Paperbacks Galore

I know that some of my readers prefer paper books over ebooks. And there is something special about holding a book in my hands, turning it over to see the back cover, and turning the pages to read it. Maybe my enjoyment of the physical form is just because that’s what I grew up with, but it’s real. Of course, I must plead guilty to reading a lot of ebooks: super convenient for when I’m waiting in a doctor’s office or ferrying my child to soccer practice, etc. Plus ebooks don’t break my budget.

This post, however, is for the paper lovers among us. Several of my readers ask me at intervals if I have any new paper releases. I thought it might be helpful to list all of my books that do have paper editions. As I type this, I have ten stories in paperback. Ten! That amazes me. :D

Here’s the list:
 

thumbnail imageTroll-magic

Accursed Prince Kellor wrestles with the daunting challenges of his north-bear form. A childhood friend holds the key to his escape. But charming Elle will be no easy task. She faces her own engrossing dilemmas. Can she realize her musical promise and unravel Kellor’s curse? In epic adventure across a stunning landscape, the two engage a potent enemy in a lethal battle of wills.

Fighting against a nightmare pales beside fighting for a dream.

Troll-magic Paperback
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thumbnail cover imagePerilous Chance

Clary needs a miracle, but wonders rarely step forth to solve life’s problems. While her mama lies wearily abed and her papa spends the day . . . elsewhere, Clary struggles. Then she visits the old bramble-grown quarry. Hidden there, her miracle awaits: a miracle of razor-sharp talons, world-shaking magic, and ravenous hunger. When it cracks the egg, can Clary survive? Something wondrous this way comes!

Perilous Chance Paperback
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thumbnail image of coverThe Troll’s Belt

Young deceit sprouts timeless trouble.

Motherless Brys Arnsson digs himself into trouble. Bad trouble. Tricked by a troll, Brys must dig himself and his best friend back out of danger. But that requires courage . . . and self-honesty. Traits Brys lacks at depth.

A twist on a classic, The Troll’s Belt builds from humor-threaded conflict to white-knuckle suspense.

The Troll’s Belt Paperback
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A medieval lady stands in an ancient stone hallA Knot of Trolls

North-lands spellcasters who reach too boldly for power transform into trolls – grotesque villains wielding a potent magic and destined for madness. A Knot of Trolls features seven of these evildoers, each pursuing a unique design for troubling their neighbors. Across the ages of the world, ordinary youths must rise to the challenges laid down by trolls. Destiny and hope lie in the balance.

Seven tales of magic and troll-mages – ancient error echoes down through time.

A Knot of Trolls Paperback
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thumbnail imageSarvet’s Wanderyar
KAUNIS CLAN I

Running away leads right back home – or does it?

Sarvet walks with a grinding limp, and her mountain culture keeps girls close to home. Worse, her mother emphasizes all the things Sarvet can’t do. No matter how gutsy her spirit or bold her defiance, staying put means growing weaker. Yet only boys get wanderyars. Lacking their supplies and training, how can Sarvet escape? Can dreams – even big dreams – and inner certainty transform impossible barricades into a way out?

Sarvet’s Wanderyar Paperback
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thumbnail imageCrossing the Naiad
KAUNIS CLAN II

Its truth forgotten in the mists of time, the old bridge harbors a lethal secret. Something dark and primal haunts the stones and the wild river below.

Kimmer knows the stories, but she doesn’t know why the crumbling span feels so fraught with menace. Her way home lies across the ruin. Dare she take it?

Crossing the Naiad Paperback
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thumbnail imageLivli’s Gift
KAUNIS CLAN III

In Kaunis-spa′s magical spring, Livli achieves spectacular cures. A pioneer, she hopes to match new ways for healing with new ways of living. But the Kaunis-sisters fear rapid change. While Livli pushes forward the new, one influential foe pushes back. Home will keep its ancient customs, even if Livli loses everything. Must surrender spell defeat? Or could letting go harness real power?

Livli’s Gift Paperback
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A goddess of ancient times under a volcanic sunDevouring Light

Can one good deed offset ultimate destruction?

Mercurio guards the first planet, guiding it through the perils of the void. Part messenger, part prankster, he cocks an eye for danger.

When a beautiful celestial wanderer seeks refuge at his domicile, will he recognize his role as cat’s paw? Or will a looming menace – more lethal than Mercurio imagines – threaten the solar system’s very existence?

Devouring Light Paperback
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thumbnail imageSkies of Navarys
LODESTONE I

Lies twine with legend – can trust bring forth truth?

A royal geomancer announces that the goddess Evaia shrugs, and every citizen on the island springs to action. Amidst the uproar, the aeromancer Palujon steals unique and magical lodestones. Mago discovers the theft and vows to retrieve the stones. His friend Liliyah questions Palujon’s motives. Why would a man of his stature break the law? Is he truly a rogue? Life and death hang on her answers.

Skies of Navarys Paperback
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thumbnail imageResonant Bronze
LODESTONE II

The warriors of Torbellai brought back a prize in the night, and young Paitra wants to see it. Even hidden away in the armory, the artifact changed the whole mood of their mountain citadel from dread foreboding to hope. But the warlord hid the fighters’ plunder for good reason. Forged by trolls and radiating magic, it presents grave risk to any who approach it. Will Paitra survive his curiosity?

Resonant Bronze Paperback
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Three Paperbacks Newly Released

I’ve gotten behind announcing new paperback releases, so I’m going to catch up!

The most recent one – just 2 weeks ago – was Resonant Bronze. It was the second story to be inspired by Rainbow’s Lodestone. I got to wondering about the ruins that formed the setting for Rainbow and the people who had lived in them. Resonant Bronze is the result.

Resonant Bronze has been “in print” as an ebook for a year, but it’s exciting to have it release as a paperback.

Resonant Bronze paperback

The warriors of Torbellai brought back a prize in the night, and young Paitra wants to see it. Even hidden away in the armory, the artifact changed the whole mood of their mountain citadel from dread foreboding to hope. But the warlord hid the fighters’ plunder for good reason. Forged by trolls and radiating magic, it presents grave risk to any who approach it. Will Paitra survive his curiosity?

Trade Paperback: Resonant Bronze
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Ebook: Resonant Bronze
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B&N I iTunes I Kobo I Smashwords

* * *

Devouring Light released as an ebook last December – 8 months ago – and as a paperback this June, roughly 3 months ago.

In it, I departed from my North-lands to tell a story in which the constellations performed a circus for the Greek gods. The circus ended up being somewhat of a sidenote in an adventure that spans our solar system. It’s fantasy, even though Mercurio (aka Hermes or Mercury) travels to Pluto, while Draco (the dragon constellation personified) leaves the environs of Sol altogether, flying far into outer space.

D Light paperback

Can one good deed offset ultimate destruction?

Mercurio guards the first planet, guiding it through the perils of the void. Part messenger, part prankster, he cocks an eye for danger.

When a beautiful celestial wanderer seeks refuge at his domicile, will he recognize his role as cat’s paw? Or will a looming menace – more lethal than Mercurio imagines – threaten the solar system’s very existence?

Trade Paperback: Devouring Light
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Ebook: Devouring Light
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B&N I iTunes I Kobo I Smashwords

* * *

The release of A Knot of Trolls is especially thrilling for me. I’d envisioned creating a collection of my shorter works almost as soon as I had a few short stories and novellas out. It took me rather longer to make that happen than I’d expected! A Knot of Trolls released as an ebook February 2014 and as a paperback April 2014.

A Knot of Trolls paperback

North-lands spellcasters who reach too boldly for power transform into trolls – grotesque villains wielding a potent magic and destined for madness. A Knot of Trolls features seven of these evildoers, each pursuing a unique design for troubling their neighbors. Across the ages of the world, ordinary youths must rise to the challenges laid down by trolls. Destiny and hope lie in the balance.

Seven tales of magic and troll-mages – ancient error echoes down through time.

Trade Paperback: A Knot of Trolls
Amazon.com I Amazon UK I B&N I CreateSpace

Ebook: A Knot of Trolls
Amazon.com I Amazon UK I Amazon DE I Amazon ES I Amazon AU
B&N I iTunes I Kobo I Smashwords

* * *

 

Arugula Beef

For my next food post, I meant to share a lunch menu with you, but just this week I stumbled upon a dinner so quick and easy and good that it’s jumping the queue. It’s a meal in one dish, though I suppose you could add sides if you wished.

photo by J.M. Ney-Grimm

Ingredients

Topping
small brick of seaside cheddar cheese, grated

Meat
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 baby carrots
1 medium onion
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon tarragon
2 pounds ground beef

Dressing
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard

Salad
a generous bunch of arugula
a head of romaine lettuce

Preparation

Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and slice the carrots.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the carrots and sauté 2 or 3 minutes. Add the onions and sauté 2 or 3 minutes. Cover and turn down the heat to low. Let cook for 10 minutes.

While the onions and carrots cook, measure out the spices and grate the cheese. Rinse, drain, and shred the romaine and arugula. Mix the dressing by whisking the olive oil, the vinegar, and mustard. Toss the greens with the dressing and set aside.

The carrots should be soft by now. Add the oregano, thyme, and tarragon. Add the garlic. Stir briefly and sauté for 1 minute. Add the ground beef, breaking it up and mixing it with the carrots and onions. Continue to sauté, stirring as needed to get the meat thoroughly browned and cooked, about 10 minutes. When done, pull off the heat.

To serve: put a generous helping of the salad greens on each plate. Spoon the meat over the salad. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top. Enjoy! (Serves 4.)

Benefits

Why do I think this is healthy? Yep, I’m always dragging nutrition into it! Let’s start with the easy ones first. Just about anyone can go on and on about how healthy vegetables are, but I find it fun to focus on some of the specifics, especially specifics unfamiliar to me. So…

Romaine LettuceThe Greens: Romaine and Arugula

Romaine lettuce is a powerhouse of the B-vitamins, especially folate. It’s got more vitamin C than carrots! Plus it contains lots of beneficial omega-3 fats, the kind most of us think you must eat fish to obtain. Romaine is also mineral rich (calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, and iron) and filled with the phyto-nutrients that fight cancer and other ailments.

Arugula boasts many of the same benefits, being packed with vitamins, minerals, and phyto-nutrients. Like romaine, it’s an official “hydrating food” that keeps the body hydrated during hot weather. However, it may also have a more unusual property. The ancient Romans found that regular eaters of arugula possessed more sexual energy and revered the food as an aphrodisiac!

Carrots

Baby CarrotsThe large amount of beta carotene in carrots acts as an anti-oxidant, preventing cell damage and slowing aging. Plus it gets converted into vitamin A, good for the eyes, hair, and skin. Carrots prevent strokes. Most unusually, they help the liver to flush out toxins.

Onions

Another powerhouse of nutrients, onions also improve the efficacy of vitamin C, help regulate blood sugar levels, relieve inflammation, and prevent cancer.

Well, that was pretty straight forward with few surprises, but I bet the next entries in my narrative might prove unexpected. Let’s consider the rest of the dinner. :D

The Dressing: Olive Oil & Vinegar

Oil & VinegarFirst off, making your own salad dressing means you’re not using the bottled kind, most of which include a host of dubious additives and most of which are made with cheap seed oils, such as canola and safflower. The processing of these fragile seed oils causes them to go rancid. Rancid oil is filled with free radicals, which damage cells. Additionally, rancid oils must be deodorized with powerful chemical scrubbers that leave dangerous residues and create deadly transfats. Not good!

But homemade dressing also has more positive benefits.

Like onions, olive oil prevents inflammation in the body. Since chronic inflammation is now thought to be the precursor to many diseases – heart disease and cancer among them – this is important. Olive oil prevents damage to the cells that line our blood vessels. It lowers both blood cholesterol and blood pressure. If it is cold-pressed, it retains the lipases which facilitate the breakdown of triglycerides. (Triglycerides are a marker for heart disease.)

Vinegar provides its own set of advantages. It increases the absorpption of minerals such as calcium. It slows the breakdown of starches into sugars, giving the body more time in which to regulate blood sugar levels, especially valuable to diabetics. Plus it adds flavor without adding calories.

Both oil and vinegar provide a host of enzymes to help food digest well and thoroughly.

Now I’ll move on to the really tough stuff. Regular readers of my blog probably have an inkling of what to expect, but if you’re new…hold onto your hat!

Cheddar CheeseCheese

Cheese does pack a powerful wallop of protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamins D and B12, and potassium, but common wisdom recommends that you eat only tiny amounts of it because of its high fat content and high calorie count.

Well, as a low-carb eater, I won’t bemoan the fat content. We need that fat to feed our brains and to keep our blood sugar low. You can read more about the benefits of fat in the diet here.

But fat and calories in cheese possess another advantage. Its unique blend of fat and protein is exceptionally satiating. That is, eaters feel satisfied with less and grow hungry again much later than if they’d eaten an equal amount of calories from another food. Eating cheese supports weight loss!

Cheese also helps regulate blood sugar levels. It’s a source for vitamin K (produced by the microorganisms that turn milk to cheese) and vitamin D (naturally present in milk and rarely present in other foods, but critical to immune function).

Aged cheeses, such as cheddar, possess little lactose, making them ideal for lactose-intolerant eaters. Good stuff!

Now for the most maligned food of all. Drum roll!

Roast beef, sliced and ready to serveBeef

First of all, there’s a good bit of difference between feedlot beef and pasture-raised, grass-fed beef. You can read more about it here. Grass-fed beef is a lot healthier! But beef possesses surprising nutritional resources.

Dr. Mat Lalonde – a Harvard chemist – analyzed the different food groups for nutrient density, looking at all the vitamins and minerals whose praises we hear sung by all the media. Make no mistake: vegetables do provide these wonderful substances. But guess what? So does meat, in greater quantity than plant foods and with greater bioavailabilty (which means they’re easier for the body to assimilate). Here’s Dr. Lalonde’s findings:

Grains – Nutrient Density Score: 1.2

Fruit – Nutrient Density Score: 1.5

Vegetables – Nutrient Density Score: 2.0

Legumes – Nutrient Density Score: 2.3

Eggs & Poultry – Nutrient Density Score: 3.1

Pork – Nutrient Density Score: 3.7

Beef – Nutrient Density Score: 4.3

Fish & Seafood – Nutrient Density Score: 6.0

Organ Meats – Nutrient Density Score: 21.3

There’s a reason Mom always tried to make you eat liver when you were a kid! Ditto the fish. But beef pulls a pretty good score, more than twice that of vegetables. Vitamins, minerals, and protein – beef’s got them all.

Beef SuetBut what about all that saturated fat?

Therein lies a tale. You can read more about saturated fats here. But beef fat consists of 42% monounsaturated fat, 4% of polyunsaturated fat, and only 50% saturated fat. Not quite the expected breakdown, is it? However, that saturated fat is actually a good thing! I’ll summarize some of its good points below.

Saturated fats provide the building blocks for cell membranes and many hormones. Cell membranes are composed of 50% saturated fat. When you don’t eat enough, the body substitutes polyunsaturated fat or monounsaturated fat, whatever is available. But the substitutions don’t regulate what goes in and out of the cell quite they way they should, and you feel less well than you could or even get sick. The case for saturated fats is even stronger when you look at hormones, the messengers between the different organs. When their basic building block is scarce, the hormone is scarce too, and you wind up with problems such as infertility.

Saturated fats include both short-chain fatty acids and long-chain ones. The short ones have anti-microbial properties, protecting us from viruses, yeasts, and pathogenic bacteria. Short-chain fatty acids don’t need bile for digestion and thus are used directly for quick energy. This quality means they are less likely to be stored in fat cells and cause weight gain. The long-chain fatty acids are the precursors to hormones that I mentioned above.

Saturated fats allow calcium to be incorporated into our bones. (Osteoporosis, anyone?)

Saturated fats protect the liver from toxins, such as those in acetaminophen.

Beef Arugula 2There’s more, but I suspect I’ve gone on about the benefits of saturated fat and beef for long enough. :D

Bottom line: enjoy your beef and enjoy this dish! It’s both delicious and healthy.

For an analysis of a breakfast menu:
A Healthy Breakfast

For more about nutrition:
Yogurt and Kefir and Koumiss, Oh My!
Handle With Care
Test first, then conclude!

 

Landscapes of Auberon

Perilous Chance takes place in Auberon, but it is not the only story of mine set in that country. A fair bit of Troll-magic also transpires there, seen through the eyes of young Bazel.

Auberon occupies the northern tip of a large peninsula jutting out into the Merovessic Sea from the vast continent of Giralliya. It’s a green place, receiving a lot of rainfall throughout the year. I wish it were real, so that I could go visit it!

Auberon has four major regions clustered around the central mountains known as the Rivenpeaks.

Map of Auberon

Ransea lies to the northeast. It’s a rocky peninsula overgrown with brambles. Marble and limestone from its quarries are famed for their quality. No wonder Tiber Berefelte, a sculptor (and father to Clary, the heroine of Perilous Chance), is happy living where he does. Clary and her little sister Elspeth encounter their adventure in one of the old, abandoned quarries of Ransea.

Ransea

Stonnor, in the northwest, features moorland. Sheep and shepherds populate its largely treeless stretches of turf and gorse. Bazel’s home, the manor Gliddencote, sits in a pocket of friendlier soil right on the edge of the moor where the herbalist Melise dwells. While playing hide-and-bide, Bazel discovers his sisters Cecily and Phoebe hiding behind the stone wall dividing Gliddencote from the moor.

Stonnor

Wetlands grace much of southeastern Tardleigh. Sea salt, fish, and a particularly durable rush plant are harvested by its people. The sea influences the life of the region strongly, and Auberon’s largest port, Hollispier, grew up around a large natural bay on its coast.

Tardleigh

The Rivenpeaks hold deposits of iron and copper ores. Once steam power arrived in Auberon, the area was developed for mining. Recreational interest followed industrial use, and many wealthy families own chalets on the mountain slopes, while the common folk visit hotels there.

Rivenpeaks

Grenold is the heavily populated heartland of Auberon. The land is fertile and farmed. Many villages, towns, and cities dot its rolling hills. The capital city of Caranda thrives on the Aube River winding through the valley.

Grenold

I must confess that finding photos of the real world that match both the feeling and the vision I have for places in my North-lands gives me a thrill. What about you? Did you enjoy seeing Ransea and Stonnor? Or do you prefer to generate images of these story places from your own imagination?

For more about Perilous Chance:
Justice in Auberon
Clary’s Cottage
Notes on Chance
Not Monday, But Lundy

For more about Troll-magic’s Bazel:
What Happened to Bazel?

 

Not Monday, But Lundy

Thunor's Fight with the GiantsBefore I wrote Perilous Chance, I hadn’t needed to know the names for the days of the week in my North-lands. It just hadn’t come up!

But one of the scenes in Perilous Chance features a conversation between 11-year-old Clary and her mother. They are discussing the mundane chores that need to be done and when. Clary’s mother is confused about what day of the week it is. So I needed to give the matter some thought.

In our own world, the days of the week are derived from the names of old gods. We’ve got Tiwesdaeg, meaning Tiw’s Day. Tiw was the Norse god of single combat, victory, and heroic glory. Tiwesdaeg became Tewesday and, eventually, Tuesday.

We’ve also got Thunor’s Day to Thuresday to Thursday. And Day of Wodanaz (or Odin Allfather, ruler of Asgard) rendered from Wodnesdaeg to Wednesdei to Wednesday.

OdinMy North-lands possess many similarities to our world, and I knew that the days of its week – like those in our world – derived from its mythologies. With the difference that pieces of North-lands mythologies remain current beliefs in places such as Silmaren (the setting in Troll-magic).

The major religions of the North-lands stem from the idea of Sias as the mother goddess and her nine handmaidens. Many of the month names originate from the names of the handmaidens. The same is true of the day names.

In Auberon, where Perilous Chance takes place, Sias is spoken of as Essey. The Auberonese no longer worship Sias as their primary deity. Their devotion moved long ago to her handmaiden Thiya, the embodiment of intellect and science. Over the centuries, Thiya’s identity changed from handmaiden to offspring to son, and the pronunciation of the name drifted as well, eventually becoming Teyo.

Teyo was given his own day: Teysdy.

But Sias – Essey – had received hers long before: Esstey. Esstey continued through to “modern” times as the holy day of the week.

Flora by Evelyn De MorganLike us, the North-landers also have a day named for the moon: Luna’s Day or Lundy.

Fallon the Wanderer gave them Wanderer’s Day or Wandy.

Bree, the handmaiden of Strength, also became male in Auberon and was called Barris. Barris’ Day rapidly became the more pronounceable Barrsdy.

Sabel, the handmaiden of gifts, was known as Belaine in Auberon. Further linguistic drift rendered Belaine’s Day as Beldaine and then Beldy.

The Auberonese have one anomalous day. A lady of their nobility is known as a fanish, and the ladies have their own day of honor: Fanishday.

Here’s a list of the days in order:

Esstey
Lundy
Teysdy
Wandy
Barrsdy
Fanishday
Beldy

They feel right to me in my role as a writer and world maker. And it pleases me that their sound on the ear bears some resemblance to our own Sunday, Monday, etc.

Say them: Esstey, Lundy, Teysdy, Wandy, Barrsdy, Fanishday, Beldy. Yes! :D

For more about Perilous Chance:
Justice in Auberon
Clary’s Cottage
Notes on Chance
Cover Creation: Perilous Chance

 

Clary’s Cottage

Clary – the 11-year-old heroine of Perilous Chance – lives in a comfortable cottage with half-timbered walls and a thatched roof.

Chance cottage

 
Her father’s studio, where he sculpts stone into marvelous statuary, occupies a separate outbuilding. He keeps the accounts for his commissions in the cottage library.

Clary’s mother’s “sewing room” sees more of Clary’s and Elspeth’s school lessons, cozy mother-daughter chats, and late family suppers than it does stitchery.

The family eats breakfast and luncheons in the front parlor, as well as entertaining guests there.

The back door, between the kitchen and the scullery, is where Clary and Elspeth depart on their visit to the old bramble-grown quarry.

cottage 1st floor

 
Clary and Elspeth share a bedchamber on the second floor of the cottage.

Their baby brother, Lyrus, occupies the nursery next to their parents’ bedchamber.

cottage 2nd floor

 
Perilous Chance is now out in paperback! The paperback edition includes appendices with a few extra tidbits about Clary (such as that above) and her family.
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Perilous Chance paperback

Of course, Perilous Chance continues to be available as an ebook.
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Amazon AU I Amazon IN I Amazon CA
B&N I iTunes I Kobo I Smashwords

For more about Perilous Chance:
Justice in Auberon
Not Monday, But Lundy
Notes on Chance
Cover Creation: Perilous Chance

 

Facial “Soap” Eureka!

Two years ago I wrote about soap and shampoo and lip balm. I’d recently discovered that modern toiletries weren’t as safe as I’d always believed. I was dismayed and wanted to share my new-to-me knowledge with others.

Especially because I’d hunted up alternatives that were both safe and effective.

You can read that blog post here.

safe bath products

Now I’ve got an update!

I’m still using the same wonderful Terressentials hairwash, Bubble&Bee lip balm and “bodyButta” lotion, pure castile soap from the Blue Ridge Soap Shed, alata soap from SheAyurvedics, and Bubble&Bee deodorant. These products have worked for me over the long haul.

But, at last I’ve found a solution to my face soap dilemma!

Cetaphil and Equate Gentle CleanserBefore my toiletries revelation, I’d been using a generic version of Cetaphil® Gentle Cleanser. It worked well. The Gentle Cleanser kept my face clean without drying my skin. Perfect! Until I checked the EWG Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database.

Amongst Cetaphil’s ingredients:

Propylparaben – developmental/reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, allergies/immunotoxicity – EWG score of 10, the worst

Butylparaben – biochemical or cellular level changes, developmental/reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, allergies/immunotoxicity – EWG score of 7, not good on a scale of 1 – 10

Methylparaben – biochemical or cellular level changes, endocrine disruption, allergies/immunotoxicity – EWG score of 4, still not great (I like products with ingredients that score 0 or 1)

Propylene Glycol – enhanced skin absorption, allergies/immunotoxicity, irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), organ system toxicity (non-reproductive) – EWG score of 3, better but not the range I prefer

I gave up my Gentle Cleanser, but my face suffered.

The pure castile soap was gentle, but not gentle enough for my face. The alata soap was gentler yet, but not gentle enough.

Rosa MosquetaI tried using Aubrey® Organics Rosa Mosqueta® Bath & Shower Gel, but my cheeks developed a bit of red chapping in response. Plus I had concerns about the grapefruit seed preservative in it. Grapefruit seed extract may be contaminated by triclosan and methyl paraben or benzethonium chloride, unless it is processed properly.

I tried plain vegetable glycerin, the main ingredient in the Aubrey® Organics product, but it worsened the chapping on my skin.

I gave up for a while.

 

Nourish Organic Hand WashAnd then I found myself away from home during a family medical emergency. The hand soap in the house where I stayed ran out. I dashed to the local health food store and picked up a bottle of Nourish Organic Hand Wash. The ingredients looked good, but I didn’t think more about it until after my family member in the hospital was out of danger.

My hands felt great and – since I’d been using it on my face – my face felt great too! This was what I’d been wanting for the last 2 years: a gentle cleanser for delicate skin that wasn’t soap-based, that didn’t dry my skin, that didn’t irritate my skin, and that was made of safe ingredients.

Eureka!

I returned home exhausted and sick (in a minor, non-dangerous way) myself. Needless to say, I didn’t go shopping right away. When I did, I couldn’t find the Hand Wash, but the Body Wash seems to be the same stuff in a different dispenser. I’m happy!

Nourish Body WashAt this point, I’ve only been using Nourish for a few weeks. I’ll report back in a few months to share how it holds up over the long haul. I’m hopeful! :D

For more on green clean, read:
Great Soap & Etcetera Quest
Green Housekeeping

 

Justice in Auberon

Balance ScalesPerilous Chance will soon release in paperback! I’m excited about it and have all-things-perilous-and-chancy on my mind, so I’m going to share a series of blog posts relating to my story. The first is this one about the justice system used in Auberon, where Perilous Chance takes place.

For those of you who haven’t read Perilous Chance, Clary – an 11-year-old girl – is its protagonist, and she encounters the legal system in the course of her adventure.

* * *

Clary’s uncle, Arteme ni Calcinides, serves as Justicar of the Peace for his lething. (A lething is a subdivision of a worthing. A worthing is similar to a county. Auberon possesses eighteen worthing.)

Being Justicar means Arteme presides over his Court Justicarate when issues such as petty theft, disorderly conduct, or trespass arise. And dispenses summary justice, without formality, for smaller offenses: wearing inappropriate bathing costume, grazing your cow on your neighbor’s land, moving a road sign, and the like.

Arteme passes no judgment on more serious crimes. Burglary, arson, and assault and battery all get referred to the next higher court, the Quintary Sessions, held five times a year and presided over by three Lord Justicars.

The worst breaches go higher still.

Murder and kidnapping must be tried at the Courts of Assidere, convened as necessary.

And treason goes all the way to the Morofane’s Bench.

The structure of Auberon’s judicial courts looks like this:

The Rofanes’ Council
(highest court in Auberon)
I
The Morofane’s Bench
(royal decrees may be challenged, treason tried)
I
Court of Appeals
(hears appeals from lower courts)
I
Courts of Assidere
(hears cases referred by the Quintary Sessions)
I
Quintary Sessions
(tries felonies and hears civil cases)
I
Courts Justicarate
(tries misdemeanors and infractions, refers felonies)
(Areteme’s court is a Court Justicarate)

A Chancery Court – apart from the criminal justice establishment –
handles mercantile law, land law, and trusts.

Thus, when Clary and her family arrive at Arteme’s manor house, reporting their witnessing of a violent death, the Rofane must go investigate.

If the events prove to be death by misadventure, the case need go no further. But if murder is suspected, Arteme must refer the case to the Quintary Sessions along with a suspect and all the evidence pointing to that suspect. The Rofane has quite a job cut out for him!

Luckily, he has help.

In the distant past, his help would have consisted of the knights under his rule and their squires. But in these “modern” times, the Royal Judiciary appoints and funds a secretary – to handle records – as well as twenty stave-men – to make arrests – and five warders – to supervise the stave-men and handle especially challenging criminal situations.

However, these twenty-five men on active duty must secure the entire lething. As Arteme departs to investigate the scene of the death, he has only four of them at hand.

* * *

For more about Perilous Chance:
Clary’s Cottage
Not Monday, But Lundy
Notes on Chance
Cover Creation: Perilous Chance

 

Read-Only Beauty

Read-Only Beauty started as an assignment in a writing workshop on how to develop ideas for stories. I wrote a story opening inspired by three words chosen at random from a dictionary: read-only-memory, number cruncher, derelict.

The assignment was limited to 500 words, but I couldn’t bear to stop there! I turned in the required word count, but kept writing to finish a piece of flash fiction, included in its entirety below.

photo by MyheimuUzuri woke as from a nightmare, suddenly, horrifically, slamming down on the platform from on high, arching to sitting so fast it gave her whiplash. Her throat was too dry to loose the scream. She swallowed down bitter bile, blinking. It was too soon, too soon, and all wrong.

Someone whimpered. It was her. “Stop, stop it,” she whispered.

Her tongue felt stiff inside her mouth, and the light hurt her eyes, indirect, but gleaming from polished white panels. She swung her feet to the floor. Fine flakes of charred dust, like black sand, gritted between her bare soles and the white floor. She stared bewildered at the silvery gown draped over her bony knees, fluttering down to the brown skin of her slender ankles. She inhaled, painfully. What had burned to produce that acrid scent? And why? And where were . . . ?

There should be people around her, steadying her, here in the stasis room. Where were they?

She could remember the hood coming down, her sight dimming, the surgical unit approaching her head. But not here. It was in a hospice suite. And then nothing. What was she doing in this stasis chamber?

Abruptly, she stood. Ran out through the open doorway and along a curving hall. The black cinders scritched under her swift steps. Faint metallic taps sounded from her knees banging her gown, its fabric slightly stiff, slightly silken. The white panels of the walls blurred, but not with speed. Her memory didn’t hold them, couldn’t hold them.

Where am I? Where am I?

She stopped. Came to herself before an aquarium. Bright golden fishes swam behind the expanse of glass, so calm, so peaceful. The water filter hummed softly, bubbles murmuring as they ascended from its conch-shell housing. A vivid blue beta darted through the school of goldfish. Uzuri’s gaze fell to the white pebbles lining the tank’s bottom. A fine black ash speckled their pale smoothness.

Oh, god! Oh, god! That fine ash meant something dreadful. She knew it was so.

She ran again.

The grand foyer was still beautiful. Green, twining vines climbed the white support girders. The air smelled fresher. Mosaic murals showed scenes of far-off earth – the sun-drenched isle of Mykonos dreaming amidst ocean, its canopied market, its ruined temples. Uzuri waded in the foyer reflecting pool. The water was cool, chilling her calves. Flat coins pressed the balls of her feet. Coins and the grit of ashes. She fled, splashing down amidst the money, scrambling up, hair dripping and skin slick, her gown still strangely dry.

What had happened? Oh, what?

The Calaeno II was an outpost, so far from 16 Tauri that the blue-white primary burned as merely one star amidst many. Uzuri remembered arriving at the station, watching the revolving spokes within its wheel flash past the star field, wondering if she would see the spectral effects her hypothesis proposed for her observations of the Melotte 22 Open Cluster. She’d been excited, her first trip out from the mother planet, her first posting out of university. She remembered. She remembered that. But . . . what came after?

The hood came down. Her vision dimmed. The surgical unit approached. Oh, god!

She was standing in front of a wall monitor, gesturing with one hand: page down, page down, page down. The records flickered by.

Patient: Uzuri Beleza. Human female. Standard mods: joint enhancement, collagen longevity, memory capacity.

Flick.

Diagnosis: Memory circuit malfunction. Read-only, functional. Read-and-write, inoperative.

Flick.

A sprawling and obscure circuitry diagram.

Flick.

Treatment plan: Stasis, followed by surgical replacement when supply ship arrives with microcircuit #THC313.

Flick.

Treatment administered: Stasis initiated, 8*6*2787

Flick, flick.

File Accessed: 11*6*2791 user UBeleza
File Accessed: 11*7*2791 user UBeleza
File Accessed: 11*8*2791 user UBeleza
File Accessed: 11*9*2791 user UBeleza

She sank to her knees, cinders grinding between bone and floor tile, denting the skin, ashy gray with dryness and unattractive. She bent. Her tears fell, flushing her dry knees to rich brown with their wetness. Oh, god, oh, god! Please help me, please help.

The hood descended. Her eyes grew blind. The surgical unit approached.

She fled down corridors of unformed memory. What has happened? What’s wrong? Where am I?

She stood in the observation lounge. Gritty cinders rendered the plush matting uncomfortable, the chairs and divans, likewise. She reached out to touch the transparent wall before her, spread her fingers against the clear ceram-glass. The vast dark of night cloaked infinity, a well down which Calaeno II – and Uzuri – fell endlessly. The stars wheeled, a begemmed veil of blue and white and red sparks, unwinking save for the Crab pulsar, throbbing violet near the center of rotation. Beautiful. It was beautiful. But, oh! She needed more.

The hood came down. Her blindness commenced. The surgery began.

When had beauty proffered succor?

She was running, seeking someone, seeking help.

Another monitor confronted her gaze. With images out of nightmare. Was it this from which she’d woken?

Flick, flick.

There was fire without flames. Incandescent. A sea of plasma. How was it that the water never boiled, the leaves of the grape ivy did not char?

The fire glowed, then ebbed. And there were ashes, everywhere ashes, falling through the air, falling to lie on the water and sink, falling to coat the floors. “My people, oh, my people,” she whispered. They were ash, only ash, and would never live again.

The hood. The blindness. The approach.

How much time passed between that moment of read-only memory and the next? It was blank, and blank again.

She stood watching stars. The pulsar winked within night’s robe. A streak of silver rent its breast. And her eyes were dry, so dry. She was scared.

* * *

For more flash fiction, see:
Mother’s Gift
The Old Armory: Blood Falchion
The Old Armory: Hunting Wild

 

Where Have I Been?

My apologies for the 3 weeks without new posts!

My very dear mother was ill and in the hospital for 17 days. She has now emerged from the ordeal to all the hard work that is necessary after one has been very ill, if one wishes to regain one’s strength.

I have a new post ready for this Friday, a flash fiction story entitled Read-Only Beauty. Get ready! :D