Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Best Friend in the World

It is my great pleasure to relate that I have had a chance encounter with a woman who I must now consider the world's greatest friend. Not my friend, nor even my acquaintance, no, I had only the most tangential of contacts with this woman, but even that brief moment is simply inspiring.

You see, on Wednesday night, my husband and I were out enjoying an evening of Idaho Steelheads hockey. We had some nice seats on the upper level, right along one of the blue lines. We had food, we had drink. We were merry. 

The one sore spot happened near the end of the first period when a bunch of rowdy men sat behind us, loudly talking about how they did not, in fact, have tickets for this section. They also had a tendency to stand during the action, which is, during hockey games, an offense punishable by removal, and removed they were. One of them, whilst departing, even managed to kick my hat off my head - an action for which I received neither acknowledgement nor apology. 

Those men having left, I looked back at the stretch of empty seats behind us and saw on the floor a dollar. 

Now, this dollar may or may not have been there before the rowdies. It may have fallen from the row above. One simply can't know the provenance of a dollar bill resting on the floor of an arena. Well, let me correct that statement. I can't know it. 

But I met someone who can. 

The Best Friend in the World.

Because, you see, when I got up and snagged that dollar from underneath those empty seats, and then walked back to hand the single dollar to my husband, she stalked over to us, brimming with righteousness.

"That's my friend's money!"

She knew. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, she knew that dollar belonged to her friend. And, being such a good friend, she couldn't let one single dollar pass into the hands of random strangers at a hockey game unchallenged.

We didn't really know how to react - we were not prepared to interact with such devotion. My husband handed her the dollar without a word and I, well, I had been drinking and I may have been hard pressed to keep from giggling at her quest for a single dollar that she somehow knew belonged to her rowdy friends. Drinking can make one unaware of such brushes with greatness.

And so later, when two of the six rowdy friends returned, she gave them that dollar.

I know it was only a dollar, but I like to believe that they were warmed by her gesture. That they knew themselves to be in the presence of a person endowed with greater compassion and conviction than they deserved.

Could there have been, after all, any truer display of Great Friendship? I submit there could not. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

No More Excuses

Now that I have the paper copies of my book in hand, I really have to get to work on my next projects before my husband gets too grumpy.

And I think I've got a handle on what kind of tone I want to use for the guidebooks, so it's really just a matter of getting the butt in seat time. I should have some time over the Thanksgiving break to do that - if I make the time and take the time.

On a completely different note - and you should stop here if you want to avoid pictures of spiders - this weekend, I saw the weirdest looking spider on one of the bicycles under our apartment stairs. It was big and globular and orange and I had to take pictures and figure out what it was. Turns out it is known as a jewel spider or cat-faced spider, and is only very slightly venomous. Based on the way it hasn't moved for the past five days, I'm pretty sure this one is completely harmless due to death.

It's not tarantula big, but it's pretty big, hanging out on the end of a set of handlebars (not my bike). 

I don't really see the "cat-faced" aspect of it, even with a closeup. 

Maybe a little cat-faced from this angle where the knobs look like cat ears. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Book - Hike with Me Number 5!

A bit later than I wanted to get it published, but I finally worked out my issues with the cover formatting and knuckled down and got the ebook versions prepped for both kindle and smashwords. So now I've published 5 volumes of Hike with Me.

Four solo trips, two segments of the Idaho Centennial Trail and one non-Idaho hike along the Washington Pacific Coast.

Hundreds of color pictures. Thousands and thousands of words.

A large print, full color paperback edition for each one, along with ebook versions available across a variety of online retailers.

I don't think I really believed when I started writing these that I would be able to keep going for five years. It was an intention born during that first solo trip, when I thought about how I might share how my journey felt with a very specific audience - my mom. Most people in my life, I could, theoretically, take on the trail. Even though my dad has a bad back, I could take him on a short trek, keeping his pack light. My brother, sure. But my mom has multiple sclerosis. She doesn't travel well even by car. She would never be able to come out and experience the trail.

So, with the intention to share the experience with her, I've shared it with even more people. Not to mention, I've got a reliable Christmas gift to give each year that's unique and personal.

So. Check it out. Hike with Me: Idaho Centennial Trail Owyhee. Pictures of the paperback to come when they arrive.

FREE through January 14, 2018 with code CS55F  on Smashwords
On Amazon kindle 
On Amazon in Large Print full color paperback
On Barnes and Noble Nook

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


I was sick last weekend. As in, spent most of Saturday in bed and most of Sunday bundled up on the couch, tight-chested, sniffly, fuzzy-brained sick. I made zero progress in preparing the ebook version of my latest hiking book. And, in part, I believe, because of the illness, I had the worst possible time getting my cover in shape for the print version.

See, there is no way to preview what your printed cover will look like other than submitting your files for review. And that process takes 24 (or more) hours. I've submitted that damn file 7 times in the last week. The first few times were rejected, and I own that that was my own fault. I didn't calculate the spine width correctly, so they couldn't use the cover I submitted. Okay. Fine.

But once I got the spine right, they kept giving me covers with random lines. I know from experience that what you see on the digital proof is what you get. I learned the hard way not to order thinking that it would fix itself in printing. No, it has to be perfect before I approve it for sale and buy my author copies. And nothing I was doing was providing the perfection I sought.

I even got to the point where I couldn't make the pdf come out right on my own end. But I think I've got it now. I just had to create an entirely new image file in GIMP, copy the visible layers and paste so that there's no room for any sliding or extra lines. If it doesn't come out right this time, then I'm going to scream.

Next, I've got to finish reformatting the word file for Kindle and Smashwords formats. Smashwords is more difficult because they have a fairly low bar on file size. Although I should be alright this year, because this book is much shorter than last year's. Less pictures, a bit less text. It's tight. This should be the easy part, but when you're sick, sitting in front of a computer reformatting isn't an easy task.

Okay, when I'm sick. The last thing I want to do is sit at a desk and try to think. Hard enough to push through the sick-fuzz at work. Which I did - I didn't take any sick days, I just lost a whole weekend. Grrrr.

So the ebook should be out this weekend, with any luck the print book will be available before that. If I can just get them to make the cover look like it should. Might be time to try bribes. . .

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Almost a Book!

The book is finished. Well, just about. It needs to get approved and then it will appear as available on retailers. My part is pretty much done. It's just about the shortest one of my Hike with Me books, and I think that's alright. Shorter books are less expensive to print and therefore I can price them lower.

I am still considering making versions of the books that have normal sized print instead of large print so that I can see about selling them at even lower prices, but that's a large investment in time, getting the font sized correctly and then re-arranging the images so that they are still near the text relevant to them. It will mean more pages of just pictures, which isn't a bad thing, per se. But it is difficult to get the formatting done, because I can't just place two pictures on the same page in the Word template - I need to create a new whole page image with the two images. Otherwise, a single line of text ends up accompanying the two pictures, and that looks silly.

But that can't be my next project anyway, because I've got some guidebooks to work next. I think I can reasonably get both of those done before the end of the year, especially with the week my workplace is closed between Christmas and New Year's. I just need to make it a priority to get them written and pictured.

If I save enough money, I want to do another online writing class, but I don't know when that's going to happen. Also, I need to start planning next year's solo trip so I can close the gap on the ICT and have the bottom quarter done. There's a lot to do, and that doesn't even include getting in some fiction writing, which I haven't been doing AT ALL.

I have found writing a bit difficult to get into in the past few months, and I do partly blame the political climate. My focus gets torn in all sorts of different directions and I just don't make the energy to put into writing. Plus there were factors at work that have made my days a lot more full and occupied my brain even when I'm not actively at work.

I think getting the guidebooks out will help me get back into writing, because they will be projects that I can complete and get a sense of accomplishment from. I feel more confident about my non-fiction than I do about my fiction. Even though I've actually made more money from fiction so far than non-fiction (and the amounts are tiny, either way), I don't have the same kinds of doubts about the non-fiction. I create them, they are finished, and I put them out into the world. They'll find their audience, or not. I'll move on to the next one.