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.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Trouble Don't Las' Always

I've really learned to listen to the little voice that sometimes whispers inside my head. This past Saturday, it screamed. Who would have ever thought I'd find so many links for my tale in Lynchburg? But there I was in the hilly city attending Paraquest. There were three events I wanted to attend, yet I didn't attend any of them. One speaker cancelled and a spontaneous distraction took up a couple of hours.

We registered on-site, attended three other sessions and then broke for lunch. Rather than eat the usual catered Holiday Inn cold-cut fare, we chose to explore Lynchburg's Main Street in search of a restaurant. A local advised us to walk a couple of blocks to the right. Except for some workers blocking part of the sidewalk, and the happy homeless, the streets were desolate. If there was a business, it was closed, but mostly there were empty storefronts.

I saw a sushi buffet for $5.99, but my fellow companions said they didn't eat bait. They probably did me a huge favor. Ahead was a bustling restaurant, Market At Main -- a warm, comfortable establishment that has a long counter with stools, booths, and tables. With such a huge and diversified menu it was hard to choose something. I went with their duo pick-two -- a trio of hummus with warm pita points and tuna salad on a bed of lettuce. It was only $5.99 and the portion was not a stripped down version. I will definitely go back if I find myself in Lynchburg again.

Lunch took a little longer than the hour. The next speaker would already be underway, and the following one we wanted to see wasn't showing up, so I asked if anyone wanted to come with me to check out the Legacy Museum. It's been on my research list for a couple of months now, and since we had already traveled to Lynchburg it would save me another trip. There's an exhibit going on now "Trouble Don't Las' Always." I was interested in seeing up close and personal remnants from African American Life in Central Virginia during and after the Civil War 1860-1890. Looking at pictures is one thing, reading words another, but seeing and handling three-dimensional artifacts is a whole other thing...a really good thing.

Although the museum is only 7 blocks away from the Holiday Inn, we were advised to take the car and not walk as I thought we would. There's a reason Lynchburg is called the hill city and those seven blocks were all uphill. We were the only car in the tiny parking lot of the small museum which is housed in a beautifully refurbished Victorian home. We rang and bell and was greeted with a smiling face and an "I was expecting you" after she asked if I had called earlier in the week. I had.

For me, what the museum lacked in size, was made up for in its exhibits. I read everything I saw and took plenty of pictures.

I also picked up a list of additional recommended books. You know, I keep thinking, "I'm almost done" researching, but clearly, the universe has other plans, one of which was to direct us to visit the Old City Cemetery. We had seen it after parking and wondered if we could walk in there through this gate.

The museum worker told us to drive up the block and into the cemetery. As we drove to the visitor's center we were surprised at how large and pretty it was. I had never heard of this cemetery before I printed out a Google map of the route from the hotel to the museum. It's a very popular place. We joked there were more live people in here than down Main Street. We even saw a bridal party and guests in one location.

While we were there I discovered what I never imagined would be, but what I needed. I cannot elaborate as it's going to play an important part in my book. I wish we had had more time to explore Old City Cemetery, but we had to get back to the conference. Here are just a couple of shots.

I didn't see  as much as I would have liked, but what I did see was what I was meant to see, and I thank the little voice that nudged me there.

"Keep yo' eye on de sun
See how she run
Don't let her catch you
with your work undone
I'm a troubled,
I'm a troubled,
Trouble don't las'always."

Aint that the truth...

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Unlike this squirrel who wants to be surrounded by them, I am disheartened with the amount of nuts I have come across lately. I could elaborate, but if I do, my brain might burst.

Ahhh, now I feel better...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Crime Scene or Paint Scene?

Imagine you're a young lady on her dinner break in downtown Roanoke. You drive to meet your friend near Macado's and decide to park in the indoor lot right across the street. After you lock your car and walk to the elevator, you see a footprint and stains in front of the elevator.

At first you think someone spilled paint, but when the elevator doors open you're met with this:

What would you do?

It's my understanding that this did not reflect the entire elevator as the "splatter" went as far as the ceiling and all four walls. With a quick gasp, the girl does not step into the elevator, and flees down the flight of stairs instead. She heads quickly to the restaurant when a figure steps out of the shadows and tells her to "Slow down, what's your hurry?" He causes her to jump and run even faster. As soon as she feels she's in a "safer" situation with her friend at the restaurant, she calls the police.

It takes the police, whose station is two blocks away, 25 minutes to arrive. The two officers do not seem to be taking the girl, and now her friend, seriously, and the young ladies could hear them snickering behind them as they walked in front of them to the scene. "I felt like they were more concerned with checking out our asses than the potential crime scene."

When they arrive to the destination, the girl points to the footstep on the floor coming out of the elevator as well as all the splotches. One of the cops says, "It's probably paint. There's a lot of renovation going on around here." The girl says, "Look inside the elevator." One of them does and says, "Oh shit, someone got their shit fucked up. We better call this in."

They take all the girl's info and stop someone from trying to enter the elevator who says, "That looks like paint." The cops now think otherwise. The red stains are clearly dried which brings me to this question...How many other people used that elevator and never bothered to call the police? Maybe it is paint and not blood, but shouldn't it warrant a call to find out for sure?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Playing Fetch

Playing "fetch" with Bella...

C'mon, throw it, throw it, throw it...

Oh, the ole fake-out, huh?

I ain't falling for that again!

That's right...the stick is mine. Bring it to you? Pffft. Not gonna happen!

Screw this stick...I want the new one you have...

C'mon, throw it, throw it, throw it!

Repeat ten more times, or until I get tired of picking up sticks which are never brought back to me.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Earth Laughs in Flowers

Starting to think "April showers" have nothing to do with rain. With all the crappy events that seem to be associated with April over the last couple of years, I'm thinking the showers are more like tears than raindrops. Still, no matter what tragedies befall us, we are strong. It's important to remember to stop and smell the flowers because...

"Earth laughs in flowers" -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cherry Trees

The cherry trees are on their own time. The ugliness of man cannot stop the beauty of nature.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Max's Sad Anniversary

Today marks one year since Max has left us.

He's gone, but not forgotten.

In fact, Max will be returning soon through the written word.

He's with me always...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Brooklyn Visits Roanoke

It only took 18 years for a good friend of mine to finally visit here in Roanoke the week before Easter. The only reason she did was because it was a good stopping point on her way to Orlando. She was gracious enough to bring my cousin along for the ride and leave him here until her return trip back to NYC. Since I really had only one full day to show her and her kids around, I tried to give them a good sampling of Roanoke.

She and her kids had never visited a cavern before so after her "must-have" Southern breakfast of grits, and biscuits and gravy at Mac and Bob's, we headed to Dixie Caverns in Salem. I've been there a couple of times when my kids were smaller so I assured her we would both "fit" inside the tight walls. Unfortunately, I forgot about all the steps, which killed my knees. Thank you RA!

The kids seemed to really like it and were amazed to see real live bats on the ceiling.

My cousin, a typical New Yorker, thought they were put there for "effect." "C'mon, in all these caverns the guide knows exactly where two bats are. Oh, please, they're fake." I think they are real, but maybe he's right, I've been living in the south too long.

From there we headed downtown to visit the vendors and grab a snack in the City Building. They thought downtown was quaint, "Where's the rest of the city?" "Ummm, that's pretty much it, and you're lucky it's a Saturday, or it would be dead." One of my friend's sons wanted to go on top of a mountain so naturally we drove to the Mill Mountain Star.

They really liked it and her son wanted to hike it. "You could pick me up at the bottom." Yeah, no. I had no idea where the trail wound up so told him next time he comes he could hike it. They were too big for the zoo so we skipped that. And the weather was still cool so there weren't any nice showy flowers or trees.

I think the highlight for the kids might have been the immense smorgasbord of "Chinese" food at the mega buffet joint by Crossroads Mall. They liked everything they ate, well almost everything, "Stay away from the cubes of Jello!" No problem there. They also seemed to enjoy our ping-pong table and pinball machine. Although we had every intention of playing board games, by the time night fell and our glasses were filled, we never got around to it. They left early Sunday morning and headed South.

Lucky for me I still had a playmate for the week -- my cousin.

We laughed, ate, laughed, ate, laughed & ate some more. I took him to the saddest place on earth, Happy's Flea Market. We visited all my favorite stores and restaurants. We saw a great act at the Roanoke Public Library -- Megan Jean & the KFB band. I blogged more in depth about it here. We walked to Jamison's Orchards where he bought, "the best granola I've ever tasted." We checked out Black Dog Salvage. He thought it was interesting but definitely over-priced. We never got to see the Winston Link Museum, but we did get to the Taubman.

We were the only visitors in there, and I do believe there were more security guards than artwork. He said he was glad it was free. We had hoped to visit the card store right next door to it but there was a sign on the door saying they were only open on Saturdays, and by appointment for the rest of the week. Huh?

All in all, it was a great week that alleviated my homesickness, but went too quick. My friend and her kids really liked Roanoke, but she wasn't too thrilled with Salem. Driving to my home on Electric Road from I-81 she got a speeding ticket. The officer said he "gave her a break" by not making it "reckless" but it still cost her $151. I had specifically warned her to go the speed limit as soon as she got off of 81 because I know the cops troll that road. You don't realize how fast you're going after driving 13 hours on a freeway, and when you do the limit you feel like you're travelling backwards. "I should have listened to you!" Yeah, you should have listened to me 15 years ago too when I told you to move down here so I wouldn't be so alone...

I still have hope that one day they will listen to me.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bella the Rock Collector

When Bella was a teeny tiny puppy getting up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water or whatever, one would hope not to step into a puddle or a pile. She finally grew out of that, but now one is faced with a new "surprise" thanks to her. Nothing says "WAKE UP!" like stepping on a rock. A rock? Yes, a rock.

It seems Bella has become a rock collector. Where most dogs beg to have a stick thrown, my dog begs to have a rock thrown. She is very persistent and will do a little dance until you fling one. She then searches the entire yard until she finds that one particular rock. When she does she lifts it up and either buries it, or puts it in a pile, after sharpening her teeth on it. She does her business with a rock in her mouth, and when she comes back inside she will bring a rock in with her. She will not come inside without bearing a gift -- a rock, a twig, a branch, a leaf. She must be a Sicilian dog.

I have found rocks in my bed. I have sat on rocks on the couch. Rocks peek out of the the massive hole in her chaise. I have washed rocks in the washing machine. And I have stepped on rocks in the middle of the night. Ouch. She is a quirky little thing. She's lucky she's so cute.

This was her yesterday in the snow. All the rocks and twigs were covered so she couldn't built her pyramid.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Is PermaFree For Me?

It's been almost two months since I removed both my books from Amazon's KDP Select Program. Once again, I wanted to give readers who have other devices besides the kindle the opportunity to read my books since KDP Select is an exclusive platform. At that time I felt I wasn't getting enough borrows to justify keeping it in there, so wanted to "test the waters" again. That's what's great about being an indie...I can make my own decisions/mistakes.

I immediately offered my short story, The Valentine's Day Curse, free, on Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunes & Kobo. Amazon does not allow me to price it at zero, however, I did hear that they price-match. So, I hoped that would happen. Meanwhile, I waited to see how many free downloads the other sites would garner. After six weeks, the short story was downloaded a half-dozen times on Smashwords. I have no idea if it was downloaded on iTunes or B&N because they take forever to report to SW. There were zero downloads on Kobo. My novel received zero downloads, not even a sampling, on all those sites, yet I had sales on Amazon.

I think part of the problem is that when your book is on different sites it becomes difficult to promote them all. Although I have tried to point potential readers to my website for all the links, it's just easier to tweet one link to a direct outlet like Amazon, and more convenient for a reader to just one-click purchase it there. Even I don't like to download from Smashwords because it takes a couple of steps and I have to hook my kindle up to my computer.

Amazon wasn't budging on price-matching, and a reader of mine did contact me to let me know they had reported the free price to them, and had received an email stating that they no longer price-match, but "here's the link if you want to buy it." I was disappointed. Then yesterday I noticed the brown bar of shame on my monthly Amazon sales report was white. Sure enough there were downloads of The Valentine's Day Curse entered into the price match column. When I checked the listing, yup, Amazon finally price-matched it to zero. Happy dance!

Now, why, you may ask, would I want to give away my short story for free on Amazon and everywhere else for that matter. Two readers. If I still had Fractured Facade in KDP Select there would be two more words...potential borrows. My hope has always been that after someone reads The Valentine's Day Curse they will seek out other books I have written. Well, other book, I have written. Still working on the next one.

Advertising is pretty expensive and not in my budget. I'd rather lose the royalty, a whopping $.35, by giving away the short story and think of it as advertising. So how is it working thus far? Well, it's been free on Amazon for one day, and I've already had ten times the downloads I had from all other sites in two months. As of this posting, it's #43 on Amazon's Best Selling Kindle store for Short Stories. Will this translate into sales for Fractured Facade? Maybe, maybe not, but I know I have a better chance of exposure by being in Amazon's Top 100 list than anywhere else. No matter what anyone says, Amazon's the big dog. So is PermaFree for me? Well, right now it is, but that's subject to change...