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Parallel Realities   Leave a comment

December 11, 2017 – Writing parallels – parallels between events and your writing, topic or genre.

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Willow Branch Blue White Recreation CoverI’m sure there probably are some parallels between Daermad Cycle and real life, but it’s very much hidden in the fantasy genre. Unless you want to be really preachy, it’s best to keep theme connections to the real world pretty light. For the record, really preachy tends to put off some people. By some, I mean a lot. You can certainly comment on historical events in fantasy, but you hurt yourself a lot and the book as well if you try to comment on modern society.

So, Daermad Cycle (The Willow Branch, Mirklin Wood and the upcoming Fount of Wraiths) draws parallels from feudal society and the discussion of racism and slavery, but it holds back from more modern topics simply because fantasy readers aren’t generally looking to be preached at.

There is a hiking scene in Mirklin Wood that is based upon a trail Brad and I take to get our salmon every summer. If you want a gander at what my world looks like, it’s a pretty good rendition of it.

But parallels do exist in Transformation Project because it’s an apocalyptic and that sort of preachiness is acceptable in that genre. My character live in a time that could be tomorrow. They’ve lived through the presidencies and events most of us remember. Their history is our history … except theirs took a sharp turn the day after tomorrow and they’re living in the aftermath.

Two Cover Montage

Transformation Project was born of Barack and Michelle Obama’s promise to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” For the record, while I think they dealt a major blow to the culture of liberty in America, I don’t think they accomplished their goal. Of course, they’ve not been out of the White House for a year, so it’s hard to be sure. I suspect the current upheaval in the political realm is a rejection reaction to the transformation they tried to start … or really accelerate. Maybe the people who voted for Donald Trump are T-cells attacking a virus. Sometimes perfectly normal immune responses go too far. Maybe the Trump presidency is the psoriasis that develops after the body attacks some life-threatening plague before it can kill us. The good news is that psoriasis can get better when you remove what set it off in the first place.

A Threatening Fragility Front CoverBut let’s not chase that rabbit. The Obamas promised to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” and my daughter and I spent a long, Alaska car trip discussing how that might happen, creating a story that had elements of Transformation Project in it, but ultimately would have written itself into a corner had I pursued it.

Then I looked around our world and saw all sorts of economic and political woes. “Mirastan” in the books could be Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya … I combine elements of all of them because I didn’t want to have to research another country so that Shane’s statements about it would be correct, but also so I could say things about it that might be true of any of them. My readers can form their own conclusions.

Economically, I created a United States that is heavily in debt and beginning to face the consequences of that. I only really deal with the riots, rising prices and union difficulties  in Life As We Knew It because in subsequent books, I’ve blown up the cities and my small town is struggling to form its own disaster plan. You will find my characters in Emmaus still care about liberty — which they define as the ability to do what is necessary to survive. They will say what’s on their minds and do what they need to do. Not to let too many cats out of the bag, but the next book (Thanatosis) deals in part with what happens when the middle-sized cities begin to empty in search of resources that are no longer flowing in from the country side.

The characters who are outside of the town face the realities of martial law, because I’m aware of Executive Order 12919 (National Defense Resources Preparedness) which Obama signed in 2012.  This was by no means the first Executive Order signed by a president that could be used to grant him (or her) marital law in time of crisis, but that it exists at all in the form that it does created the premise for the third book of Transformation Project, A Threatening Fragility.

I hang out with people who pray for the end of government as we know it in the near-future because they believe it would give people the opportunity to fix a lot of what is wrong with American society, so naturally, I am drawn to exploring what would happen when/if the federal government collapses. I don’t think it will all be okay — that enough guns, faith and individualism would automatically result in functional local government to replace the overbearing federal government. As I move deeper into the series, I show local government struggling to adapt and sometimes failing miserably. The negligence of the City of Emmaus killed almost a hundred people in the second book, Objects in View.

Hullabaloo Tugawar Front CoverBy total contrast, the novelette Hullabaloo on Main Street is set in this world, November 9, 2016. In this political satire, libertarian Conor wakes up the day after the Presidential election to discover his small Midwestern town embroiled in controversy over the outcome of the election. The book was based on a Politico article “What If A Red State Moves to You?” which focused on a Wisconsin county that had voted Democratic for more than a half-century, but swung hard for President Trump in 2016. I added a twist to get away from the Politico writer’s clear bias in favor of Democrats. Conor is a libertarian anarchist who doesn’t vote. He doesn’t really care who won the election because he considers all elections just processes of picking our slavers for the next four years. That neutrality allows him to infiltrate both political bubbles during this highly charged times and hear what people have to say. It’s meant to make you laugh, but it’s also meant to wake you up and get you asking questions about why Donald Trump won and what is going on in our country that we have formed up in bubbles that have nothing to do with each other. Conor even muses that he sees a potential solution to the divide … not that anyone will listen because he’s not a member of any of the bubbles.

Conor is me on November 9, 2016, wondering why everybody is upset or ecstatic about a deeply flawed candidate winning an election when he was running against an equally deeply-flawed candidate when in reality, we the people were going to be stuck with whatever ludicrous policies either of these two dictators were going to put forward. I wanted to see liberty increase and more power flow to the people rather than government, but that’s not what I got. As I listened to my friends on both sides of the political spectrum freak out, Conor was born as a character who could explain my view of it. Laugh because it’s better than crying, but it’s still a crappy outcome for a great country that keeps, time and time again, selecting bad outcomes.

Parallels are all about finding that passion within ourselves to talk about what is important to us. As writers, we’re supposed to say what others cannot. The parallels in my fantasy are ones I discovered after I wrote them. The parallels in the apocalyptic are cautionary tales suggesting maybe we should try different things. Conor is my critique of the current political landscape. But I made him fun. He doesn’t hate anyone. He’s not angry. His wry (largely internal) comments are not meant to be hurtful. He just sees things from a different perspective because he’s outside of the bubbles … like I am.

 

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A Few of My Favorite Things   8 comments

November 27, 2017 – Top 10 – Share your top 10 favorite movies, books or things to do.

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Top 10 Things I Like to Do?

 

  1.  Read a good book. I could list my top favorites, but I’m keeping it simple.
  2. Watch a good movie. Again, keeping it simple.
  3. Image result for image of yellow Lab rolling in snowWrite a good book. I do really get a charge out of creating a world and introducing characters that have something to say.
  4. Hike in the woods. Most Alaskans live here for either the culture (libertarian, live-and-let-live, out there honesty) or the wilderness. I’m not fit for any other culture and I do enjoy hiking in the woods, so long as it is fairly warm out.
  5. Hang out with like-minded friends. Our minds might meet on a variety of issues and diverge on one or two that make for enlightening conversation. Maybe we’ll meet around a bonfire or at someone’s house or in the rock pool at Chena Hot Springs Resort.
  6. Play a video game. Sometimes that’s what my mind needs to jump start its activity and it is something my husband and I enjoy doing together.
  7. Quilt. I haven’t completed a project in a few years, but I do enjoy the exacting nature of the work and the beautiful results following. It’s just another form of creativity.
  8. Listen to music. I have wide and varied tastes and often write when I’m listen to music.
  9. Play board games. This requires other people and that’s probably what I like best about it, the interaction with my fellow humans.
  10. Do a home improvement project. I know, that doesn’t sound like fun, and often it isn’t at the outset, but I love seeing the project come to its conclusion and the better feel of the house when it’s been done.
  11. You get a bonus here – because I looked outside the window while trying to decide on a photo for this post. I enjoy watching my dog play in the snow. She’s a Lab, so play is what she does and is. She can make anything into a game. It just so happens that today, she’s chest-deep in snow, running here, diving there — kind of looks like a dolphin, except in snow instead of water –  and then rolling over on her back to give herself a snow bath, all for paws in the air, rolling up with snow on her back and crusting her nose, shaking off and then plunging through the snow to a different spot and repeating the process. Who couldn’t enjoy seeing that?

Posted November 27, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Deck the Halls!   4 comments

Ah, Christmas! The Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve season is bright shiny lights, twinkling tinsel, parties and feasts and gift buying galore.

When our children were little we had Thanksgiving, followed by an anniversary, St. Lucia’s Day, two birthdays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. One year, I counted 27 different celebratory get-togethers that one or more of the family attended.

Nuts, right?

Image result for image of autumn inspired christmas decorationsSo  how did we de-lunacize our holiday experience?

November 13, 2017 – As the holidays begin rolling in, what do you do to prepare your house, yourself and your family for the hectic days ahead?

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Something had to give and it started giving that year.

I now buy Christmas gifts in September or even earlier. I avoid Black Friday altogether and, right there, take a lot of stress out of my life.

My favorite season is autumn, so I decorate my house for the season with autumnal colors – leaf swags, floral arrangements, a basket of fake gourds, the emergency lanterns that have a practical artistry. From Labor Day through Thanksgiving, our house is a veritable fall scene — and it will be again after New Years.

I make a huge meal for Thanksgiving and on the Friday, we swap out the autumn decorations for Christmas decor while eating leftovers. We put up and decorate the natural-look fake tree (don’t laugh, they don’t burn your house down so easily). We swap the swags, wreaths and floral arrangements and I pose my St. Nicholas figurine collection on the radiator shelf under the front window. A former supervisor used to give me one of these every Christmas and so I have a historical retrospective of St. Nicholas’ evolution from Turkish monk struggling through snows with a backpack to  a jolly Santa delivering a sleigh full of toys. We also put out a Nativity scene. Our 18-year-old son is going on 15 years of picking where the Wise Men start their journey (they weren’t at the stable there when Jesus was born). They’ll move closer as Christmas approaches and reach their final destination on Boxing Day (December 26 for Americans). We’ll take the decorations down New Years Day.

We really don’t do much with the outside of the house because Fairbanks has true winter and it’s usually been deep winter for a month by Thanksgiving. Before our crab apple tree got so large, Brad would throw a light-net over it, but about three years ago, the tree suddenly got too tall to do that without a huge ladder, so we agreed to stop. We’ve talked about doing a plywood cutout Nativity scene, but we haven’t planned it yet.

Saturday after Thanksgiving, I’ll pull everything out of the fridge so I can clean the thing top to bottom. Brad will scrub the counter and clean up the broiler pans and other serving items to be ready for Christmas. And, then … nowadays, we sort of relax.  We still have the anniversary and two birthdays but the kids do their own planning now and we don’t sweat it. Maybe we’ll go to a Christmas party or the local production of the Nutcracker. We might participate in our church’s pageant. They’re always looking for narrators and last year, I helped with writing the narrative.

My brother will probably come over for Christmas Eve. Our mother was born on Christmas Day, so we have traditionally celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve since as far back as I can remember. If he comes to our house, we’ll eat leftovers for Christmas Day. If we go to his house, I’ll make Christmas dinner. But, as with Thanksgiving, I don’t really sweat the meal. Turkeys are easy and I was raised in a restaurant. My parents taught me all sorts of cool tricks for making a big meal come out all at the same time without stressing myself out. Christmas Day is a time of relaxation and introspection for us … a spiritually focused day.

Mainly, how we prepare ourselves for the season is by reminding ourselves that we don’t have to get sucked into all the insanity of high expectations and frenetic activity. We concentrate on home and hearth and we have pared down activities to only those needed for the family or church.

 

Posted November 13, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Cai Delaney Speaks   Leave a comment

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November 6, 2017 Open Book Blog Hop

Pick a character from one of your books and interview him or her.

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Welcome to the blog. My guest character today is Malacai Delaney from Transformation Project. Thank you for stepping out of the pages of my books and into our world for a brief moment. Tell us something about yourself.

Life As We Knew It (Transformation Project Book 1) by [Markham, Lela]Hi, Most people call me Cai. I don’t know that I’m all that interesting, but I’m willing to talk to you because you are my creator and I’m curious.

I wrote your character to be an intensely spiritual person who is curious about God. As authors are, more or less, the gods of their fictional universes, it makes sense that you would be curious about me. But this interview is about you. Where are you from?

Emmaus, Kansas, which is a community of about 5,000 people in northwest Kansas, just off I70. You know, mainstream, middle America. The most exciting thing we usually have is driving to the State Fair in Hutchinson and maybe drinking a beer in a corn field, round a bonfire after the harvest.

Life as We Knew It available on Amazon

How long have you lived there?

Pretty much my entire life. My father was born and raised there. The family goes back more than 100 years and lived at the old townsite of Jericho Springs before it was relocated to Emmaus for the railroad. Dad was in the military, so I was born in Seattle where my mom is from, but he retired when I was two and went to work for my grandfather at his feed store. I lived in Lawrence for several years through college and grad school.

Was it your intention to live in Emmaus after you got your law degree?

No. Actually, I sort of wanted to move to Kansas City, Wichita, Denver, but my wife – my girlfriend at the time — was offered a job at Emmaus Clinic, working with her mentor Dr. Vashon, so I changed my plans. It’s worked out. The City attorney of Emmaus retired and the City Council accepted my application. I’ve picked up some extra work with Mara Wells — a nearby town that is important to the Transformation Project — and Beulah County. Plus we’re living with my parents, who have a huge house, and that’s allowing us to pay down our student loans.

Do you wonder what happens to your debts in the current situation?

I think I still owe them. I spent the money, after all. Working three jobs — four with Marnie’s job — and living at my parents’ house makes more sense to me than my brother’s way of dealing with student debt. I still don’t know how I feel about what Shane’s been doing the last few years.

Conflicted?

Definitely. My feelings about Shane would be conflicted anyway, I guess, but … I just can’t imagine him as a mercenary, even though I’ve seen him in action.

I tried to interview him, but he’s pretty taciturn.

He’s always been a private person. These days, he’s very closed-up. Something’s going on behind that facade, but he isn’t letting any of us in.

So why’d you go to Wichita and leave him as your dad’s only deputy? Sounds like a cooler head might be needed.

Image result for image of objects in view markhamHe’s not the only deputy. Dad’s got Grandpa Jacob and Joe Kelly really ought to be in charge. He was a deputy before. He’s got training and a more even personality than Shane. But, fact was, I thought I’d be more use going with Ren Sullivan to advocate for the town. I’m a lawyer, not a cop. I didn’t expect things to slide sideways on me.

Do you kind of wish that Shane had come with you now?

That feeling comes and goes. I’m a 30-year-old man. I’ve spent more than half a decade living as an adult in Lawrence. I shouldn’t need Shane or anyone else to hold my hand, but his skills would be nice right about now.

Objects in View available on Amazon

What’s going on right about now?

That’s a long story. The night of the bombs, I’d just left Denver and I got stuck in a traffic jam near Kanorado. Shane knew the military was planning to kill all the people in the containment zone because of the radiation risk, so he came to get me. That was … wow! For as much as we fought when we were kids and even as adults … that he would do what he did to save me … I really need to rethink our relationship. (shrugs and sighs).

I guess the military was still looking for us. When I was in Wichita, the military tried to detain me, but I ran. I dove into a river to get away from the drones and soldiers chasing me. I climbed into a culvert and now I’m waiting to see what happens. So far, no humans have followed up searching for me. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow when the third book in the series comes out whether I’m still alive. Since you started Objects in View by killing over a hundred Emmaus residents, some of them named characters, I’m not real hopeful.

You’re talking to me so as not to piss off the person with control over your fate?

(Laughs nervously) Something like that.

I only kill characters if they stop talking to me, so that’s a good strategy. So, you think maybe someone with Shane’s skills could rescue you?

The guy I met at the Kanorado line sure could, yes.

Are you scared of what happens if they find you?

Image result for image of a threatening fragility markhamVery much so. Shane shot two National Guardsmen. He deliberately shot their body armor, but that’s still attempted murder and this is the military — so I think it’s probably treason. But they had summarily decided my fate without a trial, so I’m … there’s that word again – conflicted. I’m not sure what the charge is if you’re the one who was being rescued.

You’re a lawyer and you don’t know?

Not my field of expertise. Of course, neither is municipal law and I’ve been teaching myself that for the last year.

A Threatening Fragility available on Amazon

Do you have any hope?

Of course, I do. My faith gives me hope in all things. I just don’t know where rescue is coming from. I’m cold, damp, dirty and scared and I want to go home to my wife, take a shower and sleep for a week. (Pauses) Now that look on your face is making me nervous. You don’t have home and showers planned for my future, do you?

It makes a much better story if you have adventures. A Threatening Fragility comes out tomorrow and readers can find out what I’ve got planned. I’ll let you go, Cai. I hope you can get some sleep in this culvert. We’ll see you in the morning … if you survive.

LOOK FOR “A THREATENING FRAGILITY” ON AMAZON AND CREATESPACE TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2017

LELA MARKHAM

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Whence Did My Muse Wander?   4 comments

Inspiration. Where do you get your inspiration for writing? When you’re running low on ideas or creative flow, how do you get your inspiration back?

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My inspiration comes from life and the news and, sometimes other authors. It depends on the genre and my mood at the time.

Image result for image of literary inspirationFor example, Transformation Project is largely inspired by the news. It’s sort of bleak out there in divided American these days, which just begs for someone to write an apocalyptic about people overcoming the mess created by the demon spawn of division and tyranny. Rather than fuss overmuch about the Resistance, the Revolutionary Communist Party of America and Black Lives Matters planning a series of “color revolution-like” demonstrations around the US during the month of November, I choose to write about Kansas farmers hiding corn from off-the-lease USDA agents who mean to take what these farmers grew and give it to people in the cities. Which is worst – reality or fiction? The reader gets to decide, I guess.

My fantasy series is inspired, really, by my admiration for a whole lot of other fantasy writers and a love of medieval and Celtic history and culture.  Maybe there’s a desire to get away from our overly-technological society, to slow things down to the pace of a horse. You can dead with issues in a fantasy setting that would just plain sound strange in a contemporary setting. Jazz in Transformation Project can certainly be equal to a man when she has a gun, but Ryanna in Daermad Cycle, as a female half-elf is nearly as strong as a human man. She can sword-fight a male and, with superior skill, best him. So questions about strength and equality can be tweaked because of that differing dynamic.

Other stories are inspired by life events. Yet-to-be published “What If Wasn’t” is largely drawn from the experiences of a friend of ours who spent time in prison and then tried to make a normal life for himself when he got out. My book is not his story — that would be an invasion of his privacy — but his stories are threaded throughout the novel.  A YA I’m working on started from a story someone else told me that I changed and developed into something that is quite different from the original true story. I’m also working on another story that is based on a shooting here in Alaska, but my story is not about that particular shooting. I’ve fictionalized it.

Related imageSo, what do I do when “my muse” stops talking to me? That rarely happens because I shift around from project to project to keep myself from getting bored. BUT … when I find myself staring at a blank screen with nothing coming to mind and that lasts more than a day, I usually take a small break. I go hiking in the woods … design and construct a quilt … read a bunch of books. I once binge-watched three seasons of Vampire Dairies … and, no, I’m not a fan and I don’t write supernatural fiction, but apparently that month of wasted time was what was needed to get my inspiration back.

My goal is to distract myself, but only temporarily. While I’m distracting myself, some world leader says or does something that gets my interest. A friend forwards me an article on economics, history or political anarchy. I read a book on medieval marriage laws. Maybe I hike by a wonderful lake that just insists upon being described. I overhear a conversation in the coffee shoppe that just begs to be recorded. I hear a song or read a poem that just speaks to something deep in my soul.

Some time in that process of letting my mind rest for a few days or weeks, the voices return and offer to tell me more of their stories. Inspiration returns. They weren’t gone. They were just taking a siesta and are now ready to give me something to write once more.

 

Cold Weather Prepping   4 comments

October 23, 2017 – How to post. Pick something and explain how to do it. It can be writing related, craft related, garden related – just share how you do it.

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I thought long and hard about this post and finally decided not to share a craft or something writing related and my garden has been frozen for a few weeks at least. Which is kind of my point. So I decided to post on preparing for winter.

Alaska has really COLD weather, so we actually have a season for prepping for it. Pretty much everything stops right after moose season while we turn toward getting our houses and cars ready for winter. Our cars especially need some TLC to be ready for the icebox.

Image result for image of head bolt heater cordOur garage was built by people who apparently owned toy cars. We can pull in, but we can’t open the doors of either car … and heating our garage would be prohibitively expensive because it was incorrectly insulated, so … well, it’s an unheated attached tool shed that we can, if needed, pull a car into if we are prepared to climb out of the trunk to exit the car.

First order of business? Change the oil. You can, of course, do this at Jiffy Lube, but I like knowing it’s done right, so we usually do it ourselves. We have a special tub for catching the oil (and our local solid waste collection site accepts fluids like oil.) We buy a new filter, five quarts of 5W30-50 (depends on the car; we use 10W whatever in the summer) and a replacement fuel filter. While we’re changing the oil, we check to make sure all the lights are working and that the battery is doing well. Being an electrician, Brad has meters for that. We also check the coolant in the radiator, which also requires a meter. While most people can get away with premixed coolant, here in Alaska we have to make sure the antifreeze can go down to at least 40 below, so we usually mix it ourselves. We check our tire treads in the spring to give us time to buy new tires if needed, but we check them again now just to be compulsive. This year we have a tire that needs repair as it has a slow leak. That could easily become a big leak as the cold hardens the rubber in the tires.

Then we check the engine heating devices. Because it gets so cold here, whenever your car is parked, you have to plug it into a headbolt heater. Mechanics insert a heating element into the engine through the headbolt. We also warm our oil pans with a glue-on heating pad. While not absolutely necessary, it can be helpful to also put the battery on a battery-warming plate. (I am personally not a fan of battery blankets, probably because my stepfather the mechanic had no use for them).

These devices usually run to a central cord that hangs out of the grill of the car. You plug it into an extension cord that runs to an outside outlet that, ideally, is connected to a timer so that it only comes on for a couple of hours before you leave. Ours comes on at 5 am. We also have an override so we can give the cars some heat before going to pick up kids in the evening. Of course, we have two of these timed plugins because we have two cars. At one time, we had three cars, so one person had to plug in inside the garage – by running a cord under the door and actually get up two hours before departure to manually plug her car into that outlet. She was young and overslept a lot, so her mom often did it for her.

To check the headbolt apparatus, I plug in the car when it’s still warm outside and check to see if the engine compartment gets warm within a half-hour. If it does, we’re probably good to go. Brad checks the industrial Arctic-grade extension cords for cracks annually and replaces the ends about once every two years. We check the timers to make sure they’re working, still keeping time, etc. We run the 20-foot extension cords behind the garbage cans because, should we forget to unplug the car, the cans will fall over as the extension cords uncoil. This acts as a warning that prevents us from dragging the cords down the street — which often results in destroying the cords, or in getting them wrapped around an axle, which can seriously damage the car.

A final step in prepping the engine involves wiring a piece of cardboard to the backside of the grill, blocking about three-quarters of the airflow. This keeps the engine from being too cold, allowing the interior heater to actually warm us up. Brad’s Jeep has a bra, but my car needs the cardboard.

We squirt graphite-based deicer in the locks, clean the windows, smear this anti-fog stuff on the inside to try to prevent frosting (it’s debatable if that actually works), cover the backseat with a blanket so the dog can enjoy car rides without getting frost-bitten, fill an auxiliary gas can with gas and put it in the trunk along with some survival gear (most especially jumper cables) and a couple of bottles of oil. We move the ice scraper with attached brush from the trunk to the back seat (we’re going to need it).

Starting right about now (mid-October), we’ll warm the car for about a half-hour before starting the engine and then we’ll let it run for a couple of minutes before backing out of the driveway. When true winter (defined as colder than 0 F) arrives (around Thanksgiving, but sometimes as early as Halloween), we’ll warm it for an hour and run it for five minutes before departure. When it drops to 20 below, we go to an hour-and-half or two hours of warming. I only usually let the car warm up for five or 10 minutes, although there are people who let their cars run until they’re warm inside. That wastes a lot of fuel, I am not convinced it is easier on the engine, and it sure adds a lot of pollutants to our atmosphere. I also wear clothes that suit the weather.

When I get to work, there is another extension cord waiting for me to plug into because that’s what’s needed to keep the car going around here. Brad carries one with him in his vehicle so that he can use clients’ plugins so his vehicle doesn’t freeze when he’s inside. It’s not uncommon when you visit friends for them to tell you where the extra plugin is, but if they don’t have one, you have to go outside about every two hours to run the car for a few minutes (10, 15) to keep the oil loose. There is a big move here to encourage employers and businesses to provide outlets. That would be nice for those times when you go to the movies or out to eat and you know you have to take care of the car every two hours or pay the consequences.

So, there you go. One piece of a larger puzzle for winter time prep here in Alaska.

Quality Improvements   3 comments

October 16, 2017 – Things you want to see change in your industry.

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This is a hard post for me because I don’t consider myself to be much of a prophet and I subscribe to the “be careful what you wish for” philosophy of life. “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” and “I really didn’t mean THAT” are cautionary for a reason.

So what changes would I “want” to see in my industry?

Oh, boy!

Related imageHigher quality books by independent authors would make my #1 spot on the list. Conversely, I’d like to see all the “quality doesn’t matter” crowd take an extended vacation. Go edit your books and learn how to format and come back in a year. That should leave the minority slice of the indie field free to really surprise people with the quality of our books. I don’t fear competition from high quality books. I fear being lost in a sea of poor quality, so that it is hard to break the surface and shine forth as a truly worthwhile author.

More collaborative marketing efforts. I don’t know how that would work itself out and there are certainly authors doing that now with bundles, freebies, samplers and collaborative ads. I’m always willing to cross-promote on my blog. I think there is power in numbers, especially for people who have limited advertising budgets. I am not a great idea person in the marketing arena, but I would certainly join with authors who wanted to do something. I just wish it were easier to connect and the quality was high enough that you could be assured of a good showing.

A reduction in social media. I’ve never been a social media warrior. I feel the huge time suck. Unfortunately, because everybody else is doing it, I sort of have to … but I think that social media mania may be waning. I hear of some authors reducing their social accounts. I see that as a good sign. Right now, we’re all shouting into the echo chamber and canceling each other out. Surely there is a better way to do this. What? I don’t know. Someone make a suggestion.

Getting away from paid review services. As a reader, I’ve never trusted them. An author/publisher paid for those glowing kudos. I’ve never bought a book on the recommendation of Publishers Weekly and I never will. I do, however, check out what readers have to say about the book.

Authors getting real about time lines. There are tons of books being published daily, so nobody should expect to be on the Times Best Sellers list two days later. Our books may sell well, eventually, but it’s going to be a more long haul affairs with a lot of work before it happens. Spend your budget dollars wisely. Don’t blow it all in the first week. Plan for the long haul. The converse of this is that advertising venues might want to come down on their prices a bit because it will now take two, three or four ads to get the same sales as one used to garner.

I’d love to see online editing tools for published ebooks, so typos can be fixed without having to re-upload files.

How about a place for matching writers with cover artists, editors, beta readers, and formatters?

The book discovery process could be refined. Amazon recommends titles once you have a buying history with them, but I remember the old days of accidentally discovering a great book while browsing the stacks of the local bookstore. Surely, something could be created to mimic that in the digital universe.

I want to see new genres. I’m not saying let’s get rid of the old genres, but that more choice is a good thing. I’m old enough to remember when fantasy was grouped with science fiction and marketed as science fiction because the Big 5 thought they had to trick people into reading fantasy. Now, it’s a standalone genre that has several subcategories.

I think that’s about it. No, I’m not offering any solutions to how we achieve these improvements. I think Amazon probably has some IT guys who can work on some of it.

Posted October 16, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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