Child of Time - Ria Loader

A new book and a new blog

Child of Time - Ria LoaderFebruary 2015 saw the publication of my second story, this time a novella in three parts – Child of Time. It follows the exploits and adventures of the young Mira as she grows into her magic and finds trouble wherever she goes.  

The novella came from some questions from readers of Library of Time who wanted to know more of the back story for our main character. This sequence starts at the beginning when she is five years old, and continues with tales of her life as she is nine and thirteen. There’s even a sneak peek at the next novella, where she has become a mage apprentice who is at odds with her family’s expectations. Other characters like the tricky Jin Rael are introduced for the first time.

If you enjoy stories of magic and wonder, or your children do, then Child of Time is a good young adult read as well. Having braved both ebook and print, it is perhaps time to start thinking about audio books. Child of Time is a good read-out-loud story, so perhaps I will start here. I wonder if there will be interest in the author reading her own work? We will see, or rather hear. I started a new blog last month as a place to focus on thoughts about writing. You can find it at wyrdplay.com.

It makes me so happy to learn more about the world of my characters and to learn to be a better writer. The process of writing is so much about being in the now; the world drops away and the words flow effortlessly to create something that is as new to me as it will be to the reader.

Achievement Unlocked – Novel launched

It is a wonderful feeling to unlock an achievement that’s been a long time coming. The sweat, the striving, and the doubts along the way fade into the mist.

Today I published my first novel. It can be found on kindle.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RINW0NM

It is an urban fantasy with magic and heart. Books and libraries, wonder and magic, and the quest for the characters to become who they truly are. I hope people buy it, read it, and love the characters as much as I do in writing their stories.

Doing a little happy dance.

Ria

Love is in the air

Raven by Ria

Raven by Ria

Later on this afternoon we are attending a wedding of some great people, Angela and Sean. We started our day, however, reaffirming our love for each other. We snuggled in bed for a late start to the day, made breakfast together, and then talked for a couple of hours about life, the universe and everything. Along the way, we solved a challenge in book two of a series of novels I am writing, and even read amiably while drinking tea and petting the kitties.

And now? I have just baked fresh scones for us to share when Raven comes back from getting a few groceries at the store. Simple stuff of life. Yet rich, comforting, and alive. I am feeling gratitude for the great love we share. It will be good to see friends affirm their own journey into bliss.

Made with love

Making things with my hands is a simple kind of magic, the kind of magic that is all about love. I especially like crocheting as it moves along so quickly, and is something you can do while visiting with friends and family; it is something I’ve been doing since I was about eight years old.

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Tiny blankets for little people – Photo by Ria

We would gather on a weekend around a pot of tea. The adults would sometimes drink beer in the late afternoon. Someone would bustle around in the kitchen, making snacks like scones, cookies or even toast fingers with butter and jam to go along with the tea. Just two families with the parents, the kids (three from each family), grandparents, and often an uncle or aunt extra who dropped by for a visit.

The hand work would come out when we were settled. Almost everyone worked on something. One uncle would focus on some leather repair, sharpening knives from the kitchen with a whetstone and oil, or mending socks. Someone would be knitting. Nan had her tatting, and a few of us learned to crochet, embroider, and make projects with beads. My mother was almost always working on a dressmaking project, taking up a hem or measuring for a new garment; my cousin Gail would be practicing dance with swords, with her father playing music to accompany her. Weekends were for visiting and projects; to this day, I feel most productive when I am making things.

I still get the most pleasure from planning and making things for people I know. There’s something a bit old-fashioned about a hand-made object, especially one that is not easily found in a store anywhere. One of a kind things feel special, especially as they represent time, creativity and attention to all the tiny details.

This last weekend, I made little afghans for tiny people. I guess you could call them crocheted baby blankets too, made from brightly-colored soft yarn, and around two feet square, or thereabouts. Making them reminds me of the gifts from fairy godmothers in stories, made with luck and love in mind; the good fairytale godmothers, that is, and the luck all good. I like variegated yarn for this. The colors progress through a sequence, making a self-pattern without needing a join. The colors are bright and harmonious. The size is just right for a baby stroller, and light enough that a small child can snuggle up with it when they grow older for a nap or to watch tv. I tend towards acrylics for practical reasons. You can throw them into the washer and dryer over and over with no harm to the piece.

I like to present them like rolled up flowers, tied up with string. They make a fun package to give to friends who are expecting or have had a new child. Reds, blues, greens, purples and spicy orange and pink. Rainbow colors to delight a child’s eyes.

Train to Portland for WDS

This weekend I set out on a terrific adventure to WDS, the World Domination Summit, in Portland. Here I am living in Seattle, with a bunch of options to get to the event. I can catch a plane, which is quick, but means standing around in airports. I could drive, but wouldn’t be able to read a book or write along the way. A train seemed like the best choice. It took only 4 hours, and is one of the best ways to see the water on the way down to Portland. The tracks are, in some places, only fifteen to twenty feet from the shore. I traveled business class to ensure I could plug in my laptop (a Surface Pro). There is a piece of fiction I’ve been working on, and the characters were calling for my attention.

On the train

On the train

Views on the way

Views on the way

Arriving at King Street Station, I stood in a modest line, only 5 people, to wait for the conductor. I had my e-ticket in hand. He let me know to go to the ticket office for seat assignment. Another short line, only two this time, later, I had a single seat and a coupon for a three dollar discount at the bistro car. All aboard carriage one, and quickly settled down to enjoy the experience. One of the most relaxing things about trains is the rocking rhythm, together with the speed. We had a few stops along the way to wait for freight trains, but none of them too long. We arrived at Union Station in Portland right on time. A quick ride later had me at the Hotel Modera, close to where the WDS events would be held. Close, I found in Portland, was a relative term. It was about nine blocks, and flat shoes were a good thing to have packed.

Hotel Modera view

Hotel Modera view


The summit was a melange of interesting people, great presentations on the main stage, and meetups that were put together by participants. Those were one of my favorite parts of the event, the people. I met folks from different countries, had a wonderful lunch of fresh seasonal foods, visited the farmer’s market. Best breakfast ever. Fresh biscuits with brown mushroom gravy and a fried egg. Delicious. And there was a bunch of walking. Portland is a city for pedestrians. There’s a lovely green belt on SW Park Street, that ribbons down, cooler than the surrounding streets, to Director Park. That was essential this weekend as the weather turned up the heat to the 90’s. Still, we kept hydrated, met loads of excited entrepreneurs, artists, writers and performers, all making the most of the weather and the chance to swap stories. I went to parties, acquired a temporary tattoo, and ate pie at Petunia’s Pies. On Saturday evening I celebrated the full moon with cocktails at the Nines, meeting some women with wonderful creative projects, and got to brainstorm book ideas with some great folks caring for animals.

Potatoes with beet salad

Potatoes with beet salad

The food in Portland is amazing. Fresh. Seasonal. Well prepared and delicious. Can’t wait to make another train trip with my sweetie to enjoy it again.

I am already planning to go to WDS next year, and am grateful to Lawrence and Sameer for recommending the experience. Also much gratitude to Chris and all the ambassadors for making it a memorable occasion. Thanks guys!

WDS has already been a success for me. I just finished the last 5,000 words of my novel and put it in the hands of my alpha reader today for feedback. Props to the summit for getting me unblocked. Don’t know how 5,000 words happened along with everything else, but am all fired up to continue on to the next book in the series. Now on to the next thing cousins. One step at a time.

Hope everyone else had a great time. I did. Will be reaching out to folks I met and chatted with over the next few days. There is at least one collaboration I’m excited about, and likely more.

Sydney from an insider

I have been reading a bunch of travel blogs lately, getting ready for some summer and fall travel. I thought it might be fun to share some thoughts on my home town, Sydney. Later, I’ll move on to a cruise and a train journey that are coming up soon.

Sydney Gardens
One of the best things about Sydney is the gardens with views of the water. The Botanical Gardens can be entered from the St James station end, across from the New South Wales Art Gallery, or from down near the Opera House. It is a lovely planned garden, with loads of interesting and brightly colored flowers, wandering Ibis, shelters and follies. You can see fabulous views of the water from the gardens. Other fantastic views are just around the curve of the walk. Locals wander the gardens too; it’s a favorite place for lunch in the middle of the city.

SydneyGardens

Beaches of course
No trip to Sydney would be complete without a visit to a beach or two. One of own pleasant memories is going over to Manly on the ferry (a passenger one, boarded via a plank, I kid you not), grabbing some fish and chips and eating them on Manly Beach. Take a train out to some of the Southern Beaches as well. If rivers are more to your liking, the National Parks are accessible by train as well, and you can rent a row boat for an easy afternoon on the water.

ManlyBeach2

A trip to the zoo
It’s true that we have the wackiest animals on the planet. Among them are kangaroos and koalas. Locals who rescue roos will tell you that the little blighters do kick, as I learned when I was in high school. A friend rescued a wallaby, and when it had grown a bit, we got kicked if we got in its way. The cuddly looking koalas sport wicked claws too, all the better to climb the gum trees. Find both of these animals at Taronga Park Zoo. You can also get up close, though behind glass, from some of the worlds most poisonous critters, if that takes your fancy. Catch a view of the emu, the crocodile and the lyrebird with its fabulous plumage too.

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Hyde Park – green belt through the city
Hyde ParkHyde Park is a great lunch spot in the middle of the city. Visit the Archibald Fountain, with its classic Greek figures Apollo, Diana, Pan and the Minotaur, right across from St Mary’s Cathedral near St James railway station. St Mary’s is a lovely spot, and interesting for being a north facing cathedral, instead of the usual east-facing architecture. Bit of a novelty. It even has a lady chapel all the way to the north, behind the main altar. Not something you’ll find on the tourist information.

WarMemorialThe War Memorial in Hyde Park has a figure of the fallen soldier, draped across his shield, and mothers carrying the fallen. The contemplation pool reflects all the moods of the Sydney sky. A walk across the street finds you at the Sydney Museum, and along the way, stop to enjoy the enormous Morton Bay fig trees.

Top 10 for relationships

A chum posted a cute image about relationship advice on facebook. It made me think about what my top 10 pieces of advice would be. This is the first thing I came up with.

Learn to say “I’m really sorry” and mean it. Especially when you are right.

Then I started thinking about it some more, based on relationships and friendships that go back more than 20 years.

My top 10 pieces of advice for a good relationship?

  1. Display affection
  2. Give appreciation
  3. Listen, not just hear
  4. Budget the luxuries first
  5. Make and eat food together
  6. Love who they are becoming
  7. Be silly together
  8. Snuggle | cuddle
  9. Be curious about their dreams
  10. Spend time together | time apart

lilacs in the garden

Lilacs

The scent of lilacs is heady and euphoric for me. I wandered out into the garden this morning to stretch, breathe and enjoy the color of the bushes. Last week I was standing under the cherry blossoms, and the week before that it was the magnolias, but today, today is for lilacs. For some reason they remind me of my grandmother. Perhaps it is the color, and that rinse that used to be popular for little old ladies. She lived to be 98 years of age, so perhaps lilacs are also a signal, for me, of tenacity.

This morning as I breathed in the color and the scent, I felt particularly grounded. A good way to start and to breathe in the day.

Refreshing summer salads I: pineapple and peppermint

Over the Salt

Pineapple and peppermint salad

Pineapple and peppermint salad by Ria Pineapple and peppermint salad by Ria

This refreshing salad is a delicious sweet treat for the summer and accompanies most vegetarian or fish dishes well.

  • Core a fresh pineapple and cut into small chunks / wedges
  • Pick some mint from the garden (about a cup) and chop it roughly
  • Combine in a glass bowl
  • Refrigerate for an hour before serving

Thanks to my sister for the recipe. Especially for the suggestion of using chocolate mint on occasion rather than peppermint. Nom.

Variations

  • Try adding a quarter cup of finely chopped red onion for a bit of bite
  • Love ginger? This one is great with a little fresh rasped ginger root (not too much, just a taste)

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Conscious breathing

There is something renewing about being attentive to the breath. It settles the attention, centers it in the present moment. I’ve been noticing the character of different breaths, as if each moment of being aware of breathing has a flavor or a mood. Makes sense to me. Wherever you are matters.

The first breath of cold air in the morning when I walk out onto my porch is invigorating, sharp and bracing. The crispness is like biting into an apple; like the sound of ice tinkling in a glass; like the bright feeling of seeing my love for the first time each day. Sharpness does not need to cut. It can awaken me to possibility. Just this morning I noticed that the moss is growing greener on the stones in the garden. The first shoots of daffodils are starting to show above the ground.

During the day, I take a deep conscious breath every now and then, noticing how that feels. More often than not, it focuses my attention on being present in my body, sharpens the vision and gives a sense of stillness.

As I sit in my driveway, before I enter the house at the end of the day, that breath is more of a release. I consciously use a couple of deep cleansing breaths to let go of the day, and the things of the day before entering the house. That breath feels like it needs a little more focus. Some days it is easier to make this transition than others, depending on what the day held. However, being in the moment, and allowing myself to just notice how I am feeling, what I am thinking, helps put the thoughts and emotions into context.

For the next few days, I’m going to work on conscious breathing at different times of day, and in different places, just to see what happens.