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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Free Reads

I had planned on a bigger post on new releases, but time and computer problems worked against me. Feel free to plug your book in the comments though. 

Yesterday was my birthday, and as birthdays go, it'll go down in history as one of my worst. I still have my strays, the poor things no closer to finding their true owners. 

And after crashing seven times, I returned my NEW computer to the store. Best Buy has lost a customer due to their Draconian return policies.

If you wrote me between March 13 and yesterday, I probably lost your email in the system wipe. If you need an answer, please email me again. 

But all was not lost. I got sweet birthday wishes from some close friends, great company, some nifty gifts, and lunch. My friend, Mel tried to talk me into making it a drinking lunch, but alas, it was too early for me.

But the next best thing to alcohol are freebies...

Check out Cate Master's new release, Dancing With The Devil. She's giving it away free until March 31st. 

Part goddess, part angel, part demon, can Lily summon the powers she never knew she had to free herself and make her own destiny?

And if you want a taste of a whole lot of books, check out KS Augustin's Sandal Press Sampler.

There's plenty here to whet your appetite.
  • War Games
  • It’s 10am, Why Am I Still Sober?
  • The Check Your Luck Agency
  • Quinten’s Story

If you have a brand new release, go ahead and pitch it. I plan to do some nice stress-free reading this weekend.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Computer Kiss of Death

Life has been so frustrating lately. I'm still having computer problems--with the NEW computer now. I'm having software problems too with an offsite company where I freelance. I'm almost afraid to touch anything electronic.

But the worst happened this weekend. Two dogs showed up at my doorstep. One older dog and a puppy. They look like labs. And they are the sweetest dogs--but no ID. 

I'm taking them into town today to see if my vet can scan them for chips, but I'm not holding out much hope. 

If flyers don't help, I won't have any choice but to take them to the nearest rescue center. It's in another town, so I'm afraid they might not take them. I am sick with worry we won't find the owners.
I know I would be frantic if I lost my boys, but there's been no one looking for these poor dogs. Tank is not happy about the interlopers. The older stray curled her lip at him and that did not go over well. 

Please send good thoughts that I'll be able to find the owners soon. These poor babies deserve a real home.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Storms and Linky Love

I really wasn't sure I'd make it back in time for my Thursday post. We had humongous storms rage across most of Texas. We got anywhere from 4-6 inches of rain in one downpour. I should've known my internet provider was going to have equipment damage. You can almost count on it.

To rub salt on an open wound, Best Buy called me. (these are the people who were working on my old computer) The poor beast had 126 viruses!

The good news: They fixed it and it runs good as new.
The bad news: I paid a small fortune for a new computer.

At least it didn't cost me anything to fix the old computer. I opted for a warranty with the new pc that's good for any three computers.

I had stopped by Nadja Notariani's blog the other day and she was musing about how to price her next book. It's been on my mind as well.

The computer and the subsequent internet problems put my next two new releases at least two weeks behind. I'm looking at mid April now. I plan to raise the prices on The Frugal Way books sometime this year. 

Don't worry. I'll be giving people plenty of notice to buy at the 99 cent rate for a while before I raise them. And it won't go up a lot. Maybe another dollar.

There are other things on the burner to coincide with the releases, but I don't want to introduce one thing without another, so I'm left juggling them until the time is right.

I got a very nice review from Cecile at All I Want and More Books for Chain of Souls. Poor Cecile. I wanted to mention the review way back when but it came out in the midst of my computer catastrophes.

And apparently, Mark of EvilDM fame hates me because he bestowed the Versatile Blogger award. :o) People nominate me for this award all the time, but there's really nothing interesting about my life that you probably don't already know. But do read his post at The Open Hearth because it gave me plenty of chills and thrills. Tarantulas. That's all I've got to say.

I really liked Shelley Munro's post this week on commenting. You cannot gauge a blog by the number of comments, though I would say I do gauge a blog by the quality of comments. If all I see are fast, empty comments I know those people only did it to make an "appearance" rather than to interact. 

Not that we'll have something deep and meaningful to say every time we comment, but I've been on the blogverse long enough to know who's doing the drive-bys and who really has relationships with people.

Do read Shelley's post and chime in with your opinion. 

It's been a heck of a month, and most of it I'm sorry to say was pretty miserable. And to put icing on that pity cake, I have a birthday coming up next week, only Greg won't be able to spend it with me due to work obligations. (Those of you who don't know, hubby and I live 300 miles apart.)

He'll make it up to me when he finally does make it home, but I'll still miss him. If my friend, Mel is willing to make the drive, maybe we can go out that day.

So if it's okay with the universe, can I start having a normal life now?

Stop by and visit all the nice people I mentioned today. But while you're here, tell me what's going on with you. What's the biggest thing on your plate this week?


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Out of Ether

Storms and deep cloud cover are preventing internet reception. (I'm on satellite). I'll visit and reply as soon as I can. Much love and kisses, Maria

Monday, March 19, 2012

State of the Home-in-stead

The kitchen is done, and I have my sink back! Much rejoicing was done by all.

There are three other utility sinks in the house. One in the laundry room, my office, and in the garage. But was I happy? Nooooo. I really missed my kitchen sink. And what a sink it is. It's one of those granite composite beauties with two extra deep basins. 

Even the faucet took days to find. It's a nickel plated faucet with a good heavy feel to it. I could've kept my old faucet because there was nothing wrong with it, but I wanted to splurge on the nickel.

My only regret is that I can't justify the funds to get the floors refinished. I spent that money on a *$#!% computer! My computer woes are lingering, but not as bad as before.

At least I can feast my eyes on this. Click on the picture for a better look.

The granite is so shiny, you can see the whole faucet reflected in it.

Dog for Sale: Iko did it to me AGAIN! He knocked down my seedling trays, smearing dirt all over my Oriental rug. My little plants are history.

I wonder if that dog works for Monsanto. He could be on a one-dog mission to derail my heirloom garden.

Instead of replanting the trays, I pulled out every pot I owned and started new seeds in them. This time I put them outside.

Maybe I ought to rent out Iko during seed-starting season. Anyone need a good watchdog? He can sniff out scorpions, snakes and coyotes. Oh, wait. Never mind. Now I remember why I keep him. He found our first scorpion of the year last week.

Guess I'll forgive him. Besides. He said he was sorry.

He looks pretty sorry to me.
How's the weather by you guys? Anyone else have a plant-killing dog?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

RIP, Computer

If you follow me on Facebook you probably heard that earlier this week my computer crashed. I took it to Best Buy and they put it on life support, but could only open it in "safe mode". It didn't look good for the old boy.

I really didn't want to donate my retirement savings to a new computer, but the Geek Squad could not guarantee they could fix my pc without bloodletting. I opted to pull the plug and bought a faster, bigger machine (10 GB of RAM, 1.5 Terrabytes of hard drive).

--only they didn't have it in their store, nor was one in transit. Oy!

My only option was to get it from another store. Sure, they could get it delivered, but their next delivery was next week. No way was I waiting that long, so we made the trip to the next town.

We brought the new computer to our 'local' store and they commenced the long process of extricating my ginormous library of files from the old computer. In the meantime we dash home to retrieve my software so they can install those too. The software front is not looking good. Apparently some of my software is too old for this computer. (I'll just open a vein for more money.)

Days later, my new computer is ready. ...I hope. We picked it up last night but were too tired to plug it in so we'll attempt it today. 

I still won't have email until I can talk to my local provider and have them walk me through the set up again. As I recall from last time, it was not an easy process. What with my poor phone reception, trying to communicate with them in front of my computer was frustrating beyond belief.

I don't know if it was the solar flares, Mercury gone retrograde, or just an incredible coincidence, but me and at least five friends that I know of have lost their computers, incurred a virus, or had their email accounts hacked--all on the same day. 

Strangely enough, the day before my pc crashed, I backed up my most important files, but not all because I just didn't have the time. Then this happened.

The only funny thing was when the tech yelled at me because I have a bad habit of cramming my desktop window with folders and files. Greg laughed because he picks on me for that too.

I can't help it. I look at these files all the time and I want them easy to find.

Do you neatly store your files and folders off your desktop, or are you like me and put them in plain sight?

Note: If you need to email me, my gmail account is the only reliable email I have at present.

Monday, March 12, 2012

John Carter: Mini Movie Review

I walked into the movie theater with trepidation, haunted by all the naysayers and negative (early) reviews. Now all I can say is: I want to see this movie AGAIN.

John Carter is the film adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' story, Princess of Mars. The film took some creative license, giving Carter a more in depth back story, making Dejah Thoris (the princess of Mars) a scientist, and updating the story with a singular bad guy and transportation device. All these things were not in the original story, but I think the adaptations were probably necessary for today's audience.

If I can give any bad marks to John Carter, it's that the first 15 minutes rambled too much. It tried too hard to get everyone up to speed on the players. It also lingered too long on Carter's back story. I was getting a little nervous sitting through the beginning, hoping the movie would straighten out soon. It did.

Once John Carter was transported to Barsoom (Mars) he is your typical disoriented stranger who discovers he can jump great distances and has enormous strength. The Tharks (green-skinned, 4-armed Barsoomians) find him first. 

Getting a glimpse into the Tharks' austere culture flooded me with great emotion and fond memories of when I first read the Barsoom books. The people John Carter meets and the relationships he forms is what I loved most about the stories. The Tharks are brutal and violent people, but they're also very brave and honorable. 

In the meantime we are introduced to the Red people and the Blue people of Barsoom and learn that the Thurns (an entity created as the sole bad guy) are manipulating the population so that they can feed off the planet. In the original books when Carter encounters the four races of Barsoom, it's he who unites them to end the fighting. The movie takes a short cut by creating the Thurns.

John Carter should be a steampunk lover's dream. It's the world as seen through the eyes of a real 19th century writer, complete with all the "modern" embellishments of that era. Dog lovers will love the calot, the Barsoomian 'dog', He steals every scene he's in. The love story is a little lukewarm compared to the lustier version I remembered from the original story, but I didn't mind. It was like coming home to the science fiction I loved.

That's all I'll tell you about the story. Be patient for the first 15 minutes, then you'll be rewarded by one of the granddaddies of science fiction story telling.

By the way, if you stay to the credits, you'll see a very touching tribute to Steve Jobs.

I don't buy many videos anymore, but I'm buying this one the moment it's out.

Previews: While at the movies, I caught the trailers for the new movies coming out. I was surprised at "Hunger Games". It reminded me a little bit of "The Running Man" (but with better actors) with its gaudy tv reality show backdrop. Another movie, "Lockout" seems to be an updated remake of "Escape from New York".

"Battleship" looks good though with Liam Neeson (in a secondary role). And "Mirror, Mirror" with Julia Roberts looks like fun. "The Avengers"? Meh. We'll wait and see.

What are you anxious to see?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Winner for Best Actress

...should've been me.

For the past seven days I've been suffering from headaches. At first, I didn't think much of it. I kept posting, commenting, answering emails, and writing. All the while the headaches grew worse. It felt like a sinus headache, but far more painful, encompassing my entire head and down the back of my neck.

In the meantime, some of you who follow me on Facebook learned of my unfortunate brawl with a piece of wire that whipped back and smacked me in the eye. That did NOT help my headache situation. LOL!

Realizing things were getting worse, I finally made an appointment with the doctor for the next day. 

I wish now I had thought of this 24 hours earlier. The night before my appointment, I could barely take a step because I was so dizzy. All I could do was hang in there until morning, though I did manage to put the Sheriff's office on speed dial in case I needed a trip to the emergency room.

After a rough night, I drove to the doctor's office and waited. She confirmed it was a severe sinus infection. When I asked her why the pain went as far down as my neck, she said an acute sinus headache can radiate to the back of the head.

Holy moley! I wouldn't wish this on anybody. I'm on antibiotics and pain meds now. Although I'm not dizzy, I've still got a dull headache and I've decided to take it easy for the next few days.

Update: Found my beta readers. Thanks, everyone!

While I'm recovering I thought I'd ask for volunteers to beta read my two Frugal Way books (soon to be released). What I'm looking for is someone who can point out anything that needs more explanation. One book is on grocery shopping, the other on garage sales.

I only need one reviewer for each book. If you're interested, please follow these instructions.

1. You must reside in the US or Canada since I use American jargon.
2. You must have an excellent eye for typos. These books are pretty clean so you probably won't find any--but just in case.
3. I will need feedback within a week's time.

If you meet the above qualifications, email me and let me know which book you prefer to review. The Frugal Way books are short and to the point so they should be fast reads.

If you're chosen, you will be listed in the credits as my beta reader and will receive the finished e-book as well as the other e-book when they're published.
Question of the day: Any sinus headache sufferers out there? Have you ever had a headache knock you out this bad? I've got to admit I was a little scared the night before my doc appointment. I even wrote Greg a short email and asked him to check on me if he didn't hear from me come morning.

PS to Home Canners: Does anyone have a pickled egg recipe they've used and liked? Email me if you do. Thanks!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Never Run Out of Blog Topics

Not too long ago, author, Jenny Schwartz mentioned stockpiling blog posts. It's a great habit to have especially when life gets busy. The second best thing you can do is stockpile topics.

Jenny cheats er...gets creative by using Toby as her scape-dog for when she runs out of ideas. This is, of course, a brilliant strategy because nothing draws me to a blog faster than a cute dog. Just ask Sarah Falen and Yvie. It's like crack to me.

While I'm just as guilty of using my dogs as topic fodder, it's not my only secret weapon. I have enough files on potential topics to make J. Edgar Hoover roll in his grave.

My notebook averages around 125 topics. Some I will never use because they're too controversial or no longer relevant.  But every idea births a dozen others. If something is too volatile, I can narrow my focus and discuss a topic, minus the gasoline and match.

Jenny and Shelley Munro plotted to bribe Tank and Iko out of my idea book, but it doesn't have to come to that. You can create your own idea bank. Here is a list of where I harvest my topics.

Idea Banks

• Eavesdropping on forums. (I get my best questions from there.)

• Current events in the news. If it's news that affects me, it might affect my readers too.

• Movies and tv. TV not so much, since I watch very little. But I am an avid movie watcher.

• Other blogs. Sometimes bloggers say things that spark a tangential idea from their original posts.

• Comments. Yes. YOUR comments. You guys constantly give me new material for another day.

• The homestead. I could write a blog post every day about what happens on this place. But that would limit my audience so I try to keep my homesteading posts in balance with my other posts.

• The dogs. Well, duh. :grin:

• Greg. I have LOTS of material on him. While you would be thoroughly entertained and amazed, I probably wouldn't be married long if I started a tell-all. Let's just say he keeps our marriage interesting.

• Slices of life. Every time I think of some giant drama going on in my life, I break it down to a single moment and share that little piece of it.

I keep a little notebook in my purse (and my bedside) and jot down everything that interests me, deciding later whether it's got the bones to be a good post. Even something as incidental as dinner conversation can find itself in my idea bank.

Things I never write about:

• Politics. Hate to read it, so I won't write it.

• Drunken monkey attacks on authors, agents, or publishers. There are enough drunken monkeys out there. They don't need me.

• Memes, excerpts, and blog challenges. I did one or two early in my blog career, but they're like dead air to search engines. You might as well be invisible.

Time is my enemy. I have way more topics than I have time to discuss them, especially now that I've cut my blogging to twice a week.

Since adding my Frugal Facebook page, Twitter has fallen by the wayside, too time-consuming to do it justice. 

It's a bear I still wrestle...and a topic for another time. :o)

Where do you get your blog topic ideas? Have you ever stockpiled posts to use on later dates?