“The Enlightenment of Iris”

I just finished a long, relaxing weekend with Joshua Berkov’s latest book, “The Enlightenment of Iris.” It was great! Talk about surprises and plot twists. It had it all. Laughing, crying, and lots of actual characters. I imagine these characters as having some root in life, maybe a family member or two. Joshua, could this be a little true? I imagine a family reunion of yours. If Iris, Angeline, and Esther were sisters, I bet they’d be a hoot on Thanksgiving or Passover. Angeline and Esther had an Enlightenment book of their own, too. They were what got me hooked. I’m still reeling from your plot twist, Joshua. You are a master!

And don’t get me started on “Adulting at the Moto Lodge.” If you all want some fun stuff to read, and good writing, get some of Joshua Berkov’s books. You won’t be sorry. There are a couple other books by Joshua, I’ll probably order those too, next Amazon order.

It was a relaxing, wonderful weekend for the Babe, me, and the dogs. Colder than heck outside, but we had lots of comfort food the past two days, and enough down time to have a nap each day. And now, it’s Monday again. Another week to have a great start and finish. Let’s do this!

Want to hear the funniest thing I can think of right now?

The Babe always teases me about all the fabrics, quilt kits, notions, patterns, etc. I have. And yes, I have a wonderful collection. I bought ahead for when I’d be retired. And so here we are.

The irony in this situation is this:

For all the kidding I’ve endured, today, I was working on Cody’s quilt, and stitching the eyes on for the dogs. They’re simple white outer circles, and black inner circles. Huh. For all the boxes of threads I have; sewing, embroidery, quilting, and serger, guess what? I have not one spool of white sewing thread. To make matters worse, the local quilt shop in Gretna, The Quilted Moose, is closed on Sunday and Monday. Wow. I think I’ll have to make a trip into Omaha or just wait until Tuesday. That might be what I do. I have other parts of the appliqued dogs I can work on. Just thought it was quite ironic.

Have you ever had something like that happen to you? Share it. Life is just this ironic, isn’t it?

Maybe this will be a week of irony. Irony can be good, too, can’t it? I’d settle for funny. Even if I’m the butt of the joke, it’s ok. We can’t take ourselves too seriously. It’ll be a busy week, so let’s get started. The new month will be here in a couple days, so let’s get it started off on a positive note. See you tomorrow.

Building an Emotional Brand

What? What the heck is that? Everything I’ve read over these last two years says you need to build your “brand” as you are writing. Build an audience. Fellow authors are good at that, as are the local musicians I have the pleasure to know. They genuinely want each other to succeed. When one succeeds, we all do. It’s nice to have that kind of relationship with others, rather than a competitive one. I’m not a competitive person at all. It’s just not in me.

Your branding is basically what you market about yourself and what you do. If that’s wrong, someone please comment and enlighten us, please. Seriously. You need to capture the attention of the folks you want to buy your product (book). Encourage purchase. Develop a relationship to gain return customers. It builds loyalty. Social Media has really increased encounters among authors and their potential readers. Blogs, Newsletters, Facebook Pages, Websites, all put us out there where fans will decide if we’re worth their time and money.

I have a couple of authors whose books I purchase before release just to make sure I have the complete set. The Jesse Stone series is one I’ve collected and read every word. I’ll keep them to read, they are a fast read. And since Tom Selleck starred in the television adaptation of several of the books, I love the image it conjures up about the principal character. He is a serious asset to sell a book, tv show, or just about anything. I’m a Blue Bloods faithful as well. He’s aged rather well and has such substance of character. That’s my “emotional” take on anything he produces. I’m in!

Jennifer Chiaverini is another author who has my loyalty. When I started quilting, I saw her on a Quilting program with Alex Anderson. They talked about her books about a group of quilters, and I purchased the books as they were released. They were delightful. There were all ages of women as characters, some were historical figures, and I learned a lot. Women made quilts for the soldiers in the Civil War. Often the deceased were returned home (when possible) wrapped in their quilts. Many were simply buried in the quilts to have something from home with them. What a beautiful thought. Jennifer has now branched out to historical fiction and the role women have held in history. A slave dressmaker for Mrs. Lincoln. A woman spy during WWII. It opens your horizons for sure. I like that.

When I was still working as a Systems Analyst at Mutual of Omaha, we collectively did not care for the Marketing Department. It wasn’t anything personal, but often times, we had 85K hoops to jump through for their great new product to become a reality and make money for the company.

You had to understand each state to this day still has quirks about the health insurance sold in their states. It can be the “pitch” the type is written in for notices; it can be the languages the notices need to be written in; it can be the envelope the documents are sent in. I imagine all these years later there are bigger quirks to deal with. Many, many, hours were spent in meetings with the marketing folks with our senior analysts talking about existing quirks and analyzing if new quirks would mess up the old quirks.

Mutual sold off their health insurance business to Aetna, one of the companies they acquired during the time I was there. Their focus now is on property management and banking. The entire time I worked there, employees were afraid of a National Health Coverage. At that time, Medicare claims were processed at the company, I’m not sure where they’re processed now. Guess I should check my EOB’s.

Health Insurance is a field where the emotions must be dealt with when making a change. It’s a shame people are not better educated about what their coverage is, why it is, and what you need to do to get your claims taken care of. Personally, I don’t want the government to make me leave my health coverage. It’s perfect for me. The Babe’s is perfect for him. We made informed decisions and they still stand. Leave us alone! And I don’t care for Joe Namath marketing a Medicare Plan that will confuse and build up false hope for the subscribers. I can’t help but think they over-promise and under-produce.

Having grown up watching more than my share of Westerns, the first place my mind goes upon hearing the word branding is to branding cattle. The next place now is the Yellowstone Brand John Dutton inflicts on some of his ranch hands. It certainly makes a statement now, doesn’t it? It produces a certain understanding between the character and his men. Especially with Rip, who is the chief enforcer. There is no misunderstand between Rip and John Dutton. It’s a great portrayal on both their parts.

Do you have a suggestion for me with my search on branding myself? I’ve been told I’m the best listener. I’ve been told I’m a loyal friend. I’ve also been told I have a great sense of humor. I suppose those things are a good start. Any suggestions? I’m eager to see if anyone offers anything up. C’mon. Nothing to do with branding flesh, thank you very much.

Right now, I’m off to do some household chores; kitchen duty; and wear my hat as Webmaster for VFW Post 2503’s website and Facebook pages. They have a lot of things going on in February, 2021. Check them out if you’d like, members must have served in a war on foreign soil; and guests are welcome, too. But after I update stuff, ok? Thanks.

Thank you for reading today. I hope you have a beautiful day. We’ll see each other tomorrow, so until then, be safe.

Taco Tuesday?

I have been working on reading my manuscript alongside a former copy with 3K more words. The mystery deepens, I’m up to Chapter 26 and haven’t found it yet. I think there were more paragraphs I moved from their places to the end of the pages so I could use it later if necessary. I’m glad there weren’t a lot of paragraphs that needed to be placed anywhere. At least, this is my working theory of the issue and it’s solution. Hope it’s that simple in the end.

It is an overcast day and chilly. May shouldn’t be so chilly, we keep wanting to go to the nursery but haven’t yet. I think there will be plenty of plants, I’d just really like to get something planted and watch it grow. In the peace of the quarantine social distancing. From the patio. And others from the deck. I’m envisioning warmer weather and pleasant afternoons, without rain, gale-force winds, and Japanese Beetles.

For the first time in quite a few years, we don’t have any graduates. How about you? We had one wedding postponed and two others will be in held during the summer, depending on which way the social distancing goes. I understand the disappointment the graduates feel. I cannot imagine the disappointment brides and grooms feel after all the planning they’ve done.

When I graduated from high school, because of our modular scheduling and other advances Sister Pacis introduced to the Archbishop Ryan Memorial High School, we had a lot of things that weren’t as we thought they would be.

For the first time, we had no yearbook. Normally, the yearbooks were hard covered, had the usual photos and copies of all our Ryan EYE (school newspaper) published during the school year. At the last minute, there was a small, paperback edition for a yearbook. Disappointing at best. We also weren’t called “Seniors.” The class distinctions were done away with. Some of my class graduated six months early, as they had their requirements met. I could have, but had no plans for after graduation, so I just hung out for another semester. I tutored a couple “Under Classmen” and spent my spare time in the Library, and Art Room Lab. Didn’t skip classes, I didn’t drive or carpool. I would have had to walk several blocks to get the bus if I wanted to leave. So much for sneaking out!

For my first three years, my homeroom was on the second floor. Traditionally, the Junior and Senior classes had homerooms on the first floor. I was so looking forward to not having to walk up both flights of stairs. I was the only one of my group of friends that had to go to the top floor (AGAIN). I was not happy. Yes, it seems silly now, but nothing seemed to be turning out as I dreamed my senior year would be. We had a ceremony, my parents couldn’t find me in the line or on the stage. We were arranged by height, all the girls seemed to have long, straight hair and tortoise shell glasses. (We did).

We thought we were on top of the world, despite the changes and things we lost. I’m sure the kids who missed graduations, the last quarter of classroom work, and saying goodbye to everyone will be fine, too. We don’t get a choice about these things. We have to be ok. If we’re not, we might miss the next best thing that’s coming down the line for us. That would put us a day late and a dollar short for the rest of our lives. We can’t let that happen. Mourn the loss (because it IS a loss). And get ready for the next great adventure of your life. C’mon. You’re just starting out. Keep going on adventures. Keep reaching for the next star. Don’t ever stop. You will soon forget about the things that didn’t happen.

Thank you for reading today, and for your support. I greatly appreciate it. Hope you have a good evening and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow. Stay safe, hydrate, wash those hands, wear your mask, and socially distance to stay safe. See you tomorrow!

A Beautiful Tuesday

It’s so hard to believe it is winter. Blue skies outside and warm temps. Good for getting errands finished, hoping it stays nice through Friday. Or it can do what it wants, which is usually what it does anyway. We really fuss and stress over the weather and it takes up a lot of time. Try not to panic. The most important thing to do is to be safe and calm.

I went to the bank to get some giftcards for Christmas giving. They don’t sell them! I would think a major bank in Omaha, Nebraska would sell gift cards. Anyone know why they don’t?? Some folks are getting cash instead. Spends the same, right? Hope you like green, kids.

I went into the Carters Outlet store and purchased a gift card for there. Kayla is growing pretty fast, and her mama prefers to pick out her clothes. The stock they have is unbelievable. The Outlet Mall seems to be a place where you need to know where you are going. Not good for someone who has back or knee issues. A beautiful day to be outdoors, though.

I am reading some books now that I’m having a little break from writing. One, “Elmwood Park,” written by John Brodston, is my first one. Nearly finished with it. It is a mixture of fact and fiction, based on an event that happened in Omaha’s Elmwood Park in 1960. Six young people were killed in a horrible car accident. It details the rescue turned recovery, it also tells a lot about the city at the time. I was only nine years old in 1960, so I really don’t recall much about the whole incident. It was very, very sad. The author was one year ahead of me in high school at Ryan, and he had some interesting takes on the local newspaper, the city itself, and the operations of the local County Hospital. I’d love to find out if this is where the fiction part was, or if it was elsewhere.

There is an interesting running story line within the book about a Catholic clergyman who was very outspoken on morals, Catholicism, and sin. I remember our Monsignor giving fire and brimstone like this, and it is not fun to sit and listen to. I remember this particular clergyman because he was at Holy Cross, where my grandparents attended. I need to ask my mom if she remembers Grandma talking about any of these issues and sermons. I love local stories. So much history!

This day has flown by, and now is the time to relax. This is the best time of the day. Tomorrow is a luncheon with my mom, and the VFW with friends for dinner. Nice day ahead!! Thank you for reading, I hop to see you back again tomorrow.