Three Weddings, a Castle, a Baby, plus Vincent van Gogh

Zane Grayson and the love of his life, Julia Emerson, have been held hostage by their author. Right smack dab in the middle of a rewrite, my main characters of Guardian 2632, a science fiction adventure, were silenced so life in Michigan could rage. And rage is maybe somewhat of an understatement.

Time. It can be both a blessing and a curse. My six, amazing children grew up way too quickly for me. That point aside, they are charismatic, loving people who have embraced this world with all it has to offer. Soulmates found, three weddings have come and gone. My sons, Ryan and Jordan, and my daughter, Rachael, have all married kindhearted, wonderful people whom enrich our family a great deal. So, welcome to the family, Chelsea, Bree, and Courtney! And on top of the weddings, baby Levi came into this world September 3, 2015. His parents are Jordan and Chelsea. Words cannot express how adorable or precious he is!

If you know my children, enjoy their Facebook pages and their lovely wedding photos! Out of respect for their privacy, I did not ask to post photos here.

Wedding gifts are also important, and my children agreed to share one of their gifts from me here, at the Noracast. I wanted to give each of my children a painting to commemorate their special day. Jordan is still pondering his chosen subject matter, but Ryan/Bree wanted the castle at Disneyland where they were engaged, and Rachael/Courtney chose Large Plane Trees…by Vincent Van Gogh (B: 1853-D: 1890).

Cinderella Castle, oh so beautiful, was no problem to paint because Ryan and Bree were there to capture it for me.

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Vincent Van Gogh—interesting man and, he’s one of my favorite artists of all time. His use of color, especially that cool blue, and brush strokes that have a life of their own, captivate many observers. Do take a minute and read about Van Gogh here.

Back to Large Plane Trees. This copy was completed during my family’s 10th relocation, so some of my sanity was literally infused into the brush strokes, which may or may not be a good thing. Each evening after work, I would squish out paint onto my chosen palette…a large cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, and mix away. I completed the wedding gift for Rachael and Courtney the night before I had to leave Michigan for Taneytown, MD. Rachael and Courtney got married at Antrim 1844 Country House Hotel. It is a fabulous place about twenty minutes outside of Gettysburg, PA.

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It must be noted my copy of Large Plane Trees is not the exact size of Van Gogh’s. One of the copies I viewed online is 28 7/8 x 36 1/8 (inches) and another is a postcard 5.6 x 4.25 (inches). My canvas is 24 X 30 (inches).

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The weddings have concluded, baby Levi is doing great, Cinderella Castle has a new home, and Van Gogh is no longer my nightly companion, so Zane and Julia here I come! Out of the frozen wasteland your author banished your plotline into must dissolve, because a creative frenzy is where you both belong. A new novel has taken shape as well, and quite a few poems are coming together too.

Vincent van Gogh said, “For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” It is time to let my dreams scream.

Feel free to leave a comment. Thanks for visiting the Noracast!

 

 

Science Fiction Writing Contest: Beyond Time

beyond_timeInkitt’s latest Science Fiction writing contest “Beyond Time” open for submissions!

Inkitt is a free writing platform that aims to help writers achieve their fullest potential. On June 22nd the site launched a new Science Fiction writing contest:

Beyond Time

Submit your most imaginative and fantastic Science Fiction stories! Take your readers on a journey; ride a spaceship, explore an extraterrestrial universe, travel through time – the possibilities are endless and the universe is yours. Be spellbinding, be world altering, and let your imagination run free.

Contest guidelines

Authors will retain all rights to any and all works submitted in the contest.

Original stories of any length are accepted.

Entries must be posted on the Inkitt contest page to be considered eligible.

The contest opens on June 22th and closes on July 27th.

The contest is completely free to enter.

The top 10% based on reader votes get the chance to be picked by the Inkitt staff for 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize.

All entrants will have the chance to show their work to a rapidly growing community of authors and readers hungry for high-quality fiction.

Submit your stories here: www.inkitt.com/beyondtime

Thanks for visiting the Noracast!

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Inkitt’s latest Horror writing contest “END GAME Come Play” open for submissions!

Inkitt is a free writing platform that aims to help writers achieve their fullest potential.

END GAME Come Play

Contest Guidelines

Submit your scariest and most menacing original horror stories! Petrify us with tales that will trap and drown us in your world of helpless terror, but somehow leave us itching for more. Come. Play.

Authors will retain all rights to works submitted to the contest.

Original stories of any length are accepted.

Entries must be posted on the Inkitt contest page to be considered eligible.

The contest is completely free to enter.

The contest opens on July 13th and closes on August 10th.

The top 10% based on reader votes get the chance to be picked by the Inkitt staff for 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize.

All entrants will have the chance to show their work to a rapidly growing community of authors and readers hungry for high-quality fiction.

Submit your stories here: http://www.inkitt.com/endgame

Thanks for visiting the Noracast!

BRAIN FREEZE REMEDIES

Brain Freeze FinalCold. So frigid where I live, that at times—even my imagination, which is usually hyper crazy and difficult to contain, was stopped dead during creative rages due to being iced. Yes, I layered my clothes, walked around carrying steaming hot tea, and became seriously attached to my portable heater, yet my bones and brain remained as numb as a corpse. Not fun, this I do realize!

Now, don’t get me wrong…there is much beauty found when the white fluff surrounds  e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I do believe while the earth sleeps beneath its natural blankets of white, many who are outdoor adventurists are thrilled, but this year, with all too frequent -20 degrees below zero stints, I wished February away.

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On the bright side, thanks to my son being a musician (violin & guitar) and constantly Invinciblelistening to music on his phone, I discovered some inspiring tunes that overtook the chill in the air. Some of the music he replayed quite a bit, sounded faintly familiar, yet other tracks were completely new to me. As you’ll see, his tastes run the gamut from melodic sounds that are peaceful to full blown, epic arrangements which helped spark some fresh ideas for a few of my characters. Ah, well…the music also led me to charge ahead like a bat out of the bottomless pits and “do away” with a particularly horrible character who had it coming. Nasty fellow… For example, one of my favorite finds is Heart of Courage from the masterminds at Two Steps from Hell. It’s from their outstanding album Invincible.

If your creative flare, expressed by writing, painting, composing music, or any other outlet is in need of a lift, a reason to soar into unexplored territory, then visit the links below and discover how awesome imagination can be…

dragon 1 finalEnjoy!

You Tube: TWO STEPS FROM HELL

Website: TWO STEPS FROM HELL

You Tube: AUDIOMACHINE

Website: AUDIOMACHINE

You Tube: The Piano Guys

Website: The Piano Guys

You Tube: Lindsey Stirlinga world final

Website: Lindsey Stirling

You Tube: Luca Stricagnoli

Website: Luca Stricagnoli

Have you listened to some awesome music you’d like to share? Feel free to comment. Thank you for visitng the Noracast!

Melange Books 2015 Giveaway Extravaganza!

black                                                                                                                                                              Love to read? I know! Me too, so have some fun—visit Melange Books to enter this fantastic giveaway! Check it out, because ebooks, ARC’s, and autographed print books are up for grabs, plus one lucky winner receive a brand new Kindle Fire HD6 AND a $25 Amazon Gift Card to stock it full of books! Sounds awesome, right?

Please check out my books The Twelfth Paladin (supernatural/thriller) and Guardian 2632 (science fiction/adventure). Romance, murder/mystery, and fantasy/adventure themed books are there and accounted for as well. Take your time while scrolling to find the books that are perfect for you!

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To enter, go HERE: http://melange-books.com/2015NYGiveaway.html
Keep in mind: A LOT of giveaways will load on that link above. Please let the page fully load everything before entering. Click the link, go check your Facebook or Twitter, then check back!

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And for the blog comments entries, visit, and then leave a post here! http://www.melange-books.com/blog/new-years-giveaway-extravaganza/

GRAND PRIZE

One (1) Grand Prize Winner will receive a Kindle Fire HD6 and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Two (2) second place winners will each receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

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1CovertExposureHappy New Year!

Thanks for visiting the Noracast.

 

 

ForgettingFallenwood

Preventing Toxic Stress

Preventing TS 5Stress is a normal part of life, and it can motivate people toward reaching goals. However, it can, especially in young children, hinder mental, social, brain, and personal development since humans are not born automatically instilled with the most productive ways to deal with stress.

What is toxic stress? An informative place to start is (CDCHU) Center on the Developing Child/Harvard University.  The definition provided there is…“While moderate, short-lived stress responses in the body can promote growth, toxic stress is the strong, unrelieved activation of the body’s stress management system in the absence of protective adult support. Without caring adults to buffer children, the unrelenting stress caused by extreme poverty, neglect, abuse, or severe maternal depression can weaken the architecture of the developing brain, with long-term consequences for learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.”

Stress is our body’s reaction to being overstimulated, feeling threatened, overwhelmed, being uncomfortable with new places and people, and stress can be brought on by too much excitement too. If stress is not managed properly, it has the potential to lead to a damaged immune system and lifelong health issues so says the Psychology Foundation of Canada. Tantrums, nonstop crying and whining, violent outbursts, a relentless sense of being tired and withdrawn, headaches, trouble eating/sleeping, bad habits like biting nails, hair twisting, and sucking thumbs have the potential to develop if toxic stress is left to wreak havoc upon a child—a child who wants to trust family members and teachers.

The Psychology Foundation of Canada emphasizes, “Preschoolers can handle stress better Blog kids 2when they have a healthy, balanced lifestyle with good food, lots of time for physical activity, play and relaxation, and daily routines that make their world feel predictable and safe.”

Negative Impacts from Stress

Mental Development

If everyday stress and/or chronic long term stress are left to simmer without intervention, logic tells us ABCs, 1-2-3s, and all other knowledge needed to mature travel a longer, rougher terrain to get inside of a child’s mind. If a child is stressing over a bully waiting for him/her outside on the playground, or stressing about his/her mother’s reaction to a teacher’s note, basic survival kicks in. The ABCs and 1-2-3s pale in comparison.

Social Development

If everyday stress and/or chronic long term stress persist, undesirable behaviors might manifest, like becoming that bully on the playground, tantrums, inflicting self-harm, loud outbursts, or a child shutting down to become anti-social is a real possibility. It’s crucial for strategies, routines, and action plans be in place that children are aware of to decrease the chances of stress damaging their social development.

Personal Development

If everyday stress and/or chronic long term stress become too acceptable for a child, what personal goals will be disregarded because surviving is more important? Maybe a child desperately wants to learn to read, but constant teasing about it feeds a negative message about school, so that child gives up. Parents, teachers, and caregivers can reduce stress so children feel safe in their environments, safe to learn.

Toxic stress can be prevented through awareness, education, and resources made available to anyone in need of them. Keep in mind…

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that “many adult diseases should be viewed as developmental disorders that begin early in life and that persistent health disparities associated with poverty, discrimination, or maltreatment could be reduced by the alleviation of toxic stress in childhood.”

  • Risk factors for children to become exposed to toxic stress “include examples of multiple stressors (eg, child abuse or neglect, parental substance abuse, and maternal depression) that are capable of inducing a toxic stress response (AAP).”
  • Stress-induced alterations in the design of a child’s developing brain can have possible permanent effects on a range of important functions “such as regulating stress physiology, learning new skills, and developing the capacity to make healthy adaptations to future adversity (AAP).
  • “Impaired parenting—defined as harsh, inconsistent, or indifferent parenting—is known to be related to poor developmental and emotional outcomes in young children, says the National Center for Children in Poverty.
  • Resources like Prevent Child Abuse America, National Center for Children in Poverty, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The Psychology Foundation of Canada, school counselors, social workers, and child welfare programs can assist parents/caregivers, teachers, and the community to protect children from toxic stress.

The more parents/caregivers understand about the development of children, the better equipped they will be to get their children off to a good start. Pediatric doctors, schools, child welfare programs, and the community all have the potential to impact this issue. Take time to learn about toxic stress, and then spread the word!

Please feel free to comment, and share this post.

Thanks for visiting the Noracast!

Bully

Lee Hirsch’s BULLY is shocking, informative, and thought provoking as it takes the audience on a dangerous and terrifying journey into a realm where bullies rule. This realm spreads out across America like a devastating infection, claiming lives and ruining youthful days better spent pursuing dreams.

The children in this movie—Kelby, Ja’Meya, and Alex, all have a story of their own to tell. Each story is filled with deep sadness. Each story pulls on a person’s heartstrings. David and Tina Long recount about the actions of bullies that eventually became too much for their son, Tyler. Tyler, only 17 years old, hung himself.

On The Bully Project website, it was stated, “Over 13 million American kids will be victims of bullying this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation.” Okay, that number is just as shocking as the documentary, which is why neither should be ignored. Children deserve to feel safe going to school, learning at school, and then returning home. The website is full of tips for parents and schools who are interested in taking action against this frightening situation. Parents are encouraged to talk to their kids about this. If your child is being bullied, or if your child is a bully, helpful information is there.

Watching this movie, I could not help but to wonder…

Why was there no accountability placed on the actual bullies? The victims were the ones hassled, interviewed, and made to feel like they deserved what they got.

Were any of the schools held accountable for what was happening on school property and buses?

Were any of the bullies referred to social workers to try and figure out why they were being so cruel? Were their parents or caregivers involved at all? What about consequences?

Do states require schools to have and enforce some kind of action plan for educating students/staff about this issue, and then if so…how is this action planned enforced?

Now, many, many more questions are bouncing around in my head. This movie certainly is a call to action, so I must do more research and find out if our local schools are actively fighting against bullying. The Bully Project/movie is powerful and memorable. I was encouraged after the movie to see snippets from the proactive segments that showed how initiating bully awareness and educating children on what to do really did make a drastic difference.

What are your thoughts about this issue? Do your neighborhood schools have a bully awareness program/protocol?

Thanks for visiting!

Welcome Victoria Vane to the Noracast!

JEWEL OF THE EAST

(The Devil DeVere #5) 

Victoria Vane

Having once lived his life only for larks, laughter, and ladies of easy virtue, Captain Simon Singleton has returned from the war with the colonies a shambles of a man. Now free from six years of captivity, he’s still fettered by irrational fears that confine him to a life of seclusion.   

Once the crowning jewel of the most lavish brothel in London, the exotic Salime finds her reputation and livelihood destroyed by a bitter rival. With a closely guarded secret stripped away, Salime fears no man will ever desire her again. Seeking aid from one who once saved her life, Salime accepts a proposition to repay her debt by becoming a companion to his war-scarred friend. 

 Circumstance brings these two damaged souls together; but fate ignites a love story worthy of the Arabian Nights.

EXCERPT (in which the stage is set)

         Medford Abbey, Kent- 1785

A sharp rap soon sounded on the door. Ludovic, Viscount DeVere glanced up from his periodical to the entrance of a liveried footman. “A message for you, my lord.” 

The servant offered the wax-sealed missive on a silver salver. “It was delivered by a most…unusual…courier.” The footman gave a sniff of disdain.

“Indeed? What do you mean?” Ludovic asked in a bored drawl.

“‘Tis a behemoth blackamoor, my lord.”

“Mustafa?” Ludovic threw down his periodical and snatched up the missive. “What the devil?”

“He awaits in the kitchen. Insufferable rude creature he be. Just stands all akimbo. Refuses to speak or to depart without an answer from your lordship.”

“The man cannot speak. He has no tongue. They took it when they castrated the poor devil.”

The footman’s eyes bulged. He involuntarily crossed his legs. Ludovic broke the seal and scanned the contents with a deepening frown. 

Most honored Efendi,


It is with the greatest humility that I appeal to he who once safeguarded my life. It is with exceeding distress that I must entreat you once more, being much in need of a friend and protector. 


Your most devoted and obedient servant,

Salime

Ludovic read the cryptic note once more. Salime in want of a protector? What a sticky situation that created. At first he wondered why she’d appealed to him, but then again, there were few people she trusted. Given their shared history, he would never deny her aid. Moreover, Salime had been instrumental in helping him to achieve his present state of connubial bliss. For that alone he owed her his undying gratitude.

“Tell him I shall be in touch with his mistress shortly…and that she should notify me at once should her circumstances become any more…distressed.”

“Aye, my lord.” The much-chagrinned footman departed.

Ludovic glowered after the departing servant. Salime had never been in want since coming to London. He wondered what could be behind her request, but then abandoned both letter and the dilemma the moment another surprise came bursting into his library. “Ned?” Ludovic leaped up to greet his best friend. “What the devil has brought you all the way from Yorkshire to Kent?”

“I have most portentous news, DeVere,” Ned sputtered with excitement. “News I could hardly relay by messenger. So I came down myself.”

“What kind of news? Out with it, Chambers,” Ludovic commanded.

“Mayhap you should pour us a drink first.”

Ludovic lifted a sardonic brow. “A drink? Not so urgent after all?”

“‘Tis fortification you’ll need for the shock you’re about to receive.”

“Shock? Me? You know I am not easily shocked, Ned.” Ludovic paused with his hand on the brandy decanter and a slight frown marring his face. “Come to think of it, I’m damned if I can recall a single occasion that has wrought from me such a profound reaction as shock.”

Ned flung himself into Ludovic’s favorite chair. “There’s a first for everything, DeVere. Now that drink?”

Ludovic sloshed amber liquid into two glasses, handing one to the would-be herald, who downed it in one draught. Ludovic quirked a brow.

“It was a devilish long ride,” Ned explained.

“All to deliver this shocking report of yours?” Ludovic perched a hip on the corner of his mahogany desk.

“Yes! It’s Lazarus all over again!”

“Lazarus? Am I to surmise that someone has been miraculously raised from the dead?”

“Actually, he might as well have been,” Ned declared. “I can hardly countenance it after all this time.”

“You are trying my patience, Ned.”

“It’s Simon. He’s returned.”

“Good God!” The glass slipped from his hand to shatter at Ludovic’s feet. “You can’t mean Sin is alive after all this time? He was pronounced killed in action six years ago.”

“I mean exactly that!” Ned exclaimed. “He is indeed alive and may even be in London as we speak. I have the news straight from Baron Singleton. His ship was expected to arrive several days ago.”

“Why am I only hearing of this now? I see the bloody Singleton regularly at Parliament.”

“Probably because the good baron doesn’t like you, DeVere. He believes you were an abominable influence on his son.”

“Then he would be right.” Ludovic smirked and then stared at the shattered glass at his feet. 

“Looking a bit white there, my friend. This is known as shock.”

“Admittedly, I am incredulous. How can this be? Where the devil has he been?”

“Interned as a prisoner of war for the greater part of six years.”

“Six years? In all that time there were no exchanges?”

“Very few. The colonials refused to give up ours when they claimed their men were only released on the point of starvation and death. I daresay ’tis no exaggeration. I’ve seen a number of reports on the deplorably inhumane conditions of our prison hulks. Indeed it’s said that the colonial prisoners set fire to the Whitby, choosing to go down in flames, rather than die of starvation and disease.” Ned shook his head. “What a hellish business war is.”

“But if Sin was a prisoner, he should have been released nigh on a year ago when the treaty was signed.”

“Apparently he was too ill to travel. Only made it as far as Bermuda before he was struck with the bloody flux or some such and required months of convalescence…poor sod.”

“We must go to him, Ned. At once.”

“He’ll not be the same man,” Ned voiced what they were both thinking.

“No,” Ludovic shook his head. “Likely never again.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victoria Vane is an award-winning romance novelist and history junkie whose works range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling and intensely erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog. Look for Victoria’s sexy new contemporary cowboy series coming in summer 2014.

DeVere Fan Site: http://thedevildevere.com

Facebook: Author Victoria Vane

Twitter: @authorvictoriav

THE

DEVIL DEVERE SERIES AWARDS AND ACCOLADES

A Wild Night’s Bride (book#1)

The Virgin Huntress, (book#2)

The Devil You Know (book#3)

The Devil’s Match, (book#4) August 2012