Still undecided on the cover art. I love both mock-ups. One is a night shot of the city of Chicago from across the frozen lake. It really sets the scene for the story. The second is of a snow covered plant taken in soft focus. It looks more artistic than the first. The city shot grabbed my attention, but after checking and rechecking the proofs, it looks more like a travel guide or something to that nature. The second one honestly doesn't have much to do with the story besides winter time, but I think it has a more professional look to it. I showed them to a few of my sample readers to get their input. Two have responded thus far with the unanimous vote for the city scene. I mentioned the long term goal of the cover and my concern for it being too touristy, but they still stood by their decision. I still have two more out there to hear from. After staring at the pics for a good portion of the past few days, I have a tiny list of questions and recommendations for the design team to see if I could tweak them a bit. All in all, I really do like them both and am even more excited about the whole thing.
I have been working for some time with the goal to be able to reduce my hours to part time. I had hoped to be there by now, but with several financial and other set backs, it hasn't happened. Colt and I sat down and gave our situation a serious look and were able to cut back here and there to advance my goal. It looked as if I could cut back on working some, but not quite as much as I had hoped. Have I employed the needed adjustments to do this? No. It still felt like I was being selfish about the whole thing. Much to my surprise, another situation has come up that will undoubtedly help. My brother is looking to cut back on his expenses as well and decided that his car was not fitting into his 'needs' category. How does this help me? My main expenses are my Jeep payment and the need to carry my own insurance if I go to part time. If I were to reduce my car payment- say, by nearly half -it would be pretty much where I needed it to be.
One problem: The mini is a stick. I don't like sticks. It's not that I can't drive them, I just am not a fan. Honestly, I'm lazy. I spoke with Dillon about it and he decided I needed to have an all out test drive in the Mini. An hour and a half later, I'm still going back and forth. Love that little car, but am terrified at the same time. It is a bottle rocket on four wheels. Six speed pistol. Speeding ticket generator. Need I go on?
The testing started with Dillon having me stall it twice so I can see how far I can push it before it falls. It's very forgiving. Second, we did this at night so I couldn't see the shifter. That didn't bother me too much. I have two areas that made me the most nervous. One, the entrance to the office. The second is 31st street (stop and go). I did a major stall and die on Stratford Hill. And after we all caught our breaths from laughing so hard, I finally made it up. It wasn't the stop sign in the middle of the hill, it was the right hand turn where I bogged it down too much, then gave up because I thought I had already killed it. Dillon is a very patient co-pilot. Stratford accomplished, on to the office. This was tragically bad. I started into the turn, there is a HUGE dip that I was afraid to peel off the front end of the car on, and took too long. Oncoming traffic came and I panicked. Stall, restart, jump into parking lot. Dillon only laughed the entire time. I wanted to cry. He drove it around awhile to show me what he can make that crazy little car do, then had me try again.
Started in Lion's Park. I put it in gear to get on my way and decided I needed to retie my shoe. Dummy, left it in gear and killed it. It was like a combination of Top Gear and Mystery Science Theater by then. The comments from Dillon and Colt ran unchecked. Mostly about me stalling out in a dark and creepy park with no one around for miles to hear our screams because we get abducted since I couldn't pull out of a parking space in time to save our lives. Much thanks all around. Then I reached over with my right foot to find the clutch to let it out of gear and invoked the only warning tone Dillon has ever had where he instantly and assuredly explained to me that the right foot is to not ever touch the clutch peddle. I knew this, but again, I'm lazy and my other foot was tired from me pointlessly holding it over the peddle the entire time.
The rest of the drive was relatively easier. I surprised myself at how quickly I reacted to an unexpected obstacle in the road and handled it smoothly. Dillon had already blurted out that we were going to die. Strange how calmly he accepted the fate. I eventually made it to 31st and took that way home. There wasn't much traffic at all, so I bet he'll make me conquer it again tonight. I was able to get it into sixth and tested the handling a little more so, until Dillon started chanting his 'speeding ticket' song. That little thing cruises so smoothly, I didn't realize how quickly I hit and passed the speed limit.
The down side to all this: the Mini would replace the Jeep. This hurts. I know it's just a car, but it's My Jeep. I've had it for awhile and am quite attached. The gas never bothered me because I live two miles from work. Everyone knows my Jeep. This is mostly a good thing. But, it is only a car and our biggest expense next to the house. It is selfish of me to expect to go to part time and still drive a vehicle with a full-time car payment. The Mini takes premium, but the mileage will make up for that. The insurance should be about the same. Maintenance is maintenance because we (Colt) work on our own cars. He completely disassembled a Porsche and reassembled it and it's still cruising around town. Same deal with the Audis. I think (and hope) he can handle a Mini. If I can get over the loss of my beloved Jeep and deal with a stick everyday, the savings will be just what I need to go to part-time employment and pursue other goals as well. Decisions, decisions.