Saturday, April 26, 2014

Silence from the Peanut Gallery

It's like that moment when the comedian delivers the punch line and the audience doesn't make a peep.  Not even a chuckle.  And all the comedian can hear aside from the sound of his own heart hammering in his chest, is the sound of one single cricket.

Okay, so I asked you all questions in the hopes that I could get a better idea of how I can meet your blog reading needs...and no one answered.  Either I'm doing fine, or nobody read it which would indicate that I'm doing terrible!

I can handle this.

After all, it isn't like this is my first time blogging.  I used to be quite the avid blogger, back in the old days before I had a husband and full time job.  And as I remember, it took a while to build a following, even though I wasn't looking for that back then.  I just wanted to write and have someone somewhere read what I was writing even if it was mundane commentaries on my life at the time.  I dropped that blog to start this new one because I wanted to appear more professional in my 'new line' as a published author.  And I figured it would be just as easy to start over fresh than it would be to revive the old blog which I had let fall into total anonymity.

The other day when I was chatting during a schedule phone call with +Rebekah Radice (who totally rocks, by the way) one of the things we went over was who my target audience is.  So I've been thinking, who do I want to connect with through my blog?

I hope it is okay to have more than one 'target' audience in mind.

First, I want to connect with readers.  Specifically people who like to read fiction novels.  People who like mixed genre novels.  I say that because if I'm honest, I tend to blend genres rather than write in just one.  Farmer's Daughter is mostly Contemporary Romance, but there is also Fantasy in it (which will increase as the series progresses) and Suspense...which given that I did that one unconsciously, that'll probably increase as well.  People who aren't afraid of a long book - I write what I like to read, and I love long books!  Granted, it's not for everyone.  I had a coworker comment on the length just yesterday.  I get that.  Ring of Fire is probably not going to be as long, but I can make no promises.
Farmer's Daughter.  Lost childhood innocence.

And of course, I most especially want to connect with readers who've read my own book.  I'd love to hear new thoughts and opinions.  I'd love to dialogue about favorite characters and favorite scenes.  Or scenes that were absolutely hated.  Or scenes that you hate to love.

Secondly, I would like to connect with other writers.  For the camaraderie.  If a reader isn't a writer themselves, they can't fully appreciate the madness that a writer goes through during the process of writing a book or short story.  C.P. Stringham is one of my most favorite people in the world, because she's someone who lives close that totally gets it.  We'll talk and one of us will eventually say, "Me too!  I know exactly what you're talking about!"

Because it's good to have people along for the journey.  We each have a different perspective on life.  It's how we are able to help one another along.  I want my journey to encourage others.  Not just to read, but to write their own stories.  And to publish them!  Our stories are meant to be shared!

So many choices...
So I stand at a crossroads of sorts.  Do I change how I've been blogging, or try a different tact?  At this moment, I don't have an answer.  Not really.  Since I began this entire adventure, I've been feeling my way in the dark and flying by the seat of my pants.  But I must be doing something right somewhere because I've given one presentation at a local library with C.P. Stringham, been featured in our local paper, and have been invited to speak at a book club meeting in June (how exciting is that!!)

At the moment, I am getting ready to work on Ring of Fire.  I'd really like to have it finished and polished for an end of summer release.  I plan on going with my mother tomorrow to a family affair, so writing has to be done today.  I have no idea what will be going on Monday, except for no work which is becoming our norm.  Not good in the paycheck (which may be why I'm behind in the light bill)  Ah well, this too shall pass.

On the bright side, I've got most of my weekend chores already done.  Laundry? Check (ok, so the last load is still in the dryer...close enough!)  Grocery Shopping? Check (I hate feeling guilty for buying our needs)  Dishes...uhm, nevermind.  We're good, so I can write with a clean conscience.  ;)

2014 ~ One Day at a Time

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Who Are You?

Lately I've been wondering who you are.
one in a million...and yet here you are...

Are you readers?  Do you like to settle in with a thick book in the middle of a snow/rain storm and lose track of - everything?  Do you ever become so involved with the characters that you cry when they die?

Are you fellow writers?  Do you like reading about like minded people who endeavor to tell stories out of their imagination?  Do you like knowing that you are not alone in the madness that haunts your every waking moment until you can write those words down?

I know I certainly do!  But in this moment, it's not about me.  It's about you.

Some of you I know.  Most of you I can bet I don't.  And I wonder why you're here and how I can give you the posts that will keep you coming back for more.  I have a very unimpressive reality.  Work, walking the dog, and a husband.  And I have to admit that there are times I don't really know what to write here.  Is there anything you'd like to see from me?  More about my books?  More about book one?  How book number two is coming along?

Are there any questions you'd like to ask me?

I'm keeping this short tonight, mostly because I fear the power going out at any moment; which would be unfortunate because it's going to be a cold one tonight.  I have made no headway in that area, all our local agencies are co-dependent...most will not release funds even though I qualify until the full amount is met.  So if I all of a sudden'll understand why.

It's up to you now!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

2014 - Another day passed

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Broads of a Feather in the Newspaper!

Our logo!
Some time ago, my writing cohort messaged me on Facebook and let me know that a reporter from the Towanda Daily Review wanted to interview us both because of our blog Broads of a Feather!  I could 'hear' the excitement in her type because I was feeling it myself!  As it happened, the interview did not take place until just this past week.  Life happens for all of us.  C.P. was busy, I was busy, and the reporter was busy.

But happen it did and the two of us are on the front page of the Sunday Lifestyles section!  You can read the article here.

I can't begin to tell you how excited the two of us are!  This is local exposure neither of us have experienced at this point in our careers.  But things are opening up for the two of us in other areas as well.  C.P. was asked to do a radio interview. I'm not sure when that will be, but I can't wait to hear it.  Although most likely I'll be stuck in work at the time it airs.  Such is the life of a hard working woman!
The dynamic duo!

As for myself, I was just invited to speak at the June book club meeting at the Bradford County Library!  Maybe I can talk them into someday featuring the both of us.  Because we are a dynamic duo!  And I'm not just saying that because my name is Robin - I don't think the original dynamic duo (Batman and Robin) will mind me appropriating their nickname.

For many, myself included, 2014 has been a rough year.  I've seen so many posts on Facebook from various friends about how this year has just been rotten.  We've seemed to have more downs than ups, which is why doing a Happiness Jar has been such a challenge.  And also why it's important to keep on doing it.  Indeed, this next week is going to be a trial for me as the electric company may very well turn the power off.  They don't care that my job has dropped down to 4 days a week, a loss of about 9 hours pay, they still want to be paid.  I've run myself ragged trying to get help from different agencies...the ones that will call be back at any rate.  (Endless Mountains Mission Center - you suck when it applies to this.)  I may very well have lost the help of one agency because of waiting and waiting and waiting for this agency to return my call.

As in all things, we'll see how it turns out.

In the meantime, I'll rejoice over the additional press coverage and media exposure.  I'll rejoice over the fact that I'm alive and well (enough).  It is spring, and both spring and Easter represent new life and new beginnings.  May the rest of this year turn around for all of us, and show us that our high expectations back in December for this year weren't in vain.

And don't forget to read our article, and share share share!

Have you ever been in the newspaper for anything?  No, really...I'd like to know! Up to this point, the only times I've ever been in the paper were for work related events, such as the United Way luncheon and when I first started working at Cargill.  I wasn't ever featured in the paper when I worked there years ago; granted that was just at the press facility.  And this is so much cooler!

2014 - Writing like breathing...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Shout Out to Cafe 316

My Mom <3
I'm not a restaurant or food critic by any stretch of the imagination, but I have just got to share my dining experience earlier this week.  My mother wanted to try Cafe 316 because she'd gotten a coupon for 10% off. I had no problem with this, as it's been on my list of things to do.  So before we headed to her doctor's appointment Monday afternoon, we stopped into this delightful little cafe.

Cafe 316 is located on Main St. Towanda Pennsylvania, almost directly across from the courthouse.  It is just one of many little restaurants on this strip of highway.  I'll be honest, I've never been in any of the others so I don't know how they compare.  All I know is that my mom and I were more than happy with our time there.

The dining room is decorated in pleasant colors, with a variety of paintings decorating the walls.  As you can see in the photo with my mom.  It was a step in-between homey and elegant without being fussy.

Roast beef panini and fries!
The menu was a simple piece of paper, lists on both sides. I can't even begin to tell you some of the gourmet food they have listed. Panini's and salads and even burgers that sounded like something off the Food Network.  (Someone needs to call Guy Fieri and have him do an episode here!)  My mother and I both had panini's, our first time ever having this sandwich and we were both happy with our choices.  The prices are decent too, especially since they could charge a lot more for some of their dishes.

Mine was a roast beef panini with apple slices and brie cheese.  Oddly enough, this was my first time having brie as well, and I think I might have maybe fallen in love!  I said to my mom, "Who would have thought of putting apples slices on a meat sandwich?"  It was delicious! 

Next time I want to try their Hawaiian Burger.  It sounds a little strange, but so did apples and roast beef.  I bet it'll be great.

I checked out their website and discovered that they have an online menu that you can view. 

And the plates our meal came on were heated.  I've heard of this, heating the plate keeps the warm food warmer longer.  It makes sense, but not everyone does it.
Simple elegance

Mom also loved the cloth napkins.  Let's be honest here, the paper napkins that most restaurants use these days are a bit flimsy.  Just being general here.  And she also loved the cup of coffee.  Not just because it was fresh brewed - she asked for decaf and they were out, how awesome is that?  But also because they were "real" cups!  "Those aren't teacups," she said, referring to the smaller cups that are often served elsewhere.  You can see it in the background of the pic I am sharing of the pretty table decorations.  Along with a little pitcher for our creamer!

Yeah, Mom's coffee smelled so good I ended up ordering a cup for myself.  Decaf, of course, since it was noon and I didn't want to have any more caffeine because that late in the day it would give me issues with trying to go to bed.  4AM comes way too early.

Dessert was strawberry shortcake, but because of the one negative element of the visit, I wasn't able to take a picture of the pretty dish.  Sadly, I had a message from a friend wanting to talk to me about concerns she had for a relative of mine, and Mom and I felt that it might be urgent so I gave the woman my number. Looking back, it could have waited, but we didn't know that at the time.

I felt so rude, but our server never let it bother her.  She was great by the way. Unlike myself as I can't even remember her name.  It started with A.  She managed to time things just right too, so that we never felt harassed or in want.

So if you're traveling through downtown Towanda and need to grab a bite to eat, I highly recommend stopping in at Cafe 316.  You won't regret it!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Happiness in a Jar

Trust me, I've changed the calendar month...
...or rather, an empty cheese ball container.

At the beginning of the year, I related to you how I was going to be doing a Happiness Jar this year.  As you can see in the picture, it looks quite full already.  In part because in the beginning I was using full sheets of stationary.  I've since changed that practice, mostly to stretch the pretty paper out but also to conserve space in the plastic container.

I did excellent during the month of January, writing something down for every day of the month and faithfully adding it to the 'jar'.  I'm not sure what happened in February, but it started becoming hit and miss, with more misses than hits---which extended to the month of March as well.  I'm not sure whether it is tiredness, or just plain forgetfulness.

Many of the papers in the month of January were fairly simple, just picking one item for the day that had brought happiness.  Some days the things listed was that I had survived work!  We were working 45 hours a week at the time, and some days were longer than others even if it was the same amount of time.  Anyone who's ever worked in a changing environment will understand that.  When machinery doesn't work right, it can cause a nightmare to anyone's routine schedule!

March was probably the hardest month of all. It can be hard to find anything happy when a loved one dies.  I'm not sure what I wrote down for the days in that month, but there were a few moments I'm sure when the hurt of the loss was lessened by a happy moment.

April has been hard too, as another of Mr. Janney's uncles is ill.  He has spent more time in the hospital than out and will shortly be transferred to another hospital for review by a specialist.

Still, we keep on.

I ended up losing the hoody before the afternoon was over!
Recently I've heeded the advice of my hubby and have begun being a bit more detailed.  Like yesterday, I wrote more than 'fun day at the in-laws'.  I wrote down how I had fun riding four wheelers, and driving one and not wrecking!  Last summer, I managed to have an accident the first time I tried driving a four wheeler.  Unlike my husband, I did not grow up with ATV's.  In fact, from my recollection my parents really kind of frowned upon such vehicles as they were accident prone.  So when writing my happy moments down, I made sure to include how proud of myself I was that not only did I not have another accident, but also that I'd managed to follow my father-in-law up the mountain, my husband bringing up the rear, and also managed to come back down it.  Going UP is far less scary than coming back DOWN, especially for someone afraid of heights.

And the old cliche is true, about it being the 'little things' in life that bring happiness and joy:

  • Sunshine and warmth after a cold snowy winter
  • Free chocolate with no strings attached on a rough day.
  • The warm spring breeze on freshly shaven legs
  • My hubby surprising my with movies on a lazy Sunday at home together.
  • New shoes!  Even if they are work boots!
I could go on.  But I'd rather you pick the list up!  What are some of the things that make YOU happy???

2014 - To be happy, or not to be happy...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Xbox Live and Real Life

The mighty Xbox...Netflix is my favorite app...
It is probably well known by now that my husband's frequent gaming usually rubs me the wrong way.  It consumes his time and skews his priorities.  When we are in the same room together and I'm trying to write or work on the computer, he can be quite distracting.

Very distracting.


However, the other morning as I was eating my breakfast in the kitchen while he was already online playing Grand Theft Auto V with his Xbox Live buddies - I couldn't help but laugh out loud at his side of the conversation.  As with any role playing game, there are some things you can say in the game that you can't get away with in real life.

Some, some you can:

  • "The phone's a little squirrelly."  I'm still running on the iPhone 4 and at it's best it is a squirrelly little beast.
  • "The mini-map is your friend."  This might be stretching it some, but since I navigate quite a bit on our long distance trips by using the Map on my iPhone - I can honestly say that the "mini" map is my friend.

But some a normal law abiding citizen could never say:

  • "I accidentally killed somebody."  Uhm, this is when I would be calling 911!
  • "If you still have no cops, I'm getting in."  Well, a law abiding person could get away with saying this to someone who wasn't, but I myself have never had the opportunity.
  • "If that's your personal vehicle, I'll blow it up." Again, if someone said this to me I would be calling 911 and reporting a threat!
  • "I got ran over and shot in the back!" Medic!  Can we get a medic over here!!  No really...
  • "Yeah, I should have shot you." With friends like that - who needs enemies?
  • "Did he just blow himself up?" Once again, I think we need the medic!  In real life, this would have been proceeded by "Look what I can do!" or "Here, hold my beer."
  • "Yeah, he's been throwing sticky bombs at me." Friend, or foe, I don't know!

Some, are just plain weird:

  • "Hang on, let me die again." Because once wasn't enough.
  • "We want to hit a rock."  Yeah, that won't hurt the car one bit.
  • "Be aware, I'm spawning somewhere." Uhm, okay.  Are you pretending to be a salmon?
  • "Don't let them kill you." Good advice!  This is great advice actually!
  • "Yeah, he's trying to hump my leg.  I  have no idea what he's trying to do."  I knew a dog like that once.

This has been amusing me for the past couple of days, just listening to the nonsense that comes out during his game.  Halo Wars is usually quieter, although those games can become quite exciting as well.  Usually there are requests for Brutes or Warthogs.  "Why don't you have power turret yet?" is a frequent question.  Quite often followed by how far into the game they are.  I think the fastest a player has been known to get power turret on their tanks has been about four minutes and thirty seconds.  So if it they're farther in the game than five minutes, Mr. Janney can get quite cranky if one of his allies doesn't have power turret on their imaginary tanks.

This doesn't even touch on their gamertags.  UnderarmSpore and EvilFish are two of the ones I am thinking of at the moment, mainly because we were just discussing them.  Of course, those aren't the literal names...EvilFish has x's in his name, and different letters capitalized.  Just like any username, if it's already taken you have to get inventive if you have your heart set on something.  Mr. Janney's tries to have Crazy in his gamertag somewhere.  He usually succeeds.

The only time he's ever had trouble playing his games was when his Uncle Chuck died, not that long ago actually.  I was more than a little worried when he told his buddies that he didn't want to play Halo Wars ever again because of how badly he had lost the previous game...and he wasn't doing too hot on GTA either.  Mr. Janney not play Halo?  Was the world ending?  He has returned to playing, although not quite as extensively as he was.

We all have our escaped methods.  I read and write, fiction is my gateway of choice into a less harsh reality.  Gaming is his.  I just wish it wasn't as noisy at it is!

2014 - To game or not to game...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Broads of a Feather at the Library

Opening remarks :)
This past Saturday, my author cohort and friend C.P. Stringham and I had a presentation about being independent authors at the Spalding Memorial Library in Athens, PA, just one of our many local libraries.

And it went really well.  There was a comfortable amount of people there for both of us - the seats weren't all filled, but neither were they all empty. I'm not counting the little kids seats in the front row because I don't think they were used.

It was a mixed audience, men and women, young and old.  Even Mr. Janney was kind enough to come along and snap some pics for me.  He even managed to stay awake for it all!  Mr. Janney's not much of a reader, and he doesn't always get what I'm up to on the computer.  There was one moment when I made a comment to the audience about how I hoped I wasn't boring them that Mr. Janney fake snored and got tons of laughs from everyone.  That's why I married him!  I couldn't have planned that half so well!

After we were done sharing our experiences breaking into print though independent publishing we opened it up for questions from the audience.  And they had a few, which was good.  One woman who prefers writing her material out longhand wanted to know if there was any way around transcribing it to the computer.  Not really.  Unless she hires someone to do it for her, but like I said to her that for me personally - I still write things out longhand (especially when I'm at work and the computer is at home) and I find that copying it to the computer is just another part of the creative process.  For me when I sit down at the computer, another door opens for me and the juices kick in - there's a difference to it that I don't have words for, but to me it's just another doorway into my imaginary universe and I have no problem walking through that door and writing what I see and hear.

uhm ,yeah ...... about that ......
There was one older gentleman, who had some questions for us that quite frankly we didn't really have answers for.  I'm pretty sure this explains the looks on our faces in this second picture. (That's CP's daughter Sydney standing in the middle)  He had published a book about 30 some years ago and had questions about copyrighting.  Not a clue.  Neither CP or I go through any other form of copyrighting outside of the Kindle Direct Publishing. Which we told him.

And that we didn't have to pay anything upfront for publishing; it all comes out of the price of the book.  Amazon gets a portion, and we get a portion.  Simple.  It means that even the most financially challenged writer can get published.

I'm still not sure what he'll need to do about using the same cover he used the last time, as it was not his own cover art.  CP and I both do our own cover art.  I've toyed with the idea of contacting a Facebook friend to see if he'd do something for me at a reasonable price, but that's as far as I've gotten so far.

All in all, despite the shaky start to Mr. Janney and my day, everything went well.  I was a little worried that I might have to end up cancelling because of a family emergency, but thankfully the relative ended up stabilizing somewhat before the afternoon.  We've both had enough loss in our life recently and were thankful for the change.

I'm looking forward to our next presentation already, although it has yet to be scheduled.  I've got all sorts of ideas in my head as to how better to present myself so I don't stumble over my own words (I didn't do too badly).  I'll have to take some time and look the PowerPoint over again and take some notes.  Maybe have something written down for some of the slides so I'm not standing there wondering what was going through my head when I asked for it.

CP and I make a pretty good team.

I really need to work on keeping my eyes open more or Mr. Janney needs to work on his photography - one or the other!

2014 ~ Teamwork rocks!