Tag Archives: Otto

Presto!

Today was my day to get some things done. I screwed that up before I even got home last night. I was supposed to pick up medications for Otto, one of our dogs. This is about two blocks from where I work. I failed to do this. Let’s face it, at the end of shift you have hundreds of reps involving getting in the truck and going home.

This meant that I had to go back downtown this morning and pick up his pills. It took me an hour and a half. It’s a forty mile round trip, plus the time inside the vet’s office. It kind of killed any forward momentum I may have had.

My wife wanted to go to pizza tonight, and our daughter decided to drive over from Sun Valley to go with us. Sounds nice, right? The hospital called my wife back in, so we had to cancel the whole thing. She has to work until eight o’clock tonight. I feel bad that our daughter drove all the way over here for nothing.

I don’t know what some employers are thinking. They are cutting everyone’s hours due to what they call “low census.” I won’t go into a deep explanation, the main point is reduced hours.

When there is a problem, they seem shocked that people don’t want to drop everything and pull extra hours now. “Gasp!” I’ve learned over the years that happy employees will do anything. Unhappy employees will place you lower on the priority list.

I got a decent small visit with my daughter after Old What’s Her Face went back to work. Everyone is gone now, but it’s time for baseball.

Today, I had low expectations and failed to meet them all. Things can change fast, so I’m just going to go with it. Tomorrow will be partially about packing and getting ready for my flight. I’ll be in Texas next week, but I’ll take my iPad with me. At least I can keep up with blogs and such.

I’m looking forward to the trip. There are times in life where the author in me has to take a back seat. Perhaps I can get some forward momentum when I return. If not, I have vacation coming around the Veteran’s Day holiday.

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And Otto goes berserk

I got through a couple of my projects, then we paid the bills and managed date night. We had a couple of errands along the way, one of which involved stopping at Pet Smart for dog food. Lo and behold, pumpkin balls are available once more.

Otto is bouncing off the walls with joy. Frankie doesn’t know what to think. She has only had tennis balls, and these don’t have fur.

Ever since he was a puppy, the pumpkin ball was his favorite toy. They have a squeaker inside and they flash when they bounce. Otto is a simple soul. It doesn’t take much to make him happy. Maybe I should take a lesson from him.

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A small miracle

Here is some great news on the Frankie front. Weeks ago, a piece of a toy went unaccounted for. She was chewing on it when I spotted the rubber arm of this squeaky toy missing. My wife and I looked everywhere for the missing piece, and decided she had to have swallowed it.

She vomited in the middle of the night about two weeks later, and aspirated some of it. Bulldogs are notorious for breathing issues, and this is about par for the course. She wound up with pneumonia from this and was really sick for a day or two before the meds kicked in. I mean middle of the night emergency vet sick.

Two rounds of X-rays, plus an ultrasound later, and there was no sign of this missing chunk of rubber. We knew rubber wasn’t likely to appear on an X-ray or an ultrasound, but the vet said other things like blockages and stomach lesions would show up. Nothing did.

Earlier this week, a big chunk of pink rubber appeared in our back yard. The culprit was Otto, and it passed through. I was not convinced, because the chunk wasn’t big enough.

Otto is huge, 65 pounds. Frankie is pretty tiny. She weighs in at 35 pounds, but bulldogs are so dense that it equates to about the size of a Scottie. (She was the runt of her litter.)

Last night I woke up to the sound of a dog horking on the floor again. I jumped right up, because she had that emergency trip recently. This time, I found more than froth to clean up.

The squeaky toy was some kind of monster, with rubber arms that ended in crab claws. That’s my key ring for perspective. I can’t believe she swallowed the damned thing in the first place, and it’s a miracle that it ever came back up. It would have had to line up perfectly just to fit back in her throat. If it had started out the other end, it could have killed her.

Surgery to remove a swallowed item starts at about $1500, but bulldogs need special intubation to make sure they keep breathing. We may have dodged that bullet.

Oddly enough, she had no other symptoms. I’m sure the aspiration pneumonia is related, but she’s been eating like a little horse, playing hard, and going potty regularly.

Now all we have to do is worry about the next damned thing. She and Otto chewed up the backing underneath one of our rugs yesterday. Underneath.

Our daughter swears she picked up handfuls of the stuff, and doesn’t think they ate any of it. This is all Frankie’s doing, no doubt. She’s psycho, but Otto will play her games if they look fun. I swear I need to start tranquilizing them when they’re out of my sight.

But we love you, Dad.

Note: I wrote this about 2:00 this morning, because up is up at that time. I scheduled it for tonight so Joan got to be the spotlight post of the day. If you missed Lisa’s show, check it out by rolling down the page to the previous post.

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A blogging kind of day

I didn’t set any gigantic goal for this weekend. Life has been throwing me curves lately, and plans seemed like a bad idea.

Today was a day to pick something up, finish it, and move to the next project. With that in mind, Lisa Burton Radio is assembled and scheduled for Thursday, and so is the following Thursday. This actually feels kind of good to get ahead a tiny bit. I used to track every questionnaire I sent out, and do appropriate follow up, but I stopped doing that this year. People seem to be benefitting from the interview slot, but they need to have some skin in the game too. There are probably ten or more questionnaires out, but it’s up to them to respond and get back with me. Makes my part of the process less stressful, and that’s a good thing. I’ll be here for you from now on, but I’m not twisting arms to fill the interview slots.

I also spent some time writing, assembling, and scheduling my next post over at Story Empire. It’s up on Wednesday, and I hope it comes across well.

Oh yeah, there is this post too.

Life continues to throw us curves. The range decided to go out, including the oven portion. We’ve been doing without it for a couple of weeks now. Between the barbecue and the microwave, we’ve survived. Now that Frankie seems like her old self, today was time to address our appliance problem.

The old range was original to the house, so seventeen years old. In this day and age, that’s a good run.

The debate of the day was whether to pay for the range or finance it. Holding back a tiny bit of cash seems like a good idea in light of current events. Free delivery swayed us to use our Sears credit card. In event of another emergency, we have a few bucks available, and can make minimum payments if we have to. If everything evens out, I’ll probably take two months to pay it off. That way we get a couple of paydays in there and don’t strap ourselves.

Delivery will happen next weekend. At that time, I’ll probably wake up Tituba, my sourdough starter and christen the new oven the right way.

To her credit, Old What’s Her Face chose a very reasonable range. There was a time when both of us did a lot of cooking. As the kids have moved out, the appeal of a Wolfe gas range isn’t there any more. We wound up with a decent Kenmore electric that matches all the rest of the appliances. Honestly, I’ve always had good luck with Kenmore stuff.

After signing the papers, we walked over to Old Chicago for pizza and beer. We called it an early night, because my wife has to work this weekend. A few Winter Olympics and I’ll figure out what tomorrow has in store. I might even add some new words to my work in progress. Maybe I’ll paste together a new background for Lisa’s Facebook page. I have some new images that might be fun to use as Polaroids on her table.

The dogs are getting some ball time right now. All posts are more popular with a picture, so here’s Otto being a crazy man with his oversized tennis ball.

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Running on empty

Look at this one as a real world example of being an author today.

With the release of The Hat yesterday, I have a lot of things to do to bring it to the attention of the masses. I’m quitting now, but it’s not quite as lazy as 11:00 AM sounds.

I woke up in a pile of bulldogs at 4:00 AM this morning, and have been largely covered with them all day in various positions. They like their early morning poodle time, but I can place my iPad on the arm of my chair and type away.

Old What’s Her Face decided to wash our bedspread yesterday, so we had an alternate last night. This freaked the dogs out for some reason. They were kinds of twitchy all night. I swear they are like Sheldon Cooper in that regard. Between the dogs, the nightly kink in by back, and my bladder it was just easier to get started.

I tweaked six different posts about the new book and sent them to their respective hosts. This included all the necessary attachments and such. Then I filled out an interview form for another one, and assembled a post for Story Empire later this month. All of them required at least one extra email, and my iPad battery is about dead too.

Then I assembled no less than four guest posts for Entertaining Stories. Seems like a lot of other folks are releasing books right now too. Everything is scheduled to post right now.

There will be traffic jams, but I’ll simply have to deal with it. My guests can have the spotlight until after I get home from work. If one of my hosts posted that day, I’ll try to reblog it then. I want to reblog in the hopes of sending my hosts as much traffic as I can. They don’t get much out of this, but maybe I can get them a follower or two.

As for me, I’m calling it a day on the author front. Old What’s Her Face found some strange ice cream I’ve grown fond of, and I feel like I deserve a treat. It’s made with marscapone, figs, and balsamic vinegar. Don’t wrinkle your nose up until you’ve tried it.

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Friday night

I’m trying to save any good stuff for 2018. I’ll not donate anything else to this lousy year.

Old What’s Her Face and I used some gift cards and went to dinner at Old Chicago. We’ve been living close to home, but Christmas provided us a way out. It was just beer and pizza, but it was nice to get out.

Right now, I’m camped on enough stuff to post another Idea Mill post. I’ll hang onto it until the new year, but it will be coming soon.

In other news, I finished the beta reading project I took on and delivered the notes to the authors. This leaves me a day or so for my own writing, and I need to get on with it. Aside from that, I need to start writing some guest posts for my new release.

I’m trying to keep things short tonight, so I’ll leave you with this. Some people like Shit Tzus. I prefer Shit Heads.

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2017 can kiss my ass

Every year, I try to do an assessment of the year that was. I follow this up with something I call a business plan for the new year. This is my assessment of 2017.

I always have a few goals, and 17 was no exception. I wanted to release The Enhanced League, and The Yak Guy Project. I’m going to declare victory, but it rings kind of hollow.

I released The Enhanced League around the time of Major League Baseball’s Allstar Break. It was a little bit off from the Opening Day release I had planned. Honestly, it sold like crazy… for about two weeks. Then it completely died. I haven’t moved a single copy since the end of July.

Reviews of Enhanced League were all positive. I don’t like throwing a lot of money behind my 99¢ specials, because my royalty is about 34¢ per copy. I view my short form stuff as a way to drive readers to take a chance on my novels.

I knew a fictional baseball league would have a limited audience, so I was aware this could happen. I also know that baseball returns like Spring flowers, and it could have some longevity over the years. (I count down opening day like others countdown Christmas.)

The Yak Guy is a finished book and has been for several months. (Yeah, you can’t read it yet, but I’m looking for something positive about 2017.) I drug my feet here, for a lot of reasons. I waited for a couple of my favorite beta readers to have an opening, and took their advice to heart. I also wanted to submit it to a publisher. This caused me to hem & haw and drag my feet. Yeah, I’m a procrastinator.

I waited for openings with these readers, because I lost my critique group. We held on for years, then everyone kind of drifted away. I found the process very helpful, but there is nothing I can do about it now.

Yak Guy is the story of a spoiled and lazy young man who winds up in an alternate world. He has to learn a thing or two to even survive, let alone thrive. This is the one I based upon the Fool’s Journey from the Tarot. Yak Guy meets many mentors along his journey, and astute observers might recognize them from the Tarot.

I fiddled around for a month or so, then submitted it to a publisher. All I have to do is wait around and see what happens. It’s one of those where they don’t reject you, they simply don’t respond at all. I sent a nice cover letter and a synopsis. About two days after I sent it away, I realized they wanted the synopsis in the body of the email. Mine is an attachment, so it’s probably an automatic rejection. How do you do a cover letter if that isn’t the body of the email?

Aside from that Quantum Wanderlust is the the only other thing I had cooking. This involves one short story, Swift Wings, that is part of a larger anthology. I even did a small bit of promotion and commissioned some Lisa Burton artwork to help things along. It seems to be holding its own, but reviews have been hard to come by. There are some fabulous authors in this collection, so you might want to check it out.

That’s my entire 2017 publishing file. One actual book, and one short story.

My blog stats are stagnant. I have almost exactly the same number of views as I did in 2016. In past years, my stats grew exponentially every year. This concerns me, because this blog is the heart of my presence online. There were referrals from all of the popular social media sites, so that’s good. The biggest referrer was Flipboard. Flipboard is kind of strange, because one post can go crazy there, the others can be completely ignored. Facebook and Twitter are more stable.

The majority of clicks on my site were on media. I checked it out and they are all Lisa Burton art. I wish they were my books, but I can handle this. It has to do with that tiny bit of subconscious recognition. Ya’ll come back, there will be more art and you might decide to read something too.

Lisa Burton Radio grew by leaps and bounds. I was nearly able to post every week. The only gaps were ones I caused, and I can live with that. Children’s books appeared for the first time, and overall they were really popular posts.

There are some things I do here on a sporadic basis. The Idea Mill posts and my October event called Macabre Macaroni. These continue to be popular, but not overwhelmingly so. A lot of authors visit here, but not all of them are speculative fiction authors. To them, the Idea Mill might be amusing, but it doesn’t exactly relate to what they write. I’m going to keep doing these, because I enjoy them. I think I’m allowed a bit of fun on occasion.

The Macabre Macaroni that got the best response was the one about the comatose lady who imagined life with the daughter she lost. I never know which one is going to be the favorite from short story to short story.

I’ve been around long enough that my old posts are getting regular action now. This is a good thing. They aren’t all gems, but it’s nice when a few of them have longevity. I like to think I have a chance of gaining followers when they search for something and find me.

Story Empire is a group blog I helped create. This site is growing like crazy, and I’m honored to be part of it. It started smaller, so it’s easier to gain growth. (It’s easy to get 100% growth when you have one follower; that theory.) It’s doing very well. We did a group promotion we called the Bookmobile, and it was a rousing success for me. All we did was post on each others’ sites, but I moved more copies during this event than any other time of the year. Unfortunately, it was the only group promo we did. I hope we can cobble something together again in 2018. (Hint, if the rest of you stop by.)

On the writing front, it wasn’t great. Flat blog stats, only one book release and it was short lived, and one anthology story. The anthology is still selling, so there’s that.

On the personal front, 2017 pretty much sucked. Part of this was the 2016 political landscape. It felt more like the line from Ghostbusters than anything else. “Choose the form of the destroyer.” Nice to have a choice, but a destroyer none-the-less.

We thought we were doing a good thing by adopting two bulldog puppies instead of one. We wanted to save a tiny baby from a cargo flight to Florida. With their short faces and breathing issues, it was a coin toss as to whether she would be alive at the other end. We brought home Frankie and Nyx. Nyx died in my arms on the Fourth of July. She got heat stroke in a shady back yard with access to plenty of water. My son swears she was only outside for about fifteen minutes. I guess she would have been better off trying to go to Florida. There isn’t a day that passes without my thinking of her.

Shortly after that, their older brother Otto hurt his back. He literally crawled around using his front legs and dragging his hind legs for over a month. He woke up in the middle of the night screaming on more than one occasion. Fortunately, many dollars and drugs later he is back to his active old self.

I feel for him more than you know. I did something to my own back in early December, and missed a week of work. There were times when I needed help to get out of bed or to lift the toilet seat. I had my own drugs to help things along, and am still not perfect. I missed an occasional work day even after the first week.

Somewhere along the way, we lost half of our annual income. My goal was to pay off as much as we could before this happened, but it landed about four months early. We’ll be okay, but it is a life changing set of circumstances. On the bright side, we had that income when Otto was in pain. I shudder to think of the choice I might have been forced to make had the resource dried up back then.

I wound up getting some kind of flu on a working trip during the summer. On a positive note, it led to Marissa Bergen to write a song called Vending Machine Imodium. Marissa completely made it worthwhile.

So overall, 2017 didn’t have much to recommend it. I’m going to take it for a walk in the desert. Just look at the flowers, 2017. What? This revolver is for protection from coyotes.

My 2018 business plan will post shortly after the new year arrives, and it’s going to be a lot more positive. I try to assess the year honestly, but my outlook is unfazed.

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