Reclaiming My Life

ImageMy mother has been under the weather quite a bit lately, and I spent a chunk of the day on Saturday helping/visiting with her. When I came home, I was simply too tired to read blogs.

On Sunday, I spent most of the day in the den with Rich. I ignored him for the most part as I finished reading Gordon Kessler’s Knight’s Big Easy. I’m liking my new Kindle Paperwhite quite a bit and appreciate that it is four ounces lighter than my Nook Tablet. That lousy quarter of a pound on the Nook definitely starts to feel heavy after a few hours.

Monday morning, I slipped out to grab a new notebook. Blogs were calling to me, but I refused to allow myself to be sucked into the blogosphere. I started filling my new notebook with ideas and Imageinformation for Maple Leaf Hunter. This book will take place three years after Windy City Hunter, so there are some big changes. I had to double check the ages and hair color of everyone in the book, and when I wasn’t looking, some of the characters changed their residence. Mick’s son, Alex, will, for the first time, play a prominent role, and Nate will be back. There are no ghosts to torment Nate in this book, but I think the Sasquatch could have a bit of fun with him.

It truly is enjoyable to write lighthearted fare, and I found myself smiling quite a bit as I worked on my notes.

The next thing I want to do is set a loose schedule for my day. There have been days when I started my day by reading blogs, and I kept reading all day long! It’s hard to tear yourself away when everyone you enjoy has a new post up on the same day. And just when you think you’re caught up, your WP Reader informs you there are nineteen new posts. Crikey! The entire Imageblogging experience – reading, writing, commenting – was nearing full-time job status for me.

I’m going to work with blocks of time. I know I would never adhere to a strict schedule, but I can work with blocks of time. Two hours at a time to mess with blogs. Three to four hours to write. An hour at a time to do whatever needs done around the house. I want to take the time to start cooking again. We are not doing the Chinese/fast food thing this year just because I want to write and blog. Instead of reading blogs late into the night, I want to read books.

Finally, I think Rich would appreciate it if I would start carrying my weight around here and get back to my work-from-home business.

So, I’m reclaiming my life and am going to attempt to find a balance.Image I still intend to read all the blogs I am currently following, but I may not see or be able to read every post. I’ll probably leave more likes than I used to – as opposed to like then comment on every blog, but if I leave a like somewhere, I will have definitely read the post.

I intend to do a some catching up with blogs today, but I’m going to start writing tomorrow. I am really, really tempted to start my new book with dialogue. I have my own drum, you know.

Susan Hunter and Pearson Sharp

ImageHockey is on again. Rich is a big hockey fan, and I recently asked him what type of symbol or nickname is synonymous with Canada. His first response was “the maple leaf.” Duh. Of course.

Maple Leaf Hunter

The cover will most likely have a wilderness setting – complete with moose, bear, and/or beaver – and the Canadian flag with maple leaf will have prominence. I’m ready to start writing this sixth book in the series, but something is holding me back.

I think it’s loose ends. I want to have most of my research completed before I start writing, but before I do that, I want my office to be organized. It’s hard to write with clutter around me, and how did this big room get so messy anyway? I also want to have the sugar monster tamed, because I am not eating four pounds of M&M’s this go-round. I blame NaNoWriMo for driving me to that with the last book.

Maple Leaf Hunter is likely to be the last Susan Hunter book, and I can’t help but wonder what I will do after that. It might not be writing. Maybe I’m hesitant to start writing, because it will signal the end. I suppose I will have all of my answers soon enough.

~~~~~

Pearson Sharp. Isn’t that a great name! It’s the perfect name for a main character in a book, but it’s already taken. Pearson Sharp is a WordPress blogger. He’s writing a novel, and he shares hisImage experiences and thoughts as he hones his craft. He quotes Hemingway and Frank Herbert on his blog.

I once quoted Tim Allen as Commander Jason Nesmith in Galaxy Quest.

Pearson and I talked recently about the possibility of him writing something for my blog, and in return, I would write something for his. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that he is too mature and cerebral for the pink nonsense that goes on here, and I truly doubted that I had anything to add to his exceptional and more serious blog.

However, I wanted to mention him today, because many of my followers are writers, and I know you will enjoy Pearson’s posts. He’s very welcoming. When you visit his blog, don’t leave until you read his poem, A River Fay. You may want to listen to “My Jolly Sailor Bold” as you read. Pearson recommends the song, and it’s perfect.

(He could play the part of Mick in the movie version of my Susan Hunter books. Too bad he is not an actor.)

Hop on over to Pearson’s blog and say hello. Be sure to follow if you’re interested in his excellent posts as he writes his novel.

Computer? eReader? Hardcover Book?

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I’ve set my reading goals for 2013.

This year, I’m going to try to read more WordPress authors. I presently have twenty-four books on my computer that have been written by WP bloggers. I haven’t read sixteen of them.

Do you fine folks know that I have a Nook Tablet? I’m not the only one. Over five million Nooks Imagehave been sold now. I get pretty frustrated with the fact that many titles are only available through Amazon and their Kindle. Even after some authors go through a 90-day exclusivity with Amazon, their books are only at Barnes & Noble via paperback or hardcover – or not at all. My Susan Hunter books are only in eBook format, but they are everywhere, and twenty-five percent of my sales are occurring outside of Amazon. I’m just sayin’.

Not one to be thwarted, I downloaded Kindle for PC, so I could read Kindle books on my computer. In all fairness to Carrie Rubin, it became such a habit to run to Amazon to purchase WP-authored books, I forgot to look at Barnes & Noble first when buying The Seneca ImageScourge, and it was available for the Nook.

I can read blogs all day long. Truly. But reading blogs is interactive. Read, comment, follow links, watch videos, etc.  Reading a book on the computer is not conducive to my personality, and I find it more difficult to “get lost in a book” on the computer.

When I read Tim Dittmer’s The Valley Walker on my computer, I felt terrible that it took me a couple of months to read it. His book is unique in that it has 93 short chapters, and I admit to reading only a few at a time before my hyper personality would send me somewhere else. His book is no longer exclusive to Amazon and is now available for Nook, too.

I just finished Valerie Clarizio’s Cookies for Santa this weekend. I started it at Christmas, and what should have taken me a day or two took a month. The delay in reading was mostly because I was reading it on my computer (where the blogs live and clamor for attention).

You may be wondering by now how I’m going to read sixteen books this year if it takes me Imageso long to read just one. Well, my new Kindle Paperwhite (no ads, thank you) has been ordered and will be here this coming Friday, that’s how. And I’m excited!

What am I going to read first? I’m going to finish two books I started far too long ago. The first is Gordon Kessler’s Knight’s Big Easy. I was enjoying this book, but for some reason, I stopped reading on the computer and never went back to it. The same with Anne Mitchell’s Happy Hour.

Saturday night, I sat down in the easy chair in Rich’s den, threw a blanket over my lap, and started reading Janet Evanovich’s most Imagerecent book, Notorious Nineteen. A hardcover book with a dustjacket, a new book smell, and pages to turn … it was heaven!

I LOVE HARDCOVER BOOKS.

Reading in the easy chair, or even in bed, with an eReader is just fine, and that is what I’ll be doing for most of my reading this year. I’ll be ecstatic to say good-bye to Kindle for PC, and I’ll grab a hardcover book to read when I need a “real book” fix every now and then.

What about you? Any thoughts on who or what you will be reading this year? How many formats do you use for reading? If you read on your computer, does it bother you as much as it bothers me?

Miracles and Clean Underwear

We had a lovely awards ceremony here at the end of the year, and a good time was had by all.

At that time, I skipped answering the questions for the awards and threatened promised to answer them in a later post. That later post is today.

I’ll start with the standard “seven things” about me, but I’ll share seven things I’ve never done before:
1. I’ve never broken a bone.
2. I’ve never snow skied.Image
3. I’ve never traveled overseas.
4. I’ve never bungee jumped.
5. I’ve never acted in a play.
6. I’ve never eaten sushi.
7. I’ve never used power tools.

~~~~~

Here are seven more to go with the other awards. There are life lessons included:

1) I met my husband on a blind date. At the end of the evening, I told him I didn’t want to see him again. The next day, he told his friends at work that he had met his future wife the night before. Don’t automatically count out the blinding white, cute, blonde guy because he wore white shoes and a white tie.

2) With influentially bad friends, I sneaked into Everglades National Park at midnight, walked out onto a boardwalk, and threw pennies at the alligators.  I found out later we were lucky we weren’t eaten by them. Don’t let your friends try to lead you to your death.

3) I lost control of a car on an icy bridge once. Thankfully, I was in the third lane and the car went left onto the berm instead of right and under the semi next to me. Don’t brake on an icy bridge – even if you don’t know it’s icy.

4) I currently drive a navy blue Ford F150 truck. I never thought I would enjoy driving a truck so much.  Don’t tell your husband “no” when he wants you to drive a truck.

5) I locked myself out of my truck once with only a t-shirt and thin jacket on (and pants for all you wisenheimers). It was during a brutal winter storm, and I had to wait an hour for the tow truck. Don’t wear lightweight clothing in winter, even if you think you are going to be warm in your vehicle.

6) I once lost control of my car (yes, I know!) and ended up in a Imagesnow bank very late at night. I walked two miles home in the snow. My neighbor was a State Highway Patrolman, and I knocked at his door for help. He had the car towed home for me. My brothers saw my tracks in the snow the next day and laughed their butts off. They refused to believe it was me and not some drunk. Don’t drive in bad snow conditions late at night when you’re tired.

7) I once made a grand entrance into a company Christmas party. I was the last person to arrive, and I had to walk down a long staircase into the room. I used my best staircase walk to try to be elegant as I made my way down. My heel caught in the back of my dress and I pitched down several steps on my knees before I could catch myself. When you fall down in front of 300 people, just remember, they can’t help it that they laugh; it’s instinctive.

~~~~~

Moving on to the Super Sweet Blog Award, here are my answers. (I was awarded this again last week by Card Castles in the Sky; thank you so much!)
Cookies or Cake?  Cake
Chocolate or Vanilla?  What is this thing you call vanilla?
What is your favorite sweet treat? Chocolate brownies – hold the nuts.
When do you crave sweet things the most?  Evenings
If you had a sweet nickname what would it be? Sweetie Pie

~~~~~

The Liebster Award was recently awarded to me by Card Castles in the Sky; thank you again! I have questions to answer from Malinka of Malinka’s Studio, and also from Jackie at Change Is Good…..Right???  This would be a lot of questions, so I’ve narrowed it down to several from each list:

What is the exact time and date that you were born?  I was born at 8:00 p.m. on April 20.

What do you believe in?  I believe in miracles and clean underwear.

If someone would write a book upon your life, it would be named?  Sunshine Hunter

Tell us a dear childhood memory that you still cherish.  Playing kick-the-can late at night with siblings, neighbors, and my aunt. Image

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?  Starbuck’s Java Chip

If you could meet anyone in the whole of time and space, who would it be?  I know most people would be philosophical here, but I want to meet Frank Sinatra. I’d tell Frank that I think we would have had a good time cruising around Las Vegas together, and please sing “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” to me.

Why did chicken cross the street? Because Susan Hunter was over there with chicken feed. 🙂

What got you into blogging? I wanted to chronicle the writing of my books.

When you aren’t blogging what do you do? I don’t remember what I used to do in my spare time. Image

What’s your greatest vice? Playing the lottery.

What was your favorite moment of 2012?  Seeing my first book published on Amazon.

Your next dream travel destination?  The grocery store. Our refrigerator is empty.

A few simple things you love in life?  Listening to sappy, romantic music. Standing outside late at night and listening to the quiet.

What musical instrument have you tried to learn to play? I tried to teach myself to play piano. My left hand refused to cooperate.

Do you like shopping? I like grocery shopping. I hate shopping for clothes. I really, really, hate having to slog through a Gander Mountain or some other manly store.

A wish for this year? To win the blasted lottery! (and world peace)

Phew! But you probably already knew all of these things.

~~~~~

ImageTo tie up some loose ends, I want to thank Pam Tanzey for giving me my sixth Blog of the Year 2012 star to fill my card. Thank you, Pam! I also received a bonus star this week from Jae at Scatterbrain. Thank you, Jae!

~~~~~

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Click the award for the rules for this award.

I also want to acknowledge Piper George at Talk About Cheesecake and Chelsea Brown at The Jenny Mac Book Blog for recent nominations for The Versatile Blogger Award. I nominate these versatile folks for this award:

Amber at The Smile Scavenger
Pauline at Gypsy Life
Julie Browning – The Cheeky Diva
Connie at The Sunny Side
Brooke at Wrecking Routine

~~~~~

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Click the award for the rules for the award.

Passing on the Super Sweet Blog Award, I choose these super sweet people:

Paula at stuff i tell my sister
Becca at 25ToFly
Kenny
Dianne – Dianne Gray author
Janice a.k.a Café at Your Daily Dose
Carolyn at ABC of Spirit Talk

~~~~~

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Click on the award for the rules for this award.

For The Liebster Award, I choose these dear people:

Brother Jon
So I Went Undercover
The Hook
Crazy Train to Tinky Town
Browsing the Atlas
Lovin the Trip

I hope you will check out some of the people who are linked. As I add and subtract people from my follow list, these fine folks are here to stay.

Meatmobile I and Meatmobile II

This is Meatmobile II. It’s supposed to be in the garage, but Rich parked it on the street last night, so it’s the first thing I saw today when I opened the back door.

ImageThis is the kitchen table. As I came back through the door, it was the first thing I saw.

ImageThe connection between these two objects is one word: GENEROSITY

Rich’s parents haven’t been with us for several years now, and not a day goes by that they aren’t thought of in some way. They were two of the most generous people I have ever known. Mom would give you the coat off of her back if you needed it, and dad would probably give you everything down to his underwear, and maybe even that if you truly needed it.

Our house was a lot of space to fill when we were first married. Over the years, Rich’s mom and dad helped us fill the empty spaces. They gave us their sofa, coffee table, and end tables when they purchased new. A refrigerator, an upright freezer, dressers, and book shelves came our way – even a furnace when they bought a new one.

We had a scary, behemoth of a furnace in the basement, and it was very cool having a “spare furnace” on hand when it finally died.

They gave us a beautiful, pecan wood dining table with matching chairs. We used it for many years, but we gave it away to a family of ten when Dad gave us the smaller kitchen table and chairs you see in the picture.

Vehicles were another story. After Mom passed, Dad eventually dated another woman and Imagespent several years with her. When our son needed a car, Dad bought this woman’s car and gave it to our son. It always had a faint smell of meat. I don’t know what kind of meat. It was as though an old salami had gone under the back seat to die at some time. I nicknamed the car the Meatmobile, and it stuck.

After Dad passed, he left his car to us. It’s the car in the picture above. I don’t know if it came to us with a missing hubcap or if Rich lost it somewhere along the way. It vaguely smelled like meat, too, and I can’t help but wonder what perfume Dad’s friend wore, or if she made it herself from essence of salami. I deemed the car Meatmobile II.

My mother used to love going on one day bus trips. It had been quite a while since she had been on one, so Rich and I made up a flyer for Meatmobile Tours, and we planned our own day trip using Meat Mobile II. It was a Saturday in December a few years ago, and we took my Imagemother to the A Christmas Story House in Cleveland, followed by a late lunch at a café/pub in Peninsula. We shopped at several of the town’s small shops, and finished our day trip at Blossom Music Center for their drive-thru Christmas light display. It was a fantastic day.

I haven’t participated in the WordPress Daily Challenges for a while, but when I saw this one, I knew I wanted to tell this story. Mom and Dad were wonderful people, and their generosity knew no bounds.

Before I close, I want to share one more story of generosity that happened just a few hours ago. Rita Kay at Teaching David to Cook gives helpful cooking and gardening tips on her blog. She has been reading my books, and she delights me so much as she finishes one and tells me how much she enjoyed the story. She has generously taken time from her usual blogging topics to devote a post to my books and my blog. I am truly honored, and I’m still smiling. If you would drop by her blog, read what she wrote, and leave a like, I would be appreciative, and I’m sure she would, too. Please consider following Rita Kay while you are there. She is one of the kindest people I have met since blogging, she is generous, and her comments always make me smile.

Leave a comment before you go! Share a generosity story of your own – or a meatmobile story.

(WordPress Daily Prompt: Take Two – Run outside. Take a picture of the first thing you see. Run inside. Take a picture of the second thing you see. Write about the connection between these two random objects, people, or scenes.)

Comments, Embarrassment, and Free Books

ImageI’ve been blogging for seven months now, and on most days, it no longer freaks me out. I’m more comfortable with people coming to my blog, and I’m more comfortable visiting blogs.

When I was Freshly Pressed in October, I only mentioned it as an afterthought about a week Imagelater. It was a fun post (Stairway to Heaven), but I tried to fly under the radar with it. I love how my friends have celebrated and enjoyed their Freshly Pressed fame, but my heart sank when I received the notification email. I wasn’t ready for that many people to see my blog.

The notice and the link on the Freshly Pressed site came on the same day – the day my new post was titled Blogging Freaks Me Out (Part Three). Being Freshly Pressed was overwhelming and time consuming, but it ended up being a good experience, and I made some pretty great new friends because of it – but I still hyperventilated through the entire thing.

Now that blogging in itself is more comfortable, I have certainly been getting around and leaving comments and unintentional typos all over the place.

Some of my comments are pithy; a couple have been mini-blog posts of their own. I’ve somewhat regretted a few comments I’ve left.

When I find myself being early to a new post, and I have something to say, I don’t want to be the first person to leave a comment for fear of looking too eager, yet when I put a new post up, I hold my breath and worry that it’s a dud until someone pushes the like button and leaves a comment.

When someone replies to my comment on their blog, and then they finish with “thanks for stopping by” or “have a good day,” is that a dismissal? Were they done with me, and I shouldn’t say anything more? It feels like it, but I do this on my own blog all the time! I thank a lot of people for stopping by, but I don’t mean for them to leave. They can stay and chat if they want.

I’ve read a few articles giving advice on commenting. One said you should visit only three blogs per day for commenting. Read more blogs, but only leave comments on three. It has something to do with saturating the blogosphere with your voice. A couple of things come to mind:Image– Hello! Susan Hunter and Maddie Cochere. I’m definitely trying to saturate the blogosphere with a couple of names.
– I’m following 183 blogs at the present time, and if they all post something interesting on the same day, I want to comment on all of them. I hate it when I fall behind like I have lately (because of taxes!).

I’ve been telling myself that I don’t have to comment on everything. I’ve typed out comments, and just before hitting the post button, I tell myself that this person isn’t really interested in what I have to say, and I delete.  

I forget to Imageleave a like at times. I want to push the like button to help with stats, so I try not to forget. But then, it becomes a habit, and when someone posts about an illness in their family, I sometimes accidentally push the like button. Arrgh!

I’ve read where some people delete “simple” comments. One man deletes all one-liners. If all you are going to say is, “I really like your thoughts on this, Johnny,” he’s going to delete your comment. That’s ok; it’s his blog and his rules. Sometimes, I just want to tell someone that even though I have nothing to add, I really like what they wrote. I know that’s what the like button is for, but sometimes I want to say it.

Have you ever followed and commented on someone’s brand new blog only to have them never post again, and you feel like you scared them away?

Have you ever had someone respond to every comment on their post but yours?

Have you ever been lead down the wrong path when someone invited you to a “really fun” pity Imageparty, so you go there and leave a stupid humorous comment about your childhood only to find out it was a serious party, and you are an idiot?

Have you ever read blogs in the middle of the night, when you’re kind of punchy, and some of your comments are just too silly, but you can’t make yourself stop?

Have you ever proofread your comment, deemed it just fine, and then saw the typo wave at you the second you pushed the post reply button? I’ve even quickly closed a browser to stop it, but once that button is pushed, the typo refuses to die.

I like it when there are a lot of comments on a post. My comment will likely be at the bottom of the page, so if I say something goofy, it’s buried down there. Then I hit the post reply button and it sails to the top of the comments.

Your turn! Leave a comment! Tell me some of your fun (or not so fun) experiences when leaving comments.

I feel like giving away more books. I’ll choose five people from the comments section to receive a Susan Hunter book – winner’s choice, and the winners will be chosen next week.

Susan_Hunter_Group_12014

Drink Up!

ImageThere is always a glass of something to drink at my desk.

I usually work or write late into the night. On hot summer nights, a Tanqueray and Tonic is refreshing, while cold winter nights lend themselves to Drambuie over cracked ice. Bloody Marys work any time. However, most of the time, I don’t think about an alcoholic drink, and I’m in the refrigerator grabbing another Coke.Image

What I drink has become a problem this past year, and although I’m not a resolution maker, this is one area where I intend to make some big changes.

Not too long ago, I saw a post about writers and their drinking habits. After reading several online articles, I was left with the impression that writers have a reputation for imbibing. Some say alcohol lubes and liberates the mind for writing. Others say it breaks down inhibitions which enhances creativity. My one little drink every now and then neither adds nor detracts from my writing.

Then there are the caffeine drinkers. Some of these writers say caffeine helps them meet deadlines and that it extends times of productivity

I don’t need to drink anything to be able to write, but I do think having something to drink while writing is a crutch for me (much like grazing on M&M’s).

That brings me to The Coffee Quiz. This is a new quiz brainstormed by BTW – Ben Trube, Writer.  Paula Acton tagged me to answer the questions, and I think my answers will clearly show my drinking problem.

The Coffee Quiz!

1) How many cups of coffee per day? 
None. I’m not a coffee drinker. At least that’s what I tell people; otherwise, I suppose I have one cup a day.

2) What is your favorite caffeine delivery system? Image
Starbucks Frappuccino
Homemade frappuccino
Gas station cappuccino
Coca Cola
(in that order)

3) What was your best cup of coffee?
The one that I made/make myself.  About 6 oz. of cold coffee go into a tall glass, followed by too much sugar or sweetener, a squirt of chocolate syrup, followed by 2% milk to fill the glass. Throw in ice cubes, and it almost like having the Starbuck’s Frappuccino. … What? That’s not a cup of coffee?

4) What was your worst cup of coffee?
Every sip of coffee I ever took from a cup of coffee was the worst.

5) What does your favorite mug say?
My favorite mug is a large Sakura mug with a flag on it. I bought it at a garage sale for fifty cents, and even though I chipped it, I refuse to give it up because it holds two packages of hot Imagecocoa at a time. I make it on cold mornings, and I put a teaspoon of instant coffee crystals in with the cocoa – and some caramel creamer. It sits on my desk for several hours, and I just keep drinking it even after it’s cold.  Oh, the mug I do have with a saying on it reads, “Friends of Main Library.” Yep, that’s me – one of the friends.

6) How do you take your coffee?
With all of the crap listed in #3.

7) When was your first cup?
I don’t have a clue. I may have sipped Mom or Dad’s coffee at one time and declared it the most vile liquid ever. Every time I’ve tried it since, my opinion has never changed. But I do love the smell of freshly brewed coffee.

8) Have you ever gone on a coffee date?
No. Boo-hoo. No one ever asked me out on a coffee date. Not that I would have wanted to go.

So, you can see … I have a real problem with the junk I am drinking at my desk all day long. The coffee isn’t the problem; it’s all the sugar I’m dumping into it! And even though I’ll drink Coke Zero for weeks at a time, I really don’t want the chemicals.

My goal this year is to drink more water. I like water with ice. A slice of fresh lemon or lime in it isImage good, too.

What about you? What do you drink while you write or blog?

To keep Ben’s quiz alive and moving along, I’m tagging a few people to take the coffee quiz. Now, Tim Dittmer, I know you are contrary and don’t do these things, but you are a self-confessed coffee addict, so you may want to consider this one. Tag!

I’ll also nudge these fun bloggers to answer the quiz: Zen Scribbles, Carrie Rubin, Marcus Matherne, Piper George, Jackie Roeder, Dallas (that Crazy Train to Tinky Town), and my buddy Mike Akin.