Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Adventures in the Great Outdoors, I

If you took the way that my husband (The Man Of The House, or TMOTH) and I grew up and compared them, you would see the reason why the two of us are vastly different. Unless we were at my grandparents' farm, we didn't do much outdoorsy stuff--camping, hiking, fishing, etc. My husband? was outside ALL THE TIME.

Ironically, my husband and I met on a camping trip--the weekend was the first time I'd ever stayed overnight in a tent.

While I'm still not an "outdoorsy" girl--I'd still rather be at home with my books and laptop--I've been getting better about being outside. Or at least I'm trying to be.

Frequently on the weekends, my husband says for me to pack a cooler and grab some diapers for our three-year-old, and off we go. Sometimes I grumble, if not to him, to myself. I'm not a spontaneous person, I like to have some time to plan things when possible. An hour to pack everything we'll need for the rest of the day and it's 11 AM? Yeah, doesn't thrill me too much.

But, I like what it's teaching my kids--to be flexible, roll with the punches, and most importantly, enjoy the outdoors (although, much of the time, all they're enjoying at this age are movies in the car and an excessively long car ride.)

Father's Day was one of these days. On the way to church, TMOTH made noises that he wanted to go fishing. So, I had about a two hour warning before we got home that this was on the plate. Get home, pack lunch, grab the diapers, head out. 

Then, what inevitably happens with us, "Where are we going?"

"I don't know. You tell me."

"It's Father's Day. You pick."

"I don't know where to go!"

A bluegill our daughter caught on Father's Day
I sigh, make a few half-hearted suggestions. We stop and he retrieves the Gazeteer from the trunk. I start telling him directions. The kids watch "How to Train Your Dragon" for the 17th time in the last few weeks. The younger one naps. The dog is cramped, on the floor between the front and back seats of our mid-sized sedan.

We're all wishing we had a Suburban, especially the dog.

Eventually, we find a spot we've been to before, a long, long time ago--maybe before the kids came around. TMOTH and our daughter fish.

Our daughter catches two small bluegill, TMOTH catches a small catfish and a small bluegill.

I keep our son from falling into the water, take pictures of dragonflies when I can get close enough to them without our son getting too close and scaring them off. We huddle down together after retrieving our hats from the car as light showers come across the lake and hit us head on. By the time we leave, my T-shirt is soaked from the rain.

I'm cold, haven't had dinner, and am tired, but other than gently reminding my husband he neglected to get me something to eat when I couldn't eat at Subway (I started a gluten-free diet last fall, so Subway is NOT on my menu,) I don't say too much. I do adjust the thermostat in the car to something a little warmer, then help my husband figure out where the heck to go. We take a wrong turn or two (I've gotten turned around on where we are,) and I mark the Gazeteer in ink on where to go again, and scratch off roads shown on the map that aren't roads.

It's been a successful day overall. We made it home in one piece. The kids got to run around and fish. I took several pictures, none I'm thrilled with, but they're okay. And more importantly, my husband got me out of the house. I've become quite a homebody the last couple years. Having your life center around the health and wellness of your immune-compromised son will do that to you.

Next up on our list of challenges--a possible weekend trip to a cabin, or maybe even in a tent.

I'm not sure I'm ready yet.


Until next time...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Murder Down the Street

This week has been an INSANELY busy week for me. I've been exhausted because of it. Even so, on Monday afternoon, as I was heading home from an appointment, my curiosity was piqued by a site: a police car sitting in the driveway of a house about a half mile from my own.

My first thought: why would they be running radar from there, and did they get permission from the homeowner?

See, it's across the street from a parking lot where I FREQUENTLY see cops running radar. No big deal to me--I'm always turning onto the road a block away, and there's no way I've even come close to reaching the 35 MPH speed limit by the time I pass the radar-gun carrying officer.

But this Monday was different. As I was watching the evening news, I learned there'd been a murder in my town which had been discovered after a welfare check. The neighborhood looked like mine--I hadn't caught the address.

Sure enough, it was the house I'd observed earlier in the day.

I didn't know the victim, may not have ever seen him. And I'm not in fear for my life. Sure, the area of town I live in is slightly more likely than other areas to have violence of this sort, but this is only the 5th murder in my city this year--and three others made the national news because they were a mass shooting at the Jewish Community Center.

But, that's not what I'm writing about, and I most certainly am not trying to insert myself into this tragedy.

As a mystery writer, I've been fascinated to watch the happenings at the house this week. Because of appointments and vacation Bible school for my daughter, I've had reason to go past there every day. I've also been very perplexed in my drive-by observations.

For instance, I've observed crime scene vans on sight for three days (Monday on the news, and Tuesday and Wednesday in person.) I've also spotted up to six vehicles on scene--some from the local PD, but others from the Sheriff's office. More interesting, there's always a police car parked in the driveway of the house, I presume protecting the scene.

This all has been making my little writer's brain click away the last few days. I hope the police find the killer, and he or she is punished appropriately. But I can't help but be a little grateful for this chance to observe from a distance.

_________________________

Did you know I've redone my mailing list? In an effort to get ready for the release of my first novella, I'm doing some cleaning up and tweaking. As such, I've started a new mailing list through MailChimp. If you would, please look to the right and enter your info for my mailing list. (As you've scrolled down this far, you'll need to scroll up in all likelihood.) I'll be using the mailing list for keeping you updated on new releases, specials, and giveaways. Also, when the time comes, guest appearances at other venues. I'll only be sending out an e-mail every month or so, so no worries about getting a bunch of junk!

Sign up for the mailing list, and you'll be the first to know about new titles, specials, and appearances.

Until next time...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Major Announcement!

It's truly funny how things work out sometimes.

For the past year, since about the time my son began pre-treatment for his bone marrow transplant, my thoughts where publishing were concerned have turned dramatically towards self-publishing. I've seen countless friends self-publish in the past 5 - 8 years, some who even surprised me because of their vehemence towards NOT self-publishing in the same time frame.

I've spent numerous hours in the last year reading popular self-publishing blogs, listening to podcasts, and questioning key friends who have both self-published and been traditionally published. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that self-publishing was for me because of the certainty of having my words and stories in print, and because of the level of control I'd be able to have.

And then, a random post about a month ago turned things on its head.

On my personal Facebook page, I made a comment one weekend about the priciness of ISBNs--those 10 or 13-digit numbers that uniquely identify your book and its edition. I knew I'd need several in the next year or two, considering my plans. But, yikes! Were they expensive!! I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I can't ask my husband for $500 for 20 ISBNs (or whatever the rate is.) We just don't have it in the budget, and I haven't shown him the evidence that I could earn it back yet.

So, back to the comment. I was surprised at how many people responded to my post--all authors, of course (because who else knows what an ISBN is??) It was an interesting conversation, especially because I commented that I almost wished we lived in Canada, where ISBNs are free to authors.

What I didn't know is that they're free in other countries, too. Like New Zealand.

One of my friends happens to live in New Zealand.

She also happens to have her own press.

She also has read my work, and was my mentor when I did the Team PYP challenge about two to three years ago.

And, late last year, I'd asked her advice on a short story I had wanted to develop into a longer piece of work, and she gladly gave me some advice which was key into developing it into a novella rather than a short story.

She also invited me to send her the completed novella to possibly publish it through her press.

My brain turned on its head. Traditionally publish? But... but... but... I've been planning to self-publish for the past nine months!

Still, this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. One thing I've struggled with was the idea that my stories were worth it. Another was what I'd do about editing because I knew I'd need at least a good polish, if not much more. If she was interested in the stories, maybe they do have worth, maybe they are good enough. If not, well, maybe she'd have some input on what I could improve.

I'm not going to prattle on much longer in my story, but long story short is: I sent the novella. She loved them. We talked. We agreed it would be mutually beneficial for us to work together.

A contract was sent. A contract has been signed.

As of March 25, 2014, I'm contracted with Splashdown Books. My editor is the fabulous Grace Bridges. I'm completely over the moon, especially since this is my birthday week. What better present could an author ask for but a contract?? Of course this year, I'm just thrilled to be home on my birthday, with my husband, daughter, son, and dog. But a CONTRACT! Probably one of the best presents ever!

We're still working out all of the details, such as titles and time frame. That information will be forthcoming as it's available. Check here, the Splashdown Books website, Twitter, my Facebook, or the Splashdown Books Facebook page for updates.

So, that's my major announcement! I'm so, so happy to share this with the rest of you!

Until next time...

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