Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rayne's Ramblings - How to cut a deal on a used tv for Christmas

Time marches on. Christmas is almost upon us again. Didn't we just do this last year? There doesn't seem to be an escape from the yearly rut. My tree is up, and my house is decorated. Several presents are wrapped and/or bagged and under the tree. (I love those gift bags!)

With the economy being what it is, my beloved and I agreed to keep our spending in check. That lasted until HE saw a 42" Vizio television with a 120 ghz refresh rate in his price range. We've been together over fifteen years and I never knew the man could grovel with such style and panache. And effectively. Yes, I caved in and agreed we could get the blasted thing, PROVIDED I got the older flat screen for in the bedroom. I even agreed to split the cost with him since it could be his Christmas present. It's amamzing that three-hundred fifty bucks can get me a used tv....

I never saw him so eager to jump in the pickup and head for town. It was almost embarrassing. The man is sixty-one, for heaven's sake. (Yes, he robbed the cradle when he met me.) It took a lot of fast talking to convince him to wait and see if they go on sale just before the big day.

He whimpers well, too.

In other happy Christmas news, the die-T is progressing quite well. The new slacks that were snug a month ago fit fine now. But I have a new worry. My rings are starting to slide around a bit on my finger. No more wearing the good stuff for everyday.

Do my fingers type faster? Oh, he$$ no. I wouldn't be that lucky.

This year, as Christmas approaches, I'll have an edit to do on an upcoming release, "A Hero's Bargain." I'm looking forward to getting this story out. It's another science-fiction piece, and I like it. The story turned out quite nicely, if I do say so myself.

And this is enough rambling for one session. Check out the books to the right. I'll probably be letting my paid website go at the first of the year, so watch for this site to be updated with more frequency.

The new frugal is a bit of a drag, isn't it?

Rayne Forrest

PS. Don't forget to join my mailing list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/authorrayneforrest so you don't miss the announcement about the release of "A Hero's Bargain."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rayne's Ramblings: Diet is DIE with a T

To say that 2009 has been a year of rest for me is probably understating the fact. The peaks and valleys of upheaval smoothed out, and gave me some peace. But like any good rolling stone, I haven't stopped long enough to let the moss gather.

Being an introspective sort of person, I constantly take stock of where my life is now, and where it is going. With those around me finally healthy again, this past summer was the right time for me to look at my own health. I've been making a few positive changes. Unfortunately, with free time scarce, it meant moving away from the computer, and, well, moving myself. Okay, it meant moving my ass. And my arms.

One of these days I hope to scale back the amount of hours I spend working outside the home. To do that, I've got to be firmly entrenched in an exercise routine. Yeah, yeah, you read it everywhere you go. I read it, too. But this was the year I took it to heart. And kicking, screaming, and begrudging every moment spent away from my writing, I began. And you know what? It hasn't been too bad.

Honest. I actually look forward to my walks. My upper body workout? Eeyyyyy, not so much, but I do it. Twenty minutes a day? I don't think so. I bust through the movements and I move on, but at least I'm doing them. Maybe some day I'll start to enjoy them..OR NOT..but I'm not giving up.

And diet? Well, diet is simply DIE with a T. You stop eating, you die. So that's definitely a one day at a time change, too. Some days, I do great. Other days, not so good, but it seems like I'm doing better all the time. The easiest thing has been eating at least one piece of fruit a day. As soon as I hop in my car to drive home from the day job, I munch on an apple. So far, they haven't outlawed THAT while driving.

Am I making progress? The last pair of slacks I bought were a size smaller. However, there is one drink I won't give up. Give up my coffee? I'll rip your hand off if you try to take my coffee away, but I can tolerate a fat-free creamer.

So, Rayne's rambling again. Perhaps. I look at the changes made this past year as positive steps for my writing, because they are positive steps for me. Feeling better, sleeping better (I've always been a champ at that), and eating better can only help me write better. That's my theory.

What's up next for Rayne the author? A science-fiction erotic romance entitled, A Hero's Bargain, coming early in 2010.

What's up next for Rayne the woman? Perhaps a wardrobe full of smaller-sized clothes. Wouldn't that be wonderful? It certainly would.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rayne's Ramblings: The hokey-pokey

This has been a productive summer for me. I used to wonder if the writing would get easier, and now I have an answer. For me, yes, it has. I’m much more relaxed about this business than I used to be.

Part of that is I don’t spend a lot of time out on all the lists, and groups. Maybe I should, I don’t know. Trying to do the personal appearances took a chunk out of precious writing time, so I think it’s a necessity that I limit time spent on the Internet. Does that hurt sales? I don’t think so. I believe that the best promotion is the best book you can write.

When I was first starting out, the prevailing wisdom said you had to promo at the review sites in their “live” chat rooms. I did it. Some review sites bragged of having hundreds of people show up for a chat. When I wasn’t headlining those events, I went as myself, not the author, and I never encountered more than twenty-three people at a “live” chat, even when some rather big-name, New York authors were there.

The prevailing wisdom said, “You must have contests.” So I did. I got to know those people who haunt the lists waiting for a contest. I don’t bother much with contests, these days. T-shirts, bookmarks, promo cd’s – all the little klitchy things. I did them all.

And nothing – absolutely nothing – makes any difference if you don’t have a good book.

If I have just one shot at giving any advice to a new writer, or an old one, for that matter, I make it this: Forget everything that fills up your hours with counterproductive activities, and learn, learn, learn all you can to make your writing better.

And a better story leads to greater personal satisfaction, and that, my friends, is the hokey-pokey of this business. That’s what it’s all about.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rayne's Ramblings: Amazon being sued over hacking Kindles

It seems I'm not the only person in the world who understands that what Amazon.com did by removing two George Orwell books from Kindle readers was hacking. Ugly hacking. The very thing Orwell wrote about. The very thing they arrest individuals for doing.

Okay - who at Amazon is going to jail?

A high school student in Seattle is sueing corporate giant Amazon for removing his copy of "1984" from his Kindle. Along with the book, Amazon stole all the notes he'd made as part of an advance placement course in which he was required to submit his reflections on each 100 pages of text in the story. He was 25% through his assignment when he was hacked by Amazon.

Pissed off? I don't blame him a bit.

Hacking is hacking. I bet George Orwell would agree.

Now I wonder if my books will "disappear" from Amazon's website. If so, Orwell saw it coming.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Challengers, refrigerators, men and romance

I have a fascination with the headline news. Go ahead and call me a sucker, but things like, “NC sheriff’s deputy uses Corvette to stop speeders” grabs my attention. Personally, I’d use a Corvette to catch good-looking guys, but to each their own. But, today’s blog isn’t about Corvettes. Or the new Camaro. Or Challenger. It’s about refrigerators.

Say what? What does any of that have to do with romance? More than you think.

Labor Day weekend, 2001, just nine days before the world changed forever, we bought a new refrigerator. It was one of those side-by-side jobs with the ice dispenser in the door. Very nice. Very expensive, too, but neither of us had ever had a new refrigerator before. We come from modest backgrounds, and used hand-me-down appliances that still worked weren’t anything a can of spray appliance paint couldn’t spruce-up.

Well, our love affair with the big, black box in the kitchen went south in a hurry. My beloved and I came home one day to the thing spitting ice cubes out onto the ceramic tile floor. Not good. Even worse, three of the tiles had gotten so cold they cracked. The replacements aren’t a perfect match, either. We had the box repaired and moved on.

Before long, the freezer wasn’t freezing. We discovered the problem was in the electronics. If we unplugged it, and let it “thaw” out, we could plug it back in and it would be fine. At a couple hundred dollars a house call, the repairman doing what we could do ourselves was out of the question. I declared we’d have to live with it until the mortgage was paid off. My beloved agreed. We’d muddle through for a couple more years.

And so we did until last month, and the big, black box did it again. It was the sixth time in as many years, and my patience snapped. We went shopping and picked up one of those units with the freezer on the bottom.

Um, the romance part of this? I’m getting to it.

New refrigerators are ridiculously overpriced. I mean, really totally over the top. We almost decided to continue to endure the old one. I’m the one that carted frozen stuff up and down the basement stairs, and moved food from the ‘fridge to the cooler and then back. All he did was unplug the thing from the wall. If he could continue, so could I.

But then my honey, this balding, bad-boy ex-lead guitarist and two-time cancer survivor said he’d pay for the new refrigerator.

You might say, “and well he should,” but I disagree. For years, this man has been squirreling away his pennies for one last hot car in which to relive a small part of his youth while he can still have fun doing it. So instead of putting his money down on a new Challenger with a V8 Hemi, he plunked it down on domesticity.

Pretty darned romantic, if you ask me.


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Monday, July 20, 2009

Rayne's Ramblings - I used to want a Kindle

I wanted a Kindle. Let me count the ways I wanted a Kindle! Being of German and Scot descent, however, I couldn’t justify the cost when my trusty old laptop works great for reading. My laptop usually goes where I go, even to bed, but after all these years, I was ready to throw it over for something smaller and lighter - a Kindle.

Maybe not so fast…

I’m a sucker for the Yahoo headline news. Every time I log on, there are one or two articles I can’t resist reading. It’s so freakin’ easy to just click and go. But, I digress, again.

On July 20, 2009, the headline popped up “Pirated copies of Orwell books pulled from Kindle.” Okay, I clicked. It seems the Kindle shop offered Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm” when they didn’t have the clear rights to do so.

Someone at Amazon asleep at the wheel? It’s not the first time, the recent de-listing of GLBT literature being another example of snoozing. (They “corrected” that problem, too.) Amazon pulled the stories. BUT… and you knew there would be one…BUT they also wiped the stories off of people’s Kindles.

And this is where they lost my money.

I don’t care that monies were refunded. What I care about is BIG BROTHER. The very thing Orwell wrote about. To my way of thinking, that’s a bit too much control being exerted by a company that borderlines on being a monopoly.

I’d like to know why they didn’t let the people who purchased the stories, in good faith may I add, keep them, and pay the Orwell estate and publishers the going rate royalty. Other than the fact it’s too easy to be high-handed and just show the world how powerful Amazon has really become.

And what of those people who paid for merchandise with those little temporary credit cards? Did they get their money back, too? I’ve always wondered how that would work.

I think I’ll stick with my old trusty laptop that stills works like the day I got it. Save my money for something really special, whatever that may be.

A rep at Amazon did say they were taking steps that in the future, if this situation occurs again, customers won’t lose books. That doesn’t ease my concern that a giant company thought it was a good idea to build a "rescind" feature into their device.

One more thing, and this if for all the epublished authors out there. At the end of the article, the AP acknowledged that digital libraries are growing rapidly. They also said, in a nutshell, that piracy has not had a “measurable impact on sales.”

Just whose sales are they referring to?

Oh yeah. Amazon’s sales. The little guy in the trenches hardly counts.

Rayne Forrest

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

July again

July again. How did this happen? It seems like just yesterday it was March and the trees were bare. Now my backyard Eden is lush and green, visited nightly by fireflies. My beloved and I sit on the patio and laugh at the cat’s antics as he stalks them. Shooter seems to know it’s just a game to pass the time. Either that or he’s tasted fireflies and doesn’t care for the flavor. Who knows with cats?

After so many years of intense gardening, I’ve scaled back. The deer have won. We set aside a little patch of dirt outside the kitchen window and beside the patio for a daylily patch. I moved one of every variety I have into it, and it’s lovely. Looking out the window at that bright splash of color actually does ease the pain of being at the sink working. (I’m just not a kitchen person.)

I’ve been taking stock of my writing. My beloved’s battle with cancer took a lot out of both of us. More so him, of course, but almost losing him definitely altered my outlook on life. I set better priorities for myself, and the nose to the grindstone style of working is pretty far down the list. Earlier this season, as we sat on the patio wrapped in robes against the morning chill, he asked me if I planned to continue writing. It’s a big question, and the answer is yes, I do.

It’s time to forge ahead, get back in the game, not that I really left. I have more than a few completed manuscripts ready to go out the door. I hope my editors will be pleased to get them, but it’s always a roll of the dice.

The ideas never stop coming. I’ve seven concept folders started with bits and pieces of ideas, photos, and even one or two opening chapters. It’s time to pick one and starting composing prose.

First, though, it’s time for a bike ride with my beloved on this last day of my long holiday weekend. He has a new bike, you see, and even though it’s supposed to be a birthday present for a birthday at the end of this month, he has it now and can’t wait to test it out.

Life’s too short not to enjoy what you have.

Rayne Forrest