Saturday, April 30, 2011

Family Album - Strontium

Now Playing -   
Slack Key Lullaby by Ledward Kaapana

Life -  
 This was Strontium, my second Honda Element. A gorgeous shade of green, I really loved that rig. (Look how little Pooka is in that photo!)

He took up all over the west, from barren stretches of Eastern Montana to the sopping wet beaches of Oregon and Washington. We set up a pretty effective camping method inside of him and I just plain loved the color.
Pretty? Nah. Organized? Not really. Cozy? Awww yeah!

Sadly, Strontium met his end on a fateful trip to Leavenworth, Washington, where he was t-boned by a truck that I misjudged the speed of as I pulled out of a driveway. (On my best buddy's wedding day. With him in the car with me. And I was supposed to be the minister that day.)

We miss ya, Strontium!
We've since purchased a new Element, number three, Stormalong, which is a vivid orange-red.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Some Plans For The Future

Now Playing -   
She's So Fine by The Bodeans

Life -  
My adoring fans.
 So, though I'm now a Self-published author, with all of the fame and acclaim that comes with it, (None) I still have time to think about how I could be doing things better, or at least more effciently. Since a few months ago, when I split my blog off into a few factions, it's been a lot easier to post, and though I find myself posting less frequently, I seem to have attracted a few more readers by having a theme to the site they visit.

It's this frequency thing I plan to remedy, or try to, anyway. I've noticed a lot of bloggers have themed blogs each week, like Beard Of The Week, or Thursday Thoughts. It seems to work well for them and their readers seem to enjoy that kind of thing. So I sat down with a piece of paper and a pencil and mapped out a tentative plan for my posting... Let me know if you'd like to see anything different!

And remember, The Whispering Ferns is available on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and the corrected version is up on Amazon too! And it's only three bucks!

Saturdays - Photo Post -
This will be one of my "gimme" days, when I'll post a photo I've taken in the past and comment on it, or tell a story related to it.

Wednesdays - Weekly Update -
What's been happening in our lives, whether that's work, pets, road trips or random thoughts.

Sundays - Retro Sundays -
A time to share some of my favorite classic photos and videos from the past, when colors were black and white.

Tuesdays - Self Publishing Thoughts -
This is where you'll go if you're interested in publishing your own novels, or seeing how mine is going. I'll promise full disclosure and only a little bit of self-doubt.

Fridays - Wag The Blog -
A spotlight on other authors, editors and sites that I find diverting or inspiring.

Saturdays - The Weekly Update
Stories about Moonstone Bay, Character Profiles, News, Legends of the Northwest, drawings and more.
This website will be geared more towards the readers of my Moonstone Bay series, and will be all-ages.
Mondays - Art Sharing/Updates
Mondays will be the day to hit up Deeply Dapper for pics of works in progress, past pieces and things now available in the Etsy shoppe.

Thursdays -  1,000 Words, Abridged.
A chance to share a piece of art or art process that I find inspiring, impressive or just plain cool.

Reviews Of Unusual Size will continue to offer up the ROUS style of reviews on everything from books and movies to restaurants and Legos on a regular basis from a number of contributors.

  Lindsay Kiernan will update her site whenever she feels like it, and it is not my place to question when or how often that may be... But I'd like to see more installments of "Like The Used To..." immediately!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Whispering Ferns!

My new and improved cover.

This is very exciting. As of right now, my kids book, The Whispering Ferns, is available on eBook from Smashwords! and Barnes & Noble! It should be available shortly on Amazon too, it just takes a bit longer to appear on the sites than I'd suspected. (One of the many things I've learned about self-publishing a book - Be Prepared and Be Patient!)

I'm not doing a lot of promotion for this release, mostly just plugging it here and there, partly due to time, but also just to see what kind of attention it takes to sell a Self-Published kid's novel. Do I have to do blog tours and post blurbs on every site from here to Timbuktu? Either way, it's been fun so far and it's just beginning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Let's all go to the lobby...

Now Playing -  
So Dam Funky by Hot Chocolate

Life -  
 I'd intended to post some sort of clever, writing related post here leading up to the release of The Whispering Ferns, but we kind of decided on a spur of the moment road trip to Bangor and Acadia National Park tomorrow, my only day off before the release. So tough cookies.

On the bright side, I should have some pretty pictures and stories about food when I return, so there's that!

*Ahem* Nudge. Nudge..... The Whispering Ferns.... A middle grade mystery about a boy, his new friends, a ghost and the awesome state of Washington.... Out on April 26th on eBook. ..... Buy it!
The ROUS FAMILY -     

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Welcome To Moonstone Bay!

Two years ago....
I decided to write a Childrens Novel. 

The Whispering Ferns is a story about an eleven year old boy named Smith that is sent to live with his aunt and uncle in the tiny fishing village of Moonstone Bay, Washington while his mom heads to South America to look for his missing father. Smith is nervous about spending time in this closed off little town, but thanks to his rambunctious cousins, he makes friends quickly. Soon, he's off hunting ghosts and stealing through neighbor's backyards. Then one of his new friends goes missing and with everyone else following the wrong leads, its up to Smith to rescue her.

I started writing my book on April 26th, just for fun. I'd always wanted to write, and had a good idea, and off I went. About a month later, I stumbled across the Delacorte/Yearling contest and decided that it would be the perfect impetus to finish my book. A deadline for me. I made it, cranking out a book that I was quite proud of, with ghosts and misadventure, mystery and friendship. I fired it off to the contest and waited.

And Waited.

And waited...

Then, I got a letter.

Dear Writer, it started... Uh-Oh...

Well, not only did I not win the contest, but no one did. And what's more, they were never holding the contest again! I'd broken it!

So I sat on the book for a while, tinkering with a few things, still in love with the characters and world I'd created. It was a throwback to the classic children's novels of my childhood; John Bellairs and Encyclopedia Brown, with ghosts and fairies, treasure maps and secret passages. Would modern audiences be interested in my new friend Smith?

I decided to try submitting it to an agent. I'd been approached by one when I first started talking about Moonstone Bay, an agent of sterling credentials, one I would be honored to even have her read the first line of my book. She was very polite and great, but not into the book. She loved the idea and the setting, but felt my prose was too old fashioned for today's readers. The same thing I'd been afraid of, but man, it was so cool to have an actual agent tell me that. (and soul crushing, of course. hahaha)

I thought about re-writing it. Heck, I'm still thinking about re-writing the book. I do think modern readers would be more involved if I wrote The Whispering Ferns from Smith's perspective, if I got into his head, but I still really liked the version I'd written too.

So I sat on it for a year.

In the meantime, things changed in the publishing world. Little changes that had been rearing their heads started bucking wildly across the landscape - eBooks, the Kindle, Self-Pubbing, The death of modern publishing as we know it today!

Suddenly, there was a way to get my original story into the hands of readers hungry for a wholesome, old-fashioned ghost story - as an eBook!

I'll probably still write the different version of The Whispering Ferns, depending on the reception this original one gets, or maybe I'll just move on to the second book in the series (It has pirates in it!) But either way, I have a way to share my new friends with everyone in the world, and that's super exciting!

So on April 26th, two years to the day since I decided to write it,  
The Whispering Ferns, A Moonstone Bay Mystery
There's that cover again!

will be released for sale on, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and all fine eBook sellers! It'll be a steal at $2.99, and I hope you'll check it out, review it and spread the word. And most importantly, I hope you enjoy the book!

The ROUS FAMILY -     

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mud Season - The Beginning

Now Playing -  
Marilyn  by Dan Bern

Life -  

This last week was a pretty good one here in the ROUS house!   

Lindsay's wisdom teeth pain has finally receded to the point that she's essentially off of the ibuprofen and with the exception of needing her filling shaved off a bit,, she's back to normal. Which also good news for our diets, as I can start cooking real food for the both of us again.

For the last, well, it seems like forever, but I think it's been about three months, I've been studying (And more than that, stressing) about my upcoming Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Exam. (The PTCE) It's a step in my job that's required for the position I'm in, especially if I ever hope to have my own store, but man... It's darned hard to take a test about drug generic names, usages, interactions and strengths when you work in a pharmacy, but not IN a pharmacy.

Luckily, this last week, I took it and passed. I don't know how well I did, though I felt pretty confident by the time I pressed the "Finish" button. They'll send me my official results in the mail in a few days, but they give ya a preliminary result on the screen a t the end. Used to be, you'd have to wait up to six weeks to find out whether you passed... that would be truly horrible.

A couple of interesting things about the test facility -
- You cannot bring ANYTHING with you, not a pencil, or a wedding ring or a calculator. They give you a locker and check you pretty closely.
-Instead, they give you a white board and a marker and tell you not to erase anything, they'll bring you another if needed. Then they hand you a $2 calculator that displays a 5 instead of an 8 half of the time.
-They have you sign a screen, take a scan of your fingerprints and both palms. I've never had my palms read, it was less illuminating than I'd expected.
-I chose exam cubicle number Three for luck.
-Unfortunately, it was right next to the incredibly obnoxious white noise machine.
-Their noise blocking headphones were clearly designed for someone with ears twice the size of mine but with a head that was six inches smaller around.
-At the end of the test, they ask you three times if you're really really sure you're done.Then you get a screen that should be your results. Instead, it's the start of a 20 question survey about the facility. Those are some nerve wracking questions while you wait to get your score!
-I passed the damned thing! That's the most important detail.... I can finally get back to doing things I love in my spare time instead of fretting about a test.

Oh, and MUD SEASON IS HERE! Or, as we prefer to call it, Rainy season! Hooray!

We took an hour walk in the pouring rain yesterday and really enjoyed it.

Writing - 
Now this is exciting too - I have a few pages of editing left, then all that remains is formatting before I can officially release THE WHISPERING FERNS! It was a long decision, but I've concluded that I like the book as it is too much to let it linger for years while I try and find a publisher. So I'm going to create a new series to write traditionally and make The Moonstone Bay Mysteries an online release series!

I don't have an official release date quite yet, but soon! SOON!

In the meantime, here is the fabulous cover by Deeply Dapper-

More news to come!

The ROUS FAMILY -     

Friday, April 8, 2011

At Last

Now Playing -    
Whispering Grass by The Ink Spots

Life -  
 It's been a vaguely eventful week or so here at the ROUS house. Spring has finally arrived in a slightly long-term form. The snow is starting to melt into rivulets of cold water washing out my driveway and out back, we can start to spot signs that there is indeed grass back there somewhere beneath the arctic floes.

Yesterday, we took a really nice walk with the dogs, the first in a good long while. (Since Ludo hurt his paws, actually.) There aren't really many dog-friendly places around here to take them during the winter, so the poor guys have been cooped up for far too long. Ludo about bust a gasket when we put his harness on him, I didn't think he'd ever stop wagging his tail. Unfortunately, unlike back in Idaho, where we were spoiled to have a large park, wide sidewalks and a gorgeous walking path within a brief stroll from our front door, we have to travel out here to find a place, so that's our goal, to find a conveniently located place that we can comfortably walk our kids.

The road outside our house is out of the question, there's no walkway and the fools around here go speeding past so quickly that I feel unsafe checking my mail, let alone walking two large dogs. Walks are supposed to be relaxing. Luckily, Linz remembered a more secluded looking road a couple of miles further down that we had driven along when we visited the cemetery in the area. It's not the best, it still has a few jerky motorists, but the road is wide and relatively untraveled, and there's a few rural farm sites, so Ludo can salivate at the geese and chickens.

And better yet, just a few blocks down the road, we found an old logging trail. Who's to say it wont be used this summer and chase us elsewhere, but for now, it's perfect. It's not too steep, not too rugged and it's blocked from motorized traffic. It was half snow this time around, but that will change soon, and that's why we used some of our tax return on some Bean Boots, so we don't have to worry about icy puddles!

On another "Finally" note, tomorrow morning, I take my PTCB (Pharmacy Technician Certification Board) exam. I've been studying off and on the last three days and I feel vaguely more confident than I did a few months ago. My weak spot  is clearly going to be the drugs and usages. I have the math and history pretty well down, but it's hard to grasp the generic forms and usual dosages of something that I have no real day to day contact with. It's an area that my position is really hurt by taking the test when we are in a management position, not a pharmacy one.  So wish me luck. I don;t have all of my hopes and dreams riding on passing, but it sure would be a huge weight off of my shoulders.

Speaking of huge weights, we decided to get me a desk for my art and sculpting and lego assemblies, in an attempt to keep our sparse counter space in the kitchen free from little yellow men and pieces of paper. So we found a nice one at Goodwill for a great price, only $25. It has deep drawers and is in pretty good shape, and is quite sturdy.

And weighs something like 100,000 pounds! I've never had such a difficult time moving a piece of furniture in my entire life, and that includes the time I moved a half-full washing machine down a flight of too thin basement steps by myself. I thought I was going to die by the time I got the steel behemoth inside, and that was after taking off most of the doors in between and bruising the linoleum in a few places. But man, it's nice having a desk again, if only to have a place to organize all of my Deeply Dapper things.

And Ludo likes it -

Writing - 
I actually have something exciting to announce here! I don't have a firm date yet, but I've decided that, although I'm still working on a different version of it, written from Smith's point of view with some more humor and action, that I will release the original version of THE WHISPERING FERNS in eBook form sometime in the next month or so. I'm not making too big of a deal of it, or promoting it too heavily, but I think the version is a lot of fun and there's a market out there for fans of old-school children's mysteries and adventures.

I should have a cover finished in the next couple of weeks and a release date not too soon after. Stay tuned!

The ROUS FAMILY -     

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

2011 Reading Update - 1st Quarter

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I like to read a lot. Though I dropped the ball on the last quarter in 2010, I usually post an update every three months of what books I read that quarter. (Actually, looking back, I haven't posted an update since the second quarter of 2010.. my bad!)

Anyway, here's The List. Comments after!

COOL CACHE by Patricia Smiley 292pgs, 2/5

THE SENTRY by Robert Crais 320pgs, 4/5

JACK DANIELS STORIES by J.A. Konrath 316pgs, 4/5

THE LIES THAT BIND by Kate Carlisle 275pgs, 2/5

AT HOME by Bill Bryson 512pgs, 5/5

THE MISENCHANTED SWORD by Lawrence Watt-Evans 292pgs, 5/5

TO THE DEVIL, MY REGARDS by Gischler and Smith 80pgs, 5/5

THE CASTLE IN THE ATTIC by Elizabeth Winthrop 179pgs, 4/5

RUN by Blake Crouch 213pgs, 5/5

CHOKE ON YOUR LIES by Anthony Neil Smith 270pgs, 4/5

THE UNWILLING WARLORD by Lawrence Watt-Evans 248pgs, 4/5

SWIMSUIT by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro 400pgs, 4/5

BLOODTHIRSTY by Marshall Karp 377pgs, 5/5

A BAD SPELL IN YURT by C. Dale Brittain 314pgs, 4/5

THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST by Stieg Larsson 576pgs, 1/5

WORTH DYING FOR by Lee Child 400pgs, 4/5

NINE DRAGONS by Michael Connelly 480pgs, 2/5

GIDEON'S SWORD by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child 352pgs, 3/5

THE BLOOD OF A DRAGON by Lawrence Watt-Evans 236pgs, 4/5

SHAKEN by J.A. Konrath 304pgs, 4/5

WITH A SINGLE SPELL by Lawrence Watt-Evans 288pgs, 5/5

THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE by Douglas Preston & Mario Spezi  322pgs, 4/5

TAKING FLIGHT by Lawrence Watt-Evans 220pgs 5/5

SPELL OF THE BLACK DAGGER by Lawrence Watt-Evans 294pgs 4/5
So let's see... That's 24 books, clocking in at approximately 7,560 pages (That's an approximation because many of the books were in eBook format without an accurate page count, in which case I typically went with the paperback number)

That come to about 84 pages a day or a book every 3.75 days in the first quarter of 2010. Not my biggest quarter, in fact it's one of the smallest, but I was surprised I cracked twenty as busy as we've been and with the winter funk we got into.

Some good stuff here this time, mostly re-reads, surprisingly. I have a lot of new books in my to-read list, but eight of them I'd read before. Granted, most were from Lawrence Watt-Evans, as I'm in the middle of an Ethshar marathon right now and I have to read a Marshall Karp novel every quarter to keep my funny detective bone intact.

My favorite new read? At Home, without a doubt. Probably the only book in the bunch that I'll read over and over for enjoyment, though I did get a huge kick out of the new offerings from Conrad, Gischler, Smith and Crouch.

Least favorite? The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, without question. Overblown, boring and way overrated.

I have no idea what the next quarter will bring... I've already fallen in love with Nation by Terry Pratchett and I'm desperately hoping I can get my hands on Kill Me If You Can, the new novel from the Always Spectacular Marshall Karp and author extraordinaire James Patterson!  I can't wait to see how two authors that I really dig work together.

You can read reviews for most all of these over on Reviews Of Unusual Size by clicking them in the list! (Some are forthcoming, I'm a little behind on my reviews...)