Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

Month: November 2012 Page 1 of 2

Friday Five: Cold & Flu Season Edition

It’s that special time of year, when it seems like practically everyone I know is hacking and coughing and falling victim to the various bugs that are floating around, and I get that threatening tickle at the back of my throat. So I thought I’d share my top 5 home remedies and preventive measures for keeping that tickle from making good on its threat.

1. Vitamin C. This is more prevention than a cure, but I’m a big believer in Vitamin C’s immunity-boosting powers. I take 500 mgs a day (plus whatever’s in my multi-vitamin) all year long, but this time of year I usually double up on it, especially if I feel like I might be coming down with something. I can’t say I never get sick, but it doesn’t happen very often, and when it does it’s usually relatively short-lived.

2. Licorice root tea. This tea has anti-bacterial properties, and when sweetened with honey (also anti-bacterial) it’s a powerhouse at knocking out a sore throat — or keeping that scratchiness from achieving full-on soreness in the first place.

3. This Pinterest recipe. I’ve started mixing this concoction (it’s one part each cider vinegar, honey and water, with ginger and cayenne pepper mixed in) whenever my throat feels scratchy, my nose gets stuffy or I start to feel crud settling in my chest, and I can vouch for its effectiveness. It feels great on a scratchy throat and it really opens up my airways. Of course, we’ve been out of cayenne, so I’ve been substituting my husband’s superhot pepper powder, which will practically burn a new cavity in your sinuses if you’re not used to that stuff. You might just want to stick with the cayenne.

4. Hot toddies. I rarely get sick enough to justify one of these, but when I do… I don’t know how curative they actually are, but they’re definitely soothing. This is my favorite recipe, but just the water, cheap whiskey, honey and lemon will do in a pinch, or if you’re too sick to care about getting gourmet with it.

5. Salt water gargle and nasal irrigation. Okay, I know it’s gross, especially that nasal rinse part. I’ve done the salt water gargle whenever I get a sore throat ever since I tended to get strep throat about twice a year every year as a kid, but I’m a relative newcomer to the nasal rinse, and I made fun of the Neti pot commercials when they first came out just like everyone else. But coming down with a sinus infection a few years ago and not having insurance to cover antibiotics drove me to desperation, and I will tell you — doing this thing knocked out my sinus infection. I use a child’s medicine syringe instead of the Neti pot, and it takes some practice to angle your head just right, and it feels embarrassing and is kind of disgusting. But it’s worth it when you find yourself able to breathe again.

Do you have any home cold & flu remedies (or a killer hot toddy recipe) to share? If so, tell us about it in the comments!

The State of Me

It’s been a while since I’ve done an update on what’s going on in my life. That’s mainly because, apart from the writing stuff, there hasn’t been much going on other than working and looking for work.

The latter didn’t come as readily as I’d hoped it would when I left that job back in October, so for the last month or so we’ve been scrambling, and I’ve pretty much been throwing everything — every skill and bit of work experience and knowledge that I’ve got — at the freelance wall to see what would stick. The problem with that is that now I’m being pulled in so many different directions that I basically have no direction. The good news is, I’ve got some steady work lined up, and there might be a bit more around the corner.

Also, yesterday I had a meeting with a technical staffing agency recruiter who has two full-time jobs that he thinks I might be a good fit for. I told him that I currently have rather high standards for pay and benefits, and that if I go full time again I need to be paid well enough that I can set the freelancing aside and only have to work the one job. He didn’t seem to think that would be an obstacle, so we’ll see. He’s working on lining up the interviews for me.

As much as I love the flexibility of working at home, part of me really hopes one of these works out, because one thing I do not like about freelancing is the hustle. You have to constantly put yourself out there and sell yourself and your abilities and it’s an employment search that never ends, and it’s really quite exhausting. If I can be done with that for a while, that would be lovely, and then I could focus my spare time on my writing and maybe actually have time for a hobby or two.

But if they don’t, like I said, I’ve got two, possibly three, sources of steady income for the time being, so we’ll be okay.

Either way, I think it’s time to regroup and re-examine things, to let go of the things that haven’t stuck to the wall and narrow my focus and pick a niche and stick with it. Also, my book is almost ready to launch, and with that whole process winding down I’m beginning to have some breathing room again. Although I need to not waste any time getting the next book out there.

And with the weather turning colder, all I really want to do is eat and sleep and knit. Or crochet. Whichever. If I ever have the luxury of “finding my bliss,” it’s going to involve figuring out a way to combine writing fiction with knitting as something I can do for a living.

Anyway, that’s what up with me. What up with you?

Other Writer Wednesday: Open Thread

It’s the last Wednesday of the month, and you know what that means: open pimp thread! If you have a book (or anything, really) to promote, post your link in the comments.

And while we’re at it, I might as well post yet another link to my Dominion of the Damned pre-order-palooza over at IndieGoGo, which as of this writing is just $50 shy of the half-way mark with eight days left on the clock. I’m hoping to have the book finalized and ready to publish by the end of this week, and to start shipping out the pre-ordered copies next week. So place your order if you want to get the book in advance of the official release date, or get it in time or Christmas. You’ll also get a shout-out in the acknowledgments and get entered to win free signed paperback copies of all of my future books.

Story Time Tuesday: Eucha Falls, Part Four

I’ve been remiss in keeping Eucha Falls updated for the past few weeks, mainly because I haven’t time to write it. But I finally knocked out the next scene, so… here it be.

 

Eucha Falls

Part Four

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

“I have to show you something.” She and Shane both spoke at once as she opened the door to her room. They stood there blinking at each other, her with her hand on the door and him in the doorway with his computer bag slung over one shoulder.

She turned and headed for her desk, beckoning for him to follow. “Close the door,” she told him. “There’s something new on the video.”

“You should see this first.” He pulled up a chair and started unpacking his laptop. “I kept wracking my brain, trying to remember why Eucha Falls sounded so familiar, and I finally did some Googling. You’re not going to believe what I found.”

Cyber Monday Specials

It’s Cyber Monday! Being that I am a business-type person with multiple businesses, that means I have goodies and special today-only deals. Not all of them are in place at the time of this writing, so check back here for updates throughout the day.

New perks at IndieGoGo

Get your own amigurumi zombie--check me out at IndieGoGo!

See this guy? You can get your very own amigurumi zombie, hand-crocheted by yours truly, along with my zombie novel Dominion of the Damned. In addition to the original package pairing him with signed paperback copies of both of my novels, I just added a new and more affordable perk that gets you your own pet crochet zombie along with a copy of the e-book version. I also added an option to get a digitally autographed copy of the e-book. See those and all of the other perks you can get for pre-ordering and supporting my latest novel here.

 

Book Wrangler Deals

Today only, all pre-made covers in my Book Wrangler shop are $10 off! Is there an indie author on your Christmas shopping list? If so, you might be pleased to know that I’ve also added a selection of gift certificates that can be applied to pre-made covers or to any of my Book Wrangler services. Click here to visit my shop!

 

Blog Makeover from Bauhaus Online Creative

Do you have an ugly blog? Or maybe a just-plain-boring one that’s stuck on the default theme? I will make your blog shiny and awesome. You’ll get a custom-designed header and background, matching fonts and link colors, a favicon, and installation. And today only, you get all of this for a mere $60, so order today!

Friday Five – Thankfulness

I hope all of my readers here in the States had a happy Thanksgiving. I put so much food in my belly yesterday, I’m surprised I didn’t explode. I really thought I might at one point. Even though the holiday is over for another year and practically everyone I know has moved on to doing their Christmas shopping and putting up their trees and lights and whatnot, I thought I’d use my Friday Five to list a few of the many things for which I’m truly thankful.

1. My husband. We have our share of disagreements and times when we’re each just plain disagreeable, but the vast majority of the time, we truly enjoy each other’s company–which is a good thing, considering we both work at home and are up in each other’s business 24/7. But the rare times that we do spend apart, we miss each other and prefer to spend our time together. What can I say? He’s my best friend. We’ve traveled some really rocky ground together over the last few years, really testing out that whole “for worse” part, and it’s only made us closer and stronger. He always comes through for me, and I feel like I can face just about anything as long as I know he’s got my back. I love that man o’ mine, and I couldn’t be more grateful that he’s part of my life.

2. My mom. I’m so thankful that she’s here, and that she’s healthy, and I pray that she’ll stay that way for many, many more years. I’m thankful for all of our family and friends, and that each and every one of them is in relatively good health, and I’m thankful that everyone still lives close enough that we can gather together on the holidays.

3. My “frans” — my friends who are also fans of my work. They support me every way they can and help evangelize my work. They cheer me on and don’t let me get away with doubting myself or my abilities, something that I need way more often than I’d like to admit.

4. My dog. Of course I love all of our four-legged kids — we also have three cats and a box turtle — but our chihuahua, Pete, is such a little delight. His personality is about a hundred times bigger than his size, and he tends to be hilarious, not to mention so cute it hurts. In a lot of ways, he’s so childlike, and he goes a long way toward filling that particular void in our lives.

5. The talent God gave me. Without it… actually, if I didn’t have creative talent, I’d probably have an easier life. I would have made sure to get a practical degree in college, and I’d probably have a good job, and I’d put in my eight hours and then come home and watch TV or read and I’d be satisfied and so much less exhausted. And yet, I would still rather have the ability to spin stories out of whole cloth and write them down and occasionally have people tell me how my stories touched them, or made them just a little happier for a moment, or helped them through a rough patch. I am, quite honestly, terrible at speaking my thoughts, which makes me entirely grateful for the ability to write them down coherently. Also, having a writer’s imagination is a wonderful cure for boredom that I always have with me. So yes–I am tremendously thankful that God made me a writer.

What are you thankful for, dear reader? And did you have a good Thanksgiving?

Other Writer Wednesday: Special Guest Ron Vitale

This week the indie spotlight falls on fantasy author Ron Vitale, who shares with us a lovely and touching post on the power of allowing vulnerability into your writing.

About a year ago I stumbled across a TED talk by Brené Brown on the power of vulnerability and I knew that I had stumbled upon someone who truly understood what I had been trying to do with my life. Like many before me, I grew up in a dysfunctional family and discovered that through my writing I could create characters and worlds I could share with people. As new age and mystical as this might sound, I learned pretty quickly in life that in order to grow, I could either repeat the cycle of dysfunction that my family had taught me or I could embrace vulnerability and become authentic and live a life of worthiness. Writing, for me, is an act of being vulnerable.

Dominion of the Damned on IndieGoGo – Put a Cover On It!

IndieGoGo… IndieGoGo… IndieGo! Go! Go-oooh! (cue Japanese Speed Racer theme…)

So I’ve mentioned here previously that I was planning to do a Kickstarter campaign to generate the funds I need to finalize my book cover, and also just to learn about the process so I can help other authors get it figured out. But after doing more research, I decided instead to go with Kickstarter’s slightly less popular little sister, IndieGoGo, for two major reasons:

Reason the first: IndieGoGo has a flexible funding account which lets you keep whatever funds you’re pledged, regardless of whether you meet your goal; whereas with Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing — your project has to be fully-funded, else you don’t get any money, and those who contributed don’t get their perks. That’s fine and dandy for some projects, but for what I’m doing with this particular campaign — pre-selling copies of my book — I don’t want my readers to not be able to get their books early just because I couldn’t find $500’s worth of people willing to pre-order ($500 is the minimum funding goal that it will allow you to set). This way, anyone who orders gets their books, and I get paid regardless of how many people order early, and everybody’s happy. The fees on a flex-funding campaign are a bit higher if you don’t make your funding goal (9% as opposed to 4%), but that seems like a pretty small cost for a pretty big benefit.

Reason the second: IndieGoGo lets you route your payments through Paypal, whereas Kickstarter uses Amazon Payments, which I’m really not a big fan of. Amazon Payments tends to hold your money in escrow for a while before releasing it to your bank, which, if you need to raise funds quickly, kind of defeats the purpose. I need access to the funds for my cover ASAP if I’m going to finish in time to get the book out in time for Christmas shopping. Also, Paypal is already hooked up to my accounting software and is just darn convenient.

At some point I’ll do a more in-depth post about what was involved in setting up the campaign. In the mean time, you can check it out (and help me spread the word! …please?) here, and watch my campaign video (which was going to feature me talking, complete with makeup and styled hair, but since my computer decided to stop detecting the existence of my webcam, I had to go a different direction) below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvKnZCZOmN4&w=420&h=315]

Friday Five – Get Your Steam(Punk) On

Steampunk Nerf Weaponry : The Girl, The Guns : 5I’ve been poking around the corners of the web lately, trying to become more familiar with the steampunk genre in preparation for writing my next novel, Radium Town. Of course, being a nerd who lives on the Internet, I’m fairly well acquainted with steampunk already–and you probably are, too, you just don’t realize that the genre itself is fairly old. It’s the rise in popularity and cosplay and what have you that are relatively new.

At any rate, I’ve stumbled across a few steampunk-related links that I want to remember, so I thought I’d share them with you this week.

Keys On the Typewriter: Steampunk 101 is a good overview of the genre, its history and evolution, its tropes and conventions, and it’s growing appeal. If you think you’re clueless about steampunk, this is a good place to start cluing yourself in.

American Cultural History 1890-1899 (and also 1900-1909) is an excellent reference resource for the time period my story will be set in. It includes sections for each decade on things like Art & Architecture, Fads & Fashion, Historic Events and People & Personalities. This should come in really handy for world-building and grounding my alternate-reality setting in history and realism.

Steam Circus doesn’t really have anything to do with my novel–I just find I’m digging the whole steampunk aesthetic, and since I haven’t been to a con in over 8 years and even if I did attend them regularly, I probably wouldn’t have the nerve to participate in full-on cosplay, I figure the best way to integrate a little steam into my wardrobe is with steampunk-inspired jewelry. This site has some such jewelry that is downright gorgeous, as well as other accessories that would work either as part of a costume or for a more subtle approach.

And speaking of real-world steampunk fashion, Minnie Zephie’s Steampunk Treasure Trunk chronicles her pursuit of same — attempting to integrate a subtle steampunk aesthetic into her every day wardrobe without crossing the line into costume-wearing. I really like this idea, and I think it’s something I could pull off. I feel like as I look ahead in my author career to potentially attending cons, signings and other writer events, I need to start paying a little more attention to my style and image and elevate it a few (dozen) steps above “yoga/pajama/workout pants and a tee-shirt most days and put on jeans on the rare occasions that I leave the house.” Anyway, I’ve always liked the neo-Victorian classical look, and I really like the edge that the steampunk elements give it.

And if I want to go a little less subtle, I can always whip up one of the AMAZING steampunk-inspired knit patterns from The Ladies of Mischief. This site is giving me SUCH a hankering to run to my local yarn shop and plunk down about a hundred dollars on some quality yarn so I can make these projects. LOVE the bloomers! And the corset! And… and… all of it! Love! Except, sadly, I don’t have a hundred dollars to spend on good yarn and I barely have time to knit these days. But it is bookmarked, and some day, my pretties, just you wait.

Other Writer Wednesday Indie Spotlight: Troll Or Derby by Red Tash

It’s Other Writer Wednesday! This week, urban fantasy author Red Tash steps into the Indie Spotlight with her roller derby fairy tale (…awesome) Troll Or Derby. The official description:

In Troll Or Derby, fifteen-year-old Roller Deb is singled out by town bullies for both her skates, and for being different. When her popular homecoming queen of a sister is kidnapped by a scuzzy drug dealer, Deb must flee the trailer park in which she’s grown up, and rescue her. Along the way, Deb becomes enmeshed in the magical realm of trolls and fairies, and the blood-thirsty version of roller derby at which these beings excel. But spending too much time among the fairies comes with a price. Will Deb choose to save her sister, with the aid of a mysterious troll? Or will she be lost to the lures of roller derby, and the blonde temptress April, forever?

Red Tash is a journalist-turned-novelist of dark fantasy for readers of all ages. Monsters, SciFi, wizards, trolls, fairies, and roller derby lightly sautéed in a Southern/Midwestern sauce hand-canned from her mama’s recipes await you in her pantry of readerly delights. Y’all come, anytime. Learn more about Red Tash and her books at Redtash.com and Twitter.

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