Fractured Facade

"A fathers death...a daughter's life...a sociopath's vendetta...FRACTURED FACADE ...a novel written as memoir. Only $4.99 and available exclusively on Amazon. Kindle Unlimited members read for free! Click here for direct link.


THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE -- A Short Story, Free everywhere...except on Amazon (boo! hiss!) where it's $.99 to buy! Click here for direct link! Let them know it's free at these stores and they may price match it! Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books...more to come.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lady Liberty

Today marks 125 years since the Statue of Liberty was unveiled.

According to the October 28, 1886 edition of the New York Times: “All day yesterday people came to the city in droves to participate in to-day’s celebration. Extra heavily loaded trains, much behind schedule time, were the rule on every railroad entering the city. Every hotel was crowded to its utmost capacity last night, and there was hardly one of the better known hotels which did not have to turn away hundreds of would be guests.”

She's always held a special place in my heart. Although I only visited her once, for most of my life I drove past her on my way into the city. If you look up from my parents' grave site there she stands.

Next May marks the 100th anniversary of my father's side of the family first arriving on Ellis Island. My grandfather was ten years old when he hit the shores of New York City. The first thing they did was change the "i" in his last name to an "e." Then they Americanized his first name from Gaetano to Tom.

My grandfather's first job was working in his parent's store. Then at 17 he became a chauffeur. For the rest of his life he worked for the MTA. When my father passed, I was going through papers and found my grandfather's past in a trunk. Besides all his unpatented inventions, unpublished short stories and screenplays, I found a letter of accommodation from the MTA.

My grandfather had saved someone's life by jumping from the platform onto the live subway tracks to rescue a man who had fallen. He never told me about his feat, but I do remember him telling me, "If you ever fall on the subway tracks make sure you lie flat in the middle of the two rails and face the direction of the oncoming train...if you don't, your clothes will billow from the wind and get stuck under the train and you will be dragged to your death." I would look at him like he was crazy, but the one time I almost fell onto the subway tracks after I passed out from the heat, that was the first thing that came into my mind.

For next year's 100th anniversary whoever is left from my father's side of the family plan to meet on Ellis Island. I want to be there.

"Lady Liberty, lend a hand to me..."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

College Costs Updated

Just a quick update to my last blog daughter just received a card informing her she has been selected as a semi-finaist for the Scholars Program! The competition is in November. Woo Hoo!

Congratulations baby!!! You are one determined little cookie. Maybe I should put the umbrella back in the closet!

congratulations Pictures, Images and Photos

Calculating College Costs

Right On Money Pictures, Images and Photos

You know a college is really expensive when your child gets a letter congratulating them on receiving $18,000 a year in scholarships and your reply is, "Not nearly enough." At today's tuition rates, the remaining cost for her tuition and board would be $108,000 for four years. Um, no. There's no way I could justify that amount for the career path she has chosen. I can't see saddling her, and me, with a student loan so high.

I imagine that cost will drop some once we apply for financial aid, but I've begun bracing her for the possibility that she may very well have to follow her brother's community college footsteps. She's not thrilled with that prospect, and reminded me there is still hope as she also applied to the Scholars Program. Oddly enough, her award letter suggests she's "encouraged to apply" to said program, so now I'm wondering if they ever received her application.

I know she is an excellent student and has worked very hard to achieve her 4.0, taking the most difficult courses, going above and beyond what was "required" of her, and succeeding despite her medical travails. It's wonderful when you have a child who is so determined to achieve a goal, but sometimes Mom's got to be the "bad guy" and bring them back down to earth. I don't want to rain on her parade, but I do want to make sure she has an umbrella handy, just in case.

Monday, October 24, 2011

One Task Every Day

I have a theory that in order to be successful at anything you're passionate about, you must perform at least one activity per day in order to achieve your goal. It doesn't matter how small the task is as long as you do "something" to advance your cause. Even if it's just posting an update on Facebook, tweaking an author page, or shooting off a quick e-mail, it still counts.

For today's task I will insist the local printer I've been attempting to give my money to, see me in person. Rather than pay half the price I could by using an on-line company like Vistaprint to design my eBook business cards, I thought it would be more in-line with my desire to support local businesses by giving them the work. I thought I had made it very easy as I was very clear with the look I desired, submitted quality artwork, and even laid out the exact way I wanted the copy to look. After going back and forth a couple of times via e-mail, I have not been happy with the results.

Check Mark Pictures, Images and Photos

The one great thing about being an "independent" anything is that you have total control. And this includes my marketing material. If I want something one way, I expect it be to done that way. I don't want excuses, or your "creative" touch smudging my ideas. If you're unable to perform the service I am seeking, just be honest and tell me so I can go on my merry way. Stop wasting my time. So....I will give the printer one more chance today, but that, as they say, is that.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Two Blogs...Too Much?

Posted over here today, and I'm starting to rethink the wisdom of trying to maintain two blogs. Decisions...decisions.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Independent Authors & Punk Rockers

Some of today’s independent authors remind me of yesterday’s punk rockers…and that’s a good thing. For the most part, music in the seventies was dominated by stadium rock icons signed to the handful of large record labels. Unknown bands, realizing it would be a futile struggle to wrestle the keys from the record gods, chose instead to create new locks.

With their new sound, new look, and new attitudes the rockers didn’t fit into the established genre. They knew there was a market for them, maybe not the same mainstream market as had ruled the radio waves, but a different, vibrant, and fresh one, that had been ignored.

Established rules didn’t drive these artists, creativity did. Sure, chords were important, but who’s to say three pounding chords were less impressive than a cacophony of multiple ones? It was all a matter of taste, and these independent artists’ goal was to at least provide a sample they could serve to their audience. With total control over every aspect of their career, the musicians and other unsigned artists, created their future.

In a time before internet, when “getting the word out” was very different, the independent artists booked their own shows, designed their own flyers, pounded the pavement, and posted them on every available light pole and vacant wall. If they attracted folks through the door and into their show, they hoped some would find their talent appealing, word of mouth would spread, and their audience would grow. They booked their own recording sessions, pressed vinyl, cassettes, and eventually cds, and sold them for five bucks at their shows, and through fanzines.

When word spread, labels came looking at bands. Some became very successful, others not so much. Talent rose to the top, while the posers faded away. I never considered the success of such artists as Patti Smith, the Ramones and Blondie, to name a few, as “selling out” as some of the punk rockers claimed they had. They all started with the same spark, and it was up to them to set the fire that would blaze in the bellies of their audience.

The same can be said of today’s independent authors. In a market where the Big Six publishing companies would rather grant a huge contract deal to someone like Snooki, who proudly claims she only read one book in her life, rather than even look at sample chapters from a “nobody” because they don’t have a built-in audience, self-publishing independent authors have created their own destiny. And just like some bands really sucked, some authors do too, and it’s not just independents. But, even the talented independents have to work harder to prove they are “worthy.” And the ones that are, will. Just give them a chance…

By the way, I was a punk rocker, and now, I am an independent author.

Here's a video from Television, a band that never achieved the success I believe they deserved...

"I get ideas...I get notions..."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Blue Heron Returns

During my stroll along the Roanoke River in Salem I spied the blue heron again. It's been a couple of months since I last saw him. He certainly has grown...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Renovating the Renovations

The other day I heard this loud crashing sound, so loud it actually made me jump up from the kitchen table where I was snapping green beans. I couldn't decipher exactly where it emenated from, but it felt as if it was above me. I ran outside to see if a huge branch had just fallen on my new roof. Nope, nothing there.

I ran downstairs to see if maybe the water heater exploded. Nope, that looked good. I searched and searched and could not find the source. I thought maybe the spooks were acting up because of all the recent renovations, and had caused a disturbance in my attic. As soon as my husband came home, I asked him to please go check it out. He wasn't too happy, as it's not easy to get into the attic, and once you're in there, it's not easy to manuever through the fiberglass insulation in a space you cannot stand up in. He checked it all out and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

I insisted I heard something, but I had the feeling my husband didn't believe me. After dinner he went into his closet and found the source. The bottom shelf of the closet had fallen out of the wall, spilling his clothes to the ground. The super-contractor we had hired way back when to build the closet, had used plasterboard as the main support wall. As if that wasn't bad enough, he also had made the bottom shelf too low.

We had a "run-in" with him when he first built the monstronsity -- he had the audacity to talk down, while raising his voice to me, when I told him he had done a half-assed job -- so my husband had to set him straight, and we threw him the hell out of here. My husband had raised the shelf himself.

This time, my husband said he would reinforce the shelf until he actually replaced the back wall with plywood. Unfortunately, when he took the measurements to build the wood supports he used the handydope's original holes instead of the ones he made. So, this is what it looks like when we renovate someone else's renovations...

Guess what my husband will be doing tomorrow? On a positive note, I was able to fix my clothes dryer, which would not stop buzzing after it finished the cycle. I GTS it, and with a screwdriver and some black electrical tape, got it done!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Hate Renovating

During the 15 years we've lived in this 1957 Roanoke house we've had to use quite a few contractors. A painter, a closet builder, a wooden floor refinisher, a ceramic floor tile installer, a plumber, an HVAC tech, a concrete patio designer, a window installer, and most recently, a vinyl siding and roofing crew, have been hired. The majority of them did not perform the job they were paid to do, to my satisfaction. And, I am a forgiving customer. It's because of contractors that I hate renovating.

Why is it the homeowner is promised the job will be completed "as if it was my house" only to realize many contractors must live in a dump. With the prices they charge, I find that hard to believe. In the beginning, they're always so gung-ho. Some even show up on time. But it's more than likely there will be days when they don't show up. Period. The increase of that possibility happens with the increase of the cash in their hands. Suddenly the job doesn't have the same urgency when the contractor was hungry. There's always an excuse, but I cannot understand why a mere phone call telling the homeowner what's up, cannot be placed.

Now, even when they eventually do show up, the quality of the work is something less than desirable. Over the years, dealing with Roanoke area contractors, my expectations have gotten lower and lower. It doesn't matter whether they're a big name company, or anyone else who does work "on the side." The results are usually the same -- I'm aggravated, stressed, disappointed and a lot poorer.

I really had hopes with the last crew. This roofer came recommended very highly. Initially, I said no, solely because he took too many days longer to call than he had said he would. To me that was a flag. My husband thought we should give him slack because he was a fireman and might have been on duty those days. I agreed to meet in person. He brought the samples. I picked what I wanted. He promised it would be done in 2 days, and I wouldn't have to wait 8 weeks for him to start like I would have, had I gone with the other possibility. He quoted a price. I didn't haggle. Let's just do this.

I was impressed when he showed up only one day late, and with a full crew. When I saw how much they had accomplished in only one day I thought, "Wow, finally a contractor who sticks to his word."

The following day, he didn't show up, but three crew members did. I was less impressed when I saw the quality of work concerning the siding, et al, and insisted they redo some of it. They did, and it looked much better. Still, I couldn't understand how they would think I would allow their work to remain in the state they had left it.

Then the metal flashing was discovered to be damaged. Some of it. Half of it was already on the house. He had to order more so the house would not be ready in two or three days. I already began to suspect that, as each day less and less workers showed up, until there was one. The snow white flashing was nowhere to be found. Fed Ex wouldn't be arriving until Monday. It was already Friday. The completion wouldn't be until the following week. Monday comes, but the flashing doesn't. Tuesday arrives, and so does the contractor with the flashing. He finally ending up going to the people I was going to hire, and asked them what color they had used around my windows. I thought snow white was the closest, but that manufacturer could not get it. Luckily the new metal matched.

They finished Tuesday evening...9 days from the start. Considering what I've endured in the past, I was actually content with that time frame. He said he was done, I paid him, and he said the gutter guy would come Thursday. I immediately suspected the gutter guy was not a local, but a transplant, as he arrived a half hour before he was supposed to. He originally came from upstate New York and had been living here about as many years as we had. He had his crew and they set right to work. Before he was finished, he realized he needed another bend and said he had to go buy one. He promised he'd be back within the hour. He was.

As he was on the roof, he asked me if I knew that there were about five feet of tiles missing near the vent. No, I didn't. He said there was just tarpaper but nothing on top of it and that would be a problem. Well, duh, yeah. I just had a new roof installed...where's the rest of the roof? Since there was no way we would have discovered it -- we couldn't see it from the ground, and we don't climb on the roof -- I would never have known I'd been screwed until I was getting water in my sunroom.

How could somebody do that? The roofer never said, "I ran out of tiles, I have to come back." No, he said, "We're finished." When my husband finally got him on the phone, the roofer/fireman said, "I know, I have the tiles in my truck. I'll get there as soon as I can." Now to us, as soon as I can, means a lot less than 4 days. During those 4 days our calls went unanswered. It was only after the person who recommended him to us called him and asked him what the hell was up, "I got busy," was the reply, did the roofer say he would be there the next day. He never did bother calling us.

I didn't even know he was here until I heard banging on the roof. By the time I got dressed and went outside, he said he was finished, and that he had the wrong tiles so he had to wait for the right ones. When I told him I couldn't believe he left just tarpaper, and without telling us, he said it would have stopped the rain, and never addressed the not telling us part. He was very arrogant and never once offered an apology. I am convinced if he hadn't gotten caught, he never would have come back.

Is it that local contractors deride great pleasure in screwing with a Yankee, or, are they just incompetent and lazy? We can't be the only ones who go through this every single time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dining Room View

The view from my dining room window...

I love dogwoods. Enjoy your Monday.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fractured Facade -- Available Now!

I've neglected this blog because I've been here and here, but I'm back baby!

I am thrilled to post that I finally did it...I hit the publish button and Fractured Facade is now available!

It's up and running on Smashwords and can be downloaded to any eReader, phone, or desktop. You can find info on it here or just click the cover on the sidebar. I'm awaiting Amazon to finish publishing before it goes live on their site.

Here's the trailer...

You can sample the book before shelling out $4.99 to purchase it. Hey, that's less than a pack of cigarettes or a fast food meal! If you like what you read, by all means let me know.

Thanks to everyone for their support, especially my family, who have been my constant companions on this crazy journey. You were right, Mommy could do it...