Keeping a Creative Outlet

Sorry about the construction going on here. I am searching for a new header photo, but haven’t found one I like, yet.

Last time I touched base with you all, I was gearing up to start a new business with my husband. We were pretty sure we could make it work. It was basically selling business education, which is ironic, coz we got educated. We went through a three-month training course and were ready to fork over a $60,000 investment which would have covered more training in Fiji, Costa Rica and Malaysia. The company was run by an Aussie and many have had much success. We were in communication with top earners around the globe. We had some grandiose ideas.

Two days before we were to hand over the money, the Federal Trade Commission shut them down and flagged them as an MLM scam. Now, we did purchase products from them, which I liken to tuition for business school. And we’ve gotten our money back for everything except a $3500.00 payment to a loan originator. My husband says he learned more in those three months than he did getting his MBA. (He did that while we were dating in 2006.)

There are literally thousands who are out their investments and can’t turn a dime now, coz all their websites, back offices, front offices, online products pages, sales funnels…everything, gone. The owner, who is now worth $153 million, is paying his fines and retributions and cutting his losses. He’s moving into resort development now that he owns an island in Fiji. Everybody else depending on the company lost everything in the blink of an eye.

We still have retirement dreams that include travel, but we’ve found a rather unconventional way to afford it with International Pet Sitting. We connected with several house-sit platforms and an academy that helps you get set up and offers tips and tricks for sitting and travel. Again, we are in communication with people around the globe who are doing this and we’re pretty excited about it. We both love animals and lost our two doggies last year, but didn’t want to replace them coz when Greg retires we want to be free to travel. Many are doing this exclusively and don’t even own a home.

House sitting for two weeks to several months, caring for other people’s beloved pets, we’ll be able to fully immerse ourselves in other cultures, while getting our animal love fix. Greg speaks a few languages and looks forward to learning more. We have a website. It’s not fully completed, but it’s live now. (You can check it out HERE.)

I still have my writing. It’s slower than molasses though. I get a creative spurt and make it through a chapter. Put it down for a couple of months. Go back to it and trash another chapter. Writing has always been a hobby for me and I certainly never expected to make a career out of it, but it’s more than disappointing to spend so much time creating a good story, investing in good editing and cover art, then not even being able to break even. Have no earthly idea if or when I will finish book two in the Naked Eye series. I’d like to say by next summer, but I know we just finished home renovations and we have to install entirely new landscape in the backyard this winter. We are constructing a xeriscape with a couple of pergolas and a nice water feature made from a large blue temple jar. We have purchased a few colorful boulders as sitting stones for the meditation garden. It has rained heavy EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. this summer. So we can’t start that project until things dry out.

My daughter, the professional student, has started back to school, so we are watching after the grandkids quite a bit more than usual. They will be with us for a whole week in October. That’s going to be interesting. Me getting kids off to school and playing “soccer mom” again.

I don’t get onto WordPress like I used to, but I still read a lot of your posts and try to keep up to date on who is involved with what, even if I can’t always comment. There are a ton of old-timers no longer blogging. These are people who were online when I started back in 2013.  I miss the way things were. A few are FB friends, so we keep in touch. Life changes.

I have thrown myself into painting this last month. I have to keep up a creative outlet or I’ll go stark raving mad. I painted in oils and did ceramics in my teens and twenties. Oils are expensive and messy. My back won’t let me throw on a pottery wheel like I once did. There is a place to paint bisque in Winter Park, but they want a small fortune for little pieces. Britt-David Park in Columbus, GA used to provide all of the clay you needed for free, and you paid a very small fee to use their space, wheels, and kilns. They taught raku and other forms. I sold pieces at local art festivals back then. Smashed seventy-five pieces of pottery when I was going thru my divorce…but that’s another story.

I dabbled a tiny bit in watercolors when Greg and I first married, but they didn’t like me. I was heavy handed with my paints and they seemed to have a mind of their own. It was fun and relaxing, but about all I accomplished was a parrot, some Bird-of-Paradise flowers, Native Americans in a canoe, and a tree. So far, I have completed eleven paintings in acrylics using mostly YouTube tutorials. A couple are my own designs or inspired by something I’ve seen. I’m using the tutorials to build technique so I can paint my own stuff better. Much cleaner than oils, but it has its issues. Paints dry super-fast, so there is little, if any, time for blending. Using paint retarders just makes them tarry and sticky, or else I haven’t learned to use them, yet. It’s progress, not perfection. Here’s a little gallery of what I have painted this past month.

Enjoy

 

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New Journey

The subtitle of this blog is mybrandofgenius. I started this blog as a writer who wanted to meet like-minded people. I wanted to know where they came from and what they were doing.

My goal was to connect with people who had tried what I was trying to do as an author and to meet readers to find out what they most enjoyed about reading. I needed education and mentors. I have learned much from you. I am grateful.

You all, my followers, have been with me thru thick and thin. I hope you’ll stay with me as I embark on another pathway. I am not abandoning writing. I love it. I feel passionate about writing and my abilities.

I am putting my creative writing on hold while I develop other areas of my life that need attention.

The rocket scientist, Greg, and I are coming to a time in our lives wherein we have reached financial success, but not financial freedom. We are learning that we have been guilty of some stinking thinking.

We are guilty of living a life where we thought to go to school, earn a degree, get a job, work every day, save our money, make “investments”, and retire on our 401k, savings, pension, and SS/disability was the way to success. It was. But it’s not the way to financial freedom.

Do you know the difference?

Financial success means you have worked hard for your money and now you can spend the rest of your life trying not to go broke while you enjoy it.

Financial freedom means your money works hard for you, so you have time to enjoy it.

We have been living under the delusion that you have to have a lot of money to make a lot of money when nothing could be farther from the truth.

Our thinking about money had to change. We learned that the best investment we could make, no matter how small, was in our education about money and business, but in a way that paid us to do it.

This blog is about to change. We want to share our journey here. Over the next weeks, months, and years, we will be sharing what we are doing to reach financial freedom and how it is working for us. We hope you will stay with us because we believe it may be one of the most valuable journeys you ever embark on.

If you choose to unsubscribe to this blog because it isn’t consistent with your goals, we will understand.

But I urge you to stick around.

As I have said on my ABOUT page, I have met a myriad of geniuses in the blogosphere.

Thank you for being a part of my community.

New Release! THE BONE CURSE, A Genre-Bending, Supernatural Medical Thriller

Was waiting eagerly for this one. Glad to see it has arrived. 🙂

Carrie Rubin

Do you believe in the paranormal?

I wish I did. Life would be more fun. But in reality, a ghost could hit me upside the head with a copy of War and Peace and I’d still find a way to explain it. Thanks to my left-brain skepticism and years of science education, a believer in the paranormal I am not.

BUT…

That doesn’t mean I don’t find it fascinating, and it doesn’t mean I don’t want to write about it.

The Bone Curse, available today, takes a rational-minded man of science and tosses him into an otherworldly situation, one with curses, dark priests, and Haitian Vodou.

The Bone Curse by Carrie Rubin After getting cut by an old bone in the Paris catacombs, a skeptical med student must use the occult to stop a deadly curse and a vengeful priest.

The Hero:

Ben, the main character, is not a perfect guy. He’s a med student…

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It’s Been a Long Time Coming!!

blindoggbooks

Once again I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you…

Like the last time I’ll give you the bad news first;

There will be no FREE book this week.

After a month of giveaways, and well over 500 FREE books downloaded – I’m pulling the plug on it (at least for the foreseeable future).

That’s the bad news.

Now for the good news;

If you remember when I started giving books away back on Valentine’s Day, I said I was going to do it until my next novel, 24 Minutes, was released.

Well, strike up the band and let loose the doves!

It is with great pleasure that I announce the release of my tenth novel – 24 Minutes!!

It has been about 15 months since the release of my last book, Blood in the Water and I had every intention of releasing 24…

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A Very Short Story

Over at the Disappointed Housewife today reporting on a local water crisis. Drop by for a “fiction” read. Stick around and peruse the site for some interesting and off the wall poetry and fiction.   https://thedisappointedhousewife.com/2018/03/14/rain-reign-go-away-fiction-by-s-k-nicholls/

If you would like to contribute to the Disappointed Housewife, please contact Kevin Brennan. Submission guidelines can be found on the site. It is sort of an “anything goes” site and the more esoteric, the better. Short stories are highly sought after: 1500-2300 words preferred.

Give Me Five Podcast

I meant to link the podcast that was done last week in my last post and totally forgot. My bad. Here’s the link:

http://givemefive.libsyn.com/episode-21-nudist-resorts-and-sleeping-pills-ft-author-sk-nicholls

 

Jimmy, Rob, and Greg are an awesome and entertaining crew. At the beginning of the podcast, I was distracted by the fact that my Pokemon Discord app was beeping every few seconds and I didn’t know how to stop it, so I was not as engaged as I had planned to be. I came into the conversations a little late.

 

We covered some TV series’, movies, the Golden Globes, and a relatively new genre, Rock Fiction, and Moonlight City Drive by author-musician, Brian Paone, which I think is super cool. Then we talked about my books, Red Clay and Roses and Naked Alliances. In the end, I give my five greatest literary influences and why. (Please forgive me, Anne Rice, for calling your werewolves “wolverines,” in a completely live, on-the-air, brain fart.)

 

I have been informed that a class at UCF is interested in more discussion about literary fiction versus commercial/genre fiction, and we will be doing another short piece exclusively on that topic soon.

Politically Incorrect, Offensive and Disrespectful

All sorts of new devices, apps, and what-not exist out there that are supposed to help writers become better writers, but do they?

I want my work to be the best it can be before it it’s read. Even read by my beta readers or editors.

So I tried out the Grammarly app. I even sprang for the premium version that not only proofs your work but makes suggestions on how you might improve your writing.

A couple of days ago, it told me that the word “elderly” is a politically incorrect description and could be found offensive and disrespectful by some.

Really?

I have always respected my elders, and the term elderly is used endearingly to denote that respect. I’d much rather hear someone refer to their parents and grandparents as elderly than old or senior.

The app went on to say that “suffering” from dementia denoted disability, which might also be offensive to some.

Of course, I ignore these suggestions and advise you to do the same when using these sorts of apps. Tell your story your way, and if people are offended, let them be.

You are never going to please everyone, and if they are offended, perhaps they were not your target audience.

It is next to impossible to write a remotely comedic piece without risking offending someone. This entire politically correct thing has gotten way out of hand.

Most people know me as a progressive personality, and I would not deliberately set out to stifle new ways of thinking. My work is not high-brow literature, though. Nor does it pretend to be.

I can only say, for now, if you’re disturbed by “elderly” people “suffering” from dementia, you are likely not to enjoy my story. Please don’t read it.

We don’t have a working title yet, but toying with the idea, Silver Alert.

Politically correct, or not.

 

Is your writing politically correct?

Have you read anything that was so politically incorrect you could not enjoy it?

Writing on Life

When writing a novel, the entire outside world stops. That’s the way my brain works. I can’t say I am introverted or extroverted. I am both at different times. I’s hard to find balance.

Much of my writing evolves from my life experiences. Spending weeks into years in front of the computer writing narrows my focus. That’s a good thing for my writing.

However, to a degree, living stops. I don’t go out to socialize much. I don’t play games. I don’t get much work done outside of writing. I don’t go to movies. Hell, I don’t even watch television.

If it wasn’t for date night and the need to consume food, I’d never go out to eat or go to the grocery store.

But I get stories written.

The flip side to that is spending time living life offers me much to write about. People I meet, places I visit all have a way of getting integrated into my writing. Life experiences become the ingredients of my writing.

My two favorite quotes on writing and life:

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
― Gustave Flaubert
“In order to write about life first you must live it.”
― Ernest Hemingway

The ideas expressed in the quotes seem on the surface to be in opposition, yet apply to me. They’re understandable.

I’m not so regular and orderly, but I like writing about those things that are beyond the scope of my own comfort zone in living. Granted, I have been known to live a wild and crazy life, but even I have limits. My books know no limits. My characters do things and get involved in ways I never could…in real life.

The old cliché, “Write what you know” comes home to me each time I take my seat at my desk. Having lived a full life and taking long breaks from writing to live life has fed me and continues to feed me.

I am obsessed with life. When I am living life, and not writing, I am driving all over the state, meeting new people from all walks of life and visiting places I never knew existed. Hosting lavish parties with four-hundred guests and attending events with thousands. Life is terrible, grand, scary, comfortable, fascinating, exciting, horrific, and wonderful.

There is nothing dull about the life I live.

Now, on to writing.

I recently participated in the “Give Me Five” podcast with Jimmy McCurry, Greg and Rob. They review all sorts of things: movies, TV shows, games, books, places…all of those things that keep us entertained with living. I will let you know when the podcast airs. They asked me some questions and let me talk about writing, my book, Naked Alliances, and list my five favorites. I chose five favorite literary influences. I will keep you informed when the podcast goes live.

Best Laid Plans

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Did some house cleaning and renovations on the blog to kick off the New Year. That Orlando cityscape was more than I could continue to look at being faced with the daily compromises of city life. Yes, it has its conveniences, but I am soooo ready to be inconvenienced.

To that ends, once Irma passed by, we rallied to get some actual home renovations started in an effort to prepare to sell this house. We started with one bathroom, which led to two bathrooms and one bedroom. And then a sliding door, which led to a dining room that we use as a den. Right now, there are walls torn down and furniture placed everywhere except where it is supposed to be.

Access to my computer has been limited, and I cannot get much accomplished on my “slow as Christmas” laptop or phone. I’ve never been one for resolutions, but I do have plans.

  1. Get the house ready to put on the market.
  2. Get the house appraised.
  3. Get rid of the 50-60 years’ worth of junk in the house.
  4. Stage the house.
  5. Sell the house.
  6. Move to an island.

OH, YES!

I’m back to writing book two in the Naked Eye series, which used to be book three.

(A little update on book one. It got a one star review from a lady who once was a blogger friend. Apparently, she feels the word “fuck” is sensational, and not used in the “real world”. Not sure what world she lives in, but it’s a pretty common word…especially in crime circles. I was okay with that. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Even tho I felt it was retaliation for a comment left on her blog wherein I called her out on some racist comments she had made on her post, as well as derogatory statements regarding those who are not afforded the socio-economic status she enjoys. Just to be spiteful, she couldn’t stop there. She went back to her review on my previously published book and changed it from 5-star to 2-star and rewrote it. Really? These so-called “Christians” appall me. Honestly, it’s laughable. What an ass she is making of herself.

Progress on book two has been slower than expected. My trip to Vegas, while informative and exciting, basically let me know that I am ill-prepared to write the book two that I was planning to put to pen. There are far too many layers of depth to the gambling community that I do not understand well enough to make that story as authentic as it should be. Maybe later, when I have more time for research.

But I have to write, so book three has become book two. A case of mistaken identity leads Richard and Brandi into a much more sinister plot. I’m working on my character profiles to add to Scrivener now, and will post those soon.

I would like to have the first draft of this book completed by April, but writing for fun, I refuse to force myself onto deadlines that stress me too much. I want my work to reflect that it was well thought out and not forced.

There is something else I want to add on that note. We did away with our Kindle Unlimited subscription. I am ashamed to have to admit this, but the truth should be told. Most of the books were independently published and unreadable. I’m sorry if people find that offensive. We spent two years picking thru the rubbish piles trying to find decent books to read. We gave it a chance, but seriously…the poorly edited and sloppily written novels to choose from weren’t worth the time we spent sorting through the dribble. Quite an embarrassment. People need to do better.

If you cannot afford an editor, for developmental assistance and proofing, you cannot afford to publish. Your story isn’t worth shit if we have to struggle to read it. It certainly won’t be recommended, and that is how we sell books.

Enough on that.

Recently, I stepped down as team leader and admin for our local Pokemon GO group. We have about 10,000 members in our PoGo community and planning activities and hosting events for large crowds was wearing me thin. I hit level 40 (max) and now have a huge collection of 100% ers that are max combat power. Other than Raiding the Legendaries, I have pretty much gotten off the road with that game.

Brandi, however, has my addiction, which you will see comes in quite handy in the end.

Cheers!

Here’s to spending more time in your company this year.

Peace and good will to you and yours throughout the coming year!

What are your plans for the New Year?

In the Path

Most everyone who comes to this blog knows I live in Central Florida. Orlando, to be precise.  Hurricane Irma is supposed to hit Florida head on, but hurricanes are unpredictable and nobody really knows for sure what is going to happen. Currently the hurricane is directly over Cuba.

In 2004, we sighed with relief when Charley went into the Gulf of Mexico. However, at Charlotte Harbor, Charley turned eastbound up the Peace River. My husband and his former souse were sitting in Orlando watching on the television as the eye of the hurricane moved over their investment home on the Peace River and leveled it. His boat ended up in his neighbor’s living room. Then, Charley headed north, and hit Orlando wide open.

Charley was small, fast and furious, cutting a path across the state before heading back into the Atlantic on the other side of the state. When it hit the Gulf, all of Central Florida had let down their guard. Tornadoes were spawned in Charley’s wake. So there was much devastation across the state.

In 2004, I had never experienced a hurricane. That night, I was off work and sitting on my front porch talking to my dad on the phone while watching the huge oak trees across the street kiss the ground in the torrential rains. My little apartment was on the ground floor of a two-story cinder block building on the NW side of town and I felt safe.

Little did I know that the SE side of town was ripped apart near the airport. I never lost power, so I had hot water and air-conditioning. But I was most fortunate, most were without power for nine days. Early the next morning I was called into work.

As an RN I was considered first responder during Charley and our employers made nurses stay at work 24/7….could not even go home to shower and had to sleep in patients rooms on the floor. I mean we chose that job…but that’s how it was. I lived five mins away and off the night of the hurricane, but was called into work that morning and had to show the police my “Disaster Preparedness Team” papers to be able to be on the interstate. I was in College Park and worked off Michigan. After 16 hours of work, they wanted me to sleep on the floor in a patient’s room because we received a huge amount of patients that had been evacuated from a facility in Lake Wales that had lost its roof. They let me go home for 8 hours, but I had to sign a paper agreeing to be back when I said I would….or risk termination.

We lost a lot of patients during that time. The Nursing Home was without power for nine days. The backup generator only supplied a few room’s outlets. The oxygen concentrators are electric, and once we ran out of O2 tanks, people started dying. We saved more than we lost, but people were literally dying in the hallways. A van of nurses came from Lake Wales to help take care of their patients every day. A couple of days after Charley went thru, the van was involved in a terrible accident in the torrential rain and two nurses were killed and one was paralyzed for life. I don’t think non-essential employees should be mandated to stay on their jobs during such a crises. But it’s crazy here and people can be fired for leaving a job at McDonald’s. Unless they live in a mandatory evacuation area, they are expected to stay.

Life is an adventure and then you die….seriously…we’ve been helping people board up homes and secure pets for those that need to leave. Some of our friends have relatives on the coast that can’t drive any distance (elderly people) so they are going to get them and bringing them to Orlando…I actually feel safer here in Central FL than anywhere else in FL at the moment.

In the aftermath of Charley all you could smell when you walked outside was Bar-B-Q. People were grilling meats that had thawed and was one big party from backyard to back yard…lol It was quite an experience. Free food everywhere….people helping cover rooftops with tarps. Chainsaw sounds were deafening.

But here is the real kicker: We just bought a house on Matlacha. The island is basically a sandbar between Pine Island and Cape Coral in the Gulf of Mexico, just behind Sanibel Island. Pine Island is a conservation island where no more development is allowed…no big condos, hotels or big box stores. Matlacha (pronounced Matt-la-shay) is that tiny red island.

The homes are three feet above sea level…the quaint bungalow we hope to retire to is on a lot that is built up by about 6 feet, and Irma’s storm surge is expected to be 6-10 feet. The Key Westy home is surrounded by coconut trees and sits on a deep water canal just a few yards from the channel that runs wide open to the Gulf. The home is waterfront with picturesque shuttered windows all around, opening views to the dock and the bay. Sanibel and the barrier Islands offer some shelter, but you just never know about these things.

So there is that. Sure hoping the 1964 house will still be standing when all is done, and the island property is not on the bottom of the bay. It’s been there for more than fifty years, so all we can do is hope it can at least last another fifty years.

 

At any rate, we have a generator for powering our a/c and fridge here in Orlando in case we lose power, and the family is gathering at our place to weather whatever part of the storm hits us here in Orlando Sunday night. There is still a sliver of hope that Irma will continue westward, but all hope of it turning north and heading up the eastern seaboard is gone at this point. It is currently bearing down on Cuba and when it hits the mountains it should weaken. The FL Keys are just starting to get hit with the outer bands, and they are warning them for Cat 3 with 105-125 winds with gusts to 145, and it’s not looking good for Matlacha. However, the house was built in 1964, has weathered many a storm, and we can hope to weather another half century.

Battening down the hatches and riding out the storm!