This slide show is a celebration of the beauty and usefulness of plants in the Ozarks. Take and herb walk on your lunch break without ever leaving your desk!
This slide show is a celebration of the beauty and usefulness of plants in the Ozarks. Take and herb walk on your lunch break without ever leaving your desk!
(This is a duplicate of the post at http://www.madison-woods.com/Wordpress/sunday-musings-finding-my-niche/. I don’t post all of my posts here, so if you’d like to keep up with me, please go to the new blog and sign up to follow there – thanks!)
It’s 20*F outside this morning and the birds are tweeting like it’s spring already. The sun is shining and I love the way it creeps over the top of the mountains before it shines down into the valley.
While I haven’t been socializing as much, when I do get on I seem to be getting more accomplished both online and off. I’ve been doing a lot of editing and making good progress on Symbiosis. I’m starting to collect email addresses of people who are interested in reading it when it’s finally on the shelves. If you would like to sign that list it’s
right here at the bottom of every post. There’s a widget to put something at the bottom of every post, by the way, if you’re a WP user and want to try it out. It’s called “Bottom of Every Post“.
I’ll probably post this at the bottom of every post from now on. Or for as long as I’m building a readership, which will hopefully be from now on. My writer-friends who frequent my site will hopefully let it drift to the back of their consciousness so it seems less of an intrusion. But I want newcomers to my blog and potential readers of Symbiosis and future books and stories, to always have a no-hassle way to sign up easily for announcements without having to worry they’ll get swamped with blog posts or junk mail.
It will let the readers who are waiting know when it is finally available to purchase. This will be more than a year from now even if I find an agent and publisher on the first attempt. It just takes that long for the publishing wheels to turn, from what I understand.
It will also show any agents or publishers that I am working on building a fan base and that there are readers who are waiting to read what I write. This could prove valuable, or it might not matter at all, depending on the agent or publisher. I’d rather have it and not need it, than not have it and try to scramble a list together in a week or two. It isn’t easy to convince people to drop their email address like that.
I have two short stories out on submission still.
Aside from the editing and list-building I’ve been working on optimizing my blog and website. I’m doing one thing in particular that I hope will improve my ranking in search engines. I’m trying to establish my niches. One of the ways Google ranks pages has to do with content and if a website author is an “expert” on a topic, it ranks better. To be considered and “expert” means the author has many posts on a particular topic.
A topic I can use to establish my expertise is the predator-prey relationship. So I did a search on my own site for that keyword and created an “index” to all the posts I’ve made that mention or have to do with the predator-prey relationship. This index is now a Page: Category- Predator vs Prey. As it turns out, this keyword phrase is the one that brings the most traffic from searches.
When I have more time, I’ll make category pages for the other search phrases that bring people to my site. I’m trying to capitalize on what I’m already doing, and do more of it.
My personal life has been hectic lately. At least one of the crisis were solved over the weekend last weekend when my son and future son-in-law retrieved my horse from THE NEIGHBORING COUNTY. Not only did he escape the field where he was being kept, but he got hooked up with a pair of wild, roving mules and I was afraid had reverted to being wild himself. Now he is home where he belongs.
My daughter is due to have a baby on or near April 20 (yeah, we laugh about the date too…) but she went into premature labor a couple of weeks ago. After a few days in the hospital they managed to stop the contractions but now she’s on complete bedrest. Not only is she going stir crazy by now, but the rest of us trying to keep her horizontal are also getting a bit stir crazy as well. Still, every week she can hold on to baby in the belly is another week of better odds for baby.
And my future husband sent me a picture of him at work standing by a sign that gives me a giggle. When he saw it while walking past it to a job, he must have thought it perfect too:
He has a collection of stories and pictures he calls “Kandahar WTF” because they’re either so stupid it’s hard to believe, or just plain unbelievable for other reasons. This one’s funny to me because of the singular ‘man’ at work, haha. So now you get to see what my man looks like We’ll be getting married in late September this year and he’ll be done with the gig in Kandahar in December. After that, we’ll both be working on our home businesses and our joint dream of becoming sustainable on our homestead. Our list of things to do is a mile long and from the look of it, we’ll never truly “retire”. Which is fine by me. It also means there’s never going to be a boring day for the rest of our lives.
So there’s the update on what’s up with me these days. Are you working on any new projects or making good progress on old ones?
If you give me your email address, I’ll let you know when Symbiosis and future books hit the shelves. You won’t get blog posts, or junk mail. The first announcement will be when Symbiosis has found an agent or publisher. You are not obligated to anything at all by signing up, but it shows potential publishers that there are people interested in reading it when it’s ready. Thanks in advance!
Click here to sign up for the announcement list:
Dodged a little rain shower while feeding horses and chickens this morning. I like days like this. Temps are comfortable, rain is gentle, animals are behaving (Shasta is lame again and I have finally figured out why this keeps happening with her), Rob’s new crew is in and he’s happy to have another coffee drinker with him in the shop now, and the little holler here in the woods is quiet.
The only thing bothering me is that my house is still messy because I haven’t taken time to do any real or superficial cleaning in a while. Today I will remedy that. The short story editing project is now back in the hands of the editor and I’ve taken a few days to disconnect from that story before getting back to editing on Symbiosis. I will begin that today, and do household chores during breaks.
I’m still not happy with the opening chapters on Symbiosis, but if I don’t get past that and move on with it, I’ll never get the editing done. Problem is, if I skip it for now and come back later, any changes I make might need to be reflected the rest of the way through. What a conundrum. Have you faced this before and if so, how did you proceed?
If you are a writer residing in the Kansas City region (not sure where the boundaries are for defining ‘region’, but there should be a definition somewhere in the rules) here is a contest I’m passing on to you:
We are open and accepting submissions for the annual Whispering Prairie Press writers’ contest through June 30th, 2012.
Our contest allows us to recognize and honor talented writers across the globe. Prizes awarded in each of our categories: essay, flash fiction, poetry, and our special category in honor of Rex Rogers for sonnet or villanelles, only.
Head over to http://www.wppress.org/main/contest/ for the complete details.
By participating in the contest you help Whispering Prairie Press raise funds for the publication costs of Kansas City Voices, as well as enabling us to continue our out reach to promote arts and literature in the KC Metro area.
Thank you for your support.
Whispering Prairie Press
I’m glad that I finished the editing on schedule for that story, but I have a feeling it’s going to come back for another round. As soon as I hit the ‘Send’ button, I read over it one more time and saw two glaring errors I’ll need to repair. They won’t cause major re-writes this time, at least. I need to start going through the ‘Send’ routine with a dummy address, like to myself.
Other things I did this weekend that made me happy was to plant my tiny little garden. I love growing food, it gives me such pleasure to eat something I grew. But I haven’t had time or motivation (this sort of way is how depression manifests in me, I guess) so I hadn’t planted anything edible or beautiful in a few years.
So after that I attempted to remove the satellite transceiver from the dish, which is suspended over a fairly good drop too the ground from the porch (maybe 8′ or so). I’m so sore from that today! But I got it all disconnected except for one bolt, which I will do today so I can send all that back tomorrow. It’s not in an easy place to use a ladder and the only way to reach it is by hanging out over the drop, holding on with one hand to the porch rails or dish itself. Quite an adventure, let me tell you.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend! If you get a minute, tell me what you did to enjoy yourself or are proud of this past week.
This morning when I posted my status to Facebook, I should probably have taken that message as an indicator for what the rest of the day would hold.
One good thing is that I did get all the postcard orders mailed! If you had an order you will begin seeing them arrive during the week – and thank you for being patient with me while I made reality match up with my imagination.
If you are a local Friday Fictioneer, we’re going to start seeking a host to do readings of our 100-words with a slide-show presentation of the photos to accompany them. I’d love to do it at Nightbird books in Fayetteville, but haven’t had a chance yet to approach them about it. I did ask if they’d run a mention of what we’re doing in their newsletter, though, and the person I talked to was enthusiastically receptive to the idea.
The idea behind readings is that it gives us an audience and a way to build word-of-mouth in addition to our online efforts. If we have books published, or other writerly products available, perhaps the host allowing our readings will also allow us to sell product after the reading (I won’t mind giving a commission in trade to the venue ).
Don’t despair if you are not a local Fictioneer – if ever you are able to visit our fair neck of the woods, it will give you the oh-so-desirable status of visiting author, or guest author… or perhaps even something more spectacularly named if someone comes up with a good title.
Yesterday I spent a good portion of the day working on my story edits for Wand of Ash.
Also rode Shasta for a little while again. My goal is to ride every weekend but I missed the last weekend. It’s been so long since I’ve had time to ride that it’s almost a new experience and I’m having to remember and relearn things. Shasta is 17 or 18 years old and has only been used as a brood mare all her life so the only riding she’s ever done was during her initial training period when she was 2 years old. So both of us are re-learning. I am riding without a saddle which makes the going a little more difficult but not much because she’s gaited and very smooth to ride. And riding without a bridle because she’s never learned a bit and does fine without one once I get my signals and cues straight. I had been using only her halter but found a hackmore in the shed that’s padded enough so I used it last time. That worked well.
So now I’m at work. That’s right, at the day job on Sunday night. See there’s a huge rain event headed our way and this sort of thing usually washes out the bridges (on my county road there are six low-water bridges). There are samples due on Tuesday (I work for an environmental lab) and I figured I’d rather spend all night tonight working between sleep and have it all done by Monday evening so that when I go home, if the rain really does come down in the predicted quantities, I can just stay home without stressing over missed deadlines.
I hate it when real life doesn’t cooperate with my imagined life.
Did things go as planned for you this weekend?
I don’t write poems often, only when one comes to mind. This one came last night on my way home from work. It was after dark, raining in patches. Once I leave pavement I turn off the radio and listen to the creeks and the wind in the trees. Early spring for me is marked by sound usually, whippoorwills and spring peepers. Tonight I realized it’s also marked by sight and by a third marker which is invisible, but felt in my soul.
All of those senses point to a threshold in time and space. Recently I learned that there is a word for that threshold: Liminal. I’ve also learned that it is this place in space and time that occupies a lot of me – it’s a lot of who I am.
The person I have to thank for this realization, and for that word, is my guest this coming Tuesday. Her name is Dr. Harrison Solow and she researches liminality. She published her doctorate dissertation on the topic.
Dr. Harrison Solow’s writing awards include the Pushcart Prize for Literature (2008). She is published by Simon & Schuster, The University of California Press, Harper Collins, Carpe Articulum, AOL, Cinnamon Press, AGNI, The Pushcart Press and several others in the USA, Wales, Canada and England.
In addition to her own works, she writes for myriad cultural, educational, political and corporate organisations. More: http://redroom.com/member/harrison-solow/bio
I hope you’ll mark your calendar to come back for her interview. Liminality is a fascinating subject and she’s a fascinating author.
Anyway, here’s my poem.
Frogs hopped on the road tonight
Sycamore and Hickory stretched, yawned
Waking from winter’s slumber
We conversed, sleepy-eyed
While I dodged frogs
It’s not often I consider the benefits my day job offers (aside from a steady paycheck).
But today I’m happy to be at work on a Sunday. No. I haven’t lost my mind. It *is* supposed to be a day off and on one hand I do wish I were at home enjoying this gloriously sunny cool day.
However, I have no internet or telephone at home right now and I was in the middle of doing some things on my blog and emailing Rob when the connection was severed. Unplanned outages drive me insane!
So having to work today comes with the benefit of being able to access the internet and for that I am grateful.
How did our net get severed, you wonder?
Sigh. Well. My son wants a goat to show for FFA (Future Farmers of America). I told him he had to build a pen for it BEFORE we bought the goat. So he began the work of laying out the area, cutting cedar trees for gate posts. Then he began putting down the posts. And that’s when we lost our net.
Apparently he cut through the buried phone line either when digging the gate-post hole or with the t-posts. I’m not sure which, but I am positively sure we have no phone or internet now. As soon as the little hourglass popped up on my screen and the wait didn’t resolve in a few seconds, the sinking feeling of understanding what had happened took hold.
I went outside and took a look at where he’d chosen to put the pen and sure enough, that was the vicinity of the phone lines. Hindsight… I know.
So, I don’t have my regularly scheduled post today. I wanted to write about my budding writerly career/business plan.
Instead, I’m just letting you know that if I don’t post for the next few days, it’s because weekdays at work have been too busy lately. When I get the lines repaired at home, I’ll be back. And if the day job eases I’ll post when I can.
Just a pretty view from the property. I guess I have to take it back. I’d said winter solstice was my favorite time of year, but I really do love the colors of autumn. It’s hard to say which is my favorite. Maybe I like each one for different reasons, each to themselves favorite for those reasons…
Yesterday I got the bright idea to cancel the satellite internet and swap back to DSL from our local telephone company.
Well, actually it was my son’s bright idea but I went along with it. So I called the satellite company and jumped through the hoops until they agreed to terminate my service. Then I called the telephone company and the phone rang, rang, rang until the answering machine came on.
Ah-ha. It was already past business hours there and no one would be around until the next morning.
Called son to let him know his bright idea was flawed and to let me know when the satellite service ended. Two minutes later he called back to say, yep, they just cut it off. So I went home knowing there’d be no communication with the outside world until the next day.
My internet service is one of the two modern conveniences I really enjoy. The other is a washing machine. Everything else could fall by the wayside and I’d be just fine.
Turns out I’ll be just fine without internet too, except that it’s the only way I can ‘talk’ to Rob while he’s in Afghanistan.
Came to work this morning intending to make my blog post and guess what? No internet at work either. Technical difficulties. Called the phone company and they agreed to fax the contract for me here to work, but guess what? Our fax is tied to the server, so again tonight, we’ll likely have no internet.
This morning I had to alter my routine a bit because ordinarily I get online and email with Rob and check my Twitter and Facebook accounts. Instead I brought my laptop to bed and while the kitchen and bathroom warmed up I edited some on Symbiosis.
That felt quite productive and I think I’ll do it again tonight and in the morning. Besides, when I made my projection for how many pages per week I needed to get done in order to have the whole thing finished by Chicon, I’d forgotten about my 2 week writing and blogging hiatus.
So I have extra pages to do in order to get on track with that in mind.
This morning I went outside to feed horses, chickens, cats and dogs. With no small sense of satisfaction I observed their water nice and defrosted still, even though it was a brisk 14*F. So add power to the heat tape and bucket warmer to my list of modern conveniences I love.
Otherwise I would have been heating rocks to drop in there for them and hauling gallons in the wheelbarrow to the bottom of the hill. Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a wheelbarrow filled with gallon jugs of water from toppling when it wants to obey gravity and you want to go slow on the rocky frozen ground?
Today is going to be a task day for me to get some things done around home, since I have a day off from the day job. Bottled water for the cooler and propane are high on the list to procure while I’m out.
This time between Christmas and New Years feels different than I’ve ever noticed before. This is the first time I’ve had time off between the two holidays, so that could have something to do with it. It’s the first time at work that we’ve managed to get all our ordinary clients taken care of the week before so that we have very little on the schedule for this week. So we’re all taking shifts to go in and answer phones and be available to call out whichever analyst needs to come in to handle any samples that arrive.
I’ve found that if I have no reason to leave home, I’d like to just stay home. Its been since Thursday night that I last left – a record for me, ha. Pesky that things like water and heat have interrupted my hermit stretch.
Later today I’ll get to work more on Symbiosis. I got a lot of editing done yesterday on it, and hope to get a lot more done this afternoon.
Usually I collect the links for today’s mashup over the weekend and on Monday. But there were less posts from the places I normally haunt because of the holiday.
Y’all have a good day!