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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dear Jerry Seinfeld, Please ignore Dan Casey

This morning Dan Casey of the Roanoke Times gives me a hard time in his column for paying what he considers "rube" prices for Jerry Seinfeld tickets. Check it out here..."Seinfeld ticket prices no laughing matter."

It was a fun back and forth...even if Dan is delusional...Native New Yorker? Ha!

Dear Jerry,
Please ignore Dan Casey. He comes from Binghamton and works for the Roanoke Times. What does he know? Please do not cancel your show in Roanoke. Some of us transplants need to hear another New York accent and a joke that doesn't have "Y'all" in it. Oh, and if you don't mind, would you please bring some bagels? I'll be sitting in the first row.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Puppy's Wonder

It's quite entertaining to watch the world through a puppy's wonder. We humans sometimes take nature for granted, yet it provides constant entertainment for Bella. The sashaying, descending oak tree leaf almost gets caught in her mouth. Instead, she will pick it up by the stem, and prance around the yard with the leafy stogie hanging out of her mouth. After she drops it, the shredding begins, followed by the chewing and ending with my fingers pulling leaves out of her mouth.

She's still not the brightest bulb, but she has caught on to "Go get it!" I could barely see her as she darts through the over-grown grass to retrieve the bright yellow ball. Zeroed in on the ball like a laser, the only possible distraction is everything. The wind shakes a blade of grass. Bella's thoughts: Stop. Bite the grass. Was that a twig I stepped on? Pick it up. Chew for a bit. Then run wild until I trip over a vine. Stop. Bite the vine. Pull the vine. Pick it up. Run like wild, trailing behind a train of ivy leaves. Stop. Collapse against fence. Rocks, yum. I'll just lay here and chew a couple. When I'm through with them I'll sharpen my fangs on the concrete step. Okay, okay I'll stop. What? Get the ball? Oh, yeah, that's right. Where is it? Sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, ouch. Hey, that's the ball! Got it! Back to mommy. Hey, what's that white flying thing? A butterfly? I'm going to catch it. Jump, snap, run, jump, snap. Dang! It went over the fence. I just gotta chew through this chain link and that butterfly is mine. Okay, okay I'll stop. Instead, I'll catch this little ant and eat him. Mmmm, squiggly caviar. What? The ball? Oh, yeah, that's right...I'm looking for the ball.

More times than not, I have to get up and show her where the ball is. Sometimes I have to even kick it for her to notice it. Maybe the grass is too high...maybe.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Latest College Scam

college debt Pictures, Images and Photos

In the perfect world, my son would have graduated this May from Virginia Western with a Computer Science degree. Alas, our world is far from perfect, so it should have come as no surprise to me that it didn't happen. That darn Calculus 4 class has proven to be a thorn in his side, and after taking it twice and achieving D's both times, the boy has decided to scrap that plan.

When he first started on this quest during the first year in high school, his intention was to become a software developer. He studied on his own, practiced on his own, and enjoyed the field. Although he didn't really want to go to college, he knew potential employers would only look at him if he had a degree in computer science and he figured it would be a piece of cake to get it. Cut to college...

His first inkling that college is a scam came to him in his freshman year when he realized he'd have to take classes that were a waste of his time, had absolutely nothing to do with computers, and was really just a way for the college to make money by insisting students take them. I agreed with his thinking, yet still pushed him to get a degree. As the semesters progressed, the  mandatory classes had less and less to do with computer science, and the elective classes he had wanted to take became unavailable as there wasn't enough interest in them. Little by little, less and less appealed to him. His interest really took a nose-dive after discovering that most, if not all, software programming jobs had moved out of this country and into India. By the time Calculus 4 came around, twice, he decided he had enough.

Now, as part of our deal, I agreed to pay for his education, without him having to get student loans so he wouldn't be saddled with debt. In return, he had to get at least a C in every class and get the Computer Science Degree. If he got less than a C, he had to pay me back for the class, and if he dropped out of college, he had to pay me back for every class. So what to do, what to do? He already holds a part-time job and upon graduation he was supposed to go full-time. His company likes him, said he's one of their best workers and his going full-time was not contingent on getting a degree. So, in reality he could just go full-time and be done with school, just like his mother.

I've been working since I was 16. I have no degree. I never wanted a degree. I wanted to work. Period. And I did, and I still do. I've held many positions including secretary, administrative assistant, office manager, broadcast manager, vice-president programming, videotape editor, president, columnist and most recently, published author. Nope, didn't need a piece of paper for any of them. However, my son knows I wanted him to have what I never did, so after much weighing of pros and con (the con being pissing off mom) he decided he would continue with college, but change his major to Business, and he would pay for the rest of the classes himself. Sounds like a good plan to me.

So he started summer classes and already is pissed off. In order to get this degree, he now has to take more useless classes such as a basic computer one. It's a "joke" to him, but he's not laughing at the cost of the books and the latest college scam...buying an on-line "key." This "key" practice started last year with one or two classes. Besides buying the ridiculously expensive books, an additional fee of anywhere from $50-$100 has to be spent on the "key" which allows the student on-line access, to "drop-off" their assignments, tests, etc. It's mandatory and has squashed the ability to buy used books cheaply. The way VWCC has set it up it's a little cheaper to buy the package from their bookstore. Even if the student wants to rent the book instead of buying the new book, the "key" makes it cost more to go that route. No more Givens Books.

Last night he came home from the second class he's taking over the summer and surprise, surprise, it also requires the book and the purchase of a "key." He was ranting that the "key" company is the same company that sells the textbooks, and it's a total scam. Meanwhile, he's purchased books on Amazon for computers that have nothing to do with school. When I questioned him, his response was, "Just because I'm not going for the piece of paper, it doesn't mean I no longer have interest in computers." I have a feeling the only piece of paper we're going to be seeing in this house is the invoices he sends his future customers. And don't tell him, but I'm fine with that...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Staunton Walking Ghost Tour

On Saturday I visited Staunton for the first time to go on a "Walking Ghost Tour." Frankly, it wasn't what I thought it was going to be, and in case someone is interested in it, I won't go into deep detail. I will say that if you are a paranormal investigator you probably will not walk away with anything other than a brief history of Staunton, and sore calf muscles from walking up the hilly streets. I now understand the tour that we would have appreciated more involving the depot and actual evp sessions using a "ghost box," occurs only the last week of the month. Had I realized that, I would have gone then instead.

These first four shots are some of the haunted locations, which you will not go inside to see. I guess that's what's meant by a "walking tour" walk past them, and stand outside while the story is told. Duh, me.

For some reason I felt like I had already heard most of the stories. I don't know if I read about them in a book, or saw it on tv, or if the same type of hauntings always seems to happen in the same type of locations. After hearing them, I'm beginning to think I should hold my own "ghost tour" right here on my property! Things have really amped up again since Bella's arrival, but that's another post for another day.

Back to Staunton...

I thought the architecture of many of the buildings downtown was pretty cool. There was some sort of music festival going on so the street was jamming. I would have liked to explore the downtown area more but the drive is over an hour and a half away from Roanoke, so once we were done, we were outta there. Here's a couple of shots that are not on the tour...

That last one is of my daughter and her friend, who are not scared of the ghost story but shocked that they spent their money and Saturday evening in Staunton with mom. Haha! Sorry girls...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Training Bella

Just like she's taken over my life, it seems Bella is taking over this blog. It's amazing I get anything done, yet I do. The highlight of my week was scoring first row tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld here in Roanoke. I arrived before the box office opened, thinking I would be waiting on a line. There was only one other person there to get tickets. He got the first row center on the left, and I took the seats across the aisle from him. "See ya at the show." That, my friends, is one of the perks of living in a small Southern town. Of course it helps that the performer is a Jewish New Yorker, and Roanoke is only on his map due to it being his manager's home town.

The expression on the woman in front of me's face when she was asked if she was there for the Seinfeld tickets was priceless. She rolled her eyes as she replied, "Alan Jackson." She stopped short of saying, "Duh!" I swear, I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't sell out. Just as long as he doesn't cancel. I've never forgiven Dwight Yoakam for cancelling when I had 7th row seats. He couldn't sell out the Salem Civic Center and he's not been back. These seats are even better. This is first row, in the pit. I'll see Seinfeld's sweat.

Anyway, back to Bella. After watching my husband "play" with her, I had a major breakthrough this week when I figured out why she was being so aggressive. He's the classic example of "what not to do with a new puppy." He didn't even realize it until I pointed it out to him, but now that he does, he's changing his habits. Now if only I could get Bella to change hers.

She's still not quite getting the go outside all the time, and not anywhere you want inside, concept. When she does her business outside she's gotten the "mommy gives me a treat" concept. "Look what I did, look what I did, look what I did! Now, where's the treat, where's the treat, where's the treat?"

She's quite the jumper, and extender. In one week, she's grown to be able to look on top of the bed. If I run inside a second and leave her outside alone, she panics. She searches for me on the chair I was sitting on. Now, it's a folding chair, so clearly if she can't see me, I'm not in it. But, she thinks there's a possibility I may be sitting on that chair and she just can't see me. She tried jumping onto the seat from the back and got her head caught in between the top and bottom of the chair, her little legs dangling off the ground. I rescued her.

Later in the evening I thought I hurt her. She's always under my feet and so quiet. When I stepped down the stair into my bedroom she got under my foot and I stepped on her leg. The yelp she let out! I thought I broke her little leg. She walked around on three legs, dangling the fourth one. Again, luckily her bones must be made of rubber because there's nothing wrong with it. The way she reacts to any sort of "injury" no matter how minor, I wondering if it's possible a puppy could already be a diva dog through instinct. Malti-Zhus are way different than Corgis. Or is it a female/male thing and it has nothing to do with the breed? I dunno.

I did teach her one thing this to play Fetch. The goal is to wear her out and get her to drop the ball in front of me. The first part works, the second, not so much. She sometimes refuses to bring me the ball, prefering instead to lie with it in her mouth, squeaking away, and attacking it as it rolls from her jaws. She's even pushed it through the bottom of the fence, more than one time..

She was making no progress trying to chew through the metal chain link fence, so once again, mommy came to the rescue. No wonder she's always around me...I'm like her superhero.

Yeah, she's cute, but needs a bath. A white dog? In this household? What were we thinking? For that matter, a puppy, at my age, what was I thinking?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bella's First Week

So it's been one week since Bella has joined our house. I'd love to say she's the smartest little puppy in the world, listens to all of us, is totally toilet-trained, and is a joy to be around, but I'd be lying. Well, the last part is true.

It's been challenging trying to train her because she gets so easily distracted. She'll be on her way to do her business when suddenly a leaf falls, or a bird chirps, or a fly buzzes, or a car passes, or a dog barks in the distance, or a lawn mower is started, and it causes her to stop, forget what she was doing and focus instead on whatever it is that has caught her attention for that second.

Inside she prefers to pee on the Roanoke Times instead of the Star Sentinel. I don't think it has anything to do with content, but rather the feel of the paper beneath her paws. She hasn't figured out yet that she needs to get all four paws on the paper and not just her front ones. Her bladder must be the size of a pea. She pees constantly. I keep telling myself she's only 10 weeks old and doesn't have control yet to know how to hold it in, or let me know she wants to go outside. She has figured out how to let me know she wants to come inside. She pounds on door with both paws while howling like a banshee.

She has two beds. The one in my bedroom is a really nice one I bought from Tuesday Morning. That's where she sleeps when she's had enough. And I have to give her credit, when she wants to go to bed, she does. Very cute. The other bed is a cheap one I bought from CVS that I keep in the living room. She thinks of it as her nest. Everything and anything goes into in. She's brought all her toys, chewies, snacks, cardboard rolls, paper receipts, whatever she finds. She's like a raven. When she gets bored of playing with her toys she turns her attention to destroying the bed, not the one she sleeps in, just this cheap one. Her tail has also become a toy, or bother, to her. She actually does catch it and rolls around while holding onto it. I get dizzy just watching her.

I'm happy to report she seems to have gotten more comfortable with the men. I took the advice of a friend to have them feed her using their hand to put the puppy chow in the bowl. She no longer barks and tries to bite them, although with her teeth coming in, she does try to bite everything. I found her trying to gnaw on the crystal knobs of my bedroom set, the bottom of my dining room table legs, and the concrete step to the yard. She understands "NO!" as she'll slink away and then place her face on top of her paw giving me the puppy dog eyes. She's hard to stay mad at.

The scariest thing is that she's a leaper. Twice she's leaped out of the kids' arms while they were holding her. Thank God she didn't fall on her head because I know of someone that happened to and the puppy died from the injury. Now as soon as she squirms we all know to immediately put her down. She's got strong back legs that she uses to propel herself. It won't be long before she figures out how to climb on to my bed by using the fireplace step. Then I'm really in trouble!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Amazon's Free Casino

During my two day freebie book promotion, when I was watching the number of Fractured Facade downloads skyrocket, I felt like I was in a casino, finally winning at the slots.

slot machine Pictures, Images and Photos

Unfortunately, the downloads were free, so whenever the jackpot hit, it was like winning plastic chips. Three weeks ago, I thought getting my book into the hands of thousands of people was just fantastic. Now, I realize a lot of those people shouldn't have my book in their hands. They're not the people I wrote it for.

Although the quick downloading brought me high rankings, I'd rather it have stayed lower if it meant my reader was choosier. Just because something is free, it's not always for me. Before I download anything I check out the description, reviews and sample. The sample is what tells me if I want to invest my time or not. Reviews are great, but I trust my own eyes to know what I'm looking for more than someone else's opinion.

But in Amazon's Free Casino, it's a crapshoot. Sometimes you'll touch a reader in a special way, and other times, a reader may not want to touch your book with a ten foot pole. Out of 10,000 people, some will have different ummmm "taste" than I have. Some may even find my writing "distasteful." Hopefully, many more will find it authentic and necessary. For those that have a problem with characters using words that "offend them" I'd like them to know it's called dialogue. And sometimes, it's colorful. And frankly to me, it's not profane, but to others, it's enough to stop reading and write a one-star review -- the only review they ever wrote -- just focused on what they deem to be a book "so filled with profanity" they couldn't finish it. I think that's a ridiculous statement.

Yeah, there's some cuss words. That's how we talk in Brooklyn. "Pissed off," "shit," "hell," "bitch" and wait for it..."fucking bitch" are spoken by a woman, yes, a woman, a woman grappling with turbulent times. In order not to "offend" any righteous reader, I want them to know what they're getting into before reading my book. In the sample there are "cuss words." On Shelfari, I even quoted Marie: "I didn't know you needed a stage name to pick up dog shit." This way if someone had a problem with "shit" they'd move on to the next free book. I know I most likely wouldn't download an Amish romance or Christian fiction book as it's not my preference. My in-your-face writing may not be yours. So, if words easily offend you, please do not read my book. Just like in real life, people either love me or hate me, so why should my writing be any different.

On the other hand, if you are one of the 10,000 people who actually read and liked Fractured Facade, please consider leaving your review, or letting me know so I could hound you to leave a review. Since the freebie, I've had some five, four and one-star reviews on Amazon. And five and four star ones on Goodreads. At first I was pissed at the one-star reviews, but after I checked out what, if any, other books they did like, I knew they were not my target audience. I thought their opinions would make my sales suffer, but other than bringing down my rating, it hasn't hurt. Other authors have said you're not a "real author" until you get a one-star review. I say bullshit. The check from Smashwords I received holds more weight as to my "real author" status.

Recently I read a book review from a friend who absolutely hated a memoir she tried to read. After reading her review and checking out the others on Amazon, I thought to myself, "Hmmmm, this sounds like a book I might like," so I requested it from my library. I know her tastes are different than mine, so I'll be curious to see what I think of the book. Her review didn't stop me from getting fact, had she not reviewed it, I would never have known about the book.

By far the best thing that's happened with my freebie is that people I had never known before have reached out to me, and some of them have even become Facebook friends. And you know what? We seem to have much in common. Those are the type of people I want reading my book...the ones that get it. Still, I'm starting to think that maybe giving away free books to the masses is not the be-all, end-all after all...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Meet Bella

I had forgotten how much attention a new puppy demands. After three days I'm starting to think it would have been easier to have grandchildren, because frankly, grandchildren go home at the end of the day.

Meet Bella -- No, nothing to do with Twilight! Bella is beautiful in Italian and if I had another daughter her name would have been Isabella. She is a nine week old Malti-Tzu (we used to call them mutts back in the day) who has totally taken over my world.

She is a cute little thing, but like many women, craves constant attention. Apparently I am "the chosen one" so if I'm not in Bella's sight she panics. When I have to go to the bathroom she does not like having that door closed in her face. Her little cry will start as a whimper, proceed to a heavier bellow and end on a long howl, sounding much like a hound dog. Bella is only 4 pounds and all 4 of those pounds must be in her lungs.

I've had to change the way I walk because as soon as I lift my foot she is under it. She's very stealthy and has no nails clicking on the floor, so I don't even know she's under me until I accidentally kick her. I tried putting a collar on her, hoping her name tag would jingle and give me a clue she's there, but she would have no part of it. If I'm sitting at the table paying bills, working on a laptop, eating, whatever, her little head rests on my foot. Well, when her little teeth aren't trying to gnaw the computer plug, and every other wire and electrical cord in the house. All shoes have to be put where she cannot get them. I found one of my flip-flops in her bed.

Last night was the first night she slept straight through. I had taken the advice of some friends and put my shirt in her bed. She snuggled up against it and fell right asleep. At some point during the night she had gotten up because she almost got her business done on the newspaper, and then climbed back in her bed.

It's been hard to get her on an eating schedule because she picks one morsel of puppy chow out of her bowl, runs frantically around the house, then sits on her blankie to eat it. Rinse. Repeat. The vet said I should remove her bowl after ten minutes. She would be starving if I did that.

She loves snuggling next to me on the couch and I love feeling her fluffy fur and warm puppy breath. She comforts me as much as I comfort her. I'm way behind in so many things, but I don't care. Yeah, she's taken over my life, but there are definitely worse things that could take over my life. Lately I've been feeling depressed, and when I feel that tear coming on, Bella licks it away. A puppy's a lot of work, but better than any anti-depressant. I'm grateful she/we found us/her.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Heron in a Tree

I've never seen this before...along the Roanoke River in Salem...a heron in a tree...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dine With Us Cookbook

I've often said that one of the most positive aspects of being an independent author is the support one receives from other independent authors, most notably through some Facebook groups. One such group is Indie Writers Unite. The group was established by Cheryl Bradshaw and has grown to over 1,000 members since its March 2011 inception. Recently a bunch of writers came together to create a cookbook, Dine With Us.

"It's a collection of recipes from fifty authors who invite you to enjoy some of their favorite dishes while getting to know their works in the process."

50% of the proceeds from the kindle sales will be donated to UNICEF. Normally, $5.99, Dine With Us is free today and tomorrow on Amazon.

And yes, that's my world famous Strouffler recipe at the end, which makes an appearance in my book, Fractured Facade...

Hope you enjoy it...And, no hitting anyone with a honey-covered wooden spoon!