Fruit Flies, and Monkeys, and Lonely Woman, oh my! Some Traveling Tips.

“This sucks, y’all.”

My recent trip to Texas, a 2000 mile round-trip, has me thinking about space travel. Researching the various this’s and that’s of it, I found the image to the left. That monkey looks as if he knows he ain’t coming back.

Just as a reference: Space officially begins at about 62 miles above our Earth’s surface, called the Karman Line.

The first living creatures to be launched into space were fruit flies—they were sent up with some corn so they’d not be hungry—way back in 1947, aboard a V2 rocket. They went 106 miles, and the capsule was actually recovered and the fruit flies weren’t any worse for wear.

A year later came the first monkey, named Albert. But, alas poor Albert; I knew him well (not). Um.  Ugh. Yeah. They think he may have suffocated before he even left the ground. Dang. The rocket only made it up 39 miles.

Albert II, who fortunate for him had NOOOO idea what happened to the preceding Albert, was sent up in a V2 rocket, soaring to 83 miles. Though Albert was the first monkey to be successfully launched into space without meeting his fate before leaving the ground, there was a problem with his parachute on the recovery capsule as it hurtled to earth and—well, you can guess the rest if you like. RIP Albert II. RIP.

After that, other Alberts (III, IV, V) boarded their rockets, and none survived—either they died on impact or during the flight.

Apparently, it is said that all of the monkeys were anesthetized for the flight. Hmmm.

The infamous Miss Baker. “I’m claustrophobic, y’all! ungh!ungh!”

But at last! Two monkeys in 1959—Able and Miss Baker—flew to 360 miles, tucked in aboard a Jupiter rocket. Their recovery capsule landed about 1700 miles off range of where they were supposed to land at Cape Canaveral, but they were found and recovered, and perhaps became celebrities, maybe as spokesmonkeys for various products and services.

My recent travel was not so dire and dangerous, though perhaps it is in its own way—traffic, crazy drivers, high winds, bad storms, exhaustion, a hotel from hell—lawd!

There is vulnerability (at least for this lonely woman) to traveling alone. So I have some general tidbits for you, should you also travel alone, or will one day do so.

1). If you are traveling with a pet, and will be stopping for the night, you would be better off checking out hotel pet policy ahead of time. Many chains do not allow pets. Some allow them but with restrictions, or a non-refundable fee (one hotel charges $100 nonrefundable fee!). Some chains do allow pets for free—like LaQuinta. LaQuinta hotels are a crapshoot, honestly. Some of them are seriously outdated. Do your research and it’ll save you from being road-weary and searching.

Read reviews. There are always the 1-star “I HAAAAAATED IT!” reviews and the 5-Star “I LOOOOOOOVED IT!” reviews, but I like reading those 3 and 4 star reviews.

Also, maybe I’m just paranoid and weird, but the first two things I do when I stay at a hotel, any hotel, no matter how much it costs or where it is, is to check the mattress for signs of bed bugs (UGH!)—I have never had a room with those, but I check it every time (pull up the sheets and look at the mattress, particularly along the seams, for cleanliness—you can google this if you dare). Then I take Clorox wipes and wipe down the remote, the light switches, the toilet, and a few other surfaces—what? Better safe than sorry! All hotels, no matter how nice or what the cost per night, get this treatment. It’s the only way I can relax. I will also admit that in the middle of the night, I shine my phone under the covers just to make sure nothing is there. Yeah. My head is a scary place.

I seeeee youuuuu!

Also, if you have “trouble” at any hotel, report it. I stayed at a hotel with a weird wonky door that I didn’t discover until the next morning that you could see a little bit into my room! EEEEK! I was NOT HAPPY! While the staff was amazing, and the hotel clean, that hotel needed serious updating and renovating. It was unacceptable. They refunded my money. I won’t be staying there again. Research, y’all! Ahead of time!

2). Welcome Centers are becoming better and better about cleanliness, safety, and, well, welcoming! I always stop at a Welcome Center when entering a new state. There’s places to walk about, and if you have a pet, they have designated areas for the pets. There’s usually coffee, and nice greeters (during business hours mostly). Vending machines if you are interested in that. And the bathroom facilities are usually clean and safe.

3). Rest areas are a mixed bag. Some of them do a great job of keeping the area and facilities clean and safe. But, I have a rule: if I pull up to a rest area and don’t feel safe, or have one of my “wonky” feelings, I’m out of there. Always best to listen to your gut. As with Welcome Centers, rest areas are much better than they used to be, but some are still a little “shady.”

4). Have water handy for you and for your pet. I used to limit my water intake so I’d not have to stop so often, but now I realize that part of the joy of the trip is stopping and stretching my legs, taking in some scenery. And keeping yourself hydrated and your body stretched out will keep you awake and aware and feeling better.

5). Don’t consume sugary snacks and drinks! Same goes for high “bad” carbohydrate foods, like a lot of fast foods. Eating sugary/high carb foods will make you feel sluggish and sleepy. Higher protein snacks/food is a better choice.

And, concerning No’s 4 & 5 – if you are traveling alone, you MUST be alert! There is no one to switch off so you can rest/nap, unless you pull over to nap, and I will never do this. So consider what you take with you and where you stop to eat as an important part of your travel. Continue reading

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Holiday Linky Love & Last Day for Sweetie deal

South Louisiana – LSU Lakes – Birds as Ornaments flocking the trees

For the holidays, here is some linky love. I’ll be back to “regular links” next Friday, but for today, I am posting those I happened upon this morning that had a holiday theme. I didn’t come across any with any other holidays besides Christmas, and if I had, I’d link to them as well – so if you have a different holiday tradition than Christmas, link it in the comments and I’ll update my post!

Despite my Grinchy post below, today I am feeling full of holiday cheer – and no, not because of vodka *sigh* oh, I still have not received my Crystal Head Vodka — I want that skull *laughing* to help my cheer along – dang it all! :-D

Then, there is the annual posting of the link for my Moonshine & Santy Claus – a quirky Santy and menopausal appalachian woman story, published by Vagabondage Press. And how interesting to see my bio then when I was ‘in the query process’ – well, dreams do come true, y’all *gratitude*

I love this blog – full of Appalachian everything and always positive: Blind Pig and the Acorn – Appalachia through my eyes – Christmas folklore

Michelle Teacress has a short video that made me tear up – *still sniffling* – it struck my heart: The Coat: A story of charity – it will warm your heart.

saw this in South Louisiana near LSU – laughing! love it -you can’t see the picture of the LSU coach Miles in that shiny square:-D

Speaking of charity – Every year I do Toys for Tots, and as well, I do the Angel Tree (look for those Christmas trees with “ornaments” hanging that have information on children you can purchase clothing and toys for), and another place I like to give memorial gifts on behalf of my brother, granny, and now my father, is Heifer International – I’m linking you to Nathan Bransford site, for he information there and an incentive. These are the things that take me outside of myself and remind me what this season is about: giving and charity and loving and remembering. It’s especially for the children. You may have your own charities, but if not, these are wonderful places to think about giving. But, yes, people need us all year round, no matter the season – however, during the holidays, harder times are oft-times more keenly felt.

And the Pudgy Penguin has on his santy suit  (so cute) and is having a book give-away. Even if you don’t enter, just a look at that penguin makes a smile.

And, last time I’ll be mentioning my book like a used car salesman (no offense to any car salesmen *laugh*), but it’s the last day of the One-Week Deal at Amazon where SWEETIE is discounted for this promo. (Firefly Dance, the anthology, is on that same deal.)

Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

And now, I will leave you with an oldie but goodie – Christmas Lights Gone Wild

All those whos in whoville and their noise noise noise! Am I a Grinch?

I fear I am turning into the Grinch. You know, scowlingabout Christmas commercialism and all the Whos in Whoville’s noise wearing on my nerves.What’s happened to me? When Christmas was always the most perfect, mostwonderful time of the year? Somewhere along the way I’ve let some kind ofmagic go, some kind of beauty of the season. I want it back. Lawdy be, can youhelp me? How? you may ask. Well . . . I’m open to suggestions. Perhaps: leave me Christmassycomments that enlighten and lighten? Email me cute Christmas cards? Post wonderfulholiday thoughts and send me the link? Then my heart will grow umpteen sizes too big and I’ll be full of Christmas Cheer – whoop!

 I want to look forward to decorating the tree with glee and fiddledeedee. I want toinhale the scents that come only this time of year – spices and sweet and fresh. I want to gasp at the wonders.I will have no child running in breathlessly to tear open gifts, for my son andgranddaughter are many miles away in Oregon.Maybe that’s part of it, too—my friends and family are far from me. Oh, I hatewhiners! Whos in Whoville and all that noise, noise, noise!

What do I want for Christmas this year? I want that spiritto come back with a big Bam-a-lammo. I can’t force it, so I’m asking you all,anyone of you at all, to help me find that Christmas-Holiday Doodledeedahday. I knowit’s somewhere. I must have just misplaced it in a corner, under a pile ofsweaters, in the sock drawer, in the hollowed out tree, behind the dresser,under the couch . . . somewhere, it’s here somewhere.

 There is a Christmas special on Lifetime television where this jadedbook editor hates Christmas and is grumpy and yada yada the same old; but, as I watch it, I tear up a bit, as if I am seeing parts of myself in thiswoman. Thing is, at the end of the movie, I know she’ll have found what she ismissing—will I find it along with her? Gee, I hope so.

 I think perhaps I will need to do something different,something to take me outside of myself. Yes. That’s it. Outside of myself. And, I’ll keep searching thoselittle corners and places for that old feeling—I just know it’s there. It risesup and quickly flies away just out of my grasp. Maybe you’ve seen it? Floatingaround, my Holiday Spirit. If you do see it,grab hold of it and bring it back to me, and for that, I’ll be filled withgratitude.

Perhaps I’ll fly like the hawk over a jeweled city ofholiday shine and there I will find what I need . . . yes, right in Whoville. Yes. There it is . .. just ahead.

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Now, off with my bad elf-self, and I’ll see you all on Friday with Linky Love.

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(and SWEETIE is doing well in the Amazon weekly deals – Friday is the last day to find it at this special before it goes back to its regular price – same with Firefly Dance. Thank you all for your support! Hmm, that’s something to be grateful for this holiday season! – MY READERS! *heart is starting to grow* After this promo is over, I won’t be mentioning it as I have been – you know how I like my “car salesman-free zone” here *laughing* :-D )

Where’d Monday go? Discombobulation abounds. No photos/videos: Bad Kat

Morning y’all. I’m late with my Monday post – I have been out of town to South Louisiana to visit family and friends. It was a quick trip, but here it is Tuesday morning and I don’t have my photos/images/videos! *Bad Kat* I even woke up in my iron bed in the little log house in the cove at Killian Knob thinking this was Monday. Lawd.

So pardon my lateness and zippity do dah diggity didn’t do-it-ness as I unpack and unwind and decompress. I will see you on Wednesday with my regular blog post!

By the way, SWEETIE is inching up the “Amazon Kindle Best Seller List” – she’s at this moment no 29 in literary fiction. I’d love to see her head up to No 1 of course *haw!* but even the top 50 is very nice. THANK YOU for your support. She’ll, Sweetie that is, will be on this “Amazon Weekly Deals” for a mere .99cents until Friday and then it’s over and she’s the regular price. (Firefly Dance is on that same deal.) Appreciate all of you.

See you Wednesday!

Linky Love – Blogger Community

Time for links, y’all! And today’s links are from the blogger community.

And a big Thank You to blogspot Blogger for making it easy to open links to a new page – at last! yay!

Jessica Nelson BookingIt. Whenever I see her profile photo, it makes me smile. There is a sweetness about Jessica and it comes out in her blog and in her comments she leaves.

Diane Estrella “That’s what I’m here for” has a fun Christmas quiz going on. She also reviews books and products, and her energy bounds off her blog page.

I have a new Blogger friend whose blog I am exploring – From Sarah, With Joy. And “joy” does describe what I’ve experienced stopping by her place.

Hilary Melton-Butcher has such an interesting blog “Positive Letters . . . Inspirational Stories,” chock full of information on things you don’t realize you longed to know until you get there, and Voila! She’s told you all about something so interesting, you leave feeling smarter and more wordly.

I laughed when I watched Carolyn V’s “Checkboard Squares” video on Zombie Love – and I HATE zombies . . .  ungh – but danged if I couldn’t get that song out of my mind.

Reader Unboxed – it’s all about books and reading and it’s the sister site of Writer Unboxed. I love both of these blogs, and am a member of Writer Unboxed, for which I’ve linked to before.

Folks, if you haven’t stopped by John Bord’s Ink Spots, then slip on over there. His writings are starkly beautiful, and he’s just a nice guy to boot. Sometimes he writes of social issues and whether I agree or do not, I always leave his blog thinking.

Colby Marshall Spittin’ out words like a llama is quirky and fun, and, ohhh!, I do believe she has a form of synesthesia, so that makes her my new “writing interest” – I want to study her, for I have a character who will probably be in my next book who has synesthesia.

Click on over to Eryl at The Kitchen Bitch Ponders . . . because she’s just cool and I like her and I love that title, too.

And finally, last one for this Friday’s Linky Love is Titus the Dog – I have two of her poetry collections and have ordered the latest. The words are gorgeous and profound, yes, but, the covers are exceptional as well.

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As an aside – I am writing this on Wednesday because I have to unplug all of Thursday and perhaps into Friday. However, from what I understand, beginning on Saturday the 17th is the Amazon Kindle Promo for Sweetie (and as well for the anthology The Firefly Dance). Sweetie, and Firefly, will be priced by Amazon for $.99 for one week only – through the 23rd. After that, it goes back to regular price. So, there you go, a Christmas Kindle Book Promo. Thank you for your support – without my readers, my writing is lonely and unloved :-D .

Just found out this, apparently Amazon has Sweetie and FD at .99cents instead of what I thought! lawd! wow. Far as I know, just for the week still. Firefly is priced the same.

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See y’all on Monday!

Time for Video/Photos No/Few Words: Jingle Dogs Reunion & Secret Places & etc

Morning Y’all! Time for video/photos no/few words!Now this is just silly but it still made me laugh:-D

My Secret Place – this made it into the SWEETIE novel *shhh* very secret

What I can see on way to Secret Place and where Sweetie and Melissa sometimes ran to hide

close up

ice crystals in the grass

mushrooms on a log

wasp nest in our Christmas tree – we have “nature things” and regular ornaments – our tree is on the porch

“Not Quite Fat Dog” Jake helped decorate by looking cute

the christmas decorations made shadows which kept the frost in same pattern -at Lake Junaluska

Links: Daniel Wallace Guest Author at R&T, Firefly Dance, RAP, etc

Morning y’all. Today I have general poodley-doo and links for you. I’m in the homestretch for the final Graces Saga, and after that, well, who knows what comes next. I have some thoughts, but they are wavery and hidden behind mists and are so unformed, I do not know what I’ll discover.

First. The Firefly Dance anthology that I have a novella “Petey” in, along with works by Sarah Addison Allen, Augusta Trobaugh, and Phyllis Schieber, is now out in print and ebook forms. I believe that Bellebooks will be having some sort of Kindle promo, but I do not know when or how or what it will be. However, I want to pass that along. As always, I hope you will ask for books in bookstores, especially your local independent bookstore, and the library. Yes, I linked to Amazon, but I cannot deny that people buy books for kindle!

In Rose & Thorn news: if you haven’t stopped by our Rose & Thorn Journal, please do before the summer issue flies away.

Our fall issue goes live October 15th, and we have a Special Guest Author: Daniel Wallace, author of BIG FISH (which was made into a movie in 2003) is our Guest Author for our fall issue. We will, from time to time, have special guest authors/poets.

We are proud of all of our gifted and talented writers and poets – Angie Ledbetter and I want to extend to you the invitation to submit to Rose & Thorn. Go in, read all of or a sampling of our stories and poetry in summer issue and in the archived issues – then submit!

Angie and I, our Managing Editor Cynthia Toups, and the wonderful staff of R&T, are known for publishing established and emerging voices. We love it when we “discover” a new voice, someone who hasn’t been published before – it’s exciting!

I found this on Fuel Your Writing, where people are sending in their writing spaces. I haven’t yet, but I just might!

On Jane Friedman’s blog: Writing on the Ether by former CNN journalist Porter Anderson. “Writing on the Ether will round up some of the best and timeliest articles related to writing and publishing that you don’t want to miss.”

There was a “Random Acts of Publicity” on Facebook, where people could go in and talk about an author’s book. Linda Leschak, who has been a contributor to Rose & Thorn and quite the wonderful writer herself, surprised me by talking up SWEETIE on RAP, along with a fun interview with me. Thank you, Linda! I hope y’all will stop by her blog, if not to read the blushingly wonderful things she said about Sweetie, then, most important, to come to know an interesting strong woman.

I didn’t think I was going to try this, but I did try the Kindlegraph. I put the Sweetie novel only because I was curious, and because I want to stop being afraid of new things *laugh* – so, Sweetie is now on Kindlegraph, and I’ve “signed” a few Sweeties. Very weird and surreal thing this new world of books and publishing and interaction between readers and authors is! Still not sure what I think about it, but it is there and I will see what comes of it.

That’s enough for now. Hope you all enjoy the links. Now go do the day! Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you next week. And don’t forget to spend some time relaxing and finding a state of gratitude! Namaste.

Three Videos: Mountain Storm, Whale Back Rock, Nekkid Reading

Mountain Storm taken from my porch

Whale Back Rock short (I’m going to do a reading there this summer, maybe nekkid *teeheehee*) Whale Back Rock, if you don’t know, is taken from my SWEETIE novel.

Recorded before I re-achieved my (almost) “Michelle Obama Arms”of course haw! :-D

And in general:

I’ve also been here at Amy Nathan’s blog: women’s fiction writers: no heroes. no zombies. no high heels. well, maybe high heels. Stop by and check out her blog.

and will be here later for Diana Estrella’s Micro-Ficion Muse (lawd!)

See you all on Wednesday with my regular Wednesday posting. Wednesday happens to be the last day of the Sunshine Deals on Amazon – TENDER GRACES is $2.99 until then, then it reverts to its regular pricing. I like passing on the savings, however, who wants some author hollering about her book -y’all know I am funny about that – see y’all later and have a good great day! :-D

A spring weekend? Hike to Secret Ancient Whale Back Rock! And SWEETIE ARC copies . . .

not whale back but another ancient secret place

This weekend is supposed to be warmer than we’ve had in . . . I don’t remember; sometime in fall? It may heave up to 50 degrees. If so, I’m going to hike up to the secret place where Whale Back Rock is and do a Sweetie reading right there. If you’ve read Sweetie, you recognize Whale Back Rock – it makes several appearances, and is based on a real boulder. It takes at least an hour to get there, if I remember right – been a while since I’ve hiked up there. It’s serene and lovely and ancient and undeveloped. I hope it stays that way. If something “big” ever happened with my books, I’d buy up as much land as I could to protect my Killian Knob and surrounding mountain area to protect them from further development.

Someone’s comment reminded me to say that I’m going to record the reading at Whale Back, so people can watch/listen/see :-D.

My musician brother Michael has made me some music – his interpretation of Bluegrass/Celtic music (he plays rock). It’s a contemporary take and even has Fionadala’s hoof beats in it! He named it “The Saga of Virginia Kate” (The Graces Novels). I put a sample draft video with his music on my FB page, and hope to have a trailer or some kind of video made from it soon that I can post here. If you want to hear it, just ask and I”ll send you the link, or go to my FB page. My other musician brother, Johnny (who plays jazz/blues), is creating his interpretation and I’ll be using it for videos as well. So exciting! I have gifted brothers.

Okay: I have some ARC copies of SWEETIE that BB sent me to use as I wish! An ARC is Advance Review Copy; it was also my Galley Proof – the galley proof is what my publisher’s send to me to read for One Last Look before it is published -that’s the last opportunity I have to read for errors. As well, those copies are what are sent to reviewers, because they are printed in advance of the actual publication date and are printed more inexpensively (though it’s hard to tell really). Whomever gets one of these copies knows that it usually will contain errors. At this point, however, there aren’t changes to the story, only nits and typos and last minute things, like for example, in the Sweetie ARC a name is wrong towards the end (has Billy instead of TJ), and et cetera.

So, if you review books, contact me and I’ll send you one. If you don’t review books but have always wanted to, then go ahead and contact me, or, place your request with your email in the comments section. Of course, if you hate it, pretend I didn’t send it to you *LAUGHING* okay, I’m kidding *laugh* I’ll give them away until they are gone.

Now, y’all go have a great day and a wonderful weekend!

Random, and not so random, Links, Videos, and Photos . . . Rose & Thorn & Handsome Men in Showers & et cetera

Today’s links/videos/photos will be done lickity spit, because Angie Gumbo Writer, I, and our wonderful staff are working hard this week to ready the winter issue of The Rose & Thorn Journal and our newsletter. We hope you will stop by and say so long to the writers and poets from our fall issue. Send a note if you enjoy a story or poem or the art- or let us know what you think about R&T.

Our newsletter will go out to email inboxes on January 15, the day the issue goes live. If you haven’t signed up, we hope you will–it’s free and your emails are protected.

Also, our R&T Blog is chock full of gooey-good-stuff – about writing and writers and books and literature and people and places. Today R&T staffer Dr. Adnan Mahmutovic’s (author of Thinner and [Refuge]e and more) review and interview of Jo Cannon’s Insignificant Gestures will be up at the R&T blog. We’ll be posting Adnan’s interviews and/or reviews about once a month. We’d love to have you subscribe to the blog while you are there! And I had to put that Dr. there in front of my friend’s name – he worked so hard for that Ph.D. Go Adnan!

Because I love my publishers, Bellebooks//Bell Bridge Books and want to impress them with how hard I work and for them to think I am loved by multitudes, *laughing* I’ll post this link again if y’all want to go check it out on BB’s new blog and my first post with them . . . Bullies, Outcasts, Prejudice and SWEETIE

Though I am doing well on Kindle, I’d love to see more of my books in bookstores and in libraries, so I encourage you to ask for them in your local bookstores and libraries if you are so moved- my dream would be to have my books in every library – oh! I love libraries and librarians. Epecially when he talks about them:

Diane still has the week-long give-aways, and a signed copy of Tender Graces is still up for grabs last I looked.

[I still can’t remember how to make the links open to a new page, so sorry. I am quite surprised blogspot doesn’t have this feature included. I know somewhere we are to put a target=”_blank” but danged if I can figure out where/how.]

Danged if this video doesn’t make me laugh every time.  The look on Mrs. Lincoln’s face as ole Abe takes his time . . . laughing!

That’s it for now, folks. See you all Friday! Now I’m going to finish my coffee before a snowy walk in the cove.

target=”_blank” . . . where oh where does this go? dang.

PS! I almost forgot – Small Footprints’s Art Tist (click pic) painted this from one of my photos! Oh, I do love this: