Archive for November, 2013

A-hunting we will go…

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Last week, out of a deep slumber, I awoke to the sing-song voice of Elmer Fudd, saying “A-hunting we will go…” I literally sat up in bed, thinking WTH? Did that come from my friend Ron Yoder posting the occasional Bugs Bunny cartoon? I didn’t remember a recent posting. Maybe because it was duck hunting season and I had just visited with my son-in-law and heard how he hadn’t even squeezed off a shot, much less bagged a duck? (Daffy would be happy at that) Hmm…Elmer’s phrase that lingered in my head might even be attributed to those Duck Dynasty pictures floating around on Facebook.

Whatever prompted me to wake so unusually, even for me, a vivid technicolor dreamer…I let go of and decided to turn it into fodder for a blog. It’s not too far a reach, considering I’m in the midst of a just-released first book, that I then immediately pulled from the market. Now my book has no home, and I am hunting for a new printer.

My designer Randy has likened the process of self-publishing to being on Mr. Toad’s Wild ride…& I have to agree. Along with our own self-discoveries about our work dragging us down, my illustrator and I started with CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon. The things we didn’t like? The fact that they cared so little about protecting our product during shipping was number one on the list. The first copy I held in my hand…which should have been a thrilling moment, was disappointing…with a big crease across the front, and an already bent corner.

I googled customer shipping reviews…and found horror story, after horror story. Boo! My next unpleasant surprise was the reduction in price in as little as 48 hours to 15% off our set list-price. Hey, I had a willing & eager buying public! Yay for the eStore set-up where I had listed my price, and was directing my friends & relatives to purchase…but a big NO to the Amazon web page where, while thrilling to see the book up on it’s ordering page…was again, a big disappointment when I saw what they put our price at.

So, a hunting-we-will-go, indeed!
But there’s a problem. Mr. Toad’s Wild ride won’t stop to let us off! We’ve finished our book, really! And we just want to list it with a fair and reputable company! But no, it’s not that easy, grasshopper. Which come to think of it, must be a pretty favorite food (grasshoppers) of Wild Toads. But that’s what it’s beginning to feel like. (I’ll stop here with my comparisons before I get into trouble like Tom Cruise always does.)

It seems that not only has everyone started blogs way before I have, but also they are way ahead on their book titles, and everyone who’s anyone is self-publishing right now. The company I am interested in is Lightening Source printing. But they started another sister company, Ingram/Sparks. Which one to use? What are the differences? Yes, the hunt is on, and these choices seem to currently be the best, but permits are not being given out easily. The company does not take calls…well they do, but only to say please contact them first via email. After which you receive your email back as undeliverable because they are currently out of space for accepting new emails.

I decided to also concurrently work the eBook route, and happily settled on BookBaby to be our aggregator to all the major distributors. Oh, a children’s book? Lot’s of pictures? Except for Apple’s version, that’ll need to be specially formatted by someone else. Off then, to Smashwords’ Mark’s list…where right off the bat the first choice guy says he can’t (won’t) take the time because he has so much business, he doesn’t want to turn away the easy stuff to bother with one that’s going to cut into his proceeds…Le sigh, I sigh to myself.

Long story short, I love Elmer Fudd’s catchy tune…but I sure do NOT enjoy the hunt! Funny thing, I don’t think ELmer likes hunting all that much either!

UFO’s over Fresno, Ca. (Not!)

On the night of November 02, 2013…my husband and I decided to walk the dogs. All around our neighborhood, were other dogs as well. Fresno State Bulldogs…the fans, to be exact. Parking their cars, they walked in packs towards the Fresno State stadium, where the Saturday night football game would soon commence. The Bulldogs were set to fight against other canines, the Nevada Wolf Pack.

The night was warm for early November, and I admit I grew jealous watching the groups of people walk excitedly together, their matching T-shirts and light jackets emblazoned in Fresno State colors.
“It’s a black-out night, they should all be wearing their black shirts,” my husband grumbled, in a dark mood himself, as he wasn’t headed to a college football game, right up the street…no, he was walking the dogs with his boring stay-at-home-on-a-Saturday-night ol’ lady.
“What’s that mean, a black-out night?” I asked.
“It just means that they’re rolling out their new black uniforms tonight…the fans should support the new color, and be wearing them in the stadium.”
Hmm, I thought, mentally counting the number of red shirts versus black ones I saw as I passed people on the sidewalk.

Our dogs are powerful walkers, and they pulled my husband far ahead of me. Our moods were certainly not good ones I thought and I felt a gap grow between us, as I got left behind.
Fortunately, my husband is good at switching things up and getting us both through negative thinking, so instead of just stalking on into the night ahead of me, he stopped and waited, hiding behind a fence with the dogs. I couldn’t help but smile as Teddi our pit-bull, chocolate-lab mix, peeked his head out at me from behind their hiding place. Since the gig was up, CLiff and Dude, our Golden-Doodle, came out from the shadows and we were all happy once more.

Just ahead of us, three boys scaled a fence and dropped down on the sidewalk, having apparently just explored the locked-down elementary school. They walked away in the direction we were headed and one actually turned around to wave, as if to say, don’t worry, we were being good. They skipped to the other side of the street, and then stopped short on the sidewalk. Something had caught their attention.

The lights in the sky got our attention almost at the same time, too. Red-orange glowing orbs appeared on the horizon directly in front of us. As if on a kite string, light after light followed each other into the sky. At first low, the UFO’s then headed higher, in a southerly direction, staying in a relatively close formation.

The boys gaped, pointed, and used their cell-phones as cameras. Lights flashed on their side of the street. But the lights in the sky did not blink as regular airplanes do. And this was definitely not a helicopter. In fact there were as many as ten to twelve unidentified flying objects, not really changing direction, not changing color, and not emitting any kind of noise at all. We walked to a house with no overhead trees blocking our view, and I too, took my cell phone out and began video-taping. The line of objects melted into the sky and completely disappeared in front of our straining eyes.

Right after watching this first group dissipate, a second platoon appeared, again low on the horizon, evenly spaced apart, and again following each other on a certain trajectory, one after the other. There were maybe ten in all in this second grouping, and we watched as they too flew high, rising in the cloudless, night-time sky. In less than a minute, maybe two–the lights disappeared. I could see something still traveling, making it’s way surely over the Fresno State Stadium’s airspace. The UFO had no visible lights now; was just a silver outline moving steadily away.

“So what do you think that was?” I asked my husband, putting my cellphone back into my backpack.
“Luminarios,” he answered, “what do you think?”
“I think I have a smart husband,” I answered, smiling up at him.
“They were so evenly spaced apart though, and followed the same path. Do you think they were strung together somehow?”
“No,” he said, “they just were released at certain intervals and then the wind just carried them along the same current.”
“Huh,” I replied, “pretty cool, though.”
“Yep, pretty cool,” he answered, “I wonder who set it up.”
“Evidently someone who was trying to get the attention of the stadium attendees by attempting a fly-over,” I replied.

We began walking back back towards home, as the show was over, and our dogs were growing restless.
We agreed that probably none of the luminaries, or luminarios, as my husband had called them, had made it over the Fresno State stadium, at least while lit. We decided that whoever had lit them and sent them up to the sky, were a little bit off their calculations. Still, we told each other, it would be cool to know exactly what the things had been made of, and who had released them.

Early the next morning, amazingly, we had one of our answers! One of the UFO’s had landed right in our own backyard! (Pictures below)

Now the only question that remains is–who had released them?

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