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Monday, December 29, 2014

Year End Reflections

This blog has been lacking in posts for some time. Is there a particular reason? Not really. I have been preoccupied/busy with the Wildscape Trilogy, which is now complete. I will release the first book in January, but I'm still trying to decide if I'll use a different pen name. So that is one excuse. However, truly there is no excuse for not writing even a few paragraphs occasionally.

Maybe I'll do better in 2015, but then again, maybe I won't. Sigh.

I do spend time on Facebook and Twitter, but don't post on either of those social media sites frequently either. What I need to do is focus more on my fiction, and start a new project soon. In fact, I'm thinking of writing another serial and/or short stories...in the range of 20,000 words. I have more difficulty with extreme lengthy work these days (60,000+ words) since it takes undivided attention and virtually no interruptions. Having three dogs, there are going to be interruptions!

Not that I'm complaining; I'd hate to live alone without at least one dog or cat. Such great companions, and always happy to see you return when away. On the other hand, over the past years I've grown accustomed to living alone and the more time passes, the more I realize I would have great difficulty living with another person.

In February it will be nine years since my late husband died. And truly, it does feel like it's been that long. For most of those years, each February seemed to bring back all the loss and heartache, but now...not so much. I think that time eventually allows one to adjust to loss; otherwise, life would indeed be impossible when loved ones die.

And I've noticed one thing those who live into their 90s share: they are survivors and do not dwell on the past and their loss. So in that regard, maybe I'm making progress.

It's been a good year overall. Kicked some bad habits to the curb, moved on and got back into positive habits: reading, writing, etc. I need more exercise, but other than an occasional long walk in a wooded park with my dogs, don't get nearly enough. Of course, the weather has been dismal lately -- lots of rain or too cold and windy.

My health seems good, at least right now. I had serious back problems back in November, but a steroid shot not only helped that, it also relieved some arthritis symptoms. I'm hoping for good health the next two years, until I'm eligible for medicare. I do have insurance, but with high deductibles now.

One of my dogs, Oscar, is really showing his age. He's about 12 or 13 now -- not sure since my step-dad had him a few years before I got him. At any rate, Oscar is showing signs of arthritis, sleeps a lot, and in general, just not his usual perky self. He had some benign tumors removed back in the Fall, as well as teeth cleaning with three extractions. However, he still eats regularly, enjoys his treats and gets to go on a dog walk to the park occasionally. My other two dogs, Rambo & Muffin, are doing well.

Goals for 2015? I hate to set goals because it only makes me feel guilty when I can't accomplish those. I do intend to try  and write more fiction, but at my age, I'm not forcing myself to unless I feel compelled by an especially great idea. We'll see. As the old saying goes: "Whatever will be, will be..."

Forgot to mention that I released a story mid-December: Don't Say Goodbye It's not too long, but concerns an abused woman.

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.