Friday, May 22, 2015

Afton: A New Beginning

It was a busy day for the both of us. Having the day off, I did laundry and got to a couple of things that needed my attention in the house. And then I went outside and used weed killer on things that just won't go away by pulling them up. I then worked on my new garden along side the garage. Like I need more to do. Right?

My husband, Dennis, was taking care of the clutter around the shop and the large shed. He has been moving equipment out of the area--things I can't even tell you what they were for at one time. One was a "cherry picker", another had been used to burn things, and it was on wheels...

Anyway, he was doing his thing all day, like me. He even got out other equipment, like electric chain saw--oh, boy does he like that thing. He worked on clearing out an large honeysuckle bush, and cleaned an area of junk and now there is a picnic table underneath the large maple tree, and you can see the wetlands from the shop, now. You couldn't do that before.

More needs to be done, but little by little he's getting things cleaned up around here. The old boss is gone and he's taken over. I think anyone who hasn't been here in a while will probably be surprised by the change.

If I ever get caught up on things inside and out, I'll be surprised. But there's always the moment, in the evening, after my hot bubble bath, and before dinner when I can walk out to the edge of the property and look out at the wetlands, listen to the constant sounds of geese, and the twittering of birds. An Oriole has been flitting from one tree to another. I think he likes it here.

I'll leave you with a picture of the wetlands with a certain haze in the morning. The photographer, Tom Robins, captures a bit of the serenity I experience here, and no where would I rather be on Memorial Day Weekend, when every one's out on the road trying to get somewhere.

I'm already there.  Have a good weekend everyone!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Changes

A couple of weeks ago we learned that the supervisor of the DeKalb County Forest Preserve (Where we live and Dennis works for summer), was retiring. His name is Buck. He told Dennis only a few days before he was going to be gone and out of there. Which gave Dennis no chance to find things out from him, and every time Dennis asked, he'd tell him he didn't have time. Butt-hole. He had planned it that way, we figured. There's more. I'll get to that in a bit here.

View from observation deck at highest point in our park. The trail in center of picture
is a footpath up the hill. I often take it when I go out on a long walk.
There are many miles of trails in our over 300 acre park. Catch & release fishing, lots of
bird and wildlife watching opportunities.
I was sick with a bad cold a few weeks ago, and then last weekend my phone line (which is how I get to do this) had a problem, and they had to come out and fix it (usually it's mice chewing on the wires, and I call them and they come out--eventually). I've been back, but busy. Busy, busy, busy.

Spring is usually when I get into my gardens, so I'm outside a lot. It's also a fickle time with rain/storms, etc. Which has been the case, but I've managed to work up a sweat shoveling wood chips from a pile, loading it into a wheel barrel, and hauling it about 50 yards into my new woodland passage. I did five loads on Thursday. I had to quit. My back isn't the best these days.

I began pruning things way back in March, and now things are greening up. Deer roam through our yard, and this woods, as we live smack dab in the middle of the forest preserve where my husband is employed. He's had this part time job for 20 years. He kept hoping he'd get a full-time permanent job. But it would seem that Buck was the negative force behind keeping Dennis from advancing. Probably telling the superintendent that he wasn't capable, or whatever, of doing certain things. He wouldn't show him certain aspects of the job! Like he worried that Dennis would be better at it or something (yeah. He would be, I expect) About the only other thing besides mowing, and pruning (oh, and cleaning outhouses and garbage), was also he could plow in the winter. I won't go into more, because there's just too much to mention here. But here's what happened...

Well, when Buck retired, that put the guy who had the full-time position into his vacated position. Then, we got an email (I did, Dennis doesn't do computers), from the superintendent, Terry, asking if Dennis was interested in this full-time position. Well, HELL YEAH! (I didn't say that, but in a more dignified way I said he was, and for him to have a dialogue with Dennis, and that Buck hadn't told him until a couple of days prior that he was leaving. (the butt-hole)

And the day came.,,

Once Buck vacated the premises, Dennis went out to claim/clean out/ organize the shop (which is on the same property as our house). I remember that day his saying to me he wouldn't go out there on Friday, which was the day after Buck left. I said, "Yes you will. It's like a dog going and marking his territory." Yes. He did go out there and worked on some cleaning and rearranging and so forth. Funny thing. He could not find a 1/2" wrench. Not in there or in his own tool box. Weird.

That next Monday, Dennis went to take in his time card (how he gets paid), and spoke to Terry, the superintendent. I think it was the most important meeting he's ever had with Terry, aside from 21 years ago when he went in to apply for this job at Afton. They agreed on a lot of areas, I think Terry had no idea what Dennis wanted to do out here, and that day, I think he found out Dennis had the same vision as he did.

Anyway, Terry gave him full-time hours (he only had 32 before), and has a chance to get this permanently, and I'm crossing my toes and fingers he does. He says he won't be upset if he doesn't get it, but I think he would be. I know I would be.

It's been two weeks and Dennis has been learning how to do things on his own because he wasn't shown squat. The man who retired, we know, was a very negative force, I do believe his leaving has changed everything. He called the mower place to pick up his mower to get fixed. He got a huge 72" deck mower, and the ride is wonderful, he says. The superintendent ordered another new mower, not quite that large, for the other man who works out here. Nice to get things you need.

We've also given Terry a list of things we have needed fixed on the house for a while. The front door is original one in this house (1906). We can't use it. Stupid, isn't it? We've asked for a new door for YEARS!. We had to always go through Buck for everything. At least we got a nice new kitchen, a few years back.

What I've been up to

Lately, I've been going through all my crafts from 1997/98. I've got a butt load of Christmas pins, ornaments, a number of painted Coke bottles, and Mason jars. Let me tell you, when I introduced the painted Coke bottles, at first they didn't move. Then, they went out the door. I got orders for them, certain things someone wanted painted. One woman wanted one for every month. I charged $6.00 for them.

I do have a degree in art, I've always dabbled in different things when it came to that. I can paint, I can work in clay (little snowmen are cute!) Anyway, I want to try my hand at carving wood, see if I've got the knack for that. You never know what I might try next.

I've nearly got my inventory done. I had to interrupt it all to clean upstairs, as it was rather dusty. We don't use the upstairs for anything but storage, so it wasn't a place we went to often. I'm now working up there. Not sure how long, as I'll need to have the a.c. up there, and then a few things moved around, a window fixed and so on.

I'm going to first have to find a store that will take my crafts. I don't want to make anything new, right now. I want to wait and see if these things are still popular, if people buy them. Oh, and I can earn money in order to restock my supplies. Paint and such.

Both of us are feeling this change in the air. Dennis has a new man working under his supervision. He guesses Dale is about his age, or maybe a bit younger. He's a retired UPS driver--very punctual. He's quite nice, and they seem to get along. Plus, the guy is a good worker. That's what matters. Dennis wants to get off the mower a little more, give Dale more mowing, if he wants, and sounds like the guy is gun-ho.

So, that's my news for time being. I'll try and post something in here weekly. I'm working 3 days a week, but it's 6 hours, and if the weather is good when I get home, I go to work on my gardens.

Hope your week goes well.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Is a Bad Review Better Than None?

Unfortunately, this review was the very first for my Sabrina Strong book #4, Caprice. Yup. E.Foley ("lizard 1969") hits again. And it's like a train wreck. But I'm not here to whine. Nope. I'm gonna answer this "review" right here.

Maybe people would think me nuts for posting this and answering it here. I mean, do any of you other writers get a bad review and just want to strangle that person for posting it? Or better yet, answer it? See, I can't answer her at the review site (you need to have bought something on Amazon. I haven't, so...)

She gave "Caprice" 2 stars. But I'm peeved because she's into the series, I know, because she has bought each book in turn and put her review up right away. She sort of reminds me of Charley Harper's mother who can't say "Atta boy." No nice thing to say. Ever.

Here's her first line:

"I hate being the first one to rate this and it not being more than two stars."

No. I quite think you wanted to be the very first one to plunge the dagger (or stake?) into it, my dear.

"The story was convoluted; was confusing with too many POVs; was too long and filled with errors (needed editing for length, clarity and grammar); and was without a satisfying ending."

Well that was a mouthful. She could have ended the tirade right there, but I'm afraid it gets worse.

Let's get down to it it. Too many POV's? Has she never read other authors who write with more than three or four POVs? I mean, I've read Mary Higgins Clark, Tammi Hoag, and others who use as many as five or six POVs. I changed my writing style from strictly first person to first person and third in order to bring the story together. I felt the story needed more depth at this point. I wanted to get into the heads of all my main characters in this book, to let the reader know what each and every one of them were doing. Also, because if I didn't, the story would have been about 100 pages. Personally, I like a long read. I love the adventure, and if the MC is fun to read, I definitely want to be entertained by her and her friends. I've read long books like JK Rowling's Goblet of Fire, which is 735 pages long. I loved it. Or Kim Harrison's novels which go on for at least 400 pages. The length of Caprice was as long as I needed it to be. Sure. Editing would have been nice. I have no editor to correct things for me. I'm what you'd call a "starving artist". Prey for wolves to pounce upon when they see weak writing, or problems in grammar. Whatever.

What about "A satisfying ending" ? We'll get to that part later on in this post.

Here's the middle part...

As the Sibyl, Sabrina now has a bounty on her head and all sorts of supernatural creatures want to mate with her. So far, it's Vasyl, Dante, Tremayne, Bill, Hobart (although we see very little of him in this book), and a new Ware named Chris (who sounds like a hottie). And I'm sure I'm missing something.

It's pretty clear that NO ONE IS WHO THEY SEEM and I walked away from the book feeling sad for our Sibyl who is pretty much alone. Vasyl may love her, but I don't think he gets her. Dante's dead/undead, Tremayne is essentially a rapist/opportunist, Bill, who I thought was evil the whole time, may not really be and in the end can never be with her. [attempting to avoid spoilers here] And poor Chris keeps sniffing around, but he's far back in line.


Obviously, she's into the series. She's worried about "our sibyl", ("sad", even) who keeps on getting men in her life who either use or leave her one way or another. And, ha-ha-ha! I've done my job. Bill is someone I painted to be evil--I kept him as a person who seemed shady, and in the periphery on purpose. Getting into his head, and watching what he is doing, understanding the reason he's doing it, all coming together. I have my reasons, like all authors do, to write this the way I did. 

"And if it's the last in the series (which is not clear), we're left hanging with questions: Will she fulfill the prophecy? Will her eggs really work for the Nephilim? What's going on with Tremayne (will he live or die, and if he lives, will he regain control of his business and NAVA)? WHO WILL SABRINA END UP WITH?"

A-hah! Yes, my dear, that is the big question! Who will Sabrina end up with? Well, I'll answer your first question first. The series has at least 4 more books coming (8 in total to date). The next book (#5) will answer nearly all the rest of those question you have. (See? I know you really are hooked on this series, even though you have a bunch of problems with my grammar and spelling-which is why you gave this such a poor rating, isn't it? Not that the story was so awful, or you couldn't give a rat's ass what happened to Sabrina.) Who Sabrina ends up with... The answer is in #8. And I'm not telling.

E.Foley's last bit really needled me. She had to poke fun at the fact that I made a mistake with some large bills (as in $$) in a briefcase. I thought I had changed that, but apparently I didn't. Oops. Forgot. Thanks for letting me know. I hope my publisher can go in and change that.

Her last question about the title "And what's with the title? The title did not jibe with the story." Really? Do you know what Caprice really means? 
CAPRICE: A sudden, impulsive change in thinking or acting; 2 a capricious quality.

It's exactly what it did. It goes off tangent. Making crazy turns, and you didn't get it (like Vasyl doesn't get Sabrina). But that's okay.

Because I knew that the book was going to go off like a whirling dervish--I didn't want to call it that, of course. I took the chance in calling it Caprice, and since I was going with musical titles, this fit perfectly. Yes. There's a reason for the things I do. It's not up to me to explain, nor will I apologize for your confusion. That's really par for the course.

Oh. And as to the satisfying ending (spoiler here), Sabrina does kill the bad guy, and has a chat with her neighbor who was Bill's grandmother, about his death. That's a satisfying ending, I do believe. What did you want? Her to walk off into the sunset with Vasyl? Or someone else?
Well, that's my answer to this bad review. 

Speaking of reviews... Good news! Tonight, I suddenly found that all of the reviews that Amazon took away from Ascension, are back. Wow. Thank you whoever! I now have 10 reviews--as it should be on my first book! Yay! There are now 4 5-star reviews on it, now. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Of Tornadoes, Yard Work, Athlete's Foot, and other maladies

Hi, everyone. How's your weekend so far? 
I usually post something on the weekend. And normally I do my Sunday post on my other blog, but I think I'll do it here. 'Kay?

Well, I've a laundry list here, so maybe I should do the most devastating one first.

Fairdale, Illinois is possibly 15-20 miles from us. I remember that day vividly. We were expecting storms, but to be honest, it didn't feel that humid, like something so powerful would develop, but it did. And we had more than one tornado in Illinois. However, this one that hit the small community of Fairdale was an EF-4 with winds as high as 200 mph. The town took a direct hit. People in a nearby restaurant--one we have passed many a times on Route 64, was hit, and 12 people were trapped in a cellar where they went right before it hit them.
photo by Anghard Urch

This is an actual photo of the tornado. Really, if something like this was heading my way, I would not--I repeat I WOULD NOT STOP TO TAKE A PHOTO!

2 people did lose their lives in this. I recall when we had our weather radio on, and the description of the tornado (rotation), and where it was headed, the mechanical voice said things that made my blood chill. "total destruction" was something I'd never heard said about any tornado that came near us. It came true.

Well, here is what is left of that small town that is barely five or six blocks--or was at one time.
courtesy of DeKalb Co. Sheriff's Dept.
If you want to follow this thread from a news station, feel free. Some of the accuracy with the stories varies as it always changes as they get their stories straight.

The people are now trying to get themselves back to some normalcy. Of course the Governor has declared the aria a disaster, and they'll eventually get relief. What they need now is cash. A lot of donations of everything from water, to canned goods to clothing came in from generous people, but they've got enough of that. 

In the past week we've had wonderful temperatures--had 70's all week. I got out and worked my a$$ off, as though I could work off my winter fat in a few short hours. Not happening. As a result I got the worse case of Athlete's foot. Not sure that this is what it is, because it's not like anything I've ever had. There was a blister between my small and next toe (which I drained), and this rash on top of my foot that seemed feverish, and it's been marching slowly across my foot. The itch has been minimized by the use of a spray that has the same ingredient as Tenactin. I'm not 100% sure that I didn't get some sort of bite, or something else. I mean I wore shoes, how the heck would I'd been bitten? 
An interesting side-note, one woman I spoke to said her feet sweat too, and she uses deodorant on them. I thought that was a good idea, but would want to get a separate deodorant on my feet. Hmmm.

And after having purchased a new mattress, it's kinder to my back, but I know I just can't do the things I used to do and it's frustrating! Getting old is overrated! I'm turning 61 this year. Boo on birthdays, unless it involves a vat of chocolate I can bathe in.

In my writing, I've been working on my mystery. I didn't rush into it, as this is different from anything I've ever tried. It's good to try something different. Give myself a challenge. Maybe find a different brand of people who want to read mysteries instead of urban fantasy.

And, for the first time ever 50 ebooks sold in 2 weeks! It may not have put any one of my titles in the top 100 seller's list, but I don't care. Now, if only I can get more sales, and shave off the debt of what is owed to my publisher who made this possible. Then, maybe I'll see a royalty payment.

Here is the two top sellers Ascension and Trill over at Novel Rank. This is how you find out how many books you've sold, in case you've never heard of this.

That's all my news for now. Forgive me if I haven't been around. I've been having a creep hounding me on facebook. I need to do something about him. Soon. Any suggestions?