Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Research Can Be Pretty Dragon Distracting!

Hey all,

The second book in the Dragon Games series is going pretty well. Readers have good things to say about it. :-)  Which is always nice for an author to hear.  It's even nicer *hint, hint* to see a review written about the book. But no matter what, I just keep writing because I enjoy finding out what my characters are up to. 

Case in point is the dragon Ormr Jormungan, who was briefly mentioned in the first story, Snip! Snap! Dragon! and had a bit bigger of a part to play in Truth or Dragon

Readers are already asking if he'll get his own story and the answer is, YES!!! Book three, Hide and Go Dragon, is about the Norwegian born Ormr and his forever mate, Magdeline.

Ormr's story has it all. Passion, intrigue, controversy, with a touch of sadness and tragedy.  Pure CJ England. The type of story that when you're reading it, you truly DO need a fire extinguisher and a box of Kleenex standing by.

I'm in the process of writing it now, and as often happens, as I'm researching different aspects of the story, I spend a lot of time on the internet. I'm pretty good about focusing only on the book I'm working on, but even in that I find myself easily distracted.

For example, Magdeline is from London and her husband, a member of the Royal Air Force, as you'll find out in Truth or Dragon, was killed while piloting a plane over Afghanistan.  Some of the research I needed to do was to discover what, if any, widow benefits she would be entitled to.

I found that out rather quickly, but was distracted by some of the changes in the payments over the years. Which led me back to WWII and the London Blitz and how people dealt with the constant terror or bombs dropping overhead.

I'm not a war buff, but my sweet baboo is, so I've learned some things by osmosis. But learning how the war affected the regular, every day shop keeper or homemaker, for me that was very interesting.  Interesting enough to forget completely about lunch. Oh well, I was wanting to lose a few pounds!

Another example is, since Ormr is from Norway and that isn't a place we've visited yet, while I'm not (because I only set books in places where I've been) setting any of the scenes there, I do allude to Ormr's growing up years and where he's from.  So off I went to some travel sites to discover where I wanted him to have lived.

And wow!  Can I just say that Norway is an absolutely fascinating country? I went to find the mountains where a rage of dragons might hide away, but found instead so many beautiful fjords, villages and forests, I had to ask Ormr if I could change his background completely!

He wound up choosing his own place to call home. A tall mountain over one of the most picturesque villages I've ever seen. Geirangerfjord. And of course, once he did that, we got distracted about what that area had to offer. The sights, the history, the food...it was several hours before I looked up and realized I'd been thoroughly distracted. *sigh*

Norway is one of our bucket list countries and now, even more than before I can't wait to visit.  A long boat ride up the fjords? Hiking up some of the mountains?  Oh yeah, you don't have to be a dragon to enjoy that!

Until Next Time!!!


CJ England

Friday, May 27, 2016

Honey Bunny or Wild Honey...That is the Question!

Hey all,

Thanks for all the congrats and well wishes everyone sent me for our new home.  I know this new adventure will be as amazing as we think it will be.

The hardest part will be us being so far away and being able to enjoy it only part time. BUT...we knew it would be that way, so we'll suck it up for the next couple years and direct our crews (aka poor misused children) to do the work fun we can't do. *grin*

The last few weeks have been crazy trying to get all the paperwork done and make last minute plans to get our stuff moved up.  Doing it long distance is a constant challenge.

But, if all goes well, by the time you read this our things will be getting packed up in the big twenty-six foot Penske truck to head north to Gatlinburg!  Woot!!!

We've got pictures of our storage unit so we can direct our son in the packing, but I'd forgotten just how full we had the thing. OMG...do we have a lot of stuff!!!  And I can't remember what half of it is!  LOL

It's so bad I've asked my son to take pictures of the different furniture and appliances so I can remember what I have to play with!  I guess  that's what happens when you haven't had your own home in four years...you forget what you owned.

Anyway, we'd thought most of the brain work would be done doing the actual signing and paperwork, but BOY...were we wrong!

It seems that what we did before was easy-peasy compared to figuring out what repairs to make first, where we get our mail, and what color we wanted to paint.

Do you KNOW how many colors of warm sand there are???  So, do I choose Honey Bunny or Wild Honey? Which will go with the rustic woodwork we have there? What would go best with our vision of what we want for our home? (pic to the left)

I swear, by the time I'd scrolled through Glidden, Olympic, Behr, Valspar and Benjamin Moore, I was seeing paint swatches in my dreams. Rainbows of colors wheeling in circles in my head and dribbling out my eyes.

Six...count 'em, six hours later I had my top choices. My sweet baboo agreed and we were set. We'd matched the colors to the picture that was our vision. Now, all that is left is to see if it REALLY will look like I imagined it would.

But for that, I'll have to wait. Through packing the truck...the long, long drive north...the stop at a relatives to pick up some needed muscle and then the unpacking and settling in. Yup, I have to wait until Mr. Fix it, aka Jasiah the youngest son, gets settled in Gatlinburg and actually starts painting.

*que Jeopardy music*

And until I know for sure, I've got this horrible feeling my dreams will NOT be my own. The Honey Bunny will be wrestling Wild Honey in my nightmares!

I'll let you know who wins!

Until Next Time!!!


CJ England

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

AND THE BIG NEWS IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey all,

As promised, here it is...the big reveal!  
It's been a long time coming...actually we've been working towards this since the first day we started working with Cirque.  It's been a great almost five years, with so many adventures, and we've definitely enjoyed almost EVERY SINGLE MOMENT.

One of the reasons we chose this particular job was that Cirque pretty much takes care of everything for us--housing wise--so we could put what we would normally be spending on rent, utilities and household stuff into a special fund. 

And after four plus years that special fund has paid off.  WooHoo!!!!  

As of this week Jonathon and I are... 


That's right!!! We bought a house!!!  And not just any house, but a beautiful cabin in the Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We love that area, have visited several times over the years, so when we started looking (after several fits and starts) we remembered our joy in the beauty of the mountains there. So last time we were home in the states, we spent some time in Tennessee looking at properties. 

Over the next months, we saw a LOT of places and discovered some really cute cabins. But of the ones in our price range, most were small, more honeymoon-like (which were VERY cool, but not what we were looking for.) 

We also weren't sure whether we wanted a forever place or just a temporary place to store our stuff so we didn't have to pay storage fees. Honestly, we figured we'd know the place when we saw it.  

One of the things we were REALLY looking forward to, was getting our hands dirty, so we were hoping to find a place that was a little bit of a fixer upper.  Not TOO much, we wanted to do some work to make it our own, but we didn't want to spend every second of the day fixing it. 

There were a few false leads, but we finally found one we just fell in love with. It was perfect...located right between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and about fifteen minutes from each town. So easy access. 

It's a lovely two story cabin with fantastic potential, and after a bit of cleaning, it'll be move-in-ready. Even though it was a foreclosure, it is in GREAT shape. And while there are a lot of really cool things we'll do to make it our own, there isn't so much work it isn't worth our while.  Check out some of these pictures...

This is the Living Room. A fireplace for those cold winter nights and check out those amazing windows.  We bought the house, just for those!!!!

The view from the porch. Seasonal mountain views, but we're among the trees ON a mountain, too. So we're very okay with that!

And remember I said I wanted to get my hands dirty? Well, I'm thinking this old kitchen will be needing renovation.  Anyone want to help me paint?

There are already enough bedrooms for us, but what really sold us on this home was this room downstairs that we'll be turning into a master bedroom. Lots of light from those big glass doors and we've ALWAYS wanted a fireplace in the bedroom!

We're so excited to begin our newest adventure. And even though we're still on tour, we'll spend as much time as we can back at our new house.  In fact, I'll be heading back this June to begin the process of turning this lovely cabin into a home we can be proud of. 

So, now you'll be hearing about three things on this blog.  My writing adventures, the fun times we have on tour AND the easiest way to refinish a floor without sanding!  LOL

Until Next Time!!!


CJ England

Friday, May 20, 2016

It's the Simple Things In Life

Hey all,

It's been a crazy busy week. You'll understand why when you read Tuesday's blog. If I thought juggling writing and traveling was difficult, tossing in a third interest it going to be even more insane.

But it will be totally worth it.

As you'll discover on Tuesday!  LOL

Until then, let me tell you what I've been up to this week.

On Monday and Tuesday, Jonathon was off, so we did a bit of playing. We went back out to Caminito and watched the dancers, drank some wine and did a little bit of souvenir shopping. Check out these amazing pics.

The next day, we wandered downtown. We had no particular destination in mind but we enjoyed getting there.  Check some of the area out.

At day's end, we found a little English pub where they had some GREAT fish and chips. We watched football (not American) and just enjoyed each other's company.

Lazy days, good discussion and just being with my sweet baboo. Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

Until Tuesday and the big reveal!!!!

CJ England

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It's a MARVELous World out There

Hey all,

Jonathon and I had a great time the other night.  We went to see the movie, Captain America: Civil War. It was a good movie, filled with all the action and amazing effects that MARVEL movies are known for.

For those of you who don't know about this movie yet, here's the premise...

Marvel’s "Captain America: Civil War" finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. 

But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. 

The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

This movie was a lot of fun because it brought together many of the heroes of MARVEL fame. While unfortunately, Thor and Hulk were nowhere to be soon, (and all the women mourned) the other ones we've seen in the past, Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and War Machine were all there.  And some of the newer characters were there as well. The Scarlett Witch, the Falcon, the Winter Soldier and Vision. Plus, we were introduced to three new Avengers, Ant Man, the Black Panther and our first look at a VERY young Spiderman (perfectly cast and played I might add by Tom Holland).

I really enjoyed the byplay between all the characters. Classic MARVEL writing. Spidey's wonderful run on sentences and joking mannerisms, the one liners between Hawkeye and Black Widow and Antman's irreverent shots at poor Falcon. It was worth watching the movie just for all that sort of fun. (almost made up for NOT seeing sexy Thor) These were some of my favorites...

Iron Man: [after witnessing Scott transform into Giant-Man] Okay, anybody on our side hiding any shocking and fantastic abilities they'd like to disclose? I'm open to suggestions.

Natasha Romanoff: Looking over your shoulder should be second nature.
Sam Wilson: Anyone ever tell you you're a little paranoid?
Natasha Romanoff: Not to my face. Why, did you hear something?

Ant-Man: [internally damaging the Iron Man suit] Oh, you're going to have to take this to the shop.
Iron Man: Who's speaking?
Ant-Man: It's your conscience. We don't talk a lot these days.

Falcon: [after being trapped by Spider-Man] I don't know if you've been in a fight before, but there's usually not this much talking.
Spider-Man: All right, sorry. My bad.

Natasha Romanoff: Are we still friends?
Clint Barton: That depends on how hard you hit me.

Great, right? But I have to say the actual premise of the movie made me uncomfortable. I guess I'm one of those who wants a clear line between bad guys and good guys, and this movie shows you anything but. Both sides of the civil war have good reasons for doing what they're doing, which makes it so difficult to really choose sides.

I guess the most surprising thing for me was that, of all people, Tony Stark was the voice of reason and responsibility.  It sure didn't fit him. After being such a rebel it was kind of awkward to see him trying on his grown up shoes.  :-)

But over all, this was an awesome movie, very much worth going to see. Make sure you stay for the blip in the credits. As usual, it gives you a hint of things to come.

Have you seen Captain America: Civil War? How about Antman? (which Jonathon and I went home and watched as soon as we could..another AWESOME fun movie)  Give me your opinions in the comments below!

See you next week!

CJ England