Friday, December 14, 2012

Closing Up Shop? Yes - I Am

As much as I have enjoyed writing this blog in the past - I'm going to shut it down.

There are too many bugs that I can't fix. The RSS feeds no longer work. Every time I open this blog, my email program goes nuts. This has to do with the RSS feed somehow - but I don't know how.
It may have been infected with something - but I'm not able to correct it. So I'm going to do the right thing: back everything to disk before I delete it all.

My wordpress site - which hasn't been used much - doesn't have these problems.

However - Google has had time to work out the bugs and this site gets a lot of hits, even after being 'dead' for a year.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Does It Have to Be Doomsday?

How many people have snickered up their sleeve at 'Doomsday Preppers' on National Geographic Channel? Thousands? Millions? Most likely this highly rated show gives it's audience a fit of giggles at the 'deluded rednecks' and their arsenal of weapons.

Sure, it's entertainment, another realty TV show - and the East Coast could NEVER be hit by a storm that leaves the power out for days...weeks...or even months. There isn't a storm that could wash away houses and flood a major city like, say, New York City.

Never, ever, you say. It JUST couldn't happen here.

Except it did already.


If you'd like to take a look at my back list of posts, you will see where I suffered through 8 days without heat or electricity. Ice Storm Musings is the first of a series of stories about how I coped. I think it also talks about when I got so cold that I snapped - I literally couldn't take it any more.

After that gawdawful experience, I put up a few supplies. Not a year's worth of canned goods or anything extreme like an underground bunker - but I kept my coffee can stove and a dozen cans of Sterno. I'm MUCH more careful about what I buy - my kitchen is stocked a bit better.

I have a lot of respect for Survivalists. My father was one, and I've always appreciated the time and effort he took to make me better able to survive, come what may.

Let's just say that you've seen enough natural disasters to wonder if IT COULD HAPPEN to you? Not the end of the world, but a week or more without power. How would a modern person survive? Where would you get water, heat and hot food?

It's the little things that are going to count.

  • Do you have a can opener that doesn't require electricity?
  • Do you know how to flush a toilet when there isn't any running water?
  • Do you have something to put drinking water in?
  • Can you cook without using your electric stove?
  • Do you have some way to make light, besides a couple of candles?
I have three oil lamps and two bottles of oil, a can opener, several buckets clean enough for drinking water and a grill with a burner. I know from experience that I can hold out in the middle of January for at least a week. I've got a propane heater and a fireplace to keep us warm, there is also a rick of wood at the side of the house.

Does this make me a Doomsday Prepper?

Not by a long shot. But it is common sense to keep simple things like this on hand. After all, wouldn't you feel stupid if you had a pantry full of canned food and no way to open the cans?

Think about it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lucy the Goose

'Sweetie' the Queen Goose

I stepped out of the car one evening, two weeks ago, closed the door, then heard a questioning nicker from the darkness. I said "yeah, I'm home." The horses cantered to the barn, full blast. Then I about tripped over the smallest goose.

She was alone, curled up in the grass. I scooped her up, felt something inside her grate together. She'd got a broken bone of some kind. I put her in with the chickens while I put the horses in their stalls and fed them.

 When I checked on her, she was shivering. So I scooped her up, again, took her to the tack room where I put her in the 55 gallon tub I use as intensive care. I hooked up a light to keep her warm - gave her food and water. She shifted around a couple of times, but every time she tried to stand she made a noise and lay back down. After a couple of minutes, she fluffed her feathers, nibbled a sprout and seemed to settle in for the night. I kept her confined for a few days until she could stand.Once she was standing on her own and moving around, I tried to put her back with the other geese. But that didn't work. After a few hours she seemed worn out and in pain. So back she went into intensive care.

The next day she did seem perkier, but she honked in the most forlorn fashion. The only thing I could think to do was put her in with the ducklings. This worked very well. She was outside, had company, but wasn't going to be harassed.

She spent 4 days with them before I returned her to the flock. This time, she could walk well enough that I left her with them. As long as the flock doesn't travel far or fast, she's okay.
Yesterday, I was hand-feeding chickens on the back porch when the geese came up. I've got some rapport with one of the ganders, Lumpy. I made eye contact, said his name, then offered him some feed. He looked at me, looked at the grain, decided to eat from my hand. The other geese watched before they tried it, too.

With that taken care of, I can look into the feather eating problem. It appears to be either stress or not enough protein. Since the larger ducks aren't eating feathers, I divided them from the smaller, female ducks. Now I can make sure the smaller ducks are getting enough to eat. 

Eventually, I'm going to move the fully feathered ducks in with the rest of the flock.This is usually only a problem for one or two days. After that, everyone gets along just fine. This is mostly due to the fact they are loose for several hours a day. Chicken World has a 12'x12' inner coop and an 8'x24' outer coop. I'm working on a plan to put in an outside door to the round pen for the winter. 

I have to be careful, I don't want to allow predators to access the coop.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pretty Day in October

There was sunshine and warm breezes today while I was selling eggs at the farmer's market. I sat in the sun and felt so content. When I got home I mowed the lawn and let the geese and chickens loose.

I was checking on the ducks. They are still picking each other's feathers off. I looked it up to find they either are too crowded, or there isn't enough protein in their diet. I gave them some cat food because I've already separated the two groups.

I spent a few minutes with the geese - only to have 'Sweetie' come up behind me to ram me with her chest. I bumped her back and knocked her over. She wasn't pleased with me.

Later, I was hand-feeding the chickens, the geese came up to eat. I actually made eye-contact with Lumpy, called him, then offered him a handful of feed. He hesitated before he ate from my hand. Pretty soon they were all eating from my hand. I was fortunate - only 'Sweetie' offered to bite, so I bopped her on the top of the head. She backed up and shook it off, then was better behaved.

It has taken a couple of weeks to get them this tame. I'm going to keep at it - I don't want my geese to be mean. I want them to be friendly. Lot's a luck, I know. But at least I'm trying.

PS - "Swallow the Moon" is part of the 'Which Witch' promotion this month. More to follow!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bird Watching

Mickey Finn & Harem Grasshopper Hunting
I watched the Head Rooster, Mickey Finn, take his six hens to the far side of the pasture, grasshopper hunting. They stayed in a cluster, with him on watch, while the hens chased anything that moved. Mickey kept his head up, ready to give a warning chuckle alerting the hens to danger.
I know there are hawks and foxes around - so it's good to see this rooster performing his traditional job. Micky is two years old, he was raised by a hen, who watched over her chicks much the same way. His mother protected him from ducks, cats, the other hens and his sire.
I'm not sure how much a chicken can learn - they aren't at all smart. "Dumb cluck" is one of the many chicken sayings I learned as a kid.
I do know that chicks raised by hens are better at parenting than purchased chicks, or chicks raised alone. Roosters raised by hens are more protective of their girls. They tend to court the hens with gifts of food, dance for them and generally fuss over them more.
All last week, while I mowed the pasture, Mickey and his hens hunted in the freshly cut grass. Spike sort of circled the flock, looking for a stray hen. Mickey ran him off several times. Spike always circled back, he seemed jealous of the way the hens stayed close to Mickey Finn.
Today I was amused to see that Spike learned by watching Mickey. I saw him escort two hens to the other side of the pasture. He kept his head up, on guard, while the hens hunted. This was his first time as protector. The three of them spent at least an hour at it.
The other rooster, Mojo is - well - more caveman in his approach. He chases the hens down, mates in a hurry and runs off. I've never seen him feed a hen, dance for one or take one out hunting.
This morning, Mojo stayed in the yard, trying to run down hens. They all tried to get away. Some of them raised such a fuss that Mickey ran across the pasture to run Mojo away from the hen.
There are eighteen young hens, I suspect Mickey'll end up with about half of them. Spike may well end up with the rest. Hens don't like to be treated roughly, so I'll wager Mojo doesn't have a harem of his own. He'll continue to run down the ones who stray too far from their chosen protector. 
This is a good example of 'natural selection in action' because Mickey and Spike were raised by hens, second and third generation, respectively. Their behavior is more likely to net them the prize: a harem of hens and offspring.
In fact, Spike IS Mickey Finn's offspring - the result of three generations of chicken breeding on this farm. I have 4 more of Mickey's offspring, two pullets and two baby roosters, to carry on the tradition next year. 
Survival of the fittest?
I guess. It appears that I'm raising the next generation of chickens adapted to surviving the harsh conditions of Jordan's Croft.
Pretty neat, eh?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

From the Front Porch

I spent a couple hours today on the porch, watching the hummingbirds at the feeders and the sparrows drink from the fountain. Temps are in the 70 F range, there's a breeze through the wind chimes. The horses were snoozing in the grass, but they wandered off.
I got some good photos of the hummingbird. They are strange creatures. They are bolder than other birds, noisy and appear intelligent and opinionated. I've had them buzz me to let me know they were hungry and the feeders were dry. It's quite scary to have something with a long sharp beak buzzing around your face and darting at your glasses.
Stranger yet is when there are several, darting and squeaking.
I don't know when they migrate, but I will miss the silly things when they go.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rain, Fall and Updates

We're having a light rainfall today. This is the tail end of summer, just a few days before the seasons change. The chickens are loose in the yard, the horses in their stalls and the geese complaining idly in their newly mown pen.
The next major project for the fall is to finish mowing the weeds down in the pasture. I'm halfway there! I got my big Cub Cadet back from the repair shop last Tuesday and have been running it a bit every day. It took two days just to get the lawn mowed - the grass was really high.
I usually mow the pasture in quarters. One section a week, keeps the weeds down but lets the grass grow. But since the lawn mower was down for a month, I had to do half this week.
I'm pleased to report success with the fertilizer and seed project. What I do is clean stalls, putting the manure into the spreader, then sprinkle grass seed and wood ashes (if I've got some) on top. Spreading the manure takes care of clean up, fertilizer and seeding in one motion.
If you've ever heard the saying 'give a kid a hammer and the world turns into a nail' then you've got the fertilizer idea. EVERYTHING turns into fertilizer: the shavings, wood ashes, the hay, the grain, the straw and the chicken bedding. The result is fewer weeds and more grass.
The parts of the pasture that were three feet tall weeds are now only a foot or two tall and there's grass between the weeds. As long as the weeds are down, the hens will graze, dig piles of horse manure for bugs and eat grasshoppers.
On the subject of chickens, I've been thinking of complying an e-book entitled '#Chicken Fail' to chronicle my lousy attempts at chicken keeping. The only thing holding me back was a limited amount of success this year.
I say limited because I still have the majority of the chickens I bought this spring. Three pairs of geese, the ones I kept are doing very well. I just sold 2 pairs to a friend of mine. She lost the first pair I sold her to a raccoon.
Let me start from the beginning.
This spring I bought large numbers of to add to my poultry flocks. I bought 12 Golden Comets, a hybrid laying hen, 6 Buff Orpingtons, a dozen goslings, 6 males, 6 females, and 24 assorted Muscovy ducklings.
Most of my laying flock of 8 hens was already 2 years old. This is not good. Chickens can live for several years, but usually don't. I swear the silly things are born looking for a way to die. They seem to succeed more often than not.
I also had 4 roosters, 2 Buff Brahmas (Dad named them Mo and Jo) and 2 Dominiques, born here, Mickey Finn, and Spike. Mo drowned last week in the water trough, chickens don't swim.
The hens don't have names, because there are too many of them. But each has a numbered band so I can tell them apart. My oldest hen is #25, a Rhode Island Red I bought at the flea market after I lost my flock of Barred Rocks and Dominiques to a predator, possibly a raccoon.
In 2011, Mickey Finn was the spare rooster. Hatched here to a Barred Rock hen and a Dominique rooster, he and 2 sister hens survived the carnage because they were babies born late in the year so were kept in the tack room.
Now he's the head rooster, and his 2 sisters are #23 and #24. This bunch produced 2 roosters and a pullet who were raised by one of the sisters. I never got close enough to figure out which one. She was 'attack on sight' likely due to the rats.
About two weeks ago, a duck hatched 2 more chicks. I think they're a rooster and a pullet. A week later, she hatched a dozen ducklings. Of those, 6 vanished in one night. I suspect rats. I took the rest from her, and am raising them in a kiddie pool with the chickens and a couple of rat-wounded ducklings.
The sides of the pool curve over, so the rats can't climb the sides. As long as I can keep them inside that, they'll be okay.
Somehow, I'm going to have to get rid of the rats. Poison comes to mind, of course, but the last time I put down poison I nearly killed one of my barn cats. So poison isn't on my list of alternatives at the moment.
I'm pondering how to run a War On Rats. Snap traps might work for a few of them. I've thought of putting the dogs out in the barn for a few nights. It might be best to simply put the geese back into Chicken World. They are more than a match for a rat.
That's all for now.
Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Half-Time Numbers

January to June 2012

 Above, I'm sharing my sales numbers for the first 6 months of 2012.
I'm really not sure what to say about these numbers. They show a stunning 10k increase over 2011's total of 7990, which blew the doors of 2010's modest 30, thanks to Kindle Select sales/borrows in December of 2011.
 I've got the spreadsheet, broken down by e-book and vendor. I can see the balance of my Amazon sales are from "Let's Do Lunch" (12k) and "Swallow the Moon" (5.6k).
The 'dark horse' in all of this is, of course, "Impressive Bravado" which has done spectacular as a free e-book with 636 sales.
 While I'm no where near the magic 50k that appears to be the benchmark for e-book success. I AM close to half that with a few months to go. 
My income averaged $0.60 per book, because of the number of giveaways (10k in June alone.) Still, this isn't bad for a newbie writer with no 'street cred' with Traditional Publishing.
I had a few good breaks.
"Let's Do Lunch" was picked up by Pixel of Ink during the June giveaway, which resulted in the 10k giveaway in one day.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Elephant in the Room

Looking at the recent dust up with Sue Grafton and taking part in the discussion on "The Passive Voice" I was struck by something Camille LaGuire said that gave me food for thought. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) She is speaking about the difference between Trade Publishing and DIY Publishing cultures - using a very interesting analogy.
I have been in both (traditional publishing and DIY publishing) cultures for quite a while, and I honestly think that there is a major cultural gulf, particularly in the area of shared experience. Because of this, indies take offense at a perceived subtext that isn’t there… or they miss a subtext that IS there that they would otherwise agree with.
It reminds me of this comment a friend made about his experiences in France. He was upper class, from Boston, where, apparently, you don’t talk about food. At most you thank the host or hostess or cook for a lovely meal. He experience great culture shock in France, where he discovered that everybody talks constantly about food. Not just talk about it, they critique it. Before, during and after the meal. They talk about the appearance, the aroma, how well cooked or not, are things sliced evenly.
He was horrified. Not only did he think it was crude, he thought they were being extremely rude to he host or cook. Except… the host or cook was right the in the conversation critiquing the meal too! “Yes, I did leave it in a little long, but I like the way the flavor turned out, even though it’s tough.”
And everybody would agree about the flavor, and discuss ways to get the flavor without risking the toughness.
The two of us who were talking with this guy, both looked at each other in shock at what he was saying. (She was Creole, I’m of French Canadian extraction.) And we both said: “You mean there are places where you DON’T critique the meal as you eat it?”
The idea of not discussing the food in depth as you ate was unimaginable to both of us.
And I feel that kind of difference when I go into places with a heavy Indie presence. People take offense at things which aren’t even insulting. Honestly, it’s not even a matter of being tough or sensitive. It’s just not negative to someone who has been knocking around traditional publishing.
I have to agree with her - we as Indies don't talk about 'QUALITY WRITING' and how to improve the quality of our writing. Instead, we bitch when people point out the amount of crap writing we see out there.
And I think the nature of DIY publishing is partially to blame for the fact that QUALITY has become the 'elephant in the room' of our industry.
Most of us are laboring away, diligently, at the individual work in progress (WIP), struggling to do our best. How often does the writer get feedback?
Usually, not until the writer thinks the work is finished. Then it might get a read-through or two and a trip to the copy editor. That really isn't time for in depth editorial feedback.
I know what I do - I take my WIP to Authonomy and get a few readers. Some will read for pleasure - others will nit-pick plot, others nit-pick sentence structure. I adore people who care enough to nit-pick. I seek them out and request their opinions because I know they are worth their weight in gold. I also have a very good friend who isn't afraid to ask me questions and make notes on my manuscripts.
These are all ways to correct my problems, but they don't address the collective DIY Publishing Industry quality problem!
Now we are looking at the elephant in the room!
So - where does one go to LEARN to write better?
Writer's Bistro has "Mike's School of Writing" which I enjoy very much. In fact, I don't spend enough time there.
Forward Motion has a 'How to Write A Novel' course that is highly recommended. I haven't take it - I keep telling myself I will sign up for the next one. (Procrastination, anyone?)
I know there are other schools out there.
Does anyone have a name and a site to share?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Pain of Sales Charts

The Work of Being a Writer

This has been a very painful experience.

Two days ago I started messing with my sales data for 2011 and 2012. First I was updating Smashwords for 2012, then 2011. Today I attempted Barnes & Noble for 2011 and 2012.

Somewhere in there, I decided that I wasn't JUST interested in how many books I sold, but in how much money I made. Even this year's information was painfully slow to pull from the websites into a spreadsheet

Aww! Chicken Crap! I shouldn't otta done that! This is taking all day just to get 2012 - which is barely half over.

Now I'm going to need to do 2011 income just to see how it compares.

I miss, terribly, horribly MISS my databases. I had SUCH hopes that I could use Quickbooks. But, alas, I'm not at all proficient in Quickbooks. So I'm going to manually tease this data from the websites and into something I can use.

When I get some Quarterly Data, I'll post it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Smashwords and I

The very first Indie book vendor I heard about was The site was very small at that point, and they were still trying to get a foot into the other e-book vendors. Mark was quick to get that going, so by the time I got there there were already Sony, Diesel, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.

I had one book, "Let's Do Lunch" which was easy to track and chart.

Smashwords is a work in progress. Data collection is okay, but it's not the greatest place to do your data mining. For one thing, it can be an entire quarter before you can get updates from all the vendors.

So for those of us who are data-addicts, monthly sales data isn't 'real-time' by any stretch of the imagination.

Just this week I got enough mental energy to download 2011 and start looking at my sales by title. I still have to work them out by vendor by month. And I'm cursing the fact I no longer have a good database software I can dump everything into.

"My Kingdom for Access" is a pun on Shakespeare - but I could work out a trade as long as it didn't involve my old mare.

Anyways - this is what the information looks like. Mind you, these are nearly all freebies, what wasn't free was $.99. Which means that while I ended the year with 845 'sales' I made less than $10 for all of 2011.

Sales By Project 2011
Death of a Family     =   66
Digging Out             =   67
Impressive Bravado = 381
Let's Do Lunch       = 212
Swallow the Moon  =   54
Turned Out             =   65
Totals for 2011:     = 845

What does it all mean?

Well, 'going Indie' wasn't a get rich quick scheme after all. But we knew that, didn't we?

I still have to plow through the rest of the data - but this will be enough to give my readers a good look at what to expect for their second year of sales.

It's not all glitter and rainbows, but I'm happy to see ANY progress from Smashwords at all.

2011 was the first full year, so of course the numbers aren't very high. The 2012 numbers for the first half of the year are comparable to all four quarters of 2011.

Granted, there are people who have numbers much higher than these who are backing off certain genre to concentrate on others that are selling better. I'd do that, but I'm just not interested in writing some genre. You can beat me with a belt, and I'll never write something like '50 Ways to Beat me, Whip me, Teach me Love.'

 So onward to the next installment!

PS - The farm is thriving in all the rain. The geese are HUGE and getting a little scary to deal with. I had one dance a little jig as it came towards me, and I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad one. Another goose sampled my toes while I gave them water.

It was a taste, not a bite, but I was still glad I had a light length of bamboo to keep them out of striking distance. I use a bamboo cane, about 5 feet tall, to make them give me space, but I've never had to strike them. A little poke to goose the goose is plenty.

I've been gentle with them. They are still very young and impressionable. I'll have to post a couple pictures when I get the chance. I think they're beautiful in a less 'Jurassic Park' way than chickens, but their very size has me wary. I know the power of a bite or wing-swat a Momma Duck can deliver. The geese are twice that size.

Also we had geese when I was a kid - a gander and a flock of 10 females. He was one mean gander, I remember my sister screaming when he attacked her with wings and beak. They have claws, too.

Well, that's all for now!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Review - Soulless

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)Soulless by Gail Carriger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nice, light-hearted steampunk. A good weekend read that isn't boring or stuffy.

The heroine was drawn in the Amelia Peabody tradition - complete with parasol - and her amusing commentary made me smile.

View all my reviews

Friday, August 3, 2012

Writing Again!

It feels so good to be writing again.

In the months after my mother passed - it was nearly impossible to read 'Swallow the Moon' let alone edit the paperback version. I didn't touch "Tempest in a Teapot" - closed my office and slunk back home.

That's not what she wanted me to do. She thought the fact that I'd published my stories, and hers, was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

The last couple of weeks I made myself sit down at the keyboard in my home office for at least an hour a day and write. No surfing, (not much) no email, close the door if I had to - just get started up again.

"Tempest" was at 20k - a jumble of fragments and just 5 chapters. I started by editing what I had - which is always a good way to get familiar with a work again.

A friend from Goodreads offered to take a look at it - and he gave me some good feedback. Really, the story was just in the beginning stages - I think I had 7 chapters to send him.

Then I had a 1k day, after that it was a 1.5k day. Then I found some really good fragments in Scrivener and pulled those into the manuscript. I was now at 25k and building up some steam.

 Today I had a very good day. I cut some junk, and ended up with about 2k fresh words.

"Tempest" is now at 31,690 words. This might be the half-way point because my stories tend to move fast and I hate padding them out. I wrote the end on Index cards - something I had only vaguely worked out previously. I've cut some plot threads - re-worked others - and decided what to do about Leo's dislike of the Doctor running the Warrior's Transition Unit. He really hates her - but I couldn't see myself working the angle out into a major sub-plot. The focus had to stay on Wendy and her problems. I wasn't going to allow her to be upstaged or look stupid.

There are a few issues that need to be included for the full effect - I want readers to feel for my guys. Which means the plot threads I kept have to stay and they have to mean something. So far, so good.

"Tempest" has been a difficult project from the very start - the plot is ambitious - the twist has to stay a secret. The characters have to stay sympathetic and the romance has to develop at the right pace.

I think I'm going to be quite happy to go back to writing Dark Harbor stories.

If you are so inclined - here is a link to the draft of Tempest posted to Authonomy.

You are welcome to read it and comment here or there.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pasture, Drought and the Farmer's Market

A farm update for the end of July. While the rest of the nation has been socked by drought - here at the farm we've had some rain. Not much, and not enough to keep the pasture from drying out on the hill tops.

However, there are some lovely green patches on the sides where I mowed the weeds down.

The weeds are nasty, the horse won't eat them and weed seeds get into their eyes, causing infections and scratching the eye itself. I have to do daily eye-checks for swelling and discharge.

On another note:

The City of Vine Grove has declared that Farmer's Market Vendors are required to have a Business License in order to sell produce.

This is a huge departure from past years. I was concerned (furious, actually) so I went to Vine Grove City Hall to ask about it. 

Now - to be fair - I already knew that someone had gone down to the Market and signed up a few of the Vendors - due to a donation from a private person. So I knew there was some support somewhere. 

The scoop was a simple one: Someone, another business owner, complained that the Farmer's Market vendors didn't have to have a Vendor's License and they did. 

Now we aren't talking big bucks Vendors. A couple are Seniors making a few bucks. There is myself, who sells a few eggs whenever I have too many and I also sell my novels. There are two people who have large enough sales to make it worth-while.

I went to talk to the Mayor at City Hall because I was concerned for the market. The WHOLE market - and the seniors in particular. The ladies I spoke with understood.

I'm SO GLAD I went.

'Swallow the Moon' News

The good news is that "Swallow the Moon" immediately hit #49 on the FREE Romantic Suspense chart.

The bad new is that I didn't intend it to go free. It looks like I got frustrated with Kobo Writing Life (a seriously flawed interface) because you CAN'T PUT IN A DECIMAL POINT.

So I left the price at ZERO.

That was 2 weeks ago - it must have sold a copy or two - KOBO DOESN'T TRACK FREE BOOKS. So I wouldn't know. Amazon picked it up today.

So I've got a nice bump coming. Maybe for a week, or more.

So go ahead, if you don't have "Swallow the Moon" already - go ahead and pick up a copy.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #987 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Cover??

I know that covers make sales - so I've teamed up with Madison Woods to work on a new cover for 'Impressive Bravado.'

The problem is my horses are either black or mares with feminine heads. So I can't use them as models. But Madison has a photogenic horse the right color. We just had to extend his blaze a bit.

I like this cover as a 'half-way' point between the old cover and something completely new.

Snippy has a very sweet nature and a kind eye. Which is what geldings SHOULD be -sweet and gentle, kind and easy-going.

Unlike stallions who CAN be sweet when it suits them, but the old libido can make life a hell of a lot more interesting than the average horsewoman will like. Especially for her teen-aged daughter.

We are talking nips, cow kicks, bad behavior and rarely (though I've seen it) outright attacks. If you've ever seen a horse come after a human being, or had one come after YOU - there is nothing like it. The whole 'my-little-pony' aspect goes out the door and never comes back.

So, we've got this little sweet heart to be our poster-pony. Let's see what else I can come up with.

 This cover is, again, one step away from the original.

I'm going to see if I can get Andre to weigh in. He's MUCH better at cover design.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Solar Clothes Dryer Controversy

What a hot, dry, breezy, day this is. While it's not a good time to do much of anything outside, it is a perfect day to use a solar clothes drier. This will save me some money because electric clothes dryers are power hogs.
A Department of Energy report estimated "electric clothes dryers accounted for about 5.8% of total electricity usage in U.S. homes -- a startling figure given that the same report said all indoor and outdoor lighting in American homes constitutes only 8.8% of electricity usage. Plus, the 5.8% attributed to dryers does not include electricity needed to power the motors of gas-heated dryers."
We don't have a really high electric bill - but it's 102f in the shade out there. Why heat the house?
Luckily, I live in a place where it isn't illegal to own/use one because it is a very handy device, quick and quiet. I can load it down with two washer loads of clothes and they dry in no time. If I'd been in a laundromat I'd have to pay a buck or more a load.
There are various configurations. Setting one up can take some time and ingenuity and quality replacement parts can be tricky to find. But the money I save justifies the initial investment. I've had to rebuild this one - and if the cords give out it's going to be a bear to replace them.
These simple devices are scorned, called ugly and unsightly, then made illegal to own or operate. Either people just don't understand this technology or they have some kind of underwear phobia. (I suspect the latter.)
It's hard to believe that this incredible invention is illegal in parts of the country. (Want to see an example? Click here.) Yep, try to use one in a sub-division and see what happens. You'll have the owners association breathing down your neck the minute you set it up. Your neighbor could call the police and have you arrested!
British film producer Steven Lake to make "Drying for Freedom," a documentary on line-drying in the U.S. because he was outraged that something so simple was outlawed in so many areas.
"The matter of wasted energy is something that draws my attention to this topic," he said. "But mostly it's the fact that in America, which to the rest of the world is considered to be the land of the free, citizens are banned from something as simple and silly as hanging out their washing."
If that sounds boring here's a quick quote: "We're including feuding neighbors in Mississippi where one man purportedly shot and killed another due to a dispute over a washing line. He didn't want to see the laundry from his window."
I guess that proves a point - doesn't it? We live in a strange society that can't tolerate something as basic as hanging some towels over the porch rail to dry? I guess if you want to live in a 'beige on beige gated community' then conformity is a much. But that's not where I live, or how I want to live.
My solar clothes dryer is old, but the Rotary configuration is compact and safer than the straight single line model. Four poles hold two dozen lines, so I've got room for queen-sized sheets and plenty of clothes. In this weather - the wind and the sun dry and disinfect my clothes in about an hour - free.
I like free.

Thursday, June 28, 2012