Saturday, September 29, 2012

Last Week of September

Where does time go? Monday is October 1st!
It's been a string of beautiful days and I've done my best to enjoy them, taking walks when I can, and playing with the kittens. Oh, they are growing up so fast! The mother cat has taken them out on the prowl every day. Today they were gone all day and she came back up from a different direction. They ate, but I knew that Half-Pint (the runt) always waits until everyone was done eating. I don't know why exactly. I wonder about him being left behind sometimes. So, when I went out there before dinner, saw them under the catalpas, I realized Half-Pint wasn't going out with them. I went out and called to him. He comes to me. I think I've become like his... grandma or something. The mother cat doesn't like when I interfear. Too bad. I pet him and watched him curl against my leg and want to nuzzle me. None of the other kittens do this. (These are feral cats)
The mother cat came bounding up and I thought, Okay I'll bow out. I walked back up to the house and sat on the picnic table. I was a little surprised that Half-Pint chose to follow me instead. Meowing the whole while. I thought that maybe he might be hungry, so I lead him over to the other side of the house where their food is kept. I sat on the steps and he wanted to lick my fingers. I put the small bowl of food down. He wouldn't eat. But still wanted my finger to lick. So, I tried something different. I took a small piece of food and held it in front of his mouth. He took it! I kept giving these small morsels one by one to him and he ate each piece. Then we decided he was full. I went and got the little toy for him to chew on and claw--instead of my fingers. I played with him for a while and then I had to go in to eat.

Earlier this week we figured out why the water bowls in the backyard would be drained almost within an hour or so after filling them. We couldn't imagine squerels and birds would be sucking down a quart or so of water in one sitting. Then we caught the culpret in the act. A doe. She wanders into our backyard often. I saw her tonight, in fact. And she also find my impatients delectable. I think I have 3 or 4 plants left... *sigh*

After enjoying my husband's mostacholi with meat sauce, I went to do dishes, and Dennis went outside. I knew what he was doing. Playing with the kittens. Well, I threw off my rubber gloves and the apron and went out there.
Dennis is not a cat person. He is a dog person. He'd found this plastic ball--about the size of a baseball--and he has gotten the kittens to play with it. We call it Kitten Soccer. Dennis is the referee and the announcer, of course. The truck is goal. He tosses the ball up in the air and the cats jump up and then pounce on it. One usually gets the ball and does that thing where they curl their body around it and hold it with the front paws and kick with the back while they're on their back or side. Hilarious!

I wish I could post pictures, but I can't. I don't have any to post of the kittens anyway. You'll just have to imagine five kittens attacking this blue ball. And sometimes there are fights on the field. I yell fowl, fowl, but they keep on fighting--sort of like in a hockey game, actually. And meanwhile one kitten bats and races the ball to the goal. Tonight Half-Pint won. 4-1 against Captain Jack.

I've been working simultaniously on Spell of the Black Unicorn, another short story and then also a cover for the short story--"Murder Mansion". It's horror. It was born from flash fiction a few years back, and was published at an on-line publication and the editor (who is also a writer friend) told me I could publish it elsewhere. So, I think this may be my next short story I will publish next month.
Speaking of which, I'm to get my edits back from my publisher in a few weeks, and so eventually I'll be busy going through those whenever I get them. And the search is on for the cover.
So, that's my week in review. Hope you all are having a good weekend!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Inside Nitty-Gritty on Placing your Book up on Amazon

Okay, so I'm not an old hack at this, but I did get this last short story in by myself on Amazon. It's nerve wracking at best for newbies. So, since I've been through it a few times, here I am going to tell you what to expect once you get to your Amazon upload the book site.

I have an account at Author Central...
If you don't have an account there yet, you might want to get one, because once you have any sort of story, novel or whathaveyou on Amazon, you'll want this account so as to go and check on sales, and you'll want to create your biography page. It's all accessable from this page.

My biggest worry about the downloading is how to get what I've got to download. I had trouble with it the last time  (I have someone else do the formatting for me),and realized that my file was in my downloads on my computer. Duh. So that went through great. And also be sure that if you have a cover it has to be at least 1000 pixels on the longest side with an ideal width ratio of 1.6--2500 pixels on the longest side is perfurred, but mine was at the 1000 pix range. Otherwise that will not down load either. You don't want to get this far and cry with frustration at these crucial points of getting your book into Amazon.

So, once you have created your account with Author Central and are logged in, under HOME, you want to click on "Add New Title". A window comes up.
1). You want to fill in spaces that pertain to you, your name and so on.

There will be a little window for the description blurb. This can't be too long. But I can't remember how long is too long. I think my last one ranged under 60 words.

2). PUBLISHING RIGHTS - if you are the author it is not public domane.

3). TARGET BOOK TO CUSTOMERS - This is where you have to decide which catagory your book/story fits. There will not be one for urban fantasy, so you'll have to find something that fits.
Under this you'll have CATAGORIES: you get up to seven. Think of one or two-word descriptions of your novel. Is it a ghost story? Is it about witches? Is it about lovers? Are there other things in the story that happen, or something that is featured in the piece and can use one word to describe it? Like say... camping, or candy, or trucks, or something that you can use to bring readers to your story. Mine had a vampire in it, but it also featured a cemetery, and I think I may have put arrows or something like that in there too.

4). UP LOAD BOOK COVER- this is the big test to see if your cover will go through. I think I spent about 8 minutes chewing my fingernails (not really, but I really expected to see it upchuck on me again, but it didn't). The picture should have your title and author's name on it, and has to be TIFF or JPEG, and remember has to at least have 1000 pixels on the long side.

5). UP LOAD THE BOOK FILE (this is the exciting part!)

You will have to first enable digital rights (you must select one before you can do the download)
You will get a window into which you will place your file. Go to wherever the file of your story is, and open it.

6). PREVIEW YOUR BOOK  - just so you know, your book or story will not appear on Amazon for at least 12-24 hours., but it will appear on kindle, Kindle Fire, iPad and iPhone.

7). VERIFY YOUR PUBLISHING TERRITORIES - if you live in the US, it will be US. If you live elsewhere you choose that. There seems to be a bit of a difference in how you get paid, but also you have to claim your rights in whatever country/countries.

Pricing/Royalties - A book/novel can go with 70% royalties. A short story will go with 35% (I don't remember why. But obviously one is usually more than the other).

9). Kindle book lending- this is up to you.

Then make sure you click SAVE & PUBLISH.
If you've forgotten something OR something didn't go through, this is where you find out. You will see that they've boxed in the places you've forgotten to fill in, or whatever the reason.

At this point you will have a list of other countries and all you have to do is make sure and click through them, and have them convert the pricing for each. It will be at least 48 hours for your book to appear to other countries on Amazon.

And that's pretty much it. I thought I'd share this with any of you who have not gone through this process. It helps to know ahead of time what to expect, and what you need to have prepared when you get into this so that you aren't having to make decisions at that point. Especially your description, because that's a hard one to do on the spot.

Now a side note here: Since Blogger has disrupted my ability to post photos and do a few other things here, I may not be blogging here as much. I will try and do a few things, but as I'm looking over this, I don't even see the spell check on this. Yeah, before you chime in and suggest I try Google Chrome--Been there, done that and wanted to poke my eyes out--it was slower than my normal window. So NO THANKS!
As a result I have worked on a new web site it is called The Prioress of the Paranormal
I don't have much on it, but I've worked on it some.
And I am on wordpress, and CAN place my pictures there!
So there you have it, my pretties. And look how many days until Halloween! I have already begun decorating!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Vampire, My Own

I remember when I was a teenager thinking "What if I ever met a real vampire?" What would he be like? Well, being that I was an impressionable teenager you can just imagine, I suppose, what I may have wanted in a vampire.

He would have to be handsome, of course.

Charming - without a doubt.

Romantic - naturally.

Mysterious and somewhat dangerous, because it comes with the package.

So, when I began writing this short story this summer, I sort of fell back on some of my memories of being a teenager, and worked on "Vampire, My Own". Since it had been rejected, by the place I sent it to, I figured there was no reason to not publish it myself, and so have been working on the cover and having the formatting done for me.

And YAY! I just got it up on Amazon this morning. It will go live in less than 12 hours now.

This is my first YA paranormal. I had to go with Occult/supernatural on Amazon. Here is the blurb:
While taking her usual short cut through the cemetery one night, sixteen year old Karen Murdock meets handsome Lute Riley. Over the next few nights a romance blossoms. But when her best friend, Angeline, becomes sick and dies suddenly, Karen realizes that Lute had been seeing Angeline on the sly. Karen wants revenge. But can she kill a vampire?
Here is the link to it:

I want to thank Carole and John Gill for helping with formatting and the cover (getting it enlarged).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Going To The Sun Road (Glacier MT)

If you get to Glacier, you need to take what is known as Going-To-The-Sun Road. It is a 50 mile road that goes from the west side of the park to the east side. But believe me, it is special because basically it has you driving on the frigging edge of the mountains. There is only ONE switch back. The original was planned to have something like 16. And there are two tunnels. At one point while we drove, there may have been about 3" of room where our mirror came very close to the wall of the mountain as we passed another car--the other driver was scared s**tless because he was driving on the very edge of the mountain's drop off. How cool is that?

Beautiful scenery will have you wanting to stop and snap photos. There is nothing like it that I've ever seen in my travels--as yet. St. Marry's Lake is absolutely the color of the ocean. It's aqua, I kid you not, this is a photo I snapped of Dennis standing at a drop off with the lake behind him. This is the actual color of the lake!

As you can see the mountains, and the very namesake--glaciers--rise from it like ancient gods frozen in ice and granite.

The little tiny island out there is called Goose Island. We love taking pictures of it. This is only one picture.
This next picture is me standing beside our truck with more of the mountains behind us.
And this on is from another spot further into the mountains. There's a falls to the left of the picture in this.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Lodge: View and dinner 5- Star!

View out our room at Glacier Park Lodge. I don't think we could get a better room, do you?

Like I may have mentioned, there is no TV. Who needs it?

Dinner was excellent. I had rainbow trout--split open with tail and head still on (I'm not at all bothered by that), over the baked potato and these spring veggies we learned were shipped fresh from southern Calif. every day. Our waiter was all business, very efficient, but not too terribly friendly. Dennis had smoked prime rib--unusual, but very delicious. The meal put us back, but well worth it. I had a white zin that was excellent. Dennis went with beer. Nothing could beat that view, as we were seated at the large windows over-looking these mountains?

After we ate, we had to walk it off. And we explored the very bowels of this hotel, odd rooms, a stage in one, and there were lavatories down there too, so we had the excuse to go down there. Dennis was having lots of fun. I don't often get to see him let go and become silly like he did, and that was wonderful!

My only disappointment was the bed was narrow, and hard. The shower was just too small. The bathroom wasn't very large either. But, for a 99 year old lodge it was worth the experience.

The next morning, we were the first ones up. It was so quiet, we could hear any ghosts that may have been walking around. You see these pillars? These are actual sequoia tree trunks hauled in 100 years ago by train, then used mules to haul them from the train to the spot. The Blackfeet Indians set up their camp around the site to watch with fascination how the white man was going to get this thing up.

We waited around for something to open up so that we could have some coffee. A little snack shop opened up at 6 a.m., and we got two muffins and coffees and sat out on the breezeway gazing up at those mountains. It was a wonderful way to spend the morning. The quiet was great. Once people began to mull around, some of them workers in the hotel, we got scooting ourselves. We wanted to hit To The Sun Road, to see the glaciers up close, and the beautiful lakes!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Storm Chasing: Don't Try This At Home

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the introduction to Justin Pletsch over the weekend. If you missed it, here's the link:

Now for his storm chase story, in his words. The pictures are well worth it. And I do love the areas where he has traveled in order to get these photos in the plains states of Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Colorado etc.

Today's setup was mediocre at best. Models were indicating storm development in Wyoming (WY) and moving into South Dakota (SD), as well as some weaker storm along the Colorado (CO)/Nebraska (NE) border. With that in mind, we drove west out of Valentine, NE toward Chadron, NE in order to get further west and see what would happen. After a very brief pit stop in Alliance, NE, we made our way south to Bridgeport, NE to figure out where to go. After some more analysis, we chose to head north in the even that storm should fire in WY and move east. In addition, we were in the Nebraska Panhandle, so the road network is really quite abhorrent. There is only 1 good North-South option (US Route 385) and 1 good East-West option (US Route 20).We found an old, abandoned house to take pictures of while waiting for storm development to initiate in-between Alliance and Sidney, NE.

After waiting for a while, nothing was happening to the north in the Ardmore*, SD region, which was one of our targets. Meanwhile, a storm blew up near the CO/NE border, which was our second possible target. We chose to start working our way south toward this cell, which was a good 90 minutes away, while monitoring the area near WY/SD. Fortunately, that storm was moving to the ENE at a slow pace of 15 mph. We intercepted this storm near Sidney, where we encountered 1 inch hail stones. This was quite an interesting storm, as there were 2 cells popping up very close to it, and we could see 3 storm bases quite clearly. One of the bases seemed to be getting bigger, and it started to look more and more "interesting." We followed this to Lodgepole, NE, where it became an LP (low-precipitation) supercell. The structure was absolutely phenomenal!!! It had very nice "barber pole" structure, which eventually turned into a more laminar (stacked) supercell. We stopped near a wheat field to take pictures of this amazing storm, where the sunlight, golden wheat, and a small farmstead provided the perfect background.

Later, this supercell transitioned from LP to "Classic" mode, and that is when we started to notice "nubs" dangling from the storm base. 2 of these nubs had areas of rotating dirt underneath, which meant 2 tornadoes had formed. Keep in mind these were not textbook by any means, but they were still neat to see, considering LP supercells rarely produce tornadoes. We stuck with this storm for quite some time, and it kept getting better. Eventually, a very nice "clear slot" formed, which was a sign the storm was starting to re-generate. As we were jockeying for position yet again, rain started falling in this clear slot, which usually results in tornado development. One of the tour guests noticed a very ominous lowering in this rain shaft, which turned out to be a funnel. We were unable to stay long because of how much lightning was being produced from this storm. The radar return showed a very distinct hook echo, but it did not last long. As we pulled off the road one last time to take our final pictures, we were treated to an amazing light show to end the evening. This made our drive to Imperial, NE, where our hotel was for the night, much more enjoyable. Our total mileage for the day was 510 miles.

*There was a very photogenic tornado that formed near Ardmore later that evening after we bailed on the SD target. This goes to show that storm chasing does have its ups and downs, but we were still fortunate to chase the storm we did :-)

I want to thank Justin for taking the time out of his day to send me his story, photos and his interview.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Introducing Justin Pletsch ~ Storm Chaser!

I have always had a fascination with weather. If I'd been a little better at my studies I probably would have done something with that, as well as all the other things I wanted to be. At any rate I enjoy watching weather clouds, and the formations during a storm.

Today I want to introduce to you a colleague and friend, Justin Pletsch, who had an interesting summer chasing storms. He sent me pictures and his story of the chase one day, but I told him I think an introduction is in order. Because aside from being a crazy bus driver (as am I), he does something even more crazier than driving around NIU avoiding students who seem to want to walk out in front of a 12 ton bus. He chases storms, and does so for a company. Well, I'll let the introductions begin and get out of the way aside from my questions.

ME: First of all, Justin, where are you from?

JUSTIN: I was born in Sterling, IL, and grew up in Prophetstonw, IL, which is about 50 miles east of the Quad Cities. My family and I eventually moved to Gridley, IL, when I was in 5th grade, and then we moved to Normal, IL, when I was a freshman in high school.

ME: Tell us when you became interested in weather, or what one weather event made you excited and want to study it?

JUSTIN: I was always fascinated with weather, but the event that really kick-started my interest happened when I was 6 years old. It was a perfectly clear day, and then everything took a turn for the worse one summer evening. We saw a tornado a few miles away from our house in the country, and my dad was able to film it. While he was filming, our neighbor's tree across the street was struck by lightning. Of course, I thought this was SO cool! But we all ended up retreating to the basement.

ME: Smart move. Okay, everyone knows what a storm chaser is, or I hope they do, but why are they important? What do they do to help us study weather?

JUSTIN: Storm chasers are important because they are sometimes the only way people know of impending danger. Take my personal experience form April 9, 2011. I went chasing with three other people, and we ended up in Mapleton, IA, to seek shelter under a gas station awning from ping-pong sized hail. Even though it was really dark and the sirens were blaring, the lady attendant at the gas station didn't know what was happening. We explained that she needed to take shelter immediately. Sure enough, the gas station power went out, and a tornado formed 200 yards from our location!!! Luckily, no one was killed in that town (which was demolished in this storm), and the worst injury was a broken leg.

In addition, storm chaser can provide information that Doppler Radar is unable to pick up (i.e. size of hail, rainfall rates, whether or not a tornado is on the ground, etc.). Keep in mind, the radar can only detect rotation and/or hail within a storm, but it can't actually detect if a tornado is on the ground, or the size of the hail.

Also, storm chasers are usually the first people on the scene after a devastating storm plows through. Any storm chaser worth his salt will provide first aid to people who need it until help arrives. Plus, we might be the only ones able to pick up a phone and dial 9-1-1, because storms that leave a path of destruction behind often leave people in shock.

ME: So true. Okay, now tell us a little bit about the people/group who hired you to go out and do such a crazy, dangerous job over the summer, and where are they based, and anything else you wish to tell us about them.

JUSTIN: I went on my first storm chasing trip in 2009 with a company called Tempest Tours (TT). This company was founded in 2000 by Martin Lisius, who is also the president of TT. It is based out of Arlington, TX, and they lead tours from the middle of April to the middle of August. The tours leave from Dallas, Oklahoma City, Denver, and Phoenix.

Anyway, I was completely enthralled with my first chase/trip that I knew I wanted to go back again. My next opportunity to go again came in 2011, when my parents decided to send me on another storm chasing adventure as my graduation gift.

My third trip came this past summer, but this one was different. After much persistence, I was able to score a driving position for my trip this year, and I was paid to do so.

ME: Tell us, do you recommend this to anyone?

JUSTIN: Please keep in mind that storm chasing is EXTREMELY dangerous, and it should not be attempted unless you have the experience or go with someone who is experienced. Also be aware that you will need to do quite a bit of driving, which is the primary hazard with this activity. In fact, it isn't uncommon to be on the road from 9 AM until 1 AM--just to give you an idea.

In addition, you will have to deal with other chasers who may not be following the rules of the road when on the scent of a massive storm. This can post problems, especially if you get caught in torrential rain, very large hail, hurricane force winds, or worse--the tornado itself! Wildlife also poses a threat, such as fire ants, snakes, cows,, and other creatures. Also, a storm chaser's diet is quite unhealthy, considering breakfast is the only good meal you might get the entire day. Otherwise, you will have to settle for fast food, or a questionable sandwich from a gas station in the middle of nowhere.

In the end, you need to have a health respect for Mother Nature, if you want to live to tell your tale. The best way for someone to experience storm chasing, no matter how much experience you have/don't have, is to go with a company like TT. They are professionals, and they will never intentionally put you in harm's way. For those who want to shop around, I would also suggest looking at Silver Lining Tours, as they are the only other reputable company out there.

ME: Well, thank you Justin for this interview!

And just to reinforce the warning, I wanted to share a photo from one of his companions who was happy to also share his picture and story about it:
"This is a picture of the vehicle I was in on June 20th, 2012 while chasing a storm near Chugwater, WY. We were filming our 3rd tornado of the day from about 2-3 miles away when the storm unexpectedly started heaving bowling balls at us. We got out of there fast, but not before the vehicle took some major hits, including 2 windshield impacts, one baseball-sized and the other 5 inches or more in diameter (we couldn't stick around for exact Needless to say, this was one of my greatest chases to date. Can't get much better than 3 tornadoes and 5-inch hail in one day!"

REMINDER: my next post up will be Justin's actual storm chasing event from this year. He has some wonderful pictures I want to share with you, so please do watch for it!

You can visit Tempest Tours at

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Journal Entry ~ Day 4

Leaving well before 7 am. Sun is shining down on the sprawling town of Butte. When we stepped outside it was 40 degrees. Beautiful. Rocky out-croppings reminds us of Colorado. Steam rises from ponds and waterways.

As you may recall our last stop, yesterday was Pompey's Pillar. It was raining and so we couldn't get up close to it. So, we went on to arrive in Butte. The sun came out as we moved on. That was promising. The motel, Days Inn, was a much nicer place, and Papa Johns was right around the corner. Even though we'd had pizza the night before (Pizza Hut), this was much better. Besides, their garlic sauce rocks!

The next morning we had a very good breakfast, so we got out the door in record time!

Montana is nothing if it isn't big. Big enough to have plenty of farm land and room for lots of rugged mountains, buttes and flat-topped mountains, and endless roads.

I make notes along the way of several sites to stop for. We try and stop for lunch, but they weren't serving when we were hungry. Why does it have to be 11:30? We walked out, and the woman stopped us and said they'd be willing to fry up a hamburger.

Hamburgers, and sub sandwiches have been our fare for days, now. Not interested. Sorry.

We continue on, and eventually reach Browning. This is an Indian Reservation. It shouldn't surprise me, therefore, that a lot of horses in pastures.

We reach a bridge that is being re done. A major operation, let me tell you! So, we take the road that has always been in used, going beside the newer bridge.

Because I had gone on-line and had figured out the lodge was not within the park itself, I knew that it had to be coming up soon. We soon came to a small town (East Glacier), and Dennis sailed through. We saw the sign, which was large enough, and it wasn't exactly saying TURN HERE or OOPS, YOU MISSED IT, DUMMY, TURN BACK!!!

I knew we had to turn somewhere and got my mule--er--husband to turn around and go back.

We had to go through this archway, and there it was. OMG! Exactly like I had seen it on their site, but these are OUR pictures:

We were early. And I mean about 3 hours early. They were not going to check us in (or give us our room number) until 3 pm.

We went and had lunch, I had a scrumptious chicken sandwich on flat bread. Our view out the window, looking at the mountains was the kicker that made our lunch perfect. We made it! I could have been eating cardboard, for all it mattered, we had so many upsets, a few times not really thinking we'd be able to go, and then Dennis' back problems...

Tomorrow, or Friday will be continuation of the trip.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What's Better than pictures of Kittens?

FINALLY! After waiting 3 weeks for an errant disk, and set of prints, I've got my pictures back from Wally World--we swear never to take our film to this place again. The first set of prints were fine, but I got someone else's disk! And it took me 3 hours to get someone on the phone over there to talk to them about it!
This is a picture of all 5 cats. What a cute bunch! I know you can't tell by the picture but all of them are here.

Since it will take me a while to get another post up from the journal from our trip to Glacier, and enter the pictures, I've got these pictures of the kittens.

This is "Half Pint" who likes to lick my toes, probably thinking it might give him some milk if he could find the right spot! His little teeth were sharp, but not big enough to cause much pain. It was more ticklish than anything to endure the licking of his little tongue. Out of all the kittens he (or she?) is the only one which meows and allows us to approach it.

Here they are venturing out into the sun. At the time of these pictures I think they were about 7 weeks old.

This is a picture of Captain Jack, to the right. You can see he is very differently colored, and has long hair. Plus he is the bolder of the lot (thus the name from one of my favorite movies that stars Johnny Depp). See how the others huddle next to the old bathtub that's tipped up-side-down? That's where they lived, inside this indestructable object that happened to have a hole they could climb in and out of any time they needed to escape.

Well, that's about all of the kitten pictures I have for now. It took too much time and $ getting them developed, so I hope you enjoy them.

Chickens lay eggs, and so do Turtles

For those of you who don't know my husband is park ranger and one of his main jobs is mowing. He has a large deck (72") Toro Zero T...