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Drink from the glass instead: no plastic straws #PlasticPollution #NoPlasticStraws

Why is this titled “drink from the glass instead” when the image is about ocean pollution? Because there’s a simple step each person can take to reduce plastic pollution in our oceans. Ask for no plastic straws in your drinks. Americans use 500 million straws daily. Once. That happens day after day, filling our landfills and contributing to ocean plastic.

What if every person reading this post shared it with a friend and pledged to reduce the amount of drinking straws they used each day?

No Plastic Straws – Here’s how to help

1. Personal commitment
Make a personal commitment to reduce your use of plastic straws when you dine out. When you order a drink, simply say, “No plastic straws, please.”

2. Ask your friends and family to commit
Share your commitment to no plastic straws with friends and family.

3. Ask your favorite restaurants to serve straws only on request
This will reduce plastic straw purchases, saving them money. If  restaurants served paper straws (or bambo, glass or stainless steel), it would make an impact on our communities and our world. You can even share how they can become part of the “No Plastic Straws” business movement. Want a printable card you can leave when you pay your bill? Click here and look at “Level 2” under Take Action.

4. Carry a reusable straw of your own
Amazon has a selection of reusable straws in bright colors and in steel and other forms. Try this one. These colorful straws fit the Yeti tumbler and other reusable drink bottles and come with a cleaning brush. You also get a cleaning brush with these sleek stainless steel straws or check out bamboo straws from The Other Straw.

My goal isn’t to sell you straws. It’s to make you aware of the problem and give you a step to take. Every step we take toward a solution makes a difference.

Please share this post on your social media and pledge to use fewer plastic straws each day.

Click this banner to see a full-sized infographic on plastic pollution in the oceans.

Drink from the glass instead: no plastic straws #plasticpollution #noplasticstraws

Thanks, but no thanks. Are you doing this one simple thing to end #PlasticPollution #NoPlasticStraws

There’s one simple thing each person can take to reduce plastic pollution in our oceans. Ask for no plastic straws in your drinks. Americans use 500 million straws daily. Once. That happens day after day, filling our landfills and contributing to ocean plastic.

What if every person reading this post shared it with a friend and pledged to reduce the amount of drinking straws they used each day?

Do that one simple thing: Here’s how

1. Personal commitment
Make a personal commitment to reduce your use of plastic straws when you dine out. When you order a drink, simply say, “No plastic straws, please.”

2. Ask your friends and family to commit
Share your commitment to no plastic straws with friends and family.

3. Ask your favorite restaurants to serve straws only on request
This will reduce plastic straw purchases, saving them money. If  restaurants served paper straws (or bambo, glass or stainless steel), it would make an impact on our communities and our world. You can even share how they can become part of the “No Plastic Straws” business movement. Want a printable card you can leave when you pay your bill? Click here and look at “Level 2” under Take Action.

4. Carry a reusable straw of your own
Amazon has a selection of reusable straws in bright colors and in steel and other forms. Try this one. These colorful straws fit the Yeti tumbler and other reusable drink bottles and come with a cleaning brush. You also get a cleaning brush with these sleek stainless steel straws  or with a cool bamboo set from The Other Straw.

My goal isn’t to sell you straws. It’s to make you aware of the problem and give you a step to take. Every step we take toward a solution makes a difference.
5. Find companies that pledge to use less plastic and give them your support.

Here’s one you might not have considered. Flooring. You will walk on your floor for many years, but eventually, it will end up in a landfill. Is it  made of material that will biodegrade? Check out what The New & Reclaimed Flooring Company is doing. What other companies are you discovering?

Please share this post on your social media and pledge to use fewer plastic straws each day. Remember, this is just one simple thing to do. What else can you try? Share it in the comments below.

Click this banner to see a full-sized infographic on plastic pollution in the oceans.

Drink from the glass instead: no plastic straws #plasticpollution #noplasticstraws

A New WIP: Return of the Vhalgenn #scifi #fantasy #giveaway

Giveaway and Contest

I’m working on a new book called Return of the Vhalgenn. It’s the sequel to The Last Vhalgenn, and is a crossover story from Trailing Kaiwulf.

This post is a quick introduction to the main characters of Return of the Vhalgenn. Writers and readers alike may enjoy seeing what the various people represent in a story. I used a software program called Dramatica to flesh out the plot. Click the name to learn more.

This crossover also gives a peek into the Terran Peace Team. “Team” (as the company refers to itself) performs interplanetary negotiations, and its ships are considered neutral territory. It also helps protect endangered people groups, refugees, and is a watchdog group for interplanetary asylum and amnesty cases. As you can imagine, there is plenty of opportunity for their negotiators (called Paracletes) to get into trouble. Team provides a high level of personal security for them by assigning them Psyche Guards. More about these guards in a future post.

Then there’s the Terran Colonial Smithsonian Society’s Department of Extra-Terrestrial Excavations. Talk about a mouthful! This group is on a search for mankind’s history in the galaxy. Its logo resembles a biohazard symbol — for good reason. They want to prove the myth of enhanced beings — hybrid creatures created by man milennia ago — is true. Scraps of records show they were loca

A New WIP: Return of the Vhalgenn #scifi #fantasy #giveaway

ted on the far side of the galaxy from Earth, but the true sites have been lost to the annals of time. A recent success in finding such beings is chronicled in Trailing Kaiwulf.

Which brings us to TRAIL, the Trace, Rescue, and Identification League (known by some as Thieves, Ruffians, A-holes, Idiots, and Liars). The item hasn’t been invented that they can’t find. Or hide. If you need to identify a body, or a relic, or research an esoteric bit of lore, TRAIL can help. For a price.

You’ll see more stories with all these groups. By the way — they have been infiltrated by immortals, so expect to see Sempervians, Chosen, and others. Now… into the book.

About Return of the Vhalgenn

Kierhe grew up hearing stories of Qarth, dragons, and venturing into the dreaded Denauerman Flats. As one of the famed Fae Guides, he makes a living guiding pilgrims from all parts of Qarth and Kellindahr to worship at the Gates of Life, and shows them how to pass their children beneath the soaring arches as the Fae commanded. So when outsiders want to dig up the Gates and release the Fae, Kierhe straps on his sword and prepares for war. The summer solstice is imminent, when the veil between worlds is thin. The Fae have talked to Kierhe in the past, and he worships them. What will releasing the gods unleash?

Theena is also a Fae Guide, and she’s as good a fighter as Kierhe. His ego gets him into scrapes, while Theena tends toward caution. While he’s a good listener, as a talker, he persuades better with fists and swords. Perhaps Theena’s level head can keep them out of war. If only Kierhe could see she’s a woman as well, but with her widowed father interfering in everything she does, the Fae popping up unannounced, and an enemy threatening everything they hold sacred, love will have to wait.

Meet the Characters

Kierhe Dahryc Loc Ohra, clan Draig (pronounced KEER-ee)

Protagonist and main character. The protagonist leads the story, and the overall concept represents his point of view. As a newborn, Kierhe was “passed through the gates” — a sacred rite that protects the child and provides a blessing from the Fae. His Aunt Raik was responsible for completing the ritual. As an adult, he bears an ivy tattoo on his chest, proclaiming his loyalty to the King of Qarth and Kellindahr, and against the “Treacherous Queen” who was beheaded not long after Kierhe was born. It matches a tattoo worn on the cheek of his Aunt Raik. Unknown to Kierhe, the queen was his mother, and everything he has been reared to believe about his past is a lie.

Ealee Katheena “Theena” Ohra, clan Ohra

Sidekick and impact character. The impact character forces the main character to face his problem. This sometimes seems as if the person is blocking them, but the function is to keep the hero from sweeping problems under the rug. Sometimes the impact character serves as the guide or guardian as well. In this story, the guardian function is held by another. The daughter of the master guidemaster to whom Kierhe is apprenticed, Theena has loved Kierhe from the day they met as children. Although to her the Gates of Life are merely pretty to look at and have no personal meaning, she accepts his belief that the Fae supposedly bless those lucky enough to have been passed through the Gates after birth. She is his champion and stands by him no matter what. She somehow manages to say and do the wrong thing every time she gets near Kierhe or opens her mouth. She and Kierhe are both apprenticed to her father (who runs the pilgrimage service for which they work).

Dr Viva Post (from Trailing Kaiwulf)

Antagonist. In this story, the antagonist is not an evil person, but opposite the hero in goals and needs. It’s the job of archaeologist Viva Post to get information and rescue the people trapped in another dimension on Kierhe’s world. Her recent discovery of identical so-called “Gates of Life” on the planet Ust makes her the reigning expert on the matter. In addition, she’s involved with the only person who can move between the “real world” and the Shadow dimension, a young man she met on Ust.

Kaiwulf Driacson (from Trailing Kaiwulf)

Emotion. This character represents the “feeling” or “uncontrolled” motivation aspect. In some stories, they wreak havoc. In this one, he is balanced by a strong sense of justice that adds control. Passionate, Kaiwulf reacts strongly to injustice or falsehoods. He is a fish out of water on the planet Stachien, and especially around the highly educated Viva, but he adores her. His homeworld is a backward planet of barbarians who live in huts. The last of a dying race, he is capable of moving between dimensions and is the only person who can verify whether the Fae are a trapped people, a myth, or if they even exist.

Lianne Myssara

Contagonist. This character may take either side, and sometimes takes both. (This is a Dramatica term.) Lianne has been sent by the Terran Peace Team to oversee the rescue of an endangered people group (referred to as the Fae on Stachien) If Dr Post is right, and the Fae are simply people in another dimension, Lianne is in the unenviable position of possibly destroying the religion and faith of another group.

Raik Ty Draig, clan Ddumach (from The Last Vhalgenn)

Guardian. The guardian represents the conscience of a story. Raik is Kierhe’s aunt, his mother’s sister-in-law. In reality, she is Raik Ty Hellesbor, and is bonded to the King of Qarth and Kellindahr. She hid the truth of Kierhe’s birth because his mother, the former queen, was a traitor. To protect the newborn Kierhe, Raik and the king agreed Kierhe would never know the truth. The family that reared him had a stillborn son (named Kierhe), and that child was passed off as baby Dahryc, the son of the traitorous queen. The boy was buried with her. Raik was the mastermind behind hiding him, and has remained at his side to protect him ever since. Her story is told in The Last Vhalgenn.

Rhoman O’Bannon

Skeptic. In a sense, the skeptic character is a heckler to the hero, and is designed to make him and other characters react or explain themselves. This

gives the reader an opportunity to understand various aspects of the story better, and to be reminded of the reason certain things are done. “Why do we have to do X?” the skeptic might ask, and is told, “Because…etc.” This character is useful late in a story to remind the reader about a goal or limitation. As an example, consider the dwarf Balin in the Hobbit film series.) Reared in a Terran Peace Team enclave to become a Psyche Guard (the elite protectors of the Terran Peace Team’s negotiators), Rhoman does not believe in things he cannot see or touch, and thinks the idea of looking for “fairies” to be ludicrous. Things are either right or wrong, and a decision is either black or white. There is no gray.

Milli O’Bannon

Reason. Representing logic and control, this character can sometimes be hard to relate to. To provide more empathy, I’ve given her an impulsive, childlike side that loves life. Like Rhoman, Milli was reared in a Terran Peace Team enclave. Her life is devoted to reason and justice, yet she is aware of spiritual things. She is fascinated by the paranormal, and things that can’t be defined. While Rhoman would bypass a flower without a second thought, Milli is apt to pick it and study it in detail. They are not related, but carry the same last name to identify which enclave reared them.

So there you have it — a quick intro to the characters of the story. Bookmark the site or follow the blog to read more as it comes out. I’ll be posting sneak peeks as I continue to write the story. Sign up for one email when the book is released: Author Alarms.

To win a copy of The Last Vhalgenn (pdf or Kindle), leave a comment and your email. I’ll draw one name by Monday, July 7th.

Everyone is welcome to download a freebie! Here’s a link to an illustrated eBook called Behind the Scenes with The Last Vhalgenn. This is an inside look at the characters and setting in the story. When you click the link, this will either offer you a download, or open in a new window, depending on your settings. To read it, you need Adobe Reader, available free. http://is.gd/vhalgenn_peek

If you’re stopping by on Friday, July 4th — Happy Independence Day to all who celebrate it.

Meet Pietas: Bad Boy King of Immortals #scifi #ASMSG

Meet Pietas? Is it safe?

Bringer of Chaos, the Origin of PietasMeet Pietas ap Lorectic, the Bad Boy King of the immortal Sempervians. He’s a shapeshifter, warrior, thief, gamemaster, king, and is often referred to by his friends as Bringer. It’s short for Bringer of Chaos, one of his favored titles.

His twin is Dessy, known in the Tarthian Empire as Empress Rheyn Destoiya. His parents were Mahikos and Helia ap Lorectic, the last genetically created “Ultra Beings” (aka Ultras) created by humans. They were also the only Ultras conceived by natural means. While in the womb, the twins were enhanced to protect them, because the tide was turning against Ultras, and it was feared the children would be killed. Pietas and Dessy were born on 2/26/2620, and were immediately subjected to extensive and continued genetic enhancements by their father. Pietas and Dessy became both the most advanced creatures ever born, and as history later proved, the most dangerous.

I’m a movie lover and like millions — I loved the Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. I’m a major #Thranduil groupie. Lee Pace could be a perfect Pietas. Tall, lanky, white-haired, with piercing turquoise eyes, and a disdain of humans. The aloof “why have you disturbed me” look that Pace perfected for Thranduil is Pietas in spades. Luke Goss (Hellboy 2’s Prince Nuada) could also make an amazing Pietas. Because Pietas looks so much like his father, Goss could play Mahikos and do an incredible job. He excels at playing heroes with flaws who are both noble and decadent. See the film Bone Dry and you will understand.

My first book with Pietas came out in 2004. He’s been a regular character ever since. I wish you could see him sulking in the corner, saying “About time, human!” Believe me, I’m writing as fast as I can.

My beta reader Jean says “I love the bad guys; all except for the Empress (I keep begging Kayelle to let her have it). Luc scared me when he first came on the scene, but as I got to know him, he’s very deep and holding a lot of secrets that are so out of character with how he portrays himself. He has a lot of compassion that he doesn’t want known. I also have this hidden obsession with Pietas, the ultimate villain’s villain. You have to really dig to find something good about him. I find these two extremely compelling and I want to get into their heads.”

Thranduil - meet Pietas

The aloof King Thranduil – so like Pietas

My author friend Houston Havens loves him too. We’ve had long discussions about him, and it was she who pointed out that he’s not a sociopath. I had written him as one, but his true self is highly emotional. He masquerades as someone without emotion and without remorse, but deep down — he feels. And he feels with a depth that stunned me once I saw it. Yes, my characters can totally surprise me.

I shouldn’t be amazed at how much of a following Pietas has garnered. He is the uber villain, after all. He does have a soft side, even if we rarely get to see it. There are levels to him that readers saw long before I did. How ironic is that? Will Pietas ever get his happy ever after? That depends on whether he opens up and lets me see how to give him the love of his immortal life. I hope he does. I’m holding out for it.

Giveaway

I’ve attached a long chapter that features Pietas from the book Alitus. It will give you a good look at the character, and show both his softer side, and his I-want-to-throttle-him personality. Meet Pietas in a downloadable chapter from Alitus, Tales of the Chosen. Pietas has his own book, Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas He was and is fascinating to write.

Image credits: Pietas (Depositphotos.com), Thranduil (image from The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, film by Peter Jackson)

Okay, fangirl. How did the cosplay go? Well, @Nitsvetov was perfect. Me? Hmm #Cosplay #SciFi

Okay, fangirl. How did the cosplay go? Well, @Nitsvetov was perfect. Me? Hmm #Cosplay #SciFi

Watching a Perfect Cosplay on Instagram

Nik Nitsvetov is an award-winning cosplayer and a photographer. He portrayed the immortal king, Pietas, from my Bringer of Chaos series on September 1, 2018 in a live cosplay. I've had this character in my head since I started writing. It was fascinating to see him brought to absolute, perfect life.

Left and below: raw images of Nik as Pietas

Was it perfect?

On September 1, the Russian cosplayer, Nik Nitsvetov portrayed immortal king Pietas during a live feed on Instagram. I watched with my friend and colleague, Lisa Lowe (who was on with me via Skype). We each used Mobizen (an Android app) to record the cosplay.

Unfortunately, my WiFi cut in and out, and the image kept freezing. Lisa gave me a move-by-move account of what was transpiring. Good thing I was able to grab my gear and head out the door quickly. Lisa lives only 10 minutes away. I kept my phone on while driving so I could hear what was happening, and because I moved from WiFi to 4G, the signal started coming in quite clear. Before I'd left my subdivision, Nik started performing the ritual. I had my phone in a handsfree device but because the VERY last thing I wanted was a ticket, I was not watching and driving. Although I could glance at it (and did), when I saw him begin, I pulled off the road and watched.

Okay, fangirl. How did the cosplay go? Well, @Nitsvetov was perfect. Me? Hmm #Cosplay #SciFiThe moment Nik began moving into another part, setting up poses, I drove again. During that 10 minute drive, I pulled over no less than 3 times. Stopped way too long at a stop sign, and dared (probably) too many glances. When I arrived at Lisa's, we sat side by side and watched, commenting and exclaiming over the various poses and images.

Later, when we played back the recording, we were stunned to discover it had also recorded us. We had some good laughs listening. Most of the time, we were each speechless -- or reduced to phrases like Oh my god! Holy cow! Did you see that? ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod! (and to change it up - oh wow!). If I strung together everything we said, it would sound like a contest at a fangirl convention seeing who could sound the most amazed in less than three words.

Near the end, we discovered we could actually write something and Nik would see it or hear it from a friend who was recording. I sounded like a broken record here too: You are perfect. Perfect Pietas! That's so perfect! But at one point, I noticed a "hello" button and pressed it. A moment later, Nik smiled and said, "Hello, Kayelle." My super intelligent response? "Oh my god!" LOL

We didn't realize that he had a cold until about halfway through the cosplay. He coughed and Lisa worried aloud that he was sick. Of course, our immediate mother-hen selves lurched forward, ready to hand him a tissue or a cough drop or give him a hug. Too bad he was in St Petersburg and Lisa and I were in Atlanta. Nik kept going, kneeling on the floor for part of the ritual, bare-chested, water in his cupped hands dribbling down his arms as part of the scene. But now, we were both fascinated and worried -- what if the room was too cold? Would he get sicker? We hoped that cough was not serious but we also wanted him to keep going. Talk about mixed emotions.

The event lasted one hour, two hours short of anticipated -- but that was Instagram's doing -- not Nik's. He kept going after the live video ended and let us know only afterward that he had stopped a little short due to being sick. Pardon my overuse of this word where Nik is concerned, but he was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

I imagine if Nik reads this, he'll shake his head and then laugh at his crazy American fans.

Were the time, planning, detailing and work worth it? Absolutely. I would not change a thing -- except -- to hesitate less and trust myself more. Nik is kind and thoughtful and eager to reach out to his fans. He is professional in his work and a perfectionist who makes sure every part of an image is right. His photographer, Julia, is just like him. Watching her pose him, adjust the fall of his hair, the angle of his hands, the aspect of the light -- was as fascinating as seeing Nik himself. Whoever took the video -- thank you. It was wonderful being able to share the event.

Perhaps one day I'll have the courage to ask him for another cosplay event. I have a bazillion books to write about Pietas. This is an immortal who ages, then dies and is reborn young. I could keep Nik busy for a long, long time. I can't imagine anyone else portraying my immortal king. After all, Nik is perfect.

Please follow Nik on Instagram
If you like amazing and unforgettable cosplay, support Nik on Patreon.
Check out by_cosphoto - photographer for the event

Hear Pietas speak

Hear Pietas (in his own voice) as he shares
several truths about himself and life.
"Finding the Voice of Pietas" coming soon

Voice of Pietas

Zack Black
Twitter - @zackblackvo
Instagram - @voicesbyzack

Nik Nitsvetov (above, as Pietas) is a photographer and award-winning cosplayer. A gamer and anime fan, he often cosplays characters from popular series. He lives in Russia and is a strong supporter of Russian Cosplay. His personal photography ranges from cosplay to portraits and often includes animals and nature. You will find him online through various social media.
https://www.instagram.com/nitsvetov/
https://www.instagram.com/nitsvetov.photo/
https://www.patreon.com/onframe/posts
https://twitter.com/nitsvetov
https://www.facebook.com/nik.nicvetov
https://www.facebook.com/OnframeCosplay/
https://worldcosplay.net/en/member/Onframe
https://vk.com/onframe

How to Watch Nik @Nitsvetov perform as the Bringer of Chaos #Cosplayer #SciFi #MFRWhooks

How to Watch Nik @Nitsvetov perform as the Bringer of Chaos #Cosplayer #SciFi #MFRWhooks

Reserve your space to watch Nik Nitsvetov,
the chaos cosplayer, as he performs
as immortal king Pietas.
Dates and links coming soon.

Meet the Bringer of Chaos Cosplayer: Nik Nitsvetov

When I first saw Nik Nitsvetov, he was portraying Sephiroth from Final Fantasy. But the expression on his face close up was pure Pietas. It was months before I discovered he had an Instagram account. I signed up so I could follow him. When he opened a Twitter account, I followed him there.

My mother was an artist who was admired by those who saw her work. She always longed to have more of her art seen and appreciated, so I understand how important it is to support artists. When I find artists I admire, I find ways to encourage them to create and do everything possible to enable their abilities. Most of the time, a simple note of appreciation does wonders.

When Nik began his Patreon account, I was the second person to support him. I'd have been first if I'd known about it sooner, but it took months for me to get up the courage to ask if he'd cosplay Pietas for me. When he wanted to know more, I was both shocked and excited. I couldn't wait to figure out how all this would work. He performed as the Bringer of Chaos cosplayer in September 2018.

Chaos Cosplayer Reservation



Not only did I get amazing photographs of him (they are all over this site), I also got to see part of it live on Instagram. You can read about my fangirl meltdown over that here and see info about the first cosplay here and of course a bit about him here too.

If you're not sure whether I'm a fan of Nik's, you seriously have not been paying attention. I even created a tribute page for him on this site.

Chaos Cosplayer #2

This year, Nik is creating another cosplay as Pietas, but this one will be the immortal king as soldier. Nik is hand-making the uniform and has been sharing snippets of it on Instagram. Follow Nik to see all the details.

Want an update and advance news when the cosplay will occur? You can make your Chaos Cosplayer Reservation now. Add your email and you'll get advance notice about the cosplay. I anticipate it sometime in August 2019. I'm not sure if there will be others in the future, so please do sign up so you'll know what to expect. (You can opt to receive other emails later. This will be used just for the Chaos Cosplayer Reservation.)


JOIN US FOR BOOKHOOKS
How to Watch Nik @Nitsvetov perform as the Bringer of Chaos #Cosplayer #SciFi #MFRWhooksBook Hooks is a weekly meme hosted by Marketing for Romance Writers as part of the MFRW Authors Blog. It's a chance each week for you the reader to discover current works in progress or previously published books by possibly new-to-you authors. Thank you for stopping by. Please say hello or leave a note in the comments.

 
 
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