Sunday, September 4, 2016

National College Colors Day!


This holiday was actually on Friday. Kind of wished I had known...:iconswissplz:I would have worn my college's colors. I attended WSU, and the colors are crimson and grey. The mascot is the cougar. The day before was National Gyro Day. I love gyros!:iconinloveplz:They taste amazing! Rosh Chodesh Elul started Saturday night and ended tonight. Or, the 'head' or beginning of the month of Elul. It's the last month on the Jewish calendar. I think starting tomorrow, there's a custom to blow the shofar every morning, except for on Shabbat (goes from Friday night until Saturday night). I might do that. Some years I forget, and then it's suddenly the High Holy Days.:iconawkwardplz:(High Holy Days are 10 days that start with Rosh Hashanah and end with Yom Kippur.) It's kind of nice to blow it. Ours is small, and sometimes it's hard to make a sound. The custom came about as a way to symbolically wake us up for the High Holy Days.
This is my wallpaper for September. It features Leo and Sonic from Kekkai Sensen or Blood Blockade Battlefront. Sonic is a monkey that can move at the speed of sound, and he stole Leo's camera one day. Eventually, he became Leo's pet. Kekkai Sensen is set in New York City, only there's basically a portal that opened up over the city and lots of creatures from different dimensions showed up. Everyone in the city is stuck there. Including those beings that were transported there. Some of the ones that came through were vampires, some look like aliens, some kind of look like humanoid mushrooms, some are similar to giant bugs, etc. Apparently the creator of the series (mangaka) did a lot of research on NYC. Maybe they lived there for a while. People have compared scenes from the anime with actual places there. Even the more obscure buildings/places seem to be exactly like they are in real life. The 'attitude' and/or style (or is it vibe? Hard to describe) of many of the characters is similar to the people living there in real life. It's one of my fave shows. (I also loved NYC when I visited it back in high school.) Sad that the anime ended just over a year ago. It'd be cool if it came back for another season. The manga is still going. Kind of enticing to read that...:iconchibiaustriaplz:Anyways, I found a few more wallpapers featuring this series recently. So, look forward to those in the future.

My beagle calendar has a beagle that seems to be flying in mid-air through a red, white, and blue ring. Cute. It goes into detail about their different howls, and what each might mean. They say they're not yappy dogs. I think Buster only barked or howled when he was hungry, when a leaf fell in the backyard, meeting new dogs and humans, when he was excited, or when we played with him. So, it was probably pretty often.:iconseychelles-plz:I agree it wasn't really a yappy bark. Apparently, Barry Manilow had a beagle named Bagel who was on one of his album covers. 

My Jewish calendar features some sort of artwork on paper titled 1928. It's by Elias (Elie) Smalhout, from Amsterdam, Netherlands; 1927. It looks like stencil and black ink were used. Doesn't say, though.:iconpolandplz:It's of a long-tailed bird with outstretched wings, flying over what looks like either a stylized sun or flower. There are 2 other suns or flowers towards the bottom of it. There's also '1928' printed in the top right corner, and what looks to be a signature in the lower right corner. Although, it doesn't look like it matches with the artist's name from what I can see. Might be something else. It also features a collection box, which has an anonymous maker. Made out of copper, from Netherlands. There isn't a date on this one. Maybe it's from the same time as the art that's featured? We normally call 'collection boxes' tzedakah boxes. It's used for charity usually. It's got, what seems to be, a very stylized menorah design on the side. Has a dome like lid. It's pretty. 

The month-long holidays are: National Biscuit Month, National Breakfast Month, National Chicken Month, National Honey Month, National Potato Month, National Rice Month, National Piano Month. Some are for important causes, some are to make you appreciate things you may take for granted, and some are just for fun.

Wow. I think last month was the first time I only posted once.:iconohboyamericaplz:I want to get back into posting more often on here. I might change the design a bit. The template currently is so old, I can't edit it.:iconusaplz:So, I can't add columns, change the colors, etc. I'm thinking of having 2 columns for the new template. One on either side of the post. That way it doesn't seem as cluttered to me, and the column on the right won't be so long...I didn't know much about what I'd have on the side when I started this blog. I still want it to have a light color palette, and have it be simple. I might update the 'fave links' section that's currently at the bottom, too. I already got rid of a few really old and no longer used ones. Also, got rid of the virtual goldfish that were in the footer. That 'gadget' stopped working a while ago. They were cute.:icontinoplz:You could feed them, the water would ripple, they'd follow the cursor (or your finger on a smartphone), and jump occasionally. Maybe I'll add a similar gadget in that area. I guess this blog needs an overhaul in general. Hopefully, I'll make it even better than it is now.:iconchibiamericaplz:

I managed to publish both my novels to Amazon, or more accurately through KDP. As long as I don't opt for 'select', I can have it anywhere I want. If I went with select, I'd only be able to sell it through Amazon. That exclusiveness feels weird.:iconnorwayunimpressedplz:They also price check, and if it's a lower price on another site, then they change the price to the lower one. So, I made both the Smashwords' versions the same price as on Amazon. 

Amazon gives you an estimate of what the best price would be. Smashwords didn't do that. I also read up a bit more on pricing ebooks. Apparently, the prices before were too low. When it's too low, readers tend to think the author doesn't value their work, and won't buy it. It's hard to figure the right price.:iconwtfromanoplz:I went by the length of both novels, and their genres to get a best guess. Also, you get 75% in royalties if you set it to at least a certain minimum. Anything less, and you only get 35%. (If I remember correctly, Smashwords has the royalties set at 80% if it's through their site. Most other sites that it distributes to are similar.) So, I also factored in getting that 75%. Sweet Endless Terror is now $2.99, and Alliance is now $3.99. Alliance is much longer (classified as 'epic' on Smashwords. I didn't put it under that:iconhongkong-wantsursoul:), and the fantasy genre tends to be more popular than horror. Although, Alliance does have quite a bit of horror. It seems light at first, but turns darker and 'heavier' as you go along. I think these prices are actually pretty decent compared to what I've read, and seen of similar books. 

Interestingly, the views of both books on Smashwords shot up as soon as I had increased the prices.:iconshockplz:For some reason, in my mind, the cheaper price would entice more readers. But, apparently what I've read was correct. I've sold a copy of Alliance on Amazon within 24 hours of it being published there. That's pretty good. Didn't think people would look at Sweet Endless Terror on there, but a couple of days ago I sold the first copy on there. Didn't know about it until today. So, yay!:iconyayhanatamagoplz:People are looking into them. Now that each book has had a copy sold, Amazon shows their rankings, and can suggest it more often. Like, in the 'people also bought' section. So, there is a certain amount of visibility if it's purchased, and that increases with each buy. 

I also found out that I could embed previews on sites. Each one leads to a sample, and people can buy it through that, as well. So, I decided to put it on here. They're a little bigger than I expected. I used the smallest size. Also, this way people can see what they actually look like. I might share it on twitter, too. Not sure about Tumblr, but I might see. Kind of fun.

They also have an Author Central section. You put up a bio, have pics and links to your books, fans can comment, you can share blurbs, fans can be notified about events and when another book is published, list events, and more. If people click the link that has the author's name next to their books, they go directly to this hub. Like my little space on Amazon.:iconsleepygreeceplz:

I'm thinking of also using their free print distributor. You don't get nearly as much royalty as you would for an ebook, but it would be interesting to see how those go. Still would get something from it. Print prices are more expensive than ebooks, because there's more material and labor that goes into it. Totally makes sense. I'll get to choose the back covers, so that should be fun.:iconheroamericaplz:For Alliance, I'm thinking of using the full original pic that I used for what's in the teardrop. Maybe flip it or invert it someway, to make it feel like the viewer's looking at a different angle. Like, they've gone to the other side of that wall. I took the pic, so I can mess with it however I like. I think it'll be cool that way. For Sweet Endless Terror, I might draw and color in a long ribbon around a knife that's pointed down. It'll represent 2 of the stories. It'd definitely fit the horror theme. Maybe I'll have blood on the knife? Could have some fun with it. I also get to choose the size of the book. If it's too small Alliance will end up looking really thick. So, I'll have to see. There's also an option of plain white pages or a yellowish warm color. Lots more stuff I haven't thought about before.:iconthinkinghkplz:I'm going to have to make a print friendly version of both books, too. So, no links to chapters and such. That would look weird. So, it'll take some time. Once it's all accepted, you get a copy of it a couple of weeks later. It'll be cool to see them in print form.:iconchibihungaryplz:It's print-on-demand, so as soon as an order happens, they put it together and ship it out. 

I might as well edit Alliance again as I make a print version. I don't like how the beginning of that one turned out. The rest is fine. Also, it's been 3 years since the first published version. I'll have fresher eyes. Recently, I've already started reading through it, because I'm thinking of writing its sequel. I've been writing out an outline as I go so I remember what happened. Also, details I thought I would use later in the book, were never used. I could use them with the next one. I like how Sweet Endless Terror turned out, and it seems more put together. Had less errors. So, I won't need to edit much with that one. Might still read the whole thing again.

I also submitted Sweet Endless Terror as an entry for a Bram Stoker award. It passed the verification process.:iconeestiplz:Now I just have to wait for the 'jury' to read it. Then, I think it moves on to their membership picking the best out of 5 nominees. Even if you're just a nominee, you can put an electronic seal saying you are. It still gives you recognition. You also get a certificate. If you win your category, you get a trophy that looks like a haunted house. Inside the doors, it has a plaque with the title of the book that won and the author's name. Kind of fun, and interesting. It looks rather big. Not sure where I'd put it if I won...:iconchibigilbertplz:I highly doubt I will, though. It's in their Collections category. The verifier was slightly confused by it. An anthology on the most basic level just means a collection of writings. They have another category titled Anthology. They say that the anthology category is for 'collections' with multiple authors. Anthology does not necessarily mean 'multiple authors'.:iconsighingplz:So, their own terminology seems to be off a bit. Since it was written by one author, I can only submit it to the Collections instead. I explained this to the verifier, and she agreed. She said it definitely makes more sense the way I have it. That was the only thing that threw her off a bit. Not sure how many people will actually submit to my category. It'd be awesome if there weren't that many.

It's free to submit your entry, so that's nice. The awards are given out at a dinner banquet. It's during the middle of a horror writers' convention. You don't have to attend that, though. That's about 5 days long. They have it at a different venue every year. This time it's on a supposedly haunted ship called the Queen Mary.:iconscaredplz:It also has a museum, restaurants, and is also a hotel. It's in California. Not sure if I'd want to go there...Many of the people attending the con are going to be staying at the hotel on the ship. The rooms actually look nice online. I think I read somewhere that if you can't attend the banquet, you can do it virtually and accept it through Skype or something. Or, they just recognize the person and book at the banquet. They'll mail you the trophy and/or certificate. I'd be cool with that. Plus, it wouldn't cost much, if anything. It's in April. So, there's a while until then.

I've lost another size in jeans. Yay!:iconranranruuplz:Found out yesterday. We were already at the mall, and Dad needed jeans. So, I decided to try on the next size down. I was very doubtful that I'd fit into it. I was astonished that it did. Apparently, I was only at the size beforehand for about 7 months. (I went through my facebook to see. Didn't actually get those jeans until 5 months ago.) I think that's the shortest amount of time I've had between sizes.:iconwtfukplz:They do say the smaller sizes might go by faster than the plus sizes, but that's crazy! I've gone down just slightly more than 5 sizes in total. At my heaviest, my jeans were too tight. So, I think saying it's just over, is close enough. I worked out that I must have lost around 10-12 inches from my waist. That's a lot.:wow:Feels really weird. My bones are a lot more pronounced, and I'm not used to that. I'm at the same size I was around a year before high school, now. Was at it for a while. I was at the next size down for a bit, too. It'd be even cooler to be at that size. I don't think I've been in the regular sizes smaller than that. So, being smaller than that would be interesting. I certainly don't want to become underweight, but I think I have a while until then. I'm estimating that I've lost roughly 120-125 pounds since my heaviest. Based on what I was last time I was at this size. That's like another person!
I'm not quite in the mindset to weigh myself yet. After being heavy for so long, I feel weird about weighing myself on the scale. Not sure when I'll 'feel' like doing so. If I'm around the weight I'm estimating, I only have to lose around 15-20 more pounds to be considered right in the middle of normal for my height. Not bad. I want to aim for that point. Not be less or more, just right smack dab in the middle.:iconberwaldplz:

I'm still in a lot of pain, but trying to do as many things as I can. I thought I was gaining weight, since it's been too painful to do my regular walks. The pain itself, I think, has messed with the way I feel about my weight, too. I still limit my calories and move around quite a bit. Usually, that moving around is in short spurts throughout the day. It must still be helping. 

Anyways, I'm going to see a new gastroenterologist on the 20th. She's actually a nurse, but has lots of experience and is on a couple of CCFA committees. She sounds really good, and apparently her patients rave about her all the time. It'll be in Tacoma. A little easier to get to than Seattle. My primary referred me out of network after some back and forth. The place that she's at has an IBD center right next to their main building. They're called the Digestive Health Specialists. Sounds like they really know their stuff. I might have to switch to either remicade or humira. Remicade is given through an IV, and with humira you have to give yourself shots. I'd rather have the IV route.:iconlietplz:I don't think I could give myself shots. I'll see what this new gastro says. She might suggest something totally different.

Rosh Hashanah, our New Year, is a month away. I won't be attending any of the High Holy Day services at the 2 synagogues near me. I'm on an immunosuppressant, and most likely will be on a heavier and more potent one by then. I managed to get sick after just the first evening service for RH last year. By the time Yom Kippur day services came around, I was too sick to go. I'll attend services online. Some synagogues that broadcast their services live have their prayer books online, so you can follow along. Those same ones have their machzors (High Holy Day prayer books) online, too. Pretty neat. I'm thinking of making my mom's honey cake for RH, too. I think I found the recipe. It's amazing!:iconchibispainplz:And, it'll bring a bit more of the holiday home. It has all sorts of stuff in it. Honey, chocolate chips, citrus peel (can't remember if it was lemon or orange), coffee grounds, and more. Makes for a rich and complex taste. 

I feel bad and a bit guilty that I won't be able to physically go.:iconraivisplz:But, it's considered a mitzvah to take care of or protect your health. I can't fast on YK, and I've felt very conflicted about that for several years. They say it'd be a sin to fast, if fasting would affect your health. I should think like that more often. At least, for not physically going to services, I have the option of having some form of them.

I might feature some youtube vids next time. Found quite a few. I don't usually find so many good ones. So, more to look forward to, I guess. 

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