Yes! Finally!

It is official! My book, An Unexpected Turn, is now available through Kindle Unlimited! It took a few too many days to get to the point where I could list it, but I got there. Apparently listing is pretty much instant once you click enroll, so it is already out there and available for anyone that has been waiting!

Cool Discovery!

In all the messing around and playing I’ve been doing (yes, around reading), I made a truly awesome discovery. I can draw on my new tablet using one of my absolute favorite drawing techniques. It is a little more work to get the base layer in place, but it is loads less messy and being able to undo something is absolutely amazing.

I downloaded a couple of different drawing apps just to play, but have found, so far, that I love the Adobe Sketch app. I’m still just messing around and trying to learn it all, but when I realized I can adjust the brushes and eraser settings just right I can do this really cool eraser technique. Normally, you would cover you page in a soft, medium shade charcoal then go back using your eraser to add highlights and darker or heavier layers of charcoal to add the deeper shades. This is already an extremely forgiving method of drawing, but when you add the undo… I think I’m in love.

I don’t do a ton of art digitally. Mostly because I find it cumbersome to actually draw on a computer, and drawing isn’t exactly the top of my artistic things to do, though I do really like it. When I got my tablet, I thought it would just be fun. Figuring out some really awesome ways to play with photos in the drawing app  made this really intriguing. Figuring this out? Um… when am I going to have time to do it all?! I WANT to do it all!

The image was just something to play with and isn’t anything in particular. I just wanted to see if I could do this. I rarely ever go the route of abstract, but… sometimes you just have to run with it.

I’m done playing for today and I’m off to try and finish one of the 4 ARCs I’ve got on my reading list. Time?! Psha! Who needs to actually sleep?

Dark Sky Viewing: Stars And The Milky Way

We had several goals for our trip to Wisconsin. Take a couple of hikes. Scout locations for both sunrise and sunset photos since we were on the peninsula and could easily get both. See the stars under a seriously dark sky. My part was seeing if I could pull off taking pictures of those stars. We went so far as to schedule our trip for the new moon time frame to ensure the darkest possible setting. I have to say that we lucked out epically in that we had two different nights of perfectly clear skies.

When we left, we needed to scout out locations for this, not knowing there was an actual designated dark sky viewing spot on the peninsula (because we apparently didn’t do quite enough research before leaving home). The first attempt, we found a small boat ramp that was really secluded. It was kind of eerie being there by ourselves in such dark conditions. I managed to get a couple of shots that weren’t great, but I got stars and the general “cloudy” effect you see in the milky way.

Before going out, I’d done some research for basic settings to get the effect I was hoping for, but I didn’t have the lens those instructions were based on so I had to do a lot of playing. My camera doesn’t allow for a set timer longer than 30 seconds and that is really what I needed here. For longer exposures, I needed to hold my shutter button, which caused quite a bit of shake (I was freezing and shivering, so it was nearly impossible not to get shake).

After we got back to where we were staying we decided to do a bit more research and found the dark sky viewing area in Newport State Park. Turns out it is one of only 48 parks in the world to earn International Dark Sky Park designation. Funny how we didn’t manage to see that fact until right before our last day in Door County. We debated going as it would be our last night and would require us staying out well past 10pm at minimum to get to see the really good stuff. We decided to check it out during the day as we didn’t have a ton scheduled and decide based on what we saw.

I am SO glad we did because I played with my settings a bit more and managed to get some mind blowing shots. They are far from perfect because I really don’t have the right equipment to do these the right way. But for it only being my second attempt ever at trying to take pictures of stars and the milky way, I’m kind of stunned at how well these turned out.

Milky Way Galaxy : Long Exposure
Milky Way Galaxy : Long Exposure

The image I used as the feature image in this post is one I took really early on, so there was still some faint light in the sky after sunset. That is what allowed me to get a bit more color in the shot that I couldn’t get with some of the later ones. The one above was taken closer to 10:30, which was still apparently not the ideal time, but we were under time constraints.

I was intimidated as all hell because the viewing area had probably half a dozen or better photographers set up. Being the rank armature I know I am at this made it even more so. Not that they would be seeing and critiquing me, but it was still intimidating. Especially when you see everyone with red lights instead of normal flashlights (so as not to mess with the photography). We got there early enough that flashlights weren’t needed, so we weren’t one of the ones that got shot the dirty looks and even a few comments when they came through with blindingly bright flashlights. FYI… Don’t take a flashlight to a dark sky viewing area.

It was so dark, though, I was worried I’d have someone run into me or my camera on their way down the path, so hubby put his flashlight in his pocket and turned it on whenever someone came close, giving off this really pale glow to warn oncoming traffic that someone was there. He played body blocker for me while I played with the stars and my camera. The kids sat on a bench behind us staring in awe at the sky between crazy teen goofing moments. I don’t think I want to know what anyone near them thought of us as parents because they were being off the charts goofy (not annoying or loud, just crazy goofy).

Milky Way Galaxy : Long Exposure - Straight Up View
Milky Way Galaxy : Long Exposure – Straight Up View

MC really wanted me to get some shots that weren’t at the horizon, so I attempted to make adjustments in the dark and shot upward. I had wanted the horizon and trees in my shots to give a sense of scale, but these were still interesting. They would have been much better if I’d taken them with a longer exposure, but I made sure I could get these shots in that 30 second window by really upping my film speed. Some of these were taken at 6400 and some were taken at 12800.

Milky Way Galaxy : Long Exposure - Straight Up View
Milky Way Galaxy : Long Exposure – Straight Up View

That high a film speed makes the images a lot more grainy than I’d like, but I still got the general effect, so I was thrilled. The two things that really made these so much harder to get better quality than I would have liked was that I needed a much wider angle lens and I really needed some sort of shutter trip wire that I could hold that would prevent me from shaking my camera at the longer exposure times. I don’t know that I’ll ever get another opportunity like this, but if I do, I’m going to seriously consider investing in those two pieces.

Even with these being on the blurry and grainy side, I’m massively proud that I was able to get these.

Plastic Free July – Wrap UP: Reuse Where You Can

All of my Plastic Free July posts really focused on some of my biggest plastic uses that end up in the trash which means it was mostly centered around what I do in the kitchen. There are SO many other areas where we use plastics that end up in the trash and they are all areas that I’m working on trying to address, either by finding alternatives or finding ways to reuse what I have in other ways.

As someone who has way too many hobbies and does way to many projects, there are tons of ways I can reuse a lot of plastic that would otherwise be disposable. I’ve set aside a bunch of random smaller containers that I couldn’t recycle and didn’t want to trash with the intent to use in those craft projects. Some I intend to use for storage, others will be used with paints. All can be reused again and again as long as I take the time to clean them when I’m done. Old toothbrushes are amazing in helping me do that.

A few minutes with your friend Google and you can probably find at least 5 alternative uses for just about every single plastic item ever made. Just because it is the end of July, doesn’t mean I’m done working on reducing the amount of plastic I use. I’m just done shoving it in everyone’s faces for now. If I’m really lucky, these posts have maybe inspired someone to do their part or gave them ideas of ways they hadn’t come across just yet. I may post other plastic free posts in the future if I come across something I find particularly useful. Feel free to tag me in any ideas you come across as well. I’m always open to new ideas and options.

Reminder: Indie Author Book Blogger Support Project

I’m reposting a longish summary of this because I realize I didn’t get it posted in a couple of places.

This is a concept that I’ve tossed around for a while and decided, what the hell? It can’t hurt, so give it a try. If it helps someone else out, awesome. If not, it only took some of my time a little space here on my site.

I’d like to put together a listing of book bloggers that want to actively support indie authors and are open to reviewing their books. There are a few places for similar listings, but they often have more than just a listing of bloggers or the listing covers all kinds of bloggers regardless of indie interest. Those lists are still helpful and I’m not putting them down, they can just be a bit much to weed through when you are only looking for indie friendly book bloggers.

For this listing, at least for now, I’d like to keep it to only those interested in reading and reviewing fiction in an effort to narrow the focus and keep it manageable. Once I get a few, I’m going to do my best to keep it organized in a way that it is quick and easy to find what you are looking for, mostly by genre, but that could change as this grows and if there is a different need I’m not yet seeing.

If you are a book blogger that wants to help support the indie community and are willing to take review requests from indie authors, please contact me and I’ll see about adding you to my list. I do ask that you provide a link to your blog (be sure you have a contact page) and links to any places you post reviews, a link to your review policy and a brief list of the genres you are willing to read. I will not list bloggers without their express permission as I want to be certain those that are listed actually want to be a part of this.

If you aren’t a book blogger that is interested in this, but know others that might be, please let them know or share this post to help spread the word.

The ultimate goal is to create a network and partnership between indie authors and the bloggers that want to help support them. This is a project I want to do because I see a need and I have the time and space to attempt to put it together. It is something I’m offering free of charge with no expectations other than people potentially finding it useful. This will be a work in progress and I’m more than willing to take suggestions to improve and grow it as time goes on.

New Project: Indie Author Resources/Support Listing

This is a concept that I’ve tossed around for a while and decided, what the hell? It can’t hurt, so give it a try. If it helps someone else out, awesome. If not, it only took some of my time a little space here on my site.

Basically, I’m attempting to put together a few different lists of resources for indie authors, mostly those that I’ve found really helpful. There are a few other places I’ve run across recently that have some similar listings and I’ll link to those as I come across them as well. There may be some duplicates between my lists and theirs, but the more places that have these lists, the easier it is going to be for indie authors to find what they are looking for.

One of the pieces I’d really like to focus on is a listing of book bloggers that want to actively support indie authors because there just aren’t many places that have a list like that. At least not that I’ve found (feel free to point out any you may know of). The ones I have seen aren’t easily navigated in a way that makes it easy to find the bloggers that might fit your books. Those lists are still helpful, just a little cumbersome.

I want to take my list one step farther, at least for now, and keep it to only those interested in fiction. I say this because the range of subjects indie authors write in is HUGE, making that search even more difficult to weed through. The general umbrella of fiction is already massive, so any chance to narrow it a bit helps. Once I get a few, I’m going to do my best to keep it organized in a way that it is quick and easy to find what you are looking for, mostly by genre, but that could change as this grows and if there is a different need I’m not yet seeing.

That means I’m yet again asking for help. If you are a book blogger that wants to help support the indie community and are willing to take review requests from indie authors, please contact me or comment below and I’ll add you to my list. I do ask that you provide a link to your blog (be sure you have a contact page) and any places you post reviews, a link to your review policy and a brief list of the genres you are willing to read. I will not list bloggers without their express permission as I want to be certain those that are listed actually want to be a part of this.

If you aren’t a book blogger that is interested in this, but know others that might be, please let them know or share this post to help spread the word.

This is a project I want to do because I see a need and I have the time and space to attempt to put it together. It is something I’m offering free of charge with no expectations other than people potentially finding it useful. This will be a work in progress and I’m more than willing to take suggestions to improve and grow it as time goes on.

Christmas In July

Anyone that has followed this blog for any length of time already knows about my crazy nutcracker collection and that my Hubby feeds this every year by getting me a new one, usually based on a theme for the year. He cracked me up beyond belief earlier in the month when he decided to start hunting for this year’s nutcracker early to make sure he got one that fit what he wanted for his theme this year. A nutcracker that represents me publishing my book and becoming an author.

What makes this even funnier is that my Hubby cannot hold on to surprises. At all. So when he manages to actually find one and get it ordered? It sits for about 2 days before he can’t stand it anymore and then it is suddenly Christmas in July.

Charles Dickens Nutcracker
Charles Dickens Nutcracker

I’m in love! It is so perfect.

One of the things I love about how my Hubby does this is that I never know exactly what I’m going to get. I kind of guessed what his theme for the year would be, but since I don’t ever go out looking at nutcrackers myself unless I happen to see them when I’m out around Christmas, I don’t know what kinds of possibilities are even out there. It’s always a surprise. Most of what I have would fall into the traditional range, but I have a wide range of traditional to modern to unique to completely off the wall wacky. This one falls more along the lines of a traditional nutcracker, but because it has a specific theme, it only hangs on the edge of traditional.

One of the things I love about this one is that it does have that classic feel to it, but still isn’t. The details on the books give it so much more, but it is still simple and elegant. I adore that this has a nameplate.

Sadly, my new guy got packed back into his box to wait for the holidays so he can go on display with the rest of the horde.

Free Book Anyone?

So, I’m going to try this again even though this is the part that I still despise with a fiery passion: asking for help. As a raging introvert, this part is excruciating, but necessary when you are an indie author.

I’m offering up my book, An Unexpected Turn, in exchange for a review. If you are awesome enough to volunteer, please drop me a note through my contact page with a link to where you review books (blog, Goodreads, Instagram, wherever). My only requirement is that you DO write book reviews and that you will give me a heads up when you post the review (sorry, I have to set some boundaries). Do note: I’m not asking for a GOOD review, just an honest one.

I’ll provide your preferred ebook format for any platform I’ve published on. I also have 2 paperback copies available (first come, first serve to US residents only on the paperback) if that is your preference. I’ll add a copy or snippet of your review to my AUT page with a link back to your review site as an additional thanks. (unless you don’t want that, then that’s okay too!)

Massive thank you in advance to those that volunteer!

If you are feeling especially generous, feel free to help in my quest to get into as many libraries as possible. Simply request the ebook version through your local library.

For those that haven’t seen it… the blurb… (oh, and I thought I’d mention that this falls into the women’s fiction and family life/drama genres)

“When I take a good look at my reflection, I’m surprised that the face looking back at me in the mirror doesn’t look different than the one I’ve seen staring back at me for the last 27 years. I see the same brown hair and brown eyes, the same heart-shaped face, the same upturned nose. I feel like I should look different. That my face should show the upheaval and the weight of the last day, that it should somehow show how much has happened, how the course of my life has changed, but everything is still the same.”

Life is rarely ever predictable. It is rarely even kind. But… sometimes… just sometimes, those unexpected turns that throw you into the chaos and upheaval of loss lead you to the exact place you need to be.

This is a story about love, but it isn’t a romance. It is about holding on when it would be easier to let go, about fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. It is about finding and creating family through the unpredictable, beautiful mess that is life.

My Day: Uploading 90+ Photos

It took forever and I found that some of my images were actually too big (first time for everything) and I had to do some adjustments. That said, I’m now sitting at well over 400 images on my Pixels photo print site. Including all the stunning water shots I got the other day.

Drops Across the Water
Drops Across the Water

Playing with manipulating some of my photos was so much fun, I’ve now got a collection of “art” images that are photos I’ve played with. It is still a small grouping, but I intend to grow it over time.

Retro Film Shasta Daisy
Retro Film Shasta Daisy

As always, though, the majority of the images are macro shots of flowers, which continue to be my obsession because some of the most interesting and beautiful parts of the world are in the little details you have to get up close and personal with to see.

Purple Hydrangea Buds
Purple Hydrangea Buds

An Unexpected Turn July Library Book Boost!

One of my goals when I published my book was to get into my local library. I’ve met that goal, but now I’d like to see how many more libraries I can get in and I need your help!

I’m asking readers, other indie authors, book bloggers/reviewers and just anyone that wants to help:

1) go to their local library
2) request An Unexpected Turn in ebook
3) share a picture or a link of the book in that library
4) share this post

Requesting an author’s book from the library is just as important as buying because it helps to get that book into the hands of other readers. Anyone that takes it a step further and wants to read and review it, then you are an amazing human being. I’ll be retweeting (for twitter) and sharing all blog posts (if you send me the link) and keeping track of library locations for anyone wanting to follow along. I want to keep this going for the month of July to celebrate summer reading and the TBR’s everyone has.

Not all libraries have this ability and I don’t know if it is even possible outside of the US, but I’d love to find out, so be sure to let me know what you find! I also highly encourage you to do this for any indie author you’d like to support.

Stop And Smell The Roses

I had fully intended to post a book review after I finished painting today, but I’m done in. I am so not nearly as young or as in shape as I used to be and all that climbing and crawling and pretzel twisting kicked my old ass. I’m just gonna give you some flowers instead then find the least movement inducing thing I can until tomorrow.

The bathroom looks killer, by the way. I wasn’t sure how good it would be with her already rather vibrant room, but it actually works. Besides, she loves it, so that is all that really matters.

Painting Day

I’m finally getting around to doing something I promised BG a year ago or more. Painting her bathroom. I am so not looking forward to it because it is a small space with not a whole lot of solid wall. That means there is going to be a crap ton of up and down on the step ladder, crawling around on the floor, hugging a toilet and basically bending myself into a pretzel to get it done because it is almost all edges, hence the nearly a year to get around to doing what I said I would.

Hopefully I wont kill myself in the process and can actually get to writing that book review I need to do. So far, this summer has been a series of stuff to do and interruptions and sickies and weird, random allergy outbreaks on both BG’s part and mine. I am ready for things to get to some semblance of a normal summer routine, but I have a feeling that isn’t going to happen this year.

Original for the above manipulated image:

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms

More Playing

I wanted to play again just to see if I could do another one that came out as cool as the first. I’m wondering if that first was a fluke or just the perfect image for what I did, because I haven’t been able to get another one to look nearly as good. I still prefer doing basic color adjustments like going with a desaturated look or to black and white. This one is more along the lines of the desaturated, but also with a sepia filter.

Here is the original.

Purple & Cream Iris
Purple & Cream Iris

Just A Little Nudge And A Question

I’m dropping this little nudge for anyone that hasn’t seen it yet or is new around here. I did this thing called “writing a book” a while back. I’m kinda proud of it. At the same time, I’m trying to get really creative in ways to promote it besides spamming people here, on twitter and through their contact pages if they are book bloggers asking if they’d be interested in reviewing.

Would any bloggers be interesting in participating in a post-release party kind of thing (because I can’t do things in the logical, normal way and have done this PRIOR to releasing my book)? Especially book bloggers, but I’m not going to hold it to just that. Basically, I thought it might be fun for bloggers to host either a review or even a book club like discussion around this. Obviously, they’d get a copy of the book in exchange. It might even be fun to offer up a copy to one of their readers for participating if the blogger wanted.

This is just an idea I’ve been tossing around and thought I’d get some feedback or thoughts on whether this is a good/viable idea or not. Feel free to drop any other ideas or suggestions into the mix as well.

If you want to have a look at what the book is about, it is sitting quietly over here.

 

New Book Image

I wanted more options for promo images, so I decided to play a little bit this morning and this is my favorite at the moment. There are other things I want to try, but this was a good start in the right direction. And just in case you haven’t seen it yet, I’ll just leave the link for my book here – An Unexpected Turn – You can even request it at the library.

Wasn’t Going To, But… Rant Ahead

This is another post I really battled posting, but it just pushed way too many buttons for me not to say something. I figured this was the best place to do so. This can definitely be filed under the “Don’t Be An Asshole” category.

Continue reading “Wasn’t Going To, But… Rant Ahead”

Quality of Work?

This is a subject that has been rolling around in my head for a while now and I’ve gone back and forth debating with myself over whether I wanted to post about it or not. Are we diluting the quality of our literature with the advent of self-publishing? Yes, I’m actually asking that as a self-published, indie author.

Continue reading “Quality of Work?”

Recital Bouquets – 2019!

I got them finished and they turned out really pretty. I had done the ribbon inserts last night, so all I had to do today was put them together. There are small things I’m not thrilled with, but I was sort of limited by what I was able to get. Working with the large ball hydrangea blooms also limited my options. Considering BG wanted the two different colors… well, it was an interesting challenge.

When we were looking at the flowers last night, I was really frustrated with the quality of my choices. I finally found the colors I wanted, but the one collection (the peachy hydrangea and the purple/white daisy), there were only two bunches and both had issues. In one, the daisies were perfect, but the hydrangea was a little… anemic looking. The other bunch was kind of the opposite. And… I needed to make two because I was making one for BG’s dance friend. I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to get two really nice ones out of what I got. Thankfully, the blue hydrangeas were sold individually and I had several to choose from, so that helped. So did the fact that everything filled out overnight after I got them out of their packaging and in water.

And yes, I did say the costumes were all various shades of blue, but two of those blues leaned towards the purple end, so that helped. It isn’t a perfect match, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen with these colors anyway and why I always do the ribbon inserts. I think I did okay.

2019 Recital Costumes
2019 Recital Costumes

Now I’m going to chill out until the kids get home and the whirlwind of getting everything packed up, hair and makeup done, then the race to get dinner eaten and us all out the door without losing my mind kicks in. And all of that is just the trial run because we have to do it all over again tomorrow for the recital.

Showtime!

Well, it’s almost showtime. I have to do recital bouquets first, which is what is on my to do list for the day. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hard time finding flowers for a project. Granted, trying to create a bouquet that reflects this year’s costumes when the costumes all are some form of blue isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. I went to 3 different places last night before I found flowers that would work and that satisfied BG as I let her pick them out.

Now, to see if I can pull off arranging them in a way that doesn’t make it look like a disjointed mess. You’d think that after all the inspiration the pointe costume gave me this year, that it would be easy. Apparently trying to add in the others is blowing that creative streak.