A Bit of Essence – #2


Students entered into their Journey to Kokoroe Minecraft session through the hub. This amazing Asian inspired palace was where they found the links to take them to the weekly build site. The challenge for this week was to build the town of Erdo. Here is a summary of the story so far along with some terminology:

Terminology from Galenia:

Essence – this mystical substance is in all things; without it you die.

The Three Original Races:
  • Juro – this race has the ability to manipulate the Essence, they are long lived and have an average height of 3’
  • Jivan – these people are intelligent and work in all trades, are philosophers and have an average height of 5’5”
  • Jagare – these are the hunters and protectors with an average height of 6’ and have a muscular physique
The New Races: created by Mateo
  • Kameil – some were born Kameil others may have been Jivan or Jagare originally but were experimented on leaving them without any Essence and making them a sickly race
  • Yaru – born Jivan or Jagare Mateo’s treatment increased their Essence making them taller, stronger and with Ninja-like abilities
The Story:

Hanna was starting to get worried. She was enjoying her time in the small village of Kayu, but the longer she stayed the more aware she was that she was trapped on Galenia. She finally accepted the advice of the village leaders to seek out Master Juro; they insisted that if anyone had answers it would be him and he would be her best chance at finding a way back home. She tried to convince herself to just go along with it but when she realized it would be a two-week journey to Kokoroe, her travel companions had to convince her to carry on. Kazi, with his unshakable good mood and bright-side view of things, made it impossible for her to quit. He was so excited to be heading to Kokoroe to begin his training and she became more than a little curious as to what that might entail. What he revealed about Galenia fascinated her, but some things left her feeling conflicted. The treatment of the Kameil was unsettling – she felt she had a lot in common with them as she too was without Essence. Their banishment filled her with dread; she hoped she would not be condemned to the same fate. Hanna grasped the Essence gem she wore around her neck grateful to the people of Kayu for giving her the chance to survive.

Students at Gamed Academy were given this passage:

Six days after they left BaDaal they arrived at Erdo. Hanna loved the entrance to this town. The narrowed road was covered by a solid canopy of green as the trees merged together. The town itself had an interesting layout. It was made of three ring roads one inside another. Each road was packed with buildings leaving no space between them so the only way to the center of town was down the main road that cut straight through each ring. Like a bull’s-eye, a three-tiered fountain dominated the main square. Hanna wished she had more time to tour around each ring road, but they arrived late and left early, seeing only the small inn where they slept and the view from her window.

A Bit of Essence: 1


2015-11-14_12.12.07 - Copy - Copy

Journey to Kokoroe is the first book in the Essence of Galenia fantasy-adventure series.In this first entry of A Bit of Essence there is a summary of the book and then a passage to go with Minecraft builds from students at GamEd Academy. Enjoy!

Seeking out a way home, Hanna discovers a world being torn apart. Her curiosity takes her deeper into the mysteries of Galenia as she learns she possesses skills and abilities exceeding those around her. But the novelty of those skills will be put to the test as the dangers on Galenia become all too real and home becomes a dream.

Excerpt From Journey to Kokoroe Chapter 1: Cause and Concern


‘Hanna took in a deep breath. She could smell flowers and freshly cut grass. Imagining she must have fallen asleep in the woods behind her house, she was surprised when she opened her eyes and saw a peculiar ceiling above her. Often she had lain on her living room floor staring up at the ceiling, imagining shapes in the stucco. This ceiling, however, had thick wooden beams and wood slats across them. She caught movement out of the corner of her eye and turned her head.

“You are awake! Thank goodness. You must be very thirsty; lie still for a moment and I will get you
some water.”

Hanna was puzzled. She had never met this person before yet she spoke to her like a concerned parent. As she watched her pour water from a jug, Hanna tried to think where she’d seen this lady before. Her hair was curly and her face had a pinkish hue. Confused and unsure where she was, Hanna tried to think of the last thing she could remember.

She recalled having another typical day at school, of noisy hallways and bright fluorescent lights that left her with yet another migraine to end her day. Following the nauseating bus ride home, the smell of sweat mixed in with perfumes and cologne, she had escaped civilization by hiding in the woods behind her house. She gazed up at the canopy of the trees as she lay on a bed of greenery. Taking in the refreshing smell of moss and pinecones, she twirled her hair around her fingers, unconcerned of the dried leaves and twigs that became entangled in it. Her daydreams were interrupted by a cracking sound, like a person walking on branches. She jumped to her feet and glanced around; perhaps twenty feet away, she saw her. Completely taken by surprise, Hanna was more curious than worried. She had never seen anyone in the woods before; today was the first. A lady with a kind face that had a pinkish hue was meandering through the bushes.

‘That’s it!’ Hanna thought. She recalled watching the woman taking cuttings off the bushes, then pick up a basket and begin walking in the opposite direction. Aside from being in the usually vacant woods, something seemed strange about this woman, but Hanna couldn’t really explain what it was. Her clothing was simple and dated looking, and although filling a basket with plants may not have been typical it wasn’t odd enough to warrant suspicion.

Still, Hanna was unable to contain her curiosity and followed her. The woman disappeared behind a tree. Hanna quietly moved in closer. When she peered around the tree there was no sign of the lady. Hanna scampered in a little further. She wondered how she could have lost her so easily. When there was still no sign of her, Hanna’s curiosity increased. She desperately wanted to talk with her and find out who she was; when her headache’s didn’t get the best of her, she tended to be a social creature.

Hanna caught a glimpse of her, only to lose her again behind another tree. Feeling as if she was being pulled, Hanna ran calling out to get the lady’s attention and proceeded to trip on the protruding root of a rather large tree. She flew into the air and, as luck would have it, hit her head on a rock. That was the last thing she remembered.’

This passage is what the students were given for their build:Kayu1

‘Hanna was pleased to find that instead of looking out onto a concrete world, she was surrounded by wooden houses and shops, grass and trees, benches and even a large, stone fountain. It reminded her of a Christmas village she had seen in a store window one December.’

Book Reviews

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For all my devote followers out there, no I didn’t fall off the face of the Earth. So where, you might ask did Thoughts of the Season 7-12 go? Well, rest assured I had thoughts. Really great, fantastic ones. But my writing time over the rest of winter break was devoted to writing book 6. What can I say? I got hooked…sometimes when I get into writing my story I just can’t get out.

For those of you who feel cheated, let down by the missing Thoughts of the Season, I will give my bulleted short list here. Be prepared for mind blowing opinions.

Thought #7 – Board Games

One of my favorite thing to do over the holidays is get together with friends and family and game. Here’s my top choices for group games this year…okay, last year:

  1. Tribond
  2. The Game of Things
  3. Pit
  4. Ticket to Ride
  5. Rook
Thought #8 – Alone Time

Here’s my Top 5 list of my favorite things to do when I get a chance to do my own thing:

  1. Write (sitting on my couch, foot stool up, a hot cup of tea and some dark COVERchocolate…ahhh, good times.)
  2. Read (I just started Daughter of Shadow by Tyler Sehn, looking forward to really sinking my teeth in it as it were…once I can stop writing.)
  3. Warm Bubble bath (a really nice happy place to ease tired and sore muscles and relax for awhile.)
  4. Playing my drums (yep, you heard me. Crank the tunes and let me butcher the beat as I rock out.)
  5. Bingeing on Netflix (I love to spend 10 hours straight delving into story – Thank you Jessica Jones for this seasons binge.)


Thought #9 – Homemade Gifts

Every Christmas I make at least one gift. This year it was to my mom. Thanks Kelley for the inspiration. This bouquet is all paper flowers, origami style!

Thought #10 – Gifts Received

My family was very thoughtful this year from cowbells to board games. My most unique present? Scavenger lottery tickets! Santa put the first clue in my stocking and then I spent my morning searching for each clue attached with a scratch ticket. Here are 5 of my favorite locations that I found my clues:

  1. Treasure island book on my bookcase
  2. My own book – Journey to Kokoroe
  3. My jewellery box
  4. In the tree
  5. My sock drawer

Did someone say ‘More Cowbell?’ (Last one of the top 10)

Thought #11 – Best Chocolates of the Season

I love chocolate so here’s a thought dedicated to the ones I savor every year:

  1. Chocolate covered cherries
  2. After Eights
  3. Turtles
  4. Lindor Dark Chocolate
  5. Terry’s Chocolate Orange
Thought #12 – New Year’s Resolutions

How many times have you made the same resolution? I lost count…but I usually manage to stick to them for four or five months so it’s worth the thought 😉

  1. Eat less sugar (that’s a challenge…see thought #11)
  2. Build muscle (if I stock up on body building magazines, does that count?)
  3. Read one classic book  a month (this is on top of my regular reading)
  4. Finish Book 6 of the Essence of Galenia series (I’m halfway through the first draft so well on my way!)
  5. Publish Book 4 of the Essence of Galenia series  (yes I write two ahead of what I’m publishing – makes it easier to do foreshadowing and ensure continuity)

That’s it for my Thoughts of the Season, consider your mind blown!

12 Thoughts of the Season – #4

Okay, now it’s time for a little comedy. There’s no doubt about it, the holidays are stressful. Whether you’re struggling to make ends meet or have enough green to put on a lavish celebration, there is plenty of pressure to go around: the roads are crowded as traffic increases taking passengers to their holiday celebrations and shopping, accidents go up, line-ups are long, housework has quadrupled since we’ve added all the extra baking, decorating and paraphernalia into our homes. As we stand in a crowd of people caroling, we desperately try to stay on key and fake our way through the unknown lyrics of songs we’ve heard our whole lives. We try to live up to our children’s expectations of the magic and whimsy they’ve been promised and attempt to play the perfect host to all the guests we’ve invited to share in our holiday fun. And to top it all off, we insist on portraying the joy and carefree attitude we may or may not feel. Sound rather dispirited? Is there a Scrooge behind these words? Not at all! My point, if I have one, is that it is important to set aside a moment—some time in your busy, crazy schedule, to stop. Breath. And find a way to laugh. Here is one of my favorite comedy moments that puts a smile on my tired face and reminds me not to take it all too seriously.

(A Correspondence)
John Julius Norwich

25th December.
My dearest darling,
That partridge, in that lovely little pear tree! What an enchanting, romantic, poetic present! Bless you and thank you.
Your deeply loving Emily.

26th December.
Mr dearest darling Edward,
The two turtle doves arrived this morning and are cooing away in the pear tree as I write. I’m so touched and grateful.
With undying love, as always, Emily.

27th December.
My darling Edward,
You do thinks of the most original presents: whoever thought of sending anybody three French hens? Do they really come all the way from France? It’s a pity that we have no chicken coops, but I expect we’ll find some. Thank you, anyway, they’re lovely.
Your loving Emily.

28th December.
Dearest Edward,
What a surprise – four calling birds arrived this morning. They are very sweet, even if they do call rather loudly – they make telephoning impossible. But I expect they’ll calm down when they get used to their new home. Anyway, I’m very grateful – of course I am.
Love from Emily.

29th December.
Dearest Edward,
The postman has just delivered five most beautiful gold rings, one for each finger, and all fitting perfectly. A really lovely present – lovelier in a way than birds, which do take rather a lot of looking after. The four that arrived yesterday are still making a terrible row, and I’m afraid none of use got much sleep last night. Mummy says she wants us to use the rings to ‘wring’ their necks – she’s only joking, I think; though I know what she means. But I love the rings. Bless you.
Love, Emily.

30th December.
Dear Edward,
Whatever I expected to find when I opened the front door this morning, it certainly wasn’t six socking great geese laying eggs all over the doorstep. Frankly, I rather hoped you had stopped sending me birds – we have no room for them and they have already ruined the croquet lawn. I know you meant well, but – let’s call a halt, shall we?
Love, Emily.

31st December.
I thought I said no more birds; but this morning I woke up to find no less than seven swans all trying to get into our tiny goldfish pond. I’d rather not thinks what happened to the goldfish. The whole house seems to be full of birds – to say nothing of what they leave behind them. Please, please STOP.
Your Emily.

1st January.
Frankly, I think I prefer the birds. What am I to do with eight milkmaids – AND their cows? Is this some kind of a joke? If so, I’m afraid I don’t find it very amusing.

2nd January.

Look here Edward, this has gone far enough. You say you’re sending me nine ladies dancing; all I can say is that judging from the way they dance, they’re certainly not ladies. The village just isn’t accustomed to seeing a regiment of shameless hussies with nothing on but their lipstick cavorting round the green – and it’s Mummy and I who get blamed. If you value our friendship – which I do less and less – kindly stop this ridiculous behaviour at once.

3rd January.
As I write this letter, ten disgusting old men are prancing abour all over what used to be the garden – before the geese and the swans and the cows got at it; and several of them, I notice, are taking inexcusable liberties with the milkmaids. Meanwhile the neighbours are trying to have us evicted. I shall never speak to you again.

4th January.
This is the last straw. You know I detest bagpipes. The place has now become something between a menagerie and a madhouse and a man from the Council has just declared it unfit for habitation. At least Mummy has been spared this last outrage; they took her away yesterday afternoon in an ambulance. I hope you’re satisfied.

5th January.
Our client, Miss Emily Wilbraham, instructs me to inform you that with the arrival on her premises a half-past seven this morning of the entire percussion section of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and several of their friends she has no course left open to her but to seek an injunction to prevent your importuning her further. I am making arrangements for the return of much assorted livestock.

I am, Sir, Yours faithfully,

Top 5 Grammar Challenges


Grammar was never my strong area of expertise. The more I write, edit and re-write and edit some more, the better I am at polishing this skill. There are a few things that I’ve encountered that often trip me up or seem to be a bane to writers everywhere. This week’s Top 5 takes a look at the ones that I found most noteworthy.

  1. The Semicolon;

    • Between speaking with writers, reading many online discussions and my own experience, it is quiet clear that this seemingly harmless punctuation mark causes a lot of problems. Personally I love the semicolon; I like adding additional thoughts onto previous ones. The use of it can be controversial and some people find it too complex and avoid using it all together. For a great explanation on How to use a Semicolon, check out The Oatmeal.
  2. However

    • I like this word. I didn’t realize how much I liked it until I started doing a word frequency search on a rough draft of one of my manuscripts. It was used in every chapter at least once. My editor pointed out how this word can really stop the flow of a sentence or idea and I should cut back on the use of it — and this was after I already had. After huffing and puffing about the criticism, I realized she was right. Now I’m much more cautious with how I use this word. But the problems with it it don’t end there. My grammar issue with this world relates back to the dreaded semicolon. I remember distinctively being taught in school that commas surround the word ‘however’, but this is not always the case. My editor made several corrections in my work; however I was still baffled. I scrolled through other well-known novels and saw discrepancies on the punctuation around this useful word.  After researching and trying to determine who was right, I think I’ve finally figured it out. Check out this blog on Daily Writing Tips to put you in the know.
  3. Noddedcats.gif

    • It wasn’t until I started writing a novel that I realized how many times people nod when they talk or think. This reflexive head bobbing only appears as an odd obsession when you start writing out dialogue in a story. If you’re like me and picture a scene as you are writing it, you will see a bunch of nodding, but if you note it down every time your writing becomes repetitive and seems rather pedantic. I thought maybe it was just me and perhaps it spoke of an inept ability to write…then I started pouring over highly acclaimed writing. Guess what? People nodded in their books too! And now my attention has been drawn to it, I think people nod too much (in books and IRL lol). Unfortunately, there’s no quick work around to replace this word. There are other things to write instead of ‘nodded’, but I have yet to find a blog to point you to for advice…I may have to write it myself (gasp!).
  4. Accept vs Except

    • I accept that there is a very clear indication when these words are used, except I can still get them completely mixed up. After the red pen has pointed out my predictable confusion of which word to use, you’d think I would learn…alas they can still trip me up. What’s strange is that when they have been used correctly, how to use them makes perfect sense to me—of course that’s how to use that word! However, when I’m in the thick of it, the reasoning is blurred. Thank goodness I have a patient editor to help me with these things!
  5. Ellipsis vs Em Dash

    • The more I write the clearer it is to me that some things are more about personal preference than a matter of right or wrong…or at least that’s what I keep telling myself. Especially when you are writing dialogue or someone’s thoughts these useful tools can add a much needed pause or addition —interrupting when someone is speaking is another use for the em dash. The Punctuation Guide is a good resource for how to use an em dash. So why, you may ask, is this a challenge? Sometimes I like trailing thoughts when a character speaks. It’s not that they are interrupted, it’s as if they have more to say, but are holding back or expect another character to finish the thought for them.
      • “Where you going to eat that last chocolate or…”
    • The challenge comes in with putting a period after the quotation marks: “Where you going to eat that last chocolate or…”. I just don’t like the way this looks. Another option is to add a forth dot: “Where you going to eat that last chocolate or….” But this example is actually a question so perhaps there should be a ? at the end of that sentence. If this gets your head spinning you may want to refer to the The Punctuation Guide for a full explanation on how the ellipsis can be used.
Please share your own grammar challenges in the comments or add your thoughts to my Top 5!