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At times I love this blog…and at other times I hate it.  I love it because it gives me a place to promote my books, a place to talk about what’s happening in my real life, a place to talk about what’s going on with my writing, and a place to rant and rave if I want to.  But there are times when I hate it because I really don’t feel like writing about anything at all and during those times I always feel guilty because I’m not posting anything new.

Which is why when I stumbled across this post by Carolina on The Lady Bloggers Society  blog, I felt like standing up and cheering for the author!  What she said!  She expressed my feelings so exactly that I felt almost as if she were in my head and knew every thought I’d ever had about blogging.

Are you, like me, a guilty blogger?  If you are, read Carolina’s post and take heart, you’re not alone.  And I have to say, if you are like me and struggling to keep your blog going, check out the rest of The Lady Bloggers Society’s blog.  I bookmarked it because it looks like there are lots of tips and ideas for even the most reluctant blogger and I’m sure I’ll go back to it time and time again.  Heck, I may even join the society–that is, if I ever get over this funk I’m in!

In other happier news, my sister and I just topped seventy thousand words on the book we’re writing about our great aunt’s life growing up in Hot Springs, NC.  We’re to the point where Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletch are “courting” which means there’s not much more to tell in this book.  Yippee!  Maybe we’ll meet our self-imposed deadline after all!

And in the strange news category, on Saturday, I was talking to John Waterman who is a co-member of one of the writing groups I belong to, the Western North Carolina Writers’ Guild.  It turns out John’s a member of the Rumbough family who lived in Hot Springs while Aunt Bessie and her family were there.  The Rumboughs were an important family in Hot Springs and at one time, or actually two times, owned the town’s famous resort.  From all my research, I’m pretty sure one of John’s uncles–or cousins, I’m horrible at keeping up with how people are related in families–a Mr. John Rumbough owned the Annex salooon and was a good friend of my great grandfather, John Daniels, the constable of the town at that time.

Six degrees of separation, you say?  Yep, I agree and ever since my sister and I started writing and researching this book, I’m constantly amazed at what a small world it really is!

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My 52 weeks of Writing Adventure task for this week was to clean up my blog–specifically my sidebar.  I hated that my book covers were all different sizes so I made myself play with the widgets and finally (!) figured it out.  Sidenote: can anybody tell me why I can’t get more than one “Image” widget to load in my sidebar?  Is it the theme I’m using?  Or is it that WordPress won’t allow more than one?  I almost drove myself crazy with that one and finally decided just to make the pictures of the covers all one size on my computer then load them in one “Text” widget.  It worked and they’re all the same size now–yippee and congratulations to me!

But the real congratulations go out to Linda Houle and Lisa Rene Smith of L&L Dreamspell.  Lisa and Linda are celebrating their third anniversary as a publisher and the release of their 100th book.  Yay for them!

Having experienced the demise of two publishers, one a little over a year old and the other less than a year, three years sounds like an eternity to me.  I love hearing news like that–not only for myself but for all the talented L&L Dreamspell authors, both fiction and non-fiction, that Linda and Lisa have taken under their wing.

Back when I was only published in e-books and there seemed to be publishers failing at least weekly, I remember reading on some of the blogs about the publishing red-flags that all authors should look out for when submitting their work.  One of the them was a publisher that claims they and their authors are all “one big happy family.”  I learned that one the hard way but I have to say L&L Dreamspell is the exception to that rule.  They’re a joy to work with, professional yet caring at the same time, and they do everything they can to make their authors feel as if each of us are a part of their “happy family.”

So, congratulations Linda and Lisa–here’s to many more years and many more books!

Got a question for the more experienced–or perhaps I should say, the more computer-savvy–bloggers out there.   What the heck is the deal with these people who come to your blog and leave comments like the following:

CC8gNK whlmalxnhjfk, [url=http://ngobpdstuqky.com/]ngobpdstuqky[/url], [link=http://kxhymhnynisi.com/]kxhymhnynisi[/link], http://kwgyvvf dasvy.com/?

I get these all the time, both on this blog and on the Dames of Dialogue blogand I have to wonder about the people who leave them.  Do they really expect any blogger to approve their useless and unreadable comments or click on the link they usually include somewhere in that gobblety-gook of letters?  I never do, instead I delete each and every one of them–and yes, I broke the links on this one before I posted it.  Still, I suppose if a reader is desperate enough, they can figure out what I did and reconstruct the URL, but seriously, is there anyone out there who wants to do that?  I doubt it, but just in case, click at your own risk!

Some of them are sneaky though, and actually take the time to type a legible sentence or two that pertains to the entry they’re pretending to be commenting on…but Akismet always catches them and sends them straight to my Spam folder.

Akismet is like a lifeguard who never goes off duty, constantly patrolling the beaches of WordPress, tossing out numerous nets to snare all those unwanted visitors to our blogs, thereby saving us from drowning in the mire of stupid and senseless advertisements for things only an idiot would buy and probably don’t work anyway.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, thank heaven for Akismet!

A few things on my mind this morning:

1.  Red Sox! Sweep! Yankees!  ‘Nuff said!

2.  Jacoby Ellsbury is my new dream man.  Okay, well, not so new since I did a post about a year ago about him and how I thought he would make the perfect model for my hero in Snow Shadows, but did you see him steal home last night against the Yankees?  Wow!  How fast is that guy anyway?  Faster than a speeding bullet–well, maybe not, but he’s fast!

3.  Authors on MySpace that friend you and then you only hear from them when they’ve got a new book.  I know that’s just promotion but for some reason, it really bugs me!

4.  Spring and planting my garden which still isn’t done because we’ve been going through something of a mini-monsoon season here.  Thankfully, it seems to be over at last!

 

5.  Mockingbirds.  I have a mockingbird that comes to my suet feeder two or three times every day.  After s/he eats his/her fill, s/he perches on a branch in my hackberry tree and sings his/her little heart out.  Amazing the number of bird songs the s/he knows!

6.  Dogs are wonderful creatures!  No matter what kind of mood I’m in, mine never fail to get at least a smile out of me, and most of the time, a full-out belly laugh.  Gotta love them and be thankful for them!

7.  Oh yeah, did you hear?  The Red Sox swept the Yankees!  Yippee!

8.  Spring cleaning.  Yep, it’s that time of year and no matter how much I don’t want to, I have to do it because that’s how I was raised.  Bleh!

9.  31 Days to Build a Better Blog–I’ve fallen way behind on this one and don’t know if I’ll ever catch up.  We’re on day twenty-something and I just now got my elevator pitch for the first day’s assignment.  Double bleh! 

10. On a happier note, the Red Sox swept the Yankees this weekend.  Hip, hip, hooray!

11. Cherokee legends about wolves because I just started on the third book in my Eternal Shadows series.  Only about a thousand words in since I’m also working on finishing Winds of Fate, the book based on the legend of Blowing Rock.  I’m expanding it to a full-length book instead of a novella.  Wish me luck!

12. The Blue Ridge Book and Author Showcase next week in Flat Rock.  Not exhibiting in this one because by the time I heard about it all the tables were taken, but I’m looking forward to spending time with my sister and mom who are coming over for it, attending some of the sessions and meeting some of the local authors.

13. No number thirteen because that’s unlucky–yep, baseball season is in full-swing and my superstitious nature is too!

14. Writing groups.  I’m a member of High Country Writers in Boone and was a member of RWA.  I let my RWA membership go this year because there’s not a local chapter here in the mountains of NC and I wasn’t getting much from the national membership.  I’m thinking the money might be better spent if I join the North Carolina Writer’s Network.  They have a local chapter which I will automatically be a member of if I join so…

15. A tip for all you authors out there, check OpenZine.  I haven’t joined yet, but an author/publisher has and she’s gotten quite a bit of attention so I think it has real possibilities for authors to market.

Okay, that’s it, except, did I mention the Red Sox swept the Yankees this weekend?  I did?  Well, it bears repeating!

First, the clarification; in my post “Another reason I absolutely WILL NOT vote for Sarah Palin”, I did not say Governor Palin was Hitler, I said that’s what I thought of when I read the articles about her threatening to fire a librarian if the librarian didn’t take certain books off the shelf of the library.  And I’d be willing to bet a lot of people had the same thought when they read that.

Second, to quote Mayella Ewell from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:

“I got somethin’ to say an’ then I ain’t gonna say no more.”

I’ve gotten some pretty nasty comments regarding that post and I’ve chosen not to approve those comments.  I might have let them pass, as I did with the first few, but when they start accusing me of calling people names and/or ridiculing people who disagree with me, well, sorry but I’m not going to let those comments see the light of day. 

The thing is…if you read the post and the comments, you’ll see I wasn’t the one doing the name calling, or ridiculing someone else’s opinions, or objecting to the fact that they disagreed with me.  I simply said it was my blog and my opinion and I had the right to vote the way I chose.  It was the McCain/Palin supporters who called me “infantile” and implied I was prejudiced in their comments.

I don’t like that kind of behavior and I’m not going to condone it on my blog.  If you disagree with me, so be it.  That’s your right, but rest assured, I have the power of veto on this blog and I won’t let your comments get through.  Yes, I know, ironic, isn’t it?  Let’s just call it my own personal version of censorship.  If you want to debate the choice of presidential candidates, there are many, many places you can go, both on- and off-line, to do that and at a lot of those places you can get as down and dirty as you want about the blogger and/or the other people commenting, but not here. 

I’ve made my decision about who I’m going to vote for, and all of you with your objections and comments, aren’t doing anything but confirming that I made the right choice.  If I ever do change my mind about Governor Palin, which I’ll admit is very doubtful, I’ll do it based on my own research and my own beliefs, not because someone disagrees with my choice. 

Like I said in my own comment back to those first comments I received, it’s my vote and my choice.  Added to that, it’s nobody’s business but my own.  And please, don’t come back and tell me–again–that when I hit the “publish” button, I open the subject up for debate.  I’m not looking for a debate and besides, I can’t believe the opinion of one aspiring author makes much of a difference to you.  There are plenty of undecided voters out there, maybe your time would be better spent trying to sway one of them to your side.  Also, I’m not “spreading rumors and lies” about Governor Palin, as some of you accused me of doing.  The attempt at book banning and the shooting of wolves from the air which Governor Palin seems to support have been blasted all over the Internet and in the newspapers for days now.  I didn’t make them up and from everything I’ve read, I choose to believe they’re true.  

And that’s it.  I will not post anything else on this blog about the upcoming Presidential election.  Believe me, I have enough going on right now.  I have an ebook coming out tomorrow, a print book that’s already out and needs my attention, two dogs who need my care and regard, a new home to organize, a husband and a family.  In short, I have a life to lead.  I’m not wasting any more of my time dealing with the anger and hurt that comes from people falsely accusing me of prejudice or implying I’m an idiot because of my personal choices.  So if you want to comment, feel free, but I guarantee you, the chances of anyone besides me ever reading those comments are somewhere down around ground zero.

…gathered over the past week from around the blog-o-spere:

1.  From Karen Knows Best, a post by Azteclady (this was last weekend)  about piracy in the world of ebooks.  The post itself was interesting, but the comments that came after were even more so.  Seriously, are there people out there who actually think downloading e-books from sites that offer them for free isn’t stealing?  Apparently there are.  Come on, people get a clue here, you’re taking someone else’s hard work and not paying them for it.  Hmm…sort of on a par with plagiarism. 

2.  There were multiple posts this past week dealing with New Concepts Publishing and their latest vendetta against the authors who’ve been trying to get their rights back.  Well, they gave some of them back but in shall we say, a less than professional manner, posting the author’s pseudonyms and giving their real names.  Why do they think authors use a pseudonym?  Trust me, there’s usually a good reason and it’s not because they hate their real names!

3.  From the EREC blog on June 23rd, a new market for romance writers–and readers!–coming from Grass Roots Magazine, Love Stories Magazine.  Click on it and check it out!  Their submission guidelines will give you the scoop.  Pays $300 dollars for a short story and $50-75 for poems.  I don’t write romantic poetry, but I have a feeling Ms. Veinglory speaks the truth when she says, “a paying romance poetry market, that’s like finding a unicorn!”

4.  Also from June 23rd, one of my favorite Red Sox blogs had a post that had me laughing so hard I almost hurt myself!  The blog?  Basegirl.  The post?  Walkoffs and Bulldogs. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.   The hilarity?  Kristen (Basegirl) and her friend Amy discuss Jason Varitek’s awesomeness and come to the conclusion he’s the “Banana Republic cut” when it comes to catchers.  I have to agree with them, since I’m almost as big a fan of Tek’s as I am of Manny.  Hey, I didn’t name my car Tek for nothing!  Well okay, it had a little to do with the fact that I drive an Aztec, but note the spelling, TEK, which is in Red Sox Nation, the name for our stupendous catcher/team captain.

5.  I think this one comes from the comment section of #1 above, but I can’t be sure and I don’t have time to go back and look it up.  It’s something I came across early in the week, and it struck me as “words to remember” so I copied and pasted it to my file on Book Promotion Ideas.  It comes from best-selling author, Nora Roberts.

“Most of us who write, as most of us who write know, want to write. Want to be alone, don’t want to go out there in the world. Some of us go out there when we’re told we must, and we do just fine. But that is NOT how we want to make our living. Moreover, it’s not in our skillset.”

Can you believe that?  Nora Roberts feels the same way I do about writing and promoting her books.  She wants to be alone, I want to be alone.  She doesn’t want to go out there in the world, I don’t want to go out there in the world.  She just wants to write, I just want to write.  But here’s the real wisdom in her comment: “Some of us go out there when we’re told we must, and we do just fine.”  

Thanks, Ms. Roberts, I’ll try my best to remember that!  In fact, I may just make it my mantra as I move closer to the release date of my book.

I’ll do just fine…I’ll do just fine…I’ll do just fine…oh, God, where’s the bathroom?  I think I’m going to be sick!  Is there a doctor in the house?  I want my mama!

Big news this morning about Christine Brashear, who is currently with Samhain Publishing and was previously a part of Ellora’s Cave.  Ms. Brashear is filing suit against EC and its shareholders.  Not being of a legal mindset, I don’t understand it enough to comment on it but you can read about the whole thing at Smart Bitches and Dear Author.

Both sites explain it much better than I could, and I have to admit, I payed more attention to the comments than I did to the actual blog posts.  There are comments from readers, from authors, and some from people who understand far better than I what’s going on, but the thing that stood out for me is the way some of these commenters behave–trashing SB or DA for blogging about this, saying a lawsuit is private and shouldn’t be brought to the public’s attention, etc.  Same old, same old, was my first take…until I took a minute to think about it.

This kind of behavior holds true for almost all the news stories that these blogs report on, whether it be about the Cassie Edwards thing, or New Concepts treating their authors badly, or an author acting like an idiot.  There’s always someone who pops up and disses the site for the post and in most cases, the disser(s) turn downright mean–even if they didn’t start out that way.

The thing is…I’ve heard some derogatory comments that the reason all this trouble crops up with e-publishers is because the majority of e-publishing companies are owned by women and everybody knows women are driven by their hearts rather than their minds.  They’re too emotional and don’t have the balls to make it in the business world.  <eye roll>

I take exception to that because I know when Twilight Fantasies went down, it was the male half of the partnership  who gave me the most trouble.  His name calling, finger pointing, and all-around childish behavior, were the epitome of unprofessional behavior.  In the end, it was the woman who stood up and addressed the problems, sending professional rights reversion letters to the authors.  And when she did, the man, well, he faded away as if he’d never been there at all.

After all that, I’ve decided that I’d much rather deal with a female in a situation like this.  And while the overwhelming femaleness of e-publishing may not be a good thing at times, I think it’s definitely going to be a plus in the long run.  Women are still in the infant stage when it comes to being business owners and they have a double challenge when it come to e-publishing because it too is still a baby.  But nurturing is one of the things we’re really good at.  We’re not afraid to clean up a mess or tackle a seemingly hopeless cause or to dole out the proper discipline when it’s needed. 

And I think that’s exactly what sites like SB, DA, Karen Knows Best, EREC, and yes, I’ll throw Piers Anthony in there too–even though he is a <gasp> man–are doing, they’re policing the e-publishing industry with a loving heart and a gentle, guiding hand backed up with a sharp slap to the butt when it’s needed.

I hope every author out there who writes for an e-publisher remembers to thank them for it one day. 

My husband’s been out of town this week and despite my love of solitude, I find myself missing him–he laughed when I said as much in our nightly phone call last night.  You see, he understands me and he knows how much I value my “alone time”, especially now that I’m writing.  But even before that, I loved it when he had to travel and I got to stay “home alone”.

What prompted me to tell him I missed him?  Well, something happened yesterday and I wanted to tell him about it, but since he’s in Raleigh on a business trip, I kept it to myself–for now! 

What happened?  It wasn’t anything monumental or life-changing, but it meant a lot to me.

Okay, okay, enough stalling.  Hmmm, well, my day started off in its usual ho-hum fashion–I got up, had a cup of coffee, spent thirty minutes on my elliptical machine, ate breakfast while screwing around on the Internet and catching up with the news, wrote an email to my sister, thought about writing a blog entry then nixed that idea, and finally settled in to get some writing done on a new story idea I had the other day. 

Fifteen hundred words and a few hours later, I needed a break so, I logged back onto the Internet and thinking I might just write that blog entry after all, clicked on WordPress.  With my ongoing fascination for blog stats, I clicked on them first and got a nice surprise at the number of hits I’d had on the entry I wrote on Tuesday–Deadly Virus Hits Publishing Industry!  Couldn’t figure it out, I mean that story isn’t exactly hot news.  As a matter of fact, my entry came several days after the news broke on the first scandal and um, I think it was a day after the second.  So I looked at the “Referrers” section of my stats and there were a lot of hits coming from Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books. 

Anyway, long story short–I know, I know, too late for that, right?–my blog and I had been mentioned in a post on SB/TB!  Squeeee!!!  I love that sight!  Really!  Almost as much as I love Manny Ramirez and the Red Sox.  I’ve written about the SB’s before, even gotten a comment on one of my Cassie Edwards’ posts from one of them, but I never expected to be mentioned on their site!

I tell you, it was a real OMG! minute for me, and that was why I missed my husband–or one of the reasons, anyway.  Though he usually doesn’t understand my fan-girl-moments–especially when it comes to Manny–he always indulges me and lets me get it out of my system.  In fact, you might say his most romantic moments come when I’m acting like a squealy teen-aged girl.  He’ll grab me and dance me around the room.  Of course, that could be self-defense on his part, because I stop squealing and just enjoy the fact that I’m dancing with someone who understands me and loves me for who I am.

It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

Oh, in case you want to read a good blog post–which, coincidentally, has my name in it, squeee!–here’s the link:

http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/the_fallout_continues/

A huge bouquet of roses and thank-yous to SB/TB for mentioning me!

The thing is…(you didn’t think I’d leave that out, did you?) I’m told promotion is all important for a writer.  It’s vital to get your name out there where the readers can see it.  I get that, but on top of being a loner, I also have a shy streak a mile-wide and tend to go a little squicky when it comes to promoting my name.  SB/TB just did it for me and gave me one of the nicest gifts I’ve ever received!

To quote them, “big ups!

Do you ever look at the stats on your blog and wonder what the heck people were thinking when they googled some word or phrase that eventually leads them to you?  I am constantly amazed by the ones I find on my stats and I check them several times a day, if for no other reason than they sometimes make me laugh–and you know what they say about laughter.

While some of the phrases make sense, some of them are just um…flat-out weird.  And no, I’m not going to include them in this post–wouldn’t want to inadvertently embarrass the originator of those thought-provoking phrases–but, really, what were they thinking?

The thing is…with all the search engines–I think that’s what they’re called, but I could very well be wrong in my computer idiocy–on the Internet, I imagine there are a lot of phrases out there that will never cross my blog stats.  For instance, I have a friend who writes erotic romance.  She has at least three blogs, maybe more, and all of them deal with sex in one way or another.  And I just wonder what kind of phrases she gets?

I think the next time I need an infusion of good humor, I’m going to ask her.  I know I get a good laugh out of some of mine, and can’t help but think hers would have me rolling on the floor laughing my ass off–literally!

Wow!  Would you look at that!  I think this is the first time I’ve ever written a blog entry that came in under 300 words–which is what I hear bloggers are supposed to shoot for, but I always go over.

Good for me…and I’m shutting up now before I cross that line! 

Maria Schneider, one of the WD bloggers, recently wrote an interesting post on her blog, The Writer’s Perspective, which listed twenty, count ’em, twenty, tips for being a good blogger.  Here’s the link if you’re interested:

http://www.writersdigest.com/writersperspective/20+Tips+For+Good+Blogging.aspx

<note to self, learn how to do that link thingie!> 

Going by what she wrote, I’m sorry to say, I’m not a very good blogger.  I don’t think I do even half of the things she lists, and being a computer moron, I don’t understand some of them!  But she didn’t put the post out there to make me feel bad about my sloppy blogging habits.  She put it out there to help me become a better blogger.  That works for me.  I think I’ll print off what she wrote, hang it on my bulletin board, and see if I can’t follow some of her suggestions.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll end up a better blogger–but I’m not holding my breath.  There are too many times I don’t have anything at all I want to blog about, and too many times I just don’t have the time, and too many times I…well, you get the idea.

The thing is…there are also times when I’d love nothing more than to have one of those cool blogs, you know, where people hang out and post comment after comment.  And then I think about some of the blogs I read on a regular basis, and some of the comments they get and well, no thanks.  Invariably there’s at least one person on there who makes me want to throw my computer against the wall and go looking for the idiot who had the nerve to post such a stupid, inane comment and beat some sense in them.  S0…nope, not for me, definitely don’t need that kind of aggravation and rage in my life.

And, as I look down at the word count now, I see I’ve failed at yet another of Ms. Schneider’s tips, keeping my entry down to around three hundred words.

<sigh>

Oh well, looks like I’m doomed before I start.

One last thing before I go, I dare you to take a look at her blog entry, and see if you’re a good blogger.  It’s really kind of fun, especially if you don’t take it too seriously, but if you’re a serious blogger, you probably already do most of what she says and…yikes!  I’m almost at four hundred words.

I think I’ll shut up now!

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams

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