Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hats Off to the ASPCA!

I've been a member of the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and love their work. Who doesn't love watching the rescues they perform on Animal Planet?

Well, here is a recent one. And I'm SOOOO grateful to their dedication and love!

Please watch the video via this link.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July and the ISWG Blog Hop

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This is the first Wednesday in July, 2013. Time once again for the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop!

My post today is: I'm insecure about feeling insecure about my writing.

Make no sense? Hear me out.

Writing is a BIG competitive business. Before becoming published, I hadn't considered exactly what sort of large pond it is and how many big fish swim in it. Sure, I knew there were books everywhere (after all, I grew up with a love of reading), but it didn't dawn on me how daunting becoming "an author" could be.

At that time, I wrote simply because I had stories in my head that I wanted to share. There was a thrill of reading my words, my plots, on that sheet of paper. (I'm talking back when I wrote in long hand with ink pen and then graduated to a typewriter. No computer, folks) My dream was "to become published". I still remember the excitement upon receiving the offer of my first contract.

Fast forward several years. I've gone through three traditional publishers, and am now an independent author. And it's like - reality hits. Hello. There are NUMEROUS other authors/writers out there and we're all in the same boat paddling in this ever-widening pond.

And competition? Oh, man. We're all struggling to conceive new and better bait to hook those readers to buy OUR books. However, let me state right here, that 99.999% of the authors I've met, personally and online, are terrific people. We don't steal from each other. If we learn of exciting and terrific ways to market, we gladly share. We enjoy triumphs together.

But it's this constant marketing/promoting/salesman-like approach to draw attention to our craft that grows wearying. If we let up for one minute about getting our name "out there" to the reading public - well, our name then is no longer out there to the reading public.

I've not been good at selling myself. I hate the old "shove your foot in the door" tactic, and I cringe at the idea of having to announce my "greatness" by declaring, "I won the Soap Box Author of the Year Award." Ugh. I'd rather hide in the corner and read a good book. 

So, I just wonder - When you feel insecure about the insecurity of this author business, what do you do?

Monday, June 24, 2013

What Would You Do?

I have a recent situation to relate and wondered how many have experienced something like this.

Last week hubby and I drove to Walmart. When we exited and walked in the direction of our parked car, I glanced up and saw a woman eyeing us and heading in our direction. Since she was a stranger, I dropped my gaze and crossed to the other side.

In less than a minute she reached us.

"I'm out of gas and need help."

Now, I admit. When approached with the words 'I need help', I pause. I always think of myself possibly at some time being stranded in a 'what if...' situation.

Then again - yeah, I always hesitate with a 'what if this isn't on the up-and-up?'

A dozen things sped through my mind. Cameras atop the Walmart roof; six o'clock news; did she have a waiting partner nearby; where was her car; be the Good Samaritan; why did she choose us?

I shrugged. "What?" Meaning what kind of help was she asking for? (I was pretty certain I knew, but just in case...)

She said, "I'm out of gas and need help."

I said, "What kind of help?"

"I'm out of gas."

Okay, this had already been established. "Yeah," I said. "And...?"

"I need help."

Since she carried no package of any kind, she had no cell phone unless it was crammed in her shorts pocket. I tried something different.

"Go into the store to Customer Service and ask to use a phone. Call someone."

Her expression changed a hair. "I don't know anyone here."

"Why not?"

"I'm not from anyone here."

"Where are you from?"

She named a town only ten miles away. Ten miles away. Before I could laugh, she went on, "There's no one there. My mom died last month and..." Her voice trailed off and she turned her head, watching other customers.

"Then how do you want us to help?"

"I'm out of gas."

Time to confront her. I said, "So you want cash?"

"Well, I need help."

"But you want cash. Sorry. We aren't giving you cash."

"But I'm out of gas."

"Call someone you know to help. We aren't giving you cash."

During this little exchange, hubby said not a word. We turned and walked to our car. There, we watched her approach someone else. That niggling doubt in my mind asked, 'Did you do the right thing?'

I asked my hubby, "Do you think she told the truth?"

He said, "Why would someone drive to Walmart and spend all their money to where they didn't have enough to buy gas to get home?" He then added, "I was tempted to go to her car and check her fuel gauge."

So. I certainly don't want to be a Scrooge, and never want to think I wouldn't give a helping hand when needed. Still...there's always a still.

Tell me. Have you been in a situation like this? What did you do? What do you think is the right thing to do? I appreciate your comments.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Said the Spider to the Fly, a GoodReads Giveaway!

I've joined a GoodReads giveaway for my LASR Best Book of the Week winner, "Said the Spider to the Fly". If you live in the US and CA, you have a chance to win! Contest opens today, so come over and enter to receive a free copy of this award winning romantic mystery!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Said the Spider to the Fly by Miss Mae

Said the Spider to the Fly

by Miss Mae

Giveaway ends June 22, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

June and IWSG Blog Hop

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As a writer, what am I insecure about this month? To be honest, I've been insecure about this particular thing since...well, since I signed on.

My question is: what is the truth regarding Twitter?

Oh, I'm there. Want to find me (and follow? Click on my right-hand sidebar). When I first appeared on the web and learned about "tweeting", I joined. But I want to know why?

Why is it good? Why do folks rave about it? What is so darned attractive about Twitter?

I'll be frank. I don't read Twitter. I mean, I'm not glued in my chair for hours on end with glazed over eyes watching the tweets roll by.

For one thing - I'm a writer. That means I write words. I type "are", but Twitter says "R". I type "you", but Twitter says "U". I type "I don't know", but Twitter says "idk". (And that "i" should always be capitalized). And what's the deal about 140 characters? This blog post so far -and I'm not finished- is more than 140 characters.

So if I don't read those Twitterese tweets, I'm pretty certain no one reads mine. (I'm not trying to be rude when I say I don't read them. But who has time to read thousands of snippets?)

Authors have said Twitter is a wonderful marketing/promotional tool. ?

I'm asking for help. I don't want this to sound like a rant, it isn't meant to be. I simply don't understand the benefits of Twitter.

Those of you who use it -and love it- would you care to spend a minute or two (using words, please!) and explain why/how/what I need to do. I'd like to become secure about tweeting about Twitter. :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

IWSG & The Parathyroid Adventure

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The Parathyroid Adventure

I’m participating in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Blog Hop. This is my first post. What am I insecure about? Mostly of what/where/when to promote. I’m an indie author and all marketing is on my shoulders. I’ve tried a plethora of avenues: ShoutLife, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, GoodReads, Google Plus, forums, interviews, emails, book signings, newspapers, book trailers, business cards - and this is only the beginning.

Plus, I’m also supposed to find the time to write.

And in the meantime life happens.

Such as my husband being diagnosed six months ago with parathyroid disease. I’m curious. How many of you have heard of this? I hadn’t. Thyroid disease, yes, but not parathyroid.

For years he complained of extreme exhaustion, mental confusion, grogginess. Last summer he knew something was wrong other than just ‘growing older’. Since there were still several months until his yearly checkup with the VA doctor, we visited a walk-in clinic. Labs were performed. The nurse practitioner made the statement, “Your blood calcium is a little high but it appears your thyroid is a bit out of whack.” She prescribed medication.

The symptoms remained and my husband felt no better.

When the time came for his annual with the VA, the doctor noted, “Your calcium has risen for the last three years that I’ve seen you. Let’s take more tests.” A chest x-ray was ordered, an EKG, a 24-hour urine specimen.

This alerted me that obviously too high blood calcium was not a good thing so I went searching on the internet. And sure enough, the doctor confirmed what I learned - the culprit was more than likely a tumor on one of the parathyroid glands. 

The diagnosis meant even more tests. A bone scan/density, ultrasound, nuclear medicine. And the tumor was found on the lower right side of his neck. To be cured, surgery is the only option.

With the VA you’re scheduled only as they’re able to fit you in. Though the four-month wait was bad enough, the distance we had to travel to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville was worse. The continual trips grew exhausting.

Before I relate of the events of April 18, 2013, let me state right here: Everyone at the hospital was fantastic. Each doctor, nurse, technician, volunteer -anyone that I asked for help willingly and patiently gave their assistance. And I thank them all.

April 17 - The night before surgery. While we rested in a motel room about 20 miles away, we watched the local Nashville news. Yikes, there was a bomb scare only about a block from Vanderbilt Hospital.

My husband had to fast after midnight. He doesn’t do fasts well. Next morning, light-headed and weak, he drove to Vanderbilt. And we met gridlock traffic. Miles of cars on each enter ramp fought to merge into our lane. What should have been a 30 to 40 minute drive took an hour and a half. 

Knowing fore-casted severe storms threatened later that evening (we would spend the night in Nashville), we sought a parking garage to shelter our car. We chose the only one we saw across the street. No attendant was anywhere to be found. The money machine said each business day started at midnight. Another driver walked up to pay for his parking slot and we explained our situation, asking were we supposed to be present at midnight to feed the machine its required $10??? He suggested we get a permit from the hospital.

Once we arrived at the information desk, what do we learn but that Vanderbilt has their very own parking garage for free and the covered walkway connects right to the hospital.

Hubby walked back to where we left the car and spent fifteen minutes driving around on the different levels as he sought to find the ‘exit’.

Before his check-in, we visited a social worker office. We inquired for assistance with booking a motel that night. She said she couldn’t do that unless and until he actually became admitted. (the surgery was termed as out-patient) But we were assured that shuttles ran continuously to deliver us to the downtown hotels.

Nothing to do then except to check-in. Surgery was scheduled for noon and about ten minutes past they called us to pre-op. Hubby scowled when he learned that he had to strip off and wear the famous split-tail gown. When he wrapped that cloth around him, plus plopped on the ridiculous shower-type cap, and having a face full of unshaved whiskers, I collapsed to my knees in helpless laughter. Because my cell phone didn’t have a camera, that was a missed Kodak moment.

Male nurses came in, asked all the usual questions, hooked him up to wires connected to machines that beeped, buzzed, and blinged. At fifteen minutes to one they wheeled him to the operating room.

I had no choice but to sit where they directed me. Waiting in the main lobby where all the busy traffic of family, veterans, vendors, and service dogs meet in one noisome knot is sheer Babylon to a hearing-impaired person like myself. And I’m supposed to listen for a surgeon’s phone call in all that chaos?

Yet I did hear a voice over the PA system call, “Code Red. Code Red.”

And I wondered what the ‘red’ meant. Not another bomb scare?

Five minutes later three uniformed police officers arrived. Tensed and alert, I sat and watched. If orders came to evacuate the building, how in the world could I reach my husband in the operating room?

But the officers merely chatted and laughed with a couple of employees. The PA system announced, “Code Red is all clear. Repeat. Code Red is all clear.”

I was told the surgery would last for an hour up to an hour and a half. Time crawled by and I continually glanced at my watch. When two hours passed, I approached the information desk.

“Is there any way I can find out if my husband is out of surgery?”

“Let’s check on that,” the man said and dialed a number on the telephone. He replaced the receiver and said, “He’s still in surgery. Just sit tight.”

I again looked at my watch. It showed fifteen till four. 

After another fifteen minutes, I again asked the man for any information. He dialed the same number and then said, “He’s in recovery. The surgeon is on the way to speak with you.”

I sighed in relief. Sure enough, the young surgeon stepped out of the elevator and came over. She said everything in surgery went well, that my husband’s PTH was now at normal and he should only be in recovery for perhaps an hour and then be released.

Again, I waited. The lobby cleared out as visitors and employees left for the day. The helpful man at the desk also disappeared. I was alone except for an occasional volunteer who strolled by.

The recovery room was supposed to call when they were ready for me. I scooted a chair over next to the desk so I’d be able to see the line light up.

A volunteer saw me and asked if she could help. I answered I was waiting for news from the recovery. She called for me and then reported, “He’s having a hard time waking up. It’ll be a few more minutes.”

I grew anxious. An hour had already gone by and he wasn’t awake good enough?

Another volunteer stopped and asked if she could help. Three times a phone call to recovery was made. Finally, a male volunteer said he’d take me down and allow me to speak with a nurse. That’s exactly what I wanted to do!

The nurse assured me my husband was fine, that he was fully awake and coherent. The only thing he needed to do was to urinate.

I could imagine myself throttling my husband and demanding, “You’re worrying me to death just because you aren’t using a bottle? Do it! Do it, do it!!!”

At least this time I was banished to a waiting room only a couple of doors down. About 20 minutes later I received the call - hubby passed the urine test!

Though awake, he felt awful. Because of how they must have positioned him on the operating table, his neck killed him. Another volunteer wheeled him to pharmacy to pick up his pain medication, then she left us at the front doors and called for the downtown shuttle.

The hotel was probably three or four blocks away and the drive no more then ten or fifteen minutes.

We waited for two hours!

A different volunteer called twice, I made 3 phone calls of my own. Hubby was in torment. He needed to lie down, but he was forced to remain upright. What kept that blasted driver???

It was now about 7 p.m. I saw a man walking from the parking lot and recognized his employee badge. I grabbed him and asked for help. He was in disbelief that we’d waited so long. He wheeled us to the Emergency department and had the worker there to call, once again, for the driver.

It took almost an hour -and a couple of repeat calls- before the van pulled up. This driver said he’d only received the call, so why the other driver ignored our calls, I don’t know. This driver was helpful and sympathetic.

Finally, finally, with dusk closing in, we reached the hotel. I’d tried to make a reservation earlier in the day but -you guessed it- I wasn’t in the system. I said, “Just please give us a room. I don’t care where, we just need one.”

We got on the top floor, the fourth floor and -do you believe it- the elevator didn’t work! 

Poor hubby, weak from hunger, weak from surgery, weak from pain, forced his legs to carry him up those flights of stairs. When I opened the door, I met darkness and cold air. It took several minutes groping in the dark to find a light switch. After flipping the temp control to heat, I helped eased hubby down on a bed. It was 8:10 before this man was able to get the rest he so needed.

So what does this parathyroid adventure have to do with insecure writing? Let me say this:

I’ll gladly handle the promotion/marketing insecurity of a writing job any old day as compared to the stress and worry of out-of-town/bomb scare/code red/garage hunting/urine testing/shuttle-driver-nowhere-to-be-found/elevator-not-working event that I endured on April 18.

And, oh…good thing we decided against a shower in that hotel room. There was no hot water.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Miss Penelope's Letters at YouTube

My apologies for taking such a long time in creating a trailer for my novella, "Miss Penelope's Letters". Though it's available for view on its page here, you can also click over to YouTube.

Hope you enjoy! :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Congrats to the Blog Winner!

Congratulations to Sydney, the winner of the Candlelight Blog Hop. She's won a free copy of my award-winning book, "Said the Spider to the Fly".

Thank you to all who came over and participated in the hop, and who became followers of my blog.

I appreciate you very much! :)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Candlelight Reads Blog Hop

Welcome to the Irish Gold Blog Hop sponsored by Candelight Reads blog!

In this hop, I'm giving away as a prize my award-winning book, "Said the Spider to the Fly". I'll give a print copy if the winner lives in the US, an eBook version if overseas. :)

Your requirements? Become a follower of my blog!

Remember to leave a contact address so the winner can be notified.

Thanks, and enjoy the hop. :) 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Caption Me This!

I saw this photo and just had to use it for a caption contest! LOL

What in the world do you suppose this sneaky feline is thinking????

The contest is open until the 14th. At that date, I'll announce a winner and he/she will receive the "highly coveted" (?) 'Caption Me This' Award!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Who? Me?

I was astonished to discover that an eBook cover I designed for author Celia Yeary was nominated for Best eBook Cover 2012 at the Preditors and Editors Poll. This is my first time being nominated as a cover designer, and I'm deeply humbled to whoever added this. Thank you so much!

I'd like to ask you, readers and friends, if you'd care to take a moment and vote on Texas Promise.

If you truly believe this cover deserves to win, then click on this link at Preditors and Editors, scroll down the page (the listings are in alphabetical order), click the title and continue to scroll. You'll be asked to do a spam test and then give your name and email address. A confirmation email will be sent to that address, and you click the link once it arrives in your inbox. Preditors never spams anyone, or gives out your email information.

I thank you all for your help!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fat Man's in Living Color!

If you've read my award winning YA book, "When the Bough Breaks", you know that it opens with a scene described as Fat Man's drugstore. The setting is 1967. That year I, too, was a teenager. That year, drugstores such as the one I describe as 'Fat Man's' existed to not only sell prescription drugs, but they also served hamburgers, fries, ice cream sundaes, and fountain milk shakes. So often -frequently!- they became the place for high school-ers to hang out. Of course they would, what with that jukebox setting in the corner!

Last week I couldn't believe it when I walked into my local pharmacy and found an almost exact replica of how I pictured Fat Man's. I could almost see my hero, Parker, sitting right here on one of these stools!

He would have read the Coke advertisements displayed over the mirror.

Darlene, sitting in a booth with her sister, Gena, friend Margo, and heart throb, Roy, ordered their hot fudge sundaes from a counter like this.

And after enduring Parker's bold blue-eyed stare, when Darlene jumped up to leave the store and glanced back over her shoulder, she met Parker's gaze through the mirror. Oh yeah, you bet he winked at her.

So what happens next? After Darlene leaves Fat Man's (flushed by that flirty male wink!), does she discover a certain red T-bird convertible outside?

Who knows...maybe when I go back next week it really will be parked there!