music

Five Days of Thankfulness

A little over a year ago, I was challenged by Erika Lance to do Five Days of Thankfulness: once a day, for five days, I had to post three things for which I was thankful. I think this is the perfect time of year to revisit those days.

So, here goes!

I’ve been challenged by Erika to daily delineate three things I am thankful for over the next five days, and as that doesn’t involve dumping a bucket of ice-water over my head, I think I’ll go ahead and accept.
Day 1:
As I’m a day late, I’ll start with:
1) TOMORROWS. And not wholly because I tend to procrastinate. While I don’t think one should use tomorrow as an excuse to waste today, the inevitable progression of time is rather reassuring. The future will always be there to catch you no matter what today sprung on you and take you to a new land where magical, fantastic things can happen.
2) FAMILY. In their own special way (some more special than others), each person I share blood and ancestry with is pretty awesome. Which tends to make me awesome by extension, and that is something to be thankful for.
3) FRIENDS. Those warm, fuzzy, lovable, huggable bundles of support, adventure and a touch of crazy. Although I will admit I occasionally get an itch to find a tiny cabin in a secluded mountain range somewhere with no wifi, and live out the rest of my days as a coffee-drinking, chocolate-eating hermit-writer, I would miss you guys too much. Particularly ISG. I’d really miss you guys ❤

Three things for which I am thankful, Day 2:
1) FOOD. All kinds of food. Cheese. Fresh baked bread. Lasagne with handmade pasta. Yellow cake with strawberries and cream cheese icing (thank you Tesia). Brownies. Good old Cajun boudin and jambalaya. Steak. Biscotti…and on and on. If I didn’t have food, life would suck a little bit.
2) CHOCOLATE. The first recorded evidence of chocolate as a food product goes back to Pre-Columbian Mexico. The Mayans and Aztecs were known to make a drink called “Xocoatll” from the beans of the cocoa tree. In 1528, the conquering Spaniards returned to Spain with chocolate still consumed as a beverage. A similar chocolate drink was brought to a royal wedding in France in 1615, and England welcomed chocolate in 1662.
In 1847, Fry & Sons in England introduced the first “eating chocolate,” but didn’t attract much attention due to its bitter taste. In 1874, Daniel Peter, a famed Swiss chocolateer, experimented with various mixtures in an effort to balance chocolate’s rough flavor, and eventually stumbled upon that abundant product — milk. This changed everything and chocolate’s acceptance after that was quick and enthusiastic. And I’m thankful for that.
3) COFFEE. I don’t think I need to explain this one. It is Liquid Fortification. Ambrosia of the Mortals. Heaven in a cup. The End.

Three things for which I am thankful, Day 3:
1) BOOKS. Portals to other worlds designed by inspiration and characters and plot twists, given substance with words and held together with paper and ink and binding; tickets for a train crowded with all sorts of crazy and interesting people, headed to new and fantastic dimensions and adventures beyond imagination. A life without books would be flatter, shallower, duller, drabber and blander.
2) MAGIC. It makes wizards powerful people and evil Mages terrifying. It exists in all of us to some degree or another, and is found in the strangest places, yet only by people who put it there in the first place. It’s actually what *really* makes the world go round. Gravity is just a government cover-up conspiracy.
3) TOILETS. They’re very convenient. Actually, make that all indoor plumbing. I love hot showers and water available at the twist of a tap to cook and clean with. And reverse osmosis filters, to take the clean water and remove all the crap and chemicals that are put in there, supposedly for our benefit.

The Saga continues…three things I am thankful for, Day 4:
1) SMART PEOPLE. People who use their minds to change and shape the world. People who see solutions, not problems. People who know that “It’s impossible,” is opinion, not fact. People who see that things can be better or more efficient and plan, scheme and dream up ways to make it so.
2) GOOD PEOPLE. Those of goodwill. Who keep the world going with their kind acts, their compassionate words and strong hearts. The people who try to find some way to make the world better each day. And those that keep the world a good place despite all invitation to do otherwise.
3) BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. People who are beautiful on the inside and people who are beautiful on the outside. And people who possess both of the aforementioned beauties. People who are beautiful in all ways, shapes and sizes, for all reasons. They make the whole world more beautiful simply by being.

Day 5 and my last triumvirate of thankfulness:
1) MUSIC. Songs can be a muse, a comfort or an infusion of verve and vigor. They carry you away on wings of sonic awesomeness, take you out of the mundane to the sublime and give you tingles.
2) DRAGONS. Just because.
3) SMILES. The big, bright, happy, fun, slightly mischievous ones. In a flash they brighten the world up to luminous magnificence or magnificent luminescence. Especially Tom Hiddleston’s 😉

 

I hope everyone has a very happy holiday, with many, many things to be thankful for, both great and small 🙂

❤ DragonBeck

 

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The Brilliant Idea

As a prelude to the following anecdote: I love music, as in looooovvvvvvvveeeeee music. I play a little guitar and keyboard, but would describe myself only as an amateur at best. It’s not even a hobby, really, it’s just something that I fiddle about with if I have a spare moment or two. I know even less about computers (that’s relevant, I promise).

Music features heavily in my current series of books, The Guardians of the Path, (computers do not) and I got this idea for the covers of the books: what if I had a song and put a few bars of it on the back of each, so when you laid the books together you would get the whole song? Brilliant, right?! So, I wrote a little ditty on my keyboard, then I just had to figure out a way to get it into written form on my computer.

As noted above, I don’t have the skill-set necessary to do that all on my little own, but enthusiasm and optimism has carried me through greater trials and tribulations. I figured out I needed to download some music writing software (Finale free trial) and hook my keyboard up to my computer. Simple, right? Yeah, no (not for me – this whole thing was truly a major accomplishment, hence the blog). I came up with and followed three simple steps:

1) Find and procure people who know stuff.

2) Think positive!

3) and make Magyc!

1) Fortunately for me, in my life I have many people who know stuff. One such person helped kick-start my endeavor with two words. The first was “USB”. Now, I don’t know much about computers, but I’m not a complete troglodyte. I know what a USB is and what it looks like; my keyboard didn’t have that. Upon my description of “a round hole”, I was provided with the word “MIDI” (for the non-music people like me, that means Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or what you add to chlorians to endow mastery of the Force).

So I went to the wisest person I know – Google – and put in “MIDI to USB cable” and what do you know – such a thing exists!! I ordered one, and being the slightly naive, frugal and pragmatic person that I am, figuring this was a once-off deal, bought the cheapest one on Amazon that qualified for Prime shipping (I can already hear the sighs, eye-rolls, lectures and general censure from the purists – don’t worry, I learned my lesson). Bad idea. No computer I have could see the keyboard and long story short, I bought another, more acceptable cable, and…

2) …with the new cable, though the keyboard could now be seen by my computer, I couldn’t make it work with the software. I was about to scrap the whole idea, thought about it, came close to deciding it wasn’t that important anyway – it can be easy to get frustrated when things don’t work. That never helps. Ever. So – think positive! Never give up, on yourself or your dreams.

Decide that it’s all going to work out, even if everything is going wrong, and hold on to that. Be confident in yourself. If it’s going really, really badly, refer to #1 and be confident in someone else.

In my case, that would be my brother. If you don’t have one of those, I recommend getting one, as soon as possible. He’s amazing – he is to electronics what Jesus was to the sick, lame and blind – he waves his hands and they work. I don’t know how he does it. After about two weeks of me trying different things, I swallowed my pride and asked if he could help me the next time he was over at the house. He spent five minutes – five minutes! – clicked some things, looked at some other things, and voila! Suddenly, when I pressed a key on the keyboard, music happened on the computer and I could…

3) …make Magyc!! It’s not easy to describe how to make Magyc. It’s a different process for each person, and unfortunately the schools don’t cover what to do if you have no inherent magic talent. You’re just pretty much screwed. If you have magic talent, but don’t inherently know what to do with it, you’re also screwed. Very few people are able to point a wand at something and make the right thing happen on the first go.

It’s more an art, less a science. There’s no hard and fast recipe for sparkly-rainbow-golden-beams-and-unicorn-tears Magyc, no pseudo-Latin phrase you can say with the right inflection or formulation of strange and exotic ingredients simmered together under a blue moon to produce this ethereal thing. Trial and error is always fun. Trial and success is more fun. And I fully believe that if you try enough times, you’ll learn more and more of what you need to know in order to make your own unique brand of Magyc, which this world desperately needs.

Anyway, with some optimism, people who know stuff, persistence, trial and error, more trial and error, coffee, and trial and success, my brilliant idea came to partial fruition:

A GOTP

Yay!!! So, that’s what I did with my last weekend. I have the music – I have no idea if I’ll be able to get it into a format to put on the cover, but remember, there’s always:

1) Find and procure people who know stuff.

2) Think positive!

3) and make Magyc!

In the eternal words of David Essex, Michael Damian and Def Leppard, Rock on!

 

 

The Dark Secret

My sister and I were having coffee the other day, and I told her I have a blog and that I must start blogging. She informed me, very emphatically, that the first thing I have to do is an introduction, or a wildly hysterical story that will have people crying with laughter as they snort incoherently.

As I don’t have any stories that funny at the moment, I’ve opted for an intro blog.

Hello, My name is Nicole DragonBeck and I am a writer.

(…crickets chirping…)

Now that dark secret is out in the open, fresh air, we can begin a wonderfully trusting and honest relationship and it’s a pleasure to meet you.

The bio I put in my books reads as follows: Nicole Beck was born in California one snowy summer long ago, the illegitimate offspring of an elf and a troll. At a young age her powers exploded and she was banished to the wilderness of South Africa because her spells kept going inexplicably awry. There she was raised by a tribe of pygmy Dragons and had tremendous adventures, including defeating a terrible Fire-Demon that had been tormenting a sect of Dwarf priests. In gratitude they taught her the arcane magic of writing and the rest is horribly misinterpreted history. She reads as much as she writes, is obsessed with dragons and Italians, enjoys cooking, listening to music and can often be heard fiddling on a keyboard or guitar. She currently lives in Clearwater, Florida, is a member of The Ink Slingers Guild and is working on several novels, all of which have at least one mention of a dragon. She lists friends, music and life among her greatest influences.

The bio of my FB page reads: I was born on the first day of a year-long eclipse of the sun, the thirteenth child of the Prince of Elves and an enchantress. As a small child I fell into a poisoned well and was horribly transformed by the toxic sludge seething in the deep darkness. I was fished out by a band of gypsies, who promised to feed and clothe me if I cooked and cleaned for them. They taught me to ride bareback and read palms, but I royally pissed off the leader by setting his wagon on fire and he cursed me with a great imagination and an equally great inability to tell the truth…and the rest is history. 😉

Both are equally accurate. Really, I just enjoy making things up and writing them down. I like cooking and baking – I make a killer lasagne and garlic bread (I looovvveee Italian food. And Italian men.) I read when I can, try to watch enlightening, intellectual movies and am a bit of a nerd. A lot of a nerd actually, and proud of it.

I will try very hard to entertain you with tales of dragons, magic, music, adventures in the kitchen, and a variety of politically incorrect opinions that I will find a relevant reason to share.

In the immortal words of Ringo Starr, Peace and Love