Alycia Christine

Enchanting Art, Encouraging Tales

Tag: Halloween

SCRAWLS: November Updates

Mayonnaise-AC4x6November has been a weird and crazy month. Despite the fact that I tried to keep things simple, life has inevitably slipped in a few complications. First my granddaddy (Mom’s Dad) was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 80. For the sake of his privacy, I’ll skip most of the details about the disease; however, I can say that the particular form of cancer is treatable.

I have not had the chance to visit Granddaddy in person; however, I did talk to him on the phone during his first week of treatment. He sounded strong and in good spirits, so that is a great encouragement. In other news, my grandma (Dad’s Mom) continues to heal after falling and breaking her right arm, so life in our family continues to limp along.

I did have a close encounter of the arachnid kind when I discovered a black widow spider nesting in the hinge area of my car’s driver side door. After screaming like a three-year-old, I proceeded to shoot half of a gallon of poison into the affected area and watched with satisfaction as the potentially-lethal passenger died a curly-legged death. Matt and I have double-checked and treated both of our cars and the rest of the garage since that little revelation.

Aside from those three events, my life has mainly revolved around work and volunteer activities with a little bit of fun thrown in for good measure.

Since the last update, I have:

Painted children’s faces at our church’s Fall Festival event on Halloween night. I think the adults had as much fun as the kids!

Celebrated my 31st birthday with some of my family and friends in Lubbock, Texas. Mom was sick for most of the weekend with a sinus infection, so we didn’t do too much. However, I did get a mouthwatering steak for my birthday dinner followed by delectable banana pudding desert cupcakes and a round of reading hilarious birthday cards. Thank you, family!

Reorganized our home office. Ugh, what a mess. It’s crazy how much clutter can accumulate in a year! I still need to cull and reorganize all of the books in our house, but that is a project best left alone until after Christmas.

Finished a photography shoot of a beautiful fleabitten gray roping horse (see the photo at the beginning of today’s article). Thank you to Doug Miller for helping me capture the majesty of this high-spirited creature.

Updated several pages on the website including more blogs, widgets, and unique content.

Changed internet service providers. So far the new company has proven much more reliable than the old company, which means that my griping about the slowness of our internet speeds should plummet to a minimum. Thank you all for sticking with me through this frustrating time!

Tried to post my first video blog on As many of you know, it did not succeed even with my more stable internet connection. Even with the limitation on video uploads, I am actually quite happy because I can still provide great written and image content to all of you far more easily than I could before the ISP change.

Watched Thor: The Dark World in movie theaters. This 170-mile round trip movie date was worth the effort. I really enjoyed the story. Spoiler alert: the dark elves with spaceships and guns were awesome! Watching Thor’s character grow up a little more was interesting to see and I loved watching Jane and her fellow scientists finally get the chance to be heroes in their own right. My favorite moment of the whole movie was watching Chris Evans doing an impression of Loki impersonating Captain America. Hilarious!

Reread all of The Hunger Games Trilogy books (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay). I love this series. While the book’s characters can occasionally feel a bit flat to me, the world that they live in is intricately built and quite scary. In some ways, the country of Panem reminds me a bit of Imperialist Rome mixed with Communist Russia. An very creepy combination especially since it’s established on what was formerly American soil.

Read some of the short stories in the Ruins Metropolis anthology. I had, of course, read most of the book’s incredible stories, but somehow had missed a few on my first run through.

Read The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote and Sell Your Own Book by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier. This particular guide has proven quite useful in helping me better understand how the publishing industry works. Hopefully my new knowledge about publishing helps me to better market my writing so that more people can discover my work.

Researched several topics to help add depth and accuracy to my fiction writing. During the past few weeks, I studied avalanches, polar bears, Inuit clan traditions, Olmec civilization, and jaguars.

Finished implementing my beta readers’ suggestions of “Of Kelpie Lullabies” and sent off the finished manuscript to a potential publisher. I expect to hear back from the publisher by the end of November. Hopefully the response is an acceptance rather than a rejection letter. We’ll see.

Wrote and edited the rough draft of the “Winter’s Charge” short story. I have sent it off to beta readers last week and look forward to their critiques.

Rewrote the “What Tendrils Echo” short story. After adding and extending several scenes, I think the story flows much better now. I finished the last of my personal edits yesterday, so I will send it to beta readers as soon as they finish their corrections on “Winter’s Charge”.

Not participated in the2013 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). While I made the decision to not participate in NaNoWriMo this year, I have had the wonderful honor of helping a few fellow writers with their NaNo story plots. Good luck to those still pushing toward the 50,000 word mark. I’m still cheering for you!

My goals for the next four weeks are to:

Continue to pull older photos off of the photography website as I add new photography.

Finish the last personal edits of Musings and send it to my editor for final critique. This project hit a snag when my awesome beta readers found a serious problem with my short story draft of “Elza and Eliza”. This week I will rewrite and expand several scenes so that the story feels more complete. Until I finalize “Elza and Eliza”, Musings revisions will have to be put on hold.

Continue to write the rough draft of Dreamdrifter. With the other projects taking up so much time, Dreamdrifter is progressing more slowly than I had hoped. However, I am happy to be finished with the rewritten drafts of chapters 17 and 18. I also am happy to report that I finally figured out a way to get my characters out of the dungeon that they have been trapped in for the last few days.

I have sent out newsletters before, but I have not been particularly happy with the services I have previously used. I am learning to use a new service so that I can send out a special Christmas newsletter to all of my supporters and friends in December. We’ll see how it goes.

Until our next meeting, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

🙂 Alycia

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the desk of Alycia C. Cooke and/or Alycia Christine Sears with love, fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

SCRAWLS: Story Excerpt from “What Tendrils Echo”

What_Tendrils_Echo_Cover-4x6Hello, everyone and welcome to October! Fall is here with its cool, crisp air and soon Jack-o-lanterns will be all a-flare. Actually the temperature at my house is a balmy 98 degrees Fahrenheit at the moment because I live in one of the hottest areas of West Texas. Don’t worry though; the end of October always brings cooler weather in time for Halloween Trick-or-Treat. Speaking of tricks and treats, today I am proud to share an excerpt from a much darker fantasy short story of mine called “What Tendrils Echo”. This is one of the short stories that will be included in the soon-to-be-published Musings short story collection! If you enjoy the excerpt and wish to know how the story ends, please look for the full version in the upcoming book!

Just to whet your appetite even more, I have included the mock-up cover art for “What Tendrils Echo”, which will be included in the book. I hope you like it! Please keep watching the Blog and News pages for more updates on my upcoming Musings anthology. Thanks!

A surge of pain jolted me awake. My bleary eyes snapped open to see a black jaguar’s half-open jaws inches from my face. I tried to scream, but only managed a wheezing cough as the predator’s hot breath overwhelmed my nose and slithered down my throat. The jaguar watched me steadily and then seemed to nod to itself. Before I could even flinch, the beast’s massive jaws closed on my head. It bit down on my already bloody skull and held me between its fangs while its hot breath streamed into my lungs. The smell was revolting and yet addicting―like I was breathing in pure adrenaline through a moldy sponge. I finally found my voice and screamed. The jaguar jerked back and then growled at me, as if annoyed by my fear. He―I could now clearly see that it was a he―flicked his tail back and forth like my house cat does when she feels smug about something. Then he turned and vanished into the jungle’s undergrowth.

I sat paralyzed with my back against a large boulder for several minutes. With nowhere to run and no one to help, I was sure he would return and finish me off. I looked around the jungle floor through tear-streaked eyes, trying to make out any new danger. Nothing moved among the shadows, not even an ant. I listened intently for the faintest sound and heard nothing. How weird. The jungle was always noisy. Day or night, rain or shine, the world was always filled with some sort of cacophony. Yet here in the clearing where I lay there was only silence until…

My stomach roared rather than gurgled. The unexpected noise made me jump to my feet in terror. At least that is what I tried to do. My legs seemed to be asleep because I felt nothing solid under me when I landed. The shock of that lack of sensation caused me to tumble backwards into a tree root the size of my chest. The collision between my skull and hard wood should have sent me cursing or wincing or at least something other than a mere “Huh.” Why was I numb from head to toe? What was going on here?

I reached up and felt the gooey wetness of blood coating my hair. As I pulled the hand away from my scalp and examined it, I also noticed a kind of greenish puss-like sap clinging to the dark red smeared on my palm. The mix of sweet and metallic scents made me want to vomit. Instead my stomach just growled all the louder. I had to find safety and food fast.

I looked around my oddly quiet surroundings once more. Where was I? I couldn’t remember anything past the unearthing of the Olmec chieftain’s tomb’s entrance last night after supper. All of the members of our archeology team had been so excited. Was it last night or the night before? Obviously, I had slept since then, but I couldn’t remember going back to my tent to do so. I’d never be stupid enough to wander off alone in the rainforest, so perhaps the jaguar pulled me out of my tent and off into the jungle. Had he? I couldn’t remember.

“Come on, Jacqueline. Think!” I whispered to myself, but my skull’s pounding prevented anything more than the most basic instincts to surface. I wiped the sticky substance off my hand with a handful of leaves, tore off a piece of my T-shirt, and wound the rag around my bleeding head.

I frowned at my wayward legs. The tanned skin protruding from my hiking boots was peppered with cuts from yesterday’s excursion to the temple dig site. My skin should be covered with insects and feel on fire, but instead it was just numb with cold. Still frowning, I tried to stand once more. This time balance won out long enough for me to find a fallen branch from a nearby tree and use it as a decent walking cane.

The snap of a nearby twig caught my attention. The jaguar must be back. Well, at least I had a weapon now. If I was going to die, I was going to go out swinging. I braced myself against the closest tree and waited for the jaguar to pounce.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s excerpt. If you have any questions or comments about it, please drop me an email or leave your thoughts below in the commentary section. Don’t forget that you can view and buy the beautiful cover art that I designed specifically for this story HERE on my photography website.

I have worked very hard during August and September to improve the website so that it is easier for everyone to find what they want. I will continue to pull older photos off of the photography as I add more Alaskan photography. If possible, I will also upload more story cover art to the website for your enjoyment in anticipation of Musings upcoming release. Please give me your suggestions about how I can make the website experience even better for you! Thanks so much!

Until our next meeting, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

🙂 Alycia

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the desk of Alycia Christine Sears and/or Alycia C. Cooke with love and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts on this particular topic and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Flashes of Perspective: Happy Halloween from one Tired-out Texan (Archives)

Life in West Texas has been busy and sickly of late. The beginning of October saw the arrival of the 67th Annual Reeves County Fall Fair & Livestock Show and my first attempt at running a photography and art sale booth. My work showed beautifully and attracted a lot of interest. I’m hoping to build upon the experience with an even better booth during the Alpine Artwalk November 18 and 19.

I have also been hard at work editing a fantasy novel that I wrote a couple of years ago and the rewriting process in combination several rounds of stomach bugs and sinus infections have left me little time to shoot or process new photos for the website. I’ve finally begun to upload the Alpine and Big Bend Balloon Bash shots today and expect to finish the project by Wednesday. I also hope to capture some good wildlife photos on my upcoming trip to the Texas panhandle. This is the time of year that flocks of Canada geese invade the Texas panhandle. I cannot wait to capture their precise flight patterns!

By the way, when I “process” digital photos, I take the best shots from a photo shoot and correct the light levels and size of each photo. I save my photos at high resolution in both .TIFF and .JPG formats so they can be printed clearly. Each photo receives a special artwork title so that customers and place orders more easily. Occasionally I will do additional corrections to my photography such as cropping or color enhancements. Most of the time; however, I prefer to leave my photos as natural as possible.

Since it is Halloween, I will leave you with this spooky image (2869) taken in March of this year. The cloud covering the moon reminds me of a lioness, hence the title “Lioness’s Moon.” I hope you enjoy it. I’m off to finish my processing. You can find all of this week’s uploaded photos in the “Objects”, “Scapes”, or “Human Nature” galleries of the photography website. If you want more information about my fiction, please visit my regular website. Thanks!

Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

Ink Blots and Tea Stains: New Website (Archive)

I’m taking a couple of hours away from my book editing today spruce up the new website. If any of you are curious about the misty “Lion Moon” photo at the top of the website, I photographed it about two months ago on a blustery night and did absolutely nothing to digitally enhance it. Since I’m working on edits to my novel Skinshifter, I thought it was appropriate to have something related to Katja’s world as my site’s main photo. I hope all of you enjoy it.

For those of you who are not acquainted Skinshifter or its characters, my protagonist Katja Eskari is a werecat (an upright-walking lioness) who absolutely hates the full moon phase because it causes her to turn into a human!

I’ve had tons of fun writing the novel and half of its sequel Dreamdrifter, but now it’s time for me to edit all of the junk out of Skinshifter and submit it for publication. A local editor and I have been tweaking the book since June and so far it has gone very well. I will try to send Chapters 17, 18, and 19 to her for edits be the end of the week…i.e. tomorrow. Yikes better get back to it! I will keep you all posted on our progress.

Until we meet again, may your ink blots be liberal and your tea stains tiny.

[~]D Alycia

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