Thursday, July 27, 2023

I tried not to snicker at the letter, honest I did!

July 27, 2023

Periodically, our local power company sends out a report to its customers informing them of how their energy usage stacks up against one's neighbors. Here are some facts:

  • My house is 40+ years old
  • There are two cranky retirement-age adults in the house 24/7
  • We have two desktop computers running eighteen hours a day (his and hers and never the two shall be shared)
  • We keep the thermostat on 74F year-round. 
  • We have a freezer and a freeze-dryer.
  • We have a washer and dryer.
  • I can fruits and veggies so the stove runs a lot.
  • We run a dishwasher three or four times a week.
  • We have a fully wired shed/workshop with all the things.
  • There is a TV set to a music channel eighteen hours a day.
  • We just have all the things! 

We do not do anything special to conserve. We turn off lights when not in the room. We don't leave exterior doors hanging open. We don't leave outside garden hoses run. You know - we pay attention but we don't skimp on comfort. We haven't made upgrades to the windows or insulation, either.

Ten years ago, when we received one of these letters, it said we used over 20% more energy than our neighbors. We have done nothing and yet now we use 4% less than the "efficient" homes in our neighborhood. It's a mystery! 

Here's one thing that is not a mystery. It comes straight from a public report. Our local power company generates 29% of its salable energy from coal and 31% from natural gas. A whopping 34.5% comes from nuclear plants. Only .26% comes from solar. That's right - only 1/4 of 1% from solar. Only a total of 5.42% is from renewable energy. 

We know people who work at the local power company and they are taking steps to become more relevant in today's political climate. They know the government is going to put restrictions on them that they cannot meet. Their customers will be shut off from power. 

When that happens, well, I thank the good Lord I live on a mountain and have a wood stove and a private water source. People in the cities will suffer more than I will. 

It's time to be reasonable about people's lives and what it really takes to survive. These "feel good" letters don't protect us from anything. We need coal, natural gas, and oil to create electricity. 

Will we ever get to the place where more than 5.42% of our local electricity comes from renewable sources? I believe we will. But I also believe we need to take care of people as we work toward that goal, and our current government doesn't care about people. 

Allowing people to have the secure energy to live a good life as we transition to more renewable energy is the right thing to do.  People living in dark misery under a cloud of uncertainty suffer.  The more you make people suffer, the less likely they are to work or think of innovating. No letter in the world can fix that. 

Without people, nothing will be accomplished, and that is where we are headed. 


Social media links:
Life through the eyes of my black Lab, Greenbrier Smokey Deuce:
My country life at The Hideaway/Holly Tree Manor:
Snips and clips on my YouTube channel: KC Kendricks Between the Keys


KC Kendricks, Between the Keys, renewable energy, energy costs, contemporary gay romance, m/m romance, coal, natural gas, efficient homes, rural living, a writer's life, gardening

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

I hope you win

July 25, 2023

Elon Musk and all that nonsense aside, I'm enjoying spending time reading my TWITTER feed. These days, it's full of shiny AMERICAN MUSCLE CARS that are truly eye candy to someone who grew up in and still travels in circles of car culture.  I'm not sure how I managed to get all that on my feed, but I'm willing to go with the flow.

My TWITTER (I don't care for the X idea) feed also pops up the occasional meme that actually contains a pearl of wisdom. 

"I hope you win the war 
you tell no one about."

Wow. That gave me pause. I stared at that for a few moments and let it speak to me, and speak to me it did. 

"I hope you win the war you tell no one about."

Who among us hasn't fought a private war? Maybe you, like me, are waging a private war right now. Mine is not a battle for health, thank God. It's more a battle of reconciliation with self. 

It's not the first battle of my life, and I doubt it will be the last. It's disturbing to have reached this point in my life and still be waging war with myself, though. 

I'm not sure I won every battle. My first marriage was a disaster. My current partner is increasingly difficult to live with. What do I need to do for my own sanity? 

That's a glimpse into one of my wars. There are many. None of us are so singular that we don't have battles to fight on many fronts. Many people have fights larger than mine, and I do wish them victory, especially with physical and mental health.

Being able to persevere is a blessing. We second-guess ourselves into exhaustion. We hide behind meeting the needs of others instead of ourselves. No matter what, we can't outrun the battle. We must address it as the enemy it is. And we must persevere at all costs.  

Sometimes my tunnel is very dark. I think of all that's happened in my life - I was kidnapped at age seventeen, my home burned to the ground, my ex-husband got another woman pregnant while married to me, I buried my father, and I lost the last years of my mother's life to Alzheimer's Disease. I was unable to have children. I lost good jobs when companies failed. I've had friends betray my confidence. I've lost two old lovers, one to cancer and one to Covid.  

I look back at all this and I know I will win this war, just like I have the others before it. I know this because I learned the lesson of perseverance. 

Keep going. If you feel too tired to continue - keep going. If you feel too alone to continue - keep going. You will win your war if you don't give in or give up.  


Social media links:
Snips and clips on my YouTube channel: KC Kendricks Between the Keys
Life through the eyes of my black Lab, Greenbrier Smokey Deuce:
My country life at The Hideaway/Holly Tree Manor:

KC Kendricks, Between the Keys, perseverance, personal struggles, mental health, internal wars, Twitter, American Muscle Cars, a writer's life, contemporary gay romance, m/m romance, 

Sunday, July 16, 2023

I think it takes a lot of intentional time

July 16, 2023

Once upon a time...

Now what better opening than that one for a writer to use? 

Once upon a time, I decided to set up a YouTube channel so I could share videos of Deuce on his blog, Deuce's Day.  This also worked for my partner, who is now in a wheelchair, to see what I've been up to as I run amok here on the Manor. 

We enjoy watching quite a few of the YouTubers. Catherine Gregory comes to mind immediately as she travels to places we'll never visit in person. The partner suggested I make a few vids of life on our little estate, so I did. To my surprise, there have been a few folks who have watched them! 

It was enough to make me seriously consider adding content, but there is one big problem with that. I'm also doing what I do. Setting up my phone and recording what I do is time-consuming. 

If I'm going to actually make videos to share, I will need to be very intentional about it. This may sound silly because I'm not an "old" woman, but I wonder if I'm too old to delve into this any deeper than I already have. Hmmm. Food for thought. 

Is a quiet, ordinary rural life worth recording? Perhaps future generations will be interested in how some of us lived waaaaay back in 2023. Even now, a segment of our youth will never understand how it can be fun to jump on a John Deere 370 and mow the grass. And own a big dog like a Labrador Retriever? And walk it yourself? Train it to pee-pee outside and not on a diaper pad? That may already seem foreign to dedicated city dwellers. 

The big question is whether or not I want to take the intentional time to create half-way decent videos. And what about podcasts? They may be more feasible. I could also read one of my shorter books and put that up on YouTube. Many are doing that. How much time do I want to dedicate to new and/or continuing projects?  

Maybe being retired has given me too much time on my hands. Actual writing takes up but a small portion of it. What an interesting dilemma to have. 


Social media links:
Snips and clips on my YouTube channel: KC Kendricks Between the Keys
Life through the eyes of my black Lab, Greenbrier Smokey Deuce:
My country life at The Hideaway/Holly Tree Manor:

KC Kendricks, Between the Keys, contemporary gay romance, m/m romance, YouTube videos, a writer's life, retirement options, LGBT romance books, social media, intentional actions

Friday, July 14, 2023

Apparently, it's called theft, too

July 14, 2023

My inbox is always full of surprises. Some are good, some are bad, and some confirm a suspicion I've had. The latter came in the form of a letter from The Authors Guild.  

The Authors Guild is calling on the CEO's of AI platforms to obtain consent and compensate - fairly compensate - authors for the use of copyrighted materials used by their AI products. They have provided the opportunity for authors to add their digital signatures to the letter. There are numerous well-known authors on the list of those who have done so, including Nora Roberts, Jodi Picoult, and Diana Gabaldon to name just a few. The list is so long it crashed my browser when I tried to scroll through it. 

If my poor understanding of AI (artificial intelligence) is anywhere near correct, I get it. 

AI tech is built on models. Where did the models come from? What was used to create the models? From the writing found on the Internet. What writings are found on the Internet? Yours and mine, fellow authors. Yours and mine. 

I do know how to read and put two and two together. AI mines the Internet for data and it doesn't make any distinctions or allowances as to where it finds it. It has no conscience, no awareness, no morality. 

Were you paid anything when your words were pirated? Because that's what just happened. And that is, plainly put, theft of intellectual property. 

I'm glad The Authors Guild is taking up the fight. I don't expect much to come of it. Follow the money and you'll understand why I feel that way.    


Social media links:
Life through the eyes of my black Lab, Greenbrier Smokey Deuce:
My country life at The Hideaway/Holly Tree Manor:
Snips and clips on my YouTube channel: KC Kendricks Between the Keys

KC Kendricks, Between the Keys, AI, artificial intelligence, piracy, intellectual property theft, contemporary gay romance, m/m romance, Authors Guild, 

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Creating the cover: Sumner's Garden

July 9, 2023

If you saw the previous post, you know the name of the current work-in-progress. Chapter 9 is in the can, so to speak, and as it looks like rain, I may get part of Chapter 10 done today. Before that happens, I thought I'd share a bit about creating the cover.

Back when I did a newsletter, I included a section called "Fun With Photoshop" where I talked about my process of making a cover. I'm sure real graphic artists will scoff at how I do it, but I've found that I need to manipulate the images several times to see if my ideas translate to the computer screen.

Finding a guy to buy is probably the most difficult part of the process. Hundreds of thousands of guys are available on the stock photo sites, and I only need ONE. I spent hours searching for the perfect Andy but he was worth it. Background images are easy because I take a lot of snapshots with my phone just for the purpose of having a file of freebies to choose from. Even with a file like that, I sometimes have to go search for open images, although it's common. I've learned that even a small corner of a photo can be cropped out and made to look like something entirely different. 

Once I have several images I use Photoshop to overlay them. I know that my guy will cover a good portion of the final background but I still want that background image to be finished and reflect some element important to the story. 

I do apologize for feeling the need to "watermark" those photos. I didn't always do that and later discovered an image I'd created had been pirated by another author. It's easy to recognize photos you've taken with your camera in your backyard! 

It's cumbersome to merge four or five photos, but the end product is worth it. Once I see the cover, I get energized to wrap up a story. 

That's the plan for this afternoon. It's supposed to rain with the possibility of a thunderstorm. A rainy day is always a good day to write. 


Social media links:
Life through the eyes of my black Lab, Greenbrier Smokey Deuce:
My country life at The Hideaway/Holly Tree Manor:
Snips and clips on my YouTube channel: KC Kendricks Between the Keys

KC Kendricks, Between the Keys, Sumner's Garden, Shine a Light, contemporary gay romance, m/m romance, romance books for Kindle, book covers, writer's on writing, Photoshop, LGBTQ books

Sunday, July 2, 2023

How this pantser plots

July 2, 2023

Are you a "pantser" or a "plotter?"

That's a frequently asked question when writers are congregated in one spot such as Twitter or Facebook or any social media platform. People weigh in on this or that side, but the truth is it doesn't matter much. Your writing process is unique to YOU, but I think everyone is a bit of both. 

I start as a definite pantser. That's "fly by the seat of your pants" in writer's speak. I get an idea and I bang out an opening. Once that's on the page, I usually back up and do a bit of character bio so I don't forget pertinent facts that may have come out in the opening paragraphs. Then it's a bit more of being a pantser to incorporate additional ideas.

But there comes a place in every story where the characters have developed to the point that I know exactly where they're going. It's then that I stop and jot down a plot sequence. And for some reason, I can't seem to get going forward again until I've got the cover drafted. Forward just doesn't happen for me until the basic cover concept becomes reality. I reached that point this past week with Sumner's Garden, and this morning, I finally hit on a basic cover I can live with. 

I want to add one more element but I have two options. Both are up on my second screen and I keep glancing at them while working on screen one. Sooner or later, I'll gravitate towards one and that will be what I add to the final cover. 

Now that the cover is settled, it's time to expand on the plot points and push on to The End. Some of the plot points may change a bit, depending on what the characters tell me. But one thing about this story is unusual. 

This story has already given me the ending and it's not at all where I thought my guys were headed - it's better. Sometimes you have to listen to them. They are manifestations of your thoughts, after all. 


Social media links:
Snips and clips on my YouTube channel: KC Kendricks Between the Keys
Life through the eyes of my black Lab, Greenbrier Smokey Deuce:
My country life at The Hideaway/Holly Tree Manor:

KC Kendricks, Between the Keys, contemporary gay romance, LGBT, m/m romance, romance novels for Kindle, writers on writing, pantser v. plotter, social media, book covers, writing methods,