Friday, March 21, 2014

"Trapped"

Have you ever been stuck somewhere, and didn’t know when you’d get out? And I don’t mean rush hour traffic. Although, sometimes in Hampton Roads it can be disconcerting when there’s a big traffic jam that goes on into the dark hours of the night. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Some of you might remember we purchased a new RV camper this past November. And a few repairs need to be made. It’s still under warranty so we decided to bring it in before camping season kicks off for us next month. We contacted the dealer and set up an appointment. They were aware of a couple of things before we took it home off the lot to begin with (the bathroom door sticks, and a sticker on the outside was torn). Then after some trips we managed to sneak in before the cold winter showed up, we had a few issues: some lights went out, a bracket on the table was weak, and a storage drawer gets stuck. Probably easy fixes but it’s covered so we will let them deal with it. The biggest problem was with our awning, it somehow has a scratch that tore through the material. We needed to go to the storage lot where we keep our RV to take photos to email to the dealer so they could determine if the awning is covered under warranty.



Okay so we got to the RV Storage Lot on base at 6:10PM (they closed at 6). Hubs read the hours on the website and was was going by “spring” hours – which don’t start until April 1st. Yeah, I know spring is before April 1st. Tell that to the yahoo who makes up the schedule.

But the man at the desk said we could go ahead and log out a key to the RV lot because he was going to be around working on repairs for the skeet shooting range for a little while, and that he’d be there. The RV lot we park in is at the back of the property out of sight, and it’s locked and has its own key. We said we wouldn’t be too long.

We went to the camper, opened it up, and took the photos we needed to. After locking the camper and the lot back up, we went to the front office to turn the key in. That was at 6:45PM. We knocked the place was locked, we looked all over the skeet area, the archery range, and the boat and RV lots. Couldn’t find the man anywhere.

We sat and waited figuring he went to get dinner and he’d be back because all of the storage sheds were open, the truck was there with the windows rolled down, the golf cart was out, and all of the lights were on in the building. All the makings of someone still working.

After half hour of waiting we decided to drive around the property again. I had my current manuscript I was working on to keep me busy, and hubs had been playing games on his phone. No big deal. We drove around, and nothing, no one. We honked the horn. No one showed face. We were concerned with having the key signed out in our name and didn’t feel like wasting the time or gas to return it the next day. We really wanted to get rid of it then and there.

Finally we figured we would have to suck it up and bring it back another day, we drove back around to leave the property (down a different road). And as we neared the front gate it didn’t look good. It was closed. When we got close up. It was locked. Not just with one lock, but three huge Master locks. Nice. I am mildly claustrophobic. So needless to say I went into panic mode the second I saw the cluster of locks. My brain went into survival mode, even though I knew we’d get out, and things would be fine. But this is how my brain works. I planned my escape several different ways, and then I felt better knowing there were options.

So we went back to the office to read all the notices and papers on the building to find phone numbers for emergencies. Or something, or anything. The only number listed was for the front desk there. And of course no one answered that earlier when we tried. We tried it a of couple of times.

I contacted my son who had a friend staying the night at our house, and my daughter who was with a friend watching a soccer game, to let them know our predicament. Worst case scenario we were stuck overnight until 8am when the lot opened for business again, which would still get us home to collect our son and his friend to get them to their soccer game at 9am. We had the key to the RV lot so we were gonna hook up the battery and open the camper for the night. Hubs would kick back on the bed and watch TV, while I worked on my books. It's not a bad place to be trapped in.



That was our fall back plan, after I found a pizza guy to deliver pizza through the locked gate. Because other than a half a cup of water, this was all we had:




So we called information and got the number for the base police. We called the number and got a voice mailbox. Uh, yeah, no. Hubs looked through his phone numbers looking for one that he might have had listed in his cell for MWR. But no such luck. I called information again and got the non-emergency number for Virginia Beach police. They couldn’t help of course it’s not their jurisdiction, but they gave me a different number for the base police.

Someone answered that number, thank goodness. This was at 7:30. We were told to go wait by the gate someone would be there. Hubs joked that they couldn't find the keys... At 8PM two guys show up with keys. None work. They chuckle about it while we talk through the fence looking like prisoners. They told us another unit would be on the way soon with more keys.

The Gate

It got dark, and we sat listening to the F-18 fighter jets do touch and goes. The vibrations shook the truck. I love that!

At that point we were having a “Money Pit” moment…if you don’t know what that is, watch the video, and yes we did laugh like that:



At 8:40 the second base unit shows up. He was some nice eye candy, so that was a plus. He gave us each forms to fill out for the call. Hubs waggled his eyebrows at me and said it was a ploy to get my phone number. Haha, I love that man. He makes me laugh daily.


As we were talking with cutie pie a message came over his radio that said the proprietor had been located and he was on the way, it would be 25 minutes.

So we went back and sat in our truck and 20 mins later, at 9:10PM we were freed with a bunch of apologies and one angry manager, and some other car pulled up too, I’m guessing another employee got a call. Amazing how they all three showed up at once. Not one sooner than the other.

The sight of freedom

Turns out the guy we needed was already on base in the movie theater watching a movie. He had his phone turned off for the movie I guess.

He explained what happened that evening. He was at the front desk and knew we were on site, a little while later he was going to head out and asked the other worker if we had turned in our key. The kid said we did. But he must've been talking about the people on site before us. Then all the employees left. Ten minutes later is when we rolled up to the office.

They have procedures in place to prevent this from happening and we are classic examples of what happens when one doesn’t follow them. Before anyone left they are supposed to inventory the keys to the boat and RV lots. Supposed to.

Oh, and that puddle behind the truck wasn't from the truck. Just sayin'.
So, have you ever been locked in somewhere? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Snowball Project

The Snowball Project

With all of the hype going around about burning snowballs on the internet, we made this a family thing and turned it into a fun experiment. Anything that involves fire is a big hit with my family. You should see how long we sit around campfires! We love fire, but we also fear and respect it.

I had my 13 yr old son go out and make a bunch of snowballs for me, and then we took each snowball and burned it a different way to see the outcome:

#1 Propane grill – no soot, it had a slight odor of propane, melted fast and there was a lot of water.

#2 Melted on stove in a pot – no smoke, no soot, no odor, large amount of water left behind and it was clear.

#3 Butane 7-11 small lighter – minimal soot, small flame, butane odor, not much water.

#4 Butane hand held torch lighter – more soot, medium flame, stronger butane odor, not much water.

#5 Wooden match – Minimal soot, small flame, campfire odor, not much water.

#6 Candle – Some soot, small flame, carried the odor of the wick and wax, not much water.

#7 Hair dryer – no soot, no odor, not much moisture.

Then the kids got wild and started adding things to more snowballs to try and light them on fire. Nothing made their snowball flame up. They tried rubbing alcohol, Axe cologne, and silly string. All of which are flammable only because of the propellant, but it was worth a try, and fun to boot.

Conclusions:

1. The higher temps of the grill and stove melted the snow quicker causing more liquid in the end. Smaller temps had the snow collapsing inward toward the center of the ball and resulted in a less water after it melted.

2. We figure the grill and stove burn cleaner than the lighters or matches resulting in no or low odors (and they also left no soot). If there were any odors out of the ones we burned/melted they were always a result of the “fuel” used to melt the snowball.

3. The burn marks/soot was a result of the flame. If you look at all the videos people have posted, the soot forms on the snowball above the flame. Fire gives off smoke and the soot is the result. Just like when you burn a candle in a glass jar and tip it sideways, it leaves soot above the flame. So we feel the soot is not a result of anything in the snow burning.

4. The hair dryer, it was a high volume of heat, but it was a dry air, and the temperature wasn't as high so there wasn't as much liquid as on the stove or grill.

5. We touched the snow after each attempt and it was never hot, and we never took anything away on our skin except the dirty soot.

***After thinking about it, I went to our new refrigerator that has a fancy high-tech filter and got ice from the ice maker and tried two of the experiments that we did on the snowballs but with the ice cubes. We burned one on the stove for odor comparison to the snowballs, and burned one with a butane lighter...How do you think the ice cubes fared as far as soot and odor?

I have video clips of each snowball, and the ice cubes that I will post at a later time. I want feedback first.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Kai's Journey Blog Tour



Hello! I'm so happy to have Wendy & Charles Siefken here today as part of their blog tour. I've got some info on a book that the mother/son duo co-wrote. First here is the cover and the blurb for their book, and then some interview questions. We love feedback, so if you'd be kind enough to leave a comment, we'll respond!


Kai has been fighting for survival and trying to find a way rid the world of the disease his father created... 

Kai's father accidentally created a race of zombies and like a virus; it soon spreads throughout the entire world!

Kai comes across a young woman named Clover, who is part of a clan traveling across the United States to try to find what is left of humanity. 

Clover is a part of a clan who has a secret of their own. Hiding among what is left of the human race, will Kai be able to handle the truth?

Kai and Clover are watching a meteor shower when their lives are changed forever! 

Kai and Clover begin a heroic journey, fueled by the increasingly dim hope that somehow, the human race will have a chance to start over.

What is the ideal recipe for a good novel.

 A good line that will hook the reader.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

 I think it would have to be Boris for both of us. He is such a robust character that is instantly likeable.

Give a one sentence synopsis of your novel:

 A young man who’s past and present is constantly at odds with each other in a world of complete chaos.

What was the turning point in your life when you decided to start writing?

When Mr. Kozak gave us the challenge to write and publish a book.

What is or are the genres of your book or books?

Young Adult Fantasy

What made you decide to write in your particular genre?

It just felt right. It felt like something we could relate to very well.

Do you have any books in the works?

Yes we have two. Charlie’s book “The Chimera Effect” and my book “Lost”

When you read, what is your favorite genre?

Fantasy.


Please share your author bio, links where readers can connect with you and your books.

Bio Charles Siefken (1992-present) is a recent graduate of high school. This is his first book of many to be published. He currently resides in rural central Iowa where he enjoys reading sci/fi books and playing video games among other things. He currently works at a local auto mechanics shop and will be attending college this fall to get a degree as well. Christopher Paolini was his inspiration to become a writer.

Wendy Siefken (1966-Present)Currently working full time from home on writing stories and now a virtual assistant to those in need of an extra pair of hands online. Wendy lives on a farm with her family and enjoys reading, gardening and other activities with her family and friends. This is our first publication with many more to follow. This all started as a school project for her youngest son and business partner, Charles Siefken, which has grown into a desire to be published.
The book is a journey into the fantasy realm of what if's. Zombies took over the world? What if werewolves were real? What if dragons were really not from earth but from another planet? I hope you enjoy this YA book. This book is ideal for a young reader who you may not want reading a book with a lot of blood and gore. This book doesn't have that. It has a story without all the graphics of a battle.

Our Blog sites are:
http://siefken-publication.bravesites.com/

http://siefkenpublications.blogspot.com/

http://siefkenpublications.wordpress.com/category/uncategorized/

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Wicked Kind of Dark Cover Reveal Giveaway

Author Jonathan K. Benton

Jonathan Benton always wanted to write books, having won first place in a short story competition when he was ten. Inspired by writes such as Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, Jonathan first discovered the crossover genre of literary/fantasy while reading Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Jonathan grew up in New Zealand, dreaming of travelling to London and finally making the pilgrimage in his mid-twenties. Returning from England, he settled in Australia, the country he now calls home, and decided to take his writing seriously.









A Wicked Kind of Dark

Robert Duncan no longer believes in magic. A mysterious call about a blood moon, however, leads him back to the magical world of his childhood and to Luthien, the beautiful girl with flame-coloured hair, who he loved and lost.

As Robert unravels the secrets of his childhood, darkness enters his life and an ancient evil awakens. To have any chance of defeating the dark forces that would destroy two worlds, Robert must find Luthien before the rise of the blood moon. He must, once more, believe in magic …

A Wicked Kind of Dark mixes vast and spectacular fantasy landscapes with gritty urban reality. A must-read for people of all ages who believe in the power of imagination, and the importance of never losing touch with your inner child.



Giveaway Details
$10 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Open Internationally
Ends 8/15/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

*An additional $10 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash is available to anyone who shares this giveaway on their blog.  See link in the rafflecopter form.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Saturday, July 13, 2013

Spotlight on Gerald and the Wee People, by Greta Burroughs





Gerald and the Wee People by Greta Burroughs

Genre

MG/YA fantasy

One Sentence Synopsis
Two boys fall into a strange new world and discover they can accomplish the impossible with a little help from their friends.



Description

Gerald and his best friend, Vernon discover a mysterious spot in the woods where Gerald visualizes a miniature village complete with wee inhabitants. He enjoys going back to that spot and watching the day to day activities until trouble starts in the village and he tries to convince Vernon that the "visions" are real and the wee people need help.
While trying to prove that the whole thing is just Gerald's wild imagination, the boys literally fall into the new world and get caught up in a war. The boys come up with ways to keep the invading force from entering the village but another solution has to be found in order to put an end to the conflict.
Along with a few companions from the village, Gerald and Vernon embark on a quest to face down the deranged forest god who instigated the mayhem. The dangerous path is laid out by an ancient prophecy, but not everything goes as planned.

Excerpt

Why they had to hurry, Gerald did not know but something in the back of his mind kept telling him that time was running out. It took a few minutes, but all the boys were finally awake, a little groggy but ready to move.
The problem was that everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. The heat was almost unbearable. It was a major effort to put one foot in front of the other. Gerald reminded the rest of his team that it was Miach’s way of keeping them from reaching their destination. But this time the illusion did not stop when he mentioned the forest god being up to his old tricks.
This time it was no illusion. The walls burned their hands, the hot air burned their throats. The floor was sticky with some kind of hot substance that burned their feet through their shoes. They began to hear a distant sound like the laughter they had heard earlier.
Cian fell to his knees and cried out in pain as the scalding liquid burned his skin. “I can’t go on, just leave me here to die,” he screamed.
Tomas reached out to his brother and tried to help him up. It was no use; he was too weak and exhausted. In a very weak voice he said, “You all go on. I’ll stay with Cian. I can’t go another step anyway.”
No one else said a word, the other two boys were too tired to talk, too tired to walk, too tired to care.
This was not supposed to be happening. Gerald did not remember this from his nightmares. Something was wrong. He yelled to whoever was listening, “Did we take a wrong turn or something? Stop it Miach, stop it. You want me, leave my friends alone.”
That just made matters worse. The scampering, unseen creatures came out of nowhere. They did not just run past this time but stayed and started pinching and biting the legs and arms of Gerald’s companions. For some strange reason though, the creatures did not bother him.
All four of his companions were down, rolling around on the ground trying to fight off the shadowy figures. The screams intensified from his friends as the burning liquid covered their bodies and the creatures’ biting turned to gnawing. Gerald could hear pieces of flesh being torn away as the other boys were being eaten alive. The laughter was all around them now bouncing off the walls and echoing through Gerald’s head.
“Stop it, stop it now. Please, I’ll do anything you want, Miach, just stop the noise, and stop torturing my friends.”
Total silence fell. All the gnawing, screaming and laughter were gone. Gerald did not know if the total lack of sound was worse than all the noise. He noticed a light shining above him. He looked around and realized he was all alone.
A voice spoke inside his mind and said, “Anything I want, huh,” followed by a soft, haunting chuckle.


Links








Author’s Bio

Greta Burroughs loves to read. No matter where she is, there is always a book close at hand. Her love of reading began at an early age and blossomed over time to include many different genres, her favorite now being fantasy.
As a preschool and elementary school teacher, Greta tried to instill the joy of reading in the children she worked with. Books were an important part of her classroom and story time was the highlight of the day.
It has been a while since Greta was in a classroom but she had lots of experience in reading to children of various ages and remembers what they enjoyed listening to. She tries to incorporate that knowledge into her work as an author and believes it makes her a better writer of children's and young adult books.
She now resides in SC with her husband, Robert and three dogs. Greta has six books published at the present time; three children’s books in the Patchwork Dog and Calico Cat series, two MG/YA fantasy entitled Gerald and the Wee People and House on Bo-Kay Lane, and a nonfiction account of her experiences with an autoimmune blood disorder called ITP - Heartaches and Miracles.
For more information on Greta's books visit http://booksbygretaburroughs.weebly.com/