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Monday, October 20, 2014

She's Alive!

Still sick, but not so bad now. I'm still slightly deaf and coughing but at least I'm not hacking out a lung. 

Even while I was sick, things kept happening around me. In one week I had three more design jobs but I've asked them to give me a few more days to recover. 

The good news is I can at least do some of the preliminary work (research) from the couch, all thanks to Greg. 

Last week, when I started to feel marginally better, I decided to hook up my laptop and read a few blogs from bed. Only my laptop was dead. Deader than dead. At first I thought it was the battery, but no, even the power cord wouldn't boot it up.

Frustrated, I got online to see what the tech wizards recommended (besides buying a new laptop). I tried all their suggestions but nothing worked. 

Greg comes home Thursday night and he takes a look at my laptop, checking all sorts of things with a voltage ohm meter. It's the power cord he says. Defeated, I start searching online for a replacement, wondering if whatever fried the cord also fried the laptop. 

Greg tells me to hold off as he scrounges through a box of orphaned electronic hardware and pulls out four other power adapters. He finds the one with the right pin and voltage, and voila, a working laptop.

The man is a genius. Do I know how to pick 'em or what? 

The other thing that happened and forgot to mention last week is that Darke Contour interviewed me on her blog. Oh, sure, roll your eyes at me! But have I ever been boring?

(Don't hurt my feelings. I'm still sick. :cough cough:)

Anyway, she interviewed me specifically about my cover art experience. So if you'd like to see publishing from another angle, go over and pay a visit.

It might be the middle of October but the weather is warm and pleasant here. The garden is going strong and the goats are singing their rendition of "Love is in the Air". There's a lot of grunting and vocalizing from the boys. I don't think they can impregnate any of the girls through a fence, but I've heard stories...

Things are starting to look up. I feel like the fog we've been under is lifting.

If you have any questions about cover art, go over to Darke's blog. I should start being able to visit more of your blogs this week.

So what's new with you? Who's celebrating Halloween this month? I love Halloween, but we live so far from any of the action it's always a quiet holiday for us. Do you dress up or decorate for Halloween?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Done In

We had a lovely visit with friends and my niece and her little family. Everything was going well until Tuesday night. I felt a little off but I thought it was just allergies.

I had an already scheduled appointment with my doc for a physical the next day, but when she examined me, she assumed it was allergies too.

We were both wrong. I kept getting worse and worse until it became a raging head cold. That much I could take, but the part that is still tormenting me is the ringing in my right ear. It's awful! And loud. I've tried all sorts of home remedies. Sometimes it lessens the loudness but it never goes away.

Does anyone have any suggestions? At this point I'd try almost anything. I think it's just fluid buildup from my head cold.

I can thank my grand-niece for my cold, though poor kid, I hear she has the same. An adult can be miserable but a little baby doesn't know why she's hurting. It's got to be worse for her.

I should've realized something was amiss because her parents said she'd been fussier than normal. Poor kid. This is no fun.

Needless to say, I spent my anniversary with Kleenex, cold medicine and hot soup. Greg was a good nursemaid. 

He fed and watered all the animals. Unfortunately, he didn't lock the gate securely at the goat pen for the boys and the rascals got out to the girls. If we have early pregnancies, this will be why. I don't mind if the older girls get pregnant but I didn't want Pandora (the youngest) in the family way until next year.

She'll probably be all right. Accidental pregnancies happen all the time, but I prefer to let her get a little bigger first so the delivery isn't so hard on her.

This is the first time Greg has had to feed animals without me being there but he did just fine. Now if I could only convince him to pick up poop. I'm always stuck with that job.

Design Giveaway: Sadly, there were not enough entries to make it a true contest so I've had to cancel it. This really surprises me because of all the contests I've held, this one had so many people sharing the news. Maybe it was the wrong time of year. I can always try again next year.

Thank you to everyone who shared, tweeted, and blogged about the giveaway.

I apologize too if I haven't been to your blogs. I've had the best intentions, but most days I can barely sit up. As soon as I'm up to it, I'll start visiting again.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to break up the fluid buildup in my head? I've tried hot compresses and that seems to help a little. Hot showers too. But it always comes back. 

Signed: Half-deaf Maria

Monday, October 6, 2014

This, That and the Bed

I'll be out of pocket for a few days while I visit with friends and family this week. Today we're headed for the State Fair of Texas

In years past, something has always happened to stop me from going, but this time the weather is great, no one is sick, and we have company so we'll be playing tour guides.

This Friday is also a special day. Greg and I will celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary. We usually go out some place special but I'd be glad to make a gourmet meal if that's what he wants. As long as we're together, it doesn't matter.

Da bed: A few weeks ago I mentioned that my sleep has suffered for years and that it was time to find a new bed. I've waffled on the decision for years because I was afraid to commit (and invest) on such an expensive item.

After another miserable night of sleep I finally gave in and did some reconnaissance shopping, trying out several beds and talking with the sales people. The chain stores were big on the heavy sales pitch. Although most of the beds were 'nice', they weren't all that different from what I'd been using.

I checked out the TempurPedic mattresses but their 'cooling technology' was a little misleading. When I did further research I found that the foam cooled off but only if you weren't lying on it. What good is that while you're trying to sleep on a hot mattress?

Finally, I went to a mom and pop (non-chain) mattress store and they showed me a hybrid bed that used coiled foam. From the get-go it was incredibly more comfortable than the other beds I tried.

It was also very expensive.

Another few nights on my existing bed and I finally caved and took the plunge.

It's been almost two weeks and I can say without exaggeration that it's the best sleep I've had in my life. Even though I have existing painful pressure points on both sides of my hips, I have not felt them at all on this bed. 

I used to get up exceptionally early, getting only four or five hours of sleep because staying in bed any longer became too painful. Now I sleep a full seven hours and have not had a single backache. Not one.

It's still a big investment, but I am sleeping so much better that I hate to get out of bed.

The brand name is called Woude and it's made by the WorldBed Studio out of California. Their web site is awful. It gives you hardly any useful information, but you'll want to go to the showroom anyway and check it out for yourself. 

Update: I don't believe it. It's thundering and lightning outside. Oy! Maybe it'll be short-lived. Wish us luck.

So, what's going on for you this week?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tick Tock, the Giveaway Knocks

Very few entries coming in. I'm chalking it up to the fact that I gave such a long deadline, but if it turns out there isn't enough interest I'll cancel the giveaway. 

I don't want people to be afraid to sign up for the newsletter either. Knowing me, the chances are good you might see one newsletter a year just to announce I'm still alive and kicking.

This brings me to a strange conundrum with the rise of the internet. I have so many online friends. Every so often one of them becomes very ill--or worse, dies. I don't like to bug people but on the other hand, I worry when it becomes too long since I'd seen them around the net.

Is there a proper length of time to wait before you inquire whether that person is alive and well? Have you ever been surprised to hear about a friend's poor health or untimely death?

Spread the word about the giveaway!  
Enter now and beat the rush. :o)

The Great Design Giveaway
• Four Winners
• Prizes: Two digital covers, One web site banner, One bookmark/postcard
• Promotion Ends October 12, 2014

Need a book cover? How about a header for your web site? Or a postcard? Then you're in luck! If you've never tried me, or even if you have, here's your chance to try your luck on getting one of these projects designed for FREE by a professional graphic designer.  

• First, sign up for my newsletter.
• If you want to win one of the prizes, send me a short blurb for your book, or a short description of what you'd like to see on your web site banner or bookmark/postcard.

Subscribe and Enter here.

Put Great Design Giveaway in the subject line.

I will choose the winners based on which description wows me into inspiration fastest. 

The Small Print 
 • All designs are limited to the art stock I have on hand. (Don’t worry. It’s a big library.)
• Cover art is for digital only.
• Web site banner is for design only. You’ll have to provide the size specifications and upload it to your site. This can be a banner for Facebook, blog, or personal web site.
• Bookmark/postcard  is for a two-sided layout.
• Winners are not obligated to accept the layout I design, but they are allowed minor changes.
• All designs will be showcased on my gallery wall.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Great Design Giveaway

The Great Design Giveaway
• Four Winners
• Prizes: Two digital covers, One web site banner, One bookmark/postcard
• Promotion Ends October 12, 2014

Need a book cover? How about a header for your web site? Or a postcard? Then you're in luck! If you've never tried me, or even if you have, here's your chance to try your luck on getting one of these projects designed for FREE by a professional graphic designer.  

• First, sign up for my newsletter.
• If you want to win one of the prizes, send me a short blurb for your book, or a short description of what you'd like to see on your web site banner or bookmark/postcard.

Subscribe and Enter here.

Put Great Design Giveaway in the subject line.

I will choose the winners based on which description wows me into inspiration fastest. 

The Small Print 
 • All designs are limited to the art stock I have on hand. (Don’t worry. It’s a big library.)
• Cover art is for digital only.
• Web site banner is for design only. You’ll have to provide the size specifications and upload it to your site. This can be a banner for Facebook, blog, or personal web site.
• Bookmark/postcard  is for a two-sided layout.
• Winners are not obligated to accept the layout I design, but they are allowed minor changes.
• All designs will be showcased on my gallery wall. 

Newsletter Details 
• The newsletter will be sent out quarterly (unless something BIG happens).
• There won’t be any fluff in it. Just useful information and newsy stuff.
• The first newsletter won't be released until January 2015. 

Want to see more of what I can do? Check out the Gallery. This will give you some idea of my style and scope.

All winners will be announced on October 15, 2014. Winners will receive their design prizes no later than December 30, 2014.

Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. Good luck!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Great Purge of 2014

For the last three weeks, I have methodically severed myself from anything I didn't truly need or love.

Greg is a big-time pack rat, but I'm just as guilty--albeit to a much lesser degree. With everything stacking against us for the last few weeks, I decided it was a good time to release myself from the past. I needed to lighten the load.

If I didn't throw it away, I gave it away. The rest has been stored in Greg's workshop for a monster garage sale set for whenever he comes home for good. (No way am I doing this one alone.)

I am done collecting stuff. All my life I've hung on to these little bits of this or that thinking I'll use them someday, but reality finally sunk its teeth.

Let's face it, I was never going to turn those nice bed sheets into dinner napkins. I don't sew, so who am I kidding? I don't have the slightest talent for needle and thread even if I did have delusions of Martha Stewart.
Nana when she's not a blur.

And all that furniture we had bought over the years to furnish two homes? Most of it is now awaiting the garage sale to end all garage sales. If it doesn't sell, it'll go straight to Goodwill. I'm not keeping anything I don't truly love. 

(I guess that means Nana is staying too.)

I was just as ruthless with my email. I deleted close to 6,000 unread emails. Most of them were from groups that post several times a day, but I finally admitted to myself I was never going to go back and read those things. 

I deleted all my emails from my old newsletter job. After six years it was time to let them go. I have no plans to go back. Enough time has elapsed that the new newsletter editor can handle it from here on out.

In short, I divorced myself from anything that had worn out its welcome.

It was liberating, but also a little scary. I've never been this fierce about letting go.

I'm not sure if combining two households pushed me over the edge, or if deep down I felt it was time to let our stuff be loved by someone else. 

If it weren't for Greg, I probably would've unloaded way more stuff, but he's on a 12-step program for pack-rattery. It's much harder for him to let go. :grin:

There are more deletions, purges, cleanses, and exorcisms in the future. I want a fresh start.

Have you ever done a purge? Was it draining or cathartic?
I promise to take pictures when I set up my garage sale. It will be AWESOME in scope and size.

In other news: My mother is in a convalescent home for physical therapy. She's got another week there and then they'll let her go home.

Maggie is doing great after her run in with Nana. And Nana, that little monster, has been good as gold since we had a 'come to Jesus meeting' between us. 

Maybe this is a sign that things are getting back to normal. I hope so.

Monday, September 15, 2014

State of the Homestead

I can't say that everything is running smoothly yet, but I feel better knowing that Maggie has healed nicely. Even the vet was impressed with her recovery.

Still, I'm not out of the woods. I have one more family member keeping me on edge.

Today, my mom is having surgery to replace one of her knees. She's elderly, so I'm naturally worried for someone her age to be anesthetized. The whole family is on a call tree so we can get the latest updates. I won't know until later today how she fared.

I called her yesterday just to touch base and to let her know she's in my thoughts.

State of the Homestead

Garden: The spring garden was only so-so, but it came back to life a couple of weeks ago when the grasshoppers made their exit. I'm a little concerned for the watermelon patch because I'm not sure there are enough warm weather months to see them all the way through, but I think we can make up a tent for them and keep them warm.

I've planted a fall garden of winter squash, beets, carrots, bok choy, kale, garlic, onion, and Brussels sprouts, along with the existing tomato and pepper plants that are still blooming.

Heidi doing what she does best: Eating
Goats: Everyone is doing great. I probably won't try to breed them for a few more months. I'd like Pandora (the youngest) a little older before she mates. This next season will tell whether we keep these girls or trade them in for pure dairy goats. Only Heidi has been amenable to letting me milk her, but that could be due more to my inexperience than the goats. As a rule, boer goats are not great milkers and I'd really like to make cheese.

Chickens: Oh, those girls! The Marans have been a pain. They have a bad habit of eating their eggs. Despite my efforts, I might have to start over with new chicks and put these girls in the pot. We can't have egg-eaters in the coop. It's a bad habit, one they can teach to new chickens.

The black Astralorps give me no trouble, and they lay like clockwork.
Living indoors

Rabbits: I'm at a loss to find the right male for these girls. They are quickly becoming pets which is kind of a no-no for a farmstead. They've been living in my house for the last two months to spare them the brutal summer heat, but it's cool enough now to allow them back outside.

Reality: We eat meat. The dogs eat meat. So I don't make any apologies for raising my farm animals for food. It's part of daily life here. Although I don't discuss it much, some of you have emailed me asking how we dispatch the animals. Since this isn't a full time homesteading blog, I don't think it's necessary to go into detail, but if you're interested in the process (especially if it's research for a book) feel free to write me and I'll answer as best I can.

Conservation: We live in a drier climate than our home in southeast Texas so we've taken steps to tighten our water consumption. This includes rain water storage and drip irrigation directly at the base of the plants. It's a work in progress but this should save many, many gallons of water. I'm awed by Greg's engineering skills to get this done.

Happiness is a (mostly) full hay shed.
Last year I ran short of hay for the goats and I had to buy it for twice the price from a feed store. I usually buy it direct from the farmer. 

This year I was able to calculate more accurately how much hay I need to make it until the next hay cutting season. It's critical that goats get good hay and I take their nutrition seriously. 

Goats don't need high quality hay (like horses do) but they do need clean hay that's not full of weeds and dust. I was very angry at one farmer who sold me hay that was full of thorny burs. Never again.

Iko never gives me trouble.
Da dogs: Aside from the calamity Nana caused, all is well. Tank is still hanging on. His hips and hocks are fragile and I almost always have to help him up. He's such a big dog, I worry that I might not be able to lift him one day, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. For now we're keeping him comfortable.

If I can get my mom back on her feet and we can finish this year without any more incidents, I'll be happy. After that, my only goal is to sell Greg's house and get him up here as soon as possible.

2014 has been a struggle, but I still have hope that it'll all work out in the end.

How has the year panned out for you? Easy or hard?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Maggie, Post Op

Just a quick post since I'm busier than a one armed paperhanger--which is pretty accurate since I'm still sore from the chomp on my arm.

I brought Maggie home with a bag full of drugs and instructions to flush out the wound several times a day. 

Even though I had cleaned and dressed the wound the day of the incident, I didn't inspect the surrounding area since it wasn't the part bleeding. 

It was only when I gave her a bath several days later that I noticed all the bruising under her wet fur. I also noticed that an existing lipoma seemed much larger. At first I didn't notice the lump because Maggie has a tendency to sit funny due to her arthritis and her shoulder rides up at that point. It was only when I had her wet that I could examine her better.

I called my regular vet and he was double-booked. I called another vet we liked but she was gone for the week. I called yet another vet, but he was booked too. Finally, I found one I didn't know existed even though I'd driven past there several times. They took us in.

Being an emergency drop-in, I think they padded the bill a bit, but after some discussion, they lowered it by almost $200. I'll do anything for my kids but I refuse to be gouged for frivolous add-ons.

Aside from that, I was pleased with the vet and the staff. I was also pleased that they didn't hesitate to answer my questions entirely. Most vets don't like their actions or drug choices challenged, but I've been around the block too many times, and I know my dogs and what they can handle.

Maggie looks pretty bad because of the drip tubes and the oozing, but she's actually in great spirits. 

Right now everywhere she lies down looks like a crime scene when she gets up because she leaves bloody stains everywhere. But floors can be washed and rugs can be cleaned.

She looks a little down in the mouth here but it's all an act. Right after this pitiful display she hopped up and trotted after Tank.

The old girl has been getting extra treats, and I take her and Tank for an 'old folks walk' where they can wander without being knocked down by my two tornadoes, Iko and Nana.

Nana knows I'm still angry at her and she's been doing her best to get back into my good graces. I think I'll let her stew a little longer.

Other stuff: My internet woes continue. Now my email is acting up. I can receive email, but I can't send it--at least not by regular channels. If you've tried to reach me and I haven't answered, try reaching out through Facebook. If I'm on, I usually see the message icon.

PS  Whoever is pounding a voodoo doll of me over a rock, you can stop now. Whatever I did wrong, I'm sorry. Uncle!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Maggie Safe After Surgery

If my track record continues I might not post Monday, but first I want to tell you why.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook saw the post where I had a bad week, ending with me intervening between Nana and Maggie and earning a chomp on the arm for my efforts.

I'm fine, but Maggie got the short end of the stick. She outweighs Nana by almost 50 pounds but she's no match against saber-tooth Nana. 

Anyway, I'd been keeping an eye on Maggie's wound. Even though I cleaned and dressed it, I wasn't happy with the continuing swelling and oozing. I called my vet but he was double-booked so I had to search for another vet.

I finally found one who could see us and she immediately recommended surgery. I got a phone call a few minutes ago. The surgery is over. There were only three puncture wounds, but Nana managed to traumatize an existing lipoma so much that she caused internal damage to the tissue--shredding it.

Poor Maggie is sleeping it off right now, two drain tubes in her wound. I get to pick her up tomorrow.

This week has been a continuation of last week. Nothing has gone right for two solid weeks. And now I'm 500 bucks poorer. I ought to make Nana get a job.

Maggie is such a sweet soul. Nana is a wasp.

I'm sure you guys have seen this on Facebook. Fits Nana to a tee. Her nickname is now Wasp.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pillow Talk

I envy Greg. He can sleep anywhere, anytime. 

Me? The slightest noise wakes me up. The tiniest lump in the bedding will keep me tossing and turning. 

I use a Japanese buckwheat hull pillow because it can cradle my head at the right elevation without applying too much pressure. Too high and I can't move my neck the next morning. Too low and Greg says I snore like a 300 pound truck driver.

I desperately want a new bed but Greg and I can't decide which one. I've had friends rave about those Tempur-pedic foam mattresses, but they allegedly can also get too warm. 

Greg would never tolerate that. As it is, I have to sleep bundled in heavy blankets because he cranks the air down to Eskimo level. We are true opposites when it comes to sleeping arrangements.

Strangely enough, by morning I'm nearly naked, while he buries himself in all the blankets I've thrown off. Sometime during the night he gets colder while I get warmer. Weird!

Even a traditional bed would be hard to fit for both of us. I like my beds firmer, while he prefers a softer mattress.

All this is to explain that I haven't been sleeping well for a while. 

Usually when that happens it's because of troubling premonitions of something awful that's about to happen, but if there've been any nightmares, I don't remember them.

I think it's just the bed. It and I have had an unhappy relationship for years. I can't remember the last time I've had a good night's sleep. It's been that long.

It's time to replace that torture device, but since it's such a costly investment, I want to get something that's comfortable for both of us.

Any suggestions? What kind of bed brand do you use? Do you ever have trouble falling asleep--or staying asleep?


Monday, August 11, 2014

Cover Design: Behind the Scenes

Since Barbara Wright asked, today's post will be about what goes on behind the scenes when designing a cover. It's actually very similar to how publishers deal with their authors--only with me you deal directly with the artist.

When someone expresses interest in getting some work done, the first thing I do is send him a cover art questionnaire. I ask only for a brief synopsis where I look for keywords that will help me pinpoint what's important in the story, and what's saleable.

After I've emailed the client with my thoughts or questions (to make sure we're both on the same page), I toy with various pieces of art and fonts to see what clicks.

Why does it cost as much as it does?
There's a common adage that says, you get what you pay for. I think that's true for the most part.

I don't make as much as when I worked for 'da man' doing the same sort of work, but there are other perks for me. Like working on what interests me and creating visuals for an industry I love. A book cover or poster is so much more exciting than doing a plumber's full page ad.

Most of my expenses come from two things. Looking for art. And paying for it. Since I usually charge a flat fee, every hour I spend hunting for the right model is an hour I'm not getting paid for putting the final art together.

Maria's 3 Rules for Hard-working Art
Whether it's a cover, a Facebook banner, or a printed poster, I try to make sure the graphic obeys three rules.

Rule #1 
It's gotta stop traffic. Good cover art is a selling tool. It should convey genre and subject matter to the intended audience. It must trigger an emotional response to stop and look deeper.

Rule #2
Make it memorable. I want it to haunt the viewer so that it becomes instantly recognizable when they see it again on someone's Goodreads bookshelf.

Rule #3
It should be unique. Especially with romance, if all you have are two people in a desperate clench, it loses its impact because that visual has become cliche.

Instead I try to design something subtler and more evocative.  It's a psychological ploy. Your brain will catch the nuance, but it doesn't register except perhaps on a subconscious level. It's like planting a seed in someone's mind. 

And because Barbara asked:
How do you deal with a client who thinks they're an artist (when they're really not) and uses words like, "this needs more zazz!" or "I love it. Change everything."? 

You mean aside from swallowing dangerous amounts of aspirin? It happens, but fortunately not very often. I try to be gentle and steer them in the right direction. 

Too much input diminishes the creative process to grunt work. You end up making compromises to please a client rather than producing a piece of art that will be a selling tool.

Sometimes I'll give them what they want and say goodbye. But, if what they want is utter trash, I walk away. I don't want my name associated with it.

That's the beauty of freelancing. I can work with who I want.

By the way, Barbara, great questions!

This was fun! If you guys have any other ideas for future posts, leave me a comment. Does anyone have any questions about the process?

I'll leave you with a few jobs I've done recently. If you need some art, this is where you can find more information

Book Cover
Bookmark, side 1

Post Card

Blog header

Monday, August 4, 2014

Michael Keyton: Master Wordsmith

I've known Mike Keyton for several years. We met on the online critique site, OWW, but I don't remember which one of us critted the other first.

I knew almost from the start that Mike wasn't just another wannabe writer though. The guy had real writing chops, the kind that make you doubt your ability to judge one's betters. But he was equally gracious when he analyzed other people's work.

Even when I was writing bilge water, he found enough redemptive qualities in my work to dissuade me from cutting open my wrists with a fountain pen.

If my writing has improved over the years, I can cite Mike as one of my role models. We have vastly different styles, but he's taught me so much about sneaking up on a story and teasing out those subtle details that put flesh on bone.

It brings me great pleasure to announce Mike's first foray into romance. DARK FIRE is billed as a historical paranormal, but it also borders on magical realism. At least it did to me.

This is a novella that covers a great span of time, so expect it to jump quickly between eras. The main characters inhabit other bodies, even other genders, as they struggle to find each other again through time. 

I would've been content if the story had stayed in one era, but Mike's eloquence kept me invested to the very end. 

Lovers of the metaphysical will devour this story in an afternoon. But writers of any genre should read this too, if only to watch a master wordsmith paint with prose.

Well done, Mike. Now if I could only talk you into writing a strictly historical novel.

Writers: Have you ever had a critique partner inspire or mentor you? Have you ever found yourself in a mentoring position to others?

Monday, July 28, 2014

50 Shades of...Oh, Just Kill Me Now

The movie version of 50 Shades is coming to theaters near you in 2015.

First of all, my apologies to EL James. I'm not being dismissive of your work or success. You found something to titillate the human consciousness. It's a little sick and twisted, but hey, you're laughing all the way to the bank. You dirty, dirty girl.

My real bafflement stems from people (particularly fictional characters) who think being dominated is sexy.

Dudettes, please!

Does being at the choker end of a chain really turn you on? And what kind of weirdo likes getting smacked around? In the old days, they'd put you in therapy for low self esteem issues.

I won't call myself an old fuddy duddy because...well never you mind what kind of sex I've known, but I've been around. 

If you come at me with a whip, you're going to walk out without testicles. I don't care how much money you've got.

Being some rich guy's smackin' cushion isn't my idea of fun. My hams aren't made for bruisin'. You know what I'm saying?

I'm tired of heroes with control issues. You want control? There's your rudder. Control that and then I'll believe you're man enough for me.

All I know is if a guy wants to climb my twin peaks he better make it worth my while.

Rub my back. Clean my house. Give the dogs a bath. Weed my garden!

Now that's amore.


In the interest of full disclosure, I've not read these books, but several of my friends have and they filled me in on the details. They assured me they only read the books for research. 

Yeah...I didn't believe them either. 

Are you curious about the movie? Have you read the books?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Maria's Evil Plan

My social networking vacation opened my eyes. I learned some stuff about myself and what's important to me.

Some of the things I discovered:

• Pimping books is not the answer. I know. It goes against everything we were told, but I think it's true. My prolonged absence allowed me to observe how I chose books when I'm not surrounded by authors (like most normal people). 

The majority of sales and browsing occurred when a book blogger, BookBub, The Fussy Librarian, or Amazon recommended a book, but only if the cover was interesting enough to make me stop to read the post.

• Since time was limited, I had to slash blog and FB reading to less than 10%. Which blog posts made the cut? The majority of read posts were about the blogger's personal life, or an interesting piece of information that could help me in my life. I commented more often on sad news as opposed to happy news.

• Getting blitzed with mass cover reveals is boring. There are only so many times you can congratulate an author before it starts to sound like corned beef hash. 

• Blog hops are usually boring. You know it and I know it. It's kind of like awkward sex positions. We pretend it didn't happen but you and I both know that's ten minutes we'll never get back.

And the most important thing I learned:

In the end I discovered it really was all about me (the reader). I visited and commented primarily on blogs that gave me brain food in return for my time. They got extra points if they replied to my comment.

What's your evil plot, Maria?

• I'm pulling Back to Basics from public viewing and will start posting frugal posts here once a month. I'll also post short frugal tips on my Facebook Page (The Frugal Way). 

If you're not already following me there, go ahead and sign up. Stupid Facebook isn't going to show my page on your timeline anyway so you've got nothing to lose. Ha!

• I'll keep my once-a-week posting here at least until Greg retires (Note 1) and moves back in with me. After that I'll probably go to twice a week. 

• I might be a tad more irreverent than you've seen me before. Just close your eyes and think of England.

• Blog posts will run the gamut from homesteading, marketing, cover design, and general observations about life and industry.

• I always talk back, so chime in if the spirit moves you.

• What's been your favorite topic on this blog? (Note 2) 
• Do you share any of my conclusions, or am I off my rocker?
• By the way, when do I get my rocker?

Note 1: You won't believe this, but Greg modified his retirement date again. (In)Human Resources offered him a bonus to stay a little longer. Oy vey!

Note 2: If you mention my Tank as a favorite topic, you get a big hug. :o)  The gentle giant is still with us. Despite tumors, arthritis, and the tiredness of old age, he turned 12 last week. A milestone! Very frail, but he still gives me kisses and loves to go for walks.