Monday, October 30, 2017

And so the journey begins...!!

Going into the conference I attended in Denver, I wanted to take something with me to hand out that had book info and publication dates. That meant I had to actually choose dates. So the big day (finally) is:


Yep, I figured the long weekend would be good for two reasons. I would be home to troubleshoot any possible issues. And--long lazy weekend for readers to be home to buy the books and actually have time to read them. :0)

So now guess what I'm in the process of doing?

1) Finalizing all edits from my proofreader/content editor for books 1 through 4.
2) Organizing all the individual documents that make up a book: title pages, copyright pages, dedication pages, about the author pages, etc....
3) Compiling the documents out of my writing program, Scrivener, and into an EPUB file format.

And that's where I ran into trouble this weekend. Book 1 looked fine. Book 2 looked fine, but it didn't match book 1 exactly. The book/author info across the top of the screen when I previewed the book in the Kindle Previewer was different, so I had to research how / where to change that. Also Book 2's paragraphs weren't indented for easier reading, so yet more research.

I figured out definitively how to change the info that appears at the top of each page. Yay me!

I did not figure out why I had no idents in the compiled file of Book 2 even though the actual pages in the program are indented. Harrumph!! The only think I can think of is that I probably used two different templates. Of course, I have no idea which two. But as I was reading and researching in the help file, I learned about some really helpful features of Scrivener, sooo...the project de jour is creating a custom template and setting everything up the way I want it.

Once that's done, I'll have to manually transfer each book, chapter by chapter, into a new file based on the custom template, and that should provide me uniformly formatted/compiled ebook files.

That's the theory anyway. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Back to the salt mines.

Conference Impressions, continued...the TRIP itself

Okay, last post about the conference.

I'm high maintenance. Not terribly, but I am. However, I do maintain myself. There are a few things I have to have, like mint tea and warmth when I sleep. I need to eat relatively healthy and usually cheaply and I need to exercise.

The only microwaves available were downstairs, off the lobby. Luckily my room was on the second floor, so it wasn't a horrible inconvenience--this time--but I could have been on the 14th floor or something...  And since the apparent removal of vending machines from next to the ice machines on each floor--a small cart with a microwave could easily be added.

Note to self--consider how to get my small portable kettle to my destination.

Most people prefer colder to warmer, unlike me. So I generally take a blanket with me when I travel by car. I had to take the larger suitcase this time to fit my small electric blanket. Yes, I really did. I didn't need to plug it in, but I had it just in case. :0) I usually take my pillow too. Hotel pillows are too poofy and hard and icky usually.

Note to self--is there any way to get my pillow there, lol?

October weather can change from day to day, so I took more clothes than I needed because I had to plan for both comfortable weather as well as cold weather. In the case of GRL, I don't think that's never not going to be an issue, so I have to deal with it.

The swag, whatever I decide, will just have to be shipped. Next year's location is too far too drive for me, so that's another consideration when deciding on what kind of swag to invest in.

Eating healthy was a challenge, although surprisingly I lost weight. I traveled with a week's supply of Plantation Mint tea as well as a package of Oberto's Trail Mix for each day. There was a local grocery store, and I was able to buy a few pre-made salads, some yogurt, and some microwavable soups.

There was still an over-abundance of carbs in my diet, even when eating "out". I ate at the hotel restaurant at least once each day--part of the networking and getting-to-know-people process--and except for the one breakfast I ordered, everything was based around bread products. Those carbs that I'm trying so hard to exclude from my regular diet. Figuring out some more portable protein will be another of those challenges.

Last point of this ramble--the traveling itself. I took a backpack and toted my laptop as well as my iPad. I have an iPhone as well as a Fit Bit. All of which had to be placed in bins for the xray. I had to take off my shoes and remove my jacket/s. One person and I had to push six bins through the machine. And then gather it all back up again on the other side. *sigh*

But I never used my laptop for the purpose for which I brought it--having to work remotely. Next year...not taking. I'll use the hotel business center if something comes up. I used the iPad for a special project on a daily basis, but will probably not be doing that project next year. So no iPad. I'll always need my phone and chances are I'll still be wearing my Fit Bit. If the weather isn't awful at my destination, my jacket will go in checked luggage. I'll find slip-on shoes and forgo sneakers with laces. I think that'll get me down to two or three bins. Sheesh.


Lots learned on a variety of levels.

What's your least favorite thing about traveling?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Conference Impressions, continued... SWAG

Two things you find A LOT of at conferences, especially writer and/or reader based conferences, aside from drunk people, are books and swag. Swag in the publishing circles consists of, at its most basic, bookmarks, pens, and postcards with author name and web address--something a potential reader can walk away with that may or may not entice them to purchase your book if they didn't walk away with one of those as well.

I think about swag a lot. Most of my writer group friends attend conferences or book signings or whatever and purchase swag to take with them to entice people to buy their books. I'm not personally a big fan of swag.

Never have I ever dug up a pen or a chip clip or a compact mirror in order to find a book to read.

But 1) I'm not your standard "end user" and 2) I know you have to have it. People expect some sort of swag.

Swag seems like a waste of money. Thanks to my friend, Regina, I like to ask, "what's the return on my investment?". In the case of swag, sometimes there's just not one. You have to have swag, but there's no way to ever know if that pen or bookmark enticed a sale at any point.

But...bearing the swag question in mind and knowing almost from the beginning I wanted to attend next year's GRL, I studied all the swag on display. What did I find personally appealing? What did most people bring? What was unique? What wouldn't end up the trash when Jane Reader gets home?

Some of the swag I walked away with...pens, small notebooks, lip balm, a letter opener, and rubber bracelet, an emery board, eye glass cleaning cloths, postcards, and free books. Now, I love pens, so I will usually voluntarily take a pen. I did intentionally swipe lip balm this time because my lips were hollering at me and I'd left my own in my room. I also took two mini composition notebooks--purse-sized I mean, because those are always handy. Everything else was pretty much just handed to me.

Swag items that caught my attention included...personal fans, flash drives, and a jumbo postcard with an image to color and a crayon to color with. At a previous conference, I walked away with a chip clip, a compact mirror, a bottle opener, and a band-aid keeper. I didn't see sticky-note pads, but I like those too.

I don't mind free books, but I don't, personally, want physical books. It would have been nice to have been given a business card or post card with a QR code for the free e-version. (Note to self, eh??)

I have a lot to ponder between now and next spring when I'll have to start thinking about ordering whatever I decide to buy.

Anyone have any other ideas or care to share what you personally like to walk away with?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Conference Impressions

To quote Tim McGraw--"these are my people."

We all have multiple aspects of our personality, and different groups of friends and acquaintances that mesh with/feed on those various aspects or not. At GRL, I met another group of my people and it was marvelous. I met a lot of people, but really only got to a know a few, which is fine. There were just over 400 people at this conference, and you just can't become bosom buddies with everyone or anyone in four days.

My friend Char, who invited me in the first place and offered her room to share...
Thanks so much, Char!!!

One thing I loved the most about this conference was the visibility afforded to newly published authors. You do have to pay a slightly higher rate for "sponsored author" status, but if you have even just one book published, you qualify. Unfortunately, I didn't qualify at the time of my registration, but I enjoyed going, getting the lay of the land, and meeting people. I fully intend on going back next year as a supporting author.

Themed dance party on Saturday night--this is me in my random costume...

Another thing I appreciated about this conference is that it changes cities from year to year, so any time I decide to go, more than likely, I'll get to travel to a new place. Next year is Portsmouth, VA, which is about as opposite from Denver as you can get: sea level, humidity, military vs wild wild west history.

Unlike, say, Romance Writers of America, this conference wasn't non-stop, back-to-back workshops either. Choices were limited and you were able to pace yourself. You're still pretty tuckered by the end of the day, but it's not brain exhaustion from too much information.

Various folks also organized outings as well. Like one author used a local restaurant as a setting in one of his books, so a dinner field trip was organized to that eatery. Something like 70 people were interested in going, and I think more than 50 actually did. There were also fun events like bingo and trivia games, and an author version of Match Game.

So, yeah, as long as finances work out, I'm planning to go next year. More thoughts on Friday.

Have a good rest of the week.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Rocky Mountain High on Colorado...

That's a phrase that might be familiar to John Denver fans...and one you can't help having when faced with the amazing beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

I've been in Denver since last Wednesday for a reader/writer conference--there will be more about that later--but I had a chance to sight see yesterday, and how could I not take it, because who knows when I'll make it back here. So!!

My first foray out was actually on Thursday evening when I was able to attend a Colorado Avalanche game, because, well, hockey, so yeah. It was a fun time even though the home team did end up losing.

But yesterday...first stop the Red Rocks Amphitheater which is about ten miles west of Denver proper. Some very notable greats have played in concert here, including Ella Fitzgerald, the Beatles, and David Bowie.

The amphitheater is just there below where I'm standing and there were a lot of folks in exercise attire jogging back and forth or going up and down the stepped seating. A dog barked from way down at stage level and as you can imagine the acoustics were amazing.

Next stop was Boulder's Pearl Street Mall...several blocks of indie shops and restaurants. My companions and I walked it and enjoyed a fantastic lunch and conversation along the way.

Patrice (in white), Nora (in purple), and myself at an indie brewery and restaurant.

After that, we trekked out to the Flatirons and hiked up to a small summit at around 7K feet and had the most spectacular view of the Rockies.

There was snow in the last couple of weeks so the higher peaks had snow. So so gorgeous!!

Headed home today...conference impressions coming later in the week.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hellooo...! from the Mile High City

aka Denver Colorado!

 (From the Denver Colorado Wikipedia page)

Heading out later this morning to attend a reader/writer convention for my genre of choice and I'm so excited. I'll be looking forward to a fairly early night before the first day of festivities.

Tomorrow night, I'll be taking advantage of the fact that Colorado's hockey team calls Denver home. The Pepsi Center is just up the road and I got lucky enough that the Avalanche have a home game while I'm in Denver. I'll just have missed the Stars being in town, but I'll enjoy watching the game anyway.

Have a great rest of the week. I'll try to get something posted for Friday, but if I don't, forgive me. :0)

Monday, October 16, 2017 Subscription vs. Cable Upgrade

Last year, I subscribed to in hopes of being able to watch Stars hockey, but alas, because I live in the local area, I was in the "blackout" zone and got to see maybe one "free" game via the app...We had the lowest level of cable because it came with our Internet package, which did not include Fox Sports Southwest where Stars games are aired here in North Texas.

Sadly, I saw more Stars games in person last year than I did on TV. Really. Well, not sadly about seeing them in person, but you know what I mean...

This year, though, I wanted to be able to watch Stars hockey on TV, so after all of last season's frustrations and research, I realized the only way to make that happen was to upgrade my cable.DH agreed, so when the hockey season was just about to start, I made the phone call.

We are now a week and a half into hockey season and I've seen one game live and in person, because it was opening night against a brand new team. Hockey history and I had to go, you know? I've also watched the first period of two games and the whole of another -- not to mention seeing various other teams play in whole or in part because I also have the NHL Network now, which is not the same as a subscription.

Watched the whole game against the Colorado Avalanche this past Saturday and they won!!

So cost-wise, the cable upgrade will end up costing a chunk more than the subscription, but I've already seen more Stars hockey on TV in the last week and a half that I did all of last year, so I can't really be sorry.

Also can't be sorry about seeing this!! My favorite player's first(!!) hockey fight of his career (513 games). I love hockey fights for the amusement factor more than anything else. They usually just make me laugh. (My guy's in green...) The fact that he was defending his teammate and captain's honor is also amusing to no end. (Bromance for the win!!)

So happy Monday to me!!

Friday, October 13, 2017

I guess it's time to do this publishing thing...

Book six arrived back from the proofreaders this past was with some trepidation that I checked email everyday looking for it. After all the struggles I had, I really doubted that I'd sent her something at least on par with the first five.

As luck would have it, Ms. Proofreader had lovely things to say about the book as well as my writing--things I find hard to believe. Not because I'm trying to be humble or modest at all, but because I have doubts every time I sit down to write a book, because pulling a plot together and weaving any and all threads is a challenge each and every time, because plotting in the first place is not intuitive to me.

I don't have beta readers or critique partners that I run chapter by for feedback. Yes, I have my group of peeps who I ask for brainstorming help or their opinions or for help when I'm stuck, but they don't read my work. My proofreader is also my first reader. Which means not only does she find all my errors--of which there were many this time around--but her initial impression of the book is, I don't know, "pure," maybe? I mean...she doesn't know me. She's not obligated to encourage me.  I pay her to be honest with me about my words, to tell me if there's a flaw in my plot.

So, no, she doesn't have to love my characters or their particular tale, nor does she have to enjoy the genre I'm writing in order to praise my ability to actually tell a story. The fact that she has means a lot.

Anyway...all that to say that pulling the trigger on publishing my books hinged on book six being done. Well it's done and back in my hot little hands. So I guess it's time to get my little ducklings in a row and get them ready to go out into the world.

Look out world, here they come...

Well, in November!

Have a great weekend! I'll be busy checking and double-checking books 1 through 3 in preparation for creating the ebook files. But it's a task I'm suddenly looking forward to a heck of a lot more.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

It's True by Garcia Lorca

It's True

Ay, the pain it costs me
to love you as I love you!

For love of you, the air, it hurts,
and my heart,
and my hat, they hurt me.

Who would buy it from me,
this ribbon I am holding,
and this sadness of cotton,
white, for making handkerchiefs with?

Ay, the pain it costs me
to love you as I love you!

by Federico García Lorca


Heard this on a TV show and liked it enough to want to save it somewhere for posterity. Lucky you.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Hockey Season Has Begun...

Unfortunately, we haven't gotten off to the start we wanted...

Friday's game: Stars vs Vegas Golden Knights

Saturday's game: Stars vs. St Louis Blues

I was disappointed by Friday's loss especially since I attended the game, but it's still early in the season. The team is still learning the new system from their new coach. He's not expressing too much worry yet, so I won't worry so much either...

Fingers crossed they start picking up some wins.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Do we really need a play-by-play...?

Granted national / local news and tragedies are way more important than sports, but does the American public really need a play-by-play of every. single. thing. about ongoing investigations and natural disasters and the clusterf*ck that is the American political system?

Some people are newshounds and. you know, they have every right to be. I'm not. I like to know what happened when it happens and then update me every so often, but hourly is too much. Daily is pushing it for me unless it's *really* important.

Now, I don't watch the news by choice. But--there is a bank of TVs at the gym, several of them turned to national news channels and another handful on local news. I can't hear what's being said, because you have to plug into the system to hear those. But I see the headlines constantly scrolling by.

I can ignore it, look away, concentrate on the music that plays and on my workout, read on my phone while on the treadmill and the stationary bike. But it's still there.

And I have to wonder when is it too much?? Does the bad news propagate itself?

I wonder...what would happen if there was a 24/7 national broadcast of good news?

Like successful return of any number of our military ships and our troops.

Like animal shelters being low on animals.

Like a peaceful protest--no police needed to be called.

We might have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to get started, because as I'm trying to think of good stuff that everyone would be happy to hear, it's hard to come up with stuff.

But you know, things like the Cajun Navy showing up Houston.

Like two little boys who went out in the rain to bring in the American flag one day at school getting soaking wet in the process because it was the right thing to do.

Like people paying it forward, like those Soup Ladies I mentioned Wednesday.

What if the nation were inundated with glad tidings instead of bad each and every day??

What could happen?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Who helps the helpers...?

Y'all know how much I love Mike Rowe, right? Well, he's got a new series out called Returning the Favor, where little Internet birdies whisper in his ear about some do-gooder, and he bounds off to help that do-gooder do even more do-gooding.

Yeah, I know, but keep reading please...

This weeks episode is about the Soup Lady--a woman who feeds first responders on scene. These first responders are usually stuck with MREs (meals ready to eat) and/or granola bars. Not the best way to replenish energy during high-stress emergencies. This woman and her retinue of Soup Ladies makes a batch of high-carb, high-protein soup and can generally feed up to 100 people out of one of her "go-trucks." She has at least two.

I thought this episode particularly fitting considering all the horrific things going on in our country right now where first responders--from Citizen Joe to the professionally trained--have stepped up in a big big way.

We definitely need more soup ladies across the country.

Here's to Momma Ginger and her Soup Ladies for the blessing they bestow upon those who run in when most of us run out.

And thanks to Mike Rowe for blessing her so that she can help even more people.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Quarterly Update...

I really have something to celebrate this time around!!!

After several years of yo-yoing and over a year of gym attendance, I have finally reached my goal weight. HAHAHHAHAHAAAAA! I'm so excited. My list there on the left says between 120 and 125 pounds. I've reached 123.2lbs and I'm terribly happy about that. I need to celebrate for sure.

I started my journey in January of 2012 at somewhere around 165lbs. I knew it was going to take a long time, and it has, but I'm finally here. That's not to say there's not a new goal in regards to all of this, but the weight part is done.

So let's visit the rest of the list...

--> I've gotten off schedule of writing to my grandmother and I really really really need to write one and get it in the mail. BAD JEN.

--> Call my moms. I've been doing pretty well. It's almost that time. One mom is on vacation though, so I'll probably wait a week or so before checking in. I should probably reach out to the other this week.

--> Cook and eat better. Well, this one kind of goes hand in hand with the weight loss, but not entirely. However, while I may not necessarily be cooking better because I don't cook--as in prepare ingredients and then prepare a meal over the stove--I am eating better. I mentioned that lavash bread awhile back which was a huge boon to helping me reduce the number of not-good carbs in my diet. I eat more salads and include spinach and kale in them and rarely do I use iceberg lettuce. I'm staying balanced between fats/(good) carbs/protein.

--> I cleaned up my writing room a little, but not the really concentrated sort/discard/clean I've intended.

--> Cleaning plan. HAHAHAHA. 'Nuff said.

--> Publish six books by September. Well, September ended two days ago and I just finished book six, like, a week ago. So that one's definitely a bust. But book six is now done and the new goal is to start publishing in November.

--> And guess what??? I actually started walking the dog. I needed a little more activity in the evening and she needs the exercise. we probably go five out of seven days, so doing better that my goal. Except now she's limping because she sleeps on the same side all the time on the hardwood floor and I think she's sleeping on a nerve.

So YAY for me for accomplishing two more very important goal. Still working on the rest.

My thoughts go out to the victims and their families as well all the first responders in Las Vegas.