Writing is a journey, not a destination.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My First Guest Post - I Think?

Sure feels like my first. Maybe my first since publishing. Yeah, let's say that.

Anyhoo, hop over and leave a comment or two. Love to see ya.


Write to the Point with Caprice Hokstad

I think I have a guest blog post somewhere out there today, but I'm not seeing it yet.

In the meanwhile...

One of my favorite authors gets interviewed about one of my favorite fantasy series on a blog I will visit as a guest myself next month.

Check it out, and if you haven't yet, check out Caprice's newest book, Blood and Brine, also available from Splashdown Books in print and ebook formats.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Giveaway - Star of Justice

Not from me. Not yet, anyway.

The giveaway is from my friend and editor Kat Heckenbach aka The Hacker. She needs trivia questions about fantasy books and she's willing to give away one copy of my book to get 50 questions (if I understood her rules correctly. I'm sure she'll edit me if I'm wrong). If she gets more than 50, the winner may get more than one free book. Get moving, people.

One entry only.

One trivia question plus correct answer from a fantasy book of your choice equals one entry.
Deadline: June 27

Her email (and a complete run-down of the rules) is listed at her website. While you're there, go ahead and "follow" her blog and, while you're at it, click "like" on her Facebook author page. Make my book worth something, will ya?

Way to go, Kat.

Too Little-Too Much?

It's been a while since I've taken a vacation day. Last year, maybe? I honestly can't remember.

TT: I'm suddenly craving bacon. What does that mean?

I need to take some vacation days.  It's getting harder to be chipper and up-beat at work and at home. Timing is always a problem, though. We have a couple of official "busy" times at work, but the rest of the time is fairly busy, too. My leaving means much of my stuff won't get done until I get back. Then I have to work harder to catch up, and I need another vacation.

I had this trouble at my old job, too. I never took more than two days off in a row, and I usually ended up with days leftover at the end of the year. I don't consider myself a workaholic, but my schedule tells a different story. 

Of course, what I do with my vacation is another issue. What I'd like to do most is sleep, but that isn't as easy as it sounds. I never go anywhere because I won't leave the critters. If weekends are any indication, I can't handle more than two days off anyway. I tell myself I want to be alone and recharge, but then I wander the house feeling bored or depressed. It's ridiculous, really. Much easier to just go to work and not think about it.

I guess I'm saying I hope to schedule some vacation soon. A couple days where I will give myself permission to not take a shower or leave the bed except to eat take-out food (or dispose of take-out food). Maybe I could catch up on my reading.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I'd like to say all my gardening time this weekend inspired these writing reflections, but that would be a lie. This was my (rejected due to word count) test run guest post for Tiffany Amber Stockton's blog.
I wanted readers of general romance to know I'm not that different from them, except for my tendency to impale potential love interests with crossbow bolts.

I chose a different topic for Tiffany, so you can read about my romance roots over at
The Cheesecake Thickens.

or here:

My writerly roots are in romance. I started with Barbara Cartland novels. Anything with 18th century fashion on the cover. Cookie-cutter, yes, but my favorite parts were the clothes. Odd, since I hate dressing up.

TT: Yes, Kat, this is why the scene with the clothesman in Daughter of Anasca is so long.

I read Louis L’Amour, who also manages a fair bit of romance in his westerns. I learned to admire manly, independent men with grit under their fingernails and dirt on their pants. Helps to know how to ride a horse and wrestle a bull, too.

Anne McCaffrey came next, a fantasy/sci-fi writer who always managed to sneak a little boy-meets-girl into her stories about fighting dragons and artificial intelligence. Danger might fall from the sky, but men and women will always find time to woo and marry.

Through it all, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis’s “master,” instilled a love of fairy and natural wisdom that masquerades as magic in a cold, unfeeling world.

I like a little romance in my action/adventure/mystery novels. I like the energy a feisty exchange between genders can bring to a story. I especially like showing that love is more than chemistry, more than circumstances, and more than fate. Love is a choice, and, more often than not, love is a hard choice.

I hope you'll forgive me if you find a little romance in my books. I try to keep it on the side.

TT: If you're reading this on my FB page, have you "liked" my author page yet, Ranunculus Turtle? I talk more about my writing journey than Farmville over there. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I've expected a lot of things would happen when I published. I did not expect the sense of panic that comes when reading what used to be my manuscript as a Kindle file with the knowledge that every word may as well be set in stone.

TT: I have discovered it's possible to edit print-on-demand files, for a small fee, so I have the opportunity to remove any missed typos. Another reason to love print-on-demand books.

There is a difference between removing typos and changing content. I won't change content. What is there is there. I must now move forward with all subsequent books using this as my baseline. It's a bit scary. I find myself wondering "Why did I say that?" "What was I thinking there?" "Can I work with that?" I'm gonna have to. It's done.

I knew this was true but I wasn't prepared for the feelings that would come with the actual experience. I'm not hiding in the corner yet, but I've had a few squirmy moments.

The calming part is the secure knowledge that no one cares about what I write as much as I do, and most people won't even notice a mistake. Yes, I find comfort in my audience's apathy.

I also figured out that spreadsheet reports work better if you put the deposits in the "deposit" column instead of the "payment" column and include "all dates" when you run the report. I told you it was something obvious.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Hate Math

No offense, Mrs. Wallentine, Mr. Sells, but I hate math more now than I did then.

I sold 6 books last night. I took money. I gave correct change. I came home to write it all down, record what's going in the bank and what's staying out for change-giving purposes, and ran a report showing expenses vs income on writing.

As far as I can tell, I have made no profit whatsoever. Not only have I made no profit, but I appear to have lost money. I don't know how that's possible.

I've kept ridiculously meticulous notes. With my math track record, I have to. I know who gave me what and what they got back. I mean, it's $15. How hard is it to accept a 10 and a 5, or a 20 with 5 back? Even I can do that. I keep out 4 five dollar bills so I can do that. All the book money stays in a special envelope and either goes into the bank the next day with a tagline of "writing income" or stays in the envelope for change. I don't mingle those funds with wallet funds. Nothing has disappeared.

Even if you assume I pay the 13.98 retail for these books (which I don't), I collect $15. On that understanding, I should have one dollar and two cents more on each book than I paid, right? Am I right? I can't tell. Is this math or logic? Do I suck at both?

I haven't taken anything out for taxes in my accounting program yet. I listed one expense other than the books themselves which would be enough to eat the profit on the first 13 books, but I should still have more money than I do. What am I doing wrong?

Can I really be so bad at math that I can't make a profit with such simple numbers?

I'm missing something. I know I am. Some completely obvious thing that my old boss glancing across my spreadsheet would notice immediately, but I can't see it.

I've got 10 books left to sell from the case I just bought. I have several venues I need to send free books to for marketing purposes and, frankly, I need to buy another case, but I don't have the money and, according to this math, I won't. I could raise what I charge (and I probably will), but if I can't even figure out why my spreadsheet doesn't show the profit my logic tells me should be there, what good would raising the price do me? I'd just have more money to lose in the morass of sucky thinking.

I know the majority of my profit will come from internet sales. I planned on that, but I also planned to keep books on hand for the instant gratification sale and I thought those would at least pay for themselves. I still believe they are. I just can't figure out why the program doesn't show what I think is true.

I'll have to look at it again tonight. And tomorrow night. And the night after, probably.

I hate math.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Do It Now

I learned this weekend that one of the people listed in Star of Justice's acknowledgments, Smiley Steve the Postman, died unexpectedly this past March.

I met Steve when I started shipping books at Florists' Review. This was before the USPS made Internet postage shipping so easy. I'd take my stack of boxes to the post office and learn how to ship books all over the world.

Four Steves worked at the post office, which is how Smiley Steve got his nickname. He was the Steve who always smiled. He always had a pleasant word and ready laugh. He indicated interest in my book so I gave him a copy to review. He gave me my best complement: "It's like a real book!"

Steve left the post office and I saw him only a few times after that. He had health trouble - something to do with his veins. He'd tried a vein transplant in his leg that didn't work and he ended up with a bionic leg.

I don't know how he died. I didn't ask for details but I gather it was a surprise to everyone. Possibly a heart attack or aneurysm. It was certainly a surprise to me, and I'm not ashamed to say I cried. The world lost a wonderful man and I pray for God's comfort for his family.

You never know who you will touch in your day-to-day life. You never know the impact a smile or laugh or pleasant word will have. Please take the time to share joy with someone every day.

Dear Smiley Steve, you are in my acknowledgements, but you are also in my dedication. You have gone before. You will be remembered and missed.

Keep the faith.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Interview with My Publisher

Grace Bridges of Splashdown Books - my publisher - conducted a little interview over at Rambles of the Literary Equine. God willing, Grace will be visiting Kansas this Fall. Perhaps some of you will meet her in person. The rest can meet her this way. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Two of My Favorite People

Two of my favorite authors - P.A. Baines and Diane M. Graham - get together for a chat over at Diane's blog.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Turtle

Originally published at The Cheesecake Thickens on May 14, 2012. 

Howdy. I'm the Turtle. Ranunculus Turtle, to be exact, but no one knows how to spell that, let alone say that, so they just call me "Turtle." On occasion, they call me "Snapping Turtle," but I'm fairly calm today.
Although capable of surprising speed when food is involved, I took a while to climb the stairs to the Granny Flat here at The Cheesecake Thickens. Yes, the food is good, but the view hasn't turned out to be quite what anyone expected. The adoring crowds chanting our names and throwing little pickles are noticeably absent. Taller buildings with penthouse apartments block good chunks of sky and excite a certain sense of restlessness. We may sip tea and nibble cheesecake, but it's in between marketing pushes and all-night writing sessions and wrestling with bloated expectations.
My decision to climb these stairs was a long, hard process. It's far easier to graze for fallen strawberries and chocolate on the ground than go hunting out the table top, but - as much as I might wish otherwise - I don't think life is meant to be easy. I think we're supposed to struggle.
I will rest here in the flat for a little while, but not forever, I hope. I suspect if I move enough furniture or wall coverings or bookcases, I'll find a door hiding a set of stairs leading inward and upward. Naturally, I'll be forced to climb them in search of bigger strawberries and better-quality chocolate.
Until then, have a seat, have a cup of tea and keep your hands off my plate or you'll find out just how hard I can snap. Turtles don't share food.
Except for tomatoes. Take as many of those as you like.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Making Up

I don't believe it's possible to make up for lost time but I did my best to make last night slightly more productive than Monday night. I spent Monday night watching TV. Haven't done that in a while. I normally only watch until The Big Bang Theory is over at 7 and move on with my life.

Anyway, this year I WILL donate stuff to the Topeka Police Volunteer Garage Sale fund raiser. I doubt that's the name, but I'm being German and adding descriptors until I get my point across. In order to donate, I have to decide what goes (you think that would be easy - anything covered with a layer of dust and cat hair should qualify yet it does not), clean it so it will sell and pack it into some kind of carrying apparatus for transport to the garage sale site.

I started collecting boxes from work in January, so I've got the carrying apparatuses. Apparati? Where's my Latin teacher when I need him? I've packed a few obvious things away in the intervening months, but with the garage sale the first weekend in June, I need to get my clean on and get 'er done. I started last night with the promise that 15 minutes a day would see it done.

I spent 45 minutes with Kill Bill vol 1 in the background, a broom close to hand and grim determination. This morning I'll be washing what I put aside last night and boxing it up to leave my house. I have a long way to go but as Mary Poppins would say, "Well begun is half done."

I also planted the remainder of my herb garden (until I find something else I can't live without) and a Blue Lake pole bean I couldn't pass up at the grocery store. I need to make some hose bumpers to protect my blueberries, but I have willow sticks that should work for that if I pound them deep enough. I also desperately need mulch but I'm cruising neighborhoods for stray bags of grass clippings, so I'm working on that.

I think I also wrote my guest blog post submission after all this, which put me in bed around 10:30, an hour and a half past my bedtime. It's all about me and why I wrote Star of Justice, but it's the first essay I've written that broke the 300 word count without trying. Shocker, huh, that I would be most prolific when writing about myself?

Here's hoping Thursday goes well. God's blessings on you and yours today, dear readers.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


It's been rather quiet in Kansas the last couple of weeks, for which I'm grateful. March and April held enough excitement for several months. Now that Star of Justice is published, Mom is on the steady road to recovery and the weather is playing nice, I've been taking a little time to recoup.

Recouping looks different than I imagined. I've worked in my new garden. Weeds arrived in the settled places and unsettled places remain to be settled. Plus, the front yard has been sadly neglected for several years and that must be reclaimed.

I've put the cats in the basement at night. Everyone except Caleb because he knows how to leave sleeping humans lie. I haven't slept through the night this much since I can't remember when, and I love it. I've got to figure a way to do this in the winter, too. Yes, I miss Miss Kitty's warm backside pressed against my cheek but I don't miss her scratching up the carpet at every closed door at 3:45 AM because apparently that's when the closet gremlins start calling.

I'm spending time in the Bible. I accidentally joined a "read through the Bible in a year" class. Realizing there are no accidents for Christians, I'm reading through my chronological Bible. I've just finished David and the Psalms and I'm heading into the kings of Israel and Judah history. I've never gotten this far before in such a goal and I'm determined to finish.

I'm also back at the editing keyboard for author friend Kat Heckenbach. Who knew I edited to relax?

Anyway, I'm supposed to be writing a guest blog post (300-1000 words) for Tiffany Amber Stockton (to appear May 30) and naturally I can't think of a thing to say when someone wants me to speak.

I'm going to toast a bagel, jelly it up and stare at the paltry 183 words I've written so far and ask them why they have to be so few.

I'll be writing down the answer.

Hope the rest of your May is as beautiful as mine has been so far.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I intended to write a whiny post about marketing but I got distracted rearranging stuff on this blog.

Now that I'm published, I've moved to The Granny Flat over at The New Authors' Fellowship. It's a position of honor, but it means I won't be blogging there anymore. I moved that link button down.

I will be blogging (every two weeks, I'm thinkin') at The Granny Flat blog The Cheesecake Thickens, so I created a link button for that, but the link is also on my Blogs I Follow list, so you can keep up as you wish.

Even after a four-hour Dramamine-induced nap and a mostly uninterrupted night since I put four cats in the basement early evening and one very early morning (grrr-Skamper!), I'm tired. I'm yawning while I type how tired I am.

I never used to be this tired. Is it age? Diet? Lack of exercise? Too much exercise? Too many cats (shut up)? I don't know. I just remember being ready to tackle the world in my 20s. Now I have trouble tackling a litter box.

Anyway, this has nothing to do with marketing, so I'll wrap it up.

As of yesterday, Star of Justice is officially available for shipping. Click on the cover photo in the top corner of this blog to go to Splashdown's bookshop and get access to a variety of purchasing options. Those little icons to the right of the cover are store links. You can still buy from Amazon or Smashwords or Barnes & Noble, but my publisher gets credit for the sale.

I have copies coming to me, so if you're in town and want to buy from me, that's great. Let me know.

Have a great *yawn* day, readers. Try to stay awake.