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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cheryl's "Blooming Spirit"

The other day I had written a post about still feeling like a stranger in a strange land in Roanoke. When a reader commented that her motto has always been, "bloom where you are planted" I didn't know how to respond.

That "reader" was Cheryl Dolby, a wonderfully talented artist that has made Roanoke her home. Unlike me, Cheryl has embraced her life here, and in turn, has been embraced by the community. Cheryl reminds me of a field of beautiful, colorful wildflowers. When cut, they will be placed in a hand-crafted vase, grace the middle of a table covered with delicious delicasies, and enjoyed by the multitude of friends she has surrounding the table.

I feel like the teeny tiny flower pushing through the crack of concrete on someone's back patio that they will pull out by the shallow roots -- "get rid of that weed" and handily discard. This is why I could not respond to Cheryl's comment.

After reading my post, Cheryl wrote a post this morning on her blog, Healing Woman, a portion of which I'd like to share with you:

"In response to Elena, I immediately thought of a poem I wrote, titled “Blooming Spirit.” Coincidentally, I was working on a renaissance oil collage of a girl with sunflowers and after I read Elena's blogpost, I thought it would be serendipitous to name my sunflower girl after my poem. Here is the poem and details about my painting.

“Blooming Spirit”
Her home was far away and she longed for the roots that had for so long held her life together; friends, family and familiar surroundings. Time passed as she quietly endured her sorrow. Finally, she rejoiced, for her soul, who knew far more than she, revealed a great truth: “Change is growth, you must bloom where you are planted.”
~Cheryl Dolby~

Just beautiful. To see more of Cheryl's fantastic talents, please stop by her blog.

Thank you Cheryl, you've given me a lot to ponder...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Digging Out

Did I hear you making vacation plans? Well, you better take me with you...

What do you mean, you need a break? From me???

Look at me, I'm adorable!

Not buying it? It's okay, I've got a plan...

That's right, I'm digging my way outta here...

You think you're the only one who needs a change of scenery?

Maine??? Never mind...I'll just stay here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Now What?

It is done. I should be happy. But, I'm not. The goal has been fulfilled, yet I feel sad.

Today is the third day my daughter has left to attend college. The campus is only three miles away. She will be home tonight after work, as will my son. Other parents have to deal with their children going far away from home for their studies, only seeing them on holidays and special occasions. That hasn't happened to me...yet. I know it's inevitable.

Truth be told, I barely see my kids now. They have their own lives. They work, are becoming more responsible, haven't had any brushes with the law, and are leading productive lives. I think I've succeeded. I hope I've succeeded. Now what?

I can't help feeling melancholy. This is what everyone must mean when they talk about "empty nest syndrome." Rather than bask in the present, I'm allowing what hasn't happened yet fill me with dread.

My goal -- from as soon as I had children -- was to give them a better life than I had. I uprooted myself and moved far away from friends and family in New York to give them more opportunities here in Virginia. Roanoke didn't disappoint me, as far as raising kids were concerned. As to my own "social life" here...I have none. And lately I'm feeling sorry for myself.

I find myself becoming more and more depressed. I don't sleep well, have no energy, have been reaching for food as a substitute for friendship, and am totally unmotivated. My husband says, "Write." The muse is not here, I can't just "write." About the only thing I can "write" are checks to pay for the bills and a blog post once in a while. I haven't had the desire to finish formatting what I have already written for a paperback. And promotion? Who cares? If my stories sell, they sell, if not, oh well.

My husband is concerned about my lethargy and sad face so he's made it a point to tell me, "You're always welcome at the shop, or to come shooting with the guys." Oh joy. Maybe I'll even get an invite to the Gun Show. I appreciate his kind offer, but those are his friends, not mine. I don't want to stand around drinking beer and try to pretend to be interested in their bad jokes and boring stories about people I didn't grow up with and don't know. And although his friends' wives and/or significant others are nice, they have more in common with my husband than me. It's hard to fit into a round hole when you're a square peg.

When you move far away from where you were born and grew up, you have no history in your "new" town. And after 17 years, I still don't, and to the locals here, I never will. My husband has suggested that I spend time between Brooklyn and Roanoke. My fear is that once I go back there, I won't want to come back here. Then what?

Monday, August 20, 2012

She's a Rogue

When we began looking for houses in Roanoke 15 years ago, I really liked one near Garst Mill. It was a ranch with a beautiful walk-out basement that I thought would be perfect for my parents to live in, or for my kids once they got older. The only problem with the house is that it had white rugs throughout, everywhere, even in the kitchen.

The woman who was selling the house lived there alone, and you could see she kept it spic and span clean. I actually considered buying it for about five seconds until my husband set me straight. "Do you really think an all white house is a good idea? We have kids, a dog, and ummmm, I'm a mechanic." My mother was more direct, "Are you nuts?! You're not exactly Suzie Homemaker. Those rugs will be ruined in a day!" We passed.

Of course they were both right, so my question of the day is...what were we thinking in buying a white dog with long hair? When we first brought her home she was so clean, smelt like a precious puppy and even her breath was like daisies blooming. Now, she's a rogue. That's what happens living in this house, however, she is the only one of us who has a penchant for eating poo.

See that purple/grayish spot on the back of her? That's black hair dye. She has streaks on her front left leg and underneath as well. No, it was not done on purpose. Last week she followed me into the bathroom when I dyed my hair. I am a sloppy hair dyer. I usually dye it downstairs in my husband's mechanic bathroom where anything goes, but when I flipped the lights on they all blew out and I had no choice but to go upstairs.

Apparently I splattered some in my haste and when I saw a blob on Bella, I panicked. I tried to "wash it out." She wouldn't stand still so I couldn't catch her, and when I did all that happened was I smeared it worse throughout her hair. Had I just left it alone, I could have easily cut out the nickle-sized black blob once it dried. Now the stain has turned purple and is about the size on a large hand. I wondered if my family would notice. They did. And after I attempted to groom her by cutting her bangs, I've been advised to "put the scissors down" and stay away from her. My daughter: "You made my dog into a punk rock dog!"

Besides the horrible hair cut and purple stains, her hair has become a matted mess on her haunches. She hates the hairbrush, rips it out of my hand, and hides it. I went to PetSmart and bought some detangler and an additive for her drinking water to help with her breath. So far the breath freshener is not working. Tonight she'll get her bath so let's hope the detangling does.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On the Couch

Look who I found on the couch. For a small dog Bella has quite a large leap. She still hasn't figured out how to get on my bed, but she's getting closer.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Where's That Flash Drive?

Just stopping by to say Hi! Been busy formatting a paperback version of Fractured Facade. I know, I know, I said I wouldn't bother, but once again I've learned to never say never.

Since I'm doing everything in-house, it shouldn't cost me what it could have cost had I let Createspace, or a freelancer take over. It is taking more time than it probably should since I have to keep GTSing...Google That find out how to complete "simple" tasks in Word so that the book looks professional.

I could kick myself in the butt, or really kick my cover designer in the butt...she never saved the original artwork and typeface she created. Well, she did, but it was on the Mac that she borrowed from school which she no longer attends. Bye bye easy way out! When I asked her why she didn't save a copy, she said, "You said you were never going to make a paperback. Besides, we didn't have a Mac. Anyway, you should have asked me to! Wait, I think I did put it on my flash drive. Where's that flash drive?" Damn, trying to find a flash drive in her room is going to be harder than redesigning the cover.

But really, she's right on all counts. I need to keep better records, notes, and copies, copies, copies. It's my problem, but since she now does have a Mac laptop, that I bought for her earlier this year, as well as Photoshop, etc. it's about to become her problem as well. I've asked her to re-design the cover as close to the original as possible. She said she will when she gets "some time." She's been working double shifts and school starts in less than two weeks, so her time is at a premium. Oh well, I waited this long...what's a little longer?
Quality, not quantity...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Onwards and Upwards

So with spending less time on-line, especially on social media sites, I actually have been making progress with my tasks.

As of now, I have uploaded both Fractured Facade and The Valentine's Day Curse to every eRetailer I want to be in...Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo Books. I am still awaiting Premium Status for The Valentine's Day Curse so it will take a couple more weeks for it show up on Barnes & Noble and Apple.

After one month of uploading Fractured Facade to Smashwords amd B&N, I've been disappointed with Nook readers, especially those who "clamored" for me to take my books out of KDP Select so they could download it. Although I have had some sample downloads from Smashwords, all my sales are still coming soley from Amazon. So if I don't see any improvement from the other outlets with my 90-day self-imposed time limit, I will have to rethink my decision. Hoping to spur sales, I have decided to keep Fractured Facade at $3.99 until Labor Day, and then it's going back to $4.99.

I had hoped to begin my formatting for a paperback version of Fractured Facade but I need a clear head and have been suffering from insomnia. I'm hoping today will be the day I can at least begin. I'm really not looking forward to this task.

I did take some time and slap together a quick :30 spot for The Valentine's Day Curse using the website Animoto. It's very limited, but it's free, quick and easy, and now I'm able to post it on my sidebar as well. Here it is:

Even if you're not an author looking to make a :30 spot, you should check the site out and have some fun with your photos, etc.

The writing has been non-existent, but that's okay. Besides wanting to get all the eVersions uploaded and the paperback formatted, I'm still torn as to which project I should focus on first. I'm amazed at how prolific some authors are, popping out a book a month. And then I read them, well some of them, and now know why they have so many titles. No thanks...I'd rather have quality than quantity.

I have been spending time on the other never-ending art project...the framed "Japanese" window that I still haven't conquered. I think I'm getting closer to a paint that works, and as long as my hands could hold out from all that scraping after making mistake after mistake, I think it's going to look pretty cool.

Onwards and upwards!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bella at Five Months

Bella is now five months old. Gone is the timid, tiny tot. She's changed so much.

This was her standing on her tippy-paws at three months, barely able to look inside the door...

This is her at five months...

Her love for sticks remains, but look at her three months later. At 9 1/2 pounds, she's huge...what do they put in that puppy chow?

Wish I had videotaped her actions before she came to a stop with the branch of leaves. She is a maniac. When she gets the zoomies, I step out of her way, and let her go. And man, does she go. When she's outside, it's wild to see the dirt kick up under her paws as she dips and dives under bushes, over branches, through my chair, under the table, and around the yard. When she gets the zoomies inside, she reminds me of a dog in a cartoon running in place, but not going anywhere. Once those paws connect with the wood, she zips behind the baker's rack, under the table, around a chair, behind the couch, rattling the vertical blinds to the end of the cocktail table, a quick spin, and back the way she came.

She still loves playing fetch...over and over and over and over and over again. It just doesn't get old for her. Her toys are scattered everywhere, fluffy filling floats on the floors. With each tug, the unstuffed whatever gets thinner. Any paper that falls to the ground is hers. And I mean anything. Toilet paper cannot be on the holder as she can now reach it. I've tried closing the doors, but still I find an entire roll stretched throughout the house like a Halloween prank gone bad. Half- bitten rawhide bones and sticks seem to reappear no matter how many times I sweep them up. And she hates the broom, with a passion. "Leave my stuff alone!"

Much like Max, she too is what I would call "quirky." She lifts her leg to pee, has a thing against anything white, hates having a collar put on her, and thinks the leash is something to chew on. I still haven't been able to walk her. If I'm able to somehow get the leash and collar on her, she makes herself dead weight. Dragging a dog is not fun. She also "sees" things that we do not see, which sort of freaks me out. Oh, and she hates that puppy in the mirror, who she barks at, tries to scratch, bites and pounces on.

She's also not a girlie girl dog. I've tried every clip, barrette and rubber band to keep her hair out of her eyes. As soon as I put them on she freaks out by rubbing her head against the ground and uses her paws to pull them out. Once she gets them, she chews them. I've had to cut her hair myself. I'm no groomer, but at least I can see her beautiful big eyes and she can see the world better. Although, she still has a hard time finding the stick when we throw it to her, even if it's only a foot away from her. She frantically searches everywhere for it, except for the spot where it landed. She's not the brightest bulb. But she is cute and lovable, when she wants to be.

The best part of the day for me is after my husband leaves for work and Bella bangs on the side of my bed to come up. She snuggles on my husband's pillow and will remain there until I get up. Anyone else who tries to lie in bed with her she thinks of as a "chew toy" but towards me, she's the loving little puppy.  Now stop growing girl!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Finalizing the School Years Portfolio

I had to put aside all the tasks I thought I would accomplish today when I realized it was already August and I hadn't completed one of the most important ones...finalizing my daughter's School Years portfolio.

Before my children were old enough to even begin school I had bought both of them one of these School Years books from some mail order catalogue. Each year, starting from Pre-School all the way through High School, the book is a memory-keeper of sorts.

At the end of each school year, the kids and I would sit down and fill out all the name, age, height, weight, friends, activities, achievements, awards, etc. Each year has a pocket where important papers, photos, newspaper clippings, report cards, etc. can be placed in the envelope, along with a photo from that year. As you can see my daughter's book is stuffed to the brim!

One of my favorite things is reading the "When I Grow Up I Want To Be..." section  each year up until sixth grade. My daughter has "wanted to be" a ballerina, school teacher, singer, mother, model, artist, pianist, secretary, and fashion designer.

Before she went to work today at a position that wasn't one listed in the book, I asked her if she wouldn't mind filling out her high school page. She didn't roll her eyes at me or sigh. She did it gladly. When she goes on her own, I will keep the book, until she wants it. Maybe one day she can sit down with her kids and go through it. And then hopefully she will begin one for them as well.

I have nothing like this from my childhood. Although, after my father died I did find one short story I wrote when I was in school called "Golden Tuna." I received an "A" and I remember the nun who read the mystery said to the class that one day I would be a famous writer. Well that doesn't mean as much to me as the discovery that my father kept it all those years with his papers. When I found it, not only did it bring tears to my eyes, but it lit the spark in me to get back to writing, and when I thought I could go on no more telling my story, my dad's gesture kept me going.

If there's one thing I could impart to new mothers it would be to take an interest in your children's education and talents. Maybe you don't have to keep every drawing or poem they write, but do keep some. If you show them you care about their future they will take it seriously. And then one day, when they discover all you kept from them, for them, they will thank you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Set Me Free

Looks like I'm going to have to make myself scarce on-line, especially on the social media sites, if I plan to get anything productive done. Since I work best under pressure, and it's a blessing and a curse I'm my own boss, I've decided to set a deadline to accomplish all the writing-related tasks that I've been putting off including:

*Reformat and upload Fractured Facade to Kobo. Smashwords was taking too long to get into Kobo so I'm skipping the middle man. Hoping they move quickly on getting it back into the iTune store soon!

*Reformat and upload The Valentine's Day Curse to Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

*Reformat, design a book jacket, and upload Fractured Facade to Createspace so I will have a paperback version before Christmas. I plan to take some copies up to New York so I could shill them on the subway. Nah, only kidding about the subway...or am I?

*Create an outline for the novella I'm working on. Never used an outline before, but for this project I do believe I need one.

*Compile, edit, format, and upload a collection of poems that were written in the 70's & 80's.

If I complete the last two tasks I will then have covered four bases -- a novel, a short story, a novella and a poetry collection.

I've been totally unmotivated, due in no small part to lack of sleep, lack of energy, and a surplus of pain. Like Patti says, "Sometimes my spirit's empty, don't have the will to go on, I wish someone would send me energy."  But I've got to pull myself out of this funk, stop looking for excuses to thwart my success, and get back my "Brooklyn." It's too easy being lazy...time to push back so I can set me free.