Blog · Distant Spring · Sneak Peeks

Distant Spring

Chapter One

Lottie Stephens was running late. She despised running late. Always chronically early, her armpits were drenched and her hands shook as she searched for her keys. Why didn’t she hang them on the hook when she came in last night? 

 But she knew why she hadn’t. She was drunk. And angry. And, hmm, had she tossed them against the wall? Suddenly ducking under the hallway table, she searched. Ugh, they’re not there. Her flickering memory was hinting that that’s where they’d be. Twisting her head under the table she turned to see them dangling, stuck between the back of the table and the wall. Also, wedged between the back of the drawer and table back a bent photograph hung out. She grabbed the corner and tugged it free. The breath pulled from her body as she glanced at it. 

David. 

As she shoved the picture into her pocket, Lottie hit her head on the table as she stood. She clutched it and pulled the table away from the wall enough to let the keys drop. She scooped them off the floor, scuttled through the kitchen and into the garage, swiping her purse off the arm of the couch, and flew into the garage. 

Lottie hopped in her car, momentarily fantasizing about the cup of coffee she never got the chance to make, and hit the door button, cursing it for raising so slowly. While she waited she slid her hand into her pocket and pulled out the picture of David, sighing before curling it into the cupholder. She backed down the driveway and headed off to her dental appointment, seemingly hitting every single red light along the way. 

A blue pickup joined her about a quarter of her way along and followed her, riding her ass. Fire grew inside her. “It’s not like I can go any faster!” She screamed to the silhouette in the rearview mirror. “What do you expect me to do? There’s cars in front of me.” Lottie wished she had the guts to jump out of her car at the next light, open the truck’s door, pull the man-shaped silhouette out, and beat the living shit out of him. But, as it was a him, it was not very likely that she would be the one giving the beating and what if it was some sort of psycho who would have no trouble fighting a woman. And the way he drove, it seemed more likely than not that he’d be just that kind of man. Instead, she opted to throw her middle finger up as she took off from the last light before turning into the dental office parking lot. 

Panic swept through her as the blue pickup followed her into the parking lot. Uh-oh, what if this was the kind of psycho who would follow a woman to her destination and pummel her for throwing the bird. She whipped into the closest space she could find and threw the car in park. She grabbed her purse and scurried to the office door. She kept a spying eye on the truck. It pulled into a space. She saw the drivers-side door open as she ducked into the safety of the dental office. 

Side-eying the entrance, she removed her coat, and flung it on the hanger. It slid off immediately and fell in a crinkled heap on the closet floor. She wasn’t going to take the time to try to rehang it. The psycho could come in at any moment. She scuttled over to the front window to check in. The hair on the back of her neck rose as she heard the jingle of the doorbell, the hanging of a coat, and the patter of footsteps walking across the carpet behind her. He was standing behind her. Oh why wouldn’t the lady at the front desk look at her already. 

Quit looking at that computer screen and check me in, god dammit.

As though reading her thoughts, the women with blue rimmed glasses looked up. “Hello there.”

She leaned in and whispered, “Charlotte Stephens. I have a nine-thirty appointment.”

“You’re all set.” The woman smiled. 

“Thank you.” Lottie twisted and rolled around the man standing behind her. 

She tucked herself back in the security of a corner seat near the front of the office by a large ficus plant. 

Wait, is this a real ficus?

 She rubbed a leaf between her thumb and forefinger. 

Wow. Real. 

Lottie allowed her eyes to drift up to the man standing at the window. That was definitely the one she’d given the finger to. She could tell from the shape of his silhouette—the way his hair was lightly spiking upwards in the front and his shoulders were very broad. 

Grant Ryan. She heard him say. She quickly scooped a magazine off the counter and shoved her nose inside. There was no way she was going to make eye contact. Her stomach swirled. 

Why did I have to throw him the bird? This is just my kind of luck. I’m going to have to get a new dentist now. Ugh, but I really like coming here. No! He’s the one that was wrong. He can get a new dentist. 

Once again perturbed at the thought that he was the asshole driver and now he was going to push her out of the best dentist office she’d ever been to. He took a seat catty-corner to her. She chanced an angry glance at his direction but her eyes quickly shot away from his as they met. He’d been looking directly at her. His eyes darting away as quickly as hers had. Her heart pounded in her chest. 

He knows I know he was staring at me. He didn’t look angry, though. God, and he’s cute, too. Just my luck, he’d also be really cute.

“Hey, Lottie. I’m ready for you now.” Kay, her regular hygienist for the last three years, smiled and motioned her back. 

Lottie hopped up and scampered toward her. 

“Oh, don’t forget your purse.” Kay pointed toward Lottie’s bag sitting by the side of the chair.

“Oops.” Lottie’s face flushed red as she spun to grab it, careful not to look in his direction. 

The morning is complete, now you look like an idiot in all regards.”

“We’re going in room four.” Kay motioned Lottie to the room and followed quickly behind her. “You can set your things on that chair.” 

Lottie plopped her purse where she was directed and climbed into the dental chair as Kay donned her mask. “How’ve you been?” 

“I’m not having the best morning but up until now, I’ve been okay.”

“Yes,” Kay pulled down her mask and put a hand on Lottie’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry, honey. We got the request for David’s records to be sent on to Hickam Air Force Base.”

Lottie’s stomach dropped. Yes, the last time she came, David and her were still trying to work things out. “Thanks, Kay. It’s for the best this way. I’m really alright with things now. I’m happy teaching at the school still. You know I love my students and this town.”

“And we love having you here. You know, my granddaughter still goes on about how you are her favorite teacher. And she had you, what? Two years ago?”

“That’s right. Sarah was in my first class. She’s such a sweet girl.”

“Thanks. She really is sweet. I’m worried you might not think the same when you get my grandson, Todd, next year.” Kay laughed and picked up a scaler. 

Lottie opened her mouth as Kay began her work. 

“Todd’s a sweet boy but he can’t sit still for a second. I swear, my daughter had no idea what she was in for with Todd. Sarah was such an easy child and Todd is still giving her a run for her money. It’s like she was a first time mom with her second. Ah, I’m sure you’ll be able to handle him in class. He’s got a good heart. Just can’t sit still, is all.” 

Lottie smiled around the dental tool scraping her teeth. Kay worked away. Scraping and polishing. Silently and quickly. That’s what Lottie loved about Kay. Cleanings with her were always quick, painless, and never filled with questions expected to be answered around a mouth full of metal scalers, mirrors, and curettes. 

After finishing, Kay raised the chair. “Would you like to schedule your next appointment?”

“Sure. I’ll be here.” 

“How’s October 14? Same time?”

“That’ll work for me.”

“Okay, see you in six months. I put your appointment card in with your new toothbrush and sample paste.”

“Thanks, Kay.”

Kay handed Lottie her dental prize bag as the dentist swooped in. 

“And how does everything look today?” The dentists washed her hands, tipped the chair back, and looked into Lottie’s waiting mouth.

“She was squeaky clean as always.” Kay winked at Lottie.

Just as fast as she swept into the room, the dentist sat back, pulled her gloves off, and smiled at Lottie. “Everything looks great. No cavities today.  Keep up the good work.”

“Thank you.” Lottie wiped some spit that had swept across her chin.

Kay removed the bib from Lottie as the doctor waved and scuttled out of the room, ducking into the room next door. “Hey Grant, and how are you doing today?” Her words cutting off as she disappeared inside.

Lottie waved to Kay as she scooped her purse of the chair and left the room. With the dentists hands in his mouth, there he was, the cute guy she’d given the finger to in the next room. She froze for a moment while pulling her purse over her shoulder. His eyes connected with hers before she quickly averted them and hurried to the front desk. 

“Am I all set?”

“You’re good to go, Charlotte. See you next time.” The receptionist waved and quickly went back to her computer. 

Lottie grabbed her coat from the hanger—someone had hung it for her—before bursting through the door and half-running to her car. His mouth was full of dentist fingers but for some reason she was worried he’d soon be behind her if she didn’t hurry. As she bustled out to her car, she glanced over at his blue pickup. A bone-shaped magnet was stuck on the tail-gate that read “I ❤︎ my rescue.” Her mind drifted momentarily—as she pressed the unlock button on her bobble—wondering what type of dog he might have. A lab? Or maybe he looked like a German Shepherd man. Although, she knew pit bulls were the dogs that filled most shelters. Yeah, she could picture him with a gray pitty riding next to him in that old blue pickup. She shook her head and climbed into her car. No, he’s a tailgating jerk, not some sweet guy who rescues pitties. 

Why are you always trying to give jerks good qualities and imagine them to be anything other than they are? 

Lottie buckled, took a quick glance in the rearview to make sure he wasn’t coming out yet, backed out of the space, and headed off towards the school, wishing she’d taken the whole day off. 

After a morning like this, school was the last place she wanted to go. Her energy levels already felt completely zapped. She turned onto Falcon and headed straight for the White Buffalo Coffee Bar, fumbling in her purse for her wallet as she neared. Grabbing it, she sighed as she looked inside, only spying repeats of Alexander Hamilton’s handsome face. She hated to part with her tens. Why couldn’t there be an Abe or Andrew instead? 

Great timing, there was only one car in front of her. Unlike whenever she’d try to swing by before school and hit the morning rush. Once it was her turn, she pulled up and ordered a large white buffalo mocha and a small espresso. She took the hot drinks, carefully placing them in her cupholder, and handed the barista the ten. 

“Keep the change.” Lottie smiled, pulled off, and headed for the school. Before pulling out of the parking lot of the White Buffalo, she peeled off the lid of the espresso and sipped out the hottest little bit before turning the AC on full blast and pointing it at the open cup. She carefully pulled out onto the road, praying she’d sipped enough coffee out to avoid a spill, and headed towards the base. 

She slowed and rolled down her window at the gate, handing the guard her ID, “Good morning.”

“Morning, ma’am.” The guard handed her ID back. She shoved it in her purse, rolled up her window, and drove by the “Welcome to Altus AFB” sign like she did every weekday morning, headed to Rivers Elementary School. Pulling into the parking lot, she was relieved to see an empty spot waiting for her. Until she realized there was a motorcycle hiding in the spot. 

“Dammit! You really gotta take up a whole space with that thing, buddy?” Lottie picked up her espresso as she rolled through the lot looking for another space and took a big gulp. Ah-ha, another spot. A small spot, but her little, silver honda fit could squeeze into a space half that size. She pulled in and unbuckled before downing the rest of her only slightly too-hot espresso. Purse in one hand, her white buffalo mocha in the other, she headed in to the office. 

“Lottie, you’re back. I wasn’t expecting you for another half hour.” Maura pressed her glasses to her face and smiled before picking up the phone the moment it rang. “Good morning, Rivers Elementary. How can I help you?”

“I’ll be in the teachers’ lounge.” Lottie mouthed as she waltzed by taking a small sip of her mocha. She walked down the hall and stopped short when she saw streamers, balloons, and a sign hanging up in the teachers’ lounge which read, “Sayonara, Melissa! We’ll miss you.”  

“Fuck.” Lottie closed her eyes. She’d forgotten Melissa’s goodbye party was today. She sunk down into a chair and sipped her coffee staring at the line-up of good-bye presents covering one of the lounge tables. So much for not writing things down. She kicked herself. She knew she forgot any and everything if she didn’t write it down and set a reminder in her phone. 

The bell rang just a few moments after she finished the last sip of her coffee and missed the trashcan when she tossed her cup at it. “Of course.” Bending over as soon as she rose from the chair, she waddled over to pick it up. Lottie squealed and jumped when she got a firm smack to her butt. 

“Hey hot stuff, make me work for it.” Beth waggled her eyebrows at Lottie.

“Shut up and keep your hands to yourself, ya old pervert.” 

“Never, you know I can’t resist that sweet ass. Especially when you’re presenting for me.” Beth peered into the trash. “What Mr. Cooley’s trash lounge coffee not good enough for you this morning?”

“I needed something stronger. I’ve had the shittiest morning and to top it all off, I forgot about Melissa’s going away.”

“I knew you would. I put your name on the card of my gift.” Beth winked. 

“Oh, you’re the best, Ms. Grimes.” Lottie threw her ams around her. 

“Ah, you’re welcome, sweetie. I knew you’d forget when I told you to write it down and you didn’t. You really need to start listening to me.” Beth rubbed Lotties back before pulling away. “So did you hear? They finally hired a long-term-sub to finish out Melissa’s class for the school year. He’s supposed to stop by the going away party. Melissa invited him.”

“Nothing like waiting until the last minute to hire someone.” 

“I know right, but that’s the way they roll around here. Better get to class or we’ll get sent to the principal’s office.” Beth stuck out her tongue and headed off down the hallway. 

Lottie stuck hers out and headed to her class, curious about who the new teacher would be. 

 

 

If you’d like to help support my website and my writing you can click below

Tip Jar

Help support my website and my writing

$1.00

Blog

The importance of a good working title

The importance of a good working title

A hard lesson learned AGAIN.

Hello friends,

Yesterday was THE PITS for me. One of the worst parts of it is that this whole scenario has happened to me before…like the most sinking, miserable case of deja vu.

A long, absent muse returned to me, banging on the back of my head until I gave in and decided to return to an abandoned manuscript.

I opened my computer and searched for the file.

Gone.

I plugged in my backup hard drive.

Gone.

Searching. Searching. Searching.

Desperation and dread battled for the biggest space in my gut.

Thoughts of “well, maybe I…” dashed and darted in and out of my head.

Searching. Searching. Searching.

Tears welling.

Emptiness.

Gone.

My words are gone.

The muse was disappointed in me but refused to leave. The story must be written, and I have to start over. All I can do is tell myself that I’ve grown as a writer and it’s going to be  even better this time.

The words are lost, but the story is not.

I know this is true because the first time this happened to me I replaced every word and finished the entire novel–a novel I love.

But how did this happen? Twice?

I hate thinking of titles. It’s miserable. I rarely know what to call a novel once it’s finished, let alone when it’s only just begun.

This time, I had two books dealing with Aliens (both happened to be the ones I lost at different points,) but I think I called them both some variation of “Alien _____.”

Draft after draft after beta read and critique partnered drafts exist on my computer. I save them and end up with too many to keep straight. “Alien novel,” “Alien novel final draft,” Alien novel final final,” “Alien novel final–this is the one.”

Eventually, various drafts get deleted. And given that their titles are so similar, I believe I completely trashed the first draft of one novel along with a million drafts of the other.

How do I stop this from happening again? What’s the plan?

I’m going to give my novels a complete and unique working title even if I know it’s not going to stick around. No more “untitled romance” or “Alien novel.” Now, my current works are “Burnished Path,” “Cleansed with Blood,” “Distant Spring,” “Homer,” and “Haunted Heart.”

I’m going to go in and find everything I started, even if it’s only one paragraph or one line and name it.

I know these may not be good titles and probably aren’t the ones that will remain but at least they aren’t confusing. When I’m cleaning out revisions of “Burnished Path,” “Distant Spring” isn’t likely to be thrown out with the bathwater.

I’m also going to make sure a copy of each gets added to my backup hard drive and emailed to myself.

My heart is still veiled in black and mourning the lost words, but this time I’m going to ensure that I learn from my loss.

If you’d like to support my website and my writing you can click below

 

Blog · Burnished Path · Sneak Peeks

Burnished Path

Chapter One

Babette Watson’s back was rigid. Tears balanced on the rims of her eyes. She clenched her fists to try to calm the tumbling in her ams. Her legs were weak but she tried her best to stay strong.

“Did you do it?” Aaron glared at her through the small slits his eyes had become. His arms were folded in front of his chest and he stood so close to her that she could feel his breath heating the sides of her wavy brown hair.

“No,” she mumbled. It was the only thing she thought she might be able to croak out without releasing a flood of tears.

“Tell us the truth! We all need to know because we’ll all get kicked out if you’re found guilty!” Spit flew off of Aaron’s teeth, almost hitting her.

“I didn’t!” Babette could no long hold back the tears. They streamed down her cheeks, one after another in an endless parade.

“Aaron, think about it a sec.” Dacey wedged herself in between her teammates. “With ‘the eye’ everywhere we go. Do ya think she’d risk it?

The four of them glanced up to the round silver camera hanging in the corner of the classroom.

“Not if she tried when she thought it was inactive!” Aaron stepped around Dacey and glowered again at Babette.

“Man, lay off.” Cabe wrapped an arm around Babette’s shoulder and shielded her from Aaron’s burning stare. “No fret, Babs. I know you wouldn’t do it.”

Babette rested her head on his shoulder and nodded. Her breath hitched as she settled into the comfort that Cabe always brought her.

The door opened and Professor Milch marched in. His heals stomped across the floor as though he were mad at it. He tugged at the bottom of his crisp white lab coat as he stood to face the class. “To your stations.”

Cabe gave Babette a pat on the back before taking his place. Aaron stared at Babette on his way around to his station before snapping to attention with sharp precision. Dacey drifted away, smiling and floating concerned eyes to Babette before standing at attention.

“And sit,” Professor Milch said.

Everyone sat at attention. Eyes forward. Palms flat on the desk top. Feet flat on the floor—shoulder width apart. Backs straight. Butts perched on the edge of the seat.

Though only a few short moments passed by, time seemed to drift on a cloud of eternity. Sweat beaded on Babette’s forehead. Her stomach churned and her eyes refilled with tears.

Professor Milch stood still as a wax figure. His white lab coat was buttoned all the way up up. A thin slice of the white button down shirt and the black and white swirled tie peeked over the top. His black slacks had crisp iron marks down the center. His black hair was salt and peppered at the temples, closely shaved around the sides, and tad longer on the top.

His arms were crossed. The lab coat stretched taught over his muscles. His head remained still though his laser-beam blue eyes scanned back and forth over the four teammates.

The pressure sat heavy on Babette as though an anvil balanced on her head. She couldn’t help but squirm minutely in her seat —just enough to release the unease that raked up her spine. Her watery topaz-brown eyes glued to the top button of his lab coat. She couldn’t bare to look in his eyes.

“At ease,” Professor Milch said.

With those words, Babette’s back curled like a parchment finally released after being rolled out against is will. A tear landed on the edge of her lab coat, leaving an oval circle drip. Another tear caught on the apple of her high round cheek. Quickly, she wiped it away and sniffed the moisture that was threatening to escape her nose.

Babette slowly tucked her curly brown hair behind her left ear to try and get a better look at Aaron. He was sitting with his back still straight in the chair and his hands resting the desk. She couldn’t tell if he looked worried or angry.  She knew better than to turn her head to look at him. Sliding her eyes back to the front, she dropped them quickly to the desktop when she realized Professor Milch’s laser gaze was locked on her. He paused another excruciating moment before speaking.

“Professor Calloway and I stood in front of the teaching team tribunal early this morning. As you well know, Babette was accused of practicing powers outside the classroom.”

Babette’s breaths halted and her heart began to pound so hard she could barely hear what he said. He head swirled. She felt weightless as though floating underwater.

Dacey raised her hand.

“Yes, Dacey,” Professor Milch said with pressed words. One raised eyebrow at her.

“Sir, what exactly is she accused of. I mean, I think we have a right to know since it affects all of us.”

“You think you have the right to know,” he said. Babette couldn’t tell if it was a question or a statement. He drummed his fingers on his forearm and pursed his lips. “Fair enough. Babette’s been accused of attempting binding in her barracks.”

“Wha—,” Babette mumbled. One sharp glance from Aaron quieted her.

Dacey raised her hand so hard it nearly lifted her off the seat.

“Dacey, yes,” Professor Milch sighed.

“If she did anything like that, I would’ve seen. I would’ve told.” She glanced at Babette. “Sorry, Babs.”

Professor Milch uncrossed his arms and tugged at the sleeves of his lab coat. “She did it in the bathroom behind closed doors. You wouldn’t have seen.”

“Seriously!” Cabe said. “How could they tell that? And I thought the eye was supposed to turn off when we’re in the bathroom.”

“Only when using the toilet or entering the changing stall,” the professor said. “And I don’t recall you raising your hand. I also don’t recall ever saying this was a discussion. You will sit and you will listen—quietly. Do I need to put you at attention?”

“No, Sir,” Cabe said. “Sorry, Sir.”

“Class, rise and stand at ease,” Professor Milch said.

Everyone stood. Babette rubbery legs didn’t feel capable of lifting her, but she drifted to her feet. The fate of her team pressed on her shoulders.

***THIS IS A FIRST DRAFT OF A WORK-IN-PROGRESS***

Please feel free to share your thoughts. 😊

If you’d like to help support my website and my writing with a tip you can click below

Tip Jar

Help support my website and my writing

$1.00

Blog · book reviews

Book review – Whispers in the Alders by H.A. Callum

Book review – Whispers in the Alders by H.A. Callum

This book quickly became a favorite!!! The writing is beautiful without being overdone. I stopped and read the words, again and again, wondering how the author put them together so magnificently and so seemingly effortlessly! I love Tommy and Aubrey so much. Their friendship felt so authentic and stole my heart away. I can’t wait to read more from this talented author. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
I wish more people knew about his book. SO I’ll shout if from the rooftops!
giphy11
You can buy your copy by clicking here!

If you’d like to support my website and my writing you can click below

 

Blog

Be My Horton

Hello friends,

Look! It’s me on that little speck.

giphy2
I am here! I am here! I am here!

In my last blog post, I talked about the challenge to find readers. It’s so hard. I feel like a little a who down in Whoville shouting on a speck at a world that’s too big to hear me. But it’s okay. If you’re reading this, you’ve heard me. You are my darling, Horton, and I appreciate it.

While I wait for the rest of the world to notice my tiny, insignificant voice, I’ve got to find a way to keep myself going when my writing can seem so pointless.

So, I’ve invented a way to play with myself (uh, err. Should I scratch and rephrase?)

giphy3
Ahh! The floor is lava!

At this point, I have approximately five manuscripts that I haven’t finished, so I’m going to start sharing them on Wattpad and Chapterbuzz…the one that gets the most love is the one that I’m going to concentrate on writing for that week. It will kind of be like American Idol, The Voice, or America’s got talent (which I stopped watching when The Regurgitator lost–he got robbed) but with my manuscripts.

They are early drafts, so they’re not perfect, but the good thing about Wattpad and Chapterbuzz is that I can get feedback from readers on how to improve the chapters as I go. Then, most likely, I will publish them through my publishing company, WhistlePig Publishing. Of course, that will be after multiple drafts, professional editing, and a professional cover artist has designed a proper cover. For now, I’ve made quick covers for Wattpad and Chapterbuzz purposes (so please don’t judge these books by their covers 😂) and given them a working title.

If new readers discover me along the way, that’s only ever going to be a good thing. True, it could just be more crickets, and there won’t be many views, votes, or comments on either site but finding just one more reader–one more Horton–would be incredible. If you’d like to read the chapters of my works in progress here is the link to my Wattpad profile and here is the link to my Chapterbuzz profile.

To my manuscripts…

giphy4

If you’d like to support my website and my writing you can click below

 

Blog

Here I go, yet again

Here I go, yet again

A few things about me before I begin this blog post:

  1. I love to tell stories, always have.
  2. Every day I fight the voice in my head that tells me I’ll always be a failure
  3. I’m awfully stubborn.

1 & 3 are the only way I can fight 2. 2 is always telling me to quit. 1 is the biggest reason I’ll keep pushing, keep failing, keep picking myself up and trying again.

What am I doing to fight the voice that says I’m a failure?

I remind myself of a few things:

There are a lot of people out there who want to write a book, haven’t, and probably never will. I have, over and again.

There are also a lot of writers out there who don’t share their work. I understand that. I’ve been sharing for a few years now. I’ve been trying to put myself out there more and more no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel.

I’ve done things in my past that scared me and made me push myself to succeed. I try to put myself back in the place I was in during those times when the thought of failure gripped me tightest. This helps me remember how helpless and hopeless I felt then, yet, I succeeded in the end.

What’s making me feel like a failure now?

Marketing myself and finding new readers. This seems like mission impossible. I wish I had the budget to do a massive marketing campaign, but I don’t. The writers I see succeeding are those that have lots of dollars behind them (I’m not saying their books are good, but I bet there are a lot of great books that go unnoticed because they can’t pay for the buzz that comes from a great marketing campaign–both indie and traditionally published authors.) I just read an article yesterday about an indie author whose debut novel sold over 10,000 copies. He said the key to his success was spending the money on a intensive marketing campaign.

I’m putting all my extra money into opening another business at the moment and chose to spend my writing budget on editing and cover art. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll have more money to sink into marketing, but I just don’t have those funds available right now.

While I work on the other project and wait to have these funds available, I feel like I’m stuck. There’s only so much I can do on my own with a shoestring budget to try to get the word out about my book. But I don’t think there are a lot of people out there who are willing to take a chance on an unknown author. Maybe this is bad of me to say, but I feel like a lot of people just buy into the buzz that comes from reading something on the NYT bestseller list.

What steps am I taking to push forward until I have a marketing budget?

I’m going to use all my platforms to try to find more readers. Finding even one more reader is better than giving in to my fears and giving up. Someday I may be someone’s favorite author, but that won’t happen if I stop trying to find them.

I’m going to keep sharing my journey on this blog. I’ll keep tweeting. And I’ll keep searching for new avenues to find readers I can connect with.

The newest way I’m doing this is…

I’ve joined Chapterbuzz.

I’m hoping to find more readers via Chapterbuzz. I’d love (and also feel terrified and nauseous) to share my work-in-progress and hear constructive feedback about how I can improve each chapter.

If you’d like to read my 1st draft as I go and help me improve my book, I’d love if you’d come on over and join me. When you become a fan and “buzz” my chapters, it gives me points that will help me to become more discoverable by other readers. Click here to join. (It’s free, btw)

I’ll also be posting on Wattpad.

I’ll also be adding my chapters on Wattpad. You can follow along and read my chapters by clicking here.

 

Maybe these will be flops, some of many failures on my road to finding readers, but perhaps it won’t. I’m always willing to try.

I’m going to keep moving forward, no matter how slowly, or how many times I stumble and fall flat on my face.

Thanks for reading. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate it.

 If you’d like to support my website and my writing you can click below

 

book reviews

Book Review – Unanchored by Stephanie Eding

Book Review – Unanchored by Stephanie Eding

⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Shiver me timbers! This, my hearties, was an exciting adventure.
I highly recommend this book. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Cecily as she tried to figure out what was going on and plan her escapes. I’ve also developed an enormous character crush on Finn. This book had all the things I love in a book, excitement, adventure, some sexual tension, and a bit of romance. This is one I’ll be reading again and telling my friends about.

unanchored.jpg

Available as an ebook from Amazon. Click here to get your copy!

If you’d like to support my website and my writing you can click below

 

Blog

Writer Interview 📝 with Jim G. Black

Writer Interview 📝 with Jim G. Black

I’d like to introduce you all to a fellow writer I met on Twitter. He’s such a supportive and wonderful person, I wanted more people to know about him and his writing.

***

I asked Jim a few questions and here are his answers…

Q: What is your favorite thing about writing?

A: My favorite thing about writing is the research. Writing outside of what I know gives me the opportunity to learn new things.

Q: What is the most difficult part of the novel writing process for you?

A: The most difficult thing is staying on track. I’m ADD, and get distracted easily.

Q: What inspired you to write your work in progress How long have you been working on your work in progress?

A: What inspired me? Long answer lol. I have always had several book ideas floating around in my head. As a result of two rounds with renal cancer, I lost a kidney in 2012. In August of 2017 my other kidney shut down, resulting in a hospital stay and several weeks of recovery. During that recovery time I started thinking about my bucket list, which included all of the books I ever thought about writing. I told myself that, if I was ever going to do it, now is as good a time to start. I’ve been working on it since last November.

Q: Do you plot out your stories, fly by the seat of your pants, or some combination of the two?

A: Some of it I have outlined, however, I tend to write it in my head as I go along, then just type it up when I get time to sit and write.

Q: How do you select the names for your characters?

A: My MC is named using my middle name, Grant, and the middle name of one of my ancestors, Canaada, yes, with two “a”s in the middle. My book has several “beasties” in it, and it’s hard to come up with names for them.

Q: Are you working on anything new?

A: Not really working on anything new. I also blog, and am doing more of that lately. I have a couple ideas for short stories, but haven’t made any notes on them yet.

Q: Do you prefer to write in the morning, afternoon, night, or whenever you find a spare moment?

A: I write whenever I can find time to sit down and do it.

Q: Do you have any writing rituals?

A: I don’t have any rituals. Maybe I need to develop some. It may help me get into a routine lol.

Q: What do you think makes a good story?

A: I think relate-able characters make for a good story. When I read a book, I like it when I can actually place myself in the story through one of the characters. Not necessarily the main character, but one with whom I can find something in common. It just it that much more fun and easy to get into.

Q: Dogs or Cats?

A: Lol…I love all animals. We have five cats, and I love them all, however, I would love to have another dog in the near future.

Q: Savory or Sweet?

A: Savory always lol. My dessert philosophy has always been “no sweets, more meats”. I’ll take an extra burger or hot dog over cake and pie any day. Tastes better with beer 😉

Q: Beach or Forest?

A: Forest. I grew up in Southeast Tennessee and spent a lot of time in the woods, camping and hiking. I never even saw the beach until I was a teenager. Living in South Carolina, I do go to the coast, but prefer dirt over sand. Another philosophy, “any place with more palms than pines is no place for me”.

Q: When you’re not writing, what do you like to do with your free time?

A: In my free time I’m reading. I also like attending plays, concerts, ballgames and singing.

Q: How can readers keep in touch with you?

A: Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlueHose2006

Facebook: Jim G Black Writing https://www.facebook.com/jimblackwriter/

WordPress:

I hope to have my website up and running by the summer.

Q: Do you like to hear from your readers?

A: I love hearing from people, and am always happy to talk with anybody about most anything.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?

A: There is not much else to tell. I try and be laid back and just exist for the most part.

***

Thanks for spending some time answering these questions for my blog, Jim. I hope my readers will check out your blog and social media sites.

***If you enjoy reading my blog or my tweets, please subscribe to my blog in the pop up window if you haven’t already. Please and thank you!***

If you’d like to help support my website and my writing with a tip you can click below

Tip Jar

Help support my website and my writing

$1.00

Blog

What Every Author Needs To Know About Editing A Manuscript

Hi friends,

As you know, I’ve finished my book and I’ve begun the long process of editing it. I’ve been fortunate to have award-winning author, Christina Kaye, work with me on the edits. So, I’ve invited her to make a guest post on my blog to help all of you who are going to be editing or are currently editing your novels.

The blog is all yours, Christina!

***

What Every Author Needs To Know About Editing A Manuscript

Author: Christina Kaye (author of the Award-Winning Flesh & Blood Series)

You’ve finished your manuscript. Congratulations. Now what? Time to send it off to agents, right? NOT SO FAST! SLOW YOUR ROLL! HOLD YOUR HORSES!

This is one of the biggest mistakes newbie authors make when trying to get their book published. They want to rush straight to querying agents the moment they type THE END. I get it. It’s exciting. You’ve spent weeks, months, or even years pouring your heart out through your fingertips and creating your “baby.” You know you have written THE book…the next best seller. Come on, don’t deny it. You know you’re thinking it. That’s okay. All authors have had the same feeling. But you can’t rush the process. You can’t skip the most important leg on the journey to book publication…editing.

It is essential that your novel be thoroughly edited before you even consider querying agents. But most authors, especially newbies, aren’t sure how to go about editing their manuscript. Either that or their intimidated by the idea of having someone “tear apart” their work. So let’s discuss some key points regarding editing so you can hopefully ease your mind about this absolutely crucial part of the writing/publishing process.

Why Hire an Editor?

I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but there are so many authors who believe they can simply type up a manuscript, review it themselves, and call it a day. But that is super risky. Why? Because everyone becomes blind to their own mistakes. You’ve spent so much time focusing on getting your story down on paper that you probably weren’t thinking so much about grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and even those pesky little rules of writing that go above and beyond what we learned in high school and college English courses. You need an experienced, trained, and objective set of eyes to check your work and make sure the manuscript is in as good a shape as possible. If you send an unedited manuscript to agents, no matter how great your concept may be, you will be done before you even get started. If an agent asks to read a manuscript because the query has piqued their attention and then they begin reading only to find the script full of errors, or not properly written, they will stop reading immediately and write the book off. I’ve seen so many manuscripts come through my email based on an amazing query and then had my heart broken because it’s clear the author didn’t bother to have the manuscript edited before sending it to me. Don’t do this. It’s not worth it. Hire an editor.

What Exactly Is Editing?

There are a couple different types of editing for manuscripts. Which type you choose is completely up to you, but I highly recommend you go for broke and have your manuscript edited as thoroughly as possible. Here are the two main types of editing:

Copy Editing (sometimes referred to as Line Editing)

This is where the editor will focus solely on the words in your manuscript, not the bigger picture, plot, characters, etc. Your editor will correct any spelling, grammar, sentence structure, or punctuation errors. A good editor will also keep an eye out for all those annoying little writing rules, such as dialogue tags, overuse of adjectives/adverbs, dangling modifiers, passive voice, and so on. Again, these are the kinds of issues an author typically either doesn’t know, or doesn’t catch on their own because we are so focused on the story and characters. Even if you think you’re a good self-editor, trust me, you’re not. No offense. You may be more highly skilled with the technical aspects of writing a novel, but as I said earlier, I can guarantee you can’t catch even half of your own mistakes. It’s just human nature.

Developmental Editing (sometimes referred to as Content Editing)

This refers to the work an editor does on the “big picture” aspects of your novel, such as plot, consistency, timeline, plot progression, pacing, and character development. This can be done in lieu of or in conjunction with Line Editing. Again, as with technical writing, there are so many rules we authors have to follow to please editors and publishers. For example, where you start your novel is one of the most important things an author can consider. If your book starts with a dream sequence, description of weather or setting, or too little/too much dialogue, then you’re going to lose the reader’s (and the agent’s) attention on page one. Also, slow pacing is a huge deal breaker for agents. If your book moves too slowly, if you spend too much time describing a person, place, or thing, you will lose their attention and put the book down (which means an instant rejection). These are just a couple of things a good editor can help you with.  In my opinion, you should always pay a little bit extra for good developmental editing. Not only will you learn so much more and progress as an author, but your book will be so much better than you ever imagined possible.

How Much Does Editing Cost?

Depends. Like any professional service, editing can run the gamut from super cheap to painfully expensive. You don’t have to hire the highest charging editor. There are plenty of affordable options out there if you take the time to research. But keep in mind, you get what you pay for. If you settle for the lowest possible price and put cost above all other considerations, think about what and who you are paying to work on your baby.

I’ve seen editors out there charging upwards of $1,000 or more for an average length manuscript. To me, that’s just ridiculous. Now, maybe if you’re Stephen King or Nora Roberts and you have money to burn, you can hire a top of the line editor and pay them an arm and a leg for primo editing. But most of us are struggling artists and very few of us have the funds to pay that much money. I argue that you don’t have to break the bank in order to find a quality, experienced, and professional editor. Most reasonable editors will charge you something like this:

.007c per word (80,000 word MS would run about $560.00)

Be prepared to spend anywhere from $250 to $600 (or maybe slightly more), depending on novel length, editor’s fees, and type of editing desired. You will typically pay less for line editing and more for content editing. Some editors will ask you to pay this all up front, but I strongly urge you to seek an editor who will consider either payment plans or splitting the fee (half up front, half upon completion). God forbid you pay someone $500 to edit your book and either you don’t get your work back, or they don’t do amount of work you have paid for. Trust me, this happened to me once, so I now only work with editors who will split the fee half and half. This keeps everyone honest and relieves some of the financial burden, making editing more affordable and less painful for the author.

How Do I Find/Hire An Editor?

This can be a bit tricky. How do you know you are hiring the right editor? Look for editors with experience, testimonials, and even better, published authors on their resume. To find a quality and dependable editor, reach out to your author friends and do some networking. Ask around for recommendations. Another way to find a great editor is to join groups on Facebook for authors and editors (just search Groups for those words). Or follow the #amwriting and #amediting hashtags on Twitter and tweet that you’re looking for referrals. There are also databases you can find online that list professional freelance editors, their requirements, what they offer, and their fees.

This is super important! Never, ever hire an editor without first asking them to provide a sample edit for you. Most reputable editors will offer you a sample edit (5 or 10 pages) so that you can get a feel for their skill level as well as if you will work well together. I repeat, NEVER pay an editor the full fee up front without at least checking their references, getting a sample edit, and doing your research on them. Once you’ve narrowed the editors down to your top choices, ask those editors not only for the sample edit, but for names of authors they have worked with in the past. Ask if you can reach out to them and DO IT! Ask the other authors if they were satisfied with the work the editor provided, did they work at a reasonable pace, etc.

TO SUM IT UP:

Now that we’ve gone over the important aspects of hiring an editor for your manuscript, it’s time to get the ball rolling!

If you are seeking a reputable, experienced, and affordable editor, please keep in mind that I do offer editing services to authors of all genres and categories. I have testimonials from past clients posted on my website. I offer reasonable, competitive rates you’ll be hard-pressed to beat. I have a fast turnaround time and I offer unlimited free communications by email, phone, or social media messenger during the process. And also important – I’m an author, too, so I know what my peers need/want and I treat all my clients with respect. I am very thorough and honest, but never rude or condescending.

If you would like to discuss working with me to edit your baby and get it in the best shape possible, please check out my website. Read my Bio Page so you can get an idea of who I am (author, editor, literary agent intern), then check out my Editing Services Page for rates, guidelines, and contact info.

www.xtinakayebooks.com

Best of luck to you. Any questions, comments, etc. can be directed to me at the following email:

xtinakayebooks@gmail.com

I never charge a dime for advice or guidance. I love to help fellow authors navigate this exciting but demanding industry.

Christina Kaye, Author/Editor

***

Thank you so much, Christina, for sharing that important and useful information with my readers. I can’t tell you what a difference you’ve made with my  novel!

If you’d like to help support my website and my writing with a tip you can click below

Tip Jar

Help support my website and my writing

$1.00

Blog

I’m finished

I’m finished

I’m so excited to say that just a few moments ago, I finished writing the first draft of the novel I’ve been working on.

This is extra exciting because it’s the first adult length novel I’ve ever attempted. I’ve completed middle-grades before, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to write anything that would be more than double the word count I was used to.

Good thing I’m a stubborn so-and-so because even though I doubted myself I kept on working and today I got to write those two little magic words…

end

Sure, it’s just a first draft, and it’s full of mistakes. I have rounds and rounds of edits and rewrites ahead of me, but I’m going to take a moment to celebrate this victory.

giphy (15)

If you’d like to help support my website and my writing with a tip you can click below

Tip Jar

Help support my website and my writing

$1.00