Wednesday, February 4, 2015
That put me in the mood to purge, and man, I purged the entire house. There are just two closets to go, the rest of the stuff is gone. Furniture, electronics, books, clothing, things small and large were taken out of my house. Last to go was the fish tank I've had for almost 30 years.
Yeah, it was a huge undertaking.
Now I'm struggling with the hoarding gene again. It wants me to fill my house back up. My husband isn't helping - he's gone on a buying binge that's filled his office with enough rockets to have his own Star Fleet. But I degress - this blog isn't about him and his stuff.
The next step was to pare down my social media sites. Three blogs, five Facebook pages, three twitter accounts and a half-dozen email addresses. I've deleted and unpublished and abandoned nearly all of them.
This is the only blog - there is the Icy Road Publishing Facebook page, twitter account @IcyRoadPubs, and it's email list. All the rest is gone.
Oddly enough, that's made it easier to start posting again because my energy is now focused on a smaller number of projects.
Who'd have thunk it?
So, the mailing list is going to become the next priority. I'm going to need to tweak it, because I've got Mom's short stories and my books all lumped together. But that is still easier than scattering my energy all over the internet.
Yahoo! Let's see if we get anywhere with a better focus.
You can sign up for our Newsletter here.
Friday, December 26, 2014
However, I want to go on the record for saying that my social media skills up until now, sucked. I found it tedious and not at all effective. But now that I've got at least a vague notion about how it should work, the rules are going to change.
However, I've managed to put together 10 tips for Facebook usage.
I'm sure there are plenty of authors who do this already. However, are they targeting other authors, or targeting your local community?
I've spent four years targeting other authors. The results have been...zero. It wasn't until I started doing this for a local business that I got it. One of the first pages I had my work page "Like" was my author page as an experiment. The numbers didn't rise by much, but my author page got a few more hits the first week and every week thereafter. Just a couple, but a couple more than before.
Meanwhile, the reach of my work page nearly exploded.
That's when the light dawned. I can do the same thing.
Stay tuned, we'll see how well it works.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
We are talking about critically important papers filed right next to 30 year old utility bills. My mind is boggled when I think of wading through 6 huge file drawers of papers. It's worse when I have to sit down with the moldy, dusty, yucky stuff. It's crawling with dust mites that irritate my asthma.
And handling some of it makes me cry.
I'm grateful that we worked on publishing Mom's stories while she was still able to enjoy putting them into notebooks and making lists. I've got a pretty good index of titles and the notebooks.
It's hard to read them.
I don't want to edit them. Her grasp of grammar and other mechanics is above and beyond mine. I'm afraid her unique voice would be lost.
I look for software translation errors, and spacing errors and take care of those. Otherwise, I let Mom tell her stories her way.
That makes me smile.
Monday, October 27, 2014
|Original Paperback Cover|
Today is just one of those days, I really want to chuck it all and go hide somewhere. Or at least I want to chuck all the THINGS that are bugging me.
Lawnmowers that have been fixed three and four times, and still the batteries are dead. I can't mow the lawn without the damn things. I can't clean my stalls without at least one of them to pull the damn manure spreader.
Other objects that have way too much value, and power, over me. Just handling some of them leaves me in tears. I can't open my mouth to talk about them without choking up.
When did a stupid object gain so much power? And what does it mean to have to give up something like that? Not that I want to keep it, it shouldn't mean anything to me. But it has all this power over my emotions.
Maybe it's the hoarding gene. (There is one, and I've got it.) Where we put so much stock into things that they take over our lives and families. Is this how objects become haunted? They somehow gather energy from the people around them?
I've written about the haunted motorcycle - an object modified by one person to change her life - and coveted by two others because of what she made it. Cora Cobra had the mad artist Van Man Go paint her Hyabusa to look like an albino python so she could use it in her stripper act. She was choked to death by her albino python after she cracked up the bike. All her energy went into her motorcycle when she died, it was the object that defined her.
But I can't see my mother, or my father being defined by any object. No matter what it was. My father's ghost was seen in my childhood home many, many times, which makes sense because that house defined our family at the time he passed.
This farm, Jordan's Croft, has been shaped by me. My energy and effort has gone into this place to shape it more than any other person. The floors, the barn, the porches, the fencing, and the garden have all been shaped by my will. But when I'm here by myself, all I feel is the frustration and stress that I've been under for the last 5 years.
Today, this is just a place that contains too many 'things' all of which are on my last nerve. I'm going to purge these objects out of my life. Maybe they can take some of this negative energy with them.
Things my mother owned. Things my father owned. Things my husband owns.
Even my own stuff has started to run my life. Or maybe ruin my life is a better term. All of it requires maintenance, in some form or fashion.
First off, my mother was a hoarder. A very neat and tidy one, but a hoarder none the less. There are items in her hoard that were made by my grandfather. Tool boxes, wooden stools, tools, what-nots and thing-a-ma-bobs.
There aren't as many things from my grandmother, my aunts divided those items and passed them to their daughters. Which, since I have no human children, and my sister's children were far away at the time, wasn't such a bad idea.
My biological father passed back in 1966 or 1967, but there are items of his in the hoard. One of them is particularly troublesome. It is subject to regulations and tracking down these regulations and figuring out how to comply with them took up my whole weekend.
The damn THING is a pain-in-the-ass!
There is so much bad information on the internet. Even on websites that are supposedly accurate, you never know if you are getting B.S. or the real deal. Inaccurate information from online sources isn't much of a defense when dealing with government regulations.
I decided to contact a supposed expert on this subject, and got harranged by some ignorant twit who didn't understand what I was talking about.
"Ain't no such thang!" The redneck then tried to brow-beat me into bringing this troublesome 'thang' to them. "You's just brang that thang here and I'll show you what you read on that-there website just ain't so!"
My frustration with things in general, estates in particular and MY MOTHER is, on a scale of 1 to 10, somewhere off the chart.
The pressure to get rid of all this stuff, and raise enough money to keep my Dad in the nursing home until Medicaid kicks in, which is AFTER all these things have been sold, combined with my frustration, has done nothing for my piece of mind.
These "thangs" are making me crazy.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Selling books at festivals is fun. I've never made any money at one, but my sales always get a spike over the next two weeks. This is going to be a way of life for me until my name gets out. Everybody has to have a hobby, this is the one I've picked,
- A banner (or sign) of some sort - I got a vinyl one at Vista Print for less than $10 with shipping. It has enough information on it to catch the eye. A hand printed sign will do, if it is large enough. (Standard paper is NOT large enough.) Put in at people's eye level, make it colorful.
- A table, with a tablecloth - It makes a big impact to have the table covered. Also in the fall and winter, you can put a tea-light heater under the table to keep from freezing.
- Business cards - book marks, post cards something with your name and website or facebook page on it. Hand them out! They work better than anything to sell my books.
- A comfortable chair or two - I don't like those sling chairs, they kill my back. I've got a very old folding wooden chair that weighs more, but it supports my back, which means less pain. Get a rug or horse blanket for the chair. It will hold the heat in so your butt doesn't freeze. Optional is a small dog - they bred lapdogs for a reason. If you've got one, the cute factor makes great advertising, and they're warm.
- Canopy with sides and weights - Yes, invest in sides and weights. The canopy makes you MUCH more visible. The sides will protect you (and your books!) from the sun, the wind and the rain. The weights can be made for the tent, or cement blocks, or bags filled with sand. Gallon jugs of water will work in a pinch, but they aren't what you want for the long run.
- Handwashing supplies - I use one of those laundry soap containers with the spout, filled with water, soap and an old towel. Restrooms are always in short supply. Clean restrooms...never really seen one at a festival. Clean hands can keep you from getting sick, and maybe missing work on Monday.
- Little stuff - Twine, tape and scissors. Kleenex, wet-wipes, index cards, magic marker. I use shower curtains for my tent sides, so I need shower curtain rings and clips.
- Money supplies - Apron, money clip, cash box with lock and receipt book. I keep my cash in a money clip because it stays together. I have the cash box for change, the receipt book, the magic marker and extra business cards.
- Food supplies - Napkins, plastic silverware, coffee cups, and drink cups.
- Credit Card reader - I use Square on my phone. It works either with, or without phone reception.
- Heater - The 3 tea-light terracotta pot heaters are good enough for the average fall day. Make sure it's sturdy enough to take a nudge from your feet if you forget it's there. I don't recommend the ones that use metal to hold two or more pots together. The metal gets too hot for a busy place.
- Drink Heater - I'm looking into metal cups and a small sterno-type stove I can use to keep my hot drinks hot. I've found that a wide-mouth jar lid is the same size as a sterno-can and will hold 3 tea-lights. If I find a metal candle holder the same size, I'll use that instead. It's all about keeping the flame from contact with the tent, table cloth, or your pant legs.
- Comfort items - chap stick, sun screen(!) sun hats or beanies, extra socks, water, snack food, and if you bring the lapdog, water dish, food, long leash, dog bed and sweater.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
We used it this way, with the hole open. It may have given out more heat if either the hole had been closed or there had been more pots. But I was looking for a SIMPLE heater. It heated up in about a half hour and the candles burned for about 3 hours. Our feet stayed warm. In fact, my friend's husband huddled close and seemed to stay fairly comfortable. I just wanted warm feet and a touch of heat to chase the raw chill from the air.
|This didn't work. Not enough air for the tea-lights.|
If I was going to use it with the idea of keeping a cup of coffee, or a pot of tea warm, I'd have used another saucer to close the hole, like this. (Nope, didn't work. There isn't enough ventilation this way.)
The top was too hot to touch, but the rim at the bottom was merely warm. I could feel the heat on my legs, which was enough to keep my feet warm.
I lighted it at about 2 pm. The outside temps were in the low 50's. We were under a canopy tent, with shower curtains on three sides. The breeze was brisk at times. It did a good job of chasing the chill off, and giving us some heat for our feet and legs.
I bumped it once, it didn't tip over.
The candles never wavered, and burned about 3 hours. We noticed the difference between one candle and three in just a couple of minutes.
This isn't the answer for home heating by any stretch of the imagination. However, if you have a tent on the road, in the rain, with 3 sides, it will radiate a bit of heat to keep three people from being cold and miserable.
People radiate a lot of heat on our own. It may just be the fact that the tent had a windbreak that kept us from being chilled. Wind chill factor is a force to be reckoned with.
I want to continue experimenting with this simple heater. The winter I was a the farmer's market twice a week selling eggs, we had shelter, and a windbreak, but we really could have used a simple heat source like this.
I'll report back if I use this again at Steamboat Days.
October 20, 2014
So don't put the top on it.
Second, yes, I took the heater to steamboat days and slid it under the table to keep my legs warm. I lowered the table cloth in front so the heat didn't get blown away. It was enough to keep my feet from feeling frozen and miserable.
I really needed it on Saturday, it was chilly and windy, a bad combination.
It was so chilly that I didn't go back on Sunday, I was worn out from fighting the chill. I didn't want to get sick.
Keep in mind that this is just a little bit of heat, 3 candlepower isn't that much. But since it radiates, you do get some relief from the chill. And as the tea-lights are small enough to fit completely under the dome of the pot, it is much safer than an open flame.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
|Irene at 77 years old|
'Tales From The Leeward Lounge' (US) is the first collection of my mother's short stories. I've had a dozen titles over the last few years, but this one is the one that seems to define my mother's life the best.
There's many, many more short stories where these came from, hundreds in fact. I'm working on another collection, and I'm just debating how many of these I should publish as singles then collect into a single volume.
In 'Tales of the Leeward Lounge' (UK) Volume I:
- Digging Out (UK)
- Turned Out (UK)
- Death of a Family (UK)
- Trapped (UK)
- Beware Marjorie
- Character Flaw (Published)
- Kick in the Face
- The Courtship of Millie
Since Sony closed down the doors to it's e-book store, my primary market is Amazon, as is true for hundreds of other Indie writers. The best way to get a book noticed, as I found out with 'The Emissary - Journey' and proved true again with 'The Emissary - Arrival' is to launch it with KDP Select, upfront.
That's right - I proved it again with 'Tales From The Leeward Lounge' the best way to launch a book is to let it 'simmer' a week in Select to make sure it gets to all the Amazon sites, then to burn those 5 free days.
The pre-order process didn't do a thing for 'The Emissary - Arrival' on Smashwords. The only pre-order was my own on Barnes and Nobel. On Amazon, there were three, none of them mine.
The pattern is clear:
- Publish to Amazon first
- Use KDP Select for the first 90 days.
- Wait 5 days.
- Blow all 5 free days, starting on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
- Email newsletter to Mailing List for the first free day.
- Spend up to $10 on Face book ad.
- Breaking up days will yield less than 30 sales.