Posted in Blog Hops and Fests, Just Jot It January, SoCS, Weekly Features

I’m Puttin’ On My Coat… #SoCS and #JusJoJan Day Seven

Welcome to Day Seven of Just Jot It January, where the theme is: “coat.”

There’s a light and intermittent coating of snow on the ground, the temperatures are frigid (well below freezing in the daylight hours, and well below that at night.

And soon I’ll be putting on my boots, gloves, and coat, and heading out of my warm cozy house and into the cold.

This might be my shortest post of the month. I’m leaving within the hour to attend a presentation by two local authors (one of whom I’ve been corresponding with the last several months), and, from there, to the Schuyler Mansion to attend my first-ever Twelfth Night festivities, eighteenth-century style.

I’m hoping to get to the library early enough to spend a little time working on my revision class – I’m loving it, and since I started with fan fiction (my personal sandbox), I’m having no trouble at all remaining motivated – the actual issue is pulling myself away to do other things!

Well, the time is ticking away, and I won’t be home again for several hours. As I want this posted before I go, I’ll close for now, and be back tomorrow with more jottings.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

The entrance hall of the Schuyler Mansion, from the staircase landing, during my October visit with my daughter.
The entrance hall of the Schuyler Mansion, from the staircase landing, during my October visit with my daughter.



Posted in Arizona, Blog Hops and Fests, Nature and Outdoors, Travel

A Spidery Tale: JusJoJan Day One

Well, it’s the first day of a new year, and time for Just Jot It January 2017. Click the link to learn more!

Today’s prompt is Spider….so here’s one for you. I took this photo on Old Route 66,  somewhere in Arizona, in 1997.

The second I saw this prompt, I thought of the early days of my relationship with my Accomplice, back before we were married. We met, became friends and fell in love in Arizona, while we were both working at Moqui Lodge, just outside Grand Canyon National Park.


One weekend, we decided to visit the North Rim of the Canyon. That’s ten miles or so, as the raven flies…but, of course, we aren’t ravens, and it was a trip of several hours by motorcycle, since we had to travel to the bridge at Lee’s Ferry, then backtrack to the North Rim Lodge.

On our way home the next night, we stopped in the desert. If you’ve never seen the stars on a Northern Arizona summer night, you might not understand exactly why it was such a spiritual experience to lie there on the prickly sand of the arid ground, side by side, staring up into infinity.

Suddenly, into that moment of peace, my Accomplice made a little shrieking sound. “A tarantula’s on me! A tarantula’s on me!”

That made me laugh so hard I couldn’t respond. He was staring at me as though I was pure evil, and not at all the woman he’d proposed to and planned to marry in a few weeks. He calmed down a little, then launched into another round of tarantula allegations while I laughed myself to tears.


By now, you’re probably really sympathizing with him, and thinking I’m an insensitive monster…but that’s because I’ve intentionally left out one vital piece of information.

As I was lying there in enraptured contemplation of the swirling firmament flung gloriously above us, he was thinking about tarantulas and scorpions and all the tiny dangerous inhabitants of this wild landscape….and that’s the exact moment when his fiancee decided to tickle him playfully.

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2016, April CampNaNoWriMo 2016, Blogging from A to Z 2016, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, CampNaNoWriMo, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Marketing my Writing, Round Two 2016, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom

Proving Myself: April 10, 2016

Here we are, a week into this new round, and ten days into the lovely chaos of April challenges both official (CampNaNoWriMo and Blogging From A-Z), and personal (my series of new stories on

It’s also the final day of our four with dear friends in central New Jersey. In just a few hours, we’ll pile into the car and make the five-hour drive home, filled with all the feels of the weekend – the trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the train and subway rides there and back – I was a little sobered, but inspired, to get my first in-person sighting of the Freedom Tower; conversation, fashion shows, video making, Exploding Kittens and funny videos, art and Nerf Wars and great food and coffee and so much more.

I’ll have more, and maybe pictures from the musuem’s human and animal evolution and gem exhibits, in the next week or so, but now, I want to get this post up so I can pack before Sunday dinner (which I’m getting increasingly eager for, since there’s a heavenly-scented apple cake baking!)

What makes your Sunday splendid?


  • Draft A Rising Tide (Kifo Island Chronicles #4) for CampNaNoWriMo. 6/24 scenes complete; 11,463/~65,000 words. Nothing new; back to this next week.

  • Write remaining A-Z Boldly Go expansion stories. Moving along here; Trip and T’Pol have lots to say, and they aren’t the shy, retiring type. 11/26;A-H; M, and P drafted, sometimes adapting previously written material.


  • The IDIC Romance: Complete plot/pinch points for 26 stories stories, as needed to complete writing goal above. I’m deciding on a case by case basis as I go. Through T, if I choose to use them; 20/26 complete.

  • Star Trek Enterprise: Watch episodes and clips needed to complete A-Z Challenge posts. #itswritingresearch – but I’m not going to pretend this isn’t one of my favorite goals this crazy-busy month! =D

  • Keep eyes open; plan Story A Day May Kifo Island stories, purchase ebook if available before month’s end. Nothing just yet;watching.


  • Complete revisions for “Peach Liqueur Love”. Brainstorming; including possible title change.

  • The IDIC Romance: Revisions as needed to complete writing goal above. Currently revised through H.

Blogging/Social Media:

  • Answer blog comments and make visits, at least every other day. A bit off pace, due to travel.

  • ROW80: Keep visits and updates current; draft, revise, and submit Round Two Sponsor Post. Done.

  • Blogging From A-Z:Complete all Minioning duties in a timely manner. Just a bit off pace due to travel; catching up.

  • Maintain email at below 333 messages; making good use of folders. Incredibly, yes!

  • Answer story comments at least twice weekly. 3/2 for this week.


  • Homeschool Administration: Complete all pending paperwork. I stalled out, but not until well after the district did. Since they aren’t going to; time for me to get the ball rolling…
  • Continue decluttering/beautification projects; in home and/or yard, five days weekly. Continue making improvements to our home and our quality of life. General maintenance; organization; decluttering. 3/5. That is about it for this week, due to travel.
  • Go through all online subscriptions; cancel those we no longer need; at least one each week. Really, I AM going to do this…starting next week!


  • Continue planning/ attending outings (personal and family) as desired. The kids and I are are in central New Jersey. Friday, we had a bonus day trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Annalise has a birthday party/sleepover planned for later in the month; summer plans in early discussion.

  • NNWM local group: Attend write-ins regularly, and check in on the Facebook group as inspired. submit “Peach Liqueur Love”, and critique as possible for our small crit group. Write in at Professor Java’s; checked FB group. Critiquing is on hold for the moment; I’ll resume once I get my equilibrium post travel- likely by the end of next week.
  • My beloveds: One on one time with each, doing something of value to us both, each week. Snuggles, conversations, canoodling, videos.


  • Write in Abundance, Intentions, and #onegoodcup journals seven times each week. Meditate seven times weekly. Explore one new meditative practice. Journaling 7/7; meditation: 7/7. I’ve chosen my new practice; more on that next week.

  • Tai chi practice: One class and one at-home practice each week.

  • For March: Swim twice, at least 500 meters (10 complete laps at Y pool).

  • Focus on sprints of activity daily (hometending, dancing, tai chi, walking, whatever), and more strenuous activities I enjoy, like swimming and hiking, twice monthly. Hometending sprints; lots of walking and stair climbing at the museum, train, and subway stations.
  • Read: Smart Change and Gift From the Sea. The train from Trenton to Penn Station and back again was good for reading; SC: 54%; GFTS: 39%

Leaps of Faith:

  • Fan fiction stuff: Offer 26 stories at 7/26 stories submitted; getting mostly good, and mostly useful, feedback. =D

  • Initial beta reading of Stained by Ashes. Not sure I can get to this during April, which is why it’s here.

  • Play with website building. Brief exploration of Weebly’s site.

Kait Nolan’s ROW80  –

The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have a Life!

See other participants’ goals updates here!

Timeline in progress.
Posted in Just for Fun!, Life Writing, Love Is In Da Blog, Parenting, Unschooling, Writing in Freedom

To Look for America: #LoIsInDaBl Day 18

Today Love Is In Da Blog goes international, with countries we love.  While I could have taken many different directions on this one, because I think the whole world is fascinating, I decided to go with what I know…America, the country that gave me life. As the song goes, “from sea to shining sea” – but there’s a lot of complexity and shadow there, too. This land was occupied when my ancestors got here, and the way they assumed ownership doesn’t fit my philosophies. Whether I would have if I’d been alive then, I can’t say.

But I can show you some of what I love in my homeland, through my own eyes:

 Through the Yaddo Gates (Saratoga Springs, NY)

 Camping in the Arizona Desert

 Texas Tarantula

 Crown King General Store – Crown King, Arizona

 Kepler Cascades, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

 Skeletal Beauty; On Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park, California

The View From Here: Summit of Moro Rock

 Moro Rock

 Stalagmite Skyscrapers in Lewis and Clark Caverns, Montana

 Looking Up and Out: Abandoned Quarry Near Missoula, Montana

 The Shore: South Jetty Park near Florence, Oregon.

Oregonian Sand and Surf Still Life

Grassy Dunes at the South Jetty

 Family February dune walk 2015

 Morning in Dexter, Oregon

 Willamette Valley Panorama, Oregon

Winter Storm Linus Comes to Our Our Front Yard

 Lava Lake, Gallatin National Forest, Montana

 Lone Star Geyser With Rainbow, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Mayflower II Masts, Plymouth, Massachusetts

My Liquid Laugh, My Magnetic Ode to a Geyser

 Alive at Saratoga Apples, Schuylerville, New York, Fall 2015

Saratoga Apples Abundantly

Moon Magic: Early October Evening in Schuylerville

 Saratoga Monument Silhouette in Autumn

 September 2013 in Lake George, New York

 Scope of a Season Collage: Autumn in New York

 Playing Around in September Collage

 Tugboat Roundup 2014 Collage, Waterford, New York

(America’s Oldest Incorporated Village)

 Peaceful Coexistence: Manhattan, New York City, New York

 A New York Minute: Near the United Nations

Learn more about my travels!

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, NaNoWriMo 2012, Round Four 2015, ROW80 2015

Transient Trick or Treating Growth: October 28, 2015

Is Halloween a big deal where you live? Is your family into it, over it, or somewhere in between?

It used to be a Very Big Deal for both of my kids – a grand adventure that only got grander when we began visiting out of state friends who live in suburbia (we’re quite rural; trick or treating doesn’t even happen on this still-sleepy country road).

Now, though, it’s shifting. My teen, the oldest of the group by almost 3 years, is letting three tween girls costume him this year. He’s in it for the time with friends, and hasn’t even mentioned candy.

My daughter and her two best friends are excited for a weekend together, and have spent hours in Skype consultations about costumes, accessories, and makeup. Candy? Definitely not the star of their show…

And me? I’m looking forward to coffee, conversation, laughter…and the opening salvo of NaNoWriMo…which brings me to my final days of #NaNoPrep…

Color-coding key:

  • Goal attained = blue with overstrike.

  • Goal in progress = green.

  • Goal-in-waiting = red.

  • Goal set aside = red with overstrike.


  • Write one poem daily for the OctPoWriMo Challenge. Each poem will fit the theme “Gratitude”. 22/31. Still behind; but catching up…This week: Complete and post all poems. Another poem posted, for a total of 11/31, with 7 more added to my template for polishing and posting; 18/31 posted or in progress.


  • The IDIC Romance: Complete 2/3 paragraphs for the remaining letters (Q-Z); do an 11:11 Stream of Consciousness sprint for each; these will be the basis for new stories and A-Z posts. Choose one paragraph for each to develop into the post; make episode list for rewatching. Hey, #itswritingresearch! 1/31 stories chosen. 21/26 letters completed; 1 /2 V completed. This week: Complete drafting.


  • The IDIC Romance: “Slow Jazz Awakening”: Using compiled notes, complete rough revision plan for 16 scenes. Rewrite and offer as a beta read.

  • Complete “Peach Liqueur Love” Deep Revision Exercises  and submit.

  • Monday Morning Coffee”: My World Unknown Review submission was lost in the editor’s email ether. Review/revise as necessary, and resubmit by 10/31.

Blogging/Social Media:

  • Publish all regular features posts; scheduling ahead if possible: This week: Do all regular features; schedule all October WIPpets and #8sunday posts;figure out what to do about C and C and Mindful Monday posts for November. On track to complete all posts; 5/8 complete. WIPpet and #8sunday scheduled early Tuesday. Will do C and C/Mindful Monday posts on alternating weeks.

  • Catch up all blog comments and visits. This week: Keep on keeping on. Do better at visiting; that seems to be tripping me up, ATM. Several comments answered, and return visits made. Many more to attend to.

  • ROW80: Keep visits and updates current. Complete and submit Round 4 Sponsor Post. This week: Visits; try for a few extras. Read Monday post.

  • Empty email inbox and maintain below 333 messages. This week: Maintain inbox and habit. Sorting email while watching TV or hanging with family is going moderately well; still a bit over 500 messages.


  • Homeschool Administration: Complete all pending paperwork. Draft IHIPs and attend to district’s Peer Review issue.
  • Continue decluttering/beautification projects; in home and/or yard, five days weekly. Continue making improvements to our home and our quality of life. This week: Continue; focus on clearing the decks for NaNo and travel, and implementing ideas from 5,000 Words Per Hour.  3/5 days. General hometending; desk declutter; floors. Adapted spreadsheet and did two 5 minute 5KWPH sprints.


  • Continue planning/ attending outings and events as desired. This week: Lise doctor appointment and Halloween shopping; weekend trip to New Jersey. Plans and preparations well underway for all of these; need to touch base with our Halloween hosts.

  • NNWM local group: Attend write-ins regularly, and check in on the Facebook and Twitter groups as inspired. Read and critique both projects I’ve been hanging onto. Regular write-in. This week: Read the first of the critique projects; ‘attend’ the kickoff party virtually from NJ.
  • Complete the two beta reads I’ve had waaay too long. Beta #2 complete through Chapter Four (p15/121). This week: Work on this as I can; it’s a busy week, but it might be perfect while traveling.

  • My beloveds: One on one time with each, doing something of value to us both, several times each week. Time with each, already, and more to come!
  • Read 3 fellow author books; complete 7 reviews.  3/3 books complete. This week: Bite the bullet and write all the reviews!


  • Write in Abundance,Intentions, and #onegoodcup journals seven times each week. Meditate seven times weekly, including one eating meditation. Explore one new meditative practice. Journals 3/7. Meditation: 3/7. This week: Journals; eating meditation; meditation.

  • T’ai chi practice: at home five times; class twice. Continue reading The Tai Chi Directory, and adding movements to my at-home practice. This week: At least two at-home practices.

  • Make time for physical activity six days a week; use phone app to track three time a week. This week: the same. Activity: 3/6; Tracking: 2/3.

Leaps of Faith:

  • Poetry Chapbooks:I did some very basic research on what chapbooks are; letting the concept simmer for a bit.

  • Website/Business blog: early brainstorming with my Accomplice.

  • Fantasy convention

  • Fan fiction stuff

  • Self-publishing

These goals are a part of Kait Nolan’s ROW80 Writing Challenge  – the writing challenge that knows you have a life.

It’s also a blog hop –

Find more ROWers right here!

Posted in Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging From A-Z 2015, Just for Fun!, Life Writing, Travel

“Traveling Through the Alphabet” Reflections on the Blogging from A-Z Challenge, April 2015


So, do you remember what you did in April? Was it a blur of routine, with nothing standing out as special? Did you have a vacation, a birthday, a wedding or a promotion…?

Or did you undertake a personal challenge of some type?

For me, April has come to mean two separate writing challenges: April CampNaNoWriMo, for which I drafted one novel, and began another; and

The Blogging from A-Z April Challenge

This post is my entry into the A-Z Reflections Blog Hop. Admittedly, I’m breathing down the neck of being late – posts are meant to be up no later than today, and, where I am, today’s got less than two hours left…

Maybe that’s fitting…

I seemed to spend most of the month scrambling to keep up.

It wasn’t intentional. I had my idea a year ahead; I meant to set things up well ahead of time…but then life happened…

Along about the fall, my father-in-law invited us to come visit our Oregon family, and we decided to go in mid-February. There was plenty to be done, in addition to life. I had other projects: a poetry challenge in October, NaNoWriMo in November…and then the holidays come and go, and it’s a new year, and details are being set for a mid-February cross-continental journey, and all the preparation that went with it.

  • And I had a January challenge, and a February one – and then we were gone, and every day of our vacation was filled with life – but not so much writing. Internet access was spotty, and my focus was even more so. I got behind on my challenge when I couldn’t post.
  • We had a blistering flight change in Chicago- less than 45 minutes, with no departing gate announced, and, when we learned it, we discovered that we were to descend 3 levels, use the moving staircase to traverse the length of the terminal, then go up three levels…we barely made the flight.
  • On the day we were to head home, sitting in the airport 20 minutes before boarding the plane, I learned that Leonard Nimoy had died that morning. That might not seem like a big deal for many people – but try typing Leonard Nimoy or Spock on the search bar on the right…you’ll get a little idea of my grief.
  • We got home, and there was a round of head colds -and then my laptop power adaptor failed. Since it’s a Lenovo, and was under warranty, a new one could be sent from Texas – where there was bad weather slowing transit.

By the time everything was ready again, I was far behind- in blogging, and in planning the novel I meant to begin on April 1.

Oh, and it was already mid-March.

So I started the month far behind where I hoped to be. I had the first two days’ worth scheduled, when I wanted the whole month stacked up and ready to go…

I spent the month never quite falling behind, but never quite getting ahead, either…

It was more chaotic than I’d hoped – and the kids and I had a four day trip to visit out of state friends near the end of the month, which meant four days of less than normal writing…and two five hour drives for me.

And I was writing novels at the same time.

I didn’t get around to visit nearly as many other A-Zers as I wanted to. I hit a couple of frustrating dead ends, trying to visit people, and found several blogs I would have loved to have visited more often than I managed.

Yes, I got the posts done, and I enjoyed my travel theme, revisiting the early days of marriage, when my Accomplice and I worked in national parks and explored the country in our off time. I allowed myself to delve, to dream, to draw connections, and to share..

I hope I offered something of value; something that made the visit worthwhile.

Sometimes, it felt like climbing Moro Rock again…

Sometimes, though, challenges are more about seeing what we didn’t quite get right, and how we can fix it.

So, for next year’s challenge?

  • I already have my topic (no, I’m not telling -you’ll have to wait for next March to learn that!).
  • I have a list with a few post concepts for letters A-I.
  • I’m adding three letters every day or two.
  • Once I’ve gotten through the alphabet, I’ll start developing my ideas into posts, and choose a finalist for each letter.
  • I plan to be finished with my drafting by the end of the year, and finished with scheduling posts by the end of February.
  • As for visiting, I do plan to visit more A-Z posts during the coming weeks. I might also get brave enough to volunteer as a minion for 2016, to ensure I visit more folks, in a more timely manner, next year.

If you’re an A-Z poster who’d like a visit, drop me a comment with a link, and I’ll drop by! =D

Looking back…and peering ahead….
Posted in Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging From A-Z 2015, Challenges and Contests, Just for Fun!, Life Writing, Travel

Zzzzzzzz….: #atozchallenge, Day 30

So, can you believe that this is it?!

We’ve traveled our way through the alphabet, on a grand loop of adventure – I’ll admit that I’m more than a little surprised at some of the places this trip has taken me – into my memories, into new ideas and connections, into new stories and goals…

This foray into a time that so easily gets swept away in a fog of the everyday life I live today – a life filled with home and husband and children and pets and and and – has been a time of renewal and re-energizing for me…

At the same time, as I write this last post from the guest bedroom of my dear friend who lives only one state and a 5 hour drive away, I’m tired. Ready to pause in pulling forth the pearls from our traveling years and examining them…ready to move on to other projects, and absorb what this month and this project has brought me.

But before I do that – one more time, for an even 26.

I mentioned way back during S that I had a couple of funny stories about sleeping under the stars. I promised I’d get back to these for my Z post – and now it’s time to deliver on that promise.

I enjoy an Arizonan desert campfire with Gus the Wonder-Truck, fall 2000. Photo by James B. Burton.

Both of these stories happened in Arizona, or maybe the far southern edge of the Utah desert, and both happened at night.

We traveled one weekend to the town of Wickenburg, and then, on the way home, stopped in the former mining boom town of Crown King, which is isolated on the top of a mountain. When night approached, we found one of those many fire rings scattered throughout the west, and made camp there.

We were bedded down and asleep when we were awakened by a sudden noise that didn’t fit. In wild places, people tend to react more instinctively, and we were sitting up with flashlights aimed into the scrub brush around us in a matter of seconds, preparing to defend ourselves against whatever threat presented itself.

The threat turned out to be real – a javelina  – a small but potentially aggressive little tusked beast. This one was alone, and staring right at us!

We shone lights in its eyes, and made “Move along; nothing to see here” noises. Thankfully, the nocturnal visitor left without any altercation (of course, from the javelina’s point of view, we were likely the unwanted guests!).

Crown King General Store, Crown King, Arizona…1997. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

But the funniest sleeping under the stars story – the one I still giggle about nearly 18 years later – happened before we were even married, on the night before our visit to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We’d ridden the motorcycle a good part of the day, and found a place in the nearby desert to sleep for a few hours, until it was light enough to explore.

We were laying there, side by side, when all of a sudden, my Accomplice (who, by the way, looks more than a little like Henry VIII, and is built like a linebacker) jerked away from me and made a sound that can only be described as girlish.

“There’s a tarantula on me! There’s a tarantula on me!”

This is a Texan tarantula, not an Arizona one – but still…you get the idea, right? Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

My response? Laughter!

He subsided, and stared at me angrily. “Why would you laugh when I said there was a tarantula?”

I was laughing so hard at this point that I couldn’t explain in words. I tried another tactic –

There really is a tarantula on me!”

Finally, I was able to explain – no tarantula, just a feisty fiancee who thought a flirty tickle in the ribs might lead in other directions than arachnophobic ones (especially since it was rather cold and dark for tarantulas to be out and about). I don’t think I truly understood how much my Accomplice dislikes spiders, or how differently our minds work, until then…but I still laugh at how that innocent little tickle became a dangerous threat, and how he must have felt when I laughed at his terrifying predicament!

This post is part of the #atozchallenge. For more zany or not-so-zany “Z” posts, click the banner.

And there we have it…an entire journey through scattered, geographically far flung bits and pieces of my wandering life…yes, we’ve slept outside in many places, including beside lava tubes, amongst Joshua trees, on mountains…in tents, and under the stars, in a bed my Accomplice made for us, and at friends’ and families’ homes, in hotels and motels, and in the bed of old Gus…and now, from a bed 230 miles from the one my Accomplice is in, I bid you all good night, to the tune of one of my all time favorite lullabies!