Graduations!

On Memorial Day, a part of my family and I drove two hours up to Lake Nacona, TX to celebrate the high school graduation of our great niece and cousin. She is the first of her generation to graduate from high school. There will be two more in her family, and we’ll have three more, but not for quite a few years. 🙂

accomplishment ceremony education graduation

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The experience made me nostalgic about this event. You know your high school graduation is like no other. In college some people decide not to walk, and even if they do, they can have several college graduations, so they lose some of their significance.

I’ve been fortunate to take part in and attend a lot of high school graduations—literally too numerous to count. I was a high school teacher in a former life, and a school board member for eight years in another former life where I spoke and made presentations at graduations. Not to mention my own high school graduation and those of our daughters. I was on the stage for my oldest daughter’s ceremony and my husband was on the board of regents for the state college form which she graduated. (He actually handed her the diploma.)

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So high school graduations have significance to me. “Bittersweet” was the word I heard mentioned today. My great niece and her friends have been together since early elementary school, and now they will be going their separate ways. Oh, a couple are going to several different colleges together, but it will never be the same.

I love the opportunities stretching ahead for these young people. They have their whole lives ahead of them. To quote Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places they will go.”

Not only have the girls been long time good buds, but their moms have too. In their 40s and 50s they’ve juggled jobs, spouses, kids, volunteer activities, and older parents. Such a lot on their plate. Several moms are done now and are empty-nesters.  Others still have one or two more to graduate. What lies ahead for them? Who knows?

The heroine in many of my stories are like these women. They have children, parents, jobs, sometimes spouses, and then I throw in a bit of suspense, a murder or two, and the possibility of a new love. Stir until they can have a happily ever after. Check out my stand-alones and The Second Chances Series.

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What about you? Anyone graduating this year? Children, Grands, Nieces or nephews? Maybe yourself?

I love graduations from any perspective. Such joy, excitement and “bittersweetness.” Love to hear from you.

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Texas Brags

Most of you know I live in Texas. My books for the most part take place in Texas, and my characters are mostly Texan. Texans are known for bragging. We have the biggest & best of everything: hair, tall tales, honky tonks, roads (these really do surpass most other states and not just because we have more of them LOL), and football (well, all sports). We have the scariest springs with hail, damaging winds and tornadoes. We also have the most beautiful springs.

This past weekend, Bob and I went with friends to the Texas Hill Country and got to observe another of the state’s great brags: our wild flowers! Not just bluebonnets which were the best I’ve seen in several years. They are the first talisman of spring.

But when they begin to fade, we are blessed with all kinds and colors of wild flowers. Vast fields rolling out as far as the eye can see. Our highways and byways are anchored with lovely splashes of color that look like an artist took a paint brush to the fields. So today, I’m sharing pictures of Texas wild flowers. I don’t even know all their names; I just know they are pretty, and they make me smile. I hope they do you, too. If you’re interested in where we went, my Thursday blog will tell all. It was gorgeously restful. Do you have wonderful wildflowers along your highways? Love to hear from you.

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IMG_1115  IMG_1112My pictures don’t do these flowers justice. You just gotta plan to come see them next year. 🙂

Book 4 in The Second Chances Series, ACT OF BETRAYAL released this month it’s available at all the sites and in print from Amazon.  And today you can find a post all about the book on NN Light’s blog https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/book-promos I’ll try to add the actual link Tuesday.

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Book News!!

I’m excited to announce that ACT OF SURVIVAL, Book 4 The Second Chances Series releases April 16, and right now it’s available for Pre-Order at Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and KOBO. Unfortunately, you can’t get a Pre-Order at Amazon for this book.

Here are the links:

B & N https://bit.ly/2WiINmV

KOBO https://bit.ly/2TVasOi

iTunes https://apple.co/2HQFSxZ

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This is the first book I’ve done entirely through Draft 2 Digital. Aside from the Amazon Pre-Order glitch, I’ve been happy with them. They’ve been quick to respond to my questions. (And you know I’ve had some.) LOL

Previously, I put up ACT OF BETRAYAL, Book 3 The Second Chances Series and my first published book, VERMONT ESCAPE. I did those specifically to get my books up on iTunes. One of my very good friends reads books that way. Not sure why VERMONT ESCAPE wasn’t on iTunes, because I think I used a formatter who did that. At least that was the case for all the books after that.

Vermont Escape 300dpi (1)

Now, I use D 2 D for formatting, and as I said, they’ve put the book up everywhere. Please stop for a minute and imagine how much nicer this is for me. Yes, I did upload to all the venues individually for the books before BETRAYAL (except iTunes), but oh my goodness, it was sooooo stressful!!! So many moving parts and opportunities to mess up. LOL This is soooo much easier for me. Now I know some of you format your own books. Well, good for you. I’m impressed, but that’s not something I want to learn to do. This would not be a good use of  my time.

I’ve only had two problems with formatting with D 2 D, and they were both pilot errors. 😊 On ACT OF BETRAYAL, I’d apparently added extra spaces to the ends of lines and when I uploaded the document, the result was odd spacing and gaps between lines. This was one of those times when the staff was great and helped me fix it. Act of Betrayal

The second problem was with the center **** dividing markers being in odd places rather than the center. That I fixed myself when I used a different formatting option. (I would tell you exactly what that is, but I’m afraid if I go into that section to check the wording, I’ll somehow unpublish the book!) It is the last option under the basic heading. There is an option to pay something, but I don’t do that.

I learned about D 2 D from a fellow writer at an NTRWA meeting. Writers helping other writers is cool. 😊

This is book is over six months later than I originally planned, but life happens. For me, that has involved taking on some very time consuming (but needed) leadership roles at my church. I kept pushing off the book. When I took on the jobs, I knew that was going to happen and just accepted the consequences. We all make choices.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled to have reached this point. I hope many of you will Pre-Order and when the book releases, you’ll read and write a review. Thanks in advance for those.

If you’re a writer and you’re the publisher, how do you publish your works? How do you do that? Do you handle the formatting?

I hope Spring is close to arriving wherever you live. In Texas, we’re right on the cusp of seeing huge fields of bluebonnets. 🙂

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I’m So Excited!

If all goes well, my seventh book will release in late March. ACT OF SURVIVAL is the 4th book in the Second Chances Series. (The other books are pictured below.) Waiting to hear back from Beta Readers to see what fixes I need to do before sending it off to the editor. Think I may do the whole thing on Draft 2 Digital. I normally upload directly to the various venues except for iTunes which I do through D 2 D. But this time, I think I’ll let D 2 D do all of them and see how that works.

But what I’m really excited about is that I have an idea for the next book! For the longest time, I’ve had no idea. “NO IDEA!” For a writer that is heart stoppingly scary. You wonder if you’ll ever write another book. Maybe there aren’t anymore books inside of you!

I’d kind of settled on a location, which is what I always need to begin with, but I had no idea who or what was going to be happening. What is the conflict? Now I need to do lots of research, but I have the idea. (It could be possible after I do the research, I may not be able to use my location, which is Red River, NM, a place we go frequently on vacation in August, and I truly love. I hope that’s not the case.)

Are you afraid of anything? I am of several things, but one of them is going to prison. Odd, since I’m a real rule follower, but the threat of going to jail just terrifies me. So, what happens if they man you’ve been married to for a long time is arrested for grave crimes? The authorities think you should’ve known what was going on. Is there stuff you know, but didn’t know you knew? Would you testify against him, even though technically they can’t make you? But if you don’t testify, you’re going to jail! What about the rest of your family?

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Of course, at this point, I don’t know what the heroine’s family looks like, nor do I know her name, but I sure do have empathy for her. So, I have an idea, which is a little like when you meet someone for the first time, and you get that little trill of excitement in your middle. Will a relationship develop?

Act of Betrayal

So where do your ideas come from? Real life or completely out of whole cloth? What do you need in order to begin? How long does it take you to write a book form the kernel of an idea to publication? Love to hear from you.

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Happy Holidays

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We are in the middle of major holidays at this time of year.

The first day of Hanukkah happened on December 3. Our Jewish friends celebrated “the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt. It is also known as the Festival of Lights. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days by lighting the candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, called a menorah.” Thanks to Wickipedia

Kwansaa

Kwansaa developed in the mid-sixties with the rise of Black Power and is celebrated in January. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles:

Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work & Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. Seven candles are lit on each day. Thanks to Wickipedia

Ramadan for our Muslim friends is “a month of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts.” Thanks to Wickipedia. This year this holiday was celebrated in May in 2018. So why have I included it? Because the holiday moves around the calendar, and while I was a principal, there were many years when all of these holidays fell at roughly the same time of year.

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Buddhism also commemorates in early December the Day the Buddah (Siddhartha Gautama the first person thought to have reached enlightenment) reached that stage.

photo(25)Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25 commemorating the birth of Jesus beginning with lighting Advent Candles and culminating in Christmas Eve candlelight services. Candles and light are a big part of all these celebrations

The US secular culture with Santa Claus, Christmas carols, and baking, dominates our media. It’s good to remember we are an eclectic society and to make room for all faiths.

So however, you celebrate this season of light at the darkest time of our year, I wish you Happy Holidays. We at the Sisterhood of Suspense are grateful for each one of you.

(Previously published in my December, 2018 Newsletter.)

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Overused Words

I think I’ve written about this issue with editing before, but it bears repeating, and it is how I’m spending  all my time now except for celebrating Thanksgiving, of course.  photo (2)

From Margie Lawson, I’ve learned the value of checking my manuscript for overused words. Margie’s original list of about 40 words and phrases has grown to over 70. Some words I’ve learned to eliminate when I’m rough drafting. Others despite my best intentions creep in. Each book has it’s own special words I  add to the list.

One thing I like about this tedious process is it makes me read read each sentences as a stand-alone and not  get caught up in the story. In making changes, if I don’t delete the word, I use more specific words, growing the word count.

Examples and how I changed words follow.

Going to 73 down to 2 (Seems like a lot, but it’s fewer than in previous works.)

“So, Kim, what are you going to do over this waiting period?”

“So, Kim what are your plans for this waiting period.”

Well, I can take care of that. I’m going to come pick you up, and we’ll go shopping and eat dinner out.”

“I can take care of your problem. I’ll pick you up, and we’ll shop till we drop before eating dinner at a restaurant.”

“No, I mean after. What are you going to do after?”

“No, I mean after. What will you do with your life after the divorce?”

“One of the things I’m going to help Kim with is recognizing what her skills are.”

“I will help Kim recognize her skills.”

That from 335 to 53

She pulled into a garage that went with the condo, not that she needed all that space.

She pulled into a garage connected to the condo, though she didn’t need all the space.

Most remaining “that”s are pointing to something and not the connection (that) we use that is grammatically correct but unnecessary.

Began 14 to 3 (A word I used to use all the time but have mostly eliminated.)

Cooper set his sacks on the table and began to remove the items.

Cooper set his sacks on the table and removed the items from the bags, setting them on the counter.

They all exchanged hugs and exclamations and began chattering like they had only seen each other last week.

They all exchanged hugs and exclamations and chatted like they had only seen each other last week.

Darkness began to crowd the outer edges of her vision.

Darkness crowded the outer edges of her vision.

This change especially makes the action more immediate.

What I find with this editing process is my writing becomes tighter and more specific.

Really went from 80 to 7. Some went from 88 to 7. Watch went from 7 to 2. I seldom use watch or see anymore. Again, there’s an immediacy to the writing you lose when you say, “Jane watched the band.” As opposed to “The drums reverberated in Jane’s chest as the band marched down the street in perfect step.”

A few phrases from the list I don’t use are: in order to, by means of, for the most part, as a matter of fact, and so forth and so on.

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I’m fortunate to have four Beta Readers for the last book in The Second Chances Series, ACT OF SURVIVAL. When I’ve completed this word check, I’ll send it off to them. Then I’ll contact my cover artist Charlie Volnek. She’s done all my covers, and I love her work. Following that I’ll get the book edited. Shooting for not later than March. Had hoped to get the book out in late January or February, but I keep pushing the date. Life happens. 😊

If you’d like to have a copy of my list of words, I’d be happy to send it to you. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It was one of our best, despite one daughter being sick and one grand sharing her germs with me.

I’m running a $.99 cent sale through Nov. 29 on all sites for my first book.Vermont Escape 300dpi (1)

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Writing Rules

When I began writing people told me to follow the rules. I’m a rule follower, so that should’ve been easy, right? Tell me the rules, and I promise to follow them. Problem is, I can always find folks who are very successful (like award-winning) who don’t follow the rules.

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One of the rules I worked hard to learn and to follow is “no head-hopping.” You know what that is. When you’re in one character’s head (POV) and within the same sentence or paragraph you hop over to another character’s head. In the old days, authors wrote this way. It was called the omniscient author. Nobody thought anything of it.

Well, at some point between “the old days” and when I began writing eleven or so years ago (wow, can it be that long?), the rules changed, and head-hopping fell into disfavor. So I took on line-classes, attended conferences, I practiced, I submitted to contests, worked with critique partners, and eventually I cut out the head-hopping. (Oh, occasionally a hop will slip in now, but I catch it on edits and rewrites. 😊 ) IMG_0248

So, why you wonder am I writing about this particular rule? I recently bought a book by a well-known, award-winning author, whose name I don’t remember right now. OMG! The author head-hopped all over the place. Not just having paragraphs switch back and forth. No within paragraphs. The process threw me out of the story, which was pretty good. I had to stop to see if the author had really head-hopped. And the author had.

Here’s my question for readers: Are you aware of POV when you’re reading a book? If so, does it bother you if the author bounces around between characters’ POVs? Does it bother you to have more than tow POV characters?

And for you writers out there: Has the rule changed, and I haven’t kept up? I confess to not attending a conference in a while. When you’re reading, are you aware of head-hopping? If so, does it bother you?

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The reason you have fall pictures scattered throughout this blog is because I couldn’t think of a graphic for this topic. These pictures from my recent trip to  Belfast, Maine, which I did promise you last month. Hope you enjoy. them 😊 Love to hear from you.

Two of my books are set in New England: VERMONT ESCAPE,  and ACT OF BETRAYAL, Book 3, The Second Chances Series, which is set in Maine.

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September & Fall

Technically, Fall began on September 21. I’m saying “technically” because in Texas we are still experiencing days in the 90s. Some years, we’ve even hit the 100s. That’s not fun in July, and I really hate it during the fall. But so far this year we’re experiencing a rather mild and wet fall. All the rain is welcome because we had fire scares back in the summer. Nothing like the poor folks in the western part of the country and Canada. Still, scary.

No leaves turning yet. We don’t get color change until late November, sometimes even in December. But oh, I love to see the leaves change. I’m a sucker for all those FB posts that show the glorious colors. You know I’m a fan of New England, but one year we went to the northwest, Washington and Oregon, and they have great color, too.

Do you decorate for the seasons? I do, at least for fall. Love pumpkins, and I set them out all over. And of course, leaves. I’m not one of those folks who is happy to see Christmas decorations out already in the stores. That makes me nuts, but yeah, can’t bring out the fall stuff too early. So, I decided to show you some of my favorite fall pictures. I have a lot of these and will get some more next month when we go to Maine, so I may show more for my October post, if we’re lucky and find good color.

MRW iPhone Oct 2104 511 White Mountain Resort in New Hampshire, the first place we stayed when visiting New England.

MRW iPhone Oct 2011 080Stowe, VT. It was a warmer fall than usual and we had to drive all the way north to find color.

MRW iPhone Oct 2011 095 Deerfied, MA has a huge number of old homes with people still living in them. I used this house as a prototype for the heroin’s rental in VERMONT ESCAPE

RGW phone Oct 2011 126 The entry of the Woodstock Inn, Woodstock, VT also used in VERMONT ESCAPE. Whenever my family decides to go to Hawaii for Christmas, I’m going to stay in this lovely inn. 

MRW iPhone Oct 2104 513 This gorgeous color makes me smile. It’s also Vermont.

 MRW iPhone Oct 2013 060 The Library in Boothbay Harobr, Maine was a prototype for one  in ACT OF TRUST. 

Are you nuts about Fall or does some other season make you crazy happy? Don’t these pictures make you want to schedule a fall vacation to New England as soon as possible? Love to hear from you.

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Planning

Are you a planner? Well, I am. I like to feel in control of situations, so I do lots of planning beforehand to be prepared for whatever might come. If I’m going to read scripture at church, I like to have the liturgy ahead of time, so I can practice. I like to know what we’re going to have for supper, so I know what to eat for lunch. I mean you don’t want to eat left over pasta salad for lunch if you’re going to an Italian restaurant for supper, right? So yes, I like planning.

Of course, I use it in my writing, but as I’ve written here before I seem to be morphing into something of a pantser—or plotser as I call my process. Planning with some freewheeling.

Are you completely in the dark about where I’m going? Hang in there. I’m about to get there.

photo(8) This is the screen shot on my phone. 

In three years, God willing, my husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. Twenty or twenty-five years ago, I attended a 50th wedding anniversary at the Country Club for long time members of our church. It was quite lavish, great food and drink. People were dressed up. The kids of the couple put together a charming video depicting their parents’ lives. Right then, I decided that was how I wanted to celebrate our 50th when time came.

Flash forward a ton of years, and I’ve realized I don’t want to ask our kids to go to that much trouble when they are super busy. Recently, I’ve heard of several families who planned a family vacation for the parents’ 50th.  And I thought. Hmmmm. I’d love to share Maine with our family.  When I ran the idea past our kids, they thought that sounded great. Dates to be determined later, but summer 2021. There will be 9 of us on the trip.

photo(7) From a cottage off the Demariscota River. Prototype of setting for ACT OF TRUST.

I’ve already begun planning. Yes, I know it’s three years off, but great places book up more than a year in advance. And as I said, I enjoy planning. And that gives us time to save up. 😊 It’s not inexpensive, but it will be less than the big country club party. And it will give our kids and grandkids, who will be 12, 10, and 9 then, awesome experiences. Hopefully, when we’re gone, they’ll still want to make periodic trips to Maine. Or at the very least, they’ll look at pictures and remember a wonderful time with us. They won’t get these beautiful fall colors since we’ll be going in the summer.

This is near Boothbay Harbor. photo(11)

I can’t tell you how much joy I’ve already experienced in researching locations and places to stay. Well, mostly places to stay, because I’ve got the location nailed: Somewhere on the mid-coast of Maine. I’ve only shared a couple of my gazillion Maine pics, but you can see why I love it so much.

I began looking at Resorts—two especially. The first is The Samoset Resort in the Camden/Rockland area. http://www.samosetresort.com/about-us/  We ran across it on one of our trips when we were looking at a nearby lighthouse. It has some fun activities: pool, kid area, awesome views. Haven’t found exactly the right room arrangement but closer to time, I probably can.

Then I looked at Spruce Point Inn & Resort near Boothbay Harbor, a place we’ve stayed twice.

https://www.sprucepointinn.com/resort/overview/

Again, good activities, even lawn size chess. Our grandson and his father would love that. But I haven’t nailed down the perfect accommodations, yet.

Family trips work well when you have a good balance between separate space and together space. Recently, I ran across a HomeAway link, and I got to thinking about large houses. The two below are are possible winners.  I have to choose between ocean or river views and have eliminated lake views, because we have that now. 🙂 Leaning toward ocean, since that’s not as common for our crew.

https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p158384vb

https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p868993vb

The houses are less expensive than the resorts, but there might be more to do at the resorts. But I want to make sure we take car trips to see many of the wonderful sites up and down the mid coast of Maine. I love this area so much, I actually put a Mid-coast road trip in ACT OF TRUST.  I used it to show a growing attraction between the hero and heroine, but mostly just to showcase this beautiful state. 🙂

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Don’t know what we’ll decide on, but I have had a ball looking. Do you think I’m nuts for looking this far out? I mean, we might not be alive, or we could be seriously ill by then. Hope and pray not, but….  Are you a planner?  Love to hear from you.

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Ahhh! Technology!

I’ve written about Technology here before. Those of you who follow me on my blog have read lots of stories about my misadventures. I sort of have a love/hate relationship with the big T.

Last Friday, I was getting my new Surface ready to go to the Saturday NTRWA meeting where were going to have a giant writing fest. Lots of folks were away at RWA, so this was a good plan. So, I charge up the Surface, which I’ve only had a month or two. It’s so light and fits into my purse. Love this about this device.IMG_7185

I opened Word, so I could save my book document and the character list to the Surface which I’d emailed to myself.  I got a message that Word was about to expire and if I didn’t do anything, I could lose my work! Not words a writer wants to read. Ultimately, I didn’t go to the meeting. ☹

Sunday afternoon, I took the Surface to Best Buy and explained what the deal was. (I do love the Geek Squad. They are all so very nice, and never make me feel like an idiot. 😊 ) The kid asked if I had other computers at home and did I have that message on them. I knew I didn’t on the big computer and told him I’d check the laptop when I got home. So, I checked, and the Laptop is okay. If my husband can find the documentation for the program (I think that’s not the right word.), I can just update it on the Surface. If not, I’ll take it and let the brilliant Geek Squad guy/gal unload and reload it on the Surface. (Should I use the “the” in front of Surface? It sounds a bit odd either way.) 😊

So Sunday, after church Bob and I ate Mexican food for lunch.taco-2610649_640 (Free from Pixabay RobinsWorld)

(Just because it’s 109 outside is not a reason to skip Mexican food.) I responded to a friend’s text and then ten minutes later I was going to text the family. (There is a whole other issue about whether I should’ve been doing anything on the cell phone while I was at a restaurant with my husband!) I picked up the phone and a black screen stared back at me. Nothing changed when I punched the bottom button. I punched the on/off switch. NOTHING!

IMG_4730 (It does have a cracked face, because I’ve dropped the phone too many times!)

I don’t know about you, but pretty much my whole life is on my phone. Well, not my books, or reports I’m working on for the church move, but everything else. I know my cell number, which would do me no good, since the phone wasn’t working, and I know my daughter’s cell number, which she’s had since she was 16. She’s in her very early 40s now. Other than that, I know nothing.

I asked Bob who was on his way to work (long story) to text the family so they knew I was out of the loop.

Driving to the store with no phone was like driving naked. I mean, what if I had a car wreck? What if I ran out of gas? (I had a half a tank, but still….) What if I went too fast, and a police officer pulled me over? Being naked is scary.

You know how at technology stores they have greeters who open the door for you and ask what the problem is? Well, this nice young, emphasis on the young part, woman looked at my phone and did two things, and the little apple with the bite out of it popped onto the screen. Now I don’t know what caused the problem in the first place, but the next time this happens, I know what to do to try to fix it myself.

Push the bottom button and the side on/off button at the same time. Somehow that resets the whole deal. So for little time and no money, my cell and I were back in business. I am a happy camper.

Do you have those heart clutching experiences with your technology? Or are you a ninja warrior where technology is concerned? Love to hear from you.

PS Thanks to all of you who helped spread the word about my 3-Day $.99 sale I had going to celebrate the 5th birthday of VERMONT ESCAPE. Forgot to take it off so it’s still on Sale at Amazon https://amzn.to/2LgWGBh

Vermont Escape 300dpi (1)

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