Monday, July 26, 2010

eBooks - What a Concept

I don’t know how many of you know this, but I recently decided to publish my second novel, Sleight of Hand, as an eBook. I haven’t had much luck getting an agent for this project, and since it didn’t cost me anything to list, I figured it couldn’t hurt to have it online.

I didn’t know much about eBooks when I started so it’s been an interesting adventure.

The eBook world carries books from all sorts of genre’s, written in a wide range of skill levels and sporting its own spelling system… hence the term eBook not ebook or Ebook or even ebOOk. And unlike traditional publishing where you have to convince some agent or editor that your book is worth their time, in the eBook world all you have to do is cut and paste.

I’ve been spending time over the last few days perusing the books available on Smashwords, one of the sites that carries my book. The books available are an interesting combination of the inane and the ridiculous with a few gems thrown in every now and then.

I’ve discovered a huge market for books about women getting into bondage type relationships and then becoming confused about who they are… really? Go figure? And Tolkien would be shocked to learn the extensive array of soft porn that passes for Fantasy… or maybe he wouldn’t.

While browsing through the summaries of some of the newest releases the other day, I came across a few that tickled my funny bone and I thought I’d share them on today’s blog.

  • One writer describes her newest novel as:

    an action adventure that is rich in vocabulary and real-world adventure.

    Rich in vocabulary - which no doubt means there are a lot of different words in her book, an absolute requirement for any good story.

  • Another nonfiction writer wants to make sure we know how comprehensively his volume covers the subject.

    A teleological view of the human condition is considered from a bio psycho social techno spiritual perspective. Cultural foundations, scientific advancements and practical apps will be explored as concepts from modern physics,energy medicine,theology,philosophy, psychology,nutrition,the arts,the humanities,and conventional medicine are integrated in meaningful,goal oriented ways.

    What more is there to say?

  • A fantasy novel touted as “A Gender Switch Adventure,” starts off with the ambiguous line,

    Her people conquered, Coruna turned to piracy.

    Did Coruna actually conquer her own people and then head off to sea, or in a state of depression after her people where conquered by someone else, did she run off to join the pirates… and then switch genders? I guess you’d have to read the book.

  • The following are a couple of first lines which quite frankly don’t need any commentary what so ever.

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth... ...and then he died?

    Coralynn Levine does not like people. In fact, she would rather spend her life doing what she does best, killing them.

    And of course the ever frustrating scenario

    Alena was just like the rest of the crowd until she realizes that deadly creatures from folklore are real and that she is a key player to their existence.

  • Sometimes the authors try to sum up the whole plot in two or three sentences with surprising results.

    Reincarnation ideas spark a child’s coming of age quest for truth about his beloved uncle’s puzzling death, unearthing family secrets that lead to severe consequences…    hu?

    Freddie is robbing the place, Victor has come to kill him, Steve is caught in the middle and Holly is looking for a quiet evening at home.

  • One can only assume that the popular book The Promise was this writer’s inspiration,

    The essence of our existence on this planet is survival. It is therefore a breath of fresh air to discover a method of success that requires only applying specific principles and strategies to one’s life—the principles and strategies of Universal Sense.

    Using universal sense to solve problems… now that is a concept I could get behind.

  • And lastly an author who is probably just as lovely, sweet and verbose as her book…

    Let strength give you wings to fly and if you believe, you can touch the sky. "I Believe I Can Fly," is filled with true inspiration that will help guide you through the journey of life's magic ride. May you be intrigued and enlightened for years to come as you soar above the clouds and follow your hopes and dreams!

FYI - You can follow the link above to download Sleight of Hand onto your computer or digital reader for $3.99 at both Smashwords or

Also, I've started a new blog the follows my experiences listing and trying to market my eBook at

Monday, July 19, 2010

Five Things You Can Only Do If You’re a Ghost

Death and taxes, they happen to everyone, and while taxes happen on a daily basis, death usually happens but once. So I say, if you have to go, then why not enjoy the trip. Not in some morbid zombie like way, and I’m not suggesting an Edward the vampire living-death kind of thing either. No, what I’m talking about it enjoying the whole invisible life after experience.

1. You get to watch all the movies and plays you want without paying a dime.

I’m a big fan of theater but the cost of attending more than a few plays a year can get high. And if you want a view from the first few rows, the price goes up even higher. Not so if you happen to be a disembodied spirit. You can choose the prime locations from which to view every show on Broadway. You want to sit cross legged in the orchestra pit or float lazily above the actors heads? Go for it.

2. You can get the best gossip before anyone else.

No matter how well connected you are on facebook or how lucky your timing is while you’re alive, most of us still have to wait for the juiciest tidbits to make their way to us through the grapevine. But when you’re a see through specter, you can achieve the ultimate in on the spot gossip-getting by literally becoming a fly on the wall. You can actually watch as Perfect Patty, your neighbor from down the street, stuff’s silk scarves in her purse. You’re there when the store security stops her in the parking lot and makes her empty her bag. And when the police arrive to hauling her off to jail, you are close enough to smell her Channel Number 5. All before anyone else has heard a word. And with a whole spirit world of people to share this “secret” with, you could be passing on the shocking details for eternity.

3. You can skinny dip and run around the city naked and no one will ever know.

There’s a sense of freedom that comes from acting out your most embarrassing nightmare in public and not getting caught. It’s kind of like actually telling your boss what you think of him, in any words you choose to use, and then walking back to your desk without losing your job in the process.

4. You can visit places like museums and zoo’s whenever you like and beat the crowds.

Imagine strolling through the Louvre at two in the morning or dancing in the Roman Coliseum in the middle of a private tour. Locked doors, security camera, even laser beams can’t stop a true art loving ghost. And if a sign warns “No Entry Past this Point” they aren’t talking to you. Go ahead, sit on the chair that Thomas Jefferson used when he wrote the constitution, lay on the bed where Cleopatra had her fateful encounter with the poisonous asp or stand on the top of the Washington Monument and sing Jeremiah was a Bull Frog at the top of your voice. You’re dead so you can do what you please.

5. You get to hang out with other dead people.

Think about it. There are actually more dead people around than living people and some of them would have great stories to share. Imagine swapping tall tales with Napoleon Bonaparte or fish stories with Jonah. Solve such pressing mysteries as the whereabouts of Miss Amelia Earhart’s plane, the truth behind the Kennedy assassination and whether the King of Rock and Roll is dead and well or pumping gas in a BP station in Pocatello, Idaho.

Sure being alive is great, and there is the whole breathing the air, eating real food and enjoying the society of your loved ones stuff. But when that day comes, and it’s time to meet the grim reaper, you can clap the old guy on the back and give him a wink cause there’s no fun like ghost fun.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Tale of The Dead Ant

Sometimes when I begin a blog I have to add a few words of warning before proceeding and so let me do so now.

Warning number one: This blog may embarrass my mother. Yes I know I am a grown woman, and have been grown for many more years than I chose to remember, however I am still completely capable of shaming my poor mother, who did in fact try very hard to teach me all the womanly homemaking skills to which she so excels and to which I so expel.

Warning number two: This is a crazy busy summer. I’m in the process of working on three books all of which are in the mid or final phases of writing, editing and all of which have interested third parties who are harassing me on a daily basis for final results. The kids are home which means more of everything except quiet writing time. I had to stay up till one three nights in a row to finish a baby quilt I’d agreed to make for a good friend’s, son’s eagle project. And thought I am trying to change my lifelong image (see warning above) I am not a Hannah Homemaker.

The downstairs bathroom has always been the safe house of toilets when it came to entertaining guests with over filled bladders, and noses in need of wiping. When someone would ask to use the facilities we would point them toward the stairs with the words, “Down and to the left. It’s really the safest one in the house.”

The reason this bathroom was so designated was first, because only my youngest daughter uses it, and secondly, without brothers to mess it up, she usually keeps it pretty clean.

So about a week ago this same daughter woke me up at four thirty in the morning to tell me that she had lost-her-cookies all over her bedroom floor and into the bathroom. Now when both she and I were much younger I might have dragged myself out of bed, cleaned up the stinky mess and tucked her into bed. But those days are long over.

“I’m sorry sweety,” I mumbled. “Just clean it up and go back to bed.” Then I fell asleep and forgot about the whole incident.

It wasn’t until the following afternoon when the older kids began to complain of a strange odor emanating from the downstairs hall that I recalled my daughter’s sickness from the night before. (Did I mention the memory thing going as I get older?) So I tracked down said child, who was watching chick flicks on her DVD player, and suggested she might want to clean up the bathroom.

She too remembers the days of her childhood when her job was to spew and my job was to mop up, and she isn’t too happy about the change in responsibility. But after some moaning and complaining and a really dirty look, she finally agreed to handle the problem.

I returned to my writing, assuming the issue was taken care of. (Remember note above about memory loss).

Again, she is the only child who uses the bathroom, and I rarely descent into the darker regions of the basement, so it was probably two or three days later when I sent a friend down to use that bathroom.

Fortunately, this was a very good friend, and when she returned with a strange look on her face, she was quick to explain the dilemma.

“Have you been into that bathroom recently?” she asked.

“Uh…. Noooo,” I responded hesitantly. “Why?”

She grimaced, widened eyes and drew her eyebrows up to her hairline. “You might just want to.”

Of course, I headed down there immediately and opened the door with more than a little trepidation.

The floor, normally a white and blue speckled linoleum now had tiny specks of black mixed in. Ants. Dead ants, covered the floor. Hundreds of them, maybe more. It was like those places you hear about in Africa where elephants go to die. My lower bathroom was the doorway to the great ant beyond.

However, looking closer, I discovered what had been the cause of so many insect’s untimely death. Apparently someone (and I won’t name any names here) in an effort to clean up a mess of already digested food, had poured bubble bath all over the floor.

To this day I don’t know what the logic was behind this. Maybe she was hoping to let it soak and then come back and mop it up. Maybe it spilled during the cleaning process and she thought if she spread it around it would just dry and harden like wax. Who knows.

But what it turned out to be was a monumental ant trap. Apparently every black ant in the neighborhood got word of a strawberry scented floor, conveniently located in the basement of a nearby house, and headed over to join in the fun. Little knowing that this room of delight would turn out to be a sticky mess from which they would never come out alive.

I sighed deeply as is best when confronting a humiliating situation, then turned to my friend.

“You might have better luck with the restroom at the Mobile gas station down the street.”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Cat, A Dog, A Bird -- And A Mouse Under the Basket


This is a brief addition to this week’s blog... sort of a late breaking news kind of a thing.

I got up this morning, showered, dressed and walked into the kitchen and for once I could see the floor.

For the past week I have been trying very hard to get the kids to pitch in more around the house and to become more adept at washing out their dirty dishes. It's what? Wednesday? So three days down, the rest of the summer to go.

As I walk into the kitchen I notice a large cylindrical basket, the type where the mesh is large enough that one can easily see into it. It's turned upside down on what looks like a brown fluffy hair ball. I squinted and looked closer and noticed the ball had ears and a tail.

I dropped down on my hands and knees to get a closer peek and sure enough a small rodent sat miserably on the floor under the basket.

It looked like a cross between a mouse and a tiny tiny guinea pig, with long fur, and I furrowed my brow in confusion. I live in a hot dry deserty area, what freak of nature would give a poor mouse a heavy summer coat like that.

On closer inspection, the back legs didn't seem to be functioning and the critter did not look well.

I stood up and announced to the house hold in my loudest voice, one of those phrases I never could have imagined myself saying before I had children. "Alright, who put the basket over the mouse?"

The only child up and awake, my youngest son sauntered into the room. "I did."


"I didn't want it to get away."

I don't think it was going anywhere, but at least it kept the household pets away from it.

This is the same son who accidentally dropped an egg on the floor yesterday morning and then cleaned it up by draping a bath towel over it and walking away.

So now I'll have to wait for one of my older sons to wake up and dispose of what I hope will be a dead mouse at that point.

I'm going to have to lay down the law to my dog and cat that is for sure!!!


Monday, July 5, 2010

A Dog, A Cat and A Bird

 Our dog brought a live bird into the kitchen the other day. She was quite proud of herself, and the cat was equally as impressed. I noticed the canine and feline gathering at the back door and went over to investigate. There on the floor between them lay a very small brown bird with an orange beak.

My first thought was that it might have been one of the pet birds my son has been raising for the past six months. Though the little darlings are locked safely behind the bars of their cage, the cat has been known to jump on the top and knock the whole contraption over. Tiny birds are amazingly difficult to catch, l learned, as I watched my son chase the finches around the room with a bed sheet ballooned over his head.

But no, this small creature was a wild bird.

I hate it when my pets bring in live but injured animals. Sure I can rescue them from their captors, but what does one do with internal injuries or a broken wing? And do you know how fragile bird bones are?

My brother’s family had a canary that suffered a broken leg due to an unfortunate accident involving a canister of flour and a heavy handed child. My brother, being the independent type, decided to help the little fellow along by setting the bone and wrapping it in a narrow ace bandage. They call the bird ‘One-Legged-Jack’ now.

I stared down at the unfortunate creature debating what the best course of action was. By my side, the dog beamed with pride and the cat looked down right jealous.

Staring at the bird before me I was reminded of the incident of the broken winged robin that had happened the year before.

It was evening that day when I walked into the kitchen to find my cat happily playing with a large red breasted robin. It’s left wing hung in such a way as to assure me it was broken, but it’s eyes were bright and incensed.

I rescued it from the indigent cat, while debating what to do with the poor thing. If I threw it back in the yard, it would be forced to wait helplessly to be dinner for some larger carnivore or worse, to suffer a slow death from starvation and pain. On the other hand, I didn’t want an injured bird living in my kitchen eyeing me angrily every time I tried to give it food or water.

“Just kill it quickly and put it out of its misery,” suggested my son, the one without the pet birds.

“And how would I do that?” I asked.

“Just hit it on the head with a hammer.”

We couldn’t find the hammer, of course, and I refused to let my meat cleaver be sacrificed for the heaven bound Robin.

“You could twist its neck like they do with chickens?” that same son suggested.

An idea which, though we all agreed with in principal, no one was actually willing to do.

“Perhaps if we leave it outside in a box it will be dead by morning,” I suggested.

And so, after finding the right size box, fitted with a clean rag and a small pyrex custard cup of water, we place our injured fowl out on the back porch and suggested it rest in peace.

The next morning, the darn thing was not only alive but active, hopping about the box, dragging its broken wing behind it and complaining profusely about the accommodations.

At last, with no other option, I did what all residents of this free country do when faced with an impossible situation. I called City Hall and they dispensed the animal control truck. The brave officer, who handles rabid cougars on walking trails and rattlesnakes that have taken up residence next to back yard swing sets, showed up at my house and took custody of our houseguest, box and all. I left the rag but retrieved the custard cup.

This year I was not willing to go through another painful bird incident and so I determined to scoop the guy up into a dustpan. Once I'd retrieved him from the floor I headed outside.

My two pets watched me in stunned amazement. What was I doing with their toy? Didn’t I realize how hard it was to actually catch a bird? Those dead ones weren’t nearly as much fun to play with.

But I ignored their pleading eyes and went to the edge of the deck, intent on tossing the visitor into the depth of the strawberry plants where it would hopefully heal or die peacefully.

As I raised the dustpan up, low and behold the bird flew out and off into the distance. I guess it just needed the right motivation to push through its shock and fear.

To me this was the perfect ending to a difficult problem. My dog and cat still haven’t quite forgiven me though.


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