Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: A Look Back

This past year was definitely full of ups and downs!

The year began with an email from my publisher,asking for NiKoh's story; it was due on the 1st.  We pushed back the due date to the 30th, then I had it finished by the 15th!  Also, I discovered 5-6 shots of tequila before my eye appointment and I had no issues with the laser treatment to fix my pre-glaucoma diagnosis, or the pressure test:)  I also agreed to be a part of a multi-author series, to be released in Oct. My characters arrived in my head, but had to push them to the back burner.

Plus, the spouse began going with me every Saturday to karaoke, then we'd hit Denny's for a late-night snack. After the first week, he began bringing ear plugs to wear.

Had a relaxing Valentine's Day, baking cookies, then singing 'anti-love' songs at karaoke. NiKoh's edits arrived, and since SaLie's book and my Hearts of Braden book were due a month apart, I got  to work on both.

I had also agreed to take part in a community concert of Mozart's Requiem,so I immersed myself in Latin, singing it twice a day and attending rehearsals.

My friend Linda implored us to try to buy her house, since she would be putting in on the market in May.  We looked at her house, liked what we saw, and contacted the bank.

A freak snowstorm hit on my Youngling's 11th birthday, the same day as our Requiem performance. My dad was unable to make the trip, and we had a modest amount of local audience members.  Three days later, while practicing Easter songs at church, I realized how much of my Latin had crossed over: Instead of singing 'Jesus, Jesus', I was singing 'Ye-suh, Ye-suh'!

After the performance, the family picked me up and we took Youngling out to dinner:) On the 20th, I believe I fixed the spouse a nice meal.

My local writers group launched Hotel Stories and soon after, two of our key people left the group. One moved across the country, while the other chose to focus on other projects.  My editor felt some back story was needed on NiKoh, so I mulled over the problem at one of the meetings, and as I was leaving, an idea sparked:)

Also attended two meetings in Evansville, and began my Crossroads story.

Bank refused our loan application.

I attended 3 events: That Book Place's Author Fair in Madison, In,with Floyd Root and his wife, and met Carol Preflatish at the Key West Shrimp House for dinner. Sold 4, which doubled my sales from the year before!

-Midwest Authors Conference in Indianapolis, and had a good time networking and picking up marketing ideas. Afterward, discovered karaoke in the bar, and sang the night away:)  Beverly Ovaille let me crash in her room, PLUS celebrated NiKoh's release at an online launch party.

-Lunch With The Authors in Nashville, TN, and just enjoyed meeting my fellow SCP authors and buying a few books:)  Went to dinner with Jean Joachim and Kathleen Ball, plus enjoyed meeting rising Nashville star, Jackson Young, and driving AROUND the Opryland Hotel. Next year, I hope to be able to spend the night, so I can actually go INSIDE and do some sight-seeing:)

Attended my 1st meeting with the Washington Writers, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Spent most of the month writing, finishing up my Crossroads submission and the one for the Orion Anthology. Missed the May meeting in Washington.

Made the heart-breaking decision to have our cocker spaniel,Roxie, put down, but she was having issues with her bladder, and I was NOT about to go through that again!  Dexter barked and growled as dirt was being shoveled over her, then both he and Cheyenne sat there beside her grave for several minutes.

I also began attending Thursday night karaoke, and was delighted when Brower had songs that Mark (my Saturday KJ) didn't:)  This brought more friction between D and I, so I agreed to only go every other week.

Had a great time at the Indy 500 with my Uncle Bill and my cousins:)  Was NOT thrilled the winner was Juan Pablo Montoya.  While watching the Victory dinner, I had dizzy spells, so went to the ER, where they discovered I still had fluid behind my mastoid bone, and referred me to an ENT in Evansville.

Ariel and Jaevon arrived, and since I was now under pressure to get SaLie's book finished, I put A in charge of Alex and spent the entire month writing until I finished,and sent it off, convinced it was full of crap.

I spent a week at my mom's, doing some house-hunting and attending the funeral of a friend's father.  Spouse nixxed all four of the ones I liked.

Daughter had woken up several mornings with strange bites, so I arranged for an exterminater to give us a free inspection.  Verdict:  Bed bugs (shiver). Treatment would begin next month!

Made it to the Washington meeting, and read my story for critique.  Turned out Orion was headed for formatting, so Roy asked me to email it to him ASAP, as he wanted it included. I was thrilled:)

The Great Clean Up began, moving all non-essential items to storage.  We rented a larger unit and moved everything over, plus I washed EVERYTHING in the house.  We began getting monthly treatments, which caused neighborhood kids to stay away when they learned of the nasty creatures.

My sister and kids came home, so my youngling and I spent a few days with them, including a trip to Chicago for the day.

I realized Heart Song wasn't going to be finished by the 30th, and emailed my publisher, requesting an extension.

At the Washington meeting, we discussed when Orion copies would be available.

Attended our 2nd 'Open Night Mic', and not only read part of NiKoh, but also part of SaLie.

Daughter turned 21 and thanks to me, she had an enjoyable birthday:)

I sold 5 books at the Watermelon Festival, effectively breaking even:)  Bought ten copies of Orion and sold six of them at the Wine and Art fair.  School began, and we discovered W's school work was going to be more intense this year.

I went up to Indianapolis in order to help take care of A & J while their mom underwent bariatric surgery.

Received the stunning news my beloved publisher, SCP, had closed its doors!  NOW I understood why I'd not gotten more hounding of 'when will Heart Song be written?' emails!  I could relax a bit, and decided I'd try to have it written by Halloween.

Had an enjoyable week in Indy, marred only by one incident:  I'd met friends for dinner and apparently the moment I'd left, the fire alarm had gone off, so the kids had to help their poor mother down 22 steps.  My phone had died, so they called my SIL for advice, who was none too pleased with the news I'd gone off and 'left them', never minding the fact J had okayed it!  Yes, it wasn't the best judgement, but everything had turned out all right in the end.  Some idiot had pulled the alarm, and I'd brought back cheesecake for everyone.

A dear friend succombed to pancreatic cancer, and I was so thankful I'd been able to see him the week before.

Our launch party for Orion went well; we sold over 60 copies:)  I also spent a wonderful day in Louisville at the Palace Theater, and got my 1st professional head shot:)  Managed to sell 4 books, even though I was in a bad location. Afterward, enjoyed dinner with several other authors before heading home.  Also spent quite a bit of time getting all my books back up on Kindle and CreateSpace.

SaLie's book, Best of Both Worlds, actually debuted the day before it was scheduled to release:)

My BFF arrived for a wedding, and we spent an enjoyable day together before she had to leave again:)

Daughter switched jobs and began working nights, which put a strain on all of us.

Another busy month!  Had 4 events, and sold no less than 5 books at three of them.

Adoptee Reagan came to live with us,and has been a big help with Miss A:) We all dressed up for Halloween and had a good time. She began working at Steak-n-Shake.

Spent three wonderful days at the Christmas Gift and Hobby show, selling 15 copies of my books:) Also acquired hearing aids:)

Sold 5 more copies at the Holiday Vendor Fair, so ended the book signing season on a good note:)

Thanksgiving was nice and relaxing, with only two 'extras' in the house, Reagan and Hunter Mundy.

Received my cover for Heart Song, and finished Ch. 4!

Managed to catch W up on all his lessons, save for three History and 2 Spelling before heading to Lafayette.

K's and mine birthdays were wonderful! BFF ES came to spend the day with me, and I got my hair bleached and a little bit of blue added, then after dinner, headed out to karaoke:)

Today, as we prepare to ring in the new year, W has one more lesson in Spelling, plus I'm taking Mom to a dr. appointment.  The hot water heater died, so a new one is being installed later today.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Flashback Friday: Comedy of Errors

December 2005:
The month of December began quite normally in our household.  We decorated the house; celebrated K's 14th birthday and my 40th; I baked cookies.  I was irritated by stepdaughter J's insistence her kids go with her Christmas Eve; I'd wanted her to stay the night so she and the kids could wake up to a 'normal' Christmas.  So I packed up A and J's gifts and sent them with her.  (We found out later the kids griped and complained the entire day!)  They arrived back the next day, and Life resumed....or so we thought.

December 27, 2005 will undoubtedly stay with me for the rest of my life.  The stomach flu had emerged the day after Christmas with first K, then me, getting it.  So when we were due to go to my aunt's house on the 27th around 2pm, the five kids and I loaded up the car.  D announced his stomach was feeling 'weird' and insisted we go without him; he didn't want to spread our illness to anyone else.  I offered to take him to the hospital after dropping everyone off at my aunt's house; the family would understand.  But he said no; he was quite content with his tea, the couch, and the remote control.  K and S kissed him goodbye, since they were off to spend a week at Grandma's, and we left.

J was supposed to meet us there, so I could slip out and go buy dog food, but she never showed up.  We ate a delicious meal, the kids opened gifts, and I prepared for a week without extra help with three little ones under the age of 5.  I thought I could leave the kids in the van while I ran into Walmart, but when I arrived at the stoplight 5 minutes after we'd left my aunt's, all three little ones were sound asleep.  I made the decision to drop them off at home, then run back to town.

Upon arriving home, I found a disturbing site:  My hubby on the phone with 911, who thought he was having a heart attack.  Ambulance was on the way, so would I please move the van?  Shocked, I did, then as the little ones woke up, I told them to stay in the van; we'd be leaving again soon.

D told me he'd gotten up to use the restroom, then blacked out after doing his business, and had crawled back to the couch, where he'd dialed 911 just before I'd walked in.  The paramedics arrived; I told them to take him to St. V's and I'd meet them.  I then called my aunt's to see if my parents were still there.  Fortunately, they were, so I explained the situation, and they agreed to meet me at the hospital.

I took the time to unload the presents, and fielded a few phone calls from friends with scanners, then hopped back in the van and took off for Indianapolis again.

My dad met me at the ER entrance and helped unload the kids, then informed me the paramedics had taken D to Morgan Co Hospital in order to transfer him to another ambulance.  I parked the van and we waited.  And Waited.  And Waited.  In the meantime, I contacted J and made arrangements for her kids to go elsewhere, since I didn't know how long D would be in the hospital.

Finally, I asked the nurse what was taking so long; surely the ambulance would have been here, since we'd been waiting for 2 hours.  After a phone call, she informed us D had vomited blood upon arriving at Morgan County, and they were keeping him.  I sent K out to the van to get W's car seat, then kissed the kids and told them I'd let 'em know what was going on.

Five minutes later, I could not find my keys, and concluded they must still be in K's pocket.  A call to my mom's cell revealed it to be off.  I called the police and put out an APB on my parents' vehicle, then spent the next hour by myself alternately railing against my mother's refusal to turn on her cell phone and praying, trying to remain calm.  The nurse paged me; it was my father, who had just arrived home with the discovery of the keys, and asked me to cancel the APB, which had NOT managed to locate them!  Relieved, I spent THAT hour calming down.  Dad arrived; handed me $100 and my keys, and told me to call if I needed anything more.

I arrived at the hospital at 2am and discovered a stranger in that hospital bed.  He was twitching; moaning; and being uncooperative.  I was finally able to give the staff his medication info, and as I watched, D 'came to' enough to acknowledge me.  Exhausted, I kissed him and left, for I still had to go to Walmart for the dog food!

When I arrived at Walmart, I discovered they were waxing the floors right in front of the pet area, causing me to walk completely around the damn store in order to get to it!  I paid for my purchase and drove home to feed my hungry animals and fall into bed.

My phone began ringing at 8am, and two hours later I was able to hop in the shower and head back to the hospital, where the doctor pulled me aside and told me D had crossed over three times that night.

It says a lot about the state of our marriage at the time, for I didn't know whether to thank him or slap him for bringing him back.  In the end, I DID thank him.

Turned out D had a stomach infection, and the lining of his stomach had swelled into his esophagus, causing the pain and vomiting, and maybe even needing surgery.  He'd needed 4 pints of blood and 2 units of plasma, plus all the saline solution they'd pumped into him in order to get fluid into his body.  At the end of his stay, he would receive 9 units of blood to stop the internal bleeding.

I didn't want to inform his mother by phone, so on New Year's Eve, I met my SIL at the rehab center, where we spent an interesting day, paying Mom's bills and eating dinner at Charlie's Buffet.  Mom took the news well, especially since I'd reported he was going to be okay.  I drove home in time to see D for a half an hour, then home to watch the ball drop, drink a While Russian, then go to bed.

Next Month:  Aftermath of hospital stay

Present Day:
Merry Christmas everyone!

Karaoke songs:
I Won't Last A Day W/O You- Carpenters
If You Asked Me To-Celine Dion
Isn't It Time-Babys
It Must've Been Love-Roxette

Friday, December 18, 2015

Flashback Friday: Robbed!

Dec 1995:
After we returned from Thanksgiving, I went over to our storage unit and retrieved our Christmas decorations.  I spent all day putting up the tree and other decorations, then the following day, sent D back to storage with the empty boxes.  A few minutes later, he called me.  Tammy, the storage unit manager, had noticed a different lock on our unit and was about to call us when she spotted D at the entrance and flagged him down.

D said we had NOT gotten a new lock and gave her permission to break it.  When they opened our unit, they discovered it tossed.  What had happened, Tammy said, was someone had apparently watched me open it, and after I'd left, broken our lock, took what they could immediately carry, taken inventory, then placed their lock on our unit to return for the rest later.

What they needed me to do was see what was missing.  Among the missing items were:
-My tupperware demo kit;
-Our entire box of Christmas presents;
-My suit bag, containing my good suit and the two dresses I'd worn in both my friends' weddings.

I was floored and furious, since a prized picture collage was damaged.

I also felt extremely violated, and told D we needed to move out of the city asap.

We didn't have renter's insurance, so my mom took me downtown one day and helped me buy our Christmas gifts for that year.

I dragged insisted we attend Christmas Eve services that year, though K rebelled.

Christmas Day, we drove down and spent Christmas with the in-laws.

New Year's Eve, I received a phone call from an old and dear friend I'd not seen since 1990, and we made plans to get together after the holidays.

Next Month:  House Hunting in Earnest

Present Day:
I've spent the entire day working with W, catching him up on lessons.  We've done all but 5 History and 2 Spelling units:)

Last night, K and I went to karaoke and I was able to sing three songs:
Silver Springs (nailed it and was even cheered!)
Broken (with K, and it's rough....K was slightly drunk!)
Bleeding Love (with Gary as back up's okay)

DJ Brower even announced my birthday and played two songs for me:  Let It Rock by Lil' Wayne and Kevin Rudolph, and Midnight Star's No Parking On The Dance Floor:)

Tomorrow, I'm getting my hair dyed blue; Erica's arriving; we'll do dinner at El Corral; then off to 'roke!  Planning to sing the following songs:
Pride (U2)
Separate Ways (Journey)
Let It Go (Frozen) OR I Remember You (Skid Row)
I Will Be (Leona Lewis)
I Touch Myself (Divinyls-if I'm liquored up enough!)

Here's to turning 50!!!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Flashback Friday: Christmas In Florida!!!

December 1985:
Finals approached and so did my birthday. Tensions between the three of us (E, K, and myself) and roommate J came to a head; a meeting with our R.A. resulted in J moving to another room, and 4'11" BJG joining us.  She and E were in the same class, and I confess that when I first met her, I wondered why a little boy was at a college dance!  BJG is a tomboy, and that's why I mistook her not only for a BOY, but also a kid!

With that out of the way, and my 'engagement' broken, BWG and I had two more dates before I left on vacation.  The first one, we made up dirty dialogue to the cartoon The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  A week later, we enjoyed each other's company the day before my birthday.  I was disappointed he couldn't be with me on my big day, but understood his obligations to his son.

After finals were completed, E, whose parents let her have a car after mid-terms, drove K and I to Indianapolis.  We rendezvoused at my great-grandmother's house in Broadripple, and met my parents there too.  After K went home, E went with us to Olive Garden.  Mom and Dad had gotten me a Kodak Disc camera, and we had some hilarity at the restaurant.  We ended up being very friendly with our waiter, Joe, and afterward, even took a picture with him, my sister, E, and myself.  We joked later it was my low-cut blouse, E's good looks, and my sister's sense of humor which kept him coming back to our table!

Since this was our 1st Christmas without Grandpa G, Grandma paid for our airline tickets to Florida.  We left Indiana in 0 degree weather Christmas Day and stepped off the plane 2 hours later in 50 degree weather.  Off came our coats, while everyone in the St. Pete/Clearwater airport were shivering!  We stayed several days and had a good time.  I remember sending postcards to N, G, and BG, as well as my roommates.

I'm not sure what we did for New Year's Eve that year.

Present Day:
I decided to host an event on FB called The 12 Days Of Celebration, since Amazon deposited a nice sum in my bank account at the beginning of the month.  To thank my readers, I'm awarding a book or two each day, and so far, things are going well:)

Last Sunday, we met my parents at Outback Steakhouse in Terre Haute, to celebrate both mine and K's birthdays.  Mom got me a lovely portable jewelry box, with four pairs of earrings and two tennis bracelets (I LOVE the sparkly one!), and we had a wonderful meal!  I had the Victoria Fillet with Mushroom Marsala sauce, and loved it so much I looked it up online to recreate it for K's steak dinner celebration.  Ended up with waaaay too much, so I'm hoping it doesn't go bad before we have steak again, lol!

I skipped going to karaoke last night, since last week, D complained about it, and pitched a fit when I wanted to go on Saturday after the Purdue X-mas Show (which was AMAZING!).  I ended up being too tired, anyway, so plan to sing the same songs as I'd planned last week:
It's Raining Men
It's So Easy
It's Too Late
It's Your Call.

Cookies Baked:  
              M&M:  6 doz
Holiday Chip:  7 doz (no one was around to eat the dough or grab cookies!)

Presents Bought:  1  (yeah, I need to get with the program!  Payday's Wednesday, lol!)

Christmas Cards Sent:  0, though they're all signed and addressed.  Ran out of ink in the printer, and have to revise the letter, so hopefully will get them in the mail this week:)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Flashback Friday: My 10th Birthday!

December 1976:
I wasn't having the greatest year in 4th grade.  I'd sunk to the bottom of the social pecking order; my best friend in the neighborhood was rising to the top of her 3rd grade social pecking order; and I wasn't hardly in any classes with my BFF from school.  But my 10th birthday was very memorable.

I was always cold once the temperatures dipped below 70 degrees, and hated sliding into a cold bed.  So at dinner that night, I was very surprised by a large package which held my 1st ever electric blanket!  Mom fixed me lamb chops for dinner, and on the weekend, both sets of grandparents AND great-Grandma and Granddaddy Geis came for ice cream and cake.

During Christmas Break, KE and I spent time at my house, and Mom took pictures of us dancing in front of the tree.  I think it was about this time we were also introduced to the concept of singing along to our favorite records and recording ourselves on the tape recorder. At first, we would hold the microphone, but this make our voices distorted.  Mom showed us the mike would still pick us up if we left it on the table beside the machine, and pointed at us. We sounded better then!

A few days before Christmas, KE and I went caroling around the neighborhood.  I loved my coat; it was yellow plaid, had deep pockets, and a fur-lined hood:)  It also fell to my thighs, in an effort to keep my legs warm:)

For Christmas, out cardboard fireplace was set up in front of the living room window, next to the tree.   I had also received a Magic Set, but the 'table' was accidentally gathered up and thrown out with the wrapping paper, prompting my father to be more careful in the years to come, when throwing away the trash from Christmas Morning!

When we went to Grandma Graul's house, my Uncle Howard had made a 'Small Talk' bench with both our names on it.  Later, I would use it as a display bench for favored stuffed animals; now it sits in my basement, patiently waiting to be displayed again.

I also think this was the year the car was soooooo nice and warm for the trip home!  I've never been able to recreate that feeling.  Everyone else was probably sweating profusely, but I was finally toasty warm:)

Present Day:
Getting ready for tomorrow's trip to the Purdue Christmas Show!  BC Brown's niece is a senior this year, so I want to be able to see her perform live before she graduates:) Melissa B is driving, and I'm hoping my dad will drop us off, then he and Mom pick us up and take us to Arni's for lunch afterward:)

Then driving back, and will see them again on Sunday at the Outback Steakhouse, to celebrate K's 24th birthday, since it falls on Tuesday.

Karaoke Update:
Did well last night; sang 6 songs. After a disastrous Zoot Suit Riot, sang You're The One That I Want with Stacy; Fight For Your Right To Party (made it into a duet with Elaine); Helped E out with Please Mr. Postman and Edge of 17; then sang It's Only Love as a solo, which was okay.

Tomorrow, plan to sing the following:
It's Raining Men
It's So Easy
It's Too Late
It's Your Call.

Cookies Baked:
        Oatmeal Raisin:  5.5 Doz
        Chocolate Chip:  13 Doz

Thursday, December 3, 2015

December Goals

So how did I do in November?
-Finish Heart Song!
-Attend Women's Retreat Check:)
-Do well at Indpls Christmas Toy and Hobby Show Check:)  Sold 15 books!
-Do well at Holiday Vendor Event Sold 5:)
-Relaxing Thanksgiving Check:)
-Start Christmas shopping
-Decorate house 

Just over 50%....not bad, not great.  In my defense, we didn't do the last two, due to my baking cookies and the granddaughter's visitation with her dad was switched.  We'll get it done this weekend when there is more energy on everyone's part!

So Heart Song....Where Does It Stand?
At this point, I don't know.  Book #5 isn't out yet and it was supposed to release on the 1st, so I'm assuming this means everything gets pushed back, which again, is good news for me!  So if I'm no longer bound the Dec 29th date, maybe after the holidays are over, my stupid writer's block will lift!  Instead of relaxing over the break between X-mas and New Years, I'll be writing????

Books Read:  4

Karaoke Songs Added:  4

Hearing aids are doing well!

Had an AWESOME women's retreat, and wonderful weekend in Indianapolis, and another wonderful surprise in my bank account when my 1st KU royalty report arrived:)  I've been so blessed this year, I hardly know where to start thanking everyone!

December Goals:
-Start/finish shopping
-Decorate house  Check:)  Thank you Sara!
-Start buying promo items for next year
-Dye hair  Check:)
-See Star Wars Check....OMG I want to see it again!!!!
-Have a GREAT time at my birthday party!  Check and double-check!
-Bake lots of cookies Check:)
-Send out cards
-Write Family newsletter
-Spend a week or two with my mom when it's all over!

Thursday Karaoke Songs:
It's Only Love-Bryan Adams/Tina Turner  Sang it solo and wasn't too bad....
Zoot Suit Riot-cherry Poppin' Daddies  Bleh.  Deleted the video. That bad!
We've Got To Fight For Your Right-Beastie Boys Sang this with Elaine, and it wasn't too bad:) We rocked the bar, ha ha!
YMCA- Village People
Yesterday Once More-Carpenters
You and Me-Alice Cooper

Saturday Karaoke Songs
It's Raining Men-Weather Girls Mark:  DNH  Brower??
It's So Easy-Linda Ronstadt Good:)
It's Too Late-Carole King Not bad:)
It's Your Call-Reba McEntire Was doing well until the song just stopped.  Will sing this again:)
I Kisses A Girl-Katy Perry  Rough, but was complimented. Will watch vid first before I decide.
I Won't Last A Day w/o You-Carpenters Too low....bleh
If You Asked Me To-Celine Dion Was alright until final chorus...will try again:)
Isn't It Time-Babys DNH
It Must Have Been Love-Roxette  DNH

December Reading List
Shirley-Shirley Jones  Loved this autobiography!!!
Water's Threshold-Jillian Jacobs  Not too bad....definitely interesting, but not a page-turner for me.
Lightening Strike-Beverly Ovaille