Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Vaya Con Dios, Mis Amigos

Hey all,

This will be my last blog for awhile.  As most of you know, I'll be spending the next two months renovating our new house.  I'll be up to my ears in paint, wood working, landscaping and plumbing. And enjoying every moment of it.  I'm totally looking forward to getting my hands dirty.

I've been spending a lot of time on DIY sites, Pintrest and Hometalk and loving it.  It's been sooooo long since we've had a home of our own, I can't wait to do some of the things I've discovered on those sites.

If you've seen some of the pictures of our new house, you'll remember that it needs a lot of cosmetic work.  It's got great bones as they say, but the old owners weren't very handy, nor did they have the same tastes as we do.

Case in point is the first room I'm tackling. I've always believed the kitchen is the heart of the house, and as you can see in the picture, this kitchen needs some major heart surgery.  :-)  The bones, as I mentioned before, were good, but we're planning on moving the kitchen eventually and combining it with the living room next door to make a great room. But that won't happen for a couple of years.

But until then, I can't handle the way this room looks.  It needs some major renovating and the colors are hideous. My son described the shade of paint perfectly...it looks like cat puke.  LOL So, it's totally gotta go!

My plan is kitchen, living room, bathroom, master bedroom first. And then I'll work on the other two bedrooms, second bathroom and laundry room. And that's not even considering all the outside work I want to get done. All in two months.

Yeah...it could happen.  *smile*

So, I won't be around for the next two months for my scheduled blogs, but when I can, I will drop by with any photos and updates.  I'm sure you'll be as interested as I am to see how I transform my cat puke kitchen into something amazing!

Until next time...


Hugs,

CJ England

Friday, June 17, 2016

What's UP With Some Editors?

Hey all,

I'll admit it. I'm spoiled.  For the last few years I've had some really good editors, one in particular. But every once in a while I'll have to deal with or hear a story from a fellow author about some really ridiculous requests/orders/edits they've had to deal with from their editor.

And I'll also admit that one of the reasons I self-published my previously released books was I was exhausted at the idea of having to go through yet another editing from another editor on a book that was already fine the way it was.

Case in point.  I just heard from a friend of mine who has been in the business about as long as I have. She has gone through a few publishers like I have...and has had the same dealings with a previously published book going to another editor.

The book in question was one I absolutely loved the first time I read it and it was edited quite well. None of the horrors you see with some small publishing houses, I enjoyed every page of it. Yet, when she sent it last month to another publisher, deciding not to self-publish like I had, while it was accepted, they told my friend that it would need a total revamp. Not content--they LOVED the idea of the book--but they did want her to change things around so completely, it would be like a different book.  When she asked why, the editor had the gall to tell her it wasn't anything untoward. Every publisher would do it.

WTF?

God, I hate that excuse. I totally understand if a book doesn't fit a publisher's needs, but don't give this type of excuse.  It's like telling someone to do something because everyone else is doing it. Really? Like that makes it right?  What are you, three? Are you going to jump off a cliff next?

I've had some doozy editors in the past. One that refused to use contractions (I will not won't even go down that weird road), one who admitted they'd signed me on because I had a large and loyal following, yet they actually disliked my writing style (wow...just wow), and one that wanted me to do "writing exercises" each day before I started to edit. (Not a bad idea, except these exercises consisted of using a special kind of "toy" rather than a keyboard.  Ewwww....)

Yeah...it takes all kinds, I know.

So, take it from me.  Just because an editor says it is the right thing to do, doesn't make it so. That's why you have to be so careful when signing with a house. I've learned that if your styles don't sync you'll wind up unhappy.  Fighting an editor on every single thing isn't only a PITA, it steals something out of your soul.

And as Bob Marley says...

Don't gain the world and lose your soul.
Wisdom is better than silver and gold. 

Until next time...


Hugs,

CJ England

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Now We Can Talk About That Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Pt. 3)

Hey all,

You know it's going to be a horrific move experience when it takes three--count 'em--three blogs to fully share the craziness of what happened.  I know this is a time that our son will NEVER forget.  In fact, he's already threatening to disown us if we ever ask him to do something like this again. LOL

But let's finish this up. You think the third day couldn't get any worse? You'd be WRONG!!!

Remember...

Day One...  He couldn't even get the BAT (also known as Big Ass Truck) up the hill and into the driveway.  No power for the grade and too bloody big for the driveway.

Day Two... Memorial Day. NO WAY to get another truck, and since the house was stinky and bug infested (did you know there were freakin' funnel webs spiders outside of Australia????), he did the smart thing. He cleaned and cleaned and cleaned, with a lot of bug squashing and spraying to boot.

So now we're on Day Three...

We've got the truck rented for 9:30am and the helpers scheduled to arrive at 1pm.  And the day was supposed to go like this...

Get up. Eat. Take his car down to Uhaul, pick up the small truck, take to to Home Depot where the BAT was waiting. Pack a first load of stuff he could move on his own. Take truck up to house and unpack. Drop Uhaul off at loading point at bottom of grade. Call Uber for a pickup.

Get dropped by Uber back at BAT where the helpers were to meet him. Pick up BAT and drive to loading point. Do as many small truck runs as it takes to unload BAT and git 'er done!

Then, one helper drives Uhaul truck back to Uhaul with Jasiah driving BAT FOR THE LAST TIME!!!  Drops off Uhaul, and picks up his car, then drops off BAT. Woot!  Pays off helpers. Go grabs some dinner.  Spend evening relaxing and reflecting on what a great day it was.

Ummm.... Actually, not so much. *sigh*

Everything went great for the morning hours. He got the Uhaul picked up, grabbed a load on his own and unpacked it back at the house. Grabbed the Uber to go back to the BAT to meet the helpers.

And that is where everything went horribly wrong...

Helpers? *Looks around.* Helpers?  I guess he didn't need no stinkin' helpers!

Yup.  Those touted five star helpers we hired? Uhaul recommended people?  No shows.  Nothing. Nada.  And Jasiah was left to do an entire truck on his own.

We FINALLY got a text from them late in the afternoon.  Sorry! Other jobs went long.  So sorry!!!! 

Really?  You've got to be kidding me. Jonathon had spoken to the leader of the group several times and she knew the situation. Knew he was all alone and needing their help.  She'd promised... faithfully that they'd be there. Promised.  And now all we get is a SORRY????

Grrr.  Poor Jasiah.  Could anything else go wrong?

To give them their due, apparently at some time during the afternoon she DID try and call Jasiah, which didn't help because by the time she did, he was at the house where he didn't get signal at the time.  But still.  A promise is a promise.  Do what you say. I HATE service people (and remember I'm married to one) who don't show up when they say they're supposed to.  It's rude and totally unprofessional.

But there is a sliver lining to this story.  A reminder of the fact that no matter what (we believe) God has your back.

Jonathon has a brother who is a high mucky-muck (not sure of his real title) in Yellow Trucking.  And at some point in the last few weeks my sweet baboo had asked him if he had anyone in the area who could help Jasiah.  Nothing really came of it and we actually both forgot it.

Or so we thought.. This is where God made things happen.  We have no idea how or when it was done, but suddenly there were three guys ready and willing, standing in front of the BAT waiting for Jasiah to tell them what to do. They were sent from Jonathon's brother (aka high mucky-muck) because he got a nudge from God that he needed to make something happen.

We went from no scheduled helpers (damn that Uhaul woman) to miracle helpers, sent by God (with a little help from one of his children) to help Jasiah out.  

Angels come in all shapes, sizes and professions!

So, after a few worrisome moments of Where the Hell are all my Helpers????, the rest of the afternoon went pretty well.  The guys Jeff sent brought their own truck, so they were able to help move things even faster. Plus, the house is on a bit of a hill, and the extra person made moving appliances a lot easier!

All and all, I'm kinda glad the first crew blew us off. These new guys were quick and professional, and things got done much earlier than expected. And the best part of it was, Jasiah really enjoyed meeting them. Now he's got some new friends!!! 

It took several long hours to get everything done, but it finally was. We're all moved in, and we owe our son more than we can say. Jasiah can now sit on the porch, have a beer and contemplate his new life. But, every experience marks us, and I'm pretty sure Jasiah won't be forgetting his Memorial Day weekend any time soon.  And one more thing I'm pretty sure of. 

He won't be changing careers and becoming a moving man. No matter how good he is at it!

Until next time...


Hugs,

CJ England

Friday, June 10, 2016

Now We Can Talk About That Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Pt. 2)

Hey all,

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of our moving travails. You probably enjoyed it a lot more than my poor son.  LOL

When I last left you, we'd just discovered...

1.  The grade of the hill up to the house was too steep for a whimpy powered truck.
2.  The road to our house was way too narrow for a 26' truck (from this point on to be known as BAT--Big Ass Truck).
3.  Since it was the night before Memorial Day, we were out of luck on picking up anything to help us out of this mess.
4. My youngest son was about to go drown his sorrows in a gallon of moonshine!!!!!!

Anyway...

It didn't get any better.  Since it was a Sunday, his cousin, who'd come up from Atlanta to help him move, had to work the next day so he had to head BACK to the city. Without doing much of anything.  They were able to transfer some of the smaller stuff to Jeffrey's SUV and at least get Jasiah situated in the house...(which the condition of is a whole 'nother story).

So, it was about 11pm by the time they got all that done and grabbed something to eat.  Then Jeffrey headed home to Atlanta after what had to be the EASIEST moving he'd ever done.  Jasiah, with Home Depot's permission (gotta love 'em) was able to leave the BAT in their parking lot over the holiday.  Then he headed back to take possession of the home we'd just bought.

Now the whole time this is going on, we're on FB, frantically chatting back and forth trying to help. We couldn't do a whole lot, which frustrated us and didn't do much for him either.  We'd told him the condition of the house, but apparently, it was a bit worse than what we'd heard.

Being a foreclosure, it wasn't clean, there were scary, fanged spiders and bugs of every description had a few bugs, and had that icky musty stinky smell you get from a closed up house.  Add the fact that there'd been water damage when they first checked the pipes, and the house wasn't at all ready to be lived in.

But he persevered. He'd grabbed an air mattress from Walmart on his way back since the bed was still in the truck.  And had a fitful night sleep after a truly horrendous day.

The next day he cleaned.

And cleaned.

And cleaned.

And that was just the bathroom.

AND, in the midst of the cleaning, he discovered yet another leak.  At least this one was an easy fix, but he'd gone into town for--wait for it--even MORE cleaning supplies, and by the time he got back, the back bedroom downstairs were the leak was had been inundated with water.  *sigh*

I won't go into the craziness of whoever plumbed this house.  Suffice it to say, they didn't know what they were doing.  Pipes running along the outside of walls, through them, along the ceiling (exposed, mind you) and into the next room. Yeah...we'll be doing a total renovation of all that.

While Jasiah was doing all this nasty cleaning, his Dad, my sweet baboo, was frantically trying to arrange for a smaller truck and helpers (NOT easy to do on a holiday) for the next day.  We finally, after several hours of searching and texting, found a 12' truck and some moving help so he wouldn't have to do it alone.  Whew!

So, we had trucks, helpers and a plan.  Jasiah had the water fixed and enough of the house cleaned and debugged so he could at least sleep with BOTH eyes shut that night.  He was ready to end the craziness and start afresh the next day. Happy that the worst of the move was now over.

Or so he thought...

Have I mentioned the bear???

Check back on Tuesday for the last installment of this crazy-who'd-a-thunk-it story!

Until then...

Hugs,

CJ England

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Now We Can Talk About That Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Pt. 1)

Hey there,

I'm so sorry for putting you off about my "moving" experience. But I had a wonderful release day, and I'm pleased as anything about the response for my latest story, Skyrockets in Flight. If you missed it, scroll back one post and take a look at last Friday's Blog.

If you like fireworks and hot summer nights, beautiful mountain lakes, and memories to last for a lifetime, I think you'll really enjoy this short story. I know I loved taking a trip back in time to a place where I'd spent so many enjoyable summer vacations and I hope, as of last Friday, you will enjoy it as well.

But as great as Friday was, I still owe you a blog about my my son's adventures in moving.  And I have to say it's a doozy.  Ready?

Once upon a moving day, my son showed up at the truck rental company.  It was a beautiful day down in Orlando and he was ready to go. The truck and car dolly was rented...or so he thought...

Ooops.  You need a truck with a ramp? Hmmm. No truck there. So sorry...give us an hour and we'll give you 12% off. 

Well, nothing we could do about THAT, so we waited.

Truck came, all is good and off he went to storage...and then...

Oooops.  Big 26' truck, itty bitty turning space. But my son with his mad long haul trucker skills, did what had to be a 36,564 point turn and got it in where we needed it to be. Thus, the loading commenced.

And commenced.
And commenced.

A few hours and several hired helpers later and the truck was packed. I won't even go into how long or crazy the day was.  Bottom line, people...

We gots a lot of stuff!  LOL

But he persevered, got it done and headed home to get some very much needed rest go out on a date with a cute girl.

And the next day, he was finally on the road. It took him most of the day to get up to Atlanta when he was picking up his cousin who was going to help him out on the other end of the journey.  But you know how it is seeing a favorite cousin. 

Ooooops. You forget what's going on in real life and go have FUN... Which is fine except when it puts you REALLY behind schedule.

So by the time you get back on the road again it's later than expected. Late enough in the afternoon so you'll be pushing dark by the time you get done. If you get done.  Which...

Oooooops. Doesn't happen.  In fact...you don't even get started. Why??? Because again... big 26' power-whimpy truck on long, scary, unexpected grades and ridiculously skinny narrow-ass roads!

So, he gets to the bottom of the hill below where our house is and the damn truck nearly blows a transmission trying to get up it. He scouts around, trying to find another way, and if there isn't a hairpin turn, the roads are too small for a big moving truck to get up them.

So, back and forth they go, trying to decide what to do. We're talking and FBing with him trying to figure out how to help from so far away.  Talk about helpless.  God... I don't think I've ever felt so disconnected from something.

Upshot is, he winds up parking at the bottom of the hill and walking up to the house.  There he finds that even if he had gotten the truck up there, our driveway (which we KNEW was somewhat small) was soooooo narrow, he couldn't have gotten the truck anywhere NEAR our new place.

So what's a boy to do...

A few hours and several more back and forths later, we'd run out of any ideas that would work. And since it was LATE Sunday night...and the day before Memorial Day, we knew we were pretty much out of luck getting ANYTHING done tomorrow.

Ooooooops. Our moving day just turned into two!!!!

And stay tuned for that part two on Friday!

Hugs,

CJ England

Friday, June 3, 2016

Let's Get Summer Started!!!

Hey all,

I know I was going to talk about the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad absolutely wonderful moving day we had this last weekend, but I'd totally forgotten that today, I HAVE A BOOK OUT. WooHoo!!!

Wow! Talk about crazy, huh? With work and buying the house and moving, I'd totally forgot today was my release day. And this story is set in one of my favorite vacation places on earth! A place I spent many a summer growing up in.  

Bass Lake California.  

A gorgeous and exciting place deserves a handsome hero and feisty heroine. Well, that's who you'll meet in this amazing story. And this book is a perfect way to start out what looks to be an amazing summer.

Check it out...

The Fourth in the Wandering Star Collection
 

Open Your Heart to Passion and Let the Fireworks Begin!
 

Looking for a place to call home, Captain Ross Cannon finds the peaceful Sierra Nevada Mountains ideal for his needs.  Retired from the army and tired of fighting, he opts out of becoming a mercenary and decides, rather to use his skill as a demolitions expert to design things that give enjoyment.
But not everyone is excited that a fireworks expert has moved to town.  

Environmentalist, Stacy Jackson has spent her childhood in Bass Lake, and her past carries a burning secret that makes her hate fireworks of any kind.  When she finds out that her own Grandfather has hired Ross to put on the annual Founder's Day Fireworks display, she does everything she can to force a halt to the project, bringing her into contact with the Captain himself.


Fireworks of another kind explode between them, and Ross must push past Stacy's fears and expose the secret she hides, before they can decide if what they have will fizzle out like a wet firecracker or burn forever in a spectacular display of passion and color.

~~~***~~~

Sounds like a fantastic short book to read while sitting at a lake with a fruity drink or beer at your side.  Find out more about the story and read an excerpt HERE. Or head over to AMAZON, ARE or KOBO and pick up a copy all your own!

And please, let me know what you think!

Hugs,

CJ England

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Research Can Be Pretty Dragon Distracting!

Hey all,

The second book in the Dragon Games series is going pretty well. Readers have good things to say about it. :-)  Which is always nice for an author to hear.  It's even nicer *hint, hint* to see a review written about the book. But no matter what, I just keep writing because I enjoy finding out what my characters are up to. 

Case in point is the dragon Ormr Jormungan, who was briefly mentioned in the first story, Snip! Snap! Dragon! and had a bit bigger of a part to play in Truth or Dragon

Readers are already asking if he'll get his own story and the answer is, YES!!! Book three, Hide and Go Dragon, is about the Norwegian born Ormr and his forever mate, Magdeline.

Ormr's story has it all. Passion, intrigue, controversy, with a touch of sadness and tragedy.  Pure CJ England. The type of story that when you're reading it, you truly DO need a fire extinguisher and a box of Kleenex standing by.

I'm in the process of writing it now, and as often happens, as I'm researching different aspects of the story, I spend a lot of time on the internet. I'm pretty good about focusing only on the book I'm working on, but even in that I find myself easily distracted.

For example, Magdeline is from London and her husband, a member of the Royal Air Force, as you'll find out in Truth or Dragon, was killed while piloting a plane over Afghanistan.  Some of the research I needed to do was to discover what, if any, widow benefits she would be entitled to.

I found that out rather quickly, but was distracted by some of the changes in the payments over the years. Which led me back to WWII and the London Blitz and how people dealt with the constant terror or bombs dropping overhead.

I'm not a war buff, but my sweet baboo is, so I've learned some things by osmosis. But learning how the war affected the regular, every day shop keeper or homemaker, for me that was very interesting.  Interesting enough to forget completely about lunch. Oh well, I was wanting to lose a few pounds!

Another example is, since Ormr is from Norway and that isn't a place we've visited yet, while I'm not (because I only set books in places where I've been) setting any of the scenes there, I do allude to Ormr's growing up years and where he's from.  So off I went to some travel sites to discover where I wanted him to have lived.

And wow!  Can I just say that Norway is an absolutely fascinating country? I went to find the mountains where a rage of dragons might hide away, but found instead so many beautiful fjords, villages and forests, I had to ask Ormr if I could change his background completely!

He wound up choosing his own place to call home. A tall mountain over one of the most picturesque villages I've ever seen. Geirangerfjord. And of course, once he did that, we got distracted about what that area had to offer. The sights, the history, the food...it was several hours before I looked up and realized I'd been thoroughly distracted. *sigh*

Norway is one of our bucket list countries and now, even more than before I can't wait to visit.  A long boat ride up the fjords? Hiking up some of the mountains?  Oh yeah, you don't have to be a dragon to enjoy that!


Until Next Time!!!

Hugs,  

CJ England

Friday, May 27, 2016

Honey Bunny or Wild Honey...That is the Question!

Hey all,

Thanks for all the congrats and well wishes everyone sent me for our new home.  I know this new adventure will be as amazing as we think it will be.

The hardest part will be us being so far away and being able to enjoy it only part time. BUT...we knew it would be that way, so we'll suck it up for the next couple years and direct our crews (aka poor misused children) to do the work fun we can't do. *grin*

The last few weeks have been crazy trying to get all the paperwork done and make last minute plans to get our stuff moved up.  Doing it long distance is a constant challenge.

But, if all goes well, by the time you read this our things will be getting packed up in the big twenty-six foot Penske truck to head north to Gatlinburg!  Woot!!!

We've got pictures of our storage unit so we can direct our son in the packing, but I'd forgotten just how full we had the thing. OMG...do we have a lot of stuff!!!  And I can't remember what half of it is!  LOL

It's so bad I've asked my son to take pictures of the different furniture and appliances so I can remember what I have to play with!  I guess  that's what happens when you haven't had your own home in four years...you forget what you owned.

Anyway, we'd thought most of the brain work would be done doing the actual signing and paperwork, but BOY...were we wrong!

It seems that what we did before was easy-peasy compared to figuring out what repairs to make first, where we get our mail, and what color we wanted to paint.

Do you KNOW how many colors of warm sand there are???  So, do I choose Honey Bunny or Wild Honey? Which will go with the rustic woodwork we have there? What would go best with our vision of what we want for our home? (pic to the left)

I swear, by the time I'd scrolled through Glidden, Olympic, Behr, Valspar and Benjamin Moore, I was seeing paint swatches in my dreams. Rainbows of colors wheeling in circles in my head and dribbling out my eyes.

Six...count 'em, six hours later I had my top choices. My sweet baboo agreed and we were set. We'd matched the colors to the picture that was our vision. Now, all that is left is to see if it REALLY will look like I imagined it would.

But for that, I'll have to wait. Through packing the truck...the long, long drive north...the stop at a relatives to pick up some needed muscle and then the unpacking and settling in. Yup, I have to wait until Mr. Fix it, aka Jasiah the youngest son, gets settled in Gatlinburg and actually starts painting.

*que Jeopardy music*

And until I know for sure, I've got this horrible feeling my dreams will NOT be my own. The Honey Bunny will be wrestling Wild Honey in my nightmares!

I'll let you know who wins!


Until Next Time!!!

Hugs,

CJ England