Words to live by

“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… “cruising” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer?

In choice…!

Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life…?”

- Sterling Hayden

Talk about words to live by. He lived a very interesting life too, from movie star to Intelligence officer to world traveller. I’d love to live even half the life this man lived. :)

Differing ideas on "relaxing"

I had a good relaxing weekend, although I’m not sure some would call it that. ;) Deciding to take a couple days off from writing and “business pursuits”, I instead went out and did Stuff. Fun Stuff.

In no particular order of importance or chronology:

– visited a local Renaissance Faire; fortunately the day I went (read: NOT TODAY) was fantastic weather and made for fun times. For once I didn’t dress up, preferring this time to enjoy it as a civilian. Yes folks, I do have several costumes and dress up regularly in full pirate gear. Arrr.
– took a nice long motorcycle ride. Initially it was a toss-up for going to the coast or heading to Yosemite (frankly my favorite journey by far although I don’t do it often), but as I hit the metaphorical snooze button too many times and woke up late I just did a few twisties and mountain roads before coming home.
– saw “Cabin In The Woods”. LOVED “Cabin In The Woods”. Considering it was written/directed by Joss Whedon I already knew going in that I would like it, but my face still lights up thinking about certain scenes. Seriously people, the elevators at the end. The elevators.
– had a KDP Select story go free for two days, and watched it rise to top out at #4 on the Free Erotica list on Amazon. That’s all you guys, and THANK YOU for getting me there. To all newcomers to this humble blog (that, I’m realizing suddenly, DESPERATELY needs a facelift), I really hope you enjoyed the story!
– replayed Portal 2, found it just as fun and funny as the first time; if I could be witty and funny off-the-cuff like GlaDOS I’d be a very lucky girl. (and my enemies would be ripped to weeping tatters when I got done. The thought does make me smile.)

All in all, a fun and relaxing weekend. I’d intended to do some work on the old bike but the weather was WAY too nice here to stay cooped up in a garage, so decided to ride instead. Right now I’m propped up on the couch with my laptop, watching the Dude play “Elder Scrolls: Skyrim” and trying to find the nerve to start writing again. Yup folks, this post is a handy-dandy procrastination tool and I shall wield it proudly within my golden grasp. Fear my procrastinating skills for they are LEGION!!!

Or, something. ;-)

Differing ideas on “relaxing”

I had a good relaxing weekend, although I’m not sure some would call it that. ;) Deciding to take a couple days off from writing and “business pursuits”, I instead went out and did Stuff. Fun Stuff.

In no particular order of importance or chronology:

– visited a local Renaissance Faire; fortunately the day I went (read: NOT TODAY) was fantastic weather and made for fun times. For once I didn’t dress up, preferring this time to enjoy it as a civilian. Yes folks, I do have several costumes and dress up regularly in full pirate gear. Arrr.
– took a nice long motorcycle ride. Initially it was a toss-up for going to the coast or heading to Yosemite (frankly my favorite journey by far although I don’t do it often), but as I hit the metaphorical snooze button too many times and woke up late I just did a few twisties and mountain roads before coming home.
– saw “Cabin In The Woods”. LOVED “Cabin In The Woods”. Considering it was written/directed by Joss Whedon I already knew going in that I would like it, but my face still lights up thinking about certain scenes. Seriously people, the elevators at the end. The elevators.
– had a KDP Select story go free for two days, and watched it rise to top out at #4 on the Free Erotica list on Amazon. That’s all you guys, and THANK YOU for getting me there. To all newcomers to this humble blog (that, I’m realizing suddenly, DESPERATELY needs a facelift), I really hope you enjoyed the story!
– replayed Portal 2, found it just as fun and funny as the first time; if I could be witty and funny off-the-cuff like GlaDOS I’d be a very lucky girl. (and my enemies would be ripped to weeping tatters when I got done. The thought does make me smile.)

All in all, a fun and relaxing weekend. I’d intended to do some work on the old bike but the weather was WAY too nice here to stay cooped up in a garage, so decided to ride instead. Right now I’m propped up on the couch with my laptop, watching the Dude play “Elder Scrolls: Skyrim” and trying to find the nerve to start writing again. Yup folks, this post is a handy-dandy procrastination tool and I shall wield it proudly within my golden grasp. Fear my procrastinating skills for they are LEGION!!!

Or, something. ;-)

Sick. Ugh.

I spent the last two days nursing the Dude through his flu and right as he’s starting to get over it, the bug jumps to me. Typical. Now I’m carrying around Kleenex with aloe with me through the house, popping Halls and DayQuil like it’s candy and napping as much as possible. Just Skyped with my folks and of course the Mother Hen got all protective demanding I get into bed immediately.

Not a bad idea, actually.

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So a dairy cow was confirmed to have Mad Cow Disease in central California. Suddenly the Evil Day Job got a whole lot more interesting…

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Writing continues on the sequel but frankly isn’t as quick as I’d like thanks to this danged cold. I’m about 2,400 words into it so far and haven’t yet scratched the surface; this one will be quite a bit longer than the first, a fact I’m hoping my readers will appreciate. Unfortunately that also means it’ll take a little longer to write, edit and beta but at least the cover is done and continues to inspire me. (write up on that two posts back)

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Misery is a sinus and inner ear headache at the same time (accompanied by a sore throat, stuffed up nose, chest congestion, bouts of nausea and, the pièce de résistance, laryngitis) so I’m going to take the Mother Hen’s advice and crawl into bed. Night folks, see you on the other side (hopefully a much less sick puppy).

Anatomy of a cover

So I thought to coincide with my latest release (and as a way to procrastinate writing – sorry!), I’d explain the process I usually go through on one of my covers. In this case I’ll use the cover for the upcoming sequel to “Anything He Wants”.

First off, I’ll start out by saying that I’m not any kind of professional. I use a free download of GIMP to work most of my images. That said, here’s a taste of what goes into designing a cover.

Half the battle is finding a good cover image. Okay, 95% of the battle really. Stock photo sites (123RF and Dreamstime are my favorites as they’re the “cheapest”) give a wide variety of images but the search function is limited to an image’s tags so you have to go through pages and pages to find what you’re looking for. iStockphoto can be one of the pricier venues and of course that’s where I find the perfect picture:

[Original stock photo]

The image is black and white, and while I like that look it’s not what I’m after for a cover. I’ll need to use the GIMP Colorize tool to adjust the values. This takes some tinkering with the RGB values, sharpening the Contrast and Saturation meddling, and finally meddling with the Burn/Dodge tool to darken/lighten areas. Voila, you have a colored background image:

Pretty to be sure, but not done. My hero has green eyes that I want to pop, so I add a layer then manually paint in the eyes. The heroine also looks washed out with her lips so similar to her skin tone so I add a bit of red there, adjusting the opacity of that separate layer until it’s about right. I do a few blond highlights on the heroine just to add color (although it’s hard to notice as I kept that layer very opaque):

So I have a background image. Awesome, and it looks really tasty! Now for titles etc.

Hmm, the white word is getting lost in the background so I create another layer to add a black backdrop, making it partially opaque:

Better definitely but now we’ve lost the possessive hand. So I toyed with a few options, deleting portions of the black to let the background image shine through, but now it looks choppy. No longer in love with the idea, I delete that black bar and start anew, using the Airbrush tool around the back of the more curlicue spots and the edges of white-on-light.

*blink* Wow. I think I have a winner! (Seriously, it always amazes me when a cover comes together) I might tweak a few things between now and publication (the non-ornate font at the bottom looks bland to my eye) but it’s pretty set in stone otherwise. Now to get cracking on the story!

What do you guys think?

Promo update, and new release: "Back In The Groove"

For the sake of experimentation with Amazon’s KDP Select program, I’ve decided to make “Anything He Wants” exclusive through Amazon/Kindle for the next three months. I’m hoping the free promo days will help my fledgling career, plus I love giving out stuff anyway.

UPCOMING FREE PROMO: “Anything He Wants” will be free on Amazon for two days, APRIL 28 and 29. Mark your calendars and tell your friends, let’s make this day memorable boys and girls!!! ;-D ;-D

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I’m also excited to announce my second release. This story was meant to be a “palate cleanser” writer-wise, something different than my AHW series, but I totally fell in love with the characters and, well, I’m already in love with San Diego. ;D You can call this my own little love letter to that southern California oceanside town! (and no, this one is definitely not exclusive through Amazon)

*****

Still recovering from a nasty divorce, Alice Mackenzie has returned home to San Diego to try and pick up the pieces of her life. The time away underscored for the divorcee how much has changed since she left, and how she herself has changed from the carefree young girl that used to roam the shores of the beaches.

But a chance meeting with a former neighbor who still remembers her very well leads to a welcome home she never expected. James “Dickie” Hardgrove grew up next to Alice and had a crush on the older girl that lasted long after she left the seaside town for almost fifteen years.

They’ve both grown up since their last meeting: Alice is afraid she’s lost the vibrancy she once had forever, but James still sees the beautiful girl he never forgot, and will do whatever it takes for her to see it too.

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