Wednesday, July 1, 2015

New Ebook Release (Yay!)

I recently changed e-publishers to make my ebooks available through more ereading platforms and I am very excited to now be able to offer some of my ebooks for perma-free download. So excited am I, in fact, that I promptly began writing a short story to publish. I intended it to be 2000 words. It wound up being roughly 5000. Sigh. Oh, well.

Nevertheless, I made the short ebook a free download and posted it to Smashwords this morning. If it passes the scrutiny of their team, my newest title should hit ibooks, kobo, Amazon and others. Meanwhile, it is available to download (for free) from https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/555437 . But you are already reading this blog, so allow me to tantalize you with the first few words...

The Last Day
Of Avalon, Volume 1 by Beth Durkee
copyright 2015 Elizabeth W. Durkee
All Rights Reserved.


This is the story of how a druid named Melador, who was known in his adult life as the eyes and ears of Saint Mary, came with his family to live on the Scilleian isle. It is also the truth behind how his older brother was believed to be lost on a foolhardy quest after a false legend, the legend of Lord Randall Castle...

 

Before the rending apart of science from enchantment, the island of Avalon was sinking for more than a thousand years. This was due in large part to the conflict between physics and magic in the druidstone (known to scientists as Muscravite) which ran through the core of the island’s sole mountain.

Through the generations, Avalon’s druid population progressively migrated away from their homeland to new homes on the larger landmasses of Albion, Hibernia and other parts of Europe. They moved in villages as the sea water swallowed shores in its climb toward the temple atop Avalon’s mountain – the temple in which King Arthur rests to this very day.

To this same temple, a wizard by the name of Lord Randall came to study the art of magic in all its forms and transcribe the druids’ many books on the subject, for druid priests were known to be the world’s foremost masters of magic. In exchange for sharing their magical knowledge with him, he promised Avalon’s protectors, the dragonlords, a new home.

He commissioned them to bring dwarves from his homeland in the Albion highlands to mine Avalon’s mountain for druidstone. The excavated stone was then cut into blocks, enchanted with a powerful spell of forgetting and sent to Lord Randall’s family lands, where it was laid by the dragons transporting it into a castle like none the world had ever seen.

At the end of this age, when rising water touched the gates of the last inhabited village, the final stones of the castle were set. The dragonlords then went with Lord Randall and the descendants of his dwarf allies (for dwarves are created of the substance of magic so are unaffected by the life prolonging properties of druidstone) to their new home.

Before they moved their attentions to the magical affairs of Albion, however, the dragonlords made sure all their druid kindred were safely away from their ancestral home. All, that is, except the few priests who remained to tend the temple and the sleeping king.

When the final departure day arrived and the last ship was about to be boarded, there were but two dragonlords present. However there were three dragons. Two were the mounts of their lords. The other had come to transport the last apprentices of the age. Their names were Thored and Aeduuard, and they were both sons of high priests. The young men had stayed to see their families off on the voyage to new homes in Normandy. It was the last they would see of their loved ones until their apprenticeships were complete. It was also the last their loved ones would remember ever seeing them, for the spell of forgetting had also been cast over the dragonlords’ rings of station.

On this last day in the season of Avalon, Thored and Aeduuard were supposed to be helping their respective families. But they were so excited about their upcoming adventure that all they seemed able to do was chat with each other via magical communications. A touch to an amulet each wore around his neck and a simple spell gave them the means to speak to each other across any distance – as long as they stayed away from large deposits of uncut Muscravite.
 
Is your interest piqued? You can download the full ebook for free at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/555437 . Please leave it a kind rating/review when you are finished reading. My goal is to reach as many new readers as possible with this story.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Castle Proect

I am not crazy ...unless craziness and genius are the same thing.

As a divorced and disabled author with no publishing house, I have few resources and less money. So I need to be creative. Fortunately for me, I am occasionally able to be just that. Please check out the page for my newest project. After almost a year of saving and donations, I have finally collected enough soda cans to begin construction. (However, I have nowhere near enough to complete the project and rinsed donations continue to be collected.)

Here is my project page.

http://lordrandallcastle.blogspot.com/2015/06/deciding-to-build-castle.html


P. S. Also check out my Amazon and Smashwords author pages. Maybe you will see a book you might like to read?

Monday, April 27, 2015

New Book Club Forms in Support of Traditional Values


This press release hit Google News! It was originally distributed by ReleaseWire. Note
 how prominently yours truly's name appears near the bottom. Isn't this awesome?!


Lansing, MI -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/27/2015 -- Mrs. Sorcha Liu, a resident of Essex County, U. K. has recently assumed the role of U.K. Marketing Director for a newly-formed group, created with the intention of raising public awareness about issues of traditional morality.

Mrs. Liu joins Mary Brown of Marinette, Wisconsin, USA and Debbie Claydon of Bedford, Texas, USA as joint directors of the book club, dubbed the Harbor Imagination Consortium. The three are now seeking international readers to join the club, which follows the works of award-winning American author Beth Durkee.

Headquartered in Menominee, Michigan, USA, the group welcomes volunteers interested in promoting traditional moral values and conservative politics through creative writing. Prospective members are invited to join the consortium via one of two Facebook groups, Harbor Imagination, USA and Harbour Imagination U. K.

About THE E-BOOKS
The club was formed around The Legend of Lord Randall Castle e-series, which debuted in October 2014. The books hit Amazon.com's bestseller list during its first week of availability. Since then, the e-series has been featured in several blogs and is slowly gaining popularity among readers with traditional values.

The novelettes are a mastery of fantasy fiction intended to comment on concerns surrounding the present-day Middle East, including issues such as teenage runaways, domestic violence, sexual discrimination, poverty and society's responsibility to make charitable contributions.

About AUTHOR BETH DURKEE
Beth Durkee is a graduate of Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA, a mother of two and a former U. S. Army wife. She subscribes to traditional Judeo-Christian values and conservative politics. Now writing within her long preferred genre of fantasy, she began her writing career with award-winning Christian Romance and Relationship Self-help books. Readers can find her titles listed on Amazon.com.

For information about the book club, contact:

Mary Brown
Harbor Imagination Consortium
P. O. Box 81
Menominee, MI 49858
USA
admin@bethdurkee.me
http://www.bethdurkee.me/Legend_Series.html

For more information on this press release visit: http://www.releasewire.com/press-releases/new-book-club-forms-in-support-of-traditional-values-594397.htm

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Pretty Good Day

I have been looking for a "real" job for quite a while now. That is to say one that, unlike writing, pays me instead of my spending time and money to do for free. Yes, I know I am demanding. (Sorry.) I have been working with a couple of agencies for about a year and finally found a job that I could do from my home office... or at least I thought I did, and I had great plans to hire a book publicist with my new income. How exciting!

I did a short, unpaid training and passed through to the next step, the paid training. (Yay!) I got my office all set up with a computer and a dedicated phone line, then I began my paid training. I worked two days of eight. Then my instructor took ill (or had personal problems or something). I wound up checking in for work every day for about 15 minutes to find out that class was not meeting for the day. That lasted about a week. Then a different trainer came in and finished my class' training. It was good and the class was a nice size, 11 customer service friendly people.

The last day of class was April 8, the day before my birthday and we finished in time for me to go out to lunch at my favorite lunch hangout.

Oh, wait. I forgot to mention that in the evening of April 7, I got a phone call on my cell from a strange number. I don't answer unfamiliar numbers on my cell, so I let it go to voice mail then I listened to the message. It was from some irate man who laid it out that he had been trying and trying to reach me and this was his LAST attempt to contact me for a peaceful resolution. So I had better call (8xx) xxx-xxxx in reference to case number xxx-xxxx-xx if I didn't want to go to court. Then a differnent voice said, "This message is for [Dippy Doo-Ha's sister's name]."

What?? Why am I getting irate calls for someone who does not talk to me and with whom I have not talked in years? Needless to say, two days before my birthday, I was not happy. I emailed the information to my personal super-villain. So that was a lovely birthday surprise (not). Later, I learned from my mom that the call was likely some kind of scam, as something similar had happened to her and the case / case number were bogus. (Sigh.) Now... back to my birthday story.

Because my job training was finished on the 8th, I had off on the 9th -- my birthday, and I was pretty happy about it. First, I took myself to the chiropractor, whom I had completely ignored during my job training. Then I went to lunch at my favorite lunch spot. My friend, Karen, was working so I asked to sit in her section. While there, I also talked to my beta reader and got some good feedback on the first three chapters of my newest e-book. But the restaurant was crazy busy, so I wound up being ignored. I hate being ignored. It is a real pet peeve of mine, so I left after waiting a good long time (I had not yet placed an order) and went to Applebee's. No fuss. I just left. (Note: Nobody ignored me today when I went for lunch. They did not seem to like when I silently disappeared. LOL)

Applebee's  was also kind of a bust, but I stuck it out and ate there because I did not feel like leaving. My server there was moderately inattentive and also made me wait a pretty long time for service. (Even getting a glass of water to drink when I sat down took just about forever.) It was not turning out to be a good birthday at all. So I went home. Bad idea. Not only did I have a distressed message from Karen waiting for me on Facebook ("Where did you go?") but, about half an hour after I got home, I received a phone call from my employment agency.

Are you saying, "uh oh?"

So... Out of 11 candidates, three did not get job offers. I was one of the three. Shaken, I messaged my family, Karen and my beta reader friend. Everyone was sad except my beta reader and me. We were sad for about half a minute. Then we realized that this means I now have time to devote to the sequel I am writing. So not getting the job is really sort of a a mixed blessing. Still, rejection is always a little hard to take and I now don't know how I will pay to publicize my books. I guess we will have to figure it out.

I spent a little time messaging people and called my mom to let her know about the job. I felt both crappy and happy at the same time for a while. Then I looked at my clock.and saw I had better leave so I could keep my promise to return to my lunch hangout for dinner. Believe it or not, the restaurant was less busy at dinner that day than at lunch. (Go figure.)

I am glad I went back because that is when my birthday did a little twist. Karen bought my dinner for me. She also told me that a mutual server friend is in need of a place to stay. My daughter told me about a week ago that she is not coming home for the summer, so I have a spare room in my house. Now I will have time to write instead of taking on a "real" job and I may be getting a roommate to help make ends meet. (Or maybe not. We will have to see.)

Last but not least, I was home after dinner and my son called from work. He had to hang up and call back a few times because he needed to concentrate on tasks at hand, but he still talked to me for a good long time to make sure I did not feel alone on my birthday.

All in all, I would say that it was a pretty good birthday.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Fool!

I am rather pleased with myself today. 

This morning, I was on a conference call doing some job training... Yes, I have finally buckled under the financial pressure of incoming bills combined with the almost no book sales and finally gotten a "real" job... and one of the other participants mentioned the date.

Eeek! I thought. I need to fool someone. Who can I fool? Not my trainer or any of the other call members, certainly. I am not going out of my house today and I expect no company, so who?? I let the matter go and continued on. (Good thing, too, or I would have become consumed by the idea and unable to concentrate on work!)

Lunch break came and my thoughts turned to my son, who is flying to my parents' house today for an Easter visit. So I picked up my cell and called my mom. As her phone was ringing, an evil thought occurred to me. I immediately decided to implement it! Here is about how it went:

Mom: Oh, hi, honey.

Me: Hi. What are you doing?

Mom proceeded to tell me what she was doing.

Me: Oh, that explains why you're not home. [Note: I did not call her home. This was just part of my ruse.]

Mom, after some minor banter about being out: What's happening?

Me: Nothing. I'm just driving. I'll be at your house in just a few minutes.

Mom: You said you had job training today! You weren't supposed to be here till Saturday!!

I actually talked to Mom yesterday about my upcoming job training today, so she should have caught me in this prank right away. But she didn't. She was totally taken off-guard and started into a non-stop berating about how she was not expecting me and so on. I could almost hear her blood pressure rising and had to interrupt her to be able to say, "Mom, April Fool!"

We then both had a good laugh. (I'm glad my mom has a good sense of humor.)

What did you do for April Fools Day this year? Any fun pranks on friends or family?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Strategy

So it turns out that one of my aching knees stopped aching after a couple of days and the other was a little out of its socket. The only reason I noticed it was out of its socket is that I started using it to work out on the Gazelle and it didn't stop hurting. My trusty chiropractor popped it back into the socket this morning and will check it again for me in a week.

I was pretty good over the weekend. Not perfect, but pretty good. Then came today. After my visit to the good chiropractor, I was driving home and I just could not keep from visiting my current favorite lunch hangout. I know I have to stop going out for lunch (a habit that has single-handedly added 9 pounds to my waistline since the end of summer) BUT... note that "but" is one of the most dangerous words in the world... I really like eating out for lunch because it is such a social outlet for me.

Now I could go into the full story of why I NEED to eat lunch out at my favorite lunch place, but I am not going to. Let's just admit that this is one of my personal vices and it needs to be overcome. I have recognized a few items that may be obstacles in my quest to lose inches so I have come up with some strategies to work through / get around them. That is the key: a workable strategy, something I am confident I can stick to, something that will help me change my habits without being too painful.

Obstacle Number One: Working out is boring. It is the one way I know to make time seem to slow down and drag on and on.

Solution: Whereas I left my rower in my office for my 50 strokes a day, I moved my Gazelle into my living room in front of my television. I can do that because I don't have anyone else in the house to be considerate of. It is one of the two benefits of being single. The other is an almost non-existent number of dishes to wash.

Obstacle Number Two: I don't wear a watch. I used to wear one but I also used to be highly stressed and my watch seemed to run my life. Not wearing a watch is something I decided to try to reduce my stress levels, and it did help to reduce them a little... I think. But not wearing a watch also makes it somewhat difficult to time my Gazelle exercise sessions -- which I noticed as an obstacle during my first "workout." I kind of need to time my exercise sessions to make sure I go long enough.

Solution: The first solution I tried was to use the timer on my microwave, but my Gazelle is not in my kitchen so that was not a good solution. No worries. There was an easy fix. I went to Wal-Mart yesterday and bought the cheapest stopwatch I could find. I used it for this morning's session and it worked perfectly for my purposes. It now rests on the end table next to my favorite chair so I can put it on before my 10-15 minute "mini-workouts."

Obstacle Number Three: Snacking. I am good in the morning. I drink my cup of flavored coffee and eat either a muffin or a granola bar for breakfast. Then I am fine till lunch. But after lunch I am BAD. I get hungry and just cannot stop snacking! What's worse is what I snack on: Chocolate candy is my favorite starter. It is not good.

Solution: I am going to allow myself to snack but change what I snack on. I now have a whole bag of carrots, 2 cucumbers and a red bell pepper. I will prepare them and keep them in water in my fridge so that I can easily pull out a healthy snack whenever I want one instead of candy or chips. To make my strategy more palatable, I mixed up a batch of beer-cheese dip for the vegetables. Not a good thing as too much dip would totally defeat the purpose of snacking on raw vegetables. So what I am going to do is LIMIT the amount of dip I eat per day. I will measure it into a dish at the beginning of my daily munchies and not take more until the next day. For dessert, which I count as an after-dinner snack, I bought some 100-calorie ice cream bars. I allow myself no more than one per day.

Obstacle Number Four: This is one of my two biggest problems with losing weight. I don't drink enough water. I got out of the habit of drinking water when I lived with my parents when they had some pretty nasty well-water. Even filter pitchers (except for the Zero Water filter they eventually purchased, but by then it was too late because my habit of not drinking enough was already well-established) did not resolve the issue of their water. Now they have a nice reverse osmosis water filter installed in their kitchen, like I had when I lived in Texas, but I don't live with them now and like I said I am in a bad habit of not drinking enough water. Not drinking enough water is a MAJOR OBSTACLE to losing weight.

Solution: This is going to be a matter of will-power. I have a water bottle with a straw in it and with ounce measures marked on its side to make it easier for me. Yesterday, I drank 5 cups of water. My goal is to work up to 10.

Obstacle Number Five: This is, of course, going out for lunch. As mentioned above, I am addicted to a cute local place near my chiropractor's office. It has a cheap weekday lunch deal, I have been there enough to have formed casual friendships with some of the staff and I show up on an almost daily basis (weekdays only) to chat. This is a bad habit I truly enjoy, which makes it a beast to eliminate.

Solution: I am going to try (really hard) to reduce my visits to just Mondays (after my chiropractic visit) and Thursdays (the only day one of my friends works lunch). If I can successfully do that then, after a while, I will work to reduce to just one of those days. Then I may even cut down to every other week or once a month. We will have to see what I can handle.

Alright, so that is my strategy for slowly reducing my vices and replacing them with better habits so that I can effectively begin to lose inches through the vehicle of my newly increased mini- work-outs.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Aching Knees

My knees hurt.

Wait. That sounds bad. Rest assured. I have not done anything "dirty" since my personal hero metamorphosed into Dippy Doo-Ha (sinister fanfare plays). [Reference Frigid (part 2)]. Well, that is unless you include the idea of sweat as dirty. Just the idea, mind you. Actual sweat would take effort.

So nothing dirty was done, but my knees ache. They have been hurting for the last couple of days, actually. Why, you ask? Well, it is simple. I did something stupid... and it starts with a short story.

Do you remember last Spring when my pipes froze and I went down to stay with my parents for a short while? [Searching for entry... Hmm... Maybe I didn't write about it? I thought I did. Oh, well.]

Well, I had been doing 50 strokes a day on my rowing machine before I went. (Only 50 strokes you ask? What is the point? More on this in a minute.) I figured I would keep exercising by using my sister-in-law's treadmill while I was there but it was broken so I stopped exercising altogether. When I came back home, my rower was here but my habit was broken and I didn't get back into it... until sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That is when I decided that it is ridiculous for me to NOT do 50 strokes a day on my rower before I get into the shower each morning.

This is the brilliance of 50 strokes a day. It is JUST 50 strokes. Doing them takes about 2.5 to 3 minutes and I can get them done on my way to the shower. Minimal effort is better than no effort and any daily effort at all can work itself into a habit of doing something rather than nothing. (Brilliant!) Plus, those small efforts do work my muscles enough to start them toning and tightening. So, a few months down the road like we now are, I actually have some nice musculature under the flab I would like to lose. On top of all that, it is pretty ridiculous to NOT exert the minimal effort to do just 50 strokes a day. So, it is much easier to kick myself in the behind to get them done than it would be to carve out half an hour or more for a more traditional exercise routine. Now back to the story of why my knees hurt...

My knees do not hurt because I have been using my rowing machine. No. They hurt because my baby brother (who does not even like me) is coming home from Thailand for a few weeks around Easter and my mother is going berserk about wanting a "whole family" photo while he is here. Keep in mind that we already have "whole family" photos (my sister's wedding photos, for example), some that even include Dippy Doo-Ha's [sinister fanfare plays] former superhero persona. But those are not good enough. No. Now there is another child in the family and, more importantly, my baby brother's permanent residence is now in Thailand. So, yes, that's right. It is Thailand's fault that my knees hurt.

As it turns out, 50 strokes a day on my rower is minimal effort that works to tone and tighten my muscles (which is good because muscle burns more calories than fat does) and build a habit of exercising BUT it is not enough to lose any inches off my waist. My appearance in my sister's wedding photo was bad enough. I do not want another professional family portrait of me with a fat belly. Now, I am already 10 pounds lighter than I was during my sister's wedding. But I am also 10 pounds heavier than I was at the end of summer. With two months left until Easter, I decided to take action. I pulled out my old Gazelle that was all folded up and comfortable behind the sofa in my office. That was kind of a stupid thing to do because the Gazelle works parts of me that the rower does not.

I  have decided to do short "cardio" sessions twice a day. (By short, I mean about 10 - 15 minutes -- and there is still no sweat involved ...yet.) Yesterday, I did only one session of 13 minutes. Guess what? The Gazelle works my knees and now... my knees hurt.