The Augusta Literary Festival – Postscript!!

On March 7, 2015, I had the privilege to attend the 4th Annual Augusta Literary Festival in Augusta, Georgia. Before I talk about the Festival, I want to talk about Augusta itself. According to Wikipedia, Augusta is the second oldest city in Georgia (only Savannah is older) and was established at the direction of James Oglethorpe, the founder of the British colony Georgia. Oglethorpe sent troops to build at the head of the navigable section of the Savannah River and named to town Augusta (after the wife of the Frederick, Prince of Wales).

Other interesting facts about Augusta:

  • Augusta served as the capital of Georgia twice during the American Revolution
  • Prior to the Civil War, Augusta was a leader in the production of textiles, gunpowder, and paper
  • in 1845, Augusta was the site of the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention
  • Augusta is the home of the Medical College of Georgia
  • Georgia Pacific was founded in Augusta
  • James Brown (the Godfather of Soul) grew up in Augusta in the 1930’s and 40’s
  • The Savannah River Site is located near Augusta (and is the source for tritium for nuclear weapons)
  • EZ – Go and Club Car (the world’s largest golf cart manufacturers) are located in Augusta
  • The Masters Golf Tournament held annually at Augusta National Golf Club

There you have a quick list of facts about Augusta. Interesting place and one I am going to have to take some time to learn more about. But, now on to the Augusta Literary Festival and my experiences there!

We (the lovely and adorable Lana accompanied me – see the picture below), arrived Friday afternoon for the Festival. We wanted to attend the Author’s Reception at the Library and see who won the Yerby Award (Amanda Kyle Williams won for her book Don’t Talk to Strangers) and be ready for Saturday’s events!

Augusta Literary Festival Lana and Bill

The event started at 10 am and there were visitors aplenty! One of the giveaways we did was to include a tumbled and polished gemstone with each book purchased. For Book One: The Carnelian, we gave away carnelians and for Book Two: The Amethyst, we gave away amethysts. Not a bad bonus for buying a book!

Augusta Literary Festival Carnelians

Carnelians

 

Augusta Literary Festival Amethysts

Amethysts

 

I also had the chance to participate as a panelist for a discussion about self publishing. My fellow panelists were Alicia Michaels, a writer of fantasy, and Hasheem Francis, a bestselling author and businessman. We spoke about the self publishing process and our own lessons learned during our independent author journey. About 40 people attended our session, so I hope we gave some useful advice! Who knows, we might have spoken to a future Yerby Award winner!

By the end of the day, we sold some books, met some really great people and some outstanding authors, and generally had a wonderful experience. I’ll Look for my invitation to next year’s Augusta Literary Festival!

Did you attend the Augusta Literary Festival? What about book festivals in your area (if you don’t live in or near Augusta)? Do you enjoy interacting with the authors and finding new books? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Connect with me:

If you want to connect with me, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or just drop me a line at bill@williamlstuart.com! Stop by and say hi!

Faceted Gemstones – Newest Additions!!

Regular readers of my blog (or my books) know that I’m a big fan of gemstones. I love faceted gemstones, cabochons, and tumbled stones. My books, The Gemstone Chronicles series, use the magical and mystical properties of gemstones as the basis of the magic the characters discover. I frequently go gemstone hunting at my favorite spot in the North Georgia Mountains, Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’, in Cleveland, GA. My two rock tumblers run almost all of the time, smoothing out the rough edges and polishing the stones I’ve found to a brilliant luster. Occasionally, though, I find a special stone that can be cut and faceted. Shown below is the first stone I ever had cut (an emerald)!

 

Faceted Gemstones Lana's emerald

Lana’s emerald

 

A 2.25 carat stone, it appraised nicely, and is still loose. Lana hasn’t decided on a setting yet. The stone is gorgeous, and since it was my first find, it is extra special!

My brother John found the peridot shown in the photo below. I had it cut for Lana. It weighed in at about 2.5 carats and I had it set in a sterling silver ring for her birthday. Beautiful!!

 

Faceted Gemstones

Lana’s peridot ring

 

Now, I have two new additions to the faceted gemstones family! I was hunting and found this rough ruby and sent it over to my faceting friend and he worked his magic. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the rough.

After cutting and polishing, here is the final faceted stone. Not huge by any means, but still weighing in at 1.3 carats, it is a great little stone!

 

Faceted Gemstones Ruby

Faceted Ruby

 

Note the description in the picture says sapphire, which is true. Recall that red sapphires are rubies! Gene cut the stone in a Cushion Cut, and it turned out beautifully!

I also sent over a piece of clear quartz that was stunning as a rough piece. Gene cut me two round brilliant cut stones about 1.25 carats each. I wanted to see how the quartz would turn out in a traditional diamond cut. I think they turned out great! What do you think?

 

Faceted Gemstones Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

 

What do you think about my faceted gemstones! I have some garnets that might facet well, but I have to get them cleaned up and see what they look like. A nice sapphire (blue not red) or a piece of aquamarine to have cut might be nice, but no such luck yet. I guess I just have to keep on looking!

Which of my faceted gemstones is your favorite? What setting would you use for the emerald or the ruby? Do you think the quartz brilliant cuts look like diamonds? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Connect with me:

If you want to connect with me, find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +. You can always email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. I look forward to meeting new friends! And, don’t miss a post. Subscribe to the blog!

 

Reactor Shutdown – Recruiting Duty (My Navy Career Ends)

In two previous posts, I chronicled my path from boot camp through Navy Nuclear Power School, and then from graduation from prototype to my time spent aboard USS Sandlance (SSN660). Today’s post will be the final installment of this series and will follow my path from Sandlance to recruiting duty and the end of my Navy career. This is my picture from my first day on recruiting duty at NRD Atlanta!

Recruiting Duty September 1989

Recruiting Duty NRD Atlanta

Why go to recruiting duty after spending 6 years going through nuclear power training and qualifying aboard a submarine? It was a little strange, I guess, but I had been aboard Sandlance from October 1985 – August 1989. In May 1988, Sandlance went into the shipyards in Portsmouth, NH, leaving Charleston, SC. I got married to the lovely and adorable Lana in July 1988 and moved her and my daughter Laura to Dover, NH. We spent a year there, but it was time to move on to something else. Lana and I wanted to head back to the warmer world of the South, and recruiting duty seemed like a good fit. I requested the transfer and it was granted! Below is my recommendation from my CO.

Recruiting Duty Recommendation

 

The first part of recruiting duty consisted off 5 weeks of training in Orlando. The coursework was not difficult – especially compared to the previous regimen I experienced in Orlando, but it was challenging in its own way. One of the more awkward training sequences was making cold calls. Anyone who has been in most any kind of sales knows about cold calling. Basically, you have a list of phone numbers and a script and you call someone at random and try to convince them to buy your product. Memorizing the script was pretty easy, but trying to stay on script with people who didn’t want to talk to you was difficult. It did help to develop a thick skin, which was a necessary trait for a recruiter, and one that I still use today in my role as a global supply chain manager.

The 5 weeks flew by and I graduated and was selected as “Most Likely To Succeed” by my classmates. I was surprised and humbled by the honor! Here is my award!

Recruiting Duty Most Likely to Succeed

 

My duty station was Naval Recruiting District Atlanta and my office the Naval Recruiting Station Americus. For those who don’t know where Americus is, it is in South Georgia about 30 miles from Albany and about 10 miles from Plains, GA (home of former President Jimmy Carter). If you have ever gone down I 75 and turned at exit 101 in Cordele, you were at the eastern edge of my recruiting territory. The western edge was at the Alabama line in Stewart County. I had 9 high schools to visit monthly, so I logged a huge amount of windshield time!! One thing about recruiting duty is the awards you get. The recruiting world is very keen on recognition! I added a few pictures of awards I received further down in the post and pictures of my recruiting badge (rookie cookie and with gold star) and business card.

Recruiting Duty Rookie Cookie

Recruiting Badge Rookie Cookie

 

Recruiting Duty Gold Wreath

Recruiting badge with 6 gold wreaths

 

Reccruiting Duty Business Card

Interestingly enough, recruiting duty helped me decide on my college major. Georgia Southwestern State University is located in Americus, and happened to be right on my way home. It seemed only natural to  go to school there and, given that recruiting is part of the Human Resources function in most places, HR Management became my major. That is probably about as diametrically opposite to nuclear power as one can get!

What did I do while on recruiting duty? Besides logging the windshield time, I did my high school visits, and made the required cold calls> I filled out tons of paperwork and ran waivers on kids that needed them. Mostly, I tried to present an accurate picture of what the Navy was all about. I know the reputation that recruiters have for telling potential recruits whatever was necessary to get them to sign on the dotted line, but I didn’t do that (as every recruiter in the world will tell you). Seriously, I didn’t! Over the 3 and a half years of recruiting duty, of all the people I sent to boot camp and only 2 of them didn’t make it through. One broke an ankle and the other caught pneumonia. Of all of the kids I recruited only 3 didn’t go to boot camp, so I had a pretty good track record. Below is one of my Delayed Entry Program (DEP) Management Awards.

Recruiting Duty DEP Mgt Award

DEP Management Award

 

 

For you submarine sailors out there, you know the cup, but we had a couple of cups, too!

Recruiting Duty Cup 1

 

I have to recount one story, though. During a visit to one of my favorite high schools, I set up my table at lunch to talk to kids while they were in the cafeteria. Across from me was a Marine Gunny Sergeant, all decked out in his dress blues. I was wearing my normal winter blues, so I was definitely out dressed.

Anyway, this kid asked the gunny what all his ribbons meant and all was fine until the gunny pointed to his sea service ribbon (with 3 stars) and told the kid it was some kind of Marine Corps ribbon. I couldn’t take it and told the gunny to tell the kid the truth. The gunny gave me a cold stare, but the kid noticed that I had the ribbon, too (with no stars). He asked me what it was and I told him. The kid got mad because the Marine was lying to him. The Marine was mad at me because he thought he lost a recruit, and I just smiled! I think the kid eventually went into the Air Force.

That was the way I conducted my time as a recruiter. I would tell the kids that, based on their ASVAB scores, they qualified for certain jobs, although I couldn’t guarantee that job. I drove most of them to Atlanta, and waited while they went through physicals and job classification. Afterwards, I drove them home, encouraged them to tell their friends about me and the Navy, and monitored them until they departed for boot camp. Many of my recruits came back to work for me for a week after boot camp and enthusiastically spoke to former classmates and friends about their Navy experiences.

While on recruiting duty, I finished my degree (which the Navy mostly paid for), and was a walking poster child for getting an education while serving on active duty. Since school was on the way home, I often wore my uniform to class. That generated a lot of leads and conversations – especially when people found out that I served aboard submarines! I did nuclear power lectures for math and science classes. Once I had to speak extemporaneously for an hour during a school club day! Like I said, while not as academically challenging as nuke school, recruiting duty taught me a lot. I still use the presentation skills in my job today.

I wanted to go back to sea after recruiting duty and planned to go to King’s Bay, GA on a missile boat. However, when I called my detailer, he told me I could go to Bremerton, WA or Pearl Harbor, HI. I told him that he forgot option 3….see ya! I had recently graduated with my degree in HR. My wife was in graduate school and my daughter a junior in high school. Uprooting them was out of the question. August 23, 1993,  a little over 10 years from my date of enlistment, I left the Navy with an honorable discharge. I headed out into the civilian world, my Navy career at an end.

I never worked in HR after I got my degree. I’ve spent most of my post-Navy career working in the human and animal pharmaceutical business in supply chain. I went on to complete a master’s degree in Management and have had a great life. I’m happily married to my amazing wife, Lana. I have an amazing daughter, and two incredible grandchildren. I’ve written four books (The Gemstone Chronicles series), about to start my fifth book, learned to hunt for gemstones, prospect for gold, and generally enjoy life! I do occasionally wonder what would have happened had I stayed in the Navy. If I had, I probably would have applied for OCS, and who knows where that may have led? I miss the guys from the boat (not the boat so much), and stay connected with quite a few of them. All told, my Navy career was a formative time and one that remains firmly entrenched in everything I do!

Did any of you readers spend time as a recruiter? If so, leave me a comment and let me know how your experience was. If you served in any branch of military, did your recruiter tell you the truth? Did you know what to expect when you enlisted? I’m always interested to hear stories about recruiting duty or tales of the wrong and right actions of recruiters.

Connect with me:

Feedback, follows, and shares are always welcome on the blog. If you want to connect with me, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+! I look forward to meeting new friends and reconnecting with old friends! And, if you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe to the blog!

 

Pirate Treasure!!!! (and a visit to Saint Augustine)

Avast ye maties! There be pirate treasure in Saint Augustine, Florida!! And here is a picture of a real Jolly Roger!!

Real Pirate Flag Pirate Treasure!!

 

I’m talking about the Pirate Museum in Saint Augustine, Florida and I took a few days off, loaded up the lovely and adorable Nana and the grandchildren (the real Aidan and Maggie who were the inspiration for their namesakes in The Gemstone Chronicles), and visited the oldest continually occupied city in the United States. We saw the Fountain of Youth (and took a really big drink), the original Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, and many other sites (posts on those sites to follow later).

What did we find at the Pirate Museum? The flag picture above for one thing. It’s one of only three real Jolly Rogers in existence. We also found out about many different pirates like Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Calico Jack Rackham (and his two female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read), and Black Bart Roberts.

Many of the pirates had a code of conduct that forbade gambling, fighting aboard ship (with others of the crew), women aboard ship, requiring each sailor to ensure his cutlass, piece, and pistols cleaned and ready to use at any time, and other rules. Some of the penalties for violation of the rules were death or marooning. Pirates were a tough bunch!

But, we went to see pirate treasure and we found treasure aplenty! Take a look at some of what we saw!!

Pirate Treasure - Plates

These are dishes from around 1692. They are in amazing shape!

Boarding Axe Pirate Treasure

The above picture is a boarding axe! Can you imagine a screaming pirate clambering over the gunwales of your ship wielding one of these??

Pistols Pirate Treasure

Elegant but deadly, these pistols would have been kept cleaned and ready to use.

One of the coolest displays are some of the treasures from the Atocha, a Spanish ship that sank off the Florida coast in 1622. Imagine finding a silver bar like this one!

Atocha Silver Bar Pirate Treasure

There were about 1000 of these bars listed on the manifest of the Atocha. They were part of the treasure valued at $450 million!

 

Atocha Treasures Pirate Treasure

Here is a tiny fraction of some of the artifacts that were found from the Atocha. Although it is hard to see in the picture, there is a silver mermaid in the lower left hand corner. It is a beautiful piece of work!

Gold ingot Pirate Treasure

Yes, that is a gold bar from the Atocha! There were 125 of these bars on the ship. What a tremendous feeling it must have been to uncover these!!

Now, to be fair, the pirates didn’t attack Atocha. She wrecked during a storm near Key West. It’s still a very cool addition to the Pirate Museum! If you want to know more about the Atocha and the tragic story behind the search, visit Mel Fisher’s website!

This was my first visit to Saint Augustine and I was very impressed with the history of the area. If you want to visit history, great beaches (remember to read The Gemstone Chronicles while you are soaking up the sun), and maybe find a pirate treasure, try the Saint Augustine area!!

If you’ve visited Saint Augustine, let me a comment and let me know how you liked it. Let us know what your favorite attraction was and what you wished you had seen. And, if you happen to be reading The Gemstone Chronicles, send me a picture of you reading it!!

Connect with me:

If you use social media, let’s connect. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. Find me and say hi!

 

Back in the Creek!! Gemstone Hunting June 29, 2014

I finally got back in the creek and went gemstone hunting today! I recently visited the Hogg Mountain Mine in LaGrange, GA and had a great time, but I truly enjoy putting my camp chair in the creek, and sifting through trays of dirt!

For those who don’t know, our favorite gem hunting spot is in Cleveland, GA, at Gold ‘n Gems Grubbin’. Besides being a fun place to hunt for gemstones at the creek, this was also the place that led me to write The Gemstone Chronicles.

Today, though, it was just brother John and me and we had a great time and had a pretty good haul of gemstones.

Total haul from Back in the Creek!

I know you can’t see the details in the picture above, so I will tell you that there are citrine, quartz crystal, hematite, garnets, emeralds, topaz, a couple of sapphires, one ruby, and one really purple amethyst! I have some better pictures of some of the stones.

Citrines from Back in the Creek!

Citrines from the trip! I wish I could have gotten a closer picture to show the points on the stones, but they were very well defined.

Garnets and topaz from Back in the Creek!

In this picture, there are a few garnets (note the deep red on the tip of one of the garnets), a couple of topaz, and a small emerald.

Clear quartz crystal from Back in the Creek

I think this is one of the best finds of the day! It is a clear quartz crystal that has a few surface flaws, but the interior looks pretty clean. I might have to take this one to my friend who cuts facets for me and let him see what he can do with it. Maybe Lana gets a new pair of earrings!! Below is another picture of the same crystal.

Second view of the clear quartz crystal from Back in the Creek

Lastly, I have a picture of a deep purple amethyst. This was the only deep colored amethyst I found. I found another one, but it was very pale, more of a blush of amethyst than the deep purple that I like, so I didn’t include a photo of that stone.

Amethyst from Back in the CreekSo that’s it. The results of four hours of sifting through tray after tray of dirt in the creek. Pretty good day to be back in the creek!!

Have you done any collecting recently? Antiques, stamps, coins, or anything other collectible (like maybe the four books of The Gemstone Chronicles)? If you have, please leave me a comment and let me know what treasure you found! I’d like to see it!

 

 

MOONSTONE – AND I’M INVISIBLE!?!?!?!

In The Gemstone Chronicles Book Two: The Amethyst, Aidan and Maggie’s mother, Laura joins them for the return to Celahir. Keeper presents Laura with a gift of moonstone – the ancient birthstone for June. Among moonstone’s many magical properties is one that Laura and her friends and family found lifesaving – invisibility!!

Before we talk about the invisibility, let’s explore what moonstone is. According to our oft-cited friends at Wikipedia, there are two varieties. The first and most common is the adularia. The second type is a feldspar with a pearly and opalescent luster.

Because two feldspar species compose moonstone, the stone forms in layers. This makes the stone a great candidate for cabochons and for tumbling. Below is a picture of moonstone rough that I found during one of my many trips to Gold ‘n Gems Grubbin’. You can clearly see the layers of the stone.

Moonstone rough

Here is a great picture of tumbled stone. Again, you can clearly see the layers within the stones.

Tumbled moonstone

Moonstone also makes gorgeous jewelry! I added a couple of pictures of cabochons. the first is from Africa and has an amazing color.

African Moonstone

The last photo is of a cabochon ring. I think it’s beautiful!

Moonstone ring

I know you must be wondering where the invisibility comes into the picture. Moonstone has many properties associated with it. The Romans believed that the stone was made from solidified rays of the moon. The stone was believed to keep travelers safe, provide protection to swimmers, and make the wearer invisible!

In The Amethyst, thugs attack Laura and our intrepid group of adventurers on a pier. As the attack commenced, Laura wished for her group to just disappear – and they did! She drew upon the power of the moonstone and poof – invisibility! This turned the tide of the battle and they escaped to face Brendon the Giant!

Moonstone played a small but crucial part in The Gemstone Chronicles! Beautiful, lustrous, and full of legendary magical properties, it’s a favorite stone of mine and one that will be in tumbler soon. And who know, maybe I can turn invisible, too!

Do you think that gemstones have magical properties? Do you use moonstone for protection while traveling? What about other gemstones? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Connect with me:

Connect with me on social media, too! I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. You can also email me at bill@williamlstuart.com or subscribe to the blog!

 

 

 

The Diamond – Power Stone of The Gemstone Chronicles

Diamonds!

When you think of diamonds, what is your first thought? Beautiful, sparkling, stones set in wedding rings? Glittering crown jewels from around the world? The Hope Diamond?A massive stone that channels power from other gemstones to maintain the balance between good and evil and the powers the barrier between Celahir and the human world? I think of the last (after the one in Lana’s wedding ring)!! Yes, I think of The Diamond – the Power Stone of The Gemstone Chronicles!!

In the books, The Diamond is a very large flawless stone. In reality, diamonds are not usually large like the one I envisioned for the power stone, but there certainly have been some huge stones found. The largest faceted diamond (545.67 carats) is called The Golden Jubilee, which was presented to the King of Thailand for his Golden Jubilee – the 50th anniversary of his coronation! See how beautiful it is!

Golden Jubilee Diamond

Wikipedia tells us that the largest gem quality stone ever found is the Cullinan Diamond. The Cullinan stone weighed in at a whopping 3106.75 carats (1.37 pounds!). It was cut into 9 major stones (and 96 smaller stones), the largest of which is Cullinan I or The Star of Africa. Cullinan I was the largest faceted diamond until the discovery of the Golden Jubilee. Weighing in at a hefty 530.4 carats, it is part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Below is a picture of this incredible stone set in the Sceptre with the Cross!!

Cullinan 1 Diamond

The Diamond in The Gemstone Chronicles:

In Book Four: The Ruby, The Spider Queen has delved deep into the bowels of Celahir and found a black twin of The Diamond that controls the barrier. As I researched diamonds for this post, I found that one of the largest faceted stones is a black diamond! The Spirit of de Grisogono, weighing in at 312.24 carats,is a beautiful stone. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any pictures that I could use here, but do a quick search for it. Its beauty is stunning!

One of the things I want to do soon is visit Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. As you might have seen on the news recently, a visitor found a 6.19 carat stone. Since I love to hunt for gemstones, this sounds like an ideal weekend trip for me! I am mentally planning the road trip even as I work on this post.

The reason I chose diamond to be the power stone of The Gemstone Chronicles is due to its reputation as the strongest and most powerful of gemstones. The Ancient Greeks called it “adamas” meaning invincible or indestructible. Those properties made it the ideal stone to channel the powers from the Elven Bow and the Elven Sword!

What is your favorite diamond? The Hope Diamond? One of the stones mentioned in the article? Or maybe, the diamond in your wedding ring?? Leave me a comment and let me know!

 

 

Bloodstone – The Great Healing Stone!!

In the middle grades/young adult fantasy adventure series The Gemstone Chronicles, one of the most important stones is the bloodstone. The stone isn’t one of the gemstones from the Elven Bow or the Elven Sword, but it gets used often. Why, you might ask? Well, the bloodstone is a healing stone and, as readers know, the heroes of the stories need a lot of healing!!

What is a bloodstone? According to Wikipedia, heliotrope is the more common name for the stone. Bloodstone is a form of chalcedony (which is a form of quartz). The most common version is green with red inclusions of iron oxide or red jasper. A stone with yellow inclusions is called plasma. Below is the “classic” bloodstone with the red inclusions.

Bloodstone

Throughout history, many believed bloodstones had magical properties. Chief among those beliefs was the ability to heal a bleeding wound simply by touching the injury. In The Gemstone Chronicles, Nana learned to use the gemstone from the elf Alatariel. She healed Beebop’s ankle when Aidan injured him while playing with levitation. Beebop was also able to use the stone quite well as the bloodstone (along with the aquamarine) is the traditional March birthstone. in the books, simply touching the injury didn’t heal it, but they had to draw power from the stone to use it. Although it wasn’t part of the books, another very common belief is that the bloodstone could defeat enemies magically.

I discovered that bloodstone is also known the “Martyr’s Stone.” Legend says that drops of Jesus’ blood fell during the crucifixion. The blood stained jasper at the foot of the cross, and imbued it with magical powers. Many scenes of martyrdom were carved from the stone because of that legend.

I loved using the bloodstone in the books. A beautiful, glossy, and magical stone, it ranks right up there as one of my favorite gems. It can be awesome as a faceted stone, a cabochon, and a tumbled gem. Now, if I can just find one…

Do you have bloodstone jewelry? If so, leave me a comment and let me know about it. If not, what are you waiting for?

Connect with me:

If you use social media, find me on Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads and let’s connect. I enjoy meeting new friends! We can discuss, book, reviews, bloodstones, or just about anything else!

 

Pinball Wizard – another of Beebop’s Toys!!

Pinball Wizard!

My readers know that Beebop is the grandfather of Aidan and Maggie in the Adult fantasy adventure series The Gemstone Chronicles. We find out that Beebop has a lot of really cool toys in the books. His favorite is his 1973 red Corvette convertible (called the mid-life crisis by his lovely and adorable wife Nana), jet skis, a ski boat, four-wheelers, and a utility vehicle to ride the 50 acres of his north Georgia mountain home. Inside his home, Beebop has his man cave complete with more toys! Here is his favorite indoor toy: a Bally Pinball Wizard pinball machine!

 

Bally Pinball Wizard Pinball Machine

 

My misspent youth!

In The Gemstone Chronicles books, I wanted Beebop to have hobbies and toys, so I used a little bit of my own experiences to provide them. Back in the day, in the little south Georgia town where I grew up, we used to go to a local skating rink and play this machine all night! Games only cost a quarter. My buddies and I got good enough that we could play the entire night on a dollar. In fact, we would tire of playing and give away free games. We’d drop a few coins in the jukebox (no iTunes or Pandora in those days), listen to Sweet’s Fox on the Run, David Bowie’s Fame, or KC and The Sunshine Band’s Get Down Tonight (yep, it was the Disco Era), and start playing! In a way, we were pinball wizards, too!

Good times, they were! It seemed fitting that Beebop would remember those days and include a reminder of the halcyon days of youth! Plus, he could pass along some of his memories to his grandchildren Aidan and Maggie.

I hope that this little trip into the past will jog your own memories and the good times you had just being a teenager! Were you a Pinball Wizard? I would love to hear some of your stories, so leave me a comment and let me know!

Connect with me:

Let’s connect on social media and swap stories! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. Find me and start a conversation. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

Gemstone Hunting – Back in the Creek Again!!

If you recall, I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how I was ready to go gemstone hunting again after a long wait. Despite an iffy weather forecast, brother John and I made it to our favorite spot today! Yep, gemstone hunting – back in the creek again!

We were very fortunate today as the hunting was good! The dirt piles we filled our buckets from was fairly fresh, and were lots of nice stones. Emeralds, rubies, sapphires, topaz, amethysts, and many more were dug out during our visit.

Readers of The Gemstone Chronicles will recognize many of the stones listed above, since they played such a big part in the series. The only stone I didn’t find today was a carnelian (the stone from the first book).

The second book has an amethyst as a key component. Here are some of the amethysts I found today!

Amethysts Back in the Creek

 

 

Not a bad haul for four hours of work! Below are the pictures of my two favorite amethysts of the day.

Large Amethyst Creek

 

Although it may not show up very well in the picture, the purple tip is very dark and has some great faces!

Small Amethyst Creek

 

I love this little stone. The color is only a spot and if you rotate the stone, you can see exactly where the purple begins, Very cool!

To celebrate Book Three: The Emerald, I found a few emeralds today. I don’t think any of them are faceting quality, so I will either try to make cabochons with them, or tumble them in my rock tumblers.

Emeralds Creek

 

It was not a great day for rubies, but I did find a couple. Rough rubies aren’t faceted like the one in Book Four: The Ruby that we all love, but I like the way the look when I find them.

Rubies Creek

 

Finally, my absolute favorite stone of the day is a double-terminated quartz! Aidan used that type of stone often in the books to enhance the powers he drew from the gemstones. I often find pencil quartz, but this is my first double-terminated stone. Simply awesome!!

Double-terminated QuartzCreek

 

I did find a lot of other stones today and John found a large sapphire among his many gemstones. We will be going back to the creek again soon, so stay tuned for more! I also am going to be trying my hand at making cabochons, so I will post about that, too.

Of all the stones I showed today, what is your favorite? Leave me a comment and let me know. If you haven’t read The Gemstone Chronicles, why not pick up the first one and give it a try. I would love to know what you think!!