Monday, December 28, 2009

ICE STORM/NO POWER for 3 DAYS

It began as freezing rain on Wednesday morning, while I was driving the transit bus for NIU. It's not like I've never driven in this stuff before. It was still coming down when my husband and I got home, later that afternoon.

We'd stocked up on food, of course, since it was Christmas Eve coming up, and we'd bought two Cornish hens, thinking to bake them in the oven.

That night we had power surges. The lights would blink off & on, continuously so that we couldn't even watch TV. Oddly enough the surges stopped, at some point when we went to bed. And then, around 1 AM, the power went off completely and never came back on.

Now, if we'd had a fireplace, this wouldn't even have bothered us. Also, if our oven didn't depend upon electricity, we could have heated the kitchen, at least, and used it for baking our meals.

We remained under the impression that the lights would come back on, eventually. Our calls to the power company would sometimes give us up-dates on when our power would come back on. All of them bogus. We live on a country road. We had no idea the extent of the power outages, but it was said that 3,000 customers had no power. All of one town south of us was out. I could hear the train along Route 30 constantly blowing its whistle, obviously, because the gates and warning lights would not be working.

We stayed Thursday night (Christmas Eve), having prepared with pails of water in order to flush the toilet only when absolutely necessary, we had water, we had placed perishable items from the refrigerator into an ice chest and placed it out on the porch. Not that it was that much colder than the inside, but we did this to keep it as cold as possible, thinking we'd save the food, at least.

We used candles and one lantern for light. My husband, Dennis, was constantly doing something, as he just can't sit still. I remained under a thick quilt to stay warm. I had no interest in doing anything, let alone even think about writing. My plans were to work on a synopsis/proposal I was preparing for a publisher during my 11 days off from work. It was becoming dismally obvious this was not going to happen any time soon.

I wound up cutting up those little Cornish hens, and frying them, since we weren't able to use the oven, but just the stove top, since we could light that. We tried to make the best out of our situation, just as, I know everyone else had. We ate by candlelight, drank wine and just tried to believe that the power would be restored by morning.

It wasn't.

It was a cold night sleeping in our sleeping bags. Even though the temps rose to about 40, over night, it wasn't going to get any better. And our food was not going to last.

It was Christmas morning--there would be nothing open. We had nothing to eat, except cold cereal. Dennis came up with a plan. There is a truck stop about 30 minutes away from us, and he knew it would be open. We drove out to Rochelle, had breakfast, at least, and resigned ourselves to going back home and packing some bags and staying in town.

It began to snow.

We checked into two different motels on two nights (we didn't like the first one, the owners were really ripping us off at $99/ night, and their breakfast wasn't anything to get excited about.)

We went back home to check up on things. Grabbing a couple more things, we headed back out, and went to a motel across the way. it was only about 9 AM, or so, and the young man at the counter was understanding. He didn't have any regular rooms available, but gave us one that had 2 rooms--they called it a "parlor" for the same price as a normal room (the same price, or a little less, that the one last night). This was a wonderful surprise. We had a TV in the bedroom as well as in the front room. There was a microwave and a refrigerator (both of which were not in our room last night). It was quiet enough for me to work, a little. If only I'd had a lap top!

Anyway, I didn't get a whole lot of work done. I tried to get the juices going on the second book of my series. But it just wasn't coming.

Earlier, I'd called a neighbor of ours. His family were staying put, using their resources, and they had a fireplace, and a generator. We had one hooked up to the furnace, but we couldn't do this. Anyway, they called us and told us that power was restored at 2PM, but since we were checked in, and we were enjoying the lap of luxury (this room normally went for $129./night), we stayed, had a king bed, and ordered pizza.

This morning, Monday, the 28th of Dec., I woke up with ideas just pouring out of me for the book. I don't know why, except that perhaps it took me to relax and not worry, or things had to go back to normal for the ideas to flow.

I'm glad to be home. We're both happy to be back. Except that all that snow that fell over the last 2 days (4-5"), has drifted, and my husband is now plowing us out.

Hopefully our New Years will not pull another punch, and give us an outage. I hope so. I'd like to have a little pre-celebration of the New Year.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Continuing Saga of Author In the Works

It's been a while since I've been here.
June 15th to be exact.
I enjoy blogging, whether or not anyone reads this blog is another story all together. It doesn't matter. I place my thoughts, writings down, if anyone stops by, they are quite welcomed to read through this mess, which is more or less my brain springboard.

Since my summer book signing, I've had one just this fall at a local library. This was a very nice event. Six authors came to this. While one was pretty much a stuffed shirt, the rest were quite nice. My new author buddy, Ron Martelet sat at my table. I met one author that I feel should be mentioned, and that is Ilona Meagher who wrote "PTSD Combat: Winning the War Within". She lives about 40 min. away and goes to school @ NIU--will be graduating, in fact, next week. She's also on facebook, and I was very happy to have her join me there.

Since my last writing a few things have happened. One was that my phone modem went out. I didn't get a new one until September, I think. Anyway, not being on line at first sort of bummed me out, but I'd realized soon enough that I was wasting time at sites when I should have been writing. Blogs are only good if people come and read your junk. I've no idea if anyone comes to this blog, or any of my other ones.

I finished the second book in series "Spell of Dark Castle", continued work on my new vampire series "Vampire Ascending" and "Vampire's Trill".

I've made new friends, even added people I actually know from my bus route to facebook--which is cool.

At my summer book signing, I'd met a publisher--altho I didn't know she was one at the time. My friend Ron M. had his book picked up by her. I'm thinking of approaching her with my vampire novel--when it's done, of course. She isn't a large publisher. She isn't even a small publisher--she's tiny. As far as I know, Ron's "Propellerhead" are the only books in her house. I'm hoping to get a foot in the door. There is no way I will try to get an agent. Agents and publishers are too jaded, want to make loads of money off of an author. If they don't think they can, they aren't going to even look at you. I'm not going to put myself through more depression, aggravation, sleepless nights, and so forth when I might be able to get my books published through a smaller publisher, and maybe begin making a half-way decent living by the time I'm 65--which is only 10 years away. I don't want to be driving a damned bus at age 60, let alone retire as a transit bus driver with no savings, no health insurance, etc.

I've also approached another publisher through facebook, to see if they might be interested in the second Zofia book. I'm hoping so. I'm not real positive. The writers of certain writing magazines say you shouldn't take rejections so hard. I'm sorry, but like a dog that's been beaten all its life, what do you expect? I cower at just the idea of sending a query letter over the Internet--remember when it was done via regular mail and everything was typed on a typewriter? Those were the days. In fact, it wasn't that long ago when you could approach a publisher, and maybe in a week or two get word from them, be invited to New York, bring your manuscript to them. Those were the days. Now, I know for sure that there are gatekeepers to keep you out of these realms. I know this for sure because of the people I've met this summer.

The other thing I wanted to mention, a milestone, is that I've sold just over 100 books this year. That's not a lot, I know. But considering that my book is only on one bookstore (not in a city at all), and I've sold many from hand to hand, and a few off of Amazon, and at the publisher's site, I do consider it very good, since it had looked like I would never, ever see any book of mine on any bookstore shelf in my life. Self-publishing has its advantages.

Possibly, if I had money to promote the book, and time (I work full time, plus when I get home, I write!), I'd have sold more. Of course I don't know until end of year if I've sold any more or not, until there may come a new statement to me from the publisher.

I'm ready to turn this page. Try and do something different, and get a regular publisher to take a book, or two and do all the footwork for me.

I'm ready, willing and able.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Author's Nite Out @ Borders

Walking into the Borders store, we paused to find my book along with other ones featured for tonight, in the vestibule, with the sign above mentioning each of the authors there tonight. My name among them. My husband, Dennis, had to take a picture, of course.

Striding in, the notes from a young woman who was killing her notes—and sounded like a cat being murdered—but played a pretty good guitar, flooded my ears over the speakers in the coffee corner. I headed for the bathroom first. I wanted to get my game face on . . . and do some aerobic exercises.

Nerves humming, I waited for Dennis and together we glided toward the coffee area where two author tables were set up for us—two at each table. People were clustered all around the coffee area, and around the seated authors. Once I would like to get here two hours before, so I have the upper hand!

One of the authors was standing there talking to the other two over the screeching cat woman on the mike. Daniel, the co-creator of this Author's Nite Out, strolled up and I greeted him with a hug as usual, since he is my Border's pal who has been setting me up with these book signings.

I was seated next to Mr. Ronald Martelet, who had written Propeller Head, a collection of short stories—all of them true—about being a local pilot instructor, and was self-published with Lulu. He lives in the nearby town of Hinkley, retired for 21 years as an engineer with Sears Roebucks, and was also a flight instructor for small planes. We learned, as the evening progressed, this man takes to the slopes in Colorado every year, and flies an ultralight that takes a direct path over our house on some Sundays. He jogs, and does some kayaking. If I were to take a guess on his age, he had to be in his 70's. To look at him, you wouldn't think he'd do down hill skiing at his age, or kayaking. But he's fearless, I guess. You'd have to be if you get into something that takes you up 500 feet on a lawn mower engine.

The other two were the only authors there who were published by traditional publishers. They had both gone through the query/rejection point of gaining an agent—and got one, and then got a publisher through them.

Henry Perez, whose debut book, Killing Red (Pinnacle), is a “riveting thriller”. He hails from West Aurora, and also works for the Daily Herald in Chicago.

Tessa LaRock, was the only author among us who was out of state—Pennsylvania. Her book, Semus Bracelet is an action/adventure, and a little bit of romance, about a young Egyptian boy who discovers a bracelet of the gods of Egypt. She had just been to Florida, before that she'd been to South America, and has a second book coming out soon. Both authors, Perez and LaRock were on tours, Perez was about to leave to middle America, and told us later he was going to be at book signings in Florida, and Arizona—in July.

I liked Perez who had an easy way about him and knew a lot about the publishing industry because, as we learned during the interview, he'd gone to a number of book signings, and picked the brains of the authors before he even began his book.

Commotion around my table before I had even got comfortable in my chair, hemmed me in. Mr. Martelet had taken a seat beside me, and I guess he was a little amazed at how I had one person after another flow up to my table and grab a book. It sort of looked like I had a lemonade stand at first, and some thirsty people crying for my attention.

Jennette—I don't know her last name—who had ridden my bus for years, had made a point of coming tonight, after I gave her another reminder. She is something of a world wide traveler. She'd been to Russia, Turkey and India, and had brought me presents from the last two places. The elephant from India—a good luck charm—sits on my computer. A shawl from Turkey is tucked away in my cedar chest.

While I was chatting with her, Jenny—again, I'm not up to date on her name, since she'd gotten married—came in, her cherubic cheeks flaming wonderfully, as she claimed “I got your book a few days ago, you know to check it out? I love it!” And she brought it to my table where I signed it, but peeked to see what page she was on—page 38/39. She then thrust one in front of me and said she was buying another one for a friend. Cool!

Almost as soon as I was finished with her, two more women came up and I recognized Roseanne Theisen (who once worked in a gift shop, next to the craft store where I worked—we worked under the same bosses). Anyway, we hugged, she saying how proud she was of what I'd accomplished, and there were a few more sentiments thrown in, I can't even recall. She introduced her sister, and I gave her a hug too. They wanted to get a book for a niece who was graduating, and liked anything with witchcraft, vampires and demons in it. I had it all right there, and thank goodness she is 17! My book cover gives the impression it's a children's book, but it's not. It has a lot of adult situations throughout.

After all the hugging of friends, I settled down and wrote something in each of their books, and then they each had to get going. People don't usually hang around long, after they buy your book.

It was probably a bad night to pull people into a bookstore, since I'd noticed people were having graduation parties here and there as we drove into town, and there was a folk music festival down the road at the park. I was sure glad I'd given my friends dates of this book signing, and reminders, or I'd have had no traffic at all.

My “photographer” even showed up. John Z. who had come to my first book signing, snapping away, I thought the paparazzi had found Brittany Spears and Madonna under my table that night. But it was just a guy who works with me, taking picture after picture—and later gave them to me on a disk.

Daniel later asked if he was someone from the paper. “Nah, he's just my personal paparazzi,” I told him. He chuckled.

After that, people did come by the author's table and checked things out. My book cover tends to grab people's attention, even from afar—the unicorn sort of pulls them in. One young gal—she looked like she might have been 16 or 17, came up, and picked up the book, but I wagered the price threw her. ( $18.95 retail is a bit of a sticker shock on my book's selling mark, but I have no control over the marked price at the bookstore at all.)

When the last note died from another 2-person band—who were very good—Daniel brought all of us up to the corner where two mikes were set up, and chairs. We each had a turn to tell our story of how we got started in writing. Daniel put questions to us, and we each had our say about the industry, about bookstores, about book signings, and at one point he took off his head set, saying “These are going to be really sensitive questions”, and asked about other bookstores, how they did book signings, and if the other authors had ever been to any where there were more than one. Each responded that they'd been to a few where two, even three had been there. But tonight, we had music, as well as art, and books represented.

All in all the signing went well, for my second one. I have another one in ten days, at a coffee house up town. Bands which played tonight will be there, plus some others. I don't expect a lot of sales that night either, but I'll have control over what I sell my book at, since it'll be out of hand. I'm hoping to move a few that night.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

AUTHOR'S NITE OUT @ BORDERS

This Saturday night I will be at my second book signing in DeKalb Borders.

Am I nervous? Yeah. I've learned I'm to do a reading. I've never read anything in front of a group of people. Except when I exchanged my vows with my husband 20 years ago. That was nerve wracking enough.

But I know there won't be a huge crowd, and some will be my friends, some will become my new friends.

I've been very busy, as my last post tells you, working on sequel to my first book. I'm also on my own social network called Lorelei's Garret, another blog (at Word Press), and I've also got several other places I go to for networking, including Author Nation. If I didn't have 5 days off this summer, I would never have time for any of them, plus do everything one needs to do in a day. I think I've overwhelmed.

Looks like I need to go and grab me some friends on this site, since it ain't happening all by itself.
So, if you arrive, and see this post, come in, put your feet up, make comments and what all. If I get friends to show up, I'll see if I can't consolidate a bunch of my entries here. Because I also have a latent blog here somewhere as well, and have not gone there in a long while.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Work on Sequel is Coming along

It's the last day of May. I've got my latest book, Spell of Dark Castle nearly ready before I format it and send it off to the publishers. Just needs some editing and tweaking. I'm working on this, instead for some reason, today.

My current book, Spell of the Black Unicorn, is on Amazon.com, and I'm on Author's Den, Filedby, and I'm also on Facebook, and a lot of my writing can be see at Author Nation.

I have an up-coming second book signing in June, at DeKalb Borders, and one ten days after that at a coffee house uptown. I look forward to both, but I don't know how well I'll do.

My hope is that eventually more and more people will swing by Author's Den--as they have been since I've gone there--and check out/buy my book, Spell of the Black Unicorn, an adult fantasy with plenty of interesting characters and a few twists and turns in the plot.

The other day I spoke to Chrissy, my young friend, who recently purchased the book, she told me excitedly that she was on chapter 24. "I like Stephen."

"The part-god (hunk), blond?"

"Yeah," she said. "I didn't know a kiss could do that." She was nearly blushing as she said this.

The kiss Stephen bestows upon Zofia, my main character, gives her an orgasm. Well, I had to go all out, after all. As far as I know, I'm the first one who's thought of having a part god kiss a sorceress and give her an orgasm.

Chrissy hadn't gotten to the bedroom scene with the vampire as yet. Hmmm, I think that will most definitely make her blush.

I'm currently trying to come up with a darker looking cover (I'm an artist too), and need to make it look less like a children's book. I had too many people think this because of the unicorn and cats on the cover. I'm sure if a major publisher took on the book this cover would be very drastically changed.

I hope to have this next book out a little sooner than the first one. November was when that one came out. I hope to get this out before October so that I can have a book signing before or around Halloween. A good time to get people excited about fantasy.

I'll try and continue this blog. I have another blog at worldpress as well, but mostly I'm found on Author Nation under my first name.

Customer Reviews... Good, Bad, and Best!

I always cringe when I see a new review has come up on my books. I'm never sure what they will say. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised,...