Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Reading into the past



Sunday evening I had a problem sleeping. It was 3 am and I didn't know what to do. So a thought occurred to me. I decided to read through my blog, but, only the very early posts. I found those first few years of posts to be very refreshing. Embarrassing and cringe worthy, but refreshing regardless.

The voice of those posts were so clear. It was so different from the voice with which I write today. What I really liked about those posts is that they were honest. I would like to think that I've kept that quality intact. I loved how I wrote from such an innocent perspective. I didn't think of myself as a writer then. I wrote like someone from the outside looking in. Though, somehow, over the years I had transitioned from the outside to the inside without me even realizing it.

I have since become a writer. I embraced the title with pride and excitement. It is still so strange how much I have changed and hadn't realized it until I read those old posts. I was such a different person back then. I hope it's not arrogant of me to say that I have grown, and have come to like myself and my writing even more. I have become so much more confident within myself, and my writing. I don't know if I would have come to this realization without therapy.

I now have to fight the urge to delete certain posts, or go back and rewrite them. I don't think it's right messing with my past. I had written those posts, and it gives me motivation to be a better blogger and writer in the future.

So, do you ever go back and look at previous posts, or photos? Do you ever look back at your past? If not, how are you doing today?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Katherine’s Mesothelioma Journey

Good Day Friends. How is everyone doing? I hope all is well. I was recently contacted to share another individual's story. This will be the last time I shall be posting on this matter. But today I would like to introduce you to Katherine.



Katherine Keys received a devastating diagnosis of mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer with nearly no hope of survival, nearly ten years ago. Today, after a difficult battle with the cancer, and with the support of a great medical team and her family, Katherine lives with some physical limitations, but hope and gratitude.

Katherine’s journey from diagnosis to remission began one day when she first noticed some of the symptoms of mesothelioma. Unfortunately these symptoms can be misleading. They often mimic much less serious and more common illnesses. Katherine simply thought she had the flu, with a cough and difficulty breathing.

Mesothelioma has a long latency period. While people like Katherine are experiencing symptoms that don’t feel that serious, the cancer is developing in the pleura, the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. Asbestos exposure most often causes this type of cancer, but by the time a person gets a diagnosis, it is usually decades after that exposure occurred. Katherine was luckier than most, and she received her diagnosis while the cancer was still in stage I.

Even with a diagnosis of stage I mesothelioma, the earliest stage of the disease when the cancer has not yet spread too far, the prognosis is not usually very good. A hope of being able to achieve remission through treatment is still minimal at this early stage. Katherine was just 49 years old at the time of her diagnosis and she was not ready to give into the disease and the poor prognosis without a fight.

She chose to go with the most aggressive treatment to have the best chance of survival and remission. Katherine underwent a radical type of surgery called an extrapleural pneumonectomy. It involved the aggressive removal of much of the tissue on one side of her chest cavity. She had the pleura removed, an entire lung, and part of her diaphragm. She then received radiation therapy after surgery to increase the chance of remission by killing any remaining cancer cells.

It took Katherine months to recover from the extensive surgery and to go through the radiation treatments. She then had to adapt to life with just one lung. She also had to get monthly checkups and screenings for cancer. The tumors were gone and had not returned a few months after the surgery, and finally a year later. At this point Katherine was considered to be in remission. Effectively, her medical team had cured her cancer, something extremely rare with mesothelioma at any stage.

Katherine is now living ten-plus years after her diagnosis, a diagnosis that came with a two-year survival rate at best as a prognosis. She has some serious limitations now, as she gets older and faces life with only one lung, but she is mostly just thrilled to be alive and to have beaten a cancer that is so tragic for most people who have it. Katherine beat the odds and she knows it. She enjoys her life now, even with her physical limitations, and feels grateful and lucky to have more time to spend with her family and friends.

Monday, March 13, 2017

He Gave Me Barn Cats blog tour



Author Maria Santomasso-Hyde is visiting today as part of her HE GAVE ME BARN CATS Blog Tour with MC Book Tours. Her book is scheduled to be released March 14 by Dancing Lemur Press.

If you’re looking for a story that will touch your heart, you’ve found it in this tender story of love, loss, and inspiration. You could win your own copy, just check out the giveaway details.

◊ He Gave Me BARN CATS
◊ by Maria Santomass0-Hyde
◊ Published by Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
◊ Available March 14, 2017
◊ $10.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 134 pages
◊ Genres: Christian Fiction / Christian Life-Death, Grief, Bereavement
◊ Print ISBN 978-1-939844-21-7 eBook ISBN 978-1-939844-22-4
◊ Order through Ingram, Follett Library Resources, or from the publisher
◊ $3.99 eBook available in all formats

Inspired by true events...

        Maria has cared for her very ill mother for many years. Her burdens are heavy, causing a sadness bordering on darkness.  When she discovers her historic barn is now home to a mother cat and kittens, she feels lighter than she has in years. As the kittens grow, they teach her as only animals can do.
          Then tragedy strikes. As Maria loses her family, the darkness envelopes her like the heavy fog that blankets her Blue Ridge Mountain home each morning. She creates a scorecard:  God: 9, Maria: 0.  Her questions turn into anger at God.  She searches to find answers as to why her loving God would take away so much in such a short time.
          How will she learn to trust again? Can the kittens in her barn help her heal?

HE GAVE ME BARN CATS is available for pre-order in print format at following sites: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, Everything Cats, Foyles, and Chapters-Indigo.

HE GAVE ME BARN CATS is available for order in eBook format at the following sites: Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and Amazon.

Be sure to add HE GAVE ME BARN CATS to your shelf on Goodreads.



Formerly a newspaper reporter, Maria Santomasso-Hyde now owns Alta Vista Fine Art Gallery.

She lives in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, with her husband, Lee, and The Queen of the Universe (Roma, their Black Cat) … and other Black Cats who decide to move in. Find Maria here: Facebook Page 
* Website. 

Come join the blog tour and learn more about Maria and HE GAVE ME BARN CATS by visiting the following blog:

March 8 - Rockin' Book Reviews - Guest Post
March 10 - Defending The Pen - Excerpt
March 13 - Reviews by Crystal - Q&A

Alex J. Cavanaugh - Guest Post
March 14 - Thoughts in Progress - Review
March 15 - Open
March 16 - A Bluestocking's Place - Excerpt

deal sharing aunt - Review
March 17 - Juneta @ Writer's Gambit - Q&A
March 21 - bookworm1102 - Excerpt

Storey Book Reviews - Excerpt

Celticlady's Reviews - Feature



Giveaway Details:

This is a tour-wide giveaway for two (2) print copies (U.S only) and two (2) eBooks (international). To enter just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hard work does pay off . . . eventually



The past few weeks has been good for my writing. I finally finished the first draft of book 2. How did I do that? I pitched up at my laptop, sat down, and wrote in multiple short sessions everyday, aside for Sundays. Certain days were 100 word days. The others were 2000 word days. I really wanted to finish it. Just to prove to myself I can, and I did.

To be honest, I finished book 2 in 2010 already. But I didn't like what I'd written. So, I think it is in the beginning of 2016 that I started over from scratch. It felt like a kick to the face at first, but I definitely like where the new version went. It is a lot darker in theme than book 1. But I needed to get the darkness out;) Besides, I wrote 40 000 words in the beginning of 2016. So I just had to add the next 50 000. If I had to start from scratch and write 100 000 words right now, I think I would cry and never stop:)

But breaking the word counts down into smaller amounts for each day is better for me. I don't tell myself, "you're gonne write 5000 words today." I tell myself "I'm going to have multiple writing sessions today. Lets see what I can get done in the first 30 minute session." In the end, every word written was a victory compared to where I had been just a few months ago. I didn't think I would ever write again. Now I feel like I can actually do this writing thing. That I have the stamina and determination.

Also, I decided to focus on production this year only. What does that mean? Simply, writing more. I want to publish a few short stories this year. I want to keep working on book 2 in The Thelum Series. I'm not going to worry about marketing. Growing or finding "my audience." I'm just going to have fun, and write this year.

* * * * * * * 

Just a reminder, Indie Author Fringe is is taking place next week. It's free and online. If you want to sign up, go here.

If you want to publish a paperback, you can get your set-up costs waived at IngramSpark. Thanks to the Indie Author Fringe. But only for a limited time. Check out the details here.

** I actually applied for this deal. Unfortunately, being from South Africa it meant I had a lot of forms to fill out for tax exemption reasons. Basically, I forgot that my intention is not to work on producing more paperbacks. I had gotten stressed and I felt lost. My focus should be my e-books. So, I didn't complete my application in full. But if paperbacks are important to you, check it out.

I personally like Createspace. Its easier for me and there are no costs for me.

Hope you guys have a lovely week.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Interesting (kind of scary week)

How was everyone's past week? I hope it was kind to you. I had a rather interesting week. It was mostly scary to me. But, you can be the judge of that.




So, every few months I google myself (my pen name Murees Dupé), just to see what pops up and to make sure there's no strange sites popping up. Last year I found a site posting my blog posts on their site without my permission. Luckily they took it all down, after I contacted them.

Anyway, moving on. I also check that all my links and listings on the various publishing platforms, (that my book is listed on) is working and that the info is accurate. When I got to Amazon however, I noticed another listing for my book. It used my old cover, the green one, and the name of the person listing new and used books had a variation of my pen name. Also, their publication date was 1659, or something similar like that. Strange right?  Of course I jumped to the worst case scenario. I panicked and my mind went racing. I wanted to know why this was happening to me. My book wasn't popular. It wasn't selling. So why me and my book?



Luckily for me, I had just read a post on The Creative Penn about How to Protect your Creative Work with Kathryn Goldman. I highly advise anyone posting their content online to read it. It is brilliant. So, I contacted Amazon about the strange listing. I first wanted to make sure what was going on, and whether the person was allowed to do that. 

It was kind of a pain to find the proper people to contact. It took me a while to get to the right department, but the representative was very nice and explained that anyone is entitled to sell anything on Amazon. But what happened in my case is that the person in question, was reselling (New) paperback copies of my book on Amazon for a lot more than it is listed for on Amazon. They couldn't do much aside for merge that listing with mine, so if anyone was looking for my book, that they would only see my listing. I was a little upset about that.




But, I immediately filed my copyright with the U.S Copyright Office, even though I'm South African. Thanks to the Berne Convention, if your book is available in the U.S. you can file there. And you're covered in any country that signed the Berne Convention. You pay a once off fee (in my case $ 55) and you're covered. No renewing or any of that. I provided them with a digital copy of my book. I didn't want to take any chances, especially in the future. You get a certificate stating that you're the copyright owner (it takes a few long months though), so if you ever get in some kind of legal dispute (heaven forbid), you have a foot to stand on.

I wouldn't have known any of this if I wasn't following stalking The Creative Penn Blog. These days whenever there's a post available I'm there. If I hadn't read the above mentioned post I would have freaked out and gone crazy. But having read it, it made me take a step back and think of how I can approach this madness logically.

I was never the kind of person who thought I should bother with the registration of my copyright, but these days I think about it differently. Especially since I'm popular with finding myself and my book in the strangest situations, and a favorite target of online predators.

So, has anything like this happened to any of you? Do you have a scary story to tell?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Time to declutter












I don’t know about you, but I find that life is hard enough. So, if possible, I prefer other aspects of my life to be as easy as possible. Lately I’ve been decluttering my life. This includes my online activities. If I feel overwhelmed, it makes me anxious, which then leads to me having a depression episode. So, I have to keep things as stress-free as possible.


So here is what I'm doing:

- I found that I’ve subscribed to dozens of newsletters, but most I don’t read. Honestly, there are only a handful of those newsletters I actually find helpful. So, I unsubscribed from those I feel is just junk-mail basically. I know it’s not for me, when someone tries to sell me something on a regular basis. I want to freelance, so I subscribed to tons of newsletters that promised to help me make it work. Needless to say, most weren’t helpful. And yes, I fell for the sales pitch:)


- There are also tons of apps promising to help you organize your work and life. Well, all the sites recommended Evernote. I tried it. I wanted to pull my hair out. At the end of last year I discovered OneNote on my computer. (Yes, I had it on my computer, as it came free with my operating system). I tried it and found it easy to work with. It suited me perfectly as I could still use all the info offline. But all the techie sites promised Evernote is the better way to go. So, I abandoned OneNote for Evernote. Regretted it almost immediately.

So, for me, OneNote is awesome. I have a folder that contains pictures that inspire certain scenes in my book. Yep, I use Pinterest too, but when I’m writing, I don’t want to keep going on the internet, so I just open OneNote and keep it in the background if I need to remind myself what certain places in my novel looks like, I can take a look without being distracted.

*Keep in mind, I found above mentioned pictures online, so I don’t have copyrights to them or anything. I don’t use it in any other way than as an inspiration wall (document) for my own personal motivation, not for public use in any way. For my eyes only. So please, don’t use other people’s pictures on your blog or for commercial use without the creator’s permission.




 - Always be aware of how much you are taking on. Writing, and blogging, paired with keeping my social media current, is already more than I can handle. There was a time when I could’ve juggled three or four things at the same time. That time has come and bounced away like a crazy rabbit. So, it might sound selfish, but these days I’m only focusing on projects that are for me, or my writing.
 



- One thing that I love is attending webinars. It is fun, and sometimes informative. But do you know what? Most of them don’t really offer a whole lot of info. They give you tiny bits of pieces of info, but you never see the bigger picture, as you have to buy a course from them in order to get the info you’ve basically waited 45 minutes for. I like free stuff. Sorry. I guess I’m just cheap like that. So, just be careful which webinars you sign up for.

Anything by Joanna Penn, or The Alliance for Independent Authors, and I’m there. I follow both their blogs and newsletters. I’ve attended previous webinars by both, and I know they won’t waste my time. 

*I do understand that the webinar hosts need to make a living. But these days my time is precious, so I can’t spend 45 minutes having someone tell me why I should buy their course. Which is usually expensive, and I'm always broke:)
  
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If I ever have info that I think is relevant, or could help someone else, I’ll share it. I like to think of it as adding some positivity to the world. I don’t know about you, but the world can sure do with more positivity. 

**So having said that, if you’re a writer, there is an online event coming up in March. It’s called the indie Author Fringe. You can sign up to attend for free HERE.

I know many of you are traditionally published and you’re probably sick of hearing about all things self-publishing, or Indie. But, many of these online events are relevant for you as well, as it doesn’t matter how we’re published, we all have to deal with marketing, writing and such things. You never know what info you might find useful, no matter what your career path.

Do any of you have more tips on how we can declutter our life?