Friday, July 31, 2009

Yay. A new phone.

The good news--I just got a new cell phone.

The bad news--I just got a new cell phone.

This isn't a picture of it. This is clip art of a phone that's way more expensive than my "free" upgrade.

I'm a little uncomfortable with this--the owners' manual isn't even a book. It's a CD. I know, I know! I'm the one who loves e-reading. But dangit, I can't find the information I'm looking for, because the index is extremely sketchy.

I'll eventually figure the thing out. I think. I've had the current phone for more than two years, and never was really great with it. The prior phone and I worked as one. Somehow the menus were so intuitive. (No, Jennifer, I didn't name it.)

Once I get the new phone up and running, I'll see if I can read e-books on it. That was not my purpose for getting a new phone, but it would be a nice thing to be able to show people when discussing e-reading.

Going for a walk now, to clear my head of electronics...

Happy Friday!

Magdalena

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Back to school...again!

I think I'm a lesson behind in my online cozy mystery class. Yikes!

And yesterday I went "back to school" in a different way. At my temp job, I needed to be trained on a new software. A very new software. The lady who came to town and trained me was so encouraging, so patient, so incredibly knowledgeable. And everyone knows how knowledgeable she is, because her Blackberry buzzed constantly with questions from people all over the state.

Anyway, it was a long day in a way, but very interesting. It's exciting to be working with this system that's so new. Fortunately everyone else at the office has been trained and has been working with it for a while, so I can ask them questions. And I have the email address to reach my new friend via Blackberry. Bless her heart.

Magdalena


Just in case you're wondering, I did make an attempt to proselytize
her to e-reading on her Blackerry. Wrote down some websites, etc. You know how I am.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Maybe if I can push it up just one more hill...

Do ya think if I push it up another hill and jump in, it will start in neutral?

This car represents my laptop.

The little laptop (shall we call her "Della?") is having some problems, poor thing. Yesterday Della was "in the shop"--taken apart, analyzed, put back together again. She's running more quickly now, but not completely healed. Some of her problems, it would seem, are simply age related.

Almost three years ago, I bought Della--used--on ebay. She's been a workhorse, and I'm wondering if it's time to just put her out of her misery.

In the last year she's had lid hinges replaced, and has burned out two batteries. Early in our relationship, she burned out a wireless card. She was so relieved when I reduced my time on MySpace, because its many videos and add-ons made her sweat. Yeah, Della gets hot flashes.

Before she came to live with me, evidently a former owner thought she had a touch screen, because a couple of big fingerprints permanently mark the center of her screen. In one of her surgeries this past year, a key popped off and hasn't been replaced. Fortunately, she's reached the point of not worrying about trying to look perfect.

I'm just not sure what to do. Della and I have spent thousands of hours together, and it isn't her fault she's falling apart. If I replace her, it will be with one of her younger sisters. I suppose if I do that, I could call the new one Della, too. But it wouldn't be the same, would it?

Magdalena

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Balancing act

Now that I've begun the temp job, the balancing act of real life and writing life becomes a smidge more challenging. So far so good.

For those of you who were following it, the new living room ceiling is beautiful. The contractor did a wonderful job, and left almost no mess--amazing! Now we're stripping wallpaper so the walls can be smoothed, and everything painted.

Meanwhile, in a totally unrelated incident, in a completely different part of the house, the chimney cap is leaking. Just gotta love home ownership, right?

Magdalena

Monday, July 27, 2009

Temp

I have another part-time temp job! What fun when these turn up just as I'm feeling the four walls begin to close in. (Occasionally one turns turn up when I'm not in the mood, and I pass.)

So I get to dress up a little, be at someone else's desk at a certain time, and see people. Should be fun, and a bit different. Although I know the people, this is a place I've never worked before.

I'm still walking each morning (yay!), taking the online class, working at my dad's house, and making slow progress on the current WIP. And I've got a new writing project under consideration (meaning I intend to start a new project but haven't decided what form it will take).

I have a need to shake things up once in a while. Not sure if that's a disorder, or something for which I should be grateful.

Hey--one thing. If you see me standing at the corner on the way to the office, please let me cross the street. These heels are killing me.

Magdalena

Saturday, July 25, 2009

IN A PERFECT WORLD...

Even this stack of blocks spelling out the word "PERFECT" isn't quite perfect. The "P" is off a little, isn't it?

Oh well, I'm going for it anyway. Today is Saturday. In a perfect world, I would accomplish these things by midnight:

1. Finish cleaning out my dad's house, throw an impromptu yard sale to dispose of various non-essentials, and sign the deed to a purchaser or purchasers as yet unknown.

2. Create, serve, and clean up after three delicious, nutritious meals.

3. Remove all the living room wallpaper, smooth the walls, and paint. (And oh yeah, decide for sure on the paint color. Maybe light sage...)

4. Complete the WIP, check it thoroughly and find nothing that needs to be changed, craft an excellent, incredibly captivating synopsis and send it off. Five minutes later, receive a contract by email and $1,000,000 advance via Paypal.

It's good to have goals each morning, right?

;)


Magdalena

Friday, July 24, 2009

Locked up

I'm having laptop issues. Also having problems with my yahoo mail.

The easy way to circumvent some of this would be to use the nice big desktop computer. You know, the one that is currently in pieces, stored in a corner, due to the living room re-do. Yeah, that one.

My son, who is currently away on a camping trip, gave me permission to use his ASUS netbook. I tried it, but my patience didn't last long. Either I have fat fingers or bad aim, because I can't type worth anything on that itty bitty keyboard. What a shame, because it is the cutest little thing!

One frustration is that I'm a smidge behind with my online class.

The bright side? I goof less on the internet, and write more. Dana loves that our time together has increased. No worries--the other stuff will get fixed eventually.


Magdalena

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Great things about living in a construction zone

Our little construction project doesn't look anything like this, but I like the picture.

Ever since the living room destruction/construction began, in order to avoid tracking dust everywhere, we're walking around it instead of through it. This has loads of unexpected benefits for me:

1. Approximately one-third more exercise to get from the sitting room to the kitchen, via the alternate route.

2. Much less snacking--who wants to walk that far to get a handful of mixed nuts or a cup of tea? Not me. At least, not frequently.

3. My son has been playing the piano more often since its temporary relocation into the kitchen. I don't get why, but this is a great perk.

4. Had dinner out the first night due to the kitchen being a bit...um...awkward.

5. While fixing dinner last night, I got more writing done on the WIP because I took Dana with me into yon kitchen. While the food cooked, I supervised--and typed. (I don't have the option of taking the laptop, because its battery is also under construction. So no internet distraction. Yay.)

I could go on and on about how great this is, but I don't want you to think I'm enjoying it too much.

Magdalena

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm Spot. Just thought you'd like my opinion.

People. What can you do with them?

This house is in chaos. I'm camping out in the kitchen, with the piano. Most of the other living room furniture is either in the downstairs bedroom or sitting room. In fact, the kitchen is roomy compared to those.

The living room is completely empty. The new ceiling is up, taped, and the first coat of "mud" has been applied. The people I live with are talking about ripping off the wallpaper, painting, re-doing the floor, and perhaps not putting all the furniture back. In fact, this piano I'm getting so cozy with may be on its way out the door, both literally and figuratively.

Humans and their redecorating--sheesh! It was fine the way it was. I didn't even mind the duct tape on the ceiling. I really miss my window seat. I suppose the squirrels are completely taking over the world since I can't scare them off from my current location!

Spot

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Do you have a piano in your kitchen?

Just guessing I'm the only one here who has a piano in her kitchen. A whole buncha furniture is where it shouldn't be, since today is the day for the guys to rip out our sagging living room ceiling.

Worked about ten hours on my two houses yesterday, and I'm beat.

Let's look for a silver lining here. Maybe there's a better chance of dinner music if the piano is wedged between the refrigerator and the table, instead of sitting so far away in the living room?

Hmmm... I wonder where the bench landed. Haven't seen it lately.

Magdalena

Monday, July 20, 2009

The big hit

The big hit of our family reunion? The diaries. They were written by my grandmother, one in 1967 and one in 1969. My cousin who was in charge of this year's soiree, found the diaries recently, and after dinner yesterday she read selected snippets.

To be honest, the little kids didn't pay attention. They were happy pushing strollers around the room and talking to themselves and each other. But the adults were captivated. No one knew Grandma kept a diary.

The entries were very down to earth--her surprise when her son from Oregon arrived at the front door for an unannounced visit, her concern when someone in the family was ill, her enjoyment of family get togethers of any sort. Every page is full of her love for her family.

Afterward, most of us spent some time looking through the diaries, reading portions, seeing our names. (I had stomach flu in 1969.)

Grandma died in 1980, so it was a lovely treat to hear her words, see her handwriting in those diaries, and remember how very much she loved all of us.

Magdalena

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Reunion time!

This is a clip art family, but they're standing in for my real family--my dad's side, anyway. We're having our annual reunion tomorrow, and I'm really looking forward to it.

The cousin who is in charge will read to us from a family journal she recently located. That's going to be cool, I think. I hope the uncles will sing a few songs, too.

One of my cousins has driven all the way to southern Indiana from the middle of Texas for the reunion. He hasn't been here in seven years!

I've put a lot of stresses on myself this week in anticipation of The Big Day. But one funny stressor is the Swedish Nut Cake. I've had a special request for it, and a few weeks ago I dreamed I arrived at the reunion and had forgotten The Cake. Yikes!

Magdalena

Friday, July 17, 2009

Going through books

One of the projects at my dad's house is going through his books. A few I'll definitely want to keep, and pass on to my son, but many will find new homes.

One of my cousins is entering seminary this fall, and I've offered the Biblical reference tomes to him. The rest I'll decide on individually. Some will go to family members, and many will be donated to the local Friends of the Library. This volunteer organization runs a used bookstore a few hours each week, and one big annual book sale. All profit is spent on equipment and programs at our library.

If you've read The Blank Book, you know about the mysterious book Alice Williams ended up with after a trip to her annual Friends of the Library book sale.

I don't think my dad had any like that, but I'll be on the lookout just in case.

;)

Magdalena

In case you're following the roofing job, today should mark its finish (weather permitting), and Monday is the destruction of the living room. Yee haw!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Working out

I spent much of yesterday working out. I walked a couple of miles, cleaned up and then went to my dad's house to work. I goofed around for a few minutes with his fitness equipment--a step exerciser, a treadmill, a bicycle exerciser thingie, and three sets of hand weights. There's also a partly completed Wheel of Pain, but I left that alone.

By the end of the day I was sore, and walking like someone twice my age--mostly because of a piece of equipment that looks just like this picture.

Behold, the--ouch--step ladder. Between that and elbow grease, I'm wishing for a day off from cleaning. But there's family coming in for the reunion this weekend, so no days off for me. I'm looking forward to visiting with everyone, including a cousin I haven't seen for seven years!

So I'll take some aspirin. I can always rest next week.

In other news, I'm having so much fun with the cozy mystery class! If anybody ticks me off, they can expect to turn up as a fictional victim in a future cozy mystery. Talk about recompense. I've chosen three victims in the last couple of days. I think this will really help my attitude.

The roof is half done. Cross your fingers, okay? The ceiling is now partly held up by duct tape.

Magdalena

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Under Construction

The contractor and his helper arrived yesterday morning. He had called the previous afternoon, so I already had the extension cord snaked out the kitchen door. I'd been up for an hour or so by the time they arrived, but really, I'm pretty sure I wasn't competent to hold a conversation. Fortunately he wasn't interested in conversation. They got right to work tearing off the old metal roof.

Not pretty under there. Some serious sagging going on. Reconstructive surgery required. Then the plywood, then the shingles. It's heck to get old, whether you're a person or a house.

I took these pictures while the guys were gone on their lunch break. Above, after the old metal was ripped off. It's ready for felt, and then shingles. (Window air conditioner in foreground, only flat surface available, stores equipment).

Coincidentally, a project next door began the same morning. That house is being wrapped in insulation, then vinyl siding. It's a cute little old house, and will look sharp when the job is done. They've taken off the window trim to do the wrapping, and I hope they'll put nice trim back. It has some Victorian detail, and it would be a shame to lose that. Facelifts are tricky, aren't they?

So yesterday was Day One of what I'll call "Dueling Contractors." Ours is winning by a wide margin thus far. The guys have put down the first one-third of the shingles, but I forgot to take a picture after they left yesterday evening. Now they're working. Don't want to bother them, or make them think they need to pose. They're on the roof, and I really prefer not to watch people who are up high like that anyway.

Look what the other side of our roof still looks like. Rain is moving in today, so this portion (the non-leaking side) may have to wait.

Magdalena

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Just a bit obsessed

This weekend a friend announced he had finally broken down and gotten his first cell phone...a Blackberry. It's mostly for business purposes, I guess. He'll get email anywhere he goes, that kind of stuff that would be important for his work.

But my immediate outcry was, "You can read books on that!" He sort of nodded, and kept talking to the other people in the group.

Unless I can continue to restrain myself, I'll send him some links to Fictionwise, etc. I came so close to whipping out the IPAQ and showing him my newest downloaded title from Project Gutenberg.

Sometimes even I realize I'm a bit obsessed with e-reading. My current read is a paperback, and it is about to drive me crazy. (Turning paper pages, worrying about breaking its little spine, messing with a physical bookmark, having to wear reading glasses, not having it with me in my itty bitty purse all the time because it won't fit.)

I won't go back to getting the paper version of The Courier-Journal unless they discontinue my beloved e-edition. I'm so glad to have most of my reading material on a screen where it's incredibly handy, and creates no clutter. For me, this works.

And yes, I'm also a diligent recycler of paper, cardboard, steel, aluminum, glass, and plastic. But you had already guessed that, hadn't you?

Magdalena

Monday, July 13, 2009

Crayons - check!

You may recall that I'm taking an online class in writing cozy mysteries. Well, class begins today!

One of my friends suggested on Facebook that, besides the possibility of new clothes and a pencil box for my back-to-school experience, I'd also want crayons.

So here they are, a bunch of them, shiny and new. No doubt my characters and setting will be all the more colorful with the myriad shades now available to me.

;)

Magdalena

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Project Gutenberg

A friend of mine recently bought an IPAQ, and Friday afternoon I went over to help her set it up. In order not to completely embarrass myself, I'll skip the part of the story where I messed up, and the part where my tech guru/son bailed me out. I'll skip those parts of the story, and not tell you how many hours were involved--and just get to the fun part in which she now has an IPAQ that functions!

Earlier in the week I had emailed links to her for Fictionwise and Mobipocket where she has access to thousands of current titles, including New York Times bestsellers. But it wasn't until we were ready to leave her house yesterday that I remembered Project Gutenberg. It is such an amazing site, and all the books (whose copyrights have expired) are free. So many wonderful classics are there. Some are even available as audiobooks.

A few weeks ago I downloaded James Hilton's Lost Horizon. It's just a text file instead of an actual ebook format, but I've peeked, and it's quite legible. Waiting for a dreary, rainy day, but I'm very much looking forward to re-reading.

It's interesting to read what's "hot" at Project Gutenberg. For example, on Thursday there were 350 downloads of Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period, by P.L. Jacob.

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation accepts donations of money and time to further the work. I think I've been remiss in telling you about this before. I'm so glad it finally occurred to me... Now I need to see which P.G. Wodehouse title I want first.

Magdalena

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's Friday--Slug Day!

Yay for Slug Day! On Fridays I post a blog at SisterWriters, and my beloved fuchsia slug gets to loll around here and direct people over there. I guess it's my version of T.G.I.F.

So hop on over there (something the slug obviously can't do) by clicking here!

Magdalena

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Reinvention status report

Hey, I'm topic-less this morning (except for the list of five or six things I'll eventually get to), so why not do a status report on the reinvention project? The subject of said reinvention being, of course, yours truly.

Last fall when even I realized the financial crisis had become a disaster, and problems on Wall Street were suddenly problems in my little world of Small Town Indiana, like a crazy person, I quit my nice, secure legal secretary job to write romance full-time. Here is where the blog began.

I didn't set out any bullet points for the reinvention, but I've kept them in my head where they rattle around quite a bit. So maybe we can do a reasonably thorough review.

Books: Doing okay on this, at least quality-wise.
Since my official reinvention began, three new books have been published, and three more projects contracted. I have some other things in the works I'm excited about, but they're not ready for the big Mention here on the blog.

My books are available in print from Resplendence Publishing and Amazon, and in ebook format from Resplendence Publishing and Fictionwise (Where Her Heart is will be available at FW in the next couple of weeks). On a shelf at your local bookstore? Nope. We've talked about possibilities here and there, but no earthshaking changes on this front. I'm open to suggestions.

Online stuff: I still get distracted by it.
Don't get me started on this--oh, wait! I am started on this. First thing when I get out of bed, I start on this...stagger across the room and turn on the laptop so it can boot up while I make coffee. (My son has rightly accused me of being addicted to email.) All authors today must have a strong online presence, or, from what I read, they'd just as well give up. So I do this blog, keep my website up to date, learn from industry and author blogs. I also do a little bit with Facebook and Twitter. Not so long ago, I would have severely rolled my eyes at the mention of either of those social networking tools, but now I can appreciate, at least in part, how important and just plain cool they are. I enjoy all my Online Stuff, and have made some wonderful new friends because of it. Oh--I updated the MySpace page a while ago, too. Due to the wonders of the Online Stuff, I'm writing first drafts on my Dana which has absolutely no online capabilities.


Health stuff: Definitely better.

Walking for exercise much more frequently than when I had a day job. I cook more instead of being too tired and relying on take-out food to provide the family's evening meal. I feel better, and maybe look a little better because I've taken the time to actually read (not just look at the pictures) More Magazine about taking care of my over-40 self.

Money: Ouch.
If I learned to write erotica, I'd do much better in the ebook market. That's a fact anyone in ebook publishing would tell you. I knew it way back in the day, and blogged about it here. And my online presence (see above) isn't effectively getting the word out to enough people who enjoy reading sweet or sweetish romance. So royalties are really, really not good. This is a major area for further consideration and action. Fortunately I'm somewhat talented at saving money, so we can get along with less income for now.

Recreation: Depends on what you mean.
Quit my job, so you'd think I have more time for fun stuff, right? Other self-employed people out there are shaking their heads with a knowing grin (hey! stop that!). I knew I'd be working harder than I ever had in my life in order to make a career out of writing. I have worked harder, but haven't worked as smart as I should. If you want a more educated outlook on the topic, read Anna DeStefano's blog. Fortunately, when I do actually work smart and hard, I love doing it, and certainly don't feel sorry for myself. How could I?

I do read for pleasure a little more than before, because it's all research. Which of course tends to take a little pleasure out of it...


Synopsis (not really; I hate those things)
Interesting to note that I began the reinvention blog on October 21, 2008. It's been nearly nine months! Omigosh, I could have almost produced a baby by now if that had been my project. Which, lemme tell ya, as a 49-year old mom of a wonderful college student who can drive me nuts more effectively than anyone in the world... I am so glad I'm writing novels instead!

Magdalena

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Grandparent memory books

My son and I spent some time reading together the other night. One of the books was this one, and the other was Grandma's Journal, published by Venture Publishing of Kirkwood Missouri. Not sure you'll find that one anywhere, but the book pictured here is available at Amazon and possibly also at your local bookstore.

Each page of the books asks questions about the grandparent's life. There are many interesting "writing prompts" to help the grandchild learn what it was like in the good old days. And there's plenty of space for pictures to go along with each topic.

If you are a grandparent, I suggest you fill out one of these for each grandchild if you can.

Or if you have a school-age or younger child, maybe you could give this type of book to the child's grandparents. These are such treasures to my son, and I'm so grateful that my parents took the time, when my son was just a year old, to write in them. Even the handwriting is special--my mother's one-of-a-kind loopy scrawl, and my dad's perfect slanted script... Their humor and personalities shine through in their answers...

And all that love on every page!

Magdalena

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back to school!

I'm taking an online class later this month, and I'm just jazzed about it!

Orange County Chapter of RWA is offering the class, given by Emily Brightwell. The topic is writing cozy mysteries.

It sounds like such fun to me! If you want to read about the class, go here.

Hmm... What do you think is the best way to deliver a virtual apple to the teacher?

Magdalena

Monday, July 6, 2009

Guest blogging today!

Haven't been on the scooter in a while.

I'm guest blogging today at Anna Kathryn Lanier's. Pop over and post a comment for a chance to win an electronic copy of Where Her Heart Is.

If the randomly chosen winner already has that book, she can select another of my titles. Ready to head over to Anna Kathryn's? Okay! Click here!

Magdalena

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day

Are you having a cookout? Family gathering?

Watching or participating in a parade?

Taking advantage of holiday sales?

Doing your own fireworks show, or attending one?

Reciting the Declaration of Independence from memory?

How will you celebrate?


Magdalena

Friday, July 3, 2009

Looky what I found!

Because of one of my Twitter friends, I recently looked at the Harlequin audiobooks. Did you know they offer a free title each month? Pretty cool, I thought, but what would be the best method to hear the free one, and decide if I want to get into listening to audiobooks?

My good buddy IPAQ, of course! It supports audiobooks. And I even managed to get the software and current free "listen" downloaded. I had plenty of time Sunday when I was flat on my back with my knee elevated and ice pack... Well anyway, my knee is fine now, though black and blue, and I'm trying audiobooks.

Yes, I realize I could have already known about the audiobook capability if I had read the IPAQ manual. But where's the fun in that?

Magdalena

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's time

Last week when I wasn't here blogging, one of the things I did was begin cleaning out my dad's house. He died nearly a year ago, and you may think it's pathetic of me, but I wasn't ready until now.

It's a little house, and my parents were not pack rats. They moved dozens of times in their sixty-plus years of marriage, so things had minimal importance. Still, there's a lot to do.

Earlier this week I got so angry with the writers of direct mail advertising. All this junk piled into my dad's mailbox every day, and he thought he needed to read every bit of it. So many conversations we had over the years, me saying "It's a scam," and him saying, "But maybe this one..."

Bless his heart.

Anyway, just thought I'd tell you I'm in process on that job, too. Last week was horribly hot, but this week the weather is nicer. I open windows while I work, and enjoy the breeze. It's not as sad going there now. Before, it was awful, but I think enough time has passed that I am ready to deal with it.

Magdalena

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Personalizing your ebook

I accidentally began a conversation yesterday, and I for one am interested in taking it further. I guess we'll find out if I'm the only one.

So. Let's say you're ready to take the ebook plunge. But you really love to have the author's autograph on the books you purchase. Makes it more special, right? With an ebook purchase you get a download to your computer. No paper to write on.

What would make that purchase special for you? I often make bookmarks for each title that I give out to purchasers at booksignings. I've thought I could make them and sign the back for ebook purchasers. The method of delivery would be that the person sends me a self-addressed stamped envelope, I print and sign the bookmark and mail back to her.

Okay. That's how far I've gotten in my thought process. Yesterday Jennifer Johnson suggested an autographed CD sleeve. I'm looking for input. What would sufficiently personalize an ebook? Maybe other authors are doing cool things with this and I'm clueless...definitely a possibility.

Thoughts?

Magdalena