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,


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

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

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,


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,


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,