Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Chapters continue...

I have decided to cut down on my jewelry classes for July and August and limit them to just a personal request from someone who wants to finish a project or make a specific piece which they missed doing when it was originally scheduled.  I will add an occasional piece to my website. That way I can concentrate on my writing, and hopefully get closer to the book publishing by the Fall.

Ruby Lane sent all of its shops an email two weeks ago, stating the the Supreme Court had come down with a decision that as of immediately, all the States must start charging a sales tax on everything sold, instead of playing fair and not charging  a State Sales tax for all out of state purchases.  I have never sold one piece in Arizona and do not participate in craft shows or consignment to a gallery.  I sell only to other states and international customers.  Now I will have to collect an additional charge of 9½% Arizona tax on every piece I sell, even if it is to someone in Australia, who has to also pay customs charges.  Last Friday I signed a petition to revoke this latest ruling which will go to the State Legislature.  What with the latest increase in postage charges, it can now be that the taxes and postage will come to more than the cost of a pair of earrings I make.

So what is the use of trying to run a small business any more?  Especially at my age?  I need the income, and am physically able to do the work, but the ENTIRE PREMISE of why I make jewelry to sell online was to offer nice jewelry to people who couldn't otherwise afford to buy custom pieces.  The fact remains that I'm not rich enough to warrant tax DEcreases.  Mark my words, friends, if this Supreme Court ruling remains in effect, you will see small businesses fall by the wayside all over the United States. When on earth will the government realize that you will increase sales by decreasing taxes, not adding more?  And that when you increase sales, you increase income which results in higher income taxes, which is the only fair way to do business.

So another small business bites the dust.  Who cares?
See you next week.  Janice

Friday, June 8, 2018

Watch out for fraud

You have not heard from me for awhile.  I have been dealing with problems with my printer, which has obviously frustrated me and I feel that I should warn you about getting mired in the same way and the costs I am experiencing from the problem.

Last year I bought a new HP printer, a 4-in-1 color printer, because I thought I needed to have one that sent faxes as well as scan, copy, and print.  (Since then I have not sent one fax so I should have just kept the Canon that I had before.)  When my computer geek installed and hooked up everything, he knew that I was a writer and asked if I would like to halve the costs of ink cartridges.  Of course I would!  I have to print out 12 copies of each chapter I write for the Memoirs and they average 5-6 pages each, four times a month.  This is so that each chapter gets critiqued by the members of the Writers Group at Dusenbury library. So the Tech enrolled me in the Instant Ink plan HP has for people who print a lot.  I chose to subscribe to the 300-page/month plan, since the numbers I just gave you multiply and add out to 288 pages a month.  The cartridges they mail you automatically are supposed to contain twice the amount of ink as those sold in stores like Costco or on Amazon.  They charge you $11.85/mo. to subscribe, including taxes.  The contract says you can cancel any time.

Well, after they had mailed me two cartons of cartridges without my ordering them or the printer showing that the ink was running low, I decided that since I hadn't opened the cartons and my black cartridge was still printing clearly, I should cancel the monthly payment scheme and then go back on it when the two batches of cartridges would eventually run out.  I cancelled online and it was confirmed.  Then three days before the year's subscription was supposed to end anyway, I get another email from HP saying that because I had canceled my subscription, the ink cartridges would no longer work in the printer, and they were discontinuing my use of the ink.  I was astonished, because no ink had run out, I had paid $130 for the year subscription, they had sent me the cartridges, so I felt that I had bought and paid for them, and they had absolutely no right to cut off the ink and leave me high and dry, and that's not meant as a pun. Nowhere in the contract do they indicate that it gives them the right to cut off the ink.

I was so angry that I looked at a great many possibilities.  Buying a laser printer, too expensive. Going back to buying ink cartridges in stores, came out to be around $180/year, because they now put so little ink in them that they would only last me 3-4 months.  I decided the only choice I had was to renew the subscription even though I considered it a form of blackmail, thinking if I renewed, they could automatically turn my printer back on.

I called HP on Wed. at 11:30 a.m. ; I hung up in utter, complete frustration and stress at 4:30, having spoken to three HP techsupport people.  The first one was of course in India and I could not understand a word he was saying.  The second was an American woman who was on the phone and computer and printer with me for two hours, re-setting the password FIVE times and each time it was rejected as unacceptable.  She finally turned me over to another techie who could not get the computer to be cartridge acceptable and finally at 4:30 I just gave up.  I couldn't take it any more.

I called the computer experts I deal with two blocks from my house, and one showed up the next morning at 9:30 and after he had tried for a half-hour, he called HP and finally after an hour on the phone with them he got the printer networked to the computer, the router, the wireless and whatever else is down in the crawlspace under the desk, and the computer started blinking in blue again.  I am now on a $95 an hour service charge and it took him an hour and a half.

So, dear Friends, take heed of my sad story.  1. Do not buy any HP products.  2, Do NOT sign up for their Instant Ink scam.  Be aware they can get into your printer remotely and cut off the ink flow if you dare to cancel.  And, 4. the tech support people don't know a damned thing about how to turn the ink back on and you will waste precious hours of your precious time messing with them.

Resolution:  As soon as I get the rest of the chapters of my Memoirs written and I don't need to make so many copies each week, I will consider tossing the printer in the Dumpster where it belongs (and maybe the HP computer as well!)  I've had it.

See you next week in a better mood.  Janice


Monday, May 7, 2018

Publishing

Hi, Everybody,
This week I have some relatively good news to report.  I have been corresponding with the publisher of ModernPhoenix.com and she said that she's been getting very positive feedback to the three Instagrams where she mentioned my article on Al Beadle, the famous architect who built our two houses in Phoenix back in the fifties.  So she wants to move the publication date up from Fall to a few weeks from now.  I've been revising the article to make it shorter, because she wants to add all of the photos of both houses which I gave her on her visit to me a month ago.  She absolutely loved the colored-pencil drawings Al had made for us of the houses.  All the rest of the floorplans and newspaper articles are being sent to Arizona State University for the Beadle Archives.

Last week's articles for the Writers Group were well-received, with mostly minor adjustments necessary.  Still have to do the revisions on them.  This week I will try to write up the last two chapters on the Around the World Trip-Voyage III, which will be about the Seychelles and Vienna.  Last week's were two versions on the highlight of the trip: Kathmandu.  One was about having an audience with the Living Goddess, a little girl chosen to be a deity.  The other was about the danger of taking off in a Jumbo 747 from a short runway with the Himalayas at the end of it. I didn't take a breath until we reached cruising altitude.

You'll be able to read all the exciting details when the book gets published.  Speaking of which I made contact with a 100-year-old publishing firm in Victoria, BC last week. One of the staff called me and the website and the help they offer is very attractive.  Most importantly, I would just feel very comfortable dealing with Canadians.  Honest, fair, laid-back NICE people.  He suggested I read all their links and blogs and will call me in June when I have more chapters publishing-ready.  When I asked him facetiously in an email if he could manage to find me more time. imagine my astonishment when an email came back immediately assuring me that they could do that! By formulating my work schedule and outlining the process. :)

See you next week,  Janice

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Trying to figure it out

Last Saturday one of my fellow Writers in my Writing Group took me to a lecture given by a friend of hers, in a library in SE Tucson.  It took us a half-hour to drive there, which showed me how much Tucson has expanded since I first came here in the fifties, when we were living in Phoenix.  Tucson sure spread out, not up.

The lecture was about how to get published. The lecturer had good experience: she has published children's books, fiction, non-fiction, paperbacks, hard covers, Kindle, self-publishing, with agents and without. She had good handout material giving us a lot of links to consult.

We ended up with each of us (seven attendees) being asked to write out a Query Letter to a publisher that would get their attention and make them want to read our submission and consider it for publication. Everyone there had something they wanted to publish, but five of them were fiction, and I was the only one doing Memoirs. Then all of us had to critique the letters.  This is exactly what four of us there do every week at our own writers group.  But the leader gave us some interesting guidelines to follow so that critiquing didn't take on an unkind tendency (something our own group should consider).  Then, following all the suggestions we had to take the Query letter home, rewrite it and email it to her.  She promised to read each one and make more suggestions.  I did that the next day and am awaiting her final analysis.

It sounds like I will go with my own personal choices for Copy Editor, Graphics Editor, and a cartoonist to design the cover.  I already have three offers for Beta readers, all experienced, and my neighbor two doors down worked for MacMillan's for twenty-five years, so I couldn't get better advice.  The Graphics Editor is the daughter of the lady who bought my house when I moved to this one and she has also taken jewelry classes with me.  And HER daughter just completed a summer course in cartooning at the University of Toronto, so she can draw a humorous cover that will be eye-catching.  And I'm sure that all those nice connections won't charge me an arm and a leg for their work. Then if I self-publish with Amazon I keep control of the content, cover, etc.  On the other hand, if I decide to give an agent the commission, I avoid all that time-consuming work, but lose the right of control of content.

So a lot to ponder.  Guess I'd better stop here and start reading all those links.

Till next week,  Janice



Tuesday, April 10, 2018

AWT IV


AWT IV


This week I am presenting a part of one of the four chapters I have written about our Around the World Trip that we made in 1987 on a chartered 747 with Air Canada. The first chapters tell about how we decided to take this extraordinary trip, and then described the details about the itinerary and the care and feeding of the passengers on a 21-day trip around the world.  In the previous chapters, we had already visited Fiji, Perth, Bali, Kuala Lumpur and are about to take off for Kathmandu, high in the Himalayas where a Jumbo 747 had never landed before our flight.  This is just a little excerpt from the chapter leading up to our being given an audience with the Living Goddess, a tiny seven-year-old girl living in the palace.



The last night in Kuala Lumpur we attended cocktails before the outdoor banquet and entertainment. We were chatting with the Captain about how wonderful everything had been so far, and just out of curiosity I mentioned that as the next stop would be Kathmandu, with the notoriously short runway and the Himalayas blocking the end of it, that it was the first time a Jumbo had landed there, I supposed the crew had made a trial run with the 747? Don looked serious and said, “Well, no, not exactly. What we did was to have our arts department take several sheets of plexiglas, layer them to the precise miniature height of the mountains at the end of the runway, and carve out the shapes.” When I raised my eyebrows, he went on, “Then we calculated the weight of the plane, the approximate weight of the passengers, the amount of fuel needed, and the amount of thrust needed to propel us down the runway, and the degree of banking we would need to lift off and immediately turn left, to avoid the mountains. But our flight is actually the first time a 747 has landed and taken off in Kathmandu.” As he listed the possible danger points, he saw my eyes getting bigger and bigger. Then he said reassuringly, “But, not to worry, Janice; we practiced it dozens of times in the control room back in Toronto.”
I smiled half-heartedly and wryly asked, “With toy airplanes?”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

How all the traveling began.

Last week began the saga of how and why Fritz began his love affair with travel, but the chapter was a long one and unfortunately was not scheduled at the Writers Group with sufficient time for them to finish reading it.  So, they didn't comment on it except for the small portion they read, which they liked, but it only set the reader up for the travel that was to come.  They didn't get to the details of the first trip to Europe we made in 1954 after the war.

This week's chapter talks about all the trips in general terms that we made during the thirteen years we lived in Phoenix. And it tells in more detail how eventually I became an important factor in being able to afford the travel. This is a partial account of that component.


While the trips to Europe began every other year, they became more frequent over the years. Some years we even squeezed in a second trip. Fritz’s idea of the perfect vacation was to pay for a two-week Eurailpass and then see how many cities he could visit as he rail-clicked on to the southernmost point of Italy or Spain. As a result, it strained our finances.
But then, Fritz came up with a new idea. He had seen an ad in a travel magazine about having an import-export business and being able to deduct travel costs on your income taxes. Of course, he couldn’t do it, because he was manager of the Phoenix office for Carrier.
But I could run it. I, who had had no business training, would be the owner of Impex, and we could make trips to Europe, buy samples of ethnic items, have them shipped to our house and I would sell them to the tourist shops in Scottsdale. He explained enthusiastically how it would work. He bought a book on importing, ordered some business cards, and Voilá, I was in business! “Wasn’t it great?” “Wouldn’t it be fun?” 
Duh!  Not exactly.  But I struggled on, as you can read eventually in the book.  He was ecstatic about being able to take each trip, tax-deductable. Didn't get any better than that!  If any of you insist on knowing the ending Right Now, let me know and I'll put the entire chapter on the blog.  
But I know you guys are busy, so we'll leave it here.  ;)
Ciao!


Thursday, March 15, 2018

A life well lived

This morning I finally finished reading The Aviator's Wife  by Melanie Benjamin. It is a historical novel which is a popular method of writing these days: you take an actual historical fact and then embellish it with your imagination.  Sounds sort of like writing your memoirs, if you'll forgive the quip.

I mention it because as I read the author's development of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's life after marrying the most famous hero of all time, captured from Anne's own diaries and those of Charles Lindbergh, so much of what Anne went through, was identical to parts of my own life.  Mine lacking the importance, of course.  Lucky Lindy made his famous flight to Paris in 1927, the year I was born. He was at the launchpad of Apollo XI when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set off to land on the moon, and Lindbergh placed his hand on Armstrong's shoulder and said "I'm proud of you."  Armstrong replied, "We are only following in your footsteps, Sir."

I took copious notes, but am not sure if I'm allowed to make comparisons, because I would have to quote the author.  She expressed my thoughts and feelings so much more captivatingly than I could myself.  Maybe I can just describe the emotions without quoting them, we'll see.

I remember when I read Anne's famous book A Gift from the Sea (was it for a book report in high school?  That long ago?)  I must find out if it is now in Large Print, so I can read the poems again.


The Chapters continue...

I have decided to cut down on my jewelry classes for July and August and limit them to just a personal request from someone who wants to fin...