It's Easy Being Distracted...Really
Two Butterflies in Symphony--one the Tawny Emperor Butterfly, the other, I think it's the same, just different coloring
Two Butterflies in Symphony--one the Tawny Emperor Butterfly, the other, I think it's the same, just different coloring
I was out pulling bur weeds, but they're just too extensive, and I have a million other things to do. So I found my weed killer and started spraying them, realizing too late it's also a grass killer. Sigh. But the weeds are so thick, and the grass isn't able to grow where they are, so hopefully, I only killed the weeds.

But look what distracted me. I was in the middle of working on the whole back area where I take the puppies to potty, and they're going to be carrying the stickers around in the paws and fur. So need to clean this all up. And I saw the variegated privet full of butterflies. Yesterday, I noticed the flowers had all budded out and they smell similar to jasmine, heavenly. But today, they were covered with Tawny Emperor Butterflies. They love rotting fruit, and so when my pears are on the ground, that has attracted them to my wildlife reserve. :)

I took a lot of pictures, but this is one of my favorites because it caught two with the wings spread, different coloration, in a faceoff.

Have a terrific Friday!

Terry
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
Connect with Terry Spear: Website: http://www.terryspear.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/421434.Terry_Spear
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TerrySpearParanormalRomantics
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TerrySpear
Wilde & Woolly Bears http://www.celticbears.com
How to travel the world with free accommodations
World travel on your bucket list but not in your budget?

I just read a fascinating book on how you can travel the world on the cheap, paying nothing at all for your lodging. It’s a new travel trend called Home Exchanges.

Australian author Ainslie Waldron has written a how-to book called Luxury Globetrotting on a Staycation Budget, and the secret is to trade your home for a home in the country you’d like to visit. Ainslie lists several websites where you can place your house up for exchange, and search other countries for houses that other people are willing to exchange.  Always wanted to go to Ireland? Maybe someone in Ireland wants to visit your home town!

Luxury Globetrotting on a Staycation Budget by Ainslie Waldron

Ainslie says she's done this for years and visited all seven continents (she has a beach house in Brisbane she puts up for exchange).

It seems like a brilliant idea if you live in an interesting location (for instance, I live in Orlando, where probably some people might like to visit). When I started reading the book I was a little leery about having strangers sleeping in my house, but I guess these home exchange websites vet the people who participate, so there’s little problem and rarely any theft. (Basic advice is to keep your valuables in a locked room in your home when you leave or in your bank safety deposit box.)  And there’s a ‘comment’ section on the home exchange websites where you can read about other peoples’ visits to a particular home you might be interested in.

Like I said, it’s a fascinating concept. Imagine living like a local in Tuscany or Greece or Paris. Buying fruit for breakfast at the local grocery store, hanging out at the neighborhood cafĂ© or using your new house as a home base to leisurely explore the surrounding area. You’d really be able to immerse yourself in the culture, instead of seeing it from a tour bus!

My husband is ready to pack his suitcase, but I’m still trying to decide where I’d like to go. Hmm… Ainslie’s beach house in Brisbane sounds awesome. I wonder if she’d like to trade for a house close to Walt Disney World?

What about you? What do you think of the concept of home exchanges?

Leigh



My Scottish Themed Office
I don't know about you, but I love doing anything crafty! Recently, I tried my hand at creating a fabric covered magnetic board using an old picture frame. Since I had a portion of the metal sheet left over, I found another frame, spray painted it black to match the first one, and used cork that had been sitting around my house for years to make the other half into a cork board.



What you will need:


  1. Frame
  2. Fabric (Make certain it is not too thick or the magnetic tape will not attach to the metal properly. The thinner the better)
  3. Masking Tape (Used to secure the fabric around the sheet of metal)
  4. Magnetic Tape (Cut, peel and attach to back of photos or post cards)
  5. I used a pair of heavy grade kitchen scissors to cut the metal to size, but be careful not to get cut.


Step 1: Use the cardboard backing on the frame as a template to cut the metal to size.
Step 2: Press the fabric, then use the cardboard backing again as a template, but this time cut at least three inches larger all the way around.
Step 3: Place the metal sheeting in the center of the fabric and use masking tape to attach the fabric to the metal. Keep fabric tight, and if using plaid, make sure the lines are straight.
Step 4: Place fabric side down into frame, then the cardboard backing, using the tabs on the frame to secure.
Step 5: Hang, add magnetic tape to back of photos, then attach to fabric.

It's that simple! Use the same process for the magnetic and cork board. I used double sided tape to secure the cork sheet to the cardboard backing.


Metal Sheet: Purchased at Lowes

Adorable Nessie Pins for Cork Board
Purchased Online




       
Masking Tape: Use to Secure Material
to Meta
Magnetic Tape: Cut to Size and Place
 on Back of Photo
Purchased at Lowes

A Gift from my Sister! She knows
what I like!

Purchased 1610 Map Reproduction and wool
throw in Scotland
Tartan clad bear at Franklin, North Carolina
Scottish Festival



I hope you've enjoyed the post and the photos! If you have any questions about the project, please email me at gbrodieauthor@gmail.com












How Do You Turn Your Book into an Audio Book?

Audio books are becoming more popular because it's much easier to access them through digital downloads these days. In the past, they consisted of a bunch of clunky CDs you had to lug around. Now, listeners can simply download an audio book in a matter of minutes from Audible, Amazon, iTunes or other sites and listen while driving, doing chores, relaxing, taking walks, exercising and various other things. No need to stare at a book all day in order to "read."

I've had my first two books, My Fierce Highlander and My Wild Highlander, produced as audio books and now book three, My Brave Highlander, is being recorded. It can be fun and exciting, listening to the words you worked so hard on being brought to life through voice.

If you hold your audio book rights, you don't have to wait for an audio book publisher to make an offer on your book. You can have it produced yourself. This is easy if you join ACX, Audio Creation Exchange, which is an Amazon Platform.

Sign up as a member and read all the information on the site (or you can read the information first). There is a lot of it, I know, but it's important to understand all the ins and outs of having an audio book produced before you jump in. You need to know your rights, the narrator's or studio's rights, and ACX's rights. You will be signing a contract allowing ACX to distribute and sell your audio book for seven years. This is far different from Amazon KDP or any of the other ebook self-publishing platforms where you can take your book down anytime you want. For the audio book, you must make the commitment.

After you have read all the information on the site and joined, it's time to input your book's information and upload a sample so narrators can audition. You will decide on the price range you can afford.

Royalty Share
$0-$50 PFH
$50-$100 PFH
$100-$200 PFH
$200-$400 PFH
$400-$1000 PFH

PFH means Per Finished Hour. If you have never done this before, the price per hour can seem high. But keep in mind that it can take up to six hours or more to produce one finished hour of audio. Once the audio is recorded, it must be edited, corrected and have a lot of other things done to it which I don't understand. You can read more about this at ACX.

After you input your book's word count at ACX, the site will calculate approximately how many hours of finished audio it will be. You can then decide how much you're willing to pay to have the audiobook produced. Or you can choose a royalty share. In this case, you don't pay anything up front, but you do share all of your royalties with your producer 50/50.

With ACX you have three options:

OPTION 1
Royalty Share
with Exclusive Distribution to Audible

With this option your audio book will be sold at Audible, Amazon and iTunes and you and the producer will share the 40% of retail sales royalty. So, 20% each.

OPTION 2
Pay For Production (Flat Fee)
with Exclusive Distribution to Audible
With this option (the one I chose) your book is sold at Audible, Amazon and iTunes. You pay the producer a flat per hour fee and then you, the author and rights holder, earn 40% of retail sales.

OPTION 3
Pay For Production (Flat Fee)
with Non-Exclusive Distribution Rights to Audible
With this option you pay your producer their per finished hour fee and you can distribute your audio book wherever you want. (Where, other than Audible, Amazon and iTunes? I don't know the answer to that.) With this option you earn 25% of retail sales.

When you choose a sample from your book to upload for auditions, choose one in which there are several things going on. For instance, include some narrative, and some dialogue between as many characters as possible. I generally try to have at least three characters in the scene, both male and female. For romance, you will want a scene where the hero and heroine are talking. That way, you can see how the narrator performs both male and female voices and how expressive his/her voice is in the narrative as well. A lot of narrators are actors and are able to make the audio book sound similar to the performance of a play, with a unique voice for each character. You don't want someone who simply reads in a flat monotone. You want someone who is expressive so the listener can imagine they're watching a movie.

When you upload your book's sample, equal to about 5 minutes of narrating time, you choose what kind of narrator you want. Do you want a male or female? What sort of accent? What kind of narrating style? ACX has several boxes you can check for these options. Also include other information and direction. Include your blurb and then below that fill in other information such as if your book has won awards, has been a bestseller, whether you've sold foreign rights, etc. The more impressive your book sounds, the more narrators will audition.

You can also include characterizations and how you imagine the characters sounding. For example, the hero has a Scottish accent and a deep, commanding voice. The heroine is strong but feminine and from the English upper class. Go into as much detail as necessary so the narrator knows exactly what you want. They may not be able to tell from reading the excerpt you've uploaded.

My books are set in Scotland and the first two feature Scottish, English and French characters. I needed someone who could do all three accents realistically. And I wanted the narrative to sound Scottish but also be easy for Americans to understand. Ironically, the narrator of my first two books is from Northern Ireland, but he is an actor who is talented with various accents. For my third book, which features all Scottish characters, I went with a narrator who is from Scotland. His accent is truly authentic and adds a wonderful Scottish flare to the book.

Listen to the narrators' samples already on ACX and you might find one you like. If so, you can message them and ask them if they would like to audition for your book. You can also go on Amazon or Audible and listen to audio book samples and perhaps find the name of a narrator you love, then check to see if he/she is available on ACX.

Sometimes narrators or studios will message you, asking if you would like them to audition. This will give you an opportunity to search for their name on ACX or Audible to see if the voice and reading style is something you might like. Just having someone audition is not a commitment, but if you already know you don't want to hire the narrator, there's no need for them to go to the trouble of auditioning. You can receive as many or as few auditions as you like. Listen to all of them and weigh your options carefully.

When you're ready to decide, make sure you love the way the narrator reads your book before you make a commitment to sign him/her. You may also want to ask him/her other questions and let them know what you need from them before the deal is made. Having audio books created is not cheap so you want to invest your money in something you will love and be proud of.

Once you've made an offer to the narrator and it's been accepted, you will email the ebook in whatever format they prefer. Make sure he/she follows ACX rules and records the first fifteen minutes for you to listen to. And also make sure you love this fifteen minute sample before approving it. If you want anything changed, tell the producer. Don't be shy. They will correct it and resubmit. Also try to convince the narrator to allow you to listen to chapters as they go along recording. That way, if a certain character's voice sounds completely wrong, or if a name or other prominent word is mispronounced, you can have them correct this before they record the whole book. Making corrections in the first 15 minutes, or first chapter is far easier than making corrections throughout a whole ten hour book.

Listen to every word of the recording and check for errors. If you want Amazon's Whispersync technology to work, then the Kindle ebook and the audio book recording must be as identical as possible. With Whispersync, if the reader has both the Kindle ebook and audio book, they can read for a while and then listen for a while, switching back and forth, and the two versions will sync on the device. If you find errors or discrepancies, make a note of them, including the time stamp of the recording so the narrator can find it. The types of errors to listen for are missing words, phrases or sentences. Duplicate phrases and sentences. Words pronounced wrong. Character voices speaking the wrong dialogue. Transposed words. Extended silences or blank spots.

Send the error list to the narrator/studio for correction. Once they've recorded the corrections, listen to those spots again to make sure it sounds smooth and the way you want. By the way, let the narrator/ studio know up front that you want the recording to be identical to the ebook so Whispersync will work. That way, they know your expectations. Some narrators may "edit" your work as they're reading to "make it sound better" if they think you don't mind. And if you truly don't mind this, then that's okay too. Just make sure the recording sounds fantastic to you. If the studio/ narrator tries to refuse to make corrections you've asked for, call ACX for guidance. They are very helpful. Another tip, don't approve anything you haven't listened to. Make sure you love the way it sounds before you approve it.

Have your audio book cover created and uploaded by the time the audio book is finished being recorded. These covers must be perfectly square and at least 2400 x 2400 pixels.

Once the whole book is recorded as well as the opening and closing credits, and you've listened to all of this and decided it sounds great, approve the whole book. ACX will check the book. This can take up to two weeks. If ACX finds something that needs correcting, the narrator/ studio must fix this and approval time can take longer than expected. Examples of things that can pop up here are silences that are too long or discrepancies in credits. Once ACX approves it, your audio book will show up at Audible, then at Amazon and iTunes. You can then start promoting and selling it!

Do you have any questions about how to have your audio book created?


Here are the first five minutes of both my completed audiobooks. My Fierce Highlander is on sale for only 1.99 at Amazon and Audible if you have already purchased the Kindle version.




Thanks!
Vonda



New Covers for Bound Again Series!
I did it. Because I CAN do it. I had new covers made for Bound to Submit and Bound to Surrender. I loved the sexy-bound-woman covers but I thought maybe a little man chest would draw a little more attention. So here they are. What do you think?


Mason’s dark good looks and dominating personality stirred up Kelly’s forbidden fantasies, frightening her so much that she broke up with him. When she agrees to help out at the community haunted house, she never expects to be tied to a bed, playing damsel in distress to Mason’s masked, whip-wielding villain.

Mason knows Kelly is fighting her sexual needs and he hopes that a few hours of playing out her fantasies with him will prove it to her. Bound and under his control, she can’t run away from him this time.



Love is nothing but an illusion. Heiress Gabriella Winslow learned that lesson years ago when her magician boyfriend abandoned her, sick and alone, hundreds of miles from home. In the years that followed, she’s tried to forget him and the erotic bondage games they used to play. But the life she’s made for herself since then still leaves her restless and yearning for something more.

Now a successful illusionist, Alexander Black has returned to settle an old score. And to seduce Gabriella. With a blindfold and handcuffs and blood red roses, he entices his former lover and magician’s assistant back to his Las Vegas penthouse. If all goes according to plan, she’ll surrender to him before she discovers everything isn’t as it seems.


The talented Lacey Savage did both sets of covers and I'm so happy with the way they turned out. I love the sexy man chest covers. How about you?

Natasha
Bound to Submit
Bound to Surrender
www.natashamoore.com
Spring in New York
I was in New York City this weekend. It was beautiful! New Yorkers have planted spring flowers everywhere and I give them kudos for that. The city was packed as everyone was out enjoying a sunny day, after the horrible winter we all had, so that was nice.

I used to live there, but I played tourist and even took a picture of Grand Central station because I love it. No matter how crowded it gets, it's just nice to be there (unlike most train stations).
The train ride itself was not so great. I parked at a station in CT. No one knew which platform the train would come in on, not even the employee who was working there. The train was late and we all, literally every single one of us, ended up on the wrong platform. So we had to hoof it down to a crossing point, go under the tracks and up the two flights to the correct platform. All the while, the conductor is yelling, "Hurry up. We're already late." Okay, whose fault is it that they're already late and they didn't post which platform to wait on? I decided to view it as a comic episode (there were more than 100 people trying to board) but it wouldn't be funny if you were handicapped.

Still, the city was awesome.

Busy Making Bears!




And more!!
Happy Saturday!
Terry
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum-Priceless!
Last weekend I visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum with my husband. The museum is perhaps best known as being the site of the largest theft of private property ever. That's sad, because it is a beautiful, relatively small museum filled with art treasures.

The photo above shows part of the garden in the enclosed central courtyard. The glass-roofed enclosure was the first of its kind in America.

Here's a picture of the patron (by John Singer Sargent). It's on display at the museum.
In 1990, the museum was robbed of several valuable paintings by two thieves dressed as Boston cops. They stole a large Rembrandt (Storm on the Sea of Galilee), a Vermeer, 5 Degas drawings and several other works. They did leave some more valuable artwork behind.

Here's the Rembrandt they took and I remember it very well from seeing it before it was stolen. It was the kind of artwork you don't forget, and it's terrible that criminals have taken it from the public (and possibly harmed it).
The museum decided to leave the blank frames (the pictures were cut out) right on the wall where they had been displayed, and it's really poignant to see them there. For 25 years they've been missing.

Of course, the museum is still well worth a visit, with many, many treasures. Here's another view of the courtyard. (They don't allow photos to be taken anywhere else in the museum.)

  • Chasing a Highland Moon

    Chasing a Highland Moon
    Gwyn Brodie 3/10/15

    Fear of Flying

    Fear of Flying
    Leigh Court, 12/23/14

    Call of the Cougar

    Call of the Cougar
    Terry Spear 11/19/14

    Bound to Submit

    Bound to Submit
    Natasha Moore, 10/15/14

    A Highland Wolf Christmas

    A Highland Wolf Christmas
    Terry Spear 10/7/14

    Her Royal Rendezvous

    Her Royal Rendezvous
    Natasha Moore, 10/5/14

    The Cottage Next Door

    The Cottage Next Door
    Natasha Moore, 9/16/14

    Hero of a Highland Wolf

    Hero of a Highland Wolf
    Terry Spear 8/5/14

    Her Highland Hero

    Her Highland Hero
    Terry Spear 7/6/14

    Jaguar Hunt

    Jaguar Hunt
    Terry Spear, 6/3/14

    My Rebel Highlander

    My Rebel Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair 5/13/14

    Duke of Devonwood

    Duke of Devonwood
    Carly Carson, 4/6/14

    Once Upon a Highland Moon

    Once Upon a Highland Moon
    Gwyn Brodie, 2/20/14

    Playing For Real

    Playing For Real
    Natasha Moore, 2/4/14

    Programmed to Protect

    Programmed to Protect
    Jenna Ives, 2/1/14

    Her Royal Bodyguard

    Her Royal Bodyguard
    Natasha Moore, 1/1/14

    My Notorious Highlander

    My Notorious Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair, 10/30/13

    My Daring Highlander

    My Daring Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair, 3/29/13

    Dragon Song

    Dragon Song
    Cameo, 3/11/13

    The Snow Job

    The Snow Job
    Cameo, 2/13/13

    My Brave Highlander

    My Brave Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair, 7/19/12

    My Wild Highlander

    My Wild Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair, 8/26/11