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Book Discussion: Pinned Post Week 10

So this week I picked out some historical fiction and women’s fiction. Just a whim while looking for good prices.

Amberwell

It was dark when Nell Ayrton got to Carlisle. There had been a raid in the Midlands and the station was blacked-out and in chaos.
Nell ran wildly from one side of the enormous station to the other, despair clutching at her heart.

How on earth was she to find an unknown woman in the milling crowds? And would she have Roger’s baby safely tucked away with her?

Nell is just one of the Aryton’s in trouble as the Second World War looms. Amberwell, an estate on the west coast of Scotland, has been in the Ayrton family for several generations… descending from father to son in an unbroken line. By family tradition, each new owner was to add to the amenities of the place and in this way Amberwell grew larger and more beautiful as the years went by, endowed with gardens and terraces and orchards. The five young Ayrtons who grew up at Amberwell have now ventured out into the world.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Evelyn, who’s in the sad slump of middle age, and gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode, who’s telling her life story. Her tale includes two more women—the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth—who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, offering good coffee, southern barbecue, and all kinds of love and laughter—even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present will never be quite the same again.

I had an urban fantasy picked out, but the reviews complained of bad language and worse, no copy editing. Kiss of death.

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Posted: September 23, 2017
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Late Nights and Changing Times

(As always, click for larger pictures).

So we found out at the last minute that Daryle Singletary was going to be playing in a local bar/dance hall near us last night. The tickets were cheap. The only info on them was that doors open at 8. We showed up at 8. While waiting in line to show our tickets, we overheard a lady in front of us ask about when the show started. Answer: 10:30. TEN-THIRTY??? TEN-THIRTY? I didn’t even know there was a 10:30 at night! My night ends about 9 or 9:30. Past that, I don’t know what happens until 5 or 6 in the morning. Who in the heck thought 10:30 was a valid time for a great show? And on a Thursday night, no less?

We had a lot of sitting to do waiting for the show to start. Our bar days are far, far behind us. I haven’t been in a bar in over twenty-five years. The crowd was generally our age, but times hadn’t changed much. There were still the same old stereotypes. Geek guy who should have showered in search of a friend, walking around with two drinks so people don’t think he’s alone, dude who drinks too much and then two-steps by himself around the dance floor, show-off couple who thinks they are dancing with the stars, and gropey family guys that hug all the women as they arrive with their ‘hands on” technique that would get them decked in my family. Well, at least by me.

The good news is that Daryle Singletary and his band was so talented, I immediately forgot it was 10:45 when he started playing. What a great show! The crowd was sparse (take a hint here, venue. Schedule these things at 7 and you’ll pack the place and blow the roof off) but we made a lot of noise. We were able to get very close to the stage so it was like the band came over and played just for us in our living room. 🙂 Daryle has enough talent to carry the show himself, but luckily he brought along a band that brought out the best in every song. To show off the fiddle player’s talent (Andy Varner), they played “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” (and stuck a little “Orange Blossom Special” in the middle, just for fun) and man, the guy nearly burned off his strings. He could sing too–wonderful harmonies with every song. The drummer sang harmonies too. Very awesome.

Ricky Land was superb on lead guitar. Nice interactions back and forth with Daryle. Phil Frye was the bass player. I loved his natural finish guitar and the way he played. The drummer was introduced as Elmer Fudd. I’m pretty sure that isn’t his real name, so he must have been incognito for the night. He was quite brilliant on the drums, so no need to hide behind a pseudonym!

The band played for a couple of fun filled hours. Based on the songs, I decided my favorite album is That’s Why I Sing This Way. HIGHLY recommended. If you like music, you need this album.

But wait! There’s Still a Little Country Left is…even better. At least as good. The title song (There’s Still a Little Country Left) is full of hope, nostalgia and a little humor. LOVED it!!! Wanna Be That Feeling is one great romance. What a wonderful song.

Before the show started, we were able to sneak over and meet Tyler Hall, the steel player. He was a very cool and collected dude. When he played, he was so casual, it was like he didn’t even know he was on stage. He did a few solo parts and one was so good (in “I Never Go Around Mirrors“), Daryle stopped and said, “that is the best steel solo you’ll hear all night. It was so good, I’m going to ask him to play it again.” And, of course, he did! Wonderful stuff. Gets the feet tapping and the dancers out on the floor.

Daryle Singletary plays country music, but we all know that really means he plays music that touches the heart and soul. If you ever have a chance to hear him perform, it’s worth staying up late!!!

Which artist that you love deserves more recognition??

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Posted: September 22, 2017
Filed in Music
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Recommended Reading: Being Mortal: What Matters in the End

Being Mortal: What Matters in the End This book was recommended to me as a very good, thought-provoking, non-fiction read.

In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.
Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.

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Posted: September 21, 2017
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Miscellaneous Info on Free

I get asked a lot why I don’t have my books set to free more often (or permanently). The truth is, like most authors, I need to make money from my writing or I can’t keep writing. I’ve heard lots of people say, “Well, I’ll buy the next if I like the first.” But here’s the problem: Lots of people download free and never even read the first PAGE. Stats from various places show that less than one percent of free books get read. So the odds are against free right from the start.

Here’s another stat from one of my own experiments. I joined 10 authors and gave away a copy of Sage in exchange for the readers to be added to my email list. This was a limited time offer. During the offer, 1002 people downloaded the set of free books and remained on the mail list even after being offered a chance to leave the list. I’ve now used that mailing list once: I shared bargains, a great book review, and a link to 99 cent books. I don’t use a fancy mail program like mailchimp because it costs money (about 10 dollars a month). I can’t tell you how many emails went directly into a spam bucket or how many emails were opened, looked at or read. These would be useful stats, but it’s crazy to pay for data if your sales are too low.

At any rate, out of those thousand people 18 asked to unsubscribe immediately. Not a terrible rate of unsubscribe. Of those thousand people 243 people clicked on the featured book (Under Witch Moon) priced at 99 cents. Five people bought it. That is not a great ROI rate and is one of the worst for various experiments I’ve run. There was another featured book in the newsletter. There were 150 clicks on that book and 4 books sold for the first in the series and one sale each of the other books in the series. That’s a better buy rate, because the other book featured was $3.99. By featuring two books in the newsletter (mine and one that I recommended) it gives me extra data and helps me eliminate possible problems such as “cover issues” or “blurb issues” and so on.

My analysis:

The people who signed up for the list are almost exclusively doing so for free books. Very few bought books, even when priced at 99 cents. For that matter, very few even CLICKED on the books. In the case of the book that was not mine, I didn’t even mention a price in the newsletter. I showed covers for both books. I sent some of the emails with book blurbs and some without. I also tracked visitors to the blog. That number was very low–about 10 people. I’d probably get a higher rate of visitors if I put a sign in my front yard!

I’m not going to draw any hard and fast conclusions. I’m throwing the data out there for other authors who might be interested in seeing the data. Some readers may find it interesting data as well. I know I download quite a few free books–and very few of them get read. I sample a lot of books too and most don’t make it to the buy list. I’m a very particular reader with limited reading time. I think most of us are. Free books get thirty pages or less before I make up my mind about reading them. If I pay for a book, I tend to give it at least thirty pages (unless something obvious stands out.)

Feel free to comment with your thoughts on free books or signing up/giving your email to a list in order to receive free books!

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Posted: September 20, 2017
Filed in On Writing, Writing Links

Who Am I to Argue?

Ever since Mom read One Good Eclair and saw the recipe for smoothies, she’s been a big fan of smoothies. This morning at 9 a.m. she suggested we have smoothies for breakfast.

“You know there’s ice cream in there, right?” I asked.

“Yes.”

Well, okay then. Who am I to argue about a nice healthy fruit smoothie!

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Posted: September 17, 2017
Filed in New Mexico, Tales from the Mother-In-Law File, Walks in Life
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Life in the Country

I know that people have the impression that life in the country is peaceful and easy. Well, I’m here to dribble a little bit of reality on that hazy dream…

Last night, Dad and I went down to spray the cow for flies. The cow isn’t particularly happy about this procedure, so she runs about the pen and kicks up her heels in protest. Anything that gets in the way of those heels is toast. Of course, Dad has been at this a long time, so he was able to squirt her from a distance. For some reason, this cow likes to put her feet in the water tub during the day and rinse them off. The result is a muddy mess so instead of just refilling her water, we have to clean it out every night. Then we gave her grain and hay, checked to make sure she was eating and called it a night.

I took a nice stroll around the yard because it’s about a quarter of a mile to make a complete turn. I watched the bats come out and the sun finish going down. El Paso, the resident dog, kept me company. He even brought his toy so that I could play with him for a bit. He’s a border collie and he can sure run. He cuts back and forth as though he’s been trained to herd sheep even though he doesn’t even herd cattle. We both know I’ll never get the toy from him, but he lets me have it sometimes so that I can throw it for him after he runs away.

I went to bed shortly after dark because I’m generally pretty tired after a day around here. I hadn’t even started to fall asleep when I heard a rustling outside. I’d heard it the first night I was here too, but I was too tired to get up to look out the window. It was probably El Paso sleeping under my window. Except whatever it was wasn’t sleeping. There’s no grass or anything but sand under the window. Why would anything dig there? No food to be had.

I finally got up and peered into the darkness. It had a tail. A fluffy tail. El Paso has a fluffy tail so it was probably El Paso, but he didn’t come over to the window to say hello. His nose and face fit right at the bottom of the window. He has tried poking his nose through the screen before. When I say it’s dark here, I mean, it’s *really* dark here. Lots of stars, no street lights. Way off in the distance you can see the lights of one or two cars if they come down the mountain. The moon wasn’t helping much so I went back to bed.

I heard El Paso bark. He wasn’t anywhere near my window. Hmm.

Fifteen minutes later, the wonderful smell of skunk wafted in my window. Well, the mystery was solved. It was my lucky night. That skunk could have heard me at the window and sprayed me right in the face. Of course, now, instead of sleeping with the window open, it made more sense to shut it. See, fresh country air, is always “fresh” but some fresh smells are best left unsmelled.

In the morning, we found the skunk. El Paso had dispatched the invader. He even managed it without getting sprayed. Of course, he left it right there on the sandy track for some poor human to dispose of it. He’s a good dog, but he isn’t willing to drop the thing in the trash or cart it off into the desert where we won’t have to live with the original smell or the decaying smell.

What’s on the agenda for today? The wool carpet in the living room needs shampooing. Dad took care of the cow, Mom picked the tomatoes from the garden, so I got the rug.

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Posted: September 17, 2017
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Book Discussion: Pinned Post Week 9

Remember how much I loved Slouch Witch?

I’m a bit of a book hoarder, especially when I know the next book in a series will be good. So I saved Star Witch for just the right occasion! I decided that this week is the right occasion. 🙂

Ivy Wilde, the laziest witch in the West, is still entangled with the Hallowed Order of Magical Enlightenment. That’s not a bad thing, however, because it gives her plenty of excuses to spend more time with sapphire eyed Raphael Winter, her supposed nemesis. And when he comes knocking because he needs her to spy on the latest series of Enchantment, she jumps at the chance. Hanging around a film set can’t be hard … or dangerous … right?

Your turn! What are you reading, what do you plan to read this week and what have you read that is excellent???

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Posted: September 17, 2017
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Huge Sale: 99 cent deals

Renee Pawlish is doing it again! A passel of mysteries, thrillers and paranormal mysteries all priced at 99 cents for this weekend. There are some great looking reads in this list!

Check them out!


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Posted: September 16, 2017

Three Dollar Credit for Romance at Amazon

If you read romance, give it a try!! Heck for a free three dollars, try it even if you don’!!!

3 dollar credit on certain romance books (Amazon imprint).


Also, for the non-fiction lovers, there’s a Vietnam war story, told by a doctor who served, on sale for 99 cents today: 365 Days.

National Book Award Finalist: The Vietnam War as seen through the eyes of an army doctor—“a book of great emotional impact” (The New York Times).

In 1968, as a serviceman in the Vietnam War, Dr. Ronald Glasser was sent to Japan to work at the US Army hospital at Camp Zama. It was the only general army hospital in Japan, and though Glasser was initially charged with tending to the children of officers and government officials, he was soon caught up in the waves of casualties that poured in from every Vietnam front. Thousands of soldiers arrived each month, demanding the help of every physician within reach.

In 365 Days, Glasser reveals a candid and shocking account of that harrowing experience. He gives voice to seventeen of his patients, wounded men counting down the days until they return home. Their stories bring to life a world of incredible bravery and suffering, one where “the young are suddenly left alone to take care of the young.” An instant classic of war literature, 365 Days is a remarkable, ground-level account of Vietnam’s human toll.

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Posted: September 15, 2017

Bull-oney

I was just finishing up watering the cow this morning when Dad drove up. “Want to come and check the water at the Noonday with me? I need to see if the bull is there.”

“Sure.” I had my shit kicker boots on because to water the cow you have to enter the pen. I did have my nicer sweat pants on because I was only planning on watering the cow and the garden. I hadn’t had breakfast either.

Off we went. The bull was not at the tanks. Why would it be so helpful? That meant we counted cows and headed over to the other side of the mountain pass to check the other side. There are really two sets of mountains here (this is the nearby range, not the far ranch). The bull wasn’t at the water tank on the other side of the mountains, either. This side is fairly steep, but don’t despair. What follows are Dad’s comments as we searched.

“I made a half-ass road to get up this hill.”

IS THERE ANY OTHER KIND?

“I’m not sure if the road goes to the right or left of this tree.”

DOES IT MATTER??? If you can’t see it, what is the point???

“I’m going to build out this road on the end to go all the way down to the arroyo. I won’t be able to drive back up it, but I can get the truck down it.”

That should give you an idea of just how steep some of these hills are. One way–because sliding down is always easier if you can see what you’re going to hit.

Up on the next ridge:

“I’ll drive as close to the edge as possible so you can see down into the canyon better.”

Gosh, Dad. Favors like that simply aren’t necessary. I’ll just walk.

“I don’t know where that bull is. I’ve never gone over the top of this hill with the truck. I wonder if we can make it. It looks clear.”

Not that we could see OVER the top. Noooo, that doesn’t happen until we actually top it and the truck points DOWN. I thought it didn’t go too badly, though. Not until we had to go back UP the downside. Going down the truck didn’t slip. Going up was all about grinding rocks and slipping sideways. Even Dad said, ‘Shit” twice. That was followed by:

“I used to enjoy riding up here in the truck. Now that I’m old I feel every bump and every rock.”

That’s not because you’re old, Dad. I can feel them too because there is nothing but bumps, rocks and banging into the door and window as you try to hold on.

“Oh Shit,” Dad said again. “I just went over fresh cow shit with the back wheel. Now the bumper and tire is going to be full of cow shit. I’m going to have to wash the truck.”

Whatever, Dad.

We did not find the bull. So we’ll have to go back out again when it cools off. Cows and bulls sit under trees in the midday heat, which makes them impossible to see. They are merely dark shadows in the shadows off in the distance. Sometimes you get lucky and they are along the dry riverbeds where we take the truck, but it’s not worth driving out there much past 11. We looked for over two hours. We counted cows three times because we overcounted at one spot and had to go back to verify the actual number at the first tank after double checking the ones in the sandy riverbed.

When we got home, since I’d already showered first thing in the morning (fool) and then hiked about looking for a bull, I gave El Paso his bath. Then I took another shower. If we go out again tonight, I’ll be taking a third. It’s not that I have to be pristine all the time, but I was hot, sticky and smelled like cows and dog. It’s also impossible to get a comb through your hair after driving around for two hours looking for a sneaky bull.

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Posted: September 13, 2017
Filed in New Mexico, Walks in Life
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