Monday, April 23, 2018
Wait in the waiting room. Wait in the examination room. Ah-hah! The doctor arrives. Ten minutes later you walk out with another sheaf of papers. Drive back home. Collapse from exhaustion.
I don't know why the entire process is so tiring. But it is.
We try to fit in a side trip or two. For instance, after today's appointment, we'll do a quick pass through BJ's...if such a thing is possible. And of course, that will mean hauling groceries into the apartment and putting them away.
Every time I see one of those programs about online doctor appointments, I wonder how that would work. Would we still wait, except at home?
Thursday, April 19, 2018
The number one, absolute top lesson I learned is child logic is completely different from adult logic. The hunk and I were once awakened early on a Saturday morning by frantic knocks on our bedroom door. Sleepy inquiries elicited the information that there was a fire in the boys bedroom. The hunk leaped out of bed, starkers, and rushed to their room. Sigh.
The mattress was smouldering. Next to the bed, a merry little blaze was gaining ground...a campfire. Sticks. One of the firestarters I'd made for camping from paper egg cartons and wax. And a wide swath of newspaper.
The hunk carted the mattress outside, dumping it on the patio, while I smothered the fire with some baking soda. Once the fire was out, we cleaned up the mess. Score? A burnt mattress, scorched carpet, and two scared kids. In the 'discussion' that followed, one bit of logic came out that still stuns me to this day. WHY were there newspapers spread under their campfire?
To keep the carpet from getting dirty.
Number two--they have no comprehension of greater consequences. When our children were young, super human television stories were popular. Bionic Man. Wonder Woman. Our son leaped from the roof (how he got up there is a different story), because? He was the Bionic Man, of course. Naturally.
Another time, after taking the kids to the circus, we found the boys standing on their dresser, holding on to a piece of twine they had tied to the overhead lamp (another story for later). They were prepared to practice trapeze moves. Yes, I know. Twine does not equal a sturdy rope, but there's that consequences issue I mentioned.
And then there's the time our daughter walked out into the street in front of a car. Fortunately, the driver wasn't going fast and stopped in time. When she (rightly) yelled at our daughter, she and I were both dumbfounded by her little girl logic. Yep. You guessed it--she was Wonder Woman so the car couldn't possibly hurt her.
Number three...children have no filter when it comes to talking about their home life with outsiders. Sometimes, this is an excellent thing especially if they are in an abusive situation. Other times, well, let's just say it can make things iffy if someone decides to call in the authorities.
Take the time someone gave us a couch. We stashed the old one out in the garage until we could arrange to borrow a truck to take it to the dump. During this same time period, the two boys were going through a very normal stage where they didn't want to share a bedroom. Our older son decided he would sleep on the couch in the garage. No problem. We left the house door to the garage unlocked, and I figured the new arrangement wouldn't last long.
That wasn't exactly the way it went. He went to school and excitedly shared the new arrangement with his fourth grade class and teacher. Only what he told them was he now slept in the garage. Period. A very nice CPS lady came out to check out the situation. After an exhaustive discussion over coffee and cookies and a good laugh, she went off to file her report, clearing us of any wrongdoing. And a couple weeks later without comment, he decided he'd rather sleep in the bedroom with his brother.
My children are all grown now, some with children of their own. I freely admit I have a private laugh when they call me, ready to pull out their hair over something their children have done. They do say what goes around, comes around.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
It used to be book recommendations were passed along by discussing books over coffee or at a party or heck, even in line at the grocery store. That doesn't happen much, anymore. Some people check out on-line book groups. I don't. Many are genre specific and others are...unfriendly. I tend to talk about books I've read on a face-to-face basis, even if that is on social media.
So. Each day I'll post a title and author from my own library. Perhaps a reader will reminisce about the enjoyment they received from reading it. Maybe someone will discover a new-to-them author. Why some folks might even step out of their comfort zones and try new genres. I hope so.
This is my way of spreading the wealth. Check it out!
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
My grandmother taught second grade for many, many years--long enough that the grandparents of her current students frequently showed up to remind her she had also been their teacher. My mother was the quintessential stay home mom so I was unfamiliar with a female role model who went to work every day. We had the summer to get to know each other and then in the fall, it all changed.
Dad was home in the afternoons, still grieving and mostly hibernating, while Grandmother went off to work each day. I vaguely remember that my brothers did not adjust well at all that year to all the changes. I was too busy dealing with my own problems. Fortunately, I discovered the bookmobile and books became my salvation.
But, I did learn important lessons in that year after my mother died. I learned to be independent. My mother was a model mother, cooking, cleaning, doing everything and expecting nothing from us kids. It was pretty normal child-rearing for the 50s. The thing was--we didn't know how to do anything. We never learned.
On the day my mother died, my father was caught up in trying to find a place to unload our possessions so he could use our pickup truck to drive back to Arizona for my mother's funeral. I vividly remember him handing me a can opener, a can of tuna, and a loaf of bread and telling me to feed my brothers (who were all younger than me). I had no idea how to use a can opener. I had no idea what to do with the tuna. I had no basic survival skills.
Well, that summer I learned. My grandmother was not one to do all the work while idle hands were available. Her teaching method was basically, learn by doing. And there was a lot to learn. It had never occurred to me to wonder how food arrived at the table. Oh, I knew my mother did 'stuff' out in the kitchen and then 'poof', food was ready. My grandmother involved me--willy-nilly--in the whole messy process.
I learned how to wash dishes. I took out the trash. I made my bed. And helped with the laundry. All normal things to learn at my age, but let me tell you, I wasn't impressed. I wanted to go back to the old model where I played or daydreamed or read all day and I wasn't happy when I realized that life was over. Grandmother was firm about her expectations. Everyone works. Everyone. Even my little brothers learned to pick up after themselves.
The other thing I learned was personal responsibility for my behavior. I remember pounding into the house, all hot and bothered about something a friend did, just bursting to share my story. Grandmother listened. Then she told me to sit at the table and she pointed out several problems with my story. She showed me the event wasn't one sided. And when I wanted to argue, she shut it down. "If you can't say something good about your friend, then keep it to yourself. That way you won't have to apologize later for hard words you wish you hadn't said."
Unbeknownst, that was a lesson I was already dealing with. The day before my mother died, I was angry with her and shouted out, "I wish you were dead!" Months later, Grandmother's words reinforced the painful lesson.
Grandmother is long gone now. All my grandparents are gone. They were a powerful influence in my life. And I'm so thankful I was privileged to know them.
Friday, April 6, 2018
But once the book is published, I won't ask for a review. I gratefully accept all reviews. But asking (for me) borders too close to expecting a positive outcome. Several years ago, when I first started my blog, I did Friday reviews of my fellow newbie authors' books. I saw the reviews as a way I could help out other new authors.
A very wise friend pointed out a huge pitfall in my Friday reviews. What would happen when I read a book I didn't care for? Then what was I going to write? After all, there's a big difference between a friend reviewing a book--and a professional reviewer. For one thing, that reviewer doesn't know the author. A friend? Well, that's different.
It's the same in reverse. What will they say if they don't like the book? New writers, in particular, have very fragile egos. A bad review can be devastating. A good review might be a lie.
I confess I love a good review. I'm enough of a perfectionist that I agonize over a four-star review, wondering what I could have changed to elicit a five-star review. And the truth is it's all subjective at best. It so often depends on how the reader feels that day, what their past is, what the weather is like...
I once received a one-star review because the book was too short. It was a book advertised as a 'quickie'. Another time I received a one-star review from a woman who totally trashed my book, then concluded by saying she had cramps and couldn't sleep so she was looking for something light to read.
There's only one way to deal with a bad review. Read it carefully to see if you can learn any thing from it. And then, walk away. Some bad reviews are simply irrational. There's nothing you can do about them.
And for the rest? Enjoy the good ones. Ignore the bad ones. And move on.
Thursday, April 5, 2018
I don't. Never had it. Don't want it. It's just another way for folks to know where I am/what I'm doing. If anyone doesn't believe that, they haven't been paying attention to your average crime show. I haven't gone anywhere exciting lately, but who knows? I might.
I use maps to plan my strategy when I write. Are there mountains nearby? Caves? Rivers? How can I use them in the story? Often, the geography of an area can serve as an antagonist.I don't understand authors who fail to use this resource.
There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who have inherent direction finders in their brains. And those who can't find their way across the street without their GPS. This is exactly why I advocate everyone learning how to read a map. When/if the power grid goes down, everyone should know how to get out of town. Seriously.
Waaaaay back when the hunk and I first married, we decided to celebrate our six-months anniversary by taking a road trip. Chicago to Arizona. We were about two hours down the road when the hunk told me to check our next route change. And we discovered the atlas was at home. Well, he panicked.
I told him I would get us there with no problem.
Not to put too fine a point, he didn't believe me until I directed him to turn into my grandparents' driveway...three days later. We drove straight there with no detours. No getting lost. He never got over it. And that's how I ended up as the family navigator. I can get us almost anywhere, but I always like to check out the maps first.
Speaking of checking...if you're an author and you're going to mention a specific route number, make sure you check that it actually goes where you say, because I once threw a book across the room when an author didn't check...wasn't even close...and I never read another of her books. It's a simple thing to check--and if you can't check such a simple thing, what does that say about the rest of the 'facts' in your book?
Get a road map. Use it. Don't get lost!
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
The pocket rocks were from my Camelot series and the hair piks were from my Mystic Valley series. I thought they would have the advantage of novelty. My daughter and her family were living with us. Everyone in the family was dragooned into painting or some other step in the process. When it was time for the conference, off I went, secure in the belief I had some fabulous giveaways.
Well, it didn't exactly go that way. At the end of the conference, I had a lot of rocks and piks. A reviewer stopped at my table and offered to take them to mail out in various reader packs, so I gave most of them to her. Every one of them had my web page painstakingly printed on them. They weren't expensive, but sure did take hours to make.
And the takeaway? I can't point to even one sale I made from them. And that was supposedly the point, according to all the author advice out there. Get your name in front of potential buyers!
I expect you're wondering why I'm bringing this up now. Well, everyday new writers stumble on to the publishing scene, overwhelmed with advice and helpful tips. Here is mine. Don't waste your money with giveaways in the belief you will attract new readers. Most of the people who take them are already fans. That's okay. Readers deserve extra little rewards. But you really don't need hundreds of them.
The other reality? Many of the folks I talked to packed the stuff from conferences, carted it home, and promptly dumped it in the trash. I have to say the few I discussed this particular conference with told me they still had their rock...or hair pik. So. I guess you could say my hard work paid off. My name is still sitting on their desk.
Monday, April 2, 2018
Not so remarkable in the general scheme of things except A) I don't know anyone in this area named Ginnie (Virginia) and B) I didn't recognize the voice at all. Will I call her back? No. If she calls again and leaves a more detailed message, possibly. But based on a name I don't recognize, a phone number I don't recognize, and a non-message, no.
I know there are folks out there who answer every single phone call, but at our house, we don't. Our criteria for answering is: a phone number we recognize, a name we recognize, or a detailed message that identifies the individual calling and what their business is with us. Possibly harsh, but I've answered my share of scam calls and I'm not interested in answering any more.
The rule here is: State your name. State your business. Explain why I should return your call.
You'd be surprised at the number of calls that are hang-ups. Seems to me they must not need to speak to me if they can't give simple information. I feel it's a matter of good manners. A phone is just as much a portal to my privacy as my front door. No one would expect me to open the door to someone I don't know. Who would do that?
Do you want to talk? Tell me who you are. Tell me why I should answer the phone. Simple.
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Now, I'll be the first writer to raise my hand and confess that rankings were never something I've been too concerned about because my books are so low in the rankings as to be invisible. However, the rankings are now truly invisible. Amazon has arbitrarily decided certain books are offensive. In order to make it harder for readers to be exposed to such books, they've stripped all rankings so those title don't appear in a reader query.
Censorship is a slippery slope--especially censorship based on some nebulous individual's idea of what is offensive. In this case, apparently, reading romance will lead to sex-trafficking. Yep, romance authors are in the forefront of world wide sex-trafficking because their books dare, I say dare to mention the S word...and I'm not talking about snow.
On another front, I read a couple pieces today stating Microsoft was going to take a greater interest in how their products are used (including Word) and to that end they will start searching out offensive material. There's that word again--offensive. Who decides what is--or is not--offensive? And again, recent legislation related to sex-trafficking has been cited for the reason for this sudden intrusion.
So, I just wonder how the Bible would stand up to this form of censorship...considering all those stories about sexual slavery, incest, rape, stoning...not to mention child marriage, etc. I have nothing against the Bible. I was reared in a Bible reading home. But it's strange how censorship is in the eye of the beholder. Folks out there cheering the current wave of changes might want to consider how those same standards could be used to censor almost all sacred texts (Bible, Koran, etc.) because they all contain passages that would apply.
I've always found it interesting how people don't understand how laws that restrict rights of others can be used to restrict their own, with the right government in power. I say, be careful how you rejoice in your victory. When all the writers are silenced, who will they come for next?
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
In my younger days, it seems to me there wasn't as much angst and worry. I think it might have been because we had a tribe. Now, the Internet is the tribal substitute and let's face it, it isn't doing the job. It's okay for fast communication, but less efficient when one person needs to have a heart-to-heart with another. This substitute cannot arrive with a 1/2 gallon of ice cream and listen to our woes. It can't provide a week's worth of meals for our family when we're in the hospital. It can't hold us when we suffer the loss of a loved one. And we can't provide those long distance, either.
That's why we have a tribe. Tribes are comprised of family and friends. The friends might be co-workers, though my experience tells me this is not likely. They might have other things in common with us such as church, sports activities, or hobbies. Mostly, though, they're simply friends of the heart. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think most folks have fewer members in their tribes.
One reason for this is mobility. We live all over the world, often thousands of miles from each other and it's inevitable that we gradually lose the intimacy necessary for true tribal cohesion. For instance, I have four children, three siblings, various cousins, aunts and uncles, and parents. The closest are my two children who both live five hours away from me. I have vague ideas about how their lives are going, but no real involvement in their lives.
For true tribal cohesion you need immediacy. And frequent contact. Somehow, so gradually we missed it, we've allowed social media to take the place of our tribe. And when an Internet 'friend' wanders away, well, we don't miss them for long because we're not really involved, are we? They really aren't our tribe.
If we are going to have the comfort and support of a tribe, we first have to build one. We have to exert the effort to join our lives with others around us.
Or we can just sit back and let the fleeting relationships on the Internet act as our substitute tribe. In that case, we shouldn't be surprised if we are lonely or anxious or any of the other separation issues that seem rampant in our world today.
Sunday, March 25, 2018
I learned to embroider from my grandma. She taught me how to cross-stitch on checked gingham. Simple patterns were easy to follow by only using the white squares. And the corners easily defined where to stick the needle. But in addition to that, I learned some other basic skills, such as how to use a thimble, how to thread a needle, how to make a decent knot, and how to take care of my tools. When my project was finished, I also had something to show for my work.
A friendly neighbor taught me how to knit when I was newly married. I made a sweater for my oldest child, and a few winter scarves before life took up so much of my time and knitting went by the wayside for quite a long time--but I never forgot the actual skill of knitting. Forty-plus years later, when I wanted to learn how to knit a sock, those old skills came back.
Another friend taught me how to crochet (which in some ways is an even more practical skill) and after the hunk had double carpel tunnel surgery I taught him how to crochet, too. Over the years, he's crocheted probably fifty blankets/afghans, several placemats, and a bunch of soap hangers. I on the other hand, have crocheted two or three blankets, half a dozen baskets, and some little squares we use to protect our furniture from tea, water, coffee, hot chocolate, and hot mugs. I forget what they're called.
By now, I can see the fellows rolling their eyes. But you know, that's sexist if you are. My dad taught me how to use a screwdriver and hammer and how to measure things before I used a saw. A hand saw. I've changed oil on several cars. I've changed tires. And when we had a vehicle that wasn't so tall, I filled my own wiper fluid, checked the other fluids, and put air in the tires. You know--all those manly skills.
I've painted walls/ceilings, built bookcases, sided a house, helped roof a house (twice), changed a muffler during an ice storm, repaired a water pipe under my house that broke during a freeze, and repaired numerous toilets/sinks/and disposals.
All of these I consider life skills.
My neighbor and friend--actually several of them--taught me how to cook. When I married, I literally burned water more than once. But friends stepped in and I have a pretty wide variety of dishes I know how to cook (most of them are nutritional) and a growing lists of baking skills. I was never much of a candy maker, and that's no doubt a blessing. I made sure all of my children had basic cooking skills. And basic sewing skills. And knew how to do laundry. But I know there are people out there who don't have those skills, so if you see someone struggling, offer to teach them how to do something. In this world of increasing food costs and rocketing obesity, good cooking skills are important. Maybe even life-changing.
But, you know...homey, cozy skills aren't the only ones we need to share. I bet you've never thought about sharing driving skills. There's more to learning how to drive than turning the ignition key and keeping the car in your lane. Long range planning is important. Know where you're going. Make sure you're in the correct lane well ahead of time before you need to turn. Know how to read the traffic. Know how to read a map. I figure if the power grid ever crashes (taking all those GPS' with it), the folks that get where they need to go will be the map readers. Know more than one route to get where you want to go. And for those people who know someone with dyslexic issues, consider the fact that those issues can also affect directional problems and number problems. Help them learn how to drive with landmarks and other aids.
We live in an illiterate world. A staggering number of adults don't know how to read. If you know someone like that, offer to teach them. The hunk made it all the way through school--and graduated--without learning to read above 2nd grade level. I taught him to read when we married. I've taught co-workers to read. And friends. And neighbors. Not knowing how to read isn't shameful, but knowing someone is struggling and not offering to help, is. One way to help while preserving the feelings of someone is to barter teaching skills. That non-reader might be a whiz woodworker. Learn from each other.
Everyone has a skill. Instead of hanging out on the Internet or vegging out in front of the TV, get out there and find someone to share your skill with. Somewhere, someone needs exactly what you know.
Saturday, March 24, 2018
Thousands of children die every year, every month, every day in horrible, horrible ways. They might die by gunshots. Or car accidents. They might be abused, raped, and tortured--and then die. Some are starved to death or locked in dark closets. One child I read about froze to death. Another was drugged. Some die from bombs or other forms of terrorism. For every child who dies, a dream is unfulfilled.
Friday, March 23, 2018
"It's probably arthritis." Arthritis gets blamed for a lot of pain, maybe unfairly. Maybe...it's overusing a joint. Or repetitive motion. Could just be sleeping in the wrong position. And it might literally be something you ate.
"It's just a low grade fever." Yeah? So what's causing this low grade fever? Is you body fighting something you're not paying attention to?
"I have back issues." Number one reason for back issues is? Sitting, sitting, sitting. If you don't have 'em now, you will if you continue to sit. Move around. Set a timer to remind you.
However, few people complain about pain because they don't remember what it's like to live without it. You can actually become so inured to pain that you ignore it in the general business of living--until you're incapacitated. Then it becomes a life changing issue.
I think we're wrong to ignore it. We do ourselves a disservice, possibly preventing an issue from being treated in a timely manner, because, well--it's just a little pain. Women, in particular have been taught their entire lives to just deal with it. Horrible menstrual pain? Deal with it. Vague chest or back pain? Deal with it.
Well, damn it! No. Don't deal with it. Do something about it. See a doctor, and if he/she waves it off, see another until you find one who takes you seriously. Because the doctor isn't living with your pain. You are. Male, female, old, young, if you have chronic pain, speak up. Fix it.
Fix it before you have to live with pain and agony.
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Everything Lovers Can Know tells the story of how Jade and Baron (Merlyn) Llewellyn met and fell in love. After the End of the story, Jade and Baron end up trapped in Mystic Valley. Everything Lovers Can Know is available in e-book at Amazon.
The actual stories set in the valley begin with Dancer's Delight, the story of Dancer Devereaux's desperate flight from his enemies only to stumble into the strange, wonderful, weird world of Mystic Valley where the men are manly enough to wear kilt-like garments they call shardas and the women are both beautiful and wise. And the wisest, loveliest of them all, is Eppie, Dancer's mate and the daughter of Jade and Merlyn. Dancer's Delight is available in e-book at Amazon.
In Traveller's Refuge, Dancer's brother Traveller follows the clues left behind by his Dancer. In his case, he opts to bring along his friend, Bishop. Things don't go well for them. Trav is injured in an explosion that traps them in a cave. By the time they enter Mystic Valley, Bishop is anxious to locate someone, anyone who can help his friend Trav. While he recovers, Trav has plenty of time to fall in love with Eppie's sister, Wrenna, a sprite red-haired beauty that gives Trav a run for his money. Traveller's Refuge will be released July 1st.
In Love Never-Ending, Bishop finally gets his love story. Bishop is not happy to be stuck in the valley. He had a life outside the valley where he was perfectly happy. Not even the attractive Samara is enough to make him happy until he nearly loses her. Only then does he realize exactly what a prize he has.
Blue Paradise tells the story of Pouseé, a young woman who is part of an invasion force. She quickly discovers she is on the 'wrong' side of the invasion when Jonson and Mali capture and claim her for their mate. But Pouseé is no pushover as her mates soon find out.
Tracer's Lullaby, currently a work in progress, is the story of Tracer and his lover, Robyn, and Tracer's struggle to accept his destiny despite terrible tragedies and obstacles.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
For instance, right now we have a quality of light I call snowlight. It's snowing briskly out there, but you can tell the clouds are thinning so there's more light. It's luminescent and bright because of the snow. Lovely. But it's not the kind of thing we remember in six months when we're writing a snow scene.
No, we're more likely to remember that cold, bluish light that comes when we first wake up to a blowing blizzardly snow. Clouds are heavier and it's darker. That's the snow most of us remember when we think about snow.
In my time, I've observed a LOT of snow. Deep snow. Slushy snow. Up-to-my-waist, I'll-never-get-this-driveway-clear-snow. I've even survived the my-roof-might-cave-in-snow. My favorite...is snowlight.
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Rule #2: See rule number one.
I've never understood the irresistible urge folks have to do anything in rule #1. About ninety percent of the phishing issues can simply be avoided by embracing rule #1.
Think about it.
Rule #3: No one is going to give you money over the internet or phone.
Monday, March 19, 2018
I still have those books. My children and my grandchildren have read them. And yes, I still read them, too.
Over time, I've collected books of my own. Favorite authors, classics, research books, and how-to books. A friend once came to visit me with an acquaintance I had never met. He stood in my living room, gawking at the 6K+ books stashed in multiple bookcases. My friend told him I probably had a book on almost any subject he could think of. He blurted out, "Ancient weapons." And then just stared when I pulled not one, but two books on ancient weapons from the shelf.
Other folks worry about furniture or pictures for their walls. I have bookcases. Not enough, of course, so I double book them. I'm never for a loss when I want to read, because a) I have a lot of books, and b) I re-read them. I don't keep a book unless it's a keeper, a book I know I'll want to re-read.
I'm insatiably curious about all sorts of stuff. I could travel to the library and hope they had an appropriate book, but then I'd have to worry about returning it. And I like to take my time perusing books on new subjects. The solution is buy my own. Some come from second hand shops. Some I find online. And some I purchase new from bookstores. My last two books were a) a book on chair yoga, and b) a book on the Aztecs and Mayas. I'm still working my way through them.
So when others are watching movies or television, I'm likely reading. Traveling? Definitely reading. Sick? Reading. In the waiting room at the clinic? Reading.
Reading. It's the comfort for the modern man or woman.
Sunday, March 18, 2018
The thing about reverted book rights is this: every author starts over. Whether you find a new publisher or if you republish on your own, it's as though you've never been published at all--at least it is on the various sites that sell your books. Every review you ever had goes away because you have a new cover, new edition, new publisher, so it follows it must be a new book.
When I was in limbo (between the Published Author stage and the Indie Author stage), I couldn't understand the almost desperate tone of established authors pleading for reviews. Ah, the agony. Now I understand. I had several lovely reviews for my 'old' books but they are no more.
Professional reviewers aren't inclined to review older books--and rightly so. They have more books than they can possibly handle, with a new wave every week. So the review conundrum is just another puzzle the Published Author-to-Indie Author faces.
It might have been an excellent book at one time...but how will a new reader know that?
Saturday, March 17, 2018
I never did. I've tried it. Back in the days when I was an office professional, everyone else in my office had calendars on their desks. They wrote things down. Really. Me...I sort of winged it. In January, when we received our new calendars, I went through and entered everyone's birthdate. Annnnd, that was it.
I knew when all the other stuff was happening because, well, I knew. In my head. I just never figured out how to manage dates. One of my coworkers knew every date for every surgery/hospitalization/doctor's appt. of everyone--even mine. I have no idea unless there's something else I can attach it to, like one of my children's birthdays.
And then something happened to my inner date keeper. It died. Between meds and health issues, there are times I have trouble keeping track of hours, let alone days. So now I'm working on establishing a calendar.
Back when I was a new writer, I wrote a book, sent it off to my editor, and if the publisher wanted it, then my editor took care of the schedule. It was great. I wrote. Editors and publishers managed all that other stuff.
Now, I'm republishing my own stuff and I have all these schedules and responsibilities to track. Cover? Check. Edit/Revision? Check. Front matter/back matter/etc.? Check. Release date? Check. PR? Not so much a check...
It wasn't too bad for one or two books, but I have twenty. And a new calendar. It isn't much to look at, but I have releases listed through July 1st. I suppose that's something. As long as I don't misplace it. In the meantime, I feel like I've accomplished something on the order of climbing Mt. Everest, because I really, really don't do calendars.
We'll see how this goes.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
First! Where are all the 30-50 year old men? Are there no lightly seasoned fellows out there? My characters are two well-seasoned vampires. One was a Roman senator. The other was a Viking warrior. They have seasoning. Think the gents from The Highlander television show. They don't look old, but they've definitely lived a bit.
Second...there are hundreds of different types of swords besides the standard curved Japanese fighting sword (or Katana). My guys used straight swords. Viking and Roman, right? Straight and heavy.
Third--Every sword fighter fell into like three categories. Costumed (most of them), Samurai (see Katana discussion above), or fantasy (lightning, fog, balls of light) with the addition of heavy hooded cloaks. No contemporary guys. See, I was thinking more along the line of some guy dressed in a long leather duster...with his sword...
Four. Well, words fail me when it comes to the women. What's wrong with giving them some clothes??? And just tell me, what woman in her right mind would have a sword fight in a bikini and high heels? Or, the aforementioned hooded cloak. With her hair blowing in her face so she can't see what the heck she's bashing. Really? Did I mention my chick is Greek, not Asian, and the only women dressed in a remotely sensible fashion were all Asian...with their Katakana?
Then I thought, well why not check out the vampires? Nope. See, my thought is...why wouldn't you run like hell in the other direction if the guy looked as skeezy as most of the vamps on offer? Wouldn't he need to be attractive if he was hunting? Otherwise, why wouldn't you be checking out someone else...like a werewolf?
And this is why most of my covers have no people on them.
Monday, March 12, 2018
I wondered again why I bother. And then I recalled the interesting post Linda Howard did on surviving a blizzard. And the post on Missouri's marriage age laws (there are none). And the Smithsonian article on Harriet Tubman on the $20. So...there are occasional nuggets in the flotsam. I don't remember if it was always this way. Or is this something that's taken on a life of its own in the last couple years?
I jettisoned Twitter long ago. Yahoo. So many others. Why do I hang in here?
Mostly, it gives me a place to stay in touch with friends and family. And yes, there are certain people whose opinions interest me, so I seek them out and read their words. The rest of it, I hide. I figure if Facebook can hide my posts, I can hide theirs.
More and more, I am convinced they are only showing posts in a targeted fashion. At first, I just ignored all the craziness, but you know? I'm done with that. There's a function that allows us to hide posts, so why not use it? When you see the same three stupid posts for days, it's time to move on.
Of course, it might be other people out there find MY posts annoying. So be it. Fair is fair.
May the best poster win.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
This happens with disconcerting frequency since I had a mini-stroke back in the day. It's annoying. And ups the difficulty quotient when writing. Sometimes it happens when I'm talking to someone, but in that case you just say, "I forgot the word for that." And move on with the conversation. After all, it's not nearly as frustrating as forgetting how to tie your shoes. But writing...well, forgetting a word can stop you in your tracks. Sometimes I just put a notation in the sentence to check it out later. Other times, it's too much and I save the document and go take a shower or some other distraction.
Since I've been typing this blog, the dragon word came to me--scales. Dragons are covered in scales. Quick, return to the document and type it in while it's still there!
Sometimes I think of the word and then spend two or three days still convinced it isn't the word I really wanted. Occasionally, I'm right about that and when I return to the book via edits, the correct word pops into my brain and I change it then. Or I'll search through my synonym finder until I find a similar word and then when I edit, I'll think of the word I want.
I'm a little OCD about having the right word. It makes writing frustrating. Some folks wonder why writing takes so long. Well, here's the answer. Disappearing words. They just fade into the big black hole in my brain and sometimes they reappear and other times they're gone forever.
I have a solution. I find a good book and kick back and read. When my mind is engaged elsewhere, the words sometimes sneak out of the black hole on tippy-toes. That's when I grab a sticky and jot the word down quickly before it disappears.
I bet you thought the biggest problem for a writer was finding the time to write. Nope. It's lassoing the words before they get away!
Friday, March 9, 2018
I thought about my options. One was to just toss a short story at the end of a book as a little lagniappe. But I find myself feeling cheated when an author does that, particularly when they don't mention it in the book description. Invariably, the book is far shorter than I anticipated because the author planned to add on the short story.
My second option was to use related short stories as an add-on with a series story. But then...what about the stories that don't have any related worlds? What to do with them?
Finally, I decided to just publish them in sets of two. I call them desserts because they're not long enough for a full meal. And really, isn't dessert the best part?
All of them will have the same cover. Most of them have been extensively revised and expanded to offer my readers a delicious experience. And they'll all be 99 cents.
So...keep an eye out for Romance Desserts: One. It will be coming out in May--something luscious to enjoy with the spring flowers and warm sunny days!
Monday, March 5, 2018
How do you recommend a book you love?
Thursday, March 1, 2018
One reader wrote to ask if I had a 'plan' for book order release. Well...no. I did, but then I discovered some books were going to require more work than others so my current plan is to alternate a series release with a standalone release. And we'll work it out from there. I have a couple new releases close to readiness. I'll insert them when I can. In the meantime, I appreciate the readers who are purchasing the reissued books. Thank you so much for your support. And thanks to my fellow authors who are sharing my release information!
It might seem reissuing a book would be a simple thing, but as an author, I can tell you it's not what it seems. Inevitably, when you re-read your book, you note errors and changes you need or want to make. Now, I'm not talking about huge revisions to the story. But, I am talking about things like the word 'that'. Heh. In some books, it's obviously my favorite word. The last book I edited, my favorite phrase was 'at the moment'. And there were a LOT of 'moments'. And 'so'. Yeah. So, so, so...
I do have a series I'm working on for time-line issues. Lots of time-line issues. The books have already been published--and read by many readers--so why worry about it? Well, I have more books planned for that series. And the time-line issues will certainly impact those new stories. The solution? Fix 'em now. Most readers wouldn't notice them until they reach those new books, but then...yeah, maybe they would. Maybe they'd notice the odds and ends I picked up--especially if they're like me and they read a series in one sitting, so to speak. You tend to notice stuff more when you do that.
Anyway, that's the plan! As I have a better idea of my schedule, I'll try to let you know! In the meantime--back to the plot!
Monday, February 5, 2018
First...I've tried just about everything. Exercise. Counting calories. Diet plans. Over a year ago, the hunk and I joined Weight Watchers. He lost 55 pounds. I lost 15. And stumbled to a halt.
Changed up our menus. Switched around how I used my points. Still hung in there at 15 pounds and no counting down. My glucose counts were fluctuating all over the place. And yes, I was miserable.
Then one night I watched a short piece on television. You know the kind I mean. Three minutes with the lead in, "It might not be what you're eating, but when..." Absently, I listened while I had my dinner. But as the woman in the piece listed her medical issues, and explained exactly what she changed (as part of a study group at Johns Hopkins), I paid more attention. Then I thought...why not? What did I have to lose?
Well, it turns out, the first week I lost .8 pounds. The second week I lost 1 pound. Hmmmm. And the sugar? Dropped significantly, with six days out of seven coming in well under my top target number of 120.
What did I do? I stopped eating after six p.m. That's it? That's it. I have water to drink.
But what about other dietary changes? I didn't change anything else because this was a test for that one factor. I will give it four weeks. If it continues to hold true, then I'll slowly add other changes. By then, the weather should be better so I can resume my walks.
Why is six p.m. the magic number? Well, actually, it isn't. The crucial number is six hours before you go to bed. For me, that's midnight. Will it work for anyone? Maybe not.
But as I said...what do you have to lose?
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Hunk: How many is a few? The rest of the book?
When was the last time you sat up late reading a book? Do you remember the book title? The author? Or have there been so many you can't remember anything at all about the book?
Back when I was a much younger woman, the hunk and I moved to Houston, where I didn't know a soul. He went to work all day, then worked an evening job while I 'kept' house and cared for three kids under four. To save my sanity, I borrowed zillions of books from the library which was quite fortuitously only two blocks away.
And it was there I discovered Georgette Heyer. It's been a life-long love affair. I have a copy of every single one of her books--in print. For me, she's not an author I read digitally. Why? I don't know.
I remember the first book of hers I read. It was Sprig Muslin. I read it in my bathroom while everyone else slumbered in a silent apartment. Why in the bathroom? Well, it was the only place I could go where I could close the door. So, I sat on a cold, hard toilet seat cover and read that book in the flickering over-the-sink lights. I laughed. I laughed so hard I slid down between the toilet and the bathtub. That's some serious humor.
I have since read that book numerous times. I confess it's not as funny the second or third time around, but at that time in the lonely early hours before dawn, it was a life saving story of laughter and romance, a story I desperately needed right then. For that very reason, it will always be one of my favorites. There are many others. It's hard to choose when you get right down to it, but that's the way when you find a treasure.
There have been others. Books that I mourned when I reached the end while simultaneously reveling in the wonderful satisfying ending. Morning Glory by Lavryle Spencer. The Arthurian cycle books by Mary Stewart. The Last Breed by Louis L'Amour. Birthright by Nora Roberts. The Road to Dusty Death by Alistair MacLean. The Freedom series by Anne McCaffrey. White Fang by Jack London.
I expect most readers could compile their own lists. I hope so. I believe that lure to wile away the night reading, whether in the bathroom, or under the covers with a flashlight, or curled up with a comfy afghan in a recliner is probably one of the most important experiences in my life. Books...a life saving love affair.
Just one more page!
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
In order to win at the shell game, the player must know one thing...what is the operator's game plan? The sad thing is, most players don't even know the operator has a game plan, let alone what that plan might be. Part of the game plan, actually a significant part of the game plan, is the group of shills in the audience. It's a con game, after all.
In our national shell game, the shills are the congress. No one seems to get it. You have to have eyes in the back of your head to catch the shiftiest shills, but without them, there would be no shell game. For instance, this last weekend, they staged a big bullfeathers crisis for the country. And while our attention was diverted, the operator imposed a 30% tariff on imported solar panels. The U.S. producers of the panels are thrilled as the foreign competition was undercutting their business. The installers of the panels are NOT thrilled as their working costs will go up. There are no long term winners here because the jobs lost won't be covered by the jobs won. There ya go. Typical shell game.
There is much discussion about Russian Trolls and how they influenced the elections, the daily processes of our government, even the payoffs in congress. They're the hidden shills in the shell game. The problem is the citizens stumble around in the alleyways, fascinated by the bright shiny noises the shills are making and never feel the sticky fingers picking their wallets right out of their hands.
There is no 'good' political party. There is no 'Christian leader'. All we have are a bunch of shell games with shady operators and greedy shills. And regardless of the illegality of the games, the folks responsible for overseeing things are all looking the other way.
Thursday, January 18, 2018
The hunk and I attend Weight Watchers--mostly so we weigh in on a regular basis. The program is an excellent starter program for individuals who want to make changes in their eating choices. For the rest of us, it can offer support when we go wild with those bad choices. Or perhaps another member can offer some alternatives so we can change up our menus.
But! It mostly boils down to daily choices. That's what it's all about. What we eat--and how much we eat--determines the final number on the scale. Or as our leader says, the feedback from the scale tells us whether we're making good choices. The longer you spend time paying attention to your choices, the more conscious you become when faced with an increasing array of choices.
For instance, hamburger, fries, and milkshake. Yeah. Sooooo fattening. Eh, fried chicken, salad, and tea. Hmmmm. Fried. And how much dressing is on that salad? And is it sweetened tea?
Well. I eat stuff. I eat ice cream once in a while. I relish every bite. And then I'm done with it until the next time I go visit my friend Jane, because that's when I eat ice cream. I look forward to it. But there isn't any at my house. That's the key. If you're going to eat something that's a less than healthy choice, eat it someplace else. And then walk away.
When we started W.W., my breakfast added up to 28 points. I was only allowed 32 total points for the day. Butter = 5 points per pat. Jelly = 3 points per tablespoon. Creamer = 2 points per 1 ounce. Heh. When's the last time you measured creamer? So, I made some changes. And I squirreled my breakfast down to 13 points. I made substitutions. I tried the gazelle.
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Now, I guess you're wondering why I'm telling you this. It's simple. Time is precious.
When I was a youngster, most of the folks in the picture were around all the time. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and of course, my own parents. Within ten years of the time this picture was taken, my paternal grandfather died of a blood clot during surgery and my mother died in a car crash. Both were unexpected and far too young to be dead.
While I was growing up, there were times when I had occasional flashes of wisdom to realize my family members wouldn't always be around. When you're young, you think your life will always be the same, but I'd lost my mom so underneath that veneer of security, I knew that wasn't true.
Once I was an adult, I had a better idea of life's realities, but still...old age was far off. And then it seemed it wasn't as far off as I believed. My older family members started dying--some of old age, some of cancer, and others from other ailments. Abruptly, the family circle was down to three or four.
A couple days ago I spoke to my father. It was a casual call, checking on them because I know the weather is bad where they live. We talked about everything from the neighbors, to the unusual snow on the ground to an acquaintance of theirs who brings negativity to an entirely new level. None of our conversation was earthshaking or soul searching, but it was reaching out, touching his heart. He mentioned another person he tried to call several different times, but after very brief conversations this individual always had something to do. Dad said, "What he really means is he doesn't have time for me."
I try to call my parents at least twice a week. They live 1800 miles away. I can't just drop by whenever I want to see them. But I can call. I can spend whatever time they have to talk with me. Do they tell me the same old stories over and over? Yep. Do they lose their train of thought? Oh, yeah. So do I. Do I love them? With all my heart.
Some day, probably not too far in the future, they'll be gone. And then, all my precious time won't bring them back. So if you have someone you love, pick up that phone. We all spend time on things we find important. Ask yourself, just how important are they? Enough to give up a television program? Or a computer game? Or any of the other silly nonsense we spend time on?
Make the call.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Some people keep their info on a spread sheet, some use paper and pen, and others use a program similar to OneNote, and others might even use index cards. The important thing is to keep that sucker up to date. And of course, remember where you put it when you finished your last book.
In the process of revising/updating/editing my Mystic Valley series, I found out just how much I've forgotten. It took a while (emptying closets, book shelves, trunks, etc.) but I finally located the bible for the series. I was pleasantly shocked to discover it required minimal additions and changes--even with all my revisions. In effect, I was reinventing the wheel with my revisions. If I had first consulted the bible, then I wouldn't have had to recalculate time lines. Bah!
Today is an 'update the bible' kind of day. If I work through it quickly enough, then I'll get back to my edits on Dancer's Delight. Might even finish those tomorrow. And then it will be on to Traveller's Refuge. The exciting thing for me is to see how intricate and detailed the world I created really is. Over time you forget your own accomplishments. This has been a reminder for me. I'm a world class creator.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
In one book alone, a character was in turn fifteen, a budding warrior, seventeen, a Champion warrior, sixteen, a hunter, and finally the future High Clan Chief--all in a period of two months. Another character took his warrior vows at two different times in two separate locations in the same period.
In the previous book, the main character accomplished various tasks in two weeks, five weeks, eight weeks, but the entire time elapsed was two months. I'm poor at math, but even I can tell that doesn't add up.
One character was forty-five when the book started and fifty two when it ended...six months later. It's a good trick if he could pull it off.
Next to all of the time-line errors, the excessive 'thats' and 'justs' and other annoying issues are all non-starters. It appears I will need to start back at the beginning with a series of maps and a detailed chronology and family tree lest I end with someone marrying their great aunt Susie three years before they were born!
Heh. I always loved solving a good mystery. Game on.
Friday, January 12, 2018
I could have done the same thing, but instead I thought about it and then pointed out the major benefit for me--and likely for a lot of others--is the opportunity to interact with other people. Because of medical issues, I rarely speak face-to-face with people. If the hunk and I go for a walk, we're careful to stay a safe distance from other walkers. He does the shopping while I read in the car. Without the Internet, it could be a lonely life.
But... through the miracle of the Internet, I can interact with friends, fellow authors, readers, family...in fact, I have the opportunity to meet far more folks than I would otherwise. Through the magic window, I can read the news, laugh at kittens, sympathize with folks caught up in various disasters, chime in with my opinion on various issues, and read what others think about the appalling political situation in our country. I can reach out to fellow authors with encouragement and advice. I can share photos with my family. None of it would have been possible fifteen years ago.
Do I spend too much time on the Internet? Of course, I do. We all are guilty of that. But for a growing segment of the population, the magic window provides a necessary chance to cast off our shackles of loneliness, to become less hermits and more citizens of our world. Not everyone grabs the opportunities afforded to them, but for me...it's a life saver.
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
I know some authors who face similar challenges with technology. It doesn't take long for the entire world of electronics to whiz into an entirely different orbit. Since the series I'm working on has NO technology to speak of, that isn't one of my problems.
But the kissing bits is something else to ponder. I've really looked at the story I'm currently editing, trying to judge what to do. And I've concluded the series will be best left as is. Yep, it's a bit steamy. But the central theme of the series is the cultural differences between one world and another. And how the new-comers face dealing with those differences is what the books are about. Therefore, trying to write around the steamy bits would be counter to the story.
In this case...yeah, the kissing bits have to stay.
Anytime an author edits/revises/changes an older book for the current market, there are always going to be issues the author has to decide. Life and cultural mores change sometimes in the blink of an eye. If you don't believe this truth, just think back over the last year or two. Cultures constantly evolve, whether technologically or morally or financially. Five years ago, people and corporations routinely used checks. Now almost all money transactions are via electronics. Music was sold by CDs. I have no clue how it's sold now as I quit buying when I couldn't figure it out any more. Movies have skipped directly from the theater to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.
For the most part, I believe leaving a book intact as written is best. Corrections (grammar, punctuation, spelling, and time-line issues excepted) should be minimal. After all, that book was written at a particular stage of the author's development. That's where they were at that time. And for me, at that time in my life, I was writing darn excellent steamy romance stories.
If I'm lucky, I might do so again.
Monday, January 8, 2018
I located the most recent version of Dancer's Delight and started wading through the story, making the changes I've long wanted to implement, deleting all the 'thats' and 'justs' and other over-used words, and changing some to more appropriate words. Around half way through, the hunk proposed we take advantage of the holiday sales to replace my aging computer and he tossed in a huge new monitor as I'm also aging and need a bit of a push with the old eyesight.
When I finally was able to return to the manuscript, I had no idea where I left off. Yep. You would think I would have some notion, but I've just read it too many times, so I decided to give my eyes a rest and printed out the entire thing.
In the process, I was reminded of something I've always known, but sort of shuffled to the back of my tired brain. Editing on paper is vastly different from editing digitally. Our brains and eyes process the printed word quite differently than digital. I expect some of the bad editing we see in other's books is due to this very thing.
But there's another advantage to editing on paper--at least for me. I love using my handy-dandy red pen, slashing through unneeded words, scribbling alternate dialogue in the margins, and noting down bits of research to take care of. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and yeah, power. Power I revel in over my own work. There isn't the same fulfillment when working on the computer. And I also believe the slower business of reading and editing on paper allows me to contemplate the words I'm working with. It allows me to mentally 'hear' the dialogue and descriptions. It permits me to ponder the inner rhythm of the story.
It's going to take a while longer than I planned to finish editing this story, but already I can see it will be worth it. And after all, that's the main thing isn't it? When this book is for sale, I'll know I've presented the very best of myself.