Wednesday, March 21, 2018


It hasn't snowed here in a couple years. Oh, we've had the odd flake or dusting, but no actual pile-it-on, shovel-it-off snow. Today, it's snowing. Teeny, tiny icy blowing snow. When it snows I take a lot of pictures--not because I want to memorialize the storm, but because they're useful for writing scenes.

For instance, right now we have a quality of light I call snowlight. It's snowing briskly out there, but you can tell the clouds are thinning so there's more light. It's luminescent and bright because of the snow. Lovely. But it's not the kind of thing we remember in six months when we're writing a snow scene.

No, we're more likely to remember that cold, bluish light that comes when we first wake up to a blowing blizzardly snow. Clouds are heavier and it's darker. That's the snow most of us remember when we think about snow.

In my time, I've observed a LOT of snow. Deep snow. Slushy snow. Up-to-my-waist, I'll-never-get-this-driveway-clear-snow. I've even survived the my-roof-might-cave-in-snow. My snowlight. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


No doubt I border on antisocial. No doubt. But my #1 rule is don't do it. Don't open an email from someone I don't know. Don't answer a phone call from someone I don't know. Don't play a game (how old are you?/what's your favorite color?/how many answers can you get right?/etc.), ever. Don't ever give any personal information to anyone I don't know--for any reason. Don't open my door to anyone I don't know. KNOW who will never call/email you--IRS, FBI, any government agency...Microsoft or any computer company...any banking company (such as Paypal). If they DO email you, it will ONLY be on their site after you've signed in with a proper login/password.

Rule #2: See rule number one.

I've never understood the irresistible urge folks have to do anything in rule #1. About ninety percent of the phishing issues can simply be avoided by embracing rule #1.

Think about it.

Rule #3: No one is going to give you money over the internet or phone.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Comfort Library

I sometimes shake my head when folks talk about not being able to afford something to read. Back when I was very young--maybe four or five--my parents started buying books. Real books, not Golden books. Actually, I'm not sure they sold them around where we lived. No, my parents bought hardback books--an entire sixteen volume set of them. One volume has stories for the young. Another is entirely poetry. You name it, there's a volume for it, including science fiction and fantasy. And the wonder is, this was sixty years ago. We lived in such a small town there was no library, but we didn't need one because we had our own.

I still have those books. My children and my grandchildren have read them. And yes, I still read them, too.

Over time, I've collected books of my own. Favorite authors, classics, research books, and how-to books. A friend once came to visit me with an acquaintance I had never met. He stood in my living room, gawking at the 6K+ books stashed in multiple bookcases. My friend told him I probably had a book on almost any subject he could think of. He blurted out, "Ancient weapons." And then just stared when I pulled not one, but two books on ancient weapons from the shelf.

Other folks worry about furniture or pictures for their walls. I have bookcases. Not enough, of course, so I double book them. I'm never for a loss when I want to read, because a) I have a lot of books, and b) I re-read them. I don't keep a book unless it's a keeper, a book I know I'll want to re-read.

I'm insatiably curious about all sorts of stuff. I could travel to the library and hope they had an appropriate book, but then I'd have to worry about returning it. And I like to take my time perusing books on new subjects. The solution is buy my own. Some come from second hand shops. Some I find online. And some I purchase new from bookstores. My last two books were a) a book on chair yoga, and b) a book on the Aztecs and Mayas. I'm still working my way through them.

So when others are watching movies or television, I'm likely reading. Traveling? Definitely reading. Sick? Reading. In the waiting room at the clinic? Reading.

Reading. It's the comfort for the modern man or woman.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Excellent Book

Once upon a time in a far away galaxy...I had book reviews. That was back in the never-never land of the Published Author era. And then there was the Great Publisher Crash.

The thing about reverted book rights is this: every author starts over. Whether you find a new publisher or if you republish on your own, it's as though you've never been published at all--at least it is on the various sites that sell your books. Every review you ever had goes away because you have a new cover, new edition, new publisher, so it follows it must be a new book.

When I was in limbo (between the Published Author stage and the Indie Author stage), I couldn't understand the almost desperate tone of established authors pleading for reviews. Ah, the agony. Now I understand. I had several lovely reviews for my 'old' books but they are no more.

Professional reviewers aren't inclined to review older books--and rightly so. They have more books than they can possibly handle, with a new wave every week. So the review conundrum is just another puzzle the Published Author-to-Indie Author faces.

It might have been an excellent book at one time...but how will a new reader know that?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Planner

I have a confession. I'm not a planner. I have many author friends who apparently have all these fancy gadgets and books with stickers and they plan.

I never did. I've tried it. Back in the days when I was an office professional, everyone else in my office had calendars on their desks. They wrote things down. Really. Me...I sort of winged it. In January, when we received our new calendars, I went through and entered everyone's birthdate. Annnnd, that was it.

I knew when all the other stuff was happening because, well, I knew. In my head. I just never figured out how to manage dates. One of my coworkers knew every date for every surgery/hospitalization/doctor's appt. of everyone--even mine. I have no idea unless there's something else I can attach it to, like one of my children's birthdays.

And then something happened to my inner date keeper. It died. Between meds and health issues, there are times I have trouble keeping track of hours, let alone days. So now I'm working on establishing a calendar.

Back when I was a new writer, I wrote a book, sent it off to my editor, and if the publisher wanted it, then my editor took care of the schedule. It was great. I wrote. Editors and publishers managed all that other stuff.

Now, I'm republishing my own stuff and I have all these schedules and responsibilities to track. Cover? Check. Edit/Revision? Check. Front matter/back matter/etc.? Check. Release date? Check. PR? Not so much a check...

It wasn't too bad for one or two books, but I have twenty. And a new calendar. It isn't much to look at, but I have releases listed through July 1st. I suppose that's something. As long as I don't misplace it. In the meantime, I feel like I've accomplished something on the order of climbing Mt. Everest, because I really, really don't do calendars.

We'll see how this goes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Behind the Covers

Ack!!! I have a book reverting to me. Mentioned it to a cover artist and she kindly offered me the chance to look through the photo/art page she uses to find images I might like. Well, let me say, it was an experience.

First! Where are all the 30-50 year old men? Are there no lightly seasoned fellows out there? My characters are two well-seasoned vampires. One was a Roman senator. The other was a Viking warrior. They have seasoning. Think the gents from The Highlander television show. They don't look old, but they've definitely lived a bit.

Second...there are hundreds of different types of swords besides the standard curved Japanese fighting sword (or Katana). My guys used straight swords. Viking and Roman, right? Straight and heavy.

Third--Every sword fighter fell into like three categories. Costumed (most of them), Samurai (see Katana discussion above), or fantasy (lightning, fog, balls of light) with the addition of heavy hooded cloaks. No contemporary guys. See, I was thinking more along the line of some guy dressed in a long leather duster...with his sword...

Four. Well, words fail me when it comes to the women. What's wrong with giving them some clothes??? And just tell me, what woman in her right mind would have a sword fight in a bikini and high heels? Or, the aforementioned hooded cloak. With her hair blowing in her face so she can't see what the heck she's bashing. Really? Did I mention my chick is Greek, not Asian, and the only women dressed in a remotely sensible fashion were all Asian...with their Katakana?

Then I thought, well why not check out the vampires? Nope. See, my thought is...why wouldn't you run like hell in the other direction if the guy looked as skeezy as most of the vamps on offer? Wouldn't he need to be attractive if he was hunting? Otherwise, why wouldn't you be checking out someone a werewolf?

And this is why most of my covers have no people on them.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Monday Ponders

Opened my feed on Facebook this AM. There was the usual issue-of-the-day...guns, Trump, politics in general, DST, blah, blah, blah...cute cats and dogs, pithy sayings, inspirational quotes (some made up--and misspelled), and lots of ads for books, socks, clothes, and food videos.

I wondered again why I bother. And then I recalled the interesting post Linda Howard did on surviving a blizzard. And the post on Missouri's marriage age laws (there are none). And the Smithsonian article on Harriet Tubman on the $20. So...there are occasional nuggets in the flotsam. I don't remember if it was always this way. Or is this something that's taken on a life of its own in the last couple years?

I jettisoned Twitter long ago. Yahoo. So many others. Why do I hang in here?

Mostly, it gives me a place to stay in touch with friends and family. And yes, there are certain people whose opinions interest me, so I seek them out and read their words. The rest of it, I hide. I figure if Facebook can hide my posts, I can hide theirs.

More and more, I am convinced they are only showing posts in a targeted fashion. At first, I just ignored all the craziness, but you know? I'm done with that. There's a function that allows us to hide posts, so why not use it? When you see the same three stupid posts for days, it's time to move on.

Of course, it might be other people out there find MY posts annoying. So be it. Fair is fair.

May the best poster win.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Mental Disconnect

So...I was typing along on my story when I slammed into a roadblock. What are those thingies called that cover a dragon? I could see them in my mind's eye. The word was just out of, what is the word??? What?

This happens with disconcerting frequency since I had a mini-stroke back in the day. It's annoying. And ups the difficulty quotient when writing. Sometimes it happens when I'm talking to someone, but in that case you just say, "I forgot the word for that." And move on with the conversation. After all, it's not nearly as frustrating as forgetting how to tie your shoes. But writing...well, forgetting a word can stop you in your tracks. Sometimes I just put a notation in the sentence to check it out later. Other times, it's too much and I save the document and go take a shower or some other distraction.

Since I've been typing this blog, the dragon word came to me--scales. Dragons are covered in scales. Quick, return to the document and type it in while it's still there!

Sometimes I think of the word and then spend two or three days still convinced it isn't the word I really wanted. Occasionally, I'm right about that and when I return to the book via edits, the correct word pops into my brain and I change it then. Or I'll search through my synonym finder until I find a similar word and then when I edit, I'll think of the word I want.

I'm a little OCD about having the right word. It makes writing frustrating. Some folks wonder why writing takes so long. Well, here's the answer. Disappearing words. They just fade into the big black hole in my brain and sometimes they reappear and other times they're gone forever.

I have a solution. I find a good book and kick back and read. When my mind is engaged elsewhere, the words sometimes sneak out of the black hole on tippy-toes. That's when I grab a sticky and jot the word down quickly before it disappears.

I bet you thought the biggest problem for a writer was finding the time to write. Nope. It's lassoing the words before they get away!

Friday, March 9, 2018


Over the course of their careers, most authors try writing short stories. Some find the short story format just isn't for them. Others really enjoy the challenge of fitting a complete story in with fewer words. I've written a few. Some were previously published. And...some weren't. But it seems a waste to let them languish on my computer just because they aren't as long as my other stories.

I thought about my options. One was to just toss a short story at the end of a book as a little lagniappe. But I find myself feeling cheated when an author does that, particularly when they don't mention it in the book description. Invariably, the book is far shorter than I anticipated because the author planned to add on the short story.

My second option was to use related short stories as an add-on with a series story. But then...what about the stories that don't have any related worlds? What to do with them?

Finally, I decided to just publish them in sets of two. I call them desserts because they're not long enough for a full meal. And really, isn't dessert the best part?

All of them will have the same cover. Most of them have been extensively revised and expanded to offer my readers a delicious experience. And they'll all be 99 cents.

So...keep an eye out for Romance Desserts: One. It will be coming out in May--something luscious to enjoy with the spring flowers and warm sunny days! 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Read That Part Again

Am I the only one that reads books over and over again because there's some clever bit of dialogue or description or situation that just tickles the funny bone? I once read a book in a restaurant and laughed at one scene so hard, the women around me were coming over to find out what I was reading. Now that's a recommendation!

How do you recommend a book you love?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Plot Fixer

I pretty much skipped blogging the entire month of February, so today seemed a good day to get back with the program. I've been busy revising/editing my older books now that I have the rights back to all of them. My current plan is to release two per month--one on the 1st and another on the 15th. Amazon often has alternative plans, but it's all good. We're adaptable.

One reader wrote to ask if I had a 'plan' for book order release. I did, but then I discovered some books were going to require more work than others so my current plan is to alternate a series release with a standalone release. And we'll work it out from there. I have a couple new releases close to readiness. I'll insert them when I can. In the meantime, I appreciate the readers who are purchasing the reissued books. Thank you so much for your support. And thanks to my fellow authors who are sharing my release information!

It might seem reissuing a book would be a simple thing, but as an author, I can tell you it's not what it seems. Inevitably, when you re-read your book, you note errors and changes you need or want to make. Now, I'm not talking about huge revisions to the story. But, I am talking about things like the word 'that'. Heh. In some books, it's obviously my favorite word. The last book I edited, my favorite phrase was 'at the moment'. And there were a LOT of 'moments'. And 'so'. Yeah. So, so, so...

I do have a series I'm working on for time-line issues. Lots of time-line issues. The books have already been published--and read by many readers--so why worry about it? Well, I have more books planned for that series. And the time-line issues will certainly impact those new stories. The solution? Fix 'em now. Most readers wouldn't notice them until they reach those new books, but then...yeah, maybe they would. Maybe they'd notice the odds and ends I picked up--especially if they're like me and they read a series in one sitting, so to speak. You tend to notice stuff more when you do that.

Anyway, that's the plan! As I have a better idea of my schedule, I'll try to let you know! In the meantime--back to the plot!

Monday, February 5, 2018

It Worked For Me of the ugliest, most useless words around. Yep. I have written about this before. And I do have something new to say so I'm writing again.

First...I've tried just about everything. Exercise. Counting calories. Diet plans. Over a year ago, the hunk and I joined Weight Watchers. He lost 55 pounds. I lost 15. And stumbled to a halt.

Changed up our menus. Switched around how I used my points. Still hung in there at 15 pounds and no counting down. My glucose counts were fluctuating all over the place. And yes, I was miserable.

Then one night I watched a short piece on television. You know the kind I mean. Three minutes with the lead in, "It might not be what you're eating, but when..." Absently, I listened while I had my dinner. But as the woman in the piece listed her medical issues, and explained exactly what she changed (as part of a study group at Johns Hopkins), I paid more attention. Then I thought...why not? What did I have to lose?

Well, it turns out, the first week I lost .8 pounds. The second week I lost 1 pound. Hmmmm. And the sugar? Dropped significantly, with six days out of seven coming in well under my top target number of 120.

What did I do? I stopped eating after six p.m. That's it? That's it. I have water to drink.

But what about other dietary changes? I didn't change anything else because this was a test for that one factor. I will give it four weeks. If it continues to hold true, then I'll slowly add other changes. By then, the weather should be better so I can resume my walks.

Why is six p.m. the magic number? Well, actually, it isn't. The crucial number is six hours before you go to bed. For me, that's midnight. Will it work for anyone? Maybe not.

But as I said...what do you have to lose?