New Website Coming Soon

All it takes is my previous website software to EOL (end of life) and an upgrade to Windows 10 (it destroyed my hard drive and my software, too) to send everything I’ve done into a tailspin. I love my website, too. But, I have no desire to spend another $125 in website software that operates via the cloud without any reassurance that I’ll even be able to salvage what I have. So sadly, it’s time to move on. Besides, the only thing I can do with my website right now

I’ve spent a good part of this weekend rebuilding my website using Weebly. I’m scared to death, too, because I’ve never used it before. I wanted to try something different and I didn’t want to change my host either. I like Bluehost. Unfortunately, Bluehost doesn’t have a deal with Wix, which is currently hosting another website I have with my other writing alias. I’ve heard some good things about Weebly, so it wasn’t a far stretch for me to give them a try. Plus, if it’s point and click, I’m all over it. My time is precious, so I’d rather spend as less time as possible monkeying around with my website.

So far, I like the results. I especially like my new Bookshelf page. Also, there’s going to be a new addition. I’ve decided to try this thing called a newsletter, which I’ll be doing via MailChimp. Fingers crossed it goes well because for some reason the domain verification has been a beast.

Anyway, cross your fingers that all goes well because I’m hoping to unveil my new website very soon.

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Two Submission in Less Than a Week

Yes, I’m very proud of myself. ūüôā Both The Underground Portal (Portal book #2) and Strained (Alexa York book #3) have been sitting on my back burner for a little while, but not because I ran out of steam. It’s been a whirlwind for me and my family over the past two months.

It all started in March when it was time to start looking for a new job in Charlotte, NC. I had found one and accepted their offer. Not only that, but we were in the middle of moving to a safer neighborhood, too. Low and behold, another job opportunity came knocking. I didn’t think much of it because I thought the interview went “okay”. Well, it went better than that. They had given me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

So, I packed up my family for Greenville, South Carolina. Woohoooooooooooo! ūüėÄ

Of course, I had traded the stories in my head for To Do lists. We had to move twice in less than six weeks. For the Greenville leg, I had two weeks to find us a place to live (taking into account good schools and safe neighborhood), find movers (Moving Help by Uhaul saved our lives), pack (I love my mom), and still put in the last five days at the old job.

Like moving to any new city, you need time to settle in. We’ve been doing that for a 1.5+ months and it’s been okay, so far. Slowly, I’ve worked writing back into my schedule while at the same time, doing some experimental promoting with The Light at the End of Judgment and Day and Stricken.

And through all of that, somehow, I managed to get those two manuscripts off to my amazing publishers, Mocha Memoirs Press and Purple Sword Publications. Whew!

Hello, Greenville, SC! :mrgreen:

THE LIGHT AT THE END OF JUDGMENT AND DAY – Review Tour and a Prize

So if you’re still on the fence about whether to put my book on your TBR pile, you’ll get a chance to see if it’s worth it because I have a Review Tour coming up in a few days. Even if you’re still not convinced, you should still comment because there will be a drawing for a $15 gift card at the end. Sounds good?

A huge thanks to Goddess Fish Promotions for putting this together for me.

UPDATE Review: the Double Power (DoPo) Tabl‚Äčet…Sort of

I wouldn’t normally do an updated review of anything unless there was an extreme¬†need for it.¬† Trust me, there is a need for it when it comes to the Double Power tablet.¬† And believe it or not, it’s not the tablet that pissed me off.

So as the story goes, I highly recommend the DoPo MD-702¬†in a previous post.¬† In fact,¬†¬†I loved¬†it so much that I bought two MD-702 (Android 2.3)¬†and¬†a T-708 (Android 4.0).¬† My daughter came up to me one day and said she couldn’t get her MD-702 to come on.¬† So, I took a look at it.¬† I¬†couldn’t get it to come on the usual way, so I inserted a pin to reboot it to come on.¬† It did.¬† Unfortunately, when it got the Android screen, it died.¬† Thinking it was a fluke, I tried it again.¬† And again.¬† And again.¬† At this point, I knew something was wrong.¬† So, I called customer service.

The folks at customer service said this was a common problem and that I needed to pay a $50¬†service fee to send it back.¬† Keep in mind that the $50 bucks was because I owned the tablet was beyond the 90-day warranty.¬† So, I didn’t see the harm because I only paid the $138 for it.¬† I sent it off, they fixed it, and sent it back.¬† Not only that, but I also learned that this apparently a common problem among the MD-702’s.

I hadn’t even had the damn thing for a week before it started doing the same thing again.¬† Whatever fix they¬†administered, it¬†didn’t take.¬† Furious, I reached out to customer service again and¬†asked is there a warranty on their so-called fix because there was no way¬†I was paying another¬†$50 to ship this thing out again.¬† ¬†Customer service sounded extremely disappointed about the situation and agreed to send me a shipping label so I wouldn’t have to pay for it.¬† Keep in mind this happened back on August 21, 2012 and I have the email to prove it.

It’s been officially two months and nothing has happened.¬† ūüė°¬† Companies say it costs¬†them 6x as much to find a customer than it is to keep one.¬† My only guess is that the DoPo people must be rolling in enough dough not to care about losing a few to the growing mini tablet market.¬† I’ll be testing that theory when I’m ready to buy my next one.

So, yes!¬† I was upset that the tablet had stopped working and was willing to chalk it up as these things will happen.¬† It’s technology, and I know enough about it that there are always flukes on the assembly line.¬† However, the lack of customer service followthrough has left me more pissed off than the actual tablet itself.

Luckily, I still have one MD-702 that works and a T-708 that’s actually nicer than its predecessor.¬† But given what I’ve been through, I’m extremely hesitant about recommending the T-708.¬† It can be a¬†great tablet when it works, but a piece of crap if it malfunctions and you can’t get the company to fix it.

So, if you’re in the market for a T-708,¬†do yourself a favor by purchasing a service¬†agreement with it.¬† You’ll save yourself the headache and¬†possibly¬†a $50 service fee from a company where customer satisfaction ranks as high as gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe.

DoPo Customer Service: 0 out of 5 stars

If I get a response, I’ll revisit this post

 

REVIEW – My Disney World Vacation

So I think we’ve finally recovered from our trip to Disney World last week.¬† I’ve been wanting to write this post as things were happening, but that just wasn’t the case.¬† Things were happening too fast and on the “supposed” last day of our vacation, Little Bit got horribly sick.¬† Even worse, she passed whatever she had onto Grammie¬†and me.¬† Thanks a bunch, kiddo.¬† We owe you.¬† ‚Ěó¬† We ended up staying an extra day because I wasn’t about to put Little Bit in the car for a 12-hour drive back home after her fever had only broken about four hours prior.

Anyway, I wanted to give you guys a review of Disney World, specifically the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, since those are the only parks we went to.¬† Why you ask?¬† After spending four days and five nights, that’s all you did?

Yeah.¬† It’s because Disney World doesn’t cater to toddlers.¬† The Magic Kingdom is about as good as it gets in terms of rides that everyone can go on.¬† And if you’re willing to pay $89 per adult ticket and $84–I think–for kids 3 to 9 years old, then knock yourself out.¬† We ended up going to the Magic Kingdom three times (once for Mickey’s Not So Scary Party and the third time was more so spur of the moment).¬† We chanced the Animal Kingdom because we wanted a change in pace.¬† And from what I recall, we could only ride two of the rides with Little Bit.

I’m disappointed in Disney because my toddler knows “Mickey’s Castle”, Donald Duck, and Twinkle Bell.¬† She’s a HUGE fan!¬† I’m sure my toddler isn’t the only one.¬† It would’ve been nice–and worth my time and money–to see the other Disney Parks acknowledge that with more than just a lousy “toddler area” where they can play.¬† My child can play in the park for free¬†at home.¬† Even though she was admitted into the parks for free because she’s 2, the price that my mother and I paid to get in–that millions of parents pay to get in–should be enough to put up a few rides for our toddlers.¬† Just sayin’.

So let me mention a few specifics that really bothered me.¬† Disney upped the price of the tickets, which doesn’t surprise me.¬† What did was any ride that involved revolutions, you got three before the ride stopped.¬† That means you get three revolutions on the Flying Dumbo and that’s it.¬† Less than thirty seconds before you had to get off.¬† Prince Charming’s Carousel, the same thing.¬† Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride, ditto.¬† How the hell can Disney justify the price hike and not give us a little incentive like increasing the ride times?¬† Not only that, but those who can’t afford to eat at Disney, there are these “fresh market” stands where they offer snacks and fruits.¬† Forgive me, if I don’t want to pay $3 for a small container of grapes that will probably cost me $0.99 at the grocery store.¬† It’s the principle of the thing, really.

Now for the things I liked.¬† Magic Your Way tickets/cards are awesome!¬† No wait in line to buy your tickets, if you buy them in advance and across multiple days.¬† Not only that, but you’re allowed to bring snacks into the park with you.¬† You can’t bring a cooler filled with food, but if it hadn’t been for our grapes, cheese and crackers, pretzels,¬†Doritos, and juice boxes, we would’ve been SOL with the other people in the overcrowded restaurants.¬† And given that Little Bit is as picky as a toddler comes, that was especially life-saving.¬† Oh, and how could we not like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party?¬† Little Bit loved trick-or-treating around the park and getting candy.¬† I liked that in one spot they were handing out bananas instead of candy.¬† What can I say?¬† I’m a mom.¬† ūüėČ

Now just as a side note, we stayed at the Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista.¬† We won’t be staying there again.¬† The hotel room was nice…until we got to the bathroom.¬† The shower curtains were old and the bath mat looked like they hadn’t changed that thing out since the hotel was built.¬† But that’s not the main thing that turned me off.¬† We went on a timeshare for the same reason everyone goes on a timeshare.¬† And like everyone else, we were lied to in terms of how long the presentation would take from at Wyndham Bonnet Creek.¬† Instead of the promised 2 hours, it took 4.¬† All of it was arranged by the Clarion.¬† It wasn’t until I got loud and insulting that Wyndham finally free us from captivity.¬† I was so freaking annoyed that I took my frustrations to the line in the hotel where we got our discounted tickets and nearly staged a revolt among the other pissed– also lied to–people in line.¬† In all, I blame the Clarion for this and that’s why I’ll never stay there again.¬† Oh, and let’s not mention that they decided to change a transformer during our stay, meaning half of our room was without power for almost half of the day.

One last note.¬† If you’re thinking about going to Disney Quest because you’ve never been there, save your money.¬† No freakin’ way is their lousy 5-story arcade worth the $44 (I think) ticket to get inside.¬† Even worse, we found only one simulator ride in the whole place.¬† Seriously, it’s a waste of time.¬† We got those tickets for free, so I’m not complaining.¬† Still, I wish I had chosen Blizzard Beach or Typhon Lagoon instead.¬† But as I said, don’t waste your time or money at Disney Quest.

In all, we’ll go to Disney again, but it’ll be sometime in 2014 when I’m sure my daughter will be able to ride more rides.¬† Not only that, I’ll need those two years to save up enough money to make it happen.¬† The average family of four will probably need around $2500 for a 4-day trip to Disney and that’s assuming you don’t stay on the property.¬† You don’t go there unless you have enough money to spend.¬† Otherwise, you’re deluding yourself.¬† It’s expensive, but the thrill in Little Bit’s voice when she saw the castle from the ferry was worth every grumbling penny.

Magic Kingdom (traveling with a toddler):  B

Animal Kingdom (traveling with a toddler): C-

Downtown Disney (traveling with a toddler): B

Disney Quest (regardless of age):  D-

Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista: C

Feeling Great About 2012

So I’m still on the edge of my seat waiting for Wal-Mart to contact me that they have my DoPo¬†ready for pickup.¬† I so hope all of the five-star reviews are true and not some people Wal-Mart hired to post them.¬† I’m so glad I ordered mine when I did because they’re all sold out now.

A few great things have happened to me today.¬† First, my horoscope is rockin’!¬† Even though I don’t regularly follow these things, this one might be worth remembering, since it starts off with “This is a year of fabulous fortune for you, Leo, especially in the career realm.”¬† Oh, baby, can I live with that.¬† ūüėČ

Also, I got an email from one of the coordinators at MystiCon.¬† There’s still room for book signings, so I signed up for Sunday morning.¬† Yeah, I know, there’s a lot of partying going on the night before, which means nobody will show up to my signing.¬† But, that’s okay.¬† At least I can say I tried.¬† Of course, that’s not the really¬†cool part.¬† I LOVE me some panels!¬† I love talking with readers about books and having a blast goofing around with audience members.¬† Seriously, it’s my favorite part of conventions, which is why I like doing them whenever I can.¬† Oh, and did I mention Sherrilyn Kenyon will be there?¬† I’ll definitely pass out on the cold, hard floor if they put me on a panel with her.¬† She is one of my top 10 favorite authors of all-time.

It could also be that I’m reading¬†too much into things and those 2.5 hours of sleep I had last night are turning me into a potato head.¬† I hope not because I¬†finished polishing Hazardous Environment while waiting for the sun to come up.¬† I still feel like I need one more read through before I send it off to my editor, so we’ll see.¬† The goal is still to release this book later this month, so keep your fingers crossed.

What’s the Color of Your Lens?

For the life of me, I can’t recall if I’ve ever touched on the topic of skin color or not on my blog.¬† All I know is whenever I come across things like this, I realize there are some people in some¬†serious need of sensitivity training or just good home training.¬† Hell, I’ll just settle for manners.

First, I have not read The Hunger Games and don’t know if/when I will.¬† I’m really not into dystopian, but could be persuaded if the story is good enough and I’m in the right mood.¬† Nonetheless, I applaud Suzanne Collins for seeing the world through more than just one-skin-tone glasses.¬† There should be more books that support a mixed cast of characters, rather than the single one the author sees in their mirror.¬† To me, it’s one of the easiest ways to add some believability to a story.¬† And if all else fails, you can always have a token black like Hollywood does and kill them off midway through the story.¬† Not!¬† ūüė°

In the case of the commentors who commented on Cinna, we African-Americans can have a “calm temper and quiet personality” believe it or not.¬† In fact, I can give you a couple of names, if you want them.¬† We are also “flamboyant” when we want to be.¬† I can name a couple of friends that fit that profile, too.¬† Since when does being “sweet and loving” only apply to white people?¬† If that’s the case, then you should meet my Chinese friend Min who more than fits that bill.¬† The same goes for my friend Diane who happens to be black. ¬†I’m guessing you’ve never met my friend Munerah (from Yemen) either.¬† Those are just¬†a few comments that really prick my brown skin.¬† Talk about being insensitive.¬† Too bad we’re not as willy-nilly with our opinions when it comes to talking about someone who’s disabled or has Down’s Syndrome.¬† A simple, “I didn’t know Cinna was black” would have sufficed, due to the¬†lack of a better description around Cinna.¬†Better yet, taking a moment to think before posting a derogatory comment like those seen on Facebook would’ve been better.

The part that really¬†kills me is Suzanne Collins specifically described Rue as “She has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that, she‚Äôs very like Prim in size and demeanor.”¬† Dark.¬† Brown.¬†¬†Skin.¬† And yet, people seemed shocked about the DARK BROWN SKINNED girl chosen in the poster.¬† Was something missed in the translation?¬† Should the description have been in ebonics or gangsta-speak¬†to make sure everyone understood?¬† I sure hope not.

Your thoughts?¬† Sadly, I still think we have a long way to go when it comes to race relations.¬† For my daughter’s biracial sake, I hope we resolve these ridiculous issues in her life time, if not mine.