The last day of the year, and what a year, right? Globally, so much bad stuff is happening that it might seem impossible to look for a brighter side, much less to find one. Locally, there’s still continuing food price inflation, higher energy bills, Covid quarantines uncomfortably close to home, (measured in literal meters, so I’m not exaggerating) and mysterious illnesses for me and my hubby. (Mine going back decades, which was previously diagnosed as MS, but now the doctors aren’t so sure. Oh, fun side note, one of my symptoms is losing my sense of smell for brief spans, so now every time it happens, I have to ask, “Is it the usual shenanigans, or is it Covid?”)
But personally, this is the year when I got back my drive to create, and the urge to explore. For a few years now, I haven’t really felt much desire to listen to new music, or to read much from comics or books. I think I was just overwhelmed by all the crappy things happening here and abroad, but also, I had started feeling like I’d hit a rut and had nothing new to offer.
It was close to the start of the year that I decided to get my head back in the games, committing to publish at least one review a week. When that wasn’t possible, I decided to try and make filler just so I wouldn’t get back in the rut. Continue reading
Obviously I don’t have to explain what’s been going on for most of this year. There’s a lockdown in effect, and with the hubbers working from home, our slow ass internet connection won’t allow me to be online at the same time he’s working. But I was actually off the net for a couple months before that and the reasons may shock you. Or not.
In February, I went out to the plot of land set aside by our landlord for a garden and started digging up weed roots. This took me the better part of four months. For one thing, with the land not being used in years, the top layer of soil was close to 80% roots. I’m not exaggerating, either. On a daily basis, I loaded a wheelbarrow with roots and carted them away, always thinking, “Surely, I’m getting close to the end.” And every day, I dug a bit more and found more damned roots.
There were days when I ignored aches and pains because I thought, “Oh, one more meter won’t hurt.” Then that night, I’d get full body shakes and end up stuck in bed for anywhere between two and six days. I thought because I had MS, this was a job a healthy person could easily do in a week. But then my neighbor, inspired by my work, started in on her own garden, and after turning over one row in a two day flurry, she too ended up confined to bed for two days. She’s a teacher and a soccer coach who still plays with her friends, and this wrecked her. So it shouldn’t be a shock that it took me so long to clear three rows measuring one meter by five. Continue reading
This probably should have gone up on January 1st, but Dark Souls III isn’t gonna play itself. (I’m actually playing several games all at once and hope to have something ready for review soonish. I’m also close to finishing a book for review, and I can say that review will be mostly positive.) Truth be told, I’m hard pressed to think of what to say about 2018. It’s wasn’t a bad year compared to some in recent memory, but it wasn’t stellar, either. It’s the homely year, the kind of year that attractive years take along on pub crawls to make themselves look more alluring. It didn’t overstay its welcome or shit the rug on its way out, so…I don’t know, I guess I’ll mostly be remembering this one somewhat fondly.
It was a year I released a book, albeit it almost two years late. (Sorry about that. I blame my self-esteem as much as my health for that one.) But I used to be able to release four and five books a year, and so one book is…well, it’s less than I’d hoped for. By the same token, I’ve been less able to post reviews for books and games. I can’t afford more than a handful of games per year thanks to my less than stellar sales record (again, my fault; I need to do better at promotions) and I’ve had difficulty reading for most of this year. (Or more precisely with reading and retaining what I’ve just read.) So on the surface, I know it’s seemed like I haven’t got much done.
BUT—and, like my expanding rear it’s a big but—that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working. I’ve been serving part-time as an editor of an international glass print magazine and web-site, and this year, I also began writing articles for them. The pay is pretty good, but we’ve still had money troubles due to the move from Milan to Pavia. I’m glad we made the move despite the financial strain. I have an office of my own, and with our new kitchen, I’ve become more enthusiastic about cooking again, something that’s pleased our neighbors and my husband to no end. I do miss Milan, but Pavia is full of its own charms, and I’ve enjoyed hunting them down one day-trip at a time. The hubbers is also closer to his mom, and that’s having a positive effect on his mood. So all around, I’d call the move a win-win even if it is keeping our bank account strained for the time being. Continue reading
I must first beg forgiveness for not posting a new review recently. As I mentioned in my last game review, I have plans to write up a little somethin’ somethin’ for Wizard of Legend, but in the time since I said that, I’ve still not been able to force myself to play much of it. Or…any of it, really. (When I can find time to play anything lately, it’s been Magic the Gathering: Arena or Fallout: New Vegas.) Obviously, when I do get around to reviewing it, you can expect it will be light on gushing praise. (Which I feel a little guilty for because it looks pretty and has good music. It’s just, everything else is…no, I’ll save it for the review.)
On the other hand, I have a book I’m reading and enjoying, and yet I can’t say when I’ll be able to review it because I have so much going on here that it’s hard to find downtime to relax and unwind with a book. Maybe I’ll luck out and find some free time tonight, but I’m not entirely sure.
Here’s the thing: we live in a much bigger place, and that means I have to work more often to keep it clean. We also have a yard and a garden that’s supposed to be shared with the neighbors, and I’m the only one free to work on any of this. So any given day here is like “get up, clean stuff, try to fit in a workout, do some office work, do some yard work, and if it’s my turn to make dinner, hustle back to the kitchen to do prep work.” Continue reading
Here we are with the fourth and final excerpt from Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), this time from chapter 47. I hope you’ve enjoyed these previews of the story, and that you’ll consider picking it up for some fun Halloween reading. In any case, now that this is done, I’ve got some paid editing work coming up soon, and then I’ll be getting to work on my next book release, which should be in December if I don’t get too lazy with the editing. But for now, here’s Alice involved in yet another bad day already in progress…
Okay, I need to think and put together a plan. My apartment is off limits with the cops looking for me, and I don’t want to be seen in town looking like I tripped and fell in a swamp. If I’m dealing with a warlock, I’ll need help from friends better equipped to handle magic. So, that’s Peter, who’s probably at work right now. I can’t fathom a run to Matilda’s, and Sophia is out given that she’s in Philadelphia for an art exhibit. I’ll give her a call after I’ve got some clean clothes, though.
I call Mona’s cell phone first. After two rings, she picks up and says, “Alice?”
“Mona, I need you to pack up a clean change of clothes for me, along with my pelt and my geode. If the cops show up before you leave and ask about me, tell them you don’t know where I am.” Continue reading
Welcome back to the sneak peekage into my newest novel, Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), and this time I’m posting short cuts from two chapters, 29 and 30. (Quite a jump ahead from the first two samples.) Neither of these are complete chapters, but they help show how Alice is having a bad night out while trying to help one of her newer packmates out of their shell.
Half an hour passes in this sweltering crowd, and my throat soon feels dry and raw. I look for Mona and Jesse, and I find them not far away. Mona wears a huge grin despite being covered in a shiny layer of sweat.
Jasmine leans closer to shout. “She’s doing fine. How about we go and get a drink?”
I nod and shout, “Jesse!” He looks around. “We’re going to the bar!” Continue reading
Here’s the second excerpt from Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), this time from chapter 9. You may notice that instead of posting these one day after another, I’m posting them a week apart. I’m doing it this way to spread out the promotions a bit longer. If I do them in the same week, I’ve spent all my efforts too soon, and with the way social media streams run so fast, it’s practically an eye-blink before I’m off the social radar. So, new plan, yeah? One post a week and multiple promotions in the stream, hopefully leading to catching more peepers.
Aren’t these glimpses into indie marketing for social media so fascinating? No? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. So, let’s move on to the book excerpt…
Monica is surrounded in her bed, with me and Jesse standing over one side, and her parents on the other. Pi and Josie are at the foot of the bed, and Evan is sitting in a chair across the room with Uncle John and Brandon standing on either side of him. Continue reading
Tuesday I did something I’ve been contemplating for a long time now, going back to the point that I deleted all my old posts on this blog to start over. I started a new Twitter account, in effect rebooting my social self. Unlike the blog, I did not delete my old account just yet. That will happen in January, and in the meantime, I’m posting notices every day that I’m moving addresses. That way if someone wants to follow me over, they can.
The reason why it took me so long to reach a decision on this is due in most part to my follower count, which at present is 1,947. But lately I’ve come to realize that maybe half of that count is marketing accounts. They started off with people behind them, but then one day the owner of the account decided to use a bot to post ads for their stuff, and they never came back. They don’t engage with anyone, they just toss out the same 5 or 6 tweets every few hours to keep their stuff in the stream. (And by stuff, I mean books, music, and marketing services.) So really, what’s the point of keeping 1,000 followers if they never read what I’m saying day to day?
There’s also a very compelling reason for me to start fresh. More and more often, I see on blogs and in comments that Twitter is regarded as one of the most toxic social sites these days. I think it’s no more or less toxic than, say Facebook or Tumblr, but Twitter stands out more because it’s where so many people go to just rant about everything that’s bugging them. It’s a micro-journal, but I think lots of people end up getting tunnel vision, only using Twitter to air their anger without giving their positive side an equal chance to to be shown. People reading their streams get triggered by that negativity and go on the attack, and soon, it’s all just one big fight that no one can possibly win. Continue reading
These past few weeks, I’ve been playing around with Twitch and YouTube, trying to stream games to them. This has not worked out well because our internet connection is pure shit. We’re working on getting that fixed, and today we signed a contract with another provider who in theory will be installing a fiber optic line in the next few weeks. (I say in theory because transitioning from one provider to another in Italy can sometimes take several months.) In the meantime, I can’t really stream without the video quality being horrid.
However, I got in my new PC, and I can record videos to the hard drive and upload them to both Twitch and YouTube. The quality is much better, and now you can see me play games instead of just talking about them in my reviews. I’m starting off with Dark Souls because I apparently still haven’t gotten tired of it.
You can watch my videos on Twitch or YouTube, but be aware that Twitch archives only last for 14 days. Also, if you want to know what I’m playing and when, it might be a good idea to follow me on Twitter if you haven’t already. Continue reading
Delays between reviews on my site are something most of you should be used to by now, but this time around, the delays have to do with a number of disasters that I knew were coming. The biggest of those is that my beloved dinosaur PC died, and now I am stuck trying to steal time on hubby’s computer. Hubby is both a gamer and an internet addict, so this is really quite hard. (He really is an addict, by the way. We had service go down for half a day, and within two hours, he was wandering around the front of another provider near our home.)
So while I have some time during one of his naps, I wanted to let y’all know what’s going on here. (Besides the PC breaking.) Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook may know that I lost my wallet last year, and that I have been languishing in the bureaucratic hell that Italy puts all immigrants through. I finally got my sojourn permit back, and so now I can hopefully get my debit card reinstated. This is important because without it, I can’t sell any books. Or rather, I can, but I can’t get access to any profits I make from those sales. There is a chance that I still won’t be able to get my card without a carta identita (ID card), but I don’t know that just yet.
Even if I can get the debit card, it may still be a bit longer before I can sell new books because I need to get a PC of my own to finish editing and formatting the next book to go out. This should take a few months at the very least. So if you’re one of the people who have been waiting patiently for the next book in the Alice the Wolf series, I’m sorry, but you’ll have to wait a little more until I can sort out this mess. Continue reading