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May 062011
 
 Posted by on May 6, 2011 No Responses »

I decided that I’d give homemade Kahlua for Christmas this year. Of course, I need a head start, since I’ve only made it once. Besides, it’s supposed to age to get nice and smooth.  A lovely website I found mentioned using these cool bottles, that have an attached fliptop.

The quest for the right bottles began.  I posted on Facebook and my dear sis helped me track down some sites. I found bottles on several sites, including my beloved Amazon, but they were either too pricey, not the right size, or the wrong color. Then I got sidetracked (yes, yes, big surprise, I know) with one thing and another and didn’t get back to this project until today.

The bottles I wanted are actually beer bottles with this really cool flip top.  I found several sites that had them in the right size and the amber color I wanted.  Now, I order online a lot, but I tend to stay with my known Amazon, iTunes, Newegg and several other big names.   It’s rare for me to venture onto an unknown site, but I did a bit of research on the company and decided it would be safe to order.  I plugged in info and Chrome filled in the rest of my info for me.  Then I input the credit card info and hit submit and went off to the kitchen to get a Coke.

I came back and had an error message up saying that the page had timed out.  So, I called the company, Brew PS – just in case I had gotten billed, with no order going through.  I didn’t think I had, since my cart still had the item in it. I got voice mail, which I confess caused a slight twinge of concern – but no worries. Within a very few minutes, I got a call back from the nicest guy, Cary.

Still the order wouldn’t go through. It took some back and forth emails and phone calls to straighten out the problem (which was totally my fault – I had put in my shipping info for the address, forgetting my credit card goes to a different billing address.)  Throughout the whole process, Cary and his brother, Brendan, were extremely helpful, polite and very, very nice.

I know I was very pleased at how quickly Cary and Brendan responded and how nice they stayed throughout the whole process.  Especially since it was my own stupidity causing the problem. Thanks to Brew PS, the family is going to have some cool Christmas gifts.

If you ever need any home brewing stuff for beer, or cool bottles, these guys certainly take their customer care seriously. Be sure to check them out at https://www.brewps.com/. I’m glad I did!

 

Mar 282011
 
 Posted by on March 28, 2011 1 Response »

My two dogs are definitely my kids.  With very different personalities, they make me smile.  I work hard to be a good pet parent.  The girls have rules and when they break them, they have to sit in the corner.  Yes, they do stay there until I call them back out.  It may be weird, but it’s worked great as a discipline tool.  They get along, but Tréa was not pleased at first that Chloe joined the family.  I had another dog at the time.  A beautiful chow/wolf mix that I loved.  She’s no longer with us, so it’s up to Chloe to be in charge of security, now. Fortunately the two of them have come to terms with each other and we have a good balance.  They are great to curl up with on the sofa, with a glass of wine.

 

 

Tréa is my 11 year old. A tiny 4 pound long-coat chihuahua, who has been a therapy dog, as well as an Earth Day mascot and the “hook” at several other events. I always got a kick when Tréa got invitations and I was told I was welcome, too. Since she doesn’t drive, I pretty much went along. She’s won a 1st and a 2nd Place in Dog Obedience competitions and responds to hand commands. Tréa is excellent with people, even human kids. As she’s gotten older, she can’t do the long hours she used to, but she’s still a sweetie when she has to work. Her 9th (I think) Earth Day is coming up and she will do a festival in fall that she’s worked since she was 6 months old.

 

 

 

 

 

Chloe is my 3 year old. With lots of attitude, she is definitely a superstar in her own mind. I wanted a poodle because they are very smart – the 2nd smartest breed. Chloe certainly is. She learns some things in less than 5 repetitions. I have students who lost to her a few semesters ago on a learning challenge. Chloe has been going to events with Tréa, but she is very shy around strangers. Only when she sees Tréa go up to people and let them pet her, does she decide it’s ok. Then, she will go right up and be a sweetheart, but I keep a close eye on her.  She’s not a dog people should pet without asking.

 

Mar 242011
 
 Posted by on March 24, 2011 No Responses »

One of the things that annoys me about email communication is the tendency to not respond.  With all of the letters I’ve sent out to agents and other, I had to grit my teeth and bear it.  Of course, this makes the unacknowledged emails from students, co-workers, and others I deal with just that much more annoying. (My friends and family have pretty much been read the riot act on this topic, so they tend to be good about it.) Anyway,I decided to put my complaints where they might do some good.

Yeah, yeah, so I’m dreaming.

1. Fill in the subject line! I hate when this is blank. Especially when it’s from students. Or I get a subject that’s completely generic, such as “Midterm” with no name.  Multiply that by all the other midterms and I have no idea which one I’ve read. A name and the class would be nice. For others, at least put something there that has a hint about what you want to discuss.

2. Don’t send chains to acquaintances. Friends and family, people you know well, fine. If you really must. Don’t burden others, who might not think as you do with your incessant chains, to send to ten, twenty, a zillion people. I usually delete them. I rarely will pass on a chain.

3. Change your email password if your account gets hijacked. I get spam from friends quite a bit because of people getting hijacked. And if you see an odd link from a friend and they sent out a mass email, you might want to think twice about opening that link. I had one friend receive porn from one of my friends who she’d never met.

4.  Acknowledge receipt of an email.  I repeat: ACKNOWLEDGE RECEIPT of an email.  I will almost always respond with a “Received, thanks” when people send out communications to me.  It’s polite and a simple enough courtesy, so do it.

5.  Use common sense in communication via email.  Don’t put in information you would hare becoming public. Nothing online is private.

 

 

Mar 032011
 
 Posted by on March 3, 2011 No Responses »

Yes, Query Hell exists.  I’m there.   It’s that place writers have to go before they are fortunate enough to find that agent or publisher willing to take them on.  It’s endlessly trying to find that “perfect” query that will get the attention of the right agent.  Writing, rewriting, ad nauseum.  Getting the opinions of other writers – who may or may not have a clue what they are talking about.

So, what is a query? It’s a letter you write to an agent/publisher introducing your work to them.  It contains a bio of you, contact info, a bit of technical info about the book – genre, word count, stand-alone or part of a series.  It also contains a synopsis of your story.  Now, wasn’t that easy to say?  A simple, little synopsis.  That horrid thing that grows into nightmare proportions and causes writers to lose hours of sleep, while they agonize over one word/sentence.

I’m currently rewriting mine – again.  I dream of the day when I can leave Query Hell and find a home with an agent who will recognize my name when I send an email and maybe even smile to see it.  One who loves my book and is as anxious to see it in print as I am.  Because let’s face it.  An agent who doesn’t love your work isn’t going to do much good, right?  So, I keep plugging away.  Knowing that my perfect match is out there – the agent who will smile when they see my name.  Knowing that I’m making them tons of money.  The dream goes on.

 

Nov 282010
 
 Posted by on November 28, 2010 12 Responses »

As a new fiction writer, I’m here to share my latest journey, whether it ends in success or failure, in hopes that it might help someone else. I’m not pretending to offer expert advice on writing here because I’m not an expert. In fact, there are brilliant sites out there to guide us along and I will probably put those links up as time goes by. What I’m hoping to do is offer little nuggets of info that might be useful and share my experiences. That’s the teacher in me, I guess. Of course, I invite any who really are experts to add advice should they feel so inclined.

So when and why did I start writing?  What made me decide to join the ranks of those trying to get their work published?

First off,  I’ve always loved to read.  I honestly don’t remember when I didn’t have some book nearby, no matter where I was. And it’s almost always fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, horror – you get the picture.

In theatre, I wrote a lot of character bios during my character creation process. Backstories about the characters before they made their entrance onto the stage. That training has proved invaluable in creating Thulu, La Fi and company.

In actuality, I’ve been writing for ages. In addition to  character bios, I’ve done a lot of communication in letters, speeches, emails and forums.

In 2000, I tried my hand at a musical play. The story was an atrocious failure as a play.  So five years later, I put it in screenplay form. Shock!  It practically wrote itself. Characters I didn’t know existed joined the story. I went through my rewrite process many times, but once I was done, I had something I felt could actually be made into a decent film. Of course, we all think our work is good, which is why we are doing this, right? Anyway, The Hourglass sits patiently waiting for the right time to emerge from it’s written shell into the butterfly film I think it could be. One of these days…

Another five years and here I am, not only with a completed novel, but a blog! No, no, Thulu & La Fi didn’t take five years. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I only started writing it June, 2010.  I had the first draft done in about five weeks and my last draft has been done for three weeks. It went smooth as glass. The characters would jump out and say, “Hi, bet you didn’t know I was waiting in the wings!” and make their entrance into the book. The story took turns I hadn’t originally planned. Certainly, I didn’t expect it to evolve into a series, but it has. And worst confession of all – I had an absolute blast writing it. I adore it and I’m usually working the story or a character in my head while I do other things.

That scares me to be honest. Aren’t writers supposed to suffer for their art? Am I getting a pass for those years as an actor, when I had to work three jobs? I tell myself that’s why it went so smoothly. I insist to myself that I’ve been creating art all my life and I’ve always had a good imagination and that this is just another medium. Sometimes I even almost believe me, but always underneath is the fear that I’m pretending to be something I’m not.

The best advice I heard someone say (the writer, Tim Powers) was that if you want to write, then read. Well, I’ve done that – read and read and read. In fact, I’ve read several thousand books by now. I know what makes a good story. I don’t pretend to be in the ranks of my favorite authors. I’m not that brilliant a storyteller or craftsman. However, I think I captured something that will find a niche and find an audience. My characters were forming themselves and demanding to be let out and I’ve let their voices be heard.

Now I’ve started down the road to publication, but let’s leave that for another day.

Nov 272010
 
 Posted by on November 27, 2010 4 Responses »

Welcome to my very first blog.  In keeping with the season, I’ll start out by saying I’m thankful for my wonderful friends and family and their loving support of all my endeavors.  Thanksgiving at my brother, Shawn’s, was full with catching up on news and great food and greater company.  I think almost everyone brought a dessert of some kind, which has proven to be my downfall.  I made sure to get samples of almost everything for my take-home care package.  I’m sure just looking at the container has added weight.  Le sigh. Oh, who am I kidding, I’ll enjoy every bite.