Monday, October 31, 2011

I Have a Plan - Really

Now that 'Let's Do Lunch' is officially on sale, I've got time to do a bit of planning.

My editing project is almost finished. NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow.

I've got a few more things to do - StM needs to be a paperback - that should be smoother than LDL because the file isn't as old and was copy-edited.

I've made progress at home, too.

Been getting rid of paper clutter that goes back to...are you ready for this?...1979.

Holy Paper cuts, Captain Marvel! That's - 4 decades! Scary, isn't it?

This is what I pulled from the paper basket yesterday:

Yes, the first flyer from the first Harbor Happening!

Is that crazy or what?

I told you I had a boat load of paper hidden around my house. I wasn't kidding. It is going to take a very long time to sort through it.

I think I'm going to scan a lot of it, save it to PDF files and post it to Facebook and a few other places. That way other people can find it and use it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

'Let's Do Lunch' - the Paperback!

It's true!

As of today - "Let's Do Lunch" is on sale here, as a trade paperback, with nice BIG print! I'm thrilled!

Now can I bug all my friends until they buy it? (Evil Ms Kitty asks slyly.)

No, that's not what it means. (K. A. Jordan replies.)

I can buy copies and sell them at craft shows and flea markets. I can have book signings. I can do all the things 'real' authors do to hock promote their books.

In about a week, the book will be on - in the general population of books. As a reminder - here is the blurb:

Restaurant owner Lindsey Bennett is caught between two men, one will tease her, the other will use her; both are capable of killing.

A business owner at the mercy of her employees, Lindsey Bennett owner of the restaurant "Let's Do Lunch," finds her employees have no mercy. When Lindsey drops everything to be her injured mother's caregiver, relying on her sister to run the restaurant proves to be a mistake. Lindsey's trusted cook quits, the new cook changes the menu, her sister hires a waitress who can't run a register and money comes up missing. When a bug gets in a customer's food, Lindsey could lose it all! Somebody should get fired. Once she's back in charge, Lindsey finds that hiring is easier than firing.

More problems arise with the men in her life. Her new chef Brandon Pendleton – smart, sexy, fast living: he's the life of every party. Sergeant Kevin "Tag" McTaggart – handsome, aloof, this wounded warrior's blue eyes see into the depths of her soul. One will tease her until she gives up all her secrets. The other is out to use her and her restaurant.

Surrounded by criminals, deceived on all sides, and catapulted from crisis to crisis, can Lindsey stay focused? Her restaurant and her life are at stake

I can put into words just how cool this is!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Organized? Who, Me?

I am one of the millions of people who lost their jobs. Yet I've got a full time job just taking care of my family, the house, the farm and my writing. Add to that some family health issues and you have utter chaos.

I've been struggling to put everything in order and in good repair - in and out of the house. I've succeeded in a few areas: the house, the barn and the grounds. Where I'm having the most trouble is in maintenance.

I'll bet I'm not the only person out there who has this problem!

While I'm not a hoarder, I could become one easily, it runs in the family. So the place is cluttered with lots of stuff. We aren't knee deep in it - yet - but I can see it coming.

While I'm not ready to endorse my sources - after all I might not be able to keep it up - I can talk about the methods.

One thing I've been taught is to break things down into steps. I also wrote S.O.P.s for ISO9000 quality control. Never figured out how to put it into action in my life. I've always muddled through using paper calendars and making notes to Office Calendar.

This time - I've made up some 3"x5" cards with my weekly chores on them. Breaking up the work load into days of the week. Just one or two chores a day instead of trying to do them all on Saturday and Sunday. There is a card for each horse, too.

Meal planning is where I'm the least organized. So I eat a lot of fast food (don't we all?) and carry a lot of extra weight.

I know for a fact that 'dieting' isn't going to work for me. It needs to go deeper than that - a life style change is required but not all at once. Not while I'm carrying a stress load of 10 on a daily basis.

I sat down last night and wrote the things I usually cook on index cards. There are about 15 different meals. That require varying amounts of cooking time. I've got 'fast' food in the freezer for backups - fish sticks and shaved steaks. As time goes on I'll add another card or two, seasonal stuff.

The cards are merely there to jog my memory, not run my life. Rotating chores, rotating meals, so I'm not stuck thinking 'what's next?' or 'when was the last time I did that?'

This experiment has been going on for two weeks. I keep adding to it - this week I divided the house into zones. Instead of trying to clean the entire house in a day, I have a month and every room gets a turn.

In just 14 days the bathroom is cleaner, the kitchen is cleaner. The dishes are done on a regular basis - and most importantly - my kitchen sink is clean and shiny.

This just might work.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

State of the Croft

I've got a bunch of projects that I'm working on - I thought I'd do an update.

'Let's Do Lunch' - 
I have sent in the corrections to the first proof. A second proof should be on it's way. I don't think I'll find any more typos in it. So may as well say the First Run of 20 copies should be in hand by Halloween.

As soon as I have copies in hand, I'm going to look into ways to promote the book locally. There may be a book signing or two in my future. Or I might take it to a craft fair - having cards with Smashwords Coupons to either give away or sell at a discount.

Sales are stalled - which is disappointing. I thought after the spectacular July we had things would start chugging along. Not a chance. There have been 6 sales at full price. Which is better than a dozen sales at Dollar Dreadful prices.

'Swallow the Moon' - now a Dollar Dreadful 
The interior is 50% finished for the paperback. The cover is ready. As soon as I get the interior finished it can go to Create Space to be printed.

This book is going to be promoted on the Ashtabula websites as well as locally. I'm looking to have it finished by the first of the year.

Meanwhile, sales of 'Swallow the Moon' have doubled. (snicker) Last month I sold 2 copies, this month I've sold 4 (with 1 return). The price is currently $.99 - until the end of October, unless there is a sudden surge in sales.

I've heard from one reviewer who has the book in que to read and review. However, though I've sent out 33 free copies, 9 to reviewers, some way back before the book was first published in July - there have been only a couple reviews.

'Doyle Road Bridge' - I. C. Talbot collection
I've got 30% of this finished. There are about 10 more stories to go in it.

Impressive Bravado -
I really got bit in the tush by the old formatting of this story. It took 3 'nukes' to get all the formatting errors out. Then I uploaded the Amazon Master to Smashwords which gummed up the distribution channel. The story is going out as a freebie with an ISBN because it 'sold' 82 copies on Barnes and Nobel which might have fueled the rash of sales I enjoyed this summer.

It is worth trying this again - this time knowing it will take 6 months to get any feedback. Having a freebie is a 'tried and true' sales technique that doesn't stick in my craw.

The Chicken Project - 
While the girls are still producing eggs on a regular basis - I have no time to take the eggs to market. There are about 6 dozen in the fridge. I need to start giving them away.

I've still got at least a dozen roosters running all over the place. I need to sell them, or something. I'd like to eat the dratted birds, but Hubby won't eat a fresh bird. I can't bring myself to kill them. It's a problem.

The laying flock also needs to go. I've just got too many chickens. They are great looking birds in great shape. But they are eating me out of house and home.

The New Website - 
This project is dead in the water. When I read the contract, there was no mention of the services promised beyond the splash page. There was a page of disclaimers that made this a major concern.

I've got a real problem with a company that has a full page of 'fine print' and one line of 'services' on the previous page. It looks suspicious. At best it is careless, the company is more interested in protecting themselves from client than in providing services.

Besides the fact I'm 'over-the-hill' - 
I'm desperately trying to get organized. I've joined something called "Flylady" to help coach (or coax) me into getting my sh!t together. After years of family health problems - Hubby is still in and out of the hospital - I'm chronically disorganized and nearly stressed to death.

I may write a full blog post on this in the near future. I now have an office - outside the home - in an effort to get my writing projects finished. It has been priceless to get a few hours of focused time for my writing. I would still be struggling to get 'Let's Do Lunch' into print if I hadn't taken this space.

So that's what's happening in my little section of the world.

How is your fall going?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Half-Century? Seriously?

Yes, really.

Today is my birthday - I'm a half-century old.

I only feel that old in the morning - getting up can be a bitch some days. Lately, with all the chaos, my brain feels much older than my body. Not a good feeling at all.

Screw that.

It's not the age, it's the mileage, and trust me, this body has a lot of wear and tear. This year I had my first tangle with cancer - skin cancer - a small spot that wouldn't heal. Had it removed and all is well. Still, it scared the hell out of me.

I've got two published novels - and they sell a few copies here and there. I've still got the old mare, the dogs and my husband. I've been married for 10 years and lived through some very hard times.

I think it is utterly fascinating to watch 'Occupy Wall Street' after seeing the protests against the Vietnam War and for Civil Rights. The hippies are gathering because this is all about the Republican tax cuts financed by cuts in social services.

There may be a 'Conservative Movement' after this, but I doubt it. We are seeing the end of the GOP's perceived power. The people are rising up against the government's refusal to do anything for them.

I'm very happy to see it happen this year. It has renewed my faith in the Cosmic Balance.

Happy Birthday to my cousin and me!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Game of Musical Dogs

Frizbie the Bitchen' Frizzy

Often animals come into our lives in different ways.

Frizzy is a little white fluffy dog, kinda cute, in that lapdog way. Since he's been here he has learned a proper Terrier bark. Not his normal high-pitched, ear-piercing yap, but a deeper bark that sounds exactly like Trouble. It is uncanny.

He's the only dog in the bunch who is utterly clueless. I've got two Jack Russel Terriers and a JRT, Mini-pin, Chihuahua and Beagle mix. All three are much smarter than Frizzy.

For instance - Mocha the Mutt wants on my lap, but a dog is already there. She goes looking for his favorite toy, or a chewy, gets up on the couch, plays with it to get his interest, then drops it to the floor.

The other dog is supposed to jump after the toy, so Mocha can curl up in my lap.
JR will simply look at her, unless it is his ball. Then he HAS to get it.

Trouble fell for this trick - over and over - until he figured it out. Now he will get up if he's in the mood to play. Otherwise he stays put.

Frizzy hasn't figured it out yet. He falls for it every time. So he doesn't get a lot of lap time. No sooner does he settle in than Mocha will dig up something interesting and toss it to the floor.

Poor dumb Frizzy - he hasn't got a chance. The Jacks are too smart for him.

If I hold still, they will play musical dogs all day. Some times I will watch TV and have a different dog in my lap every time I look down. It's a little disconcerting.

Company gets the same treatment. You sit down, you have a lap, therefore you will have a dog in your lap in short order.

My mother can't sit down without having a dog on each side of her. She gets aggravated at Trouble because he always wants to lick her face. (I can't stand it either, I've seen them wolf down horse turds. No dog is going to lick my face.)

JR is the worst one for Mom to deal with because he's the heaviest and he leans on her. She doesn't want to pet him, but she doesn't have much choice.

Oddly enough she never tells the dogs to get off the couch.

I tell them 'off' quite often, only Mocha slinks away like she's been punished.  But she's dominant anyways, she needs to be told.

This canine ritual comes in handy when you have company. If the person is upset about something - they will have a dog to pet and they will calm down.

It never fails.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Face of a Mouser

Look at that face.

That bright-eyed look is how he got his name. I took one look at that face and knew what I had in my arms.

Trouble - aka 'little booger' - as in 'what're you up to now, you li'l booger?'

First a bit of history - terriers are varmint dogs. They were bred to kill rats, small game and dig varmints out of the ground. Back in the days of the Plague, ratting dogs were prized. They are better rat catchers than cats. My first terrier - Rowdy was a pit bull/schnauzer who understood about 200 words, including 'get the rat' and 'take it outside.'

(When I lived in Ashtabula Harbor, we had wharf-rats that came in off the ore freighters. The damn things were bigger than cats!)

Jack Russel's are always up for a hunt or a game of ball all day, every day. They've got the prey drive of a barnyard terrorist. A Jack that doesn't want to play is sick. (This bit of knowledge saved Trouble's life when he came down with Parvo.)

Some Jacks are nuts - some are scary smart. Trouble is a cuddly bundle of muscle and 'git 'er done' that would do a pit bull proud.

Now that the weather has changed, we have mice in the house. You would think that with four small dogs, two of them Jacks, there wouldn't be a problem. But mice are stupid.

For the last two weeks, I've been hearing a mouse and seeing droppings. I've even spotted the dratted rodent scampering across the floor. He's always gotten away.

Last night he was all over the living room. I called the dogs twice, but JR's back is bothering him. He's my old Jack, the one who cleared the house of mice and the barn of rats the first time we had problems. He's the only one who knows what 'get the mouse' means.

It was just getting light, my coffee was brewing when I heard the mouse. I had Mocha the Mutt at my feet while I read my e-mail. The mouse was flopping around under the corner cabinet.

I called Mocha to follow me as I investigated. She stuck her nose under the cabinet and started to bay. (Of the 8 breeds she's got in her background beagle is one of them.) Trouble and the Frizzy came over to see what she was baying about.

Once Trouble started digging at the tile, I knew it was under there. So I started emptying the cabinet. When I could move the cabinet - Trouble threw himself into the corner.

There was a scramble, a moving shadow and a snap.

Trouble vanished (I assumed with the mouse) the other dogs were left to sniff around. I put them outside.

There was no sign of Trouble.

The whole point of having a varmint dog is that the dead varmints go in the trash. Now, how do I tell Trouble that he was a good dog and take his prize away?

This was Trouble's first legitimate trophy. But I didn't want him to eat it, because I've got poison out, or worse yet, leave it somewhere I couldn't get it.

Without the other dogs around, it was easier. Once I found Trouble, under my bed, I was determined he wasn't going to leave that carcass to rot under there. A few 'go outside' commands later, he was holding the mouse in his mouth, and out from under my bed.

Now what?

I did the only thing I could think of - I offered him a cookie.

"Wants a cookie?"

Mouse spilled from both sides of his jaw. Those bright eyes looked at me and his head tilted to one side. He walked with me to where I keep the treats.

I dug out a big one - showed it to him.

"Wants a cookie?"

Tilted head - the dilemma presented itself. He couldn't take the cookie with a mouse in his mouth.

I put my hand under his jaw, put the cookie in the right place.

"Wants a cookie?"

His little black tail wagged once. He slowly let go of the mouse, and very politely took the cookie.

Now that's a good dog!