Paperless office? Hah! Carolyn

Didn’t some idiot say fifty years ago that we would work in completely paperless offices by 2000? Wrong! We have more paper than we ever had, largely because it is so simple to send any document to a printer to have a hard copy to send with the email of whatever documents are required—and, of course, a second copy for our own files, and a third copy for the client to keep in his files.

I have been using my big dining room table as the staging area for all the paperwork entailed in settling George’s estate, in doing the taxes, in paying the bills—etc., et., etc., ad infinitum. When I worked for the university full time, I had a secretary who tried desperately and against great odds to keep me organized and the filing up to date. We still lost things.

I have come to the conclusion that George’s filing system is the way to go. Whenever someone would send him a request for a new report, he would file it away in his bottom drawer. If they never asked for it again (usually they didn’t), then it would molder away to dust. If someone said after six months, “Oh, did you ever get around to filling out that report I sent you?” George would reply with an innocent expression, “What report?” In most cases, the requester had forgotten what report, why he needed it in the first place, and when he actually needed the information (usually never).

The only file clerk I want is like the detective in Unforgettable who remembers absolutely everything from her birth to the present and never forgets where she put anything. I, on the other hand, try to file papers somewhere I cannot possibly forget them, because I use logic. Never works.

At this point, I have delivered the tax stuff to my accountant and am waiting for him to put a curse on me. I told him my files were one step up from a shoebox, but he wasn’t concerned. Last year a lady came into his office with three laundry baskets full of receipts and forms, and told him she hadn’t filed her taxes for three years.

In finding the stuff I took him, I rummaged around in four big file boxes of amorphous stuff. Now, I have to clean it up and organize it the way I should have in the first place.

And it’s not only paperwork. My critique partner found one of my unsold manuscripts when she cleaned up her office. It’s pretty good, certainly worth taking another look at. Except that I can’t find my computer file anywhere. I’m also missing a short story that I need to send to somebody.

I guess what I need is Hercule Poirot’s Miss Lemon.

George always had a straw boss. When he finished using a tool, he laid it down, and some minion came along behind him and put it away. At the office or in the plant. At home, not so much. I finally bought my own Skil saw and socket set and HID them. For some reason I can keep up with tools. Now, if I could handle papers…

Ah, At Last, Done (Pat)

First I must apologize for my absence last week, but I plead an emergency.

The emergency was the acceleration of the writing /editing process.   My next book was moved up in the schedule from April to February, and the editing process became very tight.   First there were revisions, then approving the line editing, then two days later approving the copy editing, then reviewing what is called the final pass.  It’s the last chance to make sure all the changes were made and, hopefully, to get everything right.

It meant twelve to fourteen hour a day for one week.   I’m just now recuperating.

Usually, I hate a book at this point, but strangely enough this time I liked it more and more, and the final paragraphs came to me in the very last minute on the final pass.   It was one in the morning, and it had to be finished that  morning, and suddenly lightning struck.   An okay ending became the perfect ending for these two people.   Sometimes, magic happens.

“Tempted By A Soldier” is the second in my Covenant Falls series, and the hero is as different as day and night from my hero in “The Soldier’s Promise.”    The heroine is a veterinarian who tried to take over the first book.   The hero, a military veteran,  is a charmer with a quirky sense of humor.   I usually like loners and deeply wounded heroes, but Clint inserted his way into my heart and wouldn’t let go.   He did the same with Stephanie, but not easily.

I’ve written linked books before but never a series with many of the same characters, and I find it an intriguing process.   I can watch them, and the town, grow.   I can visit see them after the marriage.   They  become as real to me as my next door neighbors.    I must admit I have fallen in love with the residents of Covenant Falls and can’t wait to begin the third in the series, finally bringing love to one of my favorite characters and a damaged military nurse.   And, of course, there will be more dogs.

But for now, I’m going to sleep for two days.

 

This Old House

In January of this year, my daughter embarked on an exciting and arduous adventure: homebuying.

She found a fixer-upper in her extremely moderate price range in our “neighborhood” (we live in a tiny foothills community made up of acreages and spread out over several miles) that was HUD-owned (Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development), which meant first-time owner/occupant buyers were given a chance to buy this at a lower interest rate and without competing with established buyers and speculators.

Thus, began the arduous task of jumping through the crazy, at times, insurmountable and redundant hoops that is modern home-buying. Long story short…she got the house in late May.

The five-month ordeal was complicated when a HUD inspector with a cool, expensive gismo found…brace yourself…several small spots of Lead-Based Paint on a couple of door casings and pieces of window trim. Not surprising since this is a forty-year-old house that had several additions over the years.

Unfortunately, LBP threw a huge monkey wrench into the loan process because it necessitated a fix-it loan tacked onto the original asking price. HUD dropped the project so fast you’d have thought LBP was Ebola. Kelly’s loan broker found another bank willing to take this on…until they weren’t. With just days before her accepted offer expired, in rode Wells Fargo to the rescue. (I always think in story terms and I’d like to make WF the hero of this story, but it’s a giant institution made up of brain-numbing rules and regulations that pretty much turn its white hat an anemic gray.)

Still, she got the house–lead-based paint and all. (By all I mean: an archaic, non-functioning septic system, no appliances, foundation issues, holes in the walls where the last renters set up grow lights for the illegal marijuana operation, and a million or so other fixes.)

Lucky for my daughter, her father is a remodeling contractor with 40 years of experience. Unluckily, Wells Fargo wouldn’t allow him to be the general contractor on the job because we share the same last name.

The reasoning? One loan officer actually said, “What’s to keep him from taking the money and not doing the work?” Huh? As opposed to a stranger? My answer: “He’s her father, you idiot. Plus, he’s licensed, bonded, insured AND incorporated.”

They wouldn’t let him take on the job.

Luckily, a good friend agreed to be the “general of record” even though my hubby would do all the work. All 450 hours of work. (NOTE: if you really want a shock, try filling out a daily time card for a week and see where your time goes.)

Here are a few before, during and after pictures.

And the work begins.

And the work begins.

 

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New septic dug and lines to leach field.

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Bathroom floor was rotten. Easier to just gut it.

Replace windows and doors once the new tub enclose is in.

Replace windows and doors once the new tub enclosure is in.

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No insulation in the walls and all of the windows needed replacing, which meant, what the heck, let’s redo all the siding.

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Paint–inside and out!

Luckily, we had lots of help. And they worked cheap.

Luckily, we had lots of help. And they worked cheap.

A contractors nightmare--old termite damage. The header was toast.

A contractors nightmare–old termite damage. The header was toast.

Interior repaired and painted. Such a fresh feeling!

Interior repaired and painted. Such a fresh feeling!

Sweet details are part of making a space your own.

Sweet details are part of making a space your own.

New deck to give easy access to laundry room. Rotten old steps are history! Almost ready to create some new memories.

New deck to give easy access to laundry room. Rotten old steps are history! Almost ready to create some new memories.

More work than I can possibly describe, but a great feeling of accomplishment when you see the smile of gratitude on your daughter's face.

More work than I can possibly describe, but a great feeling of accomplishment when you see the smile of gratitude on your daughter’s face.

The house is move-in ready. Now, the fun begins. ;-)

Have you ever bought/flipped a house? Are you a fan of the home remodeling shows on TV: Love It or List It?, Flip This House, The Property Brothers, to name a few? My granddaughters can’t get enough of these shows. One even told Kelly, “Ooh, you have a galley kitchen, but you should think about blowing out that wall and making it more of an open concept.” Some day…maybe…first, she has to get moved in. ;-)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

DEB

PS: Have you voted on Tara’s covers? I did.

 

 

And drum roll …

At last! Two self-published books to share with you–my first self-published books!

These novels are actually remastered copies of books published by a New York publisher back in 2007 and 2008. Offering Another Life and My Sisters to readers again may not seem like a big deal to you, but it’s huge to me!  I have always wanted to see both of them back in print. And now… they are!! (squee!)

Another Life, first published in 2007:

Ann_AnotherLife300dpi1500x2400Learning of her husband Stephen’s fatal heart attack is the worst thing Mary Beth Mason can imagine… Until she learns about the other family he left behind. Another wife, another daughter, another home…

For more information, click here: http://www.annroth.net/ebooks.html

My Sisters, first published in 2008:

Ann_MySisters300dpi1500x2400In some families, there is pain and loss, but there is also the unbreakable bond of love. Sisters Margaret, Rose and Quincy Lansing were never a close or loving family. When receive the tragic news that a car accident has claimed the life of their mother, they must return to their childhood home. In unraveling their mother’s secrets, they find not only revelation, but also strength, hope, sisterhood, and a chance for love…

For more information, click here:  http://www.annroth.net/ebooks.html

Thanks for letting me share the excitement!

Until next Thursday,

Ann

Visit me at my Facebook Author page https://www.facebook.com/AnnRothAuthorPage
Follow me on Twitter @Ann_Roth
Stop by my website: www.annroth.net

A Chance At A Kindle Fire For Your Opinion! (Tara Taylor Quinn)

I’ve got five new original books out this year.  I have confidence in the writing – partially because I’ve got the best editor in the business and she’s invested in me and my work.  I’ve also got a great art department working on my covers.

However…I’m not confident about my covers.  I don’t honestly know what covers draw readers.  Or how many readers are drawn to books by their covers.  They’re age old questions.  I’ve heard it bandied about for the twenty-two years I’ve been in this business.  Publishers and writers’ groups have done surveys to try to find the answers.  But the statistics are confusing at best.

Today I have a cover reveal for my December book.  If this cover draws readers and helps sell books, I love it!  Otherwise, I’m not so sure.  The book has been listed for pre-order on Amazon without a cover for about six weeks.  It’s done better than any other of my books in the pre-sale arena.

And here’s where you opinion comes in…Please!!!  You’ll earn double entries in our Storybroad Kindle Fire giveaway (awarded October 31) if you take the time to rank the five covers below in terms of your personal choice.  Click on the comment bubble to leave your answer.  Just a - e in numerical order where 1 draws you the most to 5 draws you the least.  (You can click on the book cover to go to the bookstore.)  Your answer should look something like, 1.  e; 2.  c;  3.  b  4.  a  5.  d  Ok?  Here goes!

a. tnWifeByDesign  b.  tnOnceAFamily  c. tnTheFriendshipPact d. tnHusbandByChoice  e.tnChildByChance

 

 

 

Tavis Smiley … twerking???

That’s a visual I’ll never be able to unsee.  In case you aren’t familiar with Tavis Smiley, he’s a tall, nice looking gentlemen who’s about to turn 50, and according to him, he wanted to do something silly before his birthday.  He’s also a multi-faceted and deeply serious presence on the American political scene.  Wikipedia describes him as a talk show host, author, political commentator, entrepreneur, advocate and philanthropist.  I’ve seen several of his interviews over the years and have always admired his probing questions and his intellect.  He’s a man of vision with an ability to deconstruct the most controversial issues of our time.

Tavis Smiley … silly?

The last thing I would ever imagine Smiley doing is dancing, much less Dancing with the Stars.  Smart as the man may be, he has no moves, no rhythm.  Even when he’s passionately involved in a discussion on a controversial issue, he still seems oddly stiff and humorless, almost robotic at times.

And then, last night on the Season 19 premiere of Dancing with the Stars, Tavis Smiley twerked.  And he did it with conviction.  With his back to the camera, he actually glanced over his shoulder and grinned at the viewing audience as he bounced his backside.  That was during a practice session, but he wasn’t half bad.  And he danced well in competition too.  I think the show’s judges might have been as shocked as I was, considering the scores they gave him.  Sixes and sevens out of possible tens on the first night of competition?  He was good, maybe not that good.

For me, last night’s show proved how easy it is to make assumptions about people without having any real idea who they are.  I doubt I was the only one who thought Smiley couldn’t dance to save his life, but boy, was I wrong.  If Tavis Smiley has an inner Miley Cyrus, maybe we all do?

Another epiphany came during Lea Thompson’s practice session.  She admitted that as a child she’d taken ballet lessons and dreamed of a dancing career.  Well, me too.  It was a secret I kept throughout my childhood and beyond.  I never told a soul for fear they would laugh.  I was notoriously uncoordinated and bad at almost all sports, but music filled me with hope and desire and made me believe I could do anything.

Now I understand my slightly unhealthy addiction to Dancing with the Stars.  It’s a show where you can watch people resurrect their dreams and live them out in a tangible way, sometimes with great success, but almost always with a feeling of accomplishment.  What could be cooler for a kid who always wanted to dance?

Suzanne

Ghost Hunter – Carolyn

Our local mystery writers group, Malice in Memphis, meets the second Saturday of every month. Our speaker this month is head of a local group that is loosely affiliated with the Ghost Hunters, but with a somewhat different mission. They want to discover what actually happens that creates ghosts.

His stories were fascinating. I love writing ghost stories—not the gory kind. The ghosts in my stories are usually non-threatening. Frankly, I have never believed that ghosts actually exist in any sentient form. From the evidence that we do have—and it is precious little—it would seem that ghosts are rather like the picture that remains on a television set for a few seconds after the power is turned off. Kind of leftover energy.

I may change my mind.

Our next Malice in Memphis anthology will consist of ghost stories written by our members that take place in the Memphis area. Everyone who hears what we are planning offers at least one ghost story that happened to himself or a friend or family member. Now, I too, have my own ghost story.

I mentioned previously that George, my husband, is still here in my house. Objects move when there has been no one in the house to move them. The latest happened yesterday. A hard plastic briefcase in which George stored sockets and wrenches had been stashed behind the shelves in the carport forever. Yesterday, I found it sitting beside the front wheel of my car.

Nobody is coming onto the property at night. I have a top of the line security system plus dark-until-dawn lights and motion sensor lights in the carport as well. A couple of weeks ago, the heavy chain from the tractor was spread out across the carport, now this. Keys disappear and reappear in places that I could not have placed them.

The ghost hunter asked me if these things bothered me. Actually, not at all. I don’t feel threatened. I feel as though George is sticking around to make certain I’m handling things without him.

On another subject, this afternoon after my friend Beverly and I drove my mare, Zoe, to her carriage, a friend called to say that he was stranded. His truck stopped running on the side of the highway. He was pulling a horse trailer carrying his big gelding. Beverly and I took my truck to find him, hooked it to his trailer, and drove the horse and trailer to his house, leaving him waiting for the tow truck. We unloaded Rennie, who is half Friesian and stands over seventeen hands high, fed him and his stable mate their dinners, unhooked the trailer and came home. Piece of cake.

Beverly did the driving. Not that I can’t drive a trailer, but she’s better at it than I am. She cut her teeth driving fire trucks for her father, who was the fire chief of Germantown.

This is a real case of payback. Last year, she and I were stranded with Zoe and our carriage when my truck blew a water pump on the way to a horse show. A friend rescued us the same way we rescued my friend today. It was a good feeling, especially since we accomplished it with truck, trailer, and horse all intact.

 

Free again…sorta

I’m happy to say I am cast-free. Almost.

photo 1

I saw my orthopedic doctor yesterday. (And met yet another hunky young intern. OMG! What is it about orthopedic/sports medicine that attracts handsome young men to the field? ;-) )

photo 2

Dr. Pistel showed me my X-ray and actually high-fived me for healing so well. LOL.

photo 3

He told me I could start to wean myself off the cast.

Wean myself off the cast? What a strange thing to say. In my mind, I’d planned to toss the darn thing in the air like a high school graduate and run from the building shouting in joy.

But a few minutes in the company of the handsome young intern who asked me to do all sorts of common hand gestures to test the strength and flexibility of my wrist proved this baby bird wasn’t ready to fly solo. Ouch.

Although my bone has knitted nicely, my muscles and connective tissue have zero strength. “Let’s go with the Marx Brother’s school of medicine,” my doctor said. “Do anything you want, but if it hurts, stop doing it.”

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So where does that leave me? Weaning…and waiting for Physical Therapy to start.

I dictated this blog on my iPad using Dragon. I find the application useful for making notes, but I don’t enjoy using dictation for my creative writing. It feels too stilted and requires a LOT of editing. Maybe if I kept at it longer I’d be better, but I plan to get back to work on my next Big Sky Mavericks book today–typing without a cast!!!–right after I get back from fifth grade.

Yep. You heard me right. I’m headed to my granddaughters’ school today to talk to my sweet Miss M’s class. Miss M is an avid reader, and when the print copies of Cowgirl Come Home arrived — the feeling never gets old!–she begged me to read it.

Cowgirl come home box

No. Sorry, dear, it’s a very adult story. But, after some discussion with her mother, my daughter-in-law decided to give her my very first Harlequin Superromance, That Cowboy’s Kids.

Miss M That Cowboys Kids

Naturally, she went to school the next day and said, “I’m reading my grandmother’s book.” Her teacher, who is new to the school, sent me post-it note inviting me to talk to the class about creative writing.

I couldn’t say no because my one of my favorite memories of helping in my children’s classroom took place at this SAME school when my son and daughter were in fifth and sixth grades. I love that life has come full circle yet again.

So, I’m taking off in a bit–wrist in cast–to talk about creative imagery and how to work all five senses into your writing. Cool topic! I wish I could bring along my other Storybroads! True masters of their craft!

Take care, all. Thanks for letting me share this odd little part of my journey. Healing takes time. I just have to keep reminding myself of that. In the meantime, the Marx Brothers and I are going to do anything that doesn’t hurt. ;-)

Deb

It’s Thursday!!!!!! Newsletter, Anyone?

In less than a month, A Rancher’s Redemption will be out. I loved writing this book and I really, really like the cover. But you know that, from when I first posted it. In case you missed it, here it is again:

front cover

What a sexy man, huh? Once you get to know him, he’s even sexier…

If your mouth is watering, you can  pre-order this book at www.annroth.net. Right on the home page, you’ll see the links to do that.

For a chance to win a free book, stop by http://www.annroth.net/ and enter the monthly contest. And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. You’ll get a sneak preview of this book and in future newsletters, sneaks to other upcoming books..

Until Monday, and wishing you a fabulishous weekend,

Ann

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Stop by my website: www.annroth.net

Review For Free Book (Tara Taylor Quinn)

TheFriendshipPactwebI’ve written over seventy published novels.  There’s a part of me in every single one of them.  I don’t always know when I’m writing them, but later, I can look back, and find me there.  This book, The Friendship Pact, I could feel myself pouring out onto the page.  It’s the story of a friendship that started when the girls were five.  It carries them through college and into adulthood.  I had such a friend.  The once in a lifetime kind.  So while the plot of this story is fictional, the most important element, the friendship, is completely true.  Today I’m going to give you a bit of the first chapter.

And in honor of The Friendship Pact, there’s an offer attached.  If you review the book on Amazon, (click the book to get to the review page) I’ll send you a free eBook of any one of my other four brand new 2014 releases.  Place the review and send your email address to staff@tarataylorquinn.com to receive your free book.  It’s that simple.

Now, for the beginning:

May, 1997

“You asleep?”

“No, are you?”

“Uh-uh.”

When Bailey didn’t say anything else, I started in.  “It’s going to be okay, you know.”  Her mom, who was drunk a lot, was getting another divorce, but Bailey would be fine this time.  Neither of us liked Stan, her stepfather.

And my mom and dad would make sure Bailey was okay.  Just like always.

Too bad they weren’t Bailey’s parents, too.

My one dark spot in life.

“I can’t believe my mom did this,” Bailey said now. “I mean I get why. Stan’s a jerk and she should’ve left him a long time ago, but for her to go and have an affair…”
I couldn’t believe that part, either. Not even with Bailey’s mom. Why make Stan madder? He’d found out a couple of days before and now Bailey’s mom had a black eye she wouldn’t go to the cops about and Stan was threatening to leave her high and dry with no alimony or furniture or car or anything.
“Stan seemed so nice in the beginning,” I said, shivering a little as I pictured the bearded man who scared the shit out of me.
“He’s fine until he starts drinking.”
“It sucks that he hid the whole recovering alcoholic thing until after they were married.” At least Bailey’s mom had been upfront about her own relationship with the bottle.
“And the hitting thing, too.” Bailey’s whisper changed.
Sitting up in bed, I stared down at my friend, my sister, the other half of my soul. “He didn’t hit you, did he?” I asked, ready to hit back. Funny, most times Bailey was the stronger one of us—the one who fought our battles. My job was to tend our wounds.
Or go to my parents to do it for us.
“No,” Bailey said. But she turned her head toward the wall and I was mad and scared all at once.
“Bail?”
I thought I saw a tear slide down the side of her face into the pillow. Leaning over her, I pushed her dark hair away from her eyes and said, “Bailey, tell me what he did to you.”
“It was nothing.”
My heart was pounding. “Bailey, tell me.” And then I was going straight to Mom. She’d know what to do. Where to go for help, even if Bailey’s mom wouldn’t call the cops.
“He…tried to kiss me.”
I could hardly breathe. I was freezing and frightened and… “Tried?”
“He was drunk and I kneed him in the you-know-where and ran.”
“When was this?” And why hadn’t she told me?
“This afternoon.”
Oh, God. And I’d been thinking her dark mood all night was because her mother had been caught having an affair with her boss—a partner in the law firm where she worked as a paralegal—and was getting a divorce as a result. We didn’t know if she was also going to lose her job.
“You were only home for a few minutes,” I said now, trying to wrap my mind around a world that had just completely changed.
“He came into my room when I was getting the red dress from my closet,” Bailey said. I’d been running errands with my mom after school and we were picking Bailey up to spend the weekend with us on our way home. My folks were taking us to a dinner theater in Pittsburgh the next night to celebrate the end of the school year. Bailey and I had both made the honor roll; I had straight As and she had all As and one B.
And we’d decided to wear the red dresses Mom had bought us for a Christmas dinner show we’d gone to last winter.
None of that mattered now. But it was what I wanted to think about.
She sniffed and I rubbed her shoulder. “Tell me everything,” I said. We stuck together. No matter what.
Bailey sniffled again. I swallowed, trying to hold everything in for her sake, but then I started to cry, too.
“The dress was on the top bar…” Her words were kind of hard to understand, all clogged up with tears, and still in a whisper. But she wasn’t sobbing. I almost wished she was. Sobbing came and went. These tears, they seemed like they could just keep coming and never stop.
I’d never seen Bailey like this before. Should I go get Mom now?
“I reached up for it….”
I could picture her there, inside the opened closet door—a single, pressboard thing, not like the solid wood double doors on my closet—her arm raised.
“I didn’t hear him come in….”
I rubbed her shoulder some more. I wanted to cover my ears like I’d done as a kid when Mom was telling me my grandmother had died. If I didn’t hear, I didn’t have to know and it wouldn’t be real.
“He came up behind me….”
I couldn’t stand the pain I heard in her voice. “It’s okay, Bail. It’s okay.” But it wasn’t. I had a feeling things weren’t ever going to be okay again, just like she’d said.
“He grabbed my breast….” She began to sob then, and I reached down for her, pulling her into my lap. I cradled her, rocking back and forth, whispering to her.
Neither of us had ever been touched sexually before.
We’d talked about what our first times would be like. A lot, lately. She’d heard it might hurt and asked me what I thought. So I asked Mom and she’d said it often does hurt the first time, but not always. And that it also could feel incredibly good if the man and woman were in love and took care with each other.
Bailey and I had talked about that a lot, too. About what “took care with each other” meant.
We hadn’t reached a conclusion yet, but one thing I knew for sure—the moments she was describing had nothing to do with “taking care.”
“I’m here,” I said, running my fingers through her long dark hair, hating a world that would allow such a horrible thing to happen to such a sweet, beautiful girl. “I’m here.”
We were a pair. What happened to her happened to me. We’d made that promise when we were kids, when we’d still been young enough to believe the world was fair and good.
I listened to her tell me how her drunk stepfather had groped her, shoving a hand inside the waistband of her jeans and down, slobbering all over her neck while he fingered her, before he’d turned her around to kiss her fully and she’d jabbed her knee into his dick and run.
He was a dick. And he was going to pay.