Thursday, August 1, 2019

I'm a Victim of Sloppy Driving

Back in March I got rear-ended by a sloppy driver.

Thank Heavens, the bumper on my sedan did its job, and I was not hurt.

The other driver's car did not fare as well with a crumpled bumper and grate, and the hood popped open and bent. I have no idea whether the man was injured or not since he took off before we could exchange information. The way he buzzed out, I'd say he was at least conscious.

I have decent insurance, so after the expected conversations with witnesses, the police, the insurance company, the repair shop and the general hassles, my car was repaired. Lots of good happening after that first jolt.

This man's sloppy driving du jour?  Taking his eyes off the road while the wheels were moving.  Witnesses say he was looking down, hit me, and looked up in shock. Oops! Or something much more colorful.

Sloppy driving seems to abound these days here in the North Carolina Triangle. It irritates me, because it seems that sloppiness comes from simple inattention or no acknowledgement that there are other people on the road. Or perhaps more often, if other drivers are acknowledged, they're just in the way of me getting to where I want to be! [My mind-reading. Admittedly not my best skill.]

So here are my examples of Sloppy Driving that I see every day. All of these have a danger factor attached. Note: Rear-ended!
  • Taking eyes off the road any time your wheels are in motion. (As mentioned)
  • Phone in one hand to read mail (or text or talk or fill in the blank.)
  • Always driving at least 15 to 20 mph over the posted speed limit.
  • Driving without headlights or running lights during a pouring rainstorm.
  • Begin a move to another lane and block one or two lanes of traffic for a couple of signal light cycles in the process.
  • Never using a turn signal, using a turn signal after the move has been completed.
  • Tailgating - yes, I can see the color of your eyes.
  • Drifting. Slowly, so slowly into my lane. Includes straddling the center lane line for several seconds. 
Any of this sound familiar? Where do you live and what seems to be a popular example of Sloppy Driving there? Is there a hashtag for this (#SloppyDriving)? If not we need one.

Have a wonderful day... and watch out for Sloppy Driving!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

BLOG HOP GIVEAWAY: Christmas in July! (US Only)

For several weeks in the United States, one of the top news stories has been the HEAT. 

Not political heat (which is a long-term story), and not tempers (though hot tempers flare in this weather), but HEAT of the Mother Nature kind. 

Everyone is searching for relief -- in air-conditioning, in front of fans, in movie theaters, in swimming pools, and in cool shelters. Cold temperatures and the Spirit of Christmas seem a long way off. I have felt a deep need for snowy days, holiday lights and brighter times. Christmas was never meant to appear for just a few weeks at the end of the year, but to live in our hearts every day.

And here comes RELIEF in a big way.

The Christmas in July Blog Hop Giveaway!

You can discover some new favorite authors and enter giveaways offering fabulous prizes along the way. This year, one of the prizes I'm offering is my own holiday novella RESTORE MY HEART, the third book in the Pittsburgh Connections series. If you like all things Hallmark, you'll truly enjoy RESTORE MY HEART. (P.S. The Hallmark Channel's "Christmas in July" movie fest started on July 12th.)

Here's the story of RESTORE MY HEART...

Christmas Miracles Don't Happen.

To Sally Myers, the holidays meant her mother's alcoholic binge, so Sally is no fan of Christmas. Her father and all the men who followed abandoned her, leaving her broken-hearted before she knew what whole-hearted felt like. From this rocky start, Sally has built a successful professional life. Still, she guards her heart against romance and love.

Now she has to work with appealing newcomer Jeff Campbell, a traveling restoration craftsman, just the wrong type of guy for her. In the hours of striving together to meet holiday deadlines, Jeff reveals himself to be both attentive and trustworthy. Maybe he could be the right man for her after all. 

Longing to believe in the miracle of Jeff's love, Sally drops her guard. When he leaves for his next project, her biggest fear is that he'll never come back.


NOW TO THE GIVEAWAY! Scroll down to enter the giveaway and have the coolest Christmas in July ever!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Exquisite Timing Leads To A Clinical Trial

Back in February (Pre-Diabetes Wake-up!), I shared with you my doctor's warning about controlling my glucose levels and my weight.  She referred me to a nutritionist, and because of the pre-diabetes, I was placed in a class for others like me -- on the edge of an unsettling diagnosis.

In the class, I learned a lot about pre-diabetes and the ways our bodies may or may not process sugars and carbohydrates as well as they used to. I also got a food plan, personalized for me. 

I started. I followed the plan. I was losing weight. My blood glucose levels were slowly dropping. But I found that I was generally more tired and not feeling quite right.

Here Comes EXQUISITE TIMING.  One of my favorite miracles of life.

You've experienced it. I know you have. It's when a chance occurrence drops into life at just the right moment to make a difference, to avoid calamity.  Like...

It's been raining all day, but just in time for a wedding ceremony, the sun pours through the stained glass windows bathing the couple in light.

I'm trying to decide if my mother should have a special brain operation to drain the rising fluid in her tissues, and on my flight to Kansas City, a neurosurgeon who does this kind of operation every day "just happens" to sit next to me and offer advice when I need it most. 

My car dies on a busy highway and a "repo man" with a tow truck appears from the nearby gas station and says, "I'm not the tow service you're calling, but I can get you out of the road and safely into that gas station. Hop in!"

There's even a race horse named Exquisite Timing. Don't know if the horse lived up to its name, but I'm sure the owners hoped that it would.

Fred Campbell, in his book Religious Integrity for Everyone: Functional Theology for Secular Society, describes Exquisite Timing as that experience we all have when events and lives and nature all converge in one point in time to create some extraordinary, inexplicable outcome. 

Theist that I am, I call these "God Moments". 

So here I am with pre-diabetes and a food plan that doesn't quite work and on the last day of my class, the instructors hand out a flyer for a clinical trial for adults with pre-diabetes run by a Duke University nutrition group. Sounds perfect. Is perfect.

I call. I'm accepted into the trial, into the experimental group. And off I go into 16 weeks of a new journey in this healthy living change I'm trying to make. 


I'll let you know how the trial went next week.

Blessings on your day... and keep an eye out for exquisite timing!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Agents of the Literary Kind, Part 2: Do I Need An Agent?

Do I need an agent?

For writers just wading into the Tides of Publishing, this is a popular question and an important one.

The quick answer... Depends.

Before you ask "Do I need an agent?", the questions to ponder first are "Do I want to publish traditionally with a big name publisher? Would I rather work with a traditional small, independent press? Or do I want to strike out on my own and self-publish? Or a little of all three?"


The Vote for Traditional, Larger Publishing Houses

These publishing houses have familiar names and publish hundreds of books a year. In the romance genre, these are publishers like Harlequin, Berkley, Kensington, and Revell. As an author, you work with a house editor who helps you polish your manuscript into final publication form. Then the production, marketing and sales departments take over to design a cover, write cover copy, decide how many copies to print and whether to publish electronically, create a marketing campaign, and distribute your book to book stores, both brick-and-mortar and online. Go traditional if:

  • You write slowly. In the industry, this means completing one salable manuscript every one to two years. (We'll talk about "fast" later.)
  • You want to write and let someone else take care of the business aspects of publishing:  cover design, ad copy, inventory, distribution, sales, and marketing. You just want to see the advance check and the royalties.
  • You're content to let go of all control over your literary "baby" once you've finished the editorial work. 
  • You're not willing to pay out the money to create your own business team; you're more than happy for the publisher to take all the financial risk. 
  • The project you're writing is really suited to a larger publisher. It has a broad appeal, and you'd like book to have some real push behind it in the marketplace.
  • You have self-published a few books, but feel you don't have enough name recognition to increase sales without a lot of effort.
If many of these describe you, then traditional publishing with a large house may be the right choice for you. And if so, the answer to the agent question is YES, definitely. There is only one large, traditional publisher (Harlequin, and only in their Series lines) who will often open up for un-agented submissions. For everyone else in the Romance world, you will need an agent.

The Vote for Traditional, Small/Independent Publishing Houses

These publishing houses may have less familiar names and publish a smaller number of books each year. Some of these publishers produce eBooks only. You'll still work with a house editor. But the business side of the house may be much smaller, and you might be asked to write back cover copy and do much of the marketing yourself or in concert with the publishers' other authors. Distribution may consist of only online retailers, and you may be responsible for placing books in brick-and-mortar stores. The publisher may pay royalties only and no advance. Go traditional small press if:
  • You still want an editor to help polish your book and shepherd it through production and other services the house might offer. You'd be happy to jump in to do more marketing and help with distribution.
  • You'd like to have some say in the cover design and other business decisions, even if you don't do all the work.
  • You want to have something published fairly quickly, and many smaller houses can get books into the marketplace in under six months.
  • You're still learning the ropes of publishing, and you see a small publisher as a learning opportunity as well as a business one. 
  • You don't need an advance; you'll be happy with any royalties that come your way.
The answer to the agent question is probably NO. Many of these smaller houses do not require an agent for submissions. Before submitting, do check with the publisher you're considering.

The Vote for Self-Publishing (read, You Become a Publishing House)

The wonderful news is that we authors now have opportunities to publish our own work. Mind you, Kindle Direct Publishing at Amazon, IngramSpark, Lulu, Barnes and Noble Press and other online companies who help you self-publish do NOT publish. They produce your book (either in print or digital format), and they provide retail distribution. All of the other parts of creating a book: editing, cover design, interior text design, writing the back cover copy, marketing, advertising, inventory, and any distribution channels you want to add (like brick-and-mortar stores in most cases) are your responsibility -- in time, effort and money.  To self-publish and be financially successful (you will need to define what "financially successful" means to you), the following are probably true:
  • You write quickly. In the industry, this means completing at least two salable manuscripts every year.
  • You want to write, take care of business, and have control over the entire book creation process from idea to marketing. 
  • There will be no advance check. In fact, you will either do the work yourself or invest money to create your own business team; find and hire an editor, proofreader, cover and interior text designer; and coordinate a marketing campaign and advertising.
  • You've made a study of what's hot in your genre, and your story is a good fit for those readers. You're writing the type of story that has high appeal -- and you know just how you'll market to your target audience.
  • You want to learn as much as you can about your craft and as much about the publishing industry as you can. The whole package feels like the right fit for you. 
Need an agent to self-publish? NO, definitely not. 

Now you have something to ponder before you decide whether to get an agent. These decisions are not easy, but your choices are about your life and how you want to live it, so don't rush the pondering. You'll thank yourself later.  

So, what did I decide? Next month, I'll talk about my choices to become a blended (hybrid) author.

Related Post: Agents of the Literary Kind, Part 1: What Is An Agent?