Thursday, 5 September 2013

Back up your memory

Dangerous Waters by CM Michaels
Please help us welcome, CM Michaels, author of Dangerous Waters, an urban fantasy, vampire novel.

~ ~ ~

Having worked with computers all of my adult life, both personally and professionally, I have learned all too well the importance of backing up critical information embedded within the machines that we have come to be so dependent upon. For example, I have a daily backup of Dangerous Waters going all the way back to February 19, 2009, when I penned the first three and a half pages. Master copies are also saved on a portable hard drive, a zip drive and on a secured cloud network.

But what do we do to preserve the information contained within our minds? Oh sure, with the advent of smart phones, and before them the camcorder, parents now take countless pictures and hours of digital footage of their children during their formative years, but how much of this will still be viewable thirty or forty years from now? Think of how many smart phones and computers you will go through between now and then, and how fast the various social networking sites have come and gone. Anyone looked at the information they entered on Myspace lately? Are you really going to transfer all of this material each time? And then there is my generation and those before it, when the internet didn't even exist—let alone Facebook or Twitter— and pictures were taken on film that had to be developed and now sit in countless boxes in our parent's attics.

Our childhoods are filled with cherished experiences with family and close friends—playing sports, first crushes, great books we read and countless other things that helped shape our personality, character, and values. But as we age these once prized memories are marked as "available space" by our minds, and are overwritten with information deemed more relevant to our current lives.

To illustrate, I want you to think about the following: What is the first vivid, detailed memory you have of being in school? What can you clearly recall from your childhood family trips? What is the first meal you can remember eating—not just remember the food your parents made, but actually recall eating it? What is the first book you read that you can still remember the plot? First movie? For those of you over 40, how many detailed memories do you have from junior high or earlier overall? Of those, how many can you recall more than just that something happened, and actually see the images play back in your mind?

The sad truth is that by the time we reach middle age the first fifteen years of our lives are all but forgotten. Aunts, uncles and cousins who we once knew well become strangers we bump into at family reunions, the stories they recount lost on us. Accomplishments we were once so proud of fade into vague memories that almost seem as if they happened to someone else. Books responsible for inspiring our love of reading are reduced to titles and cryptic blurbs. And family trips to national parks, Disneyworld and the like are purged by our minds like they mean as little to us as the algebra lessons we were sure we would never need.

So how can we prevent this fate from repeating itself with future generations? Will sharing pics and videos on social sites be enough to allow this generation to retain more from their formative years? In my mind social sites in and of themselves are not the answer. If you disagree, ask your child how many posts they have looked at from more than even three months ago. And these sites have their own purge routines. The only way to truly retain these memories is to force our minds to think about them often enough so they are deemed valuable as we age. Having your kids keep electronic journals of important memories that they review once a month, taking the time to truly think about each item on it, would reduce the data that needs to be retained / transferred to one file, and would allow their generation and the generations to come to truly recall their childhood throughout their lives.

Bio:

C.M Michaels grew up in a small town in northern Michigan as the youngest child of a close-knit family of seven. He met his wife, Teresa, while attending Saginaw Valley State University. Together they've provided a loving home for several four-legged "kids", including Sophie, their eternally young at heart, hopelessly spoiled Spaniel.

He has always enjoyed writing, and still has fond memories of reading his first book, a children's novella, to local grade schools when he was 14. Dangerous Waters, the first book in the Sisters in Blood series, is being published by Freya's Bower on September 5th, 2013. C.M. is currently working on the second book in the Sisters in Blood series along with a Fantasy romance.

When he's not writing, C.M. can be found curled up with a good book, watching movies or hitting the hiking trails with his wife. An avid reader since discovering Jim Kjelgaard novels in early childhood, his favorite authors include Kelley Armstrong, Peter V. Brett, Richelle Mead, Rachel Caine, Cassandra Claire, J.R. Ward, Laini Taylor and Tessa Dawn.

C.M. currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky.

Social Media links:
Blurb:

For Emily Waters, a nature-loving, small-town girl with an overprotective father, heading off to Boston University to study conservation biology is a dream come true—until a chance encounter catapults her into a mythical world she'd do anything to escape.

The latest victim in a rash of abductions near campus, Emily is brutally attacked before being rescued by a powerful new friend. She survives the ordeal, only to find herself held captive and presented with an impossible choice.

While preparing for the unimaginable life she must now embrace, clues soon emerge that Emily may not be entirely human, and her physical transformation awakens goddess-like powers that her new family cannot begin to explain.

Dealing with her human first love, the not-so-platonic relationship with her coven "sister," and her new vampire sort-of-boyfriend further complicates matters, not to mention being secretly hunted by the psychopaths who attacked her. And as the only known offspring of a once all-powerful race, the climactic battle is just the beginning of her journey.

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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Grade School shouldn't be in your 40's

I have a friend I’ve never met, she lives in another state.  I met her through an online writers group and in a very short amount of time she became a very close friend.  Life being what it is, she discovered she had cancer, and decided on a hospital to get treatment and surgery.  Things did not go all that well.  She ended up in a coma.

Since that time I have been in contact with her father, supported him by phone and text through a lot.  Other friends and co workers reached out to me and I often could get info that others couldn’t and passed it on.

Along came a friend of hers, someone we had often talked about, she was in an abusive situation, and I wanted her to ask this friend for help.  She’d known the woman for 40 years, so in my mind this woman should have helped her. She told me repeatedly that this woman would not help her, that she would say she would and then wouldn’t follow through.  My friend often called me when things got bad.  She told me things that she didn’t tell others. 

Anyone who knows me, knows, I don’t lie, and that I don’t judge.  Most of my friends feel very comfortable telling me anything, and talking with me about things that they don’t tell others.  Autumn (not her real name) confided in me.  We texted sometimes 200 times a day, IM’d while she was at work and emailed several times a day and talked on the phone several times a week.

This so called 40 year friend of hers has now managed to cut me off from any info about Autumn.  Her dad has stopped taking my calls; I can only imagine what this vindictive, shallow woman has said to him.  I went off on her the other day when she again reiterated that only family should have any info about Autumn, she isn’t family either but apparently told the nurses at the care facility she was.   I’ve caught her in several lies in the time I have talked to her.

I can see her being hurt that Autumn didn’t share everything with her.  But friendships are different, some you wear a mask with, and Autumn often talked about taking off the masks she had been wearing all her life, with me she didn’t have to wear a mask, and didn’t.

And length of time known doesn’t preclude you from loving and caring about someone.  I feel punched in the gut.  And I am sure this woman is wearing a self-satisfied smirk, and is more than happy she has managed to shove me out of Autumn’s life, what there is of it.  She is very much like Autumn’s abusive husband.   Doesn’t really know the real woman under the mask and doesn’t want to.  She only cares about being Autumn’s only friend, and standing on her moral pedestal, while she passes judgment on others based on the time they knew Autumn.

Seriously, are we still in grade school? In this situation everyone who knows Autumn should be pulling together and supporting each other because of our love for Autumn, not quibbling over who knew her longer, and how that somehow is a measure stick of love and caring.

Yes she has known her 40 years, but that doesn’t mean that Autumn has told her everything in her life. And given some of the comments this woman has made about abusive relationships, I doubt Autumn would have told the real story, she wouldn’t have seen any support there, and Autumn herself was just starting to realize that her situation was abusive and that her husband had no right to do the things he has done to her.  That she didn’t deserve the treatment he gave her.

And now Autumn languishes in a persistent vegetative state, and I won’t even know if she is getting better or worse—because of a shallow minded selfish woman who can’t even see past the mask someone she knew 40 years wore! 

If you can’t be yourself with your so called friends, then what is the point of having those friends?  I guess we all have that one friend who we have had maybe forever who we can’t be our self with, but for fucks sake, if I ever end up this way I hope none of my newer friends get treated this way by my so called lifelong friends. 

If they do, then I wasn’t very good at picking my friends.

I will have to find a way to live with being cut off this way because of this woman who can’t accept that Autumn had other friends, and had friends that she confided in more than she did in the 40 year friend, but it isn’t going to be easy.


Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Gas Price Blues

Help us welcome guest author Patrick Royal.

~ ~ ~

It's Sunday night. I just picked up grub for dinner and passed by the gas station. The price sign read $3.52 a gallon. I passed it and headed to the next one just down the road from it, which is usually lower. When I get there, the price sign reads $3.45. Quickly, I debate whether to stop right then or get it on my way to work in the morning. I procrastinated and decided to wait until morning.


In the morning, I get up, get dressed, pack my lunch, grab my laptop, and head out the door. I started the engine, pulled it into gear, and off I went. On my way through my neighborhood, I glanced at the gas gauge a few times. Stopping at the stop sign at the end of the neighborhood, I turned right and headed straight. When I got to the gas station, the price was still the same, $3.45 a gallon. In a split-second, I ended up procrastinating again, passing up the pumps, just heading into work.


The work day ended, and I'm on my way home. Glancing at the gas gauge, I realize that I'm on my way to running out. A few feet from the gas station, my engine shuts off, and I steer my van into the lot and up to a gas pump. Shew…made it. I smiled and told the attendant that I just ran out of gas a few feet from station but managed to coast to the pump. He chuckled. I hand him a twenty dollar bill and sat back waiting for him to finish pumping it.

I'm pretty happy with myself at this point. As I wait on the gas attendant, I look over at the digital numbers on the pump and the price reads $3.53 a gallon. Not only was the gas station's price higher from the night before, it's a cent higher than the first station I checked.


That's just my luck. Why does the gas companies have to play with the prices so much? Can't they leave it at one price and be happy with it? Why's it I can get gas for a certain price, and the next day it's lower? What's the reason for the hike or drop in prices from one day to the next? I think the oil companies like pissing us off. Why? Because they know we'll buy it because we need it.

Author Patrick Royal
Bio:

Patrick Royal is a family man. Born in Virginia, raised in Northwest Indiana, he and his wife Lynette have resided in Western Kentucky for ten years. An avid reader of Stephen King. He's inspired to use the gift God gave him to chill his readers. He's also the author of Novels "Jacob's Closet," Sleep Stalker, and Mind Shadows: Book 1: Shattered.

Blurb:

Shattered by Patrick Royal
The only thing that multi-published, award winning horror author, Tom Elliot, wanted was to move to the country for a change of scenery and relaxation, to a quiet part of southern Illinois. It seemed he'd picked out a wonderful spot, miles away from the closest neighbor and even further away from civilization.

Tom couldn't write to save his soul. Weird thoughts trampled through his head and left him wondering if he'd made a mistake moving from Chicago. Could it have been that he ripped himself from his element, like his best friend, Michael Gully, had predicted? That he couldn't answer yet.

Words came and flowed like wildfire, but at what price? Tom's imagination was getting the best of him and running rampant. The very characters that he created tormented him, driving him mad where he couldn't distinguish fiction from reality.

Excerpt:

A moan drifted from the next room and teased Tom's ear. Stopping to listen, he struggled to figure out what he'd heard. He stepped slowly into the living room. A woman stood with her back toward him.

His heart thudded fast.

The woman moaned. Her long-fitted skirt hugged her hips, and a pleated white shirt. On the floor by her feet lay droplets of blood.

Tom peeped around the woman's body and caught a glance of her face. "Lady, who are you? Why are you in my house?" he asked and widened his eyes.

Tom still faced the woman's back, and she wept a bit harder. "You should know why I'm here," she said in a soft but shaky voice. She turned around, faced him, and quickly threw her arms out in front of her. Blood trickled and dripped onto the floor from deep slits across both wrists. In her hand she held a yellow hair ribbon.

Tom's jaw dropped open and he stumbled back, widening his view. "Oh my God. Wha…?"

The woman stepped closer to him and held her arms out with her wounds still dripping blood. Her body projected forward, as if traveling in flash.

"You did this! You killed my daughter, and you made me what you see." She shoved her bloody wrists toward Tom.

"No, no. You've made a mistake," Tom screamed and backed away from her. He clung to the wall with his legs weakening and his hands trembling.

The woman stood and laughed hysterically.

Tom squeezed his eyes shut. "You're not real. You're not real," he screamed. Opening his eyes, the woman had disappeared, the room once again silent. Tom sank to his knees, sat on the floor, and leaned against the wall with a blank stare.

Not long after the sun rose high in the sky, Tom's nerves finally calmed. He called Michael, and it ended similar to the other times he called him for some well needed answers. His friend proved unable to offer any help. Hanging up, Tom sat at his desk more confused than ever. Am I losing my mind like Michael fears? He chuckled over his friend's reaction when he told him that he planned to take a small break from writing. He had to admit that it even sounded strange to hear himself say it. Maybe, he was losing it. He had never really been scared of anything. Michael was the one that had always been scared and had nightmares over things that bothered him. What bothered him now was that he loved where he lived, but he hated the idea of being so far away from Michael. He had grown used to driving over to his house and discussing life's little problems, and vice versa.

Buy Mind Shadows: Book 1: Shattered

Monday, 19 August 2013

Alexander Graham Bell. I Hate You.



I am so full of rant, I don't even know where to start. Well, maybe first, I want to complain that cell phones these days just don't do my rage justice. See, the big black rotary phones we had when I was a kid, they had some weight to them. Someone pissed you off on the other end? You could slam that puppy down and hear it in the next room. It left a high, reverberating ring clanging into the silence. It was a beautiful thing. 
I don't care how hard you tap that icon, it will never give the same satisfaction. Not. Ever.
So why do I need the physical gratification achieved by the slamming of a telephone receiver? Rogers. Every month when the bill comes in, I have to call them to figure out why they are forever, endlessly, inexplicably, adding charges onto my bill I never authorized, asked for or okayed. And believe me, I never get explanations. Hell, they completely cancelled my Ipad account without a word to me, then continued to charge my credit card for data I couldn't access because they had disabled my sim card without telling me that, either. All on an account that was pre-paid. In other words, I had to request the data and pay for it before I could use it. At least, that's the contract I signed. So how did three months go by where they charged my card for data I hadn't asked for and couldn't access? And then tell me that was my fault? Um....no.

And seriously, don't get me started on the Iphone bill...

And then today, hubs, who is home all day with the kids doing the stay-at-home dad thing asks me to arrange for the school to call me at work and arrange a time for him to go register our son. Oh. And can I call the girl's dance studio and figure when her classes and registration is? And set up a time for him to go do that with her? Really....what?  

The girls at work tell me this is a generic male trait, this thing I can only describe as phone phobia. Because seriously. I don't even have a phone on my desk at work and I can't turn my cell on except on my half hour lunch break, so this is not just a simple little thing for me to do between work files. This is a major get up, find an empty desk with a phone and hope my boss doesn't wander by and wonder what the hell I'm up to kind of thing while I spend a half hour arranging his appointments for him.

And they want to reconfigure our jobs so instead of writing letters, we phone our clients to get the information we need. Shoot me now. Really. I'm not kidding.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

While the Cat's Away...

Image by Alexander Briel Perez
Yesterday, my husband made a split-second decision to go to the West Coast for an emergency business meeting. I helped him get clothes ready, he made a run to the store for shaving cream (although why he couldn’t take my travel size can is silly—so what if it smells like baby powder?!). Hours later, he was gone.

Don’t get me wrong…I love my husband. We both work from home, and while that might make many women shudder at the mere thought of spending 24/7 with their significant other, we do very well, having found plenty of outlets to get the hell away from each other when necessary.

But this is different. And as soon as he announced his travel plans, I began making my list of what I’d do while he was gone. I’m a night owl. I will use this time to my advantage, like maybe, but not limited to:

Read in bed. With the light on all night if I want. The compulsion to smother complaining husbands momentarily eliminated.

Eat in bed. Something with crumbs. They’re my crumbs, I don’t mind them.

Watch TV with the volume turned up so I can hear it and I don’t need to rely on closed captioning to know what’s going on. God forbid I should wake up HRH.
             
Go to a movie. Or two. I love going to movies and will see anything except horror. I will make good use of this movie time. Watch me.

No cooking. Unless it’s something I want. I like to call this Fend For Yourself Night. You want it? You make it.

Write something. Or not. It’s my call.


What are your favorite things to do while the Cat’s away? Give me more ideas!                                                                                                                                                              

Marriage is the end of the road...


Welcome guest blogger, Zee Monodee!

I was 14 when I received my first proposal. No, it wasn’t from my then-boyfriend! Instead, a professional matchmaker – called an agwa here – brought this offer to the table. How did this happen? I had been to my cousin’s wedding, and there, dressed in a lehenga suit (you know those Indian outfits with long embroidered skirts and short, equally embroidered blouses, with a hugely heavy drape called a dupatta), I easily looked to be around 18 with my long hair pulled up in a complicated updo (yes, we stopped at nothing to shine at weddings. Some even went as far as outshining the bride, but she’d probably not mind, seeing how an Indian or Indian-origin Muslim wedding went on for about 4-5 days).

The match? A young doctor, 26 years old, who’d recently come back from England after his studies. Very good prospect (I mean, a doctor!), from a good family, and better yet, he had fair skin. In short, a handsome boy. And he was ready to wait for me to finish high school!

That match received a ‘no’ from me. Seriously, I was 14! But it was the first of many such ‘good’ proposals I fended off between then and the age of 17 (when I did get married! That’s another story, but in a nutshell, my British boyfriend, who, thank goodness for the family, happened to be a Muslim boy, and I couldn’t be allowed to ‘date’ seriously. It’s marriage or the highway. We were married shortly after...and divorced just as quickly. So here I was at 18, back in Mauritius, a divorcee, while my peers were graduating high school. Springboard for penning this story.... Anyway....)

In traditional societies like India (whether you’re Hindu, Muslim, Tamil, or even Christian), a girl is ‘allowed’ to flitter around like a caged butterfly until she is 20, tops. If she gets married before then, all the better, because let’s face it, what else is there for girls except than to become wives and produce the first offspring (preferably a male!) a year later? Beyond 20, she starts to become a ‘case’ because *gasp* what if she ends up an old maid?
Such is the case for the Indian diaspora all over the world, and the Indo-Mauritian community is no different. Marriage is the end of the road for a woman.

So what happens when that marriage explodes, and you end up getting divorced? Back in the year 2000 and around, it meant you’d be shunned, labeled a divorcee as if that was a scarlet letter to be ashamed of. And also, how dare you even imagine you can end up with a ‘proper’ boy when you are ‘tarnished’? (Understand by that, a man not a divorcĂ© or a widower).

What happens is that you, as the ‘jilted’ woman in this equation, put on your big girl knickers and go out to forge your own path on your own terms. Sod what the rest of the world thinks or how they are labeling you – life is waiting for you; you simply have to embrace it.

Less than a year after my divorce, I met a man, who was divorced too, and that shared bond of being ‘castaways’ became the foundation on which we built a marriage that has been going strong for over a decade now.


Lesson learned? There is always hope; we just have to believe.

The Other Side
The Other Side available HERE
Divorce paints a scarlet letter on her back when she returns to the culture-driven society of Mauritius. This same spotlight shines as a beacon of hope for the man who never stopped loving her. Can the second time around be the right one for these former teenage sweethearts?
Indian-origin Lara Reddy left London after her husband dumps her for a more accommodating uterus—at least, that’s what his desertion feels like. Bumping into him and his pregnant new missus doesn’t help matters any, and she thus jumps on a prestigious job offer. The kicker? The job is in Mauritius, the homeland of her parents, and a society she ran away from over a decade earlier.

But once there, Lara has no escape. Not from the gossip, the contempt, the harassing matchmaking...and certainly not from the man she hoped never to meet again. The boy she’d loved and lost—white Mauritian native, Eric Marivaux.

Back when they were teens, Eric left her, and Lara vowed she’d never let herself be hurt again. Today, they are both adults, and facing the same crossroads they’d stood at so many years earlier.
Lara now stands on the other side of Mauritian society. Will this be the impetus she needs to take a chance on Eric and love again?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Research, Research and a Little More Research...


Welcome guest blogger, Georgie Lee!

Research, for me, is not an onerous task. When I’m ready to start writing about a particular time period, I can’t wait to go to the library, pull every book available on that era off the shelf, take them home and lose myself in a time period. However, research isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It can be overwhelming deciding where to begin, what to look for and when to stop. Today, I want to offer some advice and a few suggestions for getting started and seeing it through until “The End.”

The first thing to do is…

Start Big: You know what era you want to write about, so it’s time to learn about the era. General overview books are a great place to start because they give you the key politics, ideas, people and events that helped shape the time period. Once you know the basics, you can begin to…

Narrow things down: Decide when in the era you want your story to take place then focus your research accordingly. In my upcoming Regency novella, Hero’s Redemption, the hero was involved in the battle at Hougoumont Manor during the battle of Waterloo. As a result, I did a great deal of research on the particulars of the battle including the manor layout, the French soldiers who stormed the gate, the British soldiers who held them off and how the wet weather turned the ground muddy. Details like this are important since they helped me craft scenes and add to the historical realism of the story. So once you’re done narrowing things down, it’s time to...

Get personal: The details of everyday life help create characters, make them real and flavor a narrative. To make the Regency period come alive in the story, I researched everyday life including dress, food, furniture and the plans of both London town houses and country manor houses. I sprinkled these details throughout the story to help make the setting come alive and draw the reader into the time period. However, be careful with how much historic detail you add to your story. Too much will make it read like a college mid-term instead of a sweeping saga. So, what happens when the research you need isn’t there? Well, it’s time to…

Think outside the box: Depending on what time period you’re dealing with, or what obscure historical event you’re trying to incorporate into your story, you may or may not have a wealth of information to draw from. This is when it’s time to start looking at primary sources like journals, autobiographies and even government reports. These writings will give you more detail on a subject than a general history book will and most are in the public domain and available free on Amazon. It’s time consuming but worth it, even though at some point I’m going to have to…

Know when to say when: Research can be fun. It can help you outline your story or navigate a tricky plot point. However, it can also distract from writing. There is no end to the research available or the hours you can dedicate to it. It’s an important part of the process, but so is sitting down and getting words on paper. So, don’t be afraid to put your research aside and start writing, because the great thing about research is, you can access it any time and you can always do more.
Thank you everyone for stopping by and a special thanks to Valerie for having me here today.

Hero’s Redemption
by Georgie Lee

London, 1817
Devon, the Earl of Malton, is a hero for his deeds at the Battle of Waterloo. But he suffers terrible nightmares, and drinks himself to sleep most nights. A habit he vows to break when he awakes one morning to find a woman sharing his bed, no memory of how she got there, and her angry brother at his door.

Cathleen is mortified when her wastrel brother and his greedy wife propose a blackmail scheme involving the earl, but as a penniless war widow she's at their mercy. She goes along with the plan and sneaks into Devon's bed one night, and ends up comforting him through a night terror.

Charmed by her beauty and kindness, Devon determines that rather than pay the blackmail, he will offer his hand in marriage to Cathleen. Although she is deeply attracted to the stoic earl, Cathleen cannot understand why Devon would want to marry her. What she doesn't know is that Devon owes her a debt that can never fully be repaid…


BIO:
   A dedicated history and film buff, Georgie Lee loves combining her passion for Hollywood, history and storytelling through romantic fiction. She began writing professionally at a small TV station in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to work in the interesting but strange world of the entertainment industry.
   Her first novel, Lady’s Wager, and her contemporary novella, Rock ‘n’ Roll Reunion are both available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. Labor Relations, a contemporary romance of Hollywood, and Studio Relations, a love story set in 1935 Hollywood, are currently available from Montlake Romance. Look for her Regency novella, Hero’s Redemption from Carina Press on July 29, 2013, and her Regency novel, Engagement of Convenience, from Harlequin Historical on October 1, 2013.
Buy Links:  Carina Press|Amazon 

When not writing, Georgie enjoys reading non-fiction history and watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit  www.georgie-lee.com for more information about Georgie and her novels.

Social Media Links
Twitter: @GeorgieLeeBooks
Website: www.georgie-lee.com 

Friday, 9 August 2013

Technology Bytes!

By Guest Blogger Lily Gayle



 I love gadgets and technology. I don't always understand how they work, but I've always had a knack for electronics. My husband gets flustered trying to install a DVD player. Not me. I love the challenge.
When I tired of high phone bills, I switched to internet phone. When my internet provider sold out to another company and the server kept going down, I disconnected my DSL. I set up a Gmail account and got a hotspot for the internet. I just added a clip-on wireless router the size of a cigarette lighter to my desktop monitor and plugged it in with a cord. Then I plugged the hotspot in and placed it in a central room of the house. Ta-da! Internet for everyone and no modem!
Then I got get rid of my internet home phone. The only people calling on that line were telemarketers and politicians, and my friends and family used my cell phone.  Now, I have fewer bills and fewer cables connecting all that technology together. And connecting everything was simple enough, given good instructions. But I soon learned, electronics can be much more complicated. Sometimes, technology bites!
My parents are 75 and 78, but they try to stay current with the latest technology. They both have their own computers, email addresses and Facebook pages, but they live in the boonies so their choices of internet providers is limited.
A few years ago, they upgraded from dial up to satellite internet through their satellite television provider. The company set them up and my dad figured out how to set up a wireless network. Then a week or so ago, a telemarketer called my mother on her land line and convinced her she could save money by bundling her internet with internet phone service. She did the math and figured she could save $10/month.
The company guaranteed she could keep her phone number and email address. They came out to the house, installed the new internet dish next to the old internet dish, and showed my parents how fast their service was. My parents were pleased so they agreed to cancel their old internet service when the tech suggested it. They didn't want two internet bills. Then the tech dismounted the old dish from the roof and my mother no longer had access to her email account. The tech told her she could still use her Gmail account. But my mother didn't have one. They also didn't have the internet phone, but the service tech promised the box would arrive in the mail and all they'd have to do was plug it in. Yeah. Right!
The box barely came with instructions. So, when I brought my mom home after her  cataract surgery Wednesday, my dad asked if I'd hook up the internet phone box as  it required hooking up cables under his desk and he's 78 with a recent hip replacement and a bad knee. No problem.  Or so I thought.
When I had Vonage, it was just a matter of running cables and turning things on. Vonage took care of the registration and porting my phone number. Not so with this company. After hooking up the box, the customer has to log in to the website and handle the registration and porting. I followed all the instructions and hooked up the cables but when I logged on to the website, it kept kicking me out and not letting me log back in. When I finally managed to log onto the site long enough to register the pone, I got an error message. So, I called the company. Five hours and three service techs later, I still couldn't register the phone and the service techs had no idea what was wrong. They said it was a "bad" box but they still wouldn't send a tech out. They told me they'd call me Friday and let an advanced tech walk me through the process again.
"If it's a bad box, why not just send a new one?" I asked.
They couldn't do that until an advanced tech went through some tests on their end. Why they couldn't run those tests that night, I'll never know. But their responses and answers to questions bugged me. Something didn't add up. The way they told me to hook up the cables prevented anything from working. The way I had hooked them up gave my parents internet, but no phone.  There had to be a problem with the cables not the box.

So, the next day after work, I drove the 45 minutes to my parent's home with a box of old portable phones and cables I'd used when I had internet phone service. I hooked everything up and ta-da! It looked as if everything was going to work. I was even able to get back on to the website and register their information. But I still didn't have a dial tone and I still needed to transfer their existing phone number. So, I called tech support. Again.
Nothing they suggested worked. During all the redundant things they asked me to re-do, such as resetting the IP address and rebooting the computer, their website went down. This had happened the night before too and they claimed my computer wasn't hooked up correctly, even though I hadn't changed the connections and had just been on their website a couple of hours earlier.
One tech told me I could only log in using Internet Explorer. One told me I could only log in using their service provider's email address. One told me I had to reroute the wires so the internet cable connected directly to the phone box in order to access their website. In a nutshell, no one knew what they were doing!
I finally got connected to a tech supporter with some sense. We got everything working again, but the phone still didn't have a dial tone. He said the box was bad and they'd send out a new one. When I asked if he could send a technician to hook the box up for them this time, he said, "No. None of our service techs are trained to install the phones."
"WHAT?!" I shouted over the phone. "You have service technicians who need training before they can connect the internet phone box and yet you expect a 75 and 78-year-old geriatric couple to crawl around under the desk and connect the wires?"
I was livid. Even if my mom wanted to go back to the previous company, the dish has been taken down and she'd have to pay another installation charge and probably sign a new contract. She still has her land line, but that's double what the internet phone would be if we could ever get it connected.
As for the new internet provider, they are double the cost of the previous provider. My mother's savings were to be on the phone service, which we can't seem to get connected. So, now, my parents are stuck paying the higher phone bill and the higher internet bill until we can get some resolution on this internet phone line. They are NOT saving money!
In the meantime, I have retrieved most of my mother's email addresses and I've gotten her back on Facebook. The tech support  guy promised to call me today and let me know if my parents need a new box or if I need to go back out there and change some wires or settings on the computer. And that's when I went into bitch mode. I managed to get the company to postpone charging them for the phone service until it's actually working and I got them to extend the introductory pricing offer for an additional three months. And apparently, they expedited shipping on that new phone box. The company didn't call me today as promised, but my mother just called to let me know that Fed Ex had delivered the new box.        Looks like I'll be playing internet Geek again as the company still won't send out a technician to connect the phone. They did, however, promise to walk me through the connection process over the phone. Now, I just have to find time to get back out there.
Yep. I think I'm keeping my hotspot and cell phone. No matter where I go, I can take it with me. And I don't have to deal with installation or poorly trained technical support!

Author bio: 
Lilly Gayle is a wife, mother of two grown daughters, and a breast cancer survivor. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and little dog, T.T. When not working as an x-ray technologist and mammographer, Lilly writes paranormal and historical romances. 
Over the years, she's convinced her family to take side trips to museums and historic sites while on vacation. Her daughters never complained—to her face—and thankfully, her husband enjoys those same activities. However, he doesn't seem to enjoy science fiction and the paranormal as much as Lilly would like. 
Lilly grew up watching western, science fiction, and paranormal movies and television with her father. Her mother and both grandmothers taught her a love and respect for history, and she credits her love for reading and passion for writing to three wonderful teachers.

Visit her at www.lillygayle.com


Thursday, 8 August 2013

When PMS Strikes


Yesterday, I was PMSing... big time. I knew the signs: the binging on shit food, the bitchy demeanor, the short attention span, the need to be right or kill someone. Yeah, the signs were all there, but I ignored them. Well, not really, I crammed three mini brownies down my throat in as many seconds, ate enough Now and Laters from Lily's stash of candy when she wasn't looking (polished them off, actually), and got into a stupid flame war on someone else's Facebook page with some nimrod who… Well, we won't go into that right now. That's a different blog entirely.


Suffice it to say, all of the signs were there, but I couldn't help myself. I had that broom in one hand, lightning rod in the other, and lasers shooting from my eyes. God help you if you breathed in my vicinity.



And, then, after I carried on a pointless argument with this assshat on Facebook for a few hours wasting precious editing time--because, I don't know, I was in the full grips of raging hormones--Charlie came home.

After saying "hello," the first words out of his mouth were: "Have you thought about dinner?"

"No."

"Well, we need to eat."

"We do?"

"Yes, so, what do you want for dinner?" (Read: what are you making for dinner?)

"I haven't thought about dinner, but you can make it or go get something."

Charlie: "Aren't you hungry?"

"No, but you can eat without me."

"I want all of us to eat together."


Pant! Pant!

Really? You cannot see the sparks flying off of me in every direction? Do I look like I fucking care about dinner? I've stuffed myself with shit. I'm full. You are a big boy, old enough to either make your own or go out and kill it. I don't care. Just leave me &#$!@* alone!


I don't quite remember the rest of our conversation, but he finally left. At some point, I realize I have to make something or Lily will have a melt down. One PMSing female in the household melting down is bad enough, but add a prepubescent female melting down, too? Yeah, that's ugly.

Oh, and I realize that I am crossing the street to participate in a woman's circle around a fire pit with some friends at 8 pm. It is 6:30. I need to make food quickly.

So, I'm putting together blue cheese burgers. Charlie is hovering over me. The sparks aren't flying quite as profusely, but the steam is still wafting out of my ears in small puffs. He's nattering away at me like a little chirpy bird, and I'm eying the spatula. It's a grill spatula and has a meat tenderizer-like edge on one side. I start thinking about what I can do with it, how I could silence him just for a few minutes. (grin)


Instead, I step outside to start the gas grill.

He follows me and asks, "Would you like me to start the grill?"

"Sure."

Far be it from me to stop him from being helpful. I quickly escape inside for a moment of peace… which lasts all of two seconds. He follows me in and continues his incessant chattering. I'm not paying much attention to it until he asks:

"Are we having salad?"

The embers flare to life. I don't even look at him and say, "Are you making it?"

Silence.

Mwahahaha

That's right, I'm making dinner. Tonight, suggestions are best left unsaid, especially when I am wielding a large knife as I slice a tomato.


Yeah, when PMS strikes, it's best to run! (grin)

Monday, 5 August 2013

Finishing (Or is she her mother's daughter?)

A month or so ago, I found myself scolding Lily for not finishing projects. If she takes a sewing class somewhere, she will finish her project. If she starts a sewing project at home, it will sit for, I don't know, she may never finish it. Ever. (This is not an exaggeration.) So, we'd started a sewing project, and, much to my frustration, it sat there and sat there and sat there until I finished it… because I couldn't stand it.

So, we had a discussion. Okay. Let's be honest. I lectured, her eyes glazed over, and nothing changed.

Surprise!

After this very vehement "discussion," I realized who else was guilty of not finishing projects.

Yeah, you guessed it. Me.

How can I expect her to do something I don't? It's all about being a role model. And what I have been showing her has been less than stellar in this area. Well, at least, when it comes to my own projects. I finish work projects, but I have a couple of crochet projects I've been "working" on for the past two years. I had three until I crocheted the last row on a scarf and two flowers. Yes, really, that's all that I needed to do to finish the project.

The other two are a bit longer. One is a granny "square" afghan. I'm getting closer. I have seven more squares to complete it. Of course, today, I discovered some errors that I am currently fixing, but I am getting closer to being finished. What I will do with it when I'm done? No idea, but I'll be done.



Once I finish it, I'll move on to the next. At one point, I was crocheting one a day, but life got in the way. Now, I'm managing two to three a week…sometimes, but I'm doing it.

I have three--er, four, um, five?—in progress stories. There's a script I started writing some ten years ago and still sits, waiting for me to finish it. I also have two musicals that sit unfinished.

Hm… who's the queen of unfinished projects? Gee, I don't know. Could it be… Me? Apparently, we have a princess, too: my daughter.

Maybe, if I continue with this new direction, I will be the queen of finishing projects. And maybe, just maybe, I'll have a few new stories published, too.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Running on the gerbil wheel, pass me another, and the barf bag, Please!

Running on the gerbil wheel . . .



Have you ever felt like this?  That run, run, run and never get done feeling?  I think more realistic is the one below, in the life of a writer, reader, and editor anyway.




How do I put this?  Well, there are not enough hours in a day for all the books in the world that I would like to read.  It seems like every time I look at Amazon, or walk by a book rack at the store, that there is another title, by an author I like, beckoning me to read it.  Err, listen to it, or get it for my Kindle so that I can make large enough to read.

More, and more and more, while I try to read some books for reviews, and others for my job as an editor, and beta read or alpha read.  And of course there are more and more and more, never ending, free book weekend, buy my 99 cent book!  And look-look, it has 10, 5 star reviews.

Who knew so many people had a story to tell? And who knew there were so many 5 star books out there! Add another to my wheel.  Whip out my Kindle and let's pick up some of these 5 star books up, they're FREE, they are a only a buck!

I've watched this trend unfold, it used ot be if you self published, you paid to have it done, and there were arguments among writers, that self published meant stupid published, along came a company that allowed you to place your books for sale on their site for free, and since then the book industry is buried under an avalanche of book  . . . Well, frankly, book vomit, and many of the books smell the same and deserve the same place vomit goes. 

I've heard authors say, well, getting an agent or publisher is a lot of work, I want to be rich now.  Better yet, the mantra of grammar doesn't matter, or grammar is outdated, or the publishers just want to keep good books down, or you don't need an editor--or I want all the money myself.

Say what?  I've now read 20 self published books, and out of all 20, I have found ONE, yes 1, that was worth the virtual paper it was virtually printed on.

My grammar is perfect, one author insisted after I left a review--his grammar looked like this, "I done did it before." He said. And even in narrative his grammar was the same, third person.  

Another, after a review told me he had sent me the wrong file, and it was an early draft before he hired an editor. So I asked for an updated copy, I didn't hear from him, then saw his book on Amazon for Free, so I downloaded it.  Guess what, it was the same version I had gotten in the first place, that was full of inconsistencies, the author couldn't remember what job a MC had, and didn't know if it should be your or you're . . .

Another was so full of spelling errors that I couldn't even read past the first few pages.  Did this person not even think to use spell check? Yes, I asked them, they said oh all those wiggly lines drive me nuts so I shut it off.


Somehow, I think the word vomit is here to stay, because as soon as one author figures out that they have no idea what they are doing another one comes along and spews some more word vomit.

I just wish these clueless word carpenters would figure out that writing isn't a get rich quick scheme and at least pick up a book and read something!  A roofer wouldn't pick up a hammer and try to put a roof on a house, without learning the basics, and expect to be paid for it, and to become a well known roofer.  

Wait, maybe that's why they try to give their books away, while those of us who really do care about the craft, get buried under the pile of word vomit working its way into every corner of the industry. My apologies to those self publishing authors who have put the time and love and work into their book that every story deserves!  You are not counted among these word vomit books.  



Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The world is not designed for this . . .

Have they run out of paint?


Most days the fact that I am almost blind is at the most annoying.  But there are days when I would like to take the people who design things and give them my limited vision for a day--hey, how about a week?  Anyone can live without a sense for a day.

I can no longer drive, so when making appointments or in the mood for, say a pizza, and they don't deliver out where we live, that mood had better be around someone else's ability to take me or go get it for me.  And appointment people, while they are polite, the almost hidden sigh or annoyance on the other end of the line when I say, no it has to be late afternoon that's the only time I can get a ride, is unmistakable. It says, you dumb fuck, why don't you have a car, or why don't you have a license, or why did you never learn to drive all rolled into one.  

Then there are the stores, starting outside.  Blind does not always mean the staring off into middle space, sunglass wearing, my world is dark sort of thing. In my case, I don't have any peripheral vision and no depth perception at all.  Maybe the creators of the Flat Earth Society saw the way I do.  I have other issues, but this lack of perception makes life a bit hard sometimes.  I step over things that are only lines and trip up curbs that are not painted, or fall over them.  I've learned how to navigate with a cane, but on those times when I don't have one, a painted curb is great!  I'd rather step over a line than  trip.

So why would you as a painter, stop that line at the front door?  Not just at the ramp that goes up to the door, but stop it with a foot of curb at each side of the ramp? Yes, you guessed it, I tripped over that curb, managed to keep my balance, well, sort of, after doing a windmill dance, and my foot landed on that curb. So, today, my foot is killing me.  I think I may have broken a bone in it.

I'm not asking for a visor, you know, Star Trek style, but is a painted curb too much to ask for?

Friday, 26 July 2013

The Secret Wars in My Marriage

Welcome Guest Blogger, Carly Fall!


Today is my anniversary. My husband and I have been married fifteen years, and we dated for four years before tying the knot. That is a long time to spend with someone! Depending on the day, I will tell you that it has gone by very quickly and I have been very happy, or I have been dragged through the pits of hell. Like I said, it depends on the day.

After about ten years of marriage, we pretty much stopped fighting. Don't get me wrong—there are still times when we have brief arguments, but we haven't had a serious fight in a very, very, long time. It seems that most of our disagreements are carried out in silent, covert operations. 

The Battle of the "Holders" 
My husband has a "thing" about "holders," as he calls them. By this I mean toilet paper holders and paper towel holders. By a thing, I mean he hates them. So, that means he would rather have the toilet paper sitting on top of the toilet, and the paper towels on top of counter, unanchored. I, on the other hand, like these holders, mainly because I have as much coordination as a one-winged bee. I can't begin to tell you how many times rolls of toilet paper have ended up in the toilet, or how many times I have knocked over the paper towels and watched it unroll across the living room. That is where our battles are fought. When I go into the bathroom, I put the toilet paper on a holder. When I return, it is off. If the paper towel holder is empty, my husband will set a roll right next to it, but refuses to put it in the holder. I have knocked over the unanchored roll of paper towels, watched it roll across the room, and left the house, knowing that my husband would find it and have to clean it up. 

Screenshot 7:23:13 10:45 AMThe Dishwasher I'm not totally innocent when it comes to idiosyncrasies. One of my biggest pet peeves is the way the dishwasher is loaded. You would think I would be happy just to have someone to do the dishes for me, but I get very uncomfortable when I watch someone load the dishwasher differently than me. Because of this, I load the dishes, and unloading falls to my husband.

You would think this would be an easy arrangement. Wrong. My husband often waits days before unloading. I used to either nag him about it, or do it myself. That stopped about five years ago, and the clandestine war began. I will let the dishes pile up without a word to him about unloading the dishwasher. At times it gets to the point where we no long have silverware or glasses, and yet, I say nothing. I have served dinner without a clean fork in sight. It is only when it affects him that he realizes he hasn't done his job. We never say anything about this secret battle of wills, and sometimes I wonder if he enjoys it as much as I do. As stupid as it sounds, I get a lot of satisfaction when I put the toilet paper back in its holder, knowing that it is going to drive him nuts. Do you and your significant husband have secret battles? If so let us know about them in the comments! 

About the Author:  Carly Fall is a wife, a mother, and slave to the dog Nicky. She loves to laugh, thinks chocolate and wine should be considered their own food group, and Christmas should happen twice a year. A wild imagination and the voices in her head force her to spend hours in front of the computer writing hot romance with happy endings.

Website: www.carlyfall.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carly-Fall/135934843166283?ref=hl Twitter: @CarlyFall1

Book - Chica Bella Blurb 
Landon “Blackhawk” Walker is ready to get out of the Navy SEALs. He has seen and done enough, and can’t wait to get to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico where three tasks await him: get back into civilian mode, take a boat out to the El Arco Rocks, and win back the heart of the woman he lost because of his career. Maya Gonzalez has tired of the heartbreak that comes with Landon’s deployments year after year. When he walks back into her life again, she cannot deny her heart, despite her reservations. As they lose themselves in each other and the beauty of Cabo their passion is rekindled once again. Maya knows that one phone call means deployment for Landon, putting an end to their reunion, and possibly their relationship.

EXCERPT:
“Where were you?” she finally asked, her voice quiet.
“Afghanistan.” He didn’t look at her, but he felt her body tense next to his.
“Were you hurt?” He shrugged, but then thought better of trying to blow off her questions. Maya had always said she wanted nothing but honesty from him, and he had been the one to offer this Q&A.
“I took some shrapnel in my chest, but it was all superficial.” He gazed down at her as she studied his chest as if she could see the wounds he was talking about.
“Did you kill?” she whispered, her stare never leaving his chest.
Dammit. This was the part he hated because she abhorred violence, but killing was his job. If he didn’t take out the bad guys, they would kill American soldiers, and he would be damned if that happened on his watch.
“Yes.”
She closed her eyes for a moment. “Did you think of me?”
“Oh, God, Maya.” He put his finger under her chin and turned her face to his. Her brown eyes sparkled with tears that made his heart feel as though it might quit beating. “Maya, it’s always you. It’s thinking of you that made me want to stay alive. It’s the thought of your smile, your face, your body pressed up against mine that kept me warm at night, the sound of your laughter that made me smile when I felt like I couldn’t smile again. Maya….” He didn’t know what else to say, so he did what he had wanted to do since the day he left her almost a year ago. He brought his lips to hers. 

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