It's a blue moon tonight, meaning there are two full moons in one month. According to the Farmers' Almanac, the full moon for August is also called a Sturgeon Moon, a Red Moon, Green Corn Moon, or Grain Moon. Whatever you call it, go out and howl a little tonight, as this will be the last blue moon until 2015.
Yesterday I hit a rough patch. I was tired, cranky, and out of sorts. My slumber had been disrupted by a yowling cat and the noise and commotion of my DH forgetting his phone. I was feeling the effects of lack of sleep. My bed called to me, but so did my office.
"Naomi...come here...you have things to do."
Of course I have things to do, I always have things to do. The question was, what was most important.
Sleep is essential for our health and wellbeing, yet most of us don't get enough, according to this article from the American Psychological Association. Sleep is free, we can do it anywhere, and it provides such wonderful health benefits. So, resisting the urge to do more, and remembering to be kind to myself, I took a nap. I felt much so better when I got up, I just might take another one today. My work schedule is kind of sucky this week, and I need all the TLC I can get.
Bed, you win, here I come.
Our first major storm has arrived. Tropical Storm Isaac is headed towards Florida, and while not expected to wallop my area too much, it does remind me it's time to prepare. Having been through a season of horrendous hurricanes, I've learned it's no fun. Mostly. It's kind of cool standing outside and let the wind whip my hair around, and wild weather certainly inspires me to write, but the lack of electricity, air conditioning, and income is pretty awful.
I hope for another year of mild storms, but just in case, here are a few items I must have in my emergency survival kit:
Batteries and a flashlight: I have to be able to see where I'm going in the dark, especially the bathroom, and I have to be able to read.
Books and Kindle: See above. No electricity means no computer access, television, or work, so it's a good time to catch up on my reading.
Candles: They create a lot of heat, so flashlights are my preferred choice of light, but a few candles in the house creates a nice atmosphere.
Water: For the obvious reasons, of course. It's too easy to get dehydrated in the heat, especially when we turn to drinking alcohol as a means to cope with boredom and stress.
MP3 player: It doesn't take long for me to reach the point where I need to tune the noise out. You'd think it would be quite without electricity, but...
Ear plugs: Everybody and their brother crank up their generators. Those suckers are loud! I need lots of peace and quiet, and many hours of sleep.
Sleep: For some reason, when under stress, I want to doze off. It made going through Army basic training a challenge!
These are the basics. If we get terrible weather, we'll survive, as always. My goal is to keep my sanity, and make the time as comfortable as possible for me and my loved ones.
I'm at the Eclectic Writer today doing an interview. I know basically what "eclectic" means, but being a curious woman, I had to look up the exact definition of the word. Here it is, for the rest of you curious folks. Thank you, Definitions.net
Random House Webster's College Dictionary ec•lec•ticɪˈklɛk tɪk; ɪˈklɛk tə sɪst(adj.)
1. selecting or choosing from various systems, methodologies, etc.; not following any one system.
2. made up of elements selected from various sources:
an eclectic philosophy.
Origin of eclectic: 1675–85; < Gk eklektikós selective =eklekt(ós) chosen (v. adj. of eklégein to single out =ek- ec - +légein to choose) +-ikos -ic
I like that idea, choosing from various systems, not following any one. I'll keep this definition in mind, as I go about my day, and try to live more eclectically. Join me here for the interview: http://wwweclecticwriter.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-she-does-it-namoi-bellina.html
To start my post on reviews, let me first say how thankful I am to live in this place and time. I can write a review! I can express my opinions freely, I can agree or disagree with someone, I'm allowed to say what I want. That's a treasure beyond measure and I try to remember how blessed I am to have this freedom. Now then, on with the post!
Until I started writing, I didn't think much about reviews. I was happy to have them available when I went to make a purchase on sites like Amazon, where I can find real people, sharing their thoughts and opinions. Now, after much research and reading, and sometimes learning the hard way, I have a slightly different outlook. I've discovered, to my dismay, not all the people writing those reviews are real consumers. Some of the glowing ones are planted, from the author, or the company that makes the product. Some of the nasty ones are from people with a grudge, or competitors, who didn't even read the book or use the item. It's a shame to think this type of behavior exists, but it does, so now I read reviews with a more practiced eye.
The basics I want to see in a book review are comments about the tone of the story and the important plot points. Is the mood light or somber? Is there a mystery, a lot of action? Scary stuff, or levity? I like for the reviewer to write a short summation, then tell me what they think. The best reviews are ones that give me a favorite line or two, and tell me something the reviewer particularly enjoyed about the book.
One thing I don't like in romance stories is overly lengthy sex scenes. I like a slow, sensuous build-up, then a moderate amount of descriptive sex. When I'm writing a review, I will make a note if the lovin' seems to drag on too long, but I make sure to mention that this is my opinion. Some people enjoy pages and pages of steamy sex, so they will absolutely adore this section of the story. My preference is also for shorter reads. I tend to lose interest if a book rolls on too long. I also don't care for romances about babies, but they're popular with many. Half of you are nodding along with me, and the other half disagrees with everything I said. That's the beauty of living in a free country; to each their own.
Here's a sensitive question I still struggle with. Should a reviewer post a really bad review? Remember what mom said, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Part of me believes, if a reviewer doesn't enjoy the book, they should simply stop reading it. A horrible review can bring an author to tears. As a reader, however, I like to know if a book stinks, and as we're told over and over, it takes a thick skin to be a writer. I've read that many best-selling books receive an equal number of one and five stars, and that's what I've come to realize about reviews. They're opinions. What thrills one person may bore the next, so I try to base my book-buying decisions on a compilation of the reviews I read.
Do you have an opinion about reviews? Thank you for reading mine. Hop over to the next site on the list below, and see what others think.
Recently, a company called LendInk came to my attention. Several of my writer groups posted comments, most of them calling this a pirate site. Hackles were raised, a mob was formed. As authors, we hate book pirates, and spend way too much of our precious time looking for them and sending take-down notices. With this site, enough people got pissed off, vocalized their ire, and the site is now down.
LendInk, however, was maybe, not quite, a pirate site. It was a book loaning service.
Once I saw my books on the site, I was concerned, but did nothing immediately. I wanted more information, and didn't have the time to do research. Like many authors, I wasn't sure exactly what to make of LendInk. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and libraries loan books, so what's the big deal with this site doing the same thing?
Now, even after reading several articles about the whole debacle, I'm still confused as to what precisely LendInk did with my books. The two pieces below nicely sum up this incident, with a slant towards admonishing folks not to go off the deep end and let mob mentality take over.
As I said before, writers don't like pirates. Perhaps we can be forgiven for reacting with such passion. Our books are the way we make a living, and when it appears someone is stealing from us, we tend to get emotional.
Here is what you'll find if you go to the website now. It will be interesting to see what, if anything becomes of LendInk.
Not due to DMCA complaints.
My day was planned out. I had my tea, had done my stretches, I was all ready to go. My computer, however, was not. It wouldn't connect to the Internet, so there went my plans. The cable company could send someone out in a few hours, which made me very happy, but I also realized a stranger would soon be in my messy office.
How did it get to this sad state? I vowed the last time I cleaned, it would stay that way. It didn't. Now, with company coming and my previous plans dashed, it seemed as though the universe was telling me, time to clean my room.
I don't like working in a messy area. I like to be able to find what I want, and to have tidy surroundings. Somehow, my office always manages to fill up with this and that, and I vow to clean it soon. Today, I swore an oath on my dust-free desk to keep it in good condition. I know the words will flow smoother, and my mind will be clear, if my work space is clean. Here's hoping!
Happy day! I published my first story on Smashwords. I love making friends with new technology. Formatting was a little tricky, but not too bad. I think it will get easier with practice. Please check out my free, short story, and let me know what you think. http://smashwords.com/b/212039
Fabulous cover art by Victoria Taylor
As is common in many neighborhoods these days, the house next to ours was recently abandoned. Not wanting to advertise that the house was vacant, my honey and I mowed the front yard several times, cursing the negligent neighbor who deserted her home. When an inspection service representing the bank showed up and told us they would be taking care of the property, we rejoiced. They cut the grass and trimmed the bushes. The place looked nice.
Weeks go by, and a man moved in. He told us he was renting, then proceeded to tell us a lot more about his life, which appeared to be extremely chaotic at this point. We were not overjoyed with our new neighbor, but since he wasn't causing us too much grief, we kept to ourselves. Very soon, problems arose. His dogs got loose and ran through the neighborhood, his teenage sons were in and out, he left junk in his front yard. We were not surprised when the police showed up one day and asked if they could go in our back yard to look over the fence. This happened two days in a row, and from there, the situation escalated. After our power went out one night, we stepped outside to find several cops and the electric company in front of the neighbor's house.
I won't bore you with the details, but Mr. M is now in jail, the kids are who-knows-where, and animal control took the poor dogs. It turns out our neighbor wasn't actually renting, he was squatting. He broke the front door, just enough to get in, but still be able to close it. He stole a meter and was able to get electricity to the house, bypassing the electric company. From the pieces I put together listening to the police and other neighbors, Mr. M used to live in the area, knew the house was vacant, and apparently decided it would be a good place to live.
Our neighborhood is nice. People walk their dogs, ride their bikes, and push their children around in strollers. We're quite and we take care of our houses, for the most part. Things like this don't happen in our neighborhood.
My honey and I are not only upset with this thief, we're upset with ourselves. Why didn't we do something sooner? As I reassured him, we couldn't exactly call the police because our neighbor was slightly messy and very weird. He wasn't breaking any laws that we knew about (though it turns out he actually was), so we had no legal recourse.
What we could have done, however, is to listen to our gut. Something told us he was up to no good. We could have called the inspection service, since we had their number, and asked them to take a look at the property. We could have checked in with more neighbors, and found out this guy was bad news. Now, this nice house is reduced to an Unsafe Building, abused and neglected.
My lesson learned, since I always take a lesson from disturbing events, is to listen to my instincts. If something seems off, it probably is. My intuition is good, and I will learn to trust it more often.
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