Sunday, May 24, 2015

How our minister made her point

Memorial Day, which we all too often tend to forget is not about barbecues and the banks and post office being closed on Monday, was brought home to our congregation this morning by a very moving service at our church.

Our pastor read the Gettysburg Address, then had various members of the congregation read Memorial Day proclamations from Presidents Truman, Johnson, Reagan, and Obama. Then she read the names of the soldiers killed this year. There were about 40 of them. She gave their name, rank, home town and place of duty. As she read each name, a member of the congregation rose and exited. One less person. And then one less. And one less, until all the names were read.

I have at times thought in moments of disaster how many people would be gone from our town. With the last Nepal earthquake pf 8000 dead, that would be 80% of our town. That's shocking. But to see them disappear one by one… point taken.

A moving service with a powerful message, listened to by one less person at a time.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Market research

A self-published author's work really only begins once she's written the book, added a cover and formatting, and found the appropriate channels for selling it. Then the work of telling the world (and not just the friends and relatives) begins. Where to market it? How? How much to spend? How do you know if it the expense was worth it?

Actually, I think the answer to the last question is the easy one. Have you cleared expenses (formatting, cover, editing) and made a profit?

That aside, the name of the game is marketing. I've tried various sites at various price points (Fiverr, Free Kindle Books and Tips, Smartbitchestrashybooks, Dear Author to name a few) with up-and-down results. So, on to the next one,

I'll be advertising T's Trial for 99 cents there on Friday, May 22. In the meantime, the Kindle edition is already at 99 cents and will be through Tuesday. So, here's hoping the best marketing can work now: word of mouth.

There is no marketing better than the recommendation of a fellow reader. And for that, I thank you.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A subconscious habit

I vacillate between breakfast options. Lately, I've had homemade bread available, so I've let the granola languish and I've had fruit and toast with either local honey or homemade jelly. The bread supply running low, I opted for cereal the other day and found myself serving a subconscious habit.

Almost fourteen years ago, we got our last batch of house cats, brothers Tuxedo and Pyewacket. While they were yet small kittens, we were also remodeling the kitchen. Therefore, I took my cereal breakfast in the den while I watched the morning news and while Pyewacket watched me. Wanting to bond with him, I saved the milk in my cereal bowl for him and for the next 13 years, he haunted my breakfast table.

We had to say good-bye to Pye in December. He had become thin and listless and wasn't even interested in his beloved milk. But when I was finishing my cereal bowl this week, I found myself spooning out the granola and saving the milk for him. Then I realized that wasn't necessary.

Strange how habits can become so ingrained we don't even think of them. Even the silly ones, like saving the cereal milk for the cat.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

The great equalizers

I've always thought of Big Box stores as the great equalizers. If you go, no matter who you are, you shop the same merchandise and stand in the same long lines. I used to think of airport security as the same, but now that there's the Safe Traveler (it has another name) line, the wait can be cut short and said Safe Traveler is equalized with his or her equals and not the rest of us.

But I've now found another great equalizer and it has to do with why I've been absent from this blog: a hospital surgery waiting area. No matter who you are, you wait in the same place. You watch families come, sit in moderately comfortable chairs, pace, get up for coffee, thumb idly through a magazine, commiserate with friends who join the vigil. You watch as doctors or nurses come through the large doors, escort the family elsewhere or talk lightly to them there. It doesn't matter who you are. You sit and wait.

The outcome for me and mine was good. I know it is not always so. I know there's a place equality ends.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Money Shot

That's what a photographer calls the one photo in dozens which might earn him some pay. This is my version of such, which of course, isn't going to earn me anything but a smile.

I took this photo with my iPhone at dawn last week. It had rained all weekend and there were puddles in the low spots. In the background is our old railroad depot, now a history museum. Everyone around the area was out photographing, but this is my favorite.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

March Round Robin: Research!

The topic for this month's Round Robin: Research: How much do you do and does it bother you when you read something in a story that is inaccurate historically, socially, scientifically, etc.?

Ah, research. I loved doing research in high school, less so in college. Probably because I felt I had more interesting things to do with my evenings than be in the college library basement going through encyclopedias and Reader's… what was that called? Ah--The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. It was red.

Now with the Internet, things are a bit speedier and can certainly be more social, if less sure in their content. My second grade granddaughter had to do a research paper recently on the founders of Texas. No Internet allowed. Which is a good thing, but grandmother got to visit the local library for appropriate material. It's great to be a resource!

With my own research for my contemporary writing, I try to stick to what I know geographically. We visited Portland, Maine, and it is the setting for Ian's Image. We took two train trips across Australia and I have my third person POV character, Fletcher, do the same. A friend of mine owned a marina on Lake Texoma, the main setting of the Bone Cold--Alive series. If I don't know the parts of something, like a cello, I've found that children's books are the best source. I don't usually need the details, just the basics.

Does it bother me when something is inaccurate in a book I'm reading? If it's egregious, yes. I love Regencies, and I usually go along with the story. They'd have to be using the telephone for me to balk! OTOH, don't have a Southern character ask if a guest wants a pop or a soft drink. In the South, we ask if a guest would like a Coke, and then sort out which kind when answered in the affirmative.

In general, I'm a generous reader, less forgiving of editing and poor spelling (and that includes traditional publishing) than historical or social inaccuracies. Basically, tell me a good story and I'm yours.

And I hope you feel the same about me and mine.

Now, if you'd like difference takes on research, please check out the links for my fellow Round Robin-ers:

Margaret Fieland
Beverley Bateman
Skye Taylor
Rachael Kosinski
Heidi M. Thomas
Marci Baun
Anne Stenhouse
Helena Fairfax
Connie Vines
Fiona McGier
A.J. Maguire
Judith Copek
Lynn Crain
Rhobin Courtright

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The New Neighbors

Have you ever heard a Carolina wren? Raucous is one descriptor for its call.

I heard something going on on the front porch and went to investigate. We have columns at each end of our porch and there's a small, less than a foot, space above each before the roof line. Sparrows have built nests before, and wasps!, but this time, the one at the north end of the porch was being loudly proclaimed as belonging to a Carolina wren!

He or she, I don't know, but there's a nest being built about 10 feet off the ground and protected from rain and most predators. And me. But perhaps I can watch from a distance and see a new family being launched.