Zelera hurt Kes, do you? I swear, I'll kill her if she hurts him in any way."

A flicker of worry flashed in Lareina's eyes, but she shook her head slightly. "No, I don't think she's hurt him. Yet." She brushed a stray lock of hair away from Ravyn's face, sighing. "Thank you Ravyn. Once again, you are sacrificing for Aigerach."



Well, that was fun, now I get to nominate 5 folks to carry on the torch!
1) Wodke Hawkinson http://findagoodbooktoread.com/
2) Helena Mallett http://helenamallett.wordpress.com/
3) Jossie Marie Solheim http://joss-dreamingofpublication.blogspot.co.uk
4) T http://t-says.blogspot.com/
5) Raine Thomas http://rainethomas.com/

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wild and Wacky Interview



I realized with horror, that I've neglected this blog. It's been over a week with nary a post.

I've been busy writing a press release, researching for my WIP and writing as well, along with all the other mundane tasks of being me.

However, I also was invited to take part in a very fun interview that I'd love to share with you. Please take a moment if you have one to spare and follow the link below. It's a bit of silly fun. Leave a comment and share in the giggles.


http://findagoodbooktoread.com/wodke-hawkinsons-blog/wacky-interview-with-author-millie-burns

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A review - 75 Words

A new review. From someone I don't know personally, but whose opinion I respect. Will she like it? Will she hate it? Please, please, please don't let her revile it. I click the link and I'm at her blog. Up pops my book cover. I hold my breath while reading the review. Breathe. It's four of five stars! She notes places I can improve my writing style, I'll take note. But, she would recommend it!

http://scotzig.com/2012/09/05/review-return-of-the-crown-by-millie-burns/

Yup, see that little plaque, it crowns me the winner of the Third Zehrung Family Cribbage tournament! I took the title. Just a little crowing to be done.

There were 14 of us playing, three rounds. Each round gave you either positive points that you won by or negative points you lost by. The final score is a tally of the three rounds. Names are drawn from a hat randomly and each round you get a different opponent. We all agreed not to call muggins. So, no stealing points, if someone miscounts their hand. You didn't have to point out any uncounted points by your partner though, if you didn't want to.

Round one, I'm up against my brother-in-law. It was a good back and forth game, and I was actually generous in pointing out where he miscounted points in his hand (this is not a strong suit of mine, as I am quite competetive), but I wanted him to learn how to play better. The cards were ever in my favor though, I had three very nice hands loaded with fives and face cards. My cribs weren't stingy either. Sorry bud, I've got you by 29.

Next, I get to play my sister. This game worries me, and there is a lot of give and take with the cards. I'm up a few points, she's up a few points. But again, lady luck is with me and I pull out a win with 20 more points. I'm up to a score of 49! Woo hoo!

As we tally everyone's scores and get ready to pull names out of the hat we discover something crazy amazing. I'm tied with the grand poobah of cribbage...my dad! No way. Yes way! Through unanimous decision, the random aspect is tossed slightly out the window, and we are slated to play each other.

The tension builds. The crisp snap of the cards resounds as they are shuffled. We draw cards to see who starts the deal...he draws a lower card and gets the first crib. The game is afoot. I have a cold beer waiting for me, but I forgo any alcohol until this thing is over. Don't want anything to dull my wits. Games are won by a single point, this is serious business here. This is the closest game by far, our little pegs frog leap each other around the tiny track. I'm starting to worry. My heart is racing. Final hand is dealt. It's his crib, if my hand sucks, he's sure to win. It's time for the final play, this is nerve racking as we are both within a few holes from the end. We both peg a few points but he is still five holes from the finish as the play draws to a close and I have a killer hand waiting to be placed on the table. I wear smugness like it's cashmere. I count first. He knows the jig is up. I place down a hand filled with 5's and faces. I jump to my feet and throw my giddy arms around his neck and say not very convincingly, "I'm sorry daddy!" He pulls me in for a big old bear hug and says, "If I had to lose, I'm happy to lose to you." Aw, almost makes me feel bad about being excited, but not enough!!! And, looking into his bright blue eyes, I know he delievered those words with 100% conviction. What an awesome daddy!






Friday, August 31, 2012

Looking Forward To...

This Sunday. Here at my house, the gloves come off. Because really, it'd be awkward to play cribbage with gloves on. Who will come out on top? Who will be the point counting, card manipulating wizard? Who will walk away with the top prize, a beautiful handmade board created by the woodworking mastermind Tom Zehrung. My daddy : )

We've held this tournament twice now, and both times the grandmaster poobah winner has been...drumroll please...my dad. Sigh. He's a winner that one. I suppose he's got a few years of wisdom and card analysis to back him up. But, dang it, I've beaten him before, on more than one occasion. This is it, third time's a charm, right? I've just gotta play my cards right, literally. Maybe I'll spend the next couple days reading up on cribbage strategy, see if I can find a few tricks, give me an ace up my sleeve.

Whether I win, lose or come out somewhere in the muddy middle, the real winner is me. Much of my large family is coming from miles away so we might bicker and banter and well, in all honesty, actually just enjoy each other. When you have 10 siblings, the likelihood of all of them showing up at any one time gets pretty slim. But, I'm excited that we'll have 7 out of my parent's 11 kids here! That's not too bad! Add to that some nieces and nephews. We also will have other friends here that are family, you know what I mean, those folks that may not be blood related, but you'd do anything for them, and they'd do anything for you.

I think there's a little of my momma in me, 'cause the thought of a full house doesn't stress me at all, it excites me. The more the merrier. So, if you hear some extra laughter in the air Sunday or anguished cries (I've likely called Muggins ; ) follow it to its source and join us.

Happy Labor Day Weekend everyone. May your labor only be ones of love.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Momma


Today would be her 77th birthday. But, she's not here to share it with, and I miss her every day.

I was raised by my mom to believe that when you die, you are gone. Dead. Finito. Nothing but bones, or, in her case ash. I was raised to believe you stay that way until the return of christ when you then head up to heaven (as long as you have given your life over to the Lord). There are no spirits, no ghosts. That's what I was raised to believe.

To tell you the truth, I really don't know what I believe in regards to this anymore. I like to believe she's still watching me, hopefully she's still proud of me.

I actually have this thought that some part of her is off flitting about from bird to bird. My momma loved birds. Her whole life. When she was a little girl in school, she was able to mimic bird songs. So well in fact, that she got into trouble once when a little bird sat just outside the window of her one room school house singing away. The teacher accused mom of trying to disturb the class.

Later in life, we had birds as pets. Parakeets, Cockatiels, a silly African Gray parrot. Mom loved painting as well. She painted clock faces, and recipe boxes. Her favorite decorations were hummingbirds and owls and little orioles. She was always singing and had a beautiful soprano lilt. My own momma bird.

So, when she passed from this life to the next, I've found times where I felt the birds were giving me messages, where I felt the connection with her because of them. The morning after I received the call that she was no longer with me, I was vacationing at a Lake in California. I went outside that morning and the glorious birdsong at 5 am caressed me and held me embraced in song. It filled my broken heart with love and I knew she was okay. She was comforting me still.

Later that year, my husband was watching a movie at midnight. It was Hellraiser. My mother would absolutely hate that movie. She hated anything to do with satan and his evil influence. A bird outside our bedroom window went absolutely beserk, screeching and causing a huge ruckus. I told my husband jokingly that my mom didn't like what he was watching and he should change the channel. He turned the movie off and the bird was immediately silent. Crap. I had just been kidding, but maybe there was some truth to it?

When my mom's brother passed away, a couple years after mom, another incident occurred that got me to wondering. I live on a bluff above a river. Behind my house is a state park, lots of birds. Pigeons, owls, blue birds, finches, woodpeckers, turkey vultures, wild turkeys...all manner of fowl. The day after his passing, I was thinking about him and my mom, and wondering if they were together again. I looked up and saw a white dove sitting on my fence. I had never seen doves nor have I ever seen once since. It cocked its head at me and I just knew. It was all good.

Today, another little confirmation to me that my momma is still hanging about, keeping an eye on me. I was sitting outside just thinking about her, thinking about how lucky I was to have had such a wonderful woman as my mom. I heard a tapping sound. I ignored it. I heard it again. I looked up to see a blue bird tapping my wood fence. I didn't rise, I didn't move, I just looked at it. As soon as I had silently acknowledged it, it took off. I totally felt like she's said, yup, thanks for thinking about me kid, I'm all right, see I'm free. I know that sounds kind of silly, but I've never seen any bird do that on my fence before. Not even a woodpecker.

Honestly, I realize these are just odd little coincidences. But, I love to think that she's still about, keeping an eye on us. Following our lives and watching her grandbabies grow. It helps me keep the connection with her, keep her spirit alive. So, I'm going to go get the expensive gourmet bird food that I buy just for her and fill my feeder in her honor. My little birthday gift to my very wonderful momma.

I love you mom.

Monday, August 27, 2012

75 Words - Big Kid

So not long ago, I read a great little book, filled with short little stories (each a mere 75 words), that I thoroughly enjoyed. I have wanted to employ that idea with my own writing to play with the concept, to see what kind of impact can be made with just a few words. Here's my first little attempt.

Sierra, 9, is a fourth grader this year. She made a realization at school, she's on the big kid side of campus. Hence, she is a big kid. The glow of pride that shines on her cheeks is adorable.
"So, you're a big kid now?"
"Yup."
"Your sister left for college, who's going to clear off the table now?"
She looks around, puzzled.
"You are, congratulations! You're a big kid!"
Sometimes life just ain't fair.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I'll leave the door open.

I'll leave the door open
I'll peer into the room
I'll hope to see you smiling
I'll hope to hear the banjo
I'll know you won't be there
It's good to keep a little dream...

I'll be patient till I see you
I'll miss you every day
I'll think about where you are
I'll hope you're keeping safe
I know you're growing up
I'm proud of the woman you've become

I'll be so excited for Thanksgiving
I'll smoke a big fat turkey
I'll make the Jack Daniels yams
I'll whip up a pumpkin cheesecake
You'll put up with all my hugs and kisses
Secretly, you'll be happy to get them : )

Well, the first child is off and away. 600 miles away. She signed her name into the big book, shook hands with the university president, and rang the bell. I am so proud of her and excited for her. And while the house feels a little bland without her, I know she's going to do herself proud up there at school.

Right now, it seems like it will be forever until Thanksgiving comes. It is likely the first chance I will have to see her again. But in reality, I know how quickly time flies. Especially when a person's busy. I don't like to sit around doing nothing, that's what makes time drag.

For now, I'll keep myself busy with being a mom to the two who are still here home with me (thank goodness I have a couple here I still get to mother all over : ), and I'm writing a sequel to Return of the Crown (that's going to require some serious contemplation), I'm still learning to manage the marketing aspects of writing (will I ever get it all figured out), I have a husband I adore that enjoys my attention(not that he ever gets all the time he deserves), and there's a world out there to explore and enjoy. Yup, Thanksgiving'll be here before you know it.

But, I'm still gonna peek in that room everyday, and wish...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Time keeps on ticking...

Time is ticking away, and I'm helpless to prevent it. I look in the mirror, and I do not see a woman who has two adult children. I have three babies. Don't I? Who am I kidding, even my baby isn't a baby. Yesterday she proved that by taking on all the high speed thrilling roller coasters at Six Flags Marine World.

Two of my babies are fully grown. One is working and going to school here in town. So while she roosts in the coop, she's spending more and more time out in the world on her own. This is a good thing, a necessary thing.

The other adult child is heading off to college in less than a week. She is flying the coop. I am so proud of her, and yet, I wish I could tuck her under my wing for just a little longer...

I look at my wee chick, who is growing so fast, and I shudder. Nine years ago, my coop flier was her age and she was just a newborn babe. Look where we are now. The time is sliding past me, whisking my children along with it...taking them from me.

There is a war going on inside me. It is about getting past the feelings of loss and reveling in the pride. And of that, I have plenty, for my husband and I have raised some pretty amazing kids. Smart, talented, beautiful, kind, respectful, etc. etc.

The next couple weeks are going to be rough, some adjustments aren't meant to be easy. There will be tears shed, and I really hate crying, it's so salty and drippy and annoying. I know I still have time to mother all over my little one, she still needs me. And, I know my older two still need me too, just not in the same way.

Nicki, Sami and Sierra, I love you with all my heart.



Friday, August 3, 2012

Where do we go from here...

A couple songs just popped into my head this morning as I contemplated where I wanted my blog to take me. Cue the music...

"Where do we go from here? Now that the children are growing up. And how do we spend our lives, if there's no one to lend us a hand? I don't wanna live here no more, I don't wanna stay. Ain't gonna spend the rest of my life, Quietly fading away..."

In my life, my children are growing up(2/3 are over 18), but unlike Alan Parson's Project, I do have helping hands. My family, my friends that I've known throughout my life, and all my new friends that I haved met because of this blogfest, through twitter, and through goodreads. The song doesn't really echo my sentiments as I'm pretty happy where I am right now and excited to be in this little corner of the blogging world. And as for quietly fading away, anyone who knows me realizes it is out of the realm of possiblity for me to do anything quietly. Okay, so weird song choice for describing my hopes for this blog, maybe the next song that popped into my head will be better.

"Where do we go? Where do we go now? (Sweet child) Ooh, where do we go now? --Ai-ee-ai-ee-ai-ee-ai-ee (you get the picture) Sweet child of miiiinnnnneee!"

Guns and Roses knows my writing is sweet to me, first my book and now this blog. Return of the Crown is my baby. Its travels have just begun, but already it's spreading it's wings further than I personally have tread. This week I shipped a copy off to a contest winner in Australia and one in Great Britain. As for this blog, I know that people from all over the world have stopped by and shared some time with me here in this very spot. I know as time slips past as it is sure to do, I will grow in ways I have yet to imagine. The people whose lives cross paths with mine will touch me and leave lasting impressions. I will grow as a writer, as a friend, as a person.

So, Where do we go...I guess wherever the road takes us. I will race along the fast lanes of the information superhighway that helps me glean information. I will throw the top down and follow the curvy mountain roads that take me from blog to blog where I will delight in other's success and share in their hopes and fears. At times, I'll find myself on bumpy roads but I won't let that dishearten me, I'll just get better shocks. If a roadblock pops up, barring my way, I'll put my foot to the gas and crash on through it (I've always wanted to do that, but I'd hate to ding up my car). I guess in short (I know, this was nothing close to short), I'll just keep going. I'm not sure what my destination is, but I know I'm going to have fun getting there.

So to leave off in Piratey fashion as this is the last post in the Buccaneer Blogfest and to go along with the song theme...Pass me that there jug o' rum.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We pillage and plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We extort and pilfer, we filch and sack.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle and even highjack.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We kindle and char and inflame and ignite.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.
We burn up the city, we're really a fright.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.

We're rascals and scoundrels, we're villians and knaves.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.
We're devils and black sheep, we're really bad eggs.
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.

We're beggars and blighters and ne'er do-well cads,
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.
Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads,
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Free is Good!

I just finished up a giveaway with Goodreads, I'm mailing out the copies of my book today. In fact, I will see my book travel to Great Britain and Australia! How exciting, Ravyn will be winging her way across the Atlantic and the Pacific! For the Blogfest, I've created a Rafflecopter giveaway as well! It'll run through the 5th, so make sure to get your entry in!




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 30, 2012

Eating an elephant

My introduction to social media was a bit overwhelming at first. I had not taken in to account what all it entailed, and the first week or so was overwhelming. I never thought I'd ever have a twitter account, but here I am @BurnsMillie tweeting about my book, sharing news about my blog, sharing news about other writer's books and blogs, and trying to add friends (not just followers). Making those connections has been a fun experience and I'm slowly getting the hang of it all.

Blogging is another thing I never thought I'd do. Not that it was an abhorrent thought to me, I actually just didn't think about it. I have found it to be an enjoyable experience, and love meeting other people from around the world who are putting themselves out there, sharing their experiences and knowledge. This blogfest is a great example of meeting quality people who share similar goals, I'm so glad I came across it!

Goodreads has been a great investment in my time as well. I've found fellow author friends who are willing to help with amazon marketing efforts, and I've used the giveaway to help promote my book. Currently I have a giveaway that will end tomorrow. If you'd like to enter to win a free copy of Return of the Crown here's the link... http://ow.ly/cBhtT

Return of the Crown has it's own website. It's www.returnofthecrown.com It is in it's baby stages right now, but offers links to all the places you can find me. The plan is for it to grow into a fun place with games and book trailers and a myriad of things for fans of Ravyn, Blade and the rest of the gang.

Being an author, a wife, a mom of three, a Physical Therapist Assistant, the bookkeeper for my husbands business -- these things keep me just a little busy. My first child is leaving for college in a couple weeks -- I feel the sands of time slipping through my fingers and I'm frantic for just a few more grains to spend with her. I'm learning to weave my social media time in to my daily schedule. And making sure I step away and spend time with my family, my writing, and my other responsibilities.

What I found with all of this, is that I have to eat my elephant a little a day. Elephants are a bit chewy and too much elephant at once is hard to digest. So, I nibble a bit here and there to shrink that oversized meal into many smaller ones I can tolerate.

Friday, July 27, 2012

75 Word Stories, Say What?

When I pressed the send button on my book to share it with the world, I didn't fully realize all that I'd be doing. Who knew I'd have a twitter account, who knew I'd be blogging (And arr matey, hopping from one piratey blog to the next). Color me suprised. But, I can't really complain as it's actually been an enjoyable ride. I'm getting to know so many people, and I'm learning so much about writing, sharing, and marketing.

As I was perusing author's that I might want to follow on Twitter, I came across @lenaland or Helena Mallett. I thought her book 75x75=Flash Fraction was brilliant. It is basically this, 75 short stories that are exactly 75 words. No way, not possible. Now, while I'll admit that they are not stories per se...they are snapshots that get you thinking, laughing, or caring what happens next. In a mere 75 words.

I enjoyed the book very much and felt like I got plenty of bang for my bucks ($2.99 to be exact). I decided the next time I'm having difficulty coming up with what to write, I'm going to employ this idea for writing exercises and see where my words take me. Great idea for finding the most impactful use of words in a minimalist style.

Not all the stories had the same impact on me, but they were all well written. The first two in the book might still be my absolute favorite. One made me say "Awwwww." The other made me giggle. Helena tackled a wide ranging variety of topics. There's just about something for everyone.

I'm so glad that I have joined in this wonderful community of aspiring authors. I am learning and growing, meeting and sharing, and it's all been such a pleasure.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Delicious Authors

Wow, sifting through 40 years of delectable reads...trying to pick my top all time favorites. There are so many different flavors of writing that satisfy different cravings. This is a doozy of a brain strain for me. But let me start at the beginning.

Dr. Suess! This is the man that inspired countless hours of giggles, for me as a little girl, and for me as a mother of three girls. My favorite book of his...One fish, two fish, black fish, blue fish...or maybe How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Delightful worlds where anything can and does happen. Imagination run wild, as it should be! It's like a crazy crock pot stew...you never knew what you'd be pulling out of it.

Roald Dahl! I remember pulling James and the Giant Peach off the bookshelf at the little library in Santa Cruz, and I new I had a treasure in my hands. I went home, climbed into my makeshift fort, and didn't emerge for days, okay, so I exaggerate...but I devoured the book, and felt so connected to James left at the mercy of his cruel aunts, poor little boy.

James Herriot! I read every one of these quaint novels about the life and work of an English countryside veterinarian. The descriptions of the countryside and the characters he wrote about (animal and human) drew me in. It satisfies the sweet tooth.

Piers Anthony! I wanted to go to Xanth so bad it's not punny, I mean funny. Loved these books, gorged on them, so to speak. So silly and lighthearted. Fun reads for young adults and adults that want to stay young : ) Warning, might give you gas!

John Steinbeck! I know most kids read of Mice and Men in high school english classes. I never did. I recently read it when it was assigned to my daughter to read. Loved the story and enjoyed the writing style. One of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons had new meaning to me...you know the one where the overgrown dog (I think) wants to grab him and squeeze him, and call him George. Those cartoonists were cleverer than I knew! : ) It's meat and potatoes.

J.R. Tolkien! Love, love, love! Amazing world of Hobbits and trolls, of men and dwarves. And the one true ring. Fantastic! Oh, to travel the world on a pony alongside the likes of Aragorn and Gandalf, to spend time (cause you'll need it) talking with the Ents. Like a pint of the finest Ale, this goes down so smooth.

Okay, so one last one. J. K. Rowling! This woman amazed me. We all know her story. Incredible. She is the one that got me thinking, you know, I can do this. She did it with far fewer resources than I have. We have been savoring Harry, Ron, Hermione, and my personal favorites Fred and George, for so many years in our house. I enjoy delving into the pages with my youngest Sierra. When the time is right, many years from now, I'll gladly introduce my Hagrid and McGonagall voices to my grandchildren. Harry Potter books are like those crazy candies from Hogsmeade, magical.

I could probably go on and on. I have read so many books over the years, and I have so many more waiting in my cupboard. Unlike Mother Hubbard, my reading cupboard is never bare. My plate is full to overflowing with tasty literary morsels.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I've been reading...

I have many books started that I'm part-way through, but have no idea when I'll get back to them. I believe the KJV of the bible is on my shelf (I think I got as far as the story of Noah) and I have the Dummie's guide to Social Media Marketing started. I have been attempting to read all the free classics that I either never read, or don't really remember. Recently finished Dorian Gray and Pride and Predjudice. Currently, most of my time is spent reading with my nine-year old.

Sierra, the aforementioned nine year old, has an absolute nutso fascination with sharks. This morning, I read Discovery Channel's 10 Deadliest Sharks, by Joe Brusha on Net Galley. I thought it was really neat as it was done in a comic book format. It had some random facts sprinkled in with stories of shark attacks of the various species. Sierra thought the pictures were cool, but that it lacked enough factual information. When I asked if she'd like a copy of it, she was sort of "meh" about it. Guess I'll save my pennies.

We just finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and have since delved into The Chamber of Secrets. I absolutely love sitting down on the couch with my feet up, her long legs stretched out next to mine, and the book grasped betwixt our hands. We share read. I read a page and she reads a page. I absolutely love that my little miss is reading Potter with full on british accents. She's absolutely brilliant!

We also started a fun little story by a fellow indie author that I thought was rather clever. It's called Zombie Dog and it's by Charmaine Clancy. We got part-way in, and haven't touched it for weeks now. Overall, I think the story is fun and clever. The dialogue is realistic. Sierra seems to enjoy it too. The letdown is that there are quite a few grammatical errors that weren't caught in the editing, and they are distracting to me. I am so sad about that too, because it has such excellent potential. Sigh. We'll likely finish it, because I think I actually plunked down a few dollars for it, and it is a cute story.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Aha? Where is that flippin' light bulb...

Sadly, to be honest, reaching far enough back for this lightbulb moment might take some meditating. Return of the Crown sat sad and lonely in a notebook first, then it became bits and bytes that lurked around a hard drive. It's been a long time coming, but so worth the wait.

I've always had a lot of energy, and with that came an extra large, will not fit the confines of one's head, amount of creativity. So naturally, I've been making up stories for as long as I can remember. When my older girls (who are now 18 and 20) were little, I got the desire to write children's books. And I wrote whenever I had some spare time. I wrote poems mostly, and funny stories, nothing with a serious tone. I devoured books on writing and practiced all the exercises. I sent some silly poems in to a contest for inclusion in a kid's poetry book, and got a very nice form rejection letter. Sigh. I think I still have that somewhere.

And, when I was finally a stay at home mom, and the kids were in school all day, I started writing Return of the Crown. I remember writing the original draft, pencil scraping across paper, fingers cramping, the plot and my characters gladly rushing to see the Light of day. I don't know where the inspiration came from, but the words rushed and tumbled to beat each other to the end of my pencil. And then, gasp, I put it away. I finished it, and just left it. Poor thing. I don't know that I really knew what to do with it. I do know, I didn't have enough faith in me. Over the years, I've pulled it out and edited, then put it away again. Countless times. Always it grew and gained strength, but I still had no clue how to proceed.

So that's my manuscript's sad story. A creation of inspiration and love, then betrayal by the one who loved it most. Reunion and renewal, more inspiration and growth. Lost again, left to moulder. Honestly, I don't know what my book sees in me, I'm a horrible parent.

As things started to change in the marketplace, I began to dream again. To see what the possibilities are, and my real Light bulb moment came. I brought my book to the Light and shared it with the world! It may never sell countless volumes, but that's okay. I had the courage to share it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Meet Ravyn...





Princess Ravyn, I know you're pretty busy, but could you spare a few moments? I have some friends who'd like to get to know you a little better.

Oh, Millie, it's you. I haven't seen you in awhile. But, I've been so busy rebuilding the city after my Aunt Zelera destroyed it, I hadn't noticed you weren't hanging around anymore. By the way, did you hear the news?

Which news?

Blade asked me to marry him! I'm so excited. I've never been happier. To think, just a few months ago I was living on that tiny little island out in the middle of nowhere. No cities, no magic, no books, just sand and surf.

That doesn't sound so bad, I know a lot of people that pay good money to vacation in places just like that.

Well, it was scary when I first landed there. Imagine if you'd been ripped away from everyone and everything you had known by magic. You are flung across the sea in a little ball of Light and deposited on an island. You walk all around the island and you don't see a soul. You are alone. And to top it off, you're just seven years old.

Yes, you were little, and yes, that would be very scary. But I think you are exaggerating a little. You weren't alone. What about Rowan?

Well, he didn't show himself to me for several days. Obviously, after he introduced himself to me, life got much better. In fact, the island became my home. I didn't want to leave. I was safe there, Aunt Zelera didn't know where I was, and Rowan, he's the best substitute father a girl could ask for.

Yeah, turning sixteen sort of shook your world up, didn't it.

Most definitely. It's funny. I grew up watching my mom when she was manipulating the Light, and I suppose that I knew I'd be gifted with the ability to work with it as well, but being isolated for so long, I'd forgotten all about it. It was pretty crazy when little magical things started to happen all around me. Lucky for me Rowan, who's an elf, has been around for awhile and knew all about the Light.

Ravyn, my friend's don't know what the Light is.

Oh, sorry. In Aigerach, that's my country, the Light surrounds every living thing. If you have the gift, you can "see" it. Each of us has different colors of Light associated with us...I think in your world you might call it an...aura? The Light can be manipulated to do wondrous things. Can you see the Light Millie?

No, I'm afraid I don't have that ability. I wish I did.

Oh, your Light strands are turqoise and a buttery yellow...so pretty. Mmm...and the scent associated with them is like salty sea air.

It smells?

Yes, usually the smell is pleasant. But the scent of the Darkness...it makes me retch just thinking about Aunt Zelera's magic...can we talk about something else. I'd really rather not think about her.

Sure. I understand. She is one nasty witch.

Millie, I don't want to talk about her.

I know, but why do you think she turned out like she did? Your mom is like a ray of sunshine and Zelera's so...vile.

I don't know. Jealousy, plain and simple. Or lack of self-worth? I guess she never felt loved. Now really, if you don't change the subject I'm going to leave.

Okay, I understand. I wouldn't want to talk about it either, if my aunt tried to kill me. Over and Over. She sure is relentless.

I'm getting up now.

Sorry Ravyn, I just think people might want to get an idea of what you were up against.

I see. Well, she's gone now. So let's not dwell on her.

Are you sure she's gone? For good?

That's what I was told. I have no reason to believe otherwise. Have you heard something?

Me? I don't know anything. So, anyway, I heard you met some really neat creatures along your journey. I personally love Ena, but I'm partial to dragons. My daughter Sierra liked the shark, but she loves all sharks. Shark week is big around our house, all year long. Do you have a favorite?

That's not fair, asking me to make that choice. Doing that could cause civil unrest. The harpies and unicorn are getting along very well right now thank you. And the wolves, well they just want to be left alone, as usual. And you know I've always wanted to go to Draconis Island and study the dragons. No, I just won't say.

So, you have a favorite...

Please, drop it.

Okay, so this shouldn't cause any civil war. You travelled all over Aigerach; through meadows, over mountains, staying in its quaint villages, etc. Where is your favorite place to be?

Anywhere Blade is.

That's a cheap answer.

No, it's not. I could be locked back in that dark dank cave again, but if Blade was there it would be heaven.

I know you, you have a lust for adventure. You're going to want to get out of the castle soon. Where will you head first?

I would love to go back to Draconis Island with Blade, it's a lifelong dream of ours. Ena is an amazing dragon, and I'd love to see how her babies have grown. Maybe when things quiet down around here, we can sneak away.

I imagine meeting Ena was pretty intense. Come to think of it, after you left Rowan on the island, you went from one harrowing experience to another. I know I got a few new gray hairs just chronicling your adventure. What was your greatest fear?

There were a lot of times I was a heartbeat away from death's door. That's to be sure. And I was scared witless on more than one occasion. But, I think the worst was my fear of failure. I didn't know if I was strong enough, or brave enough, or smart enough to save my parents, to save Aigerach. The world rested on my shoulders and any slip or stumble would send it all crashing down.

Well, I think you did a pretty good job.

I made plenty of mistakes along the way. But, one can't sit about crying over their mistakes. Besides, Princesses do not cry.

Umm, yeah, you do. You did on more than one occasion.

You know, you can be a royal pain.

(Smirk) A royal pain?

All right, I'm leaving now. It was really nice to meet you all. I believe Millie took the time to document my story, it's got all the nitty gritty details. I believe she said you could find out more about it at www.returnofthecrown.com






Monday, July 16, 2012

First paragraph of Return of the Crown

Connor shuffled to the Royal Coach, leaning a wrinkled hand on its glossy side, steadying himself. The King and Queen stood side-by-side waiting for his final report. Connor sensed the pervasive evil that clung to the air, throwing the safety of the royal family's trip in peril. How could he convince them to stay? King Bryant overflowed with bulldog determination, and he’d set his sights on making this trip. Blowing out a heavy frustrated breath, Connor looked up into his King’s eyes.

That's What She Said...It's True!

Ahoy there, me and me mate "T" were a bit late to the ship (tossing back a bit too much ale in Kingston), had to row a lot of leagues to catch up with ye. Let me introduce the little buccaneer to ye. Okay, okay, I'll suspend the pirate talk...for now:


1) You moved recently from Florida to Texas. What do you miss most about Florida? What do you like most about Texas


The thing I miss most are my friends and family. Not being able to visit the grandmas on any given weekend has been an adjustment and I can honestly say that I had cultivated the most perfect group of friends imaginable over the past seven years. Giving all of that up has been tough.
What I like most about Texas would be just about everything else. For the most part, Florida is a muggy swamp, infested with alligators and old people. The housing market is awful and the job market even worse. And don't get me started on the schools. I moved not only for a new job that paid nearly double with only half the responsibility, but to open the doors of opportunity for my son. Texas has welcomed me with nice people, good music, culture and great food. I'm pretty sure I've put on 20 pounds in the last few months, but luckily there are endless supplies of nature trails nearby. I also like the change of scenery and change of seasons. Sorry, was I supposed to pick only one thing? Ok, fine: the steak.


2) You have a young son. Describe your favorite memory of a time with your son.


I have so many, he's my everything. Every time I think I've just shared my favorite memory with him, he does something amazing that tops the previous thing. So...I guess I can share my most recent favorite memory from two weekends ago when we took a ride on the vintage railroad. Halfway to Ft. Worth, the train stopped as cowboys on horseback circled the train cars. The bandits boarded with pistols pointed and began to "rob" the passengers when the sheriff barged in and chased them off. Then a shoot-out with real guns (this is Texas, after all) and blanks started up outside as the bandits mounted up. As we watched all the the staged (and completely hokey) entertainment, you'd think my three year old son would have been so excited to see "real" cowboys... However, he was practically crawling out of the open window screaming, "Don't shoot the horses!" He's such an animal lover. It took the rest of the train ride to convince him that it was all pretend.


3) You mention on your blog, you've always loved to write. What's the first piece of writing you've done, that made you say, "Yeah, that's a nice piece of work."


I wrote a poem in 8th grade that I was pretty proud of. It was about my dog constantly barking at a garden snake that lived in our backyard. It rhymed and everything.


4) What is your favorite genre to read? Favorite genre to write?


It's a tie between horror and sci-fi. Luckily, my favorite author, Stephen King, writes both. I've tried to write both horror and sci-fi myself, but haven't gotten very far yet. Right now, it seems that autobiographical is my favorite to write.


5) Where do you see your writing taking you in the next five years?


I'd be pretty thrilled to have my memoir published, even self published through Amazon or something. And if that went well, maybe a collection of fiction short stories, too. I have a decent job, so I don't have any aspirations to become a full time author. I just want to share my stories and see what happens.


6) What is your favorite type of music? Do you listen to music when you write?


It's hard to put the music I listen to into a single type, but if I had to, I'd say indie rock. Before becoming a mom, I went to multiple live shows a week. I still listen to music as much as I can, even at a low volume in my office at work. But not when I'm writing. I focus the best in total silence.


7) What kinds of things do you like to do with your free time? (I know, working mom's don't get too much of that, but let's just say you have a few free hours, besides writing, what are you doing?)


Like most families in this country, we probably spend too much time shopping at Target. And like most couples, we probably spend too much time watching tv shows like True Blood, Hame of Thrones, Breaking Bad and Mad Men. However, in those rare moments I get completely to myself, I like to wander off somewhere I've never been and take photographs. Next to music and writing, photography has always been a passion.


8) Do you ever suffer with writer's block, if so, how do you fight it?


Yes, I have it right now! And apparently I'm fighting it by joining blog hops. :-)


9) Do you outline your stories, or wing it?


My memoir is based on my life, so I wing it. However, I got really stuck on my sci-fi short story WIP. I used a screenwriting outline called Blake Snyder's Beat Sheet, which has helped ensure that my story has a solid backbone. Now I just have to fill in the gaps.


10) Absolute, hands-down favorite movie of all time, and why?


I have about five that are all equally my favorites, but if I had to pick only one, I'd go with The Shawshank Redemption. It was the first movie to move me to the point of happiness, tears and anger to the point where I evaluated life as I knew it. It was a pretty big deal for a teenager who grew up on Friday the 13th movies and watching Legend twenty billion times. Plus, its a beautiful adaptation of my favorite author's work, which often isn't translated from page to screen very well.


11) How can we follow you (Links)?


I haven't updated my Goodreads account since I created it and I don't tweet, so you all are just stuck with my blogging for now, but there are two of them:


t-says.blogspot.com
tanyaforno.blogspot.com


Thank ye kindly for taking the time to get to know "T".

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Argh, Matey Blog or Walk the Plank!

I joined this blogfest in an effort to learn more about this craft of blogging. I just recently published my first book, Return of the Crown. Right now, I feel like an itty bitty snowball at the top of the hill. Sales are slow, but gathering speed. I am learning to create a platform, and every little bit I roll down the hill, more snow sticks to me and I gain a little more know-how. I'm also getting to know some really interesting and talented people that are kindly helping me gather speed. My goal is to reach the bottom of the hill, fat with knowledge and friends...a base to build on, because everybody loves a snowman(with a cutlass, an eyepatch, and a parrot on his shoulder).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Helping Hand

This morning, I drove my hubby to the train for his daily work commute.  Just like I do every other day.  As I was driving up a long hill, headed back home, I saw a car coming downhill on the other side of the road swerve all out of control and drop down over an embankment.  My first thought, was someone had a heart attack or something.  My second worry, was that it rolled.

As I came up the hill a little further, I saw another car crumpled in the road.  Several witnesses had already pulled over and were rushing to the car on the road, but I didn't see anyone checking over the embankment.  I crossed the road, found a place to park, and carefully descended the hill to the blue SUV.  The car hadn't rolled.  Thank God.  I ran to the driver's side, avoiding the barbed wire that the car had tangled itself in.  The tires were popped, engine shut off.  The driver's window was partly down. 

I heard yelling drift down from the street.  "She just turned right in front of me.  I couldn't stop.  I don't know what she was thinking."  A young mom clearly still in shock, held her young son on her hip. 

I called up to the people gathered roadside, "Has someone called 911 yet?"  I was given an affirmative nod, as a cell phone was raised in the air.

I looked into the SUV, only a driver, no passengers.
"Are you okay," I asked.
A young woman was leaning back in the driver's seat with her hand to her head.  Her legs were shuddering, and her free hand was trembling.  "My head hurts," she mumbled.
I looked her over.  No blood to speak of, no obvious signs of broken bones.  The seatbelt wasn't latched across her chest.  "Were you wearing your seatbelt?"
"No, it's broken."
"Well, let's keep still until the paramedics get here."
She moaned a little, shivering and quaking. 
"So, what's your name?"
"Amber."
"Okay Amber, does anything besides your head hurt?"
"My arms hurt, but my head really hurts."  Her left hand was pressed against her face, and had been since I'd arrived.
The car faced directly into the sun so I put my hands in front of her to shade her eyes, "Amber, can you lower your arm, will you let me see your face?"
She lowered her hand slowly, a large goose egg was already beginning to grow over her left eye.  A tiny abrasion on the surface, but nothing else that seemed obviously serious.
"My head hurts so bad," she moaned again.  Her eyes darted around, then she cried, "I'm going to be in so much trouble."
"Shh, let's not worry about that.  Just sit still.  It's okay, you're okay."
"But, I don't have a license."  She moaned and closed her eyes.
"Amber, sometimes we make bad choices, and then we have to deal with the consequences.  But, that's not what we're going to worry about right now.  Right now, I'm going to just hang out with you until help gets here.  You are going to be fine."
"I need my phone, I need to call my friend."
I looked over her into the vehicle, "I don't see a phone.  What's it look like."
"It's small, it's white..." 
The first policeman arrived at my side at about that moment.  I explained that she had not been wearing her seatbelt, and I'd encouraged her to stay put till the firemen could get to her.  I also told him she was really wanting her phone, and would it be all right for me to look for it for her.  After telling me to be careful, he said if I wanted to look for it, it would be okay.
I went to the passenger side, and opened the door.  I found her phone wedged alongside her seat.  I gave it to her, and then told her she was now in good hands.

When something like this happens, it's funny how our judgement system is put on hold.  If I'd just heard about this accident, I'd probably have been thinking she was probably just some loser, unconcerned with others and with no sense of right and wrong.  It could even be the truth.  Obviously she is guilty of poor judgement:  driving without a license, most likely also without insurance, no seatbelt!  But, the mom in me today, just saw a scared little girl (I'm guessing she was in her late teens to early twenties), with no one there to support her.  I hope that I was able to provide her with some comfort and support today, and the mom in me also hopes that this did in fact teach her a valuable lesson.  Mistakes are a very valuable tool, as long as we learn from them. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again...

I have been a Physical Therapist Assistant for over 22 years...but I haven't worked as a Physical Therapist Assistant that whole time.   I have continued reading and studying topics that related to my field over the years, and kept my license current, thinking maybe someday I'd want to go back.  But as the time not working grew, I started to wonder if it'd be possible.  Would any clinic want me anymore?  I felt like my treatment skills were still there, waiting to be tapped, but who'd take a chance on me?

A few years back, well more like 13 years to be precise, I was frustrated by the changes that had been made to the billing of Medicare for the services of Physical Therapy.  I worked for a company that provided rehab in Skilled Nursing Facilities.  I was asked to treat my patients in groups, people that really needed one on one attention were shuttled down to rehab for a group therapy class.  It felt slimy and unethical to me.  I also ended up driving myself to two and three different facilities in a day to get in eight hours of work.  The magic of healing and caring sputtered out for me.  Lucky for me, we didn't need my income anymore, and I was able to do my husband's bookkeeping from home and be a full-time mom (which is about 20 jobs bundled into one).

2 out of my 3 children are now adults, as of a few days ago.  I only have my "little bit" to mother, and she's growing up too fast.  I know it'll be a blink of an eye before she's tossing her graduation cap in the air as well, and taking off for college, and leaving me home.  Alone.  So, my husband and I discussed me dipping my toes back into work as a Physical Therapist Assistant.  I signed up for a registry, not really thinking anyone would actually want me, I have been out of the field for some time. 

Lo and behold, I was wanted.  And, so, I grudgingly filled out all the paperwork, got a PPD skin test, took a drug test (my first ever, how exciting), and sent it all in.  I received a name tag, haven't had one of those in a long time, some timesheets, and the knowledge someone would call me soon.  A little tension developed in the pit of my stomach, but I'd just released Return of the Crown, and had a lot of other things to keep me distracted.  I didn't hear anything for awhile, and secretly was glad.  I know how to treat patients, that wasn't my concern, it was whether or not I'd find joy in the job and I had doubts about my ability to do the job too.  I can admit that, if I'm really being honest with myself.  I always like to give my best, be the best, and I'd want to be worth the money someone was spending for my services.  I absolutely didn't want to fail, to be a letdown to myself, my family, the company that dared to hire me...

Tuesday afternoon, I received a call to arms.  Was I available to work the next day.  Augh, yes, no, yes.  What I really said was as long as the facility knew I had been out for a long time and they were okay with it, I'd do it.  Committed.  Damn, they knew and were happy to have me. 

Wednesday I dropped my husband off at the train, came home to gather all my supplies (timesheet, nametag, gait belt, courage) and then headed across town to a Subacute facility that needed an extra hand for the day.  I felt sick to my stomach.  I left an almost entirely full cup of coffee in my car, that is VERY unlike me.  I am generally a very easy going person and it takes a lot to ruffle my feathers.  I honestly felt panicked, something I am unaccustomed to, and it was making me physically ill.  I was worried about what lay behind the glass doors of the facility, and whether or not I'd be productive enough, whether I'd find my way about, whether I'd be able to document patient levels correctly, whether or not I still had "it".

Fortunate for me, the therapists I worked with yesterday were all fantastic!  Such a supporting and friendly staff was my joy to encounter.  I was still nervous, I honestly thought I might throw up at one point.  But, I kept shoving the nerves back and paid attention to the new way of charting, all done on the PC.  I have mentioned it's been awhile since I've been in a clinic, right?  I sort of miss flipping through the chart at the nurses station, but, I think over time, I'll get to like the online charts just as well. 

As I was looking through the online charts, and trying to figure out my schedule, my nerves kept squirming around in my guts.  Finally I made a smart move.  I decided to just go get a patient, and let the charting fall into place later.  The Occupational Therapy Assistant asked if I would co-treat a patient with her.  Not sure if it was in sympathy for me, or if she really needed my help, but it was a great way to start my working day.  Back in the saddle again. 

I am happy to report, that I did indeed enjoy my day.  It was filled with a rehab therapists norms for any given day:  someone thought they were going to faint while walking (she was a large lady, and I absolutely did not want her to fall on my watch), a couple people didn't really want to do therapy (let's face it, going to PT is not on your list of fav's when you're sick and out of commission) but I was able to cajole them into it, patients genuinely appreciated the time and energy I poured in to them, someone else was sick  with a nasty fever, so I did let them off for the day.  Being able to work with the patients one on one, was fantastic!  Transfers, Gait, Exercises, Bed Mobility, Stretching...it's all good.

As I left the facility, I came away feeling optimistic about my first day back in the field.  There are things I wish had gone smoother, but I know the next time I go, I won't have to fight my fears as well.  I fought that battle and won!  Everything is coming back, skills are snapping back in place.  I got this.  I came home, played with my daughers, went to dinner, came home and fell sound asleep, exhaustion claiming me.  The beauty of registry is this, if I don't want to work, I can say no.  But, having had a nice first day out (after I finally calmed my nerves) I know I will say yes again.

Monday, July 9, 2012

When Sharks Attack!

Okay, so HOLY CRAP!  This picture caught my eye, and the story that went along with it as well.  I am always on the lookout for shark stories and pictures as my eight-year old daughter is a shark fanatic.  I don't know if this guy stained his shorts, but I don't think I'd want to borrow his kayak without it getting a good hosedown. 

Can you just imagine, here you are just soaking up the hot summer sun, toodling along the Cape Cod shore only to see everyone on shore waving at  you!  You think, wow, I'm a sexy beast.  No, dude not really.  You're a tasty morsel--and you're being stalked.

His arms have probably never pumped away at anything so fast after getting a good look at his new pelagic friend.  During an on camera interview he admitted to running out of the water like a little...child.  The way he paused when he said this, made me think he was going to say girl, which would've irked me.  Although I guess it could've been a compliment, as I know I would've run like lightning! 

At least this guy wasn't tossed out of his kayak, possibly the East Coast sharks are a little more polite than those out here on the West Coast.  On the same day, 07/07/2012, in my hometown of Santa Cruz, CA (more specifically out toward Capitola) a fisherman is actually tossed out of his kayak by a Great White!  The big guy burst out of the water to eye his would-be meal as it bit into the nose of his kayak.    Lucky for him, other boaters nearby were able to pull him out of the briny deep before the shark had a chance to even get a nibble in.

These real-life tales reminded me of a scene from my newly released fantasy novel, Return of the Crown...http://ow.ly/c69Nv  

Without warning, a gaping maw erupted from the water as sharp teeth snapped an oar in two.  Ravyn shrieked falling back, the oars ripped from her grasp.  The raft lurched as the shark rammed it, rocking it wildly from side to side.  Its heavy tail slapped hard against the logs.  It disappeared beneath the sea, and Ravyn staggered to her feet, scanning about for signs of the creature.   A menacing fin sliced through the water, gathering speed as it neared the raft.  Ravyn lurched to the mast, clutching it for dear life.

The creature slammed into the raft, sending the whole vessel teetering on its side.  Ravyn’s feet slipped out from beneath her, and she felt herself dangling like bait on a hook.Supplies flew in all directions, and Ravyn’s pack sailed through the air. Clinging to the mast with one hand, she snapped her other hand out snagging the strap of the pack.  The raft hung crazily on its side for an instant before crashing back onto the water.

So anyway, if you're out and about at the coast, either one it seems, just look about for seals.  If you see any of those plump lil cuties nearby, you should probably keep your feet in the sand.  Sharks aren't really looking to eat humans, at least that's what the experts say.  Of course, I'm not sure how many sharks have been interviewed on this subject...the interviewers never return from their appointments.







Saturday, July 7, 2012


Pubic Symphysis Disorder (PSD) Sucks!





Pubic Symphysis Disorder, what the heck is it?  Pubic Symphysis Disorder occurs to some pregnant women when the hormone Relaxin in their systems does its job too well.  Normally this hormone is a hero as it is responsible for softening the ligaments of your pelvis which allows for the birth of your bundle of joy.  Sometimes however, this process of loosening is kicked into overdrive and the pubic bones start to shear against each other.  As you can imagine, this is not a good thing.  It causes pain so intense, it's like thousands of knives stabbing into your groin, over and over.  One wrong move brings tears to your eyes and steals away your breath.  Anyone who has ever experienced this is cringing at the memory.  If you are reading this, because you are going through this right now, I know how you feel.  I've been there.  Keep reading about how I dealt with this condition and maybe you'll find some hope.

I suffered with this pain two out of my three pregnancies.  During my first pregnancy I had been swimming laps (approximately three times a week) before I got pregnant and continued to do so.  For the most part, I did not have any difficulty with my pubic joints, unless I had been squatting down doing gardening or had walked a lot of stairs.  Then, the pulling on my pubic joint would cause such pain I could hardly walk for hours.  When I asked my doctor about it, he said stop doing what was aggravating it.  Well, duh!  He also said it was just something I'd have to live with.  Sigh, nice.  I stopped pulling weeds, took the elevator when possible and kept swimming.  Luckily for me, this kept it well managed and under control.  At the time, I didn't realize the pain I'd felt had a special name or diagnosis.  I believe the swimming I was engaged in, kept my core strong and kept the pubic bones from shearing as long as I didn't put them under undue stress.

With my third pregnancy, I was not swimming anymore.  About 14 weeks into my pregnancy I could not walk more than a couple hundred feet before I was in agonizing pain.  I went to my doctor and was told there was nothing to do for it except to wear a big elastic band around my hips.  He followed that gem of advice with, "don't worry, after you have your baby, everything'll go back to normal."  At week 14 of a 40 week haul and I could barely walk from my car to the damn doctor's office, this was not something I wanted to hear.  I dutifully went to the mall, bought the silly rubber band, and cinched it tight around my hips.  It didn't do a darn thing. 

I am a Physical Therapist Assistant, and was never taught anything about PSD in school, nor did my fellow therapist friends have any advice for me either, other than to wear a TENS unit (a little electrical stimulation device that helps to mask pain).  I am not one to sit by idly, and I also knew that my core muscles needed strengthening to offset the sloppy ligaments.  Since walking and exercising on land was near impossible, I decided to join my local gym and get into a water aerobics class.  The beauty of exercising in the water is that it is buoyant and supports you while at the same time giving you resistance to strengthen you.  I was cautious with my movements in the beginning, keeping them small and in a pain-free range.  But I worked out with as much gusto as I could.  After the first workout, I found I was a little sore, but no worse for the wear.  The next class, I increased the size of the movements and the intensity.  I went to the class 3-5 times per week, as it felt so good to be able to move around in the water, it was liberating.  At the end of the class we would jog around the pool.  After a few weeks, I felt so good I was lapping all my silver-haired classmates.  I know, not a crowning achievement, but going from hobbling a few feet here and there to lapping folks in a running spree was good for my morale.  Here's the amazing thing about all this.  Within a couple weeks, my symptoms went away!  Absolutely zero groin pain!  So I added walking outside the pool to my exercises as well (obviously, I didn't overdo it, and I paid attention to my body), and I kept hitting the pool, and pushing my pool workouts to the limits of my comfort.  To my knowledge, no studies have been done to prove that this is an effective cure for PSD, but in both my pregnancies when I was afflicted with this dastardly problem, my time in the swimming pool took away the symptoms after they appeared. 

My last pregnancy was about 9 years ago now, and I remember searching desperately for a solution to my situation.  As I look around the web today, there is still little to no helpful information about PSD.  It appears that the main advice still being handed to folks is to put on that useless rubber band (ridiculous), to take it easy (not always possible, especially if you have more than one child), to skip the stairs (I couldn't avoid that, I live in a two story house) and to maybe try a TENS unit for pain (just a band aid, doesn't solve the problem).  It makes good sense to me that the pubic joint needs the extra muscular support because the ligaments are not able to do their job.  Therefore you need to strengthen the core muscles, and traditional Kegels are not going to do the trick!  Water is the perfect supportive and resistive environment to challenge your core without undue stress.  Each person is unique and presents with different health issues during their pregnancy, therefore it's important to check in with your doctor before joining a program, but if he/she gives you the okay, get into the water ASAP.