Thursday, January 30, 2014

Type A personality?

One of my friends posted a link on Facebook. 16 signs you're a little - or a lot - Type A. When I was a teenager I saw a TV program about Type A personalities and recognized myself. The documentary stated that people of a certain kind are more likely to plunge into the unknown, want to drive fast cars, fly small planes or go skydiving, climb mountains, be entrepreneurs, and so on. 

That's pretty much me. Flying small planes, driving off road, traveling alone, moving to the US, playing in a rock band... Yeah, there's some plunging into the unknown there.

I have a decent amount of common sense for ordinary situations, but I continue on with business as usual when it comes to things most people realize will be uncomfortable or potentially dangerous. Full speed ahead!

Anyway, the article says Type A tends to be, "driven, impatient, and competitive, and get irritated by impediments to your progress on things."

It also lists 16 signs.

Waiting in long lines kills you a little bit inside.

Yes. I have stuff to do and I don't have the time for this. Get out of my way! There should be a special lane for slow people who bring coins and coupons. And by the way, slow moving cars are supposed to be on the right side of the road.

You've been described as a perfectionist, overachiever, workaholic, or all of the above.

Yeah, about that... I graduated my Bachelor's degree Summa Cum Laude with one B+ and the rest As. In a foreign country, in English, which is my second language. That B+ is driving me crazy, especially since I was only a couple of points away from an A. Grrr!

You bite your nails or grind your teeth.

No, neither of the above. However, long nails drive me crazy, because they get in my way when I want to do stuff, and when that happens they have to come of immediately. If no scissors are in sight I will tug at the annoying nail until it comes off, and then I'll look at my hand and say, "Now, that looks awful. Why did I do that?"

You have a phobia of wasting time.

Yes.

You're highly conscientious.

Oh yes. I assume that others will perform their best for me, and I can do no less in return.

You're a bit of a catastrophist.

Maybe. A part of me anticipate the zombie apocalypse or whatever large event will finally end our civilization, because that will make away with all the long lines everywhere. A wiser side of me realizes this isn't a solution to look forward to, but the writer side of my mind insists, "But, wouldn't it be interesting if something would really happen?"

You frequently talk over and interrupt people.

Yes. I strive not to, because it's a rude and annoying habit, but...

You have a hard time falling asleep at night.

Not usually, no. I'm up fairly early with the dogs, work full time, have a family, a job to the side, and work as a writer. I go to bed around midnight, and by then I'm exhausted. If I get a chance to close my eyes and the room is fairly quiet (hubby likes to watch TV in the bedroom) I'm out.

People can't keep up with you

This is true, as long as we're not talking about running. Haha!

You put more energy into your career than your relationships.

You know, I really wanted to answer "no" because it sounds so awful, but it's true. I need to work on this, because people are important. I just get engulfed in what I'm doing...

Relaxing is hard work.

Yes, because there's always a story that should be written or edited, or some marketing that should be done, or something else that has fallen behind...

You have a low tolerance for incompetence.

Oh yes. Don't get me started, haha. I am also mortified if I'm the one who's incompetent.

You'd be lost without your to-do list.

It's even worse. I get annoyed when I have to remind other people to do stuff, because they don't have a to-do list. Goes back to all the other points: stop wasting my time, dammit. LOL!

Everything is urgent.

Not everything, but if it's not urgent it's probably irrelevant and has no business on my to-do list in the first place...

You're sensitive to stress.

Yes and no. I get stressed when I can't keep my commitments because of other people. I guess we're back at "low tolerance for incompetence" and the to-do list again...

You make it happen.

Yes, to the best of my abilities. Why sit around and wait for stuff to happen when you can take action?


How are you doing with these questions? Are you a full-speed-ahead Type A, or a more sensible Type B?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In the head of a writer

I always thought my head was a normal place. I mean, it's normal to me. Sometimes when I'm around other people it dawns on me that not everyone thinks the same way, and the sudden insight of "not everyone does this" is quite a revelation.

The other day, one of my friends asked, "Why do all Godzilla movies take place in America? Shouldn't he be in Asia somewhere?"

My short answer would be, "Yes. I'm pretty sure he's a Japanese invention."

The long answer became, "Yes, but he probably already ravaged Tokyo and continued through Japan, so there's no people left to eat there. Then, he wanted to swim to the mainland because he was still hungry, but he went in the wrong direction and came to San Fransisco instead of hitting China."

Perfectly logical explanation, right?

Later, we talked about a ghost in the bathroom who silences my friend's phone every time she leaves it in there. Clearly, the person was in the tub and had a radio or something, was startled by a ringing phone, and ended up being electrocuted in the tub. Now he or she doesn't want ringing phones or anything with electricity in there, because they don't want it to happen again.

Good thing people around me don't know everything that happens in my head.

Like... My neighbor on one side has a very neat, polite, and helpful teenage boy. It's not natural for kids today to be that good. He's clearly in some secret organization, training to be a spy.

Do you make up stories about people around you, or is it just me?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sneak peek of still unnamed novella =)

I've been working on a little something for a sci-fi romance anthology. It's almost done, which is a good thing since it's due in a couple of weeks. Here's the (unpolished) beginning. Does it sound interesting?


Rhodesia’s heart thumped in her chest.

People could probably hear it in the next city.

She forced a breath into aching lungs and kept a hand over her mouth to stifle the sound of an explosive exhalation. Hiding behind a tree was hardly sufficient, even if the trunk was wide enough to cover a two-person hovercraft, but she had to catch her breath.

Were they still on her tail?

Probably. And they wouldn’t be tired.

Maybe she should just give up and submit to the conversion. No place was safe, she had nowhere to run to, and perishing alone in the forest might be worse than turning into one of them.

A beautiful sound drifted down from the branches above her head. One of the indigenous birds sang. Happy, joyful, and defiant.

Through her adolescence teachers talked about the old world and life on a planet called Earth. She never understood why it was important, not until now when her own life was in shambles. Remembering the past might be more valuable than she ever realized.

Birds on Earth were allegedly different than here, but it was hard to believe such a preposterous statement. Flying animals should look the same everywhere.

She remembered a photo of a feathered creature with an extraordinary beak. It hadn’t even been a holograph; the picture was two dimensional, and so old the color had faded. Pelican. It had been called a Pelican.


How such a being could fly boggled the mind.




Monday, January 27, 2014

I'm a gerat admistrator.

I am about to change my daytime job. I'm super-excited, and will probably babble about it at great length once I'm settled in at the new place. Until then, I'm making my best attempt at finding a replacement for me for Pet Doors USA.  No one is irreplaceable, but I would feel better if I knew I left them in good hands.

We've had an ad on Craigslist and gotten an ample supply of replies. Interesting enough, only about ten percent of applicants seems to actually have read the ad. We have received an astounding amount of applications saying, "I look forward to a full-time career in the healthcare industry."

PlexiDor pet door
The company makes pet doors. That's why it's called Pet Doors USA. They're very good pet doors, the best if you ask me, but it's certainly not a healthcare job.

It also surprised me how many applied for a job that requires writing without proofreading their resume.

The little red squiggly line in Word implies that something is spelled wrong. Before sending in a work application to any form of administrative job, it would be wise to check the red squiggly lines and make sure the application is spelled right. It is counterproductive to write "I'm a gerat admistrator."

I assumed people would know what kind of job they're applying for, and that they would be able to click the spell-check button in whatever word processor they use. I also assumed it would be easy to find someone able to follow the simple instructions in the ad.

That is, I ask for cover letter and resume, because these are two different types of writing, and the person needs to master both. Besides that, parts of the job requires an ability to follow instructions to the letter. Failure to do so can mess up the customer database.

Of the people who read the ad and understood that pet doors aren't healthcare, only three applicants managed to supply cover letter and resume without miss-spellings.

Manatee county has over 333,000 legal year-round inhabitants, and Sarasota around 387,000. That makes well over 700,000 people. (The real numbers are probably larger.) You'd think this would be easy...

At least we got three, and interviews are underway. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lorde, Lordi, same difference... Or maybe not.

I sometimes comment on the differences in language and the comical situations that can arise. Here's a recent one.

A few weeks ago someone asked if I've heard Lorde. I said "Yes" with confidence, thinking I knew a lot about the subject. I forgot to take the language barriers into account. When this person said Lorde  it sounded just like I would say Lordi in Swedish.

I said, "I didn't think that would be your kind of music."

"Oh yes, I love her. Can't believe she's just sixteen."

"Sixteen? Guess she's new. I didn't know there's a girl in the band, but it's hard to see behind the masks, of course."

"What masks?"

"The monster masks."

Yeah, not talking about the same thing...

Lordi is a Finnish hard rock band that wears monster masks and - funny enough - won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006.


I Googled Lorde. She is... not that.



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Book review: Salvation by Aeon Igni

After spending most of the day outside in chilly weather, I wanted to snuggle up in the sofa with dogs and something to read. My iPad held Salvation by Aeon Igni, and the book seemed perfect for the occasion.

Check out the blurb:

Samantha Simmons knows she's out of time. Her bleak and solitary existence in an underground sewer is about to be compromised by a gang of thugs whose leader wants her for his own nefarious purposes. Driven past the point of desperation, Samantha does what any self-respecting woman would do: she poses as a young man to get a job aboard a cargo ship with an all-male crew.

But will life in space turn out to be the salvation she seeks? Between learning how to perform her duties on the spaceship and avoiding assault or certain death at the hands of the unsavory characters she meets, Samantha spends her time guarding her secret identity and fighting her growing feelings for the handsome and scrupulously honorable Captain Morse.

All too soon, she has to make the ultimate choice: will she tell him her secret and face his wrath, or will she leave and protect her honor?


So, what's my verdict? 

The book was a perfect companion for my afternoon of relaxation. The characters are carefully crafted and likable, the environments and technology well thought through, and the tempo just right. Here is the review I posted on Amazon.

"Salvation follows Samantha Simmons as she struggles to escape a life as homeless and hunted by thugs. She dresses up as a boy and gets herself a job as translator on a spaceship. Getting off the planet seems like a great idea. Unfortunately, her new employer Captain Morse is both handsome and kind, and he takes his job as protector for young "Simmons" seriously. As much as Samantha struggles to stay in character, surviving harrowing adventures as a boy becomes more and more difficult as she falls in love.

I enjoyed Salvation. The story is exciting, funny, sexy, and short enough for me to have time to read the whole thing. I definitely recommend it. I hope to see more stories with the same characters in the future - I would love to follow their adventures."

To make it even better, it's just 99 cents for Kindle. What are you waiting for? Go get it!

Today, Sarasota and I didn't go well together.

Early this morning I headed out for the Book Fair at the Sarasota Farmer's Market. I realized I might be a few minutes late, but should be on time to help with the tables. 

Close to Sarasota I saw a sign saying, "Only one lane ahead."

On a three lane road that is a cause for concern, but at 6:45 in the morning I wasn't too worried about it. Then, traffic stopped. The straight ahead lane that should be open was blocked by police cars. I followed traffic and stopped when the police man directing traffic held his hand up.

While I waited another officer walked out in the lane in front of my car. He was carrying some signs to help direct traffic. They looked heavy. He was still right in front of my car when the police man directing traffic decided it was my turn to go.

It was still dark, and I'm assuming police A didn't see police B, because he was getting quite aggravated over me not moving. I had no intention of hitting police B, so I rolled along with his walking pace hoping he'd move out of my lane over to the side. Police A's gestures looked more and more aggravated and I was relieved when I made it out of the crossroad.

I followed the detour, got back to US41, and thought I made it out of the adventure with just a few minutes' delay.

Wrong.

New police control waved me to the right, but I needed to go straight ahead.

"Sorry ma'am, you can't go that way."

Thus, I found myself on the road leading to the islands. Not good.

Another cop stood directing traffic down on this road, and I pulled up to him and rolled my window down.

I said, "Excuse me..."

He said, "You can't stop traffic, ma'am."

There was no other car as far as the eye could see. He realized that too and the stern face softened. "What do you need?"

"I'm feeling a bit lost. I'm trying to go to the Farmer's market."

"Well, you're going in the wrong direction. The Farmer's market is over on Main Street."

"I know that, but your colleagues have shut off the road and directed me over here."

"Oh." He remained quiet for a few seconds. "Well, you've gotta move on. You're stopping traffic."

I wasn't getting anywhere with him. I couldn't find a place to turn around, so I drove all the way over the long bridge to the island, turned around, and drove back towards the city.

The complications weren't over with that, but that was the end of the amusing complications. I arrived at the book fair an hour late, and people told me the road was shut off because of a marathon. I guessed bike race, but it might have been a marathon.

US41 carries so much traffic in a day it has even made it into a Stephen King book. If the marathon is that big a deal, wouldn't it be wise to find a way to redirect traffic so people have at least a chance to get where they're going?

I finally made it to the Farmer's Market. It was a tad too cold for my taste, but interesting to see so many people out and about.

High points of the day: chatting with Maya Sullivan from Sarasota Suds - I will tell you all about their products next week - and meeting Elinor Rogosin again. There were many other excellent writers, like Susan Klaus and Brenda Spalding, and I made some new friends!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Goddess's Saga is in Bewitching Book Tours Magazine!

I already liked the Bewitching Book Tours Magazine. It doesn't exactly get worse from seeing several pages about me. Fuel for my ego! ;-)

Jokes aside, it's a great magazine for book lovers covering a number of genres. If it's too small on your monitor, click on it and it should expand to a more readable format.


I'm going to the Sarasota Farmer's Market!

It is time for another book fair! On Saturday January 18th I will join a number of authors at the Sarasota Farmer's Market. If you're in the area, come see me!

Last time we did this the fair was cut short by a brief but intense storm that soaked everyone and everything, and tore our tent down. This time the weather prognosis is much more cheerful. It might be a tad cool for being Florida, but the meteorologists predict sunshine.

The event starts at 7 AM and I think it ends at 1 PM, but it might be 2 PM. Not sure. It is on Lemon and State St in Sarasota.

This is a great opportunity to chat with local writers, get autographs, and find a good book to bring you through the weekend. =)


Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: My past life as a dung beetle by L.K. Hatchett

In my experience, there's usually an imbalance between the number of hours in a day and everything I want to do. Thus, something must be cut out, and that something is often reading. I love reading a thick book, but nowadays I only have a few stolen minutes at a time, and it takes forever to finish something.

Short stories and novellas are an excellent remedy to the reading blues. They allow me to be entertained, and feel accomplished because I finished something.

This fine evening I lacked the inner peace to write, and I saw the short story My Past Life as a Dung Beetle by L.K. Hatchett mentioned on Facebook. Perfect! Amazon can be a miracle-worker; from the thought of reading to downloading to actually reading in seconds.

So, what did I think of it? Five stars.

Here is my review:

My past life as a dung beetle is about a collector of random stuff and his family. I had no idea what to expect when I started reading it, and the first couple of pages both amused and confused me. They were funny and cute, but I didn't get it. Then, the story really got going, and I hurried through it with a smile on my lips. All the pieces fell into place and everything made sense. 

 I'm sure I stem from a genetic line of gatherers. I save all sorts of crap because it might be useful at some point in the future. My husband has a collection of collections. My past life as a dung beetle made me smile with recognition, root for the hero, and sympathize with the heroine. It is a touching story about life, well worth reading.

The book is just 99 cents, and it is available on Amazon.
If you want to see more of the author, I recommend checking out this blog!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

My review: Chasing Love by Elinor Rogosin

I first encountered Elinor Rogosin when I went to do a radio interview for my book Kidnapped. I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but the waiting area and the interview area were only separated by a thin curtain, and I listened to her calm voice telling the story of a lost son.

I'm not good with faces or names, but when I went to a book fair in Sarasota in the fall of 2013 I recognized her voice and decided to strike up conversation. Since then I've met her a number of times, and besides being a delightful woman, she is one of the most interesting people I've ever known.

This fine evening I've been reading her book, Chasing Love, a Mother's Journey. It is a memoir, not a genre I normally delve into, but I began reading and couldn't stop until I was all the way through.

The book is well written, and that was a given knowing that she teaches writing at the Ringling College of Art and Design.

I expected it to be interesting. Elinor has lived all over the world, held fascinating jobs, met intriguing people, and combines her experiences with compassion, a bright mind, and knowledge of the arts. I didn't realize how interesting it would be.

Chasing Love tells the story of how Elinor meets and marries documentary filmmaker Lionel Rogosin. They travel to South Africa, India, Israel, and many other places on ventures both difficult and dangerous. She meets actors and politicians, juggles languages, religions, and cultures, and brings up three children in an ever changing environment.

That's just the beginning: Jonathan, Elinor's youngest son, journeys to India and disappears.




Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The future is near

Many variations of science fiction focus on interesting technology that might be available at some point in the future. In some instances, the future is much closer than anyone could have imagined.

Remember the old TV show Viper? It featured a car with a surface of little disks, allowing it to change color. At the time I thought the idea was cool, and that it must be a bank robber's dream. Today, it might not be reality in large scale production, but there are color changing cars.

Augmented reality windshield of Toyota's FV2 concept car.
In Great Britain, people painted an entire car with heat sensitive paint so it can chance color depending on the weather. The end result looks a bit funky in my opinion, but it works. And, Toyota revealed a concept vehicle able to change color according to the driver's mood at a car show late last year.

Mood-reading vehicles without steering wheels -  that can change color - sounds like science fiction to me.

The website phys.org talks about the Toyota concept car, "The FV2 appears to represent a convergence of technology with aspects reminiscent of smartphone apps, the Segway, robotics and virtual reality applications."

There are also rumors of a nano paint that can change color with the press of a button. I don't know if it's true or not, but even if it isn't, I'm sure it will be.

There are other cool inventions that sound like sci-fi.

About a year ago images circulated on Facebook promising a holographic keyboard. At the time the product didn't exist. Now, you can buy a laser projection keyboard on Amazon.

I haven't tried it, so I can't say if it works well or not, but it's cool. Some reviews say it's awesome. Others say that it works, but it needs a flat surface, and the user can't type too quickly.

My inner geek claims I have to have one. The more practical side says that I type very fast, that I would be annoyed with it, and that there's probably a learning curve with typing on nothing instead of on actual keys. I might still get one. We'll see.

Other cool things? A Canadian company named Thalmic labs have invented a bracelet that uses motion-tracking sensors to measure the position and orientation of a user's arm. It also senses the electrical activity of muscles for finger movement, and can read gestures such as pinch, point, and grasp.

Monday, January 6, 2014

This weekend, don't miss the Bradenton Reading Festival!

The reading festival is a two day event hosted by the Florida Writer's Association. There will be some great opportunity to meet and talk to talented writers from the area, snag autographs, and listen to authors read. 

I will be there, sharing a table with the lovely Elinor Rogosin who has written a book about her life-long search for her son, who traveled to India and disappeared. She is a fascinating person, and if you have the opportunity, I recommend stopping by to talk to her.

The reading festival is also combined with a FWA mini conference. I haven't looked into the workshops since I will be manning my table

Where is it?

The 1st Baptist Church in Bradenton have kindly opened its doors for the event. It is located at 1306 Manatee Avenue W in Bradenton FL, 34205.

When is it?

Friday and Saturday - January 10 to 11 2014 - from 9 AM to 4:30 both days.

Is there a cost?

No. The reading festival is free to visit.

I anticipate a well visited and fun event, and hope to see you there! =)

Stop by the festival and get some swag. Besides books
I will bring postcards to autograph, pens, and candy.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

It's research. Just research...

Every now and then there's talk about Big Brother going through people's e-mails and browser histories. Some people say authorities - whichever they might be - show interest in people searching for certain key words.

As a writer, this would pose a problem. We tell funny stories about it, but I have to admit that I expect the men in black to knock on my door after doing research for certain books.

Inspiration is what it is, and it goes wherever it wants to. Whether you're writing a story about a spy, a war hero in the middle east, or a criminal biker gang, Internet is the source of information. Like, point number four on the funny image below.

Lately, I've been researching climate change and the planet Venus, artificial limbs suitable for a soldier returning home after close encounter with a land mine, ways to break into the Smithsonian, hotels in Sebring, painkillers suitable for broken ribs, and what kind of weapons a criminal biker gang might use.

It would be possible to construe all sorts of scenarios from that, but it's just research. I promise!



Friday, January 3, 2014

Excerpt from "Flashback"

It's Friday, and I normally share a snippet from one of my science fiction books through the SFR Brigade presents. That feature hasn't started for the year yet, so I would love to share a few lines from my book Flashback instead. This book is about a war veteran suffering from PTSD, and his struggle to return to society.

---------------------

When they came home, Steve sank down in the sofa without even taking off his jacket. Life outside could sure be exhausting. Anna went into the kitchen, and he rested his head back and closed his eyes. Listening to her hum a song, just a little out of tune as she loaded the coffee maker soothed his nerves.

A hard rattling sound made him open his eyes again. Gunshots, and they were close. Anna still sang, and she would be an easy target.

He ran through the apartment, making sure to stay away from the windows. Peeking around the corner, his beautiful fiancée was oblivious to the danger.

Women.

How did they survive?

He sprung out from his hiding place behind the wall, shoved her down on the floor, and threw himself over her. After all she did for him, protecting her with his own body was the least he could do.

Anna wheezed, clearly trying to draw a breath.

"Sssh, they're coming."

She lay on her back, and the question in her eyes was clear. Have you lost your mind? Of course he had, a long time ago. She should know. When she opened her mouth, he covered it with his hand so she couldn't draw attention to them.

"Don't you hear them? The shots?"

She shook her head and closed her fingers around his wrist, attempting to pull his hand away.

"I think we're safe, but be very quiet."

Anna nodded, and as soon as he removed the hand, she whispered, "Please get off me. I can't breathe."

He obeyed, she endeavored to sit up, and he pulled her back down.

"Don't make yourself a target."

Why did she look so exhausted?

"Sweetheart, there's nothing there."

"But..." He had heard them.

"That noise? Remember the crazy people upstairs? I don't know what they're doing, but it's definitely them."

---------------------

Making books accessible

I've been talking about goals for 2014 this week, and one of my goals is to make my books more accessible. That means putting them on more platforms and stores than I currently have, but also finding new ways to reach people.

In the long run I would like to turn at least my self-published works into audio books, but that's a bigger project than I can take on right now. I am handy with audio software, and being an old musician I have a lot of equipment sitting around the house, but making a good audio book requires more than technology.

For now, I intend to ignore my Swedish accent (LOL) and read chapters to be put on my website. At first I was going to just make audio files, but then I thought, "Why not put the text up too, in a video?" 

This is my first effort, let's call it a prototype. Funny detail: there's one portion that says, "...the captain a big, pink, furry bunny." I don't know where my head was when I read it, but I say, "...a big, punk, furry bunny."

I might go back and edit it... Or maybe I'll leave it be and act surprised if anyone comments on it. ;-) If you don't believe me about the accent, here it is!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Book plans for 2014

The start of this year is different from 2011, 2012, and 2013. Up until now I've had a backlog of books, and I've been able to plan a few releases each year. Working full time, finishing my Bachelor's degree, editing last year's releases, and marketing made me fall behind. I don't have even one completed book waiting in my computer. Panic!

I have a lot of works in progress, and my mind bounces from project to project. The downside is that even though I've written tens of thousands of words during my Christmas break, it looks like I haven't accomplished all that much. The upside is that working on several fronts keeps my imagination entertained, and I will have a number of things finished at the same time.

One of the projects is a novella for an anthology scheduled for release this spring, so that one needs to be prioritized. After that I don't know. I seem to have developed the attention span of a guppy. Shiny object! I want them all, and I want them right now. LOL!

How do you work best? Do you like to do one thing at a time, or to keep many things going?