9-14-2014 8-33-03 PM

Fell off the grid again last week and for good reason. Took a wee trip to Amsterdam to enjoy a soccer tournament my brother played in. Prior to leaving, I hit a significant snag with the US mail getting draft prints of Book 3 sent out to test readers. One copy arrived to a test reader, damaged. The other copy left Bangor and vanished into the abyss of missing mail.

The delay with the mail puts me behind in my anticipated release date of mid-September. So with a big “oh well,” I still left for my trip with resolve to have a great time, not stress about the delay, and deal with the book stuff when I got back. I did have a great trip and did not stress over the book. The mail snag continues to be a problem, but I’m working around that and still not stressed. I can request a refund for shipping costs, but when I went on the USPS website today to do that, the website was entirely too convoluted to figure out. If I assume that my time is worth, say $10/hr, even with the 20 minutes of frustration and zero success rate, I’d already lost that time plus the shipping costs. It was cheaper for me to throw in the towel and call it quits on getting the refund than spend another second on a useless website.

Sure, I want to get the book released ASAP, but the delay isn’t because I’m dragging my heels or anything, hence there is no reason to get completely freaked out over this. I have folks who enjoyed the first two books chewing at me to get the third one out pronto. To those folks, I’m doing my best. I’ll keep you posted. When I have the release date, you’ll have it too.

So while I’m not dragging my heels on this, I am vastly enjoying my vacation and bail off the grid again tomorrow for camping in the New Hampshire mountains. Boom.

 

Photo image by me Sept 2014, Amsterdam outside of the Van Gogh museum

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Another update on Book 3. Feedback from a few test readers has started coming back. These readers are my hand-picked folks to provide feedback on various things. One reader is an eagle eye for proofing. Another is an overall story and pacing feedback expert. Two others are great with character development, flow, and get their paws deeper into the story structure.

The feedback coming in thus far is: “Wow! Great story.”  “I was out of breath!”  and my personal favorite texted to me: “HolyFrigginShit!” :)

I’ll definitely give an update on a firm release date once I know it. Next steps are to get the draft copies back, make any final final edits, format the manuscript three times. Yes, three times. Once for Kindle, once for all other ereaders, and once for print. After that comes checking the print proof, and once that is ready and deemed good to go, the book will go live. As you can see, there is way more to writing a novel than writing the story. I start vacation tomorrow too, and I won’t be taking this stuff with me. I will however be writing on book 4 and 5 in my down time. I have already been told by one test reader: “Hurry up and get book 4 done!”

 

Image from sxc.hu

Ever stop to gas up a rental car and park the car before you pull up to the pump so you can see which side the gas cap is on? I’ve certainly done it. Quick tip, look at your dashboard. The fuel gauge, there is a little white arrow next to the gas pump icon that tells you what side the gas cap is on. Sure would be nice if it was a big honking arrow like the red one, but it’s the little white one you’re looking for.

8-25-2014 8-23-28 PM

Next tip, when you pick up the car, check the fuel gauge and grab a pic if the tank is not full. This way you don’t have to pay for the gas you didn’t burn. When you go to return the car, snap a pic of both the mileage AND fuel gauge. If you gas up the car before you return it, hang on to the receipt too. I have had a rental car company try to tell me I didn’t return the gas tank full. I had a receipt to back me up, so they had to credit the charge they tried to lay on me. I have also had a rental car with a faulty fuel gauge. I snapped pics of the gauge showing 3/4 of a tank with the receipt (date/time stamped) where I’d just filled it up. I took several pics showing the faulty gauge and showed them to the folks when I returned the car. I had no issues with extra fees because I had the pictures. Also because I had the photo proof, they took the car out of service and flagged it for repair. As a result of this and the attempted fee for not fueling the car, I started snapping a pic of the fuel gauge and the odometer before I turned in the keys. I keep the pic for a few days to make sure they billed me correctly, then I’ll delete it. I have had them email me a bill and then email me an “updated” one the next day. That updated one always has a fee tacked on which I always send right back and get a credit. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen and they can’t argue with a fuel receipt and/or a picture.

8-25-2014 8-23-52 PM

Happy driving!

8-6-2014 2-44-23 AM

If you have ever had someone on the phone while trying to walk them through troubleshooting or fixing their computer, you likely know that feeling of: “Gee, if I slam my head against a concrete wall a few times, I think that might just be less painful than this phone call.”

After years of doing this with my Dad (helping him with the computer, not slamming my head against a concrete wall, OK maybe some slamming my head into the wall) someone introduced me to join.me.  This is an online screen sharing program. Both parties go to the website join.me. There is a small program to download the first time. The person starting the meeting clicks on the Orange start meeting option. The person joining the meeting clicks on the Green join meeting option and enters the number the starting person gives them when prompted by the program. It’s free. It’s wicked easy to figure out.

I usually have my Dad start (he’s orange) the meeting and once I join (I’m green), I can see his computer screen. From there I can tell him what to click or I can request control of his mouse and drive. He can also give me presenter abilities so he can then see my screen. So it works both ways to see the other person’s screen in case you get the orange/green thing switched around.  Super slick. Super handy. Absolutely fantastic for preventing the head banging into wall would feel better episodes. Absolutely necessary if you have a friend or family member needing tech support and you need to see their computer screen.

 

Image from join.me

8-9-2014 1-34-02 AM

A few years ago I learned about Maine’s Implied Warranty law on the radio. Four years of warranty coverage against defects (provided the item is not abused) is good for ANY items (except used cars) purchased for personal or business use. I’ve used this law before in my favor and whipped it out again in a recent battle over my cell phone. In short, I won and got a new phone for free. As a result of reading the law’s details as they pertained to Maine (http://www.maine.gov/ag/dynld/documents/clg4.pdf), I decided to keep digging and make myself even more versed on this topic.

I  found this site below which talks about the warranty and other states. Here’s the kicker, ALL US states have a similar law. VERY FEW people that I talk to have heard of these things, and this includes retailers. So folks who have wondered if they have a law like this in their state, yes, you do. And that extended warranty that a big box store tries to sell you on your new TV, tell them to stick it. You’re covered by law for FREE for four years if you live in Maine. The law doesn’t cover abuse or accidental damage, but if you don’t plan to dump water your TV for giggles or kill your cell phone by drop kicking it down a flight of stairs, you’re fine to waive the additional accidental coverage.

Want to find websites specific to your state? Google “warranty of merchantability” and your state’s name. You should get some links to take you to the right spot. Look at the website links the search pulls up and look for .gov sites or something that looks reputable. Read what your state has in your law. If you do have to return a defective item back to the store, take a print out of the state law with you and have the important pieces highlighted for the seller. The seller likely won’t go down without a fight, but with a copy of the law in your hand and knowing what the law says, you’ll stand a better chance of saving yourself time and still win the war.

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0252-warranties

Per the website link above:

“Implied Warranties

Implied warranties are created by state law, and all states have them. Almost every purchase you make is covered by an implied warranty.

The most common type of implied warranty—a “warranty of merchantability,” means that the seller promises that the product will do what it is supposed to do. For example, a car will run and a toaster will toast.

Another type of implied warranty is the “warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.” This applies when you buy a product on the seller’s advice that it is suitable for a particular use. For example, a person who suggests that you buy a certain sleeping bag for zero-degree weather warrants that the sleeping bag will be suitable for zero degrees.

If your purchase does not come with a written warranty, it is still covered by implied warranties unless the product is marked “as is,” or the seller otherwise indicates in writing that no warranty is given. Several states, including Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, do not permit “as is” sales.

If problems arise that are not covered by the written warranty, you should investigate the protection given by your implied warranty. Implied warranty coverage can last as long as four years, although the length of the coverage varies from state to state. A lawyer or a state consumer protection office can provide more information about implied warranty coverage in your state.”

Image from sxc.hu