Friday, July 29, 2011

Ideas, ideas--send me your ideas!

Welcome to hell Did anybody miss my blog posts this week?  Yeah, I know -- I missed Monday-Wednesday, and luckily my pal Kelly McClymer jumped in yesterday for Pet Peeve Thursday.  (Thanks, Kelly!)

Once upon a time Harry Nilsson sang a song called, "Here's Why I Did Not Go To Work Today."  Well, here's why I have been a bit haphazard with my blog posts of late.

It's the Summer Of Hell Part II.

Two years ago my Dad was sick and dying and that was the Summer of Hell Part I.  This year it's my mother in law who's having a rough time.
In early April, we decided it wasn't safe for her to live alone anymore. 

But uprooting one 96 year-old-lady from a city 90 miles away and moving her here to assisted living was a lot more complicated than we ever could have imagined.  Even though her doctor (after MANY visits) finally signed off, she had heath problems we never suspected.  The poor woman has spent most of her six weeks in our fair city in the local hospital.  She's now been transferred to transitional care and we hope she's back in her assisted living place (where she only has spent 2 out of the past 6 weeks) by next week.

Crossed fingers FINGERS CROSSED.

But getting her here was a LOT more work than just driving her from one city to another.  She had an entire apartment that needed to be addressed.  (Guess who got to do most of the heavy lifting and packing?)  We took three (or was it four?) trips across the western part of the state to clean out the apartment.  (And we've got one more to do before the end of the month . . . and you did notice that today is the 29th, didn't you?)

Mr. L has been on the phone for the past six weeks trying to put all The Mother's financial affairs in order.  The missing title for her car (and yes, she was still driving in May) has been a real adventure.  (We won't go there.)

Exhausted housewife Meanwhile, Mr. L's sister (who lives 1500 miles away) has come to visit  three times.  That means extra cleaning, laundry, food prep, and socializing (that's the fun part--and believe me, it was the ONLY fun part of this entire ordeal).  Plus the fact I've been painting walls for the past four weekends in high heat and humidity.

Bottom line: 
I'm burned out. 
BURNED OUT. 
BURNT TO A CRISP.

Remember those writing projects I told you I was juggling?  I'm not juggling any more.  Just working on one project and I'm far, far behind.  I'll probably have to ask for a deadline extension (fair warning, Tom), but the other day I solved a BIG problem that was snagging me (wonder why?) and things seem to be rolling along a lot smoother now.  But the blog has suffered.

I don't want to give up the blog.  It's fun . . . at least when I have ideas, and I've temporarily run out of them.  So I'm asking you . . . what would you like me to talk about in the blog for the next month (or two or three ... always need new ideas).

Come on, don't be shy.  I'd LOVE to hear from you.
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

To Be Dressed For The Part

Kellyprofilepic By Guest Blogger Kelly McClymer

Lorraine, thank you very much for letting me come back for another Pet Peeve Thursday. I'm still on the wedding theme, I'm afraid, as I wrap up the Big Wedding Promo Blitz (The Fairy Tale Bride  is still 99 cents until the end of the month).

Happily, the promo continues to go well, and my daughter will now be able to have a wedding with more than potato chips and Koolaid.

Mom of the bride Unhappily, all my promotion success has reminded me of another pet peeve of mine: dressing up for a fancy event. As in a wedding. Even a wedding on the beach will require the mother of the bride to look nice (it does, I asked my daughter, and after she finished rolling her eyes, she confirmed my greatest fear).

Dressing up requires three things for which I am unsuited: choosing attractive attire, applying makeup, smiling.

However, after all my hard work to make this wedding nice, I'm determined to do my best not to look like the bag lady who wandered in by mistake.

Linda-hamilton-t2 Picture Linda Hamilton in Terminator II -- doing pull ups in a tiny cell so she can save her son as soon as she escapes. That will be me … well, not so much the pull ups.  No, I'll be going on marathon shopping trips (with an honest friend) looking for a dress that doesn't make me look like a lumpy potato. If I have to, I'll shimmy into six "shapers" (what my mom used to call girdles), but I'll do it. For my daughter.

I'll take makeup lessons (and put up with the itchy mascara eyes as stoically as Ms. Hamilton puts up with the Terminator's switch from bad guy to good guy).

I've already started practicing smiling, even though it means looking in the mirror. If you don't believe me, compare my profile pic with the one taken at my sister's wedding last month -- I'm the one who looks like the librarian just about to say, "Shush." I thought I was smiling (I always think I'm smiling…but no one else does).

Big smile It only took me ten minutes to get a smile good enough to capture with PhotoBooth. At this rate, I'll be smiling reliably by 2015. Not to worry, I'll take a small mirror to the wedding, so I can double check myself during the ceremony. Anything for my daughter. Linda Hamilton for the win.

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FairyTaleBride Kelly McClymer is proud to announce that she has finally put up all five of her backlist historical romance novels on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Phew. She is working on her next project, back to YA again. And a wedding.... You can find sporadic updates about the coming wedding on her website http://kellymcclymer.com. You can see what she finds interesting on Twitter, and you can get updates about her books on FaceBook.  Don't miss The Fairy Tale Bride.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Can you get cabin fever in the summer?

Cabin fever I hate being trapped inside by the weather. The temperatures are so miserable you can't step outside for fear of losing your life.  You don't want to go to the store because you'll have to go outside.

I'm not talking about the winter snowstorms we get just about every week here in Western New York, I'm talking the temps in the high 90s.

We're trapped inside because of winter for MONTHS AND MONTHS on end.  So when the good weather comes, I want to be out enjoying it, not trapped inside my air conditioned house.

Using hand fan Don't get me wrong, I LOVE not baking to death.  (I lived without air conditioning for most of my life.) But after waiting six months to sit in my screened-in porch, I hate having to be inside, looking out at the flowers and the in-ground pool (which we don't use because the water is too COLD).

This year we've spent more time inside than out on our porch.  And I'm suffering from cabin fever.

Our warm weather doesn't last long enough -- but this heat wave has overstayed its welcome.

How's the weather where you are?

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Experimentation in bookselling

Dollar sign The book biz it is a changing.

I belong to a number of list serves where all we talk about is our self-published titles on Kindle, et al.  We talk marketing, we talk formatting, we talk money.

Ka-ching!

The stigma of self-publishing is definitely on the wane.  Then again, those of us on those lists are all traditionally published authors.  We've got backlists of proven winners.  We can write and we're not afraid to experiment.

I wish we could say we always know what we were doing, but we don't.  And even if someone lists his or her successful strategy, doing the same trick doesn't always come up with the same results.

MOTM-ebook.sm-1 Right now I'm experimenting with pricing for the first title in my Jeff Resnick series.  It's currently at 99 cents on Smashwords (all e formats), iTunes and Kindle.  Is it selling like hotcakes?  No.  But it is selling better than it was at $3.99.  Does that mean that those who buy it at 99 cents automatically buy the rest of the series at $3.99?  No, it doesn't.  But it's a loss leader.

Have I gained a lot of new readers because of the price jumping up and down between free (in the UK for three weeks in June) and $3.99?  You bet.  TENS OF THOUSANDS of them.

Right now I'm experimenting with formatting.  I'm taking down the current versions of the books and putting up versions with hyperlinks to my Kindle/Nook sales pages for the other books in the series and other titles I have up there.

Has this worked?  I can't yet tell about the novels -- but for a number of the short stories, you better believe it!  We're not talking hundreds of copies here, but enough so that I can see a difference.

I love the fact that I have control over my product.  I love that I can change strategies and chart the success or failure of my pricing experiments.  I love that I can change my covers on a whim.  (I've "whimmed" a few times on the short stories.)

Thumbs up But the best thing of all is that new people are finding my work--and for the most part, work that was just sitting on my hard drive for years.  What's really amazing is that some readers are discovering my Jeff Resnick books and THEN finding my New York published books.

How cool is that?

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Who's that skinny chick in white?

WeddingPic


That was my wedding party -- yup, the whole thing -- 20 years ago today.  (I'm the one second from the right.)

It was the HOTTEST day of the year (which is why the best man and my Dad were holding gin and tonics)--102 degrees.  (They've prediced 101 for tomorrow.)

It was a good day.  A very good day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Long Wait For Waffles

Back in late May, my friend Janet sent me a bottle of her homemade maple syrup.  She and her husband tap the trees on their property in Michigan.  They get about 30 gallons of the stuff, which she says boils down to a gallon or two of maple syrup. It takes HOURS and HOURS to boil the stuff down.  They share this bounty with friends and relatives.  I feel really HONORED to be among them.

So, there we were at our cottage in early June, with plans to break open (although not literally) the bottle and have a terrific breakfast of waffles and bacon.  We'd planned that for Sunday morning.

Saturday morning Mr. L said, "I have a stomachache."  I didn't think much of it because as someone with frequent (although not so much anymore) heartburn, I always had a stomachache.  But if I had been really listening alarm bells should have gone off.  Mr. L is NEVER sick.  He NEVER has a stomachache. He hasn't puked in over 40 years.  (I sure wish I could say that.)

And so . . . later in the day Mr. L decided that his stomachache was getting worse--as in 'Take me to the ER" worse.  Except that he really didn't make a fuss.  By the time he got seen, the resident on duty said, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is the pain."  Mr. L quite calmly said, "Ten."

Whoa!  When Mr. L had his knee replacement surgery, I don't think he said the pain was every worse than a five.

When they finally released him from the hospital two days later (yeah, he hand an infected gall bladder), they gave Mr. L a list of foods NOT to eat.  And what was on there?  Waffles. (He could have just mainlined the syrup--there's no fat in it, after all.)

So, seven weeks (and 24 pounds) later, Mr. L finally got his waffles on Sunday.

Post surgery waffle

Yummy!  (Still waiting for that bacon.  Maybe next week.)
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Monday, July 18, 2011

What's wrong with this lovely picture?

Mama and kittensWhat's wrong with this picture?

A lovely cat family.  Mama, two orange kids, a part siamese (the white one), and a little black kitty who was spooked and ran under the deck when we came out on our porch on Saturday morning.
Yes, what's wrong with this lovely little family group.

They're feral.

Why are they feral?

Because our neighbors think it's swell to have cats.  AND NEVER NEUTER THEM.  Consequently, there are constantly new litters of kittens being born.  The neighbors toss a bowl of dry food out on their deck, but that's as far as they go when it comes to cat maintenance.  The cats are outdoor cats.  And there are more than THIRTY of them running around the neighborhood.

According to the Humane Society there's no law that says this is cruel, but forcing cats to live outdoors in Western New York in winter is inhumane in my book.  Forcing them to bear unwanted litters of kittens is inhumane in my book.  Making them hunt for their food in an area filled with preditors is inhumane in my book.

Hmm...might need to write about book just about this.
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Friday, July 15, 2011

Go Away Mr. Groundhog!!!

Container_beans Every year I (attempt to) grow beans.  I've learned in the past that once they start to climb, they're usually safe from critters.

Not this year!

I put down dried blood and that usually does the trick.

Well, I ran out and something ate all but two of my potato plants.  While waiting for another shipment to arrive (purchased via the Internet), something attacked my beans.  It just chopped them about six inches from the ground, but they're all withering and dead up above.

Grrrrr!

Now, I'm an animal lover, but not when it comes to wild critters eating my garden.

The dried blood arrived yesterday, and I gave the ground around the potatoes a good treatment, but not the beans.  Since the critter was discouraged in the potato patch s/he went straight for the beans. You can bet I spread a liberal supply of dried blood around today -- but it's a day too late.

Will we get beans this year?

Groundhog I sure hope so, but I'm not confident.

What are the critters eating in your garden?


(P.S.  Today my character Katie Bonner is blogging over at the Killer Characters site--talking about her dreams for the English Ivy Inn.  Come on over and see what she's got to say.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Summer Cold

Sick smiley face Okay, I've got my SECOND cold in three months.  This isn't supposed to happen.  I take vitamins.  I eat fresh fruits and veggies, and I wash my hands and use Purel. I always wipe down the grocery carts before I use them.

And I've got a SECOND cold in three months.

My throat is scratchy.  My nose is running.  I am MISERABLE.

Why does a cold feel worse when the weather is fine?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Avoiding the Domino Effect

TheWalledFlower.sm I've been steadily writing the next (well, not the next--that's The Walled Flower--but the next for me) Victoria Square Mystery and it's been going along okay.  Except for one little detail.  I've been writing the book out of sequence.

What does that give me?

A great big MESS.

So yesterday I decided it was time to figure out where everything went.  That was three hours printing out scenes that had never been printed before, studying the timeline, rearranging the timeline, rearranging the pages, and putting them into chapters in my big 3-ring notebook.

My books almost always have 25 chapters.  Doesn't matter what series I'm writing, I write 25-chapter books.  Right now (since it's only half finished) Victoria Square #3 (I've given up trying to title it. I'll leave that to the Berkley marketing department) has 18 chapters.  You got it--I've got to come with with 7 more.  (And one of the ones already accounted for only has two paragraphs in it.)

Today I have to take the electronic manuscript and actually put the pages in the right order.  Oy!  Not looking forward to that.  Can you say CONFUSED?  I figure that will take 2-3 hours.  I'm hoping I still have enough brainpower left to actually write something, because while I was playing with the timeline, a lot of problems got solved. I don't work from a detailed synopsis--it's the timeline that keeps me on track while I'm writing the book.  (I'm up to 5 single-spaced pages right now.)

Domino_effect_creative-strategies_com So I hope to be on track and writing my heart out for the next 6-7 weeks because that's when I've got to turn the book in.  I might be late. Heck, the book will sit on in my editor's hard drive for AT LEAST two months before he even looks at it, so I'm not going to be upset if I miss the deadline--and I suspect he won't either.  He's up to his eyeballs in other authors' manuscripts.  The problem with being late is ... I'll start the next book late, and it becomes a domino effect, and nobody wants that, either.

So ... today or tomorrow ... back on track.  (I hope.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

It just disappeared!

Blank journal As I mentioned the other day, I'm juggling several writing projects that aren't under contract and that writing had become FUN again!  (Weeee!)

One of the projects was for a Young Adult Fantasy novella.  Back in April, I was in the midst of plotting a three-story arc when ... SCREECH ... had to come to an abrupt halt.  I had a BIG problem with my world building.

World building is extremely important in SF/Fantasy, you have to make your world believable and to do that you need to solve all your problems of how it works up front.  Well, that problem would NOT be resolved and so the story went way back on the back burner.

But two days ago I woke up in the middle of the night and the answer came to me.

Weeeeeeeeee!

The only problem?  I can't find the notebook with all the plot points.

I do remember typing MOST of it up, but did I type everything?

Katie and clues And can I find my notebook?  That would be a resounding NO!  And not for trying.  The last time I remember seeing it, it was sitting right next to my keyboard.  Well, it's not there now.

So, what can I do besides enlist the help of St. Anthony to find my notebook.  Any ideas?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's ALWAYS time to wake up

Sony-alarm-clock-radio-icfc218b Sometime last summer my digital clock lost some of its light bars so that the 9 became a 5.  This was disconcerting.  Happily, Mr. L bought me a brand new Sony alarm clock for Christmas.

Joy to the world.

Well, not exactly.

You see, when I plugged the clock in--SURPRISE!  It already knew the time.  That was great ... except it's not correct.  Mr. L always sets our clocks using Naval Observatory Time, and according to NOT this Sony clock is TWO MINUTES FAST and you can't change it!

Okay, what's two minutes?  Well, when you say to yourself, "It's Saturday. I will NOT get up until at least 7 a.m." --that clock is two minutes fast!

And another thing, my old clock had red digits.  This one has green ones.  And they're BIG.  And they LIGHT UP THE WHOLE ROOM.

Never look a gift clock in the mouth, eh?

Do you have some appliance that's annoying you but is a necessary part of life?
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

And I got on the scale this morning . . .

Scale After Christmas, I decided to lose weight.  I was tired of being fat and I saw how my Dad suffered because he was overweight.  I decided to be different.

In years past, I've usually taken the "easy" way out.  I went on Nutra-System.  Well, the food is just as bad, but these days they don't let you choose what you want to eat--at least not at first.  They make you eat a LOT of pasta and . . . I'm not a big pasta fan.  So why would I want to spend nearly $300 eating stuff that makes me want to hurl?

Weight watchers If I religiously followed Weight Watchers, I would lose weight a lot faster.  But I dohwanna.  Actually, I'm kinda sorta following Weight Watchers because I truly believe it's the only sensible diet there is.  You eat what you want.  Just not in quantities you want.  And I have cut down--but not cut everything out.  (Heck, I had an Abbott's Custard on Friday--but instead of the regular sized one, I had a kiddie cone.  Guess what?  It was just as satisfying as the big one.)

It's been five months now and I've lost 18 pounds.  Yea!

Baggy-jeans-small Except for my jeans being a bit baggier, I don't feel like I've lost ANY weight.  I asked Mr. L this morning, "Do I look thinner to you?" and he said, "How can I tell?  I see you every day?"

I think I'll always see myself as FAT, even if I lose another 50 pounds.  I'm like those girls who are anorexic and see themselves as fat . . . only I really AM fat. I just see myself as fatter than I am.

We'll see a large woman in the grocery store and I'll say to Mr. L "Am I as fat as her?" and he always says "No."  But is he lying or do I just see myself as big as these other women?

I really don't have a goal in mind when it comes to weight loss.  More a pants size.  I have brand new jeans in the closet and it would be nice if I could fit into them.  Sadly, at 18 pounds less I still can't get into them.  But they're my current goal.  Once I can get into them, maybe I'll buy another pair of jeans a size smaller.  All I know is I don't want to end up a statistic:  diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic illnesses, and then dead.

I'm working toward that goal one pound at a time.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Looking forward to the weekend?

4thJulyPicnic-600 It used to be that when a holiday rolled around, you could count on a couple of things.  Celebrating it with family and lots of great food.

These days, what's left of the family is scattered.  Mr. L is looking at gall bladder surgery in a few weeks, so there won't be any potato salad, deviled eggs, hot dogs or hamburgers.

I miss the old days when the whole family would get together.  I sure miss my Dad.  Two years ago was his last 4th of July celebration.  By then he could barely walk.  Two days later he was in the hospital and never came home again.  Maybe that's why the 4th of July holiday is something I no longer look forward to.

This 4th of July holiday is going to be a working weekend for me.  I'll be painting my office (FINALLY) and working on my writing projects.

Potato salad I sure hope you're going to be with family, having fun, and eating potato salad.

If not, what are your plans for the weekend?