Have you ever been frisked?

I’ve never been frisked, have you? I was sort of looking forward to it, so I wrote a guest post for Joe Konrath’s blog, because he’s known for his no-holds-barred frisking skills. Only to realize that what he does over there is “fisk” people.

*sigh*

Frisk, fisk, what a difference an “R” can make.  You’d think I would have learned this lesson the last time I tried to “rice” my knee.

Okay, yes, I’m being deliberately obtuse. But I really did write a guest post and it really is over there today. And I’m not even a little bit disheveled, as one might be after a thorough frisking.

[Dear TSA, you know I'm kidding about wanting to be frisked, right? Right?]

So, some of you might want to go over there and read my post. Maybe you’ll even want to comment on it. Because the only thing worse than not getting frisked is having to listen to crickets, thousands and thousands of them, all day long.

Come on over and chat with me. Staying on topic is entirely optional. As always. Feel free to bring along the consonant of your choice. Just have a care if you decide to switch out that “K” for a “T”.

 

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Filed under blogging, Guest Post, writing

So, I’ve been busy…

I guess I’ve taken another unintentional hiatus from blogging. I’ve been kind of pre-occupied, with all sorts of stuff. A couple months during which there has been too much to talk about, rather than too little. None of it particularly interesting or blog-worthy.

Well, there was my daughter’s wedding at the Botanical Garden in New Orleans’ City Park. It was perfect. The setting was impeccable, the weather was gorgeous (important, as the wedding was outside), the groom was handsome, the bride was beautiful, the food and drink were plentiful, the event staff were flawless and the band was spectacular. Much fun was had. But the memory that will stay with me, long after all the small details have faded, is how overwhelmingly happy my daughter and her husband were that day. Both of them practically glowed with it. In fact, toward the end of the evening when people were taking their leave, my new son-in-law hugged my mother and said, “Your granddaughter makes me so happy.” May it always be so.

I know, you all want to see pictures. *sigh* I asked my daughter whether I could share any pictures of her and her groom and she pretty much said, “Mom, don’t be weird.” Sorry about that. But I did make a little slideshow of the pics she told me I could share. One of my sisters took these pics and a few of them have been cropped or, um, otherwise altered. By me. To protect the innocent.

(slideshow here, for those of you reading feeds who maybe can’t see it)

 

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And then, two days after the wedding, since they’d had their epic seven-week honeymoon hiking in New Zealand before the wedding, they drove up here to collect their dog and cat and just hang out for a while. “A while” being two weeks. Which was very nice. Distracting as hell, but so very nice. And then they went back to New Orleans, but not before somehow managing to convince me to keep The Intruder Cat. Perhaps indefinitely. Because allergies have worsened. So there were a few bittersweet moments about that.

And then I was sick for about a week with the feverish head cold from hell.

And then it took me a couple weeks to get all the voices out of my head. There were people at the wedding I hadn’t seen in years and it was overwhelming trying to catch up in the short time frame. Also, my son-in-law has a HUGE extended family in New Orleans and, oddly enough, they all wanted to meet me. Which meant I had to talk to them too. Every single one of them. Some of them more than once. Luckily, all of them were friendly and welcoming and genuinely nice. Many of them were outrageously funny and jokingly flirtatious, two of my favourite things. So it’s not like seeing everyone was a hardship, far from it. But still. I’m an introvert and it drained me. It took me a while to get all those lovely engaging voices out of my head so I could hear my characters again.

And then my MacBook started acting up. Well, it is almost six years old. It had been showing signs of age for a while: things were slow to load or the browser would stop responding, it froze up and had to be re-started if I did too many things at once, the battery didn’t hold a charge and the darn thing overheated constantly. But then it got really scary. Several times when I opened it, the screen failed to light up. I’m good, but even I can’t type in complete darkness. And then one night I heard a rather alarming “pop” sound and part of the underside came free from its moorings. There was now a quarter-inch gap where there should have been a smooth seam. I couldn’t get the thing to close up again and duct tape seemed unwise. Inconvenient had just turned into unacceptable.

So then I had to order a new laptop. Macs are pretty straightforward when it comes to options, compared to PCs. Still, there were a few upgrades available and I debated over some of them. Because, money. Once it arrived, I had to decide whether Pages was going to be sufficient as a word processing program (no, not really). And whether I wanted to mess with the latest incarnation of MS Office (not much choice there). So I bought that and d o w n . . . l o a d . . . e d it. And i n . . . s t a l l . . . e d it. Y’know, for a really super fast new computer connected to super fast internet, I was surprised by how long this process still takes.

And THEN, I had to import all my email accounts. I have six of them. I know, that’s ridiculous, but these things happen. Unfortunately, I haven’t been clearing old email off the various servers. I had reasons. Besides, who has time for that? Holy guacamole, was there ever a lot of email stored up. ALL OF IT downloaded and got marked as “new.” *sigh* Live and learn. My usual email routine is to read everything as it comes in and reply to urgent stuff right away. The rest of it I deal with as I have time. Well, I haven’t had a surplus of time lately. Aaaand it’s possible I deleted a few non-urgent emails during this process. Ooops. Hey, you try dealing with tens of thousands of messages marked as “new” and see whether you don’t get a bit testy with that delete button.

ANYWAY.

I’ve been trying to focus on writing and thought progress on the second McIntyre novella (Cameron’s story) was going fairly well. Until I realized that the “witty banter” was actually sounding more like “petty bickering” and I wasn’t sure what the problem was. That’s when I realized the story doesn’t have a strong conflict. Or, really, any conflict. Well, that explained that. You know I’m distracted when I overlook something that basic. So, that’s a simple fix. Sort of. Well, it might be if life would stop throwing other things at me so I could THINK. Meanwhile, I’ve been making substantial progress on one of the stories I’m writing under another name. So that’s good.

And then, I finally decided a couple days ago that I’d better call the HVAC repair people about the upstairs heating and air conditioning units that stopped working (yes, dammit, both of them) . . . um, a while ago. Don’t judge me. I’ve been busy and the weather has been mild. Turns out I have a burned out control panel thingy up in the attic. “You’re lucky the fan motor is fine,” he said, like that was unusual. Also, half of the main 240V electrical shut-off panel in the basement is blown. I believe the term used was “burnt right up.” Of course, the entire upstairs system is now shut down. Because fire hazard, generally, is something to avoid. So the electrician is coming Monday to fix the electrical stuff and the HVAC guy is coming back Tuesday, or maybe Wednesday, who knows, to fix the rest of it. And I thought weddings were expensive.

AND ALSO, my daughter and her husband and the dog and their loaded-to-the-gills rental truck will be here in a couple days, hopefully not too battered and bruised from packing up boxes and loading up furniture. Hopefully still speaking and making each other happy. Adventures in Moving. They’re staying here for several days on their way to Boston — where there is no air conditioning either, so this will be good practice — where they will live for the next three years. I suspect there will be Adventures in Not Crying (on my part) when they leave.

AND NEXT, a week after that, several of my Imaginary Friends are coming into town for a week-long visit, thinly disguised as a writing retreat. You know, in case anyone stops talking long enough to write. This makes me happy. Also, frantic. So I’ve been cleaning ALL THE THINGS, hoping they won’t be horrified and call social services to stage an intervention. I swear, the only time I notice whether my house is clean and somewhat orderly is when I’m about to have company. Clearly, it has been far too long since the last time.

So. That’s what I’ve been up to during the past couple months. Told you it wasn’t all that interesting. What has been going on with you all?

 

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Filed under blogging, parenting, travel, writing

Memory Lane

It’s after midnight and I have to leave the house in just a few scant hours to drive to the airport so I can fly to New Orleans, where my daughter is getting married this weekend. I should be sleeping. But I’m too wound up with last minute preparations and, frankly, too excited to sleep.

It’s hard to believe my little girl is getting married. Then again, it’s entirely believable and welcome and wonderful and something we all have been happily anticipating for a long time. What I can’t believe is that it’s all going to happen just a few days from now.

I’m too distracted and exhausted at the moment to write anything meaningful about the occasion, other than to say all of us are just delighted. But when words fail, sometimes pictures are effective.

One of the charming traditions of weddings these days is to create a video or slideshow of pictures of the bride and groom at various embarrassing stages of their lives and play it during the rehearsal dinner so all their friends and family can laugh at them. So of course we did this.

Digging through old photo albums to find pics was a lot of fun and I thought I’d share a few of the less blackmail-worthy ones. It’s tough to find pics of my daughter that don’t also include my son — they’ve always been best friends — so he’s in several of these as well.

I’m very protective of my children and their privacy and hesitate to post pictures of them online. But I sincerely doubt anyone could identify them from the pics below. Luckily for them.

Hope you enjoy the pics! I’ll be back in a week or so to report on the festivities. Or something.

Scan 37

Scan 1

Scan 72

Scan 75_2

Scan 19

Scan 32

Scan 13

Scan 22

Scan 42_2

Scan 49_2

Scan 55

Scan 57

Scan 60

Scan 52_2

Oh, look! I found a couple pics of ME while going through old photo albums. Here I am with all three of my sisters. I’m the demure one on the right with her mouth wide open. I must have been about five years old.

Scan 64

And this one is me on my birthday when I was . . . 16? Maybe 17? Ready to eat some homemade-from-scratch birthday cake. My mom makes the absolute best cake and frosting I’ve ever eaten. Ever.

Scan 63_2

OK, time to close my eyes for a couple hours a few minutes before heading to the airport. I hope I end up sitting next to a handsome single man on the plane who won’t mind if I fall asleep on his shoulder. I’ll even try not to drool.

 

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Filed under just for fun, parenting

Writers on the storm

We here in the South are supposed to get some nasty weather later today. Several inches of snow followed by the dreaded coating of ICE. Or so they say. But even 1/4-inch of ice is cause for concern, as that’s enough to bring down power lines. And when the forecast predicts there will be a significant coating of ice over a large geographic area, well, it means people here are sort of freaking out.

1226000844I grew up in Minnesota where winter was just something that happened every year. Cold, snow, wind, even ice. It wasn’t really a big deal. But I’ve lived in the South long enough to know how traumatic and disorienting it is to suddenly have to cope with the arrival of something other than daffodils in early February. So I decided this was a good time to give you all some advice about how to prepare for and handle icy winter weather.

This advice is specifically directed to all the writers out there. Because I know how vulnerable we writers are when faced with the harsh implacability of the real world. Writers on the storm, so to speak. We need all the help we can get.

At this late date, mere hours before the onslaught of precipitation, if you haven’t yet made a trip to the grocery or liquor store, you’re flat out of luck. And honestly, if you’re a writer and you don’t have at least a week’s worth of liquor stocked up at all times . . . what kind of writer are you, anyway?

You’re going to have to make do with what you have at hand. So let’s start with some basics.

Run the dishwasher. Yes, really. Do I even need to explain this? Do this now while you still have power.

Do a load of laundry. If you lose power, in the winter, even in the South, it’s going to get cold in your house. You might need to actually put on a pair of pants. I know, desperate measures. But if someone needs to come rescue you, for whatever reason, clean pants are a lot easier to explain than . . . well, that’s sort of the point. Clean pants won’t need explanation. Unlike your current laundry pile.

Make soup. Yes, soup. Surely you have some quantity of chicken or beef in your freezer, festering, waiting for you to do something with it. So make soup. Right now, while the stove still works. Add some thyme and sliced carrots and barley. Dumplings, even. Yes, the prospect of eating cold leftover soup is rather unappetizing. But it’s infinitely more palatable, and less life threatening, than eating thawed raw meat.

Hard boil some eggs. You do have eggs, right? The unequivocal accompaniment for bacon? Same concept as the soup. No one wants to eat raw eggs. Hardboiled eggs are a good source of protein and . . . other stuff. You can even use the egg decorating dyes and stickers leftover from last Easter to add some festive colour to your power outage.

Take a shower. I know, it hasn’t even been a week since the last one. But weather extremes sometimes cause people to have to interact with strangers — calm down, this is just a possibility and not some dire portent set in stone — and it’s best not to frighten the neighbours unnecessarily.

Update your spreadsheet of food sources. Speaking of neighbours, I assume you’ve been keeping stats about which ones might be the best targets in terms of easy takedown and tender flesh. Avoid drug addicts and alcoholics and extreme athletes who tend toward gristle. Families with small succulent children are likely sources. Um, wait. Sorry, that’s advice for the zombie apocalypse. Heh. Never mind.

Locate sources of combustibles. Identify which neighbours have random unattended cords of firewood. Or a less than sturdy weathered deck. Or a rotting fence that’s on the verge of falling down. I know you’ve been too distracted writing the latest story to stock your own woodpile, so you’re going to need access to a supply of seasoned firewood that doesn’t necessitate taking an axe to granny’s rocking chair or the dining room table.

Keep your curtains closed. People will tell you this is a buffer to keep the warm air inside, or to keep the cold air outside. Nonsense. This is to keep your neighbours from spying on you to determine whether you have any small children or meaty pets. What? You think they don’t have their own spreadsheets?

Have a backup heat source. Speaking of pets, it has been scientifically proven by people who wake up in the night, sweating, with a cat plastered to their side, that cats generate enough BTUs in one night to power a small country. Of course, if you show any sign of wanting them to keep you warm, they will ignore you. Indefinitely. So be clever. Tell them how pretty they are. Dole out treats judiciously. Lull them into a state of complacency before you burrow your icy cold hands into their soft warm stomach fur. Caution: Be sure you’ve stocked up on antiseptic and bandages before using cats as a heat source. As with any heat source, use proper ventilation at all times.

Wear a hat. If you lose power, you will be cold. Wearing a hat, especially if it’s a particularly stylish hat, will make you feel better and keep your brain warm while the rest of your body slowly freezes to death. Also, socks are something to consider if you are overly concerned about retaining use of your lower extremities.

Download more ebooks. You’ve charged up your ereader of choice, right? So you might want to stock up on new stories to read during the impending power outage. Might I suggest my latest novella? Coincidentally, it’s a short sweet story of two people who get stuck in a remote mountain cabin during a snowstorm. Perfect reading for this weather! Ahem.

Play games! After hours (or mere minutes) without electricity, your laptop and cell phone batteries will die and you’ll no longer be able to play Words With Friends. Okay, settle down. I know this seems like extreme hardship. But this is a great time to dig out the actual Scrabble board game that you forgot you even had. You live alone? No problem. You can play with yourself! Er, that is, play against yourself. And since those pesky tiles will slide all over the place if you move the board, you’ll burn calories and generate heat by running back and forth from one side of the table to the other as you take turns. This is the perfect opportunity to use all those creative words the #%$^@ computer says aren’t really words, or to play words that go off the grid by just one space. Or three.

Write!! Of course, this should be the first thing on any writer’s list of things to do during inclement apocalypse weather. Of course it is. Who needs a computer, anyway? Did Plato have a computer? Did Shakespeare? Austen or Hemmingway? Did Franzen— okay, never mind. Harsh weather is punishment enough. But seriously, severe temperatures and lack of electricity are not sufficient reasons to stop writing. Dig out that pad of paper and a pen. Or pencil, if the ink and quill have frozen. Who cares if your handwriting is indecipherable? You’re going to re-write the damn thing anyway, right? This is your chance, maybe your only chance, to experience first hand that whole romanticized starving artist living in a freezing garret with a broken heart and shattered innocence and surviving on a heel of moldy bread and cheap bottle of wine lifestyle we’ve all heard so much about and foolishly envied.

Um, you did stock up on the broken heart and cheap wine along with the bread, right? I figure there are some basic survival techniques I just shouldn’t have to enumerate.

So, good luck surviving the impending weather. At the very least, wrap up your sense of humour in a soft wool scarf and offer it a dram of the finest whisky. After all, the chances are slim to none that you’ll make it through this storm intact without it.

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Five Things I Learned Writing A Place to Start

Chuck Wendig recently announced a new series over on his blog, where writers tell five things they learned while writing a story. I like this idea. I like it a lot. He’s only opening it up to traditionally published writers, and I get that. He has sound reasons for that. And honestly, I doubt the highly experienced crowd over there has much to learn from self-pub newbies.

But since I just finished writing a story, I decided to make a list of my own. Because I did learn some stuff that’s maybe worth contemplating.

I don’t feel qualified to give writing advice, that’s not my intent here, but perhaps some other embryonic writer will stumble across this someday and find it helpful.

1.) Deadlines are more effective with significant consequences

Obviously, not everyone has this problem. But I’m pretty much an expert-level procrastinator. I’ve set writing goals before, with mixed success. This time was different, for two reasons.

First, I publicly promised people I care about that I was giving them something for the holidays (goal: 12-25). Pretty sure they knew it was a story. Since it was supposed to be a short story, I figured I had plenty of time. HA! Writing short is hard and I don’t have the skill for it. I should have known this would be a longer piece, that it would take more time. I started writing it on December 3. What was I thinking? Talk about a ticking clock.

APTS cover pngSecond, I asked one of my sisters, a graphic artist, whether she’d make a cover for me. She not only agreed, she started working on it immediately. Even though I told her there was no rush, because I WAS STILL WRITING THE STORY. But no, she was off and running. Er, drawing. An original hand-drawn creation (and it’s gorgeous) is no small undertaking for an artist who has MG, as my sister does. No way in hell was I going to tell her I didn’t need a cover after all.

Those two things combined were a perfect storm of unacceptable consequences for not finishing. I hesitate to even say this, for several reasons, but I learned that I can indeed write 25,600 words in two weeks and spend a week editing it down to 27,000 words [sigh] and then publish the thing.

2.) Sometimes speed is your friend

I don’t necessarily recommend writing and editing and publishing a novella in three weeks. Really. I guarantee you, there are sensible people reading this right now who are recoiling in horror at the very thought. Hell, I’m a bit horrified myself and I’m the one who did it.

However. If you’re like me and tend to take forever writing a thing and edit it to death as you go and then second-guess yourself into paralysis, this approach might be something to consider.

I didn’t have time to stop and edit. Each day, I’d briefly skim over the previous day’s work and wade right back into writing. At the end of the day, I’d jot a few quick notes about things to come. There were a ton of notes that said “XXfix this later.”

But I learned that my brain is doing things I’m not consciously aware of and that some of the things I would have deleted if I’d had time to edit as I went turned out to be important to the story. I’ve heard other writers say this, but didn’t quite believe my brain was doing that.

For instance, early in the story when Jo was lost in the snowstorm, she thought longingly about finding a loving family who would offer shelter. It was a stupid thought. If I’d had time, I would have deleted and re-written that part immediately. I realized later, much later, that finding a community of loving people who treated her like family turned out to be an important theme. That’s not something I set out to do.

There were a bunch of things like that, so many that it was sort of shocking. Little seeds planted unintentionally that turned out to be significant.

When I decided Jo wrote stories for children and then named the rabbit Steve, I added a note: “XXthis is stupid, fix it.” I had no idea at the time how important that would be. Or that Mac knew how to whittle. And it turns out people kind of liked that stupid rabbit.

And you know what? It was fun. I had a blast writing this story, free from the self-criticism of constant editing.

3.) Editing is SO important

Okay, this isn’t something I learned writing this story. I’ve always known this. But I can’t just not say this, in light of item #2.

I like to think the mechanics of my writing are pretty solid, in terms of spelling and grammar and (unless you’re overly fond of commas) punctuation. I’ve had years of practice. When I say I wrote the story in two weeks, what that really means is it took me a dozen-plus years of writing and studying craft and a lifetime of reading to write it that fast.

With the deadline I’d given myself, and it being right before the holidays, there wasn’t time to find a professional editor who wouldn’t try to have me killed just for asking. Possibly a dumb decision, but in this particular instance (see #4), I have no regrets. At all.

A week to edit a novella? That’s really pushing it. You can’t just run spell check and be done. That’s not editing. I did enlist the help of a very savvy reader friend and she gave great feedback on an early draft. But as a writer there are things I’m aware of, and responsible for, that a reader might never notice.

It helps that I know the type of stuff I tend to screw up. I skip words. Just leave them out entirely. It’s hard to catch that, even when you know to look for it.

I write things like, “She stood up and walked over to the window and looked out and saw…” GAH. That’s fine for a first draft, but you need to fix that crap.

Also, after reading so many romances, I tend to use familiar or clichéd phrases. It’s lazy writing. At one point, I wrote that Jo “wrenched away” when Mac put a hand on her arm. It sounded like he was being physically aggressive. Only he wasn’t. In the final version, she “shrugged it off.” Little thing, big difference.

And since my mind is always in the gutter and I see innuendo everywhere, I changed “he turned his phone on” to “he turned on his phone.”

Word choice, word order. It matters. I spent more time editing in the span of a week than I spent writing during the previous two.

That said, I am absofuckinglutely sure there are still mistakes in it, both large and small. Especially on the developmental, story structure level. I have no doubt whatsoever there are things in that story I’ll look back on in the future, probably next week, and wish I’d done differently or better or not at all.

3-1/2.) A bonus thing, since the last point wasn’t a new thing I learned

It’s a bad idea to publish a 27,000-word story in 11 posts on your blog. What can I say, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was wrong. Don’t do this. It’s irritating and frustrating and breaks the flow and is not the way you want readers to experience your story.

4.) It feels so fucking good to “finish your shit”

Credit to Wendig for that particular expression, but it’s a universal truth. This story isn’t the first thing I’ve finished. It’s not even the first thing I’ve published. But it is the first time I’ve finished a piece of fiction and then shoved it out into the world. (I’m being quite literal here. I’ve never even sent out a query.)

It’s not perfect. It might not even be particularly good. But, you know what, no one died. The sky didn’t fall. No one came to my house and kicked my cat. Well, not yet. Early days.

It feels indescribably good to just be done. I don’t mean “done” as in one more lingering done-but-not-quite-ready dark blot of indecision on the hard drive. I mean irreversibly done. No more endless editing. No more angst about whether to re-write that one part. Or that other part. Again. It’s out there and gone. DONE. I needed that. You have no idea how badly I needed that. Far more than I needed another edit.

5.) I have got to stop taking this whole writing thing so seriously

I struggle with this. Yes, I take it very seriously. Probably too much so. I feel an almost overwhelming obligation to the people who invest their hard-earned money and irretrievable time into the reading of a story. There’s a level of trust there and I’m trying my damndest not to violate that.

Plus there’s that ever present fear of failure. Or success. Or both. Whatever.

But still. It is just entertainment. It’s not open-heart surgery where someone could die if you get it wrong. And it’s as ephemeral as it is eternal. Every story is just one small drop in an endless flow. No matter how good it is, a story will never be so good that a person who reads it will feel like they don’t ever have to read another. They might re-read it, but there will always be another. Always. And I want to be the one who writes it. Now that I know I can. Without, you know, endangering the cat.

I’ll be working with an editor on the next one, so it will take more time. Perhaps not to draft, but definitely in the editing stage where the real writing happens. No doubt I’ll learn more than a handful of new things. Maybe I’ll even learn to write short. Don’t anyone hold your breath.

PS- The story in question is available here:

AMZ | BN | Kobo | Goodreads | Smashwords || Sony & Apple… coming soon

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Filed under A Place to Start, self-publishing, writing

Let’s worry mom! (New Zealand edition)

So, my daughter and her fiancé are leaving next week to spend some time in New Zealand. Seven weeks, actually. As you can see by this picture she sent me the other day, she’s pretty excited about it:

photo-6 calendar

This is technically their honeymoon, happening before the wedding because that’s just how their schedules worked out with time off. Two weeks after they return, they’re getting married. I mean, c’mon, what else would you do during the two months leading up to your wedding, if not leave the country?

This is their favourite kind of trip, one that involves hiking and camping. The kind where you don’t even bring a suitcase. You just stuff everything into a huge backpack, including a tent and sleeping bag and your food and a stove and an emergency hobbit, and carry it with you at all times while you climb mountains. They plan to do five of the Great Walks, although apparently one of them is really kayaking rather than walking.

EDIT TO ADD:  My daughter informs me that all five Great Walks they’re doing are indeed hiking. The kayaking is a separate thing. Because of course it is.

Am I worried, you ask? Who me? Pffft, I never worry. Much.

Besides, she assures me there are NO BEARS in New Zealand. Of course I believe her. Nonetheless, I did a google search of my own and discovered this isn’t strictly true. Apparently there is one particular type of BEAR in NZ.

BEAR GRYLLS!  [I love this video, great promo by Air New Zealand]:

He looks relatively harmless, except maybe to himself, but did you see those mountains? They’re very . . . mountainous.

I’m actually more than a bit envious. I’ve heard nothing but good things about New Zealand and have seen video and pictures showing how beautiful it is. I know they’ll have a terrific time. Luckily, her fiancé is just a few months shy of being an MD and is entirely capable of handling any incidents requiring band-aids that might ensue.

Not that I’m worried.

Now I just need to find something to wear to an outdoor spring wedding in New Orleans. I’m thinking maybe something that accessorizes well with hiking boots and a camelback. Any suggestions?

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A Place to Start, the cover

When I first started writing A Place to Start, I intended to just put it up on my blog. But it turned into a novella and it was cumbersome and irritating to read. I’m hoping that was just due to the format and not the story itself.

So I decided to publish it with all the various online retailers as well. But I’d need a cover for that. So I asked one of my sisters — Annie Gray, who is a graphic artist — whether she’d make a cover for me. To my surprise (and delight!) she said she would.

Why surprise? Well, the thing is, this sister has MG (myasthenia gravis), which makes it very difficult for her to do the time-intensive detailed work of drawing. And since she was determined that there were not going to be any copyright issues, this is not a photoshop cut-and-paste of stock photos. The entire thing is an original hand-drawn creation.

This led to dozens of emails back and forth (because I hate talking on the phone) in which I tried to describe the look I wanted, and kept changing my mind, and saying things like “remember that picture you took six years ago, I liked that colour red, I think,” and generally just proving what a pain in the ass I am to work with.

I had a vague idea what I wanted. You all know this is dangerous. I do not have any artistic talent. I told her sort of Christmassy, but not really. Simple, but not stark. Like winter, but with a warm feel. Red and green and charcoal. No, not that green. I can’t even tell you how many emails went back and forth.

She’d send me a rough draft and tell me to JUST look at the format. Or to ONLY look at the colour. Because it’s a process and you do one step at a time. Like layering. So, of course, I’d email back asking whether we could use a different font.

At one point, she said something like, “Are you sure you’re a writer? You’re not doing a very good job communicating. You know, with words.”

I swear, it’s a wonder she didn’t come down here and kill me in my sleep.

She was doing all this work while I was still writing the story and it turned out to be great motivation for finishing the damn thing. It’s likely she really would have killed me if all her hard work had turned out to be for nothing.

Here it is. It’s gorgeous and I absolutely love it. It’s everything I wanted, only better.

APTS cover png

Speaking of exciting events, it’s now up for sale in three places!

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

I can only list it for free if I publish exclusively with Amazon, and I don’t want to do that. [Sorry! You can still read it for free on the blog.]

So, are there other retailers where I should list it? What other devices do you all use?

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