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THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE is FREE everywhere! Check out sidebar for links! Not free on Amazon in your country? Tell Amazon!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

GoFundMe - Free Money For Me

Lately there's been a rash of folks abandoning the "donate" button on blogs and heading to every other social internet site begging for money via GoFundMe. I won't say all of them are deadbeats with their hands out, but I have noticed quite a few, which leads me to believe it must be really easy to start a GoFundMe account, and, there's a sucker born every day.

Now, we all could use some extra dough, and I guess it would be too crude to just start one saying "I Want Your Money!" although it would be honest, so I've thought of a couple of scenarios whereby I could pick your pockets with an account. Do you like any of these ideas?

"Hi friends and strangers...after thinking long and hard, I've come to the conclusion that robbing a store, selling drugs, or selling my body is not the best way for me to get money. Instead, I've decided to create a GoFundMe account which I will call FREE MONEY FOR ME. Funds are desperately needed for the following reasons listed below. In each GoFundMe there are four levels of donations - PLATINUM - $500, GOLD - $250, SILVER - $100 - BRONZE - Whatever you can afford. If you donate to any of my FREE MONEY FOR ME funds, you might be entitled to some trinket, might be...

1. WRITER'S BLOCK - Help me overcome this terrible disease of being unable to finish any of the four books I've been writing! Platinum - You will be a well-loved character in my next book. Gold - You will be a character that doesn't die in my next book. Silver - You will be in the acknowledgements. Bronze - You will be a despised character that meets an untimely and cruel death.

2. BRACES FOR BELLA - Bella, a Malti-Zhu was the runt of the litter who lived in a cage. When she was "bad" the breeder would shoot water on her. The only toys she had to play with were rocks. These rocks caused her mouth to be a scary sight. She needs braces badly!


Platinum - You will receive a video of Bella chasing rocks. Gold - You will receive a photo of Bella. Silver - You will receive a lock of her hair. Bronze - You will spend an afternoon with Bella listening to her bark at every single passer-by.


3. HOME AWAY FROM MY NEIGHBORS - You could only imagine the torture I undergo when the weather turns warm and the thud thud, thud of the basketball, and the vroom, vroom, vroom of the leaf blower begins. With the arrival of another child last year, the constant crying has overcome the constant whining of the older child and the drunken cheers when they play corn hole. Even the song birds have left the neighborhood and have been replaced by vultures.




Help me move! Platinum - You will receive one of our many lawn mowers. Gold - You will receive a koi from the pond if the raccoons have left any. Silver - You will receive a bouquet of flowers grown on the property from the bushes, shrubs, trees, garden bed, that our neighbor's child has not damaged. Bronze - A bucket of rocks from Bella's yard.

4. NO MORE AUTO REPAIR - In case you didn't know, there is no such thing as an old auto mechanic, and my husband's hands are becoming so arthritic he could barely hold a wrench. So, after owning an auto repair shop for 19 years, the time has come to put him down. Since I also work there I will become unemployed and there is no way I want to go out and get a regular 9-5 job, God forbid! I will still need to feed Bella her very expensive treats so I need some sort of income, so please help. Platinum - A tune-up for your vehicle, but you pay for the parts. Gold - An oil change for your vehicle, but you pay for the oil. Silver - An inspection for your vehicle, but you pay for the sticker. Bronze - A recommendation of another shop where you can take your vehicle for repair.

If none of the above suits you maybe I can appeal to your heart instead...send me FREE MONEY or the dog gets it...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Quickie

Hey all, just wanted to drop by for a quickie, no not that kind silly, a quickie update!


I see it's been over a month since I've posted. Wish I had a good reason for that, but I don't. I'd love to say I've been working furiously on my new book, but I'm not. Would love to say I've been traveling to some exotic ports, but I haven't. I might lie and say I've been busy working at the shop, or cataloging books, or creating the website for those books, or creating a website for my husband's woodworks, or, or, or, or...but I can't. I haven't been blogging because I am suffering from writer's block which I have determined is being caused by depression. Hopefully I'll snap out of it soon, or at least write about why I'm depressed which might help break the block, but when? I don't know. Until then, carry on...and I'll share the one thing that makes me smile these days...my silly Bella.



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Snow Mower

At least someone in this house enjoyed the recent snow blast. You can see by the chunks of ice stuck on her face, Bella has been digging for rocks. If it was up to her she'd stay out there all day until she was one matted mess. I let her defrost, then return outdoors for her leaping, burying pleasures. I have given up wiping puppy prints all over the house and figure the floors won't be clean until spring.


There was someone else in the house who, in the beginning, welcomed the snow...my husband. You see, for the last couple of weeks his toy has been waiting under the blue tarp on the back of that trailer. Just waiting patiently to be called to action.


Before it wound up here, it has spent many months at the shop getting ready for its debut. Countless hours, and countless dollars, have been spent modifying the John Deere mower into a powerful snow shoveling machine. When he first received the mower he forgot about an old Italian prophecy -- inherit a dead man's vehicle and it becomes your money pit. It doesn't matter if you inherit it, or buy it, it's still the same money drain. And he should have remembered that for all the time and money we've spent on the phantom problems of my dad's Olds.

When he first took the John Deere off of a friend's hands, he told me it only needed to be tuned up and spruced up as it sat still for so long. Otherwise, it's fine. Rather than detail every dollar, I'll just say parts could only be ordered through John Deere (even the parts list and manual had to be bought), and a welder even got involved helping my husband's dream to become a reality. Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Ka-ching!!!

Every time I rolled my eyes, I was assured this was going to work. By the way, for all the money he's spent he probably could have bought a new plow,  a couple of snow blowers, or, hired a local snow shoveling team to be on call all winter. But I digress. It was finally snowing!


My husband came home earlier than usual, stopping at Food Lion to stock up on provisions, two bottles of wine and treats for Bella. He almost made it to the door before he slipped on the ice, tumbled to the ground, shattering the wine bottles.




Luckily he wasn't hurt, but he was pissed, and now, soaking wet. Good thing he wouldn't be spending hours out there shoveling snow by hand in wet clothes!

The night before, he had tried firing up the toy, just in case, and discovered it was dead. Imagine that. So before using it, he had to hook it up to a portable battery. As it charged, the snow fell steadily. A big smile spread across his face when it kicked on, and he gave me two thumbs up. I was cooking dinner and asked him if he would be long. He said to continue cooking, he'd be 10-15 minutes. Bing, bang, boom.

I could hear the noise outside as I hovered over the warm stove. A half-hour later I went outside to tell him dinner was ready, and lo and behold, nothing was plowed! Bing, bang, boom. In fact, he never got to try the plow as the toy would not drive in the snow. Huh? Rocking back and forth, spinning wheels, smoke spewing, noise of a thousand blowers, there he sat, going nowhere, on a lawn mower with a snow blade on it.


When I saw the back wheels spinning, I suggested he use the portable plastic road strips I had bought him and my son for Christmas. They laughed when they saw them, but I told them both they would thank me when they were stuck in the snow. Unfortunately, my husband's  practical gift was at the shop in the back of the mini van. So much for them. He was determined to make this toy work and even began shoveling a path for the toy to drive through. Ummm, doesn't that defeat the purpose of not having to shovel?


I couldn't watch any more so I went inside and had dinner by myself. Men can be so stubborn. They don't need to look at directions when putting something together, and would rather drive around endlessly before asking for directions because they are lost. They think with perseverance it will all work out, eventually. He finally gave up an hour later when he got stuck in the middle of the road and had to push the toy back up the driveway. By the time he was finished, he successfully blocked the driveway so that it was impossible to exit now. Even VDOT leaves a smaller pile.

He had as much snow on him as there was in the driveway when he came in. He was more upset he didn't have the bottles of wine than he was about the snow mowing machine. After changing into dry clothes, getting warm, and having a hot meal he said that was enough and he'd figure something out tomorrow. When I went to let Bella out I noticed he had left the shed doors wide open so he had to get dressed again, go back out there, trudge through the snow, and close them.

Today was a new day, the snow had stopped falling, and he was determined to clear our driveway so he could get back to work. All it took was one phone call and a reinforcement arrived.


I thought it was overkill, but hey, what do I know...


Mission accomplished. We're free...


Now, who wants to bet me this very expensive toy doesn't even cut grass in the spring...












Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Valentine's Day Curse is Free

Just a quick post to let you know that my short story, The Valentine's Day Curse will be free on Amazon in all its stores from 2/11 through 2/15.




"When Lisa’s Valentine’s Day ritual is interrupted by a phone call, she is surprised it’s from someone she hadn’t heard from in many years. What could her ex, Joey, possibly want from her on what could have been their 25th wedding anniversary?

The Valentine’s Day Curse is a short story about stirred memories of unrequited love. For some people Valentine’s Day is not always a bed of roses."


I hope you enjoy this tale with a twist and that all your Valentine's Days are better than Joey's!

Just click on your country below for a direct link. Thanks for your support, and any reviews and/or recommendations to friends are always greatly appreciated!

Amazon US
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Monday, February 9, 2015

Seagulls in the Roanoke River

70 degrees in February? Now that I can live with! It was so beautiful in Roanoke yesterday I dragged my husband for a walk along the Roanoke River greenway in Salem. On the first leg of the walk we saw quite a few fishermen. None of them had caught anything but all of them said they had gotten nibbles.


On the second leg of the walk, across Lee Highway, I heard strange sounds that reminded me of Coney Island. It was the call of seagulls. Yes, seagulls in the river!


The first time I saw seagulls down here was about five years ago. There were about a dozen or so in a large puddle of water in the Lowe's parking lot on Main Street in Salem. I was quite shocked as I only knew seagulls to be near the sea, not in a puddle in a parking lot.

Apparently, some of the gulls found Spring Lake in Salem which is right across from the Lowe's. I also thought that was odd, but knowing how Brooklyn seagulls are...lazy, conniving, would rather eat a French fry than dive for fish...I wasn't surprised they were making a home there as the lake is right across the street from a Burger King. Geese and ducks already knew that's where they got a free meal so they took over the park, and made a mess of it with their droppings.

Yesterday, I was astonished at the number of gulls in the Roanoke river until I saw what was going on.


There were some people with a loaf of bread feeding the seagulls. There were so many of them that they pretty much took over the river, and in fact, were threatening any ducks that would go near the free food. When the family ran out of bread, the little ones took to throwing rocks at the birds instead. That will not deter a seagull. Knowing how Brooklyn seagulls are, rats of the sea with wings, I wouldn't be surprised if they take this river over.



The photos above were taken with my iPhone. I plan to go back with my camera some time, and although my husband says no, I bet the seagulls will still be in the Roanoke River.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Norfolk Southern Takes Its Toys Away From Roanoke



Since I became a resident of Roanoke almost twenty years ago I've witnessed her being slapped around quite a few times. I thought the last punch to her gut, Advance Auto leaving to head to Raleigh, couldn't be topped. I mean, Advance was born in Roanoke in 1932, our downtown museum was named after the founder, Art Taubman, and they had recently acquired Carquest. Expanding company = boon to the boondocks, no? Then, in a move that took everyone by surprise, including local government who were clueless anything was afloat, Advance decided to move the corporate office to Carquest's headquarters in Raleigh, rather than fold them into the belly of the valley. Do not the spoils of war go to the victor? There was some hubbub for a while, then the outrage seemed to just mosey on down the road.

Life went on in Roanoke. Sure there were a couple more blows, and not just in the city...the Allstate Roanoke County folly, the recent SalemYokahama 31 lay-off. The list goes on and I will link to it in a moment. Because at the head of the list is something actually worse than Advance's punch to Roanoke's gut. This was a harder punch in the gut, a kick in the ass, and a big ole spit in the face, from Norfolk Southern to Roanoke by deciding to eliminate their headquarters downtown and move 500 white collar positions either to Atlanta or Norfolk. You can read the details here.

In case you are unaware, Roanoke was built on rails. This town sprung forth from the rails. Its whole psyche is railroad-based. Even I, a New Yorker, who had never heard of Roanoke, wound up living here solely due to the lure of the train and my 3 year-old's desire to visit the transportation museum which had a train yard. We embrace the rails. We love the rails. And yet, in the two decades I've lived here we have had no passenger rails. Hard to believe, isn't it? Yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel. 2017 is the date when Amtrak will arrive in downtown Roanoke, and 2015 is the date when Norfolk Southern decided it was the time to abandon Roanoke. It's almost as if NS, who fought passenger service returning to Roanoke, is so annoyed at having to share their rails that they decided to pick up their toys and go home.

The history between Roanoke and Norfolk Southern cannot be covered in a short blog post. Here's a link to a WSLS on the History of NS. There's a video in the piece you can watch.  And here is a link to a Roanoke Time's NS Milestone List. And finally, a link to an editorial from yesterday's Roanoke Times. If you read the comments you'll see I chimed in. If you don't, this is what I posted:

"As long as Roanoke leaves little options for travelers to get in and out of here, easily and cost effectively, I doubt any large corporation will take this valley seriously to set up shop. Bottom line is the airport is too small and does not offer many cheap non-stop flights to major cities. Check the differences between Roanoke and Raleigh for a direct flight to NYC. BTW, I've always heard that it was Norfolk Southern who talked Roanoke out of expanding the airport. Anyone know if that is true? And yes, Amtrak will be a good thing, but no business wants to put their executives on a train to NYC for over 8 hours vs. a flight that should take 1 1/2 hours. As far as better-educated and well-trained workers...Roanoke already has them, but the businesses do not want to pay them what they are worth so folks are forced to look elsewhere. My 22 year old son relocated to Raleigh, best move ever."


Here is that link to this list of Closing and Layoffs. Notice Advance nor Allstate is not on the list, so who knows how many others are missing as well.

When I think back 20 years ago to my naive view of the Roanoke Valley, I laugh at myself. I had such high hopes. I thought I found it all. I ripped the roots out of concrete and planted them in clay dirt. With all the kicking they received, they never became strong roots. It didn't take long to break through the fake facade, but by then it was too late. I had given up everything, so I tried to make the best of a bad situation. I had no choice.

I've forgiven Roanoke many things, many, many, many things, but the one thing I can't forgive is breaking up my family and diminishing my kids' worth. No opportunities, no fair wages, no stay. I can't blame them. I support them. I thought I picked our forever place, but forever's over. If I could leave right this minute, right this second, I would. Well, I do leave, but I always have to come back at some point. I still have a business to run. I'm ready to sell, but my husband isn't. I figure I brought him here, so for now I have to deal with it. Eventually, I know that will change. What really needs to change are the priorities Roanoke's local leaders deem important to make this valley a thriving community.

Oh, Roanoke does a fine job hosting journalists in their effort to bolster the city's exposure. It works well, and at any given time you can go on social media and find a link to a travel blog, newspaper or magazine article. Roanoke is also good for a couple of Top Ten Destination/Best Blah Blah Blah mentions per year. I don't think anyone would argue any award Roanoke receives for quality of life. Mountain vistas, verdant valleys, the rolling river,  greenways, bicycle lanes, a quaint downtown, etc....what's not to like? Too bad lifestyle amenities do not equate to living expenses. And no matter what some people think, no corporation is going to determine Roanoke will be their headquarters based on greenways or bike lanes.

Carilion is the largest, by far, job creator in the valley. The city kisses their ass all the time, and it seems like they have placed all their eggs in Carilion's incubator. This rail town has become a medical municipality. I guess they're thankful they at least have them, but Roanoke really needs to start thinking bigger and better, offer more options, to keep our youth here after they graduate, and attract businesses. As I stated in the above comment, Roanoke has talent and expertise, but no one wants to pay for it. Oh, and boasting of two additional Walmarts and their job creations of $7.35/hourly positions is not the bar to aim for. Sigh...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My First (and Only?) $.99 Promo


In December I put both of my titles in Amazon's KDP Select program to see if I was "missing out" on anything. I was particularly interested in their lending program as both books would now be eligible to be borrowed. The royalty on borrows is not great, but hey, it's better than nothing.

So...how's it going? Thus far, I am extremely disappointed. Since I don't have the time, or desire to promote endlessly, my sales have been zilch and the borrows I can count on one hand, on one finger. I really hate being exclusive to one retailer but some authors swear it's worth it. Maybe if you're a Romance writer or someone who has a series of books it is, but thus far I'm not seeing the benefits.

I have not used any of the "perks" of being in this exclusive lonely club so figured I better before my 90 day period runs out so I could determine if there are any real benefits, or not. So, without further adieu I offer my novel, Fractured Facade, normally $4.99, at the discount price of $.99...that's less than a cup of coffee. This promo will run for one week, the maximum 7 days I'm allowed, starting today, 1/21, and runs through 1/28, and will be available on Amazon US and Amazon UK. Naturally, Kindle Unlimited readers can still borrow it for free.

I will probably post the above pic on Facebook and Twitter once a day until the promo runs out. I didn't bother trying to get listed on all those sites that bring thousands of readers. Pssst...I can't afford them, so I am depending upon good old word of mouth. If you are a new reader and decide to download it, I do hope you enjoy it, and perhaps take the time to leave a review. Telling a friend would be cool too. Thanks to all of you for your support!

P.S. I plan on giving away my short story, The Valentine's Day Curse, for the five free days I'm allotted, probably on Valentine's Day and before, so keep an eye out.