New Rock Polishing Toys – What Do You Think?

New Rock Polishing Toys!!

Gemstones fascinate me and are key elements in The Gemstone Chronicles fantasy adventure series I wrote. I’ve been looking for cabochon equipment for a while now and I lucked up upon a vintage Highland Park A-50 and a Rock Rascal Saw. The A-50 is mounted on a rolling cabinet and the saw is firmly installed on a nice little table. Check out the pictures below!

Rock Polishing Toys

Highland Park A-50

 

Rock Polishing Toys

Rock Rascal

 

Given the equipment hadn’t operated in a while, I had a bit of work to do on the machine. First thing I did was to replace the power cord to the A-50 motor. Once I finished that little repair, the motor ran perfectly. I discovered the water pump bucket was rusted through, but that didn’t stop me. I cut a 5 gallon plastic bucket down to size and it fit like a glove inside the original bucket. The pump discharge fitting was cracked and the hose wouldn’t fit properly, so I engineered a fix and it works amazingly well!

The Rock Rascal, as you can see from the picture above, needed a new power cord, too. Luckily, I learned a bit about electrical and electronic stuff back in my Navy days, so, like the cord for the A-50, it was an easy fix. Doesn’t make me want to be an electrician again (like I was right after I left the Navy), but it’s satisfying to make it work. Once complete, I op tested it and everything ran smoothly.

Rock Polishing Toys

I think I might modify the A-50 to add more wheels, but that will be down the road. For now, I’ll pick up various grit belts to use on the expanding drums and use a 6 inch wheel I received for Christmas on the Rock Rascal. Now, I just need a water source and return for the wheel.

The equipment package included a new 6 inch diamond blade for the Rock Rascal, a dopping pot, dopping wax, and cabochon templates. I’m all set now (or will be as soon as the new belts come in)!

What do you think about my new rock polishing toys? Personally, I can’t wait to see if I can make a cab or two and do something with all the rocks I found during my gemstone hunting trips. I might even be able to polish a sapphire or ruby once I get diamond belts for the expanding drums.

Connect with me: Like my new toys? Have advice for a novice rock polisher? I appreciate any comments and emails with tips and hints. I’m on social media, too. Find me at Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, so don’t be shy! Say hello!

 

Amelia Island Book Festival – Are You Going??

Amelia Island Book Festival!

Amelia Island, Florida is a charming town just north of Jacksonville, FL and just south of the Georgia-Florida line. Why am I telling you this? Well, every year in February, the island hosts the Amelia Island Book Festival! This year’s festivities begin on February 15. They end with the Author Expo/Readers Extravaganza event on February 17. For more information of the festival, click on this link! I’ll be there with the Gemstone Chronicles series. I’ll sign books, meet lots of new friends, discover new authors, and connect with readers!

Amelia Island Book Festival GC Covers

Events:

2018 is the 17th Annual celebration. This year’s theme is An Amelia Island Encounter – Romance, Action, and Mystery. I’ll highlight a few of the events, starting with Thursday, February 15. The Kickoff Luncheon starts the Festival on the day after Valentine’s Day. New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani gives the keynote address! Author David Baldacci introduces Adriana.

Friday, February 16 has three great events. First, bestselling author Steve Berry and his wife and business partner Elizabeth conduct a Writer’s Workshop. The workshop focuses on  both the writing craft and the business of writing.

While the Berrys hold their workshop, many authors will visit the 16 area public schools and Volunteer Pre-Ks. They will present to and interact with the students. This outreach program, called Authors In Schools, promotes lifelong learning and literacy!

Friday evening is the Author Face Off Gala Dinner. Jennifer Armentrout, Lee Child, Karen Slaughter, and Sherri Rinker face-off. The event, hosted by Steve Berry, includes a silent auction and much more.

Author Expo/Readers Extravaganza:

Saturday brings the Author Expo/Readers Extravaganza. Held at Fernandina Beach Middle School, this event allows readers and authors to get to know each other and includes book signings and breakout sessions. Famed chef Jacques Pepin will be on hand to sign his cookbooks and Steve Berry, Sherri Rinker, Jennifer Armentrout, Karin Slaughter, and Lee Child all hold breakout sessions. With nearly 100 noted authors, games, arts and crafts, and food trucks, this will be a day to enjoy! I’m looking forward to the festivities!

Are you going? I’ll be in space 105, so stop by! Say hello, grab a book or 4, and pick up a gemstone! I look forward to meeting each of you. If you buy a book (mine or someone else’s) please consider leaving a review. Reviews help authors become better writers. Simple reviews are fine. Just a few words stating how you liked the book is great!

Connect with me:

Want to let me know you’ll be there? Email me at bill@williamlstuart.com or leave me a comment. I can also be found at the following socials: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Contact me and let me know if you’re going!

 

Quartz, Topaz, Emerald, and Fairy Crosses!!

Quartz, Topaz, Emerald, and Fairy Crosses!!

I went rock hunting with my brother and niece recently. We found lots of great rocks and I thought I’d share a few of them. First is a nice piece of quartz (I like to call them pencil quartz but this would be a BIG pencil!). The rusty color is internal to the rock, which is pretty cool! I think I’ll try to polish it a bit, but don’t really plan on changing it much. I like the way it looks!

Quartz

 

The second find of the day was a great piece of topaz. The topaz we find is usually clear or maybe has just a touch of blue in it. As you may have read in previous gemstone posts, topaz’s blue color can come from heat and exposure to radiation. North Georgia ‘s mountains have a lot of granite (which may contain trace radioactive elements). I think I’ll play around with a smaller piece of topaz and a butane torch to see if I can get color enhancement. If so, maybe I’ll try it on this piece. At 168.4 carats, I don’t want to damage it.

 

The last find I want to share is this great piece of moonstone (I think). I love the orange colors and I believe it will make a great cabochon. I’ll cut a slab or two off it and see if I can get it to shine. I’ll post pictures and let you know how it works out.

In addition to the ones I found, I ordered a bag of chiastolite fairy crosses and staurolite fairy crosses (these came from Fannin County Georgia). If you recall from The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian, the elf Findecano was trapped in a chiastolite fairy cross, so I had to get me at least one. And Aidan found a bunch of staurolite fairy crosses before Maggie found Findecano’s prison. Given how important fairy crosses are to the books, I just had to have some.

Quartz

The last picture I wanted to share with you is this emerald. I found this one a while back and want to take it to my friend for him to examine and cut for me. This one is about 16 carats, but it has a great green color and I hope he’ll be able to create a beautiful stone from it!

I’ll be heading out for another rock hunting excursion soon. If I find some noteworthy specimens, I’ll be sure to post pictures. In the meantime, check out the blog for other gemstone posts and subscribe so you don’t miss any updates. Connect with me on social media, too! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest! I look forward to meeting new friends!!

Beyond the Forest (Gem Powers Series Book 1) – My Review!!

Beyond the Forest – My Review!!

Forest

 

My readers know I love gemstones. I even based my books on gemstones and their magical properties. When I ran across Beyond the Forest (Gem Powers Series Book 1) by Kay L. Ling and discovered the book also focused on gemstones and magic, I had to read it. Glad I did!

Synopsis (from the author): Lana can draw arcane powers from gemstones. When she started reading the folklore, it sounded farfetched. She should have closed the books right then and walked away. Special abilities are nothing but trouble. Someone always wants you to do something impossible. Or dangerous. Usually both. Like going through a portal to save an oppressed race in another world. In this case, gnomes, whose ruler happens to be a gem master with unimaginable powers.

Lana decides an exploratory mission seems harmless. She can visit the other world and come up with a plan. Who knew there would be flying serpents, mutant insects, and goblin-like mutant gnomes? Or that she’d end up in a dungeon while the queen decides whether to kill her or turn her into an enchanted creature? The gem master hopes to rule Lana’s world next and has already put plans in motion. Lana is determined to escape from the dungeon, but then what? She has two potential allies with gem powers, and she’s afraid of both. But with two worlds in danger, and time running out, she may have to trust them.

What I liked: Beyond the Forest drew me in immediately. Lana’s interest in gemstones and the folklore surrounding them was a familiar theme for me. The way she meets the gnomes and enters their world was entertaining, and the mystery surrounding the hound was a nice twist. The creatures she meets and befriends provide a bit of comic relief, and there’s even a little romance. Add to all of that, the danger presented by the queen to both worlds and there’s something for everyone!

What I didn’t like: Despite enjoying the story, it did bog down at times. In addition, fleshing out the supporting characters would help the story.

Overall impression: Beyond the Forest (Gem Powers Series Book 1) was a fun and clean read. I identified with Lana and her love of gemstones, the quest was good, and the action entertaining.In addition, I enjoyed getting to know the rats and their antics provided comic relief. I would recommend this one to anyone who likes clean fun fantasy!

My rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 Stars)

Have you added Beyond the Forest (Gem Powers Series Book 1) to your TBR list? If not, what are you waiting for? Please take a few minutes and visit Kay L. Ling’s Amazon Author page and her website to find more of her books. Once you read the book(s), please consider leaving a review. I know Kay Ling will appreciate it!

Any thoughts on the review? If so, leave me a comment or send me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. Don’t be shy. And connect with me on the socials. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Lastly, don’t miss a post: subscribe to the blog!

 

Gemstones and Wire-Wrapping – or What I’ve I Been Up To Lately!!!

I’ve been reading, doing a little writing (revisions on The Gemstone Chronicles and a new work-in-progress) and I haven’t done a post about gemstones in quite a while. So, I wanted to share some of what I’ve been up to with my gemstone collection (which keeps growing!). Because I have so many rocks now, I decided to take up wire-wrapping. Before I get to that, though, I wanted to share pictures of a few tumbled stones that I really like. I believe three of the rocks shown below are obsidian, but the fourth one is a smoky quartz. I would love to show you the light shining through it, but the picture just wouldn’t work.

Round Tumbled Obsidian Wire

Round Tumbled Obsidian

Rectangular Tumbled Obsidian Wire

Rectangular Tumbled Obsidian

Tumbled Obsidian and Smoky Quartz Wire

Tumbled Obsidian and Smoky Quartz

In the picture above, the smoky quartz is in the upper right and looks similar to the other stones. However, when the light shines on it, you can see through the stone.

Those are just a few of the stones from my tumblers (which run 24/7). Having all these tumbled stones led me to try my hand at wire-wrapping as I mentioned above. It’s a lot more difficult than I thought it would be and I watch a lot of videos about different types of wrapping. I try to keep mine fairly simple, since I am still learning. Below are a few examples of my efforts.

Onyx Gemstones Wire

Drilled and Wrapped Onyx

Quartz Pendant Gemstones Wire

Drilled and Wrapped Pencil Quartz Pendant

The quartz stone below were drilled using my Dremel drill press stand. It did a great job and made a clean smooth hole in the center of the stone. Perfect for wire wrapping! Here is a picture of my setup

Dremel Gemstones Wire

Dremel Drill press

Drilled and Wrapped Quartz Gemstones Wire

Center Drilled and Wrapped Quartz

Aventurine Gemstones Wire

Wrapped Aventurine

I know I have a lot of work to do and much more practice to go before the techniques are learned and the results acceptable, but I’m having fun!

Because I need some thinner pieces (and you can’t count on finding those in a natural state), I’m going to start using my tile saw to slab some of my larger rocks. I’ll do a post on that soon. After cutting the slabs, I’ll use my templates to get rough shapes and then throw the stones in the tumbler to polish them and get them ready to  wire wrap. I won’t make perfect shapes, but that’s fine by me. I prefer a more organic look anyway!

So, there you have what I’ve been up to with my gemstones. Like them? Leave me a comment and let me know or drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. And, if you don’t want to miss any of my posts, consider subscribing to the blog. Lastly, if you are on the socials and want to connect, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I’m always looking to meet new friends!

 

Wire-Wrapping – My First Attempt (Not My Last)!

Readers of my books (The Gemstone Chronicles) and this blog know I love gemstones! I try to go gemstone hunting about once per month, and my two rock tumblers run continuously turning out polished stones by the 3 lbs. barrel full . In fact, I have gotten quite a nice collection of tumbled stones (as evidenced below)!

Wire-Wrapping Tumbled Stones

So, what to do with all these gorgeous stones? I pondered the question for a short time, and then decided I would try my hand at wire-wrapping them. And, since I received a Dremel and a Dremel workstation as gifts, and had a set of diamond drill to use in the tools, I could drill holes in them, too! In addition, my lovely and adorable bride (Lana) gave me the tools from her experiment in beading a few years ago, and I had everything I needed to give wire-wrapping a shot. Here is my drilling station. The plastic container holds water (keeps the rock and drill bit cool) and a piece of rubber (so I don’t drill through the plastic). Pretty cool!

Wire-Wrapping Dremel Workstation

How did my experiment work? Well, I drilled holes in an amethyst and a piece of jasper I had tumbled and decided to give the jasper a try. Below is what the jasper looked liked after drilling.

Wire-wrapping Jasper

 

Now for the drilled and wrapped piece!

Wire-wrapping wrapped jasper

I like the way it turned out and I think it will make a great pendant. I still have to do the amethyst and drill more stones, but I think this will be a great way to use the tumbled stones I keep producing. Who knows? Maybe I’ll open an Etsy store in the future!

That’s my first wire-wrapping effort. I know it isn’t great, but I will keep practicing until I get better. What do you think? Is this a good use for my tumbled stones? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Do you wire-wrap? Any tricks or tips you want to share? You can let me know in a comment, email me at bill@williamlstuart.com or connect with me on the socials and tell me there. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, so  look me up and say hi! I can use all the wire-wrapping help I can get!

Tektite – Glass Rock or Telepathy Stone? You Decide!

In The Gemstone Chronicles Book Two: The Amethyst, Nana and Beebop buy a tektite necklace from an antique dealer. The necklace, as it turns out, has telepathic powers. I won’t tell you more, as it would spoil the story! Nonetheless, I’ll tell you more about tektite!

Tektite, for lack of a better description, is a glass rock. Similar to obsidian, tektite is mostly silicon. However, tektites are the result of meteorite impacts. Yes, that’s right, tektites are glass rocks formed when meteorites impacted the earth, sent molten particles into the air, and which fell back to earth in the strewnfields. Since tektites formed from the impacts, they have different characteristics compared to obsidian. Additionally, tektites might just have a little bit of cosmic matter in them! How cool is that?

Where can we find tektites? Across the globe, a few locations yield the majority of tektite finds. One of those locations, called strewnfields, is in Georgia! The Georgia tektites are known as Georgiaites and, just like the stone in The Amethyst, are green. Other strewnfields are in Texas, Autraliasia, the Ivory Coast of Africa, and Europe. Tektites from the different strewnfields have different characteristics which I will discuss next.

I’ll start with Georgiaites. Found principally in Dodge and Bleckley counties in Middle Georgia, Georgiaites are olive green and generally tear drop shaped. Below is a picture of a Georgiaite (Photo by Sean Murray, courtesy of FallingRocks.com). Beautiful and extremely rare, Georgiaites are 35 million years old!

Georgiaite Tektite

 

Moldavites are green, too, though a different shade than Georgiaites. Moldavites are typically found in Czech Republic in Bohemia (no singing of Bohemian Rhapsody, please). The stones are about 15 million years old. The museum quality pieces are gorgeous and often used in jewelry. Here is an example of a museum quality Moldavite. I particularly like the flaky appearance!

Tektite Moldavite

Moldavite

Australites spread across Australia and Southeast Asia. By far the most common variety, Australites are dark, usually black. Found across most of the southern half of Australia, these tektites have a unique disk or bowl shape. NASA (according to Wikipedia) used the shape of these tektites when designing the re-entry modules for the Apollo Space Program!

Tektite Australite

Australite

Due to the size of the impact, part of the same strewnfield reaches into Southeast Asia. The tektites found here – called Indochinites – are black like the Australites. Both Australites and Indochinites are much younger than Moldavites or Georgiaites, dating to about 790,000 years old. Here is an Indochinite.

Tektite indochinite

Indochinite

Lastly, we talk about Ivorite. Found along the Ivory Coast on the Western Cost of Africa, these stones are only about 1.3 million years old. Because of the unstable political climate in the area, I couldn’t find a picture of an Ivorite to include in this post. As a result of the instability, few have been excavated. The found Ivorites resemble Indochinites.

In The Amethyst, the tektite was from the Georgia strewnfield. According to HealingCrystals.com, tektite encourages telepathy and helps with lucid dreaming and astral travel. Sounds a lot like what Nana and Laura experienced, but you’ll have to read the book to find out more!

Obviously, I took some license with the properties of all the gemstones in The Gemstone Chronicles series, but I enjoyed learning about the magical and mystical properties the stones possess. And tektite was a great addition to the collection!

What is your favorite gemstone (or gemstone power) from the series? Aidan’s double-terminated quartz is my favorite. Laura’s invisibility power is the best power, too! What about your favorite? Leave me a comment and let me know! I look forward to it!

Connect with me:

If you want to connect on the socials, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, and Tumblr. You can drop me an email, too, at bill@williamlstuart.com or subscribe to the blog (so you don’t miss a post)!

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy 2016!!

Happy Holidays! I was in my living room last night, helping Aidan and Maggie (yep, the same two whose namesakes grace the pages of The Gemstone Chronicles series) decorate their Christmas tree (we have 2 – one that is the front window of our house where we place most of the presents and a second one we call the kid’s tree). We put many of our favorite ornaments on the kid’s tree, and it always spurs moments of recollection of when we got the ornaments, why they are special, and then we have to find just the right spot for the ornament to hang. It made me want to share some of our holidays with you, my readers and friends! Without further ado, then, here are some holiday images to share!

First, here is our house, well-lit for Christmas! This year, our relatively new boxwood shrubs are finally large enough to light.

Happy Holidays 2015-Christmas-Lights-Web

I really like our front door, too. Our snowman with his red hat and scarf are a great addition to the decorations!

Happy Holidays Christmas-2015-Front-Door

 

As I mentioned above, we have 2 trees. This is the tree at the front of the that house shines with the rest of the lighted decor to lend our house a festive glow!

Happy Holidays Christmas-2015-Tree

The kid’s tree is beautifully decorated, too. Some of my favorite decorations on this tree are the Noah’s Ark ornaments.

Happy Holidays 2015-Kid's-Tree-Web

Here are my favorite Noah’s Ark ornaments!

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-1

 

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-2

 

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-3

To go along with the season, I want to thank all of you readers out there for visiting my blog, leaving me comments, and reading and reviewing my books. You have no idea how much your comments, connections, and feedback mean to me. Thank you all!!

Connect with me:

If you want to connect with me, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, and Tumblr. You can always just drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com, too!

Have yourselves a safe and happy holidays and best wishes for a fantastic 2016!

Merry Christmas!!

 

 

 

Gemstones Again!! Faceted Emerald, Quartz, and Citrine!

Gemstones again! I haven’t done a gemstone post in a while (partially because I haven’t been gemstone hunting due to other commitments – like marketing The Gemstone Chronicles), but I now have some very cool stones to showcase! Before I get to the final versions of the gemstones, though, I wanted to show you what the stones looked like when I found them.

The first stone is an emerald. I sent this one over to my gem cutter friend because it had a great green color when illuminated by a strong light. And, the natural shape was pretty cool!

Gemstones Again Emerald

I know the picture doesn’t show the green color. It was difficult to capture…

The second stone I want to show you is a quartz crystal. I found this one and it was extremely clear. Now, I believe the stone is beautiful in its natural state. What do you think?

 

Gemstones Again Quartz

The final stone is a citrine. For those not familiar with citrines, they are the same stone as an amethyst, but with different impurities to give them a yellowish-orange color.

How did the gemstones turn out? I think they are amazing! Here is the finished emerald. While not as green as Lana’s emerald from posts past, or what I envision the Emerald from the Elven Bow in Book Three: The Emerald, it is a great stone!

Gemstones Again Emerald-Cut-Emerald-6.5-Carats-Web

If you recall from my Rubies and Diamonds post, I asked my gem cutter friend Gene to facet two round brilliant cut quartz stones. They are 1.25 carats each. Here is a picture of them!

Gemstones Again Faceted Gemstones Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

 

To match these, I asked Gene to cut the quartz rough above in a brilliant cut, as well. I think he did a fantastic job! I can see this as a pendant or perhaps a really big ring!

Gemstones Again Round-Brilliant-3-Carats-Web

 

The last stone is the citrine. I have a bunch of citrines, but they are usually so fractured inside that they aren’t really suitable for faceting. The stone above seemed very clear and, as it turned out, it was!

Gemstones Again Citrine-Princess-Cut-1.7-Carats-Web

Apologizes again for the pictures as they really don’t show the beauty of the stones, but, as you can see, this Princess Cut weighed in at 1.7 carats and is a great yellow color!

I have to go through the stones I found this past weekend and see if I can find a few more to send to Gene! I also plan to start creating cabochons after the holidays, so stayed as I post progress on them!

What do you think of the finished stones? How do you think they should be mounted? Gold or Silver settings? Pendants or rings? Let me know how you would mount them?

Connect with me:

You can connect with me on social media, too, and let me know what your thoughts about the stones are. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, or just send me an email to bill@williamlstuart.com!

Happy Holidays!!

Christmas Offers from The Gemstone Chronicles!!!

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year (and I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was as amazing as mine was), the focus shifts to Christmas and gift giving. In the spirit of the season, The Gemstone Chronicles is proud to announce two Christmas offers!

Offer Number One (for US only): If you want to order a set of all four of The Gemstone Chronicles books in paperback (and autographed by me), the special price through December 15th is $45. You can also order individual copies of each book for $14 each.

 

  • Buy autographed copies of The Gemstone Chronicles for $14 each (and I will pay shipping and handling)!
  • Buy the entire 4 book series for $45 (which is $11 off the cost of buying the books separately – and I will cover shipping and handling)!

 

Just send me the ship-to address, who you would like the books dedicated to, and they will be on the way! Send the information to bill@williamlstuart.com. I will email you to let you know when the books ship (and I promise I won’t spam you or share your email address).

Offer Number Two: I decided to make the entire series, in ebook formats, $0.99 for the month of December. Not just the first book, The Carnelian, but also The Amethyst, The Emerald, and The Ruby. Perfect way to load up a new Kindle, iPad, or Nook for Christmas! And for less than $4! That is a hard deal to beat! And this one applies to my international friends, too, so check your country’s Amazon site, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords, or other sites for the reduced price!

Christmas Offers The Gemstone Chronicles series

Take advantage of these two special Christmas offers and find out why Book One: The Carnelian was awarded a BRAG Medallion! And, if you are so inclined, consider leaving a review. I would love to know what you think of the series!

Christmas Offers THE-GEMSTONE-CHRONICLES-BRAG-for-Web 1

Connect with me:

As always, you can connect with me on social media on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, or just email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. I look forward to meeting new friends!

I also want to thank all of my new readers and readers from years past. Your comments, reviews, and feedback have made me a better writer, and will be instrumental in making my next book better by far! So, thank you!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!!