Wednesday, December 30, 2015

These Are a Few of My Favorite Flings

It's that time of the year when I like to look back and consider what I did right. Positive reinforcement wins it. So does living outside my comfort zone. This year I could have updated things around my house or made wise financial investments, but I didn't. Instead I decided to spend my time and money doing all those things in life that most of us plan to do someday. This year was my someday. I went places and did things and lived one of the most exciting years of my life.

The following is a list of some of the wins from a year full of lessons and adventures that I'm still trying to sort out.

  • While attending a writing workshop that used a teaching method called the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we learned by taking turns reading our work aloud and commenting on each other's writing. The caveat? You could only say positive things. I didn't think it would work. How could my writing improve if no one told me what was wrong with it? Ten days later I could barely believe how much each and every attendee's work had expanded and grown into something beautiful. A stunning win for the power of being positive, and a life lesson.
  • This year I purchased a park pass for a nearby park and when I wasn't traveling I went there to hike. It's amazing how many touristy things we have in our own area that we never go to. I'm working on correcting that. It isn't necessary to travel the world to change your perspective.
  • When I traveled for the previously mentioned workshop and it ended, I didn't want to leave. It seemed like I'd been writing morning, noon, and night, and hadn't had a chance to enjoy the gorgeous place I'd traveled so far to write in. So I changed my ticket and stayed. Alone. In Greece. During the whole insolvency thing. I walked everywhere, ate yogurt and fruit from a nearby market (and some octopus), and did NOTHING. Nada. Zilch. Okay, I wrote some more. It. Was. Amazing. 
  • Dear Hubby and I have polar opposite taste in music. But every single concert he wanted to go to this year, I agreed. He was so excited he got the best seats he could manage. Know what? Concerts are FUN. I don't care who's playing. I had a blast and I may have even bought some of their songs for my iPod later. Don't tell Dear Hubby. 
  • There's a woman in San Francisco who started a little coffee-coconut-toast bar. Someone sent me her story from an online article because she looks and seems so very much like a character I invented for a novel I wrote. The coincidences blew me away. Of course the real woman isn't a Covenant Keeper assassin BUT EVERYTHING ELSE is freakily similar! She looks exactly like I envisioned this character. I MIGHT MAYBE have finagled inviting myself on someone else's trip to California and drove clear across town to see her. Might. Maybe. I fit right in at that little hipster coffee bar. (Not even a little. It was AMAZING being totally out of place in the exact right spot.)
  • Somehow I found myself in a dodgy section of a dodgy town. Wait. That happened in several towns this year. What I meant was the first time I found myself in the dodgy section of a dodgy town THIS YEAR, a total stranger handed me tickets to go to a concert. I went. The music was sort of Rockabilly Blues Rock. It was so loud that I could feel the bass in my heart. That is how I know I'm in the right place, music-wise. It was standing room only and the age group seemed to be barely-legal to old and gray. I FREAKING LOVED EVERY SPLIT SECOND. Now I fangirl all over them online and buy all their music. The Delta Bombers
  • The second time I found myself in a dodgy section of a dodgy town was somewhere in Spain. I thought I knew some Spanish. AHAHAHAHA. No. I can READ some Spanish. I cannot understand it OR speak it enough to be understood. But I walked out of my hotel with Google Maps and got LOST AS @*$%! Hours later I ended up at a BioPark (i.e. Zoo). After spending hours there I walked back too. I took a completely different path. I like to call it LOST AS HELK WITH GOOGLE MAPS. 
  • There I was sitting inside an Irish Pub (still in Spain). The waiter refused to take my order until I ordered in Spanish. So I did. He interrupted me to say, "Never mind. Just say it in English." It reminded me horribly of the time I sang to one of my babies and he reached up and covered my mouth. Still it made me laugh, and I give myself full credit for trying even when I fail. I like to flatter myself that I have a gift for language, but I have no illusions about having a gift for speaking in any of them. 
  • After nearly thirty hours of travel I made it to my little hotel room and opened the window, leaned outside, and listened to church bells welcome me to Rome. I left the window wide open, inviting sunshine inside, laid on the bed, and slept until dark. Sometimes a nap is my highest priority.
  • I'm not easily spooked. In fact I haunt cemeteries. While in Rome after a long battle with Google Maps I meandered into the Capuchin Crypt. It contains the remains of nearly 4,000 bodies, all Capuchin Monks. It's similar to the Paris catacombs, the bones decorate several rooms like art. I wasn't spooked, but I was disturbed. The purpose of the display is to remind us of our short time on earth and our imminent passage to the other side. What struck me was the odd arrangements of the deceased. I wasn't altogether comfortable with recycling to that level, you know the found art using bare bones level? However, I did appreciate the thought provoking jarring provided. I think it was the skull flying with the help of pelvic bone wings that crossed my line.
  • As usual I spent a couple weeks deep in the wilderness of Canada. This was the first time I've ever gone at the end of summer, and it was mushroom season. The flora and fauna of different places fascinate me, and I spent weeks exploring the bush and taking pictures of fungus and mushrooms. It was a small thing, but it delighted me nearly every moment of my trip. The Northern Lights were cool, too.
  • By the time I got to the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, I was touristing alone. It didn't stop me from being amazed by the futuristic looking buildings. They look like they were inspired by The Jetsons. I spent far too much time wandering through glass enclosures full of trees with that Joni Mitchell song going through my head, the one about taking all the trees and putting them in a tree museum. I resent that. What I appreciated was the realization that after two months of travel, I was ready to be still for a bit and write my next novel.

It has been an amazing year for me. I love to travel. It's both wonderful and uncomfortable. Mostly I like to learn, step outside my comfort zone, meet people, and experience life wherever it takes me. As much as I enjoyed this year's favorite flings, I'm looking forward to next years, wherever they are.

My New Year's resolutions are usually the same, grab every opportunity and write stories. What about yours? Are you planning a year of flings? Travel? Living or writing your own stories? And how do you feel about using human bones to decorate? 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It Could Be True. Random Factoids You Can't Argue Because I Only Said COULD BE TRUE. So, Hah.

  • It could be true that the zombie apocalypse is currently in progress, and the zombies don't even know they're zombies because they're busy shopping, watching TV, and generally taking up space within the matrix.
  •  It could be true that people talking to themselves is perfectly normal.
  • It could be true that the best place to hide ice-cream in your side-by-side freezer is on the very bottom, because while most people HAVE the ability to bend their knees, most don't.
  • It could be true that fashion co-dependence is a good thing. "Do these yoga pants make my gym look small?"
  • It could be true that the whole conundrum of "if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it--does it make a sound?" is just one more example of egotistical human absurdity.
  • It could be true that the deep question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, has been solved. DUH the chicken came first. Someone had to take care of the egg and the baby chicken. Where did the egg-laying chicken come from? Aliens. Duh.
  • It could be true that believing basic old-school survival skills like hunting/fishing/farming are no longer necessary skills for the average person is a tad short-sighted. 
  • It could be true that scientifically speaking, bigger brains make higher IQ's.
  • It could be true, therefore, that the bigger, smarter males of the species could conceivably have a whopping 3-5 extra IQ points over smaller brained females.
  • It could be true that this is all completely irrelevant since breasts can drop the male IQ a good thirty points in a flash.
  • It could be true that no matter how mathy you get about males, brain size, and IQ, females are still comfortable and self-satisfied being next-gen.
  • It could be true that breast obsession came about due to generations of males who weren't breastfed.
  • It could be true that ages ago, breasts were considered purely functional BECAUSE THEY ARE.
  • It could be true that the only legitimate reason NOT to breastfeed is because for the rest of your natural life, the first thing your spawn will think when they see you is, "What's for dinner?"
  • It could be true that the size of IQ is irrelevant when all the brain consumes is Star Trek, Doctor Who, and memes.
  • It could be true that if you're in the hospital bored out of your gourd, that you're one of the lucky ones. Let's hope all your hospital experiences are boring.
  • It could be true that the benefits of organization outweigh the pain of getting organized...nah.
  • It could be true that the early bird gets the worm, but the night owl eats that crowing rooster.
  • It could be true that chocolate is female catnip. 
  • It could be true that organized sports is all that separates us from Ancient Rome and a Colosseum full of hungry lions.
  • It could be true that ghosts spend far too much time thinking about the past.
  • It could be true that cussing saves lives.
  • It could be true that exercise is a natural anti-depressant and sex is a natural club drug.
  • It could be true that nobody really gives a rat's rump if you say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas or Wotever, because nobody is listening anyway. 
  • It could be true that nobody can hear reality over the din of propaganda and spin doctors.
  • It could be true that people have their eyes glued to their cell phones because today's human social interaction is basically a roomful of middle-schoolers waiting gleefully for someone to say the wrong thing so they can:
    • Take offense
    • Verbally tar and feather them
    • Post about it online
    • All of the above
  • It could be true that while bullying has been moving out of the schoolroom, it's found a comfy home online and in the press.
  • It could be true that the word holiday means holy day so it too will soon morph into a suppository bug and crawl into the orifice list of Don't Say Me.
  • It could be true that most people mean no offense when they word vomit. They just like the sound.
  • It could be true that talking is to people like barking is to dogs. It's what they do. It's best to let the barks out to prevent the biting. 
  • It could be true that on that note it's time for me to stop now. Rarf. 
It could be true I'd love to hear what you think COULD BE TRUE.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

These Things I Know To Be True--Simple Tips From a Life Dangerously Low on Absolutes

  • Never sit on a monkey's cage. I can't say this often enough. Make of it what you will.
  • Don't sing while you clean the toilet.
  • Be the bigger person. Every time. You'll never regret it, but it won't be easy.
  • Be kind even when you have an excellent bitchy slam. My excellent bitchy slams usually come to mind about 48 hours after they'd have been useful anyways. I use them in novels.
  • Try not to allow more than one thing to exit your body at a time. For instance, a burp, hiccup, sneeze combo is to be avoided if at all possible. 
  • What other people think of you only matters if you care and believe them.
  • Everything changes, maybe not as fast as you'd like, but give it time.
  • If you always try to make other people happy, you never will be.
  • Life will make more sense if you're honest.
  • If you can't say something nice about yourself, try harder. You are a brief, priceless light in time. Own it. 
  • When people gossip they are ugly and boring and sound stupid. Every. Single. Time. 
  • Playing isn't just for kids. Do it.
  • It's easy to fall asleep in your own life, and sleep walk through it. 
  • If you can download life's frustration (all the annoying, stupid, mundane, and infuriating) into some type of art, you will be happier for it. May I suggest:
    • Slam Poetry *insert your bitchy slams here*
    • Graffiti on paper
    • Secret cartoons of your boss
  • Your creative endeavors DO NOT have to be perfect, professional, shared, OR make you boatloads of money to be priceless. If they lower your stress level and keep your from strangling co-workers, they've served their purpose.
  • No matter what you know about someone else's life, you know nothing about anyone else's life.
  • Never let food replace loving, if you know what I mean, and don't let eating become the highlight of your day.
  • If you spend more time thinking about someone else's life than your own, you might want to rethink that. 
  • Never say my dog doesn't bite or my kid wouldn't do that. Just be sure YOU wouldn't bite or do that. Mastery over ourselves is all we can hope for.

Did I miss anything? What do you know to be true in life? Please share some of your absolutes.

Be sure to look over on the right side of my blog and register for the Rafflecopter giveaway. I'm celebrating my new book release of FOREVER The Constantines' Secret. I'm also attempting to finish up my next book within the next six weeks. If you see me out and about in the world, and I'm talking to myself, it's just deep thinking and part of the process. Are you buying it? Because it could be true, but could be true is another blog post entirely.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Novel Release and Giveaway! PARTY for FOREVER The Constantines' Secret!

A Covenant Keeper Novel, Book Release, Kahtar, Beth, Delphine
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

Today is a party day and I love a party, virtual or otherwise. You're all invited. Consider this your golden invitation. There are loot bags and quite possibly CAKE. Look what else someone sent me!

A Covenant Keeper Novel, The Covenant Keeper Novels, Karfelt
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

Aren't those wonderful? They're ornaments. My family took one look at those and gave up on giving me presents this year. I'm not giving those away, but you can put all of those novels on your bookshelf as of TODAY! What a wild ride it's been. Writers will often say to each other "Write the books you want to read." That is exactly what I've done with the Covenant Keeper Novels. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I've enjoyed writing them.

A Covenant Keeper Novel, S.R. Karfelt, Kahtar

Today is the official RELEASE DAY for FOREVER The Constantines' Secret! It's available in both ebook and paperback. When I celebrate there's always a goody bag involved. If you'd like a chance to win some terrific prizes, be sure to follow the instructions. Rafflecopter is simply an online site that takes care of choosing the prize winners in a random and fair fashion. It's legit, and none of your information will be shared or sold. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The prizes are as follows:

A Covenant Keeper Novel, Giveaway, Karfelt

Leather Valery Journal
and Reproduction Sword w/Scabbard Letter Opener

Kahtar, Karfelt, A Covenant Keeper Novel

A $50 Amazon Gift Card

A Covenant Keeper Novel, Karfelt, Kahtar

A Katar Pendant (Chain Not Included)
Sword w/Scabbard Letter Opener (Not Pictured)

This is the third Covenant Keeper Novel published, and each one consumes me as I spend the greater part of a year making it happen. I hope you'll enjoy Kahtar and Beth's adventures. If you read FOREVER, please drop me an email and let me know what you think--or better yet--write me a review! I enjoy your feedback.

The next book is already seeping into my dreams. It'll be out next year. Keep in mind that all of the Covenant Keeper Novels are stand alone books. They can be read individually or in any order. Although I wrote them in this order.

Kahtar, Warrior of the Ages, Karfelt, A Covenant Keeper Novel

Karfelt, Carole Blank, A Shieldmaiden's Voice, Blank,

A Covenant Keeper Novel, Kahtar, Karfelt, Warrior of the Ages

Coming September 2016

The giveaway begins December 10th 2015 and ends January 20th 2016. There will be three winners, and prizes will be mailed. Forfeited prizes will be given away to runners up! So be sure to provide an email so you can be contacted when YOU win.

See you around the bookshelves! 

FOREVER, The Constantines' Secret, Warrior of the Ages, Kahtar, Karfelt

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Winter's Romance Anthology

A Winter's Romance

This is the week of book releases around here. A Winter's Romance is a Romance Anthology featuring nineteen short stories from award-winning, bestselling, and new authors--you'll never view romance the same! My short story Touching Tesla is included. My engineering background and a very ill-fated ski trip inspired me to write this story. I'll give you a hint about the moral of the story: NEVER lie about your weight when you're renting skis.

You heard it here.

I hope you'll enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

A portion of each sale of A Winter's Romance will be donated to Forgotten Harvest, a member of Feeding America.

This is the type of read you'll want to cozy up with, maybe enjoy with a hot cocoa. It's fresh and fun. That's how I've been reading it. Enjoy!

Amazon eBook Link:
Amazon Print Book Link:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mount Vesuvius and Hiking Volcanoes--What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The Crater of Mount Vesuvius

"You know, hiking a live volcano probably isn't the smartest thing I've ever done," I said.
Dear Hubby replied, "I'm sure it's been waiting 2,000 years for you to get here."

It's really hard to get your over-active imagination in full-gear when you're married to an engineer. He always gets his logic up in there.

Last time Mount Vesuvius erupted was in AD 79. Word is it erupts in an ugly way about every 2,000 years. You do the math. When it blew its top last, that top landed on the ancient city of Pompeii. Even if it hadn't been waiting a couple thousand years for me to get there to explode, I couldn't help thinking about it.

My trip to Mount Vesuvius was a day trip out of Rome. It was quick because I took a tour bus, and every minute is timed on tours. It felt like that Chevy Chase Vacation movie. The one where they go to the Grand Canyon on their way to Wally World and just stop and look at it for about the count of three.

Getting to the hiking trail is part of the excitement. Riding in a bus along crowded and narrow Italian roads is an adventure in itself. But heading up the winding pavement toward the top of Vesuvius is hair-raising. Often the bus had to stop and backup along the narrow ledge so another bus could pass coming down. I don't know how that worked and I watched. The road looks barely wide enough for one bus. I'm pretty sure it was like the Harry Potter Knight bus where it squeezed itself thinner or they somehow passed through each other, because the logical explanation is that at least half of one bus dangled over the cliff and I don't want to think about that.

The Bus is Always Bigger Than the Road or You've Had No Fun

The biggest criticism I've heard from tourists going to Vesuvius is litter. There's a shocking amount of litter in the Pompeii area. It's also a little complicated figuring out where to buy your ticket. The booth for tickets is by the parking lot and not at the trail head. Fortunately if you're with a tour, someone else takes care of that part.

There's a scrum of buses, cars, and people at the bottom of the trail. There's one porta-potty there. It costs about .25 euro to use it. It's your only option, and there are attendants keeping it clean. You can rent a walking stick at the first gift shop area. You pay on the way out, after your hike. I'd recommend it--you'll need it if you're racing the clock to get to the top and back, which you will be doing if you're on a tour. The hiking trail is made of volcanic ash. It's soft to walk on, but can get deep, especially on the curves. People occasionally wipe out on the switchbacks where the ash is a bit unstable.

If the day is clear, the view of Naples below is breathtaking. It's a bit disconcerting to realize that there are now three million people living in the shadow of Vesuvius.

Naples below Mount Vesuvius

There are places along the mountain where lava flowed in 1944 during World War II. It wasn't a huge blast, but the lava did destroy local villages, and U.S. bombers stationed at nearby Pompeii airfield.

The grey spots are old lava flows

There are four gift shops along the path, selling oddities supposedly crafted from lava. Our tour guide recommended we nab a lava rock if we wanted a souvenir. She said it was free, legal, and they had plenty of them. Wisps of steam rise from the mouth of the crater. That's a good thing we were told. The locals said if the steam stops, run. There is equipment posted along the rim, and an evacuation plan for those living in the blast zone. It's believed that current technology could give residents a three-day notice of an impending eruption.

A Tall Thin R2D2 Stands Guard

The hike is moderately difficult. I'd say easy except for the unsure footing in spots, due to deep ash and scattered lava rock. It depends on your level of fitness. I do recommend using one of the rented walking sticks. The bulk of people didn't the day I hiked it, and many looked uncomfortable trying to maintain footing while slipping, especially on the downward hike.

It's worth the trip to see the volcano. If you're lucky enough to hike it on a clear day you'll want to factor in extra time to take pictures. I'd recommend wearing comfortable shoes, not sandals--they'll fill with ash and rock. I've heard it can get chilly and cold at the top on cloudy days. It was hot during my hike. Bring water, and coins to pay for your walking stick and the comfort facilities.

Even if Mount Vesuvius hasn't spent the past thousand years waiting for my visit, I've spent years waiting to see it. It's still probably not the smartest thing I've done, but that's mostly due to the harrowing bus drive up and the brief time I spent there. If I ever have the opportunity to go again, I'd prefer to take a day and hike trail number nine--Il fiume di lava. You can investigate trails at the Gran Cono website. Just remember if you decide not to opt for a bus tour there, the really scary part is driving a rental car around Italy.

If you're into hiking volcanoes, tell me about it in the comments section.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

FOREVER The Constantines' Secret


FOREVER The Constantines' Secret

The Honeymoon is Bloody Over 

Beth White gave her heart to immortal Kahtar Constantine and joined his clan. She discovers happily ever after is a myth even in the charming village of Willowyth. 

Cultuelle Khristos accepted Beth into the clan before discovering she had seeker blood. They can't see past it. Beth can't see past the truth, but no one wants to hear it--and Kahtar is caught in the middle. 

When the clan's Warriors of ilu vote to shun Beth, Kahtar must choose between centuries of unyielding duty and his heart. 

He chooses wrong. 

In FOREVER The Constantines' Secret Kahtar comes full circle as the truth and his past unexpectedly catch up with him, and forever change his future.

Writing this book was one long labor and delivery process. It felt like FOREVER. That's because when it comes to novel writing I can be a bit of a perfectionist (and so can my editor). It was a BLAST to hang out with Kahtar and Beth again. I love their relationship. Kahtar, ancient immortal warrior with plenty of secrets and Beth, painfully-honest business woman--it's a volatile mix. 

If you've read other Covenant Keeper Novels, you'll know right off that the woman on that cover isn't Beth. So, who is it? Well, you'll have to read the book to get the answer to that question.

It's been an exciting week with FOREVER making its appearance and KAHTAR Warrior of the Ages getting some recognition. KAHTAR is a finalist in the USA Book News 2015 USA Best Book Awards in the Fiction Cross-Genre category. You can check that out here and here! (Scroll down until you recognize Kahtar)! 

Since writing is one of my favorite things to do on earth, my next book is already nearing completion. Actually the next two books are. In the meantime enjoy FOREVER The Constantines' Secret

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Flavia Amphitheater--The Roman Colosseum and My Dangerous Obsession with Archaeology

Traveling to Rome, Ancient Rome, Gladiator, Karfelt, Kahtar
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

In fifth grade someone gave me a large book about archaeological sites.

Thus began my lifelong obsession with archaeology. It was what I was going to do, I decided. This was years before Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark. The ancient ruins called to me and I imagined myself digging in the dirt in Egypt, Rome, or shivers-of-delight Pompeii. It took me awhile to understand what lay at the root of the attraction. Story.

Not once was I drawn to dinosaur bones. My insatiable curiosity was for the stories attached to these sites and artifacts.

Growing up largely in a small mid-western town I found ways to satiate the need. In the woods behind my house there was the old foundation from a small log cabin, and a well, AND an old wagon wheel.

Farther up the river, where I doubt I was allowed to go, beneath layers of dirt and ash I discovered the remains of a building destroyed in a fire. Not far beneath the surface were pieces of dishes, pottery, metal containers of powdery toothpaste with the label still attached, tiny cobalt and emerald perfume bottles, and the piece de resistance--a china doll head. I still have that head.

Often I've said that the only thing I collect are stories. But bits and pieces I've dug up are among my favorite things. Even as an adult I've continued exploring what lies beneath. Occasionally the results aren't the stories I was hoping for. A creepy little hut deep in the woods filled with hundreds of tiny glass bottles inspired me to keep right on walking. And once I unearthed an assortment of random pharmaceutical bottles, and showed them to a chemist who cautioned me about the dangers of nineteenth century poisons with a long shelf life.

The poison bottles took the wind out of the sails of my amateur digging, and writing stories for publication took my time. But when Dear Hubby said, "Happy Anniversary, would you like to go to Rome?" I spent weeks barely able to sleep from excitement. FINALLY. Just FINALLY I was going to see Ancient Rome.

As fate and non-stop research and reading would have it, my little hotel was located within walking distance of the Colosseum. My first photos were shot out the taxi window. My driver gave his time to give a tour of Rome and point out the major attractions. At one point he even stopped the vehicle so I could take a peek through the Knights of Malta peephole, telling me, "No pictures. Take this one in your heart and keep it there." 

Rome, Travel, Sights, Knights of Malta Peephole
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

The Knights of Malta are the last Knights from the Crusades, and people stand in a long line in a less traveled part of Rome, just to peek through that tiny hole. What I saw in there actually did stay burned into my mind, and I will tell you that it's a breathtaking view of Rome framed by an arbor of grapes. Buildings in Rome aren't allowed to be taller than the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica. It gives the city its unique and unforgettable skyline.

The Colosseum, like so many historical sites, is surrounded by busy streets and pizza shops. Locals dressed in sometimes shabby, sometimes impressive Gladiator or Caesar costumes will pose for pictures with you for a fee. Pickpockets are everywhere. Crowds of people congregate, and figuring out what line to stand in, or how to purchase tickets is confusing. It helped that I did my research ahead of time, and bought my tickets online.

From the outside, the Colosseum is covered in scaffolding and fencing. Weeds and construction supplies surround it. It takes concerted effort to get a picturesque photograph of it from the outside. On the inside is where the Flavia Amphitheater will knock your socks off. What have we built in the 20th or 21st Century that will still be standing in two thousand years? My engineer Dear Hubby says nothing. Steel rusts. The costs of building something out of stone and concrete, using so much manpower, would be out of any budget in this day and age. 

Panoramic View of the Roman Colosseum, Inside the Colosseum
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

The fact that the Colosseum not only still stands, but stands to support the thousands of daily visitors climbing over it, is a feat of engineering that stuns many of the builders, architects, and engineers in the crowd. Dear Hubby, who isn't wild about Ancient History, old stories, or artifacts, had his socks knocked off by the sheer enormity and skill of the structure.

Kahtar, Karfelt, Rome, Colosseum
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

This story-hunter, Archaeologist-wanna-be, enjoyed one of the most exciting days of her life. Although I bought my tickets ahead of time I couldn't score a ticket to explore the deeper recesses or the higher ones. At the time of this writing, I'd say you probably need to book guided tours that go to those places about six weeks ahead. However, I was already at maximum thrill level and wasn't disappointed. The inside of the Colosseum is spectacular in scope and historical value.

There is a cross inside the structure, and another on the outside. From my reading it seems that scholars now say that Christians weren't fed to the lions at this site. The consensus seems to be that most of the horrible treatment of Christians happened in the Circus Maximus at nearby Palatine Hill. Something I hadn't realized before my trip to Rome was that there were many amphitheaters. Gladiators and chariot racing were the entertainment of the time. It's interesting when you look outside these sites to discover the gymnasiums and training grounds of the gladiators nearby. 

Kahtar, Fiction, Warrior of the Ages, Longinus
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

If you visit, I'd recommend bringing a bottle of water, wearing comfortable shoes, being on the defense against pickpockets, and be aware there is little shade. Pack your patience, travel is uncomfortable and wonderful. Every inch of this site interested me, and I pushed Dear Hubby's patience to the limits, like when he drags me to a big fishing show to investigate the newest lures. After an entire day combing the details, he decided I'd taken enough pictures when I started to really get into the old graffiti.

The Roman Colosseum, Ancient Walls, Kahtar
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

But come on, this is where the stories are, inside the walls. From the ancient engineers and the builders to the people who've visited this site over the past two thousand years, many carved their names into the bricks. The people who were there are what caught my imagination. There were gladiators, who trained to fight, many were simply men captured in battle. There's a place where the Vestal Virgins sat. Some of the seats had canvas covering at the time, to provide much needed shade. The cheap seats were at the top, like they are now in our arenas. The politicians surely had the best seats, although speculation says they had no shade.

Karfelt, Author, Kahtar, Gladiator,
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

If walls could talk, right? Sometimes I think they do. You just have to listen. The stories I write are fiction, but it is interesting how much truth you can find in fiction, and how much research goes into making it as realistic as possible. The ancient immortal warrior, Kahtar, that I write about surely battled here. I can feel it.

Friday, November 6, 2015

My Immortal Hero--In Rome with Kahtar

S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

People crowd Saint Peter's Basilica in tour groups and bus loads, some reverent, and some frantic. A sea of humanity moves through the grounds of the Vatican daily. The line to security is deeper than any airport line I've ever stood in. I had a mental list of what I wanted to see. After a couple weeks of travel I'd made it a short list. Three things really.

The Sistine Chapel 
Because I'm a huge fan of Michelangelo. 
It was number three on my list.

The view from the very top of Saint Peter's Basilica
Not from the inside, I mean up top. 
It came in at number two.

I told Dear Hubby I wanted to see the statue of Kahtar.
It was first on my list.

Kahtar is a character who stormed into my head many years ago, demanding painstaking devotion to unearth his story. My immortal hero has walked the earth so long he doesn't even remember where he began, or why he can't end. Apparently memory is finite, he says, I don't know where I came from. Kahtar does remember when he was once called Longinus, and walked the earth as a Roman Centurion. It is a memory he longs to forget.

Longinus, Kahtar, Immortal, Immortality, S.R. Karfelt,
Available for Order 11/10/2015

Kahtar finds out why he's immortal in the next book, the one coming out this month, but I digress. From the time I first put Kahtar's story on the page, I wanted to see the statue of Longinus at Saint Peter's. In my mind's eye they were one and the same, my fictional character, and this ancient warrior. Now Bernini never carved a statue of my immortal hero. He carved a Saint for the Catholic church. Yet somehow it inspired me through years of writing, and hundreds of thousands of words, even though I'd never even seen it.

Rome is an amazing city. It overwhelms you with the history of the ancient world. There is story attached to everything you see. You want to know it and preserve it in pictures. It would surely take a lifetime to begin to scratch the surface of it all. A couple weeks into the trip and Dear Hubby and I were both beginning to suffer from what I call Ancient History Overload, and while I devoured sites exclaiming, "Isn't it beautiful!" He began to respond with, "It's OLD, but interesting."

Inside Saint Peter's Basilica

Standing in the middle of the basilica with his mad scientist eyes glazed over from Ancient History Overload, Dear Hubby said, "Now what do you want to see in here?" That's what it had come down to at that point. He needed to hunt, conquer, and leave. The man was enduring. I understand enduring, that's how I do his fishing trips. I sympathized though, he'd been a trooper for two weeks, even when I spent hours taking pictures of ancient graffiti scrawled into the walls of the Colosseum. 

"I want to see Bernini's statue of Longinus," I said, looking around. There are statues of 140 saints inside Saint Peter's. The church is massive. "He'll have a spear," I added, hoping that would narrow it down, certain this was going to take awhile and wondering if I could find a statue map online really quick. 

"Kahtar's right there." Dear Hubby pointed. "I saw him as soon as we walked in." I fell in love with my husband all over again at that moment. The statue is gorgeous, larger than life like Kahtar himself. Somehow it looked exactly like I knew it would, perhaps bigger, like most everything at the Vatican.

Bernini's Statue of Longinus/My visual of Kahtar

Later we climbed the 448 feet to the top of the dome of the basilica. The first part of the climb takes place inside the dome where a catwalk allows you to gaze down into the church below. I could see Bernini's Longinus from there, my Kahtar. It's a strange thing, inspiration. It comes from where it comes. Fiction too is odd. You make something from nothing until it feels real. I couldn't help but wonder when Bernini carved that statue sixteen hundred years after Longinus lived, if he'd felt the same way.

Rome from the top of Saint Peter's Basilica

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Today I Shall Wear My Magical Alonissos Flip-Flops

S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

Today I shall wear
My magical Alonissos flip-flops

The ones that trod the ancient alleys
And gathered dust along old by-ways,
They've touched the floor of musty taxis
Along twisty-turning highways

Trodden cobble
Slid on marble
Tackled the stony beach hobble

They crossed the deck at sunset
Caressed the dock by moonlight
And danced among drunk seals
To skim the crystal water, more perfectly than heels

Soon enough the world will ice
And take this all from me,
But today I'll wear my flip-flops
That licked the salty sea

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Why I Don’t Wear a Wedding Ring

S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

Fact is I'm uncooperative by nature, but I really don't think I'm trying to make a personal statement, buck tradition, or anything beyond choose what is comfortable and works for me.

Dear Hubby and I are in a committed long-term, monogamous relationship and we don’t wear wedding rings. He never has worn his, he works in electronics. Shortly after the wedding he took a zap and flat out refused ever again. This is a man who is paranoid about static electricity. He’s taken one too many volts. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy wool socks in winter and sneaking up beside him and touching his ear.

Even after all these years we still chase each other around the house screaming. Mostly in a good way.

For the first twenty years I did wear my wedding ring. I stopped wearing it after my BFF lost the diamond out of her wedding ring at Lowes. I’ve never liked anything on my hands, but I put my time in. It's not just rings I dislike, as a matter of fact I recently got a Fitbit and it’s driving me nuts. Once I hit my exercise goal I take it off for the day, can’t bear it, and I even wake up at night and rub my wrist where it was touching me. I can’t stand Dear Hubby’s watch either. It bothers me that it’s on HIS wrist. I swear I can feel it on his wrist!

The thing is I like jewelry. I like to purchase sparkly stuff and admire it where it belongs—in boxes and drawers and those hangar pouches that keep it all lovely and organized. I just don’t like it touching me. On occasion I will wear it, because I do like the way it looks. But the first thing I do when I get home is take that crap off ASAP.

People ask us why we don’t wear rings, and I never know what to say. We’re not fishing for new spouses or lovers. We just don’t. Don’t want to. Don’t like to. I asked Dear Hubby if he ever worried someone else would ask me out. He said, “Not as long as you say no.”

I would say no, except for the Mr. Darcy Clause. I have a freebie Mr. Darcy Clause and Dear Hubby has one for Catherine Zeta Jones or someone. I told him that wasn’t quite fair because an actress is an actual person, and Mr. Darcy is a Fictional Character, but he said that the odds were about the same—and to feel free to have my way with Colin Firth should the occasion arise.

It could totally happen.

Does not wanting jewelry on my hands sound like an excuse? It really does bother me, but I have the type of physiology that can tell thread count and fabric constitution by touch. I detest certain fabrics, especially synthetics. It might be genetic. I have one kid who forever ran around with a hole in the neck of his shirts where I had to rip the tag out. Cutting it out wasn’t good enough—it was still touching him. It had to be torn out completely. It doesn’t help that they make those suckers out of plastic and sew them with fishing line anymore.

That was the same kid who rolled around the floor of the shoe store yelling that the shoes were touching him too. Isn’t that a tad dramatic for a perfectly “normal” college student? Kidding. But not really.

Somewhere in my stacks of home movies are scenes of little girls bursting into the house with pretty Easter dresses yanked up over their heads as they ran around blindly screaming, “Take it off! Take it off! It hurts! Oh! It hurts!”

So I suppose one might think it is a freaky genetic preference, but the fact is I did endure wearing it for years. Yet at some point the fact that I didn't like wearing it overrode the expectation to wear it. 

In an awfully big nutshell that’s why I don’t wear a wedding ring. I love my husband. He’s my best friend (and nemesis during hunting and fishing season). He’s my lover. My boyfriend. And my prey during static electricity woolen socks season. But I’m not going to do that wedding ring thing, and I know for a fact we’re not the only ones. What about you? How important do you think wearing your wedding ring is? And at what point does preference override tradition?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Thieves in Plain Sight—I'll Take What are Writers, Alex, for $200

Slam Poetry, S.R. Karfelt, Author
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

Did you feel me pickpocket your smile?
Your clever words?
Your funky style?

Did you know I used the glue of your nasty?
Your ugly expression?
Your loud indiscretion?

And highlighted in yellow your parking lot hatred,
Your mean expectations,
Your foul exclamations.

Like Frankenstein’s monster sewn up with your ugly,
Displaying your mugly,
And rolled through some fugly,

To ooze across paper, breathing your strife,
Digitally wrapped in karma,
You won’t recognize this life.

Dr. Jekyll,
Mrs. Bennett,
The Artful Dodger.

All blind to the heckle,
A real life tenant, looked into the mirror,
And saw Mr. Rogers.

It won’t hurt a bit, you won’t feel a thing.
If you’re into immorality,
I’m gonna make you sing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Personal Space—I’d Totally Go to Mars

Have you heard about the wife and mother who’s been accepted as a candidate for a mission to Mars? She won’t be coming back, and even if she could the radiation exposure from the trip wouldn’t render a good prognosis.

I think she’s amazing.

Have you ever seen an ancient Cathedral or ruins in Greece or Egypt? They’re the types of places where the workers who laid the foundation would never see the finished project. Maybe their children or grandchildren would.

What the hell has happened to that type of imagination and work ethic?

A couple years ago I heard that a private company was looking for a couple married forever. They wanted a man and woman who could go on a journey into outer space without killing each other (my words). Apparently twenty years of marriage was considered a good indicator for lack of homicidal impulses. That’s kind of a joke, and I’m wondering if trial runs wouldn’t find that long-term married couples don’t make it past the moon before something mysterious offs a mate. I mean rarely a night of snoring goes by where I don’t briefly consider that a pillow would shush him up—but I can get up and write in another room. When I make Dear Hubby nuts he packs up and goes fishing. Putting a couple alone on a spaceship, I don’t know. I’m not sure that’s a good investment.

Still, when I first heard about the couple to Mars I tried to get more data. It certainly piqued my interest, and I love to travel. I asked my husband about it. He’s a man of Science, I knew he’d be into it. I mentioned it to my kids. We’d be able to talk via Satellite. I’d still be able to Tweet at them. It’s not like there’d be no communication. Someone’s got to go, why not us? It could be my chance to be part of something bigger. I could be part of the first team in to map out what might someday become an intergalactic highway for humanity.

When I mentioned it to my oldest daughter she considered me with a serious expression. She has eyes like a galaxy and can see just that far. “Mother. If you’re thinking about going to Mars because you’d have years and years to work on your novels where no one would interrupt you, I just think you should know that would officially make you the lamest person in the universe.”


Don’t you hate when other people can see right through you to your ulterior motives? Give me a break. It’s hard to get alone time to write! Some people write in crowded cafes or coffee shops, that is where their muse whispers stories to them. I’m an absolute believer in muses. I assume the muse is simply a part of the brain where story churns. In the correct environment those stories shoot out from that muse-y section of the brain and into the conscious mind. For some writers activity stimulates that portion of the mind. For others, we need midnight, a moat, or an intergalactic space ship.

Even if I’d have ulterior motives for volunteering for such an opportunity, I still think that the woman who’s been accepted into the program is amazing. She has the foresight to look beyond the everyday and love tomorrow, even if she won’t be around to see it maybe thanks to her, someone else will be.