Missing Bees and Bee Whisperers

A Guest by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Beekeeper Brian recently purchased four queen bees in hopes of starting four new hives. The queen bees were shipped by mail.

He tracked their exact arrival at the post office – late on a Saturday night. Since there is no Sunday delivery, we went to the post office to pick them up. After a thorough search of the facility, Beekeeper Brian was finally able to locate the buzzing box and bring it home.

He set up four nucs (starter hives) with the new queens. 

For some reason, one queen was not happy with her new palace and left, taking a group of workers with her.

This was a little frustrating. The queen could have gone anywhere with her workers.

A couple of days later, Rachel was standing in the kitchen window. “Dad, I found your missing bees.”

 Bee hive in tree

They had swarmed in the tree in our back yard. 

The problem now was to get them back into their hive. Neighbors came to watch this process. 

Brian and Matt, our son, got out a ladder.  It was not quite tall enough.

 ladder

Using a different method to capture the rogue hive, Beekeeper Brian set up a swarm trap. We waited.

Nothing happened. The swarm in the tree didn’t change.

Yesterday Rachel went out to check eggs and came around through the front door. “Dad I think your bees are moving into the nuc on the patio.” 

We all went out the back to see. Sure enough, a group of bees was on the front of the nuc.

There’s still a swarm in the tree so Beekeeper Brian isn’t sure if this is a different swarm or if the swarm is moving slowly. Beekeeper Brian told the bees to do whatever they wanted.

This morning the swarm in the tree appeared to be smaller, which made me wonder, is Beekeeper Brian a bee whisperer in disguise?

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One Word Wednesday – Writer

Love this poster that describes a WRITER so perfectly…writers write

This fabulous word art by Kathy R. Jeffords is available here.

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Your Name’s on the Book Cover. What Does it Mean? Author Branding Part 1

Nothing is more exciting than seeing your name on the cover of a book you’ve written. You’ve devoted hours and hours to the creation of your “baby.” Holding that book in your hand or seeing the listing on an ebook seller site validates your hard work.  

 I still get excited when I hold my debut novel in my hand.

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But what can a reader expect to find inside when they see your name on the book cover? 

Authors aren’t products like Pepsi or Coke, but readers do develop expectations about the content of novels based on author brand.  For example, what do you expect from books by Mark Twain, or Stephen King, or J.K. Rowling?

Me, I expect a southern tale from Mark Twain, a horror tale from Stephen King, fantasy and magic from a J.K. Rowling book and find exactly that.

 My TBR (to be read) pile is filled with all genres. On close examination, the highest stack is romance/women’s fiction books by authors like Debbie Macomber, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, or JoAnn Ross. These authors’ names on a cover promises a certain type of story and they deliver.

Their name is their brand.

Debbie Macomber will offer a story of relationships and enduring friendships. The reader will finish with a sense of love and hope.

Books by Susan Elizabeth Phillips are sure to be a romantic comedy adventure. I’ll grin and often laugh aloud as I follow SEP’s unique heroines to their HEA (happily ever after). 

JoAnn Ross’ stories offer strong, yet flawed women who overcome adversity, to-die for men-either emotionally wounded alpha shell guys or bad boys, and occasionally both, a very strong sense of setting, and a satisfying ending. 

Your name on your cover should signal YOUR author brand. Does it?

 If you don’t have any ideas how to do that, let me offer some suggestions on ways to cultivate an author brand using Primal Branding.

Author Patrick Hanlon, a marketing guru who’s worked on famous brands like IBM, LEGO, and Disney, equates product branding with a belief system. He says a strong brand contains seven primal codes: story, creed, icons, language, rituals, non-believers, and leader.

In this blog series on author branding, I’m going to discuss Harlan’s codes and how those codes relate to building an author brand.

1)    STORY

According to Hanlon, “Your brand needs to have a story or a background. It tells where your brand originated from and gives viewers or consumers something to connect with and something they can believe and trust in themselves.”

Readers especially love to know why and how an author got started writing.

That background story sets the whole idea of author brand in motion and is the chief reason all author websites and/or blogs should/must have about me pages.

The authors in my TBR pile all have their “story” somewhere on their blogs. Don’t believe me, click on the links and you’ll see.

  • Step ONE to develop your author brand. Share the story about how you started writing.

2)    CREED

According to Hanlon, “This tells what you believe in and how you might be different or similar to other belief systems out there.”

Story is not the same for all of us, neither is our creed.

Creed is what makes us, as a writers, willing to struggle to nurse our stories into existence, to persevere against headwinds that conspire against us?

Creed goes deeper than “origin” story, into the inner drive that led us to pursue a writing career. It’s what drives us to write.

Creed might be belief in the power of love. The frailty of the human condition. Comedy. The beauty of fine literature. Your fictional story will reveal what you believe most strongly.

Writers don’t necessarily state a creed, but a reader will pick up on our core beliefs through our story’s theme and premise.

  • Step TWO in establishing your author brand: Understand your core beliefs and develop your stories using those as your framework.

3)   ICONS

According to Hanlon,, “These are quick associations or flashes of meaning that are associated with your brand. They can be visual, a particular smell, sound – things like the taste of McDonald’s French fries, the sight of a Coca-Cola label or Mickey Mouse ears.”

Nora Roberts, bestselling author of more than 209 romance novels, brands her new release books with NR in a circle to clue readers the contains new content and is not a reissue. There may be other author icons, but Nora’s is the only author icon I know.

For most writers, author photos and consistent book cover design become logos.

These images stand for you and your work. It pays to have both your photo and your book cover done by professionals.

  • Step THREE for author branding: Use a professional photo for you book covers and on your website.

4)    LANGUAGE

According to Hanlon, “All belief systems or brands have their own set of language and words with a special meaning for those who buy into the belief system. If someone wants to be “part of the group,” they need to learn the associated words.”

Hanlon is talking about specialized words that denote special meaning for a particular brand group. Think soccer fans, computer geeks, doctors, truck drivers, etc. If you want to be part of any of those groups, you have to know the language.

I believe readers already know some language of authors. Not the craft details like POV, scene and sequence, story structure, etc., but a general knowledge of fiction genres and have personal preferences.

That’s why language is an important component of an author’s brand and why I believe a writer’s language must remain true to genre. Doesn’t matter what genre you choose to write, but you’ll not add readers if your language is not true to the genre you chose.

PhilipMartin in his blog, Discover Your Author’s Brand, offers a different take on Hanlon’s core component language, calling it “sacred words.”

Martin believes language equals “key phrases that inspire you or the mantras that you chant or the slogans that you pin next to your computer” and directs you to Maya Angelou’s website.

He points out that Angelou uses iconic images of herself and the cover of her well-known book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in addition to a line from that book: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” on the website for branding.

Angelou use the language code of primal branding. So should you.

  • Step FOUR to develop your author brand: Consider the language of the genre in which you write and use related words for your website/blog and promotions, then model Maya Angelou’s website with iconic images and slogans.

In Author Branding Part Two, we’ll discuss the final three codes Hanlon describes: rituals, non-believers, and leader.

Until then, YOUR TURN: Have you thought about using Primal Branding to build your author brand?

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Saluting Our Armed Forces on Armed Forces Day

armed-forces-day

On this Armed Forces Day, I want to salute them and all our Armed Forces. Whether Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, National Guard, or Coast Guard, our active and reserve service personnel are an important part of the United States.

Did you know that in 1775 – the year before the Declaration of Independence was signed – our national Army, Navy, and Marines were officially formalized?

While this was the beginning of the military branches, wariness of a standing army caused the Founders initially to only employ military men during times of need, and rely on local militias when possible.

Soon it became obvious that a standing national military was necessary to protect the fledgling country and our modern military branches were established. As the armed forces matured and technology advanced, the Air Force became a separate branch in 1947, and with it, the National Guard.

Historically, each armed service branch celebrated its own holiday, but in 1949, all branches came under the administration of the Department of Defense.

The first joint Armed Forces Day was celebrated on May 20, 1950.

A New York Times article from May 17, 1952 stated: “It is our most earnest hope that those who are in positions of peril, that those who have made exceptional sacrifices, yes, and those who are afflicted with plain drudgery and boredom, may somehow know that we hold them in exceptional esteem.”

Every day we should remember that the military is not a faceless entity, but rather the son or daughter, neighbor or friend who chose to be ready to fight so others don’t have to. These men and women in uniform take their responsibility of citizenship one large step further.

©iStockphoto.com/videodet
©iStockphoto.com/videodet

I’m the daughter of an World War II Army Air Corp officer, the wife of a retired US Army Reservist, and mother-in-law to a Coast Guard veteran, I know the sacrifices involved.

Today I offer a big thank you to all our Armed Forces, regardless of branch, rank, or duties, for their service and sacrifice.

Won’t you join me?

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Gathering Chicks

A guest blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Usually when you have a farm, you think of gathering eggs.  In our case, we must also gather chicks. 

First, we move the chicks out of the brooder into the small chicken yard. The chicks are understandably frightened of the big world and huddle together in a “chick pile.”

chicken pile

We have to gather them up and put them into the coop at night to keep them safe from predators like possums. 

chicken gathering

After a few nights, they get more adventurous and move from the corner of the yard to directly under the coop, which makes the nightly gathering process much more difficult. 

Eventually they get the idea that inside the coop is the place to be at night, and we simply have to close the door.

But there is the one crazy chicken who wants to live next door.  Several times, we have found her in the neighbor’s yard and must gather her back to her flock. She is smart enough to go behind the privacy fence where their dog cannot get to her. 

The first morning I went to get her, the neighbor’s dog was out so I closed the gate to the privacy fence while I gathered the chicken to take back to her place in the chicken coop yard.

Too late, I realized the fence locked from the other side and I was locked in.

There was a time in my life when I would have panicked. After running Miller farm for several years it takes more than being locked in the neighbor’s yard to fluster me!

I simply climbed up the fence and unlocked the gate.

We also have a crazy quail.  Being white, it is automatically different from all the others. A couple of weeks ago, Crazy Quail aka CQ got its wing stuck in the cage. I carefully got it unstuck and fully expected it to die. 

It didn’t, but its wing was broken and it can’t fly. Now CQ attacks whoever puts food in the cage or getting eggs out and frequently jumps out onto the ground.

 I have to gather CQ back into the cage all the time wondering why I don’t just let the crazy bird escape. I guess I feel sorry for it since it can’t really fly with the broken wing.

My parents have an Old English Sheep dog that likes to “herd” whatever is around including people. 

Toby training to herd goats.
Toby training to herd goats.

All this gathering of chicken and quail makes me wonder if we could train Toby to herd birds.

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One Word Wednesday – SIT

I have a Matese name Buster and this is so him. He loves to sit, especially on my lap.

sits

Sitting is good if you’re a Buster, but for a writer doing this is better.

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Because, if all you do is sit, then you never finish the book!

So my question for you today is–will you be sitting or writing?

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How are you celebrating National Leprechaun Day?

Today is National Leprechaun Day.

lep

No one knows the origins of the National Leprechaun Day holiday, but I’d be guessing one of the tiny creatures came up with the idea for a day in his honor. Being a bit Irish meself, I think it’s delightful that leprechauns have a day separate from St. Patrick’s Day.

Irish folklore portrays Leprechauns as sly and sneaky elves who dress in waistcoats and hats. While they are small in stature, they are quick as a whip and masters of practical jokes.

They are also keen musicians who play tin whistles, the fiddle, and even the Irish Harp and love to dance. Truth is, they love dancing so much, they wear out their shoes and constantly have to make new ones.

You might see a leprechaun if you go to Ireland. Tis been known to happen. But catching one of the mischievous pranksters is another matter entirely!

The wee people hide because, if someone finds a leprechaun, then the leprechaun has to either give his pot of gold to the finder or grant him or her three wishes.

The devious little creatures will do anything to escape from man so they should never be trusted. Some say angry leprechauns are more common than friendly ones. Not true. They tend to dislike humans because humans always seem to chase them for wishes and pots of gold.

If you do happen to catch one, be aware the leprechaun will use all his magical powers to grant you three wishes in return for his freedom. He might even offer you a pot of gold, but he’s also likely to trick you. Check here for tips on How to Catch a Leprechaun.

Most people celebrate this day for fun and for luck. Activities include:

  • organizing Leprechaun hunts,
  • throwing Leprechaun parties,
  • playing practical jokes, and
  • eating and sharing gold foil wrapped chocolate coins

My suggestion to celebrate Leprechaun Day is watch this ten-minute video from the 1959 movie, Darby O’Gill and the Little People. I promise your toe will be tapping right along with their dancing. You’ll also catch a bit of Leprechaun craftiness.

In case you’re not into little green men, you can celebrate frogs because today is also Frog Jumping Day

You’re choice.

Me, I’m celebrating National Leprechaun Day.

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Mother’s Day 2013

 mothers-day-clipart5

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

Today I want to say an extra special thank you to so many mothers who teach their children the love of books.

mother readingCopies of this adorable print can be purchased here.

Enjoy your Mother’s Day and if you get the chance, read to someone.

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The Itsy Bitsy Spider

by Guest Blogger Chicken Wrangler Sara

Our next-door neighbor called yesterday afternoon and said, “There is something on the outside wall of your house that you will want to see.”

My first question was “Is it alive?”

“Very much alive” was the answer.

So I headed out side to see whatever it was….

taranula

Yup, it is a tarantula.

Rachel’s first comment was “It is not coming inside.”

Since it was close to the window of our bedroom, we discussed whether tarantulas could get through glass. We decided they could not.

Beekeeper Brian put on a glove and was planning to hold it, but it got a little testy – picture all those hairy legs sticking straight up.

We left it alone.

About 2:30 in the next morning, Tucker started whining. I took him to the back door, but he didn’t need to go outside. I checked the weather, but no thunderstorm in sight.

We went back to bed.

I must confess, I did lay awake for a while wondering about the spider. But I soon fell back asleep and so did Tucker.

This morning the itsy bitsy spider was gone.

I’m not sure what is more disconcerting – seeing the spider one day or not seeing it the next.

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One Word Wednesday – AUTHOR

AUTHOR – the word conjures many images.

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So how do you recognize an author?

My friend and multipublished author Joan Reeves created this fabulous video about how to recognize an author.

Enjoy!

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