Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Little Joyful Things—These are a Few of My Favorite Things




Little things in life can give great joy. Some are free. Some have moderate cost. All seem hidden, unnoticed, and under-appreciated. This is a list of some of my favorite moderately-priced things this year. If they make me happy, maybe they'll work for you too.


Clothes and Accessories


A cute dress WITH POCKETS. My extra large phone fits in these pockets. They're not the shallow kind. If you don't have time to quest for a dress with pockets, because it is a bit of a Holy Grail thing, Amazon has them in many colors, patterns, and sleeve lengths. This one has over 2,000 four-star-plus reviews.

These are knee-high boots that can deal with my super-strong Thor calves. They're a thing, even if no one has informed the TSA and they ALWAYS pause everything to pat down my calves. 

They're real.


Everyone's a critic.

You can find all types of groovy boots at Famous Footwear right now. These are Bare Traps. If they're out of your size, they'll send them to your house. This sounds like a commercial. It's not. I just get excited when I find obscure things that work, like a dress with pockets or boots that come in my size.



Writerly Delights




Another delight is a lined-embossed-dragon journal. 

It has silver gilt pages.

Barnes and Noble has this particular one. They carry a great selection of unique journals. If you don't have a store near you, they're available at Barnes and Noble online





When I visited Stonehenge, I discovered this little artist's journal embossed with a trilithon, that's the two vertical stones supporting a lintel that make up those impressive stone doorways at Stonehenge. I like writing in journals from places I've been, BUT you don't have to go there to get one. 

English Heritage has an online gift shop. You can order all sorts of lovely things from jams, biscuits, humbugs, and knights in armor, to jewelry made from the same stone quarry as the stones at Stonehenge. Check it out! It's a great place to pick up some special holiday gifts.


Plain Old Wonderful 



Aloe-infused socks. Oh, baby. These things will make you happy gasp when you slide them on. If you don't think socks make a good gift, you haven't gotten these. They're silkier than silk and a treat to lounge in. They come in many colors and some styles are extra-warm bulky socks with an aloe-infused lining. I found the latter at Famous Footwear. But you can get these socks at Bed Bath and Beyond, TJ Maxx, or Kohls. Wash them in a lingerie bag for a longer shelf life.

EO Soothing lavender hand soap. If you follow my Instagram you
probably know I can be obsessive about lavender. But it has to smell like lavender—the kind they have on the Greek Island of Alonissos in June to be precise. Not that I'm picky. In this case it works for you though. 

This stuff is amazing. A guest mocked me as he washed his hands, "Will I be soothed? Hahaha—uh—wait—this stuff smells great—uh, I think I actually am soothed. Where'd you get this?" TJMaxx. And it's amazeballs.


Lip balm is one of those things that I buy several of and then search frantically for that one that really works. Young Living Lavender Lip Balm is infused with essential oil and goes on smooth and heavenly. It's not just for the ladies either. I've seen big burly guys using it too. It's just that good. 

I discovered this at Namaste a local spa here in the shire. If you google Young Living Essential Oils, you can probably find a distributor anywhere in your section of Middle Earth.


Picture frames almost always disappoint me. I don't want to fool around with them. Unfortunately I have three seconds of patience
between inserting the photo and putting the picture on display. Having to trim a photo or mess with matting and puzzle out how to open the back of a frame and then keep the photo from sliding around inside, and I've already lost interest in the whole thing. 

That's why I love these magnetic acrylic block frames. You pop them open, slap the photo down, and bam. You're done. They're standing frames, and they look great in any decor. They're a bit pricey for cheap-seats me, but they're excellent gifts. This is what you're getting if I'm giving you a gift. You'll love it. 

Sometimes TJMaxx has them. Sometimes Kohls, Walmart, Crate and Barrel, or Amazon. Shop around for the best price.



A wireless mouse is a marvelous invention. It's a game changer. I never have to slam my mouse wires shut in my desk again. Likely I'm late to this party and you know this. Feel free to tell me about it and ask where I've been the last decade. Writing by the way. In my hermit writer cave.

Now if only my phone charger cord didn't get rolled over by my desk chair regularly—although there are now magnetic chargers. Maybe that will be on my next favorite things list.


You'll laugh but I think that Sonicare toothbrushes are the best invention. In  Bitch Witch Sarah Archer states that if her house were on fire that's what she'd grab. Well. I was writing what I know there. I love the hell out of mine. It feels like you've been to the hygienist to have your teeth cleaned every day. 

The one I have now I got from the dentist's office. You can find them everywhere.


Booky Things


The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam has an online gift shop. You can get a replica of the diary Anne wrote her story in while her family hid from the Nazi's in the attic of a jam factory. It's supercool to get that package delivered from Amsterdam. I went there but still ordered it because I try to do that when I buy books. That extra weight in luggage is killer. 


You might be interested to know that her book was re-released with information that had been edited out of the original version. At the time The Diary of a Young Girl was released, her father and publisher didn't think it was appropriate to include some things, like details about her mother, Peter, and her own budding sexuality. 

The book is worth a reread. There are more pages now and now more than ever the book underscores what a clever, brilliant young woman Anne was becoming. 

Another favorite thing is books signed by the authors. Autographed books are still a big thing to me. Did you know that on Black Friday that Barnes and Noble offers a large selection of popular and bestselling autographed books? 

Last year I had a book signing that day and went a bit berserk buying Christmas gifts signed by favorite present day authors. I scored a copy of The Hate U Give, The Kite Runner, and the newest John Grisham book. I couldn't resist shopping in my favorite "one for you one for me" fashion and I still have room on my autographed shelf for this year.

Make sure you get there early because sometimes there's only one of the most popular authors, and us canny reader writers are waiting at the door at dawn. 


Souvenirs


Now we get to the excess. When I travel I tend to come
home with everything from Rosetta Stone socks from the British Museum to hand-painted papyrus/vintage photos from Egypt, to a hefty pile of blank journals from the Acropolis Museum in Athens. It's fun to remember, and your sandals from Greece will remind you of your trip for a long time. 

This year I may have gotten carried away. I have a small pile of tiny treasures from my travels leftover. 
Be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter if you'd like a chance to win some of my souvenir loot. You can sign up here or from my author website

Details will be coming as soon as I heal up from a slight medical problem entailing another one of my favorite things—antibiotics when you really need them. 

I think antibiotics need a new marketing tag line—something like, ANTIBIOTICS, BETTER THAN DEATH, BARELY, BUT STILL! Or maybe, ANTIBIOTICS, THE SIDE EFFECTS ARE WORSE THAN YOUR ILLNESS, BUT YOU GET TO LIVE! (PROBABLY.)

None of my favorite things here are expensive. Not even my gut-devouring, super-cheap $10 co-pay antibiotics. These things all make great gifts, except the meds, for all occasions. Your favorite things should probably be in the running too. Leave a comment below and tell me what you'd add to my list, and remember to enjoy the little things in life. Sometimes that's the best part of the day, especially if antibiotics is on your list too. 


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

HEARTSTONE Author Releases New Dragon Book—DRAGONSHADOW—by ELLE KATHERINE WHITE

dragon book, dragon book author, Elle Katherine White


Elle Katharine White joins us in The Glitter Globe today to share exciting news. Her second book in the Heartstone series releases November 20th. (The first in the series, Heartstone, is a sort of Pride and Prejudice with dragons.) The story continues with the happy couple Aliza Bentaine and Alastair Daired, NOT Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy.




This is a story I've been looking forward to reading. I lucked in to an early version of the novel and the story just gets better. Elle writes adventure and dragons so you won't soon forget them. If you haven't yet had the opportunity to read Elle, you're in for a treat!




Elle, thanks to some insider information I happen to know that you really do martial arts and sword fighting. How has that helped your writing?

I do! I've been studying Japanese swordsmanship (swordswomanship?) for about a year. And boy oh boy, it's been quite the adventure. Before this I never fully appreciated how many muscles are in the arm, or how they work together, or all the hundred little ways they can hurt. Training with the sword has given me a new understanding of human kinetics and the kind of effort it takes to achieve any level of competence with a weapon. (Spoiler: It's a lot. The answer is a lot.) 

So those heroes who pick up that legendary sword and master a martial art in one long weekend? That's not how it works. Natural talent is great, but it's no replacement for hard work, discipline, and practice. I wrote a scene in Dragonshadow in which one character, who has very little experience with weapons, receives a brief training session from her husband, who's been studying swordplay his whole life. And she's terrible. Really, truly, hilariously bad. It was so much fun turning that trope on its head. 



It's been a whirlwind year since your first book released. What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you since the release of your first novel?

Two things: Realizing that Alastair and Aliza's story wasn't going to end with Heartstone, and overcoming the most painful spell of writer's block I've ever had. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite stories of all time, and I loved re-imagining it in a fantasy world. Once that world was established, though, I wanted to explore more of it, and the structure I'd set for the retelling wouldn't let me do that. Dragonshadow and its sequel allowed me to branch out, and that was so much fun.

Fun—until writer's block struck. For ten solid months I couldn't write a thing. It was painful. Paralyzing. Scary. And it didn't end in a day. Writing, just like swordsmanship, is both an art and a craft, and like any craft you have to practice it. Falling out of the habit means a lot of hard work and discipline to get back into it. I'm still not totally free of writer's block, but I was able to finish the third book in the Heartstone saga in spite of it, and that felt incredible.



What does a writing day look like for you?

Willingly or unwillingly, my day usually starts around 4:45am with a trip to the gym, where the plot bunnies and character rabbits and other literary woodland creatures start running sleepy circles inside my head. Then it's breakfast, an hour or so of writing (or sometimes staring blankly at the screen in despair) until I have to go to work. After work I try to snatch another hour or two of writing before passing out. A 500+ word day is a good day. 

Your bio mentions your yearning to travel the world. What are your top three picks, and why?

Goodness gracious, where to begin? First: Kyoto, Japan, and for so many reasons. The cuisine, the culture, the language, the scenery, everything. Second: Zermatt, Switzerland. I'd like to see the sunset on the Matterhorn sometime before I die. Third: The Outer Hebrides, UK. Something about the wildness, the coldness, the sheer inhospitableness of it . . . I don't know why, but that draws me.

If you had to pick somewhere on earth where this dragon world might fit, where would it be?

Hm. Since Heartstone was based on Pride and Prejudice, I built my maps of Arle with Great Britain in mind. I'd have to go with that. A storm-tossed island in the middle of the North Atlantic.

You're a tea drinker. What kind and is it going to be loose leaf or in a bag? And what kind of teacup or mug would we see sitting on your desk?

I drink absurd amounts of tea, it's true. Lapsang souchong is my favorite, and you've got to brew that loose leaf. One of my favorite mugs is large, earthenware, and has a rather splendid dragon sprawled across the side. It's the perfect writing companion.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about Dragonshadow?

Dragonshadow picks up where the first book left off, but for those of you expecting another Jane Austen retelling, beware! You're in for a wholly original tale. It's darker, grittier, the stakes are higher, and as Aliza soon discovers, the road to happily ever after is longer and more dangerous than she could possibly imagine.

Thanks for having me on The Glitter Globe!



DRAGONSHADOW 


Elle K. White, White, Dragon books


The Greater Lindworm is dead, its monstrous armies have
fled, and the Battle of North Fields is over—or at least that’s what Aliza Bentaine, now a Daired, fervently wants to believe.

With memories of the blood-soaked battleground behind them, she and Alastair are happy to escape the aftermath within the walls of the Daired family fortress, safe from the Tekari bent on destroying them. There, gods willing, they can begin to enjoy their well earned happily ever after.

Unfortunately, the gods have other plans. Rumors are spreading of a new monster creeping across Arle, something leaving the mutilated bodies of both humans and Oldkind creatures in its wake. When the plea for aid arrives from the remote Castle Selwyn on the northern border of the kingdom, Alastair and his dragon Akarra prepare once more for the hunt.

And if Aliza has anything to say about it, they won’t be hunting alone.

Torn between the world she was born to and the high calling of the Riders, Aliza nevertheless refuses to stay at House Pendragon, determined to do her part to protect those she loves. But their journey through the Old Wilds proves more perilous than she can imagine, for she is not the only one following her husband north. Shadowing the Daireds is an ancient evil, a harbinger of a threat of which the Worm was only a foretaste, and all too soon Aliza realizes the terrible truth. The Battle of North Fields may be over, but the real war is just beginning. 



Elle Katherine White

Dragon book, White, Dragonshadow, Dragon, Shadow

A textbook introvert who likes to throw out the textbook every once in a while just to see what happens. Elle grew up in Buffalo, NY, where she learned valuable life skills like how to clear a snowy driveway in under twenty minutes and how to cheer for the perennial underdog. When she’s not writing, she spends her time drinking tea, loitering in libraries and secondhand bookshops, and dreaming of world travel.





















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