Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Dream Come True

I've always loved writing.  I was one of those nerdy kids in school who loved English, Grammar, Literature.  And I always felt that I had a certain ability to put things down on paper.  It came in really handy writing papers in college....I was always able to write my way into a decent grade.

One of my dreams was to write a novel.  I always had ideas floating around in my head.  Finally, for no good reason whatsoever, about 5 years ago I sat down and wrote a book.

I don't know how other writers do it, but this book came forth on its own.  When I began the story I had no clear vision of how it would end.  I just started writing at the beginning and finished when it was done.   450 pages later.

And then I went online to try to find out how to publish it.  It turned out to be impossible.  I signed up for a website that gave me the names and addresses of a whole bunch of agents.  I wrote them each individual "inquiry letters".  The only responses I got were "no thanks".   I'm very aware that some people send out hundreds of these letters and they're all denials, so I kept trying and trying.  I couldn't even get an agent to read a couple of chapters.

So I put the book away, figuring it would always be just a dream.   Until Hubby came along.   He went online and somehow found CreateSpace.   It's a company that is affiliated with Amazon, and is a way to self-publish your books.

I had thought about self-publishing  - or using "vanity press" as it used to be called.   But  A) it was exorbitantly expensive and B) I felt some sort of shame that I would have to resort to if it wasn't good enough for a "real" publishing house to accept it, then it probably wasn't good enough.

Reading up on CreateSpace, I was amazed to see that you are not required to put any money up front.  Not one cent!!  You do everything yourself.  And then it gets put up on Amazon and they only produce the books as they are ordered.   So there's no "stock" that has to be pre-paid.   It sounded too good to be true.

And by this time, I'd gotten to the point that I knew if I wanted my book to be out there for people to read, I had to do it myself.   Perhaps I am deluding myself, but I think my book is better than half the books I've read....and I read 3 or 4 novels a week.  If those books can get published, then mine should be published too.

I spent a couple of months re-writing.  Then Hubby read and edited it.  Then my daughter Jamie read and edited it.  Then I re-wrote a bit more.  Finally you get to the point where you can really over-think things, and I knew at that point it was done and ready to be published.

Hubby was kind enough to do the cover art for me.  Create Space has pre-made cover art, but it's so ordinary...I wanted something that would stand out.

The book was published last week and is up on Amazon right now!  If anyone wants to buy a copy, here's the link:
Little Boy Lost by Karen Vennard

I was also able to get "author's copies" which I can order to have on hand and sell personally.  I ordered 50 copies  (hope I didn't overdo!) and was able to sell them to my friends and family.

Last Friday night was one of the most exciting nights of my life.   Hubby and I attend an Open Mic every Friday night, and we've made very good friends with lots of the regulars there.   Hubby brought champagne, they announced my book, and people came over to buy copies and have me sign them!   I felt like a celebrity!  They even offered my book as the raffle prize for the night!

I'm so very happy that so many people wanted to buy my book.  I love the support from friends and family, and especially from the music community.  You guys are awesome and I love you!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter 2014

I always love when Easter is later in April.   The warm weather and beginnings of spring make the day feel more "Easter-ish"!

We all gathered at my Dad's house for this holiday.  It's the only holiday he's still doing because, as he says, "it's easy".   A couple of different kinds of ham, a turkey breast, mashed potatoes,  raisin sauce (my favorite!), some veggies, salad, etc.   For 25 people.  Easy! LOL   It was buffet style and we ate all over the house as it would have been crazy to set up a table for that many people to sit down to eat.

I have to admire his girlfriend Emma's enthusiasm.  She greeted us with her Bunny Ear headband:

And after dinner we started the Easter Egg hunt.  Emma had created a small basket for each child.  Each basket was a different color, signifying which color eggs each child should look for.    The kids had a blast! And we did too as we watched them racing around the yard.

She even had eggs out there for the two littlest ones


And Eddie

Each child ended out with quite the stash of eggs!






We spent the rest of the day sitting on the lawn, playing with the kids and standing around talking:

Eddie and his Auntie

Emma helping the girls open eggs

Now that's a crew!

The guys:  Steve, Lloyd and John - no doubt discussing motorcycles!

Memere gets to spend some time with Audrey while Daddy helps her open eggs

My Dad was happy to oversee his kingdom

Laura was in seventh heaven with TWO babies to play with!

Emma gave all the kids kites.  Someone said afterwards that she'd told the kids to wait and take them out when they got home, but I don't think the adults heard that....or didn't listen!

Angie working hard to get the kite up in the air

Emmy got it up!

Mine only went up for a few seconds

Our four-generation photo
My Dad, Me, Son Nick and Baby Audrey

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mmmmm...Maple Syrup!

We had lots of grand plans for our new house, many of which we've succeeded in accomplishing:  a vegetable garden, flower gardens, backyard BBQ's, etc.  One of Hubby's dreams was to tap the maple trees in the backyard and make his own maple syrup.

Despite the scoffers, I decided to help him along in his dream by giving him tree taps and a how-to book on home syrup producing for Christmas.

He very anxiously awaited the right time to put in the taps.......temperature freezing at night and above freezing during the day.   Despite the fact that this was a very bad season for sap production, he did manage to get about 12 gallons of sap for his efforts:

(Because of lack of planning, he had to go out and buy gallons of water at the supermarket. Next year - which by the way is the 'Farmer's Lament' - we will try to remember to save milk jugs.)

We had been told by many people that it would be disastrous to boil the sap indoors.  The 'sap steam' is very sticky and adheres to your walls and cabinets, providing a nice sticky surface for all the dust and cat hair floating around the house.    

Second choice would have been cooking it over a wood fire.  We declined this idea because A) it would have taken a ton of work to keep a wood fire burning for hours and hours.  and 2)  We had nothing appropriate to boil it in, although many "friends" thought we should purchase one of these:

In retrospect, it doesn't seem like such a bad idea.    The price would have been more than made up in  the savings we would have made because we actually boiled the sap like this:

Two full tanks of propane later, the sap was ready to be brought inside for its final boiling.  (and no, Hubby did not stand there staring at the pans of sap for hours and hours.  After all, a watched pan of sap never boils.  He puttered around in the yard and basement, pausing occasionally to check on the sap and add more as the levels in the pan went down.)

It was a rainy Saturday morning when Hubby put the final pot of sap on the stove.  He watched it carefully as the sap got darker and thicker.   There were some anxious moments when he thought the sap would all boil away and he'd end out with nothing!   But finally, almost instantly it seemed, the sap hit the right consistency and became syrup!    

For his 12 gallons of sap,  he ended out with this:

I did have to laugh because Hubby has been uncharacteristically stingy with his syrup.   And Hubby is never stingy with anything!  He's always happy to give away his time, money, and the proverbial shirt-off-his-back if you asked him.   But besides myself, he's only given away a scant quarter-teaspoon to anyone who wants a taste.  As a matter of fact, he attached the story of  The Little Red Hen to his Face Book page when he announced his syrup production, thus staving off anyone who wanted to be invited for a pancake breakfast.

We finally had our first chance to indulge in the fruits of his labors:

Hubby said he'd keep on doing it as long as it was fun, and he deemed it lots of fun!  Besides the French Toast, he's enjoyed Maple Coffee and Maple Ice Cream.   (I've had to discourage him drinking it straight from the bottle).   

I know next year can't come fast enough for him.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I feel it safe to say that Spring has arrived here in New England.   That's saying a lot, because it's not unusual for us to have snow in April, and sometimes even in May.   It's not just that it's warm smells like Spring!

I love Spring the best because it feels so good to come out of hibernation after a long and difficult winter and spend some time outdoors.  It doesn't matter that we're sitting at our firepit with Winter coats and hats on.  It doesn't matter that I still have to wear Winter boots when Hubby and I go out for a walk, because Spring in New England is also known as Mud Season.  It doesn't matter that I have to step around small piles of snow and ice to rake out my garden.   Just being outside is a terrific attitude adjuster.  The winter blahs just melt away!

And it's exhilarating to see the perennials you planted in the fall begin to push up shoots.  It's exciting to know that your hard work is going to produce beauty.   It's fun to see the squirrels chasing around, catch a glimpse of bunnies in your backyard, or see tracks and know the (damn) deer have been in your yard.  I wait in happy anticipation for the daffodils and forsythia to erupt with their brilliant golden colors.

I look forward to having the best vegetable garden yet.  A higher fence, a bigger plot, a bee-house.......we'll be swimming in yummy vegetables by the end of the summer...just you wait and see!

I love the anticipation of the next few months. I look forward to hiking, canoeing, swimming, gardening.   Inviting family and friends over to share our yard for bbq's and firepit parties.  Spending days and nights at the beach, or in the mountains.  

It's going to be a fantastic Spring and Summer.....and it's all laid out before us....just waiting.