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September 2015

Deep Fried at the Fair

We went to the fair last night. Now, I have every intention, as I always do, of taking my camera. But as what usually happens with good intentions…nothing good. I left my camera at home and had to do well with my phone, which isn’t very good.

One of the things I was looking forward to, after all, I haven’t been to a fair in many years, was deep fried weird things. Yes, I have issues, but this has already been established on many occasions. Keep up.

But before we delve into the main story of humor for today, let’s take a quick look at the livestock. I, naturally, always get a kick out of that.

Chickens:

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This is what a leghorn looks like. Now, for the record, these are the healthiest looking leghorns I’ve ever seen. Leghorns are skinny, and usually very unhealthy.

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This one apparently missed a bit when cleaning off his shaving cream.

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These are golden-laced wyandottes, which are one of my favorites. These are also bantam chickens (really small) which is the same as Bluefoot.

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Sleeping.

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And now for the indoor stuff, produce and crafts:

Biggest pear ever!  Actually, it’s a gourd. But crazy, right?

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I just found the chicken thing hilarious.

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Dragons appear to be a theme this year.

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And now for the funny. Ok. So I wanted to try deep fried weird things. I finally found a booth which had deep fried: Oreos, Pop-tarts, Kool-aide, Twinkies, Snickers, Reese Cups, and probably more that I don’t remember. Now, in order to truly understand what’s going on, you must know that:

  1. If you arrive before 3PM, you get in free.
  2. We arrived before 3PM.
  3. We were made to wait until 3PM so that they could charge us.
  4. Other entrance gates did not do this-we were taken advantage of.
  5. This cost us $15

So, I arrive at the deep fried station and order Oreos and Kool-aide. It’s run by two little old women who have completely lost their minds. They’re wearing fair shirts, so they’re not vendors working for themselves.  They are part of the fair itself.  Lady #1 takes my order, never gives me a price, never takes my money, and calls for some guy to go through her truck and bring her the food.  ?????

Lady #2 begins with the Kool-aide, which is funnel cake mix with Kool-aide added in. It was pretty good though, especially with the powdered sugar on top. She reaches her bare hand into a giant bucket of batter and throws this batter into the hot oil. My deep fried Kool-aide does not look like the pretty little hush puppies it’s supposed to, it looks like the Kool-aide man vomited in hot oil. I tell myself that the hot oil will destroy the germs from her hands.

Lady #1 Gives up on the guy and gets it herself. When she comes back, she apparently thought Lady #2 already took my money, because she hands me a $1 bill and says, “This is for waiting for long.” and then disappears again. I kept the money, assuming Lady #2 would take my payment eventually.

Lady #1 returns to say that she can’t do the Oreos. I tell her I’ll take a Reece Cup. She disappears, and then returns to say she can’t because they’re frozen together, so here’s the $6, and then hands me $6. Trying to come up with any excuse to give her the money back without actually admitting I hadn’t paid (yes, I probably should have told them, but I was out $15 that I shouldn’t be. I’m sorry.), I give it back and tell her to give me a Snickers. She leaves to do so. Lady #2 hands me the deep-fried Kool-aide “balls” (and I use that term loosely).

Lady #2 then quickly returns to hand me what looks like a piece of poop covered in partially cooked batter. Ew. The Snickers bar had not been dipped properly, and neither had it been cooked long enough. It was not pleasant and did not get eaten.

So after all that mess, we finished up and then dropped off at the beef show before leaving. I’ll leave with a couple of pictures from it:

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Adult versus Children’s Fiction

I recently joined an online critiquing group, and then quickly left it. Here’s why. This group, like most indie writers, adhere to a set of rules. I’m not sure if they believe these rules are a formula that you just plug words into and “tah-dah!” you have a book, or what. But I don’t follow those rules. And here’s why.

I write children’s fiction. Children’s fiction and adult fiction are two separate entities. If a children’s book were written like an adult book, no child would read it. Period. It’s boring. Hence why I read and write children’s books. Adult books bore the time out of me. Seriously, can’t stand them.

Furthermore, upon reading children’s books, I have found that not a single one of them follows a single one of the rules.

  1. Don’t use adverbs – Puh-lease! Children’s books, especially middle grade, soar with adverbs. Seriously. They are constantly using an adverb at every possibly perceivable chance they can get. (pun intended) And we like them for it.
  2. Show don’t tell – To a degree, yes. You don’t want to bog down the story with unnecessary wording but it’s not really that you’re showing instead of telling. If I can say, “Nervous as to what might happen, she walked up to the classroom,” as opposed to, “Her hands sweat. Her face twitched. She looked down at the floor. Would the other students laugh at her? Would the teacher?! Slowly, ever so slowly, she placed one foot in front of the other, forcing them to do her will.” As you can see, one gets to the point, the other doesn’t. That’s fine, and each has their own place. Let’s say you want to build suspense on a particularly important scene. You’d go with #2. But if you’re writing Junie B. Jones, or it’s a simple, typical, low-ranking scene, you’d go with #1. This show vs tell can also be debated upon the whole story. Do you tell the characters’ emotions, or show them in dialogue?  There are places for each, and it is the author who can discern the best for their story.
  3. Don’t use similes and metaphors – I pretty much follow this one actually. I’ve noticed a huge trend in MG fiction of authors using these tools WAY too much. Like, three times a paragraph too much. One of the best examples of this is The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan. I couldn’t even finish the book (but that was probably due to other reasons I shan’t discuss here). I have and do use them. It’s pretty silly to think of them as dirty words or something, writing taboos. But just like anything else, use in the right amount and when appropriate.

But aside from the rules, what makes them different?

  1. The age of the main character. This is the main, and sometimes only, difference. Basically, you want the MC to be the same age as the reader. Thus, their maturity will have to be taken into consideration. I never figured out society and how to get along with other people. So writing a character who is still trying to figure out society’s norms, and even themselves, is completely natural for me.
  2. Age appropriate language, physical interactions (kissing, etc) In other words, no cussing, no erotic language. That also depends on the age. So like, if you’re writing for a younger audience, you probably wouldn’t even have a kiss. Whereas an older (like YA) audience can have near make-out sessions. This has never really applied to me, so I haven’t done a lot of study on that subject. If that is an issue for you, I suggest more research on the topic before deciding just how far your described characters will go.
  3. Possibly the plotline. As I said above, sometimes it’s just the main character’s age that changes. Sometimes, it’s not. Often times, you have to figure out how to make your kids separate from their adults so that you can send them on their little adventures. You may have school or other age appropriate activities. Depending on the setting, you may want to get caught up in modern lingo and activities, the latest texting emoticons, etc. But I have found a great deal to be set in history or another world, completely alleviating this need.
  4. Somewhat the vocabulary. Obviously you don’t want to write words like “demure” or “farinaceous”, but a few good words in there are good for kids to help them learn. Again, this isn’t a problem for me. Since I don’t read adult fiction, I have the vocabulary of well read child and no more ;).

As you can see, there is a huge difference between children and adult fiction. I’ve seen authors call their work children’s, but it’s not. And the reason is because they follow the above rules. Their mind simply works like an adult’s. Mine doesn’t. I get bored too easily to work that way, so I have to keep it interesting, just like a child. I don’t honestly believe I’ve ever written for an adult, and I have no idea whether I could or not.

So please, dear children’s fiction writers. Do NOT follow these rules!!!!  (or any other “writing rule” for that matter). Just write a good story. The only rules you need to follow are grammatical. Period. And that’s it. Don’t worry about the rest.

They’re here they’re here they’re here!!!

My books came today!!!

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But even without this huge excitement, my day was already busy. I took Marcus to the co-op for the day, went by the library to look over the publicity fliers, went grocery shopping for the upcoming Rosh Hashannah (so excited!!), and then ate sushi with a friend. It was during this time that I learned that Marcus hates sushi. Of course, that could have been the jalapenos … or the wasabi.  Hmmm…  Oddly, I didn’t realize it was wasabi, and since I had avocado on mine, I reached down to take a big bite of what I thought was guacamole. Thankfully my friend stopped me before I touched said bite to my mouth. That would have been just a bit on the disastrous side.

So then, I got home and boxed up and addressed the books that have to go out.

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Don’t worry, they’re not for sale. These are books that go to reviewers, beta readers, and the Library of Congress. Yes, you have to mail a copy of your best edition to the Library of Congress if you want a Library of Congress Control Number. This helps them decide how to go about shelving it and marketing it to libraries. Today really felt like I was a writer and did something.

So excited!!

Cutting trees

Ya’ll remember last year’s ice storm, right? (Don’t forget, click on images to make them larger.)

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Well, look below. That tree with a red “X” is not our friend. Don’t get me wrong. I love trees, and I already miss its shade, but it needed to go.

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Our original reason for wanting it gone is that it was a home for the hornets.

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But we had no way of getting it down. One direction was the house. One was the storm shelter. And the other was filled with power lines. There was a very tiny area that it could be dropped, and without extreme precision, you might as well forget it. It takes large, expensive equipment and costs several hundred dollars per tree. Obviously, we were putting it off as long as possible.

Then, by the grace of God, VEC (electric), came by to tell us they were coming through and cutting branches that endangered their power lines.

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We knew that they might cut a whole tree down for us if we asked nice enough, and worded it just right 😉 And we did. So they did.

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It took them many hours.

Arthur and Merlin sat back and people watched.

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Then it was break time.

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And then it was time for tree number two. They said they would cut down the one next to that one if we needed it. It looked in good shape, so I told them no. Maybe in 5-10 years when they come back around. And then something happened. With that one tree down, the one next to it looked pretty bad. The first one is the barren one on the right. By this time, they had cut quite a bit of it, so it looks worse than it was. The one to the left of it actually touched the porch.

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So, they cut that one down as well. As you can see, the second one was even worse than the first. Scary!

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They chipped most of the branches in their giant chipper.

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We asked them to save a great deal of it so we could use it for firewood. And they did.

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And then they left. Fargo was sad to see them go.

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A great deal of the wood isn’t shown in the picture. They were able to fell one trunk at over 20′ in length We called the local lumber people, they pay $34 per ton. That trunk wasn’t even one ton, believe it or not (I didn’t). So it was better use for us as firewood. It was hickory. We don’t like to burn hickory. Hickory burns HOT. Real hot. Dangerously hot. And we don’t live in Canada. But we’ve burned it before, you just have to wait until the coldest days and be real careful.

I may still be in danger from falling trees if there’s another ice storm, and I may not have any shade for my front porch anymore. But I sure do feel safer!

Look out, here comes the swag-

Bookmarks:

Anya bookmarks

Check!

 

Stickers-

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Check!

So much fun 😀

 

Setting Up You Book for Pre-order

Do you want to offer your paperback for pre-order? Here’s how!

You must have:

  1. A personal way to store and ship your book. (more to come on shipping later)
  2. A Paypal and/or Stripe account. I recommend Stripe if you’re only choosing one, but I have both options. The reason for this is that Stripe allows your buyer to enter in their info and be done. Paypal requires them to go to the Paypal page and do it there. Their fees are the same 2.9% plus 30¢.  (See Celery’s fee schedule.)
  3. An account with Celery. Celery is a per-sale program. Otherwise, it is free.
  4. Your own website or book store. (Note-this is NOT through Amazon!!)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Set up all your accounts.
  2. Add a product.
  3. Set the product up on your own website or use one of their other options.
  4. Reload your webpage

Now, here’s the deal. Each order must be acknowledged, shipped, etc, by YOU. If you’re not up to that, don’t do this. I have no problem selling my books on my website. I’m not Stephanie Meyer. And let’s face it, if I get overwhelmed, I can always stop and just rely on Amazon or CS. And again, by that time, I’ll be selling enough to get an agent or something, right?

Let’s talk money.

I price my book competitively, $7.99. This means I get 25¢ per copy sold through Amazon from CS, and $1.87 per book from the CS estore. It also means I can’t use their expanded because I will lose money. Again, I’m not Stephanie Meyer, so this isn’t an issue for me. I also can’t afford to get another UPC at this point. But when I sell from my site alone, I get $2.31 per book. Yes, it’s a few minutes extra work, and a trip to the PO, but over $2 difference between me and Amazon is worth it to me.  (See fee schedule above.)

And again, I can always quit doing it that way. It’s as easy as taking the order form off the website. I can let Amazon handle it all.

One more thing to note, Celery is set up to strictly be a pre-order site. This means that you may want to use a different carting system once the launch date it here. I may do just that, if it means reducing the fees. Other cart systems that don’t have pre-order capabilities, don’t have the double fees. So it may be in my best interest to do just that.

Hope this helps, and good luck with your marketing!

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