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New Frontier

26 Apr

I have another short story coming out in an anthology to be released in June. We just got the cover.

 

thenewfrontier (1)

 

Cool, huh? ~Kay

 

 

 
 

It’s finally spring

19 Apr

It is finally spring at my house. Yesterday I moved all of the plants outside. Well, I didn’t, exactly. I hired some young, strong guys to move the big, bulky heavy ones.

 

Anyway, the back porch and patio are clean and plants are in place. We never stopped barbecuing (even in the snow).

 

Best of all, we have a new (temporary resident) right outside the back door. She’s not afraid of us. Sometimes she stays on her nest and sometimes she flies off and leaves us to guard her eggs.  Here are some pictures.

 

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Happy Spring

~Kay

 

 

 
 

RIP Patty Duke

29 Mar

One of my childhood heroes, Oscar winning actress Patty Duke, died today from sepsis caused by a ruptured intestine. As a child, I thought she was “cool.” As an adult, I admired her talent as a serious actor and her passion for mental health awareness. It’s a sad day.

 

RIP

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12/14/46 – 3/29/16

~ Kay

 
 

Let’s change hosting companies…NOT!

23 Mar

I’ve had my blog for six years. I know not only because of my calendar but also because of my billing history.

When I originally signed up in 2010, I got a teaser rate of $142.20 for three years. I did have to renew my domain name annually, but that was only $9.95 a year, so my website cost me $162.10 or a little over $50 a year for the first three years, if my “in my head” math is right.

Three years later in 2013, I got my first bill at the standard rate. Gulp! $312.59. It had almost doubled to a little over $100 a year. Wow!

Now, I will say, the web hosting company I was using was top notch and offered many services I didn’t use. Also their customer service, both on the phone and through chat, was excellent. The $300+ price included everything for the next three years so I didn’t have any annual costs.

Three more years have passed, and it was time to renew again. I started getting notices about 90 days in advance. The new rate for the same services was going to be a little over $400. That’s about a 25% increase–not as bad as the last time but still excessive.

I put on my thinking cap and deduced if this company offered a teaser rate other hosting companies might do the same. Hum…

Before checking prices, I researched companies and found the top ten. Three ranked above the one I was using. I went for the gold and priced the number one company in customer satisfaction. I could get what I had and a little more (free cloud back-up) for a three year rate of $99.00 Say what? I was switching this baby.

If I were computer savvy, this would’ve been a snap, but therein lies the problem…I’m not. When I was in college a million years ago I took all of the computer classes offered–both of them. But, other people do this every day. Surely, I could figure this out. This turned out to be faulty logic.

Part of my problem was my new best friends at the help desks of both hosting companies were telling me slightly different ways to transfer my blog from the old hosting company to the new so I got confused and frustrated.

I’m going to stray from the subject (so what else is new?) for a moment. When I called the original company and told them I was moving my business they didn’t even ask why. I’d hoped they would be appalled they were going to lose my account and match the pricing and all would be right with the world.

This was an issue I had when I was in sales in Telecom (dial tone, Internet, etc. with THE major player). We’d have fabulous new customer promotions yet loyal customers were offered nothing but rate hikes. It was in the customers best interest (though I NEVER told a customer this) to cut to a competitor under a short contract, then cut back to us when the contract was up and lock in their rates with a three year agreement. I complained about this all of the time. I finally left the company to sell equipment with a privately owned company who had discretion over pricing.

Now, back to my original story…how to get my blog from the old hosting company to the new.

Luckily, Hubby and I have close couple friends, and the husband teaches computer classes at a local college. They come to visit for my recent birthday and I was stressing over this. He took my computer, created a “ghost” of my website, put it on the new web-hosting site and that was that. He also told me some things to do–like register my domain name–that I thought were being handled by the hosting company and were not. He helped me register it through a company he uses, but I didn’t read the confirmation closely and “verify” it so they cancelled the order. That was this week, only days before my old site expired. I e-mailed him and he gave me a remedial lesson on registering my domain name, assured me I would not lose the website even if the site went down before the switch because he’d already save a clone to the new site.

Once I understood and got the domain name locked in, my WordPress website moved to the new hosting company. This is my first post here; my first post in over a month. If you’re reading this, everything worked!

Of course, as soon as I realized I had the site again, I went to the admin page and messed something up. Seriously, in the six years that I’ve had the site I’ve never done that! I e-mailed him, he went in, saw what I’d done, fixed it, and added himself as an administrator to make it a little easier to troubleshoot in the future. I’m not touching the settings again!

One thing about the switch that was disappointing that I caught. As I perused my AX bill, I saw three charges from the new company, all from the same day. I called them and asked what they were for. The $99 was for the hosting and all of the goodies that go with it like the cPanel. The other two charges — twenty something and thirty something, I think — he said were default charges for site lock and a different cloud storage. I told him I thought the site came with unlimited cloud storage. He verified it did, but this was an outside company to use as another level of back-up. I might have considered the site-lock had they been up front about it, but had him remove both charges just because they added them without my permission.

So, when your time is up with your current hosting company do you switch? It depends. How much is your time worth? How computer savvy are you? If you know what you are doing, it should be easy enough. If not, look under the seat cushions, in old purses, under the seats in your car, maybe even drive for Uber for a few days, and pay the difference.

If I were doing it again, knowing what I know, what would I do? Switch companies and save money, of course.

Have a good one…

~ Kay

 

 

 
 

RIP Harper Lee

20 Feb

Harper Lee died in her sleep yesterday at the age of 89.

 

No question she was a noted southern writer, known world-wide for her classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960. It won a Pulitzer in 1961. It remains a bestseller, with more than 30 million copies in print. In 1999, it was voted the “best Novel of the Century” in a poll by the Library Journal.

 

George W. Bush gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. It recognizes individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interest of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. Barack Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given by the United States government for “outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts.”

 

I take a special interest in her because she spent her freshman year in college at my alma mater, Huntingdon College, before transferring to the University of Alabama where she studied law but, interestingly, never graduated.

 

Huntingdon’s president wrote:

 “It is an honor and a privilege to call Nelle Harper Lee a Huntingdon College alumna. Ms. Lee came to Huntingdon from the small town of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1944, twelve years after her sister, Alice, attended in 1932. Sixteen years later, To Kill A Mockingbird was published and made her a literary icon. Her novels call us to consider the reality of evil and the important choices we make in life, presenting examples of goodness and courage that stand firm in the face of that reality. Particularly in her second published novel, her words resonate with evidence of personal and social holiness that reflect her own Methodist heritage, which she held dear. Huntingdon celebrates with the world a life well lived, as well as words and stories that will live on.”
President J. Cameron West

 

One of my Huntingdon classmates was from Monroeville and knew the icon personally. In my convoluted way of thinking, this made me one step closer to the legendary author.

 

A second book, Go Set a Watchman, was released in published 2015. amidst much controversy. The State of Alabama found the timing strange (less than three months after the death of her sister who handled her affairs). The HR Department for the State launched an investigation as to whether Ms. Lee was competent to make the decision to release the book written more than half a century earlier. The investigation found that the claims of coercion and elder abuse were unfounded.

 

Ms. Lee lived in an assisted living facility and was nearly deaf and blind. She will be missed by the literary community.

RIP

Harper Lee

April 28, 1926 – February 19, 2016

~ Kay

 

 
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What do you write?

18 Feb

 

 

Blogs?

Lyrics?

Music?

Poetry?

Novels?

Novellas?

Shorts stories?

All of the above?

I think most writers dabble in most if not all of these areas from time to time. If I’m working on a novel and feel stuck, I might stop and write (or more likely start)  a short story, for instance. I guess it’s a brain break.

I suppose the voices in our heads tell us what to write and when.

I’m thinking about writing something completely new (to me)–a chapter book. Not a chapter book like a child’s bedtime story, but a chapter book where chapters are released one at a time online. Poe and Hawthorne and even Mark Twain did released some of their work a chapter at a time (not online, of course).

I was contacted by a company that facilitates this and was intrigued. I’ve thought about it frequently since.

Advantages:

  • Accountability — If I had a deadline and a readership I’d have to get the work done.
  • Create a readership – This is nice if blog readers turn into future book readers
  • Income — No need to elaborate on this one.

 

Disadvantages:

  • Each piece of work would need a distinctive cover. These may be purchased for not too much. It wouldn’t be bad if releasing a novel chapter by chapter, but if releasing a short story every month, the income would need to be sufficient to cover the cost of lots of new covers.
  • They don’t provide editors. No matter how many times I read my own work, I won’t catch all of my own errors. No one can see her own mistakes. Beta readers won’t catch all of them either. A lack of good editing has been my biggest problem with self-publishing all along. Editors can be expensive and the quality varies. This isn’t really self-publishing, but it has a lot of the same characteristics.

 

So, what are your thoughts on this? Have you considered publishing a chapter book? Would you buy a book chapter by chapter once a month or so if the chapters were inexpensive? I’d really like feedback on this topic.

-Kay

 
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Enjoy your day

14 Feb

happy-valentines-animated-note

~ Kay

 
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Writing Partners–How Do you Screen Them?

11 Feb

 

 

I got a random e-mail this week from someone I didn’t know (or I didn’t think I knew–I never know for sure these days).

At the top, it had the real name, pen name and another name of a someone I had “met” in an online class in 2010. Then it said, “How did you wind up getting associated … with this tawdry affair?” This was followed by his first name which is what made me think I might know him. WHAT tawdry affair??? Surely I’d know if I’d been involved in any kind of affair. I hope so!

The … said my picture was on the book review I did for the author’s book in 2011. Say what? It’s 2016 on my calendar, Pal. What’s up with this?

I was still scratching my head when I got a notice from Amazon that someone had left a comment on my comment about the same review. It said:

3 days ago

The author of the book reviewed … was recently convicted with her husband…of planting evidence to commit a “perfect crime” against the head of the local PTA. Truth is stranger than fiction.”

Okay. Something was up. I had to run some errands and couldn’t research it, which game me time to think about it.

First of all, what would make the person who e-mailed me think I had anything to do with anything other than reading and reviewing a book? What made him think I even knew the author. As it turns out, I did…several years ago.

The author in question and I took the same online class in 2010. I don’t remember all of the details, but we somehow hit it off in class and decided to exchange chapters and work together after the class was over. Though we wrote completely different genres, we were at about the same point in our writing journey and in writing our novels.

As we exchanged our chapters, we also chit-chatted via e-mail. She was a young stay-at-home mom in southern California. She’d practiced law before her children were born, was into yoga, and her husband was an attorney.

Her book was a thriller about committing the perfect crime. It had some sickish twists, but what can I say? I just had a short story published in a horror anthology.

About the time we finished working together, Hubby had a conference in Las Vegas. I think it was scheduled to start on a Thursday. I mentioned it to her and she asked what I’d be doing while he was in meetings. When I told her I’d just be hanging out, she said she’d fly down for a couple of days so we could meet. She got an airline ticket, made a hotel reservation, etc. I thought this a little odd, but we writers are an odd lot.

The Sunday before we were scheduled to depart for Vegas, I rushed Hubby to the ER. They found a mass in his belly and had him in the operating room before I could call the kids and his mom. His sister, who lived only minutes from the hospital, was the only one who got there before they started the procedure. He was in the hospital for ten days and easily could’ve died. I only left him twice to come home and pick up a few things. Both times, I was called back.

Hubby is a physician. He knew he was lucky to be alive. He also knew he wasn’t out of the woods. I was scared to death. Everyone was so supportive, but my memory of telling my author friend was that she got upset we were canceling our trip to Vegas. We were doing this all by e-mail (I don’t think we ever talked on the phone). I remember thinking she somehow missed he was in the hospital fighting for his life. When I e-mailed her stating it that clearly, she said she’d already booked her flight and hotel.

I said I was sorry about the trip and that was the last time we communicated for about nine months.

She self-published her book, and one day out of the blue a signed copy arrived in the mail. I was happy she’d had the courage to follow her dream and publish her book. My preference is a traditional publishing experience.

I read the book (which, of course I’d already read) and reviewed it on Amazon. I sent her an e-mail wishing her good luck with the book and that was the last contact we had.

That was MY experience with her. But, I surmised from the e-mail and Amazon message something else was going on. I did a little research and found plenty of information from the LA Times and other sources. A 20/20 segment was done on the story–never good news!

The story in a nutshell is my former writing partner and her husband got angry at another parent at their son’s school. After a year of harassing the parent, her husband planted drugs and pot in the woman’s car, then called the police anonymously and said he’d witnessed her driving erratically. The police pretty quickly surmised the drugs didn’t belong to the parent and they began to build a case against my former writing partner and her husband.

They were indicted. She plead guilty with a plea deal; he had a mistrial, but was found guilty in a subsequent trial. They divorced and he was ordered to pay her $8k a month child support and $4k a month spousal support. He filed for bankruptcy and moved in with his parents. She changed her name…twice. They changed the children’s last name.

They each have to serve about six months in jail, will be on three years probation, and have to do 100 hours of community service. She was disbarred. His law license was suspended. She moved to Cuba. (How do US Citizens get to move to Cuba?)

The parent filed a civil suit, and earlier this week a jury awarded her $5.7 million. The husband admitted guilt and apologized during the civil trial. According to everything I’ve read, the author didn’t attend the civil trial (she’s in Cuba, remember?), never apologized or showed remorse.

What kind-of sort-of freaks me out is all of this was going on while she and I were working on our books together. Of course, she never mentioned anything to me, and I never picked up anything was amiss. When I finish the who-dun-it series I’m doing now, I’m switching genres! I’m obviously no good at picking up clues.

Maybe, while living in Cuba, (still don’t understand that) she can write a best seller, sell the movie rights, and pay the parent the $5.7 million.

~ Kay

 

 

 
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Let’s Write

02 Feb

Writers know the basic rule of writing is to write every day. Write something every day.

That is easier said than done. What’s really hard is to write on a “writing” project.

For example, in the last week, I’ve written a couple of blog posts, a speech, a workshop, a murder mystery, some committee projects…you get the idea. That doesn’t count the 30 some odd e-mails I answer and/or write every day or snail mail correspondence I do for personal, volunteer, or other reasons. It’s always something.

So when does a writer work on her current project?

When I don’t do it for a few days I loose momentum, I sometimes even loose my voice, I often loose where I was going with the story…it is so detrimental not to work on it daily.

I had lunch recently with a young, beginning writer with more talent in her little finger than I have in my whole body, yet I was trying to give her tips on the profession. This was my first tip–write on your project every day. Even if it is a few lines, write something to keep you connected.

Now, Kay, follow  your own advice.

~ Kay

 
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Forty years and counting

29 Jan

 

 

Last weekend I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the Founders Day celebration for Sigma Delta chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi at Huntingdon College, my alma mater.

The chapter turns forty years old on January 31. Although I was a charter member, through some scientific miracle, I’ve only aged twenty years during this period of time. I can’t explain it. I only went in the science building once while I was at Huntingdon, and that was to give someone a note. I guess it’s a time warp thing or something.

At the celebration, the college president spoke first, then the vice president and I wrapped it up. About twenty-five alumnae returned so, with the 50 some odd chapter members, there were about seventy-five beautiful women sitting in front of me as I spoke. Smiling faces. Sisters, no matter the age. I loved chatting with them.

I told them how we not only started AOII at Huntingdon, but also the Greek system and how it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was downright difficult. Nineteen girls were in the original colony and by the end of the term we had only seven of the original nineteen. We’d picked up three more strong members through rush giving us a total of ten. One graduated so we returned in the fall to recruit new members with only nine members.

We pledged seventeen new members and on January 31, 1976, twenty-six sisters were initiated and one was pledged to the chapter. AOIIs from Auburn, Alabama, South Alabama, Birmingham Southern and Lambuth College came for the installation of our chapter and our initiations. After a year, it was a big deal!

Of our original twenty-seven we had four Miss Huntingdon’s, two Homecoming Chairs, I’m not sure how many homecoming queens and court members–multiple ones I know, and four were president of the chapter before graduating.

I was the first president. The second president, Marsha Brown Taylor, drove up from south Alabama to attend. Two others of the original seven had planned to be there, but one was puking sick and the other had an emergency arise where she couldn’t come. Both would’ve had to drive hours to get there. Had they made it, more than half of our original seven would have been present forty years later. Both were heartbroken they couldn’t attend and were asking for pictures before I even got home.

The other three of the original seven: I don’t know where one is, one is in California and the other is in New Zealand. They get a pass. Of the original ten who finished the term I’ve lost a second one, another was moving to Texas that weekend, and the third had a work obligation in Florida.

The chapter now stands at campus total of fifty. They held a lovely reception afterwards then I went to their house and did a workshop with them. It was great being in a relaxed atmosphere and talking to some of them one-on-one. They are truly outstanding young women.

I’ve always valued them, but AOII has had some recent tragedies that makes me realize I must tell them more often. We had a chapter member from Columbia University die in an automobile accident while on a mission trip in Honduras a couple of weeks ago. The next week one of our members from Ole Miss died in a hit and run accident in her home town in West Virginia. I found out yesterday the brave principal who was killed when she pushed students out of the way of an oncoming bus in Indianapolis was an AOII and another sister was killed in a skiing accident. I know these kinds of things happen all of the time, but when it’s someone you know (or feel you know because she’s an AOII) it strikes close to home.

But the young ladies at Huntingdon were vibrant and very much alive. They’ve accomplished much in the forty years since we were a fledgling colony. I couldn’t be prouder of them!

~ Kay

FROM AN EARLIER VISIT:

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Me with Anna and Farrah, two of the chapter’s former officers. Farrah was past chapter president. I’m not sure which office Anna held but it was a major one

NEW AOII HOUSE

NEW AOII HOUSE

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Some of the charter members at Homecoming (not this visit)

Crowd looking at the house

Members during a former visit (ribbon cutting for the house)

 

THIS VISIT–FOUNDERS’ DAY 1976 — 40 YEAR CELEBRATION:

IMG_3718 (1)Marsha Brown Taylor (2nd Pres. of chapter) Anthony Leigh Sr. VP of College, & me (1st president of chapter) before Founders’ Day began.
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The stage set up for Founders’ Day



IMG_3749Hubby went to the balcony for a group shot.
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Outgoing Chapter President Farrah Megan with a Composite of the Colony made from old yearbook pictures. It will hang in the chapter house across from the current composite. This took a lot of work and was a true labor of love.


IMG_3729Me with college Sr. VP Anthony Leigh and College President Dr. Cameron West

Until next time…

~ Kay