Shining Wings of Destiny
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
So results of the experiment. I did not get the call and checked in myself. My MIL went to see a doctor just this morning. He wound up scoping her nose and throat and her vocal cords are partially paralyzed. (This does not alarm her as much as she had to deal with similar for a time as a child.) But the scope has made her throat even more sore. She's drinking soda in very slow, tiny sips because that's all she can manage. The doctor doesn't want to do more breathing treatments until the tests are in but she's worried the results might come a bit too late if they don't jump on it. So she will go to the hospital again if her breathing is worse. It is a worrisome situation. But I also warned her about the psychic's message in advance. We've all battened down the hatches and done what we can in anticipation of the storm. She knows she can call if anything gets worse or she is too winded to make food for herself or to run errands. All the efforts may have helped shift what was expected...but long term, the facts are still clear and Rob and I are preparing for helping with long-term care. The problem right now is more acute emergency worries. But we are all doing our best to minimize the chances and effects.
And that is all you can do if you get a head's up on a problem or even on something good-prepare for it. Enough preparation can sometimes turn the tide on something, but, like storms, some things are just *going* to happen. You hear someone shouting "timber" and a snap, odds are, a tree is going to fall. The difference is having a prediction is like that shout of "timber", it gives you a chance to get out of the way. Tree may have to fall, but if you know it is coming, sometimes you can get out of the way.
All right, here's our little experiment. I got warned that my plans to visit family this Sunday were not going to work out. A friend with psychic ability warned me to expect to have to leave on Wednesday. If what she was getting was accurate, I will get a call tomorrow afternoon about 2pm. And to that end, I have been busting tail to get my affairs in order so I can cope if this occurs. If it happens, I will report it (as soon as the crisis is dealt with and I am settled in wherever I wind up needing to be). If it isn't it's still a recorded expected event and the accuracy can be measured. Failure in such things is just as valid as success. But you have to have something to measure. So here you are. The warning was given about Thursday, June 5th 2014. And the narrowing of the time frame came Monday June 9th 2014.
Rarely is there information recorded in advance of an event so that it can be compared to later when the event occurs. The person giving the prediction has never met my family and was hesitant to say anything as it's kind of hard to deliver bad news. The person gained nothing by telling me and risked me being upset even. So it is purely they saw it and felt moved to mention it when I talked about my plans for a trip home later in the week. (I was going to check on the family member in question, but my main reason for said trip was to get a guest at our house back in time for summer classes without having to face the harrows of a long bus ride.) So if you have an interest in such things or the predictive powers of the mind/ability of the mind to extrapolate far ahead based on sensory data collected constantly, this post might be of interest to you. Just realize, my reply might take a bit as the need to leave will be due to an acute health crisis. I don't know the severity level. Sooooo, not a fun picnic but if some good can be gleaned from the situation then it might be slightly less sucky. But it is going to suck. If it happens. But I'm hedging my bet and preparing to leave out on short notice.
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
You Don't Go Into It For The Money.
So I read a really rotten article about how many romance writers are females who "dabble" at writing and were reliant upon their husbands to get started. Seems that when a woman needs start-up cash, she's a 'dabbler' not a private business person. Thing was full of hearsay so I'm not going to repost it.
Instead I wanted to talk about the really horrible thing that is said to people in the U.S. at least: "You don't go into _____for the money". The only things I know of that make money right now are politics, law, and engineering. I have heard "You don't go into ____" for archaeology, nursing, writing, art, theater, teaching, retail, and animal care. I can pretty much put medicine on this list given the high debt load anymore.
So when did we need more politicians than nurses? Lawyers than salespeople? Why shouldn't ANYONE who is working full-time expect to make enough to keep themselves plus a little extra? It's insulting to insinuate that there was a secret meeting telling 'the right people' what jobs would be lucrative 20 years later. It is likewise insulting to tell someone who is doing something they are good at that they should drop it and chase whatever is hot now, even if they have no aptitude for it. Because the follow up will be "Well, you just aren't trying enough". These are both the words of the birds to the fish.
Imagine if you tried to go out tomorrow and there were no gas station attendants, no fast food servers, no cashiers or stockers in your grocery store or pet food places, none in the malls or private stores, and no mom-an-pop shops because you don't go into business for yourself to make money either. No books to read and the hospitals are empty of aid as well. I am willing to bet you will meet far more of these people than you will engineers, politicians, and lawyers. So please stop suggesting to their face or behind their back that they don't matter. And please do not respond with "oh, those jobs are for teenagers". Really? You think a teen with no experience is the first choice for store manager? Regional manager? You want someone experienced and steady. That can only be assessed over time which takes people out of that brief period of teenage working years.
We make the rules of our society. How about we value others as much as we do ourselves? Perhaps acknowledge that there is no excuse for suggesting that a 35-40 hour work week by anyone should be worth less than a living wage? You know what all this used to be called? "Good honest work." And I guarantee you that "good, honest pay for good, honest work" was appreciated a lot more just a few generations ago. It's time to appreciate the hard work everyone does and it shouldn't take someone like Mike Rowe to do it.
Monday, April 21, 2014
I got invited to the "Your Writing Process" blog tour that's been going on. My actual date was April 14, 2014 but I thought I would copy it over to LiveJournal where you can find things again unlike FB which is like adding drops of water to an endless sea. But this is what I've been up to. I've got my pair of super hero romance stories at the editor's now, the cover art is being worked on by the amazing Laura Hidalgo, and I have an appointment scheduled with the formatter to make it look shiny and unique.
Hayson Publishing did a lovely job of capturing the spooky/chilling feel of The Under-Circus and Other Tales and I'm sure my next stories will look equally fabulous. But, back to the blog tour. :)
Today is my day to carry on the Writing Blog Tour where writers and authors get to weigh in and talk about their writing process. The wondrous Elizabeth Constantopolus (probably known as Eli Constant to you) author of Dead Trees and Dead Trees 2 invited me to this. You can see her work at:
So you want to know how I’ve done what I’ve done. Sure. Come have a nice sit-down and I’ll tell you while it’s still fresh in my mind.
What am I working on?
Well, currently I’m mostly wrapping up 3 novels. It’s tax season and the start of convention season for me so I’m not getting to write much at the moment. What you will be seeing from me shortly is a pair of twin tales in the genre of superhero romance in my new Lost Heroes series, and then a dark romance piece that will blow you away called “Love at the End of all Things”. When I have time, I try to get a bit more writing in for the first book in the Lost Heroes series which will be more action-oriented and I am doing research to get into the headspace of a pair of characters for the next pair of twinned stories in the middle of the series.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, in the genre of super hero romance, it’s just Nicole Zoltack and myself so far that I know of writing this. And given some of the absolutely terrible things said about women and the super hero genre this year, I was very grateful to learn I wasn’t the only one writing in it. It isn’t that sex or romance is not brought up in comics, but that I can’t name novels that are focused on the relationship side of super heroes. We all grew up, shouldn’t our heroes be allowed to as well?
As for my other piece, “Love at the End of all Things”, it’s a startlingly dark romance. It is to others in that category what dark chocolate is to milk chocolate. My tale reaches Donner party levels of darkness. But it is romance. Instead of a delicate upward slope of a story towards a climax, my tale is like a roller coaster ride or the measuring of a rapid heartbeat; it shoots up and down with great jags. For each problem solved, a new set crop up. You don’t know if the protagonists will really make it. But the most surprising difference is that the protagonists of this tale, Thomas and Cassidy Charm, are married. Most romances are about boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl (or vice versa) but mine shows you what a healthy, loving relationship is like when it is put under extreme duress. All couples face challenges, whether it is the loss of a job, a home, or dealing with a serious illness, trouble comes along. This couple is a true partnership. When one is down, the other rises. They work together as a team and complete each other. And that tale is rarely told, even with the plethora of romantic stories out there.
Why do I write what I do?
Honestly? I missed LARPing. That is Live-Action Role-Playing. I loved storytelling, although I needed the assistance of rules lawyers to make sure it ran smoothly. Writing is another way to let those stories out. I am also blessed with a husband who is a writer. He won my heart with his writing skills! But I didn’t expect to take this path for myself. However, taking this step has been a great joy and pleasure to me. I am surrounded by amazingly talented and wonderful authors and feel truly welcome and embraced by them. It is quite wonderful.
Aside from that, I learned to write horror and romance because that is what there were calls for. I actually love to read fantasy and urban fantasy. But I can’t seem to write it…yet. Horror came to the quill quite easily. I suspect it comes from channeling the difficulties faced in daily life. Romance, I had a hard time getting down. My first attempt was edited at least ten times. TEN. And it’s going to get yet another proof-read before it comes out in its final form. But I did learn how to do it, and I spend a lot of time trying to push my own writing limits. So expect a lot of eclectic pieces from me. Each thing I try expands my abilities and the things I master become arrows in my storytelling quiver. And no matter what your style–you have to push yourself to improve. You owe it to yourself and your audience. However, editors can help a great deal in speeding up the learning process.
And finally, it’s fun. Learning to write is like learning any other job, it takes time to get the hang of it. You have to retrain your brain to put ideas into written form, to sit there and solve the puzzles you come up with, and to keep going forward even when it is hard. Writing doesn’t just come to you. You have to chase it. Once your brain starts to make new connections and pathways for writing, it gets easier. So don’t give up until you give it at least a solid month of effort. Write a little (or a lot) every day while you are learning how to do it.
How does our writing process work?
It varies wildly with me. I even wrote a short guide of tips on writing fan-fiction with an outline method using a skeleton. It’s cute and I really do use that for planning out the story arcs in a LARP. But I use it only a little in my usual writing. Ideas come in a flash, sometimes as a concept but often as a scene. I will then either research the living daylights out of it or just start writing. And sometimes too much research bogs down the writing process. I have 70 pages of notes for stories that are only 2 pages long so far. Hopefully they will see fruition. But at some point I will sit down and make sure I have a road map of where my characters are going. Sometimes I need to bounce it off a friend, sometimes I work up an outline alone. But the important thing with any outline or set of notes is that you need to have wiggle room in it. Quite often, your characters will do what they want no matter what you planned out. And you don’t get much say. That’s why you have authors sobbing as they hit the keys to kill off a beloved character. The characters run the story. You are almost a field reporter more than a writer. The characters dictate it.
Peter Beagle once said, “I know which characters to use when they speak to me. If they don’t have a voice of their own, no matter how much I like them, I know they aren’t meant to be in my story.” And there is a lot of truth to that. I’ll get a nugget of an idea, and start shaping a character around the needs of the story kernel. Once that character is fleshed out, if it starts talking, has a definite and clear style and presence, I know we are on our way. Another thing for me is names. I feel that names are very important to stories and should match. If a character tells me his or her name, even if I don’t think it’s a good match, I can’t change it. They will stop talking to me and the story will end. Any such changes have to be done afterward. Likewise if I have to do revisions against his or her nature, I risk not being able to continue. So I often have to be pretty far along before I can let others read my work.
I guess the other important thing about my style is that I do not write every day. That’s right. I do not do that. My brain won’t put up with it. My style is when I’m in the zone to write between 8-12 hours a day and even up to 16 hours when I’m facing a deadline. But once I’m done with it, I am done. I need to utterly break away, do other things and recharge. And I have had good success doing this. But it is how I do a lot of things in my life. You have to know yourself and be honest about it. I also discovered I write best at night. There are fewer tasks available to distract the brain so I can usually focus. I have a habit of becoming verbose at night as well. This is great for getting words onto the page. Sometimes being tired can help if you are frightened about doing query letters or biographies or summaries. Tiredness dampens fear so you just get it done. You can always revise later. But you have to get the words down first. And that is the secret to all writing: Get the words down onto the page. Start with putting that spark of an idea onto paper or into a computer document. You know you have little details that follow it, so put them down as well as they come to you. If you keep it all locked up in your head, it’s of no use to you or anyone. Put it onto the page. That act is what separates the writers from those who want to write. You have to write. Then go back and edit or entrust it so someone else to get it to completion.
And if you have trouble taking criticism, try writing for a contest. Knowing I had to beat the best of the best made me want to see my pieces come back looking like they had been on a slasher film set. I wanted them to bleed red with corrections, because every tiny improvement increased my chances of winning. And once you are used to that mindset, it isn’t so hard to keep it going for making your story be the very best it can be for your readers. Don’t forget that authors can only catch about half of their own errors. You need editors. And you will find them by getting to know other authors, getting into writing groups…or submitting. Even rejections help you see how close you are to hitting a bull’s-eye. And it’s a chance for a free opinion or edit job if you get accepted or even very close. Make the most of it. And caffeine is your friend along with some sort of distraction game or toy for when you have to distract yourself to think up solutions to puzzles. Just keep at it, and keep writing.
Thanks for coming by and reading my post. Next week I have lined up Chad Clark, Martin Spernau, and Lee Murray.
Chad A. Clark is an independent author specializing in genre fiction, mostly horror and science fiction. He is a life long writer with a deep love for language and his craft. His debut book, Falling To Dark is a collection of short stories coming out this May and he hopes to have his first novel published by the end of the year. "
A poet of the multi-verse, Martin Spernau's palms show two parallel life-lines, one of which is fading as he loses his physical sight, while the other shows his ability to portray the whimsical science of the fantastic with true insight and vision.
Once, in a galaxy far far away, Lee Murray dreamed of natty suits with shoulder pads and a brilliant career in science management. Instead, she wound up globe trotting with her husband for a time and she tried out a few other career hats before turning to writing which has allowed her to wear her pajamas until lunchtime. Now she is the multiple Sir Julius Vogel Award winner and lives with her husband and teenaged children near the ocean in New Zealand.
Monday, February 3, 2014
I have about a week to go back and forth with my editor and my husband for an anthology I'm putting together to release for Valentine's Day during the "Eat Your Heart Out" event on F.B. It's full of horror themed stories, going from humorous, to chilling, to scary. It's going to be an interesting experience as I need to get the bits finished and stitched together this week and learn the various ebook publishing sites about the same time so I can have it available for everybody. But...it is fun, it is neat to delve into the learning process of this new publishing sea.
The book will be called "The Under-Circus and Other Tales" and the cover art is magnificent. Really. I love it and am amazed that Jeffrey Kosh managed to hit the nail pretty well on the head given the parameters I gave him. The cover has the Ringmaster from the titular stories of The Under-Circus. It had to be a circus at night in the background, and he did it. I'm so pleased, I can't give him enough credit. (Some of the other authors who use him were drooling this pic is so good!) And it's for my husband's piece which makes me really happy. He's been writing for years, I'm the newcomer. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have tried. But-it's fun. And I get to hang out with some of the coolest people in the world. Authors.
So if you are bored on Feb. 14th, come hang out with me online and nearly 30 authors during the 24 hour period. We will post interviews, do some discussion panels, and even video-jockey a bit. So if you like horror, zombies, or post-apocalyptic stories-come meet some of the authors. Valentine's Day can be a downer sometimes. And not everyone is into flowers and chocolates. If you want to talk about scary books and films, you want to be there with us. :)
Did I mention I'm stoked about it? Yeah. This is really cool.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I was looking for Arcadia et Al, but I guess she deleted her account. Pity, I was hoping to hit her archive of life as a publisher. I shall have to check her Word Press. But in the meantime, I should update.
I finished a novel for a contest that is in judging currently and as the end date creeps closer I can't help but get excited. This is bad because I need my brain to focus on the piece I'm working up *now* for submission for another one. Since it isn't out yet I will mention the competition here as there is time for people to jump on the bandwagon. Go search for Dark Crystal Author Quest and get in on it. Yes, that is what you think it is, they are looking for a prequel novel and it is open to *anyone*. How cool is that?
So I'm still slogging on my submission and time is running out. Editors are standing by! And I have 2 more pieces to get done before Christmas! (Yeah, how did I fill up my year with writing projects suddenly?) But I have no complaints. :)
Both of my stories to Firbolg got bumped up to the anthology and it comes out in January as will the Dynatox Ministries "Witches!" anthology. It's a bizarro anthology created to help raise money for a convention. A lot of it is shocking style stories, I think I squeaked in with weird as it's a reach for me.
But let's get to the titular story shall we? Some of the people I know weren't doing great, being an indie author can be rough, as it is for editors and the like as well. So I tried to promote a few zombie titles on my author page to help out with the tag, "Feed the Zombies". That sounded kind of good, I thought. I wondered if more could be done with it.
Then I got talking to Timothy W. Long, seems I said, "Looking forward to your new Z-Rising series". He let me know it was "Z-Risen" but he liked "Z-Rising" more and was torn about changing the title! Ha ha ha. Well, we had some good natured banter and I asked him about doing something for the zombie authors with the "Feed the Zombies" tag. He really liked it, started an event and it was 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. I invited 5 authors, he invited 5 authors, cool.
Within 4 days we had 32 authors wanting onboard and a good 71 people on the page as supporters. We had to split the event and move some of the authors onto a second event as we couldn't list all the covers or accommodate everyone in the first event. By the end of the week we were over 400 strong and I got to take part in a zombie radio show!!! Z-radio's Zombiepalooza which is on Friday nights at 10pm EST if you ever want to catch it. (There are actually 3 zombie radio shows out there. I had no idea!) We ended with upwards of 800 people at our online event on November 27, 2013, the day before Thanksgiving in the U.S. (Which is a great mnemonic for zombie events, heh.) So, yea, I come up with lots of crazy ideas all the time. They don't usually take off like that.
So we will be having the overflow event February 14, 2014 with "Eat Your Heart Out" on FB for the authors who got missed in the first round or who want to return. I hope it does well for them also. By then the judging for my story will be over and I might have something I can share in the event!
I never dreamed I'd be hanging out in the author community and making so many friends inside it. But let me tell you, it's a great place to be. Come join in, the water's fine!
Saturday, August 24, 2013
So we closed the store and I have thrown myself into writing again. I have the little fan-fic writing guide up on Amazon for the Wartooth Arena contest. And I just penned the words "the end" on a superhero romance. Sadly, it is not long enough to submit to the publisher I want to send it to. So I am plotting out a second half for a "later on down the road" segment of the tale.
I've gotten into some online writing groups and they are great. I am trying to work on some more contest pieces that will be taxing the heck out of my new skills as I have to come up with 2 1/2 novels by December. The first is due by October 1st and I am on chapter 2. That is 3,000/50,000 word. But I must try! The prizes are worth it! So I'm not exactly suffering right now, in fact I kind of like this gig a lot!
Firbolg Press accepted a couple of my short stories and they will appear in one of their anthologies this January. So I'll have something else to point to for my writing credits then. Right now, I'm just trying to keep putting words on the page. Miss a lot of you here so I'm throwing this tidbit of news together for those of you who might still remember me! Heh! But things are okay right now on my end. I hope all of you are fairing equally well. Peace out!
Thursday, May 30, 2013
I have had my second short story accepted and have a third out in the aether being judged. The third one is for a paying site so I am extra nervous on that one. It is a tier I haven't reached yet. I have had to write a third bio already and was asked if I had an author's page. I didn't expect this problem. I am a pretty small fish and frankly, I never considered what I would have to face if I actually started getting published!
Long story short: I made one.
Now I have to figure out what to put on it since I really don't have a lot o' content. Damn, I guess that means I will actually have to start producing stories! Ha ha ha! And there is a nifty writing competition I want to enter that is like a multi-part writer's combat thing that sounds like a lot of fun. We shall see how that goes.
This week is the final stripping down of our first storefront though, so it is good to have more positive things to dwell on. I'm slowly getting my back issues sorted out but after months of chiropractic visits I want to go *do* things and it is still pretty easy to over-torque it. On the plus side, I can take full strides without having my back give out on me. Yeah, I did a number on myself. I'm getting up to being just "out of shape" instead of injured. But I have to keep pushing the boundaries some in order to start strengthening the muscles again. It's a fine line, let me tell you. But it is working and I am happy to be improving. I have to start listening to my body instead of forcing it to work when it hurts. Not getting any younger, but I can feel it by taking better care of myself.
Well, not much more for now. I need to get back to writing. And given the time, that is just about over for tonight! I wish you all well out there, and keep pursuing your dreams.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
I had my first short story accepted, as I probably mentioned. It was supposed to go up in the May Rogues' Gallery for Firbolg Publishing. I was waiting to hear more, but finally visited the site.
The picture of the month that we had to write an interpretation of was up, as were 2 other stories, but mine was not present. So I scrolled back up and read this:
"The first round of stories for The Rogues Gallery are in! Congratulations to Joshua Skye and Carina Barry for their outstanding flash fiction. They will be appearing in the January anthology release. We have two gruesome stories for our web site feature to give you a taste of what is to come!"
That means my story got picked as the best of the best for the end of the year anthology. So I am a little floored. I am sorry that I can't link people to my story as planned...but not too sorry! ;D I guess it is something for everyone to look forward to for New Years. ^-^
Thursday, May 2, 2013
I guess I have a lot of ground to cover. Today is wonderful and terrible, joyful and shocking. I'm starting to feel like a character in a book! But it's not as good a read since a lot of it is internalized. Today was a good day for sales at the store, which was uplifting. I got a piece of the Procyon puzzle figured out and another chunk done on a wall map/scroll (its on butcher paper don't get too excited) mapping out how all this research falls out. (Writers/Researchers, invest in butcher paper! You still have to do all that work, but it looks cool on your wall and is fun to play with.)
I got through the day, but my leg is telling me it is displeased. Aspirin/Ibuprofen wasn't cutting it so it's onto alcohol which does a great job on muscle pain with few side effects. I was in better shape tonight than yesterday so I managed to make dinner, red curry chicken sprinkled with cheese. Tasty! A bit hot! (drinking more of the beverage...whee!)
And then there is the news about the extinction of the black rhino subspecies. I've wanted to work with and save animals since I WAS FIVE!! But by the time I finished college, so did everyone else. So I have to come at it at an oblique angle. That is still a work-in-progress. Hopefully I will get it to bear fruit. Then I will use some of what I make off of it to help fund measures to save the animals I love so much.
Last but not least, the amazing guest of honor who looked at my writing sample at Penguicon and gave me a couple of exercises to try looked at my first one and gave me feedback already! How incredibly nice of him! I didn't expect an answer so soon but it's wonderful to have it. I am seriously considering using these exercises to write with for the long term. They might be a great way to escape stuck scenes and remove clunky sections. So tonight I hope to tackle the second half and then maybe play around with some character concepts that were floating around in my head today. I may have enjoyed writing in someone else's sandbox for an exercise, but unless a miracle happens, I can't really do anything with this piece...except turn it into a running gag, which I TOTALLY am doing, but that does not make money. (But amusing the crud out of yourself is priceless, right?) So time to start putting this knowledge to use in-between the mammoth-sized project.
I got my first short story accepted on Thursday (4/25/13) by Firbolg Publishing and it will appear in the Rogue's Gallery next month! It's a free press so check it out if you like gothic horror. I had set a resolution on New Year's Day to get published this year. I submitted some haiku's that very evening and one was accepted for a Valentine's Day collection called "Haiku for Lover's: An Anthology of Love and Lust". Oh heck, I'll throw a link in here. My name is listed in the book description with the other authors! So exciting! So lots of things have been going on and I figured it was high-time I updated.
Our first store-front will be closing at the end of this month as it is in a bad location. We've learned a lot and days like today show us that we could probably make it work elsewhere, but we aren't in a position to pull that off right now. The goal for now is to get the husband moved back home from his work exile period and get the house sorted out. Then maybe in a year we will be able to try again. Still, we learned a lot and survived it all so we will still count it as a win. And I am starting to meet and hang out with more authors both online and off which has been wonderful, inspiring, and amazingly helpful. So love to all of them, and love to all my friends here. Ciao!
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Today was the Grand Opening of our store. We were going to have an event anyway and we had been dreaming of doing something big for 12-21-12 for a long time since our main mascot is a quetzalcouatl. So we went for it.
We already had a wonderful gift in that our semi-adopted son showed up on our doorstep on Thursday to be there at the Grand Opening. Since he had not even called for Father's Day, my husband was not expecting anything like this. Indeed, he was moping and hating the holidays since he rarely gets anything he asks for at Christmas. He felt quite unloved. Then here is our little protege on our doorstep. He sacrificed ALL of his Christmas gifts by asking only for gift cards to have enough gas to make it down. This was wonderful. One of our friends from Michigan would see our first store which was set up in Southern Ohio. It would have been enough. But that isn't what happened.
Late in the day, as the first real snow hit on the first day of winter, I was talking with a reporter for one of the local papers when in walks our best friends with tot in tow. They kept it secret from us that they were coming to be there for the Grand Opening. Our hearts sang. I could not have asked or desired a better Solstice or Christmas gift. And even my Mother called today which was even more icing on top. Other friends who could not come texted us. It has been the best day ever. Our friends came for our store's Grand Opening, but in truth, our friends came so that on the day the world might end, we would spend it together. May you be blessed with friends and loved ones who would move heaven and earth to be with you on such a day.
It is around 2:00am now and after coming home at 1:30am I halted my car and dug out the driveway for my husband and myself. Then I went and shoveled a few of the neighbor's drives. When you are this happy, you want to share it. I hope they are pleasantly surprised in the morning and that the wave of happiness continues to be passed on. And I wish all of you as wonderful a gift as I have received this year. Peace be to you all.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
It has been awhile since I posted here and I miss it. My days are busy as I did get my store opened. Unfortunately, it is not doing well at all, however, the conventions have been fantastic. But relying on the conventions to keep the store afloat is like gambling. One bad convention and the house of cards comes tumbling down. But I have a spare moment so I am updating. I miss all of you!
I want to see Cloud Atlas. It is supposed to be fantastic and very thought provoking. It is from the people who brought you The Matrix. But it has very few showings left since Twilight's last movie has come out. I can go to PA or wait until I am back in Michigan and have a reeeeaaally long Thanksgiving. I think I will aim for the latter!
And it looks like my brother-in-law, Chris, is attempting the NaNoWiMo. I wanted to but with the store, writing at all has been its own challenge. My book is sitting at 2,045 pages, with 341,659 words. But it isn't a very accurate gauge yet as much of it is framework that will be changed massively as the gaps get filled in properly. So the word count will go down and then up.
The really sad thing for me right now is that I have a food section and I have permission from All-Recipes-dot-com to use them as a reference. But I have to let them know which recipes of theirs I have used. I have no idea right now as I use several sources at once. So I see a new word file in my future listing which foods come from which sources specifically. It will get a bit strange when I wind up referring to myself as some are my own creations getting mentioned. (Mind you, I am not listing recipes, just suggested dishes.) Still, you would not believe how many files I have to have open at the same time to track this gargantuan beast! Still, I will cheerfully admit, it is a good problem to have!
Sunday, June 3, 2012
It has been a long time since I have posted. My husband and I are about to get our first storefront! I wasn't expecting to do that this year, indeed, after the fiasco of trying last year and getting turned down for a loan (right at the August 2nd debt ceiling crisis), I had shelved the idea for awhile.
This year was supposed to be about getting Quetzalcoatl Con merged with Northern Michigan Anime Con. So this September we will be a part of NMA vs. the End of the World Con, which is a large enough event to worry about! But we are supposed to run one of the Magic the Gathering tournaments and I suddenly could not order Magic the Gathering cards without a store front.
So in the process of looking for a commercial location that we could use the address of, we found a spot we might actually be able to make a go of. So that is very exciting! Then of course there are delays, problems, and hang-ups that are not so exciting. But working to put the place together has been therapeutic. We have a store! So I guess we can both kiss sleeping goodbye. Heh. We are just waiting on the final inspection to make us official. I am hoping that will come on Monday or Tuesday. Then we can see how well our anime/games store does here in Ohio. (Yeah, we are a little far from our home in Pontiac, Michigan here in Newton Falls, Ohio!) But whatever works, works.
Rob is stuck here for another 17 months or so for work, then we can see what our options are to move. Wish us luck! After nearly 5 years, we are achieving our dream-without the banks help.
Current mood: Overwhelmed
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
So I am in the middle of cleaning and a touch of packing right now. While clearing a table I came across a poem I wrote right around Thanksgiving/Early December. It's called, "Beware, I carry a loaded pen". It is still in a pretty raw state, but I like it. It is full of fun and power so it is hard to pick it apart as much as I should. But hey, if you actually LIKE something you wrote, don't knock it! Ha ha ha! I know I was feeling pretty good the day I wrote it, although I can't remember why. Perhaps it was having my husband up to visit, perhaps it was getting the Christmas/Solstice shopping out of the way. Maybe I was just rocking at a video game, I really don't recall. (Hmm, it might have been when the Marriott started trying acknowledging that they screwed up...seems likely.) But I know I felt good. And the poem captured some of that moment and holds it. So I enjoy it and I hope you do as well. Here is "Beware, I carry a loaded pen":
Beware, I carry a loaded pen.
My mind is full of ammunition
And my thoughts fly like bullets.
I load them into my pen
And spray them all over the page
Or sometimes I pause, and with careful thought,
Squeeze off a single shot with the words I jot.
Some call me author, writer, storyteller, or bard.
I am all of these and more.
Gangs let bullets fly and see who lives and who dies.
With my words I can make you die
A thousand deaths in the eyes of each passerby.
Be aware that words are power
And can make kingdoms and fortunes
Rise or fall, and then,
Beware of me, I carry a loaded pen.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
I still have nightmares about the stupid dentist. I think I preferred the one I had the other day about trying to get Stevie Wonder's autograph and missing my chance. C'est la vie I suppose. The weirder thing was that a few days prior I dreamed I got Barack Obama's autograph and saw a poster saying Stevie Wonder was coming to the college campus soon. Then I wind up having the dream about the Stevie Wonder autograph. So my mind gives me upcoming previews of future dreams? Weird. And here I thought that the serial dreams where I was effectively watching a movie for 3 days was unusual. Wish I could catch the re-run of that one. It was a good film! Ha ha ha ha!
Well, am planning to go to Ohio to stay with my husband for most of his exile due to work. I will be wandering up enough to keep my residency but this being apart for 3 years is sucking. I broke at about 7 months. Heh. ;)
I am hoping I will make better use of my time there. Get my book finished and hopefully some serious inroads on my card game. At least my friend and I have been back at it, hashing out the second tier. I will have to leave her a bunch of info so we can figure out a comfortable way to work on it over the internet. Might be time to learn to Skype. Must talk to the techie friends since we have the equipment. (I swear I just heard one of the cats open a door. >-> Who's been passing out opposable thumbs? Hmm, maybe they were just playing next to a door that wasn't closed well.)
I've sent my reference books down already. Have to box up my allotment of "other" books for my own enjoyment. This will be a bit harder. Only 2 small bookcases to use. Hmm. :/
Still, that isn't so bad. Most of my very favorite books have a much smaller, tall shelf they occupy. I just won't be able to quote passage and verse on some of my reference ones.
My husband is hoping to use the cutting back to better evaluate what we have and cut away some of what we don't need/don't use. It does include books. (Sounds like sacrilege I know.) But we were hoping to donate some to the Occupy Wallstreet movement in Detroit. Now it doesn't sound so bad does it? ;) That part of the movement has managed to stay peaceful and not only offers a bookmobile, it has been feeding the homeless. It is people trying to help people again. This still moves me.
So if we must be banished, some good should come of it. One of my pack-rat friends is doing a massive over-haul so I have a good inspiration to keep at it myself. I just don't know where to start again. It feels a bit unreal, I am here and suddenly I will be there even though this is my house. So strange. Maybe I will have a friend over to keep me company. It might help. <3 So later, all my LJ friends!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Well, Rob and I got the minimum amount we were told we needed to get an SBA loan. I copied all the paperwork, filled out all the financial forms. I SPENT $10 just on the photocopies and that did NOT include our 28 page business plan. But in the meantime, our advocate, Ryan Curtis, left Comerica. We liked him, he knew us, he knew our business and was on our side. The new person we wound up with looked at us with dollar signs in her eyes and handed us the paperwork for an unsecured Comerica loan.
I did not take that well. We didn't spend 3 years building up our business and getting what we were told we needed to get handed an "unsecured" loan packet. But Ryan had given us the SBA paperwork online some time ago so I used it and mailed it to the bank as I was off to visit my husband. (Add another $6.50 just to mail this monster.) It got turned down for applying for a location in Ohio from a bank in Michigan. Seriously?
So I seek out a bank in Ohio. I drive 2 1/2 hours one way to meet the guy and discuss the business and what we need. He tells me to come back once the packet of information gets sent back to me. I get it after I arrive home from my visit with my husband. I drive another 2 hours one way to have the guy pull out 2 pages and tell me that my projections are too high and that if we already had a store worth $100,000 he MIGHT loan us $25,000. Really? REALLY? I waste 2 days and $100 dollars in gas to have the guy utterly brush me off?
The next few days left me in a real funk. We have been working towards this goal for THREE YEARS and just get told to "keep at it"? Really? The business is carrying no debt, the projections are based on the numbers our competitors make, some of them don't even run credit cards! And my projections are "too high"? So if you see the news telling you the banks are still lending to small businesses, it is a lie. Or at least they aren't working with new businesses.
Just when we thought we were ready to fly, we get hit with a lightning bolt. So what now? Well, we will be able to get a convention vehicle in November and I think we will get a nice car wrap and brand it. We will continue to hit the larger conventions and I will work on my book, the card games we have sitting in the wings, and get a better paying, part-time job for the next 2 years and move in with my husband in Ohio. At the end of that we should have enough to do something more. And if anyone knows Ryan, please let me know if he is at another bank. I'd rather follow him than use anyone else for getting a loan.
When my husband and I can stop paying for 2 living locations we will actually be doing pretty well. But money later isn't money now to the bank. Even with increasing our sales 28 fold over 3 years in a bad economy isn't enough to show it is a good risk. I had tried to beat Mercury Retrograde to get the loan process started but failed. I'm sure it didn't help but losing our advocate hurt the most. We miss you, Ryan!
Monday, June 13, 2011
Well, I have been tied up a lot with conventions and whatnot and thus have not updated for awhile. What's new? Well, I've just finished up vending at Michicon and will be at JAFAX next I believe. The tax return got used to get the bills caught up instead of going directly to getting the store front. That was a painful thing to do, but it will help our credit which will make us look more attractive to give a loan to. We have managed to squirrel away 1/4 of what the return was and 1/8 of what I need to go for the loan itself. The goal is to get it this year.
That being said, the IRS decided I somehow made a LOT more money last year doing this than I recall. So they want a little over $200 more from us. Since it is for the closed business name that is linked to closed business accounts I think it would be harder to fight it than pay it. It is really annoying since I could use every penny of that for getting closer to the physical store, but hey, the state is broke. Do you hear that GE? You could try *paying* your taxes and not taking money on top of NOT paying and the state might actually do quite well. But I digress.
I have seen the Mecca of book keeping...or at least for me. So I am trying to prepare myself to imitate it. But for some reason the Hyperbole and a Half segment on "This is why I'll never be an adult" keeps popping into my mind. At least in reference to my organizational abilities. Here, go see it for yourself! ^-^
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Thank you for the well-wishes everyone. Most of that last post was my February to March. At the end of March and into the beginning of April things were improving. I took time during Eostre to try and change my mindset and pray for myself, my husband and my store. The very next day things did start to improve.
I'm still waiting for the tax return which will get put to getting a storefront. Some friends are checking out the possible locations in Bowling Green, Ohio as I check out the ones around here in Michigan. I have finished one good event and am gearing up for 2 more good ones. Come May I should get the tires and brakes on "Deceiver" done. (The car my husband said I'd like.) At that point I might be allowed to drive my sweet Prince Charming car again! Oh the joy!
And if all goes well, I will start the paperwork to get an SBA loan to get my storefront. Lots to do for it still, but it looks hopeful from here. ^-^
In the meantime, I am plugging away at my astrology book. And I need lots of "famous" people to include so any authors, artists, police, firefighters, poets, shop owners, sports stars, web developers, etc. who would like to see their name in print or get a bit of free publicity are welcome to get in touch. I will see whom I can include. Hopefully I will have enough complete entries soon to allow me to submit it. I have been working hard on this project for a year now and it is indeed coming together a piece at a time. I really believe this one has legs under it.
There are hiccups, bits of drama, and another confluence of unfortunate bits, but this is a MUCH lesser version of the previous pile of crud and I am fielding it well for the most part. I am hoping the end of this month will see most of our problems truly sorted out for awhile! We will be at Penguicon next weekend for those of you who are headed there. And we have the paperwork all sorted out with our main distributor so we have lovely new items coming in for the show. I have an underlying sense of hope and satisfaction...when I don't pay attention to the politics going on! And tonight will be a lovely girl's night out at the Dessert Cafe in Rochester which has hand-made desserts, live music, and lovely comfy chairs. It should be a lot of fun. So, thank you dear friends, I am indeed doing well now. And I hope all of you are seeing good things coming your way with the Spring as well! Ciao!
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I haven't been on LJ for a long time now. It's been kind of difficult since I wrote so much about the terrible dentist experience I had. But I actually love LJ a lot more than most other social media. So I will take time to update the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Let's see, January. We had ConFusion and husband and I got to attend it together. He and I are being turned into characters for an upcoming gaming book so that is awesome. That is serious geek credit!
February...was absolute and total crap. My Mom broke her arm and needed me to help some but the car I got stuck with was leaking coolant all of a sudden. It took 3 sessions with a friend to repair it all. This is outside in Winter. So by the end we had replaced the radiator, the clamps AND the reservoir. If we had been able to get the hoses on a Sunday we would have done all of it. But that part is running perfectly now. Of course it was attempting to break down between every visit to my Mother's!
Then one of my friends came up to visit and while we were over at her family's place/my friend's place some other friends brought their toddler to see her. Unfortunately they let out the pure white, pure bred German shepherd that was in heat out as the child plopped down in the doorway and they were halfway through the outer gate. The friends watching the dog were getting paid enough from it to afford food after one of them had lost their job and was searching for another. On top of that, the other was a close friend of the person whose dog it was and a dog trainer. The friends with the toddler stopped in while the others were briefly out so it was really on my and the visiting friends heads that it happened.
So we went out searching...for a dog that had not been well socialized, whom you were not to look directly in the eye and who would run if you called her name if she was outside. Oh, and did I mention the 3 feet of snow or more on the ground? Yeaaaah. That was fun. So there I was with the friend from out of town wandering for MILES in the dark in a LONG, BLACK COAT singing a little song that the dog supposedly would answer to. I was out for NINE HOURS in 27F weather. It even snowed on me. Most of the others gave up long beforehand. I walked, in boots, for 7 of those hours on foot. I drove for two. I sang for four. I caught the dog's tracks post snow within 20-30 minutes of them being laid down twice. But this dog came to no one, not even the owners and I am sure she heard us at some point. Mind you, we had spent time that week around the dog and feeding her treats to help socialize her. That is probably why she even had the bravery to bolt past the huge male human in the first place. No good deed goes unpunished I suppose.
I ended my stint with leaving a trail of dog food from a subdivision with tracks about a mile to where the house she was being watched at was. I really should have died from this. Walking around all day at a zoo will kill my feet when they aren't even in boots! But I was pulling on the Warrior aspect and the next evening I was out there again and walked at least 2 more miles laying down a food trail through snow drifts up to my hips and waaaay over my boots in the dark again all the way from another area she had been spotted in. I was having flashbacks to living in Sault Sainte Marie.
I did not get hit by a car. I did start to get sick. But none could say I didn't do my darnedest to help. The dog was recovered...about a week later. I have no idea if she wound up pregnant or not. But she was okay other than being a few pounds lighter and her pads a bit worn. But that was after the long bout of crap.
I may have mentioned that I have come to adopt the belief that there are bad luck pressure systems just like there are weather patterns. This period had to be a perfect crapstorm.
While this stuff was going on, the electricity for my kitchen blew out except for the stove and the overhead light. No phone, microwave, no toaster, no crock pot...which I can't find even now. I have no idea what I did with it in the process of trying to drop the load on the circuit. Oh, and no fridge.
Sooooo, we shoved what we could from the main fridge to the mini fridge and freezer in the basement. And I tried at some point in all of this fun to get some rest. But it was the weekend of Convocation and my friend wanted me to go with her all weekend. Prior to the second search for the dog (done because the other friend was losing hope and feeling miserable), my visiting friend wanted to hang out and watch movies and paint toenails at her hotel. I got done with the dog search project to learn that was right out because she had to be up early for the convention on Friday. I looked over the list of events and noticed that I would have liked to have gone to some of the events on Thursday and that Saturday and Sunday had nifty stuff but that Friday wasn't that great. I figured I would stay home and heal up a bit so I could be healthy enough to enjoy being out with her and other friends on Saturday. Well, that wasn't in her plans. She was upset and told her mom. Her mom then proceeded to call me, text me, and send me emails telling me how her one and only baby girl had come up all that way to go to the convention with me and HOW DARE I search for some stupid dog instead. This is at 2am. I got sick of this and finally went to bed.
I thought my friend was coming to rescue me, I didn't realize I was supposed to entertain her instead. So I tried hard to drag myself out of bed early. After a long, hot shower I unclogged my sinuses enough to focus and drive. I paid extra money to get in only to wind up with a cool reception from my friend who dashed off to her next event soon after I caught up with her. I had NO energy to chase after her and blearily stared at the convention booklet for something to go to. I chose "Dancing Through the Zodiac" as I was working on a book about the zodiac. Turns it was a kids event and surprisingly, it was actual dancing. Who knew? Not me in the state I was in! Ha ha ha.
But, adults were welcome as well and I was allowed to just sit and watch. That was cool because I had no energy to move. This was an hour and a half event with all sorts of ages. I learned a lot from watching! It was broken up into high activity, low activity, structured, unstructured, and rest periods. And at the end of a segment was a brief lesson summed up in about three sentences. So I did get something out of it. I then went upstairs to the con suite and talked to some regulars I know from other events. Then I was totally dead and went home to rest.
Turns out the friend found out (as I knew she would) that she knew lots of people and was totally engrossed in the seminars and events. Even if I was well I would have gone to different events so we could compare notes and learn more. I rested a little bit and then got a call at 2-3am as she had a...unusual spiritual experience and needed help getting away from a very interested masculine Divine aspect. Now I was acting as my true Shaman-Warrior calling and was able to function during the emergency. But sleep afterward was limited since the next morning was full of things I really did want to go to well or not.
The day was a little difficult but cold meds helped and I was feeling so cheery after a day of no more emergencies and after learning my visiting friend had not deliberately sicked her mother on me but rather her mother took that job on without prodding that I decided to spend a little money to get a good, hot meal in me to speed up healing and to avoid having to spend a long period cooking after a long day. (No microwave, remember?) So I invited my housemate to go with me to dinner and we had a nice time at the Mongolian BBQ. I was feeling good and came home to my cat, Shiva, yowling in fear/pain and paralyzed from the mid-back down. So much for the break in the crapstorm, I guess the eye had passed.
I called the dog-friend up as she works at a vets office and has the most recent experience. She was good enough to come over and looked at my cat, a quick diagnosis book in hand. I thought he had missed a jump on the staircase and landed poorly, she thought he might have had a dislocated leg. He drug himself with his forearms into his own crate (a place he sometimes likes to retreat to) and we opted to lock him in for the night. Her office had Sunday hours but I had to get my car worked on the very next morning by the car friend and he had no other time free. She and the other dog-watching friend took my cat in on my behalf so I could get my car fixed so I could care for my Mother.
I used money I really couldn't afford to spend to help with the bill and used some of the "fast cash" oil on it I had picked up to help it come back quickly since I could not afford to be without it. Instead of being $250+ the diagnosis cost only $99. (The oil has worked 3 times now, good stuff!) But instead of a broken leg, he turned out to have a heart murmur that caused a blood clot that was paralyzing his lower torso. My cat was put on an aspirin regime (which is VERY risky! DO NOT give your cat aspirin without a vet's supervision!). He has since recovered all but the use of his hind toes. This is bad because he is walking on his knuckles and damaging the feet, but he can use the bathroom again and has control of his own bowels which was not the case in the first couple of days.
Did I mention that I had to sort out my taxes for the business during all of this? And that my car friend was trying to help me sort them with his copy of Quick Books but that the car repair took over that time slot so I had to do them on my own in the end? Yeah, 10 hours of calculations by hand later I had what my accountant requested. He predicted my taxes would cost me $300+ for him to do. I used some of the oil again and poof, he said, let's call it $250. (I'm telling you, it really works and it does it well. It's made by Dorothy Morrison, who is basically the pagan version of Joyce Brothers, I kid you not!)
I was hearing the bad news that the initial totals were not only that I was NOT getting money back after all of Rob's sacrificing to go to Ohio so we could get the store going, but we were going to OWE $800. Yeah, let's add a new layer of depression on that crapstorm sandwich shall we?
My friend who did come up to see me as well as go to the convention really did try to help. She did the best thing of all at the time. She brought me chocolate from a little shop in her hometown that beats Godiva by x4 and Lindt by x2. And she brought a lot of it, in a variety of forms. She even had Mayan chocolate with the pepper hints and mild sweetness. I actually escaped a serious downward spiral for one night by applying copious amounts of chocolate to the problem. Do not doubt the power of good chocolate! I still believe the Aztec culture died out from denying chocolate to their women.
But I digress, add to this excitement a night of poor sleep and nightmares before one of the trips to the accountant where we were to change over the business from a partnership to an LLC. This was supposed to be simple. It wasn't. Turns out we had a DIRECT name conflict for our store! I had to come up with something immediately and I was totally unprepared. We had tested the original name for several days with a multitude of people. So I added the word "Quest" to the end of the old name. Bad choice. Even friends who knew what the store WAS thought it sounded like a laser tag place or a children's book store. You would not think that a single word could utterly alter the meaning of a name for phrase but it can. After some desperate brainstorming later in the day, after the husband woke up for his late night shift, we went with putting "Adventurers" in front without the apostrophe.
That was coming up as conflicted. Turns out it wasn't actually but the ladies at the accountant's office were having trouble with the spelling so it was coming up with matches. And if people who do this for a living have problems, the average person will REALLY have problems! So we paid out an extra $25 to amend it one more time and changed the ending to "Classic". This has brought our minor chord back into a major chord and there is harmony once more. There is absolutely no conflicts on the name and it doesn't sound tacked on like "Quest" did.
Car was starting to work so I helped my Mother out with more chores and had one of my tooth crowns pop loose. Hooray. I still don't have that sorted out. But my Mother helped me with some funds for fixing the car and her arm is healing so she can drive again. That makes her happy and I'm happy she is doing better!
Well after sorting that out I spent the first day of Spring with my husband and tried to get my mood improved as per the suggestion of one of my teachers. Then I went out and used the rest of the goodies I bought at the convention to pray for myself, my husband, and the store I wanted. I tried really hard to be positive instead of negative and depressed, I only managed neutral in honesty but I put my deep desire for the store into it. The VERY NEXT DAY the accountant's office called. We owed $650-ish to this state, but my husband would get that back from what Ohio owed him in taxes and from the federal there would be a decent sized chunk to put towards the store. So after all the suffering the sun started to come out.
It wasn't until the end of March that the crap stopped raining on my head and we were able to start fielding some of these incoming balls of trouble. Since then, the car is running, mostly (but has new things to address), my Mom is doing better, the cat is doing better, my new store name and new store in truth as we had to get a new FIN, close all the bank accounts and everything as it is considered a new entity because of the name change, is doing okay. Taxes went out (although I have to get the quarterly sales tax out now) and I'm getting headway on my book and am about to redo the business plan to see what kind of funding we really can get. Things aren't perfect but they are MUUUCH better! Oh and my tech friends managed to get the electricity working in my kitchen again, although my hall light is still a no-go. Still, all in all things are much better.
It is hard to do everything without my husband here though. He is my balance and my sense of humor. Doing conventions is something we do together and this past one drove home how much less fun it is when he isn't there to share it with. But he will be at the next one! And I will see him soon. Spring is bringing positive changes if I can just hold on until the sun warms up once more!
I know it was a lot of complaining in this one, but I don't want to forget just how incredibly crazy things were. I meant to blog this closer to the period it happened but, well, I was kinda busy. Heh, heh, heh. I'm glad I made it through. And I am grateful to a lot of friends who tried to keep me from going crazy during it all. I must do my best to be as good to them in return as they have been to me in those moments. In closing, I wish you all at least one good friend to be there in your moments of crisis, and one dear to your heart to share your sorrows and triumphs with. We are best when we work together. That is when we can truly shine because those around us mirror our light back so we can see who we truly are. Peace out!
Monday, December 27, 2010
Well, we've survived both Solstice and Christmas and are staring down New Years. Things went well if a bit long. I gave at least 2 horror fans "Feed" by Mira Grant (you know who you are) this year. It's a GREAT book with a lot of color, and is more like one of those political espionage tales my C.J. friend likes but with zombie flavoring. It's good all around, so if you like horror/zombies, snag this and be a happy camper.
While at Borders I noticed that the section for Jim Butcher was heavily picked over. Only about 1/4 of what was normally available was left. I felt very pleased about that. My apologies to Jim C. Hines, I gave out a lot of your books last year for gifts. I tend to do them for birthdays now. But you aren't forgotten!
I'm desperately wanting to get back to my own writing. I've been oddly jonesing for it for at least a week but with shopping, wrapping gifts, guests, etc. It was just not happening. So much to do, but at least there is some time I can dedicate to it now. First a picture taking trip though, as the nifty Christmas displays I wanted to catch last year were gone before I got to. Hopefully they didn't work all night dismantling this one!
Well, I hope all your holidays were bright and may your New Year be filled with good health, love, laughter, wealth, and joy!
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