A to Z Challenge – O is for Origami Owl

Blogging from A to Z April 2013 Challenge

O is for Origami Owl – I should get double points for that.

This is my new favorite thing. It’s jewelry. Guys! Don’t turn away here. It’s cute, it’s inexpensive, it’s online, she’ll love it.

spring-style

You must purchase a locket. You may also want to purchase a chain, an inside disc for the locket, and a charm to hang off the chain. But here’s the best part. The charms that go inside the locket are generally $5. You can’t beat that price. It’s so affordable, you can change charms and styles on a whim.

I wanted one for myself but couldn’t decide on charms, so I bought one for my daughter instead. I know what she likes. I got a T for her boyfriend’s name, a dog for her puppy, an apple because she’s a teacher, a D and Z for her Delta Zeta sorority, and a few other cute things. I also got a heart-shaped charm to hang off the chain. That’s for her momma’s love. Awwww.

Sooooo cute!!

Click here to check out their site.

A to Z Challenge – N is for Narration

Blogging from A to Z April 2013 Challenge

N is for Narration

Do you have a book out? Have you thought about turning it into an audio book?

If you hire someone to narrate it, you will pay between $200 and $400 per finished hour. Ouch. Or you can cut a deal with a narrator at ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) for 50% of your profits for 10 years. Double Ouch. However, most will not cut a deal with you unless you have at least three books out and they are all selling well. If you bypass the professionals and ask your brother-in-law who knows a guy in a band who has a musician friend who owns a studio AND sweet talk the cute neighbor with the really great voice do it, it could be an ouch to your pocketbook and a big Oh No to your listeners.

So, that leaves you with very limited options, the most obvious being, do it yourself!

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You CAN do it yourself with a very limited budget and a great deal of patience. You can buy recording software, a USB converter box, headphones, a microphone, a mic stand, mic cord, and windscreen….and action! Before you hit the record button, there are a few things to keep in mind. I have been a recording profession my whole life, so I know a thing or two about studio production. Besides the obvious task of checking with the site you will upload it to for their specifications, do/don’t do the following:

1. Don’t wear jewelry. Jingle-jangles wreck your story.

2. Don’t wear clothing that rubs. Leather, corduroy, nylon are all no-nos. Tshirts and sweats are good studio clothes.

3. Don’t eat or drink anything that makes your mouth sticky, but do eat something light before you record, so your stomach doesn’t growl in the middle of the best scene.

4. Get a nice level (volume) on your screen, somewhere close to the loudest without going into the red. Red is bad.

5. Sit as close to the microphone as possible and read the script from something silent – try your ipad.

6. Get rid of all animals, ticking clocks (including watches, covered in #1), cell phones, and don’t record while your furnace or air conditioner is running. Florescent light also make a humming noise. Turn them off.

7. Sit up straight so you are breathing well. Posture is everything. In life, too.

8. Read the story as if you’re reading it to a child, with lots of inflection. Monotone is monotonous.

9. THE. MOST. IMPORTANT. ITEM. Read  s  l  o  w  l  y. Even when the climax is coming, read higher and louder, but DO NOT speed up…E V E R.

10. Record each chapter beginning with “Chapter 1, The Beginning.” Add a two second pause then start the chapter. Save the chapters in separate files named ‘chapter1’ ‘chapter2’ etc.

11. Include three additional files: A) The Opening: Title, written by, narrated by. B) The Closing: This has been title, written by, narrated by, copyright year and publisher, production copyright year and publisher. C) The Sample: A sample file consisting of 1-5 minutes of the story. You can choose any part you want, but it should not contain The Opening, Closing, or Chapter Name, just the story. This will be used by Audible, Amazon, or wherever you upload it to to give potential customers a sample of your story and your voice.

12. Pack your patience. You will not be able to read a whole book in one day. Don’t even try. Even professionals will only do a chapter or two per day. Your voice can’t take it, neither can your brain. It’s a lot of work. Take frequent breaks – every 10-15 minutes. Rest your vocal chords for a few minutes, sip water, stand up and stretch. Vocal chords are a muscle. Work them, then let them rest.

13. Be brave and give it a try. No one knows your story like you do. You may not like the sound of your own voice, but everyone else loves it. What are you waiting for? Maybe you will be the BEST narrator ever, and I will see you next year as one of the ‘talents’ on ACX.

Good Luck!!

A to Z Challenge – M is for Morris

Blogging from A to Z April 2013 Challenge

M is for Morris

My post about James C Howington caused a bit of a stir when I mentioned his great grandfather Robert Morris signed the Declaration of Independence. Therefore, here is an entire post devoted to Robert Morris.

My sixth great grandfather was Robert Morris Jr., signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of the Confederation, and the U. S. Constitution. Also, wearer of a stylish tricorn hat!

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He was born in January 1734 in Liverpool, England to Robert Sr. and Elizabeth Murphet. He had 4 brothers and 3 sisters. His father was a tobacco merchant, who traded extensively with America and moved to America when Robert was a small boy. Eventually his father sent for him, and he arrived in America in 1744. While he studied in Philadelphia, his father resided in Maryland and died in an accident when wadding from a ship gun being fired in his honor, struck and killed him.  I am not sure what happened to his mother. There are records of an Elizabeth Morris dying in Liverpool in 1778, but biographies of Robert say upon the death of his father, he was left an orphan at the age of 15. Those reports say his mother died when he was two, and he was raised by his maternal grandmother until he moved to America.

Following his father’s death, he served as an apprentice to a merchant in Philadelphia and upon the merchant’s death, he entered a partnership with the merchant’s son. It was called “Willing, Morris & Co.” and would last until 1793. One can understand he was trying to make a living from the goods he was shipping so was NOT happy with the tariffs and taxes Great Britain placed on those goods. They vastly cut into his profits. He signed a non-importation agreement with other merchants of Philadelphia that they would no longer trade goods with Great Britain. This must have been a considerable financial sacrifice.

By 1775, the colonist had finally had enough and wanted a separation from the British government. Later that same year, Robert was elected to the Continental Congress that met in Philadelphia (not in Washington D.C.). War was brewing. The Declaration of Independence was approved on July 4, 1776, but the actual signing didn’t take place until August 2. declaration

signers

During the war, he was instrumental in securing funds to supply the soldiers, including loaning 100,000 pounds of his own money and financing 80% of all bullets fired in the war.

Following the war, he was instrumental in creating the national bank. He was then appointed Senator for Pennsylvania, and in 1789, President George Washington appointed him Secretary of the Treasury, but he declined the office.

Unwise land purchases led to his bankruptcy in 1798, and he spent a few years in debtor’s prison. Following his release in 1801, he led a quiet life and died in relative poverty at the age of 73 in 1806.

howington james c great grandparents robert and mary morrisThere is not much detailed information about his private life, but he married Mary White in 1769, and they had 5 sons and 2 daughters. She probably had no idea that her husband would commit treason against the Crown and there would be a storm of war ahead of them, and certainly had no idea he would spend three years in prison, but she stood beside him through the good and bad until his death.

He is buried in the family vault of Bishop William White, his brother-in-law, at Christ Church churchyard in Philadelphia.

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I am a member of many patriotic organizations including the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Daughters of the American Revolution. There is a group called the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. I guess I should check that out.

A to Z Challenge – L is for Lori…duh

Blogging from A to Z April 2013 Challenge

L is for Lori

Well, of course it is.

It’s also for Late. I am late posting this because I’ve been on the road all weekend. If you don’t know me personally, I am an indie author by day, but by night, I’m a dueling piano player. I’ve slept about 6 hours in the last two days and the couch is calling my name, so until next time, here’s me at my real job. This was obviously taped on a Saturday following four straight nights of dueling piano insanity. If you don’t know, singers are only allotted so many high notes in any given week. 😛

Thanks to my film-maker friend, Phil Koch, for the video.

A to Z Challenge – K is for Kin

Blogging from A to Z April 2013 Challenge

K is for Kin

I began studying my ancestors as a teen, starting with my mom’s family. My mom was a Culpepper. There are a lot of Culpeppers out there with records dating back to English Lords, Sirs, Sheriffs, and Justices of the Peace, so they are not hard to trace. With the invention of the internet, it became easier and easier.

The Culpepper name, originally Colepeper, is believed to hail from Sir Thomas de Colepeper, born 1170 in Kent, England. ‘De’ meaning of or from; ‘Cul’ meaning bottom (in French); and the family was from Pembury, originally known as Pepenbury, so the full translation is ‘of the bottom of Pepenbury.’ Makes sense. Eventually the ‘de’ was dropped as it fell out of fashion.

Back in the 1990s, I traced back to my favorite Culpepper ancestor. I don’t know why he’s my favorite; he just intrigues me. His name was John Culpepper. He was my 12th great grandfather. He was born in 1530 in Salehurst, Sussex, England and died 20 Oct 1612. He owned Wigsell Manor (pictured below) which he inherited from his father William Culpepper. His mother was Cicely Barrett, and much later in my research I found the Barretts, who married into the Bellhouse and Poyntz families, to be just as interesting as the Culpeppers. They were big in politics and owned enormous estates, making Wigsell look like a little cottage. It’s quite possible Cicely married beneath her. Perhaps she married for love. ♥

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wigsell in snowwigsell

There are no records of John’s education. He seems to have lived a quiet life. He married Elizabeth Sedley around 1560 and records show they had about seven children. Records for female children are far and few between, but he did have a daughter named Cicely, named after his mother. He was a Justice of the Peace, and the only public records of him are testimonies in Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Council from 1558 to 1592. Following the chaos of King Henry VIII’s rule, bloody Queen Mary’s rule, and finally Queen Elizabeth’s, the country was in political and religious turmoil. That may be why he lived such a quiet life. If you didn’t, you would surely be beheaded or burned at the stake for something.

He died at the age of 82, considerable for the time, and is buried at Salehurst Church as “Johanes Colepeper, armiger, etatis 82.”  The word ‘armiger’ means ‘entitled to the coat of arms.’ The Culpepper Coat of Arms graces the church wall near the front door. (I also have it tattooed on my back.) RIP grandpa Johanes.

salehurst churchsalehurstarmsJohn_Lord_Colepeper_Armsculpepper tat

Update: By special request, here’s my tat.

The bottom is French and means, “I hope.”

A to Z Challenge – J is for James C Howington

Blogging from A to Z April 2013 Challenge

J is for James C Howington 

James was my 3rd great grandfather. He was born in Wake County, NC on 15 Jan 1823 to Nimrod Howington and Milbury Bradley.  He was the second born of thirteen children. He was 5′ 11″ and had auburn hair and gray/blue eyes.

At some point, he ended up in Sumter Co, AL and married Amelia “Ann” Smith on 24 Sept 1843. His son also married a Smith (my great great grandparents), and I heard through family members that she was a Choctaw Indian. The Indians were all but run out of MS and AL in the 1830s following the signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. The ones who stayed changed their names to assimilate into the white European culture. They chose names like Smith, so there is a good chance Amelia was an Indian also.

By 1850, they had taken up residence in Newton Co, MS and had ten children before the start of the Civil War. James signed up with the 5th Mississippi Infantry, Co. A, on 7 July 1862. He was captured 15 Jun 1864 and held prisoner at Rock Island, Illinois. When the war ended, he returned home and they had two more children.

james c howington pow

His great grandparents (my 6th greats) were Robert and Mary Morris. I’ll let you look them up yourself, but it is proof we have been here in the U.S. for a very long time. Oh, all right, I know you won’t go look. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. You’ll go look now, won’t you? Yeah, that was my pappy. We seem to have a rebellious streak in our family.howington james c great grandparents robert and mary morris

James died around 1880 at the age of 57 and is buried in Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery, a few miles from his home.

howington James C Howington Headstone

A to Z Challenge – I is for ISBN

Blogging from A to Z April 2013 Challenge

I is for ISBN

Or

Everything You Never Wanted To Know About The Dreaded Card Catalogue

The nine-digit Standard Book Number (SBN) was created by Gordon Fosters in 1965. In 1970, the International Organization for Standardization created the ten-digit ISBN. The nine-digit can become a ten-digit by adding the digit 0 to the front. In 2007, the book world began using a thirteen-digit number. Every medium needs its own individual ISBN number: paperback, hardcover, 2nd edition, ebook, etc.

The digits are divided by dashes, as in 978-0-9883545-0-0. (That’s my ISBN for my paperback “Okatibbee Creek.”)

The first group of numbers indicated the language, with 978 and 979 being English.

The second group is one to five digits and indicates the country; 0 or 1 for English speaking, 2 for French, 3 for German, and so on. The more obscure the country, the longer the number.

The third group is the publisher code. Here’s the rub on that one. No agency offers a listing of those numbers, so you couldn’t look up the catalogue of a publisher’s works if you tried.

The final digit is the check digit. It’s a whole crazy modular mathematical calculation that goes something like: Take the first twelve numbers and multiply them by 1 and 3 alternately. Then add those numbers up and divide by 10. Subtract the leftover. Whatever remains is the “check digit” or more simply “the last number.”  All right, here, I’ll show you using my number.

978-0-9883545-0-0

(9×1) + (7×3) + (8×1) + (0x3) + (9×1) + (8×3) + (8×1) + (3×3) + (5×1) + (4×3) + (5×1) + (0x3) =

9 + 21+ 8 + 0 + 9 + 24 + 8 + 9 + 5 + 12 + 5 + 0 =

110 / 10 = 11

1-1 = 0

Or something like that…

When you publish a book, you must obtain an ISBN number from your country, and then you can sell your book around the world. Note that ebooks are not required to have an ISBN. Here in the States, ISBN numbers run $125 each, but in Canada, they are managed by the government and are free. Go figure.

If you have a block of ten-digit ISBNs sitting around, you can turn them into thirteen digits by adding the language code (978) up front and the check digit at the end. Good luck with that.

Don’t even get me started on barcodes.

Here ends our class for today.

A to Z Challenge – H is for Hays

Blogging from A to Z April 2013 Challenge

H is for Hays

I write a lot about my Rodgers ancestors, but playing just as an important role in the fact that I am sitting here are my Hays ancestors.

My fifth great grandma was Elizabeth “Elly” Hays. She was born just before the start of the Revolutionary War either in Tennessee or North Carolina to Samuel Hays and Elizabeth Pricilla Brawford. Records say North Carolina, but her father was born and died in Davison County, Tennessee, so NC seems strange. Her little brother, Charles, was also born in NC, so it is possible the family lived there for a while. And her paternal grandfather died in NC, so the family definitely had a connection there. I haven’t researched her thoroughly (yet), but it looks like she was the only girl with at least four brothers.

Elly was sixteen when she married James Rodgers in Tennessee on 20 Dec 1790. She birthed twelve children. In 1811, the family packed up and moved to the eastern Mississippi Territory – a place called Alabama, which wouldn’t become a state for a few more years. You know how difficult it is going on a road trip with little kids in the car? Imagine being on a wagon for days with a dozen of the little rug rats and not a McDonalds in sight.

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ban-mcdonalds

This was a time in history when the U. S. was flexing its political muscle and tensions were escalating, leading up to the War of 1812. And little did the Rodgers family know, they were moving into Creek territory. Not only were the Creek Indians fighting the U.S. Government, they had also broken into two sanctions and were fighting amongst themselves. The Rodgers family moved into the middle of a rat’s nest. They were harassed for years by the marauding Indians, taunting them and stealing their livestock, and the final straw, burning down their home.

In 1815, her two eldest sons, Hays (named after momma’s family) and Absolom, joined the Mississippi Militia to help fight off the hostile Creek Indians, and following the boy’s discharges in 1818, the family moved west to Lauderdale County, Mississippi.

Her husband died in Mississippi eight years later, and she moved back to Clarke County, Alabama and probably lived with her daughter Elizabeth. She died in Alabama in 1839 at the age of 65.

Elizabeth Hays Rodgers is the heroine of my coming book “Elly Hays” which is the third book in the Okatibbee Creek Series. It will be released Winter 2013.

A to Z Challenge – G is for Ghost Stories

Blogging from A to Z April 2013 Challenge

G is for Ghost Stories 

I am delighted and overjoyed to announce the best collaboration in the history of publishing—well, in my little world anyway.

I am currently finishing a ghost story/Mississippi legend called “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge” and the foreword will be penned by none other than Mr. Ghost Story himself, Pat Fitzhugh, the author of “Ghostly Cries from Dixie” and “The Bell Witch: The Full Account.” I have been a long-time admirer of Mr. Fitzhugh and his ghost stories and am excited to share this story with you through his eyes as well as mine.

In his words, “Lori and I share a passion for Southern history and legends, and our works complement each other nicely. Lori writes about the people, places, and events that made history. I write about the spiritual residue they left behind. Our collaboration comes naturally.”

~ or supernaturally ~ hehe.

Click on the links above to visit Stuckey’s facebook page and like it to stay up to date, and to visit Mr. Fitzhugh’s blog and book pages. Tell him Stuckey sent you.

Stuckey's cover_web“The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge” coming June 2013 to Amazon.

A to Z Challenge – F is for Formatting

Blogging from A to Z April 2013 Challenge

F is for Formatting 

In the publishing world – formatting is the Devil.

The following is a story of aggravation, so my indie author friends can point and laugh.

When I self-published “Okatibbee Creek,” I knew I would need someone to format it for me. There were two reasons. A) It had a lot of photographs and documents that needed to be included. B) I didn’t know squat about formatting. So, I paid a reputable (insert shitty) company to do the grunt work. I was told it was a six-week process, beginning with a mock-up, followed by a full format, followed by a paperback proof, followed by the finished product. The six weeks included the week-long time to incorporate any changes I would make at each stage of the process.

I requested a few specific things upfront: 1) I wanted the chapter titles to be the same font as the cover, 2) I wanted drop caps at the beginning of each chapter, 3) I wanted fleurons (the little fancy squiggles separating times or at the end of a chapter), and 4) there were letters included in the story, so I wanted those indented and a different font, perhaps something in the neighborhood of handwriting.

The first week became twelve days, and the mock up contained ZERO items on my above wish list.

Back to the drawing board.

The revisions (insert starting over from scratch) were supposed to take a week, and ended up taking another ten days, but the mock up came back perfect, except I didn’t get a sample of the indented, handwriting font for the letters, nor did I see one fleuron. Oh, well, take what you get at this point. We’re now well into November and I’d like to get this book out before the holidays.

The completed full format, supposedly a 10-day process, took another couple weeks, and it looked good…until the last 50 pages. Photos were in the wrong places with the wrong captions, single lines were left lonely at the bottom of a page when they obviously should have been at the top of the next page. One page actually had a paragraph in a totally unrelated font in a strange size just looming there for no reason at all. Apparently the formatter grew tired after lunch, or got into a fight with her boyfriend, or needed a Pepsi, or was anxious to get out the door and go on her Thanksgiving break.

I emailed the corrections – which would take another week (but probably more because of Thanksgiving).

After two weeks, I called them because I hadn’t heard back. Apparently, someone over there didn’t click the right button, and my file was hanging in limbo with no one working on it. They were sorry. How nice.

After another week, I received a paperback copy in the mail. It only needed two or three minor changes. Would they let me request those over the phone or by email and call it good? No. They needed me to download the full format, make the changes on the document, email it back to them, and they would incorporate the changes, and send me yet another paperback copy. Another ten days of waiting.

Finally, after ten weeks, it was finished. Of course it would take another week or so for it to appear on any of the online retailer’s sites. Being too late for holiday sales, I guess it didn’t really matter at this point. Sigh.

I received an email from them a month later asking me to fill out a survey about their services. Well, you can imagine what I wrote. Actually, I was very nice (insert a little bitchy) and told them specifically where things had fallen apart.

Here’s the rub. I got an email back, telling me I was WRONG. It explained that they were well within the six-week time frame they initially told me. They said I uploaded my manuscript on Oct 12, 2012, and they published the finished product on Dec 21, 2012. I don’t know how they figure that was six weeks. They must be using that Mayan calendar.

The moral of the story: I’ve spent the last three months learning how to format for paperback, Kindle, and Smashwords. I finished the formatting for my next book for all mediums in five days. 🙂