ESWA and BTO

In between pulling up tomato plants and planting some fall kale, arugula and Hakurai turnips, I’ve been at the computer a lot.

Last weekend my husband and I organized an Eastern Shore Writers Association meeting at the Queen Anne’s County Library in Stevensville, MD. We had two ESWA members who presented their book selling techniques. It was really interesting and inspiring. Sharon Brubaker talked about some of her guerilla marketing techniques for selling her books. All terrific information. Kenton Kilgore, talked about tricks for us introverts to use when dealing with the public. I resonated to his statement that you know if you’re an introvert because being with a lot of people drains your batteries.

That’s certainly true for me. I’ve learned over the years to present a positive, outgoing personality, but the real me wants to hide in the closet. If I know what I’m talking about, am prepared with a presentation, I’m fine. When I was on Oprah years ago, as an expert on therapy with stepfamilies, I spent the night in the Chicago hotel room reading somebody else’s book about stepfamilies. Just wanted to make sure Oprah didn’t ask me a question I couldn’t answer. Now that was just neurotic. Note: she didn’t. I wasn’t nervous. I was prepared!

We’ve organized another ESWA meeting on October 8 at the Easton library. This one will feature editors of ESWA’s literary magazine, The Delmarva Review, who will answer questions from people interested in submitting.

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The other big project I’ve been working on is The Bay to Ocean Conference website. It’s 99% there. Registration for this conference begins October 1 and we always sell out. I sent out the page with the sessions to all the presenters so they could take a look and a couple found mistakes which I corrected. Getting presenters for all thirty sessions is always interesting and challenging and that process begins the day after the conference. We have some faculty who are so good, we invite them every year. And we aim for at least a third new presenters. This is BTO’s 20th year which is really exciting. Take a look.

For the last five years or more I’ve been managing the membership database for Eastern Shore Writers Association. It’s cumbersome because it’s more than just an Excel spreadsheet. New members have to have their emails typed into two different lists on MailChimp in addition to the Excel spreadsheet. New members also get a welcome email, a welcome letter mailed along with a copy of the most current Delmarva Review. That requires a trip to the post office. A renewal letter goes out in mid-July but the renewals dribble in. If people pay on PayPal the receipt goes to the treasurer who has to remember to forward the information to me. If something comes in the mail mail, it has to be sent to me or scanned and emailed. In addition to the data base, I publish a quarterly digital membership directory to the members. Phew! This was getting to be a half time job.

Yesterday the treasurer went to the mail box and asked the postmaster to look into the fact that we hadn’t gotten any mail for weeks. Turns out the ESWA mail had been put in another mailbox. Now I’m waiting for those new members and renewals and hope I can get the member directory ready in time for emailing it out on Oct 1.

In this system, there are lots of places for things to go wrong, for data to be misplaced. So at the last ESWA board meeting I recommended that the organization subscribe to Wild Apricot which is membership software for organizations. The board agreed, but now my job is to handle the transition. It’s a steep learning curve, but my goal is to get this completed by the end of the year. At that point new memberships and renewals would be automated and the chance for errors significantly lessened. The membership directory would be compiled by the software. Emails can be sent out to different groups, etc. The software does many things. The trick will be learning to use them. I go off the ESWA board at the end of December, so I’m hoping the next person who handles membership will have an easier time. We are, after all, volunteers.

Once these projects are completed, my goal is to get back to writing the third book in my Caribbean series. But before that a table of green tomatoes in the garage is waiting for me to make green tomato chow chow. That will be a blog of its own.

 

 

Checked Off the List

One of the things on my “to do” list this summer was putting a coat of deck paint on the deck. When we had the deck installed, we opted for a Lowe’s brand of composite decking. It was cheaper than Trex. I chose a light gray and love the way it looked. It was fine for a year and a half. Then I began to see blackish speckles. I thought they were ash from the fireplace smoke but it got worse. I had to use deck cleaner every six weeks to keep the deck looking good. So much for maintenance free decking from Lowe’s, and when I went online I found lots of other people with the same complaint.

I was whining to a friend who told me they had had the same problem and painted their deck with a product from Home Depot. She said it had lasted six years.

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There is a Home Depot in Salisbury, MD and one in Annapolis. Both are an hour away. I chose to go to Annapolis because I can also stop in at Trader Joe’s. That was five years ago.

This summer I noticed some staining that wouldn’t clean off and some chipping on the benches so it was time to paint again. Every five years I can live with. Cleaning the deck every six weeks. Nope!

I had to wait for a spell of dry weather and spent one morning washing the deck with deck cleaner. The next morning I made sure there weren’t any twigs or leaves stuck in between the planks. The following morning I put on my painting jeans and shirt and painting socks (because I didn’t want to risk getting any dirt on the deck from my shoes – this is not my first painting rodeo) and went to work. There was some cutting in and some bending to get under the benches, but the rest was done with a roller on a long handle. I was finished in two hours. One more thing ticked off the list that never quits.

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This picture was taken this morning so the sun isn’t on the deck yet. You can already see some leaves – a portent of what’s coming from all the wonderful old silver maples on our property. We put log carriers on the deck in the lower right hand corner of this photo and stack wood for our daily winter fires. Usually the first fire is in mid-October so we’ll start hauling wood soon.

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The hyacinth bean seeds given to me by my friend who died last spring have gone wild. This lush greenery is from two plants! I think about Marylou every time I walk through the arches.

I continue to harvest tomatoes but have been putting them in plastic bags in the freezer. When cooler fall weather arrives, I’ll make sauce and can them. Next year I will not plant so many. The garden beds will soon be cleaned out and winter kale planted. I might even put in some lettuce seeds and see if the season stretches enough to get some salads before hard frosts. I’m looking forward to fall.

 

 

Book Club

The Stinky Book Club met last week. We shared what we’d been reading and after dinner, this is what we had for dessert. Laura had two bites and Mary Ann and I inhaled the rest. Chocolate hazelnut gelato. Yum! I think we meet as much for the food as we do to talk about books.

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The list below is what I’ve read in the last two months. Some of these are books recommended by Laura Ambler or Mary Ann Hillier, the other two members of the group. Laura is a very eclectic reader as is Mary Ann who likes sci-fi more than I do. I love getting reviews and recommendations from my friends.

Mary Ann, smart cookie that she is, has a small book in which she enters her thoughts about what she has just read. I try and remember and resort to looking on my Kindle. It tells me something if I can remember the book from it’s title or have to go look at the first couple of pages to remind myself what the story is. I liked some of these books better than others, but all were 4 stars or above although there are a couple that I couldn’t remember reading.Hmmm. Maybe those were 3 stars.

I also am guided by the daily deals Amazon puts in my inbox. I have to say I resent paying more than $10 for an e-book. So I look for deals of the day, deals of the week, and deals of the month. Amazon knows what I’ve bought so they make recommendations and when I find an author I like, such as Catherine Ryan Hyde, I’ll buy any of her novels when they are $1.99. Mary Ann loved the new Harry Potter play and paid full price for it. I’ll wait until the price comes down.

I read a lot in the middle of the night when I wake up and can’t fall back to sleep. Anything too creepy or scary or disturbing is out. One problem is that I have some paper books on my reading list, but they don’t have built in lights for middle of the nights reading. Here’s my list for mid-June through mid-August,

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I read this because Mary Ann recommended it, and I loved this spare story of how a curmudgeonly widower becomes a hero in his small community with the help of new neighbors who look past his eccentricities.

The Glassblower by Petra Durst Benning. Historical fiction. The daughters of skilled glassblower in a European village of glassblowers have to make their way after their father’s death at a time when women did not blow glass or run the business. I was intrigued enough by the three sisters that I bought the next in the series which follows the sister who went to America.

The Wiregrass – a Novel by Pam Webber. Coming of age in the south in the early 60’s. A group of cousins spend summers with an aunt and uncle and confront racism and child abuse.

Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Another coming of age novel. A young teen hunts for his father (with whom he has a difficult and distant relationship) when his father is lost in remote mountains in the western United States.

Burying the Honeysuckle Girls by Emily Carpenter. The daughter of a “damaged” mother and grandmother searches for how they died.

The Secret History by Donna Tart. I don’t usually read what I consider “literary” novels and this certainly is. Donna Tart wrote The Goldfinch which was enough for me to buy this book when it was offered at a discount on Amazon. It is worth the full price. Tart is an amazing writer and the convoluted story was a page turner.

Still Waters by Viveca Sten. A mystery set somewhere along the coast of Sweden. I didn’t see the ending coming.

A Beautiful Medicine by David Mercier. I read this after taking David’s mindfulness meditation class early in the summer. A truly interesting look at the mind/body connection.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson. This was one I had to go back and look at on my Kindle as I couldn’t remember a thing about it. It was about a man in WW11 – or was it?

Broken Grace by E.C. Diskin. A woman has no memory after a car crash and comes back to dark secrets.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. Another “no memory” story. Interesting that I read these back to back. Not intentionally. When the main character falls at the gym she comes back to a world where she believes she is awaiting the birth of her first child. She’s really 39 and getting divorced. Moriarty is really good at the artful blending of the back and current story which is not so easy to do.

The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde. The author of Pay It Forward tells the story of a lesbian couple with adopted and foster kids move across the road from a crotchety, troubled woman with a horse she never lets out of the corral.

Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde. A burned out teacher taking his son’s ashes to Yellowstone, finds himself taking two half orphans along on the journey while their father is in jail. I really loved this book.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hasseini. Thirty years of Afghan history told through the eyes of two very different women. Troubling but so well done.

After Anna by Alex Locke. A who-done-it mystery in which a child is kidnapped and returned after a week to her separated parents.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson. An American author hikes, trains and drives around Great Britain. After a slow start I found myself engaged.

I’m five books into the next month’s cycle before the book club meets again at the end of September. I might try the rum raisin gelato next time.