Monday, March 26, 2012

LIttle Things That Drive Us Nuts

This indie author has a few little things that kind of irk her and I am betting all of you do, too.  They are not anything important in the scheme of things, and certainly they don't ruin my day.  Still, when these things happen I have to grit my teeth, shake my head and brush them off.
One of them is when I get in my car after having it parked somewhere outside and there is a big splotch of bird poop on the window.  If it is not on the drivers side I can wait until a car wash.  But, if it is in the way, don't you hate how it smears around when you use the wiper washer?  I am talking a huge blotch, from a gull of something.   Yellows, greens and browns stick harder than crazy glue to the glass, even after using the wiper/washer.  Yuck.

Another is every single time I order a salad in a restaurant.  Not an entree salad, but a side salad. I don't know why, but I always, ALWAYS get part of the lettuce core in my salad.  Friends of mine say they never get that.  Yet, when they go out with me, there it is-right in my salad.  I swear to God restaurants across the country save up cores just in case Caddy Rowland decides to come in and order. "Here she comes," they laugh gleefully.  "Pull out those old rusty cores we've been keepin' in the back room.  She loves 'em!"

I also dislike it when I bite into a chocolate only to find it has some lame fruit jelly or pink crap inside of it.  When they are my chocolates I punch in the bottoms to check.  Can't hardly do that when it is someone else's box of chocolates.  Who in the world wishes for a chocolate with gummy jelly inside of it?  Is there anyone who likes those? They must be the same people who like fruitcake.  Exactly.  No one.

The worst little thing that makes me slightly irritated is when I am drying off from a bath or shower and the end of my towel gets in the water.  There is something so dismaying about seeing part of your towel soaking wet, drip drip dripping into the tub. I think towels should have those back up alarms installed that garbage trucks have.  Except the alarm would go off when the towel moves forward toward the water.  Once the towel gets to 1/2 inch of the water the alarm should sound.  End of problem.

As you can see, none of these are big deals.  They don't put me in a big ol' bad mood or ruin my day...but they slightly irritate me.  What are some of yours? Hey, if you tell me, I promise to share my jelly filled chocolates with you.

Friday, March 23, 2012

If You Could Marry Any Person In History (Now Dead)

As in indie author, I really look for ways to stoke my imagination.  One of my facebook friends used to ask cool questions almost every day that forced me to get my brain revved.  One was the question I am going to ask you today.  Then I will tell you my answer.  (Thanks, Kevin!)

If you could marry anyone no longer living that was famous, who would it be and why? It can be any time period in the past and it can be same sex as you or opposite.

Being an artist, this one was easy for me.  I absolutely adore Picasso's work.  I always feel silly saying it.  Why? Because it seems like people who don't know much about art but want to pretend to, at least know Picasso and will say he is their favorite.  But, he really is mine. Second would be his friend Braque. In fact, lots of times they would paint the same subject matter side by side.  Sometimes I like Braque's better.
                                     (Violin and Candlestick by Braque)
I know, I know.  Picasso was known to be an a-hole and a womanizer.  Hey, I have to tell ya...if I had the choice I would much rather be his mistress than his wife.  But the question does not allow that. It asks who you would marry.  Therefore, I would marry him.
                   (Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler by Picasso)
There are no romantic or sexual reasons for this. My God, just think of what I could have learned from him about painting! To paint along with him and learn from him would be one of the greatest gifts a person could be given. I have a very strong personality so I would have insisted.  No sitting in the background for me.  He would have taught me or listened to me bitch day and night.

That said, we may not have lived long.  At least, not both of us.  I am sure we would have fought.  A lot. He was passionate and opinionated  I am...passionate and opinionated. Quite possibly one of us would have done the other in during a particularly heated round of arguing.

But until that happened, what bliss to paint with Pablo.  I would have even put up with his mistresses to learn from him.  Besides, while he was away at play I could have had my own dalliances.  There were several other artists I would not have minded "brushing" into. Ah, yes. You need some time away from the studio?  No problem, dear.  Don't hurry home.  And when you come home, bring more paint.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Rowland Policy (Fighting Authority and Winning)

As an indie author it should not surprise anyone that I am, well, independent. I have always questioned authority.  Maybe it was growing up in the 60's, when the mantra was "never trust anyone over 30".  I am way past 30 now, but I still question anyone who blindly follows rules instead of using common sense.

It is not that I want anarchy. Rules are great-when they make sense. And, sometimes, they should be broken.  A good case in point: people working in the accounts receivable division for medical companies.

Several years ago I was very ill.  In fact, I could have died.  The bills mounted.  No one could figure out what was wrong.  Eventually, we ended up filing bankruptcy. I tried and tried to talk to various people about  payment plans.  To them, a payment plan was 25% each month or nothing.
Well, they got nothing.  Am I proud of that?  No.  Nor am I ashamed. It was interesting how many calls we got once the bankruptcy notices went out.  All of a sudden people were interested in just pennies on the dollar.  They could have had all of the money, had they worked with us instead of making life hell with their renegade collection efforts.

Then a few years ago I had another medical bill for $400.00.  I had just received the bill in the last week of September and the company I contracted with folded up without warning in October.  Trying to do the right thing, I called the clinic and explained that I was out of work, but looking.  I would send $100 that day and then have it paid off by December 31st if I found work right away.  Otherwise I would call them and work something out. "Geat! No problem, thanks for calling," he said.

I found work, but not the same month.  I started in November and it took a couple of weeks to get paid. I still hoped to be able to pay, but as December reared it's head it became obvious that I would not be able to pony up $300 that month.  It is hard going from two incomes to one without notice even for a month. I called them and told them I would pay $100 and then pay monthly.  This call happened around the 5th of December. I sent the check, which they happily cashed.

Imagine my surprise when I got a call (from the same man) around the 20th..asking me when I planned on paying.  I explained that I had already talked to him and sent $100.  He then said that I told him originally that I would pay in full by the 31st.  I shot back that I had been decent enough to call him by the 5th and explain that I couldn't.  He told me that was not their policy and that I could fill out the papers he had sent for a payment plan (with interest).  I refused. 

I then said, "First of all, even if I had not called you, you just admitted that I had said I would pay in full by the 31st.  What calendar do you use that the 20th is the same as the 31st?  I would be damn irritated had I been meaning to pay by the 31st and gotten this call."  It was policy. I then said, "Well, I bet you were happy to cash the $100 I sent you.  I am more than happy for you to come over and look under our Christmas tree to see how many gifts we have purchased. You will find a tree with zero gifts under it.  Yet, we took our obligation to you seriously enough to send you $100."  He again stated that a verbal or assumed payment plan was not their policy.  I hung up.

In January, I sent $50.  Nasty letters about sending the balance to a collection agency arrived. In February, I sent $50.  Another letter, followed up by a phone call.  Same person.  Now I was really mad.  "Seriously? You are hassling me in THIS economy (Feb. 2009) over $100, with a record of paying off $300 of the total bill?  I can't believe you don't have people who owe more than $100 that you should spend your time with."   He started in again about filling out paperwork for payments. 

I had enough.  "Listen," I said. "You have finally crossed the line to totally pissing me off.  I have heard enough about your policies.  Now you listen to mine.  Here it is.  I could now easily send you $100.  I am not going to. I am going to send you $50 in March and $50 in April and it will be paid. UNLESS, and this is key, you call me up or send me another collection letter. Because here is the Rowland policy: When you refuse to use common sense and won't work with us when we are doing our best, we take action. So here's the deal: If you call or send a letter between now and the end of March, I will cut the amount I send in half to $25. Then, if you call or send me anything in April, the April payment will be cut in half again, to $12.50.  I don't give a damn if I end up paying a dime a month for the rest of my life.  THAT is the Rowland policy."

Silence.  I continued.  "You might think it smart to send this to a collection agency.  If you want only half of the money, because they will keep half, please do so.  The payments will remain the same as I mentioned. And if you want to do something to our credit, take your best shot.  It is ruined anyway.  Really, nothing can scare me in your "policy" manual.  But I will tell you one thing.  You should be ashamed for treating someone this way over a $400 bill that has been reduced over five months to $100.   Let's see: $100 in Oct.  $100 in Dec. $50 in Jan. $50 in Feb. I am wondering how conciliation court would view your pitiful attempts to show me in the wrong. And, by the way, please take notes and post them with our account so everyone there knows that I am done fooling around with you." I hung up.

No more calls or letters. The bill was paid as I said. $50 in March. $50 in April. The Rowland Policy did it's job. As a sign that I have posted on my facebook page says: You can't fix stupid, but you can numb it with a 2 x 4.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

So, Do You Believe In Magic?

As an indie author, I have become familiar with all of the paranormal authors that are out there. Vampires, werewolves, witches, fairies...the sky is the limit. The paranormal genre is extremely popular. So, do you believe in magic?

I do.  I am not talking about the abracadabra type of magic.  I am talking about the real magic that occurs in everyday life.  The magic that is easily missed, unless you take the time to live the moment.

One of the best magic moments of my life was the first time my husband, Dave, kissed me.  I was very young, but I had kissed other boys before.  For the first time, the lips touching mine held promise.  In just a few seconds, they told me that I was truly special and that the boy who owned those lips cherished that.  He would protect me and honor me.  He would see me as an equal. Those lips were warm with promise.  Magic.

Then there was the time that I had read a book explaining that if you really want to make something happen, you need to believe it already has.  Not just wish.  Believe.  It was the oddest thing.  All of a sudden I knew that I was working in the field I had been banging my head against for months, getting nowhere.  The next morning, the phone rang.  They made me an independent contractor in a field I had no experience in, with no degree.  Magic.  Even better, I excelled.  For sixteen years I worked that business and I shined.  I had a 98% client retention rate.  Magic.

Then there was last night.  Last night, we babysat our grandson Gideon.  When he arrived, he only had eyes for Dave.  A little hurt at first, I was all of a sudden glad. Gideon does not get much time with Dave because when I babysit Fridays Dave is at work until the very last part of Gideon's time here.
Gideon''s happiness with his Gampa Dave and the excitement of Dave's watch made me smile. Gideon played for quite some time with Dave's arm and watch (Gideon is now seven months old).

Then, all of a sudden, as I sat on the opposite end of the couch and watched, it happened.  The love between Dave and Gideon actually glowed around them. I could feel the warmth, like the warmth from that long ago kiss. As I looked at Gideon I saw pure, innocent delight.  As I gazed at Dave, I saw pure, unconditional love; a love so strong it took my breath away.

Magic. In it's simplest, most potent form.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just To Start My Day Right: Murphy's Law

What a morning. I had an appointment to have $1,000 worth of work done on my car today.  I was to bring the car in at 8am so that they could have it done by the end of the day.  No big deal, right?

Wrong.  I decided it would be nice to just pay cash.  Why?  I don't know.  I wish I could figure out why I thought that would be advantageous, but I can't. I hopped in the car to go to the ATM machine at the bank.  Again, no big deal.

Ah, but it was.  "Murphy" was with me this moring. As I pulled in, I noticed that an armored truck was there servicing the ATM machine.  That's cool.  No big deal. There I sat until another car got behind me.  Now I could not turn around. After about ten minutes the truck pulled away.  I am not sure what all they do to ATM's but I am pretty sure there must be quite a few things to check over.  Confident that all was well, I pulled in.

I tried to get $1,000 but the machines won't let you get that much.  Those machines must be the only place left in the world where $1,000 still means a lot of money.  I decided to still get some cash.  My cash got belched out and I waited to get my card. I said, I waited......

The screen had froze.  It kept asking me to enter an amount.  Of course, since I had taken the maximum I could take, whatever I typed in was rejected.  Then it would ask again.  I tried to cancel.  No dice.  This machine was having none of that.  Ask for some money, dammit!  Over and over I tried to cancel, tried to enter any amount at all, just to get the screen to do something. Hey, even if smoke started coming out it would have been progress.

The guy behind me started to impatient.  I know what he was thinking.  Dumb broad can't even work an ATM.  I was pulled so close to the machine (so that the world would not see my password as I typed it) that I could not stick my head out.  Finally I yelled out the window, "The machine is stuck and won't give me back my card!"  He got the message and peeled into reverse.

I drove around and parked in the lot so that I could go in.  Of course, the bank doors were locked.  Sigh. Getting back in, blood pressure now 200 over 115 I drove up to the teller window in the drive through.  After explaning what had happened, she told me that my card was now shredded because I drove away!  That automatically happens. Huh?  What was I supposed to do?  Sit there and order flowers for the ATM?  Sing soft love songs in hopes that  it would soften up and release my key to the financial world?
A new card is ordered but it takes a week.  She "said" I would keep my same number.  We will see.  Oh, and she said she would not charge me for it.  Really?  You won't charge me for this exhilarating experience with technology?  Oh, gee, how very generous of you. 

I got to the appontment late, but all is well.  Surgery is being performed on my car, my blood pressure is back to normal, and I am ready to continue writing the first darft of the third book in my series.

Maybe I should try to get ahold of Stephen King.  He wrote about a possessed car named Christine.  He could give me some pointers for a horror story about a sociopathic ATM on Suburban Av. in St Paul, MN.

Friday, March 16, 2012

New Kid In Town (Call the Kindle Fire Dept!)

Since one of the responsibilities of an indie author is finding good places to advertise, I am always on the look out for new avenues.  Kindle Fire Department was brought to my attention on a few months ago.

This site features their "book of the day" (you pay a slight fee for that), plus highlights various free books daily. Once you ask to become the book of the day they look over your book to make sure it is compatible for Kindle Fire and that it fits their standards.  Books that become the book of the day also are more likely to be mentioned later as a free book if you do decide to offer it free in the future.

My first book, Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream is going to be the book of the day today.  I m excited to see how much exposure this gets me.  I have heard great things from others who have had books featured ahead of me. Go Gastien!  Go Kindle Fire Dept!

There are very few places where it pays to buy advertising for you book.  Another that is highly successful is Pixel of Ink.  I did very well there last month.  However, they are booked for months in advance.  Your book must have a certain number of reviews, a certain average, they must like the cover and description, etc.

Ereader News Today is another I have heard is great.  Again, I believe they are booked through most (if not all) of this year.  I would like to try them in the future.

I know it is hard to know where you should spend money as an indie (or if you should spend money at all).  Those are the three that I have heard great things about.  There was one other, but so far this year it is no longer doing well.  I don't want to mention the name because I don't want to be negative about it in case it rebounds.  If it does, you will likely hear me talk about it in the future.

You will have to wait quite some time to get on any of the three mentioned above but it will be worth it. Since I have a series, my first book will always be in the process of being promoted, so the wait matters even less to me.

Please note: these are NOT reviews for your books. I would never pay for a review nor should you. Readers are not impressed if they find out you paid for reviews nor should they be. How can a review not be biased if you paid for it?

Good luck with marketing your books.  It can be challenging but it is always fun.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What If, Just For One Day...

What if just for one day you slowed down and put others first, even when it was inconvenient? Even those who are not family or friends? What if, as you drove to work, you let two cars merge ahead of you instead of one?  Or one, if you are the type of ahole who never lets another in?

What if at work you let your co-workers know how important their job is to making everything work better around the office, or the lab, or the store?  What if you let someone go to break ahead of you? Or in line at the cafeteria?
What if at the grocery store you allowed the person behind you to move ahead of you, no matter how many groceries they had?  What if you helped the person after  you with bagging theirs up?

What if in the drive through you paid for food for the car behind you?  Just once? 

What if, just for one day, you put others first every time you had the opportunity?  Not saying you should do this all of the time...just for one day.

What if?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Living the Tropical Life in Minnesota

I have blogged previously about our unusual winter this year.  Well, the weirdness continues! Can anyone say "Pass the margaritas?"  Grab your flip flops, don the shorts...welcome to Minnesota in March!

I can't remember every having a March like this so far.  All weekend it was in the 60's.  Yesterday we had rain so it stayed in the 50's.  But get this: Today and for the next five days at least it will be in the 60's, 70's and even the 80's in some areas of our state!  It is not even mid-March yet!

I am so lovin' this.  If we lived my way, we would live somewhere that it never dipped below 80.  Swimming pools and sun umbrellas would be a daily feature; dining out on decks mandatory.  Anyone who did not comply would be fined.

It is so nice to be able to just go outside.  That simple.  Just go outside.  No scramble for jackets, scarves, mittens.  No putting on heavy shoes or boots. Just step into my birkies and jump out the door.  Oh, wait!  I do have to remember one item.  Sunglasses!

I sure hope that old saying about March does not hold true this year.  Otherwise we are in for trouble at the end...if it goes out like a lion.  Of course, lions live in very warm climates.  Perhaps going out like a lion means something completely different than that saying after all.  Yup.  No coat, no agenda, just stepping out into the sun to stretch out for a long nap.  I like it. Bring on the lions.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Walking through my pain

I am so tired of living with pain!  I have been dealing with muscle pain for twenty years.  It comes and goes, and no doctor can decide what exactly is causing it.  Fibromyalgia? Who knows. All I do know is that every test has been done and still I hurt.

Now for the last couple of years it has also included my lower back/hips.  My hips have always hurt on the sides, now it is also including the upper part of my butt.  Talk about having a pain in the ass!

We used to do a lot of walking and hiking from April through at least October.  Two years ago when I got breast cancer we were cheated out of that.  Surgery was in early April and then most of May and all of June I had radiation.  I was so tired for months afterward that the most excitement I could take was sitting on our deck watching birds. 

So, last year I thought we would finally get back into the long walks of at least five miles.  Not so.  My back had different plans.  We would sometimes walk a mile and I would be in pain the whole time.  Nothing ruins a walk in the woods like pain.  You can't notice any of the beauty because your body is just hoping to sit down.  It sucks.  Another spring, summer and fall without the woods, except in short visits.  Visits where I wanted to cry the whole time I was there.

I am praying that this year will be different.  We did a two mile walk yesterday and brought baby Gideon along.  It helps some to have something to push and lean into.  Four ibuprofen did not seem to help, though. I had to stop several times and bend over to relieve the pain a bit.

Really, I am convinced it is because those lower back muscles have become weak.  There is nothing else wrong with me.  Because of that the only solution I can think of is to just walk through it and hope that after a month or so the pain won't be there, or will be so much less that we can enjoy long walks and hikes in the woods again.  That is where I find God.  In the woods.  I miss that communion.  Yes, I can get it if I just enter and don't walk far, but there is something quite wonderful about truly getting into the woods.  I am going to commit to trying to get back there regularly again this year.

I am running out of "middle age".  As I get older, who knows how long I will be able to hike on dirt paths where sometimes it is steep and many times it is easy to trip? I can't wait forever to try again...or time will pass me by.  So, I will try to walk through the pain.  Wish me luck that it really is only weak back muscles and as I use them they will get strong again and the lower back pain will go away.  The muscle pain everywhere else is bad enough.  I don't want the woods taken away from me besides!

I can't wait to get in there and hear the spring bird songs, see the trees and shrubs sprout and flower, enjoy the woodland animals.  These are things that I really hope won't be taken from me.  They are my peace and my rebirth.

They are my salvation.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New "'Do" Do Do Wonders

There is something magic about getting your hair worked on.  I don't think anything quite brings the strut back in the walk like a new trim, new highlights, or a new style.  This isn't just a female thing, either.  I know how much better my husband feels after a trim; how he bitches when it is time for one and his hair makes him unhappy!

They say hair is your crowning glory.  I believe that must be true.  I know that when my hair turns out awful I feel glum.  There is a little cloud hanging over me all day. I imagine that people looking at me think I look even worse than I feel.
Then I go in and get a trim.  Or even better, it is time for highlights.  I walk out with new shining hair and a new attitude, baby!  I feel much younger, much sexier, and-yes-even a little smarter.  Oh, the power of blonde! (Or red or purple or whatever gets you groovin' to that babe or hunk you always knew was inside you.)

It is time now.  Today I can see that my hair is ho-hum.  Time to spank a little spunk into it! A little naughtiness, a little mystery.  Could that color be real?  (Once was, sweetie, I was a blonde for sure.  Now it is mouse.  I must be the only woman on the planet whose hair has decided to go darker instead of grey.)

Here are two hard and fast rules about hair that I bet you agree with:

1. On the days that you have absolutely nowhere to go you're hair will turn out perfectly. You could run it through a food processor that morning and it would look perfect. Should anyone call you last minute to do something, all bets are off.  Hair has ears. It hears your plans.

2. The week leading up to your hair appointment your hair will turn out the cutest that it has since the week leading up to the prior appointment.  It is taunting you; daring you to cancel.  Don't.  If you do, it will laugh like a maniac and make you look like Phyllis Diller until you go to your new appointment...two or three weeks later because they are all filled until then. Trust me.  I know. So does Donald.
Long, short, thick, thin, fine, coarse, blonde, brunette, is all the same.  Hair is our best accessory and our worst enemy. Hair is part of a covert operation trying to drive humanity to destruction. But, damn, when my hair looks good it is worth the mental anguish it usually puts me through.

This indie author needs to go write some more of her third book in The Gastien Series First, pass that hairspray.  Someone might just stop over unexpectedly.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Think Before You Speak to a Cancer Survivor

I never used to be afraid to go to the doctor.  I would hear some people talking in panicked voices that they had to go for a physical and wonder what in the world their doctors did to them that was so scary! Then, two years ago, I got breast cancer.

I have blogged about the details before so I won't repeat, except to say I was lucky.  It was only Stage 0 and is completely gone.  But until you know that, fear enters your life in a way that you can't begin to imagine.  Your death is always something kind of unreal until you think you may be facing it.  The possible suffering is even scarier than dying. I had told my doctor that I thought I would never be the same person again and she told me I was right. Cancer changes you forever.  Some ways are bad and many are good but for sure you are changed.
Every time I go for a mammogram now (and they are more often the first couple years, along with other tests) I am scared. The annual physical? Scared. Now even visits for unrelated things harbor fear. I went last week for pelvic pain.

Because there was no infection (but some blood cells), the doctor set me up to see a urologist to rule out bladder cancer.  Can you say scared sh**less?
Thankfully I don't have bladder cancer.

The stress of worry makes me sick, I know.  I appreciate the people who talk me through my worry and show that they care. I don't appreciate those that try to make my having had cancer something small.  It wasn't.  It was hugely life changing.  All of those cliches like "You were way luckier than a lot of people, be glad" or "You almost didn't have cancer it was so early" only irritate someone who has faced it.

I know I am lucky.  Damn lucky.  Every one of us alive is.  And saying I almost didn't actually have cancer?  You won't say it a second time if you know what's good for you.  Do you think I went through six weeks of radiation for the fun of it? No, I don't dwell on it.  I can go for weeks without thinking of it.  But I will always think of it at some point.  Always. If that bothers you, get over it.  I wish I could. Unfortunately, it was part of my life journey. The things I faced and decisions I made; the horror I felt will always be part of me. It is a very, very small part.  But it is there.

For those of you who have had it you get it. I don't have to tell you what it is like to be looking at possible finality. You have done it. For the those who haven't, please think before you speak. Making little of something so painfully frightening is belittling to both parties. Simply holding me for a minute would have helped a hell of a lot more. Your arms work every bit as well as your mouth.  Sometimes better.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Numbers Are Not My Friends (Yes, I Suck At Math)

It is tax time.  The days that I sit down to get things ready for the tax accountant are the crabbiest days of the year.  I HATE working with numbers. There is such a thing as number dyslexia and I am fairly certain I have it. I sit down to figure out simple columns of numbers, and within seconds I feel like I have a tumor or something blocking my brain.  It is like looking at a foreign language.

Yes, I eventually muddle through it, but not without attaching dozens of notes to the accountant.  That poor woman probably shudders when she gets my stuff.  In the past, we would meet in her office, so it would be me seeing the notes and reading them to her.  Now she just has people drop off their taxes to be processed so she will personally see my ramblings.

Could I do our taxes myself?  Ummm...I suppose.  I could also pull my own tooth if it needed to come out, but that doesn't mean I am about to.  Between the two, I would rather pull out the tooth.

Same with bank balances.  I have had a checking account (in fact several) for decades.  I have NEVER balanced with what the bank says.  Never. Not once. It I ever did it would quite possibly herald the beginning of armageddon.  I know I would be stunned speechless...and that takes quite a lot. For me, if the bank says I have more than I say we do that works.

I always hated math classes in school.  The worst were those "if this train leaves Boston at 8am on Tuesday going 55 miles per hour and another train leaves Miami at 6:15pm Wednesday going 115 miles per hour, who will arrive in Los Angeles first?" problems.  My mind totally shut down due to three things: The numbers blocked me, boredom and the frustration that I really didn't give a damn because I could be doing something that actually painting something or writing.  Doing something with friends.

Don't even get me started on the math problems that were supposed to take an hour or more to work through.  How long did they take me?  About 25 seconds.  Then I would go do something fun with my life.  You don't get that hour back. So I barely passed math.  Yawn. I still managed to be an honor student, heavy in art and language classes.

Yes, I know math is important to a lot of things in life.  But you can't force what you don't have.  I used to be kept after school because I could not draw the correct times on the circles we made with the water dishes for painting class (sacrilege to use them for math).  Was it 6:00 or 12:30?  I knew the difference between the longer and shorter hand.  But the numbers on the clock bothered me. 

Most people hate those clocks with no numbers, just hands.  They are my friend.  Now it is all digital and a "pm" lights up.  I can tell time just fine. Still, I don't wear a watch.  I can usually guess within 10 minutes what time it is. I can also ask if it matters that much.  I do have clocks in the house, but a watch?  No thanks. Any number that close to my veins may poison me further.

One thing I can figure out mathwise is this:  One me plus any group of numbers equals zero.  Zero interest, zero tolerance.  I get that red plus yellow equals orange.  But 20148 plus 50281? That is what calculators are for.  Just to be sure, I do the addition on the calculator three or four times to make sure. Why?  Because I do know this: numbers can't be trusted.  They just can't be.

Monday, March 5, 2012

So You Want to be a Writer (But Are Afraid to Start)

Here is a simple plan from this indie author for getting your first novel done. You can take it or leave it, but if all you have done so far is dream or procrastinate it is worth considering. Let's set the stage.

You have dreamt for months (or years) about being a published author.  You have great ideas in your head for a story but don't know how to go about getting the thoughts into story form...and know even less about how to get published.  Don't worry.  You are not alone.

First, forget about how you are going to get published.  There is nothing to publish until you have a completed book.  Right?  That worry can come later.  Let's get the story written first. Before you get all worked up about how you are going to do that, ask yourself one simple question. 

Do you really want to write a book? There are no difficult, long answers to this question.  You have two possible answers.  Yes.  Or no.  If the answer is yes, don't dwell on all of the reasons you can't do it.  You may need writing classes or grammar classes and quite probably a good editor and proofreader.  That is for the future.  Right now, give me a simple "yes" or "no".

If the honest answer is "no" stop here.  You have figured out that writing is not for you and should wait for tomorrow's blog to read something that may interest you more.  If the answer is yes, let's begin.

I know you have heard about all of the authors that use storyboards.  A storyboard can be simple or very complicated.  It lays out all of the characters, their traits and history, and the different things that will happen in the story.  Now I am going to tell you something else about them.  Forget them.  If you want to write a story and can't begin, throw the storyboard idea out.  Not every author uses them.  Some write from their gut.  In fact, many do. That is quite possibly what you need to do to see your dream come true.
Commit to one hour a day, 5 days a week no matter what.  I don't care if you get up an hour earlier, stay up an hour later, or write before dinner...that hour is set in stone. That is a rule that cannot be broken.  No excuses. 
Sit down at the beginning of that first hour and start to type (or write if you are one of those authors who does not want to use a keyboard). Just start.  Don't worry about how good it is.  Don't stop when you hear "this sucks" in your head, or "that is stupid, I need to change that".  Don't stop.  Just keep writing for an hour. At the end of the hour don't read it. Simply get up and walk away.

Do the same the next day, starting where you left off.  Don't go back and read the whole previous thing.  Maybe the last two sentences to get you back to where you where, but that is it.  If you read the previous work you will get stalled in an endless circle or rewriting and rethinking...and won't get past the first chapter.  You are green.  You are nervous.  You are unwilling to trust yourself yet.  Don't do it.  Just keep going without reading the previous writing.

That is it.  Just keep going without rewrites.  Yep.  All the way to the end; one hour a day for five days a week.  Why? Because there is nothing to rewrite until you have a story.  Finish the story and then you can worry about rewrites.  Trust me, there will be plenty of rewriting.  That is fine.  You will be much more likely to do the necessary rewriting once you have a complete manuscript staring back at you.  You have put in a lot or work and are less likely to procrastinate now.  Do you really want to shelve all of that time put in?

Yes, the story may suck. After it is done and you have rewritten it several times it may still blow.  That is what beta readers are for.  They should not be friends or family that will tell you what they think you want to hear.  They should be people who don't care if they trample on your dreams or hurt your ego. That prepares you for knowing if your book is ready to go to an editor, go to a publisher for consideration, or to the publishing site if you are going to be an indie author like most of us new authors.

I could give you warnings about proofing, editing, hiring out proofing or editing, how you need to know punctuation, grammar...on and on.  I won't.  Not now.  Right now you have no story to fret over.  The time for that will come later.  Right now? You know what Larry the Cable Guy always says, right? Git 'er done!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Barnum & Bailey Were Right

Yes, indeed, Ladies and Gentleman! There is truly a sucker born every minute, just like they insist P. T. Barnum said.  Need evidence?  Check out the plethora of crap sold on television evenings, nights, and weekends. 

From magic pain relief to weight loss while scarfing donuts to twenty year old skin at age 90, they have it all!  Best of all, if you order today you get not 10, not 20, but 50 percent off!  They will even double your order at no charge!  But you MUST act now!

I am embarrassed to admit that I fell for it a few weeks ago.  I ordered a Light Relief system guaranteed to take muscle pain away.  Octogenarians were skipping around jogging, golfing...doing everything they probably never thought of doing when they were 20.

After a 20 minute phone call where you are stuck in a recorded loop of trying to add on more systems, more extras, more everything the product was all mine.  Fabulous.  Except when it came.

It is about six inches long and the same wide.  You need to hold it on the sore area for 15 minutes twice in a row.  For each sore area.  But, you can't run it longer than two fifteen minute sessions without waiting awhile.  Honey, if I was going to hold this thing on every sore muscle I own for 30 minutes a day I would have to get up at dawn and stay up til midnight only doing this.  Even then I might miss a few.

When am I going to learn?  These tv things NEVER work like they promise.  Now I had the hassle of calling them and preparing to ship the item back.  Next I worry about if they will actually credit me the $139.00.  I have tracking on it and am ready to fight if necessary.  Usually, these companies do credit a person back.  I know.  I have been a sucker more than once.

This time I HAVE learned.  No more ordering stuff from tv.  And a word to the wise: Those diamondique earrings?  They "ain't" foolin' nobody, baby.