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For a limited time Kindle Unlimited Members can read FRACTURED FACADE and THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE for free. Just click on the title!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Brooklyn Christmas Re-Post

Dyker Heights in Brooklyn has been getting a lot of airtime lately, so I thought I would share this post from 2010...Merry Christmas!



Meanwhile back in Brooklyn, all over the radio and internet people were buzzing about the live nativity being held at an old church built in 1828.



Living now in Roanoke, we're no strangers to live nativities but apparently it's a big deal to a lot of Brooklynites. After we saw what was being heralded as a "must see" we laughed. It was pretty pathetic. The wise Mexicans were about ten years old and freezing their butts off. The poor baby Jesus looked like he was bought at the 99cent store.



Later that evening we witnessed a more spectacular nativity that wasn't "live" but on someone's lawn...



as we ventured into the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn where the Christmas lights burst from the trees.



If you watch The Travel Channel you might recognize this house as the "Sausage Queen's."





Dyker Heights is about five avenues and might as well be a lifetime away from my modest Brooklyn home. Big money and a lot of Italians are up in those thar hills and they can afford to hire professional Christmas decorators.









I'm assuming this blow-up house didn't splurge on a decorator...



But this one definitely did...







I'd hate to live on one of these blocks during Christmas because the cars come from all over to view these homes and traffic is at a standstill. Being a "native" I knew to go early before the crowds came so we missed Santa giving out candy canes and Frosty shaking the kiddies hands and the Christmas carols blaring through the speakers on some homes. Some people think the whole thing is tacky, but I don't. This is what I grew up with and why we decorate our house like The Griswolds, although we pale next to these lights. At least the folks in Roanoke aren't as jaded as we are and they appreciate all our efforts as many people pull into out driveway, stop us by the mailbox or at the store and thank us.

My daughter, the photographer, loved Dyker Heights as well..."If I can't afford a place in Manhattan, I'm going to live here." Yeah, good luck with both of those choices!



Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and everything just looks more beautiful this time of the year...



Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

12/13/14

When I was writing out a check this morning I realized it was 12/13/14. That's a date easily remembered, and had I been single, yet in a lengthy relationship, I probably would have considered that date to be a good date to get married on. It would be lucky, no? I wonder how many other people chose that date because it was special. I hope the ones that did have better luck than I did when choosing special wedding dates.

My first flop was in choosing Valentine's Day. I wasn't even really a romantic. Never had been a faithful fervent follower of the day of over-priced flowers, chocolates, jewelry and Hallmark hearts, yet that was the day I thought would be perfect for a wedding. And it was, for the wedding. The marriage? Not so much. It lasted 7 months.

I did take solace in the fact that I hadn't spend years of planning the perfect wedding. Mine was not a dream I had since I was a little girl. Mine was more of a yeah, why not, and let's do it on the perfect date, Valentine's Day, and so what that's less than two months away. I want that date. He'll/I'll never forget it. And I never have, but not in a good way. At least I got an idea for a short story out of it, "The Valentine's Day Curse." If you're a Kindle Unlimited member you can check it out for free.

This commercial was shot the day of my wedding. We couldn't get in on time because they were still shooting it, using my "special day" as backdrop. You think I would have gotten something off the pricy tab. This spot used to run for years and years on the local television channels, especially in the wee hours of the morning. My dear departed cousin JP would always call me when he would see it come on and we would crack up reminiscing about that day...so crazy.



This is their most recent commercial from seven years ago.



They used the same background music for their spot as I did for my Valentine's Day Curse spot...uncanny!


The Valentine's Day Curse

Ok, so that was that special day. The next flop special day also involved a marriage. This time it was an even quicker turn-around, like three weeks. We did have 90 days to get married, but I thought 8-8-88 should be the date to use. He'll/I'll never forget it. 8 is a very lucky number, well, so say the Chinese. Turn those eights on their sides and it's the symbol for eternity. Our love would last forever. That marriage lasted 7 weeks. They have a reality series now on K-1 visa couples, so I probably could get at least a novella out of that failed one.

For the third, and hopefully, final marriage, I chose an ordinary day. It was the quickest decision yet, one week. In my then fiancé's eyes, it was the longest, years before I took the legal leap. But when I thought the time was right, and needed a weekend away in Atlantic City, I agreed to a quickie civil service in Staten Island. After all, it was the closest city hall in New York near the Garden State Parkway, the way to get to AC. Anyway, neither one of us forgets the date, so I guess even though it's ordinary to most folks, it's special to us.

And that brings us to today, to this special day - 12/13/14. I like the ring of it, the sound of it, it feels special, like you're in the middle of a holiday with the anticipation of something beautiful. And just as I typed that this song came on Pandora...Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah.



Beautiful. I think it's a beautiful day to get married too...all the best to those who chose today...hope you have better luck than I did. And if you did, and happen to stumble upon this post, please leave a comment and let us know.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kindles Unlimited Revisited

Just one sale...one measly sale of Fractured Facade on Smashwords was all it would have taken to keep The Valentine's Day Curse available everywhere. But after a year, it never happened. Oh sure, I got plenty of sample downloads of Fractured Facade, but I just couldn't make the sale, which is odd, because I still was getting sales on Amazon. No, not many, but at least I was thrown a bone once in a while. Nook readers, iPad people, Smashies, Kobo tablets, had no problem "buying" the free short story, but unless Smashwords was screwing up, they just wouldn't part with $4.99 for the novel. Also, not one of them left a review of the Valentine's Day Curse either. Hmmmm, so much for my grand plan!

My thinking was that if I made the short story free everywhere, Amazon would have to price match it as well, and they did. Great, right? Well, along the way, freebies on Amazon suddenly no longer had the same punch as they did once before. Why? The only thing I could figure out was that the new Amazon program, Kindle Unlimited, stopped not only downloads of freebies, but also sales of books. Kindle Unlimited is a program whereby a reader pays a yearly fee and can then borrow as many books on their kindle as they like (up to 10 at a time) instead of only one per month as in the past, for free. I figure readers aren't bothering with freebies any more as their thinking may be, why borrow something that's free when I could borrow something that would have cost me money.

In order to have a book in KDP select, which would then be part of the KU, the book had to be exclusive to Amazon. And that is the one thing that really bugged me. So, I said I would NEVER go into KDP Select. And now over a year later I am eating my words. I gave all the other outlets a shot and they all fell short. So I figure now is the time for me to try another tactic by putting The Valentine's Day Curse -- A short story back into KDP Select and price it once again at $.99.

My thinking last year was that folks will be getting Nooks, iPads, etc. and they will seek out the free story, download it, and then hopefully review it and/or seek out my novel and buy it. Never happened anywhere except on Amazon! So now the thinking this year is the same thing - that folks will be getting kindles for Christmas, only this time with each kindle they automatically get a free month of the Kindle Unlimited deal. My hope is that they borrow the Valentine's Day Curse which would translate to a higher royalty than if they bought it. Will this work? Who knows, but as an independent author I can change my mind and give it a shot. I'm still debating if I should pull Fractured Facade everywhere too and put that exclusively on Amazon as well.

Of course, the best way to sell books is to write more books, and I am doing just that...just not quickly.





Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas in Manhattan 2010 Revisited

In honor of the Rockefeller Center tree being lit last night, and since I'm not there, I'm pulling out an old post from 2010 called Christmas in Manhattan which has a couple of pretty cool shots...enjoy! Can't believe it's been four years already...

P.S. I think the girl looks way better in dark hair than as a blonde!!!

*****Christmas in Manhattan****

There's no city that does Christmas better than New York City so this year we decided to head up before Christmas instead of after. If you're not in the Christmas spirit when you arrive, after spending even just one day in Manhattan, you probably will be. On this trip my daughter got to see neighborhoods of Manhattan she hasn't before (more on that in another post another day). I actually found a parking space in Soho after only fifteen minutes...quite a feat I assure you! We started walking through Little Italy on our way to Chinatown (more on that later too).





After lunch we headed up to Macy's. It was a zoo.



Too many people in midtown caused us to head uptown where we encountered beautiful lit trees and even more people.



Like every other "tourist" in the world we simply had to go to Rockefeller Center. This time my daughter was able to see the tree in the dark. It was quite spectacular.











As I wrote in yesterday's post, as we were standing there music filled the air. We all turned to see where it was coming from...



and were treated to a 3D light show on Saks Fifth Avenue's wall, entitled "The Snowflake and the Bubble"...if you haven't watched it you should.



Afterwards we went into St. Patrick's Cathedral which was as beautiful as always. Unfortunately there were so many people I couldn't get near the gift shop.



After St. Pat's we headed to Sephora where the girl stocked up on more cosmetics. As we were shopping I heard someone call my name. When I turned to see who it was I was surprised to see it was someone I knew from Roanoke! How wild is that??? In a city of millions I run into someone from little ole Roanoke. I was surprised she recognized me as I was sporting a new haircut which my cousin said was a "little Chinese boy's haircut." Funny thing is that a cool Chinese boy cut it for me! From there we headed back home to Brooklyn, where the next day we experienced Christmas in Dyker Heights. If Manhattan couldn't put one in a Christmas mood, Brooklyn certainly could! Pics to come tomorrow....

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Stealing: Shop on the Corner Meme

I don't usually steal, but I thought it would be okay if I stole this meme from Blue Country Magic.

Shop On The Corner Meme 

1. What kind of job did your mom have when you were growing up?

A. My mom was a stay-at-home mom until my teenage years. She then decided to become a real estate agent so she could finally get us out of the attic and into our own home. She hated the job. In fact, the one apartment she did rent she had to go to court for and return the pittance she made. As soon as she found our home, she quit.
 
2. Have you ever known anyone that’s been on tv, including you?

A. Yes. I have been on tv a couple of times and so has my daughter. The most "famous" person I know on tv is Lou Ferrigno aka The Hulk. When I lived in my  home in Brooklyn my next door neighbor was his aunt...nice guy.

3. What was the most interesting animal you have seen in the wild?

A. A huge moose on the side of the road while driving through Maine. We made eye contact as we passed each other. What a majestic creature. One step in, and we would have been goners!
 
4. What holiday do you enjoy the most?

A. Christmas, especially when the kids were young. As they got older, it sort of lost its magic. This will be the first year neither of them are living home and I don't know what to expect...hopefully no tears.
 
5. What was the first video game you ever played?

A. Pong. We had the first console which went to husband # 1 in my first divorce.
 
6. What is the one thing you own, that if it got lost, you would be bummed?

A. My mind...and it's starting to show signs of leaving.

7. Do you have a favorite breakfast item?

A. Slice of fresh Italian bread with Breakstone butter. Can't get "real" Italian bread here in Roanoke so I settle for an English muffin (poor substitute) instead.
 
8. What do you find yourself buying all the time?

A. Hair products, still looking for that magic one.
 
9. When was the last time you got a real letter in the mail?

A. Last week...it was a short note with a John Cale CD that my cousin sent me.
 
10. Do you have a most prized piece of jewelry?

A. Although most people would probably say wedding band, I won't since I've gone through a couple already. My prized possession is a $5 medallion of the blessed mother holding the baby Jesus on a long chain that I bought in 1990 at the Vatican. I never go on a road trip without it on my neck. If we hit bad weather, or any other type of dangerous situation, I find comfort in stroking it while saying my Hail Mary's and asking for help. Never fails. 
 
11. Do you own any board games?

A. Yup, you name it, I have it. However, here in Roanoke, I do not have anyone who wants to play them with me. Any takers???
 
12. What chore seems the most daunting right now?

A. Cleaning the basement so I do not become a hoarder. I have grand plans to put so much stuff on eBay, or Etsy, or whatever, but I just don't know where to begin.
 
13. Were you born in the state you live in?


A. No, living in Virginia, but I'm a New Yorker, forever and ever, Amen!
 
14. Have you ever lived in a house that has been broken into?


A. Yes...it's horrible, you feel violated.

15. What is your favorite cheese?

A. Blue Cheese, but it has to be good blue cheese, not the crap that comes in the wax in Food Lion.
 
16. Who do you know that watches the most sports? 

A. My husband...professional football. Thank God that's all he watches. I couldn't stand if he watched college sports or basketball or tennis or soccer or whatever. I can deal with 16 weeks of Sundays to myself ;)

Thanks Anita...that was fun!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Leaves


We removed as many leaves as feasible from Bella's yard. It took 15 39-gallon trash bags. The only reason I want those leaves raked is to prevent fleas and ticks from living in them and hitching a ride on Bella when she digs through them on her quest for the largest rock her little mouth could carry.


I know, that's a freaky picture; I had it on dramatic setting. See that rock in the right hand corner? That's the latest edition to the pile. Pretty big, huh?


And there lays my dear Max who is sorely missed.


I could never rake up all the leaves from my property. Look at all the trees I have.



See that nest up in that leaning tree? Here's a closer shot.


I always thought it was the ravens' nest, but I discovered today it's the squirrels' home. I saw one leaping from limb to limb with a leave-filled branch from the oak tree in his mouth which he brought to the nest.

I don't quite understand the zeal of people to remove every single leave from their yards. Why? The decaying and decomposing leaves is what makes Appalachia soil so rich as to create a forest unlike any other in the world, except for one small province in China. I watched a documentary on Appalachia recently. I learned that each tree is "designed" to lose their leaves at different intervals from other species. This allows the nutrients from the leaves to sink-in at different intervals, one following the other...mixing, mingling, morphing.


The leaves that wind up in our pond keep the fish fed through the winter, as well as hidden from the long arm of the raccoon. The composted bottom keeps frogs warm, and the tadpoles who emerge in the spring, protected.

I don't have a problem with leaves. I will never own a leaf blower. Sorry if some land on your property, but that's just the nature of things.


I probably should bring my hammock inside before the squirrels cut up the rope for their nest.

















Monday, November 3, 2014

Brighton Beach

With winter breathing down my neck I thought I would warm up the day with a couple of shots from Brighton Beach in Brooklyn.

On the Brighton Beach Boardwalk looking towards Coney Island. The parachute and ferris wheel  loom ahead.

From Bay Ridge it's a quick jump (if there's no traffic) on the Belt Parkway, a nice drive along the shore, just a couple of exits down. Be warned when exiting the Belt to immediately slow down as NYC has put speed cameras on many of the exits, and if you do go above 25mph, in a couple of weeks you may find yourself the recipient of an expensive love letter...


And just like that...the seasons change...the shore, sun, sky, and sand stay the same, yet, as the sun changes its mood, so does the shore, sun, sky, and sand.





At the top of the shot there are two seagulls standing sentry...one on each side.







That's the elevated train, now called the B from the D which takes you to Brighton Beach.  I can't figure out why they switched the B & D line names and it drives me crazy,
This used to be the lobby to an old movie theatre, now it's the entrance to an expensive food forum of sorts.