Monday, February 23, 2015

There Are Plans...

and there are plans.

This weekend was supposed to be a somewhat restful, yet busy, weekend.  The plans included a Friday night out with friends to a seafood all-you-can-eat buffet and fish fry.  Saturday would be a day for me to start planting seeds for the garden, relaxing and watching the snow come down since the weatherman was threatening us with approximately 4+ inches of new snow.  Come Sunday, it was the day to elect officials for the next church year with a potluck afterward including some great fellowship with the members.  Of course, that was if church would be held on Sunday morning pending the snowfall.

Okay, that was the plan.  As I stated... and there are plans.

Wednesday was an evening with the eldest son and his family and a great meal of Mexican food. So far, the plan was still in place.

RING!  RING!  RING!  (Telephone)

#3's car needs to go in for repair.  #4's wife has doctors' appointments - and she is expecting twins and their one daughter needs to be picked up from pre-school.

Mom and Dad to the rescue.  We are now headed to Michigan, an area south of Detroit to help out

Today is now Sunday evening and we've stayed with #4 for a night, then #3 for 2 nights and now back to #4's for tonight.  What does the next 2 days bring?  Not sure.

Tomorrow's plans: #3's car should be repaired and ready for pickup.  BUT, will be it be done before he needs to go to work.  Only time will reveal that answer.  #4's wife has a doctor's appointment at 8:30am - should be easy enough.  Oh, wait.  Their daughter has to be at pre-school at that exact time, too.  My son will take his wife to the doctor and I was scheduled to drop my granddaughter off at school.

Yup!  That plan got changed.  She doesn't have school.  It has been so cold in the area, the schools are not opening since they don't want the kids out in the sub-zero weather.  Personally, I think we're pampering today's kids too much.  I remember walking to school, in foul weather including cold winds and the walk was a full mile - each way.  And no, I'm not over-exaggerating. It was 1954 and if you want me exaggerate - it was uphill, both ways.  I've shown my kids and they found it hard to believe... they wanted to know why grandma didn't drive me.  It was beyond their comprehension that we only had one car and dad had it to go to work - mom stayed home. But that's a different story.

So, now we hang in until we find out what the status of the car is and also, #4's wife goes back to the doctor on Weds which is the same day #3's daughter's pizza sales comes in and needs to be picked up.  That would be 300+ pizza kits she sold. I don't believe my son's car can carry 300 pizzas.

With a little luck, maybe, just maybe, I'll get home late Wednesday night. If so, on Thursday I hope to plant my tomato seeds.

Oh, my #1 son had scheduled himself to plow all that snow out my drive so when I got home, it would be all clean for us.  From what I've heard, a skiff of snow, less than an inch, fell.  As he said, barely worth the effort of driving over to plow.  So I'm guessing he didn't plow the driveway.

If things calm down, maybe next weekend I'll get the wood necessary to build the new chicken coop.  We'll see what happens.

Plans get changed and I'm willing to go with the flow.  In fact, I got my first edit job to work on and have two more scheduled to come at me over the next couple of weeks.  Everything is subject to change. I'll just take a deep breath and move forward.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dreaming of Springtime

The temperature is dropping. B-r-r-r-r-r. How far is going down? Would you believe 7 below 0? With a wind-chill factor of 23 below 0.  Yes, TWENTY-THREE BELOW!!!

Of course, I'm in my home, nice and toasty warm and unless there is an absolute need to go out, I'm NOT going out.  It's bad enough to open the backdoor to let the dog go out to potty and trust me, she makes it a fast trip to either drop a load and/or create a mini, yellow ice flow. Plus, when she comes flying up the steps, she expects the door to be open and ready for her to come in.  And, no, I wait until I see her, THEN I open the door for the short Arctic blast to assault me.  I know, poor puppy.

So, what do I do?  Mainly I sit by the window and write.  Right now I'm on the final major edits of my Amish novel - The Secret Voice.  I'm hoping to have the ebook release by the end of the month. At least that is the plan.  While it is cold, I write.  That's right, the speedo is stored until summer!

To make things bearable I'm reading those great fantasy books that come out each January - the garden and flower seed catalogs.  I've made my selections for this year.  I will be growing in my garden this year an assortment of tomatoes consisting of Beefsteak, Roma and Mortgage Lifter. That should make a great combination when creating sauces, salsas, stewed and those ever-popular BLT's of summer.  I also plan to grow carrots (Tendersweet), beets (Detroit Red), onions (Copra), garlic (whatever I get at the supermarket), green beans (Blue Lake), wax beans (Golden) and probably some peas (Wanda) - oh! Maybe some sweetcorn - Quickie.

I know. I know. I said I'd never grown sweetcorn again because the raccoon always rape the plantings right before harvest.  I learned last fall that Quickie sweetcorn can be grown in pots or planters. What? Who knew? I'm thinking of making a 4-ft X 2-ft X 2-ft planter and plant about 25 seed in them.  Yes, very close but this is intense gardening. That would give me about 4 dozen ears of yummy sweetcorn come this fall.  AND, if those pesky critters do get my crop, I have a planter that will hold some petunias the following year.  Actually, I will enclose the planter with wire fencing and yes, even cover the top. Quickie sweetcorn only grows about 5-ft high, so if I put the fencing up right after I plant, the raccoon shouldn't be able to get ALL of the harvest, if any.  Of course, I still have the fence electrifier if I wanted to add that.  We'll see.  Still, I'm unsure about the whole corn thing. We'll have to wait to see if I want to attempt it.  Corn takes a lot of water and this is a "raised" type garden bed which means extra watering.

I'm considering a zucchini and pickle hill that will grow over the edge of the 8-ft brick wall that holds up the front upper yard from the lower front yard.  Could be interesting.  Just train the vines to go that way rather than sprawling all over the upper lawn.

I'm also considering raising about 25 chickens for butchering plus another 5 that will lay eggs until Fall comes.  I do not plan to spend my winter running out there to feed and water chickens when it is cold like it is now.  Plus, did you know you can freeze eggs?  We don't use a lot of eggs since eggs are not my friend.  No, I'm not allergic to eggs - eggs are allergic to me. They make me sulfurous so I have a limited consumption - mostly cakes, cookies, and on wild occasions, French toast.

Just call me Farmer Bob.

Oh, I also have decided that we'll remodel the RV.  Gutting quite a bit of the RV and re-doing the inside with new flooring and furniture. The stove and frig are okay so I'll keep them.  Right now I've got the wife considering color schemes for the inside.  When the weather gets a little warmer, we'll probably go out window-shopping for colors and window treatments.  We've already sort of decided on the kitchen tile -light-weight and metallic.  I just hope I can find the sofa I want and the chairs I have in my mind for the dining area.  Once the plowed snow melts and I can get to the RV, I'll go out and do measurements since I can't find the ones I got last Fall.

Okay, I'm ready for Spring.  I keep watching the weather down South but I'm not liking what I see there.  In fact, this week, portions of Tennessee are expected to get 12-18 inches of snow and ice even further south.  Uh, where is Spring?  As far as I'm concerned, it has been Cancun long enough!

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, February 9, 2015

Book Cover - Revisited

Last week I offered what I'd hoped would be a great book cover for my upcoming novel. I listed it here and also at 2 other locations.  The response?  Not what I expected but, at the same time, extremely helpful.

SO, what did I learn?

1) Book title should be readable when in thumbnail size
2) Not be busy 
3) Don't confuse title with background words
4) Cryptic cover
5) Color choices
6) Bad font choices
7) Be happy with the cover

Okay, the last one is more for me, but, at the same time, I want to make sure that others like the cover. Why?  Because if the reader/viewer likes the cover, there is a better chance of them picking up the book. If they pick up the book, they may read the back page blurb.  If they read the back page blurb, there is a chance they may open it and read a page or two. And if they like it to one of the points listed, they will buy the book.

I thought the music background was significant - the story is about a young Amish boy who learns how to sing light opera.  Both the artist and I thought the Old English font would be cool for the Amish flavor, along with the Amish boy on the cover.  

In retrospect, it was a lousy cover. In thumbnail size, the text was gibberish, at best.  The background words of the music title diverted the reader's eyes from the title. The Old English font was difficult to read.

So, my cover artist tried again, taking all the comments into review.  He offered me the following which I think pulls it all together.  I don't like the appearance of the sub-text - "Book One of The Amish Singer Series" but we tried several different things and this seemed to be the best offering.  Trying to match the font color of the large text left it in a black blob and difficult to read. We also tried to move the text down below the Amish boy but it didn't appear to be correct there.  So, we're still open to suggestions.  We also tried lighter text and darker text to less than perfect results.

The back page blurb is not the final by any means.  We just wanted to see how it would appear.

Yes, the book title has changed. Book Two of 'The Amish Singer' Series will be "A New York Voice" and continue with Daniel's adventures in our Englische world and singing.  Book two's cover will basically be the same thing except remove the Amish lad and replace it with say, the Empire State Building or a part of it.  Of course, that still remains to be decided. LOL.

Let me know what you think of the new cover, leave a comment or suggestion.

Now, some bad news on my weight regarding the New Year's resolution.  I had - key word "HAD" - been fluctuating between 250 and 255.  I stepped on the scale last week and it was pushing 260.  Okay, it was 258.  I realize it isn't much, but the truth is, the weight needle moved in the WRONG direction.  I have instituted a closer watch on my food intake and realized that I have been drinking more pop.  Okay, it is diet and shouldn't count, but it does bloat me and what man needs to complete in the pregnancy bulge with his daughter-in-law who is carrying twins?  More treadmill and cycle time, less butt-sitting time.  My goal is to see all my grandchildren married.  The twins are the last of the grandchildren coming so that gives me a goal of surviving another 25 years, at least.  I'm 68 + 25 means I have to hang around until I'm 93.  That's pushing the goal line waaaaay out there.  Maybe I should set a goal of seeing them all graduated.

I am hoping to get the first book of the three I made as part of my New Year's resolutions published within the next 60 days. Well, actually by the end of February would be nice, but...

We were considering some RV travel but the storm that came through about 8 days ago left me with a six foot pile of plowed snow in front of the RV.  My kids visited this weekend and laughed about it but I let them know - if I truly wanted to go, I'd be out there with my shovel moving that mini-mountain.  I did that several years ago when we wanted to go to Mardi Gras and Mother Nature had other ideas. It was only about 4 foot high but it had a lot of frozen ice in it.  It took me about 3 days to clear it out but we left on time and had a great time.  We've decided to not travel until nice weather and only locally.  We want to do some interior re-decorating. Okay, that's what my wife calls it.  I say it is major remodeling since we'll be removing the dining area and couch and re-doing the kitchen and bathroom.  Nothing really wrong with them, just wanting a new look.

Until next I ramble on...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Book Covers

You've written a great novel which is exciting and vibrant.  In fact, you've even had the book professionally edited.  Good for you.

Now is the time for the book cover.

Slap up a plain cover with the title.  Sure, that'll grab readers.

Use a generic one from CreateSpace.  Be still my heart.

Create your own.  Are you a professional graphics designer?

Have it done by a friend.  Hmm?

Did you catch that 2nd sentence just two up from this one?  Professional.

I've done several of my own book covers.  I painted for years and even sold some of them when I was younger.  One I sold was donated to a church in California.  The person who bought it, took me to view it in the lobby.  It was somewhere south of San Francisco and was called "Brotherhood of ...."  No, I don't remember the exact name, it was 50+ years ago.

I was informed that with the release of my latest book (hopefully by late February) that I should have a professional graphics artist do the cover.  I checked into it and the cost was prohibitive but his work was absolutely fantastic and IF the chance came up for me to hire him, he is first on my list.  I found others who were less expensive and seemed to do great work.

In an email to a friend, I mentioned I was looking for somebody and she recommended Tim, a local artist who wants to get into more computer graphics.  He had done a couple of book covers.  I decided to give him a try and connected with him.  At first, I started to think I was dealing with a young man, perhaps a college student, or worse yet, a high school kid.  He assured me he wasn't and told me his age was "39" and yes, he quoted the age.  I think he might know Jack Benny.

Anyway, he has worked with me and we are very close to finalizing the cover. I think it looks professional now that I'm seeing more of the final product.  The mockups seemed very amateurish.

What do you think?  My story takes place in 1961 and is about a young Amish boy who wants to attend high school. He meets the newly hired black chorus teacher in a rural all-white NW Ohio school.  The story is about him learning to sing and also deals with Civil Rights, Vietnam, death and bigotry as the two of them, outcasts in the school, move through two high school years.

This is the cover he has offered.  I know I want a tweak since I don't care for those little things between the book title and my name. I just don't know what I do want. lol.

And this is the full book cover... He says the open space on the left could be used for the back of the book blurbage.  I hope there is enough room. lol.  I like the 'whole' image thing.

I'm also considering a title change from "An Amish Voice" to "The Amish Voice" which seems stronger.

Please weigh in with your thoughts, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Resolution Update: This will be book 1 of the 3 I hope to release this year.  We won't discuss the weight since it is a battle.  At least I haven't gained weight.

Until next I ramble on...