Finding Magic

Photo: CA Hawthorne

An exhausting 13-hour journey, in the end, rendered me refreshed and inspired. I sought change and found magic. The reality that is the writer I am found the world she Continue Reading →

Beating the Prognosis

Photo: CA Hawthorne.

One life to live. For some it plays out as expected, though always there are bumps in the road. For others it’s cut tragically short before it’s hardly begun or Continue Reading →

Another Day to Hold Dear

Photo: CA Hawthorne

My birthday is next week, a day I spent in the ICU four years ago. Over the course of that horrific year it increasingly looked like I’d spend the rest Continue Reading →

Websites, Tires, and Angry Beavers


“Whoa, what happened to Ontyre Passages? It looks different.”


There’s lots going on in my life and I don’t want to close down the WP site, but why operate two sites that are exactly the same except in appearance?

Light bulb moment!

(One of the new kind…not an incandescent.)

I’m inching towards devoting the WP site to my blog and, because it’s better suited to the purpose, having the website serve as my primary site for fiction (thus, it’s now Ontyre Passages). For instance, the WP site now has a permanent link in the sidebar for the website.

Preliminary ebook cover for my first published work!

Preliminary ebook cover for my first published work!

I haven’t worked out the gray areas yet like the upcoming poetry collection (The Renaissance Cycle) and short stories, but I’m confident it’ll all work itself out.

Like working out the cover for the poetry collection. Here’s an example…

My gosh, I can’t believe all there is to establishing myself as a full-time writer so I can publish…

I’ve discovered I should have a business bank account before publishing through Amazon, Smashwords, or Kobo (unless I want to go insane next tax season). So, off to the bank I go.

An aside: I’ve been accepted into the local chapter of RWA so I have some initial work to do there. And then there’s figuring out PayPal…

But I digress…

So, after the bank, and even though I’ve no idea how to swim (symbolically speaking—mostly), I’ll jump off the dock and into Amazon publishing at CreateSpace/KDP.

Calm your nerves, Christina…

To help survive all this I take advantage of nice weather and get outside to clear my head, get some exercise, and relax.

On my first bike ride in 2014 a few weeks ago I road east towards the city center and suffered a flat. Not to be daunted, a week later I made my second ride for 2014 and road west towards a park along the river…another flat.

A little frustrated!

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Having (hopefully) overcome my tire woes I took a ride a week ago between the river and Mount Sentinel. It was beautiful beyond imagining and represented all I’d moved to Missoula for.

The river below me.

Cliffs beside me.

Towering evergreens overhead.

The sun was out. The temperature was perfect at 70℉ (21℃). The path eventually gave way to a hard-packed gravel road, which was bouncing me a lot and straining my muscles, but my smile remained.

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Photo: CA Hawthorne

I pressed on until reason turned me around.

I’m managing my health well, but I have to remember my lungs work harder than they did five years ago. Because of the additional strain I’m also stressing my heart.

A fact that it’s easy to forget, but scary when I remember.

I suffered residual effects over the following two days, but the ride was an inspiring experience I don’t regret. In the future, though, I’ll restrict my bike riding to the easier paved city paths.

One day I’ll return to that gravel road on foot at a leisurely pace and with more time so I can examine the exposed geology. The rock I saw appeared ancient.

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Photo: CA Hawthorne

I know the cliffs were, like the city, once underwater when ancient Lake Missoula filled the valley because an ice dam to the west held back the glacial runoff. It eventually gave way and an astounding water surge swept across eastern Washington State.

The waterline is still visible on the mountainsides surrounding the city.

I digress again…

More recently I drove to a park on the city’s westside where a path looped through a wooded area. It was another inspiring experience and not nearly as difficult as the bike ride, though it wasn’t easy.

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Ah, the view…

The river was deep, wide, and churning at an unanticipated pace.

In the distance the mountains still wore their snow caps.

Evergreens abounded. The deciduous trees are budding here, but the leaves haven’t yet arrived. I look forward to the added greenery, especially upon the huge stand of birch across the river.

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Photo: CA Hawthorne

The park is one that’s (mostly) undeveloped. Fallen trees blocked the path at times, sometimes forcing me to divert around. Other times I stepped onto the horizontal trunks and cautiously viewed the other side.

Yeah, don’t want to step on a creature.

I’d rather spy a snake than a spider, but I’ve no desire to be bitten by a rattlesnake.

There were geese on the river. Overhead I saw more than a few crows, hawks, and other birds I couldn’t identify. At one point I heard the telltale sound that was a woodpecker.

And then I spotted it!

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Photo: CA Hawthorne

It was far up in a tree so I couldn’t see it clearly, but I could see it hammering away—and probably giving itself a stiff neck.

The path later took me along a stream and river overflow amidst a glade. Too, more paths appeared that often doubled back on themselves.

Thank goodness for the GPS on my phone.

In places I had to hop over narrow watercourses. In other places I balanced on tipping logs so as to cross. In one location there were stepping stones provided.

Yeah…must be 25 years since I took such a walk.

At one location a stream was dammed. Yeah, I was pretty excited to discover a beaver dam. I took picture after picture and found what I’m pretty sure was the beaver lodge. I stood there on the soggy ground and peered into the deep pool and wondered if I’d see a cute little face looking up at me.

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Photo: CA Hawthorne

And then it occurred to me…

Do beavers become protective if someone ventures too near their lodge?

Angry beavers?

Is there such a thing as a royally pissed-off beaver?

I looked around half expecting to find myself surrounded by agitated beavers ready to take down the human.


Without delay I hurried toward the more open ground to the east.

And all the time I was aware of the distance back to the car.

Sure, it wasn’t far for most people, but for me and my already fatigued lungs it might as well have been miles.

My imagination ran amuck and I visualized the beavers giving chase and running me down. What a sight: a gasping, frantic middle-aged woman looking over her shoulder while enraged, determined beavers closed in.

The shame and humiliation!

Oh, sure, I could call the police on my phone and scream that I was under beaver attack. If I was lucky I’d still be above water when they finally stopped laughing.

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Photo: CA Hawthorne



A sad epitaph: “…Her promising writing career was tragically cut short when she attacked by irate beavers. Authorities insist the background sounds heard on the taped emergency call aren’t laughing operators, but instead Ms. Hawthorne’s gurgled pleas for help.”

It’s been a strange week…

Southwest Hartise


Our next map in the Map tour is Southwest Hartise, The Triad Hills Region. In large part its’s sparsely populated, but there are a few locations worthy of discussion. Some locations to note:

Southwest Hartise, the Triad Hills Region.

Southwest Hartise, the Triad Hills Region.

  • Sentinel Tower. Built in 3314 to commerate the victory at The Battle of the Sentinel Forces in 3285, a victory that helped save the nation, at that time all that remained of the once vast Emprensen Empire.
  • Oaken Castle. It originally belonged to one of those who helped save the nation when the empire collapsed, but in present day it was given to Ard Rurlington after the Ministry was formed. It’s used as a training ground for new practitioners.
  • Sentinel River. The valley surrounding the river is one of the most fertile in Hartise and is well known for the gin produced there.
  • Key River. Once the premier in western Ontyre for commerce in the days of the empire and the kingdoms that bordered it in the days before the empire. Its waters flow south to the ocean. Where it and the Graythor River converge are the ruins that were once the ancient city of Meldenphire.
  • Knar Range. Another barrier along Hartise’s southern border. Unlike the Barrier Range, it’s far more arid. Too, though the mountains aren’t nearly as tall, they’re rocky and jagged. This mountain range is the natural habitat for the brown gargoyles that are traded in Hartise as home protection.

Southeast Hartise


Our next map in the Map Tour is Southeast Hartise, the Rift River Region. You may note that, more so than on the preceding two maps, there are a multitude of cities. That’s because the southeast represents the most fertile lands in the country. Some locations to note:

Southeast Hartise, The Rift River Region.

Southeast Hartise, The Rift River Region.

  • Transgamete. The largest city in Hartise and also the capital. In ancient times it’s lone significance was its location at the halfway point between the Empire’s capital in Emprensa and the ora’ean capital in Forstava. Union Arch, which marked the halfway point, still stands. A narrow land bridge allows entry from the east. A massive natural bridge allows westward travel where the two lakes join.
  • Carba. The largest city in the east. Set upon high ground amidst vast grasslands, it’s visible from a considerable distance.
  • Vernathia. Named for Vernathia Pammer-Barst the most beloved queen the country ever had and a woman treated as a daughter by the then senior most wizard, Argus.
  • Horthure. College for the sylvans that was destroyed during the 4113 overthrow. In the valley there, known as the Land of Lands, anything can be grown because of residual magic caught in an infinite loop owing to unique stone formations.
  • Barrier Range. Mountains that are aptly named because they help minimize attacks from the southeast.
  • Lowlands Forest. Boggy lands that greatly minimize travel and attack from the south. There are paths through the forest, but moving an entire army through is far more problematic.

Northeast Hartise


Our exploration of Hartise maps continues in the sparsely populated northeast. What it lacks in human numbers it makes up for in natural wonders:

Northeast Hartise. Lost Hills and River River Region.

Northeast Hartise. Lost Hills and River River Region.

  • Asbray. Ruins of the siren’s college. It was initially destroyed during the 4113 overthrow, but supposedly restored during Dremm’s Rebellion. Another attack in 4146 left no survivors.
  • Colossus Range. Most vast mountain range on Ontyre, it’s nearly impenetrable, mostly unexplored, and stretches north into the frozen lands. Still, some live there.
  • Rift River Canyon. Another land feature that protects Hartise. Much of it consists of sheer walls plunging more than 1,000 feet to the river, but in southwest Sttons it narrows to a stone’s throw, the height still great and the water a torrent.
  • Twistaria. The largest human settlement in the Lost Hills, a region that’s technically outside Hartise.
  • Beacon Peak. So named because it dwarfs all surrounding mountains and thus aids navigation in the region.
  • Lorne. Ruins of the seeker’s college that’s literally built in the eastward facing Cliffs of Pressa.
  • Temron. Prosperous city that’s best known for its location where the Repose River drops over the Falls of Kryorphia to join with the Rift River.

Searching for My Father

This is a 1000 Voices for Compassion post. To see more posts via Twitter use #1000Speak.

*This was originally posted on my WordPress site on January 23, 2014. I’m sharing it again on my website as a part of 1000 Voices for Compassion. I’ve lived in Missoula Continue Reading →