Saturday, 30 April 2016

Z - Ze End (maybe)

Michael Cui gets it.
Yeah, Z is another one of those awkward letters in an A to Z list, especially with a theme about reading. (I read The Zephyr once.)

Me, I'm just glad I've nearly gotten to the end of the A to Z Challenge. I've read some good blogs and met some fascinating new people.

This year was much easier, thanks to some lessons I learned from last year. Will I blog A to Z again next year? I think I very well might. Let us see how life goes then. I'll still have grad school, I'll still have books coming out and I'll still have lawns to mow. I wonder what I'll learn about myself between now and then?

Question: What did you enjoy most about the A to Z Challenge? Did you find any new fascinating blogs? Did someone's post really stick out to you? Do share.

Her Grace invites you to tune in Monday and Tuesday where she continues the alphabet with two letters that have disappeared recently from the English language.


I'm sure you've noticed the datestamp on this post.

Yes, I was supposed to post Y yesterday, but things happen.

A few days ago Second Ladyship asked me what kind of superpower I would like. I told her I would like power over Time. I wish I could hoard or spend time the way I do money. Sometimes, like the next few weeks, I've got too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. Other times I've got a spare five minutes and nothing really useful with which to fill it. If only I could squirrel away those five minute coins into a really useful hour's worth of free time, that would be marvelous.

This week I have:

  • A book fair coming up. Have a few things left to prep for this.
  • Collaboration with other post-grad students on a science mission to Saturn's moon of Enceladus.
  • Analysis paper on all the missions to Mars (Viking, Curiosity, etc) in relation to astrobiology.
  • Massive cleaning.
Three of those things are really cool. One of them is not. They are all taking up my time.

List of things I wish I was doing this week, but don't have time:
  • Writing. Yep, I won't get a single word of fiction in over the next couple of weeks. Sorry, Amanda.
  • More promo for Her Endearing Young Charms, which is out 20 May.
  • Painting that long-overdue mural on my office wall.
  • Binge-watching something on TV. Normally I get maybe an hour or so a week. Yes, I spend more time exercising in the pool than I do watching TV.
  • Reading. Have several books I bought in my TBR pile a few weeks ago that I haven't gotten around to cracking yet.
  • Sit at the beach on a warm Djeran afternoon.
Things I'm glad I don't have to do this week:
  • taxes
  • full-time Day Job work
  • piano practice
  • lawnmowing
  • riding the bus due to a broken-down car
  • social work
So here's to Yesterday.

Why yes, I am a fan of The Beatles.

If you're also a fan, you might enjoy fellow blogger, music enthusiast, author, and fellow Woodland Creature (and regular Carkoon resident) Colin Smith's A to Z challenge dedicated to flash fiction inspired by Paul McCartney songs. It's so cool; check it out.

Her Grace may forgo blogging for a few weeks while she finishes her astrobiology obligations.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

X marks the Spot

Remember my confession for dog ears?

Today I talk bookmarks. I have a friend who, every time she buys a new hardcopy book, also gets it its very own bookmark to keep forever.  (I've got one or two bookmarks here and there. Otherwise I don't really bother.) Yes, I'm that gal who leaves books open face-down instead of sticking the nearest shopping receipt in to mark my place.  Then again, I'm that gal who slips used lottery scratchies in the backs of library books.

When I worked in the library, if we found a bookmark left in a book, we'd take it out and file it in our lost and found, in case someone came looking for it. And they did. You'd be surprised at how many people are attached to their bookmarks. At least, I was. Granted, some of them were really  nice, like cross stitched ones, those pretty metallic ones with a butterfly on the overleaf, and so on.

Bookmarks have other uses, I'm told. Many a fellow author has recommended bookmarks as handouts (instead of business cards or postcards) at literary conventions. People always have books at conventions (at least, the kinds of conventions I go to), and some of them bother to read them there. Hand them a bookmark and they'll most likely stick it in a book. I see the wisdom of this, as the reader will look at the bookmark every single time they open the book. Multiple, repeated exposure.

Must try that sometime.

Question: are you an avid proponent of bookmarks, casual user or a dog-earing, open-faced villain like me?
Her Grace hates having to come up with entries for the letter X on A-Z lists because X is a very lame letter in the English language. Why on earth do we still have it?

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


Duh. It all comes down to the words--the ones we choose, the order we put them in, the number of them we use. They can be a powerful sword or a limp noodle. We're all writers, and some of the more pretentious of us call ourselves 'wordsmiths' (wankers).

Frankly, I can't be bothered buying into the mysticism of The Word. For me, they're just the stuff I use to make my books pretty.

I'd much rather play with them like tiddlywinks.

Rhyming's fun.

So are iambs and trochees. Setting up rhythm patterns and then filling in the blank for instant poetry is a nice pasttime for lazy afternoons.
Here. Write your own limerick:

A _____  ______'/_____  ______'/_____  ______'/
A _____  ______'/_____  ______'/_____  ______'/
B _____  ______'/_____  ______'/
B _____  ______'/_____  ______'/
A _____  ______'/_____  ______'/_____  ______'/

Playing with synonyms is fun, especially if you're looking for a particular shade of a word to compliment the atmosphere of a scene.  By substituting a different word for 'said', you can alter the mood of a conversation.  

"Where are we?" Tom said.
"Where are we?" Tom laughed.
"Where are we?" Tom whimpered.
"Where are we?" Tom shouted.
"Where are we?" Tom whispered.
"Where are we?" Tom groaned.

So yeah. Play some games. But when it comes to the craft, when it comes to writing, I don't give too much thought to words. I just let 'em flow.

Her Grace can't be bothered with a postscript today.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


So, to follow up from yesterday, I received a proof copy of Her Endearing Young Charms.

My job is to look it over--scrutinise it, really--for errata. If any are found, they are to be corrected.

Okay, no problem. It's not like I've not done this before. I've gone over e-proofs all the time.

But when I pulled this paperback out from the posting envelope and looked at its glossy cover, the reality struck me hard.

Here is a book, I thought. A real, genuine, hold-in-my-hand book. No wonder people still love paperbacks. Nothing says 'real' than one of these:

Question: Has there ever been a moment when the reality of something struck you?

Her Grace felt the same way when she finished the first draft of her first completed novel. 

Monday, 25 April 2016

Ode to an Unwanted Paperback

April is.... National Poetry Month.

I've received a poem a day in my email. Some I like, some aren't to my taste.

Today I got a hardcopy proof of my next novel. As I lifted it from its package, the emotional response inspired this poem. Also, it's cold, wet and rainy today.

Ode to an Unwanted Paperback

As everyone else hurried by, I stopped.
I saw you lying on the sidewalk, soaking in the rain,
Your soggy pages melting into unreadable mush.
Your title didn't interest me, yet I did not pass by.
(Work doesn't interest me either, so I hesitated.)
Did someone drop you? Is that why you're there?
Did someone toss you out, an unwanted paperback?
Or are they mourning your loss, wondering
How you fell out of the bag?
No one will pick you up now.
Yet I know, at one time, in one place,
Someone loved you very much,
Even if it was only your mother.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Theme for Today: Titan (TASE Day)

Today is TASE (Talk About Something Else) Day.
This week (actually, for the next four weeks) I am reading lots on Saturn's moon of Titan.

Yes, that is sunlight glinting off methane lakes you see on Titan. It has lakes, rivers, fog and rain.
This is because in my other life I'm studying astrobiology this semester. Titan is one of the candidates for possible microbial life in our Solar System, and my team and I are designing mission parameters for a science mission. (It's too early to say whether we want to choose Europa, Enceladus or Titan as our target. That may be determined on how we choose to sample our science.)

Astrobiologists study life on all planets, including Earth. Extremeophiles are a large part of our study, as it's likely that life surviving in other locations in the Solar System will be extremeophiles of some kind or another.

Check out what I've been reading lately: Do a keyword search for "Astrobiology" on Harvard's Abstract Service, or have a look at the habitability potential of icy moons.

Question: What topics have you been reading lately? Has it fascinated you as much as astrobiology has fascinated me?

Her Grace is a polymath.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Shelves - best place to keep your books

The advantages to keeping hardcopy books on shelves are these:

  1. Everyone can see what you read. This is a good thing, as one should always talk about the books one enjoys. Now, if you are ashamed of what you read--afraid your friends will find out--maybe it's time to get new friends.
  2. Energy efficiency. What better way to insulate a house than by packing the walls with bookshelves?
  3. Happiness. Every time you glance at your books, you'll be reminded of the lovely stories you read therein. This is good for the soul.
  4. One of the best ways of storing books. Unless you're archiving rare or damaged books, bookshelves are one of the best ways of storing books long term.
    Books should stand upright, never leaning. If you can't stand books upright, stacking horizontally is the second best way. Never rest a book long-term on its spine or (heaven forfend) fore edge. Also, keep out of sunlight, away from humidity and keep the dust and insects away. Silverfish are a bane to books, as is mold and mildew. The airflow is good on a shelf. Books need airflow or they get musty.
Her Grace has a house full of bookshelves, and is planning on building more.

Thursday, 21 April 2016


By 橘川琉璃 
Admit it. You're here because you enjoy reading.

Me too.

There's something addictive about reading a book. I read for escapism, to be entertained and to be educated.

Growing up, I was used to everyone around me reading. It wasn't until I got to university that I encountered people who didn't read. (!!!OMG!!!) It astounded me. How could anyone not read? That was like, how can anyone not eat every day or sleep? I always had a novel in my bag.

Reading is not like chocolate, where, if someone doesn't like reading, it means more books for the rest of us. Quite the opposite. Books thrive on having lots and lots of readers. The more readers there are, the more books there are. They feed off each other like symbiotes.

By gum, everyone should read, even if their reasons for reading differ.

Question: Why do you read?

During and after university, I found myself in a world that had fewer and fewer readers. Soon, it seemed like nobody ever read. However, once I became an author, the readers came out of hiding. "You've written a book? I'd love to read it."

Sure. Go right ahead. I've written several.

Her Grace shall always be surrounded by books, no matter their format.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Query Letter

Sometimes the process of professional author might seem glamourous--isolation to madly type out a manuscript, having an editor weep with joy over a perfect story and becoming a New York Times Bestselling Author (NYTBA).

But one of the less glamourous aspects of being a professional author is writing a query letter.

After the manuscript (which is what a book is called before it is published) is completed and polished and made the best the author can get it, she needs to pitch it to either a literary agent or an editor, to entice them to want to take it on and get it published.

Since agents and editors are rather busy making books happen, they don't have the time to read literally hundreds of mansucripts in hope of finding that gem among the dross that they want to bring to publication. Instead, they ask for query letters.

Query letters are brief letters asking (or querying) an agent/editor if they'd be interested in this particular book. They go something like this:

Dear Snookums,

Maisie Marvel's dreams of being a superhero are shattered when she flunks her final exam in Superhero School. She mopes as all her friends receive superhero job offers from places like Big City and Capitalville. When Maisie has all but given up hope of steady employment, a mysterious letter arrives.

Sam Snide has offered Maisie a job as the sidekick of a supervillain.

Maisie is torn. She's always wanted a job that uses her super talents, but she always expected to work for the side of Justice and Decency. What Sam Snide is offering her is... not so decent.

Maisie must decide: be a super or be a hero. It appears she cannot be both.

NOT SO SUPER is a YA fantasy novel complete at 80,000 words. It would appeal to fans of  "Fashion Guide to Outer Underwear" and "Hobroken".

I'm a debut author who attended the superhero school Sky High and know first-hand what it's like to compete in the superhero job market.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Mighty Heidi

Query letters aren't easy to write, as one is condensing down a full-length novel into, oh, 250 words or so. They are a bane of many an authors' experience.  Novels are easy. Query letters are hard.

Every author knows about Query Shark, that kindly finned fiend friend who critiques and helps authors write a good query letter. Simply reading the Sharkives helps an author improve their poor, ragged pathetic excuse of a query letter into something that just might hook a sale.

The Beatles song "Paperback Writer" (performed here by the B-52s) is about a query letter (and a poor one at that).

Her Grace has written several query letters. Some of them have actually worked.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016


Ever observe the paper of a book?
By African American Photographs
Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition [Public domain]
I wonder how the paper felt under her fingers?

I have. I started noticing the quality and type of book paper when I started reading cheap mass-market paperbacks as a teen in the 80's. I was aghast at the cheap grey manilla paper that didn't slide well under my fingers the way a higher-quality bond did.

Me, I like to finger the pages as I read. I'll tuck a finger under the next page in anticipation of a turn. I never realised how much I loved a smooth paper that glides under my fingers until I handled a cheap mass-market paperback. It's like it sucks all the softness from your fingers and leaves them a raw mess.

And when these books get old, this paper seems to disintegrate. How unpleasant on many levels.

Last year I browsed my bibliography shelf and considered the quality of the printings of the anthologies with works of mine. I marvelled at how nice and smooth the paper was. I honestly haven't bought a cheap mass-market paperback since... I dunno. But the hardcopy books I have recently acquired? They feel lovely.  I have a print proof of HEYC coming my way. All I know about the paper is that it's "60# cream" (what is that in GSM?) and I'm looking forward to seeing how it feels.

So now I've got an ebook reader. For most books I read, gone are the days of loving or loathing the paper of a book. But am I sad? No, because the e-ink screen of a good ebook reader looks just like paper to me.

I find that comforting.

Her Grace is very much into touch and texture. Ask her sometime about natural fibres vs manmade. Nylon will never feel like silk. Ever.

Monday, 18 April 2016

How to Open a Book

When I was young (back in the Old Days), I was taught how to properly open a book.

Many books back then were the hardcovers (dustjackets and all), and there was a right way and a wrong way to open them for the first time.

Yes, there's a right and wrong way. Open a hardbound book the wrong way and you risked breaking the spine. Broken-spined books make little puppies cry. Books do not fare well with a broken spine, as that is the point where they are most likely to start falling apart. A hardbound book is designed to last a very long time, but one must ease the spine open at the beginning

In every library I've ever worked in, when we got new hardbound books, we'd gently ease them open with the method you see below because guaranteed some ham-fisted patron would unintentionally maul the poor thing on first opening.

Lifehacker shows you how to open a hardback book.

Her Grace hasn't had a new hardbound book in a long time. It's all perfect-bound paperbacks nowadays... Not that she can afford a nice, new hardbound book. Once upon a time she learned how to do hardbinding. She's tempted to bind up a legacy bibliography shelf copy of HEYC, dustjacket and all.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Cover Reveal: Her Endearing Young Charms

May I present the evocative new cover for my new release Her Endearing Young Charms, book one of the "A Lady of Many Charms" series.

Miss Merribelle Hales spent years imbuing a silver locket with man-attracting charms. On her way to her first London Season, her locket is stolen--along with a kiss--by a highwayman. Her only clue to his identity: a pair of intense eyes. This vexes her. Without her best charm, how will she ever be able to compete on the Marriage Mart? It would be so much easier if she didn't have to compete at all.

Lord Alexander Rochester has worries aplenty. His ailing father's estates are woefully in debt, so he must seek a wealthy wife. His courtship of Miss Hales goes terribly awry with a simple kiss that leads to his slapped face and an accusation of theft.

It's a case of mistaken identity. Alexander knows and fears the real culprit. He faces the loss of his father, his estate and Miss Hales--whom he's loved since childhood--by the hands of the Handkiss Highwayman.

Her Endearing Young Charms is sure to please fans of Mary Robinette Kowal and Georgette Heyer.

Ebook release date: 20 May 2016. Available now for pre-order.

Paperback release date: June 2016.  That's right, fans. Enough of you have asked if my books are available in hardcopy format. Starting with Her Endearing Young Charms, all my full-length novels will be available in paperback for your hefting and sniffing enjoyment. Also, if you buy the paperback from, you'll be able to download the ebook version for free.

Can't wait until Her Endearing Young Charms is out? You can read the novella "A Lady of Many Charms" for free, a story set in the same world as Her Endearing Young Charms:  B&N |  Kobo | iTunes | Smashwords

Saturday, 16 April 2016

New Books

Onderwijsgek loves a new book.
There is a certain thrill I get when I see a new book out by an author I enjoy. I go all fangirly and I must have it.

'New' doesn't necessarily mean recently published. If I've discovered an author who's been around for yonks, read everything of theirs I could find, and then something else of theirs shows up--a previously unknown series--that's just as good as if they'd newly published something.

Rather, it's a blend of something new with something old. I know and love certain authors. They're familiar and comforting. So when they have something new come out, I have a pretty good idea what I can expect. But it's a new story taking me to new places in the company of someone I know. A literary road trip with friends.

I don't feel the same when I see a book by an author I haven't read, even if it's a book with themes I adore. It's like I'm a bit skeptical until I can meet the author's work and fall in love.

Then the second book? Squee.

Question: What makes you get excited over a new book?

Her Grace used to feel like this over every book she's never read. But now she's settling in her old age and her tastes are refining and defining themselves.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Mmmm.... Mysteries

(Well, Julie Weathers, we're talking mysteries today!)

I love a good Mystery. Cozies are fun. I can’t say I’ve read a whole lot of them compared to the SFF and Romance I’ve devoured, but the few I do read, I quite enjoy. Who isn’t a sucker for Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot or The Cat Who...? There’s a few others I’ve read over the years and sometimes they scratch that itch I get once in a while to be intellectually challenged without being called to account.

I like trying to figure out the whodunnit as I read along. Was I right? Did I get it? If I do, cool. Gold star for me. If I don’t, I marvel at the cleverness of the plot.

Question: if you read mysteries, do you try to figure it out, or do you just cruise along for the ride?
Her Grace likes an occasional Mystery in her escapist repertoire because, unlike real life, she gets to learn how it all wraps up.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Love books, lovely, long books.

I love books.

There's lots of stuff to read, but ultimately, I love books because of their length. I want to immerse myself in a world for a long time. Series? Bring it on! Yes, I'll wet myself if I have to wait too long for the next book to come out, but I still love series.

I like getting lost in a book. I can't quite do that with a short story.

Question: What do you love reading the most?

Her Grace has written a few series. She can't wait until Of The Dark is released on the world. But that's gonna be a long time for complex reasons. Still, when it comes out, it's gonna make a lot of readers very happy.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Kerning -or- judging a book by it's cover

Kerning: n - the space between (characters) in a piece of text to be printed. if you want to know more.

Following up on my post of a few days ago, I thought I'd talk about book covers.

Absolutely I will judge a book by its cover! As I browse through Kobo Books looking for my next read, I will consider or dismiss based initially on covers.

Covers are one of the first things to catch a reader’s eye. Unless you’re a Name or your title is one I’m actively looking for, the cover is the first thing I see, and therefore the first thing by which I judge.

Whether or not they are to my taste, commercial publishing’s covers are consistently professional.

Indie covers, on the other hand, are hit and miss. If your cover looks professional, I’m more likely to view the whole book in the same light. But if your cover looks amateurish, that will taint my opinion of you.  (Do you really want that strike against you?)

The one thing that bothers me the most about amateurish covers is how the text is treated.  Bad kerning annoys me the most. Proportional spaced fonts do not have their place on a cover, unless it’s deliberately used for graphical effect.  

Your title, author name and other text should be treated like a graphic element, not like another textual line in SMF. It should look pretty and it should tie in with the rest of the graphic elements.  If you’ve got too much white space between your text, it looks ugly and unbalanced.

I hate it when people whack up text on a cover and, if it moves to another line, it's double-spaced. This isn't your essay paper. Make the text a graphical element.

Don’t do this: 
See how the letters are spaced out (kerning), yet the font is too small for the area?
Note all the space ('white space') about the text. In graphic design, this is not ideal.

 This looks much better:
The letters are more intimate, and there is balance between the elements.
Or better yet, integrate it with the design:
I knocked this up in Microsoft Paint in about fifteen minutes.
While there's still room for care and improvement, it's still a sight better than the other examples.
Question: What do you love or hate about book cover design?

Her Grace would have you know that this isn't the final cover for Her Endearing Young Charms. Cover reveal for that coming soon, and it looks very different from this one.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016


I love Juiciness in my story lines.

For me, juiciness in a book is about the sort of events that, if they happened in real life to someone you know, you can bet the local gossip would be talking about it.

I can't stand gossip in real life because it's altered truth, and that always hurts someone. But in my books, bring it on!

For some people juiciness is merely the presence of sexytimes in a novel, the more graphic the better. Not so for me. In fact, being an old married woman, I get rather bored with sex scenes and will often skip them. The characters have sex? Okay. *Skip a few pages*.

I can have a novel free of sex and still call it juicy. Juiciness is when drama happens to the characters. Let things go snafu. Let the Hero and Heroine have misunderstandings. Let scandal run rife. As long as there is an HEA in the end, let all sorts of melodramatic stuff happen. I love it when good sense is half-way out the door in a storyline. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief for an awful lot, as long as it's coherently put together.

Question: How much drama do you like in your stories?

Another reason Her Grace loves her escapist fiction: it allows her to indulge in drama and farce. In real life, she works really hard against drama and farce. She's got an idealistic view in life and believes in working towards a good and peaceful life. Quite the opposite of juiciness.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Indie Books

Yes, I will read Indie Books.  Why not?

What works for me:

  • Price point. Indies are often cheaper than commercial books. Some of the more clever indie authors also lead with a permafree, giving me a chance to get hooked on their series with no financial outlay.
  • Daring-ness. I've found indie books who have taken chances with their characters or plots in ways that would make a commercial publisher cringe. I'll read whack-a-doodle, if it's constructed with skill.
  • Release schedule. Back in the Old Days, I had to wait a year for the next book to come out. (I'm looking at you, Wheel of Time!)  But indies release on a quicker schedule. I can get two books a year, or even four books a year in a series. This quicker release schedule means I can get my fix faster. Also, if you're one of those annoying people who will only read a series if the whole thing is out, indies will release the whole series, regardless of how bad sales are. Commercial publishers have a reputation about not releasing the whole series because sales were poor for the first two books.
    If you are interested in a series put out by a commercial publisher, please buy the first book, even if you don't read it at the moment. If sales aren't good, the rest of the series might not ever be released, and you and the rest of the world will miss out.
What doesn't work for me:
  • Quality control. This is left entirely up to the author. Some treat the indie publishing process with a level of professionalism. Others don't, and it shows.
    • bad editing
    • bad layout
    • bad cover art
    • bad plot/characters
  • Availability. I read .epub on a Kobo. Sometimes I come across an author who is only on Amazon and their books are on Kindle DRMmed. (secret: without DRM, I can convert a book I purchased on Amazon to .epub and read it on my Kobo. I have a hard time reading Kindles on my laptop, and have bypassed exclusive Amazon books with DRM.)
    I guess 'availability' could extend to ebook vs hardcopy. I know some of my (potential) fans have asked if my TWRP books are also available in hardcopy. Alas, they're not, but that's a decision of the publisher, and one I understand from the back end. Fret not, Her Endearing Young Charms (out 20 May 2016) will also be out in paperback as well as ebook.

Question: What do you love/hate about indie books?

Her Grace is going hybrid, but still enjoys the teamwork of commercial publishing. Some day she'll make an agent very happy.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

TASE Day: The Story of Courageous Orange

Once upon a time the neighbors got a kitten. They named it Courage. She was a little silver tabby. Her face, however, looked like she'd stuck her face in a Cheetos bag.

Because of this (and a propensity for not hearing things correctly), we misheard her name as Orange. So that's what we called her.

The neighbours had a border collie. Orange wasn't terribly fond of him, so she spent much of her time over at our place. After all, we had a handful of little girls who loved to cuddle her.

Courageous Orange getting lots of luvins just before her surgery.
Orange loved attention. We were happy to give it to her.

About a year later, the neighbours got a Rottweiler puppy. Orange really did NOT like that dog, so she abandoned the neighbours and adopted us instead. I was more than happy to give my heart over to this cat.

The husband wasn't so keen. After all, we already had a cat.

Like all of our cats before, Lucky Kitty was a rescue cat. She was a black cat whose owners had chosen to give her up. We gave her a forever home, as the only other option was euthanasia. Her previous owners weren't really cat people, so they didn't give her the love and attention a cat needs. So we brought this nervous little kitty home and gave her all the love she could tolerate.

Even though she's come a long way, Lucky still has some nervousness about her. She's cautious walking through doors. She'll pause, sniff, suss out, and when she thinks it might be save, she DartsThruTheDoorLikeaBolt! She's afraid of shadows that aren't there. But she is coming around, because we are proving to her that our home is her safe haven.

When Orange adopted us, even though she wanted to be an inside cat, she had to be Outside Cat for the sake of Lucky. We hoped they'd get along, but they never did. Two years later, they still didn't get along. Thus, they both kept their separate worlds.

Later we learned her original name of Courage. Because we were so used to calling her Orange, we tacked them together as Courageous Orange.

So now we had this cat on our porch. I had a chat with the neighbours. "Your cat seems to have abandoned you."  "Yeah," they replied. "You want her? She's all yours."

As if Orange ever needed their permissions to love someone else.

So for two years she faithfully remained on our porch. We fed her and gave her padded boxes to sleep in and even let her slip into the garage on the colder nights. And she was so lovely. Such a sweet and affectionate kitty. The neighbours lost out on a lotta love.

Then last Wednesday, Courageous Orange disappeared. The next morning she was not at her usual spot on the porch. I didn't think too much of it, but the day after, I began to worry. What if something had happened to her?  As the next few days passed, my heart grew heavy with the possibility that she'd disappeared for good. We looked everywhere around the house and through the neighbourhood. No Orange.

We'd lost Basil like that. Basil was our rescue cat before Lucky. He'd grown old and (we suspect) ill. One night we put him outside, and he didn't come back.

We never found his body.

I mourned the loss of Orange. What could have happened to her? Where had she gone?  Then on Tuesday afternoon, as my daughter was outside, she heard something in the bushes. "Mom!" she cried. "Orange is back!"

Our faithful little kitty had returned. She was starving and thirsty. Also, she was badly injured. On Wednesday, she had been hit by a car. She'd survived, but her left hind leg had been shattered. She had spent the last week dragging her poor broken body home. We took her straight to our vet, who told us the bad news. We had two options: amputate her leg, or euthanize her.

If we amputated her leg, she'd have to become an inside cat, at least for her recovery period.

That was a quandary. Lucky and Orange didn't get along. If Orange became an inside cat, what would that do for Lucky? Did we have to sacrifice the security of one cat for the sake of another?

No. Inside was not an option, for we had to consider the quality-of-life issues for Lucky as well as Orange.

Lookin' for luv.
But whenever I considered the option of euthanasia, my soul felt sick. Orange was only three years old, and such a delightful cat. The thought of putting such a sweet-tempered creature down broke my heart. But I couldn't care for her post-op, not the way she needed.

What a hard, hard decision. With great reluctance, I chose to terminate her life. I tried exploring other options, but couldn't find a solution.

I went into the vet's the next day a complete mess. When it came time to declare my decision, I couldn't do it. I simply couldn't do it.

Then the vet offered me a third option: if I was willing to surrender her, they would carry out the operation and save her life. They'd then work with a local cat charity to help find a Forever Home for her.

Oh, what a beautiful miracle! I did not have to go through the agony of ending her life, but then I didn't have to go through the stress of coping with a post-op cat when I did not have the facilities.

My vet clinic is a tiny one with only a couple of vets and a small handful of staff. To offer thousands of dollars worth of work to save one beautiful soul meant a lot.  (To return their generosity, I have a GoFundMe campaign. Please consider donating.)

I surrendered Orange on Wednesday morning. That afternoon she went into surgery. I checked back on Thursday morning. They reported the surgery went well and she was recovering nicely. They'll give her a few more days to recover, then she'll probably go off to the Cat Haven for rehoming.

Courageous Orange is a beautiful and affectionate cat with a good temperament. She's been good with my daughters. She deserves a home that will love her as much as she will love them.

I wish you well, little kitty. May you find the home you deserve. I will miss you.



Here. Have some love.

Hard Decisions

Today is TASE Day, because I've had a hard week.

I had to make some Hard Decisions a few days ago and it broke my heart. Broke it so much, I couldn't commit myself to the decision. Took me all night and much of next morning, and then when it came time to make the decision, I broke down.

Fortunately, I was offered a third choice, which I immediately took. It was the best choice for everyone.

Here's the full story: Courageous Orange

Still, every choice comes with consequenses. This one involved me owing someone a Really Big Favour. To help repay this favour, I've got a GoFundMe campaign going.

Question: have you ever had to make a decision that was so hard it left its permanent mark on your soul?

Her Grace has burned so much emotional energy that, at the end of it, the only thing she could do was read a book. Sleep was not an option. Her brain kept replaying the difficult decision and wouldn't shut up. She needed a good escapist story to quiet it down and distract her and give her heart a chance to start healing.

No, she will not tell you the title of the book.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Good Books

We all have our own tastes. We all have our own definition of Good Books.

To classify as a Good Book to me, I look for the following:

  • Satisfying storyline. It doesn't have to be an HEA, but it must satisfy in some way. This also includes:
  • A resolved plot. Nothing annoys me more than an unresolved plot. Hate it when I don't know how the story ends. Actually, I can't think of anyone who does. For me, this also includes those ambiguous endings where it's up to the reader to come to their own conclusions.
  • Good pace. Too slow, and you'll lose me. Too fast and the book will feel like it's over way too soon.
  • At least one likeable main character. If I don't like any of the main characters, I'm not going to be interested in their stories. I want at least one character to root for.
  • Does not contain the Verboten Topics. There are some things about which I simply refuse to read. Everyone's list is different, but mine includes things such as child abuse, Very Unhappy Endings, and a few other topics. 
Question: What qualifies a book as Good to you?

Her Grace is under no obligation to finish a book that is not working for her.

Thursday, 7 April 2016


Ah, Fans.

I love being a fan, I love having fans.

The best thing about fans is that they are united and driven by their love. Like something enough? Consider yourself a fan.

Growing up, there were books I liked, then there were books I loved. Narnia was my first fandom.  I also fell in love with The Girl with the Silver Eyes. I wanted to read more books by Willo Davis Roberts, but I could never find any more at the time (although she's written plenty). Loved The Belgariad and Dragonriders of Pern.

As a young adult I was highly active in several fandoms. Now I'm old and staid and my flame of fannish delight has settled down to steady, warm coals.

Still, if anything comes into my fan orbit, my heart will still flutter.

And that's how it should be.

Questions: Are you a fan of anything? Where do you fit in--quiet enjoyer or rabid uber-fan?

Her Grace shall always have a soft spot for Richard Armitage.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016


Yep. Me and Jules Breton.

Some days I am full of energy which I can focus and get lots done.

Some days are just.... eh.

I look at my To Do list. There's so much to do, and deadlines by which to do it. But I can't find the Get Up and Go Juice to get me going. There is no motivo-mojo in my stream.

Can't I just lie here and stare at the ceiling?

I know I'm plagued by Eh when I can't even bring myself to read a book because it would take too much effort.

Fortunately, this feeling does not last for long and tomorrow will be a more productive day. My Day Job will allow time off for illness, but doesn't yet offer time off for Can't Be Bothered.

Today's question: When you're plagued with Eh, do you seek motivation or do you simply ride it out?
Her Grace accepts Eh for what it is--a passing state. If you're not completely lacking in motivation, here's a book with a character who had motivation to get something done.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Dog Ears

Derbeth dog ears his books.
By Derbeth (Own work) [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
I confess.

I  dog-ear the pages of a book to keep my place. Always have.

I could never make bookmarks work the way they should. I found they would fall out and lose my place, or get lost when I took them out to read.

Plenty of my childhood books have those bendy, tattered deckle-edged corners where I have dog-eared my book to keep my place.

Fortunately, most books I read nowadays are eBooks. I can't dog ear them; I must use bookmarks. At least when I toss my Kobo into my bag, those bookmarks do not fall out.

Today's question:  Dog ears: convenient necessity or evil practice?

Her Grace is not such a heathen that she would ever dog ear a loaner or a library book. But she will leave them lying open, face-down, which some people consider just as bad.

Monday, 4 April 2016


Characters are the people who inhabit a book. I like my characters motivated to change their lives, to take charge of their destiny. It's their journey I enjoy reading about.

I dislike characters who are so flawed they can't be proactive--those reactive or complacent characters that don't seem to improve their lot at all. I just wanna scream at them: "Stop being stupid! Can't you see how X is bad? Stop wallowing in your own misery and do something about it!"

I especially hate Unhappily Ever Afters that happen because a character didn't do anything to change the course of events.

Also, feisty is not the same as proactive. Feisty's just a combination of pride and a lack of focus. Feisty heroines just don't do it for me at all.

Today's Questions: What do you want to see in a character? What annoys you the most?

Her Grace insists her characters have a plan.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Blessed Sabbath

Today is Sunday and that's my day of rest.

Her Grace has better things to do than spend her Sabbath time online.

Saturday, 2 April 2016


I love reading. Books have been my dear companions for pretty much all my life.

When I was younger, I'd read anything that came across my path. If it was a printed word, I'd read it.

Now that I'm older and my tastes have settled, I find I am fond of escapist fiction--Romance, Fantasy, Science Fiction. The farther away from reality my fiction can get, the better.

I read to escape life. Because of this, I have issues with reading stories in contemporary settings. I also have issues with books that lack an HEA (or at least lack hope).  Yes, this covers many literary works. That said, I do have a soft spot for Paulo Coelho because of his beautifully positive messages.

Today's question:  Why do you read the books you choose?

Secretly, Her Grace has always loved escapist fiction. She devoured The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at age six.  Also, Her Grace has written several books. Go check them out.

Friday, 1 April 2016


Today's topic:

As an author, I've decided to go hybrid. The very first thing I indie published was "A Lady of Many Charms and Other Stories".  My regular readers have been hearing about this for about a week. Now it's your turn. If you want to know more, go back a few blog posts and you'll learn all you need to know to make you wanna download it.

As part of my indie author foray, I've made "A Lady of Many Charms and Other Stories" perma-free.

Smashwords | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Inktera | (Amazon hasn't done price-matching yet, but they will catch up eventually.)

Yep, anyone who wants to download it and read it can. All I ask is that you leave an honest review somewhere.

Today's Question: Do you download and read free books? Why or why not?

Her Grace has found some pretty good stuff thanks to indie permafree novels. Is this one of Her Grace's blatant 'read my books' post? Yes it is.