Friday, December 6, 2013

Confederacy of Steam Vs Zombies Now Available for Purchase!

Earlier this year Marion Margaret Press send out a call for submissions for their new Confederacy of Steam Vs Zombies anthology in the fall. I recalled that I had a Steampunk story in my folder that hadn't found a home yet. Since the guidelines said there had to be zombies, I decided to rewrite my story to fit the theme.

My short story is entitled, "Zombies Against the Confederacy of Steam" and is set in Victorian times with strong female characters. I decided to tell my story from the view of the zombies. I won't say any more than that, so as not to spoil the reading for my fans.

You can buy a digital copy for a mere $2.99 here on Smashwords. Next month the printed version should be available for purchase and I'll post further details on that date.

There will also be second Steampunk Air Ship anthology next year, and I do plan on sending a submission in. I don't have anything ready at the moment, so I'll need to write up something fantastic.

If you're tired of reading Cherie Priest or Gail Carrigar, please give this anthology a go, and thank you in advance for your support.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Writing Wellness

I packed it in and quit my day job! What was once a fantastic job providing support to clients turned into a nightmare. About a year ago, after I wrote my novel for the 3-Day Novel Challenge, I made my decision that I would transition into a full-time writer. I'd give my writing career a chance, or shut up and ship out. 

I meticulously did my monthly budget, cut back on expenses, cancelled all subscriptions, made extra cash when I could.

Unfortunately, life had other plans for me. About halfway through the year, my job turned upside down. The workload quadrupled and my job morphed into something unrecognizable. This was not the career that I had originally been hired to do, nor the one I had accepted when I signed the contract. 

Colleagues become stressed out and people went on sick leave. I had more of a support network at my disposal than they did but I wasn't coping much better.

After the one-hundredth day of coming home in tears, I decided enough was enough. It was time for me to leave and do what I wanted. If I never tried, I would never know. Life is short; my own mother barely lived two decades past the age I am now. Did I want to die being unhappy, or did I want to do what I loved?

If I need to get back to a regular-paying job, than I can take one that supports my first career. 

I haven't been off for a month yet, but have been getting into the writing groove. I have a schedule set up four days a week. I know I cannot work for eight hours solid a day, and I know I need breaks, so those are scheduled in. 

What I didn't realize was that for my four working days, that I wouldn't be writing continuously during my allotted times. 

I've spent a great deal of time searching out new markets to write for. I've had to document submission guidelines and make notes, so I can find a market I wish to submit to in the future. I need to tie together markets with my short stories. Today, I became confused when I had three drafts of different short stories in my folder, but no idea where I had intended to submit them to. I had to make up a submission form to keep track of everything. I have folders on my computer set up with different dates, and more folders coming. 

Editing also takes up the greatest amount of time. I've added edit numbers to all my submissions, so I know if they are draft two or draft seven. 

I remembered short stories I wrote years ago and perhaps could find homes for them. I had to dig to the back of my closet to find the disks as those stories were no longer on my computer. 

Some days it's great doing a little of this and a little of that, but tomorrow I'm gearing up to only write brand new stories. This may give me a sense of accomplishment.

I'm hoping that by the beginning of next week I'll have some of my stories submitted for publication.

I'm sure as the weeks pass by, I'll gain more insights into my writing day, and figure out exactly what works for me. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Is there a Doctor in the Soap, errr TARDIS?

Here's a cute soap bar I made last year. I remember I spent a few hours handcrafting my very own TARDIS, but made out of soap, not wood.

I bought a large block of $16 soap for 50% off, plus blue colouring, and a rectangular mold, which also happened to be blue.

I melted the soap in the microwave, then poured it into the mold.

I let it sit for about an hour then popped it out.

I did one more pouring to a shallow depth and let set.

When I was ready to assemble, I grabbed the toothpicks and sliced, diced and chopped until I had a reasonable assemblage of a time machine.

I melted a bit more soap, added red and cut out a light for the top.

Now that my TARDIS is in the past, I’m not certain I would do the assembly method again. Perhaps I will make my own TARDIS mold and pour directly into it.

See the photo above of my wonderful TARDIS! What ever happened to it? Turns out I needed soap in the bathroom one day so I cut it down into blocks and used it all up. In the future I'll be on the lookout for an actual TARDIS mold that will contain more detail.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How to Follow a Blog

When I first started out blogging and reading blogs, I had no idea how to follow them, other than "Add a Bookmark" on my Bookmarks menu. Since then I must have acquired about 2000 Bookmarks, so now I can't find anything, even with the Search feature.

I've slowly learned to add gadgets to my Royal City Blog, to make it easier for people to follow me.

For some reason Google removed the Follow button at the top left for other Blog members, much to the angst of the entire Blogger community.

Here's a few tips about how to Follow in the new way.

1. On the top left of this page is the Google+ share button. If you haven't already signed up for Google+ it will give you an option to do so. Beside this is the "More" link. It will give you three options, Share by email, Share by Twitter and Share by Facebook. This will take you to either Facebook, where you can share the link, or Twitter, where you can share a Tweet. This is an easy way to find your spot when you wish to return to the post later. We'll talk about sharing by email in a bit.

2. Move to the right of the page and find "Subscribe to". Select either Posts or Comments. There are three options on the list: Netvibes, My Yahoo and Atom. This will add a New Content box to your Newsreader/feeder. Right underneath this is the Google+ icon again, in case you missed it at the top of the page.

3. If you don't wish to sign up on all these sites, an easy option is to subscribe by email. Enter your email address in the box under "Follow by Email". You will receive new posts in your mail box. This is an easy way to keep up, without having to visit your favourite blogs each day. As far as I know this is private, the email addresses are not shared with anyone, including the blogger you are following.

4. Scroll to the end of the post. Right underneath Posted by Mel Dawn are several buttons: Email This, Blog This, Twitter, Facebook and Google +.

5. Depending on whether you are viewing the entire blog or have opened up an individual post, there may be another Google + button or Subscribe to Atom feed button at the very bottom of the page.

Please add a comment to the end of this post if you know of other ways I can add gadgets or show people how to Follow.

I hope to see you "Following" my Blog!

Monday, November 4, 2013

50 Ways to Save Money so You Can Attend the Next Dawn Doll Convention

I've been circulating these tips since I first started collecting Dawn Dolls back in 1997. During an online chat, the collectors helped me to compile this list of tips. Originally it was meant to help collectors save money to buy more Dawn Dolls, but with travel expenses so high now, I'm suggesting that you use these tips to save money so that you can attend the 2014 Dawn Doll Convention!

There're always ways to save money and cut back on expenses so you have more money for your Dawn Doll hobby. Here are some tips and tricks to get you to the 2014 convention.

1. Stop eating.
2. Stop car payments.
3. Stop paying rent/mortgage.
4. Stop paying insurance.
5. There is such a thing as a free lunch - call your friends!
6. Hitchhike to work.
7. Don't go anywhere.
8. Don't answer the phone, it might be creditors.
9. Stop paying Visa/Mastercard bills.
10. Furnish home with castoffs.
11. Eat at soup kitchens.
12. Steal toilet paper from work.
13. Run an extension cord to the outer hallway outlet if you live in an apartment building.
14. Splice into neighbour's cable.
15. Pimp out hubby.
16. Steal stuff like staplers from work and auction off on online auction sites.
17. Eat your co-workers' lunches from the fridge.
18. Call long distance from work.
19. Speak a foreign language when the creditors call again.
20. Take out your neighbour's laundry in the laundry room and put your own in, before they notice!
21. Ask your neighbor for sugar, then go back the next day and ask for flour, the next day ask for potatoes, and the next day ask for hamburger.
22. Butter, the new hand lotion.
23. Grease pans with butter wrappers.
24. Use lard as cold cream.
25. Let dog/cat clean dishes.
26. Let dog clean floor, save on Lysol.
27. Save on dogfood by letting dog clean dishes and floor.
28. Check trash for cans, fight off homeless!
29. Ask homeless for spare change.
30. Top Ramen festive holiday meals.
31. Pick vegetables from your neighbor's yard.
32. Pick your own food from city parks.
33. Grab that croissant off the outdoor table at Starbucks and run!
34. Burn your furniture in the fireplace.
35. Wash dishes with bubblebath.
36. Wash hair with bubblebath.
37. Use coffee filters as baby wipes.
38. Wash floor with balsalmic vinegar if the dog didn't do a good job.
39. Serve balsalmic vinegar in wine glasses to guests if you run out of wine.
40. Coat twigs with spices and serve to guests.
41. Garbage bags, the new kinky bed sheets.
42. Stop wearing underwear, cut laundry in half!
43. Steal paper towels from work.
44. Make your own paper from flyers.
45. Make curtains into a gown for the company Christmas party.
46. Snip up your clothes and make doll clothes to sell on online auction sites.
47. Pay your Mastercard with your Visa and Vice Versa, pay rent with credit cards.
48. Steal your neighbour's newspaper.
49. Sell off everything not directly related to your Dawn doll addiction.
50. Sell off the dolls you are totally bored with. Gasp!

Disclaimer: Please take this tips with a bit of humour. Author assumes no responsibility if you actually manage save enough money to attend the convention next year!

Monday, September 2, 2013

2013 Vancouver Dolphins Day: Let's Save the Dolphins!

Over 50 people gathered together in front of the Japanese Consulate in downtown Vancouver, BC to protest the annual slaughter of dolphins in Taiji Cove, Japan.

It was a peaceful protest with supporters making signs on site, great camaraderie and a musical performance by Carol Cox.

The general public was receptive, taking brochures and waving and honking as they drove past. My personal calculation of honks is 300, and dozens of brochures distributed. Funds were collected to further the cause and organizer Karen made a petition poster to be sent to the Japanese Consulate that we all signed and encouraged passers by to sign as well.

Why do we protest dolphins being slaughtered for meat or culled and discarded? It is claimed they eat the fish in the cove so the fishermen have nothing left to catch. For them it's a generations-long tradition. However, dolphins are considered to have a similar intelligence to humans, with feelings and a complex system of communication. How can we kill such an advanced being when we are not starving? Is it right to leave baby dolphins without their mothers after the slaughter? Perhaps it's time these fishermen hung up their nets and joined the 21st century with new careers.

I encourage you to call or write your local Japanese Consulate to express your beliefs in the hopes that one day, Japan will ban this barbaric practice.

The film The Cove won best documentary at the Oscar Awards 2010 and first brought the dolphin's plight to the world.

After a successful demo we hope to have a fundraiser in November and plan on making this a bigger event in 2014. The more support we have the greater the dolphins will have a chance for survival at Taiji Cove, Japan.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Steampunk: A Journey in Time

Over 100 adventurers disembarked at the airship port in Abbotsford, BC to share their time-travelling experiences.

We met up at Trethewey Heritage House for our second annual steampunk event. There were several vendors there for those who lost their shirts at the last great battle.

Many entertinaing activities took place including a primer in Victorian pharmaceuticals where we learned about the benefits of lavendar and arsenic. There were book readings and body art demonstrations. The bartitsu demonstration by Academie Duello of Vancouver offered each of us a chance to practice self-defense against the dark arts while only using our walking sticks and parasols.

The steampunks mixed and mingled in their divine costumes with tea cups and treats in hand. The rain gave us a chance to try out our new parasols, newly arrived from China.

Stay tuned for next year's events, or hop in your time machine to join us tomorrow.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Real Reason There is a Skyrocketing Cat Population in Canada: Crazy Cat Lady or the Truth?

Before you say, "Great, it's not the humans' fault after all, it's the squirrels' or the truck drivers'", it's still the human's fault.

In 2011, over 600,000 cats did not find homes in Canada. Of that number, most have likely been euthanized.

My theory as to what happened is as follows.

For thousands of years humans were content to be born as humans, hunt and gather food, tend to the crops and raise their families. Somewhere around Victorian times humans became too smart for their own good and they knew it.

Humans started demanding basic human rights that were constantly taken away by their employers. They started abusing each other and demanding stuff for free. They wanted the government to look after them, but they didn't want to pay the taxes.

Humans sat down and had a good hard look at the world around them. They looked at their pets whom they loved. "I want to be a cat," they said to each other.

"If I can't be a cat in this life, I want to be a cat in my next life."

Tomorrow, those human souls become kittens via reincarnation.

By now you realize that your odds of finding a good kitty home are next to nil.

And once again, the cat overpopulation is still the humans' fault, just like it has always been.

SPCA Cat Report:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Five Things I Loved About Vancouver Fan Expo & Five Things I Hated About Vancouver Fan Expo 2013

What I loved:

1. All the fabulous costumes that the fans wore, from comic book super heroes to Doctor Who to Star Wars characters.
2. Seeing the stars up close. We didn’t have to purchase autographs or photo sessions to see many wandering around or seated at one of the tables.
3. The panels with the stars which were very informative and entertaining.
4. The chance to buy some cool merchandise.
5. The chance to have our photographs taken with the stars.

What I hated:

1. It’s costly to buy a ticket that only allows entrance to the event, but does not offer anything else.
2. The lack of panels. This was a chance to hear the stars talk, but I guess they’d rather earn money selling photos and autographs.
3. The lack of non-comic book related merchandise. I seriously did not get my Doctor Who fix.
4. Being rushed through autograph and photo sessions. These cost from $40 plus, and only offered about one minute with each star.
5. The mass confusion and lack of security to direct people anywhere. A major concern after the Boston bombing.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Prepare Your Time Machine for the Time Travellers' Bazaar in Vancouver, BC!

12:30 - 4:00 pm
Brittania High 
School Cafeteria
Vancouver, B.C.

Looking for that perfect outfit or costume for Fan Expo, Comic Con, Dragon Con or Victoria Steam Expo? Come on out to this free event, there is no entrance fee at the door. Just come to browse, socialize or shop among the Time Travelling Vendors.

Yours Truly will have mostly jewellery, accessories, and handmade posies for your Victorian costumes. There will also be a bagful of clothes and half a table full of crafting supplies. I'm not sure what the other vendors are bringing but I did hear whispers of Victorian, Steampunk, and Super Heroes.

Anything that can be crafted or worn is allowed at the Bazaar.

Join us for a blast through the past and don't forget to steam up your Time Machine!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What in bread's name is L-Cysteine?

I've always wanted to write a blog entry about the L-Cysteine food additive but sadly can't keep up with my fun projects, let alone depressing nutritional news. Here's a great article that says pretty much what I wanted to decry about the new L-Cysteine food additive. No, we should not be forced to eat human body parts. Yuck. I am not a cannibal!

I am not a cannibal!

Friday, March 15, 2013

How to Comb a Cat and Get Away with It!

The other day I asked my boyfriend for blog ideas. Perhaps my readers are getting tired of reading about Steampunk, writing, cats, and booze. Not necessarily all at once. 

"How to Comb a Cat" is what he suggested. While he's right on the money with how-to articles being a popular blog choice, I asked why he picked this topic. 

"Because my cat enjoys being combed for five seconds and then she bites me." So, what he was really asking was not how to actually comb a cat, but how to get rid of the tangles and mats.

The topic for this article should be more like "how to comb a cat and get away with it". 

Personally, my cat loves being brushed and combed. She can't get enough of it! If I crazy-glued my hands to her body she would be the happiest kitty in the world.

I bought her one of those flea combs with the tiny prongs. I start by using the wider prongs around her face. Most cats love having their chins and necks scratched and rubbed. Let your cat get used to the comb. Flip it around and use the smooth side, the one without the prongs. Try it for a couple of minutes each day. If she bites the comb then stop. You're telling her that the pleasurable experience ends once she bites the comb or you.

Use the blunt end of the comb to gently stroke her fur from her head to her tail. Don't aim to remove fur at first, just let her get used to the feel. If she hates it, it's going to be a long combing curve.

Do this once a day for about a week. If she's already graduated to being successfully combed then give her a cat treat. If not, use the comb side on her for a few seconds, then go back to the blunt side. Always avoid her tummy, most cats don't like being touched there at the best of times, unless it's my cat.

Comb along the upper back near the tail. That's a hot spot for kitties. 

Remember, if your cat bites or scratches you at any point, it's time to put away the comb and leave the room. Don't reprimand her or look surprised. It's normal cat behaviour. Try again the next day. If she repeats the bad behaviour repeat and rinse your wounds. Biting and scratching means the fun part stops.

Cats are quick learners and will soon realize that seeing the comb in your hand means a fun grooming experience is at hand.

Don't comb your cat for more than five minutes at a time. Most cats have short attention spans. If kitty is happy, leave her happy. 

Once your cat is used to this new combing routine you can get down to business and actually start using the comb to remove loose fur and gently pull apart tangles. Keeping up with this routine on a daily basis will give you and your cat some pleasurable time together and her fur will look fantastic.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I was pondering how the different zodiac signs interact with each other. Some get along, some don't. Some interact better with the opposite sex.

Here's my guide to criticism.

Point in question: "Hi, your name here. You've been looking a bit tired after all the holiday stress."

Your response based on your zodiac sign:

Capricorn: Did you watch the game last night?

Aquarius: Are you buying me a coffee to make me feel better?

Pisces: Let's play video games!

Aries: Ha ha ha ha

Taurus: Tell me how you really feel.

Gemini: I look better than you do.

Cancer: Let's have a drink and talk about it.

Leo: You *&%$#@!

Virgo: Let's go to bed!

Libra: Sigh!

Scorpio: Boo hoo you're so insensitive. 

Saggitarius: It's all these extra hours I've been working. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

How to Save Money in the New Year

You’ve over-budgeted the Christmas gifts, the groceries cost double what you expected, and your liquor allowance went through the roof. It’s after Christmas and you’ve sat yourself down to have a good hard look at your finances, but you don’t like what you see.

How are you going to survive through January, if you don’t have enough money to cover your perishables and necessities for even one week?

Here’s a few tips on helping you survive through the New Year until you bring in a few paycheques to cover your credit card bills.

Dig to the backs of your cupboards and fridge. I know food doesn’t last long in the fridge, but you can dig to the back of your freezer too. I have some frozen vegetables in there from the fall which are still perfectly well within their expiry dates but not too appetizing. So what? Cook them up and add salt and pepper and butter. Likely you have enough food in your fridge and freezer to get you past the first two weeks. Dig to the backs of your cupboards. Everyone has bags of pasta back there that can be added to those veggies.

Have you run out of dish soap? Head to the bathroom and dig out those bottles of stinky shampoo that you bought but didn’t like. They make great dish soap! They can also be used as bubblebath.

You can also interchange shampoo with dish soap. I’ve used an unscented on occasion and it’s great, no allergies!

Run out of lipstick or toothpaste? Really? Now is the time to clean out your bathroom closets and drawers. Use up all that junk that you bought, tried and hated. No point in buying more when you already have supplies. Use up all those hateful products. Why not? They’ll do the job just fine. So you have to double rinse to get the smell/taste out, who cares? Don't lick your lips!

Clothes getting a bit tatty? I’m sure if you cleaned out your closets you’d find dozens of items that are in perfect condition. Styles don’t evolve as quickly as they used to. You’ll be fine at work.

I’m sure you have absorbed the idea now. Use what you have, don’t buy anything more until all the items in your home have been depleted. Repurpose, reuse, recycle and you’ll be well on your way to having your bills paid off by February. Have a Happy New Year!