My Novels

Monday, December 29, 2014

Year End Reflections

This blog has been lacking in posts for some time. Is there a particular reason? Not really. I have been preoccupied/busy with the Wildscape Trilogy, which is now complete. I will release the first book in January, but I'm still trying to decide if I'll use a different pen name. So that is one excuse. However, truly there is no excuse for not writing even a few paragraphs occasionally.

Maybe I'll do better in 2015, but then again, maybe I won't. Sigh.

I do spend time on Facebook and Twitter, but don't post on either of those social media sites frequently either. What I need to do is focus more on my fiction, and start a new project soon. In fact, I'm thinking of writing another serial and/or short the range of 20,000 words. I have more difficulty with extreme lengthy work these days (60,000+ words) since it takes undivided attention and virtually no interruptions. Having three dogs, there are going to be interruptions!

Not that I'm complaining; I'd hate to live alone without at least one dog or cat. Such great companions, and always happy to see you return when away. On the other hand, over the past years I've grown accustomed to living alone and the more time passes, the more I realize I would have great difficulty living with another person.

In February it will be nine years since my late husband died. And truly, it does feel like it's been that long. For most of those years, each February seemed to bring back all the loss and heartache, but now...not so much. I think that time eventually allows one to adjust to loss; otherwise, life would indeed be impossible when loved ones die.

And I've noticed one thing those who live into their 90s share: they are survivors and do not dwell on the past and their loss. So in that regard, maybe I'm making progress.

It's been a good year overall. Kicked some bad habits to the curb, moved on and got back into positive habits: reading, writing, etc. I need more exercise, but other than an occasional long walk in a wooded park with my dogs, don't get nearly enough. Of course, the weather has been dismal lately -- lots of rain or too cold and windy.

My health seems good, at least right now. I had serious back problems back in November, but a steroid shot not only helped that, it also relieved some arthritis symptoms. I'm hoping for good health the next two years, until I'm eligible for medicare. I do have insurance, but with high deductibles now.

One of my dogs, Oscar, is really showing his age. He's about 12 or 13 now -- not sure since my step-dad had him a few years before I got him. At any rate, Oscar is showing signs of arthritis, sleeps a lot, and in general, just not his usual perky self. He had some benign tumors removed back in the Fall, as well as teeth cleaning with three extractions. However, he still eats regularly, enjoys his treats and gets to go on a dog walk to the park occasionally. My other two dogs, Rambo & Muffin, are doing well.

Goals for 2015? I hate to set goals because it only makes me feel guilty when I can't accomplish those. I do intend to try  and write more fiction, but at my age, I'm not forcing myself to unless I feel compelled by an especially great idea. We'll see. As the old saying goes: "Whatever will be, will be..."

Forgot to mention that I released a story mid-December: Don't Say Goodbye It's not too long, but concerns an abused woman.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October Doldrums

Well folks, I'm still alive. You'd hardly know it by looking at this blog, but I am percolating along. October is usually one of my favorite months, and so far, this one is just...b-o-r-i-n-g. Which means usually that I need to get busy with another writing project.

And on that note, I have finished the first part of a three-part serial. The title is Children of the Storm -- dark fantasy/dystopian. The first part is Dreamscapes; the second part is Nightscapes; and the third, final part is Lightscapes. This  year I've decided to try and write part two and three during Nanowrimo, which is for the entire month of November. For those who are not familiar with it, basically the website is a gathering place for writers attempting to write a 50,000 word novel during that time period. As a writer, you register and have access to forums and a page for your updates on word count. It gives you goals, as well as encouragement from other writers slugging it out like you are. I have part two outlined, but not three yet. It should prove interesting, and if I stick to it, possibly productive. I'd like to release that novel in separate parts, starting with Dreamscapes around early December and spacing the other parts at several week intervals. According to other indie writers, the holidays are good due to people getting new Kindles and looking for fiction.

I have a board on Pinterest with photos for my inspiration. Here's a link if anyone is interested: Children of the Storm

Finally, believe it or not, the elderly landlord next door has hired a contractor to update his house. It's been an eyesore so long I can't remember what it originally looked like. He says he is planning on moving there, so he should be a quiet neighbor. Best of all though, when the house is done, if I decide to move, I might be able to sell my house. With an eyesore next door I could never get a reasonable price. Not that I'm planning on moving, but at some point, I will probably move to a condo with less upkeep and maintenance.

Oh wait! This month hasn't been entirely boring: We had a real bad storm day before yesterday. High straight-line winds knocked down trees and we lost power -- only a short time for me. It reminded me that we have had a couple of relatively calm springs and summers since the tornado hit here.

In the national news, Ebola is creating panic. Now three people infected in Texas, two of those nurses. I know when I'm working on a writing project, I somehow incorporate events that are happening in reality. Since my story is dystopian, there can be an angle using all the info I'm learning/hearing/seeing about Ebola. In fact, in the first part, one of the aliens informs the protagonist that the "Black Plague" was a result of their arrival. Don't ask. Have no idea where that came from, seemed it was something the alien just tossed out (unknown to me, the author). Sorry this is sounding nuts for those of you who don't write fiction. :-)

My pups are all thriving. I still take them to the park on nice days. All the rain lately has kept us indoors. And tonight will be in the 40s, but tomorrow is sunny. Perhaps we can get in a good walk then.

No wonder I don't write more often....not much happening in my life at this time. But like one of my older friends said, "By our age, the only excitement is bad excitement." Ha, true! Often it's bad health or weather or any number of other "bad events." So I prefer the peace, quiet and if I get bored, there's always fiction writing, as well as reading.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hot, Steamy August

Though we've had a fairly uncommonly cool summer in Dixie, the heat finally caught up with us this month. And the humidity -- terrible. On my morning walks with the dogs, the humidity seems to be thick enough to cut. Makes my skin prickle, even with a light breeze through the wooded park.

I've finally resumed writing the serial story I'd described earlier in this blog. Still juggling possible titles, but for now the work-in-progress will just be called "Star Child." There will be three novels, each with ten chapters, word count uncertain at this time. I've been writing a chapter a day, editing in the morning, new chapter in the afternoon. Hope I can stick to that schedule. Here is a link to my Pinterest site where I've been posting pictures as inspiration for my series: Star Child

I have two promotions scheduled for my novels, Quest for Destiny and The Secret of Crybaby Hollow at the end of August. Both are via online Kindle ebook marketing sites, but cost very little. Every time I do a promotion, I usually keep sales of at least several copies each day from then on. Trying to build regular sales -- kinda like a snowball rolling downhill, gains momentum as it goes.

I also signed up for a digital marketing course in September; that should help me learn other ways to market my e-books online.

In other news, I am looking for a futon for my den/study; unfortunately, as usual, my bad timing is causing problems. Kids off to college are apparently big fans of futons, and stores here as well as online, are running out of stock. Especially for the ones I like, fake leather and maybe arms with cup holders. Nothing expensive, just something fairly comfortable to lie on at night and watch TV. The dogs are always on it as well, and the "fake leather" is easily cleaned. Maybe I'll find one soon.

I did get quite a lot of  maintenance issues taken care of -- even it if it was scorching hot when the workers did it. New planks on the back porch, painted; new full-view storm door on the back; new, larger pet door in wall; lattice section added to fencing in front; back fencing thoroughly inspected, new posts/planks where needed; mimosa limbs from neighboring yard cut off top of my garage; new door for crawl space built; and some minor work on what used to be the cat porch. I have a utility sink out there, and I now use it to give the dogs a bath. So much easier.

Here's a few recent pictures of the work:

New pet door, storm door and a loveseat from my living room; it will be replaced with a futon

 Oscar on freshly painted porch, soaking in some sunshine
        Rambo on guard, as he always is!       

Muffin is camera shy, mainly because my new camera makes a sound when it comes on. Need to turn that off. 

Family are all doing well, everyone enjoying the last summer days. School starts back here next week. It just seems the summer vacation days get shorter and shorter... Way back when I was in school, we had  longer summers and didn't head back until early Fall (September).

The warm weather has really helped my arthritis, so much so I can hardly believe the difference. When we have rainy, damp days though it does act up a little. I dread winter, because last year I was miserable with aching joints!

All in all though not a lot to complain about. Life goes on...

(Edited to add that Oscar's biopsy of lumps was benign, thank goodness!)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Loss and Pets

I've been stalling on this post, due to sorrow and loss. Yes, terrible loss. The last two cats I had, gone now. Within the space of a few weeks, I lost both of them. They were companions to each other as well as to me. And maybe it was just as it should have been: neither had to live alone.

At the time, several weeks ago, I first noticed Bitty Kitty's hair was looking odd. But it is summer, she sheds terribly, so I didn't think too much of it. However, within a couple weeks, her hair began to knot (and she was a short-haired tabby). I took her to the vet, and she was already in kidney failure. At 12 years old, she had already been a picky eater but had just about stopped altogether.

For several months, my other cat, Slinky (age 16) had a small tumor on her neck. The vet had said it was probably related to her having FIV; so as long as it didn't bother her, I just let it go. She still ate her food, seemed okay. Once Bitty was gone though, she just went downhill. FIV can truly sneak up and lay a cat low.

At the time, I'd also occasionally allowed a cat, Mister Mr., to come onto their porch. Someone had obviously dropped him here; he was neutered. At any rate, I never planned to keep him and found someone who had a farm to take him. He was a beautiful, large cat -- but his nature was such that the feral streak made him terribly unpredictable. He would scratch for no apparent reason. (My skin is not what it once was, and scratches don't heal easily.)

Now, for the first time in 40 years, I do not have an indoor cat. I still provide a "kitty buffet" on my carport with dry food and fresh water. IF we had a feral program (trap/spay/neuter/release) I could definitely cut down on the neighborhood cat population. As it is, I cannot get my hands on these feral's, but at least they don't go hungry.

Otherwise, life goes on about the same. My brother-in-law is almost recuperated from heart valve replacement, but still weak on occasion.

My dogs are doing okay, though I had a scare with Oscar. He had some benign lumps on his chest, then developed one on his paw that started growing. The vet thought it wise to remove those, and while he was at it, he cleaned Oscar's teeth. Turned out he lost 3 teeth! But the little devil didn't seem to act as if he'd had anything done! Back to his same little peppy walk and sweet nature. However, I am waiting to hear from the biopsy report.

My other two dogs are well. Next up though, Rambo will get his teeth cleaned. He's 9 years old, so probably going to lose one or two teeth.

Ah, so it goes with the pets. I miss my cats terribly; every night they came inside, and perched on my lap or shoulder when I would lie on the sofa watching TV. And frankly, I just miss holding them, the quietness and beauty of a cat. Years ago I was diagnosed with an allergy to cats, but had several and vowed to take care of them till the end. I guess over the years I've had around 30 cats at various times. So it's a huge void in my life...

I'm going to take some time and decide whether to have another indoor cat. See if my allergy problems improve (so far can't tell any difference!). Of course, I have the dogs to care for too. Just wait & see, I guess.

As for my work, several of the novels I've promoted continue to sell. Nothing to brag about, but steady, regular sales every day. I'm outlining for a couple other novels, but still procrastinating. One of these days I'm going to "apply the seat of my pants to the chair" and delve into writing another novel. Hopefully soon! For now, I'm reading voraciously.

The weather has taken a strange turn: it has been in the 50s at night, 70s during the day. Unheard of in July here in the South. Wish it would stay this way the remainder of the summer.

With that, I'm closing for today.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Award for my novel, "Quest for Destiny"

Just a few lines today to mention an award -- it's the Indie Book of the Day Award, for my novel, "Quest for Destiny." Featured on their home page for today, and then will be added to their database of winners. Here's a link:

I'm hoping this will bring more readers, since that is one of my favorite novels. Over the years I've visited Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains and it has been great inspiration for the setting of QFD. A mystery/romance with a theme of reincarnation, I enjoyed the research and delving into esoteric spiritual material about reincarnation. I hope there are others who love a "star-crossed lovers romance," mixed with suspense and flash-backs to the Civil War as it was experienced in Cades Cove.

Since it's Father's Day, and now that I have no father or grandfathers left alive, it's somewhat sad. I miss my grandfathers the most; and my step-dad. My own father was an alcoholic, not the best dad, and died in 1974 at the age of 42.

Sweltering hot days in Dixie. I took the dogs to the wooded park around 10:00, before the heat of the day. I have found a tick on Oscar twice after going there; even though he has good preventative, I still don't relish picking ticks off! Since there lots of pines, the ground littered with straw, I'm assuming that is a breeding place for ticks. And then too, it's damp with all the rain we've had of late. Argh.

And that's about it for today. I'll end with my certificate for the win today:

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Summer is upon us....

Ah, another June has tiptoed into the year. Summer is here in the South: hot, steamy days with only a bare breath of wind. Good for diving into the pool, or wading in a cool, shady creek. I used to love walking through the deep woods on my grandparents' 80 acres; the small creeks turned into rushing rivers with mossy banks and slippery logs you could sometimes cross carefully. Nowadays unless I go to a wooded park, I'm rarely able to enjoy that natural pleasure.

However, luckily there is a small wooded park about a mile from my house. I often take the dogs there, simply because it's cooler with graveled paths and even on a scorching day, there's a light breeze.

Wooded park path where I walk dogs almost daily

Week before last we had a terrible family situation. My brother-in-law was going in for mitral valve repair and/or replacement; he unexpectedly had an adverse/allergic reaction to something administered at the start of the procedure, had to have CPR to revive him. We were all shocked, since he's had several surgeries in the past, with nothing like that happening. The surgical team saved him, and of course, ran a series of tests to find out what caused the reaction. We're still not sure, as some of the tests should be back soon. In the meantime, the surgery has been re-scheduled for next Thursday, and we're all hoping for a good outcome. It's been stressful and worrisome to wait this length of time, because he does need this surgery -- since he's having problems related to the failed mitral valve. At any rate, I'm trying to keep my anxiety in control, and as usual, indulging in my greatest diversions: reading/writing.

Although I haven't made any progress on a rough draft for the YA novel, I'm still researching and daydreaming about it. I need a fairly long uninterrupted time when I first start -- at least to get the solid beginning underway. Since I plan to use the previous story as the basis, I've been going through it, snipping and cutting parts not needed.

Also I'm occasionally editing a novella I should have online sometimes this month: "The Walking Wounded." It's about crime victims, and how deeply they are changed by criminal action against them. Something I researched back when it was written (90s) and found interesting. If you've never been the victim of a crime, it's nearly impossible to understand the lasting effects of that life-altering experience.

Dogs & cats are thriving, although Oscar does have another benign tumor on his paw. The vet pointed it out the last time I had him groomed; she said it was not a problem at this point, but if it started growing, would need to be removed. It doesn't seem to be sore or tender; he still loves his walks in the park! Oscar has a couple small benign tumors on his chest too -- and the vet said it was not uncommon to find benign tumors on older dogs (Oscar is almost 11 years old).

Rambo & Muffin are doing great, still enjoy playing and chasing each other around. Oscar refuses to play, just watches and occasionally barks as if telling them to "behave themselves!" :-)

The cats are okay too; however, Slinky, the eldest at 16, seems to have developed a small benign tumor on her neck. Vet said the same thing as Oscar: let it be unless it grows.

I'm starting a free promotion of my novel, "The Secret of Crybaby Hollow" which will run from tomorrow through the end of the week.

And I also have two promotional runs for sales of "Quest for Destiny" which should cover a couple weeks. Hoping to find new readers, always!

I guess that's it for today. Not a lot to write about, but I do like to keep this blog updated occasionally.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

May Again

And so the seasons pass, moving faster and faster in a timeless dance as one gets older. Truly it does seem life goes faster as you age...

And again, we had a series of tornadoes in Alabama, several nearby. But thankfully, none in my city. The county rural areas had a tornado on the ground for 9 miles, and left quite a lot of destruction.

I never want to go through another tornado like in 2011, when most of my neighborhood was destroyed.

In fact, I made up my mind while living through the aftermath of that tornado that if another one like that happens here, I will pick up and move. Fortunately I'm in a financial position to do that, and I can't endure the turmoil, the loud, endless noise of trucks, heavy equipment and construction again. I will have my property either leveled, sell the lot, or repaired, then sell. Too old for that again.

At least there were no deaths or serious injuries here Monday night. But it was one day after the horrible tornadoes in 2011...weird conicidence that already had people unnerved.

Otherwise, I'm doing well. And my critters are thriving, still all healthy. Today is blustery, a bit cool for this early May day.

Family is mostly well, except for my brother-in-law who will soon have to have a heart valve replaced. He has mitral valve prolapse, and knew this might have to be done someday. Hoping it all goes well; and he will have excellent doctors, so we expect it to. On the other hand, there will be recovery time and all that goes along with heart surgery.

My nephew is graduating from Alabama Law School this Saturday, and I'll be going to the graduation with my other sister and brother-in-law. He already has a position with a law firm, and after the bar, should settle into his career.

What else? My novel, Season of the Serpent, continues to sell. I haven't really done any further promotion, but the sales continue. Not complaining; the sales are more than paying for my lawn care right now. Or at least, that's how I look at it, since it's good to know the extra income is helping in a practical way.

I also have several chapters written on a young adult novel, Star Child, and a vague outline for the series, Alien Hybrids. In another of those strange writer's happenings, I'd started this novel several years ago, and got to the stage where I wasn't sure what the protagonist, Ravena, had in her possession. I knew it was something important, an oracle, but whether it was magical, or supernatural, no clue. And then all of a sudden recently, I realized the oracle will be of alien design -- something she was given by an alien in the past. She is told she can only use it if she is in dire need. (As an aside, what she will see in it is the end of the first novel in the series.) Anyhow, I'm working on that when I have time.

And so this May goes....

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Windy March Days

It seems the wind blows fiercely almost every day, at least thus far in March. I've also noticed windy days have become more frequent in the past few years, have no idea why. When I've visited Florida, the wind is almost a constant there. Now, here in north Alabama, windy days are increasing.

Not much to write about in my daily life; just the usual. Have upcoming maintenance issues to get taken care of. Someone coming Tuesday to give estimates for installing a new storm door on the back, and adding a new doggie door in the wall. The doggie door is in the bottom of storm door now, and will need moving since I want an all-glass storm door to let in abundant sunshine. Flushing apparatus needs replacing in toilet; want new kitchen sink installed; last, need wood fence doors that lead to back yard shortened -- have started to sag, and lawn care man needs to get riding mower through those gates.

There's more, but it can wait till next fall. Sigh. Always something when you own a home. One of these days I might find a condo, less maintenance. But I doubt I could have 3 dogs and 3 cats in a condo! And my pets are central to my life, my constant companions.

As a matter of fact, I took Muffin & Oscar on a neighborhood walk earlier. It was nice to get out in the windy sunshine, visit with neighbors along the way. I usually take Rambo separately; it's just become impossible to walk all 3 dogs at the same time.

I finally received my first check from Amazon; it was certainly not a fortune, but enough to put back into more editing/formatting/cover-art to improve my novels. And maybe a bit more promotion, when I get the novels the best I can. At least I have plenty to keep me busy. In fact, I still have two more novels to edit/proof, as well as a couple books of short stories, essays and poetry. But I'm in no hurry to get those online, since I would like to space new releases during the next year. In the meantime, I keep working on editing, proofing that work when I have time.

Starting April 1st, my novel, The Dark Fire, will be available free for five days. My first-born novel, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

I added a copy of my hand-out author card as the heading for this blog; you can click on it, go to my Amazon author website. I'm handing out some to people here where I live, friends, neighbors, anyone who likes ebooks or has an e-reader, either tablet, phone with Kindle program or a Kindle.

Lately I've been reading a lot on my Kindle. What I enjoy is finding undiscovered gems in indie published ebooks on Amazon. It's amazing how many I've found while browsing either free or discounted work. Especially interesting and entertaining are the ebooks that really don't fit a particular genre, rather have twisting plots with unexpectedly unique characters. My reading is all over the map, no particular kind of fiction, whimsical and eclectic.

Unfortunately, I dropped my camera the other day, broke it. The thing was not very costly, and I never liked it. Guess I'm in the market for a new one -- something to spend time looking for online!

I am dreading another round of medical visits; I need to see several specialists -- allergy/sinus issues; two dental crowns needed, etc. Keep delaying, not fun.

Alas, that's about the extent of my life these days.

Monday, March 03, 2014

March has arrived!

I sure hope spring is just around the corner, but you couldn't prove it by the weather today. It's in the 30s, and falling into the low 20s tonight. Yesterday was a gorgeous day: bright sunshine, light wind and 75 degrees.

I took the dogs to the wooded park, and we all enjoyed the nice, meandering walk. Saturday was nice too, a bit cooler, so I took Muffin on a short neighborhood walk. Unfortunately, my knees hurt later. I still can't walk comfortably on pavement -- even with new shoes and thick, padded inserts. The wooded park has a graveled path, and that's about the only option now for a bit of exercise.

I wish I could find an activity that I really liked. The orthopedic doctor suggested "chair yoga" just for the stretching and relief for my joints/muscles. I haven't googled it yet, but plan to soon.

Wednesday night I'm going to a new AA group meeting. It's held in a different location, and only once a week at night. I think I might fit in better with that group, and perhaps can find a sponsor at some point. So far, I don't have any urge to drink at all. It's like something that happened in another lifetime, but I recognize that it can always come roaring back if I let my guard down and don't attend AA meetings.

What else? Well, my novel Season of the Serpent, continues to sell several copies each day. Thanks to indieauthorland it still comes up on their site -- truly great free publicity for authors. Also, I noticed a reader posted it on Good Reads website, and that might account for sales too. Of course, it is only $1.00. I ordered name cards today - with my name, email and website to my e-books. I hope to distribute those to the library, the newspaper and any other venue I think might garner readers.

I have a lot of outside maintenance jobs that I'll have to hire done soon. I dread it, because finding reliable help is always a challenge. Next week I'm also going to run an ad in a small free paper that is distributed throughout the city/county for occasional housework & pet care. Come to think of it, I might also run an ad about my work, since the paper is also online too. Huh, this marketing thing is starting to stimulate my imagination!

My dogs are doing great, though Oscar is slowing down in his old age. He doesn't like to play at all; he barks if Rambo & Muffin rough-house too much. It's like he's saying, "Hey! Knock that off, it bothers me!" :-)

With that, I'm outta here for today.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bi-polar winter weather

It seems here in the South we'll have a few glorious days of warm, sunny days and then literally overnight...not just cold but frigid temperatures. At least we haven't had snowfall or sleet/icing because the moisture shows up when we have warmer weather.

Last weekend was simply gorgeous -- I took the dogs to the lakeside park on Saturday & Sunday, then the wooded park on Monday. Wonderful. And mainly due to the fact the cortisone injection I got in my neck practically overnight got rid of most of my back pain. Nearly a miracle, except it was a modern marvel of health care. And fortunately for me, I had the procedure done without even a co-pay due to the good insurance policy I have now. Thanks Obama!

Otherwise, life goes on as usual here. I didn't make any New Year's resolutions, since I have realized in the past few years it just makes me feel guilty when I fail at those. I do hope I can get the remainder of my work at this year; I need to work on that as time permits. I'm not in a hurry though, because I want to have new material spaced out, not all at once.

My novels are doing well, considering I have done very little promotion. In fact, other than the interview with indieauthorland, I've not done much. I wish I could do more promotion, and maybe that is something I'll tackle this year. I could hire some PR, and may do that at some point.

I have lots of doctor/dentist appointments coming up, trying to get health care issues taken care of now that I have insurance. I'd put off a lot of problems because the bad insurance I had was a "junk policy." Sigh.

My pets are all healthy, and one of my cats is approaching 16 years old. As I type this, my smallest dog Muffin is asleep on my lap. It's quite a trick typing around a sleeping pet, but I mastered it years ago! (smile)

My blogging has become sparse, and I always hope I can write more. Alas, such is life. I've also been reading/researching a great deal in the dystopian fiction genre. I think my next novel will be in that category -- on the order of Revolution, Falling Skies, The Event, etc.

Tonight is in the single digits, and of course, I have a doctor's appointment in the morning. The radio is announcing possibility of power outages due to the demand; fortunately I have natural gas backup wall heaters.

Where oh where is spring? Can't wait!