Lights, Camera, Fire Hazard

My husband and I had a few conversations this weekend about our home renovation. As I’ve said before, this home is great, but it’s been in need of love for several years. We keep running across things in need of repair while we’re trying to tackle the list of things to completely gut and change.  The previous bitter owners took light fixtures, ceiling fans, and built-ins leaving us with a blank slate to work with. I’ve said thank you to the bitter gods several times now as they left us in a position where we have to choose new items for these spaces instead of accepting what is installed.

I imagine there was once a ceiling fan here. And instead of leaving a mess of hanging live wires, they were forced to put something in there. So we got this.

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We’ve noticed a few switches that don’t seem to do anything. They turn nothing on. They turn nothing off. We have two empty spaces over our patio roofs with live hanging wires where ceiling fans probably used to exist and two light fixtures in those spaces that don’t work.

Since my husband was planning on looking at these lights, he decided it was also time to look at the two hallway can lights that appeared to be connected but only one worked.

We had conversations that, from my end, sounded like this.

“Three way….switch to light, light to switch or light to light to one switch and then to the other….light to switch to light to switch…switch to light, switch to light but then it wouldn’t be a three-way, each switch would operate one light and that doesn’t make sense….”

Okay, really not much of it made sense to me. But since I helped my husband wire our previous home’s basement, I remembered him explaining how three-way switches work. First, their name is deceiving because there are only two switches. It’s the kind of wiring where there is a switch on one end of a hallway or room and the other switch on the other end also turns the lights on or off so you don’t have to run through a dark room where you know suddenly you will find an axe murderer who only lives in the darkness of your hallway and only in that moment you turn off the light before running through the darkness with your breath held.

Bottom line here? We have two canned lights in a hallway that should be three-way switched, one light worked, one light did not, making the switches appear to not work properly. All of this assuming the two switches were actually three-way switches. The first thing my husband did, of course, was replace all the light bulbs. Bitter owners might have been bitter because they had old fashioned (whatever they are called…incandescent maybe?) light bulbs in every fixture. Our first month’s electric bill was about $1,000. I’m curious to see how much that changes once every light bulb is changed over to LED. I might be bitter too if it’s $1,000 every month.

With the light bulbs changed, the fixture still didn’t work. Out come the ladder and my husband trying to play with live wires. We go through another conversation with all the wires hanging out about the switches and the wires that don’t exist which should exist if it were wired switch to switch or light to light to switch….yes, this again. In the end, my husband has the whole fixture rewired, wrapped again with the wire nut in place, and he says to me, “I don’t know how this house hasn’t caught fire in the past twelve years.”

You know those emojis with the mouth open and the eyes wide? That was me in that moment. Evidently the electricians or bitter owner, whichever, twisted the wires in such a way the hot wire slid down from the wrap when the wire nut was twisted on until it finally sparked leaving black marks in the ceiling before tripping and leaving the fixture disconnected. Fire hazard. It takes a couple more hours for my husband to fix the lights over the patios,  but they all work. And they are all safe.

My husband tells me all the other lights are fine unless they stop working. And if they stop working, he’ll know how to fix them. This house was meant for him.

In other renovation news, we got all the stone off the castle wall in one evening.

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Then it took my husband another hour or more to tear down the wire mesh holding up the rock and mortar.

Next up we tear down the drywall and make it a flat wall.

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And after an xray earlier this week, I learned my foot is indeed broken. But that didn’t stop me. I think removing the stone with my husband’s tool, whatever the hell that thing is, was easier on my broken foot than standing below him while gravity dropped stones near my broken foot and on top of my good foot…and head.

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Happy Renovating!

Now I’m going to take a break to write.

 

Goodreads 34 Seconds Signed Copy Giveaway

Goodreads hosting a giveaway for a signed copy of 34 Seconds. The link to enter is below.

You can sign up from August 19th – September 19th.

I’m excited to be a part of Goodreads. They are my favorite place to go when I need ideas for great books to read. If you are not on Goodreads, be sure to check them out as well. You can track your reading progress, mark books you’d like to read so they are easy to find when you need a good book to read, and discover new books.

This giveaway is only open to US residents.

Nikki and Will fell in love a lifetime ago in Deltaville, Virginia. Now living in Colorado with her family, Nikki is invited to attend Will’s wedding back in Virginia where she finds her past staring her in the face. Will never wanted a wife, and he broke Nikki’s heart long ago. Nikki knew what she wanted: a strong, happy marriage and children, a future. She found those things when she married Chris, and she and Will managed to grow their friendship after heartbreak. A year after the wedding, Nikki is faced with her painful past again. She soon discovers she must find the strength to help Will on his own personal journey. In thirty-four seconds, she sees him slip from her life forever. Watching Will cross over to his fate, her past collides with her present, and Nikki learns she’s never been in control of her own destiny. Her own journey back to her family in Colorado becomes one of self-discovery. With the help of Will’s voice to carry her across the country, Nikki must decide how she will move forward.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

34 Seconds by Stella Samuel

34 Seconds

by Stella Samuel

Giveaway ends September 19, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/199354

Strength in shoes

A storm had blown through earlier in the day. Everything was wet and the house felt cold. Knowing I was going to cook dinner and spend an evening packing, I put on warm fleece pajama bottoms, the ones with snowflakes, I believe, and a long sleeve cotton tee. I had begun packing our pantry items. We only had just over a week left in the Colorado house and a pantry filled with food. As I was pulling food out to pack, I found even more to throw away. So I began my journey of toss and pack. The storm passed and the sun came back out to dry the patio and walkway. It was warm, but I didn’t bother changing back into summer clothing. I think I can wear PJs all year any time of day or night.

I had taken two trash bags outside to our trashcan and started dinner. It was close to 5pm. Rice was cooking and was at the point where I had turned the gas burner to simmer. I had plenty of time to load one more trash bag and take it outside. The moment I got to the trashcan outside, I heard a horrific crash. Looking up and outside the neighborhood on the main road, I saw a green bike down. Shit. It’s a motorcycle, I thought to myself. My husband rides. My sister rides. I have many friends who ride. Motorcycle down doesn’t sit well with me.

I ran inside the house, grabbed my cell phone and slipped on a pair of shoes. As I dialed 911, I ran down the street.

When I got there, I realized it wasn’t a motorcycle. It was a dirt bike. And it wasn’t a man. Or a woman. It was two young boys. Both lying in the road. Both broken. Both bleeding. Broken.

I’ve debated whether or not to share everything I saw that day. And I decided not to share. I was disappointed in a few things, like people standing around not talking to the boys. The town employee smoking his cigarette several feet from the boys and me while we were on the ground next to the bike leaking gasoline. I was on the phone with 911, so I had clear instructions. I was able to talk to them both while we waited for help.

Once the helicopter took one and an ambulance took the other, I was able to shift my focus on the three boys who were with these two amazing young men. They were in shock. I told them I’d stay with them until their parents came. It was during one of the moments talking to those three boys when I noticed my shoes were wet. The grass I ran through, the grass on the side of the road, and the puddle near the boy I stayed with the longest while he was waiting for help had soaked my feet.

Much happened that day, including the harsh realization I had left dinner cooking in the oven and on the stove with children inside my house. Luckily, I was able to ask a neighbor for help.

Today, living in Arizona, I asked my daughter to grab me a pair of shoes before I took her to school. She brought me those shoes. I don’t think I’ve worn them since.

This morning, I put them on and thought of that day. I thought of these two boys. I was able to see them both at the hospital before we left Colorado. I am happy to say I know they are both doing well. They are both recovering. I know one has moved with his family to another state. They are all closer to family, love, and support. I saw a photo of him standing and walking recently. I sat in a room by myself with the biggest smile on my face looking at a still shot I wasn’t sure I’d ever see. The other has been through several surgeries and seems to be doing well. At least much better than when I last saw him. I hope they remain friends for life.

These boys and their families will live in my heart forever. They may not remember me. But I will always remember them. I wish them the best life has to offer. They are here. There was an awful chance they could not be here. But they are. I hope they do amazing things as they continue to grow.

Today, I’m wearing my dirty shoes. I could wash them. I could toss them out. But today, I will think of the amazing feats we all face each day. The strength these boys gave to me. The strength they gave to their families. The strength they have. It lives in these shoes. Today. For me.

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34 Seconds Free on Kindle

Back in the fall, I released my first book, 34 Seconds. Editing and Formatting were not a breeze, but the people I chose to work with are simply amazing. Just a month after it was released, I found a few things that needed attention within the book. Only a few…maybe five. Tiny things. But I’m a perfectionist, so I had to read the whole book again and get those fixes in.

In the meantime, I spent much of the school year sitting in meetings as my daughter was injured, teased, and bullied at school. Unfortunately promoting my book took back seat.

Now I’m kicking off. 34 Seconds is available.

For today and the next few days, 34 Seconds is free on Kindle.

I’d very much appreciate copies flying onto your devices. You don’t need a Kindle, just the app, to get your copy. I’d also very much appreciate a review once you have read it. Authors live on coffee, cashews, and reviews.

Grab your copy here.

Have a beautiful sunny day!

Stella

34seconds_WIP9stella

34 Seconds, Stella Samuel

Nikki and Will fell in love a lifetime ago in Deltaville, Virginia. Now living in Colorado with her family, Nikki is invited to attend Will’s wedding back in Virginia where she finds her past staring her in the face.
Will never wanted a wife, and he broke Nikki’s heart long ago. Nikki knew what she wanted: a strong, happy marriage and children, a future. She found those things when she married Chris, and she and Will managed to grow their friendship after heartbreak.

A year after the wedding, Nikki is faced with her painful past again. She soon discovers she must find the strength to help Will on his own personal journey. In thirty-four seconds, she sees him slip from her life forever. Watching Will cross over to his fate, her past collides with her present, and Nikki learns she’s never been in control of her own destiny. Her own journey back to her family in Colorado becomes one of self-discovery. With the help of Will’s voice to carry her across the country, Nikki must decide how she will move forward.

 

 

#AmWriting

Clearly, I am writing.

I have a scene to write. About fishing. I know about….nothing when it comes to fishing. I used to go fishing with my dad when I was little. I have memories of my grandfather fishing. My grandfather’s brother owned a seafood business my whole life. Yet, still I know close to nothing about fishing.

What kind of fish swim in the cold fresh waters of Colorado’s high mountains? I have no idea. This is why Google is my friend.

But writing this scene took me back to writing 34 Seconds. Nikki goes back home after years of being away and only visiting occasionally. I’m trying desperately to reopen my boxes of memories of fishing so I can write this scene. But I might not have the key to this particular box.

Excerpt from 34 Seconds:

Every time I visited, I thought I was still that young woman who left so many years ago. I’d locked up certain pains into little compartments inside my heart and inside my mind, and some of them tended to pop open like a Jack in the Box when I set foot onto my father’s property. I forgot just how many years have passed. I forgot how much can change and yet still stay the same in so many years.

If you know about fishing, you are welcome to teach me.

So you wanna write and publish

I took a flight from Denver, Colorado to Farmington, New Mexico. It was a puddle jumper plane. Little. Few seats. Only it didn’t jump puddles. It jumped the Rocky Mountains. I don’t know if you’ve ever been through the Rockies, but they are magnificent. Majestic. And quite rocky. It’s not a vision that only leaves you in awe, but also in fear, flying above those peaks. This flight was before 2001. The cockpit door was open. In between the pilot and co-pilot lay a manual. I was in the first seat. There were only about six seats on the plane. This thing wasn’t planning on every going very far. It was a plane that flew below clouds looking up at the all huge aircraft flying high and fast above, with aspirations to be that amazing one day. If this story took place in a cartoon, that is. Anyway, the one flight attendant shared my knee space and faced me. I feared a sneeze might push her against the door flinging us all out to pepper the massive rocks. Holding tight to my seat, I looked again at the two pilots and the book sitting open between them. I’m not sure why I said it except I am a funny person, but out loud, I said, “What is that? The ‘So You Wanna Be a Pilot Manual’?” The pilot turned and smiled. The flight attendant stifled a giggle. I held on tight. We were heading over rocky terrain, and I wanted to live. I watched that book the whole flight, ready to take it and read out loud if needed, but also secretly hoping neither pilot would pick it up for instructional reading while flying my precious life an hour and a half away from home.

A few years ago I started a novel. I started a few actually. Last year I finished one. Then I gave it to people to read. And they liked it. Then I had it edited and formatted. Both took much longer than I had planned. Then I edited it again because I question everything and decided I didn’t like everything I’d kept from my editor. More formatting. Cover designer who had been waiting for more than year was ready to go. Boom, it’s ready to go out. Right? No. I’m in a trial by error stage right now. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to talk about my process a bit more. If you are interested in learning about Indie Publishing and the things that give me anxiety, like where does this go, what stage should I do this? I’ll be talking about it over several weeks.

Right now, if you are a writer or want to be a writer, get you pilot’s guide out now, and start writing.

Happy words,

Stella

Writing

34 Seconds Book Blog Tour

I have been so honored the past few days to be featured on a few blogs. I’m very excited to have 34 Seconds out in the world.

I’m eager to finish my next book, and I’m even more eager to get my next NaNoWriMo project started next month. But for now, I’m enjoying sitting back for a bit and sharing my writing, extra scenes, recipes that inspired my book, and life through my characters.

Yesterday 34 Seconds was featured on Shaun Allan’s blog. If you love horror and haven’t heard of Shaun, be sure to stick around on his blog and check out his work. I was lucky enough to win his latest book, Darker Places, and I’m not sure I’m ready to turn off my lights just yet.

First, be sure to check out his post sharing my latest story which takes place in Deltaville, Virginia. In this post, I share a little about this beautiful town on the coast on Virginia.

Shaun Allan’s 34 Seconds tour