Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Face 2014 with courage

The beginning of 2013 didn't start very well at all. In fact, it ranks high with the beginning of 2004. Let's just say that I have no desire to relive any moment of the first few months of this year.

It did take a turn for the better, though. My family has, for the most part, reconciled, a little more of my house (that we've been remodeling for seven years) has been completed, we had one of the most awesome vacations I've ever experienced, I finished step one of my degree plan, and published another book.

My household has seen more than usual illness, though; my oldest son has been having stomach issues the last few months and it seems like any insignificant little germ that comes into this house turns into an all out immune system war in my body; like right now as I continuously blow my nose and battle a sinus headache. However, on a good note, we haven't had to deal with anything too serious and in a surprising twist, I'm managing my back pain much better than I have in years.

Going along between good and bad this year, the saddest event was losing my boss on October 24. A month later, I nervously left the store with a friend's words ringing in my ear, "Pam, do you want to get into the education field or stay in retail?" And she was right. I needed to stop being scared of a small money loss and head further in the direction I've been traveling now for the last few years. While Junior's passing wasn't the reason I left the store, it was a factor. My ultimate goals, combined with the loss, was enough to propel me forward. I am proud to say that I managed to get approved to substitute teach for the county and am also starting my new job as an English tutor at Northeast College next week. If I'd let that fear overtake me, I'd have missed out on those two jobs.

I'm certainly ready to tackle the next year.

I have a few writing goals. I want to have my short story collections, a new Barrier, and my prompt book out in the next couple of months and I hope to sell a few more short stories this year to different publishers. For personal goals, I could lose a few pounds, focus more when I'm working on projects ( I tend to flounder sometimes until the last minute), and I need to clear my house of junk. I'm also striving to be more giving, more forgiving, more patient, less judging, and more positive. If there's one lesson I've really learned over the last year is that attitude is extremely important in one's success. If you want something, and I mean really want something, you'll swallow that fear, put on a brave face, and do it.

I hope you have had a good year overall and I'm wishing you the best in the new one.

Peace, love, and on to 2014,

Pamela

All I want for Christmas is... No More Friggin Electronics

I hope everyone has had a great Christmas and is prepared for the New Year! This household was alive with festivities, food, and unexpected guests. All in all, it was a good day, the kids were happy, and now that the tree is down and the house cleaned, I'm okie dokie, too.

This year, we had a few electronics thrown in the gift pile. We got the boys some inexpensive starter tablets, got my older son a remote controlled monster truck, and my younger son a Zoomer robot puppy. Here are the reviews on those items.

Review of RCA 7" Android Tablet
Walmart.com
 

Never again will I get an RCA computer-type anything. DVD players, TVs... fine, but when it came to these tablets, we had problems almost from the moment the kids turned them on.

Tablet #1 - My older son had only been playing Angry Birds on it less than two hours when the screen froze on some line-streaked garbled image. We set it aside for a while and when the screen went off, I plugged it into the charger. There had been no indication that the battery had been running low but according to the indicator, it was completely drained. It took almost the entire rest of the day to get it to charge. He played it less than two hours again and suddenly the battery was drained again. We did that dance for two days thinking maybe it was a fluke. Eventually, I got tired of dancing and gave up on it.

Tablet #2 - This one performed much better than the first one, at least at first. My younger son was able to play it normally for a day and a half. We plugged it up to charge it and when it was indicating fully charged, we took it to the store with us so he could play it while we shopped. Then it just refused to come on. It had not been dropped or flung around or handled in any manner that would cause such a thing. I plugged it up again later and it still refused to come on or even indicate that it was plugged in.

Review of 4x4 Mega Blast New Bright RC

Walmart.com
Our past experience with New Bright RC toys has been okay. We typically haven't bought anything expensive for fear that the kids would tear it up and so far New Bright toys have been okay for the money spent.

But Santa felt that my eldest child was old enough this year for something... uh, bigger? (Mr. Claus's idea, not Mrs. Claus's.) And this thing was big and NOT cheap. To have some kind of reference, my six-year-old child was able to climb into the box and shut it when the truck was removed from it. In any case, it looked pretty awesome and my almost eight-year-old was very excited about it. However, he never got to play with it. When we placed the battery in the charger and plugged it up, the status light never came on and within seconds, an electrical burning smell filled the air. We tried it on three different outlets with the same results each time.

And now for their customer service: I tried multiple times since Christmas to call. I either got a busy signal or a "we're closed" message during the open hours stated in their booklet. (And yes, I accounted for the time difference.) So, without any other option, I sent an email to their customer service, which I have yet to hear from and I sent that message several days ago. I checked their Facebook page for any other reports of problems and I ran into a post about another RC toy problem, which I responded with mine. Yesterday, the admin to the page posted, telling the other guy to email them.

Granted, I have since been able to take the truck back to Walmart but New Bright customer service doesn't know that, and yet *I still haven't gotten a reply to my email. Upon getting my son another RC toy, I was certain to avoid New Bright toy products for this reason.

*If New Bright ever responds to my email, I will update this. If not, you'll see no update here. (Update 1-3-14: Several days after sending an email to customer service, I finally got a reply. Not happy with the time it took to get back to me considering I couldn't reach them on the phone. The time delay could mean the difference between a warranty being honored and being rejected. I will be keeping this in mind when I consider future purchases.)

Review of Zoomer, the robot dog

Zoomer has been a good toy thus far. It works like it should, though the kids do get frustrated with it because it doesn't automatically follow the commands they speak. It's very excitable, too, and mimics the movements of a real puppy, even to the point of sticking its butt in the air and twerking. The kids are happy with it but it doesn't keep their attention for too long and the cat wants to attack it. Still, though, it has fared much better than some of the other electronics this Christmas and overall, we're happy with it.

Thanks to Walmart

Lucky for us, Walmart refunded us for our defective products, which is something I wasn't aware they would do until after I'd been trying to call the manufacturers. It could have been a lot more hassle, especially with the tablets, but they were great about it and I thank them.

This has been the worst Christmas for defunct products. I think I want to have an anit-electronic Christmas next year.

Peace, love, and season's greetings,

Pamela

Monday, December 30, 2013

Winter Facebook Cover

Here's another winter Facebook cover for free use (do not alter).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Fan Page Facebook Cover

This is a Facebook cover I made for my fan page. I liked it so much, I'm posting it here on my blog, too. Not that I expect anyone to use it, but I wanted to show it off. :)

 
If you'd like me to make you a custom Facebook cover with your book covers, it is only $5, maximum of 10 book images. Email me at pamelacgifford@aol.com.
 


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Writer's Facebook Cover

Here's another Facebook cover for authors. Feel free to use; please don't alter.  Have a great Christmas!

Winter Facebook Cover

I'm branching out a little. I just love doing this stuff so if you want to use it, go right ahead. Merry Christmas.

Email Campaign #4 - Announcing a winner!


Congrats to Langley!
We have a winner!

Soon after the release of my latest book, Future Past, I held a drawing for a signed, free, print copy of the book. Langley Cornwell of South Carolina is the winner of the drawing. Congrats, and thank you, Langley, for your kind words regarding my writing.

Don't have your copy yet? Click here to go to Future Past's CreateSpace page, or if you prefer to order from Amazon, you can click here. Prefer an ebook? We have those, too! For a limited time, get Future Past for Kindle or Kindle apps for only 99 cents! This release price won't last much longer. In February/March, Future Past will be available on many other sites, including Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Sony, and more!

To see a YouTube book trailer, click here.





What's Next?

I was a guest author in DIVA's latest serial killer themed anthology! Check out my story, "Stealing Kisses" in Silenced, now on Amazon and many other online retailers. I have also had a story, "The Wish", accepted into No Regrets, an upcoming anthology from Silly Tree.

In just a few short months, I will be releasing my first short story compilations, Life and Life Odd, so be on the lookout for those. Another Barrier story and a writing prompt book is also in the works. It's going to be an exciting year!

Thank you for your support! Peace, love, and happiness to all!

Show love

As everyone gets angry and judgmental over the Phil Robertson thing, I have one thing to say...


That is all. Have a great day.

Peace, love, and calm,

Pamela

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's okay not to throw your kid a birthday party.

I mean no offense to anyone who does some of the things that I'm about to describe. To each their own. However, in my little corner of the world, I really don't see the need to throw over-the-top birthday parties every year for my children. I also don't see the need to get them both presents when only one child has a birthday.

Let's explore the party aspect first. What do I mean by over-the-top parties? This, to me, means parties that require color-coordinating, ultra-planning, formal invitations, and costs more than half your week's pay.

This is a small ongoing debate between myself and my husband. He wants to give them things he never had when he was a kid. My husband and I have different ways of thinking, though. I can agree with that sentiment to a certain degree, but I didn't have birthday parties growing up either. Don't feel bad for me. I certainly wasn't sad about it at the time. I do remember some bad birthdays as a child but it had nothing to do with not getting a party. A birthday was good if my family got together to eat cake (since we moved around a lot, and wasn't close to other family, it was usually just my mom, dad, and sisters). I don't even remember the presents.

So sure, I want my kids to have parties sometimes but the message of "we should go broke just to get you everything you want" isn't something I'm eager to instill in my children. So here's what we do for birthdays: On the big birthdays, we reserve or rent a place to hold a party. We invite other children and we do the whole elaborate sha-bang. Last year, we held it at a pizza place, giving the kids free tokens to play in the arcade. Other times, like today on my youngest son's birthday, we invite a few close friends and family members (via text) over for cake and ice cream, presents not expected or required because honestly, presents don't make a birthday special. It's the people who come and give you a kiss and hug as they tell you happy birthday. Think my son cares? Nope. He's more interested in Momma wearing a party hat all day.

As far as getting both kids a present because one kid is having a birthday so he doesn't feel left out... meh, not my cup o' tea either (unless they are all super-young and they don't understand what birthdays are to begin with). That was never an issue when I was a kid because my parents never had much money and there were four of us. 'Nuff said.

Sometimes the hubs sneaks and buys the other kid something despite my protests but in general, I don't do it. The biggest obstacle in this is the word "fair". In my opinion, it is not "unfair" to get a child a present on their birthday and not get anything for the other child(ren). Birthdays are special days and as such, the child should feel special. Getting everyone something lessens the significance of the day for them. And so what if the other child complains that he didn't get something, too. You know what? Life isn't always going to deal cards fairly and evenly for everyone. You deal with it and move on. It seems harsh but when we cater to everything the kids want, then we're not teaching them how to deal with the unevenness in life itself. If my older son wants to complain that he didn't get anything today (which I expect him to), I will explain in a loving voice that it is his brother's birthday, not his. When his birthday rolls around, it will be his turn to have a special day and we will get him a gift and a cake and celebrate the day the same way.

Maybe my husband feels guilty about not renting out the pool at Body Vision for what I'm sure would be a fun party. But having just had a big party last year, I think that can wait another couple of years. (My vote might be overrode next year, though, who knows.)

So what do you think about parties? Do you have a big one every year for your children? Do you think they are necessary? What about presents? Do you get every kid a present just so you don't have to listen to the fallout? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Peace, love, and happy birthday to my son,

Pamela

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Your second kid won't be like your first... but you will love them anyway.

This is for the parents of one child who are expecting another child. Listen up. Your second kid will not be like your first kid. Okay, so maybe they will look alike and there is a slim chance that their personalities will be similar but that's rare so you might as well prepare yourself now.

This post is inspired by a conversation I had with a friend the other day. He shared the happy news that his wife is expecting their second child. "I hope this one is a boy just like my first little boy. That would be perfect."

Having two children myself, I had to break the news to him that it wasn't likely to happen that way.

You see, when I was pregnant with my second child, there was a veil in my mind. I couldn't comprehend having a kid with a different personality. I didn't understand that raising my second kid would be a much different experience than raising my first. The tendencies of my first son, I imagined, would be the tendencies of my second child.

As those of you with more than one child can attest, boy, was I ever wrong. Where my first son is a little high strung and a bit of a worry wart, my second son (at times) seems to go with the flow a little easier. It's easy to get my oldest son to comply to unfavorable requests after a bit of coaxing while most of the time, getting my younger one to comply to similar requests is like trying to tell a tree to cut itself down. While I had to rock my older son to sleep as a baby, my younger son actually seemed to fall asleep easier when I simply laid him down.

So you see? You can't often approach your children in the same way. Different personalities invite different reactions and parents of multiple children can witness to the fact that what one works for one child, may not work for the other.

The same goes for that well of love inside of you. I've loved my first son with the ferocity of a lioness since the moment I laid eyes on him, perhaps even before. I admit, though, that as I carried my second son, it was difficult for me to imagine that I would have that same level of pure, raw love for him. I was so worried that my well of love wasn't that big. As it turns out, those were unfounded fears; fears of a mother worried about her ability to care for and nurture multiple children, fears I'm sure many mothers have. As I came to find out, my well was big enough. I am as fiercely in love with my younger son as my oldest and I cannot imagine what my life would be like without them. Hell, I barely remember the days before I had children!

So there is no need to fret. I know it's hard to imagine a different bundle from that of your first, but be content that no matter what, your well of love will still be big enough to hold them, even if they aren't what you expect. :)

Peace, love, and happiness,

Pamela

Friday, November 1, 2013

Your child and internet pictures.

Yesterday was a fun day! Despite the threat of impending storms, we geared up and set off on our
trick-or-treat run. The kids got to meet Iron Man at the Fort Payne Police Department (above - which was the highlight of their trip) and Fyffe once again put on a good event at the park. Though some people didn't make the connection between my costume and my little Batman and Robin, I was still pretty happy with it.

Why so serious?
The evening led to an interesting discussion on my Facebook page about letting strangers take pictures of kids to post on social media. There was a lady where we were dining asking to take a pic of my kids to post on Facebook. I refused and though I could be wrong, she seemed a little offended about it.

Now, I might consider allowing this if it is for a business or organization and I knew exactly what they would do with the picture but it isn't my policy to just allow anyone, even family, to take pics of my children to post online. I can never be certain who really understands and utilizes privacy settings in the right way. Occasionally, I will post publicly set pictures of my children but that practice for me is limited. I decide who, when, where, and how my kids are portrayed. I chose to include the picture above because it illustrates our fun night. The internet, just like the real world, can be dangerous. There is another reason, too. When my kids are grown, what effect will ceaselessly posting public pictures of them do? I can't answer that and neither can any parent given that we don't have insight into their future lives and careers. I admit I cringe a bit when I see my friends post public pictures of babies and children over and over. I'm not judging; do what you feel is okay, but I always wonder if the user behind the posting understands privacy settings; if they really mean to post so many pictures for the entire world.

Back to the lady in the restaurant: I suspect she was an employee but she didn't identify herself, and given the circumstances, it was doubtful that she managed the restaurant's Facebook page. That is the first rule of social media management, which I have experience in. You don't take and post pictures without stating who you are, who you represent, and what you plan on doing with the picture. It's okay to ask, and encouraged. It would be rude to just starting snapping pics. And a little weird.

And if you're just a person asking to take pics of random children, that comes off creepy.

It is our job to ensure that our actions don't place our children in danger. So here's a screenshot to illustrate how to change those settings on your photos.


You can enlarge the photo by clicking on it. Notice in the top right there is a little world icon next to my name. Click the one on your photo and you can change that from public to friends only, or whatever you want.

Note: I didn't blur names or anything from the screenshot because this post on my Facebook is public which also means that anyone who comments on it also shares that comment publicly. Anytime you comment on a public post, ANY public post, personal wall, fan page, whatever it is (settings for that post will be denoted by the icon that displays next to the user's name), you are commenting for the whole world to see.

I hope I've been of some assistance. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Peace, love, and parenting,

Pamela

Facebook covers for writers

Another Facebook cover for authors. Use for free, don't alter. Click to enlarge. Enjoy! For more, click "facebook covers" in the label's section under the pic.

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Friend

Silence cannot cover what I feel
With the life you left behind
I know you're rejoicing
But now I'm blind

God give me strength
To tackle this new day
But without you in it
My heart just won't be the same

Someday I'll see light
Over the mute I see today
But just for a while
Let me stay

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sad over the loss of Jr Garmany

Today my heart is heavy. I learned yesterday that my boss and friend, Jr Garmany passed away. He'd had some health problems but this was a shock to us all. Let me tell you a little about this man, who was a prominent figure in Fyffe and DeKalb.

Update: Visitation for Junior Garmany will be at the WT Wilson Funeral Home in Shiloh (between Rainsville and Fyffe on Hwy 75) on Saturday 3 - 8pm and funeral will be Sunday at 2pm.

Jr Garmany was a name I grew up knowing. He was a friend of my grandfather and the former police chief of Fyffe. I actually first met him last year when we both ran for Fyffe council. He, like me, saw a need for Fyffe and stepped up to try to do something about it. Though we both lost the election (him by a very narrow margin), it is commendable to have the courage to stand up and try to do what one thinks is right, which is just the kind of person he was.

After, I saw the need for a steady job. As any writer knows, writing doesn't always equal a steady paycheck. The many things I do is always scattered when it comes to pay so when I found out that the Shop and Go was hiring, I put in for the job, having had extensive c-store experience. I was hired and as the store owner, Jr became my boss.

Over the last year, my schedule hasn't always been the easiest to work around. Robbie, our store manager, has been such a wonderful blessing in that she understands that I need time for school, my family, and my writing. When I found myself in a bind several months ago, I approached Jr about bringing my boys with me to work to cover the gap between when I went in and my husband got off to come get them. He gave the go ahead to see if it would work out and has since spent a lot of time sitting at one of the dining booths with my boys listening to their chatter about anything from Momma's personal fears to Ninja Turtles. "I'm learning more than I want to know about you, Pam," he said to me laughing after my boys spilled our family details one afternoon. There are very few bosses that would allow a struggling mother to bring her children to work.

There was a time when I was first hired that Jr would come in the store and call me "Pat". I wasn't going to correct him. I thought it was humorous. It was only after another friend, Wade Murdock, yelled at him about getting my name right did he start calling me by my real name. And that's something else I can't help but smile about; the way Wade and Jr talked to each other was the way competitive but loving brothers talked to one another. Wade isn't one to mince words. "Get your ass up outta that chair and get up here!" Wade would holler at him over the phone. Anytime Jr needed something, though, Wade was there.  And the little things I'll miss; Jr would call me every Friday night to get the local football scores and chide me almost every day I worked to turn off the middle row of lights in the store to save on the electric bill.

We were talking one day about running for council again. He asked me if I'd run and I told him I didn't know. I told him I might have to get a teaching job out of state because I wasn't sure about the availability of jobs in the area. "Naw," he said with a dismissing wave of his hand. "You can work here."

"Why, sure," I said sarcastically. "Go to school for four years and still work at the Shop and Go."

"We'll hang your diploma up there in the window. I'll even put a little light on it," he said. It was nice to know that if I couldn't get a teaching job right away, I still had the store, even though I knew he was teasing me.

But what sticks out the most is the way he understood people. "People make mistakes," he once told me. "It doesn't mean they are bad people." He showed compassion where others might dismiss and that is the type of legacy that I can only hope to leave behind.

Everyone has their own way of grieving. Writing this out, letting those who might not have known him know what kind of person he was, is the only way I can deal with this grief right now. My prayers are with his family and other friends. He had many. He touched many lives. And I'm proud to say that he touched mine.

Peace, love, and we'll miss you, Jr,

Pamela

P.S. If you have a story about Jr, could you leave it in the comments below? I would love to read more about him.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Halloween Facebook Cover

I usually only do Facebook covers for authors but decided to veer off a little when I couldn't find a Halloween Facebook cover I liked. So here it is. Use it if you want, just don't alter it. Enjoy!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cool! I got a shout out!

Real quick-like as I get started on a busy day of boring house work and school work...

I'm excited to share with you a little blog post thanking me for my editing services. I may sometimes ask for blurbs when I finish a project but I don't ask for anything else. I love it when I can make a client happy enough to give me a shout out like this.

Silly Tree Anthologies, a new indie publisher, secured my services for editing their first anthology. I'd never edited an anthology before so it was a challenge but a welcome one. I didn't ask them to do this and didn't even have to be mentioned at all, even on Amazon, where they've listed me as the editor. To read the nice post about  me, click the link below.

Thanks to our Wonderful Editor!

I should also mention, too, that the book itself, Scared Spitless, has some great, spooky stories in it, and it's just in time for Halloween!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Facebook covers for authors

And here's another Facebook cover for writers. They are free to use so long as they aren't altered. Click the label "facebook covers" below this post to find more. I add them occasionally so check back for more!

Saving lives one comma at a time

It seems that comma usage is open to interpretation according to the preferences of the author, editor, or the voice that reads things aloud inside your head as your eyes skim across the page. But there is one concrete comma usage rule that I want to discuss today.

The other day, I was asked about comma usage in a particular sentence. They understood that they would use a comma in fiction but wasn't sure about non-fiction. Anywho, here is the sentence, with a minor name change for privacy:

After searching for a while, Amanda, volunteered to join her.

The first comma is open for debate. I would use a comma there to break the sentence, (because the voice in my head tells me to, and because it needs to separate the dependent clause from the independent clause, but that is a lot of grammar gibber gabber that not many people care about) but that is the type of thing I mentioned at the beginning of my post. Print media might simply omit that comma because it is an extra character to print. I've also seen numerous pieces of fiction where the author, and consequently the editor, decides that a comma like that doesn't need to be there. And vise versa.

The second comma, however, doesn't need to be there at all. So the sentence should read:

After searching for a while, Amanda volunteered to join her.

Why? Because Amanda isn't being addressed in this sentence. It doesn't matter if it is fiction or non-fiction, this comma rule doesn't change. If you are speaking to someone, use a comma. If you are speaking about someone, don't.

Amanda volunteered to join her.

Amanda, join her!

See? This reminds me of an internet meme I saw once. It read, "Let's eat grandpa." That was followed by the correct version of, "Let's eat, grandpa." The tagline was, "Save a life, use a comma." It was good for a chuckle and you get the point, though "grandpa" should be capitalized. But that's another topic entirely.

Peace, love, and commas,

Pamela

Friday, September 13, 2013

Do I need a pen name?


A fellow writer asked me yesterday my thoughts on pen names so I'll try to respond to that the best way I can.

I, technically, use a pen name because my name isn't really Pamela Caves anymore. When I first started seriously writing and submitting, it was my name but I have since married. However, I knew that having started with Pamela Caves, I should continue with it in my writing. I do use my real name, Pamela Gifford, to market my non-fiction, what little of it there is, but it made sense to continue to use Caves for my fiction. This happened through time and chance, nothing more.

The main pro of using a pen name is so you can (sort of ) detach yourself from the negativity that will inevitably pop its head up from time to time.  Sometimes a writer wants to hide and that's okay. You can do that on some level with a pen name.

The main con of using a pen name is that sometimes it doesn't seem like you get credit for the good stuff. But that is simply the basics.

There are many more factors you should consider before choosing whether or not to go with a pen name. Here's a great article from Writer's Relief that outlines the various reasons why authors might choose pen names.

Being of a somewhat feministic nature, I've toyed with the idea of setting up a male pseudonym to see if I would be taken more seriously as a writer. Right now, such an experiment is out of my time management, but I still may do that one day. :) In any case, if I had a REAL pen name ( I swear I'm not trying to be funny here), I might feel a little cheated on credit. Writers want to hide sometimes, but we want our credit. (Now I'm being funny.)

In any case, it is a personal choice. Evaluate your reasons for considering a pen name and if the pros outweigh the cons, go for it. Keep in mind though, once you start, you shouldn't stop mid-stream and start using a different name.

Also, when you are submitting as a new author, you should use your real name anyway. If your story is accepted, you can then ask that your byline contain a pen name.

One final thought, If you're considering a pen name, search for it and make sure there aren't a hundred writers with the same name. Don't choose a pen name that is hard to pronounce, and please oh please, don't pick something like Slade Overdrive or Diamond Glitter or some crap.

Peace, love, and what's in a name,

Pamela

Monday, September 9, 2013

In what Universe does 1+1=10? Apparently, this one.



I tend to want to do everything myself. I can be Super Woman if I want. Asking for help isn't in my nature and it takes the threat of the zombie apocalypse to get me to do it. I hate asking anyone to watch my children if I have to go somewhere without them, I hate asking for help with the household chores if I'm getting overwhelmed, and I hate asking for help when it comes to my school work.

Over ten years ago, I failed my math class. It had a little to do with dedication and a lot to do with the fact that I just didn't want to ask for help. I could do everything on my own! And if I couldn't, well, I kinda gave up.

Math has been the one thing holding me back from going back to school all these years. Sounds stupid, huh? But it's true. I had it in my head that I couldn't do it, and I didn't even give it a hearty, half-assed try.

So jump forward some. I decided to go back to school (obviously), and when I found out the college offered in-class math (as opposed to just the online classes), I jumped for joy and aced the class. You see, there's something in my brain that can't seem to comprehend a book and tutorials on-screen the way I can having a bona-fide teacher in front of me. Then the bombshell. If I wanted to graduate next May, I needed to take my last math course. Online.


So for the last few weeks, I've been diligently working on the weirdest math I've ever seen. I've made good progress and my grades are good. But then I got stuck on some base addition problems that I just couldn't comprehend. It was difficult this morning to walk into the math lab and ask a tutor to help me. Turns out, she really didn't know how to do the problems either so we sat down together, she went over the book and tutorials and blissfully helped me see the pattern I was missing before.

Soon after, I aced the homework and test for the chapter, (I swear I was so happy, rainbows and unicorns were following me back to my car). I then saw a message on my phone from my cousin in Arkansas. She, too, is back in school but her nemesis isn't math, it's English. She was asking for my help and I told her I would help her as much as I could.

Everyone has their different reasons for not going back to school. English for some, math for others, and maybe throw in a panic of the Fundamentals of Public Speaking and it is no wonder so many people can't see themselves back in a classroom.

But it really isn't that terrifying. If I can conquer Weird Math 5029, you can conquer your fear, too.

Peace, love, and in some cases, 1+1 does equal 10,

Pamela

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Approaching two years post discectomy: Getting a steroid injection

*For previous posts about my back pain and my journey, you can click here and scroll back through my posts.

Last Thursday, I stepped into a surgery center, got prepped, and was wheeled into a room where I was given a sedative (not enough to knock me out but enough to make me not care), and was given a steroid injection in the spine.

It is reported that steroid injections only help a little over half those who try it for back and leg pain. People I know who have had one have told me I would feel like superwoman and/or I'd be out of pain the moment of the injection.

Far from it. The day after the injection, I battled a low to mid-grade fever all day. My face felt like it was on fire and I hurt. The back pain hadn't gone away and, at times, seemed worse than before. When I mentioned this to some friends, they let me know that it could take a couple of days for the injection to start working. And that's exactly what happened.

By the third day, my pain had decreased to the point where, for the first time in a LONG time, I didn't feel like I needed to take anything. Since then, the pain has been down considerably.

That being said, I still feel the pull back there that tells me something is wrong (which is probably a good thing), but I haven't felt this amount of decreased pain for this many consecutive days in so long, I can't even recall a time where I've felt this normal.

Without that debilitating pain, I have noticed two more spots up along my spine that are doing what my L5/S1 began doing so long ago. So the saga continues. I'm learning to deal with it and move in different and better ways. I'll never be the old me, but at least now I don't feel so hopeless against the pain and I can keep working to stay active. Even though much of the pain is gone for now, I know that I have to keep up my exercising if I don't want to be back in the same boat I was in before. I've lost more weight, too, which helps. I just have to be diligent with it all.

Peace, love, and hurray!

Pamela

Having the drive and motivation to write.

On request, I began a local writers Facebook group. My writer friends typically see me as someone who is highly motivated and driven to write and within the group, I was asked to share my thoughts on drive and motivation. I thought this would be a good blog post, too, for those writers who are following along.

"I promised a post about drive and motivation so here it is. I don't want to write today. Hell, most days I don't want to write. I love to write, yes, but as you know, writing takes time and effort and forgive the language, but sometimes I have too much sh!t going on in my life to give a flying flip about something that might or might not help me succeed on this path. I struggled with my math today to the point where I had to walk away from it. It brought me down in a big way because I'm trying very hard to get ahead in school. In the next half hour, two very rambunctious boys will bounce through the front door and proceed to argue with each other until bedtime. My husband will be home soon, too, which means I need to have the laundry put up and start cooking supper. I'm also having to work too many hours at my job because we are short a person. I sometimes feel really overwhelmed with it all. I love my family and my life in a big way so that isn't the problem. The problem is that it would be so easy for me to put writing on the back burner. But I love writing, though it is hard work, and if I go too long without it, I get this itchy feeling all over, almost like withdrawals. Those stories keep flopping around inside my head without release. So what I have to do is just sit down and write, whether I feel like it's the right time depending on my mood, whether I feel like I have time or not. I find a time that is best for me, most of the time after the kids go to bed, and I sit down and write. It doesn't matter if it is any good, just that I get it down. If I have a work-in-progress, I force myself to continue it, even if I'm not quite feeling it yet. If I don't have a work in progress, I start something new. Usually once I get started, I can get going pretty good on it and the longer I write, the easier it becomes... provided the significant other understands not to bother me during that time. So tonight, I will write. Life isn't going to stop, the hardships and crappy days aren't going to stop, but if you care about writing and want to write, you need to sit down and do it. Almost every day. The more you do it, the easier it will be to do it and the better you will get at it. So I want to challenge everyone to get some words down today. Start a new story if you don't have one started already, or pick up something you've wanted to finish and work on it. I desperately don't want to write today, either, but I'm going to."

I don't think I could've said it any better than that. It just tumbled out of me. I'm at a point right now where it would be so easy not to write but I did manage to get something down the day I posted this challenge (and each day thereafter). I'm not sure about how good it was, but I got it down, nonetheless.

If writing is that important to you, you'll find a way to get it done. Even when you don't really feel like it.

Peace, love, and get to it,

Pamela

Friday, August 30, 2013

Amazon rankings, a shot in the spine, and two weeks of school already?

First thing first. I am currently running a promotion: Download Future Past for FREE on Amazon Kindle today and tomorrow. The promotion began yesterday and let me tell ya, I was not expecting what happened next. I had one download when I went for school yesterday morning. By the time I went to bed last night, my downloads were well over a thousand and my rankings had me in the top ten in two different fantasy categories. I'm also sitting in the top 200 over all (*small update: I just ranked below #200- Woot!) and let me tell you, with thousands of free ebooks from Amazon every day, THAT is something I'm very proud of.

click the image to enlarge

I don't have time to sit around today and watch my rankings. I hope I hit a #1 somewhere but I can't keep tabs on it today. I have school work to do, a client edit to work on, and somewhere in there, I have to work a shift at my store.

My Shot... Heaven help me

I had a steroid injection in my spine yesterday. Those who have been keeping up with this blog because of my back pain chronicles, you've probably had an inkling this was coming. Physical therapy is wonderful and has decreased my pain level. I'm not going currently but I'm keeping up with the exercises and walking. But the pain was still there. It's coming from my discs, making my back swell and hurt, my hips, legs and feet hurt, and it's all I can do many days (especially the days I'm pulling shifts at the store) to keep from being in tears.

I had some people tell me that I'd feel like Superwoman after the shot but I didn't. There was some immediate decreased pain in my hips and legs that I noticed but the pure pain in my back was at its worst. I think I cried a little more than normal. I had this doomsday outlook, I suppose. The doc said that it might take two shots to really make a difference in my average pain level. So I was thinking about what I would do if none of it worked. There isn't much more of this pain I can take. This morning, though, there was a noticeable difference in pain. When I woke, I wasn't in pain at all which is very unusual. After an hour or so, some pain started creeping back in but I'm trying to keep in mind that it's been less than 24 hours since the shot and I'm still having to take things one step at a time. My back is swollen and I've been battling a small fever (I'm suppose to call if it gets above 100), but I'm not certain the fever has anything to do with my shot; I've been battling a bit of congestion, which most often turns into a full-fledged sinus infection within a week. I get these infections about 4 times a year usually at the start of a new school semester. It's right on time!

It is a waiting game and it doesn't help that I have to sit and do homework most of the morning then go work a shift at the store. Guess that shot will really be put to the test.

My babies are off to school

Last week, the last of my babies took off for school for the first time. I cried some on the days leading up to the big day, but since I had school myself on his first day, I was too occupied, I guess, to dwell on days gone forever. I've managed to make it since then without overwhelming sadness.

The kids are liking school, just not liking the early days (who does, right?) and are so far doing very well. My little one has adjusted far easier than I could have hoped for. I was worried because he's been in my care since day 1 but he's doing just fine and not much missing Momma when he has, "Twenty-two new friends to play with," though he couldn't tell you a single one of their names. LOL.

Thanks for reading my update. I'm about to go pour my nose into the weirdest math I've ever seen in my life. Please don't forget to go download my book while it's free!

Peace, love, and work, work, work,

Pamela

Thursday, August 29, 2013

FREE Kindle Download of "Future Past"

A quick post before I go get a shot put into my spine...

Future Past is free today, tomorrow, and Saturday in the Kindle Store on Amazon. I hope you go download your copy! Click here to get to the book page on Amazon.

Thanks and have a good weekend!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Low, low price on "Future Past" for Kindle

Did you know that you can download Future Past for your Kindle from Amazon for only 99 cents? Well, now you do. This is only for a limited time so act fast! Click here to purchase and download from Amazon.

If you want a chance to catch a free download of Future Past from Amazon for your Kindle, you'll need to keep a check on this blog over the next week (or you can enter your email address in the box on the right sidebar to subscribe to my posts) or keep up with my posts on Facebook (check the Facebook tab above).

If you're a fantasy fan at all or if you just appreciate a good, character driven story, I think you'll like everything this book has to offer. I've had such a great time writing it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Honestly, I swear I'm a writer.

I'm reading this wonderful little book right now called You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins. Even seasoned writers need inspiration, pick-me-ups, and the occasional pep talk. In the book, Goins talks about how you need to embrace the title of writer for yourself before you can expect anyone to take you seriously.

I feel like a writer. I have no problem announcing on Facebook that I'm a writer. But there are still times, even as long as I've been in this line of work, that I seem to fold in on myself and I purposely withdraw from face to face opportunities to talk about my writing.

Though I know better, there are still times when I feel like I'm fooling myself with all this writer rig-a-ma-row, that I don't deserve the title. That anxiety is never more prominent then when I'm standing with someone and have to talk about what I do.

For example, I was working a shift at my store and one of my regular customers came in with his daughter who was home from college for the week. My coworker had been very vocal about my latest book and had been trying to sell some for me so my customer knew about my "side job". "She wrote a book," he told his daughter and the girl looked at me with a big smile that said she enjoyed the written word. She was curious and it would've been the perfect time to give her my pitch, or if nothing else, bring the book trailer up on my phone or give her my business card. But I clammed up, said little, and I was thankful for the pouring in of customers so her attention could be diverted elsewhere.

So why do I do stuff like that? I know exactly why. I'm afraid of the reaction I'd get. I'm afraid that they will think I'm just a dreamer. I'm afraid they'll see my occupation as a store clerk, see that I'm a college student, and think, What right does she have to claim herself a writer?

For another example, a few months ago, I was talking with a police officer in my town. He's a fill-in officer who comes in as a last resort. He was telling me about his farming business, as if it was important that I knew his part-time protect and serve wasn't all he did in this life. In turn, I revealed my reason for my love of life; writing.

And you know what he did? He laughed at me.

I didn't have my business cards with me to help validate this for him or I might have been more confident about it. Instead, I shrugged it off and steered our conversation toward its end.

He's not the first person to react that way and it is doubtful he'll be the last. Some people just have a natural way of bringing down others, whether they mean to or not. I think it was just a natural reaction of, You? A store clerk claiming to be a writer? But it's crushing, nonetheless. You can believe in yourself all you want, but still, as part of the human race, there's a need to be validated by others, to know that people still believe that no matter your station in life, you can do anything with hard work.

How can I improve this? My audience is growing and for that, I'm thankful. But most of the growth is local and while I'm thankful for that, it fills me with fear to know that I can be approached by any number of people here to talk about my writing.

It's going to take practice; practice in being confident, practice in pitching my book to face-to-face potential readers, practice in fully accepting that I am, and should act like, a writer. I'll get there.

 
"Everything is practice. Every word you write and action you take is a chance to get better. This is the difference between professionals and amateurs. Pros are always looking for a chance to get better, to improve their craft just a little more." - Jeff Goins, You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)

 

Peace, love, and yes, I am a writer,

Pamela

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Future Past" by Pamela Caves Excerpt


Purchase on Amazon - Print version or Kindle
Print version available on CreateSpace

From Chapter 11 -


When Nafre and Dayel boarded the ship that would sail them all the way to a port near Borsta, Dayel had to stop and catch her breath. There was something off about the ship, though she wasn't sure what it was. There was the feeling that something - or someone - was there that shouldn't be.

"Something wrong, girlie?" Nafre asked and Dayel decided to shake it off since she couldn't explain it even to herself.

Her agitation grew as they made their way to a cabin within the bowels of the ship.  It was small and windowless which reminded Dayel of her accommodations in Niraz.  And for the first time ever, Dayel began to experience a bit of sea sickness as the ship set sail.

"It helps if you go up on deck for some fresh air," Nafre commented but Dayel refused, still with the overwhelming notion that she was better off out of public sight.

The beds were lined up one after the other against the wall and, of course, wasn't very accommodating for Togwas. Dayel had to choose between spreading the blankets out on the floor or risk being pummeled by Nafre's humongous (and quite smelly) feet. It didn't take her very long to reach a decision.

Over the next several days, Dayel's daily activities consisted of reading, eating, and sleeping. After her initial agitation, Dayel decided she was just fine, and probably safer, being a recluse.  Nafre, who usually stayed out most of the day, brought food, candlesticks, and even bathwater. Nafre never spoke about where he went or what he did all day aboard the ship and Dayel didn't ask. In fact most days, Dayel didn't even know it was night until Nafre stumbled through the door and collapsed across the beds.

On the third night, one of the beds broke but Nafre continued to sleep on it anyway.

On the sixth day, he came through the door carrying a bag of coins, a silver and jeweled serpent bracelet, a wheel of cheese, and a bottle of vintage drink, all of which he’d won in a card game.  They stuffed themselves, drank until they were silly, and laughed until they cried about things that didn’t make sense the next morning.

On the twelfth day, Dayel read until she was bored, ate leftover bread slices, and finally fell to sleep wondering when Nafre would be back. When she woke, presumably hours later, he still wasn't there. That uneasy feeling came back and intensified.

Against her better judgment, Dayel made the decision to venture outside their cabin in search of him. Almost two weeks cramped inside four bare walls might've driven a normal person slightly mad but to Dayel, it was familiar and familiar held a semblance of safety. Stepping only two paces outside the door made her feel a bit apprehensive, as if she'd suddenly been exposed.

Deep breaths.  Two more steps.  Slowly now.  Her senses were only a little panicked but it was enough to distract the rational part of her brain that reached out naturally to her surroundings. Even if she'd wanted to prevent what was coming, she could've only done so by calming down.

One step at a time led Dayel down the long hallway to a set of stairs. Having only been down them once, she wasn't sure if this was the correct stairwell to take her above deck.  She had to start somewhere though.

As she climbed, she mindlessly scratched at her back, an action which was becoming all too familiar.  Something back there suddenly pierced her fingers and she hissed in pain. She stopped her ascent and blinked several times at the red liquid oozing through the skin.

What the hell?

Gingerly, she reached back again and lightly ran her fingers over her scars.  Between the lines of rough, mangled skin, sharp points had broken through.  She couldn’t believe that she’d scratched them hard enough to cause scabs.  But a scab wouldn't be hard enough to cut skin, would it?  She decided she couldn't possibly know the answer to that, as she never remembered having scabs before.  The first thing she needed to do once they docked was see a physician or apothecary.

Within the distraction of her scars, her senses had forgotten her earlier panic. A dark mass invaded her mind.  Without realizing the physical proximity of it, she turned in haste to run back to the cabin. The sconces along the wall didn't properly illuminate the doorway to the hall. Dayel could only make out a shadow before something seemed to pinch her chest.

But it wasn't a pinch at all. The back half of an arrow protruded from above her right breast. The pain wasn't immediate. In fact, it didn't much register at all. Dayel tried to take a breath but gurgled blood instead. Blackness swirled and the stairway bent over itself. Something slammed against her face, over and over.  Stairs, she thought, as she tumbled down them.

A simple arrow wouldn't have had that effect on her. Poison. The arrow had most certainly been laced with poison.

They said she couldn't be killed. Dayel thought that was funny, considering she was dying.
 
 
Purchase on Amazon - Print version or Kindle
Print version available on CreateSpace
 

Monday, August 12, 2013

"Future Past" Promo Video

Only mere days until the release of "Future Past". I'm very excited to share this story!


Friday, August 9, 2013

The Map for "Future Past"

In the book, you'll see a black and white version of the map used for Future Past. If you want a closer look, here's an online one for future reference. Click to enlarge it. Then you can take a look at how it was put together in the video below it. Enjoy! Not long now! :)



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I love you, Moxie. RIP, sweet kitty. :(


This was Moxie the day after we brought her home. She was barely able to toddle around on her tiny legs. My boys were really small then. With her guidance over the last three years, I was able to teach them how to respect and love animals. She was a part of our family.

Sleeping and fiercely protecting the magazine.
Last week, I came home from work late one night and couldn't find her. My husband said they'd looked for her too and couldn't find her. I knew something was wrong. She'd never, never been gone that long. You see, there was no keeping Moxie in the house. I don't like it when cats wander outside but she had always been determined to escape and she did so repeatedly. She always returned, though, but that night, I felt sick at my stomach and couldn't sleep.

Ever get the feeling you're being watched while you work?
I found my furbaby laying dead in the yard, and it was all I could do to keep myself composed in front of the kids as I retrieved an old baby blanket from upstairs and went to collect her body. There wasn't a mark on her so she either got sick and died quickly or got into something that she shouldn't have. She looked like she'd been trying to make it back to us when she collapsed and gave up. I had to tell the boys after breakfast that our beloved cat was gone and it is an experience that I have no desire to relive, ever.

We've been grieving heavily over our loss. I've tried to write this a few times but couldn't manage it without breaking down. Even as I sit here now, tears are rolling down my face.



Losing a furbaby is hard but I don't have to tell loving pet owners that. We buried her in the back of the yard and I'm comforted that I can put a little cat toy on her grave when I want. I also took the above picture and made a memorial with her collar and tag on it because the boys wanted a picture in their room to remember her by.

We also made the hard decision that we should honor her memory by going to the animal shelter and adopting a kitty that needed a loving forever-home. We already had the home set up for a cat and we still have lots of love to give. We brought home a kitty yesterday and I'll share the story on my Facebook page (and maybe here if I have the time) at some point later. We're still adjusting to a new kitty personality and the kitty is still adjusting to us, so I'll wait to snap the pictures until we've settled some.

It's been a rough couple of weeks, but it's comforting to know that we've done a little good in the world and that Moxie's passing wasn't for nothing.

Peace, love, and RIP Moxie,

Pamela :(


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Facebook covers for writers

Here's another. The rules: Do not alter the image and you may use it, for free, as your Facebook cover.

If you wish to see more, click the label "facebook covers" below. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

Back pain update: Out with pain management, in with aquatic therapy

If you've been keeping up with my back issues through this blog, you've probably gotten the idea that I'd almost given up having any kind of relief whatsoever.

The last time I really updated was when I was going to a pain management clinic. I can say with certainty now that it was the wrong move for me. I had issues with the doctor, who would get irritated with me when I questioned having to drive over an hour every week to try expensive procedures that ultimately never worked. On top of that, after spending hundreds of dollars in that office, the office manager decided to penalize me for having a sick child and being unable to show up. When I canceled my appointment, I was trying to tell them that I would reschedule after my vacation and finals but no, they didn't want to hear it. Since I couldn't reschedule right then, they decided they were going to charge me an "inappropriate cancelation fee". I'd already been having doubts about continuing there, but for me, to be disregarded in such a manner, sealed the deal. I'm not sure that battle is over, as the office manager made it clear she would bill me that money regardless (if I ever get that bill, I will retaliate full force).

In any case, aside from my gripes about how I was treated as not only a patient but a paying customer, I knew it was the right time to really search for a new doctor; someone who specialized in the spine. I also knew that I'd exhausted just about every avenue I could. I was tired of being in pain and tired of being in tears every time I left the doctor, feeling like it was hopeless. I would continue to deteriorate, I would continue to deal with horrible pain every day.

My current doctor listened to my concerns and what I'd been through and said he needed to get me into a physical therapy regimen that I could handle. And that's exactly what I've been doing.

I've been doing aquatic therapy for the last few months and I've lost weight, I can feel that my muscles are getting stronger, and the best part? My pain has decreased.

I'm still in pain most of the time but I'm learning how to better manage it so I don't have as many bad days as I was having before. I'm learning how to listen to my body better and I continue to get stronger. I still struggle with many day to day things and I still can't run or jump but I feel like now I may actually get there in time. I don't feel hopeless anymore.

A few weeks ago, the doc tested me with some shots to see if the pain was coming from my facet joints or the discs and spine itself. It told him what I'd already known; it was from my discs. The doc and I have been discussing epidural shots but we'd both rather wait and see what improvements I can make with my therapy.

It's hard work and you really have to stay diligent with it. It's a hassle to go twice a week on top of work and school but it has definitely been worth it. Even if I have to end up getting the shot, I still know that the exercises are benefitting me in the long run.

I'll keep you updated. Thanks for reading.

Peace, love, and (finally) less pain,

Pamela

More Freebies

In keeping with the countdown to Future Past (which I am proofing the print right now, yay!), two more titles are up for free grabs.

"The Hand" continues to be one of my favorites. Inspired by a dream of a disembodied hand grabbing at me, the story started to come to life. Thanks to one of my writer friends, Theresa Wiza, providing her first-hand (no pun intended) experience in her battle with breast cancer, the story formed itself into a contemporary science fiction piece, where the main character, Cicely, is winning her war against breast cancer while also battling to save her struggling marriage. Insert a mad scientist and there is the basis for "The Hand". You can download "The Hand" from Smashwords for FREE using coupon code MR95D. Smashwords has formats that fit many different ereading devices, including reading it right online.
The Influence, while admittedly not my favorite, is still my baby. This story began its first twinkle as I was talking to a coworker one night many years ago. She was telling me about her granddaughter's tendency to talk to a rock out in her yard. I'd always wanted to write a classic "good vs evil" tale and an idea about this special little girl sent to our world finally had her basis. Inspired by my own raising with my four sisters, this book took a turn of it's own. It isn't just a contemporary sci-fi read, it is a tale of two sisters learning the right, wrong, and grays of this world and holding together in spite of it.  You can download The Influence from Smashwords for FREE using coupon code LA67F. Smashwords has formats that fit many different ereading devices, including reading it right online.

These coupons expire July 26, 2013 so go download your copies!

Peace, love, and happy reading,

Pamela

Thursday, July 4, 2013

FREE Downloads and reduced pricing


As the countdown to the release of Future Past begins, we went through my titles and reduced the prices on both "The Hand" and The Influence. "The Hand" is now 99 cents and the ebook version of The Influence, my debut novel, has been reduced to $1.99. *Please note that it will probably take a few hours to a few days for Amazon to reflect this price change.

In addition, now begins the free promo for two other titles.



"Into Pieces" began as a writing prompt flash contest on a writer's forum. The contest challenged writers to create another version of a well known fairy tale or nursery rhyme. I chose "Humpty Dumpty" and the story evolved from there. I won the contest but asked the moderators to remove the actual story from the board when I realized I was on to something. I rewrote the tale, submitted it to an anthology and it was accepted. A year later, when the anthology never came to fruition, I withdrew the story and published it myself.

You can download "Into Pieces" from Smashwords for FREE using coupon code BA24D. Smashwords has formats that fit many different ereading devices, including reading it right online.




"The Crazy Ole' Bird Lady" is one of those short stories that began as a dream. Though it is an unusual story, I can safely say it isn't of the "Kubla Khan" variety. (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a writer of the Romantic period, wrote this odd poem after he woke from an opium induced slumber, having dreamed the imagery of the poem.) In any case, in my completely normal dream-state, I dreamed about being holed up with a bunch of other people as we hid from monstrous bird creatures. (I swear I wasn't tripping on anything!) I knew when I woke that it would make a great story and my editor called it, "Classic horror."

You can download "The Crazy Ole' Bird Lady" from Smashwords for FREE using coupon code QD74B. Smashwords has formats that fit many different ereading devices, including reading it right online.

These coupons expire on July 15, 2013 so go download your copy today!

Only a few more weeks until the release of Future Past! Oh crap, I got a lot to do!

Peace, love, and FREEBIES!

Pamela