Dates

The kind you go on with a special someone. Not the fruit. 

The only other D word I considered was dogs and I’ve only had 2 of them and I just did cats.

The first date my husband and I went on was to a Lebanese restaurant in Waterville, Maine. It was across the street from his apartment. It was pretty popular but I always thought it was a bit out of place in Maine, but what did I know? I forget what we had. After that we had to go to something for our job (where we met.) I remember we held pinkies during the speaker.

I didn’t go on a lot of dates. Being a fat girl even then, I guess I didn’t generate much interest. I responded to a couple of ads in the Maine Times paper and met the guys. But meh–on both ends.

So, to liven things up, we’ll accompany Lily and Charlie on a date in their early relationship to the opening night of the Phoenix Film Festival. Which coincidentally opens here tomorrow night. (From Another Place on the Planet, Ch. 6)

 

My heart jumped into my throat when I looked out the peephole and saw Charlie waiting. “Calm. Down.” I whispered. It was only yesterday that I’d last seen him.

“Hey, Charlie,” I said warmly as I opened my door. My heart flipped at the sight of him in suit and tie.

“Lily Mayfield,” he crowed. “Good glory, girl. Let me look at you!”

Heat rose to my face, as I twirled once. He looked me over from top to bottom and back to the top. “Wow. That’s one lucky dress.”

“Thank you!”

His hands on my shoulders sent a shiver through me I knew he felt. Embarrassed by my uncontrolled reaction, I looked down.

“You’re stunning, Lily. Absolutely breathtaking,” he said gently.

“Thank you again,” I murmured.

“I’m sure you don’t hear that nearly enough. I have a little gift for you.” He pulled a jeweler’s box from his interior jacket pocket.

Caught completely off guard, I gasped. “That was entirely unnecessary.”

“It’s been a long time since I had a beautiful woman to give gifts to.”

The box held a slim circle bracelet shaped like a vine and studded with some small light colored gemstones. I slipped it on my wrist.

“Charlie, it’s lovely! Thank you!” Impulsively, I threw my arms around his neck. His response was to hold me to himself for a few seconds and kiss my cheek. Not much, but his breath in my ear was enough to cause the underutilized private places of my body to spring to life.

He pulled away abruptly and said with a husky voice, “Well, let’s get going, shall we?”

“Oh! A new car,” I said in the parking lot. “What kind is it?”

“Maserati.”

He opened the door and held my hand as I lowered myself into the seat.  The supple gray leather caressed my body with luxurious comfort. “I think I’m finding this Maserati sexier than your Ferrari if that’s even possible.”

He laughed as we roared through the parking lot of my apartment complex.

 “You look very nice, by the way,” I said. “Damn delicious, actually.” I slapped my hands over my mouth, shocked at my boldness.

He looked over at me, his smile soft in the spring sunset light. “Guys like to be appreciated, too, you know.”

“You’re very easy to appreciate. God, I’m sorry. I’ll stop now.”

He chuckled, caught my hand and raised it to his lips, thrilling goosebumps to glorious life. I hugged myself and turned to the window.

“You okay over there?” he asked.

“Sure, just keeping my mouth shut to stay out of trouble.” I recrossed my legs and pretended I was the cool, sophisticated woman I wanted to be.

He laughed again, and I got the impression it was something in his natural God-ordained personality he would do a lot if the hard things of life left him alone for a while.

“Congratulations on your award, by the way,” I said. “Thanks for letting me know.”

“Oops!” he said with a chuckle. “It’s nothing. I didn’t do anything to deserve it.”

“Well, the Phoenix Film Foundation believes you’ve contributed to the community.”

“I’m on the board of directors and have a recognizable name.”

“That’s a result of your hard work and integrity. Why did you get involved here?”

He rubbed his jaw before he responded. “When I was building my house and thinking we’d be living here, I jumped into a few things but dropped out of everything but this. Maybe I’ll start a production company here one day.”

People pointed at the Maserati as we drove through the shopping center parking lot to the theater. With his hand on my back, we mingled with film buffs of all stripes. His charm enchanted everyone, and I was arm candy—which amazed me. All I did was grin like an idiot, standing with his arm around my waist. Often he would look down at me with appreciation, that seldom-seen expression. If I didn’t force myself to focus on the conversation, my thoughts raced to the future and all the possibilities, including how this could end and how much it would hurt, even if we spent no more time together.

Charlie received his Visionary Award from the film foundation’s president and gave a short speech. I stood with the rest of the audience for a resounding ovation. He remained onstage for a photo, then motioned for me to join him. “This is Lily Mayfield,” he told the press. “One day in the not too distant future, she’ll be making her own films.”

“Any plans, Ms. Mayfield?” someone asked.

“Nothing definite,” I said with a slight laugh.

“Your first encounter with the paparazzi,” Charlie said as we walked away.

“And my last.”

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Baseball

Welcome back to mt 2019 a to Z Blog challenge, day 2. Obviously.

Other possible B topics for today included birthday (mine is on Saturday!) bullsh!t, babies, beds, bathtubs and binge watching. I’m going with baseball. Obviously.

Note: If my posts are funky-looking, blame WordPress. They haven’t been allowing me to see previews lately. And I’m still figuring out this new block editor.

I used to watch the Phillies on TV with my dad, circa late 1960s to early ’70s. I found it easier to understand than football. Since I was a girl, the closest I could get to being a player was being a players wife. I figured my husband would be gone a lot and I could be independent but spend lots of the money he made. The closest I got to that is that my real husband, an ace pitcher in high school, was scouted by the pros, and got a baseball scholarship to Marrietta College. But in his senior year, he was in a major car accident (before I knew him). His recovery, while miraculous, wasn’t complete enough to allow him to be competitive.

As a kid, late elementary, early middle school, I sent away for the Phillie’s yearbook because I didn’t get to the stadium until after high school even though we were less than 2 hours away. I copied pictures of the players in action. Once when pitcher Steve Carlton was having a bad run, I sent him a letter of encouragement. For my efforts, I received an authographed photo, seen here. For some reason I kept it all these years.

 

I used to get really caught up in games and playoffs and championships. I was highly emotional, cussing, crying, all that. It wasn’t until I was an adult I realized the value of turning all that off. Wins and losses of my favorite teams didn’t affect my life at all. I never got one nickel if my team won the World Series. But now, as an Arizona Diamondbacks fan, I get great pleasure from detesting the Dodgers.

I even add baseball to my fiction writing. (Actually, there is a subgenre of Romance about baseball players. Here’s a scene from one of my published novels.

Another Place on the Planet, the start of Chapter 5, Snickerdoodles

Charlie continued to brood as we ambled around central Phoenix, my hand warmly in his. It seemed more like a habit than an intentional sign of affection. Not that I minded. I liked being seen like that.

“I wonder,” I said absently as we walked past Chase Field on Jefferson Street, “if the Diamondbacks open the season at home this year.”

“You like baseball?” he asked with the first smile I’d seen in a while.

“I do. I’ve been hoping to meet someone to go to games with.”

“If I go to some games here with you, you’ll have to go to Dodgers games with me in L.A.,” he said.

“Yikes!” I cried with mock—mostly—fear. “Going to L.A. to see the Dodgers? That might be a little more trauma than you’re worth.”

“What do you have against the Dodgers?” he asked, his step lightening a little.

“Everything. It’s a Phoenix thing. Like hating the Braves is a Philly thing.”

“A beautiful woman who loves baseball and understands its rivalries. I’m in heaven.” He kissed my cheek as we waited for the light to change. His mood seemed to lift a bit. Mine did.

Later in the book, there’s a poignant scene at a Diamondbacks game.

So, that’s a very brief history of my affection for baseball. Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment about how baseball has impacted your life. Or any other kind of comment. As long it’s friendly.

Play Ball With Your Enemies or Baseball Rivalries I Have Known

A Facebook writer friend who lives in Israel posted that someone gave her an MLB something for her birthday and now she can watch the Dodgers. She used to live in Los Angeles.

That reminded me of the baseball rivalries of my life. I touch upon this topic in Another Place on the Planet.

   “I wonder,” I (Lily) said absently as we walked past Chase Field on Jefferson Street, “if the Diamondbacks open the season at home this year.”

     “You like baseball?” he (Charlie) asked with the first smile I’d seen in a while.

     “I do. I’ve been hoping to meet someone to go to games with.”

     “If I go to some games here with you, you’ll have to go to Dodgers games with me in L.A.,” he said.

    “Yikes!” I cried with mock—mostly—fear. “Going to L.A. to see the Dodgers? That might be a little more trauma than you’re worth.”

    “What do you have against the Dodgers?” he asked, his step lightening a little.

     “Everything. It’s a Phoenix thing. Like hating the Yankees is a Boston thing.”

     “A beautiful woman who loves baseball and understands its rivalries. I’m in heaven.” He kissed my cheek as we waited for the light to change. His mood seemed to lift a bit. Mine did.

Dbacks General Manager Kevin Towers. He probably never said this, but probably wanted too.

Dbacks General Manager Kevin Towers. He probably never said this, but probably wanted too. I know I’ve wanted to hit Puig in the face. At least.

I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania watching baseball with my Dad. The Phillies. Occasionally the Mets. I tried football but didn’t understand it very well. Baseball I could keep track of. A few season, I sent away for theyear book. Once when the star pitcher at the time, Steve Carlton, was having a bad season, I sent him a letter of encouragement and was awarded an autographed photo for my effort. I think I still have it. I also drew a poster of various players copied from photos in the yearbook. Guys in white and red uniforms on a blue background. Guess I was a baseball geek at the time.

This is the photo I received that was autographed by Carlton. It would take all day to find the actual photo. longer if I don't have it any more

This is the photo I received that was autographed by Carlton. It would take all day to find the actual photo. longer if I don’t have it any more

2506_philadelphia_phillies-jersey-1973

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we moved to Maine in 1975 for my dad’s midlife crisis (there really is something to be said about getting a sports car your family won’t fit in as opposed to forcing them all to move to another state and subculture, dads) we became Red Sox fans and I learned about rivalries in baseball. That the Red Sox Nation (although it wasn’t called that at the time because TV was harder back then) detested anything to do with the New York Yankees. That’s just how it is. If you’re a Yankees fan in New England you had better be tough. We all know how much fun it is to hate a rival, even though we know if our location was New York, we’d hate the Boston Red Sox.

i love to hate the yankees

don't be a dick

 

 

 

 

 

In Maine and I met and fell in love with my native New England husband and appreciated the Red Sox even more. (He was actually scouted by several major league teams in high school, but a book-adapted-into-a-movie worthy car accident ended his baseball career when he was a senior.) We even got to a few games at venerated Fenway in Boston.(I saw the Yaz hit one of his last homeruns.)

fenway-park

He quickly adopted the Phillies when we move to Pennsylvania. The Phillies rivalry with the Braves was in full swing, made worse by the fact the Braves almost always tromped the Phightin’ Phils.

After 20 years, we ended up in the Phoenix area with the Diamondbacks and marveled at how easy it is to get to games in downtown Phoenix at Chase Field as opposed to the nightmare of Philadelphia.

The Dbacks have only been around since the late 1990s and the state of Arizona still has Dodger holdover fans from when there wasn’t a major league team here. Plus the thug element sides with the Dodgers because they’re a bunch of thugs anyway. This was perfectly illustrated when, after winning pennant in a postseason game, the LA thugs desecrated the pool at Chase Field by jumping the outfield fence and rollicking in it, cleats and all. Every Dback fan there ever was was supremely insulted by that deliberate action of disrespect, as was the intention.

Lord, help me forgive.

Lord, help me forgive.

But sometimes, you have to put the rivalries aside. Our lovely daughter fell in love with a Yankees fan (and a New York Giants fan which is hard to ignore when you grew up in Eagles territory.) This was something we had to work through. She was with us (albeit in my belly) when we witnessed Yaz and his homerun at Fenway. But we decided to love him anyway, for the sake of our daughter. As far as we can tell, being a New York fan is his only fault. But he grew up there, so you can’t blame him too much. If he grew up in New England and was a Yankees fan, that would be a completely different story. We might have had to disown our daughter.

Not really. We’re not hardcore. It’s just fun. When you finally realize it’s only a game and your life won’t change one iota if your team wins or loses, even the World Series. (I’m talking about you, 1986 Red Sox) you can let go of the red-hot-gut-churning-soul-consuming anger of being defeated by the entity you hate more than ever hated anything in the history of your existence (and oh, how we know that agony, given the histories of these teams) and move on and live a normal life.

Fairy Tale Fun Blog Hop

SpritesArtwork

Mine might be a little different from the other books on this hop. (The story of my life.) My writing tends to be a bit on the serious side, more like the classic definition of Women’s Fiction.

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed in myself when I realized that Lily the protagonist of my Lilyland Trilogy* is a Cinderella spin-off. I thought I was being more clever than that. But, I became okay with it. After all, the rags-to-riches Cinderella theme has been popular in many cultures for centuries. In other words, it works.

Do me a favor. As you read this, don’t think of Disney’s Cinderella. Think The Brother’s Grimm.

Cinderella planted a tree at her mother's grave. When she needed dresses (she went to the ball on three different days) she went to the tree and asked the birds who lived for a dress. Each time the dress was more magnificent than the last.

Cinderella planted a tree at her mother’s grave. When she needed dresses (she went to the ball on three different days) she went to the tree and asked the birds who lived for a dress. Each time the dress was more magnificent than the last.

Like Cinderella, my Lily starts off as underappreciated. Knocked down by life, she’s having a hard time getting back up. Her step-mother is Insecurity. Her stepsisters Shame and Guilt. During that time, she meets a Prince Charming Charlie (a bad boy and accomplished film director)at a fund-raising gala—like a ball. They light each other up during the evening of dancing and conversation, even exchanging phone numbers, but neither initiates contact.

Maybe her golden slipper is her smile and the way she touches Charlie’s heart. A twist of fate reunites them a year later, and the magic is still there. He even calls her princess…

“Thank you, Lily.” His solemn expression turned into something goofy, something I hadn’t seen yet. “I keep wanting to call you Princess.”

“Princess? Like on your phone?”

“The night we met you said you felt like a princess.”

“So I did.”

…and invites her to an elite party in Los Angeles where he lives and works. Lily is unaccustomed to the lifestyle of the rich and famous and she’s helped by several of Charlie’s women friends to dress for the occasion. She even compares herself to Cinderella.

“I have something for you,” Charlie said and opened a black case he had been holding. “These are only leased, mind you.”

“You think of everything, don’t you?” I whispered in awe.       “Thank you so much! They’re beautiful.”

In front of the hall mirror he placed a simple but elegant diamond necklace on me and clasped it. Sophie and Rachel each inserted an earring.

“Thank you, everyone,” I said. “I feel like Cinderella with all the birds and bunnies dressing her for the ball.”

(Yes, from the Disney version. Face palm.) Birds help our heroine in the Grimm’s version.

Of course, there are several differences. In Lily’s story is we get to see her life after she lands the prince and gains the castle. In fairy tales, we never see the prince’s flaws. Lily’s Prince Charlie has a few of them. The biggie is his sex addiction, putting happily-ever-after in serious jeopardy. We also never see the day-to-day life. Does Cinderella spend the day inspecting the palace’s cleaning staff and offering handy household hints she learned during her years of oppression sweeping hearths and picking peas and lentils from ashes? Does she train birds and design slippers? Lily eagerly jumps in as Charlie’s production company and film directing partner. No Real Housewife life for her!

Cinderella's slipper was actually "golden" and not glass as in the versions we're used to. One stepsister cut off a toe and the other her heel to get their feet in the magic shoe.

Cinderella’s slipper was actually “golden” and not glass as in the versions we’re used to. One stepsister cut off a toe and the other her heel to get their feet in the magic shoe.

Another difference is age. Lily is a middle-aged Cinderella with a grown daughter and a painfully failed marriage. And her prince may display charming behavior, but he’s no kid in search of his first wife.

In Grimm version of fairy tales, the baddies are always brought to justice. The good girls and guys always win, unlike real life sometimes. Lily’s princess life throughout the trilogy has its share of challenges that take the composure, wisdom and grace of a queen to handle. Does she get her happily-ever-after? Read Lilyland and find out.

To enter the blog hop contest for a chance to win the prize described below. Simply answer my question below in the comment section here on this blog. You must include your email address so the winner can be notified. Entries without email address won’t be qualified for the contest.  (You won’t be subscribed to anything. Promise!) Open to US addresses only. But, I’d love your comment if your not in the US. Winner will be drawn by Rafflecopter on Feb. 16, 2015 and notified by email.

Sprite 24

Congratulations Sprite 24 Gift Box from Fairytale Brownies  which includes a snack-size assortment (Caramel, Chocolate Chip, Mint Chocolate, Original, Peanut Butter, Pecan, Raspberry Swirl, Toffee Crunch, Walnut, White Chocolate, Espresso Nib, Cream Cheese) of 24 delicious gourmet brownies

Question– Even though Lily’s prince has a huge character defect, she gives him a shot. Well, plenty of shots. What would be a deal breaker for your prince? Loud beer burps? Leaving his underwear where you step on it or leaving the toilet seat up? Picking on your mom? Enter your deal breaker in the comments.

Visit with each of these #chicklitlove authors and leave a comment (and email address!) for another entry in the Brownie contest.

April Aasheim                          Sheryl Babin                            Kathryn Biel
Brea Brown                             Geralyn Corcillo                       Patricia Eddy
Erin Emerson                          Jamie Farrell                            Hilary Grossman
Rachel Lynn Hamm                Gina Henning                          Celia Kennedy
Tracy Krimmer                         Becky Monson                        Theresa Munroe                                   Diane Rinella                              S.K. Wills
* At the point, Lilyland is not quite a trilogy, as book 3 is still in progress.

My First Free Promo

If you read my previous post, you got the part where I continuously checked for sales of my ebook Another Place on the Planet once I put it up for sale on Amazon. Two weeks ago, I had a great day doing that.

I made my book free for the weekend. If you publish on Kindle and use KDP select, you get 5 free days every 90 days, or the ability to do a countdown sale. I chose free since I’m new and need exposure about as bad as seedlings needs the sun.

So that was all well and good, but how to let the world know?

First, I made a Facebook ad that looked like this:

Capture

 

I budgeted $35 a day for three days and paid by the click. So every time someone on Facebook saw it and clicked on it, which took them to the Amazon buy page, I was charged. When you reach your daily budget, the ad comes down for the rest of the day. It averaged roughly .50 a click. Over three days, the ad was clicked 194 times. When I set up the ad I was able to define my target audience. I chose authors and TV shows with themes similar to the book. There are several other parameters FB lets you select, It was pretty easy. I have no idea if any of those clicks led to downloads. FB told me of a possible audience of 78,000,000 in the US, UK and Australia, the ad reached over 43,000.

I also paid a couple places that advertise free books. One was $10 for one day, the other $15 for 3 days. I found several other places that will advertise your free book for free, if they have the room. There are also tons of Facebook pages that connect free books with seekers and others that will post your book, free or not. They each work differently. That’s pretty time consuming, too.

Overall, I guess I did okay. Friday, there were just over 600 downloads, Saturday, 230, and Sunday, 90 something, for a total of 918. So, now there are that many people with my book on their device. Hopefully some will read it and a few of those will leave a good review. Maybe some will come looking for Book 2 in about 6 weeks. It didn’t lead to any sales afterwards. I guess you need downloads in the tens of thousands for that.

Anwwhoo–What I Learned:

1. I’m only going to do another FB ad when I will be selling books for a price. It was interesting and not discouraging, but I don’t want to keep spending money on free when there are free ways to advertise.

2. There are plenty of places to post your book. I need to become diligent it seek them out, getting used to the variables and using them on a somewhat daily basis.

3. Just do one free day at a time.

4. Try a .99 sale.

So, I’m a bit more savvy about the process. We’ll see what happens next. Now, to go work on the next one…

Thanks for reading!

 

The Hardest Part

publish button

It’s a lot of work to get your novel to this point, but for indie author’s, you’re only half done.

Hard: I wrote a novel, Another Place on the Planet. I won’t go into all the ways life tried to get in the way of that. I amazed some people, including myself. It has all the elements of a story, including great characters, a page turning (at times, anyway) plot, and some themes that resonate with readers. I learned a great deal about the craft of writing and myself. It was a great joy and a great trial. And I’m doing it again. Harder: Publishing my novel. I submitted to a few agents, mostly for the experience because I know a story of Christians behaving at times very unlike Christians are supposed to behave is not going to fly in regular publishing and certainly not traditional Christian publishing. So, indie publishing was a great option. A whole bunch more learning there. Amazon, Smashwords, CreateSpace, editing, formatting, Word v. Scrivener. Learning what I don’t know so I can learn it just to know I need to learn something else. Good thing I like learning. And I did it! And, I hope to do it again. Hopefully, it’ll be easier this time. Hardest: Promotion. Marketing. Discovery. I published a book! Who cares? It got some good reviews from mostly people I know somehow. They want book 2! Awesome! How do I get other readers to read number 1? That’s the hardest part, I think. I’m getting a little better at putting myself out there, grabbing opportunities that come my way online. I responded to someone looking to interview author’s on their quest to market their book. I booked myself on a blog in the UK for next week, and set my book to go free for  few days. I’m looking for ways to advertise with the small budget I have. It’s a long term kind of thing. Most indie authors build readership book by book over time. All this marketing stuff takes away from my writing time to get those books out there. As does the editing and publishing process. I love writing. I’ve been making up stories in my head for most of my life, so it’s only natural I put them on paper or little screens. I love, to one degree or the other, the entire revising-editing-formatting-publishing process. I enjoy making new connections in the world of indie publishing. I love each time I sell a book and read a new review and know I entertained someone. I’ll love when I get some royalties in my Pay Pal account! The really hard part will be staying the course, not giving up when there are no sales, no new reviews. That’s the thing for anyone pursuing their passion. Believing in your work enough to see it through the dry spells. Sometimes, that’s the hardest part.

Get Ready!

Drum Roll, please! (Keep it going until my book is live on Kindle.) Thanks!

Good grief. The trials of a truly indie author. By truly indie, I mean too poor to be able to afford editors, formatters, etc. Not that I’m complaining. Being able to do all this is a joy and privilege I never expected to have.APP sunset cover

Last year, I decided to republish my fist book, Another Place on the Planet. I hadn’t sold one in a while and was never really satisfied with the cover and knew of some issues that needed to be fixed. In the meantime, my mother passed away and my husband was diagnosed and then successfully treated for cancer. My brain just wasn’t in the place to do the technical side of things.

I worked on other projects, finishing up book 2 of LIlyland, then doing the rough draft of book 3. Then I spent weeks and months on Word and Scrivener perfecting formatting to the best of my ability only to have it look less than wonderful when Kindle got a hold of it. I designed a new cover.

There are people who do these kinds of things for indie writers and I hope in the future to be able to afford them so I can spend more time writing. I also hope that next time I make a cover or format a manuscript I can remember what I learned during the previous bouts of learning. I like learning and don’t mind the kind of work that needs to be done, but…

So, as I write this, Kindle is in the process of publishing my book. I hope the margins and paragraph indentations are as pretty as I made them in the writing program. They weren’t last time…sigh.

In the meantime, I can update Pinterest, post some tweets, figure out how to use Google+ and network with other writers. Oh. And write the other books.

I’ll post a link in the sidebar to Kindle when I have it all prettified. While you wait, you can read the first chapter here under the My Books tab.

Writing and publishing independent of traditional publishing is perfect for me. Lilyland probably wouldn’t have a home otherwise. It’s the story of Lily, and secondly Charlie who are believers in God and Jesus, aka Christians, but struggle a lot with their faith and their behavior. It’s probably too Christian for regular publishers and not Christian enough for Christian publishers, what with the sex and swearing that even they themselves do. But it’s the story that came out. I like it. I hope you do, too.

 

Another Place on the Planet

In February of 2012, I self-published a book for the first time. Another Place on the Planer took 3 years to create and tells about Lily Mayfield and her metamorphosis from a reclusive widow recovering from the suicide of he abusive husband to a celebrated film director, and her relationship with Charlie Winston, her sometimes boyfriend, grieving father and struggling addict.