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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October Doldrums

Well folks, I'm still alive. You'd hardly know it by looking at this blog, but I am percolating along. October is usually one of my favorite months, and so far, this one is just...b-o-r-i-n-g. Which means usually that I need to get busy with another writing project.

And on that note, I have finished the first part of a three-part serial. The title is Children of the Storm -- dark fantasy/dystopian. The first part is Dreamscapes; the second part is Nightscapes; and the third, final part is Lightscapes. This  year I've decided to try and write part two and three during Nanowrimo, which is for the entire month of November. For those who are not familiar with it, basically the website is a gathering place for writers attempting to write a 50,000 word novel during that time period. As a writer, you register and have access to forums and a page for your updates on word count. It gives you goals, as well as encouragement from other writers slugging it out like you are. I have part two outlined, but not three yet. It should prove interesting, and if I stick to it, possibly productive. I'd like to release that novel in separate parts, starting with Dreamscapes around early December and spacing the other parts at several week intervals. According to other indie writers, the holidays are good due to people getting new Kindles and looking for fiction.

I have a board on Pinterest with photos for my inspiration. Here's a link if anyone is interested: Children of the Storm

Finally, believe it or not, the elderly landlord next door has hired a contractor to update his house. It's been an eyesore so long I can't remember what it originally looked like. He says he is planning on moving there, so he should be a quiet neighbor. Best of all though, when the house is done, if I decide to move, I might be able to sell my house. With an eyesore next door I could never get a reasonable price. Not that I'm planning on moving, but at some point, I will probably move to a condo with less upkeep and maintenance.

Oh wait! This month hasn't been entirely boring: We had a real bad storm day before yesterday. High straight-line winds knocked down trees and we lost power -- only a short time for me. It reminded me that we have had a couple of relatively calm springs and summers since the tornado hit here.

In the national news, Ebola is creating panic. Now three people infected in Texas, two of those nurses. I know when I'm working on a writing project, I somehow incorporate events that are happening in reality. Since my story is dystopian, there can be an angle using all the info I'm learning/hearing/seeing about Ebola. In fact, in the first part, one of the aliens informs the protagonist that the "Black Plague" was a result of their arrival. Don't ask. Have no idea where that came from, seemed it was something the alien just tossed out (unknown to me, the author). Sorry this is sounding nuts for those of you who don't write fiction. :-)

My pups are all thriving. I still take them to the park on nice days. All the rain lately has kept us indoors. And tonight will be in the 40s, but tomorrow is sunny. Perhaps we can get in a good walk then.

No wonder I don't write more often....not much happening in my life at this time. But like one of my older friends said, "By our age, the only excitement is bad excitement." Ha, true! Often it's bad health or weather or any number of other "bad events." So I prefer the peace, quiet and if I get bored, there's always fiction writing, as well as reading.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hot, Steamy August

Though we've had a fairly uncommonly cool summer in Dixie, the heat finally caught up with us this month. And the humidity -- terrible. On my morning walks with the dogs, the humidity seems to be thick enough to cut. Makes my skin prickle, even with a light breeze through the wooded park.

I've finally resumed writing the serial story I'd described earlier in this blog. Still juggling possible titles, but for now the work-in-progress will just be called "Star Child." There will be three novels, each with ten chapters, word count uncertain at this time. I've been writing a chapter a day, editing in the morning, new chapter in the afternoon. Hope I can stick to that schedule. Here is a link to my Pinterest site where I've been posting pictures as inspiration for my series: Star Child

I have two promotions scheduled for my novels, Quest for Destiny and The Secret of Crybaby Hollow at the end of August. Both are via online Kindle ebook marketing sites, but cost very little. Every time I do a promotion, I usually keep sales of at least several copies each day from then on. Trying to build regular sales -- kinda like a snowball rolling downhill, gains momentum as it goes.

I also signed up for a digital marketing course in September; that should help me learn other ways to market my e-books online.

In other news, I am looking for a futon for my den/study; unfortunately, as usual, my bad timing is causing problems. Kids off to college are apparently big fans of futons, and stores here as well as online, are running out of stock. Especially for the ones I like, fake leather and maybe arms with cup holders. Nothing expensive, just something fairly comfortable to lie on at night and watch TV. The dogs are always on it as well, and the "fake leather" is easily cleaned. Maybe I'll find one soon.

I did get quite a lot of  maintenance issues taken care of -- even it if it was scorching hot when the workers did it. New planks on the back porch, painted; new full-view storm door on the back; new, larger pet door in wall; lattice section added to fencing in front; back fencing thoroughly inspected, new posts/planks where needed; mimosa limbs from neighboring yard cut off top of my garage; new door for crawl space built; and some minor work on what used to be the cat porch. I have a utility sink out there, and I now use it to give the dogs a bath. So much easier.

Here's a few recent pictures of the work:


New pet door, storm door and a loveseat from my living room; it will be replaced with a futon

 Oscar on freshly painted porch, soaking in some sunshine
                       
        Rambo on guard, as he always is!       


Muffin is camera shy, mainly because my new camera makes a sound when it comes on. Need to turn that off. 

Family are all doing well, everyone enjoying the last summer days. School starts back here next week. It just seems the summer vacation days get shorter and shorter... Way back when I was in school, we had  longer summers and didn't head back until early Fall (September).

The warm weather has really helped my arthritis, so much so I can hardly believe the difference. When we have rainy, damp days though it does act up a little. I dread winter, because last year I was miserable with aching joints!

All in all though not a lot to complain about. Life goes on...

(Edited to add that Oscar's biopsy of lumps was benign, thank goodness!)


Friday, July 18, 2014

Loss and Pets

I've been stalling on this post, due to sorrow and loss. Yes, terrible loss. The last two cats I had, gone now. Within the space of a few weeks, I lost both of them. They were companions to each other as well as to me. And maybe it was just as it should have been: neither had to live alone.

At the time, several weeks ago, I first noticed Bitty Kitty's hair was looking odd. But it is summer, she sheds terribly, so I didn't think too much of it. However, within a couple weeks, her hair began to knot (and she was a short-haired tabby). I took her to the vet, and she was already in kidney failure. At 12 years old, she had already been a picky eater but had just about stopped altogether.

For several months, my other cat, Slinky (age 16) had a small tumor on her neck. The vet had said it was probably related to her having FIV; so as long as it didn't bother her, I just let it go. She still ate her food, seemed okay. Once Bitty was gone though, she just went downhill. FIV can truly sneak up and lay a cat low.

At the time, I'd also occasionally allowed a cat, Mister Mr., to come onto their porch. Someone had obviously dropped him here; he was neutered. At any rate, I never planned to keep him and found someone who had a farm to take him. He was a beautiful, large cat -- but his nature was such that the feral streak made him terribly unpredictable. He would scratch for no apparent reason. (My skin is not what it once was, and scratches don't heal easily.)

Now, for the first time in 40 years, I do not have an indoor cat. I still provide a "kitty buffet" on my carport with dry food and fresh water. IF we had a feral program (trap/spay/neuter/release) I could definitely cut down on the neighborhood cat population. As it is, I cannot get my hands on these feral's, but at least they don't go hungry.

Otherwise, life goes on about the same. My brother-in-law is almost recuperated from heart valve replacement, but still weak on occasion.

My dogs are doing okay, though I had a scare with Oscar. He had some benign lumps on his chest, then developed one on his paw that started growing. The vet thought it wise to remove those, and while he was at it, he cleaned Oscar's teeth. Turned out he lost 3 teeth! But the little devil didn't seem to act as if he'd had anything done! Back to his same little peppy walk and sweet nature. However, I am waiting to hear from the biopsy report.

My other two dogs are well. Next up though, Rambo will get his teeth cleaned. He's 9 years old, so probably going to lose one or two teeth.

Ah, so it goes with the pets. I miss my cats terribly; every night they came inside, and perched on my lap or shoulder when I would lie on the sofa watching TV. And frankly, I just miss holding them, the quietness and beauty of a cat. Years ago I was diagnosed with an allergy to cats, but had several and vowed to take care of them till the end. I guess over the years I've had around 30 cats at various times. So it's a huge void in my life...

I'm going to take some time and decide whether to have another indoor cat. See if my allergy problems improve (so far can't tell any difference!). Of course, I have the dogs to care for too. Just wait & see, I guess.

As for my work, several of the novels I've promoted continue to sell. Nothing to brag about, but steady, regular sales every day. I'm outlining for a couple other novels, but still procrastinating. One of these days I'm going to "apply the seat of my pants to the chair" and delve into writing another novel. Hopefully soon! For now, I'm reading voraciously.

The weather has taken a strange turn: it has been in the 50s at night, 70s during the day. Unheard of in July here in the South. Wish it would stay this way the remainder of the summer.

With that, I'm closing for today.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Award for my novel, "Quest for Destiny"

Just a few lines today to mention an award -- it's the Indie Book of the Day Award, for my novel, "Quest for Destiny." Featured on their home page for today, and then will be added to their database of winners. Here's a link: http://indiebookoftheday.com/quest-for-destiny-by-cara-swann/

I'm hoping this will bring more readers, since that is one of my favorite novels. Over the years I've visited Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains and it has been great inspiration for the setting of QFD. A mystery/romance with a theme of reincarnation, I enjoyed the research and delving into esoteric spiritual material about reincarnation. I hope there are others who love a "star-crossed lovers romance," mixed with suspense and flash-backs to the Civil War as it was experienced in Cades Cove.

Since it's Father's Day, and now that I have no father or grandfathers left alive, it's somewhat sad. I miss my grandfathers the most; and my step-dad. My own father was an alcoholic, not the best dad, and died in 1974 at the age of 42.

Sweltering hot days in Dixie. I took the dogs to the wooded park around 10:00, before the heat of the day. I have found a tick on Oscar twice after going there; even though he has good preventative, I still don't relish picking ticks off! Since there lots of pines, the ground littered with straw, I'm assuming that is a breeding place for ticks. And then too, it's damp with all the rain we've had of late. Argh.

And that's about it for today. I'll end with my certificate for the win today: