Newsletter and Mailing Lists

I have noticed a change in the Amazon algorithm lately. The last few years I haven’t needed to market because I put all of my published works on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited exclusively. Then this month became interesting. My kindle unlimited reads and my digital sales were non-existent.  When I talked to other independent authors, they were having the same outcome.

Also when I looked for my favorite writers, they weren’t being recommended anymore by Amazon. Writers that I haven’t read in ages were being pushed at me. I had to search for my writers to get their books. So I suspect someone has been diddling with their algorithm again.

Again marketing is not one of my strengths. However, I will have to put a little time and energy into that side of the business. In the changing world of publishing it is hard to know what works. I’ve used ads and received no hits at all. I’ve talked to others who get good results from ads.

So I decided to do a more personal approach–an email newsletter. I know that works on me. I get a newsletter about every month or two from JR Rain. I’ve been reading his books since 2010. His newsletters point me to his newest books.

If you’d like to get my newsletter, then sign up. I will be putting in my newest published works and any freebies that I have for the month.

If this works well, I may also put in a link to the books I am reading too.

“Thanks for all the fish.” Douglas Adams

Up for air

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I can watch the clouds float along the skyline. The clouds kiss and bump into each other. Instead of the wispy clouds I usually see that cross the skyline quickly, I am seeing the thunderclouds that build higher. So far the clouds are still a bright white. When they turn various shades of black and blue, then I will get more nervous.

The last two days I saw two doctors. Both of them are concerned about my immune system issues–pneumonia last month and a bout of shingles this week. Unfortunately if my medications are reduced, my kidneys may decide to go on vacation. They tried to do that during the pneumonia experience. So I walk a tight line between feeling good and being ill.

I’m writing again. I’m back to “Dark Moon Rising,” second book in the EJ Hunter series. I have taken the first EJ Hunter off the market because the new and improved version is so much better. You might want to look for it come November.

I’m also back on “Unlicensed Sorceress,” which is the third book in the Hilda’s Inn series. I think I’ve said this before– or maybe I said it in FB.

As a reader, I went back to Karen Chance and read her dhampir books. There are only three of them. I’m into the second book. It is a shame there are no more books with this character– I mean she is running around Manhattan with a headless vampire. Even with the fighting and violence, there is a deep sense of humor in that book. I am laughing and forgetting the nerve pain that accompanies the shingles.

So today, I am back on track. After the doctors’ visits, I was so tired that I had to nap. I know I need to write in the morning. I need to write a little bit every day.

Once again, I am so grateful for Foxy. She cuddles against me during the worst of the pain and the emotions that follow the pain. She has definitely earned a place in dog heaven.

And, it’s Labor Day

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From Pixabay

Happy Labor Day!

Instead of dangling my toes in the water, I am here in my little room writing on my computer.

I could try to say something meaningful– blah, blah, blah–but I am more excited about getting back to EJ Hunter and her pack of werewolves.

Don’t worry about me. I finally got a bracelet activity tracker that beeps at me if I am staying in one place longer than 45 minutes. So yes, it forces me to get off the chair and take a break. Technology sure rules my life anymore. I am now an input device into the ones and zeros storage unit.

As for listening to the news about North Korea and the marching gangs on both sides, I have turned off all news outlets. I am blissfully ignorant that NK has tested a nuclear bomb. All I will say about that piece of news is that I am so glad I am not President of the US. Plus some former presidents should be getting savaged by the press for believing the NK tyrants had dismantled their nuclear program. But then the news would have to change their Alzheimer’s way of news reporting and actually remember what happened in the past. It won’t happen.

Now about the changing season. I am so happy we are going into autumn. It has been too terribly hot in Nevada. 100 degree temperatures were the norm. We even saw 120 degree temps. I want cooler temps and more clouds. I want to walk the dog in the middle of the day.

So overall my health is okay. I still have issues, but who doesn’t?

I am here and I am writing. This was what I asked for so many years ago when I wanted to be a writer.

 

Gratitude, Seeing, and Blessing

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From Pixabay

I’ve been reading and thinking. Both of these are dangerous activities for the smart person. I know I fit into the smart category–maybe.

In my readings I came across gratitude, seeing, and blessing as a way to open myself to the world around me. Now I have talked about how I have had problems with writing since I have been ill with a variety of things since January.

Also I have been pretty cranky and isolated. It is easy to believe that my world has shrunk to my apartment, dog, and illnesses. Even worse when I do go out into the world, it is at great risk to my health. When I spent four days in the hospital, I had to admit that I needed to be more careful.

It affects my writing as well.

So when I read of gratitude, seeing, and blessing, I was a bit cynical. It couldn’t hurt though. So every day and every night, I say aloud what I am grateful for. The seeing part was a little harder. I needed to see others with how they see themselves in a few years–older and wiser. I also had to do that for myself.

The third act was blessing. I  had to bless my dog, my world, my family, and my enemies without qualifications. Do you know how hard that is? I bless you but–. I had to close off the but before it entered my head.

Since I have tried to be more grateful, better see-er, and blessing without qualifications, I have become more open myself. The unintended consequence is that I am writing and editing better.

So on that note, I am giving you an excerpt of the next short novel that I am editing.

Diamond Butterfly

The snow came down wet and heavy as I trudged down the dirt road, marked by slashes on the trees. Without those slashes I couldn’t see the road, and I still had to hike a couple of miles before I made it to the cabin. My baby boy’s sleeping breath warmed my neck as I carried him on my back, wrapped in a blanket. With his weight on my back, I tested each footstep. If we fell in the snow, hypothermia could be a problem. I couldn’t fall.

I had been driving down that road like a demon with the snow hitting the windshield. I should have gotten new blades, hell, new tires when I realized that I was heading for the storm. The heater kept a small portion of my windshield clear. I might not have jerked and slid off the road, barely hitting a tree if I had seen the black creature earlier. Now I was walking in the storm and trying to keep my baby warm.

The snow dampened the sound around me. I could only hear the crunch of my own boots. Even the birds and smaller animals were hidden in burrows. I opened my mouth to taste the air. I couldn’t smell or taste anything around me, just wet and more wet.

I reached back and touched my boy’s small foot. It was soft and warm. I felt a quick relief. If I could just make it to the cabin soon without getting lost, we would be fine. I took a deep breath and followed the slashes. Heavy, against my leg was the loaded revolver.

How did I, Nova Tewa, the Diamond Butterfly and obedient granddaughter, get into this mess?

This morning my grandmother and I had been in our small house on the reservation. My grandmother had been making cinnamon candies from an old recipe she got from her grandmother. The smell of vanilla and cinnamon wafted through the house while we listened to Frank Sinatra’ s “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” followed by “Let it Snow.” The speakers crackled.

I put the final decorations on the tree. We had been stringing popcorn all morning to wrap around the tree. The fake green fir tree was in the front window. Grandmother had little red beads, which we strung between the white kernels. This year we made all of our own ornaments because we could only afford red beads and silver fringe.

My little baby boy, only a few weeks old, slept in an antique baby rocker. Grandmother’s father had made it with his own hands and my grandmother had slept in it as a baby. When she had her first child, her father gave her the rocker. Now my own son slept in it.
I was rocking the little one when I heard heavy footsteps march up the front steps. I tensed a little when the knocking began. It boomed against the wooden door. A voice growled, “Open up.”

My grandmother stopped stirring the syrup, stepped to the kitchen door, and motioned to me. I grabbed the baby and ran into the kitchen. She motioned to the car keys and a jacket. I slipped out the back door, laid the baby in the foot well under the front seat.

“Coming, coming,” she shouted at the front door.

Then I heard a crash, and my grandmother screamed. I turned the key in the ignition, and started the car. It roared. I hoped that whoever was invading our home hadn’t heard me. Although I felt my stomach clench as I looked straight ahead. I hoped my grandmother was fine, but I didn’t believe it.

Before the my son’s birth, I would have fought our invaders. I would have slipped out the back door with a gun in my hand and ambushed them by shooting them in the back. In our part of the country, home invaders were not treated gently.

Scenes of mayhem and torture of my beloved grandmother flashed through overactive imagination. I wanted to scream at leaving her.

I almost hesitated. I loved my grandmother but my loyalty had to be to my son. He was too little to protect himself. I must protect him. I felt a primal scream burst from my mouth. I grabbed the wheel and slid as I pushed my foot down hard on the accelerator.

“No, no, no,” I screamed my throat hoarse.

Before I slid off the road, I turned the wheel and I let my foot off the pedal. We stopped. I looked back but no one was following us yet. I slowly pushed the pedal and drove down the road more carefully. I kept looking at my rear-view mirror. My heart beat rapidly. I took a deep breath and looked at the road in front of me.

We were not criminals. We didn’t steal, prostitute, or use drugs. I focused on the windshield wipers as they swished up and down, up and down. The steady sound calmed my nerves for a moment as I drove to a little market just ten miles from our home. I had been here many times when I went to the city to drink, dance, and party.

I parked next to a pump and looked down at my son who was still lying in the foot well in front of the seat. I picked him up and buckled him into the car seat in the back. He didn’t moan or even move. His eyes were closed and his fist was in his mouth. For a moment I felt that surge that every mother feels when they look at their baby. I wanted to snuggle him close to my chest and sing my grandmother’s lullabies.

No time. No time. Another part of my mind beat a rhythm in my head. I squeezed his hand and then shut the door.

I put the fuel nozzle in the car’s tank. The baby murmured in his sleep.

We had left the house so quickly that I hadn’t been able to grab the diaper bag. I would need to buy diapers, food, and blankets soon. This little convenience store only had gas and snacks. I wouldn’t find baby stuff here.

The fuel stopped with a click. I reached for the nozzle and some gas dribbled on the ground. The sharp smell hit my nose and I coughed.

I looked at my back trail. I had that feeling that they were on the road and following me. So, I jumped when the manager called my name. Dave didn’t usually work at night. I felt a growing sense of unease.

“Nova,” he said. “Did you meet your cousins?”

“I must have missed them,” I jiggled the handle of the nozzle as I placed it in the pump. I climbed into the car and rolled down the window. “What did they look like?”

Dave described two men with dark hair, dark eyes, and short stout bodies. He could have been describing any of the men on the reservation.

“Did you get their names?”

He hadn’t. My worry must have leaked through my body language because when he said, “Nova,” he sounded worried. “It’s going to storm hard tonight. Are you sure you should take the baby out?”

No, I was sure. Of course it wasn’t smart to take the baby out. But if I had stayed in the nice warm house, then those men would have gotten us. I wanted to leave. Still, I waited for Dave’s weather prediction. He was usually right.

“How much snow?” I asked. I clutched the steering wheel hard and turned on the car. I turned up the heat, so that the baby would stay warm.

“We’ll be snowed in for days,” he said. He paused. The next words came out of him in a rush. “If you go north, you can stay at my cabin.” He pulled out a key from his front pocket. “Get going. You have a lot of driving to do tonight.”

As I drove away, I saw him in the rear view mirror. He was watching the sky.

Re-doing “She Called It, Wolf”

She called it wolf cover 2017 This year I wanted to release book two and a short novel in the EJ Hunter series. When I went back to look at “She Called It, Wolf” and I could tell it was a first novel. I wrote it in 2009 for Nanowrimo. I also was on some heavy chemo at the time so I couldn’t see the mistakes. Of course, it was a first novel. I did say that, right?

First I knew as I read the book that I had made a mistake in using third person. I completely changed it over to first person. It made the book more immediate and personal, which made me write description that fit with the characters.

I hadn’t understood when I first wrote this book how description can mirror the temperament of the character. It seems obvious now. When I wrote description before I had struggled with how to connect it with the story. I relate it to my own life. Sometimes I see rain and thunder as exhilarating and other times I see rain and thunder as depressing. Sometimes the rain will hit against the window and shake my apartment to the point that I wonder if someone is trying to get in. I know that it’s fanciful.

I had to do the same for my characters. Also I took this to a friend who had been an typist and editor in another lifetime. Even though I have an English degree and did very well–thank you very much– I still didn’t see my own mistakes. I lost “the” and “to” and misused other prepositions. Plus since I changed this from third person to first person, I was having problems changing “her” to “my.” Apparently, I read it the right way and left the wrong pronoun.

So thank you Doris Mace for looking through my manuscript and finding those little, but annoying errors.

The story has the same basic plot. What changed was that I was able to pull it together better. It is a more interesting read in my humble opinion.

Now I have to do the same for book two in this series. Editing seems to take longer than the first draft.  Plus I still have these mind glitches. Thank goodness for the help I have received with this one.

I’m hoping to have this out by October or earlier. Also crossing my fingers tightly because I want to get the other two on my list done by the end of the year.

 

When you stare into the void

Nasa void Sounds pretentious, right?

After the hospital stay, I re-evaluated my eating habits. I found some cookbooks with kidney friendly recipes. What I did find was that there were a lot of contradictions going on. Some writers suggested dairy and some said dairy was a big no-no.

There were other inconsistencies. Some said to use nightshade plants such as potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants. I have been told to limit these vegetables because they were high in potassium.

I’ve been rubbing my forehead because after all of this research, I don’t think these “experts” really know what is good for someone with chronic kidney disease. I do know a few things about my my body. Even though I am on a low-protein diet, I do need protein to feel good enough to survive an entire day. Also nightshade vegetables give me “acid reflux.” I do enjoy my tomatoes. I could probably take them out of my diet if I could find a good substitute.

I discovered No-tomato sauce online. My objection is that it is made with beets. I can hardly stand the taste of beets. I can’t stand the smell of beets. It’s in the same category to my nose and taste buds as fecal matter. So that sauce is out. I did find that roasted red bell peppers are considered a good substitute for tomatoes in sauces.

I do like cream sauces. However, heavy cream, milk, and certain cheeses are out. I did find that ricotta cheese (considered a poor man’s cheese) can be used for creams. Even though I am on a low-dairy diet, ricotta cheese would be better than sour cream and heavy creams for my body.

After seeing the void again, I know that I have to cook more. I can’t depend on prepared food at the store. There is too much salt, too much HFCS, and too many preservatives. My kidneys cannot handle the poisons.

My personal void is kidney failure. I knew I was losing my kidneys when I was in the ICU recently. Thankfully the time-honored way of flushing the kidneys helped me this time. I can’t depend on medical intervention helping me again. The next time might be dialysis and the inevitable decline of the kidneys.

So what does it feel like when the kidneys go? When it starts there is pain in your entire body and every joint. After a while, the pain recedes and you feel like your body is stuffed with cotton. You can’t think or move. You drift. Something winks at you, and you know that you are going.

At this point I claw back to life.

 

Stress, illness, and other matters

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Image from Pixabay

Once again I am recovering from a bout of illness. This time it was pneumonia. I am finally starting to feel better after three courses of Levaquin and a four day stint in the hospital’s ICU.

It started out as a high fever and headache. It wasn’t how I usually get colds so I thought that if I kept hydrated and slept that I would get well quickly. I was mistaken.

I went to a follow up appointment with my primary care doctor a week after coming home from the hospital. She did scold me. Apparently if I have a temperature over 100, I should go straight to the ER. I have done that before and didn’t receive the treatment that I needed. So I am wary. I am pretty sure I will try to do it myself once again for a couple of days before I give in.

What got my doctor upset is that she lost a family member at the age of 40 to pneumonia. I really do understand her concerns. I don’t enjoy going to the ER and having some ER doctor tell me that I came to the ER too early. Or even worse being treated with condescension. At least this time the doctor, and he was a VA doctor by the way, saw the danger to my kidneys immediately. He started appropriate measures while I was waiting in the ER.

I haven’t had too many good things to say about hospitalists, but the one that treated me recently at the Las Vegas VA Medical Center was smart and made sure I had good treatment. The nurses were also good.

This stint in the hospital reminded me that I am always on the edge. The stress I have been feeling hasn’t helped me to stay healthy. I have had personal stress due to illness and money. Plus yesterday when the world went crazy about Charlottesville and the two crazy groups clashing and hurting each other, I felt the stress. Plus in many ways these ideas of white privilege and white supremacy attack me and mine personally.

If you look at my family, we are quite diverse. I have full siblings that look Hispanic. One of my brothers  was in Saudi Arabia with work and he could pass as one of them. There are Native Americans in my family. So when I am told that I have “privilege” just because of my skin color, I laugh– I admit it is a bitter laugh.

I grew up in a cabin, sixty miles from the nearest town. My privilege included “no running water,” and “no electricity.” I’ve lived in a small trailer with nine other people before the birth of my youngest brothers. I have put ditch water in barrels, put alum over the top to settle the mud and dirt, then use the water to wash clothes by hand.

I have worked in a huge garden. We would grow enough food to feed us for the entire winter. Our growing season was about three-four months. I canned food for weeks. The work was brutal. I would sometimes light a candle so I could see what I was doing in the dark of night as I finished up the last of the canning on the gas stove.

I had to go into the military so that I would have the GI bill so that I could finish college. I received no scholarships and no loans. Still through shear stubbornness and grit, I received a college degree in English literature when I was 38 years old.

“Check your privilege,” I hear all the time on the ‘net. No, you check your privilege.

I didn’t have a TV until I left home. When we did have a telephone, it was on a party line. I bought my first computer in the early nineties and received my first cell phone in 2005.

My life hasn’t been easy.

We live in the richest era of all. We can buy our food and clothing. It is easy to get a place to live. We have computers and entertainment that fill our days. No matter our color or place in life, we have more now than in any time in history.

I am grateful for not having to make all my clothes, grow and can all my food, and wash my clothes by hand. I am grateful that there is medication that can keep my diseases under control. Fifty years ago any one of my conditions would have killed me by now.

I want you to know that all of us are privileged to have what we have and to have the leisure time we have now. My challenge to you is to use it wisely. Quit the scuffling and name-calling. Take advantage of the opportunities.

And as Ellen DeGeneres says every day– “Be kind to others.”