Tuesday, December 30, 2014

15 Important Things I Have Learned by Age 50

On January 1st, I will be fifty years old.

Yes, the "Big 5 - 0".

Life sure does fly by when you are having fun (or working too much or caring for farm animals or fill in the blank). But if life flies by and you have not learned much, then that is a travesty.

So, I could not think of a better time than now to note a few of the important things I have learned in these past fifty years. 

In no certain order or level of importance, here they are:

1.  For every mistake made in life, there is a lesson to be learned. Do not dwell on the mistake, focus on the lesson.

2.  Self esteem is not something you are born with, it takes years to develop. So parents, the best thing you can teach your kids is the importance of self worth and confidence at an early age.

3.  Do not be in a hurry to grow up.  Childhood only lasts a fraction of your lifetime, enjoy it and keep playing as a child would - well into your adult and senior years.

4.  Use your finest set of china (nice outfit, new shoes, fill in the blank) that your were saving for that special occasion. Today is that special occasion.

5.  Let go of anger, hatred, greed, jealousy, etc. Keeping any of it inside only hurts one person - yourself.

6.  Have a pet.  Does not matter what kind of pet, just have a pet.

7.  Do not try to control others, it never leads to anything good. You are only in control of yourself and your own emotions.

8.  Do not allow friends, family or anyone else to treat you badly. The first offense may be free, after that a huge penalty should be given - including removing yourself from the situation.

9.  There will be many love partners in your life. The trick is picking the right one that you want to spend the rest of your life with.

10. Always save room for dessert, especially if it has chocolate in it. In fact, sometimes having dessert before a meal is great. Even better, dessert as the meal many times is the perfect thing to have.

11. If you have not been able to fit into those "skinny jeans" for over a year, then toss them out or give them to charity. (Maybe because you saved room for dessert?)

12. Laugh more at yourself and do not take life so seriously.

13. Tell your loved ones that you love them - every day.  No one is guaranteed tomorrow.

14. Do not let fear or anxiety talk you out of the things that you really want to do in life.  Carpe Diem!

15. Lastly, just be real.  Be yourself, warts and all.  Because that is what you have to offer the world and no one else can be YOU!

Happy New Year - 2015 !

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Best Christmas Eve Ever 

As I wandered through the back pasture, checking the fences to make certain the storm that had just passed through did not down a tree on the barbed wire, I happened upon a turtle. This little guy was stuck in the lower part of the fence opening.  When the heavy rains had come earlier in the day, he apparently tried to swim through the hole, but became immobilized when his shell lodged in the narrow opening.

He had been there awhile, noting from the scrapes on his leathery shell.  He was exhausted and had all but given up on trying to escape the predicament that he was in. From his point of view, there was no way out except a slow agonizing death.  Until a pair of human hands intervened and unwedged his body from the jaws of the heartless cattle fence.

He looked back as he swam away from me, acknowledging with a couple splashes in the water that surely said, "Thank you, whoever you are, for saving my life."

Read the rest in "Chickens, Hawks and Grump Goats: Five Years on a Farm"

 Merry Christmas to You and Yours!

A Newbie Needs to Know - Is Indie Publishing Reaching Critical Mass?

When indie publishing was so new many years ago and Amazon Digital Services was in its infancy with Kindle Direct Publishing, seeing the results of self-published authors like Hugh Howey was very inspirational to the new kid on the block.

New trails were being blazed back then and so many want-to-be authors were more than willing to take the plunge to put themselves out there for their prospective readers.

Now, years later, the self-publishing market seems to be a bit top-heavy.

Many indie books out there boast that they are a "best seller" or a "#1 blockbuster".  The reviews for those same books are all over the charts, from "it was a horrible read" to "it was a spectacular novel".  To me, as a newly published author, it appears that there has been a turning of tides as of late.

The indie authors that started way back when are now at the top of their game.  Many of them are proud (rightfully so) to have reached such heights and to have achieved this level of success with a great book, hard work, a little luck and many hours of marketing.

Many new indie authors jump to the conclusion that self-publishing is virtually free, but that is very misleading. It’s still hard to get anything for nothing, although many of us will keep trying. No matter how good the book is, it still needs to be distributed and marketed to the correct demographic - usually through a combination of social and paid channels.

The main problem and the "elephant in the room" is that we’re not all suited to become successful indie authors. Very few of us can produce a book that many people want to read. While some may have the talent and resources to produce and distribute really great books, many of the indie books never see the light of day. 

As with any trend, people jump on the bandwagon with high expectations based on the hype and the past performance of the latest successful indie author. Thank you, Hugh Howey!

For the newbie indie author, there’s a period of initial excitement and euphoria. Then, six months or a year later, when the indie author does not see the great results that they had hoped for they get frustrated and quit.  There has been more than one instance where yours truly was about to give up on being a writer.

This is not to say that indie authors should give up if they are not successful in the short term. But, it does point out that past performance of similar books or authors does not guarantee the same results for everyone.

Like with anything else in life, self-publishing has risks and monetary implications if you choose to pursue the dream of becoming a published indie author.

As for me, I just like to write and will continue to do so ... Critical Mass or not.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles by Brenda Perlin

Shattered Reality by Brenda Perlin is a heart-felt story written as a fictional piece. However, it is based on actual events in the life of the author.

Through the eyes of Brooklyn, the story chronicles the childhood, teenage and adult years of her life. It continues through to the start and end of her marriage. Ultimately the story brings Brooklyn to the love of her life and soul mate, Bo. Together, the two battle many odds to be together.

Told with honesty and sincerity, the author pulls the reader through the good times and the bad times of Brooklyn's life - openly discussing adultery and being a home-wrecker. But, through it all, I genuinely liked Brooklyn and cheered for her when she became ill and cheered even more for her when her ex-husband and Bo's ex-wife gave her so much grief during the latter part of the book.

I do not want to give away too much of the story. So, you will just have to read it to see where Brooklyn and Bo end up.

Ms. Perlin is a very talented author and Shattered Reality is a wonderfully written novel that I would highly recommend to anyone who loves a good love story.

Burnt Promises by Brenda Perlin is the second book in the Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles and one that fills in the rest of Brooklyn's story after the ending of the first book, Shattered Reality.

The story of Brooklyn and Bo is complicated to say the least. They are finally together, but cannot seem to get away from the hatefulness of Bo's soon to be ex-wife, Ruth. Maneuvering through the legal system, Bo is faced with many obstacles in his pursuit of freedom from his crazy, over the top wife. How long will it take before the divorce is final? It could be years - from Brooklyn's perspective.

Brooklyn gets assaulted by Ruth at the gym where Bo and Brooklyn first meet. Ruth gets away before the police come. Brooklyn gets a restraining order on Ruth. Brooklyn must also endure Ruth's anti-semitic verbal attacks through out the course of the divorce proceedings.

In Burnt Promises, the reader is taken on a roller-coaster ride of emotion and I found myself wanting to scream at Ruth for her stubbornness, craziness and all out hatefulness. The woman was scorned, I get that, but sometimes you just need to cut your losses and move on.

I felt empathy and compassion for Bo and Brooklyn, they found their soul mate in each other and just want to live happily ever after. Hopefully they can do that when Ruth finally lets go of the marriage that has been broken for years and she allows Bo to move on.

Brenda Perlin has a wonderful way of weaving an emotional, thought-provoking tale. I thoroughly enjoyed this second installment of the Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles and have already read the next book, Fractured Vows, which gives a great perspective of the story from Bo's point of view.

Fractured Vows by Brenda Perlin is the third book in the Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles. It is written from Bo's point of view and fills in the blanks of the second book, Burnt Promises.

Bo's perspective of the aftermath of his decision to be with Brooklyn is one of heart-felt emotion and monumental frustration. He is consumed with the antics of his soon to be ex-wife, Ruth. She has been wronged and she will not let Bo off easy for his infidelity.

Bo is plagued by emails, texts and phone messages from Ruth during the course of the two-year battle with her to end their marriage. The communications start off reasonable enough, but quickly escalate into a crescendo of bitterness, spitefulness and all out nastiness. Bo's attorney cannot get Ruth to agree on a divorce settlement. And when she does agree, victory is snatched in an instant when Ruth changes her mind for the umpteenth time.

Ms. Perlin again strikes a home run in weaving another emotional, thought-provoking tale. Looking forward to the next book and eager to know what happens for the couple after this.

Brenda Perlin is an independent adult contemporary fiction author. Brenda evokes emotional responses in her readers by using a provocatively unique writing style. Her most recent work, the Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles is hitting the reading community full force with its third and final installment, Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles: Fractured Vows. Critics and readers alike are praising the story as an exciting and engaging read.

Earlier in 2014, Brenda expanded her writing ventures into a whole new writing world. Co-authoring Ty The Bull, Brenda supports one little boy in voicing his heartwarming story of overcoming his childhood bully.

In September of 2014, Brenda expanded her writing world once more with the illustrated book, Alex the Mutt. Published by Blossoming Press, Alex the Mutt explores the journey of love and loss of a beloved friend and family member, Alex, the family dog.

Brenda continues to write and has new literary works on the go that her fans eagerly await to get their hands on.

All of Brenda's works are accessible through Amazon and their subsidiaries.
"From life's tragedies came stories that I hope will inspire others," - Brenda Perlin

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

So tsū Me! - Updated 1/3/2015

There is a new kid on the social media block and her name is "tsū" (pronounced Sue).  But don't let the name fool you, she is anything but your run of the mill social media patform.  She is different. 

I know, I can hear the groans already, "another Facebook and Google+ wannabe".

Although tsū is very similar to Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, the big difference with tsū is that the content provider (you) is paid for the content that you post!

Now that I have your attention, let's look at the first few steps of using tsū:

  • You have to be invited by someone.  This may change in the future, but at launch time only invitees are allowed to sign up.  If you want to use my invite code, it is HERE.
  • You do not automatically get income when you sign up.  You need to use the platform just as you would use Facebook or any other social media.
  • When you post to tsū, you can link that post to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where it will appear to your network on those platforms.  There is no Google+ link at the moment, but there is discussion of that coming at a later time.  

I am still working through the initial steps myself, but so far I like what I see.  Below is a little more information from the tsu website:

How is tsū different?

1. Ownership - We believe in real ownership, which only exists when users own the rights to their content and the economics that come with it. Users should be compensated for their likeness, image and content. It’s simple and it’s the right thing to do.

2. Access - We share social revenues with everyone, for any type of content, size of network or level of influence. Using tsū requires nothing more than what you already do on other social media platforms today.

3. Empowerment - Our model is global, scalable, and designed to empower the user. For the first time every user can be a content creator earning royalties in perpetuity.

How does tsū  work?

tsū shares social revenues that come from third party ads, sponsorships and partnerships. Once economics are created, tsū receives 10% to maintain the platform. Half of the remaining earned revenue is paid to the user who created the content. The other half of the remaining earned revenue is distributed to the user’s network Family Tree. Users on tsū monetize their content and network in perpetuity, which continues to grow alongside the community.

If you want to check out tsū, look me up at https://www.tsu.co/samolteni and follow or friend me.

** Updated 1/3/2015 **

I really did want to like tsū, but alas, I could not.  I deleted my account for the following reasons:

  • There were just too many "seedy" characters with names I could not pronounce that were "following" me. The more "friends" I received, the creepier it became. 
  • But aside from that, the functionality is not up to par with FB. There are no pages or groups over there, so all of your stuff is lumped together under one news-feed. 
  • There is no real security or privacy on the site from what I could see. 
  • There is no way to edit a post after it is posted, you must delete it and re-create it. 
  • As for the so-called revenue, (which was not my driving factor for trying it out) it totalled 6 cents for the two weeks I was on tsū.  So annualized, that would be whopping $1.56! Bear in mind, I just posted as I would on Facebook and Twitter and did not "work" the system like many people are doing.
  • Which leads me to the final reason for deleting my tsū account ...  It seemed to me that it was filled with spam and much mindless drivel along with very little original content.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - The Nativity Set by DeEtte Beckstead


The Nativity Set by DeEtte Beckstead is a heart-warming, touching story that reminds us to slow down and live in the present, as you never know what tomorrow holds.

The story centers around Hannah, a young college girl whose parents have asked to visit with her grandfather while she is home for the holidays. Hannah wants to visit with her friends, but out of a sense of obligation goes to visit her grandfather. When she gets there, she realizes that he does not look as well as he had months ago when she saw him last. The stress of his wife's death and his current loneliness have taken its toll on the elderly man.

Hannah decides to stay for a few hours and her grandfather proceeds to tell her the story of the nativity set that has been in the family for decades. Although Hannah has heard most of the story before, she sits patiently and lets he grandfather detail the story behind each hand-carved wooden item in the set. By the end of the story, I was choking back tears.

The author's writing style is descriptive, clear and concise with a powerful message to the reader to slow down, live in the present and appreciate family. This is a perfect short story for the Christmas season and one I highly recommend to those who love short stories, especially holiday themed ones

Friday, December 5, 2014

Book Review Spotlight - Ben Brown's Flying Machine by Michael Thorp 



Ben Brown's Flying Machine by Michael Thorp is an exciting, well-detailed novella about space exploration for children of ages and adults as well.

The story begins right in the middle of the action.  The crew of the first manned spaceship to Mars has vanished, but the CEV module that they were in crashes into a pasture on Ben Brown's farm. The CEV is not without a passenger, however, it contains an old man who is dying.  Upon the old man's last breath, ancient words are spoken to Ben Brown that change his life forever.

After the crash, Ben is ridiculed by classmates after being accused of lying about the old man on the spaceship as there was no indication that a being was on the craft. Ben has to endure the backlash. But, when he takes his SAT exam shortly thereafter, he gets a perfect score on the test.  This changes the direction of his life as he is taken under the wing of Dr. Bradshaw and given a full scholarship to college.

As the story proceeds, Ben finds that he now has knowledge of things he did not know before his encounter with the spaceship and the old man.  Ben can now understand cuneiform and complex scientific theories.  With this new found knowledge, Ben is compelled to build a "flying machine" and enters the device into a science fair.  His contraption brings him fame and fortune, but Ben soon discovers that the machine is part of a bigger plan for him to fly to another planet -  the planet where the old man in the CEV came from - and to find out what really happened to the crew of the CEV.

For a short read, this was entertaining, exciting and definitely worth the price of admission.  I can ultimately see it as a movie and would love to see it on the big screen.

Well done, Mr. Thorp. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Christmas Gift from the Past - FREE for a Limited Time

Just in time for Christmas, "A Christmas Gift from the Past" is FREE Friday 12/5 - Tuesday 12/9 on Amazon.



When a long-time married women finds a mysterious package on her doorstep at Christmas time, her husband has a lot of explaining to do.
First few paragraphs:

A knock at the door beckoned me from the holiday festivities.  Over the swooning voice of Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" and the clatter of dishes being hurriedly removed from the dinner table, I barely heard the knock at the door.

"Just a minute,"  I yelled as I made my way to the foyer through crumpled wrapping paper and boxes of newly acquired baubles to reach for the door handle.

Upon opening the door to the frigidly cold December afternoon air, the only presence on the front patio was a box wrapped in plain brown parcel paper. 

"Honey, who's at the door?"  my husband asked as I brought the package inside.

"Very strange, dear, the only thing out there was this package."

"Are you expecting anything?" he asked.