Is it “call old people week”?

Suddenly, we started getting calls on our home phone. Yes, we still have a land line! Gasp!!! But that’s not all. We’re also getting calls on our cell phones.

We’re on the national don’t call us list for a reason. We don’t want these calls.

The calls are ridiculous…

“We are noticing a number of errors on your computer…” No – you’re not. It’s a scam. You are a scammer. Don’t call us again.

“We are calling about your pain and suffering.” Right, I’m old. I must be in pain and suffering. I have a doctor for that. Don’t call us again.

“We’re at Microsoft….” No, you’re not. Microsoft didn’t get where they are by calling individuals at their homes with concern about how their computers are running. Another scam. Don’t call us again.

“Do you have diabetes?” None of your business! Don’t call us again.

“We’re from the IRS and we’re about to freeze your assets unless you pay….” No. The IRS does NOT call people at home. It’s not the way they work. Another scam. Don’t call us again. This one is sometimes a recorded message giving me a number to call to find out how to deliver my money to these scammers. I was watching Colombo!!! Leave me alone! Oh, and don’t call us again.

While I’m writing this, my husband just got a call on his cell phone asking if our car was running alright. They have a warranty to sell us. He told them “no” and they hung up. They don’t care about our car!! That’s okay, just don’t call us again.

We’re on the National Do Not Call Registry. Somehow, people recently got our cell phone information and we have been bombarded with calls on our cell phones. If I want something or some information, I know how to use the internet to look up things. I have access to doctors and lawyers and all kinds of professional people if I need help with anything. If my computer up and dies, I can go to Best Buy and get another one this afternoon.

Honestly, all these folks are doing is aggravating me.

Between the land line and the cell phones, we’re getting up to 10 calls a day. Calls we don’t need and don’t want.

Oh, I left out Rachel. She calls a lot with our “last chance” to get a better interest rate on our credit cards. She won’t stop calling either and she wants our credit card numbers. If she’s so smart, she should have the credit card numbers already right? Another scammer.

I admit I do have some fun with these folks sometimes. Once I said… “Gosh, my husband will be glad to hear about this cruise we won. Can we still go when he gets out of prison? He got sent up for 20 years, but I think he’s gonna make parole before that.”

Oh come on. Let’s just have some fun with them. You know you want to.

“Gee, I thought we’d never be able to have credit again after that ponzi scheme conviction.”

Or, “Okay, I’ll just send you guys the check I get from the Nigerian prince. Will that work for you?”

On a serious note. These are professional scammers. They make money from scaring honest people. If they gain access to your computer they will hold it for “ransom”. They can do some real harm. They can also give your computer nasty viruses.

Never give them access to your computer or give out your credit card information. 

Tell these folks to take a flying leap. You don’t have to put up with them. Now, where is that number to call again?

Oh, yeah, here it is.   https://www.donotcall.gov/register/reg.aspx

My favorite thing to say is, “I’m reporting you to the FCC.”

And then I do.

New Release – Blood Fever by Simone Beaudelaire

Ch'kara SilverWolf

Today I have a New Release for you from my friend Simone BeaudelaireBlood Fever is a vampire romance adventure.  I have read this book and loved it.

Blood Fever

Description1

It is the spring of 1945 and the War in Europe is ending, but in New Orleans’s French Quarter, the sultry nights conceal a danger even greater to the future of humanity. Standing alone against this ancient, bloodthirsty evil, scientist Philippe Dumont races against time to cure a disease that resembles yellow fever… but is not.

Budding researcher Daphne Delaney joins Philippe in hopes of preventing an undead despot from launching his own quest for global dominance. Daunting though the task may seem, neither Daphne nor Philippe can grasp the scope of the danger they face, nor of the passion they will find in each other.

From urban New Orleans to the depths of the bayou, Philippe must chase the monster…

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A Zebra or a Horse and the Experience to Know the Difference

My daughter recently went through an ordeal with her health. It began just after Thanksgiving and continued through most of January. That is a long time to deal with a health concern. She woke up dizzy one morning. My first indication was when she was on the floor throwing up and called to me and said she couldn’t go in to work.

A stomach virus – my first thought. It happens. People get over it. She didn’t. Finally she made me understand that she was dizzy and that was the cause of the nausea.

Still, I was not overly concerned. These things happen and she’s young and healthy and we had just returned from one of the best vacations we’ve ever had (Cypremort Point down on the Vermillion Bay  http://www.crt.state.la.us/louisiana-state-parks/parks/cypremort-point-state-park/ ) and I knew she’d be better soon.

She did get a little better, but then she was on the floor throwing up again a few days later. Her nurse and doctor friends became concerned when she was not able to stay better longer than a day or two before another bout of this mysterious dizziness hit her.

So she had tests to rule out scary things that might have gone wrong in her brain. Negative. Then we had tests to rule out other scary things. Also negative. She saw three specialists. Two were ENT people who did more tests. She had MRI’s and xrays and blood tests and hearing tests. Some days she could hear just fine. On other days she was losing her hearing.

Thousands of dollars later, we had no definitive diagnosis and she was going through her savings at light speed.

Sitting and talking to you, she might suddenly fall out of her chair when the dizziness hit. She couldn’t drive herself anywhere. Her new car sat in the driveway looking sad. These dizzy spells sometimes lasted for days. On the days when she could go to work, we had to drive her to her job and back. All these dizzy spells affected her work. They made her use a walker to get around inside the office. Humiliating, but safe. She missed a lot of work days. Amazingly, her employers kept her and worked with her as best they could.

We stumbled through Christmas with a mystery as to what was wrong with her. The doctors and specialists were not sure. No definitive diagnosis. They referred her to other specialists who had different equipment that could maybe identify the problem.

Zebra. January came. They thought, maybe it might be a rare and difficult to diagnose disease for which there is no cure. This might be something she would have to live with while she slowly went deaf. She was trying to find out what to do with her car because she couldn’t keep it if she was unable to work. She was wondering about disability and waiting for a diagnosis to possibly start that process. I would have been screaming and crying. She was calm. I gained a lot of respect for her throughout this process.

So there is an older ENT in town. When someone mentioned him, I wondered, ‘Is he still alive?’ But we made an appointment with him even though she didn’t want to go that day, I urged her to keep the appointment.  She was tired of doctors and tests and no diagnoses. I know she was exhausted with the process. Months had passed with no diagnosis and no viable treatment options.

She was in there a long time. When she finally came out, she was elated. Her problem was not vertigo at all, but an imbalance. Not a zebra, just a horse. A regular horse! Her dizziness was caused by dehydration and too much salt. The fluid in the inner ear caused her balance problems and the balance problems caused dizziness and nausea. A horse! Not a zebra at all!

So now she takes a fluid pill and avoids fast food and keeps her salt intake to about 2000 whatevers a day. Oh, and she had to give up caffeine.

She does not suffer from a rare disease with no cure, instead she takes a fluid pill every day and eats healthier and avoids salt (fast food) and she’s drinking root beer and mostly water and feeling fine and her hearing no longer fluctuates.

That is what experience does for you. It lets you concentrate on the horses and not waste time searching for zebras that aren’t there.

But I think if it had been a zebra, this ENT doctor would have spotted it right away. There’s nothing like experience.

Thank goodness for experience and most especially, thank goodness for ENT doctors with experience.

 

Failure, Betrayal & Setbacks—Sometimes the Only Way Out is THROUGH

We all have setbacks. It’s how we handle them that makes the difference. Thanks for this reminder.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Setbacks. We all have them and, strangely, they like to cluster together and dog pile us at once. The trick to setbacks is to adjust our perspective of what happened and use them to to make us stronger, wiser and grittier.

You might not believe me, but instant success is not always good for us. There is something about the process of learning and doing and failing and starting again and again even when we want to give up that is healthy. In fact it is vital for any kind of long-term achievement.

I know because I’ve encountered my share of people who were promoted too soon, beyond the scope of their abilities and far past the strength of their character. And it ended badly every…single…time.

Growth is a Process

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All human growth is a process. It has steps. We skip steps at our own peril. Everything we are doing…

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Bunnies and other furry things.

So we went to see our three lovely little Valentines on Valentines Day. They’re so amazing!

We took them some chocolate covered strawberries, a big hit and a big cookie and some little presents. Since the baby told me recently that nobody ever gave her roses, we took a vase of red roses and told them they had to share.

We had a wonderful visit with them.

They also had bunnies – little fluffy bunnies that have to be caged because the dog wants to eat them.

I like animals, I really do. But bunnies in the house? Trying to keep them away from a dog that wants to chase and eat them? Sounds like a recipe for broken hearts for my Valentine girls and traumatic incidents for the bunnies.

When I was a girl, I did get Easter chicks a couple of times. They were cute and they were dyed pretty colors and I took them to my grandmother’s house and she kept them with her chickens. Eventually they grew up and laid eggs and were probably eaten. I realize, not every little girl had a grandmother who had chickens. Farm people look at animals differently and I understood that at an early age.

The girls explained to me that their bunnies were pets, not the kind of bunnies you eat. They were adamant about that.  I nodded, but I don’t think the dog understood.

I don’t know what will happen to these bunnies, but I fear their future might be bleak.

Please consider carefully before you bestow bunnies or chicks on people for Easter, or any other time.

Every other week, my son is a single parent to my three little Valentines and I remember how hard it was to be a single parent. I had so little time, I planned my trips to and from work so I could make right turns to do everything I needed.

The extra burden of dealing with three bunnies in addition to a dog and three little girls seems a bit much to me.

Easter rabbits and chicks are cute. No denying that, but I feel bad for the animals.

Please be considerate.

 

Why I decided to self-publish.

I am a self-published author. My first fiction book was a bestseller on Amazon for over 9 months both in the US and the UK. I was as surprised as anybody since I was a complete unknown and honestly, just learning how this whole writing/publishing thing worked.

People sometimes ask me how I got a book published. I did it myself. Reactions to that statement range from barely concealed horror to genuine appreciation.

The reason I decided to self-publish? It’s complicated, but I’ll try to explain.

The big traditional publishing houses in New York used to be the only way to get a book in front of potential readers. Amazon changed all that. There are many who still bemoan the fact that “just anybody” can publish a book these days.

Yes, that is true. And yes, there are a lot of bad books out there, but I’ve also found some great authors and great stories by self-published authors. If the story appeals to me and is well told, that meets all my criteria for a pleasurable reading experience.

Did the book win awards? I could care less. Did some huge traditional publisher put this book on the market? I don’t care. Did I get involved with the characters and the story line? That matters to me. I read for the story and the big traditional publishing houses don’t have a corner on the market for good stories.

Hi, my name is L and I’m a Readaholic. If there were a 12 step program for reading, I’m sure my family would have found it by now and then I’d have to go to the meetings and that would take away from my reading time.

The big New York publishing houses are struggling. Amazon changed everything for them just like Wal Mart changed everything for the mom and pop stores. But what does that mean? Everything changed? Here’s what I know about change as it applies to large institutions.

Years ago I worked at a bank. I worked with their computer system. The interesting thing about banking at that time was that the Savings and Loan companies had just been deregulated and banks were thrown into competition with the savings and loan companies. They might as well have put all the banks on Mars. Confusion on a mass scale ensued.

Banks had no idea how to compete with savings and loan companies and vice versa. Neither entity had ever had to compete. It was carnage. You might remember a lot of banks being bought out and merged and a lot of savings and loans going out of business.

Although it was painful to watch, it was a great learning opportunity. Bankers, who had previously spent their time measuring their desk size to compare to their peers, or whatever they had been doing, now had to come up with ideas to “compete for customers”.

To compete for customers was a totally alien concept for the bankers and the savings and loan people. Think about it. The banks didn’t make anything. Their customers brought the money to them. All they had to do was count it and keep it in the right buckets.

Oh, and they had to send out statements once a month or once a quarter depending on the type of account. That’s a little simplification, but those are the basics.

Competition.

Enter the era of the “giveaways”. Banks decided to give something to people who opened an account with them. And that worked, but the customers were smart enough to figure out they could open an account at one institution and get the free toaster and then withdraw their money and go to another institution and open an account there and get a free something else, or maybe another toaster. I’m glad I didn’t get married during that era.

The banks and savings and loan institutions floundered. And they needed to make money. Up until this point, they had come to work every day and folks brought money to them. The banks counted the money and put it in the right bucket.

Sudden and unprecedented competition meant that banks were no longer making the profits they had become accustomed to. We began to see fees for “hot” checks. The institutions had to keep up their profits which were generated on the money their customers brought them and those customers could take their money somewhere else and get another toaster.

In this era of change, customers who formally stayed with one banking or savings and loan institution for life became fluid. They might take all their money out of your bank and take it to another bank to get whatever that competing institution was offering.

Eventually, everybody had plenty of free appliances and banks were not able to pull the customers back to them for a decades-long relationship that they had previously enjoyed. It seemed the era of loyal customers at financial institutions had come to an end.

What were financial institutions supposed to do? When I say chaos ensued, it was Chaos with a capital “C”. The business model which had remained stagnant stationary, for so many years, had to change. But change to what?

After chaos came panic. The marketplace, the customers, how people thought about their money and where they kept it, everything changed rapidly. Financial institutions, where ponderous stability had long been their greatest strength, were stunned. Change, that ancient evil, had come to fiscal institutions.

If you remember, it took years for the banks and the savings and loans to change their business models and stabilize. Those were painful years while financial institutions struggled to cope with the changes in society.

What did I learn from that experience? Change can be painful and expensive in ways you never even dreamed. And business had to be fast. By fast, I mean quick to see the change coming and re-structure their business model to accommodate said change, but that turns out to be easier said than done.

Change has now come to publishing.

The big traditional publishing houses remind me of the financial institutions when everything changed for them. If they saw it coming, they thought they could ignore it or maybe they could shame people away from self-publishing. Then they completely missed the boat when they tried to divert self-publishing authors to “vanity press” scenarios. In these ridiculous situations, the author pays the vanity press to publish their book. They pay an awful lot too.

Since most of these “new” authors had little or no idea what they needed, the vanity publishing houses were able to take advantage of new “aspiring” authors. Enter the “authors beware” era.

The traditional publishing houses became more selective of which authors they would accept. New authors had to have a “proven” sales record with their work. Often, the author had to find and secure their own editor. Frequently, marketing fell squarely in the realm of the author. Yes, the new and untested author who had no idea how to market.

Unless your name is already a household word, traditional publishing is no longer the shiny apple it once appeared.

After my experience with banks when the world changed for them, I spent a lot of time on the internet. Over several months, I gathered information about publishing. I decided the traditional publishing route was a waste of time for me and I chose self-publishing.

Is self-publishing a lot of work? As a matter of fact, yes. It is. Do I enjoy every aspect of self-publishing? No. I don’t. Do I do it all anyway? Yes. Yes, I do.

Do I wish someone would come along and I could have a “Calgon, take me away” moment? Yes! Am I holding my breath for that? No. I am not.

Instead, I slog through all the stuff I have to do in order to get my stories out to people. And honestly, I have never had so much fun.

Author Animal Farm—New York GOOOOD, Self-Pub BAAAAAAD

And Kristen Lamb hits it out of the park with this blog post!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Original image via Kabsik Park courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons. Original image via Kabsik Park courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

Okay at first I wasn’t going to say anything regarding the latest Let’s Bash Self-Publishing rant over at HuffPo, but (like all “real” writers) I am in the business of serving my audience—YOU—what you want to hear and after about the tenth person who sent me Laurie Gough’s Self-Publishing—An Insult to the Written Word, I figured y’all might want my take 😉 .

For another angle on this controversy, I strongly recommend Fisking the HuffPo’s Snooty Rant About Self-Publishing.

Moving on…

Consider the Source

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First of all, am I the only one to see the laughable hypocrisy of anyone who writes for Huffington Post lecturing anyone about real writing? Huffington Post is a predatory business, a literary parasite that has made hundreds of millions of dollars by paying writers in “exposure dollars.” And, by doing so, has…

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