Well, here we are about a year later. We ate out about a week ago when we
took my mother-in-law out to lunch. Our first time since February 2020.
We've learned to eat at home, which is a very good thing. We'd gotten into a
terrible habit of eating out several times a week. We've been vaccinated and
have started, slowly, going out without our masks on where we're allowed.
But I don't mind wearing it. I made my masks and my favoite has tiny paw
prints all over it.
I've finished the second book in the
Downtown Divas Romatic Comedy series, Pari and the Ghost Whisperer.
So glad to feel that sense of accomplishment. It'll be published later this
The two children's books that I published last year
under the name Dana Trantham both won first place in their categories in the
Royal Palm Literary Awards:
Wayward Cat Saves the Day, First Place, Early Reader or Chapter
Franken Lizard, First Place, Middle Grade Fiction.
So, not too bad, considering the last few years
we've had. And now I'm hard at work on the next D.D. Charles book. I write
paranormal humor under that name. The first book is
Zombie Revolution. I've realized that having so many pen names is a
pain, so I added the name Dianna Dann to Zombie Revolution and it'll
be there on future D.D. Charles books.
I read my last entry with great sadness. What has transpired since then has
left me with anxiety and about thirty extra pounds. It was just after I last
posted that the pandemic came to light. The shelves at the grocery store
were empty and food rationing was a thing. I never ran out of toilet paper
or paper towels. Imagine being immensely relieved (no pun intended) about
such a thing.
I haven't been to a restaurant or Walmart since
late February. I've limited my shopping to one main store, and another only
occasionally. I get a lot of stuff online. I made some masks because I can't
stand the type that loop over my ears. Luckily for me, I was never a very
social person, so the isolation hasn't been much of a problem. But I only
recently saw my youngest son. I blogged a bit about these experiences at
The Sunshine State in
Chocolate Ice Cream is my Drug of Choice.
After the pandemic came the George Floyd thing. I'm
the type of person who changes the channel when horror film trailers or SPCA
ads come on tv. What's going on in this country horrifies me. So I've been
eating a lot.
And then my mother died, which isn't as tragic as
you might think. I'm working on quite a blog post about that. But though my
mother and I were estranged, at the very least, her death was certainly
impactful. All in all, I can say that the last four years has sucked and if
we face another four years of it, I can't say how much ice cream I may eat.
I made it through the holiday cookie rampage rather unscathed, how about
you? We tried to spread the holiday cookies out over a couple of months
instead of cramming all of our favorites into two weeks, but I was still
left reeling with cookie euphoria overload. So, this year, we're going to
have some of our favorites at various times throughout the year. This month,
chocolate chip. Father's Day we'll have the snickerdoodles and we'll do
peanut butter cookies in August. That will leave the most celebratory
cookies for December: peanut butter blossoms, magic cookies bars, and
buckeyes. And don't worry about Mother's Day. I've decided that Mother's Day
will be donut day!
I'm working on the next Downtown Divas book
featuring psychologist Pari Logan. I'm not sure what the title will be. But
it's going to be out by Halloween and it features lots of ghostly,
I managed to get two more kids books out this year and I feel somewhat
better. (I had a dry spell there for a couple of years.) I'm now ready to
get started on some adult titles that I've been wanting to write. The kids
books are the second in each series. In the Wayward Cat Adventure series,
Wayward Cat Saves the Day is now available. And in The Monstrous
Summer of Alfie Whitaker, I present:
Franken Lizard! These books were a lot of fun to write which is
probably why I was able to get them finished.
I'm not going to lie to you. Writing can be
difficult. Nevertheless, I persist. Up next is the second book in the
Downtown Divas series. Romantic comedy is fun, too, right? And then
there's this book I've had in my head for a long, long time. It's called
and it will be the second paranormal humor title for me. The first was
Zombie Revolution, a satirical take on the vampire/zombie craze.
JoJo's Ghost is, obviously, about the ghost world. And, as coincidence
would have it, the second Downtown Divas romantic comedy will also deal with
ghosts! I should attempt to write these two at the same time. Great idea!
Wish me luck.
Anyway, all this lighthearted writing should keep
my mood up in the upcoming year which promises to be infuriating if not
downright depressing. (I'm talking politics here. Other than the state of my
country and the world, life is good. So don't worry.)
I'll be at
FreeFlo2019 the first weekend in November. FreeFlo is the biannual
conference of the Florida Humanist Association. I'll be featuring my atheist
book, naturally. I have two editions. The original
Like Rolling Uphill: Realizing the Honesty of Atheism was written so
long ago it makes me feel old. The
second edition has my snarky comments all intertwined with the rather
dull and snooty original. And it has some additional essays.
I used to not really talk about these books. I
guess I thought that certain people (ahem: religious) would find out
that I'm a (gasp!) atheist and not give my fiction a chance. And then
I realized that anyone who felt that way would probably not like my fiction
anyway. So, I do include them on the
Wayward Cat Publishing
website. But I left them off the brochure.
Well, that's changing. The atheist titles, and the
somewhat silly and desperately in need of an update The Narciso Family
Cookbook, will now be on the brochure! I'm coming out fully folks. Yes.
I'm an atheist! Atheist! Atheist!
Okay, calm down.
Also in November, the weekend of the 22nd through
the 24th, I'll be at the Miami Book
Fair! I really look forward to this huge street fair. But it's so
tiring! I'm old now, you know. Standing for three days is hard on the body.
But, as it turns out, we have a director's chair. We bought it a long time
ago as a gift for one of our sons who wanted to be a film maker, got a film
degree from UCF, and doesn't want to make films anymore. Well, the chair
purchase won't be for naught. I can sit, and still be eye level with fair
goers. We'll see how that works out. If you're in south Florida, you have to
visit the fair! It's amazing. And I'll be there.
The February issue of
Wayward Cat Book News can be found by clicking there. Right. There.
Just click. I actually blogged at
The Sunshine State today. You can read about collective nouns and the
few that I suggest for various groups of humans. And I updated my reading
list over on the fiction page.
Last weekend we spent Saturday at the
Amelia Island Book Festival
Author Expo. What a wonderful day! I accidently gave away a copy of
Zombie Cats! Here's a shout-out to the kids whose grandma was so
kind: It's a great thing to be so busy you forget to take the cash. So,
consider it a gift!
We're already registered for the
Decatur Book Festival
2019 in September and looking forward to it. Until then, I'll be trying to
write more. I've been watching amazing lectures by Dan Brown, Neil Gaiman,
Margaret Atwood, Judy Blume, and more at
Master Class. Very inspiring! And
they have lectures about all sorts of creative pursuits, so check them out.
I'm still enjoying some photography when I can.
Here, have a picture:
This was a rusted gate of some kind on the beach at
Ft. Clinch State Park
on Amelia Island. Amelia Island is a wonderful little place. They have a
cutesy downtown shopping district. We ate dinner at
Pepper's Cocina Mexicana & Tequila
Bar. Fabulous! And on Saturday night we ate at the new
Life Food Shack on the beach near our hotel. The wait was about an hour
and the food was okay. I'll have to try it again to be sure if it wasn't
just our choices that were the problem. Hubs' fish was undercooked, to be
sure. But I ordered fried grouper, and you really can't expect too much from
a fried fish nougat. (The tartar sauce was excellent.)
Okay, back to work...
I feel like I've been through a wringer. I'm not
sure I've been squeezed out the other end quite yet. But there does seem to
be some relief in sight. I know I'm not alone in that. I remember when the
nightmare first started. I felt alone, then. I knew others were struggling,
but there seemed to be so few of us. Now it feels as if most everyone has
woken to the realization of the truth that some of us were talking about
from the beginning. It's not satisfying to be found right abut this horror
story. But at least I don't feel as if I'm traveling through it alone,
Trying to get back into a sense of "work mode"
after the holidays is a struggle. I sometimes wish I had a regular job. You
get up, you get dressed, you go to work, and if you don't do your job, you
get fired. And the work you do isn't connected to you---it's not like
peeling off parts of your psyche and trying to form them into a coherent
block of symbols and spaces. It's not a constant sense that there's a
mistake in there somewhere and you'll never find it---the work will never be
what you imagined it to be. But it'll jut have to be good enough. If it was
just "the job" that someone else had you doing, it wouldn't matter so much.
But this is your psyche we're talking about. This is you.
I added a link to the
Wayward Cat Book News to the banner. I'm enjoying putting it together
every month. I find a lot of great books to read just by searching them out
for our readers. One thing that strikes me is the poetry. I was never much
for it. I only put a poem in the newsletter originally as something of a nod
to the poets out there. I knew that there would be little talk of poetry in
the "books" sections. But as I found these wonderful old poems, I began to
have a real appreciation for the form. And there are so many amazing poems
by long-dead poets I've never heard of. I'm willing to be most readers
haven't heard of them, either. So, that part is a definite joy--one of
I'm finally getting back into writing regularly. It's a good feeling to be
productive again. I keep trying to blog regularly, but I usually feel as if
I really don't have anything interesting to say. The fiction is more
I started a blog on writing but it fell by the
wayside. I'm not sure I'm the right sort of person to be telling other
people how to do things. But maybe I can find it and start it up again.
Speaking of blogs, though, I haven't posted much to The Sunshine State
lately either. I guess I've just been feeling like I have nothing to say
anymore. And it's pretty much screaming into the void anyway, so why bother.
But there is hope. We'll be going to the
Epcot International Food [& Wine] Festival again this year. So, there's
a blog post right there. I just know everyone wants to read about our food
choices and how they were just...wrong. Except for the ones that are very
right...like the Bailey's Irish Cream fudge cake at the Ireland booth. Oh,
I was accepted as a contributor at iStock Photo.
How cool is that? You can see
my photos here. I'll be uploading more and more as I complete photo
shoots. I really enjoy looking at odd things in a different way. And, of
course, I love wildlife.
Well, I guess I better get to those blogs. Thanks
I'm in therapy. Need I say more? Do you not feel apocalyptic these days? If
not, I don't think you're paying enough attention. Enough about the end of
the world as we know it.
I'm managing to write a bit here and there. I swear
I'll publish another book soon...like, in several months. I attended a
one-day conference, called a Focus Day, with the
Florida Writers Association on
marketing. It was interesting, I suppose. A lot of it seemed geared toward
assertive, outgoing sorts--you know the type, right? There was a lot of talk
about "fans." You should have a Facebook group for all of your fans. I'm
sorry, but that's just weird. I only call someone a fan when I'm being
funny. As in, "Oh, you're that person who bought my book!" or "Look, I have
I don't feel weird saying I'm a fan of
certain authors. But it seems arrogant the other way around. So, I won't
call any people who read my books "fans." They can do it, but I won't.
They're just wonderful people who adore my bo--Just kidding! They're just
people who read my books.
I think this means I won't be winning the marketing
I am still struggling mightily to write daily. One day, I love the fantasy
I'm working on. The next day, I hate it. I'm tinkering with ideas for other
books, but suffer from butt-chair-itis, an affliction that makes sitting in
one particular chair anathema. I sit, I type a bit, and then, for no earthly
understandable reason other than some sort of affliction, I jump up from
said chair and race out of the room. However, if said chair is raised and
pushed over to the sewing machine, it doesn't seem to have the same effect.
I will keep plugging away. Perhaps try glue...?
feel like writing epic poetry that no one will want to read because once
they start they'll become so overwhelmingly depressed they'll burn the book
and run away screaming.
How is your year going?
Wow. My last post of 2017 just oozes the mood of the entire year. What a
waste of time. I
blogged about the year and it felt good in that cathartic, get it all
out of your system way. But I am definitely feeling better. I'm nearly finished with
an outline and once I get that done, I'll write the [damn] book. I'm aiming for two
]damn] books this year. [Sorry. Still feeling a bit peeved, I suppose.]
I'm scaling back on festivals in 2018. I think the
smaller ones aren't worth it, and are a tad humiliating to be honest.
Seriously, isn't there something a bit pathetic about a room in some out of
the way place, the walls lined with tables, and behind those tables standing
hopeful authors, their eyes on the door waiting for someone to drop in? The
table displays alone make me want to weep--photos, dolls, lace, candles.
Anything to grab the attention of a would-be buyer. I was at one
particularly dreadful event in a back room somewhere at which one of the
authors would shout out to anyone brave enough to peek into the room. Waving
frantically, she'd beckon the hapless stranger to come over to her table.
She chased more people away than she drew in. And the spiels! Some of my
fellow authors seem to be going the used-car-salesman route.
I'm just not a seller. If you like the look of one
of my books, and ask me about it, I'll try to tell you what I remember. But
ask me to sell it to you...? I have barely enough self-esteem to stand there
and take your money. Surprisingly, I do rather well, in my opinion, at these
things. I must appeal to those edging away from the hard sellers. They're
just so happy to hear me telling them why they probably won't enjoy my book
that they buy it on impulse.
larger festivals that are focused on books and reading are time well spent,
however, so that's where we'll spend our energy.
I'm having fun putting together the
Wayward Cat Book News every month. I like staying focused on books and
words. Okay, I admit it, it's quite like a homebody telling you how much she
likes being at home. But maybe branching out...inserting oneself into
uncomfortable issues...is over rated. So much is over rated these days.
I think I'll leave it at that for this month.
I guess this year is a wash. I'll see if I can't muster some enthusiasm and
do some writing next year.
Well, the first half of 2017 was pretty much a bust as far as writing is
concerned. I just got stuck, that's all. Stuck. I might be coming out of it,
but I make no big promises.
The festival season is gearing up. After checking
out the eclipse in Charleston, SC, in August, we'll be going to the Decatur
Book Festival in Atlanta, Space Coast Comic Con in Cocoa, FL and the Florida
Heritage Book Festival in St. Augustine, FL, all in September. We'll be at
the Southwest Florida Writers' Showcase, featuring "Alternate Realities," in
October. In November, we'll be in Tampa for the Tampa Bay
Festival of Reading and then we head south for the Miami International Book
Festival. Very exciting! It doesn't end there, though. In December there's
going to be an author showcase at Melbourne Square Mall in Melbourne, FL. I
think we get to rest in January before the Amelia Island Book Festival in
It's so odd that I love to do these things. I'm
really very introverted and shy. I have to force myself to smile, smile,
smile. And talk to people! But I manage and I get to sell some books and
feel like I'm a part of something for a while. It's fun. And then I get to
go home and be alone again, relatively speaking.
So, as I was checking all that out in my calendar,
I came across a sticky note on December's page. It says, "Just Buckeyes." I
had to laugh. I guess I overdid it in the cookie department last Christmas
and insisted I would only make Buckeyes this year. I didn't want to forget
my resolve...because I absolutely would. But underneath that, on the note, I
added, "and Magic Cookie Bars?" The whole idea is ridiculous. There have to
be Peanut Blossoms (you know, peanut butter cookies with the Hershey's kiss)
and Snicker Doodles. What was I thinking? And why am I thinking about it
now? It's making me hungry.
There's a cat on my desk and he doesn't fit. My desk is the cluttered desk
of a crazy, wild woman and there's just no room for a cat. He likes to curl
up in one little spot where he can carve out space, and then...stretch. You
know how cats often sit on the edges of tables or counters and paw at little
things to knock them to the floor? Then they look down at it and up at you,
as if to say, "Wasn't that
something?" This cat does that. But on the desk, he knocks things off by
stretching. I'm getting too old to crawl under the desk to pick all this
stuff up. He's napping now, his adorable front paws out in front of him, his
head resting on my open appointment book---wait! Another stretch, reaching
out to me for a smooch. He must know he's a pain in the ass.
They all know.
I was at OASIS this past weekend. It's a scifi/fantasy
convention, but lately I realize it's more of a writers conference. Anyway,
I brought most of my books because you never know what might interest
people. And the tables are so large it looks pretty good to have a hefty
stock of merchandise. One woman looked at all the titles and labeled me
"prolific." I had to laugh. I've slacked off so much it's truly sad. And if
hubs had his part in the conversation he'd have said so. But I guess I have
trouble writing as a full-time job. It's, frankly, hard sometimes. Not for
all writers, of course. And I don't mean to be a snowflake. But it does
appear that I'm actually a bit crazy. I have issues.
That being said (as if it had to be), I am now
going to get back to work. I'm determined to finish the first book in my new
fantasy trilogy. And then I need to get the second Downtown Divas book
written. Those are my goals for the rest of this year. Wish me luck (and a
little bit of sanity!).
Okay okay. So I've been sewing and taking pictures of birds instead of being
a writer. Check out my latest posts on
The Sunshine State blog
if you're into that sort of thing. My next blog, hopefully this weekend,
but, hey, it's Easter, is going to be about giving up on your dreams.
The truth? 2016 sucked. It was a difficult year for me all around and it
ended badly. But I'm feeling much better. I think I will survive this new
crazy reality and I think I will be able to continue to write. I'm still
blogging at The Sunshine
State and plan to do so more regularly this year, so check it out and
subscribe if you think you should.
Plans for this year include
The Amelia Island Book
Festival, OASIS in Orlando, and
the Decatur Book Festival
later this year. Let's see if I can get a few new books out to keep things
I've enjoyed learning to sew and hope to keep that
up as well. I also am trying to get back into crochet. For my first project,
I wanted to make a hat for the cat. That's right. A hat. I got the base
completed, but have to put the stegosaurus fins on top of it. This isn't a
difficult or time-consuming project; it just has to fight for my time. I
really, really like sitting on the sofa with the tv on doing jigsaw puzzles
on my ipad. A lot. It's a wonder I have written any books at all, or sewn a
single thing. I will continue to muddle this year.
I'll definitely post pictures over at The Sunshine
State of the cats in hats, my sewing projects, and whatever else I get
myself into this year. Here's hoping we all have a better year in 2017.
I was over there on the
fiction page talking about reading books on writing. (Okay, so I was
writing about reading books on writing. But you knew what I meant,
right?) I'm working on the new fantasy series and I want to do a really
great job with this one. When I wrote
The Kell Stone Prophecy, I had this great story in my head and I was
able to add to that story and flesh it all out and write a trilogy. I still
love, love, love The Kell Stone Prophecy story.
After that, I had a very vague idea of the sort of
fantasy story I wanted to write. And I started writing it without much of a
plan. I had the world in mind more than the story. In the end, my characters
were very much like myself: wandering around trying to figure out who they
were and what they were supposed to do. I'm not saying
Story Runners: Awakening is an awful book. It's a pretty good story.
But that's not what I want to do with
Kholkari. I want heroes and villains who know exactly who they are
and what they are going to do. So, naturally that means that I have to know
that up front. This isn't going to be the kind of book I can just sit down
and write...or rather, I'm not going to write that kind of book this time.
Anyway, so I'm going through some books on writing to pump me up. You know,
exercise those writing muscles. Get my game on. Woot, woot, woot!
But, as I'm reading them, I'm realizing that books
on writing are pretty basic. They talk about The Hero's Journey and the
Three Act Structure. They talk about plot points and how this sort of thing
should happen at the 25% mark and then this other sort of thing should
happen two-thirds of the way in. But at the same time, of course, the story
must be fresh and new.
As I am looking through these books it occurs to me
that I stopped reading them because I know it already. I know how to do
this. It's just a matter of doing it. Books on structure and plot can tell
you what goes where, but they can't tell you exactly what to do. I mean, no
book is going to help you figure out what your story is about and what
should happen in it.
You have to do that all by yourself.
I'm not saying the books aren't worth my time. I've
already had some insights into my story just by reading them. But the
reality is (ugh, as it's always been) that Nike is, once again, right. You
have to just do it.
And this reminds me that, hey! I'm working on
Shards of Kholkari now. That means
Bury Me is done! Here's the back-of-book blurb:
Lenore Hawn lives in a cocoon, surrounded by her
When her young neighbor, Hannah, agrees to help her find something lost in
the piles of junk sheís crammed into every free space of her house, she
thinks she might finally be able to release the guilt and shame that has
tormented her all these years.
The last thing seventeen-year-old Hannah wants is to dig through mounds of
stinky trash in Mrs. Hawnís house. But for that kind of money...itíll be
worth it. And what the old lady doesnít know canít hurt her.
After all, sheís already dying...
Two women. Two secrets. One road to redemption.
You can find Bury Me at Amazon here.
That's the last of the downer fiction/literary
Dianna Dann books for a while. Not that I don't already know what the next
one is going to be about. I do. (hint: it's an epic road piece.)
Bookish Meets Boy took second place at the Royal Palm Literary
Awards this year, in the women's fiction category. After the first book in
the fantasy series is out, I'll get to work on the next Downtown Divas
Romance: Pari and the Ghost Whisperer. That should be a lot of fun. And
then I need two more kids books.
So, what am I doing sitting here blogging?! Off
with me to work! Shoo, shoo!
(see you later.)
I'm winding down on a very busy September here. You can read about some of
it on The Sunshine State blog in my latest post:
Try to remember without watching the video...
Here is a brief recap:
Weekend One: We drove up to Atlanta for the
Decatur Book Festival.
And a better time could not have been had. Not only did we get to sell a lot
of books, meet a lot of great people, and visit Decatur and the big city
next door, but I got to see my oldest son and his new wife again. They took
us to eat at one of their favorite places,
Taqueria del Sol, and to the
Dragon Con event at the
Georgia Aquarium. Lots of fun!
Space Coast Comic Con in Cocoa,
FL. We sold some books and got to see a lot of neat costumes. And I wore my
own! Three days! (And then, on Sunday night, I took two of my boys over to
Orlando to see Devin
Townsend in concert. Didn't get home and into bed until after one in the
morning! I am such a party girl.)
Treasure Coast Comic Con
in Port St. Lucie, FL. More books, more costumes, and yes, another three
days on my feet!
This weekend, I will rest. But then it'll be two
days at Disney World!
What about writing? When am I going to fit it all
in? Well, the truth is that my production was poor so far this year. I am
just about finished with the final phases of Bury Me. It'll be out
there very soon. And then I will get to work on another book. I'm hoping to
do the Decatur Book Festival again next year and I'd like to have a few more
books under my belt by then. So, I really need to get to work.
Wish me luck! (And discipline.)
Oh, happy August! The sweat. The humidity. The wet bra against slimy skin. A
sweaty bra is the most unnatural thing on earth. But it's better than what
it would be without the bra. (Pardon that rather vulgar picture I painted.)
But, August has its merits. Football is about to
begin again! It has yet to be decided whether I love football because I like
football, or because I like sitting on the sofa all day on Sundays. This
year, I have projects ready to make all that sitting worthwhile (as if
watching football all day isn't worthwhile!). I'm going to crochet a couple
of afghans and some hats for the cats. That's right. I'm going to put hats
on my cats and take pictures of them and spread them all over the Internet.
I'm a very bad cat mom.
I've missed football (or sitting on the sofa). My
clever ploy to entertain myself on Sundays off season by purchasing a sewing
machine and all the various accoutrements that go along with that hobby, did
not, I'm sorry to say, work. I still spent most of my Sundays sitting on the
sofa doing jigsaw puzzles on my iPad. I get it. I'm lazy. I like to sit
around doing basically nothing. What is life for if not to be enjoyed by
There is also the annual August red velvet cake.* I
get to make it this Friday for my youngest son's birthday. I'm sorry to say,
he's a man now. But I still get to make the cake. And perhaps, after he's
flown the nest, I will continue the tradition in his honor...but for my own
And this year, we have the Summer Olympics. I've
been reading several articles lately about how truly awful the Olympics
are--displaced poor, elitist corruption, epic tax-payer money wasted. Still,
I'll enjoy the spectacle of the opening ceremonies, popcorn and red velvet
cake at the ready.
With three weeks of Olympics and
Jason Bourne, we'll
probably make it to the other end of summer. Not that it'll do any good.
Down here in the tropics, September can be worse than August. We won't get a
whiff of fall until after Halloween...maybe not at all.
Here's the news about
Story Runners: Awakening. I put it back in print and I changed the
names of two characters. Chai Legend is appearing in the new book (title
withheld for the big reveal) next year. She's much different from the
character she was in Story Runners. So now, in Story Runners,
the character is called Sasha Loren. Her family's name was also changed. And
Nefraim Wolff has moved to the new book as well. In Story Runners,
that character is now his brother Oron Wolff.
I did this for purely selfish reasons. I wanted to
re-imagine the world of Story Runners for a more adult audience. I
had no problem with a new main character; but I just really liked the names
Chai Legend and Nefraim Wolff for the others. I wanted to use those names in
this new story. So I stole them. It's not as if Story Runners has
been a major seller. I really don't think anyone is going to notice.
I'm almost finished with Bury Me (you can
see the cover mockup on the
Wayward Cat Publishing home page), the latest Dianna Dann downer
fiction book. It's not as downer as
Always Magnolia or
Camelia, so that's a plus, I guess. It also looks like it's going to
be more of a novella. But it sure has taken me a long time to get it
finished. Some books are just going to be like that, I suppose.
*My Red Velvet Cake recipe!
I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. It's dryer
than other recipes I've found, and we like that! It's one of the best cakes
I've ever tasted.
Red Velvet Cake
1/2 cup Crisco All Vegetable Shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
Sift together twice:
2 cups cake flour (I use all purpose)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Alternate flour and buttermilk into sugar mixture. Add 1 ounce red food
coloring. Beat well. Dissolve 1 teaspoon baking soda into 1 tablespoon
vinegar. Mix well. Fold into batter. Pour into 3, 8- or 9-inch round cake
pans, greased and floured. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.
Combine in pot:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
Cook over low heat until thick. Really thick. Like, when you stir it, you
can see the pot with each stroke of the spoon. Cool thoroughly.
1/2 cup Crisco All Vegetable Shortening
1 stick margarine
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Add to flour mixture. Beat for 10 minutes. Slather all over and in between
cake! Eat the rest and lick the bowl. You can add cocoa powder to the
leftover for some chocolate heaven.
Check out my boards at
Pinterest! I've just started doing this and I really don't know what
it's all about, do you? I've got a board where I post weird stuff, one for
stuff I think is beautiful, and of course a board for cats.
I just posted
another blog about sewing. I know it's probably a distraction from
writing, but I think I need to do it. It's better than sitting on the couch
with my iPad doing virtual jigsaw puzzles. There's an inertia thing with
sitting on the couch. You get stuck there and drawn back to it when you get
up to go into the kitchen for something. But sewing has a lot of ups and
downs and back and forths to it--a lot of places where you can stop and go
back to writing if you get an idea. And I do get ideas when doing other
creative things*. Sitting on the couch? Not so much. The couch is a black
*Strangely enough, I get most ideas when I'm in the
shower. That's not creative at all. In fact, it's the worst place to let
your mind wander, because by the end of it, you can't remember if you've
washed your face or not.
I've got a clock on my desk with the saddest tick you've ever heard.
Tick...tick...tick. "We're getting old," it's telling me. "We're so tired."
Next weekend, my oldest son is getting married.
It's like this whole-day thing. I'm in hair and makeup at 9 a.m. First Look
and pictures at 2:30. Wedding at five. I've got an adorable party dress. I'm
ready. My parents will be there. I want to be able to enjoy the whole thing
without worrying about that--without dealing with the issue of my childhood
family. But I can feel it bothering me. I need to be strong and suck it up
and smile and just keep moving on. I know it's going to be a lot of fun.
It's March. You know what that means here in Florida? It means we have to
give up all hope for more cool weather. It's done. Over. Finis.
Summer....is here. That's okay. I'm an indoor kind of girl with air
conditioning. However, I will take some time to whine about my office being
too hot. I've got a ceiling fan, and a standing fan, and it's still hot. But
I'll get over it.
I've got a lot of work to do and not much gumption
to do it. I just read a book about that, about how all we artists suck at
art-ing. How we spend so much energy avoiding art-ing and we need to buckle
down and art, damn it. Then it went off the rails a little bit about how
we're conduits for angels, or something, and it's not us, really, it's some
force. All of that kind of took away from the motivational talk for me.
I'm not a conduit. I'm not a vessel through which
some otherworldly entity tells a story. Geez, that's creepy. Where does it
all come from? Where does the story come from? The symbolism, all the cool
crap I write? From inside my head, dude. It's not angels. If it were, it'd
be a heck of a lot better, wouldn't it? I mean, I could just zone out and
let the angels do all the work. But I can't. Because there are no angels.
To tell the truth, if I must, and let's face it,
someone must. There are no muses, either. No little embodiment of
inspiration whispering in my ear, or shunning me more like. Nope. No Thalia
or Melpomene guiding my hand. No one to appeal to. No prayers will help.
It's just me and my crazy brain sitting at my desk
pecking away at a keyboard trying to get stories out of my head and into the
It's so lonely, isn't it? Ah, blpppppbbbbbbt.
You just have to write. Write harder. Write more.
Write. Write. Write. Or art. Or school. Or do whatever it is you are doing.
It's just what life is all about--forcing yourself to do something because
you get bored sitting on the sofa watching television after a while. Isn't
there, when you think about it, a sort of wonderful dull sheen to the people
who have no lives? I mean...they sit around all day doing virtually nothing.
And they're cool with it. No call to create. No desire to do or be
anything. Just...exist. What does a person have to do to be able to just
Whatever it is, I've not been able to grasp it. So,
instead, I'm one of the many Sisyphuses, rolling that stone up the hill and
watching the damn thing roll back down. No wonder regular people think
creative people are nuts. We are.
The year is winding down. Time to look back and lament all we didn't
accomplish. Time to engage in a delicate combination of harsh criticism to
get our butts in gear for the future and tender consolation that we tried
I've moved out of my downtown office and am ready
to get back to work at home. I've got so much work to do that I should
really stop blogging here and get back to it. It's wonderful to have the
cats around again.
I had a wonderful weekend at our local
Meet the Authors Book Fair
in November. I sold quite a few books. Mostly the kids books. Nothing sells
a book like a cat on the cover, am I right?
Right now, the house smells of pine, the lights on
the tree are twinkling, there are sweet things everywhere, and my boys are
home again. All is good in the Narciso household. I hope all is well in
yours. Best wishes for the holidays!
Well, another Florida Writers
Association conference has come and gone. I won two awards in the
Royal Palm Literary Awards.
Always Magnolia won first place in the women's fiction category, and
was third highest score (along with two other titles) overall in book-length
Wayward Cat Finds a Home won first place in the children's chapter
books category. (I'm happy to announce that Always Magnolia also
garnered an Honorable Mention in the Writer's Digest Self-published Book
Next up is
FREEFLO. The Florida Humanist
Association conference in Orlando. I'm going as a vendor, selling my
nonfiction title, as well as my fiction. I'm looking forward to it. After
that is the Meet the
Authors Book Fair in Melbourne. I always have a good time there. And
this year, I'll be sharing a table with my brother, C.E. Trantham, author of
The 12th Disciple.
Well, I finally made up my mind. I will definitely
be giving up the office downtown and returning home to work by January. I
really enjoyed having an office this year. It's a cozy, cute space. But all
in all, I don't like spending the extra money. I've been spending my extra
hours cleaning up the spare room that used to be my office, getting rid of a
lot of the junk in there. The introvert in me is so excited to be back at
home, she doesn't want to go back to the office. But I'm still paying for
it, so too bad for her.
I've also made another big decision. I'm going to
take Story Runners out of print and rewrite it. I can do that, you know. I
got really psyched about it at the conference and had a few epiphanies about
what isn't working about it. I suppose I shouldn't have rushed to publish,
but sometimes you don't figure things out until you let the story go.
[I felt so crazy about this...I blogged it:
Ten stages of grief over the one-star review]
Woe is I.
I've been getting a lot of page reads of my latest
book, the romantic comedy,
Bookish Meets Boy. And I finally got a review on Amazon!
A one-star review!
Open the flood gates and let the self-loathing
begin. Maybe I could just get it all out at once. You know...in a big whoosh
and be done with it:
Why did I think I could write romance? There's no
sex in it! It's not really romance. Everybody knows there's got to be a lot
of sex and stuff in romance! And anyway, my reviewer says the characters are
flat and it was confusing! Maybe I can't write at all! Why did I think I
could be a writer? I suck! I'm a sucky writer! No one will ever read any of
my books or like any of my books! Sure, I've won some awards, but those are
meaningless. Meaningless! Obviously the judges don't know what they're
talking about. Nobody is reading any of my books but this one, and this one
has a one-star review! That one-star review is now the sum total of my
writing talent...uh, lack of talent.
I should just quit now. There must be something I'm
good at. Shopping. I'm pretty good at that. And avoiding housework! That's
like, my bestest thing! I'm not sure there's a career in it, though. Oh, why
do I want to be a writer, anyway? What sort of loser introvert would put
herself out there like that? It's like stripping naked and going outside!
Everybody can see me! And now I've been rated one star! How can I
leave the house now? How could I possibly go to my office? I can't. It's too
Well...I liked it. I feel like Del from Planes,
Trains, and Automobiles: I like me. I'm an annoying loser. But I
Well, I did it. I wrote a romantic comedy. I really enjoyed the entire
process--it kept me happy. It's called
Bookish Meets Boy and the setting was inspired by Historic Downtown
Melbourne, here in Florida. I'll be writing another one soon, in the same
setting with the same Downtown Divas.
But first, I think I will write another non-romance Dianna Dann book. This
one is called Bury Me. Should be an easy write for me. I also really
need to write JoJo's Ghost. I've been promising myself I'd get it
done but keep putting it off. It's a paranormal humor book under the D.D.
Charles pen name, to go along with
Zombie Revolution. Those books are pretty hilarious (to me) so that
one will keep me happy, too. Nothing wrong with that...and I'll need some
happiness after writing Bury Me, which, while it shouldn't be as
Always Magnolia, looks like it's going to be a nice downer. (Is it
wrong to like downer books so much?)
All right, then. Sounds like a plan.
Oh, wait. There's more. I'm really proud to
announce that my brother, C.E. Trantham, has published his first book:
The 12th Disciple. It's a thriller, along the lines of The Da
Vinci Code. Check it out.
Progress is great on my new little romcom. The only problem I've been having
is slipping from past tense into present. I started it in present tense,
unconsciously, and made myself work in past, but the present keeps working
its way back in. Part of me thinks this means it ought to be in present
tense, but my head tells me that's not right. Now I'm even questioning my
use of first person! I will keep researching this--it's not too late to
change it all.
I went to OASIS and had a good time; it's hard not to have a good time
when you're in the presence of sci/fi fans. For the present, I will keep
doing these conventions and book festivals, although, and I'm being
perfectly honest here, I'm not sure they're all they're cracked up to be.
What I mean is this: There are a lot of people out there telling authors how
to get published and how to sell books. And I'm starting to think that very,
very few of them know what they're talking about.
Some of the things authors are told to do are: 1.
Become a speaker. 2. Have a blog about writing. 3. Attend book signings.
Becoming a speaker is great advice for nonfiction
writers. Generally, they have a topic of expertise. Becoming a speaker might
be good for children's book authors. They can go into schools and talk to
the kids and sell some books. But that's all local. And I don't mean local,
as in your home town. I mean local, as in selling some books to that school
at that time. And it's a lot of work.
I've tried blogging about writing and it's not for
me. And who reads those blogs about writing? Other writers. Can you sell
some books that way? Sure, if you get famous doing it, you'll sell a few
books to some of the writers who are reading your blog. But I look at this
in much the same way I look at following a bunch of writers on Twitter. All
they're doing is talking about their books. Some of them (most?) do nothing
but tweet about their books. I've seen some pages on which the author has
absolutely no interaction with anyone. It's all tweets about her book. I
don't follow that. And if I find it, I unfollow it.
I want to interact with people. And if they buy my
books, that's great. But I don't want to be sold to, and I'm uncomfortable
selling to people. Do I do it? Occasionally, yes. But when I do it, I'm
doing it to the people who follow me because (I hope) they find all my other
crazy tweets entertaining. I guess what I'm saying is...talking to other
writers is not akin to finding readers for the books I write.
Attending book signings is offered as a way to make
connections and network with other writers. I haven't figured out why this
is so important, yet. I think the idea is that writers sell other writers'
books for them. And while, sure, I blog about my experiences sometimes and
link to the websites and Amazon pages of some of the writers I meet, I can
guarantee you that I'm one of the very, very few (maybe the only one) who
Other writers are not my target audience. Readers
are. I just want people who like to read the stuff I write to be able to
find my books. And I don't think that any of the advice I'm hearing is the
way to do that. Honestly, I think the only way to do it is to write a lot of
books, do the best job you can, get them out there online, tell your social
media about them once in a while, and just keep doing that.
And now I'm going to go on a little rant. I sat in
on a workshop that was supposed to be about one thing, but quite a bit of it
turned out to be about scolding authors about being nice to people...er, not
people, but agents, reviewers, and publicists. One person there was familiar
to me. He is a reviewer. A small town, small paper reviewer. But he walks
around local book festivals treating authors as if they should kiss his feet
and praise him and he might deign to review their books for them. He
instructed the audience about being nice to him, about the proper way in
which they ought to massage his ego to get a review. He said, "If I don't
like you, I won't stop at your table." Well, he didn't stop at my table at
OASIS, that's for sure. And why doesn't he like me? I guess because I didn't
give him any of my books free of charge and kiss his ass the first few times
I met him.
So, here's my advice to all of you writers out
there, and we can consider it my writing blog: Don't kiss anyone's ass. Do
your thing. Be honest with yourself and with others. Don't worry about being
blacklisted. These people are not your target audience. Readers are. And
there are millions of them out there. Millions of them! And they don't care
what's going on in publishing. They don't care who agents like and don't
like. They don't even know! These people want your business and your money
(and reviewers want free books). They should be groveling to you.
I think that's what's wrong with the entire
traditional publishing industry: agents, editors, publishing houses, and
reviewers. They have never truly valued the talent. They think
they are the talent. They think they create talent. They make stars!
Well, no they don't. Authors are the ones the readers want. It's the ones
who write the stories that butter their bread. (And I'm saying this mostly
as a reader.) I think they're starting to find that out.
So, keep writing. Keep publishing. And have a good
Yesterday, I spent the day sitting at a table at the Cocoa Beach Library for
a book fair. The highlight of the day was when Tim Dorsey came and spoke
about writing his books. He was a really funny guy. Anyway, there was a
table set up for him in the room, but he didn't sit with us. He came shortly
before he was to speak, he spoke, he sold and signed some books for people
at his table, and then he left. He didn't come around and talk to any of us
or look at any of our books. It reminded me of when I was at the Florida
Heritage Book Festival in St. Augustine and I saw John Dufresne walk
through. He didn't give one of us a single look. It made me sad.
I started to wonder if I wanted to continue to do
these book fairs at all. I see the benefits for a lot of the authors who do
them--they meet other authors and find new readers. I always sell at least a
few books, but the act of selling is just not for me. I'm more than
introverted--I'm shy. A day spent in a room full of people leaves me
emotionally drained and depressed. (Hence this blog post, I guess.) I think
I am that epitome of the perception people have of authors as recluses. I'd
be a drunk with fifty cats if I thought I could handle the hangovers and the
Just the other week, I had to back out of a reading
festival when I realized it wasn't a bunch of authors sitting at tables
mingling with other authors and readers, but instead, a series of parties
and socializing opportunities with a two-hour book signing thrown in. I
was...like...no. Just no. I can't do that. Can you imagine? Me. Walking
around a party. Trying to socialize? There's just no way. Remember when they
used to call us wallflowers? At least they called us flowers.
Anyway, I'm just not sure that these book fairs are
good for me. All that said, I'm still really excited about doing OASIS. I'm
skittish, aren't I? That's right. You can't pin me down. I say one thing one
minute, and another the next. That's what you call crazy. And crazy works
when you write the stuff I do. Thanks for letting me vent. (Like you could
do anything about it.)
I just released two new books:
Story Runners: Awakening and
Zombie Cats, both under the Dana Trantham pen name. I'm waiting to
see if Amazon won't discount the print book prices--they usually do. But if
not, rest assured, they'll be lowered.
Next up is the last book in
The Kell Stone
Prophecy series. I'm working on it now. It was going to be a five
book series, but I changed my mind. I get to do that, because I'm...the
author. (You have to say that with a snooty voice to get the proper effect.)
I'm taking down two of my blogs, the ones that were
on hiatus before. I'll have to scroll down now and remove hyperlinks to them
in this blog. What a pain in the neck. :) Perhaps if I weren't so flighty...
Well, I did it. I took an office. And I love it! I am excited to get to work
each morning. The simple act of preparing for the day, packing my lunch, and
leaving the house has had a tremendous impact on my productivity. And
driving to the office building, taking the stairs, unlocking my office door
and entering my little personal space...it's just the most wonderful
feeling. And there is a title that keeps popping into my head lately:
A Room of One's
I've never read Virginia Woolf's essay and wasn't
even sure it was appropriate for my situation until I looked it up. I still
may have it a bit wrong, but I'll keep it, I think.
I'm writing a series of blog posts over at
The Sunshine State about
my experience writing in my lovely little office space.
The Year of the Office: Day one
The Year of the Office: Exercise...what's that?
So, I'm nearly ready to publish The Story Runner,
a fantasy adventure, and Zombie Cats, a middle grade novel. And now
I'm at work on the third book in
The Kell Stone Prophecy series. I think it will be called Realm
of Ice, but I'm not sure. After that, I've got another Dianna Dann book,
Bury Me; a D.D. Charles novel, JoJo's Ghost; and a romantic
comedy as yet untitled. I'm not sure if I am going to create another pen
name for the romance. I thought maybe I could do the romances as "A Dianna
Dann Romance" on the cover. Is that just weird? It might be. The Dianna Dann
books are literary women's fiction...really, really different from romantic
comedy. So...yeah, I'm thinking another pen name. Why not? It's a crazy new
world of publishing...
I received the judge's scores and comments on
Camelia from the 2014 Writer's Digest Self-published Book Awards.
The book scored really, really well and the judge seemed to understand where
I was going with it. I posted the entire comment over at
The Sunshine State blog if you're interested.
I also got the comments and scores
from all of my entries in the
Royal Palm Literary Awards.
As far as I know, I don't have permission to post those, so I won't. But I
can certainly discuss them.
Zombie Revolution but it didn't make the finals. One judge really
liked it and gave it 44 out of 50. Another judge liked it okay and gave it
29 out of 50. But a third judge hated it! She said it was not appropriate
for children (I entered it into the young adult category) and gave it 10 out
of 50. I'm going to agree with that judge that
Zombie Revolution is not appropriate for children. It's actually
satire and probably more appropriate for adults; so I think I chose the
I could certainly see why
Children of Path won second place as its scores were a bit middling.
The thing that struck me the most was that some of the judges thought I
didn't reveal the ending in the summary. But I did. It's just that it's book
one in a series and each one does not stand alone. Once I finish the entire
series of five books, the digital editions will be bundled and sold as a
unit. I really should make that a priority next year, but it's hard to do
when I have so many other books to write as well.
One of the judges who read
Camelia thought I must have spent some time in a suicide prevention
unit because my description was spot on. Does that mean he/she did time in
one? Anyway, I was simply thrilled with the comments on
Camelia. It's always wonderful to feel like you've done a good job.
One judge said the book was a tutorial on creating fully developed
characters! That's got to be the best compliment an author can receive.
I've felt so humbled these past few
weeks with all of the comments and awards I got. It's very validating. I
only wish that would translate into more confidence, but I still work on a
book and go back and forth thinking it's fabulous one day and utter rubbish
the next. Such is the life of an author, I suppose. I'll take it! I must be
one of the luckiest people in the world to be able to do this every day!
I think I'll do some more happy
Wow! Both of my 'finalist' books won awards in the Royal Palm Literary
Awards on Saturday, October 25.
Camelia by Dianna Dann won first place in the women's fiction
Children of Path by Dana Trantham won second place in the fantasy
It was a very exciting evening!
I'm hard at work trying to finish
up two more titles by the end of the year. Then I have to plan out 2015. I
have so many books to write!
Always Magnolia and
Wayward Cat Finds a Home are launched!
I have finished Always Magnolia! I love it! I couldn't be more
excited about it! See all the exclamation marks! I've completed the tedious
editing process and all that remains is the print-out read through. I think
we're looking at September for publication.
I've received the artwork for
Wayward Cat Finds a Home from my niece Brandi Trantham and I'm thrilled
with it! You'll love it, too. And the story is just as cute as it can be, if
I do say so myself. I'm hoping to put some of her pictures on merchandise
for the Wayward
Cat Publishing Cafe Press store, too.
Next I'll be finalizing The
Story Runner and getting it through its editing paces and then I promise
I will get to the third book in the Kell Stone Prophecy series. Then
I have to write JoJo's Ghost and I've already got another idea for a
Dianna Dann novel. I also think I have a little romance book in my head. I
don't know if I should create another pen name for some romance or not. I've
got too many pen names already, don't you think?
Or are pen names like chocolates--a
girl can never have too many.
I got some fifty thousand words into Always Magnolia, hated what I'd
done, and started over. Completely over! Now I'm loving it.
Work seems slow. It bothers me. I
hear of others writing six books a year. I told hubs about it some time ago
and now he thinks I ought to be able to write six books a year. I don't know
if it's that I'm writing different sorts of books (are the others more
formulaic? And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with formulaic! There's
a lot to be said for it.), or if mine are longer? Or am I just slower? It's
frustrating. But it seems that even if I have an entire day, some six or
eight hours to work, I can't work that long on the project. I get to point
where I feel empty, like I can't go on, like I need to recharge, think some
more, imagine some more.
And I thought I could work on
another project at the same time, but so far, I've been unable to do it.
It's as if I immerse myself in one book at a time and to shift takes time
I will continue to plug away at it.
Okay, so news. Hmm. Well, I renamed The Long Walk Home. It will be
called Always Magnolia. And no, I'm not planning a series of Dianna
Dann novels with flowers in their titles. It's completely coincidental.
Truly. I'm pretty sure. And I'm nearly finished with the first draft.
I've also finished the first draft
of the first book in a series of children's books based on the
Wayward Cat Publishing
logo. Wayward Cat's Adventures. In our first book, Wayward Cat Finds a
Home, our little hero is born to a semi-feral Mama Cat in Mrs. Person's
garage. He is taken to a cat rescue adoption event and well, you'll just
have to wait and see what happens. Soon, I promise.
I attended the UCF Book Festival on
campus in Orlando yesterday. It was a fabulous event. I'm sorry that I don't
have the pictures to prove it, but I'm just not that girl. That girl was in
the booth across from me. Hubs and I took a few pics for her so she could be
in them. Let's see...there was a pirate (an author of pirate books); a
wizard and Lady, of a sort (also authors); Clifford was there and not so big
as you'd expect. R2D2, a Sand People person, Princess Luke (a girl dressed
as Luke Skywalker, thus our dubbing), a very short Darth Vader, storm
troopers, Jawas, Boba Fett, and...more that I can't remember. There was UCF
Knight there as well.
In the children's section,
volunteers were dressed as jellyfish for a reading of The Rainbow Fish.
Have I ever told you how much I despise the story of The Rainbow Fish?
I mean, the very idea! A beautiful person is expected to make herself less
beautiful before others will like her? What kind of sick lesson is that to
teach our children?
I'd better stop here or I'll be on
I had a fabulous time!
How did it get to be March?
I've been working on the next Dianna Dann book,
tentatively called The Long Walk Home. It's much harder going than
Camelia was. Camelia was written almost like a stream of
consciousness--the wacky, crazy story just rolled off my fingertips. The
Long Walk Home...not so much. But I'm 25,000 words in. (I cringe a bit
writing that. I need to write harder.)
The first draft of The Story Runner is
complete. I know exactly what's wrong with it and how to fix it, but it'll
have to wait its turn.
And I'm very excited about a new project! I
won't give too much away now, but let's just say it involves cats! Yay!
Stay tuned. Something new will be published at
some point. <tapping foot>
Hubs and I went up to Amelia Island, for the
Amelia Island Book Festival.
It was a lot of fun. They have quite a turn out, both of authors and
readers. I sold a few books and had a great time.
David Baldacci was there somewhere,
but I didn't get to see him.
Next weekend, we're headed to Fort Myers to
check out the Southwest Florida Reading
Festival there. No table for us; just a look-see. And in April, we have
a Wayward Cat Publishing
booth at the UCF Book
Festival in Orlando. I'm excited about that!
I was skimming through my "life" notebook (I keep most of my life in 6x9
ring binders) and came across a page I'd headed: Working Stories. It's so
old I don't even recognize some of the items on the list! I hope I have
notes somewhere else. But one item stuck out. It reads: Therapy--needs
I remember Therapy. It was a story about
a young woman with a crazy family and a dark secret. And I suppose the main
thrust of the story would be her visits with her therapist. I knew the sort
of personality this young woman had--sarcastic, a bit rude, unhappy--and she
hated to be touched. But she was all of those things only in her head. To
other people, she would do and say what was expected.
I was still struggling with the story (what was
it really about, anyway?) when I was talking with an online acquaintance
about something that happened during my childhood that affected me in a very
negative way. And while I was telling her about Camelia, it all just fell
into place. That was it! That's what Therapy was about. And two years
later, I published
It's weird looking back on it now. It gave me a
bit of a shiver when I saw the item in my notebook. It's amazing how
inklings can turn into characters who turn into ideas that end up being
stories that are published into books.
In many ways, because of its connection to my
own life, I think Camelia is my life's ambition. Everything else I
plan to write seems somehow like the falling action toward denouement.
I am extremely honored and humbled by my first review at Amazon! Not only
did this reader enjoy
Camelia, but I think she got what I was trying to say with it and
that's so wonderful I can't really express it adequately.
Next weekend, I'm off to the
Florida Writers Association
conference. I had a great time last year and am getting excited now about my
trip. Next up will be the
Meet the Authors Book
Fair in association with the Eau Gallie Arts Festival here in Central
Florida. Two days of hobnobbing with other writers and readers!
Camelia is officially launched!
When I read Camelia,
I think it's one of the greatest books ever written. And then, when I put it
down, I think I'm a complete fraud and it's incredibly stupid, vapid, and
poorly written. I hope it's somewhere in between those two! I've heard that
other authors experience these bouts of delusion (we only hope the latter
thoughts are delusion!). So, I suppose I should be glad to be normal, at
least in that.
I'm currently awaiting the final proof before
publication. Then I must get back to The Story Runner. If I could get
it finished by the end of the year, it would be perfect! So that's my goal.
I've never been an excessively disciplined
person. And yet, while I may have paid lip service to the idea, I also never
really believed that I had to wait for the creative muse to strike before I
could write. Today, I read a brief article on creativity:
Creativity Is Really Just Persistence, And Science Can Prove It. I know
it's true, but it doesn't make it any easier to get myself into the office
and get to work.
I'm finding that I'm obsessed with the current
project and I can't get myself to start again on the next until I'm done,
completely finished, with the first one. I've got to get over that. I've got
to learn to let go of the current project as soon as it goes to formatting
and move on with writing time on the next.
Wish me luck!
Well, I did it. I finalized
was a snap! Just waiting for my Library of Congress number and I'll start
the process of trying to get Create
Space to make it right. (Yes, I know the fault is always on my end, but
I like to blame CS, anyway.)
Next up is the
Writers Association conference in Lake Mary! I really enjoyed it last
year. My books will be in the bookstore and I even have a slot for a little
book signing. Don't you just love book signings? We poor authors sit there
and watch people walk past; they try to be polite and let us down easy. I
assure you, it's just as uncomfortable for the author! And trust me, you
don't have to buy my book; I won't cry.
I had to give up my work on The Story Runner and get back to
finalizing Camelia. I
just couldn't get the story out of my mind and knew I'd never get any other
real work done until I just finished it--as in published. I gave it another
read-through and then printed it out. It's always a different experience
reading your manuscript in print; and even more different when reading it in
book form. But just the act of printing it out gave me clues to where it
needs a nip and tuck. Three spots actually. These little things nag at you
until you fix them. So, before I even read it through again, I'll be taking
my red pen and marking it up.
I promise to get back to
The Project Runway
Diaries as soon as I can. Novels are my first priority (I know it's
Runway sacrilege.) I'm really enjoying watching the latest season on
I updated my fiction reads blog today, too. Check
out what I'm reading now.
I had a wonderful time at the
Florida Tech Creative Writing Institute.
I took a class on fiction and wrote a couple of flash fiction pieces in the
process. I'll publish them somewhere in the future and let you know. I sat
in on a lecture about poet
Laura Riding Jackson.
I was instantly a fan when I heard that she and her husband, Schuyler B.
Jackson, set out to rewrite the dictionary because she didn't believe in
synonyms. Each word has a distinct, individual meaning. The result was
Rational Meaning: A New Foundation for the Definition of Words.
Jackson and her husband moved to
near where I live--at some point, and lived in a
style house without electricity. She wrote letters to friends telling
them how happy she was there with her simple life. That's what the heat does
to you--makes you crazy.
I'm hard at work on
finished with the penultimate draft, after which it will go into
percolation. Later I'll attack it again and probably discover it wasn't the
penultimate draft after all, but that's the way of it.
I went mad recently and decided I had too many
blogs so I merged the Wayward Cat Publishing blog into my regular blog,
The Sunshine State. I
tend to whine about publishing anyway, so all those posts on writing will
fit right in with the sunshine-y tone of the older blog.
And yes, yes, yes--I am still working on
The Project Runway
Diaries blog. I just have to put it on hold sometimes for the fiction.
Fiction is life, you know, and
Oh, and last but not least, I added our
Adventures in Trash blog to this one.
Check it out...if you're into trash.
Next week I'm taking a class at the
Florida Tech Creative Writing Institute. I didn't attend last year and
am happy to be able to go again. The classes are very basic, really, but it
doesn't seem to matter where we are in our writing experience, there is
always something to be learned. The best parts of the event are the bonus
talks at lunch and late afternoon.
I finalized, I think, the cover for
Camelia, but I don't
think I'll be able to get it published before the end of the year. I was
hoping to have it for the
Florida Writers Association Conference in October and the
Meet the Authors
event in November. But I don't want to rush it. It's not an ordinary story.
Check out what I've been
I had a wonderful trip to Alabama for a bit of research for my novel
Camelia. I wrote a
blog post about it at the Wayward Cat Publishing blog
[now part of The Sunshine
Where death is held more sacred than life... I've been absorbed in
formatting and publishing the second book in The Kell Stone Prophecy
series, The Wretched, for the past two weeks and when I returned to
writing the first draft of Camelia, I was afraid I would be at a
But last night proved brilliant and unnerving.
One day's writing on Camelia and I was up all night with scenes
running through my head. Fearful that I'd forget them, I got up twice to
write out notes. Today I'm exhausted, but not tired enough yet to sleep
more. We'll just have to see how well I focus. And yet, I have to admit that
focus isn't exactly necessary for this particular book.
For me, Camelia is the closest thing I've
come to in my writing career that qualifies as a "life's work." It's truly
one of those projects during which I feel like I'm opening wounds and
exposing pain. It's cathartic to be able to do that through a character that
is very little like me.
It's tax time. The time during which I am constantly reminded about how
unorganized I am. There's nothing like digging through piles of un-filed
papers looking for a receipt. It's enough to make you want to clean!
Next weekend, we're off on a trip to Alabama to
visit a grave for research on my next novel: Camelia. I love a good
cemetery, but I fear this one won't be much to look at. In a way, that will
make it all the more endearing. I'll blog about it when I get back and give
you all the deadly details.
Yesterday I posted a humorous piece on the Wayward Cat Publishing blog:
The new dystopian bondage genre. Here is a brief excerpt:
Gabe Habash at
Publishers Weekly tells us that "[h]alf of the top 20
bestselling books of 2012 in print were either
Fifty Shades titles or
Hunger Games titles, and only one book not written by E.L.
James or Suzanne Collins...cracked the one-million-copies-sold mark
for the year..."
Nerds, please join me in a deep, unsexy, all-too-normal sigh.
Bondage and dystopia, dystopia and bondage. The people have
spoken. Itís time to strap on theĖuh...penĖand get to work.
Behold, the battle plan for 2013.
Step one: Get thyself to the nearest sex-toy-extravaganza warehouse
and buy up all the paraphernalia you can find. You canít expect to
write about bondage without getting tied up. My husband wonít mind
helping me out with this researchĖand no doubt you too can find
someone willing. How bad could it be? Bring on the feathered
handcuffs and cutesy leopard-print whips. Donít forget the
stilettos. And men, youíre not getting out of itĖyou have wear the
eight-inch heels, too.
Then...you know...bond. Or whatever it is they do.
Be masochisticĖis that like whining? ĎCause Iím good at that. And
then be sadistic. Thatís the nagging part. I think I could do this!
I first wrote this piece hoping to get a humor
column on a wonderful blog, but alas, I was passed over for someone, no
doubt, funnier. But I had a lot of fun writing it.
Today, on my various forms of social media, I
posted a link to an article about a brief spat between Philip Roth and
Elizabeth Gilbert on writing:
Is writing hell, or heaven? Philip Roth and Elizabeth Gilbert disagree,
while 20 writers tell all in 'Why We Write'
My first reaction to the idea was that writing is both. It truly can be
hell. It's hell to know you have a story in your head that insists on being
put to paper, but you sit and stare at the screen knowing that the first
thing you write (from that very first beginning--the one you know won't make
it to print--to merely the first thing in that writing session) is going to
be pure crap. And you resist writing crap. Naturally.
Then there's the staring because you just don't know what to write. You
don't know where to start, what to say, how to say it. You think maybe this
writing thing isn't for you. Maybe you're a fraud. People were going to find
out sooner or later; it's high time you realized it yourself.
And it's hell when you sit out in the family computer room blogging, or
scrolling down Facebook's endless drivel looking for some diversion, playing
Words with Friends, or a PopCap Mystery P.I. game, all the while knowing
full well the novel is calling you. You can hear it. It's saying, "Get your
fat bottom in here and write me." But you don't. And that's hell.
The day gets by you. Then a week. Sometimes more. That's hell. And it's a
hell we create. All by ourselves. Fully knowing we're creating it.
We know we're making our own hell, because we've experienced heaven.
We know that once we get in there, sit down, and just start writing, even
if it's crap, even if it's just some stupid thought that comes into our
heads--once we do it, we start making art. We make ourselves laugh, and cry,
and tingle with excitement. We're in heaven when we write, even when we
write crap, because we know that once the crap is on the screen, it can be
turned to molding clay, and that clay can be shaped into our hearts and our
desires and our art.
So, why do we continue to put ourselves through the hell of it? Maybe we
think, subconsciously, that we have to suffer for it. Or maybe...maybe the
heaven is soul-wrenching, as wonderful as it is. It's frightening. It leaves
us exposed and raw. We come away from heaven spent and satisfied, and
worried that we won't get it back.
Maybe the heaven and the hell are both the same. The heaven is hell and
the hell is heaven. And we just have to deal with it.
I hate philosophy.
Anyway, I've taken to planting candy in my work room as a lure. It
doesn't really work. I may have come to the conclusion that there should be
no lure. There should be no heaven, and no hell. There should only be my
job. And as a job, I would have to agree with Elizabeth Gilbert, it's
But, I don't have to pay the bills.
I'm going to the Cocoa Beach
Writers Conference this weekend. Looking forward to it. This week's
writing was a struggle. I know the conference will get me back into gear.
corresponding Wayward Cat Publishing blog about the weekend.
My main struggle is writing when I know I have to
do something shortly. I can understand not wanting to get started when I
have to do something in a half hour, maybe even an hour. But if it's 9:15
and I don't have to do something until 11:45, what's the problem? Why can't
I spend that time writing? It's a struggle for me and I'm just going to have
to force myself to get over it.
I'm eager to get back to
The Wretched and
finish it up. But I'm forcing myself to only take a few notes on the
thoughts that come to me and instead finish up
The Story Runner.
It's not easy to keep away from something I'm excited about and
unfortunately, that excitement seems to be lessening my attraction to the
new book! Maybe I should just give in, finish and publish The Wretched,
and then my subconscious will be relatively free to devote itself to The
But I have this idea that The Wretched
must rest! It must rest for a long time! Do I know if this is true? No! But
nonetheless, the book will be rested. Well rested.
I had such a wonderful time at the
Meet the Authors event. I
sold a few books and bought a few--and two authors gave me a copy of theirs.
The time went by rather quickly and for that I was glad, because it wasn't
as great as a garage sale where you can go inside and grab a bite to eat
whenever you want. My husband came along, though, so I had someone at my
table when I needed a break--and he brought me lunch!
My two favorite sales were an older lady and a
I was over at
John Ryan's table; he was telling me some of his history, when my
husband pulled me away. One of the organizers was looking for me--she said
there was a woman out in the lobby that wanted to meet me, so I followed her
out there. An attractive, gray-haired, well-dressed lady was sitting on a
bench outside, with a cane, and she had clipping of the
article that featured me and my books with her.
She'd come all that way just to get a copy of
each of my books for her grandsons! But she'd recently developed vertigo,
she said, and she just didn't think she could make it through the room to my
table. What an awesome lady! I felt so honored--and not unlike a celebrity.
But I suppose my most favorite sale was
the twin! Adorable teenaged twins were at my table while their father
hovered around. One was very interested in
Children of Path, while the other was not. The one looking at my
book told me her sister could read a book in just a few hours. This avid
reader then told me how she had read many series of books in a day, and the
entire Harry Potter series
in a week!
Anyway, the one looking at my book read the
front, then the back; she asked about the picture of the panther on the
cover, were there panthers in the story? Then she opened it up in the
middle and read, then went to the first page and started reading. Her sister
said, "What are you doing?" Impatient girl! Her twin said, "I'm reading this
book!" Like, duh. Then the reader abruptly put the book down and went
to her father and said, "I want that book."
She told her dad she had money for it at home
and would pay him back. He made her promise. Then he made both girls say
pretty please. And while getting out his money, he made them both call him
"most awesome dad." And they did!
I loved this sale because I felt like my book
was connecting with that young woman--in the way it connects with me. It was
a wonderful feeling and I hope the book doesn't disappoint her.
At the book fair, I purchased
Finn Flanagan and the Fledglings by
This is a series book about a boy who dies, becomes an angel, then joins a
league of young angels to save the world. At least that's what Taylor's rep
told me. The cover picture is cool (I met the illustrator there and she
signed the book for me) and I found the story idea intriguing.
I also purchased The
of Max by Lou Belcher. I'd
heard about Lou's book subtitled "a memoir of great wisdom and many naps"
and about her late cat Max some time ago and was glad to finally be able to
get a copy.
Across from my table was Charles Nothe with his
Proscriptii, historical fiction set in ancient Rome. I really wanted
the book because I like really big books. But I knew that wasn't a good
reason to spend $20 on a book and, after all, my husband was with me to
remind me to be more frugal.
Unfortunately, when I went to speak with Nothe,
I told him my dilemma and his response was to give me a copy of the book.
Part of me understands why he did it. It was clear in talking with him that
he and I were both passionate about history and historical fiction--he much
more so than I because he actually researched and wrote, whereas I have only
read and enjoyed, the subject (except for that little BA degree, of course).
But, like with that young twin, when you find someone who clearly wants to
read your book--you want them to read it!
Well, my husband refused the offer and insisted
I pay, an idea I had no qualms with. But when I tried to give Nothe money he
absolutely refused. So we decided upon an exchange. I gave him a copy of
Zombie Revolution for a son or nephew, I can't exactly recall. I
really don't think it was a fair exchange and depending on who you ask (me
or hubs) one of us got the better deal. (Hubs isn't all that fond of heavy
tomes of history.)
In fact, hubs later looked at me with a smile
and said, I read the first sentence and almost put the book down, but it was
okay after that. And he had me read the first sentence of
Proscriptii. It was a long, complicated, glorious sentence and I
told him, "I'm going to love this book!" We shared a good laugh at our
I shared a table with Stanton Bronstein who
writes under the name S.N.
Bronstein. He turned out to be a fabulous table mate! Great sense of
humor, great attitude--I think he and I and hubs all shared a basic outlook
or worldview. I mean, imagine us sharing a table with
Debra John who
apparently brought along a psychic! (Don't get me wrong, Debra was a
lovely person...but if you know me...you know what I mean.)
Stanton was much more of a pitchman than I could
ever be. People were first drawn to his table by the covers of his
series--photos of places in Miami. He only had to give them his spiel
and then turn to the children's book at the end of the table with its
picture of a way-cool black cat and they were sold--if not on the adult
series, then definitely on the kids book. He outsold me by a large margin.
And I am now intimately familiar with his books;
if he had left for a while, by Sunday, I could have given shoppers the
entire spiel in his stead.
When he was packing up, Stanton gave me a copy
of the kids book,
Private Eye Cats Book One: The Case of the Neighborhood Burglars. I
was grateful. I didn't insist on paying Stanton, mostly because I hadn't
slobbered all over the book practically asking for it. He shouldn't have
given it to me though. But I'll definitely enjoy the read so I'm really
Next weekend, November 17 & 18, is the
Meet the Authors
event at the Eau Gallie Arts
Festival! Two days from 10 'til 4. Forty local authors, including yours
truly. Come visit. Come purchase books for Christmas, or for yourself.
This is my first year attending and I'm very
excited about it. I'll have copies of
Children of Path by
Zombie Revolution by D.D. Charles for sale.
I attended the Florida
Writers Association conference this past weekend and had a wonderful
However, it's clear that there still remains a
bias against self-publishing. I attended one workshop in which the presenter
said that one of the "pros" of being traditionally published is a guarantee
of quality. I called bull crap. Not out loud, of course.
Don't get me wrong. I perused the bookstore at
the conference and found self-published books that were below my standards.
One woman had misspelled "its" on the first page. The first page! I
understand there will be errors in a 90,000-word book. But the first page?
I picked up a little card advertising one
woman's book and in the description, she spelled "but" as "butt." Seriously?
I don't care how much I paid for those cards, I would have tossed them in
the trash. No excuse.
But then I purchased a traditionally-published
children's book and in its forty-five pages found no fewer than ten errors, along with a few questionable
Let me be clear: There is absolutely no excuse--none
whatsoever--to have typos, misspellings, or consistency errors in a
short picture book. No excuse. Yes, it is excusable in very long works. But
in a forty-five page book? No. Sorry.
Being traditionally published is no guarantee
of quality. At all. Don't even go there with me.
Yes, you can find horrible books by
self-published authors. But you will also find quality books at, or
exceeding, the standards of traditional publishers.
Now that that uncomfortable nonsense is out of
the way, I'd like to give a thankful shout out to
Janice Decker. Janice was at the
conference and sat in on a panel discussion on self-publishing. Strangely
enough, most of the others on the panel were actually publishers. Not
publishers like myself who only publish their own works, but publishers who
help authors "self-publish." I know; it's confusing. But this is what the
new world of publishing has wrought.
Janice was not a publisher. She self-published
her book Take
Before the discussion began, I conversed a bit
with the guy sitting next to me and somehow our conversation wound around to
him telling me how he hired a professional editor for all of his books. I'm
beginning to see what's happening here. Self-publishers are ashamed of
themselves. They still consider themselves the step-children of the writing
world. So, they have to prove themselves whenever they talk about their
books. Having someone professionally edit their books is like saying, "My
books may be self-published, but they're good. Honest."
He had to go through several edits, he said, to
weed out all the mistakes. And his editor helped him to see where his
writing was weak and where the story needed improvement. And I'm sitting
there thinking, "That's your job, dude! If you have to hire someone to
figure all that out, you're not doing your job."
But instead, I fell into the same trap and
explained that I self edit because I'm a control freak, so I'm good at it.
And while I would think that being a grammar control freak would make
someone a good editor, I should have just told him what I really thought.
Editing, and knowing how to write a well-structured, well-paced story is
your job as the author. The more you write, the better you should get at it.
If you have to hire in help, or send your book through the round of critique
groups, agents, and editors, you are not the author of your book. It's a
So, naturally, during the panel discussion, this
very topic was brought up and kudos to Janice Decker who did not hesitate or
falter. To the question: Do you really need to hire a professional editor?
She said, "No." Editing is part of the writing process, she said. It's part
of the craft of writing. Learn it.
I was so happy to hear someone else say it, I
was giddy. And I missed the comment that
Eugene Orlando made. When I
finally came down from my cloud he was saying something about teaching his
writers reverse editing and how well it worked. So, he might have been in
agreement with Decker and I as well.
But the others, especially one woman who offered
us a patronizing smile and shake of her head, continued on with the myth
that writers are not capable of producing quality work without the help of
other people. Bull crap.
The article about me, and
Wayward Cat Publishing, and my books is in
The Hometown News
today! It's called, "Bringing fantasy to life: Palm Bay author publishes two
books, with more on the way."
Brittany Llorente did a wonderful job. In the print edition, they printed
the covers of both my current books; only one is online. I sound a tad odd
and I can't remember saying things exactly the way I'm quoted. But it's so
hard to remember what you said, and when you're talking, you feel like
you're babbling. Being interviewed is definitely something to get used to.
This morning I was up early because there was an
estate sale down the street. My neighbor died a while ago and left a few
cats. I took care of them for a while until they could be placed in foster
homes. Though I didn't know my neighbor, I could tell she was a very cool
lady--her home was filled with cat stuff. Her sister gave me a lovely gift
of a small cat statue for helping out.
I knew they were planning a sale and was excited
to go over today and find more cat treasures. I got a lot! A white ceramic
cat that sits atop a shelf with his head looking over the edge. Another
larger white ceramic long-hair that sits on the floor. A fabulous heavy
statue of a leopard lounging on a branch. Cat Christmas tree ornaments;
little cat figures for my shelves; a cat teapot; cat salt and pepper shakers
(my second set!). And I found a long, narrow plate of fired clay with
pictures of cats on it. Its "handles" on either end look like kitty paws
grasping it from behind. Love that! I have no idea where to put it so the
cats won't break it; but I love it.
It was rather awful to feel the want of things
that belonged to my neighbor. I felt greedy for going over early and buying
up all the best things. I thought I should leave some for others. But of
course, the people handling the estate don't care if one person buys it all.
And not everyone is out for cat treasures.
I may be at my limit now. Although, there's a
bare spot on my desk that just cries out for some sort of cat. The live ones
generally prefer the spot just in front of the screen...
Nice work if you can get it...
Tom Rizzo, author of
Last Stand at Bitter Creek, posted a bit of
Ray Bradbury over at
Linkedin the other day.
"Writing is not a serious business. Itís a joy and a celebration ... If itís
work, stop and do something else."
My first reaction was to choke on my Diet Coke. My second was to clatter off
a quick response: That's like telling a group of older women that you never
had hot flashes while going through menopause.
I know, because I've done something quite like that. I went to see
Menopause The Musical last
weekend with my mother, my sisters-in-law, and their mothers. And I
innocently explained that I am not suffering, for which I was leered at
menacingly. I was no longer one of them--I was...suspicious.
Anyway, writing can be work. Often. It can be hard work.
Bradbury himself said, "I know you've heard it a thousand times before.
But it's true - hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to
practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do
Of course he explains that said hard work has to be engaged in what you love
doing. I can agree with that.
Writing is, and frankly ought to be, work. Most of the time, that work is
joyful, for me. Sometimes it's positively dreary, and sure, it's best at
those times to switch to another project or get up and take a walk. But
there are times in our creative process that slog. God, they slog.
The only saving action, for me, is to read what I've already got. Then I see
that it's a jewel, maybe rough, but it's got so much potential. Heck, there
are even sentences...or paragraphs!...that sing. This thing's going to be
great. If I could just get through this scene. What the heck am I going to
do with this scene?
So, after muttering curses about men and how they all too often bliss their
way through life not recognizing how hard it really is, probably because
they've got some woman
making their damn sandwiches for them, I decided to check out this Ray
Bradbury quote. Surely Mr. Bradbury isn't really saying that writing is
pure, unadulterated joy (unadulterated by hard work).
And you'll notice in Tom's quote, there is an ellipsis. Damn those ellipses.
You've got to really watch out for those little buggers.
Here's the actual quote:
"I want your loves to be multiple. I donít want you to be a snob about
anything. Anything you love, you do it. Itís got to be with a great sense of
fun. Writing is not a serious business. Itís a joy and a celebration. You
should be having fun with it. Ignore the authors who say ĎOh, my God, what
word? Oh, Jesus ChristÖ,í you know. Now, to hell with that. Itís not work.
If itís work, stop and do something else."
And this, I can agree with. Do the things (plural) that you love doing. But
if you're constantly carping over the smallest element of that activity (I'd
call it work, because it is actually work--creative, rewarding, joyful work,
yes. But work.), then don't do it.
If you labor over every verb, frustrated that you can't get it right, are
you having any fun at all? Just write the damn thing. If you're rewriting
the heck out of your manuscript, you're writing your own voice out of it.
And that means you're writing all the passion and individuality out of it.
Just write it. Then read it and listen for its song. It has one. It has to
But if you don't like the song you're singing, maybe you should go do
Wayward Cat Publishing
has put its books up on BookDaily.com.
If you love to read, you can sign up for emails from BookDaily and they will
send samples of books to your inbox with an option to purchase. You can also
browse samples right at the website. Authors can have samples of their books
sent out to Book Daily's thousands of subscribers for $49 a month. We're
thinking about it here...thinking. Would it be worth it?
I have to admit, the main thing that makes me hesitate is that you don't
just sign up for one month at a time. You sign up, and when you want to stop
the service, you have to do so "in writing." I hate that "in writing"
proviso wherever I find it. If I can't just log on and click "stop," I don't
really want to get involved. But maybe... For now, though, the books are
Here are the links for
Children of Path.
Another resource I'm using is GoodReads.
But to have your book in the general population of books, it has to be
listed by a librarian. Still, authors can put samples of their work on the
site; people can read them and "like" them. I can't say if it's worth it at
this point or not.
Today I donated one copy of each of my books to Palm Bay High School.
They're having a book drive right now for the teachers' classrooms. If any
of my fellow local authors are interested, and have age-appropriate books,
just drop them off at the front office.
Wayward Cat Publishing is
up and running. The following is a brief and exciting history of this
I've been a writer since middle school when I wrote my first book. I have no
recollection of it; no doubt it was awful. In high school I wrote short
stories (had one published in Impetus, the high school journal of
poetry and prose) and another novel.
This second novel, I remember. The main character was Sherland. Yes, I made
her a country. She had long, straight, shiny, black hair (the opposite of my
wavy, often frizzy, blonde). Sherland was stunningly beautiful (also
opposite of the author). After her mother's death, she moved to the east
coast to live with her father (who had gray eyes...uh huh, that's right),
her step-sister, -brother, and -mother. She promptly tried out for the
cheerleading squad and made it, naturally, to the fury of her step-sister,
whose spot she'd taken.
Lots of conflict at the get-go.
The love interest was Greg. He was obviously also the love interest of the
step-sister. I wish I could remember her name; it was probably a name I
didn't like. Sherland, who was sweet and kind, (opposite the author?), took
on an unpopular girl, made her over, and she became popular. Then she turned
on our lovely Sherland and joined forces with the evil step-sister.
In the end, Greg was crossing the street to tell Sherland how much he loved
her, and as Sherland watched from an upstairs window at the house, the
step-sister, upset about another awful thing our heroine had done to her,
ran him down with the car. It was raining, though. And she was crying. So,
it was an accident. Really. At the hospital, the last person Greg wanted to
see before he died was Sherland. Not his parents. It's a YA novel.
And with his last dying breath....I can't remember what he said.
Let's not forget the father with the gray eyes. Sherland and he had been at
odds since she moved in. It must have been difficult trying to fit in with
your dad's new family and I can't imagine I explored that aspect very much,
being immature and never having experienced such a thing. But at least I had
the good sense to put the father and daughter at odds. At some point, either
after Greg's demise or shortly before, the man fell down the stairs. And
when our Sherland realized how much she loved her father, his gray eyes
turned to blue.
O-M-G. Could I tell a story or what?
Then I discovered alcohol.
Cut to the time when I'm, like, 50. I've published a non-fiction book with
Llumina press on rationalism and
atheism. I've continued to dabble in fiction, and even written a couple of
books. Over the course of 30-some odd years of writing, we can only assume
it has improved. My books and short stories found a tad bit of interest from
the powers that be--good rejections, but no takers. And then it dawned on me
(probably after reading Dean
Wesley Smith's blog) that I didn't need a publisher anymore...not even
Wayward Cat Publishing
was born. My husband, George, is in charge of art. He drew the logo, and
helps with some book cover art. He is also the computer expert and helps
with formatting problems that plague me.
Now that two of my books (Children
of Path and
Zombie Revolution) are out and selling at Amazon, on Kindle, and other
electronic devices, I look back and realize that I've broken all the rules.
But I would highly recommend doing so to others. Sure, listen to what they
tell you. And take what sounds right for you. Leave the rest and stop
worrying about it. Here are some of the rules I was given:
1. Be a drunk.
Okay, not a rule, really. But seriously. When I was a teenager, this was the
vision of a writer in my head: A desk in a dark room lit by a dim lamp. An
ashtray filled with butts and one lit cigarette. A typewriter. (You remember
those, don't you?) And a bottle of some kind of booze. This is odd, really,
as my preference was for beer. You see, I was already breaking rules.
2. Polish those prose. Polish the hell out of them.
Or, in another words, strip them of your heart and soul.
3. Join a critique group.
Right. This isn't your book--it belongs in committee. Go over it line by
line, word by word, and let's all make it work.
4. You must, absolutely must, hire a copy-editor.
For me, hiring a copy-editor is a lot like taking my book to a critique
group. Why would I need someone else to do my job? Yes, it's difficult to
find errors and typos. But it's my job to write clean copy. It's part of
what writing is all about. If you can't do it, by all means, get someone to
do it for you. But if you can't edit, or rewrite, or, heck, come up with a
plot, who's going to do that?
5. Get an agent.
For the life of me I can't understand why writers hire someone who doesn't
write and doesn't publish to tell them how to rewrite their books and then
give them fifteen percent of their profits (forever) to put it in front of
an editor. Why do we do this?
6. Find a publisher.
Well, certainly when I started out in this game, there were only three
routes to take. 1. Traditional (or what they're calling legacy now)
publishing. 2. Vanity publishing. That's where you pay some people a lot of
money and they produce your book for you and it costs a ridiculous amount of
money. And 3. Self-publishing. Here you went to a printer and did the whole
thing yourself and then had boxes of books sent to your house.
Back in the day, the only good way to go was traditional. But that's just
not where it's at anymore. Is it? So, I didn't do that one either. I'm not
ruling it out. I'm not saying that I wouldn't take a good contract if one
presented itself to me. But, with traditional publishing you give up a lot.
Money, for one thing. Rights to your work. Control--control over the
manuscript, control over the title and the cover. We don't have to do that
anymore and I think the world is better for it.
So, I'm a rule-breaker. I'm a rebel. And like everything else in life,
practice makes perfect. We here at
Wayward Cat Publishing
are practicing the art of waywardness and the craft of writing what we
please, naming it what we want, creating our own covers, and offering it all
up to the world of readers.
Sure, copy-editing is hard. Formatting is hard. Covers are hard. Blurbs are
hard. Marketing is hard. But it's also thrilling!
Go wayward, my friends!
And that's the end of our integration. Back to
our regular blog--now filled no doubt with some redundancy.
I was interviewed this afternoon for a newspaper feature in
The Hometown News. Very scary
stuff, interviewing. My motto going in was simply, be yourself. What else
can one do? I've tried being other people, it never works.
I remember as a child, I didn't have a good
relationship with myself. I didn't think people liked me the way I was. I
can remember figuring out what I was going to "be like" before going to
family get-togethers where I would spend time with my cousins, whom I deemed
much prettier, more popular, and better all-round than me. I had to make
myself into someone different, someone better. It never, ever worked. I
always ended up being "stupid old me" (in my eyes, then).
The last time my high school reunion came
around...last summer?...someone started up a website for us and we
re-introduced ourselves. My first try was downright morose. I talked about
how awkward and depressed I was in school. Someone actually emailed me and
said, basically, "What are you talking about? I don't remember you that way
It doesn't matter, of course, how others see us.
It matters only how we see ourselves. If we see ourselves as personable,
confident, and funny, we'll come off that way.
Wait a minute. I just contradicted myself. In
high school I was a complete wreck, but few people knew it, apparently. Now,
I'm a confident, personable...oh, dear. Oh, dear, oh dear. Well, we'll just
have to wait until Friday to see how the interview went!
Well, the publishing has begun.
Children of Path: The Kell Stone Prophecy Book One is available in
paperback, on Kindle, and via other electronic devices through
the above goes for
Zombie Revolution, too! [Our books are no longer distributed by
Smashwords. They are available at various retail locations in print and
digital. You can find the basic listings at our website:
Wayward Cat Publishing.
You know, I didn't really intend to publish
Zombie Revolution at all. And then, when I reread it and thought, "why
not," I only planned to release it as an ebook. But my mentor,
Dean Wesley Smith said that
would be stupid. (Not to me--he doesn't even know me--but on his blog.) So,
I was on again with the "why not" and there you have it. Zombies. Who knew?
But not only that...I have another idea for a
D.D. Charles book. So, I guess I'm a paranormal humor writer now.
I am concerned that I wear too many pen names.
Readers like to find more books by authors they like. But I am adamant
against publishing in different genres under the same name. So, I'm pushing
Wayward Cat Publishing as
much as I can.
Well, I have four books due out in 2013. So,
it's off to work. You may not hear from me again for a long time. If you do,
I'll be hearing your voice in my head saying, "get back to work!" And thank
you for that.
This past week I had the pleasure of attending the
Zumba Instructors Convention at the
Peabody Hotel and
Orange County Convention Center. While I
enjoyed the visit from the Rockettes,
the Daddy Yankee concert, the
fabulous Zumbathon for Party in Pink, and the march of the
the best part for me was the keynote speaker for the event:
Kathy Najimy, who has apparently
lost a bit of weight recently and credits her Zumba classes.
She gave us a
funny, inspiring message of inclusiveness and confidence and perseverance.
She said that someone (I'm sure she named the person, but I can't recall who
it was) told her once that if you write a book and no one wants to publish
it, find a printer, start a publishing company. Do it yourself.
Naturally, I thought she was talking directly to
me. Kathy Najimy was speaking to me!
Wayward Cat Publishing is striving to put out my first book, The Kell
Stone Prophecy: Book One by the end of September. Shortly after that,
Zombie Revolution will debut.
I have a lot of work to do.
We lost our logo cat, JJ, this past May; it was tragic. I still think of him
when I pass various spots in the house, or when his litter mate requires
I've been fast and
furious with fiction lately and have been lax at blogging, but I'm holding
My first novel, The Kell Stone Prophecy Book
One, is coming soon from
Wayward Cat Publishing. Once that is put to print, I will have no choice
but to finish the series. It's always good to have a deadline looming. Isn't
As always, check out the
fiction page for more blog and my book list.
The highlight of the Space
Coast Writers' Conference this year was
The Nardini Sisters. They
presented two workshops on publishing with
CreateSpace and marketing on
They were engaging, funny, and very helpful. They wrote and self-published
The Underwear Dare. It's a fabulous book for kids--lots of vomit and
At dinner the evening after I sat
in on their presentations, one of them mentioned that boys eventually grow
out of their immature love of fart jokes and potty humor. I said, "No they
don't." My husband's favorite word is "duty," always interpreted by him as "doody."
So when I purchased their book from the author
store, I had one of them write "doody," and the other was kind enough to
draw a picture of a steaming pile. Wonderful people!
I have much work to do, and so very little time
to do it. I'm threatening myself with a time-clock. And I'm serious.
I've been so curious about the title of that horrible, horrible book I
couldn't finish reading. I think the description I gave (about a perfectly
beautiful woman who had a perfect singing voice--and let me add, she was so
beautiful everyone turned to look at her every time she entered any room)
was for the book
Star, by Danielle Steel. I didn't finish reading that one,
But I was thinking of another book
and I can't remember anything about it now, except that it was awful.
It would have been in hardcover in about 1987. There, that's all I know. I
should go to the bookstore and amuse the clerks.
"I'm looking for a novel."
"Wonderful, what is the title?"
"I don't recall the title or the author. But it was a romance novel, except
I'm pretty sure it wasn't found in the romance section. It was hardcover in
1987. And it might have been white, with some purple on it."
LOL. Yes. People really do ask bookstore clerks
to find books for them when they know absolutely nothing about them.
Speaking of bookstore clerks, I have something
to get off my chest. It's been bugging me for over twenty years.
I used to manage a bookstore. One day, a woman
came in with a hardcover book that she'd received as a gift from a friend.
She didn't like it and wanted a refund or credit. She had no receipt. I
looked that book up from here to Sunday and could not find it. I was pretty
sure it was a remainder. It was one of those books we'd have in a big bin in
the store that would be marked down to a dollar, then to fifty cents, and
then I don't remember what we did with them. Maybe they were free.
I tried to explain to this woman that the book
she had was probably not worth fourteen or fifteen dollars that was on the
jacket, and the only way I could find out about it would be to call the home
office for advice. But by that time she was livid and stormed out of the
A month or so later, she was back again and made
a purchase. She mentioned something to the clerk who checked her out about
the book being for a friend and hoping she'd like it. The clerk said, "she
can always return it." And the woman called out, as she left, "I've heard
That always bugged me. It bugs me because I
never told that lady the truth: that her "friend" bought her a book for a
dollar or less and passed it off as a new title.
Welcome to the new year! I finished the two books on my schedule last year.
I have three books planned this year with a fourth working in my head. Maybe
I'll get them all finished.
Check out the Oxford word of
the year. Mostly check out the comments section in which a lot of people
(much like me) argue over whether it's defriend or unfriend and over the
true meaning of the term teabagger. Nuts.
Don't yell at me, but I've decided to go back to
teaching Zumba. I originally stopped teaching because I felt I spent too
much time practicing when I could be writing. But, as it turns out, I am an
afternoon writer. I did write a few mornings, but I spent most "gearing up"
for the writing session on Facebook and Farm Town. Well, I'd rather be
dancing! So, I'm back to "having it all." (Not to mention the fact that I
regained 10 pounds after quitting Zumba. And now here it is a week before
the holidays officially start and I have to lose 10 before I can, in good
conscience, gain the holiday 5. Dang it.)
My latest novel is almost complete! I should be
sending it out next month. I really enjoyed this one: zombies! The
zombie/vampire craze may be over, but when you have a book in you that wants
to get out, well, you let it out.
Today is Towel Day, by the way. So
I've decided to read Doctor Zhivago again. This may come as a surprise, if
you read my earlier review, which basically stated, 'this is the worst book
I've ever read.' But, yes, I will read it again. I think I may be able to
appreciate the book a lot more after a review of Russian history, now that I
think I know what it's actually about.
was finally able to see the film and I liked it very much. But the film is
not like the book. The film is the story of a quiet, emotional man,
struggling against the revolution and between the two women he loves. The
film is a love story. Man marries woman, man meets soul mate, oops. That
sort of story. And in the end, of course, we learn he has a bad heart (aww)
and he sees Lara! He tries to get off the bus! He manages! He chases after
her! He collapses! (kind of funny collapse) And dies! Oh, the sadness.
Well, that's not at all like the book. The book
is about, in my opinion, a weak man--an opportunist, in the way that a
person floats from one opportunity to the next--a man struggling against a
changing world. He's married with a family. Then he takes up with a
beautiful woman. There is no mention of love or desire. We find out he's
been sleeping with Lara almost offhandedly, and at the same time we find out
he plans to end the affair. Zhivago is conscripted into the Red Army, and
after he escapes, he only takes up with Lara again because his wife and
family have been deported. He sends Lara away to save her life.
Then Zhivago, growing weaker and weaker, takes
up with another woman and has another family. He dies getting off a bus. His
death is in no way meaningful or monumental. There is nothing romantic about
And that is why I think I will read the book
again. I have a suspicion that Pasternak did not intend to write one of the
greatest love stories of all time, simply because he clearly did not do
that. I think Pasternak may have written a book about a man never being
allowed to become what he could have become. Pasternak's story isn't about a
beautiful soul and love, it's bare, tedious, melancholy, downright
sad--it's, frankly, human. And that's the kind of book I'd like to read.
I was over at the
Lipstick Chronicles reading about
Lisa Daily's crush on Shaun Cassidy (snork). I was going to reply but
there were already 68 responses and they all sound like they know each
other, don't they? I guess part of me is still stuck in wallflower land.
Anyway. I was going to reply about two things.
First, she only had one poster of said crush? Pfflbt. That's childish. Every
inch of my wall space was plastered with posters of Donny Osmond. His eyes
moved and followed me around the room. He watched me dress and primp and
pick my nose! Oh, Donny. All we've been through together! Donny was only
four years older than I was (still is, I suppose), so my chances of marrying
him were much greater than Lisa's of marrying Shaun. I had a little record
player over in the corner of my room and my mother had a little collection
of fancy bottles. I mean a collection of fancy little bottles. And I used to
turn this particular one upside-down and use it for a microphone and pretend
to be a singer, just like Donny (only female--wait, no, uh, yeah).
And, I was going to reply about the PG-13 film
that she wouldn't let her six-year old daughter see. Child. My youngest son
was 2 1/2 when he would beg us to let him watch 'great big T-rex get out the
boat and eat the guys', aka Jurassic Park 2, The Lost World. And he's
not warped a bit. Strange. Sarcastic. Possibly devoid of true compassion.
But hey, he gets that from his father, not Hollywood. (snork)
Let the kid watch the movie. She's too young to
understand the things she shouldn't understand anyway. But that's me and my
weird family. Maybe it's a good thing that our weirdness doesn't spread too
far. Then what would the world be? I mean, I might have to be sociable if
everyone was cool like me, right?
Announcing the winner of Dianna's Next Top Cat
JJ easily beat out his competitors: Squeakers,
who was too large and black and looked like something out of a B-rated
horror flick; Rice Cake, who kept giving the photographer 'Southern Madam'
instead of intellectual feline; and Tiger, who wanted nothing whatsoever to
do with a book or a seat by the window...until the shoot was over, of
So, congratulations, JJ (also known as Jeffrey
Junior, to his owner, Jeffrey, who clearly has something of an ego). Your
reward is fame, such as you can get here on my little website.
I still have a bit of work to do on the site,
but thank you for reading as it is!