The Hill Country

For a few years, we lived in Texas. Our two girls were small, under five years old at the time. We started out in San Antonio, and then moved north to Round Rock. By the time our son was born in San Marcos, we were living just outside of Lockhart, Texas. And this was our view across the road from our house, in the springtime.

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My husband didn’t take this picture, but it is so similar to ones he did take, right down to the barbed wire fence. Around April, the fields would be covered in rolling waves of bluebonnets…and they were gorgeous!

There were so many things that I really enjoyed about Texas. Our time in San Antonio taught us to love Tex-Mex. One of our favorite places to eat was Taco Cabana. At the time they had a fantastic deal on fajitas, and we enjoyed them…a lot. Our little girls weren’t big eaters then. So those fajitas went a long way for our little family.

We spent time on the River Walk. It was beautiful to see during the Christmas season! Lights sparkling around every little turn. The music, the people, and general joy of the season was invigorating and addictive. Check out this little preview of this special place:  https://www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com/

Of course you can’t go to San Antonio and not visit The Alamo, which it is commonly called.  It was originally known as the Misión San Antonio de Valero.  I was shocked to see it located in the middle of everything. The pictures you normally see make it seem as though it’s in the country. San Antonio has several missions that are worth your time to check out. There is just something about walking around a place that has been such a scene, and vital part of history. For me, walking into The Alamo for the first time was pretty emotional. The walls seem to breathe all that had happened within them. There was a general hush as I know many of the visitors were experiencing the same feeling.

When we lived in Round Rock, we traveled every day to Austin on I-35. Our apartment was very close to that interstate. My husband worked in Austin and we attended church there several times a week. The interstate was busy, and the drivers a bit on the wild side, but nothing like what I have heard of today. In the early ’90’s, there was still a bit of country between Austin and Round Rock, with little places like Pflugerville along the way. I was curious about the census for Pflugerville during the time we lived in the area. It was 4,444 in 1990. The 2018 Census estimate is 64,431. Wow! That’s a lot of growth!

For us, even in the early ’90’s the Austin/Round Rock area was a little expensive and busy. So we moved to the Lockhart area, living a bit on the outskirts. I have fond memories of our time there as well. Our son was born there, our two oldest daughters began their school years there, and we learned about fire ants in the yard. Not a great place to leave your children unattended! Lockhart has a gorgeous courthouse.  I don’t know why, but I was never inside the courthouse, and I wish I had taken the time to see it. http://www.caldwellcountyhistoricalcommission.org/ We were very surprised that many, many movies have been filmed in that area.  We first realized this when we were watching, Where the Heart Is.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbzcodGsaRs. We recognized some of the buildings and the landscape. Lockhart is also known for barbecue. This website has some fantastic information on the area, and says it much better than I. https://austinot.com/lockhart-texas-day-trip.

This post has been a little different for me. I don’t usually do a travel brochure-type of post. But it has been fun to check out the sites I’ve shared with you all here. It’s brought back some great memories, and made me want a road trip to Texas sometime in the near future!

Another take-away I have of Texas in the early ’90’s was the pride of the Texans for their state, and the hospitality of the people there. After living in upstate New York and the Hudson Valley area of that state, Texas was a culture shock. I wasn’t use to strangers coming up to me in the grocery store and wanting to know what I was fixing for dinner that night. This seriously happened a couple times. I had never just chatted in the grocery store aisles about recipes. And when you think about it…what better place to do it? Not to mention that Texas drawl just kind of glides over you like maple syrup on a hot day!

And all of the above because I was thinking about Texas bluebonnets! Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

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Branding and Marketing

When I first started attending conferences for writing…I discovered how much I didn’t know about writing. And then the journey of learning more about writing began. One of the items that was shared was to make memes for Facebook and other social media to help with branding, marketing, and promoting books. So I jumped on and created memes every week. Now I have a bunch to pull from if I need one…but I still love to create new ones. And as with the writing, I have learned so much more about creating memes since my first ones!

To design memes, my business cards, bookmarks, banners, posters for events, book covers, and the list goes on…I use https://www.canva.com/ . I get my pictures from https://pixabay.com/ . These two sites have been a gigantic help for me in developing a brand and marketing my work. They are very user-friendly sites, and I find them fun. If you have a creative side, you should check them out! Canva has updated and you can now share directly to social media sites rather than downloading, etc. What will they think of next?

So now you have two great tools to go out and design for yourself. One thing that was pointed out…when making a meme, sign it as you would art work. I use my website, and I use the same font each time. People remember that. For example, what comes to mind when I say any brand name? You think of their logo. Great branding and marketing right there. Coke anyone? 😉

Remember, this week A Place to Call Home is being promoted as a free ebook. Get your copy today! Yesterday, this book was doing this:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #468 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

It’s pretty exciting! Below is one of the first memes I did. I’ve learned a little bit more about downloading, etc. now, but I still love the picture I found on Pixabay. Have a great Thursday everyone!

 

Rubyville - A Place to Call Home

 

Review, review, review please!

Today is the last day you can get your free ebook for my newest release, When Faith Begins. It’s been a lot of fun having the book promotions for the When series of books. By far, When Love Grows was the most popular in the giveaway. I think it’s the cover…which goes to show, your cover matters…a lot! I love the color red, and it looks as though many others do.

If you are a writer, trying to get your book published, and then branding, marketing and hoping to sell your work…well you know it’s a long, difficult process. Most of us don’t hit the New York Times bestseller list the first time out, if ever. It takes daily contact with readers, your target audience, and places to promote your work. Some writers may use a blog, website, newsletter, Facebook, etc., to do this. Many use all of those listed and then some!

My WIP is a manuscript I wrote in 1998. It’s 124,000+ pages long, and I wrote it on a typewriter in two weeks. I had four children at the time. I got them up, got them dressed, tossed some food at them and then sat about five feet away from them to write. Repeated two more meals each day, and then did the reverse at night for bedtime. Those were the days when our oldest was 12 and our youngest 2. Those were the days when I still made bread every day, and we had healthy smoothies for breakfast. We didn’t eat out. I relied heavily on my 12 year old, who is now my editor.

But that book had to be written at that time, and I wrote 24 hours a day for those two weeks. I wouldn’t recommend that, but we artistic people can be strange at times. Maybe most of the time! Now, I am rewriting and editing that book, and the three others in that series that I wrote several years later. It will take me a while, because it is a mess. And when I hand it over to my editor, proofreader, etc., it will probably still be a mess.

I have so appreciated the feedback from my readers during this book promotion! But I want to clarify a couple items. Those that write and are trying to sell books, will understand. Today, my rating for When Faith Begins is here:

If you go to the above links…you have to go to the FREE section to see mine. Not the paid.

That is huge for me! My books are usually in the thousands, if not millions. But this is for the FREE ebooks. Not the paid list. I’ve had several people comment about my royalties now. I’ve made under $10 dollars this month. The book promotions are about me getting my name out there, and loving that people are taking the time to look at my covers, read a portion of my books online, and then even downloading them. If I can earn money off my books at some time, that will be super fantastic!!! But right now, people don’t know me, and that’s where all of you can help…and writers should be helping one another.

Authors LOVE reviews, even bad ones. It helps them tone and tweak their craft. Please ALWAYS leave a review when you read a book. My books are desperately in need of reviews. The other huge help to authors, and anyone promoting a business, is to SHARE on Facebook and other social media. Again, it gets their name and business out there for all to see. There can be so much wrong with social media, but sharing a business for someone is a great opportunity to help. (An apology here to an editor that told me I shouldn’t cap words, but…) 😉

Again, thank you for all the support. Prayers and best wishes for those of you struggling in this writing market. And of course…be looking for my next book promotion, because there will be one!

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The Eye Of the Beholder

 

Well, it is the day after. Always a bit sad for me, but I do look forward to the New Year’s Eve celebrations and the first day of the New Year. So it’s not completely over yet! And I always leave the decorations up until after New Year’s Day. It keeps that holiday feeling for just a little bit more.

I don’t do a lot of book reviews on here. I really don’t do much of anything on a consistent basis on this site. I mean, this is not a food, health or parenting blog. It’s a ‘whatever pops into my head’ blog. So for those of you that stop by, it’s always a surprise. Rather the way it is for my children when they stop by our house. They never know what project I’ll be working on! Back to this post…

I first began this blog back in May of 2015. One of my first followers/likes, and a blog that I did the same for was this one: https://eyedancers.wordpress.com/

I was intrigued by the cover of his book, The Eye-Dancers. I also enjoyed his posts, and insights into life, the stories he shared. It reminded me of my teenage years living in upstate New York and Vermont. But since I don’t read Young Adult, I really didn’t think of reading his book. Well, after a year or so of struggling with getting my own books out there, and understanding how very important it is to have reviews of any kind, I decided I would read it. I had purchased it a while back, and then I finally began reading last July.

I don’t normally take so long to read a book, but I’ve had several on my nightstand for a couple years now. I made it a personal goal to read 25 books this year on Goodreads. I reached that goal and reset it to 30. Now I’ve read 32 for 2017…and that feels really good! At one time I loved to read. It was better than watching a movie, or having friends over. But marriage and children put that love on the back burner. Unfortunately I’ve read some not-so-good books lately, and that makes it hard to forge ahead. Just a bit of advice if you are going to self-publish. If you don’t have a degree in journalism, etc., take some writing courses, attend some writing conferences, or have a really fantastic editor. The typos, bad research of a topic, head-hopping and boring plot-line really lose a reader’s attention…and quickly! 

On Christmas Eve morning, I finished reading The Eye-Dancers, and I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t mean that in a condescending way. I literally went into it with the idea that it was a book for Young Adults, and just not my cup of tea. What turned it all around and kept me reading was the great writing, well-researched topic, well-developed characters, and the believe-ability of a time-travel book. Me, a 53 year old woman could enjoy the story, and look forward to more. Because I’ve heard there’s another one coming! 😉 Because of all the above, I wanted to share my thoughts here, and support a fellow author and their writing. Below is my review for Goodreads and Amazon:

I don’t normally read YA, but I do enjoy time travel-type books and movies. So I thought I would give this one a try. I rated it a 5-star because ‘it was amazing’ since it was well-written, very thought-provoking, and well-researched. That is saying a lot after some of the books I’ve read lately with the head-hopping, plot holes, etc. The author didn’t ‘dumb-down’ the characters as I’ve seen so many times in YA. The author also nailed the teen years of angst and thought patterns. It made me think of my own years and the struggles I experienced and felt. And somehow, the author made this story feel as though it could really happen…which is fantastic in my mind, considering the plot! It is what I loved about the Time Traveler’s Wife and Somewhere In Time. I read the books behind those movies, and I loved the books even more. Thank you for a very good read! 

You may purchase The Eye-Dancers right here: https://www.amazon.com/Eye-Dancers-Michael-S-Fedison/dp/0692262784/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514136399&sr=1-2&keywords=the+eye+dancers

From the reviews the book has received so far, readers are thinking the same as me.

 

*I purchased the book and wrote the review on my own with no encouragement from the author. These thoughts are my own. Did I cover all the bases? 😉

Goodreads Giveaway!

It’s the Christmas Season and the time for giving. I shared this on Facebook and Instagram, but not with all of you. I’ve just opened my Instagram account, so still finding my way around there. I’m older, so stick with me, it takes a while to figure it all out. Only yesterday I discovered that I could link my group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/216963165342784/

to my author page on Facebook. It’s probably been available for months, or even years, but at least I have it now!

I’m having a giveaway on Goodreads! This is for my newest release and runs until the 8th of January…2018! Wow! It will take me a while to remember that year. Until about July I’m still functioning in the previous one. So, be sure to enter. To date, I’ve given away 18 books in giveaways on Goodreads. So check it out!

Follow this link to enter for a chance to win one of three signed copies of my newest release! https://www.goodreads.com/givea…/show/269283-when-love-grows

That also gives you time to read the first book in the series, When Hope Blooms. You may purchase the first book, or any of my books right here: https://www.amazon.com/Deborah-Ann-Dykem…/e/…/ref=sr_tc_2_0…

All books are available in paperback, or kindle editions on Amazon. If you purchase the paperback, the kindle edition is yours for free!

Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million (BAM), and Walmart also carry my books for online purchasing. Please share with all your book-loving family and friends, and remember…reviews are greatly appreciated! Merry Christmas Everyone!

When Love Grows Cover - 6.2 x 9.5 measurements I love the colors on this cover! Red is my favorite one, and it does remind me of Christmas colors.

For Sale!

I’m doing things a bit backward today. But every now and then, that makes life a bit more exciting! I wrote this post for my Facebook author page this morning, so I’m sharing it on here. Usually I post on here and share it to Facebook. Really exciting…huh? Thank you all so much for your support, likes and comments!

My seventh book, When Love Grows will be available in just a few days. 😍This is pretty exciting for me! I have also started working on the third book in this series…which is also…fantastic! Writing is something I love to do. Marketing is not. 😣 I am not a salesperson, and I really need to be to a certain extent to get my books out there.
 
I have so many very talented people in my life. It is amazing to me when I see the items you have made, whether it be art, quilting, building, writing, etc. I would literally love to be able to support each and every one of you by purchasing your product, to give you encouragement, to support your business, and to show you that I really DO care about what you are doing in your life. But I cannot. I try to show my support by reading your posts, liking them, loving them and commenting. I don’t know if that helps or not, but it is time I invest in your lives. In some ways it seems sad that our lives have come down to interaction such as a smiley face, or a little red heart…but it is a way to communicate and show support.
 
As I said, I probably need to be more of a salesperson. But I am not. I don’t like to be hounded, and I know others don’t. I dislike to try to read a post or article and have pop-ups asking me to buy or subscribe. Therefore, I don’t do that to others. I dislike chain messages asking me to show I care. I do, or I wouldn’t comment, like, love your posts. Because my family has asked me not to share some things, especially items about their children on social media, I do not. And I do understand and respect that. Because I write, I have my settings to public to reach my readers.
 
My books are works of fiction, but my life experiences are woven through each one of them. I’m sharing what I’ve learned, the mistakes I’ve made, and the respect and love I have for my Heavenly Father. I pray this speaks to my readers.
 
Please share this post with your friends. Please share the post I’ll have in a few days promoting my newest release. And if you’ve read any of my books, please, please review in the places that you can. This is a huge encouragement to me! This writing life is all new, and it has a huge learning curve. Please let me know if I can reach you in a different way, if you’d like to hear more or less from me. You can always interact and have discussions on my group page about my books. I would LOVE that! https://www.facebook.com/groups/216963165342784/

Shifting Down

This is a post I’ve debated about writing for several months now. For the month of October, I tried some different things, just to see what that would result in. Some of you gave me feedback. A few people really liked the Monday One Liners and the Friday Trivia. A couple people said they would just rather read a post. To be honest, I’m rather lost in this blogging world. I just don’t know what works...for me.

I’ve blogged regularly for over two and a half years now. For those of you that blog, you know it is a time investment. Some bloggers seem to be able to take the world, (literally) by storm and within a few months they are off and running with thousands of hits and followers. That has not been the case for me, and I’m not really feeling that I’ve found my corner in the blogging world…or if I’m even supposed to.

As a writer, I love to write. I have written most of my life in some form or another. I will continue. But right now, I feel as though I should concentrate more on my novel writing, and those stories I need to tell. And I need time to do that.

So, I will be doing some reconstruction with my social media. My goal is to have more of a website, maybe a section that I blog in once a week, or once a month. I might offer a newsletter every three months or so for those that are interested in my books, and new releases. I have four books written several years ago that are badly in need of edits and covers. So, I want to make those a priority. I also have a little bird whispering to me about a fifth book in the Rubyville series. I also need to concentrate more on events, and speaking engagements.

The most difficult part of this decision is not having the daily contact with those of you that have become a part of my life on here. I so appreciate you! For sharing your lives with others, for the encouragement you have given me, for all the interesting stuff I’ve learned from all parts of the world.

This is not good-bye, but a pulling back and regrouping. I will still be here, and I will still share my life with all of you, just at a slower pace. You can still find me on Amazon right here: https://www.amazon.com/Deborah-Ann-Dykeman/e/B01B2BYPK6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1509656300&sr=1-2-ent and my author’s page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deborahanndykeman/?fref=ts

I check Goodreads daily as well. It’s a great place to encourage others, as well as authors. If you’ve read a book of mine, or another author, please leave a review there and follow them. You don’t need to purchase their book to do those two things. Every little bit of encouragement helps an author get their stories out there. It’s not only about purchasing their books, which is wonderful of course…but about getting that author’s name known around the world.

Until next time…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOY0C5F8dfw

 

 

UPDATE: Book Review Awards – Authors in the Running So Far

Wow! It’s an honor to be included in this list so far. Yecheilyah Ysrayl really does an excellent job with her review process, and pours her heart and soul into them. I greatly appreciate all that she does for Indie authors, and this contest is just another example of that. Thank you Yecheilyah!

The PBS Blog

OK, looks like we are going through with this thing!!

Thank you for your feedback and suggestions. Based upon which I’ve decided that yes, we are going to do this!

First thing’s first, I am getting a logo made. Something simple but nice which I’ll outsource from Fiverr. BUT, if any of you do logos for free, like, let me know. I am not trying to spend a whole bunch of money. I love you but I am not rich so, like, help a sista out.

For now, here are the authors who are currently automatically drafted into the contest due their 5-star ratings on this blog. More authors will be added to this list as I read and review their books. Remember, to be part of this contest means that you must receive a 5-star rating from me. Excellence is priority.

We are just in the preliminary stages so…

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Begging Is Good!

Okay, not really. I always told our children, “If you beg, it’s not going to happen.” Ask me once, I’ll consider it, ask me twice, it’s a missed opportunity. I can’t count how many times I’ve been shopping, (and this was ages ago, when I had small children, because you have to drag me into a grocery store now), that I have seen small, and not so small children writhing on the tiled floor. Now there’s a sentence for my editor! 😉 Usually this agonizing event, (for the shoppers), embarrassing event, (for the parent), and demeaning event, (for the child), took place over a box of cereal, or candy in the check-out aisle.

Maybe this didn’t happen for our children for a couple of reasons. I rarely purchased boxed cereal. It was expensive, and not really a great option for breakfast in my opinion. Granola wasn’t packaged nearly so pretty! Candy was also a rare treat. Again, expensive and not high on the food pyramid in our house. But I really think it had more to do with that second sentence I mentioned above. I had no toleration for begging.

So, I’m going to blame this on my O.C.D., which has not been diagnosed. And I am in no way belittling this. I know many people struggle with this mental disorder, and it is real. Extreme cases can keep a person from living a normal life. But in our house, I am the poster child for this. If I eat cookies, I have them in pairs. I group items in my mind. I stress about things like turning off the iron, the stove or a light when I’m several miles down the road. I find it difficult to sleep if I have the washing machine started…I want to finish that load of laundry! For me, the laundry is not done until it’s hung in the closet, or folded neatly in the drawer. I go over and over…and over checklists in my mind. And I know many of you can sympathize with some of this. Much of mine can be related to fatigue, and probably just getting older and forgetful.

If you are a writer, or have any kind of business, or advertise to some extent on Facebook, you know how important that ‘like’ button is. You know how great it is to share a post because it gets many eyes on that post. If you have a page dedicated to your profession, your business, etc. you really, really want likes for that page. It’s all about marketing and selling that business. Recently, our local public library had to begin another Facebook page. This library has been wonderful with advertising my books, having events, and just plain great to work with. So, I contacted all my friends on Facebook, that were local, requesting that they ‘like’ the new library page. It was a way for me to encourage this local business and support them. And it didn’t even hurt me financially or otherwise! 😉

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My author page on Facebook has been hovering in the mid-nineties rage for several months now. It’s beginning to poke at me a bit, and I really want to cross that 100 mark! Yes, it is a goal now! To reach 125 likes on my page would be even more fantastic! And even more than that, I would really like you, the reader on here, to be a part of that Facebook group. I promise it won’t hurt! And it won’t cost you a thing. That’s rather rare in this world today! And while you’re at it, you can request to be my friend, too. Isn’t this a strange social environment that we live in today? A bit like kindergarten, requesting someone to be your friend, rather than just letting it happen. Will have to think on that one some more! Have a great Monday, and start to your week!

So this is new content for Tuesday morning. Now look back at that third paragraph, last sentence. Much of mine can be related to fatigue, and probably just getting older and forgetful. Last night, I woke up in the middle of great sleeping, which is rare for me. I remembered that I had not added a link for you to go to to ‘like’ my FaceBook page! Well duh! https://www.facebook.com/deborahanndykeman

All my family will have a great laugh about this one, and I’m surprised that one of my daughters didn’t see that and let me know! I can’t get by with very many mistakes! Now, have a great Tuesday, and I hope to see you over at Facebook!