Category Archives: Writing & Publishing

Writer Issues…

I am at the point in the process where I’m tired of looking at the manuscript I’m supposed to be working on. I just want to put this one to bed already and move on to the creation process. For some reason, the editing process does this to me. I procrastinate and I have to force myself to sit down and rework it on the umpteenth walk through. It isn’t that I dislike my story or that it isn’t engaging, it is. I’ve just read it all before; several times before. I’m ready to move on to another part of the overall story or something entirely new.

I have about a hundred ideas stashed away. There are snippets of the better ones in a binder that I work in for such things. Others are in file folders waiting for me to take them to the next phase. Some are just loose pages in a green bin beside my desk that I need to go through and find a filing cabinet to put them in. That’s something that I am lacking since the move that will need to be remedied or I’ll be keeping them in this tote tucked into a closet until I need them again. If I do that, they may end up forgotten but, that’s just a risk you have to take.

I was blessed with an active imagination from a young age. I have snippets of stories and character sketches stretching back to my days in high school when I really began to develop a love of more complex stories and characters. I’m sure somewhere in my grandparents’ basement there are boxes of old journals and notebooks that I’ve stashed away while I was in school. So, I don’t anticipate that I shall be at a loss for ideas for books anytime soon.

As much as I would like to just put the current manuscript aside and work on something else; I won’t. I need to finish it and get it out on the market. There are some perks to being your own boss. There are some drawbacks to it as well. An editor at a publishing house might push me to finish or face a penalty in a contract I signed. As my own publisher, I have to be willing to push myself just as hard, if not harder, to get things done and put the work out to the public. Sure, I can push a deadline here or there but, they never go away. For them to just disappear means that I am giving up on this crazy dream of writing stories for a living. That isn’t about to happen anytime soon.

Maybe it is just impatience on my part. I’m always wanting to plow into something new instead of finishing something that I already have in progress. I’m terrible with endings. It is one of my many weaknesses as a writer. This isn’t because I lack the skill to write an effective end to a story. It is because I get emotionally attached to my characters. I don’t want to see the worlds I created, the people in them, or even their stories to end. And I suppose that’s why I’m happy that so many people have contacted me to say how much they want a continuation of The Secret of the Storm. I actually am excited to oblige the requests and create a series out of Slauson Cove and Elora Castain.

The only real issue, aside from funding the expenses of producing a new book,  is trying to finish what I have on my plate before I start working on something new.

Sometimes I wonder if I am the only writer to face this particular problem. Then I realize that being alone in that aspect isn’t likely and I laugh about it and sit my butt back in my chair to put on the editor’s cap once more.

More On Indiegogo Perks

Family Secrets JournalI launched the Indiegogo campaign last week for the sequel to my novel The Secret of the Storm.

I’ll be honest with you readers, it has never been more important for me to have something work the way it is intended. I am on the verge of releasing a new series – more on that in another post – but, I don’t want the writing to stop there. I also want to be sure that I’m giving my reader base something it wants to read. So, the fact that there has been such positive feedback from it has made me take a second look.

I think that all art is, to some extent, crowdfunded. I mean, we create things, people will either like them and buy them or they won’t. This is true for all forms of artistic expression. But why crowdfund this particular project? It is simple really. I need funds up front.

Why do I need funds up front? Aside from living costs that I incur every month for myself and my family there are also the costs of hiring out some services to speed the process along. I need to hire a fresh pair of eyes to edit the book if I am going to produce it in a short amount of time. There is also the cost of a cover artist to design a catchy cover for these editions coming out. And then the costs of continuing to market it to a larger audience through advertising and a book tour to meet readers and sign books.

There are many ways that you can help me. Not every way requires a monetary contribution. The main way that you can help me is by spreading the word to others. It is only by directing people to the project that they will know about it.

Don’t want to tell them about it directly? Just direct them to my facebook fan page or my blog. There is more information there and I’ll be posting about it enough, making it visible, so that you don’t have to ask them to contribute.

BookCoverPreview1Every person who buys my book, tweets about it, shares it with their facebook followers, or even shares my work with a friend is contributing to the success of my life-long dream. Without people to read my work, what use is it to write? (Granted there is some personal satisfaction to seeing a story finished but, it is always better if someone reads it and lets you know that they enjoyed it.)

I don’t like asking people for help. I especially don’t like to ask people to shell out hard earned money and get nothing in return for it. With Indiegogo I was able to set up a number of perks. Some of these are as simple as pre-ordering your copy of the book in various states. There are ebook, paperback, and collectible hardback editions. Some will be signed, others won’t. But there are some other things that are limited and those are things I would like to make you aware of.

First of all, I am commissioning a jewelry artist to create only five necklaces from the first story. Each one will be numbered and a collector item. They will feature the keys to the chest that Ansen Walsingham left Elora. These will be available in the limited number of perks in the upper level ranges and will likely be part of a contest that I’ll be hosting here on the blog. The biggest perk of them all is at the highest level in which I’ll give up an afternoon of creation time to talk shop or whatever the person who claims that perk would like. Pick my brain about my process, publishing, writing, or life in general. If you’re in East Texas, I’ll make it a lunch on me. If you’re away it can be redeemed through Skype or other Video Chat service. It is a chance for the person making the most investment to get a behind the scenes look at everything that happened in the creation of, not only the sequel, but the whole series to that point.

The perks build upon one another. All those who contribute will be listed on the blog in a new page called “Made Possible By”. There will also be a special dedication and a list of sponsors in the book when it comes out as well. There will be emails sent to all the sponsors to let them know what stage I am in production. This will likely happen only once a month until it is released. But, the idea is to keep all those who invest in the project in the loop on how it is coming along and when they can expect to receive their books and other items. Sponsors will receive books before they are ever available to the public. I anticipate sometime in May 2014 will be a release day for the sequel. But, I also know that it could be sooner.

old file case Family Secrets#2Be a part of making a writer’s dream happen. Take a click over to the project, look at the perks and, if you can, consider donating. You’re not helping a publishing company pay a corporate executive here. You’re helping one woman put her life back together and tie up loose ends. You’re helping a family put food on the table and a mother at home with her daughter to focus on education and developing her character. You’ll be helping that child to go to dance classes and have what she needs to do well in her activities. You’ll be helping me to, in turn, help another struggling freelance editor and artist to provide for their families as well.

Indiegogo Is A Go For Launch

TSOTS COVER ADIn May of 2013 I published my debut novel The Secret of the Storm. As a new author, I am excited at the response from my readers and that it has been so positive. I will admit that I was very surprised when I kept hearing the same feedback from readers; when is the sequel coming out?

Truth is, I hadn’t planned to make a return trip to Slauson Cove. When I finished The Secret of the Storm, I didn’t exactly think that people would want to hear more about Elora and the Walsingham family. I even moved on to new projects including a major series. How wrong I was though. Nearly everyone who has read the book has been calling me out for another book about Elora and the Walsingham family. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I wouldn’t mind going back to the sleepy little seaside town and telling more about what happens after the prophecy seems to be fulfilled.

People want to hear more about Elora and her family and friends. This is great for me. It means that I did something right in crafting that story. Producing another book is definitely on the to do list but, as I said previously, I did move on to other large scale projects that are eating a great deal of my time. One of those is nearly ready to hit the press. Taking the time to write another impromptu book is going to take resources that I don’t have.

old file case Family Secrets#2I’ve started an Indiegogo project to fund what I need to get another Slauson Cove book in the works. There are so many things that go into producing a book. I want to do this right and I want to be able to pay other indie-artists and freelancers to help me make it the best it can be. That means I need funds to work with. Not only will I need those to pay the people helping but, I’ll need money to help me promote it once it does come out.

I’m trying to raise $4,000.00 through Indiegogo. The campaign will last 60 days starting August 1st. I’ve chosen to go with the flexible funding option so that if we don’t reach the total goal I can still keep working on a more limited budget for those who do want to see the book come out.

Donating is simple and can be done via the campaign site using your Paypal account or a major credit card. Simply choose your level of support. Many of the levels include a tangible copy of the book sent to you when it is completed. The details of each level are there for you to see. Donors will be featured in a post here on the blog and will also have a special place on the main header as soon as the campaign ends and I receive the list of donors. This will likely be in early to mid October.

Work will be starting on the book in September. But books won’t be mailed until all is finished sometime in April or May of 2014. Writing a book takes time and I’m wearing a lot of hats. I’m a mom, a teacher, a writer, a publicist, a homemaker, and I am trying to market with social media and promotion tours here in East Texas.

For the next few weeks, you’ll see posts here about the upcoming release and the perks that I’m offering and why I’ve chosen them at various levels. If you can support the cause, please know that you’re not just helping me take some luxury vacation or buy some sort of trinket. You’re helping me get my career and life on track. You’re helping put a little girl in dance classes, paying for education costs, and helping enable me to stay home so I can focus on the two things I love most my family and my stories.

So please, at least read the campaign here. I know that times are tough and everyone else is struggling just as we are here. But there are other ways that you can help. Boost the signal and send it out to your social media. Tell people why you’d support it if you could. You never know, it may inspire someone else to contribute where you couldn’t. I will also be posting a flyer for you print off. You can post it wherever businesses will allow you to do so. Public bulletin boards are great places for this. You can also ask your local librarian, post it in your dorm, pass it around your reading and writing circles. There are any number of ways to get people to notice the project. The more people do, the more likely I am to reach my goal. And I can’t do that without all your support.

Thanks in advance for all the support you’re showing me. As a special celebration to get things kicked off, I’ve been able to lower the price on my Kindle Edition of The Secret of the Storm to $2.99. That will last through August 10th. So, it is a chance to get the original story at nearly half price. If you haven’t already read it. I suggest picking it up and getting to know Elora Castain and the Walsinghams.

On The Horizon

I’ve been absent much more than I wanted to. We’re still researching internet providers for the new apartment right now. Though we’re planning on having everything set up at the first of the month, we’re on a budget and looking for the best deal we can find. So, access to my blog, email, and other online things is very limited at the moment.

In fact, I know I was spoiled now. I got very accustomed to having high speed internet. My ex insisted on keeping it when we were living together because of his “hobbies”. Of course I took advantage of the connection. Since he was never without it, I’ve pretty much had continual access to high speed for about six and a half years. That is, until now. Now, I’m literally using a sort of dial up to post things and check my email. Sometimes I think it would be faster to do this by snail mail.

Regardless of whether the net access is up and running by the first of the month, there are still big things on the horizon. One in particular, I want to give you some details on.

Yes, I am planning to do a sequel to my debut novel, The Secret of the Storm. The readers are speaking loud and clear on this particular issue. And I have been putting pen to page to jot down ideas for the plot and a couple of new characters to add to the mix. I won’t give details away yet except to say that there are even more family secrets for Elora Castain to uncover in the next book. There is a certain small issue from the end of the first book to resolve as well.

As much as I am planning to do this, I have to admit that I’m concerned about the time that this “side project” will take away from the coming series Armageddon Rising. It will definitely make a lot more work for me in the coming months if I am going to meet a deadline as I have in mind. So, in a way, I’m going to leave it to the readers to decide if there will be another.

On August 1st, 2013 I will be launching an Indiegogo campaign to fund the sequel. There will be incentives for those who donate or pre-order the book. I hope to raise enough to pay off a couple of bills, market the books more, and allow me to get out there to meet the readers in a more one on one way, and give us a bit of breathing room here at home so that we can continue to move toward our goals for our family.

Yes, it will be up to the readers to help get this one done. I’m going to need funds to pay editors, artists, etc for things to make this happen quickly. If those funds aren’t raised to a certain level, I don’t think that I can sink as much time into it to get it done on a tight schedule as planned. Other works will take a front seat to this one unless I can reach at least half of my goal on this crowdfunding. I’m aiming for $3,000.00. If it funds completely or goes over the sequel will take a center stage for me for the next few months (aside from homeschooling the munchkin, of course) and will come out sometime in the spring. If I only get half of the amount it won’t happen until summer or later because I’ll have to put other projects into that mix and hopefully release two back to back. We’ll just see what you all say.

It may be the case that you’re all just being nice to the newbie on the market and saying you want a sequel too. In that case, I won’t bother with it. I’ll just move on to the new series all together.

In any event, there are a lot of things happening for me. I’ll be posting more about everything soon. I’m planning on starting my regular posts back up next week. So that gives me through Monday to get my thoughts sorted and things planned out. So, I’ll see you all on the other side of the weekend. Have a fabulous one!

The Challenges Of The Writing Life

944e903479c324fa_Self_Motivation.xxlargeBeing a writer is not an easy way of life. Some people seem to think it is. They think we all sit around in our pajamas all day, sipping wine or a spirit of choice, tapping away at a keyboard and then playing games most of the time. Then we miraculously sell a book, make millions, and live on easy street while we play with our stories.
Oh how I wish it worked this way! I would be living the high life by now if it did. But, the reality is far different from what you see in the movies. In fact, the only reason that people take it on is because they love to do it or they have an idea that they just can’t let go of. For me, it is a bit of both. I have plenty of ideas that I want to put into words but, I love what I do. Like all writers, I want to do it full time.
There are things that I have to consider though. I have bills and a child to think about. While I want to write full time, that can’t happen without people buying my books and supporting what I do. It takes a great deal of time to produce a book. Then it takes even more time to publicize and promote a book once it is in print.
For me, there are challenges right now that I’m not used to facing. The fact that I have a child in the house full-time is new to me. It is a wonderful thing but juggling the kiddo and the writing is a big challenge for me. While I’m arguing to get her to finish her handwriting practice or reading a simple book my attention is wholly focused on her and getting that done so that she learns. As a mom I am responsible for her learning and understanding what she’s being taught. I take that seriously. But the moment the schoolwork is done there is the constant chirping of:
“Momma can I have a drink?”
“Momma what are we going to have for supper?”
“Momma what is that smell?”
“Can I watch a movie?”
“When will Daddy be home?”
“Can I go outside and play?”
“I’m hungry!”
“Watch this Momma!”
“Look at me Momma!”
So, it is a constant juggling act. My attention is rarely focused on the writing when I am working on it. I’m always listening for the silence and having to get up to see what she is into, when I send her to her room to play.
Charles did set up the desk at the window so that I could watch her and work at the same time. Where it is sitting I can see the majority of the yard. I only let her go out when there are other kids out there. Then there is the fact that we managed to get a TV and DVD player in her room. So, now, instead of having to write with Oliver and Company or the Care Bear Movie in the background, she can watch them in her room instead.
This whole process has been a learning curve for me. Trying to get keep it all in check, learn how to work with people around more often, and manage a household while trying to write is a challenge and a half. It is one that I welcome though. In fact, I wouldn’t have my life any other way right now.
Then there are the challenges that all writers face. The midnight oil burning as you pour over the manuscript wondering if you’ll ever be satisfied enough with it to call it finished. The agonizing over a pivotal scene and details like; whether or not the hero should have worn white or burnt orange as he slays the villain. The plot twists to add to the story come to mind. Did you put enough description into the prose? What statement about social issues are you presenting and will some humanities professor tear it apart and call you insane like they did Van Gogh.
BookCoverPreview1We can’t forget the question of how to get the book into the hands of readers. Decisions about whether to hire an agent or not, traditional or indie publishing, and of course how are you going to market and get the book into the hands of readers all come to mind. You see, so much about writing isn’t really about the writing. Now it isn’t enough to simply write stories that fascinate people. You have to be fascinating yourself and wear a multitude of hats in order to put your work out there and get noticed.
It is all one big challenge after another really.
For me, I’m trying new ways to reach an audience. I’m attempting to narrow down who I am writing for. I’m looking into the options of crowdfunding the sequel to The Secret of the Storm and I’m trying to engage my audience using Facebook. And now I’m in the process of starting to set up a local area book tour. That will enable me to get out and meet the people who are making it possible for me to follow a dream and help support the family while staying home to be a mom and teacher to this little girl.
For everyone reading who has a creative person in their life: just remember that they need a little room to do their thing. I’m one of the lucky ones. Charles understands my need to work like I do. He’s a huge supporter of my work and what I do. In July there will be big changes for me in the writing field. I’m hoping to be able to announce a release date by the end of the month on The Fallen One. And I’m looking forward to promoting The Secret of the Storm locally as well. If you haven’t picked up your copy in print or for Kindle you can do so here.
Just remember folks, when you support an independent author, artist, or even a local business you aren’t padding the pockets of executives. You’re helping people stay in their homes, feed their kids, buy that jersey for a sport or leotards for dance classes etc. You’re helping to make lives better and giving back to your community to those who are giving what they know how to give to the world.

An Update On The Bad Situation

My post about the Kickstarter fiasco last night. You know, the one where the douchebag was trying to produce a how-to guide on “getting women” that was more a guide on how to on sexual assault. The petition was met with some resistance initially. In fact, it seemed that Kickstarter was just ignoring the 60,000+ people who were against the funding of this project. However, as a signer of the petition I got an email from dosomething.org last night stating that “We Won”.

Kickstarter issued a formal statement of apology. You can view it here: Kickstater Apology . They donated $25,000.00 to RAINN, which is commendable considering that they gave Mr. Hoinsky the $16,000.00 + that was donated to his project. Apparently Mr. Hoinsky has agreed to meet with petition organizers though, what good that will do, I’m not entirely sure. I find it difficult to think that such a person can turn this into a positive project if he continues to produce what his examples exhibited.

I did a great deal of thinking and talking about this issue. My fiance and I actually discussed the whole situation at length and I realized a few things.

Yes, I was angry with Kickstarter for even allowing such a project to go onto the site and be presented to the public. I mean this, for me, is not considered a creative project. The project was not presented as satirical. Frankly, even if it had been presented as a comedic piece, I still would have found it offensive and in bad taste. However, if it had been presented as such, I could have justified it’s inclusion as a creative work.  But the bottom line is that the examples submitted were nothing short of promoting sexual violence. I understand the reasons that Kickstarter hesitated and then funded the project. As a creator, if my project had funded, I would have expected to receive the funds as well. They wanted to fulfill their end of the bargain. Fact is, the process is so automated that by the time they acted, it was too late to stop the transfer of funds.

I get it. Really, I do. It still seems like too little too late.

There was no reason, given the severity of the allegations against this project, that it could not be suspended pending an investigation into the project and its compliance with the terms of service. As a creator, yes, it would have been an inconvenience to not receive the funds immediately. The fact is, if my project was on the level I know I would have received my funds once their inquiries were concluded. The fact that Kickstarter failed to act at all is my complaint.

After all the discussion – especially with Charles – I realized that while I was upset with Kickstarter, I was more upset with the fact that there were people out there willing to promote and support such an endeavor at all.

We’re living in the year 2013. I had hoped that, by and large, we had evolved beyond thinking that one sex or the other is there to be objectified. That we would somehow find a way to get past the nonsense that says women are there simply to fulfill some sort of physical need. That we can find a way to respect one another and live with a certain amount of respect for our fellow human beings.

Then, I remembered that every time you turn on the television, watch the news, or read online or in print you see story after story about people being abducted, raped, beaten, murdered, and tortured. If it isn’t here in the USA, its somewhere else. That, is what is really disheartening for me. That we can’t just live and let live. We can’t seem to get past our propensity to hurt one another. That there are handbooks on how to do these things and then, there are people out there, like Mr. Hoinsky, who are more than happy to put the ideas in people’s heads to do nothing more than harm others.

Yes, it is just sad to me that we can’t seem to get beyond it all.

Which Is Worse?

Before I go into this, let me just say that I am a writer. As a writer, I’m a supporter of free speech. However, I also believe that with great freedom comes great responsibility. That our society seems to lack that responsibility is what is truly disheartening to me. To me this is a fact that is evident every time I watch the news or read news on the internet or in the newspaper. We live in interesting and trying times in which it seems, more and more, that empathy and common decency are not valued. All it takes is a half an hour of CNN or Fox News to prove that.

Make things happenI don’t know who sent me a link to this or where I found it. I’m sure it was somewhere on facebook. The truth is, it really doesn’t matter. There are a number of things that greatly disturb me about finding this particular petition. I’m appalled that the petition had to be started at all but, I am glad that someone took the time to start it.

I have considered using Kickstarter to fund book projects in the past. Essentially this would allow me to have the funds to pay copy editors, designers, and to cover some promotion and production costs by doing pre-orders and offering unique incentives for my readers. Honestly, it is a fantastic way to do that. In their terms of service, however, there are specific guidelines for what is acceptable and what is not. Specifically, promotion of violence, illegal activity, or blatantly offensive projects are not allowed.

Or so they say.

Now, for the sake of saving myself from plagiarizing the petition, I am simply posting a link to it here http://www.dosomething.org/petition/kickstarter. I ask that you please review it so you’ll see examples of why I am so offended by this.

The project in question posted examples from the upcoming book. Things that I won’t repeat here. I’m all for a book of dating advice for guys. I won’t even make a jab at the opposite sex for their lack of finesse or even manners. But this man’s examples are blatantly promoting forms of date rape. The last time I checked, such behavior is considered;

1. Offensive

2. Violent

3. Illegal

As such this is in direct violation of their TOS. And yet, the project not only made it to the listing and was promoted but it gained enough support from over 700 people who donated more than $16,000.00 to fund it.

Frankly, I don’t know what to be more disgusted at. On the one hand there is the fact that I know of perfectly unoffensive projects that were taken down or not approved while this buffoon slipped through a technological glitch in their screening process. On the other is the fact that people actually supported and gave money to such a cause.

It was clear that the petition was started to get the project taken down. More to the point, it was to push Kickstarter to stand by its own Terms of Service and refuse to allow the project to be listed or funded through their platform. Instead, it did meet it’s funding goal. Which means that Mr. Hoinsky was donated more than $16,000.00 to promote the degradation of women and violence against them.

The project has been taken down but not before it reached the funding goal that Mr. Hoinsky had set for it. I have not yet found a way to check to see if, indeed, this pervert has been paid the money that he was donated. I find it absolutely distasteful that such a project was even funded to begin with but, I think that says more about our society and what we seem to find acceptable more than it does anything. Frankly, in my opinion, it says more about the character of Mr. Hoinsky that he would even present such a project to the public. Of course, I am certain that his core audience is just as perverse and backwards thinking as he is.

The last time I checked the petition had over 60,000 signatures. I will say that seeing that many people in opposition compared to those who backed it, restores my faith that there are decent people still out there in larger numbers than those who would support such trash. I am not however impressed by the updates that I have seen. It would seem that Kickstarter has practically ignored the concerns of those who have signed it. Which honestly makes me not want to utilize their platform to launch any project that I might have in mind. Though when I last checked the links on the petition to the project, it seems that they have removed the project. However, I would like to know where they stand on the issue of sexual violence against women and whether or not they actually paid out the funds to Mr. Hoinsky. It also does not bode well for them that when people voiced complaints about the project on their facebook page that those comments were removed.

In closing, just in case there are any guys reading here who thought about supporting such a book let me just say this. It’s likely a good thing that Mr. Hoinsky hasn’t dated any of the women I know. His advances would have landed him in jail with charges for assault and attempted sexual assault. And to the guys out there who want Mr. Hoinsky to impart his dating wisdom upon them so they can get laid, don’t bother. Such behavior as was displayed in his exerpts won’t get you anywhere but slapped and in jail. So do yourself a favor and talk to the women you would like to date. Ask them what they look for in a guy, ask them how they want to be treated, and remember that true respect for a woman, communication, and letting her know that she is important is a much better route to go than trying to force her into something that will only make her hate you. 

The Secret of the Storm: An Excerpt

I am adding a treat for you this weekend. As I’m prepping for some pretty big changes, I’m hoping that you’ll enjoy an excerpt from my debut novel The Secret of the Storm. Remember that it is available for purchase on Kindle and in print through Createspace and Amazon.com.

BookCoverPreview1Parkside Brew House, the local coffeehouse, seemed to be a vintage favorite; with its café tables, large windows, and counters full of petit-fours and pastries. It was  picturesque. Richard Wheadon was oblivious to this part of his surroundings. He saw it daily. He was lost to a momentary obsession. In the quiet corner beyond the pastry case, a table played host to a woman who was reading a brown paper-covered book. She sat alone; with curly auburn hair that was twisted over her shoulder, thick eyelashes, and a seeming perfectly shaped mouth. Her eyes rarely left the print. A silver necklace held a charm that centered on her chest and her glasses rested on her nose. A long jacket  was draped over a chair beside her. A notebook and pen accompanied her ceramic coffee cup bearing the logo of the place on the dark wood table in front of her.

Richard had been sitting at the opposite end of the lounge watching her for the past few minutes. He watched her making notes in the notebook. He drank in her careful consideration of the text she was reading. He had been intrigued at her expressions and the way her brow furled as she read from time to time. He’d spent the past ten minutes talking himself up for rejection and arguing that he quite likely, stood no chance with such a beautiful creature. After all, he wasn’t the epitome of masculinity. Being such a bookish person, he wasn’t prone to long hours at the gym. Nor was he the athletic sort to take up jogging or biking. He walked a college campus on a daily basis out of sheer necessity, not to impress women. In truth if he had been able to afford one of those Segway devices, he would have been thrilled to use it to get about the campus.

Rick, as he was known to his friends and colleagues, had always had to rely on his knowledge of poetry, literature, films, and the arts to get women. Dating was something, unlike his career as an English professor, that he had never been a success at. Granted he was not without companions, but dating was not nearly as exciting, in his opinion, as people made it out to be. He preferred to get to know someone. Not spend a thousand dollars on a meal trying to overcompensate for his lack of fashion sense and physique. He liked to think that this was a conscious choice, but the fact was, he was an English professor. Along with that lack of fashion sense and physique, came the English professor’s salary; that had little chance of impressing anyone.

He didn’t think he was bad-looking. He wasn’t lean precisely, but he wasn’t stocky or well-built. Rick was just not a typical guy. When he looked in the mirror in the mornings he saw a bumbling schmuck just trying to make it through the day. And every morning he considered what would happen if he just stopped shaving and grew a beard. He thought that it might make him seem more mature to some women. But, the reality was that he would sink into the job and forget about the idea of women until moments like this – when he saw one who simply captivated him.

Having gathered his courage, he gathered up his books and his own paper cup and started over to her table. He paused just a moment when he reached what he thought of as her personal space. Thankfully, she didn’t seem to notice his hesitation. “Hi,” he said.

“Hello,” she replied, as she looked up at him with captivating hazel eyes. She offered him a warm smile.

“Is this seat taken?” He indicated the opposite seat with a nod and smile. For a moment, it crossed his mind that she may have thought that he wanted to take the chair for another table. This had happened to him before. But then, she told him to have a seat.

He extended his hand. “Rick Wheadon, and you are?”

“Elora, Elora Castain, nice to meet you Mr. Wheadon.”

“Call me Rick,” he said, pausing again as he sat down. Rick suddenly felt at a loss for conversation. He could start rattling off poetry, but that seemed too forward. It likely didn’t matter to Ms. Castain that he could recite a number of romantic poems by Shakespeare or Mr. Poe. In fact, it crossed his mind that the exhibition of his literary knowledge would only serve to put her off. No, Rick thought it best to stick to small talk and so opted for a clichéd remark. “So, I haven’t seen you in here before.”

Her smile broadened and when she spoke, there was a chuckle beneath her words. Her amusement was something Rick found instantly soothing. That small laugh was like music to his ears and he couldn’t help but let his own match hers. At least, it seemed to help lessen his fear of being completely inadequate.

“I’m new in town. I’ve only just arrived actually.”

“Well, I’m glad you decided to stop in our little port-side town. We certainly have a lot to offer here. Museums, fishing, sailing, arts, you name it we can get it within an hour’s drive or so.” Oh my God, he thought. Why would you ask this beautiful woman to go fishing you idiot? You don’t even like to fish. Maybe dad is right. Maybe I am gay. Hoping that she didn’t notice his internal chastising, he tried to steer the conversation toward her. “So where are you from?”

“Oh here and there,” she said. “I was born here actually. However, my family moved away when I was about five.”

“What brings you back here; work, love?” He wanted to wince as that last overly inquisitive word flew from his mouth like an unexpected bat from an old attic window. Somehow, he held it back.

“Neither, my grandmother passed away actually. I am seeing to her remains and taking possession of the house she left to me.” Her smile that had previously shadowed the light on her face, now fell into a line. Only the flimsiest curves at the edges of her mouth, provided any clue that it had been there at all.

“You’re Alice Walsingham’s heir then?” Rick asked in disbelief.

“I’m afraid I am,” she smiled her half smile.

“You’ve my sincerest condolences for your loss.” Rick could feel a mask of incredulity creeping up onto his face. He did his best to shake it off. “So, you are staying at Walsingham Manor?” he asked, perhaps more quickly and sharply than he had intended to.

“Yes.”

Rick sat back in his seat and cocked his head with the best smirk he could muster. “For as long as I can remember there have been stories about that house and your family. Especially about your grandmother,” he said.

“Stories? What sort of stories?” she leaned on the table with her elbows propping her chin up. A curious grin forming on her lips.

Rick was happy to see it – proud even. However, the cost of that pride had painted him into a corner. Now, he would have to speak, which might prove difficult with both feet in his mouth. “I don’t know that I’m the one whom you should hear them from. I mean I only know the stories, I didn’t personally know your grandmother. I don’t want you to think that I’m the type of person who bases an opinion of someone on the town gossip.”

“You don’t have to give me details. Honestly, I had only met the woman twice that I can recall. My parents kept me away from her for reasons unbeknownst to me. I’m quite sure my mother will go ballistic when I tell her I’ve decided to stay at the house.”

“Why are you staying if it will cause that big of a stir?” he asked, hoping that the awkwardness of the moment had passed. He watched her expression change to puzzlement as she considered the question. After a long pause, she drew in a deep breath and answered.

“In all honesty, I don’t know, it just feels like I’ve come home. I can’t explain it any other way. It feels like I belong there; if that makes any sense at all.”

Rick watched her shoulders rise and fall as she sat back. It did make sense, and he said so. Then he took another drink of his coffee and returned the cup to the table, watching it settle back into the ring he had spilled upon sitting down. He didn’t know what to tell her and what to keep his mouth shut about. He figured that it would do no harm to tell some of the things he had heard. As long as she understood that they were gossip as far as he knew. “I will tell you that many said she was an oddball. Very rarely was she ever seen in town. She was like the town’s hermit. Then, on stormy nights, if you were driving down the road you would see her on that balcony, her arms outstretched. It was an eerie sight. I saw her like that myself once.”

“So she was a bit eccentric. My whole family is like that. I’m sure I have a few eccentricities myself. So often people judge others before they get to really know them,” Elora said. “It’s a shame really. She was quite a generous soul, as I knew her. But then I’m sure I was family as well.”

“True, and I’m sure you were the apple of her eye,” Rick said with a wink. He thought that it may have been the smoothest thing he had done all afternoon.

There was that laugh again as she looked at her watch. Then she tipped her mug up one last time and smiled. “Rick, it’s been a pleasure, and I’d love to stay and chat but I’m due at an appointment.”

Rick stood with her and smiled as she gathered her things from the table. “I hope I’ll see you around town. Maybe we could have lunch?” he asked, knowing full well that the day-date had been the touch of death to similar situations in the past. But, somehow it rolled off his tongue like an old song he had been rehearsing it in the shower.

She said nothing; snatched his smooth, brown cardboard cup from his hand and her ink pen from her purse. She scribbled something on the side and handed it back to him. She smiled and backed away.

His eyes stayed fixed on hers, only losing their grasp as she turned and walked away. He watched as her shape fell from sight. He looked down at the cup, and smiled. It was a telephone number. And below, a simple, one-word note that made his heart nearly burst. It read, “Dinner!!!”

State of the Fluff….

First off, apologies to all of you dear followers and readers. If you’ve been following for the last couple weeks, you’ll know that I’ve been trying to keep something of a schedule here on The Writer’s Studio while finishing continuity edits and trying to juggle everything else going on. I have been slacking a bit the last few days though. For that, I do apologize.

You see, I am incredibly blessed. I have an amazing family that includes my fiance and our six year old. A whole group of extended family and well, because I enjoy it, I spend a good amount of time over there with them. The weekends are the typical time for me to spend all day but, Charles has had a few days off from his job and it is our little girl’s last week of Kindergarten.

We are all excited to be attending her graduation tomorrow morning. So, why am I sitting here at nearly midnight, when I have to get up at six in the A.M.? It would be an excellent question to ask.

BookCoverPreview1The answer is really quite simple though. There was more big news for me today. After more than two and a half weeks of waiting Amazon finally sent me the news that the technical glitch was fixed. That means, The Secret of the Storm is now available for purchase as a paperback edition as well as in ebook for the Kindle. It also means that I can finally start planning a book-launch event and booking signing events here in East Texas.

It is all very exciting for me. I’m sure that it will be something that I talk about often in the weeks ahead. Not to worry though, the blog isn’t going to become one big promotion for the book. There are plenty of other things I have to talk about and give my two bits on.

That being said, the state of the fluff lately is up in the air. I’ve been on the go, lost my voice intermittently thanks to some sort of allergy attack or cold, and haven’t been paying much attention to what I’m eating. So, we’re going to have to jump back on the band wagon at some point. I think I’m going go back to doing my “health sheets” to track and maybe that will give me some motivation. You’d think that a pending wedding would be enough, right?

Keeping it simple so that I can still get some rest. If you have ideas for book-launch events, how to get the word out about the book, or just words of encouragement (this is my first “major event” with our daughter as someone she calls Mom) I will gladly take them in comments or by email. If you haven’t liked my facebook page, feel free to. There is a box on the right for easy access. I look forward to meeting all the readers as time goes on. And yes, I do try to answer all my messages.

Wish me luck! And thanks for sticking with me. Share a link. My philosophy around here is; the more the merrier.

Of Series & Sequels

TSOTS COVER ADThe official release of The Secret of the Storm is quickly approaching. You can already purchase the Kindle ebook through Amazon.com and you can purchase the print version in pre-release through the Createspace store here. I’m excited about the release, of course. I am even more psyched that the early reviews have been so positive and encouraging. It certainly makes all the work that went into producing it worth the effort and makes me want to keep going with the next book I am working on.

I keep getting the same question from early readers though.

Will there be a sequel to The Secret of the Storm?

In answering that, I can’t really give a definitive yes or no. I haven’t ruled out another trip to Slauson Cove and another chapter to the Walsingham legacy. In fact, I’ve toyed with ideas on how to continue that story. New characters would be introduced if I did go ahead with it. But, I’m not going to lie. It hasn’t been a high point on my priority list.

Even before the work on The Secret of the Storm was complete another story grabbed my attention and simply wouldn’t let go of me. So, I put my focus into that instead of a sequel. That story went from one book to a series of at least five.

AR PROMO1Armageddon Rising is a series that will be full of danger, intrigue, and even biblical prophecy. I don’t know why it was stuck in my head to tackle such heavy concepts. I suppose it is a calling of sorts because the story, research, and character development consistently cost me hours of sleep. And now that I’m in the middle of the editing phase of the project, it is costing me even more.

As with all my work, this is fiction. I don’t claim to be a biblical scholar or an expert on end times prophecy. My purpose in writing this is to tell a story that people will make people think and that they can enjoy. I’m not even going to claim that this is Christian fiction. I don’t feel that it meets the criteria to fit into that genre. But I can tell you that it is a page-turner.

I am notorious for working on multiple projects simultaneously. So, I wouldn’t quite rule out another Slauson Cove book if I continue to be asked about it by readers. There are things that I would like to explore with Elora that were, for me, unfinished in the first one. Don’t ask me when it will be out. The ideas are still merely a stack of notes in a folder with my character sketches.

If you haven’t gotten your ebook of The Secret of the Storm yes, it is available for the Kindle. The print release has been delayed but, I will keep all of you informed as to when the print version is available and events that will be coming up. I am planning to do a good number of book signings, readings, and even virtual touring with the help of Google+ and YouTube. So, if you want a chance to meet the woman behind the blog and the books, you’ll certainly get your chance.

If you have questions for me, I’d love to answer them here on the blog or in videos. (Yes, I’m thinking of branching out a bit.) So you can comment on any post or you can always email me your questions to annebellewrites@gmail.com. I always look forward to hearing from readers and other authors. I do try to respond to all my correspondence. Just have patience. Sometimes it takes a while for me to get through it all.

Happy Friday everyone. I hope that you enjoy your weekend.