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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nailed It, In More Ways Than One

If you followed my escapades on Facebook, you know that I smashed my finger in a door a few days ago. It's still a bit tender, but I'm getting good at typing with nine fingers.

I was going to be brave and poke a few holes in my nail to relieve some of the pressure but everyone on Facebook talked me into going to the doctor instead. And guess what she did?

She poked a few holes into my nail with a needle to relieve the pressure. LOL. At least now I know it was the right thing to do. 

If you do this yourself, remember to wipe alcohol on the nail and use a sterilized needle. You don't have to work the needle too far. As soon as you reach the nail bed, the blood will come gushing out and you'll feel relief almost at once.

There's your first aid tip for 2013. Hope you never have to use it.

***

Indies 4 Hire: The event is over but the experience will stay with me. It was amazing. I never expected that many people to attend and the interaction was terrific. My thanks again to Gwen Gardner, my guiding star and partner on this adventure. 

I got to meet a bunch of new friends and I hope we introduced you to some new friends too.

And now to the winners!

Mil Holmes - 25 page edit or novel formatted
Shelley Munro – 1 blog or FB Header
Shelley Munro - 1 custom blog badge for tour event or bloghop
LD Masterson - 50 page edit or novel formatted
 


I couldn't believe Shelley Munro's name came up twice in the Rafflecopter. I told her she better buy a lottery ticket.

Congrats to all the winners.

***


MISTRESS of the STONE is up for BOOK of the YEAR.


Finally, a bit of book news from my corner. In 2012, LASR gave Mistress of the Stone a BEST BOOK rating. A high honor in itself. Well, now it's in the running for BEST BOOK of 2012 and this time readers get to choose the ultimate winner.

Voting runs from February 1 - February 14
You can vote for Mistress of the Stone here. Mistress of the Stone is somewhere in the middle.

If it wins I get some free advertising so I'm keeping my fingers crossed--but not my bad finger. :ouchie:

I love this book. Yeah, I got all historical on you, but it's accurate history even if it does have werewolves and ghouls.

This is the second time one of my books was nominated for Book of the Year. True Believers also won two other major book bloggers' Book of the Year. I'd like to do it again!



Monday, January 28, 2013

State of the Homestead

Spring is right around the corner for us. Another 4-6 weeks and we can start planting in earnest. 

Garden: Late in 2012, I pulled out the strongest tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants and stuck them in pots. During the few weeks that it got chilly, I brought them indoors to a fully appointed atrium with ceramic tile, drain, and its own water source. Did I mention I love this house?

As the days started getting shorter, I noticed the potted plants were looking poorly. Still green, but not as robust as they were a few weeks earlier. Greg installed a grow light over them and they started getting bushy again. The eggplants and tomatoes even flowered.

But then horrors. I discovered aphids on my eggplants. I never use poison on plants that grow food, so I sprayed them with a mild dish washing soap solution. It seems to be working.

Sometime in March, when I'm certain the temperatures have stabilized, I'll put these plants outside and then compare them with new, younger transplants. The tomatoes seem to be more leggy than bushy but that could be because they're not getting enough light. I'm curious to see how much sooner they'll produce since they're already mature plants.

All my pretties. Notice the grow light above.


Comfrey: I have been wanting to get this plant for ages, but the price always made me swallow my tongue. Finally, I surrendered to my plant lust and bought a dozen cuttings. Comfrey is a hardy herb well loved by goats and chickens. It's also an old herbal remedy for broken bones, thus the name knitbone. The allantoin in comfrey is believed to promote cell growth.

I'm hoping it'll be as aggressive a spreader as they say because I want to use it as stock feed. I'll post a picture of it next month because it's just a little sprig of green right now. Not much to look at.

Chickens: Back in November, I mentioned the chickens were taking some time off as the days got shorter. Well, almost as soon as December 21st passed, they started laying again with gusto. I'm getting a dozen eggs a day. And a few of the younger chickens are starting too, including a new layer who is taking after her mama and laying green eggs.

The good news: Several people are interested in buying my eggs.  

The bad news: As usual, my buyers live far away so it'll be a case of when I can transport the most amount of eggs at one time.

The guys below haven't been sorted. There are three roosters who have yet to meet the Maker. And I need to band the others by age and breed.

Too early to let them free range. Without the cover of trees and shrubs, hawks and coyotes can pick them off.

Dogs: Over the holidays we rechristened the old labrador who adopted us last year. Not expecting her to stay we kept calling her Mama, but the name didn't fit. 

Mama is now renamed Maggie. It didn't take her long to respond to that name. She still follows me around like a shadow. They all do. I don't know why I deserve so much attention. I must smell like liver.

Tank's condition has improved. His lumps are far less noticeable and he has more energy. My relief at his turnaround cannot be measured.

Iko is starting to throw his weight around. He's always been content to be second to Tank, but Maggie's introduction has made him more assertive. He doesn't want to be third. LOL. Thank goodness he doesn't realize how powerful he is. He thinks he's still puppy-size. 

I'm curious how he'll behave once Tank is gone. Iko has always looked up to him. As long as his big brother was there, all was right with the world.

We're still looking for our fourth baby. We keep coming across so many other dogs that need us, but I'm trying to hold out for a girl who can help me herd goats.

One of the few times I could get them all in one picture.


What plans do you have for the spring (or winter) for you down under?


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Standing on One Foot

Yoga is not my hobby. It's a necessary addiction. I do it to keep from being a cripple.

Before all my injuries, I was in excellent condition. I rock climbed, lifted twice my weight, and could outlast any twenty year old on my worst day. But then the injuries started to pile on and I wasn't able to recover this time. In less than a year, I had lost all my strength and most of my endurance. I had to do something to stop my downward slide.

I dreaded walking into that yoga studio. The experience wasn't just bad. It was embarrassing.

Let me tell you how awful I was on my first day. I could not do a single posture. Not one. Heck, I couldn't even kneel into Child's Pose, the simplest pose of all next to Corpse Pose (which hurt like hell because my spine was so misaligned).

I went to class almost every day. I'm sure the instructors thought I was a glutton for punishment because I crashed, tripped, and crumpled like a rusty old car. They were constantly correcting me. I was their favorite problem child.

Fast forward six months. I'm a different person. Calmer. Stronger. And in a lot less pain. I'm nowhere near the expert level, but I can do nearly every posture with ease.

Nobody ever corrects me anymore and I kind of miss that. But it also tells me I'm making progress. 

I've spent hours practicing standing on one foot. Greg will attest that I'll be talking to him and I just go into the posture. I practice constantly, always falling out but getting right back in.  

I'm still trying to do this one well. >>>>>>>>

Yoga is like a microcosm of daily life. No matter what our life's work, we're always practicing, aren't we?

What's your brass ring? What do you want to do better?

I may never master standing on one foot, but I'll never stop trying.

***

Indies 4 Hire Event is still going on! Friday is the last of our discussions, but we'll be on hand all weekend if anyone wants to chat or ask questions.

Gwen Gardner is handling the Rafflecopter giveaway. I think it ends this weekend and we'll announce winners on Wednesday. 

This event has been awesome!! I've enjoyed it so much. But a lot of the credit goes to Gwen. She's keeps everything running on schedule and does all the admin stuff in the background. 

I've had an incredible number of people write me, friend me and follow me. I'm thrilled to meet so many new friends. By the way, I've tried to keep up with everyone, but if I missed following you back, please leave me a comment and tell me so.

Today, Gwen and I are going to concentrate on marketing stuff. Friday, I'll talk about cover art.



Monday, January 21, 2013

Indies 4 Hire FB Event Starts Today!

Today is the start of my very first Facebook event. I'm even ditching yoga to be on hand all day. Yoga, people! I hardly ever ditch yoga, so you know this must be important.

It probably also has to do that I'm recovering from a GRUELING weekend raking a couple of acres and trimming hedges. I think my poor hands are in a permanent clenched position. 

This is the time of year when we flip-flop back and forth on temperature so I take advantage of the good weather when I can. A State of the Homestead update is coming next week. I am giddy with Spring Fever.

But today I trade my overalls for reading glasses and talk shop. Indies 4 Hire (the clever name Gwen Gardner thought up) starts at noon EST (NY time) and lasts all week. 

Every day I'll post at least one topic for discussion. Chime in anytime. I love how you guys always stop by my infrequent Facebook posts so I hope you'll do the same here. I don't want to be talking to myself. My neighbors will think I've been swilling the juice again.

In the meantime, you can participate by telling others about the week long event. Below is a Rafflecopter form that Gwen, the Saint made up for us. I call her the saint because I bugged her endlessly with questions and changes. I am not an easy person to work with--as those of you who've had that misfortune know well.

Prizes: We're not going to ask you to help us out without offering a bodacious bribe. Heavens! That would be uncivilized.

The way I understand it, you get points for every time you tweet, or post on Facebook or your blog. Prizes range from partial edits from Gwen to header or blog badge designs from me.


There will be multiple winners for the blog badges and blog/Facebook header. I will create a custom-designed blog badge or header (depending on which you've won).

Gwen is giving away a 25 page, or 50 page edit, or a formatted novel. 

We didn't skimp on the prizes.  

Tell your friends and join the Indies 4 Hire Event here. You could win some awesome stuff. 

***

I know the UK is covered in snow and so is part of the US. But the Aussies are enjoying their summer and Malaysia is almost finished with their monsoon season. What did you do this weekend? Were you shoveling snow or wearing shorts?

Do you take advantage of the weather when you can or do you stay committed to your writing cave regardless of the weather?


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 17, 2013

No Author is an Island

I knew if I mentioned my flash player problem someone would have the answer. Many thanks to the brilliant Jhan who advised me to install an earlier version of Flash. I had actually thought of this, but I had no clue where to find older versions of software. Jhan had the answer to that too. She's a genius!

I can see my videos now. Woo hoo!! The first video I played was Adele, Rolling in the Deep. I love her bluesy voice.

***

I'm getting excited about Monday. That's the day Gwen Gardner and I kick off our Indies 4 Hire Facebook event. Gwen is an old hand at this but I'm an event virgin. (Oh, that sounds awful. LOL.) But it's true. Gwen tells me what to do and I do it.

We have several topics we want to bring up for discussion. But you're also welcome to bring your own topics and questions. 

The event lasts a whole week and we'll have different things to talk about every day. Even though we're calling this an Indie Event, we'll be covering things that affect all writers, so don't let the name fool you.

This post kind of segues nicely with the gist of what Indies 4 Hire is about. While it's a showcase for the work Gwen and I do, the event itself is about community and sharing information. The business world calls it networking, but I prefer to call it good karma. It's a give and take, ideally giving more than taking.

This is why I wrote Self-Publisher's Punch List. I could've charged for it, but this is my contribution to my community and to those I have yet to meet.

The advanced reading copy of Self-Publisher's Punch List is available by email. Contact me and I'll be glad to send it to you. Just put "Punch List" in the subject line so it doesn't fall into the spam bucket.

***


On a personal note: Tank is looking frail. He's in excellent spirits and his tumors have gone down considerably, thanks in part, to the high protein/high fat diet he's on. But he is leaner than I'd like him to be and he doesn't want to play with Iko as often.

Nonetheless, he is one happy dog, living life to the fullest.

Sometimes you have to do the best with whatever life deals you. Tank taught me that. He's a very smart dog.

Photo: It's a weird perspective but I liked how cute his face looked.

***

Are you coming to our Facebook event next week? Say you will. It'll give us a chance to mingle and talk shop. It's on all week so you can pop in anytime.

Addendum: If Blogger won't allow you to leave a comment, would you email me and let me know which browser you're using? Firefox is preventing me from commenting on my own blog. (I have to use Chrome or IE.)

I'm trying to track down if it's an issue with Blogger or Firefox.  Thanks!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Help! No YouTube for Me

Woe is me. I have deleted cookies, updated my browser, and reinstalled my flash player--all for naught.

I kept getting a message from Adobe RealPlayer to update my software. It had been repeating that message for months, getting a bit more belligerent each time. They went so far as to question whether my parents were married and if my shoe size and IQ were the same number. (Why, yes it is. I wear a size 150.)

Finally, I relented. I had a little time to kill and I was in the mood to tidy my computer with all the latest updates.

Poof! And just like that my videos stopped working. 

I wasn't worried. I hadn't updated my browser in a while. Maybe it needed the latest version. Note: I always dread updating my browser because every time I do, it decorates my desktop with fancy doodads or screaming yellow zonkers. Too distracting.

But I wanted to see my videos too. Decisions, decisions. I crossed my fingers and updated.

The good news: My desktop appearance stayed the same.
The bad news: I still can't see my videos.

Okay. The next step was Google. Google never lets me down. Somewhere, someone has had the same problem as me and found a solution for it.

I found several good matches and many suggested clearing my cookies. That sounded easy. So I cleared my cookies.

Still no videos.

Can anyone help? I'm sure it's Firefox that's the problem because I can view videos on other browsers although it was strange that it stopped working AFTER I updated RealPlayer. 

Should I uninstall RealPlayer (again) and then reinstall it?  Are there other reliable alternatives to this software? Maybe it doesn't like Firefox.

I've never been this stumped before.

***

In other news: I hope you'll join Gwen Gardner and me this coming Monday for the Indies 4 Hire event. It lasts a week and we'll spend every day with at least one discussion topic.  Bring your questions and your experiences. 

Join now and beat the rush!

Oh, and don't forget to email for your Self-Publisher's Punch List. It is absolutely FREE. Please be sure you type "Punch List" in the subject line so it doesn't fall into the spamalot bucket.

***

My willpower was very weak over the weekend. We stopped by a couple of adoption events and even looked at a dog on Craigslist.

The only one who had an Aussie Shepherd was the Craigslist person and I was too late. The woman on the phone sounded like a horrible person too. She said: "Yeah, I got rid of that thing." I truly hope that dog went to a more loving home than the one she came from. Why do people get dogs if they don't want to keep them for life?


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Self-Publisher's Punch List

I can finally give this puppy away, but it's just the beginning.

Click on the cover and it should automatically pull up a blank email. In the Subject Line, type in: Punch List. I'll send you the ebook as soon as the request reaches me. It will arrive in PDF format.

Update: The giveaway is over but you can still buy Self-Publisher's Punch List on Amazon.

 




This book will go up on Amazon and Smashwords next month. I would've done it sooner, but I'm experimenting with the upload. Ever since I heard about the issues with Kindle's Paperwhite, I want to make sure it goes through without any itty bitty fonts showing up and messing up a perfectly good file.

If this gets a good reception, I have another book planned for next year on networking and even more resources.

Now for my other news.

On January 21, 2013 at noon (New York time) I am teaming up with the incomparable Gwen Gardner of Indie Services. We're going to hold one heck of a party for a whole week.

We're calling it the Indies 4 Hire Event and you can start joining now. We'll be holding discussions on self-publishing, answering questions, and posting lots of tips and tricks about publishing.

There will be free edits, blog badges, and blog banner giveaways.

If you want to join in, just click on the badge below and sign up for the event.

Come join us. We'll talk shop and have fun. Click on the link to join.



I'm kind of excited about this. I've never held a Facebook event before and this seems like a great way to connect with other authors without being limited to 140 characters.

***

In other news...I'm going to a con, and I'm going with friends. This almost never happens, but the stars must be in alignment because it's happening now. We'll be attending ConDFW in February. It's little, but it has a lot of loyal fans.

The last time I attended I had a TERRIBLE time. I got a phone call telling me that the house we were buying was surveyed wrong and we were losing four acres. I couldn't concentrate the rest of the day so I went home and muttered  some unkind things about the bank that was selling us this property.

It took us nearly a year to straighten it out, but we finally got back our four acres. All's well that end's well, and now after four years, I am going back--and with friends.

Did you ever have a bad time at a con? Do tell.





Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Coming

Hope everyone had a great holiday. I decided to take some time off since I was still recovering from bronchitis. It worked out so well, I may do it again next New Year holiday whether I'm sick or not.

Even if I've been laying low, I haven't been idle. I've put together an ebook of marketing ideas, and an easy to follow punch list of things to do before you self-publish.

This book is absolutely FREE

It's a collection of some of my experiences in publishing, including updated posts from my Killer Campaign series. At the back of the book, it also has a list of resources.

I won't start giving the book away until Thursday so be sure to come back for the link.

How did I come up with this? A couple of months ago, I was browsing a folder full of articles I had written for my blog and other sites, and I thought, wow, that's a lot of information.

Since I want to promote my cover design business, Book Cover Diva, what better giveaway than an ebook chock full of ideas for the indie author? I wish I had this list when I started self-publishing. It might've saved me some hair.

I'm very pleased with how it turned out. I hope you'll like it too.

In the meantime, what do you think of the cover? Does it stand out?

***

Your turn! What are you working on right now? What one thing (writing-related or not) do you want to accomplish in 2013? Let me know and I'll throw some Karma-dust your way.

I've talked to some of you recently, and several of you are sick. Poor babies. I know you feel bad. If you're still under the weather, I hope you're in bed and staying warm. Keep drinking fluids.

This year, we have plans for expansion for the homestead. Along with goats, we may also get rabbits. And darn it, I still want my worm farm. My goal this year is to get the gardens more nutrient-dense. There are other projects too, but I don't want to scare Greg off with all the work I plan. :wink:

We'll just keep that between us.