Interesting Podcast

I've been listening to Mur Lafferty, Scott Sigler, and JC Hutchins for the last couple of days. Episode 99 of I Should Be Writing 2.0 is a roundtable discussion of New Media. As some of the biggest names in the fiction podcasting world, Mur, Scott and JC's advice is worth keeping in mind for anyone interested in venturing out into the podcasting universe.

I don't know that I'll ever podcast my novels. I might. I might not. I just don't know. That being said, if I do decide this is a worthwhile marketing ploy, I will make an effort to study what these three have done and what they're doing now.

I really don't know much about Scott or JC. In fact, I have to admit I've never sampled any of JC's work and I've only listened to the first few chapters Scott's novel, Nocturnal, which I've very much enjoyed so far.

Then there's Mur. She was the first fiction podcaster I stumbled across. I started listening to her podiobook, Playing For Keeps, when I was driving to and from work by myself. It took me a long time to finish the book, but once started I couldn't stop. Soon after I started Playing for Keeps, I discovered her podcast, I Should Be Writing. This was before she sold her podiobook to Swarm Press and reached #16 in fiction sales on Amazon. It was in the days when she really was a "wannabe writer".

I love what Mur wrote on her blog when the Amazon numbers came in. I think it speaks to the matter of marketing and branding, something every new writer must at least consider.

This new media thang is experimental. At times it’s controversial. But I had faith in it, that giving my work away would pay off. And you guys have proven it. This is not a solo career anymore. For me, anyway, this writing thing is not a lone movement. I have my community behind me, which is a stunning and amazing thing. The force of new media is thrilling and I’m so glad to be part of
it. - Mur Lafferty, Playing For Keeps Launch Day results

That's right. Mur gave her book away free and still managed to get it published! And if I'm not hearing things, I believe JC and Scott have managed the same feat. During the course of Episode 99 of ISBW 2.0, I think JC (or was it Scott) was able to articulate why a publisher would be willing to pick up a free podcast novel: the author has already done a lot of marketing and has built a fan base, saving the publishing firm's marketing team the trouble. It's just good business sense! These podio-authors have a huge following, one that it's safe to assume will continue to support the authors when they're in print.

Of course, gaining that fan base doesn't happen over night. It takes time. It takes dedication and creativity. In fact, these three gurus warn it might take as long as three years for people to really sit up and take notice of your stuff.

For the writers who stumble by here on occasion, what are your thoughts on this topic? Do you plan on podcasting? Ever thought of it?

My Weekend

This weekend we went trick-or-treat camping. I didn't get my camera out all that often except when it came time to get the kids dressed. Then I went a little crazy. I uploaded quite a few of the pictures to my Flickr Account (hint! Go there to see more adorable children in costume!).

The highlight of my day was when my oldest decided to join in the festivities. Apparently, he's outgrowing Halloween, which I think is complete nonsense since I am still quite enamored with it myself. Free candy. Costumes. Come on! What's not to love? Still, he kept insisting that he didn't want to trick-or-treat. Since I refused to believe him, I packed a spare costume...just in case.

Good thing! With about 15 minutes to spare, he changed his 10-year-old mind and decided get dressed. He wasn't thrilled with the mask, but at least he let me get a few good pictures before he tore it off and tried conning me into carrying it around the park.

A Frustrating Discovery

So I get home last night to find my husband a little stressed out. Okay, a lot stressed out. The oldest child forgot to bring home half of his homework. Again. All of a sudden it's become standard practice to leave books and worksheets in his locker instead of stuffing them in his backpack.

After dinner I offer to run up to the school to see if I can get into his locker to retrieve said homework. The first few doors I tried were locked, but eventually I found a way into the school. I explain to the only person I see what I'm there for and they let me wander through the hallways. Finally, I make my way to the Fifth Grade hall and locate his locker. Twirl the lock until the three digit code is accepted, lift on the little silver handle, and pull the locker door open.

And see red.

No wonder nothing is coming home. He couldn't find his homework or his textbooks if he wanted to! Papers, books, folders, and a sweatshirt litter the bottom of the locker. It's a good foot deep. Now, he shares this atrocity with a fellow classmate, so it stands to reason this mess isn't all his. Luckily, I know who and where his locker-mate lives, so I decide to grab everything but the sweatshirt and the textbooks.

I take the mess home, ground the child for life, and then set about trying to figure out what's still relevant, what needs to be done for tomorrow, and what can be thrown away. I put the other child's work into a separate stack that my husband hand delivers to the child's grandparents, who are all "oh, you know how boys are...".

Yeah, we do. We also know they tend to respond well to a little discipline. Try it.

So the child finishes his homework, which was dramatically reduced by the fact he had completed his homework at school and it only needed to be double-checked. If he would have simply put it in his folder and brought it home, I would not have discovered the world's most appalling locker. He would not have been grounded or harped at about the need for a little organization. I would not have said I will be conducting random locker inspections.

Which I know have to do because I said I would be conducting random locker inspections. Gah!

Weekend Pictures

This weekend we took an hour or so to walk the new bike trail they put in near our house. I took my camera so I could experiment a bit more. You'll notice some of the pictures below are a bit on the blurry side...so much for shooting with an open aperature. Kids move too much! Not to mention the least bit of camera shake is noticeable as well. Maybe a tripod would have made a difference.



Me & My Boys

My Sister and Her Kids

My Two Little Men


Running the Dog




How are the boys doing in school?

It seems to be a popular question, so I thought it'd make a decent blog entry.

The youngest is doing stellar. I don't think he's brought home anything less than a 90% so far. Most of his work is actually nearer to the 100% mark. Of course, I haven't heard how the standardized tests are going - oh, how I hate those!

The oldest is being diligent and showing very good character. He has homework Monday through Thursday by design. Most nights he averages 1 to 1 1/2 hours. This is a huge block of time when you consider we don't pick him up from the daycare until 5:30 and bedtime is at 9:00. By the time we eat dinner, get baths, and make sure the homework is done, he's left with about an hour to unwind.

Even though the homework is time consuming, I'm grateful his teachers are so good about making sure the hubby and I are kept well informed of daily expectations. We get an e-mail every night outlining what he needs to complete before class the next day. Already this has resulted in trips to the school after hours to retrieve forgotten assignments.

Now I'm just waiting for the first meeting of the year to discuss his accommodations. It should be soon.

Looking for Willing Victims

I've decided I'd like to expand my photography skills and experience. This means I need willing models. So far I've got a couple of people who might be willing to let me practice on them. I'm excited but nervous. I want so badly to take amazing pictures and give them each something they like.

Shoot #1: Mom wants me to take Christmas pictures of her three daughters. I'm very excited, but I also want a lovely background. I was thinking of taking them to a park or some other such setting where there's a lot of pines. The problem is that Fall has just arrived and these are supposed to be Christmas pictures. Any suggestions?

Shoot #2: A senior. I think I'm okay on this one. She wants fall colors in her pictures, so I just need to wait for the trees to do their thing. Then its a matter of finding the right location.

Now here's my real delimna:

Where do I upload them so they can be printed to look like professional pictures? Rounded corners and imprinting maybe? Any suggestions?

The hubby and I

I read this article earlier today about the strain children can put on a marriage. It was an honest, open admission of spousal dissatisfaction. The author, a mother to 2 children with a "bun in the oven", comments on the fact that she and her husband's marriage has suffered due to their growing family. It hasn't broken, but there's definitely some tension between them.

In the 13 plus years we've been married, ten of which we've been parents, the hubby and I have had tension. We've had arguments. We've chosen to not talk to each other, to make snide comments, or to otherwise make the other person miserable. The stress and worries of adulthood seem to be amplified by the presence of children.

Yet, we've also been blessed with a very strong relationship that seems to have grown instead of growing stagnant. We're both pretty open people. If one of us is angry, there's really no way the other person can claim ignorance. Subtly isn't something either of us practice very well. Although, I must admit, there are times when I think the hubby is mad and he's not (or so he says). Of course, this doesn't prevent me from harrassing him with his favorite question ever. "Are you mad?" Now, if you want to make someone angry, ask them that question a good half-dozen times. It's sure to do the trick!

But, I'm not here to give you advice on how to irritate the ever-lovin' piss out of your loved one. I'm sure most you can manage that with your eyes closed and one hand tied behind your back!

The point I'm trying to make here - and probably failing to do so - is that I'm lucky. The hubby and I have a very good relationship. Of course, that doesn't mean we don't take each other for granted sometimes, because we do. We might not say thank you enough or acknowledge the other person's contributions as we should, but we still manage to live together without our marriage dissolving into tantrums.

In fact, every now and again we manage to actually recapture a little bit of what we had before the kidlets arrived on the scene. This last weekend was especially nice because we actually managed to ship the kids off to my sister's (Thanks, Meg!) and had a date-night. Nothing fancy. Nothing extreme. Just perfect.

First we ran to the local brewery store where the hubby purchased a kit for a new batch of homebrew and I picked up two bottles of wine. Then we made our way to Bennigan's. The service was great, but the kitchen had issues. By the time the management had offered us coupons for free appetizers and we had used our gift card, we only had to pay a few bucks. Then we went to Kohl's where we both got one new work outfit apiece and the kids some fall jackets. After that, we did the unthinkable. Seriously! The unthinkable! We went to a bookstore.

I might have fallen just a little more in love with that man right then and there. He actually agreed to walk inside a bookstore. Granted, there was Starbucks coffee inside, which was likely the only reason he agreed, but he agreed! Better yet, he even browsed a bit. Doesn't matter that we wandered through the History section, the Sports section, or the Techy aisles. Doesn't matter at all. Although I noticed he kept me pretty well away from the fiction. I think he knew my self-control could only be pushed so far before it snapped.

The only downside of this glorious one-on-one time with my hubby is that we don't do it often enough. We don't make a point to just get out of the house and reconnect with each other on a regular basis. We don't carve out time for our relationship like we do for the other things in our lives, things like school, work, children, sporting events. It's something I'd like to work on. I think we both deserve time with each other and no other distractions.

Loving the Look


Photoshopped to look Old
Originally uploaded by Krheiser

I've not perfected it yet, but I really like being able to take a sharp, colorful, modern photo and transforming it into something aged. I'm not sure what the official term is, but I like to call this photoshopped effect an antique wash. It's sepia, but it's not. You can see the hint of color seeping back into the photo.

I've been playing with this effect for a couple of weeks now. I've taken a good half-dozen pictures of my newest little niece and modified them to somewhat resemble the picture showcased here.

One problem...I can't seem to print them! My printer keeps putting a faint line through the photo almost as if the ink cartridges are running out, but when I send a full-color photo to the printer, it's beautiful. I'm frustrated but confident I can figure out a way to print the pictures. They're too cute not too!

If the morning is this bad...

I was in the basement, putting the puppy's kennel blanket into the dryer (he had vomited on it while we were at work yesterday), when I heard my hubby's angry voice through the floorboards above my head. Minutes earlier I had dragged myself out of bed and down the basement steps, leaving him and our five-month-old puppy in bed.

Stuffing the blanket into the washing machine, I moved as quickly as my half-asleep body would allow. When I get upstairs and into our bedroom I was met with the most disgusting sight. The damn dog had taken a shit on our bed! On our bed, people!

Okay. I can deal with this. Puppy spanked and taken outside before being unceremoniously deposited into his kennel. Toilet paper used to pick up and dispose of the puppy feces. Sheets, blankets and pillows stripped off the bed. Dump first load into the Washing Machine.

All before my morning shower.

This is not the way you want to start your day. Really. It's not.

You Might Be The World's Worst Mom When..

Your child calls you sick from school and you tell him it's too early in the school year for him to take a sick day.

Yes, I did.

I'm not heartless, really. It's just that he's back on his meds now and we know there's a readjustment period when upset stomachs aren't all that unusual. Last time it took his system nearly three weeks to adjust to the early morning dosages. We learned then that toughing it out is sometimes the only viable alternative. Otherwise, the child ends up with too many absences.

But what do you do when he calls a second time and tells you lunch didn't help and he almost hurled in the boys' bathroom? You send his father after him. What choice do you have?

Could Be My Boys

cat

Adjusting

With the kids back in school, life is adjusting to backpack checks and homework schedules. Even if the boys fail to bring home any homework, they're discovering mom and dad can always find something for them to do. For the last few nights we've had a scheduled reading time. Each boy is given a book and a set number of pages or chapters to read. Once they're done reading, they are then required to write about what they just read. I know! Evil!

My 10-year-old is using his blog. I took a few minutes yesterday and set it up to send out an e-mail to me, my hubby, and his grammy whenever he updates it. I'm hoping this will remind us to go post a comment or two of encouragement. Must remember to do this next!

My 7-year-old is stuck with pencil and paper. Strangely, he has the better punctuation, grammar, and spelling even though there's no computer to aid him. Not that we don't have run-on sentences and misspelled words. We do. They're just not as numerous as his older brother's.

Usually by the time they're done reading and writing, it's time for baths. Then cartoons. Then bed. The nights go by very fast now that school is back in session.

I'm happy to say, though, that I've somehow managed to finish reading Gary Gildner's Warsaw Sparks memoir. It wasn't nearly as painful as I feared. Actually, it was quite entertaining. Cultural differences are always fascinating. That Gildner managed to convey so many of those differences on the baseball field makes this book somewhat unique in my opinion.

Finishing that book has freed me up to focus on the "textbooks" we were required to purchase this semester. I'm actually looking forward to reading them. How sick is that? I guess it just goes to show that following your passion makes a huge difference. I don't mind reading books on the craft of writing. I do that for fun. (edited per hubby's suggestion)

Love Thursday Entry


Silly Girl in a Raincoat
Originally uploaded by Krheiser

I know you can't see any faces, but sometimes it just doesn't matter. While we were walking to the beach in 88-degree weather, my niece felt the need to wear her rainjacket. I love the glimpse of her holding her mom's hand, as well as the contrast of their clothing choices.

First Day of School


Waiting for the Bus
Originally uploaded by Krheiser

Yesterday was the boys' first day of the new school year. The morning went fairly well, which means we didn't miss the bus! When we stopped at the end of the driveway I told the boys to hurry and get out of the car so I could get their first day of school photos. I managed to snap off a few shots just before the bus stopped at the neighbor's place.

Don't they look less than enthusiastic?

Labor Day Weekend

The last three-day weekend of the year was spent at a nearby campground. So nearby that we could run home and grab whatever hadn't been packed into the camper. I know I ran back to grab the puppy's chain, baseball gloves that had been left in the backyard, and a few other odd items we just couldn't live without.

At the campground itself we had football, ice cream, swimming, and campfires. We only took the kids to the pond on Saturday, though, because none of us moms were all that impressed with the beach. It was nasty on the toes, if you know what I mean. Slimy. Of course, that didn't stop the kids from having a blast.

When the kids weren't swimming, they were either riding their bikes or playing touch football with their dads. I don't know how the dads could stand the heat, but they managed. The only problem being that my hubby thinks he broke his toe -- open-toed sandals are not condusive to football, not even two-handed touch football!


Of course, camping isn't camping if there's no campfire for unwinding. Strangely, my kids didn't sit around the campfire once. They were so worn out by the end of the day that they happily took their showers and settled down with a movie for the night. (Air conditioning and movies! Now, that's camping!) Even worse, we microwaved the s'mores. I know I should feel ashamed of myself, but I don't. Sometimes mommies need breaks, too! That particular night it was a production line of s'mores, showers, and cartoons. The sooner the kids were down, the sooner we could escape to the campfire and some uninterrupted adult conversation!



All in all, I'd say we had a lovely weekend. My brother made it home from Iowa for the long weekend, my sister bought a weekend pass so she and her kids could join us whenever they wanted, and we had so many visitors I can hardly name them all.

The only rain cloud in the story comes in the form of the unhappy neighbor. This family pulled in the day after us and had some issues. He didn't like our cars, our bikes, or my dogs. Well, too bad for him. Every car there had a pass issued by the campground. The bikes were gone just as much as they were underfoot and, more importantly, they were never left on his site. As for the dogs, they only barked a handful of times and never for long because we were always nearby. Of course, since he made the mistake of complaining to my sister about all this, we weren't exactly as quiet at night as we would have been otherwise. Subtle revenge, it's good for the soul.

Of course, the weekend couldn't last forever and we had to pack up Monday morning. I wanted to thoroughly clean the camper, which meant washing all the bedding. I also wanted to make sure the hubby and I would have work clothes this week. Add to all that the fact that it was the night before my boys began a new school year. Busy, busy, busy!

How about you? What did you do this weekend?