Slip Sliding and Clumping Into Action

tomatoesNow that the dreaded spring cleaning is out of the way, it’s time to be more productive. I’ve mentioned before that we live in a century home, which is a fancier way of saying the house is really old. It still has its original slate roof, and the sidewalks are some type of stone that is slippery when wet. I’ve landed on my bum on the sidewalk many times over the years.

The house is large enough for me to have more than one space for writing. You’ve already seen the desk in my office. The room used to be the dining room.

Desk1

Window to the left. Fresh air and sunshine available.

My office was the hub for my children’s book business for over sixteen years and for when I began writing three years ago. Now I do most of my editing, social media, and online time-wasting activities here.

After we cleaned out a “catch-all” bedroom upstairs and painted it a garish bubblegum pink for when our granddaughter visits, I claimed the little corner nook in the room for a quieter writing space. You already know I love the color pink (any shade), and the Minnie Mouse curtains and Winnie-the-Pooh desk lamp remind me of our granddaughter and make me happy. It’s so much easier to write humor when you’re happy. (Clap along!)

The ugly green carpet is original to the house. Probably from 1903. The granddaughter is too young to care, and I’m too old to care.)

The desk is a tad small, but as it was our son’s first desk, there is a certain amount of enjoyment in using it, too. By choice, there is no internet in this room, so there are no online distractions. I do most of my writing here.

I write at the table on our deck, too, but a funny thing happened on the way to the deck last weekend. I realized it wasn’t as enjoyable as writing in the nook upstairs. In the pink room, I can open the window for fresh air and look out over the center of town. Bugs, ants, flies, bees, and bird droppings are of no consequence. Neither are sun, humidity, and the dog running in and out of the house like a child. I rather think I prefer using the deck for relaxing and visiting with friends. My days of writing outdoors may be over.

deck2You might be wondering what any of this has to do with slip sliding and clumping.

That brings me to clothing. Specifically footwear.

I’ve established that it’s easier for me to write in a clutter-free environment and that it helps to have a place to write that is free from distractions as well as to give me warm, fuzzy, happy feelings. But what about comfort in clothing?

Oh, trust me. I’m comfortable. When I left the corporate world and donated all my business suits to charity, I found myself in a new type of uniform – tee shirts, jeans, and tennis shoes. Other than the colors, and buying new when the old wears out, the picture remains the same.

It’s been a fine uniform all these years – until Rich bought a pair of slippers for me. I haven’t worn slippers since I was in high school. I’m the type of person who gets dressed first thing in the morning, including shoes, and there are no pajamas until I’m ready to hop into bed at night.

hi-topThese slippers are so cute! Ciabatta hi-top booties. If you pull the sheepskin sides up and tuck them under your jeans, they double as boots, so you can run to the store and not look like you’re out in your slippers.

 

Rich likes shopping online. Shortly after the slippers arrived, a pair of boots showed up as well.

bootThese boots are so cute! I like the side-button closure, and they are better suited to running to the store and not looking like you’re wearing slippers disguised as boots. A side benefit is that I can walk on the wet sidewalks with no fear of falling. They are immune to the slippery stone! So are the booties. No more slip sliding on my bum.

So what’s the problem?

For the past three and a half months, I’ve been clumping around the house. Or shuffling. Or plodding. I’ve been lazy. The slippers and boots are flat-bottomed and not conducive to picking up your feet. I even “sound” louder when walking through the house.

A few days ago, I ran to the hospital to visit a family member. It was too warm for the boots, and I certainly wasn’t clumping into the hospital in my slippers that pretend to be boots, so I found my tennis shoes and put them on.

It was like magic. There was a spring in my step. I felt energetic. I was zippy! I hopped out of my vehicle and helped a man jumpstart his van in the hospital parking lot. I would have never done that in my slipper/boots.

Heavenly music plays.

I’ve made the decision there will be no more slippers or boots for me. I’m writing more words per day now, and I’ll have my next book ready in a matter of weeks instead of months.

So there you have it. Roughly nine hundred words to tell you that I’m more productive when I wear shoes during the day.

You may throw tomatoes at me now for taking up your time.

Or you can share what it is that makes you most productive. Or on the flip side – what thwarts your productivity?

Spring Cleaning

spring_ cleaning1Spring cleaning is for the birds!

I like a clean house. I even like the lingering smell of cleaning products. I just don’t like doing the cleaning. I’m a minimalist when it comes to cleaning. I do what’s necessary and leave the rest to Rich when he can’t stand it anymore. I love coming downstairs on a Saturday morning and realize the “kitchen fairy” showed up during the night, the dishes are done, and the kitchen is spotless.

However, we recently decided to have the house appraised, and when I found out the man was coming inside to not only take measurements but pictures as well, the spring cleaning was happening whether I wanted to do it or not. I couldn’t let there be a photo record of my lackadaisical attitude toward cleaning.

Cue the upstairs bathroom. Could any one family have any more problems with plumbing than we do? Our new upstairs toilet thought it would have some fun with us. I woke up one morning to a note on the lid – “Clogged. Do not use.”

The sink and bathtub weren’t affected. The clog appeared to be somewhere between the toilet and the common pipe they all shared on their way to the basement.

not_happy

Evil Clog

No problem. I am a master when it comes to unclogging toilets in this house. The water was clear, and I plunged a few times throughout the day. The toilet drained slowly, so I knew I was getting it. I poured hot soapy water down and plunged again. I heard the clog move down the line. Yay!

Oh wait. Now the bathtub and sink fill up when I run water in them. Time for the Drano Full Clog. Guaranteed to work!

So much for the full clog fix. Have I mentioned yet that we are on day eleven of living with this clog?

Two days before the appraiser came, Rich went to the basement and opened the drain cleanout. He had the foresight to put a wastebasket under the drain. Unfortunately, he opened Niagara Falls and missed the basket entirely. I actually thought that was hilarious. Thankfully, the water was clean and the floor in that part of the basement is dirt, so no harm, no foul. The clog had moved along far enough that it is now somewhere between the cleanout and the main line.

Side note: Rich, honey, just go to Home Depot and get a snake and be done with this.

cleaning_suppliesFor two days, I busted hump scrubbing, sweeping, dusting, and finding a home for every bit of clutter in the house. Rich only had to take the vacuum cleaner apart once to clear out its own persnickety clog.

I quit cleaning one hour before the appraiser came. Everything looked great and felt “sparse.”

The man showed up, raced through the house, and snapped only one picture through the doorway of each room. Poof! He was gone just that fast. I suspect if I had known there would be no real scrutiny, I might not have put so much effort into the cleaning, but, of course, I’m glad I did.

It’s so much easier to write when there’s no clutter. And when your son walks through the house and says, “Wow. Everything is so clean,” you know you did a good job (and you are definitely a bad housekeeper to begin with).

We’re having a day or two of warm weather right now before the snow shows up again this weekend. The birds have been spring cleaning outside. I hear them picking in our dryer vent, working under the eaves of the house, and quite possibly in one wall … but that’s another story.

Are you spring cleaning? How’s it going for you?

There’s no such thing as a free lunch …

But there is a free book!

I was thrilled to receive a notice from Amazon over the weekend that they have agreed to set Murder Under Construction to permanently free. They made the price change today.

Knowing I was ready to set this first-in-series book to free, I pondered the simple cover I had originally devised. With two more books in the series now, the first cover was too plain, and the title wasn’t in the same style as the others. I asked my cover artist to make some changes. With my bare bones idea, and her creative enhancements, I’m thrilled with the new cover.

Murder_Under_Construction_blog_4-2015I’ve mentioned before that my cover artist is my niece. She’s a graduate of Columbus College of Art & Design. It’s wonderful having an art major in the family, and I love working with her.

I’m busy with an editing project, and I continue to move forward with writing my new book. I may only write a few paragraphs each day, but I am writing!

If you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of Murder Under Construction, a humorous mystery, you can find it free at all major online eBook retailers. Links are conveniently grouped at my website: Breezy Books

I now have two books that are permanently free. Tell your friends!

photo_substitute_4-2015Update 03/24/2015 – 8:30 p.m.Murder Under Construction has broken into the top 100 free books in the Kindle Store at #97. It’s also #5 in Cozy Mysteries and #6 in Women Sleuths. I’m excited!!

Info Dump

springflowersRich usually reads my blog posts before I submit them. He will occasionally talk me out of one – like the last one I wanted to post. He said it seemed more a mishmash of information rather than a cohesive post. He was right, and I nixed it.

However, that gave me the idea to do a post consisting of random thoughts, so here we go …

The first item is a tough one: My brother passed away unexpectedly last week. He was a kind man who loved to laugh and loved to make people laugh. I considered doing a post about him. There are many funny stories to tell, but you didn’t know him, and you sort of had to be there for the funny, so I just want to put it out into the universe that he was a good man, and he will be missed. He was only sixty-one.

Age: In April, I am going to be sixty. I haven’t been shy about saying our son is now twenty-eight, and I am a grandmother, but I never mentioned that I didn’t have him until I was thirty-one. I think using Susan Hunter for my avatar may have given the wrong impression about the person behind the image. It wasn’t intentional. I simply didn’t have a current photo when I first began blogging, and I didn’t want to have one taken. I still don’t. Besides, I like the overall branding that came about for my books by using “everything Susan” and everything pink.

A public service announcement: When you are self-employed, be sure to watch your taxes. (Sad story deleted here.) The bottom line – just make sure you hold enough money back – and stop blaming your accountant for missing the big picture even though you told him last fall what your totals for the year would be.

Weather: Can we be done with winter now? I nearly fell on ice again yesterday. I’m ready for spring flowers, and I’m ready to start writing out on our deck again.

Books: I can’t stop reading. I’m sort of out of control. I finally read Creativity For Sale by Jason Surfrapp. This is the book in which I sponsored page 105. Remember? “Two sassy women from Ohio. One finds criminals. One finds dead bodies. They should meet. Books by Maddie Cochere – www.breezybooks.com

I’m still satisfied with the wording I chose, and I’m especially pleased that I was able to write the books and have the two women meet, thereby giving the ad substance. If you’re an entrepreneur, or looking to launch a business or website, or simply want to be motivated to work harder within your business, this is a great book to read. Jason has an engaging writing style, and I appreciated his willingness to share what worked and what didn’t as he embarked on his own creative endeavors.

Creativity_For-Sale1_smYes, that is a pathetic excuse for a snowman, but that is what Ohio is right now. Sloppy and messy, and we need more sunshine. Most people take a picture of the book on the beach or some other lovely locale. I’ve got nothing but the poor snowman with dog biscuit eyes.

Miscellaneous: I haven’t won the lottery yet, I think I’ve turned the corner on a bout of bronchitis, and I’m making spaghetti for supper tonight. I’m going to start spring cleaning soon. The spring cleaning might be a post of its own. I have a feeling it could turn into an adventure.

End Info Dump

Feel free to dump some info of your own into the comments!

A Tribute to Bo

Bo_LumpkinBo Lumpkin has been on my mind lately, and I’d like to tell you about him.

I first knew of Bo from following MsKatykins’ Spineless Wonders cartoon blog. I don’t remember if she pointed me to him, or if I began following him because I liked his comments to her. He seemed like a right nice fella.

Bo hosted two WordPress blogs: I’ve Been Thinkin’ -and- Gatorhead Comics. On I’ve Been Thinkin’, he posted his humorous stories and sayings, cartoons, and some of the beautiful copper jewelry he made. Gatorhead Comics was his cartoon site where I became familiar with Hank the Handyman, Kurt and Burt, Mildred and Aunt Edna, and Chester and Phil – both buzzards. His Geezerhood comics were some of my favorites.

His love of laughter and love of life came through in everything he wrote.

At first, I read and “liked” several of his posts. My first comment to him was after he made one small post: “I am writing this from a touch screen pad in St. Dominic hospital in Jackson. I came in by helicopter. Last. Night. It seems that so far I have survived another heart attack. I will try to keep you updated. :-)”

A smiley face! That was Bo. He put a smiley face after his news about having a heart attack – and obviously not his first one.

That was November 18, 2012. Over the next year, a friendship was formed. You couldn’t visit Bo’s blog without getting to know him and becoming friends. He was outgoing and caring. He was supportive, and he left great comments everywhere.

When I posted my story about ants, Bo commented: “Once I was standing outside the church when I noticed fire ants on my hands. I Buzzards_Bo_Lumpkinwas covered. I had to run inside to an empty room and take my suit off. I couldn’t get nekkid right there in the parkin’ lot full of people but I did think about it.”

When I posted about losing weight, he commented: “Way to go. Good luck with it. I have finally got my weight down to what I didn’t want it to get up to.”

When I was so stressed about writing and riding the roller coaster, he wrote a poem for me:

This roller coaster of which you mention,
Should never be a source of tension,
It is the ups and downs you see,
That fill our life with joy and glee,

Sometimes the train climbs with stress,
And the sudden drop is none the less,
But as we breathlessly dismount the train,
We look back with a sigh, “Let’s go again”

Some upside down twists and turns,
And oh, how our stomach burns,
We stretch and grow from all the strife,
On this roller coaster we call Life.
-Bo

When I gave away free copies of Windy City Hunter, Bo requested a copy – and read it! He delighted me to no end when he commented: “I finished “Windy City Hunter” last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great read and knowing that you wrote it in a month made it that much more fascinating. Thanks for the copy.”

He wrote a private email to me later telling me more reasons why he enjoyed the book so much and encouraged me to look for a print publisher. He was always incredibly supportive.

On November 1, 2013, I left a comment on his blog, but then I became busy with National Novel Writing Month and didn’t go back until December 12. I was absolutely heartbroken to find he had passed away shortly before Thanksgiving. I never met the man in person, but he was my friend, and I cried for days. I think it especially hurt my heart that I had no way to say goodbye to him.

I was writing Maple Leaf Hunter at the time. Susan, Mick, and friends were going to a hunting/fishing lodge in Canada. The owner was a friend of Mick’s from college. On the porch, sitting in a rocker, wearing a fisherman’s hat and overalls was the father of the owner’s wife – Beau.

Bo knew I was going to use him as inspiration for the Beau character in my book. He had already approved the idea that my character would tell anyone who would listen to him some of Bo’s sayings and stories.

I went forward and wrote Bo into my book as an elderly man (Bo was only 63), but I didn’t use any of his writings. I wasn’t comfortable to do so without him helping me choose which ones to use. The Beau in the book has a few humorous moments and a small part in the ending. I think Bo would have been pleased with how it turned out.

If you’ve read Maple Leaf Hunter, or if you read it at a future date, you now know that the Beau in the rocker on the porch was inspired by my dearly missed friend, Bo Lumpkin.

I’ll leave you with a few of Bo’s words that he wrote about his own life. It’s really everything you need to know about the man:

“Sometimes we can get caught up in life and make it a whole lot more complex than it really has to be. I consider myself one of the richest men in the world. I have a decent place to live. I eat way too much. I have two automobiles and both are runnin’ at this time. I have two great kids, three grandkids, the best wife in the world, and Molly (the super energized wiener dog). If I had to settle up financially tonight I would still have some of my stuff left because what I have is worth more than I owe. My health might be a little sub par but so far I have woke up every day for over 62 years. I don’t even have to wonder if there is a possum at the crossroads because I’ve got stuff in the freezer. Yep, all in all, I reckon Bill Gates and Donald Trump ain’t got it much better than I have it.” –Bo Lumpkin, February 20, 2013

Bo_Reading_Comics

 

An Anniversary and Free Books

February8My anniversary is here again.

Three years ago today, I sat down and began writing my first book.

It’s been a wild ride. The ups are full of laughter, and I have a ball while I write. The downs have been rough, and I’ve wanted to quit several times. However, the downs fade away, and I always come back to writing with a renewed sense of joy and enthusiasm.

But enough about me. Here are some other things that also share the date of February 8:

Who can forget that “I’m Too Sexy (for my shirt)” by Right Said Fred peaked at #1 in 1992. (Oh, wait. We all can – and did.)

James Dean was born on this day in 1931. (I’ve never seen a James Dean movie.)

February 8 is National Laugh and Get Rich Day (Buy your lottery tickets!)

If you are an Aquarius, here is part of your horoscope for today. … aquarius“Just when you thought something was going your way, you realize it’s not going your way at all.” (Glad I’m not an Aquarius today.)

In 1994, Jack Nicholson used a golf club to attack a car. (The driver laughed and got rich to the tune of half a million dollars.)

On television tonight: The premier of Better Call Saul – a spinoff of Breaking Bad. Casablanca is on TCM. CBS has The Grammy Awards with host James Todd Smith. (I’ll be reading with The Grammys on in the background, because The Good Wife has been preempted – again.)

Finally, to celebrate my anniversary, let’s give away some books! There are ten books to choose from. You can see them all on my Breezy Books website. When you leave a comment here, tell me which one you’d like, and I’ll email a code to you from Smashwords. You can grab the book in the format of your choice for free! If you prefer to email your request to me, my email address is on my About page.

Have a great February 8. I am definitely going to do some writing!

BreezyBooks

Good Things Come in Threes

With little fanfare, I released my three new books into the wild yesterday. Within hours, they were in the premium catalog at Smashwords and available at Apple iBooks. Amazon was quick to review and make available the Two Sisters and a Journalist books, but Buckeye Hunter has been stuck in review for over twenty-seven hours now. Hopefully, they will release the book soon.

Murder_Is_Where_the_Heart_Is_blog
Amateur private investigator, Jo Ravens, is the only common link in the murder of three people and the abduction of a cab driver. While police are busy building a case against her, Jo races to prove her innocence. Her sister Pepper and journalist friend Jackie are on hand to assist in catching the real killer. The antics of her ex-husband and eccentric Mama add to this humorous mystery.

 
Murder_Welcomes_You_blog

Jo Ravens is busy trying to locate a stolen car, find a missing teen, and catch a philandering husband in the act. She already has more work than she can handle when she finds a murdered girl leaning against a dumpster. Jo also meets Susan Hunter when Susan comes to town to assist in the opening of a Slimmers Weight Loss center.

 

Buckeye_Hunter_Final_blog

Susan travels to Southeast Ohio to assist in the grand opening of a Slimmers Weight Loss center. There she meets Jo, Pepper, and Jackie – local sleuths from Two Sisters and a Journalist . When a murder is committed on Susan’s doorstep, Jo is the one to find the body. Susan can’t believe the trouble swirling around her even though she is only two hours from home. She makes a life-changing decision in this final book of the Susan Hunter series.

 

That’s all for today. In my efforts to continue chronicling my writing efforts via my blog, I wanted to post the new releases.

I’m going to eat some chocolate now.