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Friday, April 29, 2011

Linky Love

A little link salad to end the week.

Long and Short Reviews is giving away a Nook, Kindle or $150 GC -- are you playing?  -- and, yes, you CAN go back and comment on earlier posts for more entries!! Contest ends April 30! Good luck!
(I won my Nook from Long and Short Reviews. Best thing I ever won!)
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HB Moore is looking for reviewers for her newest book, AMMON.
I'm not Mormon but I've read Heather's books and they're really good. If you enjoy books about faith, check out the link and contact her.

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Linda Leszczuk has a call for submissions for the first issue of Small Tales. Submissions will close on May 31, 2011. Go here for more information.

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Tomorrow is the last day to buy True Believers at a 15% discount. Just use coupon code BESTOFCARINA at Checkout. Offer is valid until April 30, 2011, 11:59 p.m. EDT. (Please feel free to tweet that if you get a chance.)

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Do we have any book reviewers out there? Apocalypse Rising is now available from NetGalley.

I am so nervous about this book. It's a sequel, so the big elephant in the room is: Can it stand alone or do you have to read the first book? I'm hoping people will buy both to get the full apocalyptic effect. :grin:

***

And finally...

Wills and Kate are jumping the broom. I have to admit, I find the whole royalty thing a bit pretentious, but we have nothing on that level here, so it's fun to watch. Getting married is hard enough as it is without a billion people watching. I wish the young couple well. I hope they have a grand life together.

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Do you have any links or news to add? Do tell.

What do you think of all the royal pageantry? Would you be willing to have your whole life on display?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chicks Being Born

Because you asked, here's a video of chicks being born. If you look at the left hand side, there are two in the process of being born. All these chicks are less than three hours old.

Press 'full screen' on the video for a better look.

video

One thing that most people don't realize is that you have to let the chicks struggle out of the shell. If you help them, they lose their vigor and it results in weak chicks. They often won't survive if you help them.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Buying Habits & Mini-Review

I just finished reading Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan, courtesy of the very wonderful Suzanne Johnson. I'd been wanting to read this book forever, but I don't live near a bookstore and I never order books online--other than ebooks. (My Nook is getting very fat with books.)

But this brings me to the subject of buying habits and my big secret.

I am not a jumper-of-bandwagons. 

I'll wait for the collective gasp. LOL.

You can bet your bottom dollar that if some big book, movie, gadget, trend, or the Second Coming rolls around, I will very nearly be the LAST person to come on board. I don't know what that says about me other than I simply lack the gene to scratch the 'instant gratification' itch.

I have to wait and see. Listen to other people's opinions. Weigh my options. Do my nails. Wash my hair. You get the idea.

Generally, by the time I read a blockbuster book, it's been history for at least a couple of years. Now if you happen to have a book that is NOT on the NYT bestseller list, your chances are very good that I'll read your book before the blockbuster. Call me a rogue because I prefer to support writers who don't get all the fanfare and accolades. The megastars will always be there, but a lesser known writer might get lost in the constantly moving parade of new stories.

Do you think that's weird? Greg doesn't hesitate to buy what's new and hot. Me...I'm patient. 

'Warprize' really tested my patience though. I wanted this book badly. Every time I was in a town that had a bookstore, I'd check for it. The clerks always offered to order it for me, but when's the next time I'd be in that town? I couldn't say, so I'd pass. It's not as if I was suffering for lack of reading material. I have lots to keep me busy.

And then Suzanne Johnson happened to mention it on a giveaway on her blog and I dropped in a comment, and won the book!

Once 'Warprize' arrived, I dove in and even skipped a few chores to finish this book. I'd already read the third book in the series 'Warlord' (because that was in the bookstore).

I have to admit, even though I enjoyed the book, it was a little disappointing. After years of hearing people rave about it, there were aspects that really bugged me.

Lara, the Warprize is a bit of a simpleton, and she seemed to defy common sense at the most inappropriate times. I also never understood why the hero was attracted to her. But Vaughan outdid herself in painting the Firelanders and their customs. Keir, Marcus, and Simus were remarkable characters. I wanted to know more about them.

I still like this book, but not for the reasons I thought I would. The third book lacked a lot of the characterization of the first book--obviously since I'm sure the author was counting on people reading them in order, though I still liked it overall.

I might skip the second book in the series (Warsworn). I read Angela James's thoughts on 'Warsworn' and she mentioned Lara was not nearly as likable.  Since I didn't care much for her in the first book, I didn't want to be further disappointed. (Although the heroine did vindicate herself in book 3.)

In book 1, Lara just didn't seem worthy of a man like Keir. There was no fire in her like there was in Keir. That's important to me. Both people have to bring something to the table for me to love them.

I feel fulfilled though. I finally read a long awaited for book. And Elizabeth Vaughan has intrigued me enough that I'm willing to try her 'Star' series. I really do like her story telling.

What are your buying habits like? Will you drop everything to buy a much anticipated book, or can you wait for the hoopla to die down?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maria Talks Science Fiction Romance

The very talented Marian Perera has invited me to her blog today to talk about the differences between Science Fiction romance and Paranormal romance, how to make SF less boring, and how to avoid clich├ęs in SFR.

Also, time is running out to get True Believers on sale. Get the details on Marian's blog.

Stop by and add your two pence. What turns you off in SF romance?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pages, Schmages

All right Facebook overlords experts, I need your help and advice. What is the purpose of a Facebook (Fan?) Page? And how can I follow updates on a Page?

I've avoided Pages for the most part. The few I "Liked" were friends or organizations I was really interested in, but it doesn't do me any good if I have to visit each individual page to see what's new. 

I need news to come to me like on Google Reader or an RSS feed. Or at least make it a one-stop shop to get my news like 'Facebook regular'. That way I can scroll down and see what everyone is doing at a glance.

And then there's that other elephant in the room. As an author, apparently I'm expected to start my own Page. Scares the bejeebers out of me.

I mean, what if no one likes me? How humiliating! I'd be crushed. Spindled. Mutilated. I'd cry in my beer. And I don't even like beer.

See how devastated I would be?

I'd much rather hide behind this curtain here. Ooh, velvet.

To be honest, I'm a little uncomfortable with the 'Like' label. As much as I'd squee like a little girl if people liked me, it feels coerced. I am constantly getting messages from people asking me to 'like' them. Is that Kosher?

Marketing experts are always touting Facebook Pages for authors, but I've yet to read hard evidence on how it's useful. I'm not denying their claims. I just don't see it.

I'd be willing to suck it up and take the chance if someone could explain to me how his or her page has helped them reach readers. The whole concept boggles my poor mouse brain.

And I won't be insulted if you use little words. LOL. You know how hopeless I am with all things Facebook.

Do you have a Facebook Page? Useful or not? Do you visit Pages regularly?

***
We've had a rough week. Two Three storms blew through. The first one was the worst. A lot of trees came down in the town just south of us. But the next storm took out my internet tower--and then it turns out, fried my router.

The winds were howling so hard the trees were sideways. Now I know why so many people have storm shelters in their front yards. Unlike the bigger cities, there are no sirens to warn you of oncoming tornadoes. You're on your own out here.

Southwest of us, they're battling major wildfires. The winds are so fierce it's blowing the smoke into the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It's ironic. One community lost 122 homes. We once considered moving there when a house we liked came up for sale. That could've been us.

The poor people in North Carolina are in far worse shape. Extensive tornado damage there and many lives lost.

Thanks to those of you who left comments or emailed to check up on me. I'm fine. Just no communication. Left me frustrated the first couple of days, but eventually I got used to my hermitage.

***

This week, the fabulous Marian Perera interviews me on my take of Science Fiction and Romance. I wanted to mention this earlier in the week, but with my tower down it was a little hard to spread the word. I'll be appearing on her blog tomorrow, Thursday, 4-21-11.

I hope you'll stop in and share your opinions.

Meanwhile, back to Facebook. Do 'Pages' work? Do you read them?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

No Internet

Big storm---no internet.
No ETA on when we'll get juice back. Maria very sad. Might have to consume fire-water.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Updatery

What a week! Projects are stacking up like cordwood.

Aside from the mundane, we also finished our taxes. Huzzah! We won't go to jail--and a senator will get a new yacht.

Chicks: Of the first batch of eggs, five were duds. Judging by the yolk, it looks as if they were fertilized, but they never matured past a few days. The eggs in question seem to be coming from a specific hen. Time will tell if this was a one time thing or if there is a hen producing weak offspring. They're still young biddies so it could be a fluke.

The rest of the chicks are doing beautifully. They are adorable and very friendly! The dogs have already met them and approve.

Goat pen progress:  
My friend, Mike Keyton once saw an aerial shot of my property and said something to the effect: You live in a bloody forest! (Ya gotta love Brits and their fondness for understatement!)

Well, Mike, we just chopped some trails into that forest so we could build a goat pen, and your words kept echoing in my mind. The goats will take care of the remaining brush, but I didn't realize just how long it would take us to clear four straight lines in order to site the fence.

We don't have a lot of acreage, but I want to keep as many trees as I can. I like the greenery, and it's a nice buffer from outside eyes. 

Treed property is getting harder and harder to come by. This is horse and cattle country. Everyone wants pasture. But there is nothing sadder-looking than big swaths of land in nothing but grass. Good for a cow, but that's about it.

Grass: Speaking of grass, Greg wants to plant Bermuda in the front yard. I am so anti-suburban. LOL! I hate the idea of grass as decoration. I want plants that do something practical like feed me, my animals or encourage pollination. But I will concede to Da Man and give him his darn suburban lawn so he can live up to his title of country gentleman.

Writing: With all the outdoor work we've had to do, I've had no time to write. But soon, my beauties. Soon. I'm working on something I think will be quite intriguing. You'll never see Heaven and Hell with the same eyes again. 

What's your next big project?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Babies Are Here

The chicks started pipping yesterday and most were born in the wee hours of the morning during a terrific storm.  I wish we could have gotten video.

It's still too dark to see what the storm left us, but the chicks weathered power failure just fine.

Aren't they cute? There is nothing more inspiring than birth.

We'll leave them in the hatcher until tomorrow and then move them to the giant brooder box where they'll get their first meal and drink of water.

We had one near fatality the day we moved them to the hatcher! As we transferred eggs from incubator to hatcher, we I missed one. The egg was hidden behind an opaque divider that had shifted to an angle and I never noticed him even as I swung the tray to the ground and laid it against a wall. I left it there for a couple of hours until I went back to check on progress. 

The tray was in my way so I moved it again. This time a little egg (one of the smallest in the batch) fell to the floor, cracking it.

Greg and I were horrified that we had left him. I quickly scooped him up and put him in the hatcher. The shell, though cracked was still intact and the chick inside was moving.

We named him Oopsie and hoped for the best. I am happy to report, Oopsie is alive and well. 

Thank God, Mother Nature is smarter than I am.

Oopsie is the little blond chick on the left. I know because he's right next to his marked shell. Only one other chick had hatched at this point.

If this happens again, I'm going to call him, Oy!


Update: The storm last night was very bad. I think a tornado raked through us. Off to inspect for damage. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Imposters Among Us

I recently read about this blatant thievery and it bugged me enough to speak out to anyone who offers free reads on their web sites.

For the most part I've stayed away from the discussions on indie versus traditional publishing. In my opinion both are excellent means of getting published, but they each come with their own baggage.

Author, SKS Perry was robbed and Amazon (as of yet) hasn't taken the appropriate measures to stop the thief who stole his work. It never occurred to me that something like this could happen. It just goes to prove there is scum everywhere.

As a recap, here's what happened: SKS Perry took some good advice and self-published his novel on Amazon. He'd been giving his novel away for free, so why not make a little money on it? 

Evidently, some scumbag thought so too, and published it as well, with the proceeds going directly to him. By the time Perry decided to publish it, he'd found it already existed on Amazon. His friends are pointing him in the right direction, contacting Amazon, sending a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) letter and making phone calls.

As of this writing, Amazon still offers the other guy's pirated copy on there web site, but at least they're allowing Perry to publish his rightfully-owned novel. (How nice of them.)

This is why I am so dead set against posting free books on blogs and web sites. I think it's all kinds of wonderful that you want to share, but all it takes is one blackheart yahoo to steal from you and pretend to be you.

For the record, I'm not fond of posting unpublished excerpts either, but that's for different reasons. 

It's not safe out there, people. If you're going to self-publish, don't put it on your web site for free without publishing it first via Smashwords, Amazon, or B&N. And if you're good enough, you don't have to give it away for free.

I read a little of Perry's excerpt and it is good. If you want to support him, be sure to go to HIS link and not the thief's. His novel is called DARKSIDE and here is his link.

Monday, April 4, 2011

State of the Homestead Address

Spring has definitely sprung and I am meeting myself coming and going. Aside from writing, editing, and blog tour planning, there are fences to put up and chicks to expect.

Chicks: I am a little worried about our upcoming hatch. I never could get the temperature and humidity to settle at mid range. It was within specs, but on the low end so chicks might be hatching late. The expected hatch date is next Monday.

Greg built the most awesome chick brooder, complete with a lift-away top that is attached to a counterweight so it lifts easily. The man is a genius! 

The counterweight is presently a log splitter until Greg can replace it with some lead weights. One finger can lift the entire top off the 6' x 8' brooder. It's quite a bit bigger than what we need, but we're trying to plan ahead for when we raise more or bigger birds.

Chickens: The hens are laying like crazy and everyone seems very content in their permanent digs. It's still too soon to see if this will be a viable business for us, but Greg has already been plotting a new aviary and a self-contained hatchery and brooder house.

Land Maintenance: Over the weekend, I managed to burn one big pile of brush, but I have at least three more on the horizon. And though we were cutting back trees, we also planted some. Two cherry trees went in this weekend. I have a spot for one more--the hole already pre-drilled, so I will go shopping for another fruit tree this week.

The auger makes quick work of digging. Since the loam on this part of the homestead is more clay than dirt, we dig until we hit the sand level (about 3 feet), then add compost, providing adequate drainage and nutrients.

Garden: Evil and dastardly larval life forms have chomped off several of my pepper plants. I didn't put foil on them this year and now I'm paying the price.

Goats: Next week we'll begin clearing land and putting up fence for the future goats. We're a little late on this, but to be honest, we've been so busy, this was the earliest we could manage.

Writing-wise, I am working on a new project that I hope to reveal in a few months. I am very excited about this one.

For the month of April, I'll be cutting back my blog posts to one or two a week unless something important comes up. With the weather so nice, we have to spend every daylight hour outdoors to finish up our projects before the oppressive heat descends upon us. Needless to say, something had to give if I was to keep my writing-time intact, and the blog seemed the most expendable.

Chances are good I'll make up for my lack of blogging by being on Facebook more. It takes less time and I get to hear from so many of you more often. You can friend me on Facebook here

Speaking of expendable, what's the first thing to go when you have a lot on your plate? Is blogging a priority to you, or is it farther down your list? I wasn't sure what else to give up, and blogging is more of an indulgence than a necessity.

Update: It turns out there WILL be a post tomorrow. Something came up that is forcing me to speak up.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Your Story in 60 Words

What are you working on right now? Can you describe your work-in-progress in 60 words or less?

Using the names of your main characters, the conflict and the stakes, describe your story. 

I usually challenge myself to 50 words. It forces me to focus on only the most important aspects of the story.

And this isn't limited to writers. Gardeners, artists, and craftspeople, what are you working on?

What's on your itinerary this weekend?