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 28, 2013

Bella & Butterflies

Oooh Mommy's going outside! Can I come out? Can I come out? Can I come out?

Sorry little puppy, you can't come in the backyard with me. You could come out if you would be a good little girl and let me put a leash and collar on you, but you won't, so you'll just have to wait a little bit.

I just want to take a couple of shots of these butterflies and then I'll be in. Please stop banging on that door. You be a good girl and go lay down. I won't be too long. And then I'll give you a nice treat.

Where's my little girl? Sorry I took longer than I thought. I got distracted with the metal detector. Bella, where are you?

What the hell is this? What did you do?!

Who me? I didn't do nuthin'....

Now where's that treat you promised me?

Friday, August 23, 2013

St. Rosalia Feast

Since the St. Rosalia Feast/18th Avenue Feast began last night in Bensonhurst, I thought I would re-post a blog I had written four years ago from an old blog. Once again, my middle finger gets me in trouble...

If I was back in Brooklyn this weekend I'd be heading down the block to the St. Rosalia feast. That's the Bensonhurst equivalent to the more well known from Little Italy, San Gennnaro feast. I've always liked St. Rosalia's better, less crowded, bigger with more stuff, and in walking distance to the house. For those folks who aren't familiar with Italian feasts think of the Salem Fair stretched over 10 blocks without the animals, funnel cakes or carnies. Instead there are live bands, games, rides, great food like zeppoles, cannolis, "real" sausage and peppers, wine with peaches, toblerone, saints, and all sorts of characters. For the next week anyone that lives near 18th Avenue will not be moving their cars from a parking spot because if they do they won't find another one.

I have a feast parking story to tell. Years ago in the 80's when I lived on 74th Street and 18th Avenue I hated when the feast happened, only because of the parking situation. It was bedlam. I would come home from work and could spend hours searching for a spot. On this particular night after driving around for what seemed like hours in search of a spot, I saw one on the opposite side of the street on 20th Avenue. I pulled a two-wheeler U-turn and zipped into it. I had no idea that there was a car filled with people who also wanted that spot. I got in first and they weren't too happy about it. The girls in the packed car started cursing me out claiming that was their spot. I wouldn't budge, and they jumped out of their car.

I was outnumbered five to one, so quickly locked my car doors, which wasn't an easy feat because I didn't have electric locks. As they surrounded me I had second thoughts about staying in the spot because I figured when I got to the car the next morning in all likelihood my tires would be slashed and my windows broken. One of the girls pulled a knife and told me to open the door. She must have thought I had a death wish. I wasn't that stupid. But I was stupid enough to give her the finger. If I had any doubts about staying in that coveted spot, they were long gone when they began pounding on the car ala the apes in the opening scene of "2001 A Space Odyssey." There was only one thing I could do, get the hell out of there quick.

I think I might have hit one of them, ever so gently with my car, because as I pulled out of the spot, they got really pissed off and decided they too would not take the prized parking spot after all but would instead take me. "Quick, get the bitch!" They jumped into their car and followed in hot pursuit. It was a real challenge to lose them. I had only about a block lead. I sped through the lights and made turns on two wheels. They did the same. I then made a major mistake of going down one of the side streets that led to the feast. The end of the street was blocked off. As soon as I realized it, I zipped into some stranger's driveway, shut the lights off, and ducked under the dashboard. I prayed to St. Rosalia that they wouldn't find me. I saw them zip down the block then back up slowly past me. Thank God they were too stupid to look in the driveways. I stayed in that hot car a good hour until they opened up the street. As soon as it was clear I crossed 18th Avenue and found a spot close to home. I figured it wouldn't be smart to go to the feast that year just in case they would recognize me so missed out on all the good foodstuffs. And I never ever parked on 20th Avenue again, but the next year and every year that I lived in Bensonhurst I did go to the feast. Good times...good times...

The Feast runs until September 2, daily from 5:00pm - 11:00pm. I recommend taking public transportation!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

25 Years Later & in The New Museum

So the other day I get an email from a friend of mine -- "Congratulations! The "Squat or Rot Documentary" will be shown at The New Museum on 8/22." I had no idea what he was talking about. All I know is that a couple of weeks ago, the said documentary, along with a video I put together from a show my friend curated in 1988 called AttackArt, was shown as part of MoRUS first annual film fest. Two and a half years ago, I wrote a post entitled The Year Was 1988 which explains more about the videos. Before its recent stint at MoRUS, that was the first time the videos had been shown in decades.

Anyway, living in the valley of Virginia, I had no idea what MoRUS was, and found out it was the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space located on Avenue C. Well, it seems that MoRUS is now having an exhibit at The New Museum on the Lower East Side Squatting Movement. At first I was annoyed. "Shouldn't I have been asked first???" I'm so out of the NYC loop that I didn't realize The New Museum was not only totally legit, but a pretty big deal.

It took a couple of emails back and forth, but my friend assured me this was a good thing, and nobody was making any money off of it. We have never made a cent off the documentary, and the one time there was admission charged back in 1988, the money went to the homeless. He said it would be really great if I could be there on the 22nd and talk about it in front of the audience. Nothing like giving me some notice. That's impossible, but if it does make the cut and becomes part of The New Museum's film archives, I will definitely check it out. Who would have thought something I helped create 25 years ago would one day wind up in a museum?

I wonder if that's what's going to happen with my writings? Will it take 25 years for my books to finally become best sellers? I figure 25 years from now I'll probably be dead so that's highly likely. After I die, the old chest filled with all my words, words, and more words will be discovered. Someone, probably my daughter, will publish them, alongside what I already have out there, and I will become famous. "She was so far ahead of her time!" Ha! Isn't that the way these things happen?

Here's the AttackArt video and the opening of Squat or Rot.

Monday, August 12, 2013

PermaFree Follow-Up


Since it's been about sixth months when I removed both of my books from Amazon's KDP Select program, and between four and six months since my short story, "The Valentine's Day Curse" has been free, I thought it was time to report on my findings.

As I outlined in this post, "Is PermaFree For Me?" one of the main reasons of offering my short story for free was to see if it translated to sales for my novel, "Fractured Facade." My hope was people would become familiar with my writing and seek out my other book. I had also hoped that the downloads of the freebie would be so great that I would remain in the top 100 on Amazon awarding me a highly visible place. Another hope was that I would receive more reviews.

So let's look at each of these hopes -- first the reviews. In this PermaFree time period I have received a whopping two reviews, one in the U.S. and one in the UK, and both are 5-stars. But that's it. One of the reviewers on Amazon said they would look for other books from me, but according to my Amazon stats, they never bought it. Which brings me to sales.

Re. Amazon: Since I've pulled everything out of KDP Select, there have been zero sales. Yup, that's a big fat goose egg on Amazon. Since sales were non-existent there, I dropped the price of Fractured Facade to $3.99 everywhere for the summer. And that has made a difference on Smashwords, but not on Amazon. In fact, my downloads on Smashwords and the two sites I publish to through them, Barnes & Noble and iTunes for the freebie, have over-taken Amazon's numbers. And this is with The Valentine's Day Curse being in the wrong category at B&N and iTunes! It's been forever since I've been trying to get it placed correctly, and out of "Theatre." Frustrating indeed, but not as frustrating as coming to the realization that in my case Kindle/Amazon customers mainly download freebies, whereas Nook readers and iPad folks do not have a problem paying for a book. One plus is that I have broken into most countries via Amazon, with Japan and India being the sole hold-outs.

My main problem with Smashwords is that I don't get real-time figures. I will see downloads on my dashboard, but not know if they were samples or full purchases until the day I wake up and see that Apple and B&N have reported sales. And my hope that the free downloads on Amazon would keep me in the top 100 only lasted a couple of days after it first went free. With each additional month the ranking drops lower and lower. The only way to keep the numbers up is to promote it constantly and I don't want to do that. Once in a while I'll throw out a tweet about it, but that's pretty much it.

So, although my hope was that the freebie would translate into sales, it really hasn't happened. Well, I guess it has happened, just not on Amazon, and not as high as I had hoped on the other outlets either. But, I am selling books -- paperbacks, that is. And no, not online. My biggest seller has been just having a copy of my book placed on the counter at our auto repair shop. Customers pick it up and either read it while they are waiting for their car, or once they realize I wrote it, ask to buy a copy. They particularly like when I sign it for them. And out of all the outlets whether it's an eBook or paperback, local point of purchase is my biggest profit margin. Of course this does not translate to a "high ranking" anywhere but my pocketbook. And that's okay with me.

So in closing...for now "The Valentine's Day Curse" will remain free. Links to everywhere are on the sidebar. "Fractured Facade" is $3.99 for two more weeks before going back to $4.99. The paperback is available for $14.99. And if you are local and would like an autographed copy just drop me a line.

The mantra amongst authors is to sell books you have to write books, the more the better, series really are the way to go, yada, yada, yada. So what's been happening on any future book? Progress is being made, but "prolific" is not my middle name. And frankly, I've been having a little too much fun researching! You might have already read this on my Facebook Author Page, but for those who haven't, I'd like to leave you with this tidbit I found which was an actual Wanted Ad placed in June 1866 in the Alexandria Gazette and reprinted in the Roanoke Times:

Wanted -- One hundred seventy five men of all shapes and sizes, from the tall graceful dandy with hair enough on his upper works to stuff a barber’s cushion, down to the little hump-backed freckled face, bowlegged carrot headed upstart. The object is to form a gaping corps to be in attendance at the church doors on each Sabbath before the commencement of divine service, to stare at the females as they enter, and make delicate and gentlemanly remarks on their person and their dress. All who wish to enlist in the above, will appear at various church doors next Sabbath morning where they will be duly inspected and their names, personal appearance and quantity of brains registered in a book kept for that purpose, and published in the newspaper. To prevent a general rush it would be well to state that none will be enlisted who possess intellectual capacities above that of a well bred donkey. -- Alexandria Gazette


Friday, August 9, 2013

To Enbrel or Not to Enbrel

Just a quick follow-up to the last post. The Rheumy's nurse did call back. Armed with nothing but the message left on their machine from me, the doctor determined that my back pain was indeed due to RA. "Don't you want me to come in and perhaps take an x-ray or something," I asked. No, that's not necessary, I was told. Based on my chart the doctor feels it definitely is RA and since my liver is screwed due to the Methrotrexate which has been decreased to 5 pills per week, my only option now is to go on a biologic, Enbrel.

I expressed my concerns to the nurse concerning the potential of deadly side effects and my horror at the thought of having to shoot myself up with a needle. She poo-poohed them and said as long as I shoot myself in a different location each week there wouldn't be a problem, and as far as the side effects being dangerous, the company has to list all of them even if just one person gets it. They are very "rare" and she's personally never heard of one of their patients have any serious ones. As far as the $20,000+ cost per year, the office had coupons which would help with the price. Yes, I would have to continue taking the MTX too. She closed the conversation by adding it I was her relative she would insist I begin treatment and I would wonder why I hadn't started earlier. I told her I would get back to them the next day.

So off I went to the internet and googled Enbrel, again. I wanted to read what others were saying. Experiences went from it working wonderfully to a husband's lament that his wife was now dead because of it. I guess, just like any drug, everyone has different experiences. Maybe if I didn't have to continue to take MTX I would be more willing to take the plunge...or maybe if it was a cure and not just another treatment I would be more willing to take the plunge...or maybe if I couldn't possibly get MS, lose my vision, or get cancer from it I would be more willing to take the plunge. But right now I'm just not willing to take the plunge. I never called the rheumy's office back...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pain Pain Go Away...

"If you step on a crack, you break your mother's back!" -- unknown

That was a childhood ditty that one heard when growing up on the streets of Brooklyn. Ain't it sweet? The cracks referred to are cracks in the concrete sidewalks. One had to be very deft, or have extremely small feet, to not step on a crack. The way my back feels I'd swear my kids are stepping on cracks, but we don't have any sidewalks. So, I guess I'll have to chalk it up to something else. I just don't know what.

At first I thought I developed back pain because I tried using rubber bands instead of weights to do arm lifts. Because of the Rheumatoid Arthritis in my hands, I cannot hold weights any more so thought the bands would be a good substitute. Afterwards I felt the burn in my muscles and was happy. But then a couple of days later the back pain started. I don't remember pulling my back out, which to me would be a sudden powerful pain. Rather, my pain started with a mild nudge every day for the past two weeks culminating into a knock-out punch when I tried to move upon waking up yesterday morning. I literally could not get out of bed, and had to call upon the help of my husband to remove the puppy from my head and gently place me in an upright position. Let me tell you, that is some scary shit -- not being able to fend off a puppy!

My RA pain has always been bad in the mornings, but usually involves my feet. This is a new and most unwelcome development. It took me a while to get the strength to stand and wobble to the table. I tried stretching as much as I could which wasn't much, and asked my husband to run a hot shower. That seemed to help a lot. I took a couple of Ibuprofrens as well. Screw my liver. I needed the pain to be bearable. It became tolerable, but every time I tried to get in and out of my car I was reminded that it still existed. I laugh at myself now thinking that I was *this close* to buying a 2001 Jaguar the day before. There's no way I would be able to be comfortable in a vehicle that's lower to the ground than the one I'm driving in now. But damn, she was sweet looking.

Anyway, I don't even know if this back pain is from RA or if it's something worse. Yes, there are worse diseases than RA. And since I feel like my rheumy doesn't seem to be too concerned with me after our previous "disagreement," I thought now is the time to seek a second opinion. I asked around, Googled, etc. and found there were two specialists that most folks recommend, mine, and a doctor from Carilion. As soon as I was able to make my way out of bed I called the other doctor's office to make an appointment. They wouldn't make an appointment for me without a referral from my rheumy. I don't want my doctor to know. I just want a second opinion. The nurse suggested I go to my family doctor then and get a written referral from him even though he's associated with LG, not Carilion. She then added a by the way -- I wouldn't be able to see the doctor I asked for because he wasn't taking any new patients, but I could see a Nurse Practitioner instead. Ummm, no. The whole point of seeing this particular doctor was because he came recommended, and by the way, why do I need a referral then to see a NP??? Huh, huh?!

So, I called my rheumy's office this morning and explained to the front desk what was going on. I told her I needed to know if this is related to RA and come on it, or perhaps its due to something else and need to call my family doctor instead. She said she would relay the message to my doctor's nurse and they would get back to me right away. I figure "right away" means at the end of the day. I really feel like I'm Elaine from Seinfeld when she couldn't get a doctor to see her because of the notes in her file of her being a "difficult" patient. I didn't think she was difficult at all!

 I really have to learn how to control my tongue. This valley is too small for my big attitude....

"Pain pain, go away, come back another day..." -- Me.