Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Early New Year!

So, I'm still in the midst of holiday company (hence the tardiness of this post). I really don't have time for a big lengthy anything at the moment (what with packing for our trip and dealing with people), but I wanted to wish everyone a fabulous 2012!

An extra special shout out to the OWG Rebels and those who hang with me at the Rebel Outpost. Your love, support, and encouragement have kept me going. I adore each and every one of you. Last year I dubbed 2011 the year of the Rebel. For 2012, the Outpost is staging a worldwide takeover. A year of releases, a year of firsts, and a year full of awesome!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

This post is going live at 12:30 am, the time of the winter solstice where I live. So from me to you: Yuletide Greetings!

For those who don't know, in many Pagan traditions, Yule marks the birth of the sun god (or the victory of the god of the "light" half of the year). While Samhain (Halloween) is the Pagan New Year, for me Yule and its bringing of the light is more of a time of renewal. I find the weeks between Samhain and Yule to be a time of reflection (which often, when combined with other aspects of the coming winter holidays leads to stress). Yule is one of the times when I seek to find an inner calm. I've already spent almost two months in self-examination, and this is the time when I make decisions about where I want my life to go in the coming year.

2011 has been a... a hell of a ride. Like all the best roller coasters, it was filled with ups and downs and even threw me for a loop more than once. As the ride's about to end, I can either get right back on or I can look for a different ride. The thing is, life isn't like an amusement park. When you get off one ride and head to the next at Cedar Point or Disney or wherever, you generally know what you're going to next. You get to choose if you want more thrills and madness or if you're ready for something a little more sedate. Life's more like going to an amusement park, drawing your next ride out of a hat, and having to go on it regardless of if you're... afraid of heights, or can't swim, or even have a heart condition.

And that's what happens when you decide to make changes in your life. You're throwing away the roller coaster, and hoping that when you walk away, it's to find yourself on an even better ride (whatever that "better" is for you).

If you've ever been to an amusement park with me, you know there are usually a handful of rides that, if given the choice, I'd spend all day riding over and over again. The funny part is, if you know me, you know I'm not like that with life. No matter how good the status quo might be, I get... antsy. I want the surprises and the new challenges and all the ups and downs that will come with them. With that in mind, with the coming of the light, I'm letting it shine into the dark corners of me and clearing out what doesn't work as well as I want it to and making room for new (hopefully better) stuff.

And no matter what else, I hope it's an awesome ride.

No matter what you celebrate, I hope you have a happy and blessed holiday!

**Blogging will be minimal for the next two weeks**

Thursday, December 15, 2011

There’s Always Room for Magic

This is the year I broke down and told my kids that the reindeer pulling the sleigh aren’t real. That the jolly fat man in the red suit is really Mom and Dad hanging out in their pajamas, drinking, watching non-kid-friendly holiday movies and wrapping gifts. The thing is… they’ve known for years.
My son has played along so his sister would believe, but she ditched the tooth fairy in favor of keeping her teeth to show off (why—I don’t know) after she lost the first one. She’s six.

I’m not sure what happened that made them stop believing in magic, but it makes me sad. Not that I want them to be made fun of at school or anything, but that loss of innocence is a big deal. Often, teachers and friends and television dictate what kids think is cool or right. Most of the time it’s a good thing, but I believe in embracing the imagination, so when we had our talk, that was a big part of it. Holding on to what’s worth keeping while letting go of the rest.

I also made sure to remind them that just because one bit of magic isn’t what they thought, it doesn’t mean magic isn’t real. We spent some time talking about miracles and things that defy explanation. We even talked about the religious significance of both Christmas and Yule and the magic inherent in both. And we talked about how people can make magic every day by the things we do.
And we discussed a way for us to create some magic next Christmas for someone. (Surprisingly, they didn’t pick the dogs first, but I would’ve been okay with that. To the dogs, everything is magic.) They decided to make a Build-A-Bear for a kid from the giving tree at their favorite restaurant. Total proud-mom moment right there, and I’ve never seen them as excited to be at Build-A-Bear.
When I tuck them in that night, one of them (because they always do) will ask me if I believe in magic. I’ll do what I always do. I’ll tell them the truth—I do. I always have. Then I’ll remind them that what I believe in my heart doesn’t matter as much as what they believe in theirs. And I’ll kiss them goodnight and tell them to sleep sweet.We celebrate our little family Christmas on Saturday. Friday night before bed, we’ll sit back, and I’ll read the holiday story I wrote for the PRT series. It’s one of those stories that I love and wish I could share with the world, but it has so many spoilers it has to stay hidden (basically until the series is done). But since the kids hear me brainstorming, they already know all the spoilers, so I can share it with them.
And I’ll rely on faith, trust and pixie dust that in the morning, my kids’ worlds will miraculously be a more magical place than it was when they believed in the man in the red suit and elves and flying reindeer…because they’ll believe in possibility.
That is my holiday wish to my children and every one of my readers. Whatever your faith or celebration, Happy Holidays from me and the PRT.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Doing the Right Thing This Holiday Season

Every year, the time around the holidays seems to get more and more crowded. Things to do, people to see, even with fewer people to buy for this year, there's still a lot of shopping. One thing hasn't changed this year--I have to pick and choose what's most important.

Decorations are slowly going up. Shopping is 99% done and what's left is relatively painless (gift cards for teachers, that sort of thing). But, I have a manuscript I want to finish drafting before we start visiting people and having company all the time. Really? I'd like to get edits on PRT 2 done as well so I can send it off. But I'll settle for the draft.

What that means is, time is precious. I let the blog slide during NaNo, so I don't really want to skip it this month (plus, really, blogging doesn't take that long as long as I know what to write about). I haven't done cards yet and I really should. I always do cards, but if I don't get them out soon, they may not get where they need to be.

On the other hand, the extended family Christmas party is this weekend. My grandfather turns 100 in March. He's almost a freaking century old. My mind still boggles when I consider it. But, I'm also a realist. Anything could happen between now and March. So... cards are taking a backseat to something more important.

You see, my grandmother used to make these cookies. They were really the only kind she ever made, and they are... an acquired taste (most of the kids in the family acquired it because... hello? Only option at grandma's house). My grandmother died quite a while ago, and no one in the family could duplicate her cookies. Truth is I'm not sure how many people bothered trying. You see? They are a pain in the ass. Your kitchen is devoted to those cookies for two days. Might as well not plan on doing anything else in there. And, if you don't do it just right... they don't turn out. Easy to burn. Easy to under mix. Easy to over flour. There are so many ways to screw them up.

A few years back, I decided I wanted to surprise my grandfather and I made them. That year I discovered that the special flour on the recipe? Yeah. It doesn't exist anymore. So... I tried with the closest I could find. The cookies didn't look quite right, but they tasted okay, if a little bland. (It was also the year I found out that you need 4-5x as much extract as you need if you use essential oil instead.)

Then I made them the next year. They still didn't look quite right (the flour I found was more yellow than the special flour), but by cutting them the night before, the edges baked better. Plus, I used the right amount of extract. Now, they still didn't taste exactly right (the flour problem), but damn... they're close. And grandpa asked about them the moment I walked in the door that year.

I've made them for every party since. Last year, (in addition to the special box for Grandpa) I packaged up the leftovers for my dad... and my cousin took them. That boy is going to get an earful this year. Anyway... Cards? Or cookies for my almost-100-year-old grandpa? That's a no brainer.

Maybe I'll find time for cards next week. Maybe not. I hope if you expected one from me and don't get it, you'll understand that I had to make a choice... and agree I made the right one.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ding Dong, NaNo's Dead, and the Rebel Outpost is Born

By the time you read this, the clock has likely chimed midnight on your National Novel Writing Month quest. Whether you shot for the 50k or had some other goal for the month (as many of the NaNoRebs did), NaNo is over for another year.
For those who didn't see the other me tweet with glee about it, I finished my 50k on November 23... and then promptly died (or at least my productivity did). Holiday preparations started to take over, and stress set in, and writing suffered the consequences. But today I say "No more!" Several people want to finish their NaNo novels in December, me among them. So, I'm going to be participating in #30k30 on Twitter. Really, I'm hoping for more like #30k10 or #30k15, but just to not confuse the hashtag, I'm going to try to add at least 30k to the novel in thirty days in December (I guess we get to take one off?).

With that in mind, but not just because of it, the NaNoRebs chatroom that we've used for write-ins is going to stay open and active. We're still hashing out details, but too many of us find it fun and motivating to just let it fade away. But, since NaNo is over, it needs a new name. The chatroom will now be known as The Rebel Outpost. It *is* password protected, so if you're planning to hang out there, please make sure I have your name on my handy-dandy list. That way if we need to change the password, I can let you know.
Also, even if you didn't participate with us during NaNo, you can join The Rebel Outpost too. We goof around a lot, but generally we also get a lot of writing done (non-writers, I adore you too, but it's not a chatroom just to chat, it's a chatroom to work). If you decide you want to join us, please let me know so I can get you the password (honestly, Twitter is still probably the easiest way. Either @Selestial or @Selestedelaney)

I hope you had a great NaNo, and please let the rest of the Rebels know if you hit your personal goal :)