the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Ella has the typical white whiskers of a tuxedo cat.  They shed out like all other hairs, but Ella's "eyebrows" have a pattern of falling out at the same time...but just on one side. 
It's hard to take her seriously until they grow back in!  The dogs might not care if I laugh at them for no apparent reason, but cats take offense.  GREAT offense.  Looks like I'll be biting my cheek for a few weeks.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Share The Author Love!

If you ever told me, "I loved your book!" you made my day.  That book (any of them) was my baby, and putting it out there for everyone to read was both exciting and terrifying.  Your compliment gave me the best warm-fuzzy ever!  Even if you thought it was just okay, I'm glad you liked something about it.  If you thought it was a disgusting piece of garbage and a waste of paper, I will kindly ignore your bad taste because I'm obviously nicer than you.

But do you know what's worse than a luke-warm review?  No feedback at all.  Disappearing into obscurity.  Horrors!  All those months of creative effort, and NO ONE NOTICED!  It's an author's nightmare.

So if you liked my book, you can do one more thing for me, and for other authors whose books you've loved: tell others.

Post it online.  If you buy on Amazon or another online retailer, you can leave a review.  It's easy.  "I liked this book" is sufficient.  Or you can ramble on for paragraphs, listing everything you loved or hated about the characters, the setting, the author's voice, or the name of the hero's dog.  Why bother to do it?  Some readers pour over the reviews as a guide when deciding to buy.  Others just look to see how many stars a book has been given by readers, which is prominently displayed beneath the title on Amazon.  It affects sales.  (Did you think this was just about adoration?  No, I'm a crass materialist and I like paychecks.)

If you're really into reading, try Goodreads or similar sites.  You'll find people who like the same things you like and their reviews might lead you to other terrific authors to try.  Or you can warn them about a book that disappointed you.  Go ahead, vent.  It's anonymous and free.  Just for God's sake have an opinion!

Authors will adore you for it.  We really, really will.  We're often shy, introverted types who keep our crazy ideas to ourselves, but on the inside we're attention seekers saying, "Here's my idea of a good story!  What do you think?"  We want you to tell us.


(Personal plug of last book because hey, this is my blog, and it was great!)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fertilizer Matters!

See these weeds in my pasture?  That's their normal size - about as tall as my wheelbarrow.

Below are the exact same species of weeds, but these are growing about 50 feet away in my vacant chicken yard.  It's the first time in 17 years there haven't been chickens in there to peck every green thing to death.  The ground is a few inches higher in there, due to years of compacted chicken poop.  And man, does that stuff work well as fertilizer!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Yum, Wasps!

A few weeks ago a large hole appeared near my garden one morning.  I checked it out, wondering if the groundhogs were expanding their territory, but found this instead:
That's what's left of a yellow jacket nest.  The combs were empty of larvae, and a couple confused wasps crawled and buzzed around the nest.  Whatever snacked on the larvae must have done it hours before, because the rest of the hive had evacuated.  For all the years I've seen yellow jackets crawling into the ground, I've never seen a nest dug up.  I had to check this out.

To the Google!  (This is where I get all tingly!  I love research!)

It turns out the larvae are a favorite snack of raccoons and skunks, both of which are plentiful around here.  So maybe someone had a nice meal.  Or maybe they got there too late, after the larvae had hatched.  Either way, the nest was doomed.  At the end of summer the old queen dies and the new queens fly off to mate and ride out the winter until they can begin a new nest in spring.  There were probably thousands of wasps in there.  Fascinating!  But I'm glad I didn't know that this summer when I was picking rhubarb a foot away from that hole.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lost Summer

This summer I lost a good friend to cancer.  Another close friend was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer and began chemo.  And I wrote a book.  Lots of conflicting emotions and pressures.  I thought I handled it all pretty well.

I didn't, not entirely.  Because I lost the interest in life's curiosities and humorous moments that compels me to post on this blog.  I know that now, because it has come back.  And so I will take a moment to catch up.

I mentioned back here when noting my horse's 31st birthday that he would look much better once his summer coat came in.  This is what I meant:
Much better, yes?  That was a month ago.  Now he's shedding those fine hairs, replacing it with a thicker winter coat.  But still looking good!  You go, Fritz!

We also added a member to our family.  My friend who passed left a lot of pets - a little too many for one person to care for.  One of them was a dog we fostered for 6 months during my friend's first round of chemo.  She loves us, loves Nikita, and loves cats, so she passed the entrance exam with flying colors.  She lives here now.  This is Lily:

It's kind of weird to have a dog that barks an alarm when she hears someone come up the driveway.  After thirty-five years of friendly-but-stealthy huskies, we finally have a tough little watch dog who greets visitors with, "Stand back or I'll cut you!"  Good girl, Lily.
I also enjoyed the annual trip my mother makes from Florida to spend the summer with us.  With my usual writing deadline that keeps me busy, she had a lot of time to fill.  She read a lot of books - I didn't keep track.  But I did keep track of the jigsaw puzzles she did:
I helped a little.  I can't walk past a jigsaw puzzle in progress and not stop to find a piece.  Or twenty.  But my book was done on time, the puzzles were all finished, and summer is over.  Moving on.