Open Book Blog Hop – January 14th   Leave a comment

Stevie Turner

This week the topic is:

Have you ever been duped by a so-called service to authors?  And what is the best service you’ve ever used?

Back in 2009 when I wrote my first non-fiction book I was rather naïve regarding predatory author ‘services’, which are there purely to relieve writers of their money.  I’d taken advice from a doctor where I worked, who had also written his first book and had used A*********e for publishing it.  He was, and is, a millionaire, and so looking back with hindsight I expect the cost of publishing was mere peanuts to him.

Anyway, there I was with all these words I’d written, and I thought that if a doctor had recommended this publishing company, then they must be okay (!).  I contacted A*********e, who assured me that yes, they would publish my book.  They assigned me a ‘representative’, who sent me a list…

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Posted January 14, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Evaluating the Goods   2 comments

Have you ever been duped by a so-called service to authors? And what is the best service you’ve ever used?

1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

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Let’s face it. There are a lot of services on offer for independent authors. There’s cover services, editing services, advertisement services and so many more. It’s hard to sort through all of them and find the legitimate services from those working a con job.

I am largely immune to straight-up grifts. I grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska, land of the gold miner, where miners with hard luck stories would ask my father for loans and my mother would say “no”. So I grew up learning was a con job looked like. If it sounds too good to be true … it is.

Of course, I’ve given some services a chance and been disappointed. I don’t think they were running a number. I think they just weren’t the right service for my book. I’ve had mixed success with marketing groups. As an example, Books Go Social just didn’t get any traction so I dropped them after a year. I have lots of friends who swear by them, but I didn’t see even a blip from my books that was attributable to BGS. I might try them again in the future, however, because I think they’re legitimate and, now that my books are selling better, maybe BGS would push them to a higher level. Sometimes what’s a poor investment at one stage is a better investment at another. You just have to remember that investments are always a gamble, even if the marketing group is a known one. But if what they’re offering sounds too good to be true … yeah. And that has kept me from actually be duped by any services. Thanks, Mom!

I’ve used some really good services of my five-year journey and the best service I’ve used was Dyane Forde’s editing service, which I used for my latest book. She is professional, fast and honest and she addressed my shortcomings in a kind, but uncompromising manner. She’s trying to get her business off the ground, so if anyone is interested, here’s a link.

Now hop on off to see what my fellow bloghopping authors have to say on this topic.

Posted January 14, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Alaska   Leave a comment

Posted January 11, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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Good Food Makes Good Books   Leave a comment

Magical World Web

It’s Open Book time!

This week’s topic is:  Share a recipe for a food that comes from one of your books.

Okay, so I love mentioning food and drink in my books.  One of the foods I have mentioned is garlic soup.  One of the drinks is peppermint tea.  Mentioning now and then what my characters eat is important to me.  Partially because food is yum.  Partially because food is real lifey.  Partially because when I was a kid I got annoyed when characters didn’t eat or go to the bathroom.  (To be fair, I have bathroom scenes, too.)

Anyway.  My kids LOVE garlic soup.  I got into soup when my girls were babies, especially with the fourth.  When she was several months old, I would make soup, let it cool a bit, and then pop it in her bottle and let her have it that way.

So I sat…

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Posted January 8, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

What To Eat In the Apocalypse   3 comments

January 7, 2019

Share a recipe for a food that comes from one of your books.

1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

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Eating is a fundamental human activity, an activity that is both necessary for survival and inextricably connected with social function. Eating habits and rituals, the choice of dining companions, and the reasons behind these behaviors are fundamental to fostering an understanding of human society.

As such, the characters in my books eat on a regular basis – except the characters of Transformation Project will being going hungry in some future books because that’s what happens in the apocalypse. While they still have resources, however, I do focus on what they eat because eating is a fundamental human activity and food so defines American culture in the 21st century. It will provide a nice juxtaposition to their hunger in later books.

In Day’s End – Book 4 of Transformation Project (published in November 2018), the Delaney clan gathers for breakfast and to discuss what to do about a horde of people headed their way, running from winter without electricity. Although the conversation is deadly serious and heart-breaking for the participants, Jill Delaney makes the quintessential family dish of French toast and so, that is my recipe for this post.

Emmaus French Toast

Bread (preferably whole wheat, but also homemade white or sourdough. It needs to be kind of tough)

Eggs – 1 egg for every three slices of bread.

Milk or half-and-half, about a half-cup per egg.

Sugar – teaspoon per egg.

Vanilla extract – half-teaspoon per 4 eggs

Cinnamon – (optional, to taste)

Warm a griddle to medium hot, coat with shortening or vegetable oil (butter will burn).

Whip the batter into a loose slurry in a wide and shallow bowl.

Soak bread in batter on one side until fairly heavy. (I prefer French toast batter-soaked rather than just coated, but you can adjust to your personal preference) You want the batter to soak into the bread. Flip. Allow to drain somewhat as you pulled it from the batter.

Place on griddle. Allow to cook until you can see the egg mixture on the bottom start to dry. Flip. Remove when the egg mixture on the bottom is starting to dry.

Dress with butter, syrup or whip cream.

As the Emmaus community is running out of resources even as they are eating breakfast, they didn’t have this option, but you can also adorn with fruit or a side of bacon or sausage.

Food is such an integral part of the human experience and what is on the table of my characters can set a mood and say so much about the world they live in. For example, as “French toast” is eaten in France to make use of bread that’s getting stale, you might infer that Jill Delaney might be facing a bread shortage in the near future or that she had a lot of refrigerated eggs to get rid of now that she has no electricity and must rely on her son-in-law’s farm-fresh (unrefrigerated) eggs going forward. There’s reference in an earlier book to not pasturizing the family eggs, only the ones for sale. In building the community culture of Emmaus I tried to think ahead for future books and drop hints that could mean everything in later books.

Posted January 7, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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A Possible Solution   Leave a comment

Freedom is an amazing thing because people who are free are able to think for themselves and come up with innovative solutions to the problems as those circumstances affect them.

The answer to America’s medical care crisis is not direction from Washington – which has already screwed up the best medical care system in the world. It is also not European-style universal care.

When I developed appendicitis while on a medical exchange in France several years ago, I dosed myself with antibiotics and painkillers and got on a plane to the United States. I risked a ruptured appendix over the Atlantic rather than use the medical care system operated by colleagues I respected. That should tell you something about my experience with European-style universal coverage. I was not putting my life in their hands and I still wouldn’t even though I am not running a fever at the moment.

So, what is the answer? Well, how about choice and innovation? How about putting doctors and the patients in the driver’s seat? How about taking the exact opposite approach from what broke the system in the first place?

Thinks about this. There are plenty of industries where businesses compete against one another without undue government regulation. Choices and innovation increase while prices and other barriers to access decrease. Why do we assume that a similar approach to reforming our medical care system wouldn’t also result in similar outcomes? No, it wouldn’t happen overnight, but it might well push the momentum in the right direction.

Obamacare’s rigid and centralized federal regulation of the nongroup market has failed. Premiums rose at unsustainable levels, choices dried up and enrollment in the individual policies continues to decline. Seven states were granted waivers from Obamacare mandates giving them the freedom to try new approaches. Significantly, states are achieving these favorable outcomes without the expenditure of additional federal funds. Instead, under their 1332 waivers, they re-purpose federal money that would have been paid directly to insurance companies in the form of premium subsidies, using it instead to directly pay medical bills for residents in poor health. These findings suggest that the most effective means of undoing the detrimental effect of Obamacare’s federal regime of subsidies, penalties, and regulations while ensuring that everyone can access private coverage is to provide states with the resources and flexibility to achieve that goal, rather than lashing them to a failing Washington-dominated system.

How do we do that? Well, Lela is down with just ending Obamacare tomorrow, but I’m more in favor of graduated measures like the Heath Care Choices Proposal. Under the proposal, current federal entitlement spending on Obamacare’s rigid structure of insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion would be reprogrammed into state block grants, with broad flexibility for states to develop more consumer-centered approaches to meeting the needs of the poor and the sick, while keeping coverage affordable for other enrollees.

June 2018, a group of state and national think tanks, grassroots organizations, and health policy experts developed a proposal to enable and encourage state innovation. The Health Care Choices Proposal would reverse the Obamacare polarity. In place of rigid federal constraints from which waivers could provide limited relief, the proposal would rely on states to devise ways to assist the sick and needy, without pricing coverage out of the reach of healthy and middle-income families. The proposal would repeal Obamacare’s federal entitlements to premium assistance and Medicaid expansion and replace them with grants to states to stand up consumer-centered programs. Instead of asking Washington’s permission for some limited flexibility, states would use federal resources to finance approaches that best serve the needs of their residents.

The proposal would put in place some conditions for the grants. First, every individual who receives subsidies from the federal government (including Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program), would be given new freedom to spend that money on the coverage arrangement of their choice— vastly expanding their options. States, additionally, would have to use a portion of their federal allotment to establish risk-mitigation programs. The proposal would also require states to spend a specified portion of their federal grants on subsidizing private, commercially available insurance coverage for people with low incomes. States could not use the money to expand Medicaid or consign low-income people to state-contracted managed care plans.

The proposal would release states from Obamacare requirements on essential health benefits, single-risk pools, medical loss ratio, and the 3:1 limit on age rating. Nullifying these mandates and providing states with new flexibility would reduce premiums, allow premiums to more accurately reflect medical risk, and, in combination with risk mitigation, assure that the sick get the coverage they need without saddling the healthy with unfairly high premiums.

Most important, the proposal would replace the Washington-knows-best approach to health policy with one that invests states with the policy initiative, something the section 1332 waiver process cannot accomplish. The block grant approach provides certainty for state (and federal) governments by putting spending on a budget that can’t be increased, as is the case today, if a state or insurer decides to spend more money. The block grant also gives states greater certainty in projecting the amount of federal funding that will be available to them over time. And it helps consumers because it gives new freedom to people to control their federal subsidy and direct it to their choice of a wide range of private coverage arrangements. Regardless of the approach a state chooses to implement, an individual can claim the value of the benefits and use it on the private coverage arrangement of their choice.

States have shown they can take steps under Section 1332 to stabilize their markets without new federal money. It is utterly unnecessary to spend new federal money in the name of market stabilization.

Instead of providing new federal money or creating new federal programs, policymakers should revise the section 1332 waiver process. This would allow policymakers to make incremental progress toward the goal of transitioning from Obamacare’s Washington-centric approach to state-based health care reform. Obama Administration limits and statutory limits on the section 1332 process should be relaxed or removed during that transition. There already are a variety of proposals to do just that, including one from Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander. CMS should start by rescinding the December 2015 guidance, which imposes restrictions on state innovation that go beyond the already excessive statutory restrictions, creating burdens that are costly and time-consuming. In many cases, states have withdrawn their applications rather than see the process through to its conclusion. CMS should replace this process with a streamlined approach and develop model waivers organized around the principle of reducing premiums for private coverage in the broader non-group market, increasing choices for consumers. Such changes—while insufficient to the larger task of needed reform—would support states’ near-term efforts to address Obamacare’s damage to their broken private markets as part of a transition to the broader solution.

Posted January 4, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense

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Open Book Blog Hop – Writing Goals   Leave a comment

Stevie Turner

This week the topic is:  ‘Share your writing goals for 2019.’

I’ve read many blogs recently where New Year writing resolutions/ goals are made.  However, I wonder if that is a good thing to do?  The majority of us do not earn our living writing novels, and ‘Life’ has a habit of getting in the way and stealing valuable writing time.

Professional authors with one of the big 5 publishers generally receive large advances, which usually go hand-in-hand with needing to meet writing deadlines.  In my humble opinion it would surely be these people who would need to state their writing goals for 2019, and not the average self-published author.

Deadlines to me means … stress. What’s the point of me setting goals and stressing myself out?  That would only take all the fun out of writing, and for me the best bit is NOT having to meet deadlines!  I…

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Posted January 3, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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