Tag: Home

You Said Video Would Gain Exposure

Facebook algorithms favor video. Oh, and groups. So, to get the best organic exposure on facebook, post videos in your groups.

Sure. Whatever you say.

Who said it? People who know all about making your brand stand out. Professionals who are PAID to make videos that bring in customers.

But I’m an author. I’m not selling a class. And, sadly, I’m not selling many books either. But if I get my face out there, people will hunt down my stories.

Hey. No need to hunt. I’ll provide the links.

But, apparently, the quest is part of the excitement. Or something.

So I took a course about making videos to share my brand.

http://sharonleehughson.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/2143024042585774-record.mov

But one is never enough. In fact, once a week is probably not enough.

My unplanned videos got the best views.

When I tried to only post the video to my group, only two people watched it. Of course, there are only 20 members (maybe) in the group, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

http://sharonleehughson.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/img_0315.mov

So I went back to posting live on my author page. And my sister watched.

Of course, I didn’t really announce that I would be going live. I need to do that. Maybe more people would show up if I did that. Maybe I’ll do that next week.

If I wait until the evening when more people might be on Facebook, maybe that will get me more views, too.

Who knows?

All I know is that I fumble for something to talk about in these videos, and no one comments to give me any ideas.

http://sharonleehughson.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/img_0361.mov

So, here I am posting a video or three on my blog. Because a few people read that, right? Maybe they’ll watch the videos and leave me some feedback.

I wish building my brand and audience worked the way the “professionals” said it would.

If wishes were riches, I’d own a small country.

If you’re reading this, what do you wish an author would talk about on live videos? If you watched the videos, what would make them more engaging?

The Headaches of a Dream Come True

Rat-a-tat-ta-tat. The sound echoes from behind the closed patio doors clear at the opposite end of the house. A headache pulses in my temples. No dream comes without a few headaches.

Case in point: my dream patio

One day we were talking to a landscape designer who was giving us the brush-off. After all, we waited until the middle of his busy season to ask for a design and a quote.

A few weeks later, a designer is sitting at our dining room table talking about payment plans.

Because a nearly 600 square foot patio of paving stones doesn’t fit the under-$10,000 budget we had for the project. Because dreams are costly. But that’s a subject for another post.

A week went by with nothing. Then everything snowballed and the work crew was showing up the next day – a full week before the original start date.

The first thing to go is the old patio.

Just like our life, if we want to start a new career or new hobby or new healthy lifestyle, we have to get rid of the old. It’s not enough to keep the card-making supplies in the back of the closet now that you’re into quilting. As long as they’re there to fall back on, you’ll be tempted to quit on quilting if it gets too difficult.

The workers needed a jackhammer to break down the less-than-100-square-foot cement patio. And it took them nearly two full days to render it into pieces small enough to recycle as gravel bedding beneath our new stone.

That’s the noise you heard at the beginning of this post.

And it gave me a headache. It made concentrating on writing difficult.

Because anything worth having will involve some uncomfortable episodes.

Clearing out the old is a messy process too.

PatioRubble

Our outdoor cat shied away from the rubble when he came in for his food that night. The next morning, he waited atop one of the flat pieces to be let in for breakfast.

It’s great when we can recycle the old into the new, but most of the time it needs to be hauled off to the dump.

Second case in point: my dream of a writing contract (for a novel)

I’m still waiting to hear back from the publisher on the novel I submitted in May.

A vein popped in my forehead as I typed that.

Say_What

The editor whose been my go-between with the publisher sent word that the publisher hasn’t even opened my manuscript. It’s on the top of the slush pile, though. The first order of business come August will be reading the manuscript so she can give me an answer.

Oh, it’s already August you say? Well then I should hear any day now.

My heart hurts as it expects a “no.” My head pounds out all sorts of platitudes that make my skull feel like a too-tight screw.

In a few weeks, I’ll post pictures of my dream patio (minus the fire pit, water feature, and lighted gardens which will come later). The days of taking ibuprofen and hiding out far from the patio doors won’t even be remembered.

Because a dream attained is worth the pain.

What dream is giving you headaches right now? Take a moment to imagine yourself on the pinnacle of attaining it. What do you see?

Happy 27 Years of Marriage

You guessed it. Today is my 27th wedding anniversary.

And they said it would never last? Little did they know I have more sticking power than a starving leech (nice visual, right?).

How about a little walk down memory lane?

Once upon a time, a sophomore dated a senior. Later, she befriended with that guy’s best friend. They went on a few dates. He went away to college. She went into the army.

Regardless of the separation, they decided they loved each other and wanted to spend eternity together.

So, they got married.

May 27, 1988 - My sister, me, my husband, and his brother
May 27, 1988 – My sister, me, my husband, and his brother

They bought a house, had two kids and life got crazy. After a few rough years, they decided to renew their marriage vows. They wouldn’t go the way of so many; they would stick it out.

Forever. Together.

Renewing our vows - May 2001
Renewing our vows – May 2001

More time passed. Their little boys grew and grew until they became young men.

Mr. and Mrs. felt extreme pride in the successes of their sons. Life was good.

Oldest Graduates high school - June 2009
Oldest Graduates high school – June 2009

 

 

 

Happy Silver Anniversary - May 27, 2013
Happy Silver Anniversary – May 27, 2013

Boys went to college. So did the Mrs. It was time to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a writer.

A month before she finished college, the couple celebrated 25 years of marriage. Sorry there aren’t many pictures of the occasion. The usual photographer needed to be present in FRONT of the camera. The back-up cameraman was too fast for the old Nikon.

 

 

 

 

Now they live in a wonderful single-level home, making preparations to move to the next phase of life: grand-parenting.

Looks like a Happily Ever After ending to me!
Looks like a Happily Ever After ending to me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having fun in Cabo, Mexico - December 2014
Having fun in Cabo, Mexico – December 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s what happily married for more than a quarter-century looks like.

 

 

A Photo Tour of the New Place

Today is my first official day working from my new office. Isn’t it amazing?

That's an L-shaped desk with room for writing and editing.
That’s an L-shaped desk with room for writing and editing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d love to take you on a tour of the whole house. Maybe I’ll figure out how after we get everything unpacked, all the furniture in place and the mega Styrofoam explosion cleaned off the floors.

This is the new kitchen.NewKitchen

Not as many cupboards as the old one – and yes, I’ve almost completely filled the lovely pantry in the corner to bursting.

 

 

 

We ate most of our meals at the bar in our old house.

You can see the bar in the foreground here.
You can see the bar in the foreground here.

Now we have even more room at the new bar, but we don’t eat there. It isn’t because of the clutter. Aside from scarfing down pizza on the first night – in between hauling boxes galore – this place has been lonely.

Pull up a seat on one of those fancy new stools
Pull up a seat on one of those fancy new stools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t she lovely?

The beautiful new dining area - only steps from the kitchen and the great room
The beautiful new dining area – only steps from the kitchen and the great room.

Can you see why we would rather eat in the lovely room at this cozy table? Tonight will be the first “solo” meal for hubby and I without the kids, so maybe the bar will feel intimate enough for the two of us.

The move is finished. I can’t use that as an excuse for the lack of words flowing onto the page.

 

 

Time to do what writers do…play with imaginary friends all day.

Moving: From the cat’s point of view

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All this moving stuff is weighing down the pace of my blog, isn’t it? How about a lighter piece on the subject?

And now, here’s what my cat has to say:

Three weeks before

Sniff. Sniff. What is this big cube? *Jumps on top of it. Smaller box up there wobbles and topples onto the floor. Scrambles beneath the couch.*

Here’s another cube. It doesn’t smell right. *Lifts tail and sprays the corner.* Sniff. Much better now.

*Spots a stack of newspaper in the corner of the dining room.* Sniff. Sniff. *Squats on it to take care of business.* That was so much closer than that smelly box out in the garage.

Two weeks before

*Wanders through empty living room.* Where is my couch? I hide under there when scary people come to the door. What am I supposed to do now?

DSCN0594*Sprints recklessly up the stairs when steps sound on the front porch. Cowers beneath the bed.* Whatever is happening around here, I don’t like it.

Personal feeder peeks under the bed. “Here, kitty. You can come out now.”

*Turns head away.* Not until you bring my hiding place back.*Closes eyes.* I’m not even going to look at you.

Two days before

*Stalks through mostly empty rooms.* Where is that couch I like to sit on so I can stare out the window? What have they done with my blanket? It belongs on this chair?

If they don’t stop taking my things, I’m going to go to the bathroom in every corner of this place. *Sniffs corner by the sliding glass doors.* This is as good a place to start as any. *Squats. Scrambles into the garage when personal caregiver lumbers down the stairs.*

“Cat! Why didn’t you use the box?”

*Grins and licks a paw.*

Moving Day

*Crouches in corner of the closet.*

Rusty...his time with us was short
Rusty…his time with us was short

“Here kitty, kitty.”

Do they think I’m stupid? I saw them bring the box/cage thing in from the garage. They’re carrying everything else out of here and now they think I’m going to go too.

*Stares wide-eyed at the human.*

“It’s okay, baby. We’re going to a new place.”

What’s wrong with this place? I like it here. This is the only place I’ve ever lived. How about you let me stay here?

*Tries to dodge between human’s legs. Door shuts.* Trapped!

*Squirms, but is forced into the box/cage thing. Growls at the mesh side of the portable cage.*

*Yowls for the entire fifteen minutes it takes to drive to the new place. Throws weight against the side of the box when human lifts it off the seat.*

Sniff. Sniff. New smells. I don’t like new smells. I don’t like this new place.

Side of the carrier is opened. In front of him he spies the big bed where he lets the humans sleep with him.

*Dashes under the bed.* Sniff. Sniff. This carpet smells funny. *Huddles against the wall. Refuses to come out for hours.*

“Here’s your box.” The human scratches him under the chin while kneeling beside him on the floor. Those big white machines behind her look familiar.

“Lots of food. And look a new water dish.”

Sniff. Sniff. *Turns up his nose and prances away, tail waving like a flag.*

Later that night

*Digs at blanket under human’s chin.* The hand lifts the blanket up. Sniff. Sniff. *Burrows in, circles three times before curling up against the human’s legs.*

Purr. Purr. I guess this new place isn’t so bad after all. My bed is here and my human slave is still obeying me.

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Do you have a cat you’ve relocated before? What sort of surprises did that bring you?

Is my house really sold? After The Inspection

It’s finally a done deal – maybe.

“In Oregon, the real estate contract really shows favoritism to the buyer.” My realtor said these exact words before presenting us with this offer.

It almost felt like someone held a gun to my head. Was it the thought of having two house payments? The idea that people who wanted to call this house their own felt like I owed them a good deal? Maybe the looming completion date of the new house snapped the safety off this metaphoric pistol.

In the end, we got enough money to have a comfortable payment at the new house and furnish it the way I had envisioned. That is enough.

But why does the inspection feel like a knife in an open wound?

The Inspection

This evaluation by an “independent home inspector” required me to vacate my house for three and one-half to four hours. Yes, this would be a thorough inspection from crawlspace to roof.

And that’s where he found the problems. Actually, it was a 33-page report…with pictures of the ugly areas.

It’s amazing that we can live in a house day-in and day-out for years and never notice a single issue. One man comes in with a magnifying glass, and your perfectly fine house is ready for an HGTV episode of “Don’t Buy this Junker.” (Which isn’t a real show, but I’ve seen some that have a similar premise.)

What the Inspector Found that Needs to be Fixed

  • Mold in the attic – a common problem when you live in the wet-and-wild Pacific Northwest (bid to follow – approx.. $1500 to $1800)
  • Leaky window – Actually, it wasn’t leaking. The “staining” was from the vinegar solution we used to pull the wallpaper down when we were repainting the house for staging.
  • Windows lost their seal – heading to the Milgard Windows website to use that lifetime warranty yet again (best investment ever)
  • Roof maintenance – Could be performed by Jeff, but the buyer’s want a licensed contractor to insure it gets done right (A very reasonable $375 – meaning there isn’t much up there that needs fixing)
  • Water heater stability and drain – Jeff wraps the strap around it and puts some pipe from the release valve to the drain
  • Fussy furnace  – (Waiting for another bid to service it and replace a cracked fan housing (Between $400 and $1,000)

And I could go on. But it was 33 pages – and no one wants to read about it. I know I don’t.

Besides, these are the six things the buyer asked us to fix in order for them to go ahead with the purchase of our house.

Why this Gives me a Headache

I’ve been trying to sell my house for-ev-er. Okay. Slight exaggeration, but most days it feels like I live in a museum that has lost its visitor appeal.

Does this look like a junkie house to you?
Does this look like a junkie house to you?

Owning a house is all about upkeep. Seeing this huge list makes me feel like a slacker. That isn’t the case, right?

Simply the fact problems exist with our house doesn’t mean we didn’t take care of our home. Or does it?

For whatever reason, every step of this process has felt like an assault against the place I called home for seventeen years. A place filled with irreplaceable memories of my little boys growing into adults.

If I sell it, I’m supposed to be able to WALK AWAY. In the end, I think I may feel like running away. It makes me dread ever selling a house again.

What happened to selling a house “as is”? Seriously.

If you would have seen the piles of cat poop in the first house we bought – and the way the stove was blackened inside and out because it had never been cleaned – not even the top wiped down – you would look at our house now and say, “That thing is amazing!”

I guess I don’t have a good frame of reference. When I look at a house to buy, I expect that a used house will have some issues. And I make my offer accordingly.

And these buyers have offered less than our asking price. A price which is $30,000 less than the county says our house is worth. In my mind (and in my husband’s), that means these people are getting a STEAL of a DEAL.

What are your thought? Experiences? Do I need to get over myself or is the system rigged in favor of buyers in the case of a used-home sale?

A Daughter – Finally!

I have two handsome sons. In December 2015 January 2016, I will finally get a daughter!

No, this isn’t the longest pregnancy in the history of womankind. It doesn’t involve childbirth at ALL.

My youngest son is getting married.

I love my new daughter-to-be. Besides making my son happy (which is important to Mama Bear), she’s a wonderful person.

Everyone who knows me has heard me loudly give thanks that I had two boys. Dodging the epic drama caused by residing in proximity to a teenage girl is reason enough. Not that all drama was dodged – have you met my youngest son? – but it was nothing compared to what a daughter would have brought home.

Now, however, I’m ready to have a daughter (or two, if only my other son would pop the question to his long-time girlfriend). There are so many things to share with a daughter that sons don’t care about.

You know what I mean, right? Things like:

  • Shopping
  • Baking
  • Home décor
  • Color schemes
  • Holiday planning
  • Discussion of many topics

What’s even more humbling for me is: she wants to include me in the wedding planning process.

I love weddings. I think every wedding should be unique and reflect the personalities and values of the couple being united.

My own wedding was a fiasco, of sorts. Well, not the actual wedding, although it wouldn’t be a wedding if there weren’t a few unexpected occurrences. It was the planning phase of my wedding that caused more fallout than a nuclear blast.

It’s not worth rehashing. Suffice it to say, I decided right then that I was NOT GOING TO BE THAT MOTHER. If asked, I would offer my opinion, but my financial aid would not be contingent upon getting me way.

Whose wedding is it anyway?

It’s not my wedding. It is my son and daughter’s (*smiling just saying this*) special day. It should be where they want, including who they ask. Decorations, attire, food choices and anything else should be their choice.

Later this month, I get to go on the first wedding dress shopping trip. I’m so honored to be asked to join in with her mom and girlfriends.

Now, to practice buttoning my lip and seasoning my opinions with grace…

Do you have sons or daughters? Any wedding stories you want to share?

Painting and Packing and Storage, oh my!

I have been wielding a paintbrush since my earliest years. Most of the time, it had nothing to do with artistic pursuits and everything to do with remodeling the house we lived in. My experience is now expanding to include packing and staging.

When the professional stager (yes, it is a real thing) entered my house, she took a single look around as said something like:

“Nothing I say should be taken personally. To make your house appealing to buyers, we must neutralize it.”

A few phrases later she told me all the items of “religious significance” should be packed away. Wouldn’t want to offend any non-Christians who wanted to buy my house.

Apparently, people are offended by colors. Every room that had anything other than a neutral (think beige or eggshell) color scheme needed to be repainted. Thankfully, the light blue and pale turquoise of my office and living room weren’t deemed overwhelming.

The dining room, half bathroom, kitchen, master bedroom and bathroom and family room weren’t quite as fortunate. Strip the wallpaper from every wall, she advised. She gave the boys’ bathroom a “pass” because it would probably by a kids’ bathroom so my fishy aquarium theme wouldn’t be too personalized.

Plain walls in the kitchen are preferrable
Plain walls in the kitchen are preferable

Every photograph needed to be removed. “Hallways seem larger with nothing on the wall anyway,” she informed me. Great. About 85 percent of the things hanging on my wall were pictures of family and friends. In the end, my dining room is so naked I feel like handing it an oversized towel to hide its embarrassment.

If you’re looking for boxes to pack all your “sentimental items” away from prospective buyers, I can help you find them. Moving and storage companies have boxes, sealing tape and packing wrap – for a price. Even Walmart carries a few collapsed cardboard crates that are either too small for anything but books or too large for all but clothes or linens.

How many towels do you own? I sold at least ten at my garage sale. I pulled another half-dozen out of my hall closet to toss in the

That color and wallpaper border had to go
That color and wallpaper border had to go

garbage. Another dozen came from my master bathroom and the main bathroom; most were in fair condition and will probably net a quarter each at the next garage sale.

After checking on prices of storage units ($90 per month for a 10×10), my husband decided to exile my car to the outdoors. The twelve moving crates I packed full of pictures, photographs, books, clothes, towels and nick-knacks have usurped the garage. They aren’t alone. The tables, lamps and other furniture deemed unworthy of the stage that doubles as my home join them. Of course, my oldest son’s apartment worth of furnishings was already out there.

There is no yellow brick road that leads to the sold sign we desire. Only a paint fume filled path where dust bunnies whisper, “Painting and packing and storage, oh my!”

Reflections of an Open House

Welcome to our Open House
Welcome to our Open House

For a week before the big day, I deep-cleaned some room or focused on brightening the appearance of another room. My son got enlisted to scrub floors (in addition to toilets) and dust off the ceiling fans.

I’m not saying I own too many pairs of shoes (an impossibility in my world), but I had to remove all of my boots so the floor of my closet was visible. Apparently, anything that looks like clutter has to go!

In the hours leading up to the event, every floor got cleaned and every surface was set to sparkling. Lit candles added wonderful atmosphere. Fresh-baked peanut butter chocolate chip cookies invited people in to stay.

Time to Start

My husband agreed to be the guide of the upstairs and I would be the official greeter. He put a movie in the DVD player – something that seems to be happening in every house we’ve walked through – and settled in.

Hubby's Vantage Point
Hubby’s Vantage Point

I parked myself with my iPad in a chair facing the front door. Breathing deeply, I practiced my casual, welcoming smile and greeting.

We’re ready. Let the games begin!

After 1 Hour

My husband comes down and snags a couple cookies. He gives me an encouraging grin.

I decide to read a collection of short stories on my Kindle application. This way, it should be easy to set things aside when people show up.

Ready, set…Begin – anytime now. May the odds be ever in our favor!

After 2 Hours

I’m reading the encouraging comments from my friends on Facebook. I’ve moved to the kitchen counter so I can visit blogs and post comments. After all, I have a platform to build.

My Perch in the Kitchen
My Perch in the Kitchen

Apparently, things started happening in The Avengers because I didn’t see my husband for quite some time. Later, I learn he has fallen asleep.

Must be rough.

After 3 Hours

I’m pacing to the front windows every few minutes. I stare out at the Open House sign and mentally will people to pull up. Apparently, this is not one of my super powers.

Every sound outside perks up my ears, and I think someone is finally coming to see all this work I’ve done. All this cleaning and straightening won’t be for nothing after all.

My husband comes downstairs and reminds me that most people will come later. Any time now, they’ll start showing up.

After 4 Hours

I must have been insane to dedicate five hours on the second day of National Novel Writing Month to something like this. Who knew it would be a total waste of time?

Even real estate agents plan to get paperwork done or catch up on reading when they host an Open House. Why did I expect anything different?

Okay, I didn’t. I did hope someone would come to see the house, though, even if they were just out for a drive and saw the sign.

Instead, I wasted hours cleaning, straightening and fretting about every little piece of lint in my house. Further, I didn’t get to meet my writing goal of 3,000 words for the day because I knew I would be a bear if interrupted during my writing time.

When someone asks if we’re having another Open House, I don’t feel like slapping them anymore. I laugh. Sure, if I want to waste a week of my life. Why not?

Do you have any experiences with trying to sell a house? Maybe you’ve experienced another time when you’ve gone overboard preparing for some event and then it failed to meet your expectations.

Of course, I’ve talked about that whole expectations thing before. What was I thinking?

I’m Thankful

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I’ve mentioned this several times, but it bears repeating. I’m even looking forward to it this year when I’m going to be the hostess.

I’m not the hostess with the mostest, I can tell you. I’m the hostess who serves crunchy baked potatoes. Or doesn’t have enough of the main dish to go around. Or stresses out so much about every little thing that she can’t enjoy the moment.

Not this time. This time, I’m counting on my sister to bring her awesome cornbread stuffing and taco dip. My mom will bring green bean casserole and pumpkin pie. My husband will help me hoist the hefty turkey into the oven at the appropriate hour so it finishes cooking by 2:30, when everything else can then go in the oven to be cooked.

It’s not about the stuffing. I love stuffing. I could eat turkey and stuffing slathered in homemade gravy and nothing else and feel extremely thankful. I repeat: it’s not about the stuffing.

I love Thanksgiving because it reminds me to be thankful. I may be thankful to the many people in my life who love me, but most of my thanks go heavenward. After all, I wouldn’t even be breathing if it weren’t for the Almighty God who holds creation in the palm of His hand.

I’m thankful for my husband. He’s a great provider for our family: financially, spiritually, and physically. That’s why I call him Mr. Wonderful.

I’m thankful for my sons. They work hard in their endeavors. They have brilliant minds and entertaining personalities. Watching them conquer the world makes every sacrifice I made for them worthwhile.

I’m thankful for my sister. After all, she’s the one bringing the stuffing. No, kidding aside, she inspires me to be my best, to try things that scare me and most of all to follow my dream of becoming a published author.

I’m thankful for my mother and stepfather. Mom has been fighting cancer for several years and she inspires me to keep going forward when things seem impossible. Her strong personality is the cornerstone of my own willfulness. (Really, that’s a good thing.) My stepfather has stood by her and loved her through all of these trials. Thank you.

I’m thankful for my nephews and niece. They’ve faced difficult times these past few years and it hasn’t stopped them from becoming the people God wants them to be. They make me proud to be an aunt.

I’m thankful for my home. It’s big enough to host this host for Thanksgiving dinner.

I’m thankful for more than I could list in this post without losing the interest of my readers. Suffice it to say, I’m thankful that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I’m thankful that God plays an important role in my everyday life.

I’m thankful that I can pursue my dream to be a published author. I pray every day: “Lord, let me use this gift for your glory.”

What are you thankful for today?