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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Day 127: 2.5 million dollar project (2)

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 127: 2.5 million dollar project (2)

There was a time when I woke up to the sound of silence, or birdsong, depending on the time of day. When I wake up at 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. I hear nothing at all, but when waking up around 6:00 a.m. (which doesn’t happen very often) I get greeted by a cacophony of birds all competing with each other with tweets, chirps, and songs.

Nowadays I wake up to a different loudness. With the parking project in full swing, the construction workers create their own kind of noise. A jackhammer, a type of mini bulldozer and two other machines all fight with one another over who can create the biggest racket.

Then there are the men. Most of the time they go about their job in ‘silence’ but every now and then they need to communicate with each other which is not as easy as you might think. When Marcel is having fun with the jackhammer, Renee has to shout and whistle quite a few times to get his attention.

When they talk to each other, they don’t really talk as such, they shout. Understandable as one man is on one side of the parking lot and the other is on the other side. So, communication goes in the form of yells, screams, and hollers.

How the men manage to work in this heat is beyond me. Yesterday's temperature was 28 deg C (82.4 deg F) but they don’t seem to be bothered. Dressed in jeans, T-shirts and a helmet, they sit in the tiny cabins of their machinery and tirelessly scoop up the soil and deposited it in the container. Judging by the mountain of soil it’s going to take them days if not weeks to get through it.

Someone asked me the other day if I was a construction worker, which job I would prefer. Would I want to be a builder, a glazer, or did I have something else in mind? I didn’t have to think long. If I was to be in construction, I would want to be a crane man, okay to be correct a crane woman. I quite fancy the idea of sitting high and dry in my own little cabin, several meters above the ground. There’s a problem though … I have a fear of heights.

Anyway, back to ‘my’ construction workers. Around 12:00 the noise usually stops when the workers kill their machinery for lunchtime. They eat, they have a cup of coffee or tea, followed by a well-deserved rest. From the looks of it, the one on the left is contemplating life, the middle one is busy with some stretch exercises, while the one of the right is conked out. For his sake, let’s hope there are no birds in those trees.

I can’t wait to see what they get up to in week three.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Day 126: The Night Halley Disappeared

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 126: The Night Halley Disappeared

I’m in the habit of doing a headcount of the cats before I go to bed. Gabriel is usually on top of the wall unit in his basket, Charlotte is sleeping on Dieter’s bed, Holly is already on my bed, and Halley is still playing with this, that or the other. Knowing that everyone is accounted for I go to sleep with peace of mind.

Only yesterday there was no peace of mind. When I was in bed, I remembered seeing Charlotte on Dieter’s bed, and Gabriel and Holly were on my bed, but where was Halley. I listed, but I couldn’t hear her moving around. Knowing that I wouldn’t get any sleep not knowing where she was, I got up.

I switched the light on in the kitchen, illuminating the lounge and dining room, had a look around, but Halley was nowhere to be seen. I went back to my room to look under the bed, but she wasn’t there.
Next, I went to look in Dieter’s room, even looked under his bed, but she wasn’t there either.

I was getting more worried by the second and wondered where she could be. Even though I was fairly sure that she wasn’t on the balcony, I opened the door to have a look there. 

So where was she? If Halley was not in the living room, dining room, kitchen or bedrooms … where had she gone too? I hate it when cats do their disappearing act. It made me wonder if I should get a bell and put it around Halley’s neck.

The only place I hadn't checked was the bathroom. So, I took a look there too. No, nobody there. I moved the shower curtain a little and in the dim light of the hallway noticed a dark spot in the bathtub. That was strange, I didn’t remember the bathtub being dirty.

When I switched on the light … there was Halley, sleeping ever so peacefully in the tub. The dark spot that I noticed didn’t belong to the tub, but was a marking on her back. Pardon the confusion, but it is rather hard to notice a white cat in a white tub.

While Mickey was alive, I had a similar problem with him. He was a 95% black cat and it’s murder finding a black cat in the dark. Every night when I did my headcount, I managed to find Gabriel, Charlotte, and Holly just fine, but it was hell on wheels locating Mickey.

I love black cats, but after Mickey crossed Rainbow Bridge, I wasn’t keen on getting another black cat for this very reason. Now it seems white cats have a few tricks up their sleeve too.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Day 125: Attention all self-published authors

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 125: Attention all self-published authors

Some self-published writers like to brag about their sales, some are happy with a sale here and there, while some are not happy at all and ask for help how they can effectively market their work.

I used to do okay in sales. Nothing to brag about, but a steady flow of book sales. And then suddenly, nothing. The sales all but dried up. When I looked in March at my February statement there were no sales.

Now it so happened that in January we adopted a kitten from the Toronto Cat Rescue and I stayed in touch with its foster mom, Jackie.

During one of our email conversations, I mentioned that I was a writer, that I had written three novels and two children’s books and Jackie promptly ordered copies of ‘Kitten Diaries’ and ‘Debbie’ for her grandchildren.

Jackie had purchased the books in February, yet my Amazon statement said that there had been no sales in February. I waited until April, expecting the sales to show up in the March statement, but that was not the case.

I got in touch with Amazon and they promised to investigate the matter. After a few days, I received an email from Ana who stated that no sales were documented. I told her that I had proof of sales. She asked if she could see that proof. I emailed her a copy and she sent me the following response ...

"CreateSpace Member Services"  
Fri, Jun 29, 2:37 PM (8 days ago)
to me
Hello Conny,

Greetings from CreateSpace.

Thank you very much fort contacting us back with additional information. This is very helpful as it assists us with the investigation. 

I have now forwarded the investigation to a representative who is best equipped to answer your question. You should receive a response within one business day. I really appreciate your patience.

When I didn’t hear back from Ana I sent a follow-up email … how did the investigation go? I received no response. I sent a second follow-up email and again, no response.

This got me thinking … how many self-published authors are there who don’t have a clue about their book sales? If they order their own books or someone they know places an order, they know of those sales, but how many more sales are made they are unaware of? They have no way of knowing if someone bought their books or not.

I was lucky that I knew Jackie, and she was willing to share proof of sale with me, but how many self-published authors are out there not knowing anything about their book sales. This could be a scam amounting to millions of dollars.

That’s not all though. Another reason why my sales are down is that my books show up on a number of websites that offers free downloads. ‘Waiting for Silverbird’, ‘Voice of an Angel’, ‘Lily’, ‘Kitten Diaries’ and ‘Debbie’ are all there.

I know about this because I get Google alerts similar to this one:

Conny Manero
As-it-happens update  June 29, 2018
There was a problem loading more pages. [ntg.ebook] Debbie Conny Manero Free Download.pdf. [ntg.ebook] Debbie Conny Manero Free Download.

Book Descriptions:
Debbie the ferret lives in a pet store. One day, a man named Andrew takes her home. He shows her around the condo and then introduces her to Charlie, the cat. Debbie is terrified, but soon she and Charlie become good friends, and Charlie teaches her about—everything! Come, let Debbie tell you all about ferrets and how they live and read about all her adventures!

How it works:
·         1. Register a free 1 month Trial Account.
·         2. Download as many books as you like (Personal use)
·         3. Cancel the membership at any time if not satisfied.

It's no wonder my sales are down. Amazon is hiding sales and various pirate sales are offering free downloads. 

Has something similar happened to you? 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Day 124: 2.5 million dollar project (1)

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 124: 2.5 million dollar project (1)

In addition to my own 365 creative writing prompts project, I would like to keep you up to date on another project. A $2.5 million project.

The works involve replacing the membrane of the parking garage of our condo building. Four members of the board of directors were in favor of this project, one was against it, so this was a no-brainer … with 4 to 1 the majority won.

The quotes that were presented for this project ranged from $2.5 million to $4 million, or so we were told. I contacted a construction company on my own and received a quote for $1.3 million. Why the difference? Who knows, draw your own conclusion.

Anyway, the works started last week by ripping up the asphalt.

While Charlotte and Gabriel couldn’t give a flying leap about what’s going on outside, for Holly and Halley this is great entertainment. The works usually start at 8:00 a.m. at which time one or both of them sit on my bedroom windowsill. Once I’m up and about and the balcony door is open, they move to the ledge and keep an eye on the workers from there.

 (Halley clearly has her doubts)

I should mention that this particular project is set to finish in November. Then next year phase two will start, followed by phase three.

In the meantime, I would like to keep you up to date on the progress by means of a weekly report. Since pictures are worth a 1,000 words, let the pictures do the talking 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Day 123: How to deal with cyber bullying

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 123: How to deal with cyber bullying

If my Facebook friends haven’t heard from me in a while … that’s because I’m in Facebook jail at the moment. Apparently, I made a comment that went against Facebook standards. This is what happened …

I belong to several writer’s groups and one of those groups accepted a new member last Thursday. Now I know that one shouldn’t judge people by their looks, but this woman was clearly not a writer or remotely interested in becoming a writer.

In her acceptance picture, she posed in a dress that clung to her generous curves like a second skin. A dress that ended just under her backside and drew attention to her bosom and backside.

I clicked on her name, was redirected to her profile page, where I found several more highly risqué pictures. All pictures of her posing in skimpy dresses showing off her bosom and backside.

I commented that this was not a writer but a hooker looking for customers. Some 115 comments followed, most of members who (all but one – a man) agreed with me. This was a troll.

The membership of the new woman became even more suspicious when she didn’t respond to any of the comments. By that I mean, if I post a picture and I get negative feedback, you bet your bottom dollar I’m going to say something. But this woman did nothing, not one word.

To cut a long story short, the fact that I had called this woman a hooker went against Facebook standards and I was put in their jail. So, I switched to my other Facebook account, an account I mainly use for gaming.

While scrolling through the homepage news feed, I came across a post that read ‘I wish I was beautiful’. A number of comments followed assuring this woman that she was beautiful. As for me, I thought this was an attention seeking statement, aimed for others to stroke her ego. When I said as much a string of abusive comments followed.

One woman even stated that this woman had lost both her parents in one year and that we should be nice to her. To me that made her statement of her wish for beauty even worse. You would think that someone who had lost a loved one would wish to have that person back, or be able to communicate with him, her or them. Instead, this woman wished for beauty!

More comments followed, abusive comments, with some very nasty words. I tried to report these abusive comments but there was no way I could do that. This made me wonder … when I call someone a hooker I get reported, but when someone calls me a b…h and a c..t I can’t do anything!

I wasn’t gonna stand for this cyber bullying though, so I did what any person with common sense would do … I blocked the bullies. There, problem was taken care of. That’s how I deal with cyber bullying.

This experience has thought me a lesson though … I don’t blindly accept friend requests anymore. At least half of my ‘friends’ on Facebook aren’t friends at all, they’re not even acquaintances, they are people who at one time or another wanted something from me, usually a gift in a game.

Those who are familiar with gaming on Facebook know that in order to exchange gifts one has to be friends. So, I won’t be accepting friend requests any time soon anymore. If you send me a friend request and I don’t know you, you better believe that I will look at your profile page and if I don’t like what I see your request will be deleted.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Day 122: The good, the bad and the bloody

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 122: The good, the bad and the bloody

The past 24 hours have been eventful, to say the least.
First, I had a rather bad dream. I know, hearing about other people’s dreams is about as interesting as grating cheese, but this dream of mine was nothing short of extraordinary.

I was bowling at Kennedy Bowl, practicing my game, when an unusual visitor showed up … the queen of England. (Don’t ask me where I come up with this stuff). At some point, the queen was getting a guided tour from Kevin Arsenault who took her behind the lanes. Not in the safe walking area where the ball boys do their work, but on the lanes where the pins are. I threw my ball and missed the queen’s legs by a few inches. She was not impressed.

A few hours later I had an accident while preparing lunch. After moaning for weeks that my potato knife was getting blunt, I bought a new knife in the Dollarstore. Dieter didn’t agree with my purchase, said that you can’t be a good knife for $3. Yeah, well, if this knife wasn’t up to the task he could find me a better one in Canadian Tire, but for now, this Dollarstore knife would have to do.

Today was the first time I used it and … I nicked the tip of my left index finger. Blood everywhere. I rushed to the bathroom to wash my hands with soap and water while yelling at Dieter to bring me a towel. However, when presented with the requested item I didn’t really want to use it as it’s hard to get blood out of a towel. So, I asked for paper towels instead. After a few minutes, the bleeding stopped sufficiently for a band-aid to be applied.

Next up … the Belgium vs. Japan soccer match.

I didn’t watch the match because as mentioned in a previous post, if I watch the game, the Belgians are sure to lose. So, I went down for a nap instead.

I had barely rested my head on the pillow when I heard cursing from the living room. “Did Japan score?” I asked. “Yes,” Dieter said. A while later I heard him snap his laptop shut. This could only mean one thing … Japan had planted another one in Belgium’s goal. This time I didn’t even have to ask, Dieter uttered a frustrated “It’s over.”

I knew that napping was now out of the question. I was too agitated. This had happened time and time again. The Belgians had done well in the qualifying round, they had won all the games in the knock-out round, and now they allowed themselves to be beaten?! I was utterly disgusted with my team.

One way or another I must have drifted off though because I was awoken with a very enthusiastic “WE ARE IN!!!”

I can’t say that I was very surprised as this is typical of the Belgians. They play a relaxed game, passing the ball around without seemingly a care in the world. When Japan scored their first goal, they must have been surprised. When Japan scored their second goal they finally, finally shot into action. The Belgians need a good kick, so to speak, for them to wake up.

And they didn’t disappoint. Not only did they score and score again, in the last four minutes of overtime they scored the third goal making it 3 – 2.

Thank you, Red Devils for nearly giving me a heart attack.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Day 121: Cat toys

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 121: Cat toys

When we adopted Halley in January of this year, her foster mother gave us an array of her toys. Out of all of them, colorful plastic springs were her favorites.

Today, five months later all those springs have disappeared. Not one, not two, but all of them. If you recommend looking under the lounge chairs, that’s the first place where we looked. We also looked under cabinets, behind cabinets, under the beds … those springs have vanished.

To make up for these lost items I’ve ordered a packet of 10 springs from Amazon, a spinning ball, and some fish.

The springs

The springs I ordered haven’t arrived yet, but Jackie (Halley’s foster mom) send over some to keep Halley entertained. They weren’t even out of the packet yet when they had Halley’s full attention. As far as she was concerned, we couldn’t get them out of the packet quick enough, and once one was out and given to her, she took it in her mouth and immediately took off with it.

She batted it around, slap it from here to there, rolled it and chased it and had a great time. Of course, eventually the spring rolled under the sofa and Halley crouched down low to see where it was. She tried to reach the spring with her paw, but it was no use. So, Dieter to the rescue. He shone a light under the sofa while I tried the retrieve the spring with a long wooden spoon. When the spring was rescued, Halley once again took off with it. Until the next time and then ‘operation rescue’ starts all over again.

The ball

The ball is a hit, with Halley that is. Gabriel, Charlotte, and Holly haven’t played with it yet. To be fair, they haven’t had a chance to play with the ball. As soon as it gets switched on, Halley monopolizes the toy. Gabriel observes the game while perched on the cat tree while Charlotte seems afraid of it. Then again, Charlotte is afraid of just about everything, including her own shadow. As for Holly, when the ball is still she bats it around, but as soon as it’s switched on, she keeps her distance. Halley, on the other hand, is all over the ball. She’s still a big kitten and kittens are generally afraid of nothing.

The fish

When I pulled the fish out of the Amazon envelope, I got the fright of my life. I didn’t know what was in the envelope, so when confronted with these three huge, lifelike fish staring up at me, my heart skipped a beat. Gabriel, Charlotte, Holly, and Halley love them of course. The only problem is, there are four cats and only three fish.

Fortunately, Halley is more interested in her colorful springs, so she’s not really that interested in the fish.