June 8, 2019

June 8, 2019

So, because I’m back to being the household breadwinner, now, I’ve reopened my graphic art business. So if you need some graphic art work done, I am available again. You can find my business website here: https://www.zentao.com/graphic-art/.

In other news, one of our cats — not old, either — just up and dropped dead. It was the strangest thing and it left me in shock for days. I had just given him a couple of strokes and gotten coffee, went back upstairs to my office, and there was this horrible yowl. I bolted back downstairs, and there he was outstretched in the middle of the great room floor, yowling horribly and just laid out. He expired as I knelt over him, stroking him. Thankfully, it was quick, and Kathy, the vet, says it was probably a heart attack or an annurism. I miss him (Toes, our long-haired polydactyl cat).

Why I Write.

…Because I have to.  It’s a compulsion.  And, no, I’m not an obsessive-compulsive personality.  I am driven, yes.  I am passionate.  I am labelled a ‘high achiever’, though, when measured against the achievements others I know and what they accomplish in the same amount of time, I’m a slacker by comparison.

Someone asked me what genres I actually prefer to write.  I had to think about that, because, I love all the stories I write.  I love the characters, I love their stories.  But, when push comes to shove, when it comes to ‘genre’, I love writing science fiction.  As usual, though, I don’t write formula.  The aliens aren’t the bad guys.  Humans aren’t the heros.  There aren’t any bad guys and good guys, no good against evil.  Because that’s not really how reality works.  It’s all about perspectives.

A Gathering of Rebels, a story so big it took 2 books to tell it.

Changes at Amazon Important to Indie Authors

I predicted it last year. (I shared those predictions with another author who’s a close pal …and with my webmasters’ group. Only.)

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It’s happened …when I predicted it would. (Yes, math still works.)

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What does it mean?

It means that indie authors now really have to treat their vocations as a business or get out of the game. It means calculating in overhead, operating expenses, and COGS. It means pricing their books competitively, not giving them away, nor discounting them, except for planned promotional deals that run days, not weeks, months, or years. It means less ability for indie authors (or the trad published, either) to game the system with cooperative ventures. It means a lot more than that, but it’s not prudent for me to publicly share the rest of what I know, calculated, and project …except, of course, with my inner circle.

Chicken Little is Hollering, and Its Name is NOAA

NOAA keeps posting “Hazardous Weather Outlooks” amd “Winter Weather Advisories” for us here in North Idaho.  Ummm.  Okay.  I keep prepping for what that historically means:

  • four foot dumps of snow with rain immediately after which then collapses standard roofs;
  • wind-driven snow that forms six-foot drifts, visibility zero, wind-chill down to -26°F;
  • ice storms that put an inch-thick coating of frozen ‘slick’ on everything, tearing down power lines and trees….

What are we getting?  Yawn.  Not even something to sneeze at.

I notice the same trend for less obscure places than Idaho, places like Cleveland, OH, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and the Beltway.

“The sky is falling, the sky is falling, we’re going to get a [normal] winter weather event.  Driving will be reduced to IMPOSSIBLE!”

Roll my eyes.  Ah, it’s winter, folks.  Snow, ice, and slick driving conditions are the norm, not something to squawk like a chicken being chased by the neighbor’s dog.

New York gets two inches of white stuff, and, suddenly, it’s grid-lock and accidents galore resulting in highway shutdowns, all of which brings commuter accusations that the highway departments didn’t do their jobs laying down ‘salt’ (magnesium chloride in a lot of cases, which, in case you didn’t know it, is hazardous to living things and to vehicles, all).

Umm, slow down, obey the laws of physics, and don’t be a jackass?

But, no.  Instead, we’ve got the weather people warning of coming disaster when there’s no impending disaster, at all:

  • We’re not going to lose power for eight days mid-winter;
  • we’re not going to be digging out from under an avalanche of white stuff;
  • we’re not going to have to chain up the 4-wheel drive in order to negotiate the county road and highway;
  • our roofs are will not be in danger of collapse;
  • and going outside doesn’t mean a high potential for seared lungs, frozen faces, and frostbitten toes and fingers by sub-zero temperatures coupled with strong, bitter winds.

It’s Chicken Little hollering, is all.

And why? I think it must be because thoroughly modern Millies and Sillies and Willies and Weanies all think they should be able to drive down the road hell bent for their destinations at over posted speed limits like they do when it’s sunny and dry.  (Dumb.)

NOAA, don’t predict what’s actually mild to normal weather as a red alert.  Don’t play to the thoroughly modern Millies and Sillies and Willies and Weanies.  Normal people want to know when real hazards are imminent.  Don’t play to the stupids.  Let them win The Darwin Awards.

I Was Naughty Today …and Nice (I Guess) :D

So I have this friend, and this friend’s website, which I threw together under emergency, “has-to-be-live-now” conditions, custom coding it in, quite literally, hours a few years back, NEEDS to be upgraded. …Because it’s going to fail soon. But this friend is very particular, so it’s very hard to get a semi-solid “this is what I envision” from them. I had a couple of “Dawn” ideas, but nothing I “knew” would gather any sort of approval. So I pulled a “sneaky” based on a mere passing mention that was made of another friend’s site, something I knew was built on bad coding, but that I knew I could hand-code myself if need be.

Now here comes the “sneaky/naughty” part:

First I displayed a site laid out much as the one already in place. After a couple of hours of working through this friend’s critique of it on the phone, I switched to a rough I’d coded on another design scheme, and, as I anticipated, this was definitive “no”. So then I pulled up a raw, stripped version of something I thought might be kinda sorta cool–good for cross compatibility (responsive-to-all-devices/mobile-first) yet allowed for a really professional presence that didn’t get ‘old’ to the eye or the brain. And it worked. This one is a go. …At least so far. We’ll see how this all works out after I get done custom coding it all out, then dressing it with content.  My fingers and toes are all crossed.  This is supposed to be a Christmas present for them to be launched with the advent of the new year. Wish me luck.

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas for Readers on Your List.

Looking for that perfect last minute Christmas gift for the readers on your list? …Something that costs under $10 and will delight them?

Here are a few suggestions:

For the who-dun-it fans on your list, here’s a top-rated, realistic series that features a uniquely perceptive lady detective.  Written by crime beat journalist Laura Belgrave, the entire 3 book series will cost you under 10 bucks.


Buy this 3 book series for only $7.98

 

For those on your list who love thrillers, lots of tension, steamy sex….  Michael Allan Scott’s Lance Underphal series is the ticket.  Dark, different, intense.


Buy this 3 book series now for only $5.98

 

And for that animal lover who likes moving stories with feel-good endings?  Meet Warren Jeffries, DVM, and his co-stars, furred, feathered, and human.


Buy Old Hickory Lane for only $5.99

 

Great novels by talented, accomplished authors, all under $10, and all available at Amazon.

Merry Christmas

from Laura, Michael, and E. J.
(…Oh, and from Dawn, too.)

This Morning I Woke

I woke this morning and opened my eyes to the world — my world — and its peaceful, benevolent calm. By chance, I closed them, again, and was startled to see the cosmos spinning, a sea of tiny stars.  Intrigued, I watched.

First came vistas I could recognize — Betelgeuse and the belt of Orion, Sirius and the Swan, the great square of Pegasus. Then that vista moved …or I moved, and went beyond what my brain recognized as known to see more, then, more than that, all moving. I opened my eyes, again, and knew I sat upon my bed …closed them, and there, yet, was cosmos.

Enthralled, I just sat and breathed, keeping closed my eyes to watch in wonder ever broadening horizons that stretched all ways to beyond the knowns of all infinity.  Then, a cat called — Pepper — demanding my attendance, and I opened up my eyes, again …left that cosmos to its spinning.

Rising, I made my bed, turned the plant lights on, started my day, and, yes, attended Pepper.  I cleaned the downstairs bathroom after morning ablutions, careful in that cleaning not to jostle and destroy a carefully constructed corner home (behind the toilet) of the room’s long-time resident spider.  Too close my hand, and, terrified, darting, she hid beneath her wedge of web, a thickened pad of strands just a little bigger than her inch-diameter self. I eased away and waited, and, sure enough, she came back as quickly, climbing back atop her bed to resettle and arrange her legs and pedipalps. I smiled, pleased that she is once again comfortable and happy in our home, hers in mine and mine in hers.

I made my coffee, then sat contemplating for the minutes that first cup permits me take before I must start morning chores:

When I go out into the natural world, I am embraced by nature’s quiet, by natural shapes and colors, all gentle and complementary to each other, sometimes sharp, sometimes muted, sometimes bright, but always gracious in their presentation. When I go out into the human world, I am accosted by a sea of rudely regimented shapes and structures, all saturated with a cacophony of too loud, unnatural sound and colors too intensely brash, those shapes, those sounds, those colors all rubbing garishly against each other.

When I go online, again I am accosted by this same cacophony and brash intensity. I can mute the sound; I can place a filter on my screen to dim the garishness.  What I cannot filter out is the human ‘rude’, a rude expressing forth an attitude of influence, of will, of conflict.

Why, I wonder, do we celebrate inflicting influence and will, wreaking battle, war, and conflict — the conquering of others different than us, their destruction, their obedience to “our” will, their subjugation, defeat, and even death?  Why is it that getting our own way, despite what harm, pain, and cruelty that means to others — any others, be it other human, animal, plant, or rock and mineral — brings us pleasure? It’s in the games embraced by the teeming multitudes, in the images and sounds the throngs prefer, in the very knit of what the masses label civilized. And all of it pits tribe against some other tribe, tribe against the world, tribe against nature and reality, tribe against its own members. And in ‘tribe’s’ triumph and glorification of ‘defeated’ enemy, there’s no recognition whatsoever that, within a moment’s time — just a moment — the tribe will again turn restless, craving violence, to find ‘enemy’ within itself to engage in battle and defeat in bloodied conflict.

It’s in the winning, in the gory glory of annihilating and stamping out another and the many other upon which humans seem to thrive. It’s in subjugating life, home, sustenance, perspective, culture, and proclivity of others, all (plant, animal, rock and other human), that humans find their satisfaction, never recognizing that their own lives, homes, and sustenance, their own perspective, culture, and proclivity is vulnerable when the mob turns to find anew another enemy from within.

Today, it’s Pouring, but Yesterday…

Got a wonderful blast of sunshine yesterday. It was an absolutely glorious autumn day. Today? We’re back to much-needed rain. Enjoy. The first is a still-green maple sapling, the second is one of our century-old-plus cedars, the third is a shot of the also century-old tamaracks (larch) turned their wonderful autumn color just before they lose their needles. (Yes, they are one of the few pines that lose their needles every fall, so, those of you unfamiliar with them, don’t cut that tree that’s bare if its a larch, because, yes, it drops its leaves in the fall.)

maple sapling still green though it's fall one of our century-old-plus cedars century-old tamaracks turned their fall colors just before they shed all their needles for winter

Gravy Days in the Country

September and October are my favorite months. Yes, there’s November looming with its scramble to batten down the hatches, but September and October are those months where summer work is mostly done, and I can sit down and simply enjoy Earth.  Sure, there’s a bit of cleanup and tidying yet to do, but, all in all, it’s time to wallow in the relative quiet of kids gone back to school, tourists gone home — a time to embrace the Gravy Days, as my mother used to call them.

Our October this year didn’t start in gravy. There was a cold foreboding to the weather that promised a very cold, hard winter.  Everybody felt it.  Then, midway through, things changed.  And we got, not Indian Summer, but Gravy Days, all the same. Last fall clean-ups in pleasant progress and, yes, finally, the roofing crew, promised in Spring, here two days before the rains come.

My biggest project prior to November is … raking the drive and the pathways in preparation for snow removal this winter, manual clean-up necessary to get the bits of branches and fallen leaves cleared so they don’t get sucked into the snow blower with our inevitable wet snow and bind up the big machine, which, if and when that happens, makes me turn the air, not just blue, but purple with my cussing.

The Roofing Job, Done Late (Very), But Done

Hand-Raking the Drive

Halfway done (the rest, already completed, is behind me)

Three-quarters done

Done!

 

Gravy Days Pictures