Thursday, September 26, 2013

Marketing Pro

So I was mowing the front yard when a man in a pickup stopped and came up to me and offered to pressure-wash the house.

I directed him to my husband, who makes the upkeep decisions (left to me, the house would not have been painted in the 36 years we've lived in it).

Jim agreed the house needed it (he confided later he'd been dreading having to wash all the windows, which involves getting up on a ladder, which I DO NOT want him doing).

The house looks great, as the guy not only removed all the spider webs hanging off the shutters, but the dried ivy clinging to the bricks, and the green mold on the deck. And the price was right.

"I can cut that limb hanging down from that tree," he offered.

The limb, a souvenir of a wind storm, had been hanging like a widow-maker for a couple of years. We agreed on a price.

I went back to mowing. When I took a break, Jim had hired the guy to remove another tree, which was in a serious state of decay and threatening to fall on the house. He not only cut the tree down, he cut all the wood in fireplace lengths and stacked it neatly on the side of the yard.

After hacking off some other dead limbs and hauling them to the curb, he had one more offer to make. He had seen me struggling to start our lawnmower and sold us a new one.

When he finally left, after we promised to call him when we were ready to paint the trim, I turned to Jim and said, "Now THERE is a real pro! He saw a need, convinced us he was the one to fill it, and did a great job at a reasonable price."

I think I will hire him to market my books.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Why waste September on work?

These cooler September days are beguiling me away from my computer...

I just want to be outside on the deck intermittently reading and watching the birds and squirrels, and the leaves drifting down from the persimmon tree, which is always the first to shed them. It also sheds fruit, which lies fermenting on the grass, attracting butterflies and bees. Intoxicated butterflies and bees.

But no. I have too much to do these days. First and foremost on my list is preparing for the 6th annual Carolinas Writers Conference, coming in  April.

But, you may say, that's so far away! Why worry about it now?

A good question. The answer is, so we won't have a dozen pesky details popping up at the last minute that could have been taken care of ahead of time--because it's guaranteed there will be a dozen pesky details rearing their ugly heads at the last minute that we didn't think about ahead of time.

So lots of correspondence with presenters, drawing up contracts, etc.

Then there is the matter of the final edits on "Riverbend" before I begin submitting it to publishers, editors or agents. I am excited that this project is so near completion and I am already thinking about a sequel.

And, since getting my rights to "Angels Unaware" and "The Lunch Club" back from the now-defunct Draumr Publishing, I have decided to self-publish the books. So I am reformatting the pages to upload to CreateSpace. The books don't need editing, since they have already been edited, but I do need to look carefully at the formatting so that the paragraphs don't all run together. Thank  you, Ashantay Peters, for the tip on reading the ms. from back to front. You really do see errors better that way!

I am not trying to do all this at once. Multi-tasking means only that nothing gets the full attention it needs. I try to focus on one thing at a time...making sure there is enough time left to go out on the deck and sip a glass of wine while I read Ashantay's novel, "Death Stretch."

Aah, September.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

From the ashes, grace

I have seen this question posted today on many sites: what were you doing September 11, 2001?

I was at work when  my husband called to tell me about the first airplane hitting the World Trade Center.

My boss and I turned on the radio. We couldn't believe what we were hearing. Later on, no one could believe what they were seeing as the television stations showed the dramatic scenes, over and over again. My mind became numb. I couldn't take in the horror, the sheer loss of life.

Time passes, and the too-vivid memories begin to fade, just a little. My question is, what stands out in your memory of that day?

For me, it is the telephone calls people in the towers or from the hijacked airplanes made when they realized they weren't coming home that day or any other.

What do you say to your loved ones when you know you are facing certain death? Knowing these are the last words they will ever hear from your lips?

Here is what some of them said:

“There’s a fire. I love you ... I don’t know if I’m going to be OK. I love you so much.”

“I just wanted to let you know I love you and I’m stuck in this building in New York. There’s lots of smoke and I just wanted you to know I love you always.”
"Please tell my children that I love them very much. I'm sorry, baby. I wish I could see your face again."
"Hopefully I'll talk to you again, but if not, have a good life. I know I'll see you again some day."
The only word I can think of is "grace." Incredible grace. Life-affirming grace in the midst of unbelievable horror.
I try not to remember the horror. I try to remember the people who, when facing death, thought first of their families and used their last moments to tell them one more time, that they were loved.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

From Ridiculous to Sublime

We made it back from Atlanta safely, although I have to admit  my back is a little sore today. I tend to hunch over the steering wheel and grip it as though  I'm afraid someone is going to wrest it away from me. Six hours in that position tend to make for sore muscles.

But definitely worth the trip, if only to see how much more handsome and intelligent my grandsons have become since our last get-together.

I did get to see the Dragoncon parade, which was definitely --  different. People love to dress up, don't they! Some costumes were imaginative, some weird and some beautiful. I took pix, but mostly got backs of people's heads as we were about four or five rows back from the street. LOTS of people there!

On Sunday we went to the Martin Luther King Memorial (I posted some photos on Facebook if you want to see). Which explains the title of this post. It was very moving.

But in between! Saturday afternoon we went to the Decatur Book Festival, which was wall-to-wall authors. I particularly wanted to hear Robert Morgan, who launched his sequel to "Gap Creek" that weekend.

In his author talk and reading, he told us about thinking that Gap Creek's first print run would be it, never imagining the success it would become. He described getting a phone call from a fan who asked him if he would talk to her book club. First, he thought it might be a book club in North Carolina, where he is from.

"I'm up north," he started (he teaches at Cornell) when the caller said, "Oh, I'm up north, too. Chicago."

After a little more conversation, Morgan realized it was Oprah Winfrey. When he hung up and told his wife she'd never guess who he had been talking to, she said it was probably a friend, pulling a prank. But when the producer called to make travel arrangements, they became believers.

Morgan told his publisher about the upcoming appearance and thought maybe they ought to print a few more books.

"We need to have 600,000 copies in the stores the day after the program airs," he was told.

I wish him similar success for "The Road from Gap Creek." Yes, I stood in line to get a copy and have him autograph it. "I'm so thrilled to be here," I gushed.

He looked up and grinned. "I'm thrilled to be here, too," he said.

The book picks up Julie and Hank's story, narrated by their daughter, Annie. It covers Annie's growing up in the Great Depression and World War II. I heartily recommend it.

So that's what we did Labor Day Weekend. Lots of laughs, lots of love, and a real thrill to meet an author I admire.