Friday, September 28, 2012

Toddler Puppet Theater

Sometimes my creativity spins off in odd directions and I feel compelled to jump into the vortex after it. Yesterday, instead of writing, I created a puppet theater for my kids. They "helped" by dumping toys and Duplos/Megablocks all over the floor and pulling the cables for the recording equipment out from under the couch, so the basement is fairly trashed for these pictures.

I started with a large but narrow box, duct tape, and a utility knife. After cutting off the flaps, cutting a window, and taping on triangles cut from the flaps for the roof, and reinforcing the center seam with the section cut from the window, I ended up with this:

The top and bottom were left on for stability.
Top view of the roof supports.

 I wasn't sure at first what to cover the box with, but then I found a roll of wood grain patterned contact paper.

I covered the front and sides with the contact paper. Unfortunately, contact paper doesn't stick well to cardboard, so I ended up taping the edges down with packing tape.

The two long-side flaps were reserved for the roof. I taped them together on both sides since one flap on it's own wasn't quite wide enough. The roof was then taped down to the supports.

Next up was shingling. I first cut 12 pieces of felt into shingle shapes, 4 per felt sheet.

 The shingles were glued down in an overlapping pattern.

Completed shingle layout.
 I contemplated how to decorate the theater and decided to cut shapes out of felt. Turbotot thinks clocks are cool, so instead of a window on the gable, I made a clock. The sides are decorated with a sun and a shooting star, which you'll see later.

The curtains are a cheap satiny pillowcase cut in half along the seams. I stapled and pleated it along the upper edge of the window. It was done upside-down so the edge and staples don't show once it's upright and the curtains are hanging down.

 Flipped upright and with the curtains tucked in the window, it looks like this:

Finally, I was ready to add the last touches. I stapled ribbons to the sides of the windows to tie back the curtains. The felt flowers were stapled on before the yellow center was glued. They look nice and hide the unsightly corners of the curtains.

And there we have it, a toddler-sized puppet theater made from a cardboard box, contact paper, a pillowcase, felt, tape, glue, and staples! I tried to get a picture of Turbotot in it with one of his puppets, but he had more important things to do.

Side detail. It wasn't dry yet when I took this, so there is some glue showing.

Side detail.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Coconut-Chia Pudding

I bought a bag of chia seeds at Trader Joes today to experiment with. They are rich in Omega-3s and easier to digest than flax. Other health benefits are explained here. My first test with them is this simple pudding, which turned out great. I'm waiting for Turbotot to get home to see if it's toddler approved. The chia seed creates a gel when it absorbs liquid, which makes it great for making a no-cook pudding.

Coconut-Chia Pudding

1 15oz can of coconut milk (1 1/2 cups)
3/8 cup chia seeds
1/4-3/8 cup agave nectar (or honey if you're into that sort of thing)
1 tsp vanilla

Stir together all ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving.

Variations: add cocoa powder or fruit purees. For a raw pudding, blend together the water and jelly from a young coconut and use it in place of the canned coconut milk.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Web

The Web is the deity hierarchy of the Malora universe. There are fourteen primary Elements and many minor ones. Humans cannot see or interact with most of the Elements, but Tenjeri and some members of the Aulor-descended races can.

A note on Elemental merging: It would seem the Elements are inbred, and in a way, they are. This is often found in world mythology. 

“The Elements of the Web are not people, Velocity,” Verity explained. “They are Elements and merging for them is like creating new colors by blending paints and pigments. Inquisitive child, there is nothing sinister about that when it pertains to the immortal Elements." - from Mayfly Requiem
The Web

Eryagloris (Stars) - One of the center points of the Web, Eryagloris is thought of by Lani as more paternal and caring than the other Elements, possibly because he spends more time watching humans than the others. He manifests as a pale man with indigo hair and eyes. Temple city is Starfall.

Aucra (Time) - Eryagloris' mate is constant and unforgiving. She holds grudges for eternity and occasionally plays games involving mortals. She manifests as a young woman with red hair and gold-flecked blue eyes. Like Lani, her voice is rhythmic and verging on monotonous. She is often seen not as Eryagloris' equal, but above him and at the very center of the Web. Temple city is Meridian.

Omalara (Ocean) - Daughter of Aucra and Eryagloris. She is as turbulent and changing as her element, and can slip from kindly to raging in response to a touch of wind or cloud that is not to her liking. She often chooses to manifest as a water-toned Watersinger. Patron Element of the Mero and all mariners. Temple city is Wavecrest.

Aumua (Desert) - Son of Aucra and Eryagloris. Arden Masiona describes him as "Aumua crept into my mind like lingering sand after a swim in the ocean." Aumua brings a cloud of sand with him wherever he ventures and can transcend space in a similar manner to the Aulor Bethel. He is the patron of glassmakers, and has taken several mortals on as his apprentices. He is the creator of Dunewind and the Vin people, is the co-creator of the Thulan, and has a tenuous alliance with the Marglor (sand spirits). He manifests as a sandy-haired, tan-eyed man who cannot escape his cloud of dust and sand. Temple city is Dunewind.

Rima (Sky) - The androgynous child of Aucra and Eryagloris can become male, female, or anywhere in between depending on mood. Rima manifests as a slight person with long blonde hair and blue eyes. Rima's Kiedran equivalent is Palas. Temple city is Skyspire.

Affaji (Tundra) - Son of Aumua and Omalara. Affaji generally dislikes humans and holds a great hatred for Rassa, but he greatly respects Bethel. He created the Tenjeri and is able to interact with them, and later with the Masai. He employs winged wolves (Grikashk). He manifests as a tall Tenjeri with white hair and silver eyes, and the sound of bells follows him. Temple cities are Northwinds on Malora and Trieskel on Rikulon.

Velatari (Rain) - The son of Rima and Omalara is universally described as "boring" by anyone he has come into contact with. However, he is the focus of the epic poem Sing to Samiaya, the most acclaimed piece of Tenjeri literature in the world. He has been referred to many times in the Malora Series, but has yet to make a physical appearance. Temple city is Palmshore in the southern rainforests of Kira.

Maldalo (Plains) - Also known as "The Lifegiver", Maldalo is the daughter of Aumua and Rima. She is the bringer of the harvest and the patron Element of the nation of Maritor. She manifests as a human woman with golden hair, rich brown skin, and blue eyes, hearkening to the wheat, the soil, and the sky. She often walks the fields of Maritor, unseen by humans. Temple city is Fruithill.

Samiaya (Aurora) - Daughter of Rima and Eryagloris. Samiaya is beautiful, but elusive and inaccessible to many who prefer a warmer climate. She manifests as a teenager with bright, color-shifting hair. Temple city is Icelight.

Aksuvian (Mountains) - Son of Rima and Maldalo. Aksuvian is gruff in manner, but generally harmless unless you venture too close. He manifests as a middle-aged gentleman with gray hair and eyes. Patron Element of the Baku and the Drey. Temple city is Nighthollow.

Faloway (Forest) - Daughter of Maldalo and Velatari, twin to Sepitira. Faloway walks the forest much like Maldalo wanders the plains. She is jealous and unforgiving of those who maim her trees. She harbors a long-standing feud with Affaji. She has not yet made a physical appearance in the Malora Series. She is the patron Element of the Efi. Temple city is Moonhaven.

Sepitira (Wetlands) - Daughter of Maldalo and Velatara, twin to Faloway. Patron Element of the delta country of Anor. She has not appeared in the Malora series. Temple city is Reedwater.

Metalis (Rivers) - Daughter of Aksuvian and Maldalo. Metalis deeply loathes Bethel and advocates his death. She has not yet made a physical appearance in the Malora Series. Temple city is Riverbottom.

Uadiamore (Sound) - Son of Velatari and Samiaya. Uadiamore manifests as a chestnut-haired, dark-eyed young man (not the silver-complected infant depicted in Sing to Samiaya). Like Affaji, the sound of bells follows him. Temple city is Cascades.


Paradox - No one is sure where Paradox came from. He is a mate of Rima and has been imprisoned by Aucra for many eons.

Kairen (Metamorphosis) - The androgynous trickster child of Rima and Paradox. Kairen usually manifests as a color-shifting creature vaguely reminiscent of an owl, but has been known to take human form to procreate with humans. Kairen makes a game of influencing people and even Aulors to do things they normally wouldn't. He is often imprisoned by Aucra, but just as often escapes or survives his own execution.

Taiga (Boreal Forest) - Son of Faloway and Affaji. Patron Element of the Masai following his release from Aucra's Elemental prison. Affaji claimed there are over thirty Elements on the Web, but little has been revealed of the outliers beyond the core fourteen.

Sebelra (Oblivion) - The sleeping abyss is the counterpart of Eryagloris and Aucra, the void between the stars. He sleeps on unaware of his own existence while the universe grows and shifts around him. Sebelra is the only thing Aucra truly fears, especially now that he is on the edge of waking from his calm dream world. Bethel long-believed that Oblivion's soul lived in Rassa, but Affaji confirmed Bethel's assumption as an error, so the abyss still sleeps for now. When Oblivion wakes, the universe will know.

Laatulya (Redemption) - this fallen Aulor is the guardian of the Evergreen Abyss, the underworld that receives the souls of the damned upon their deaths. Laatulya appears as a heavily scarred young man in a ragged robe. His physical condition depends on how recently Aucra has repaired him. He is frequently abused by Aucra to the point where many of his senses are stripped away, but his mind is still mostly intact. He is tasked to relive the crimes of the damned along with them, but he has never been very good at his job.


Aulors - Time Children, the human-like offspring of Aucra and Eryagloris. They are the sentinels of the Web, sent to the world in human form to watch and interpret between cyclic cataclysms. As of the beginning of Arrow of Entropy, six Aulors have been named. They exist only in pairs, and are biologically immortal, locked in time as young adults.

Morazend - Wind spirits, volatile and vicious. "The Morazend are infinite in number, the zephyrs on the wind. They are the ones who howl through the trees and against the windows during storms. We shall not invoke them either, for they are volatile and wrathful." - from Mayfly Requiem. There is one example in the series of a Morazend soul in human form.

Thulan - The Phoenix is believed to be the offspring of Eryagloris and Aumua. Only one exists at a time and the Thulan can be born into any sentient race. Examples have existed all across history and have been included as characters or referenced in every book of the Malora Series. Upon a great upheaval, altruistic action, or turning of events, the Thulan becomes self-aware and transcends into an elemental form. The Thulan dies in this form and is born again in a new body. The Thulan's primary responsibility is to illuminate the world, either through destruction or through bringing light, depending on what is needed.

Velador - "The Velador are the children of water, a trio of many-fanged creatures concocted by Omalara, Velatari, and Metalis to avenge any who might unjustly fall dead into the waters of the world." - from Mayfly Requiem

Monday, September 10, 2012


I was going to post something yesterday for Snippet Sunday/Six Sentence Sunday, but I am perpetually time-lost and can never remember what day it is. This is a bit from my work-in-progress, Sand into Glass. Aucra is one of the central Elements, the deity Time. The narrator, Arden, is not immortal, but is from a long-lived race descended from Aulors. He is hearing-impaired (deaf on the left, and at this point in the story, only possesses partial hearing in his right). 

I wandered into the corner and out of the range of Ikuren's voice. Aucra sat on my cot. She wanted so horribly to see her prize tainted, to see his teetering foundation crumble under the tremendous weight of his own memories. I was no prize, no trophy, no champion for her. I couldn't redeem myself, but I could vex her until my end.
“You are going to lose this fight,” Aucra said. She smiled smugly and twirled a strand of hair between her fingers.
I flopped on the cot and laid my head on her lap. She stroked my hair and I smiled up at her. I whispered, “My life is a waste except for a single moment bracketed by two shimmering stars. Even if I only have one wonderful moment every four centuries, I will hold onto that and it will keep me safe. A spring rain, a desert night, a swinging pendulum, a ticklish child laughing as I try to put shoes on his feet. I focus on the light I can find, and if I can't find it, I create it. I created two tiny stars, and even the one who was short-lived burned far brighter than you ever will.”
I sat up and pressed my right ear against Aucra's sternum. Her heart was steady, unchanging. She was clockwork, but I wondered if her gears were made of glass or of metal. If she was glass, I could reshape her. I felt the buzz of her voice in her chest. I had no idea what poison she whispered to me and I didn't care.
“You present yourself young and beautiful,but you are neither," I said calmly. "You are Time, as old as the universe, and as twisted and deceitful. You are responsible for far more murders than I am. You are the worst mass-murderer in all the universe. Every single living thing falls to you eventually, and you savor it, drink up every bit of that death and then piss on the next generation while waiting for it to come of age so you can drink again. While you're waiting, you take little sips and kill off the young and the infirm to keep your appetite from fading. You are a murderous abomination, and it's no wonder you have fallen in love with someone just a fraction as loathsome as yourself. I will leave your love unrequited, because I am better than you. I do not kill for my own entertainment. No matter what, I am better than you, and I will win. Watch me win.”
Aucra continued to stroke my hair and I fell asleep in her arms. She was still there when I woke from my nap, but she refused to speak with me. I appreciated that, and daresay, celebrated it. It is not often a mortal renders Time speechless.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Arrow of Entropy

Sometimes my muse strikes out of order, especially when I have limited time during kid naps and am heading into a complex chapter in my primary work-in-progress. When in doubt, listen to the muse. I take a lot of notes, and this is one of them. It likely won't stick as the opening of Arrow of Entropy, so consider it a teaser for the trilogy.

When I was a little girl, I often crept out of my bed late at night to walk along the shore of Ara. I never ventured to the beach during the day because I hated being surrounded by an endless mass of swimmers and sunbathers, but at night it was perfection. The stars and moon reflected off the water and the cool, white sand embraced my toes as I meandered along the shore. I breathed in the rhapsody of the ocean, the salty mist and churning foam thrown by endless and chaotic waves. No one knew about my midnight walks, not even my twin. We looked the same when we were young, but we never fully trusted each other with our secrets, even before the Aulors came into our lives.

I share a kinship with the water through my Mero ancestry and with the fire because my father is the Thulan, the only Thulan in all of time to survive his own transcendence. However, above fire and water, I am tied to light. I can manipulate it, control it, make sunlight my own and force it to surrender to darkness. I used to prefer darkness to light because it kept my own flaws from becoming illuminated, but not anymore. Not since Oblivion awoke. Now I choose to remain bright.

-Arrow of Entropy, Book Three of the Emergence Trilogy.

Giveaway Party!

Me in New Orleans, July 2011
In July, I gave away three paperback copies of Mayfly Requiem, and in August I gave away two copies of Shadows of Absolution. To finish up three months of Goodreads giveaways, I am going for the big one for September.

I am giving away one complete set of the Echoes of Oblivion trilogy (The Abyssal Night, Shards of Chaos, The Shattered Veil). The contest starts tonight at midnight (September 5) and ends on September 30. These are the books that kicked off my entire series, and I don't plan on doing any more giveaways until the Emergence trilogy is released, so don't miss out on your chance to win!


    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        The Abyssal Night by Courtney M. Privett



          The Abyssal Night

          by Courtney M. Privett


            Giveaway ends September 30, 2012.
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.

      Enter to win