Reading in the Woods

As you all know, I was able to sell a second short story entitled Kitsune Tea,” using my pseudonym, E.A. Lawrence and it was published in the anthology ROAR 7 edited by Mary E. Lowd.

Prior to going on my recent camping trip, I finally got my paperback copy in the mail. It was a delicious feeling to hold the book in my hands, drink in that new book smell, and caress the pages that held my imagination. Let me tell you, that is the best paper I have ever felt in my life. This whole selling-my-fiction-for-money thing is a dream that I’ve been actively pursuing since I was nine and getting to see my work in a BOOK is a dream come true.  I feel triumphant and energized and hopeful that my story will make people smile. Optimism about this being but one step in my literary journey with more to follow in the not-too-distant future is also revving me up.

Since I got the book in the mail before my trip, I figured that I would bring it along. Why not? Paperbacks are tough and what better place to read a story set in the woods than actually sitting in the woods? I guess that I’m a little method but who cares.

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Campsite by E.A. Schneider

We got to the state park in the upper midwest and set up camp in a nice clearing. Like most state parks there was a picnic table set on more or less level ground and a fire ring. The site was surrounded with a nice mix of hardwood deciduous trees with a full, bushy understory and a wet spot/creek bed running through the area. It was lovely.

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Butterfly feeding by E.A. Schneider

My friend and I did our hiking and came back to camp later than we planned to cook dinner but, no big deal, right? Well…we weren’t alone. Remember all those lovely big trees with a moist bushy understory surrounding our site? At dark  we quickly realized that there was a meso-predator who called the site home and he wanted something besides the numerous cricket frogs in the moist spots to eat. A raccoon wanted in on dinner and was  quite bold about saying so. It was clear that people had fed him. This raccoon approached the picnic table even though we were there and started chewing on the tied up garbage bag before my friend shooed him off.

As we sat at the picnic table eating our campfire food (delicious baked stuffed onions and cakes in oranges), the raccoon kept creeping up. I have no doubt that if we had been less antagonistic in waving our lanterns at him, that he would have felt comfortable sitting at the table and helped himself from our plates. Being us, we disapprove of such shenangins, wildlife should be wild thank-you-very-much, and were careful to clear everything edible up and away in the car for the night. I rather thought that, without anything in sight anymore, that the raccoon would put his energies toward other foraging and leave us to ourselves.

We pulled our camp chairs to the fire and settled in to relax. I had a cup of tea, my lantern, and my book. I even took a picture of the first page of my story for posterity because why not. There were stars gleaming above between the tree-tops, more stars densely packed in that one clearing of sky than you can easily see from my whole backyard, and it was a lovely quiet night.

 

Then my friend saw the raccoon, driven by curiosity to explore our picnic table. He trundled off after we snapped some pictures. The pictures were not terribly good but it had been worth a try. Again, I figured that he would move on and went back to reading my story.

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Raccoon on the table by E.A. Schneider

As I read my story, getting drawn into the suspense and keen to see that the copy was clean, I was startled by that elemental pricking at the back of the neck one reads about in books occurring on my own neck. I heard paws treading into camp. The raccoon was back again to verify the absence of goodies. This time I snapped a decent picture of the interloper, he scampered off, and that’s it, right? Nope.

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Yeah…I’ve been having fun with the Make It Stranger font generator. I love the show “Stranger Things,” and the font definitely captures the suspenseful feelings of the night with some humor.

Again, I was roused from concentrating on my own story, during a chase scene no less, by the shuffling paw steps of the raccoon coming toward our fire from the other wooded side of camp than the picnic table. I could hear the raccoon’s paws moving through the underbrush and leaf litter. I don’t know if he was that loud, it was that quiet, or my hearing is that much keener than I thought. I couldn’t see him, my eyes were dazzled from the whiteness of my page, which only added to the primal anxiety aroused by the situation. My friend and I both jumped, startled from our separate pursuits by the raccoon’s intrusion. Why would he come back? We had no food left out, we were just sitting there. This was incredible. In all my time in the woods over the years I had never before felt the scrutiny of an interested predator, albeit a small one, in my movements, environment, and objects. Feeling encircled and studied by a wild animal bent on exploring our space and stealing our food definitely added an extra dimension to reading my story.  All the suspenseful bits of “Kitsune Tea” had an extra edge to them than there would have been if I had elected to read the story in an armchair at home.

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My favorite picture of the raccoon by E.A. Schneider

I was able to finish reading my story without further interruption by the raccoon and I was happy. “Kitsune Tea”  was as I remembered with a clean copy having nary a typo in sight. I was both pleased and impressed. Going to sleep that night was tough. For one thing I was still excited by the day and having read my story in a book. For another, the night was teeming with sounds from owls, crickets, cricket frogs, cicadas, the murmur of other campers at other campsites, and other unknown rustlings in the woods.

I also kept thinking about the raccoon. How many calories did he get from campers? How did he choose which campers to pursue and which to avoid? From a raccoon perspective, the site was perfect habitat with those trees, water, and frogs so the human element might just be the cherry on top rather than the main draw. It was fun to ponder. I have always been fond of urban wildlife and the ways in which they thrive. A raccoon living in a well attended state park might not be exactly urban but he certainly knew the perks of the human herd. I don’t know if there is a sequel to “Kitsune Tea” in my brain yet or not but, after my experience with that bold little raccoon, I think there very well might be another adventure set in my imagined Maintou State Forest in the not too distant future. We’ll see.

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Trees in the dark by E.A. Schneider                                                                                                                I freely admit that this is not a good picture but I like the different tones of green and I like remembering just how densely packed with stars that little spot of blackness was.

All in all, I have to recommend reading in the woods generally and particularly reading my “Kitsune Tea” in the woods if at all possible. It was fun. I hope that my encounter with a raccoon made you smile, dear pond readers. Do you have a raccoon anecdote? Do you  have a comment or question? Please, leave a comment below and thanks for stopping by the pond today, dear readers.

 

 

P.S.: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. If you buy this lovely ROAR 7 anthology published by Furplanet publications through this amazon link: ROAR Volume 7, I will get a small advertising fee. I hope that these fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Tribbles and Troubles

That’s right, dear pond readers, I’m going to write about the cutest Star Trek alien ever: TRIBBLES!

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Kirk covered in Tribbles. Image found in a Google Image Search.

For some background, tribbles were introduced in the 15th episode of Star Trek: the Original series in season two’s episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” They have no face, make adorable purring noises, make people inexplicably happy, and are practically born pregnant. Everybody loves tribbles except Klingons and they prove instrumental to resolving the conflict in the episode. Tribbles are a perfect invasive species with the capacity to cause major environmental devastation across the galaxy, even if they are addictively cute. Naturally, the Klingon Empire undertook to destroy them from the face of the universe in the name of conservation. Being Klingon, they succeeded. The story of tribbles was continued in the Deep Space Nine season five episode six adventure titled “Trials and Tribble-ations.” The episode was a love letter to ST:TOS and the franchise as a whole while prominently featuring the popular alien pets. I think these two episodes are two of the most accessible stand-alone Star Trek adventures that capture some of the fun of this imagined future, its bureaucracy, and politics with some good comedy.

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Quark covered in tribbles. Image found using a Google image search.

Ever since my first Star Trek convention when I was a kid in elementary school, I have cherished my tribble. I remember deliberating the exact tribble I wanted, debating the merits of fur color and fur length to what was no doubt an irritating extent to my long-suffering father and elder brother, before finally settling on a long-haired chocolate brown tribble. I distinctly remember combing its fur with my Barbie/my Little Pony combs and cradling it through numerous viewings of various Star Trek shows and VHS movie rentals. To this day, it still has its original tags and sits in a place of honor above my writing desk. As far as I know, they only sell officially licensed tribbles at ThinkGeek.com but they aren’t in stock and appear to be in only one color, so my tribble feels a little extra special.

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My tribble on its shelf over my desk by E.A. Schneider

When I undertook to plan a nerdy, board game themed fundraiser this Summer for my walk MS team, Nerds for a Cure, I tried to think of something I could offer as a donation incentive that would be nerdy, recognizable, and easy-to-make. I remembered that I had found this pattern on Craftster.com and thought: I could make tribbles, by jove. Huzzah!

I have to say that, even without quadrotriticale, the tribbles just seemed to multiply. I’m kind of a compulsive person in a lot of ways but I still blame the tribbles: they are just so darn easy to make. Even with the chronic pain in my hands (thanks, Multiple Sclerosis! You suck!), I was still able to make tribbles with relative ease. There is also something immensely satisfying about having a giant tote bag stuffed full of tribbles next to your sewing basket. In the end, I made 30 in four different colors and used up a giant bag of poly fiberfil. At the fundraiser, I’m pleased to say that the giant bin of tribbles did draw several people through the door and they donated specifically to get a tribble. I was extra thrilled to place tribbles in their generous hands.

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Our info table at the Nerds for a Cure MS Fundraiser. Notice, the giant pile of tribbles in the purple bin with Kirk’s face. Also, the basket of bookmarks.

That said, even though the fundraiser went really well, particularly for a first attempt, I still have a lot of homeless tribbles sitting in my house. While I could be smart and save them for next year’s Nerds for a Cure MS Fundraiser, I think that I should try to find them homes and I do have fundraising yet to do with only about four weeks left until my walk event. Our fundraising goal is $5500 but right now we’ve only raised $3,851 and I’m not sure we’re going to make our goal.

So what do you say, pond readers? Do you want to donate to save my brain from the horror of multiple sclerosis AND get an adorable tribble friend to keep you company? Now is your chance. If you donate $12 to my personal fundraising for Walk MS Waukesha and put TRIBBLE! in the  personal note field, I will mail you a handmade plush tribble while supplies last.

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All the tribbles waiting for new homes by E.A. Schneider

Moreover, if you donate $15 to my personal fundraising for Walk MS Waukesha and put TRIBBLE+! in the personal note field, I will throw in two homemade bookmarks from our Nerds for a Cure MS Fundraiser event for you to enjoy with your tribble.

If you want to support my fundraising but don’t want to risk bringing even a plushie tribble into your home (or you just don’t want a tribble), you can donate $5 to my fundraising and put BOOKMARKS! in the personal note field and I will mail you three homemade bookmarks. The bookmarks were made by the talented ladies at the Drunken Library. You might remember the Drunken Library from when my nerd friend, the talented Amber Graham, joined me for a day of Star Trek watching. While I can’t include pictures of every single bookmark (they made 120+), you can see a lot of the designs in the picture below and you can watch their videos about making the bookmarks on their Youtube channel. The square bookmarks fit over the corner of a page and are hard to lose. The rectangle bookmarks are just pretty rectangles.

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Handmade bookmarks courtesy of the Drunken Library

Everyone who donates at any level will get a special Nerds for a Cure MS Fundraiser event pin as a thank you in addition to the tribbles and bookmarks while supplies last. The pins are all 1″ in size.

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Fundraiser event pins!

Finally,  you must put the specified text in the personal note field to be considered for this offer. Without the text in the personal note field, I will just assume you’re a super nice, generous person who doesn’t want any thank-you item and you will only receive a pin with your thank-you note. I have to say, it would be pretty amazing if I ran out of tribbles and bookmarks because all of you in Internet-land decided to donate a little bit to my fundraising.

Here’s a nutshell description of why I’m asking you to care: multiple sclerosis is a super sucky insidious, invisible disease that I will struggle with for the rest of my life. I’m not special, a lot of people are struggling with multiple sclerosis. I bet you know somebody in your life besides me who has been touched by this disease, but, I figure if you’re reading this blog, that you care a little bit about its author being able to continue writing it for your perusal. The National MS Society is doing a lot to fund research that will hopefully not only get us closer to a cure but also improve quality of life for people and their families in the meantime. The organization really makes a difference to those of us living with this disease and I hope that you will help me help them help everyone. You can always help by sharing this blog post and my team links on social media even if you can’t donate for whatever reason.

Thanks for reading my reflections on tribbles and my request for fundraising help. I really appreciate all my readers taking the time to keep reading Technicolorlilypond. You help me persevere. Please, leave a comment below with any questions or comments. Thanks for looking at my pictures, considering my request, and for stopping by the pond, dear readers!

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Muskrat by the Fox river by E.A. Schneider. This muskrat may not be a tribble but he is certainly an adorable little furry creature.

Make it Sew: Nerdy edition

Make it Sew: Nerdy edition

Hello, dear pond readers! I have managed to be a crafty pond dweller between this winter, spring, and summer. Here is the first installment of my adventures in sewing from the last few months and they are all kinda nerdy.

Two of my friends moved into new homes so I made them towels.  Specifically, I made them towels that involved math fabric because they are both engineers and, me being me, I actually had math fabric in my stash. The fabrics are a mix of Moda and Tula Pink. I got a little fancy/experimental with the stitches on the ribbons and I have to say I’m pleased with the result.

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Finally, some geeky friends of mine are having a baby. Naturally, this is a chance to make adorable, nerdy things for a small human. These friends are big Star Trek: The Next Generation fans, one of whom has an especial fondness for Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton). Being one of the probably few people who happened to have both the fabric on hand and the skillset to make something ST:TNG that prominently features the Crushers, this was my time to shine.

I used Star Trek:The Next Generation fabric from Camelot Cottons (Star Trek The Next Generation Badges White Fabric By The Yard) to make the baby bibs. The bibs are backed with white microplush fabric that is both super soft and super absorbent. I used velcro as the closures because snaps are the devil and I dislike them. Because this geeky couple is very Earth conscious and does not need more tissue paper, I made them a reusable drawstring bag with space fabric as the gift wrap. Finally, I included a tribble because every baby needs a tribble to keep it company in the crib.

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I really like the fabric in the collection. I think the likenesses of the characters is fantastic and only slightly creepy. I particularly like Wesley’s brooding seriousness juxtaposed with Dr. Crusher’s (Gates McFadden) megawatt smile. I confess that I made a couple of Star Trek bibs to set aside in case I get my own little bag-of-mostly-water to raise one day. I anticipate that looking at the crew of the USS Enterprise-D whilst trying to dock the strained peas in the baby space station will be fun.

I hope you enjoy the pictures! Please, share any comments, questions, or Trekkie nerdery in the comments and thanks for stopping by the pond today. Live long and prosper!

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The whole set!

P.S.: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. If you buy this lovely: Star Trek The Next Generation Badges White Fabric By The Yard  

 I will get a small advertising fee.  Even if you don’t pick one up here, I hope that it helps you. If you do pick it up through my link, thank you very much; I hope that these fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Tingly developments

Hello, dear pond readers! I am happy to say that I’m writing to you tonight with a development that has me all atingle in a good, non-MS kinda way. I found out that my Goodreads Author page has been approved. Huzzzah! If you want to follow what I’m reading at a slightly faster pace than you will get to here at the pond, check out my page here: E.A. Lawrence

Any good news have you filled with delightful pins and needles? Please, leave a comment below and thanks for stopping by the pond!

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Fungi in the park by E.A. Schneider

Stars in my patch of sky

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Flowers at Dusk in Blue Mound State Park by E.A. Schneider

On Saturday night, after two nights of rainy disappointment, I was finally able to see part of this year’s Perseid meteor shower, dear readers. Bundled up in a hoodie and my flannel PJs, I slouched in my camp chair on the deck and trained my gaze on my patch of sky. Suburban sky looks unwell. It reminded me of the coral reefs at Hanauma Bay State Park. Those reefs had a damaged, grey sort of beauty, at least when I saw them, devoid of the vibrant colors I had come to associate with coral reefs thanks to an abundance of nature programs in my childhood TV diet. Don’t get me wrong, they were pretty and I am privileged to have had the chance to see them, but, you could tell an excess of people had left their mark. The same goes for my patch of sky. We have a lot of light pollution. Even if there hadn’t been a half-moon lighting up the night, there is still a perpetual grey sheen to the sky courtesy of the blend of street and porch lights from the neighborhood. At least the moon leant a silver tinge to the tree leaves for that touch of fey light in the gloom.

Sitting there, feeling the slight damp left behind by two days of rain only partially dried by the day’s sun juxtaposed with the chill of night and looking at the motley assortment of weakly flickering stars in the sky, I remembered that heavenly bodies are only part of the reason I star gaze. The real attraction to me is the liveliness of the night’s sound scape. Even here in the burbs, filled with cars, motorcycles, lights, pets, pesticides, and people, there is a rich cacophony of night creatures vocalizing their hearts out (or trying to sneak by unnoticed) that you can only hear when you stop what you’re doing and sit in one spot unmoving for a long time.

While waiting to see the fiery end of Comet Swift-Tuttle’s debris, I was treated to tree frogs, chorus frogs, crickets out the wazoo, insects I am unacquainted with, mysterious mammalian chitterings, soft paw-falls on leaves, and gentle flaps of unseen wings. The only missing element were fireflies and I suspect that I was up too late for their light show. I love the tenacity of wild life in the burbs, the way it is undeterred by all our human ways and thrives in spite of everything we throw in its path. Is the mix of creatures the same as what is in the real country? No. Are we missing out on some brilliant nighttime denizens? Yes. I have enjoyed country nights rife with wild sound before; I know it is remarkable, especially when paired with a visible Milky Way arching across the sky as far as you can crane your neck to see. Such places and skies are worth conserving, they are an inheritance our children deserve to enjoy.

Nonetheless, I love my patch of flawed, human tinged sky. The stars that flickered there were brilliant to shine through all our light. If I stayed very still, I fancied I could detect slight changes in color. I probably can’t with human eyes but it was fun to imagine. Hearing my wild neighbors was absolutely relaxing, their raucous calls for mates and territory a comfort to the soul. And I saw them: the meteors streaked across the sky between the stars, both weak and bright, and made me smile with delight as I made my wishes. Yes, I still wish on falling stars. Don’t you? It is a supreme luxury to sit in the night and enjoy its beauties. I feel so blessed, my cup runneth over.

I will leave you with the poem my mother taught me when I was a little kid and frightened of the dark. Even though I am now a fan of the night, this piece by Robert Frost is a great comfort and inspiration that I cannot help but think on when I revel in stillness beneath the starry sky.

Take Something Like A Star
By Robert Frost

O Star (the fairest one in sight),

We grant your loftiness the right

To some obscurity of cloud–

It will not do to say of night,

Since dark is what brings out your light.

Some mystery becomes the proud.

But to be wholly taciturn

In your reserve is not allowed.

Say something to us we can learn

By heart and when alone repeat.

Say something! And it says, “I burn.”

But say with what degree of heat.

Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.

Use language we can comprehend.

Tell us what elements you blend.

It gives us strangely little aid,

But does tell something in the end.

And steadfast as Keats’ Eremite,

Not even stooping from its sphere,

It asks a little of us here.

It asks of us a certain height,

So when at times the mob is swayed

To carry praise or blame too far,

We may take something like a star

To stay our minds on and be staid.

**END**

What about you, dear pond readers? Did you get to enjoy the Perseids this year? Do you have a favorite poem that keeps your thoughts company? Please, leave a comment below with your ruminations on your patch of the sky and thanks for stopping by the pond today.

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Flower Field at Sunset by E.A. Schneider

 

Flash Fiction: Directions by E.A. Lawrence

Recently, I went on a lovely camping trip in the woods with a good friend. It was so nice to be out in the forest breathing in the smell of detritus, bark, and rain kissed wind in good company. We had some fun adventures that have provided me some much needed creative fodder. I took hundreds of photos and shockingly enough many of them are quite lovely. No doubt several will be wending there way into my pond posts over the coming weeks so stay tuned, dear pond readers.

Tonight, I got to sit down in a local coffee shop with some up-tempo folk music from a local band and actually begin the fun process of photo editing. That could be a whole other blog post(s) for another day, I do so love me my editing. At the moment though, I want to share a bit of creative writing that I did tonight. It flashed into my mind as I looked at the image below so, naturally, I seized my fountain pen and journal to write it all out before the muse flitted away again. Here it is, dear pond readers, enjoy!

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The offerings by E.A. Schneider Photo taken in Blue Mound State Park in Wisconsin

 

Directions 

by E.A. Lawrence

You must bring an apple. It must be small, with a flush of red on one side over the green. No, they aren’t that hard to find, I promise. All it takes is a keen eye and a deft hand. Besides, if it were easy to find, it would be a paltry gift; the time is part of the present, you understand.

Anyway, once you find the right apple, you then bring it to the cavern in the trunk. It is carpeted with the finest moss and paved with acorn shells. There is a stone lintel of pale rosy hue at the threshold. I am sure you won’t miss it; for it is just to the side of the path in the wood where the eye is wont to linger.

Once you offer the apple, you must wait by the tree but only a little while. It will be less time than it took to find the apple but not as fast as you wish. If you’re very patient, the tree folk will give you a story. You see them when your eyes are closed or when you’re looking at something else. You hear them when you think you hear a noise but you’re not sure. They smell of something you almost remember. You’ll find the tree-folk easier to describe when you’re there.

Depending on how sweet the apple, the story will savor of delight more than bitterness but remember, a good story will feature some of both. A sour note does not a bad tale make just as a too-sweet flavor may not suit. You’ll see.

Should you grow impatient or weary or frightened waiting on the path and move along before the tree folk do their work, don’t worry. A gift must be reciprocated, the tree folk understand these things. They will give you a story, but in a different way.

The story will take root and grow slowly as your mind turns like so much compost in the sun, trash and unwanted scraps metamorphosing into fertile soil for what the tree folk planted. Word by word, image by image, it will burrow like a worm in your dreams. Sleeping and waking it will rustle as it grows, teasing you from rest and distracting you from labor. The sight of a crow’s back in the sun, the sparkles on the water, the aroma of honey in your tea, and the texture of your favorite walk beneath your soles will hasten its growth.

The story will be as different as you every time you go to the wood with every unique just-right apple you can bring the tree folk.

So, to summarize: find an apple. Take it to the cavern in the tree trunk to the side of the path in the wood and you’ll see what happens next.

The End

470 words

What do you think, dear pond readers? Do you have an opinion on my little bit of flash fiction? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments below and thanks for stopping by the pond tonight, dear readers.

P.S. I (Ellen Schneider) am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you buy this lovely ROAR 7 anthology published by Furplanet publications that features my latest short story, “Kitsune Tea,” through this Amazon link: ROAR Volume 7, I will get a small advertising fee. I hope that these fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!