Monday, December 17, 2012

More Back Issues and a Hospital FAIL

The last several weeks have been some of the most stressful and busiest that I remember having in a long time. Aside from my writing and editing, I had to take a local part time job. I enjoy the job and it is a steady paycheck. In addition, I've just finished with finals and managed to squeak onto the Dean's List. It's not the President's List like my last semester but I'll take it, be happy with it, and vow to do better next semester. I'm also in the middle of moving, right here at Christmas. So yeah, my brain and time has been scattered.

As if that wasn't enough, my back seems to be getting worse. I went for another MRI last week to see what's going on. Which leads me into the main topic of this post:

A dear friend of mine who has had similar problems with her back, recently suffered from spinal compression. It was a horrible thing for her to go through and she still has a long road ahead. Such a thing happening to me has been a fear in the back of my mind since I began having these back troubles. The fact that my friend is going through this makes my heart hurt. But I'm also pissed. She, like me, had been telling her doctors for years that something more was going on with her back than simple strain. Only recently had they been taking her claims a little more seriously. Who knows if this could have been prevented.

But the kicker came when the local hospital sent her home with nothing more than pain meds and said she needed to rest. Are you freaking kidding me?  It is not my goal to demonize the entire hospital staff or even the entire ER staff; every time I have personally had a problem with myself or my children, we may have had to wait a very long time but we were taken care of (though I will mention one ER doc that stood at the door to my son's room, talked to me for five minutes only because I had him stand there and answer my questions, then charged me a couple of thousand for that). And I realize there is only so much nurses can do. However, even I know that when someone comes in to the ER with severe back pain, incontinence, and partial paralysis, you don't send them home with an order to rest, you send them for a MRI. That is a failure on so many levels... I just can't comprehend how someone with a medical degree can make a call like that. I could really go on about what I've witnessed at this hospital but I'll leave it at that for now.

Another hospital is taking care of her now.  I suppose I can be pissed all I want but anger won't help anyone.

In any case, I'll update when I get additional results in. I've given up on any normalcy that might have been. I figure this is what my life will consist of; struggling to move and pain.

On a happy note, though, the second Barrier story is close to its release date! Keep an eye out.

Until next time...

Peace, love, and common sense,

Pamela

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

No new projects until after January 1.

Hi, y'all. I just wanted to pop in a moment and let everyone know that I will NOT be accepting any new projects until after the first of the year. I have a lot (and I mean A LOT!) going on at the moment so I can't possibly take anything new. My apologies but I'd like to keep my sanity. The clients I already have scheduled are fine.

Update: I'm booked through February 4. Please make sure you check my website for current scheduling. Please note that if you have a project for me, I cannot guarantee you the next available spot unless you confirm it with me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting reflections and... wait, where have I been?

Coffee Time - (n.) That short stretch of time in the morning where you know you should be starting work but you can't until you've consumed at least half a cup of coffee.

As an aside, I enjoy the simpleness of the picture to the right, though I should note that my regular coffee cup is three times larger than that one.

I just spent my coffee time sifting through additional candidate and amendment chatter to make my final decisions this election day. To say I'm disenchanted with politics in general is an understatement. I think that our money-hungry government rather prefers to bog the people down in paperwork and extraneous language rather than DO something that makes a difference.

Nevertheless, I'm doing my part. I do think we're lucky to live in a nation that allows us to vote, no matter how corrupt the system has become. While I don't believe my national vote means much because of the nonsensical way they count votes, local elections deserve attention, too. Though I feel strongly about some of the candidates, having run for a local office, I have a little more tact than I used to because I've gotten a taste of what people expect of you and how people react to you when you run for public office. It's more challenging than any average person might expect. Heck, it's more challenging than I even expected. But I'm glad for the experience and the insight it provided. One might even say that it's had a positive effect on me; I no longer jump to criticize and I take more time looking at the overall picture than I once did.

In any case, I hope you go out and vote today, just because you can.

In the meantime, I realize that I'm not posting like I usually do and there are two reasons for that.  First, I'm going through a rough patch personally.  While it hasn't affected my desire to write, it has diminished my want to share.  Second, this semester of school has been especially difficult and time consuming. I'm coming up on finals in a month and this blog is a little low on the priority list so there hasn't been, and likely won't be, much of me to go around for a while.

But I'm still here and I'm still kicking. Writing-wise, I have the second Barrier story coming out very soon. No word on how my latest novel is faring just yet so we'll see.

Have a good week!

Peace, love, and breathe,

Pamela

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thinking in 1st person will help solve 3rd person POV issues.

I admit that I haven't had much experience writing in 3rd person – at least not in longer fiction. I'm remedying that as we speak. One thing I've learned by reading raw material was what to do and what not to when writing in 3rd person.

The Kangaroo Effect

POV (point of view) issues can KILL even the best story. I remember one novel I edited last year carried one of the most engaging stories I'd ever come across. But the author didn't understand basic POV rules when writing in 3rd person and it pretty much guaranteed the book got a toe-tag.

She didn't confine each scene to one person's POV. Instead, she was hopping around like a separate “see all” entity. She was in the cop's head one paragraph, telling what he was thinking and feeling, then the next paragraph in a witness's head, then the next another cop's head and so on until she'd covered everyone's POV in the scene. It's what I like to call the “Kangaroo Effect”, when you hop around from one point of view to the next without breaking the scene. It can be very confusing and chaotic for a reader.

Think 1st Person when writing 3rd Person

One trick that I've learned to help me tackle 3rd person POV problems is to think of it like writing 1st person.

Writing in first person POV is simple, right? You only have one person's thoughts and feelings to explore. Try that technique while writing 3rd person. Confine yourself to showing only one character's thoughts, feelings, reactions, etc. while writing your scene. If you absolutely have to show another character's POV in the same scene, close off the current section of the scene and start with a new section.

Hopefully that will help you understand 3rd POV issues a little better. If there are any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. I don't know everything but I try to help where I can. :)

Have a great day!

Peace, love, and happy writing,

Pamela

Thursday, October 4, 2012

One Year Post Discectomy Back Surgery Update

Image courtesy of rajcreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Each one of my post back surgery updates have held a common theme; pain. A year after the surgery to remove the portion of the L5-S1 ruptured disc that was pressing on my root nerve, I am still in pain. It is not the same striking pain that left me unable to function so that is the bright side. But it is still pain and there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not in pain. Some days are better than others. Some days I can get along with a facade of normalcy. Other days, I'm in so much pain that it ends up leaving me bedridden, my back swollen so bad, it feels like I'm resting on tennis balls when I lay down. In fact, as I write this, I am sitting up in bed with ice packs on my back. Sometimes pain rolls through my left leg (like right now) but I can usually adjust my position so it is tolerable. Oh, and the feeling did eventually return to my foot. The tips of three toes are still numb but it beats having no feeling in the majority of my foot like I did just after my surgery.

The kicker is that I believe I have more herniated discs but since an MRI eats up much of my allotted insurance, I can't risk not having enough insurance money in case one of my children needs it more. (Thanks, Anthem.) One of my doctors seems to think I have premature degenerative disc disorder, which is a premature aging of the discs in the spine. Though the doctor didn't know this, this is a condition that has already struck a few members of the paternal side of my family.

When this back stuff first started, I began to gain weight. Exercise became useless because the more I did it, the more I was in pain. When I understood what premature degenerative disc was, I realized that my Olympic dreams would never come true. Yes, I'm joking. I had to change my mindset about exercise, because I'd always hit it with fierce force. Now that I can't, I've had to focus on low impact exercising like walking, some biking, walking, swimming when I can, and walking. I realized I had to do more to promote weight loss. Weight loss, after all, would take unnecessary strain off my back, so I've been told. I have been doing portion control and really watching what I put into my body for the last three months. I'm down several pounds and two sizes. Has the pain let up any? Nope. I still have a few more pounds to lose so we'll see how much of a difference it has on my level of pain. I'll let y'all know.

My only option right now is to live with it the best I can. I don't have the insurance necessary to partake in pain management so I'm pretty much stuck with it for now.

If there are any changes, I will update. Until then, I hope you have better luck with your back pain than I've had with mine.

Peace, love, and dreaming of less pain,

Pamela

Monday, October 1, 2012

Newsletter Campaign #2 - "The Influence" and "Barrier" News


Here are the contents of the latest newsletter to hit subscribers of my mailing list. Subscribers to the official newsletter are automatically included in drawings for giveaways. To sign up and get news directly to your inbox, click here and fill in the form.


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Winner!

Announcing the winner of the newsletter sign-up giveaway! Dwight Coker from Fort Payne, Alabama was the lucky recipient of the signed, print copy of The Influence, the debut novel by Pamela Caves.

The Influence now on your favorite site!

The Influence is now available in print! You can order your copy from Amazon, CreateSpace, or order your signed copy on Pamela's website. Pamela's debut novel is also available in ebook format on your favorite site.  For Kindle owners, it is on Amazon, for Nook owners, it is on Barnes and Noble. Also on Smashwords in a variety of ebook formats. Search for The Influence on your favorite book purchasing sites!

Barrier is coming back!

Fiction Lake Publishing is gearing up for the release of the second story in Pamela's sci-fi adventure series, Barrier. The Purpose of Pain follows sixteen year-old Lenya McKay.  She is told that both her parents were killed when their vehicle imploded. She refuses to accept it, though, and goes off in search for them with the help of new Squad 13 weapon's officer, Corporal Zhoven Spiridon. Instead, they find something they could never have suspected; enemy infiltration. Growing up takes a sudden leap when she is Zhoven's only hope for survival against an unpredictable and brutal enemy.

You can contribute to the Barrier universe.

Sky Legend, SD 32's Chief Control Officer, is pregnant. But wait! Not only is she expecting, she has two buns in the oven! And Barrier fans get to decide the gender and names of these new additions.  There is currently a vote in progress on the official Barrier blog. Click here to see the announcement and vote in the poll on the sidebar to choose the gender of Sky's babies. Then email pamelacaves@rocketmail.com with as many name choices as you wish. The names Pamela chooses from the submitted pool will be written into a future Barrier story and the person/people who suggested the names will be announced on blogs and social media.

Be on the lookout for Barrier: The Purpose of Pain to be released later this year!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Positivity in politics: Is there such a thing?

It's been hard for me to come out of the funk that's shadowed me for the last few weeks and as I go through one of the most pivotal changes of my life, I'm sure that shadow will periodically cloud me over the next several months. For the most part, my journey from this point out is clear and I continue to learn and grow as a person. But just because things are clear, doesn't mean it's easy.

This political campaign season, both nationally and locally, has been especially heated; I don't remember any such time before where it has been so bad. It's no wonder that people become apathetic or are afraid to voice their opinions.  Over the last several months, I have found myself withdrawn from posting my own opinions, simply because I just don't want to deal with the negativity that usually follows. I have enough drama and stress in my personal life that I don't need to scramble to defend myself online. So much for strong, vocal me, huh? It's hard not to let this stuff get to you. It's hard to stay positive when you read and hear so much negativity. One of my pitfalls is that I tend to focus on the bad things people say and dismiss the good. Negativity seems to have so much more power than positivity and I guess that's why people have to work harder to be at peace with themselves and the world around them. One of my Facebook friends, Bronson Lee, wrote, "Individuals who are able to maintain a positive outlook on life no matter the situation are an inspiration to me. I wholeheartedly desire to obtain this type of emotional balance in my life. I am often put to the test, and I frequently fail!" I feel the same way. While I'm not quite to that point where I don't let others get to me, I feel that I'm continuing to learn and will soon be able to say, "You know what? I really don't care what you think of me. I'm happy and my kids are happy and that's all that matters."

Politics in of itself has such a negative connotation that during my campaign for council, anytime someone called me a politician, I vehemently denied that title. And each time I hear or see someone post or say something that is blatantly false, or an opinion that isn't backed by information so abundantly out there for them to read, something inside me starts to boil and that's something that I need to learn to let pass. Though I'm currently involved in a political group, it has taken some time for me to acclimate to that role. I'm gradually learning how to navigate the negativity without letting it impact the very details of my life.  I had to ask myself if I felt strongly enough about this cause to pursue it without doubts, to work at it without letting the aura around it affect my life in a negative manner, and if I was really pursuing it for the right reasons. I don't know that I've fully reached a decision yet but the decision-making process has been an educational experience for me.  To guide me, I take a look at what a dear friend of mine has accomplished. I watched him go from one of the worst turns of his life to reshaping it into something toward the better good. It's inspiring and helps me focus more on what I need to do for myself.

In the meantime, I will try to be as positive as I can be. It's hard to see how dismal the world has gotten while maintaining a sense of sunshine. It's difficult to see what new ways people are coming up with to hurt each other while trying to stay optimistic.

Enthusiasm and positivity, though, is what is needed to further oneself in life and that's exactly what I strive to do. Here's hoping your goals are the same no matter where you are in life.

Peace, love, and optimism,

Pamela

The Path Alone

There's a leaf, you see
And it has detatched from the tree
It hangs out just a little while longer
To see who can offer comfort
But after a while it realizes
That it's alone
Just the wind is all He has to offer

The other leaves are sympathetic but afraid
Letting go of the branch is sadness
Not without bravery
But they can't give the leaf what it needs
The reassurance, the encouragement
There is none
To disrupt their bubble is beyond their ability

So the leaf moves on
Trying to find a way to live outside the haze
In the end, maybe there is something better

Friday, September 14, 2012

The riddles of kids.

My niece, Anna, and sons, Zachary and Zeke, at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.




 I've said before that when you go from being a mom of under-school-age children to suddenly having one in school, the world takes on another color. You don't expect things to change so much. There's both fear and elation at play.

A particularly sound piece of advice I received last year from a fellow writer was, "If you don't believe everything that your child comes home to tell you, then the teachers won't believe everything they tell them."

It's hard to understand that if you don't have a child that blurts out the weirdest things at the weirdest times. A kid's mind fires so differently from our own that it's fascinating to see the connections they make. It doesn't mean they are intentionally lying, they just view things differently.

That first week of school last year, Zachary came home and said, "Momma, they left me." He preceded to tell me this horrifying story about how he'd missed getting in line for lunch and his class walked to the lunchroom without him, leaving him lost, wandering the halls alone because he hadn't gotten used to where everything was yet. That was alarming and terrifying for me. I tried hard not to come to any sudden conclusions but I was frantic and the only thing that ran through my head was that the kindergarten building was on the edge of the campus, close to the street. If he'd been left alone, he could've simply wandered off into the streets, to a stranger's house... anything. So I called his teacher and she calmly explained that nothing of the sort happened.

It occurred to me later that he had been so worried about getting lost in his new school, and that he'd played that scenario in his mind to the point it had become somewhat real for him. That was an interesting year with many interesting and confusing conversations with my son. Sometimes I think a person has to be an expert in riddles to understand the meanings behind what young children say.
Zachary helping with dishes; I believe it took him ten minutes to wash this one cup!

Now I have a first-grader and, while his thinking is a little more concrete, I still have to listen with a filter.

I'd called the school earlier this week because Zachary had come off the bus with a very red and sore arm. He told me that a kid three years older than him had called him names and "Indian burned" his arm. There's so much focus on bullies these days and the impact they have on kids that, as a mom, you want to go into defense mode with your kid. But I also didn't want to jump to any conclusions because my mom instinct was telling me there was something else.

The principal assured me that she would get to the bottom of it and later she called me back. As it turned out, Zachary had just as much role in the situation as the older kid. They were both bickering, name calling, and had resorted to physical contact. She'd lectured the other kid about being "bigger" (meaning maturity), to which he rose and started measuring the difference between them. Since he was only a forehead taller than Zachary, this confused him. In turn, she'd lectured Zachary about not doing things to purposely annoy others. "Why didn't you stop turning your head?" she asked and he replied that it (his head) just wouldn't stop turning. You know, as if his head were a separate entity from the rest of him. The boys learned their lesson and won't be sitting on the bus together anymore and the principal got a nice chuckle out of their answers and reactions.

It's a nice reminder of how hard teachers' jobs really are and how intelligent and patient one has to be in order to succeed in that position. It's a reminder, too, not to make assumptions about another kid. I wanted to; after all, my son was hurt. It would've been easy to slip into Momma Bear mode.

In the meantime, I'm glad that my son was able to give the principal a nice laugh and was happy that the situation wasn't anything worse. I'm both curious and nervous about what the rest of the school year holds for him.

Peace, love, and entertaining parenting,

Pamela

My sons painting a watercolor "Welcome Home" sign for their older brother.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What's it like publishing a book?

Please allow me to talk a little about The Influence, a work that was recently my debut published novel. 

I first wrote The Influence about eight years ago. Over the years, it has gone through numerous revisions and edits. After it came in as a finalist in two different writing contests, and after a big publisher held it for two years for consideration, I thought it was finally time to put this work out there.

My Experience with KDP Select

I put it first on Amazon's Kindle Select (KDP Select). All in all, there have been almost a thousand Kindle downloads, most of them having taken place during my first free promotion. I guess for the most part, I just wanted to try the Select program to see what it was like. I can honestly say that I wasn't that impressed. The biggest issue was that there were some number problems after my term ended. My sales report was still showing free promo copies being given away when it wasn't on promotion. 

Sure, I got a good number of downloads and even broke the top 30 in the Science Fiction category but it didn't do much more than that. I don't know that I'll ever go that route again. Not sure I see the point if not for just a little more exposure.

The Major Catastrophe

And, since this was my first published novel-length book, by definition there should've been a major disaster with it, and boy, was there ever! I discovered after that first promotion, when I read a particularly disturbing report that I had some big grammatical errors in my book, that it was the wrong file that had been uploaded to KDP. When my last editor sent it back to me, I didn't notice that she'd changed the file name. I immediately uploaded the correct version and hoped that the backlash wouldn't be too bad. It is horrifying to think that I let that one slip by but I've learned my lesson and can guarantee that it won't happen again.

General Feedback

But overall, despite my faux pas, I've gotten some good feedback. Not great, but good. Most of the feedback indicated that the book was slow to start but once they got to Part II (The Pedeck Murders) or when they got to the scene where Bella Mae was beaten by the Sunday school teacher, they said then is where it really picked up and they had a hard time putting it down after that. So I'm pretty much pleased with that.

So what was it like?

The excitement I'd imagined of getting that proof in the mail and finally seeing my hard work in print was actually a bit of an anticlimax. I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I really don't. But I'd built up the experience in my mind so much that when it got here, it was like I'd already lived it. I was thrilled, yes, and pleased with my work, but it wasn't "that moment" that clarified the world for me. I think that maybe published writers may understand where I'm coming from on that. But it makes things a little easier now. One you pass that threshold, the race is over and you can take your time and really work on the rest; you can make sure that the subsequent books just keep getting better and better without that feeling of doom upon your chest.

For the most part, I'm pleased with how this debut went. What's even better is that I'm not stopping there. My Barrier short fiction series is picking up a little with the announcement that Book 2, The Purpose of Pain, will be out toward the end of this year. And two and a half years after I first began penning the fantasy, Future Past, I'm still working on rewrites. I'm undecided whether I want to resubmit to a previously interested publisher in November or if I'm going to continue on the independent route. I'm leaning more toward resubmitting, despite the cut in pay. I think it could be an education for me, if I've managed to get this rewrite right. Possibilities are out there for the grabbing.

In the meantime, if you're interested in The Influence, click here to see where you can purchase it. You can also read some excerpts while you're making up your mind.

Peace, love, and keep writing,

Pamela

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"The Paranoid's Guide to Using the Internet" by Pamela Gifford - Excerpt

Available in ebook (Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Amazon) and print. Check for it on your favorite site!

From Chapter 3 of The Paranoid's Guide to Using the Internet
How social networks stay free

Social networks are not out to steal your information to sell to the highest bidder. There have been privacy issues on some social networks, yes, but for the most part, they aren’t as sinister as the media makes them out to be.
The majority of their money comes from ad revenue. They take keywords from your interests and what you post and they show you ads they think you might like. But that’s the simplest thing to explain.
While many social networks do allow third party sites and companies to partner with them (which means the third party can view your information) for a fee, they only do so when the user (you) allows them to. Of course there’s more techno babble where that came from but that’s just a basic sense of what can happen when you’re part of a social network.
For example, chances are, you might have heard someone who has used a social network freaking out about another site displaying their pictures and their information, open to all the world. Most of the time, when something like that happens, it’s not the social network’s fault. It’s the user who hasn’t utilized adequate privacy settings. Which brings me to the next subtopic.

About privacy settings

Every social network has privacy settings. Many range from super cautious to open for all. The problem is that many people aren’t aware of what their default privacy settings are.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found that people I don’t know have everything open for the entire world to see. I’ve even found that kids have no clue that they have their entire profiles visible to everyone. I remember at one point I was curious to see just how many kids on my teen family member’s friend list had their profiles closed. I was astounded at how many teenagers and preteens had their accounts completely open. By simply clicking on their names, I could find pictures of them and their friends, their family’s names, their pets names, their birthday, their favorite foods, where they were going on any given night, and so on. It was terribly frightening that so many children were so openly exposed. Beyond the parenting aspect of it, all of this was because of inadequate use of privacy settings.
How you change privacy settings depends on which social network you are on. It will either be listed as simple as “Settings”. You might also find those options under “Privacy Settings” or “Account Settings”. Then you can easily choose what you want to share with the world or what you want to keep private.
If you’re unsure how to do it, enlist the help of a trusted loved one. With billions of people on social networks around the world, chances are, someone in your family knows exactly how to make your profile as private as you’d like it to be.

Watching what you say

I’m not talking about limiting your opinion in any way. I’m talking about the indulgence of listing every little thing that you do. If you have people on your friends lists that you don’t know all that well, like long lost friends and extended family, be careful about tracking your movements.
For example, if you and your spouse are going to head to the movies, don’t mention it on your updates until after you’ve returned. There have been reports of people who have stated when they weren’t going to be home and then they come back to find they’ve been robbed.
But you said that it was unlikely someone would rob me from being online!”
I did say that and it is true. I don’t want to add to the fear or be the reason you stay away from the computer but I don’t want to BS you either. Things like that do happen. But if you’ll notice, YOU have the power to prevent such things from happening. Be smart about what you post. You don’t have to give away what you’re doing every second of every day just to be on a social network, even if it seems like that’s what your friends do. Before you post an update, ask yourself if revealing that information would leave you vulnerable. Would it tip off someone to know where you are or if you’re alone?
You’re in control of the social network, not the other way around.

Available in ebook (Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Amazon) and print. Check for it on your favorite site!

Friday, August 31, 2012

How to indent without using tabs

I had put these pictures up for a publishing group I was an editor of and found myself needing them for one of my authors at Fiction Lake. So maybe others can get some use out of them, too.

In these screenshots (which is the first page of my novel, The Influence), I use Open Office, but the concept should work the same for most word processors.

When formatting for ebook, using tabs is a no-no. But if you learned to type on a typewriter or before the days of needing to do your own formatting, tabbing became a reflex. I know; it took me forever to break the tab habit.

In any case, you can use the photos below to get an idea how to set your word processor so you don't have to tab. Once you get it set, all you'll have to do is hit enter after a paragraph and keep typing! Your indent will already be set.

And plugging for myself, if you need someone to format your work for ebook or print publishing, please consider my services.  Thank you.

You can click on the photo to enlarge. And if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments!




Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fyffe Spoke!

I've tried several times to write this. I know it's not a good idea to write while emotionally charged (which has gotten me in trouble before!) but I also knew that I needed to get something up about this.

I lost my bid for Fyffe council. Despite my efforts and my honesty, I lost the election. I wish the elected candidates the best and pray that they do right by the town. Forgive me for that slip of cynicism but I can't ignore it, in light of everything I've witnessed and experienced.

Being a writer has prepared me for rejection so this loss is nothing new. I've met so many wonderful people along this path and have made great new friends. Never in my life could I have imagined doing something so out-of-the-box from my otherwise reclusive personality. It all makes this experience bittersweet. I don't know that I've ever understood the concept of "losing but gaining" until now.

But I'm going to admit that part of me wants to be upset. I've lost friends during this, those who would rather dismiss or attack me for having an opinion than to agree to disagree, showing me exactly what kind of friends they were to begin with. And I appreciate those who have been respectful, even when they disagree.

I can't hide that I absolutely believe Fyffe got it wrong on all accounts. I feel like I'm speaking to a deaf crowd when I say that you haven't seen anything yet. But will you be surprised or will you still insist that nothing's wrong here? I'm interested to find out. But I've done what I could and it is out of my hands now. At least I tried and that's all anyone can do.

In the meantime, I have some big decisions to make in the next few weeks and it makes taking this loss easier. I'm relieved that this is finally over. My perspective has shifted and couldn't have been summed up better than what family friend Tina Glassco wrote on her Facebook after the shock of the results began to fade:

"Don't be depressed for the bad news; this is a blessing in disguise. Everyone needs to pray, and thank God for the blessing cause he knows what is in store for the town even though we don't, and has protected the ones who did not win even though it is hard to see at the moment. It could be something is going to happen that is more than each could handle. Leave the headaches to those who have to deal now. Keep your head up, and know you are loved."

So with that, I say thank you to everyone who voted for me and supported me through this. I'll still be on Facebook both on my fan page and my personal one (which you can subscribe to) and posting here on my blog.

Peace, love, and prayers for Fyffe,

Pamela

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"How goes the campaigning?"

"How goes the campaigning?" is a question I've been hearing more and more lately.

For those who aren't aware, I'm running for Place 3 on the town council in Fyffe, my hometown. In less than two weeks, I will know if the majority of the voters in Fyffe want me to serve them for the next four years. On one hand, four years doesn't really sound like a lot. On the other hand, though, a lot can happen in four years. In four years, I'll already have my education degree and my oldest son will hit double digits, hovering on the brink of teenage-ism.

So how is it going? Well, let's just put it this way; I'm not a politician. I have no ambitions to be a public speaker either. I'm just me; this rather socially awkward person who is passionate about my work, is honest to a fault, with a desire to make more of my life than what I've been handed. I'm diving outside my comfort zone, which is great life experience. Putting my writing out there is different in that the majority of my marketing doesn't require face to face contact. Running for office, however, is a completely different experience. Putting myself out there is nothing new, but on a local level it can sometimes get hairy, especially when you're in the middle of the media circus that has become Fyffe lately. Campaigning, for me, is clumsy. But campaigning isn't ultimately the job I'm after.

I'm learning some things, too, the first being that campaign signs are best left to professionals. I've also learned that there is a thin line between negativity and truth in the eyes of voters. What I've touched on, I see as truth of situations that every voter should really know about. I don't have a political agenda so for me, I say and write what I feel and think; I'm pretty much an open book. Looking at it from another perspective, I can understand a little about how others might see negativity instead and that is certainly something I've noted. Like I said, it is tricky. I want people to care but have to accept that not everyone is going to care about the same things I care about.

I'm not running because of the current situation within our town departments. Although the situation has affected me, as it has many, anger was not the deciding factor in filling out those papers to qualify. I think that's important to note because this situation will eventually resolve and candidates really have to have a set focus apart from that. Four years goes beyond the current state of affairs. We have to think about businesses, road improvements, safety, development, and more. I also did not have to be asked to run. I'm running completely on my own, guided by a desire to teach my boys what it is to serve a community and work for a cause that is bigger than themselves. I wouldn't be running if I didn't think I could do a good job. I wouldn't run if I wasn't confident that I had some beneficial skills to offer the town. It's a job I would be honored to work, if elected.

I appreciate the time you've taken to read this. I would be grateful for your support and vote.

Peace, love, and please vote,

Pamela

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My 3 year smoke-free-aversary!

Tomorrow will mark 3 years since I quit smoking.

It was a short time after my birth mom died of lung cancer.  She was in her mid-50s. I decided that I didn't want to leave my kids early because of a conscious decision I made to continue smoking.  There were other reasons, too. My family is a cesspool of cancer risk and other health problems, like osteoporosis. Smoking exacerbates many, if not all, those health problems. Every time I got sick, I'd wonder if it was because I was a smoker. I was also scheduled for a surgery I really needed and knew that smoking would mess with my mental state; I'd be a nervous wreck wondering, Where are my cigarettes? Where is my lighter? Where can I sneak away to go smoke? It would have also hindered my healing time.

I had quit for both my pregnancies but ended up going right back to it after they weaned. I knew I couldn't expose them to my problem. But why I went back to it each time, I don't know.  In July of 2009, though, when I started planning for my "quit day", I was in a different mind-set than I'd been before. Something inside of me had clicked and I knew it was then or never.

I used help; the nicotine patch. It wasn't easy at all, in fact, it is in my top five worst experiences of my life. But I took it one day at a time and made it through. I've never made it to the 3 year mark before and I'm trying to figure out how to celebrate.

I'm not going to give you some BS line where I say, "If I can do it, so can you!" All I'll say is that when you're ready to quit, I mean really ready to set it down and not look back, you'll know it.

Peace, love, and easy breathing,

Pamela

"The Crazy Ole' Bird Lady" by Pamela Caves - Excerpt


You can purchase The Crazy Ole' Bird Lady on Smashwords (several formats available), Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or search for it on your favorite site! 

While many of the parents tended to their children, I decided Kevin was fine enough on his own. I joined Farlan who stood at the head of the lobby and watched a group of the old folks close the blinds on the windows and lock the door. They painstakingly moved each metal filing cabinet in front of the door until there was nothing to see in or out. There was a back door somewhere, but I was sure they’d already blocked it off too.
I do believe they’ve lost their minds,” Farlan mumbled.
You believe that now?”
Farlan threw me a glance. There were seven of the elders with weapons and only one of him. I knew he stood no chance against them. Besides, no one else was too concerned about leaving. Regardless of why we were all packed into the town hall building, they all felt they were safer inside. I guess it didn’t matter if we were hiding from bird creatures or tornadoes.
It wasn’t long after the last file cabinet had been moved, I could hear intermittent tapping noises from the aluminum roof. The old folks became agitated. They shushed everyone and even made one woman with her crying baby hole up in a closet until the baby calmed. The tapping was likely from hail prior to the tornado, though I had to admit I'd never heard hail fall as infrequently.
You still think I’m a crazy old bat, don’t you?” Gerty asked me. When she smiled, the top plate of her dentures pushed down and out slightly, exposing the bare top part of her gums. Everything seemed to hang loose on her face and even her ear lobes sagged, though I couldn’t tell through the wrinkles if her ears had ever been pierced or not. Her hair was short and curly though it was very thin. Her mid section was swollen and she bent slightly when she walked. But through all these things that were dead giveaways to just how many decades she'd roamed the Earth, her eyes were a striking blue and looked fresh and young. They were paced, not bent and crazy like I expected them to be through all her talks of tall tales.
I think you may believe what you say, so I guess that means you’re not full of crap.”
I suppose when you’re face-to-face with someone holding a gun, it’s best not to insult them. I was torn between wanting to live and not wanting to play into her delusion.
Honey, I see a lot of who I used to be in you.”
Beyond my eyes being a shade of blue as well, I knew there was no way in hell she and I had anything else in common.
Ah...” I said, trying to give off the impression of being attentive while at the same time trying to inch away.
I had a little girl. Her name was Sara.”
I hadn’t known she had any children. I’d never seen anyone come around her house.
Yup, she was about your boy’s age when those bird things came and carried her off.”
She really did believe all this bird stuff. If she hadn’t scared Kevin into nightmares the day before, I would’ve felt sorry for her. As it was, I despised the woman and I didn’t care whether or not she’d had one or ten fictional children carted off by mythical creatures. She had violated my child’s right to feel safe on our own property.
And my husband used to beat me too.”
Excuse me?” I’d never told her that. I wasn’t about to stand for her snooping where it was none of her business.
She read my startled expression. “I seen that look you got in your eyes before. I seen it looking in the mirror. You’re all tough now, ready to kill the sonuvabitch if he steps foot in your world. Tell me, is he a doper or a drinker?”
I was acutely aware of every beat of my heart. I could hear it drum in my ears.
A drinker,” I muttered.
Yeah, mine too.”
All I could do was look into her face while she stared off into the past. I had to swallow hard to keep back tears from horrible memories gone by.
My thoughts were broken by the sound of shattering glass from one of the offices. The old folks flew into a hushed panic.
Get them kids into the courtroom!” Gerty ordered in a frantic whisper.
It was Ben who ushered the kids away while the rest of us listened closely. I nodded to Kevin to go on with the rest of the kids. I wasn’t about to be left out of the loop of what was happening.
Paper flopped, something fell, a chair sounded like it rolled...all typical sounds of the wind whipping around the room beyond the door. I was certain it was nothing more than debris having hit the window at just the right angle. A quick glance at Farlan told me all the talk of monsters had gotten to him. His hand quivered as it hovered over his side holster.
A horrible screech came from inside the office. At first, my brain only registered confusion. What the hell was that? The old folks rocked from one foot to the other, as though they all had to go to the bathroom. Farlan pulled his gun and threw glances at the rest of them. I backed up behind the line of geriatric defenders, acutely aware that every little hair on my arms stood on end.
Another screech. My heart pounded so heavy in my ears they hurt.
There was a loud crash before pieces of wood from the hollow door splintered out in all directions. I felt a piece slide by my face. I watched the event unfold in front of me as though in slow motion.
Holy shit!” Farlan said, his gun coming up.
Get ‘em boys!” I heard Gerty yell.
The door had not just been kicked opened but had literally been destroyed, remnants of it everywhere in the hallway.
The next screech was deafening, like a cover had been removed from a loudspeaker. In the gape where the door had been was a large black bird at least seven feet tall and as large as a grizzly bear. 
  
You can purchase The Crazy Ole' Bird Lady on Smashwords (several formats available), Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or search for it on your favorite site! 

"The Jump" by Pamela Caves - Excerpt

The Jump is available on Smashwords (several formats available), Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or search for it on your favorite site! It is now free on most sites.  

After the initial falling sensation passed, Nila grinned and spread her arms to fly. The Earth didn’t appear to be getting any bigger yet. It was just there, beneath her, her hovering in a peaceful stillness. If not for the wind whipping around her, Nila would’ve felt completely motionless.
I miss you, Norman, she thought, a wash of sadness crossing her mind. Up here, she almost felt like she could reach out and touch him. Her heart ached as it had every time she’d jumped since his death.
She heard a shrill whistle from just above her. Theo was motioning for her to pull the cord. When she looked back down, the Earth had gotten bigger; she had just been too lost in her own thoughts and so absorbed into the serenity of diving that she hadn’t really paid attention. Nila gave Theo a thumbs up and pulled.
She felt a pop and instantly realized something was terribly wrong when she wasn’t pulled from the velocity. Her chute hadn’t opened.
Her heart was already speeding from the jump itself. Now she felt a pull on her chest that suggested her heart couldn’t take much more stress without failing. She willed herself to calm down, looked up to see where Theo was and let a breath out when she saw that he was still hovering near her. He was not about to pull his cord without first making sure she would be safe.
The backup would have to suffice. Nila reached back, pulled the banana and it ripped half off into her hand. She tried again but couldn’t get her hand around it. She knew Theo would come but would he be able to help her in time?

The Jump is available on Smashwords (several formats available), Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or search for it on your favorite site! It is now free on most sites. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"An Unusual Cupid" by Pamela Caves - Excerpt

An Unusual Cupid is available on Smashwords (several formats available), Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or search for it on your favorite site! It is now free on most sites.  

The annoying man on the bus who called Marcus "Yo, Dude," just wouldn't leave him alone. 
--------------------------------------------------------
Marcus was about the fifth or sixth row back. He sighed, annoyed that the Yo, Dude man had bothered him just for a peek at some woman. He caught a glimpse of the back of a curly, long haired brunette head. Nothing unusual. Nothing spectacular. "And?" Marcus said, a hint of sarcasm cutting into his tone.
"And she's quite the eye candy." Despite the irritation that Marcus felt he was clearly portraying, Yo, Dude man was still grinning as if he'd just discovered the secret of farts. "Why don't you go say hi? I think she's reading the same book."
"Why don't you go say hi?" Marcus opened the book back up and tried to find where he’d left off.
Apparently Yo, Dude man couldn't take a hint. Marcus felt another flick across his arm. "Because, I'm chained down." The guy held up his hand to show off a gold band. He was still grinning like a doofus. The guy leaned over again. "Listen, I have a kind of sense for these things. If you don't like her, I'll pay you $100. Are you game?"
Marcus narrowed his eyes at him, trying to determine if he meant it. A stranger was offering him $100 just to go talk to some random woman. He could definitely use $100. Who couldn't? Although Marcus doubted he’d ever see the money, it would be worth the effort just to get the guy off his back.
"Fine. And if I don't, will you leave me the hell alone?"
"Sure." The silly grin grew wider.

Would it be worth it?

An Unusual Cupid is available on Smashwords (several formats available), Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or search for it on your favorite site! It is now free on most sites. 







Saturday, July 21, 2012

Writers = $: Using fees to cash in on dreams


Let's have a discussion about reading and entry fees. Most recently I've come across this little deal from New Rivers Press where, for only a mere $20, they will consider your hard work for publication. Does that sound like a deal to you? Then, switch to this little competition on Short Story Place.com where you're charged a fee to enter.




So now I have to ask, what the hell is wrong with these people?

I can understand a large circulation mag (for example, Writer's Digest) charging fees for entry to their competitions and can understand (maybe) non-profit and/or education based literary publications asking for fees.

But I think it is tacky and pretentious (not to mention has the potential to be highly abused) for a small, unknown periodical or publisher to try to make money by using fees, regardless whether the fees are going to the judges or prize money or whatever. It is also unethical to charge reading fees in the eyes of many professional organizations, like the AAR for instance. Granted, the AAR is for agents of authors but the same principle applies.

From Section 8 of the AAR Canon of Ethics:     

  • The AAR believes that the practice of literary agents charging clients or potential clients for reading and evaluating literary works (including outlines, proposals, and partial or complete manuscripts) is subject to serious abuse that reflects adversely on our profession. For that reason, members may not charge clients or potential clients for reading and evaluating literary works and may not benefit, directly or indirectly, from the charging for such services by any other person or entity. 

Obviously, though, it is a practice that is thriving, despite the information age.

Having been a slush reader for a literary mag and now owning my own publishing venture, there is something that these publishers don't tell you. It doesn't make you more likely to be considered for publication when you pay fees than it does when you submit to publications that don't charge fees. What they are doing is cashing in on writers who don't really know better; writers who haven't been in the game very long, writers who haven't yet come to the realization that if they are serious about their craft, they will go broke if they opt to pay all these unwarranted fees. And most writers who submit to ANY publication, including those fee-charging ones, will be rejected. So cha-ching! You've just given away your money.

You see, that's how the market operates. Pay $40 for this bottle of pills that will make you skinny! Pay only $75 to see how YOU can make big bucks at home. Pay $10 plus shipping to discover how you can quit smoking by using only the power of your mind. These types of ventures won't work for most people. You know that. I know that. But yet, people still get taken by them. To me, this is no different. Fee charging publishers are cashing in on desires and dreams knowing that most people won't get accepted in the first place.

"But I'm not scamming anyone! I just have bills to pay and costs to cover!"

You may not be intentionally scamming anyone but, in my opinion, the practice is still deplorable. You should've thought about bills you would incur before you took over the responsibility of having a publishing venture. You should've had the money backed-up as necessary to cover operating costs before you resorted to charging fees.

In case anyone missed it: I despise fees.

Granted, it is your money and you can do what you want with it, but isn't submitting for free better? There are plenty of places that want to consider your story, including mine. And you don't have to shell out moolah to submit it, either.

If you're anything like me (which I suspect most of you are), you're not made of money and every penny counts.

Peace, love, and say no to fees,

Pamela

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Double


It fell from the sky
From a place I called mine
A sudden realization I saw
To hit from one and all

Out of one life came another
From before a flame was smothered
Into a clarity of unreal
And into another heart I steel

A tailored plan one does not have
When one holds such a small hand
Everything settles there
Even if it’s too much to bear

And now I have this need
To focus on how to breathe
Without it comes death
And never ending unrest

To break free is the goal
No one will have this hellish hold
Just work a little while longer
Before it leaves me uncovered

Monday, July 16, 2012

Learn how to write by reading raw material


Stephen King’s most quoted writing advice has to be the one where he tells us that to become better writers, we have to read. And read. Then read some more.

It’s not far from the mark. For me, reading gives me the gumption to go write something of my own. Words by other authors spark something inside of me that makes me want to create characters and plot narrative.

I can also expand on that logic. If you want to be a better writer, be a beta reader for another author. When I was a slush reader, I recognized some undesirable patterns in rejected work that I might not have understood otherwise. I began to realize that I did a lot of the same things those beginning authors had done. I understood then why my editor put me in the position he did. I don’t feel like I could’ve learned the same lessons from his notes. The experience was eye opening and I feel that my writing has benefited because of it.

When you have chosen a book that has gone through a ring of editors already, you miss that raw slate of an early work. Those early drafts can reveal a plethora of mishaps that you might be able to identify in your own work later.

How can I be a beta reader?

Simple. Just ask another author if they need one. Any author worth their weight will search out people to be a test reader for them because they know how hard it is to keep an active test reader. Any writer worth their weight will value honest feedback, no matter how harsh. Granted, they may want to be familiar with you first, so I wouldn’t suggest doing a random Twitter search of just anyone with the #writing hashtag. Instead, join some online writing communities. Facebook has plenty and then some. The Absolute Write forum has a section for such things. Once you’ve identified someone that could use a beta reader, someone who writes in a genre you’re interested in reading, then ask.

Writing is not about seeing who is better than you or about getting your ego bruised if someone tells you you’re doing something wrong. It’s about clear and simple passion. The desire to write has to be so strong that no matter the obstacle, you have to write anyway. And that desire should always be coupled with a yearning to learn more and hone your craft further, no matter your experience level. It’s snobbish and pretentious to think you have it all right and you know all there is to know; that your story is the end-all, be-all of the literary world and anyone who doesn’t recognize your genius is an idiot. Keep dreaming, Squidward.

It’s always important to learn and read. The two should never expire. They should be a staple of your writing life always. If you can manage to beta/test read for another author, you might be able to learn and read at the same time. Killing two birds and all that.

Peace, love, and one stone,
Pamela

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I'm running for Fyffe council. And apparently reading a book.

I went to qualify for my first election as a candidate today. The process is a little unnerving (look at all the papers to go through!) but not impossible, even for a regular Jane like me. It's actually not as bad as it looks, I promise. It's no less than I usually read most days.

(Update 8/16/2012: "How goes the campaigning?")

So I guess it's time for me to explain why I'm running. Contrary to popular belief, I am NOT running for council because of the drama bomb that landed in Fyffe after the storms blew through in April of 2011. I had actually been considering running long before that.

Simply put, I have an interest in giving back to my community. I want to teach my children what it is to serve the public, how to listen to others, and how to make decisions that would benefit the community as a whole.  Since I don't own a business in Fyffe and since I hold favors for no one, I can bring an unbiased perspective to the council. Each situation deserves fresh eyes and fair consideration without the inclusion of personal feelings. I am in a unique position to add creativity to the town in matters of bringing in business, in town projects, and more. I believe I would be an asset to the community and I feel like I'm the best person for the job.

I am self-employed. I have been freelancing in writing and editing for the last four to five years.  I am also a student at Northeast Alabama Community College and will be transferring to the University of Alabama in Huntsville within the next year.  I am studying English Education.  For the last three years, I have been a member of the Fyffe UFO Days Planning Committee. I have lived in Fyffe most of my life.  My husband and I have been married over 7 years and have two great little boys together. He's been employed at Blue Scope Steel in Rainsville for almost 10 years.

I am open for questions and comments below or you can send them to my email address at pamelacgifford (at) aol (dot) com and I'll respond as soon as I can.

Elections are August 28! I would appreciate your vote and support! Feel free to lift the below photo and share on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog.



Peace, love, and campaigning,

Pamela