Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Best Books I've Read in 2014

With 2014 winding to a close, I've compiled a list of the ten best books I've read this year. They are presented in no particular order, except for #1, which definitely deserves it.

10. On Writing, by Stephen King

9. Eragon, by Christopher Paolini

8. Guns, Germs, & Steel, by Jared Diamond

7. The Tailor of Panama, by John Le Carre

6. Queen of Dragons, by Shana Abe

5. Water For Elephants, by Sara Gruen

4. The Dark Portal, by Robin Jarvis

3. Tundra 37, by Aubrie Dionne

2. The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan

Bonus: Surprise Star: Brian Boru - Emperor of the Irish, by Morgan Llywelyn

1. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins

"May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor!"

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Beyond The Empire's Hold

Dec. 17th, 2014

With the cold Empire clamping down on all of us in a variety of ways, we find ourselves asking how best to break way from its iron-clad grasp. Well, I can't speak for the rest of the U.S., but here in Sacramento, California, most jobs are held by government workers of all levels (city, state, etc.). According to the EDD's most current report on the status of jobs in the Sacramento area (http://www.calmis.ca.gov/file/lfmonth/sacr$pds.pdf) - about a quarter of all jobs here are government jobs. These jobs are fairly well-paying, though due to the once-a-month payout of checks for those holding State jobs, it is common for State workers to be working two jobs in order to support themselves.

What this means is that most of us are hooked into rigid, hierarchical systems that do not allow for flexibility in scheduling or job duties, rooted in a bureaucracy that is detested by my generation, the Millenials. But what are we Millenials to do? The highest growth sector appeared to be "Professional & Business services".

The report then breaks down Professional & Business Services into smaller categories, of which the one with the highest growth percentage is Employment Services. But I would never advise anyone to go into employment/unemployment services. Remember, we've got to play the long game here, and look for long-time career industries to join up with. Employment & Unemployment percentages are prone to fluctuations, and thus, so will your job be.

At any rate, I don't claim to know what the answers are, but it has come to me that I've got to look under every stone and see what's out there. I will then report my findings to you.

For now, over and out.

~Leslie D. Soule

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sacramento's upcoming Save Point Tavern, and the ShadowBlade

Well I can't say much about this without giving away the plot of my next two books, Betrayer and Retribution. Suffice to say, that at some point, my hometown is going to be having a gamer-themed cafe' called the Save Point Tavern, but I was too late to donate to the Kickstarter campaign that would have allowed me to create a mythical weapon and have it displayed there.

But...it still might happen. I spoke with the guy behind Save Point, and there's a chance.

My main character Ash Kensington ends up with a very special weapon called the ShadowBlade, and that's what I'm going to have the guys at Save Point create for yours truly, on display. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Family History = Empire Contraband

This thought came to me the other day, when I was working on family history research. Family history is something the Empire doesn't want you to take an interest in, just like they care nothing for a person's personal history or for history in general, really. They'll tell you to live in the now as though it's a mantra to live by. Don't buy it.

What could the ulterior motive be for pushing such an agenda? That's what I wondered, but I think I've worked it out. You see, they want their pedigrees to be their positions in government or their network connections or their money - anything that can be attained through nefarious means.

But your history and your family history, your pains and their sufferings, are things that belong to you intrinsically. They are things that no Empire can ever take away. I take pride in knowing that my family can trace its lineage at least as far back as 1760, clearly. Once I eventually get a subscription to Ancestry.com, or do some more research, who knows how far back it'll stretch, and that's something to take pride in, not these false idols of a broken Empire.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Poem - "Betrayal Is The Worst Thing"

I wrote a poem about my pain, sort of a cross between the true-to-life style of Charles Bukowski combined with that part of T.S. Eliot's epic poem, "The Waste Land" where he writes that "April is the cruelest month".

"Betrayal Is The Worst Thing"

I had a boyfriend once who said
that if I cheated on him,
he'd kill us both - me and my lover.
I didn't understand, at first,
but now I think I do,
because
betrayal is the worst thing.

He's dead now. I didn't kill him,
but the cancer did.
I thought he was pretty bad, at the time,
but comparatively,
he was an amateur at the arts of breaking people.

The real Betrayer came to me
with smiles and warmth,
and betrayed me with a kiss -
my very own Judas Iscariot

So I went to the cathedral in downtown
where a figure of Jesus hung from the cross
"You cannot fix this world," he said to me.
"No one can."
I left and pondered that for a while.

At least I came through everything alive -
even with the nightmares and whatnot.

My Betrayer came to plunder and destroy.
I didn't think he had a plan, but now I do -
marriage in secret, make me pregnant,
and then the most important part -
the self-taken pennyroyal -
"a natural abortifacent" that "grew wild in his parents' yard"
Deadly poison. He always left that part out.
He would have won the game, taken my house, my life, my future.

Now I am alive but haunted, walking through the dust and the shadows.

Of all the evils in the world to sit there and endure,
betrayal is the worst thing.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fandom-onium!

Serenity & Firefly = Browncoats

Lord of the Rings = Ringers

Star Trek = Trekkies

Dr. Who = Whovians

This is just a small list of shows/movies and their fandoms. A fandom is a group of fans who identify & adore the concepts of a series, and show their admiration by creating fan art, writing fan fiction, and/or just by enjoying the creator's work.

Jealous of the other fandoms out there, I wanted one and whined about it. So a couple friends of mine said they'd form my fandom, and began calling themselves FallenSoules.

Ay ay ay!!!! Well, at least I have a fandom.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Practical Importance Of Martial Arts

I cannot over-emphasize the need for everyone to know how to defend themselves. The world is a dangerous place, and for example, I see the emails that have been coming through from Building Management at work. Over the past couple months, there have been three separate incidents of homeless men attacking women out on the street, in broad daylight. And in each case, Building Management responds the exact same way: they send an email alert out, after the fact, telling people to be careful. Read it thusly: they're certainly not coming to your rescue, should anything happen to you, but they don't want to be held liable either. It's the way of cowards. But are you a coward? What will you do if you're attacked? Yell for Batman? Get a grip. Everyone should learn martial arts, or at the least, some form of self-defense. Everyone. That means you. Do it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The "Show About Nothing" Isn't Really About Nothing

So the show Seinfeld was supposed to be "the show about nothing", but as I was watching a re-run last night, it occurred to me that this is not, in fact, the case.

Although the show seems to be, at first glance, a series of random comedy sketches, there is an over-arching theme that connects them all.

What the show is really about is the awkwardness and nuances of social interaction. This theme runs through every episode (even that weird final episode about the Good Samaritan law). In the grand comedic tradition, the show offers no solutions or guidance.

It is not heavy-handed, in the way that tragedies can sometimes be (think of the message against household disputes given in Romeo & Juliet).

But then, that is in keeping with the purpose & traditions of comedy.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why Dark Soda Destroys Rust (It's The Phosphoric Acid)

So if you haven't seen the MythBusters episode on this one, check it out.

Since I'm a fan of conducting independent experiments though, I did one on my own that backs this fact up - dark soda destroys rust. Why?

It's because of an ingredient that gives dark sodas their tartness - phosphoric acid.

For my experiment, I'd been given a set of Ren Faire leather armor, studded with copper disks that were badly rusting. I went to the dollar store and bought a jar of garlic, preserved in water and phosphoric acid. Then I removed the garlic, leaving a phosphoric acid/water solution, which, when applied with a Q-tip to the rust, took the rust away entirely. Yay - cheap rust cleaner! Ew - this is in the soda you drink!

What's a person to do?

Well, you know what I always say. Moderation in all things.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fallenwood has Re-Released, this time in PRINT!!!

Hooray! Fallenwood, book 1 of my Fallenwood Chronicles, has re-released!!! It's now available in print!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Small Steps Toward Self-Sufficiency - Plant A Garden

So right now, it's October and here in Sacramento, it's not hot and not cold, just a kind of in-between. It doesn't feel like fall quite yet though, since up until now, we've had some really hot weather and this drought has been clutching our state in a vise-grip.

Garden-wise, I planted a bunch of seeds, but the only things to have come up are a couple of swiss chard plants and some peas. As for the old garden, all the squash has died out, and the tomato plants have slowed their production, but are still yielding up some tiny tomatoes. The wax pepper plant is doing well and I just picked a few, and I have another pepper that's just now starting to take off.

That being said, gardening where I'm at is no simple task. There's hardpan everywhere, and when I first got my house a couple years ago, the backyard was a barren desert. At least I get a good amount of sun, and I'm hoping that the SMUD shade trees I got will take off, and provide some cover back there.

So how do you garden in hardpan? Well, the simple answer is that you don't. With my starter garden, I dug into the hardpan, shoveled the dirt out, and filled the sunken space with planting soil. With garden #2, on the opposite side of the yard (where the swiss chard and peas are), I tried a different approach, creating raised beds and planting on top of the hardpan. Both methods seem to have worked thus far.

Still, winter approaches, and you can't plant a garden in winter, right??? Wrong. You can, you just can't plant the variety of foods that you can in spring and summer. In winter, you can plant lettuce - and there are different varieties of lettuce, too. Last year, I planted a patch of purple lettuce and it was my favorite.

Please note that the photo is not from my garden, unfortunately. But I'll have some original pics soon.

The veggies you can plant in winter are: garlic, leeks, onions, radishes, lettuce, peas, potatoes, chard, spinach, rhubarb, bok choy and kale.

So start planting your winter gardens! A garden is a great way to get some fresh food and to save money.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Reject The Mainstream Media

Reject the Mainstream Media

Why should you reject it?

Here's a breakdown of the rules that modern television programs go by (from what I've seen):

The Rules of Modern Media:

-Nothing is sacred

Additionally,

-Art and literature are only presented as tools of farce

-Low humor is praised, high art is not

-While teamwork may appear, rarely, compassion is nonexistent

-Constant put-downs and bickering is the norm among characters

-No respect is shown for anyone or anything

Is this supposed to be a picture of our society?

If so, what is admirable about it?

Or is there anything admirable about it at all?

So what can you do to reject the mainstream media? Shut off your t.v. channels and learn an art, whether it's painting, leatherworking, welding, etc. It is rewarding. And don't worry if you think you don't have the skill - masters never start out that way. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Let the revolution begin, and let it begin in your heart and in your hands.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Where I'm at on writing and editing

Sometimes, things set us back from what we'd like to do, or what we're working on, in life. When I met up with the individual portrayed in Betrayer, I didn't act like the kid I was during the events of Fallenwood. I didn't run away and seek refuge in other places. But what happened shocked the heart out of me. It stunned me into immobility. I haven't been able to gain any kind of traction.

Having said that, a friend of mine helped me edit Hybrid Space, and I did pull myself out of my slump, to re-edit Fallenwood.

I still have to record some of the the Hybrid Space edits. Then, I'll tackle the only thing left on my back-burner: the edits for Betrayer. This is all at once a frightening prospect. I'll have to encounter the character Draeon (real name omitted), again, at least in my mind. I'd like to forget, but that's not what writing is for. That's not what writing is about. And I must not forget. For there is not ONE Draeon in this world, but many. Draeon is Legion.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Kill Flies The All-Natural Way

So let me begin by saying that the only reason I know how to kill flies is that I worked for the County for a while, trapping fruit flies. It was this season of disgusting work that taught me how it's done, and I can now pass that on to others. Do you have lots of flies in your backyard? It happens, and it's quite annoying. What you'll need is a glass wasp trap (see below). What's that, you say? A wasp trap to kill FLIES? Yes, I didn't stutter. You will need a glass wasp trap. These can be found at World Market and Orchard Supply Hardware. I found my big one at Orchard.

Now then, add some water into it until the lip of the thing is full of water, and then throw in some yeast and a pinch of sugar. Make sure the cork is put into the trap. Apparently how this thing works is that the flies can get in, but for some reason, cannot fly down to escape.

Now, stick the thing into a tree. You won't see anything happen for a few weeks, so I just wanted to give you that caveat. But a few weeks in, you'll see the thing filled to the brim with flies.

Give it a while, to make sure they're all dead, and then take the trap down, dump it out somewhere, clean, and repeat. You're welcome.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Waiting for Autumn!!!

I can't wait for autumn to get here, so we can get rid of this heat and make room in our lives for pumpkin spice lattes and mulled wine and all sorts of awesome things that autumn brings with it.
Speaking of mulled wine, I'm going to try and make my own mulling spices this year, to give out as gifts, and also just to keep around. They can be pricey, so I think it will be much more cost-effective to make my own.

Step one: Eat a lot of oranges

Step two: Save the peels for drying

Step three: Dry the peels without them getting moldy

I'm on step three, and I don't have a food dehydrator. I'm trying to oven-dry the peel, and it looks like it's getting there, but they're not completely dry yet. I will report back with more findings! Currently, with the oven-dry method, I'm heating the oven to 170 degrees and drying them for an hour a day. I'm on day 2. We shall see! Update: 3 days. It takes 3 days of oven-drying to dry them out completely. As for air drying, I've seen blogs saying it takes 3 to 6 days, but I'm thinking it's closer to 6.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Editing and Getting Back Into The Swing of Things

My goodness it's been a while since I've written anything - but I've certainly been editing! And guess what it is that I've been editing....that's right, Fallenwood! It's going to be re-released, and I absolutely love the cover.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Poem - "Same Old Song Again"

A poem by yours truly. It wrote itself, really...

"Same Old Song Again"

He was the Viking, coming to pillage
and I was the Irish, defending my turf
The trappings of the Modern Age
bewildered us -
made us forget
this ancient dance of war,
and our places in it,
a thousand years ago.
Only inklings of our own strength
shined up through the murk
like lights at the bottom of a well
The fire of hatred in his eyes, the lack of honor,
the poisonous carpe diem - these were nothing new
but in the reincarnation
someone switched out my eyes.
So we danced around each other in the way that fighters do
sizing each other up
until he realized that I was of no consequence
The Vikings had pillaged from the Irish since the beginning of time
It was a given.
He had the advantage of size and strength
But something changed one day, all those years ago -
a beginning to entropy - the center could not hold
and soon enough, they fled - he fled, and history had struck again
The dance was done
but the song played on.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review - Night Magic by Kathleen Ann Gallagher

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: Paranormal/Romance

Pages: 58

Review: Krista is haunted by her past, and hounded by her ex-fiance', Andy. She works at her own store, selling skin-care products. She is a witch, but tries to keep this secret under wraps. Fearing for her safety, she goes to speak with a lawyer. She never expected the lawyer, Jon, to be breathtakingly attractive. She feels an instant connection with him and the feeling is mutual. But Jon has paranormal secrets of his own - namely that his mother lives in limbo, unable to cross over because of a curse put on through a feud with a witch, long ago. Jon is torn between his desire for a relationship and his duty to help his mother. This is a beautifully entertaining story, well-written, with likeable characters and a thoroughly enticing plot. I very much enjoyed reading it and watching the action build to its enchanting conclusion.

And guess what??? Today is the official Release Day for Night Magic!!!! It is available from Secret Cravings Publishing!