Happy Thanksgiving

I spent a pleasant afternoon with my neighbor, her daughter, and some friends at the Thanksgiving buffet at Moody Gardens down in Galveston.  It was a nice day for a drive, the food and the company were good, and there was no cooking, cleaning, or football involved.  (We might have been seated a trifle too close to the singing piano player and his repertoire of early Christmas carols, but he wasn’t bad, just a bit loud.)

I was particularly impressed with the display at the head of the buffet.  I wonder where one goes to learn the art of fruit carving?  Amazing what an artist can do with a watermelon, and I don’t even know what the birds are made of.  I think the flowers are mostly melon.

I’m working a short day tomorrow, avoiding the Black Friday sales, stopping by to see a friend who’s stuck in the hospital over the holiday.  Last year at this time I was writing furiously to finish a manuscript by the Golden Heart deadline.  That turned out to be well worth the effort, as Bathtub Jinn was a Golden Heart finalist.  This year I don’t have a new manuscript to finish, but I think I’ll enter the one I’m revising.  The deadline dates have changed, though, so I’m not tied to my computer chair for the rest of the holiday weekend.  I may even find time to read.

Today (and every day, I hope) I’m thankful for my health, my home, and my friends, so many of whom I have met through writing (my next-thing-to-a-sister, Jo Anne Banker, and my critique group, Barbara Ewing, Carl Miller, Charles Russell, and Jim Stanton)  and through Romance Writers of America (the members of my local chapters, West Houston and Houston Bay Area, and my Golden Heart sisters, the Starcatcher, the Firebirds, and the Golden Network).

Here’s wishing a happy holiday season to everyone.

Catching Up

I’ve been home from the RWA Conference for almost three weeks, but I still feel like I’m trying to catch up–on sleep, at work, around the house.  Housekeeping is not my passion, but even I fall behind with a six-day absence.  I made a stab at catching up on writing, getting back on the “work every day” train, but I fell off that a couple of days ago.  I’ve gotten some rewriting done on the work-in-progress, but not as much as I’d like.

A couple of weeks ago I stopped at Office Depot for a box of my favorite pens, and noticed a rack of pocket-sized guide books, including Twitter for Dummies and Facebook for Dummies.  I’d been telling myself (for months now) that I’d look into more social media activities after the Conference, so I bought both books.  Twitter seemed simpler, and presented fewer privacy questions, so I spent part of a Sunday afternoon opening an account (@KayHudsonWriter).  I still don’t quite know what to make of it.

It didn’t take me long to decide that I did not want to follow any of the news sources Twitter had recommended during the sign-up process, and I unfollowed them before I could be swept away by the flood of tweets.  Instead I began following my writing friends–after all, they were the ones urging me to build a social media platform.  So I gradually added (I’m still working on this) friends from my local RWA chapters, West Houston and Houston Bay Area, and from my Golden Heart classes, the Firebirds and the Starcatchers, as well as a scattering of other writer friends.  That will probably total somewhere around two hundred women (I’m about halfway there), so it’s a good thing most of them don’t tweet a lot.  I seem to be averaging about two tweets a day myself.

The amount of trivia bouncing around the Twitterverse is amazing. with some folks seemingly throwing random thoughts out several times an hour.  Some are conducting conversations, some are promoting books (their own and others), some are telling jokes.  A lot of the friends I follow have followed me back, which is a nice friendly thing to do, but I’ve picked up other followers I don’t know at all.  They’re quite welcome, but I can’t help wondering how they found me.  Sometimes I feel like I’m eavesdropping, but I’ve also followed links and hashtags to some interesting articles, blogs, and web sites.

I’ve used the Twitter search function to look for some old friends from school and such, but haven’t turned anyone up yet.  Maybe they’re all hanging out on Facebook.  I did search for my own (very German) maiden name, expecting to find only a few people, one or two of them possibly my cousins.  I didn’t find anyone I recognized as a relative, but I was astonished to see far more people than I expected, many of them posting profiles in Portuguese.  Apparently I have a raft of (very distant) cousins in Brazil.  Who knew?

One of our Scorekeeper clients brought us flowers the other day, for no particular reason.  Mine are sitting on my coffee table, looking lovely.  I took pictures.  As you can see, I am still struggling with lighting.  Backgrounds that look perfectly well lit through the camera are much darker in the photograph.  Maybe because I’m fooling around with this indoors, and usually at night.  I’ll have to take some daylight shots of my horribly unkempt back yard, before I hire someone to clean it up.

I’ve been good (i.e. restrained) about buying books since I got home with two dozen or so from the Conference, so I was a bit puzzled the other night when I got one of those “your amazon.com order” emails and couldn’t remember ordering anything.  Even more so when I opened the email and saw the title:  A Cat Was Involved.  I like cats, but I still couldn’t remember ordering anything.  When I checked my Amazon account, I discovered that I had preordered the short story by Spencer Quinn last May.  I’m a big fan of his Chet and Bernie mystery series, and this promises to be the story that Chet, the canine narrator of the novels, has been teasing us with, the tale of how he washed out of K-9 school and became Bernie’s partner in the Little Detective Agency.  The fifth book in the series, A Fistful of Collars, will be out next month.  Meanwhile, maybe this weekend I’ll find out exactly how that cat was involved.

Two Meetings and Half a Dozen Books

I belong to two local chapters of Romance Writers of America, and this month the meetings fell as close together as they ever do, West Houston last Saturday morning and Houston Bay Area last night.  Both meetings featured interesting speakers on topics that I have yet to tackle myself.

On Saturday, West Houston heard from Alyssa Goodnight, who showed us how she is using the combined impact of several social media channels to promote her new release, Austentatious.  She has tied together input to Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Goodreads, Pinterest, and her website, and claims that it takes relatively little work to maintain her online presence.  I could only watch in admiration–looks like a fulltime job to me.  And I already have one of those.

Last night Joan Reeves gave Houston Bay Area a very interesting talk about some of the technical and legal challenges involved in independent publishing, including copyright laws and piracy problems.  Check out Joan’s blog for a wealth of information on the field, and check out her popular ebook releases while you’re there.

This has been a busy month for West Houston authors, with a whole stack of new releases:

  • Real Vampires Hate Skinny Jeans is the latest in Gerry Bartlett’s very popular Glory St. Clair series.
  • How To Ravish a Rake, by Vicky Dreiling, is the third in a trilogy of charmingly funny Regency historicals.
  • The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek is the first in a new series by Jane Myers Perrine.

  • The Quakers of New Garden anthology includes “New Garden’s Inspiration” by West Houston author Claire Sanders.
  • Wanted: Undead or Alive is the latest installment in Kerrelyn Sparks’ NYT bestselling Love At Stake series.
  • The Kingdom is the second in Amanda Stevens’ Graveyard Queen series, to be followed next month by The Prophet.

I bought books for myself, and an extra copy of Jane’s book as a thank you gift for my neighbor.  Books make terrific, thoughtful, and affordable gifts.  Go out and buy one for someone you’d like to say “thank you” to.

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