Of Pumpkins and Formatting

Today is officially the first day of autumn!  I plan on celebrating with pumpkin spice candles and catching up on some long overdue reading.  Pumpkin bread and some good Halloween movies might also be on the horizon.  For now, however, I wanted to share some excited news!  Two things, actually!

  1. After Death is all pretty and formatted and review/proof copies are on the way.  I can’t wait to see it!  Especially with the other two books!  It’s going to look so pretty. 11855709_284882665020055_753171641304509198_n
  2. I’ve been asked to participate in a series of NaNoWriMo meet-ups for one of the local libraries!  I’ll be talking about my experience participating in NaNoWriMo and encouraging other writers on their journey.  I am so excited!  I’m a big fan of NaNoWriMo.  I used to have this really rotten attitude about it.  I though, “Psh… I don’t need a bunch of people telling me to write a novel in a month.  I’ll write a novel whenever I damn well please!”  But the thing about NaNoWriMo is that it challenges you to try something new, to maybe write a book you hadn’t planned on writing.  And it’s SO much fun.  It’s such a great way to open up your mind and take a chance on something that you previously hadn’t given much thought.  If I hadn’t participated in NaNoWriMo, Boy Band wouldn’t exist.  And guess what?  It’s only been out a few months and it’s done better than my other two books put together. So yeah.  I love NaNoWriMo and I’m really looking forward to meeting with other writers, sharing my experience, and encouraging them to keep writing!

As for my personal work, like I said, I finished formatting After Death yesterday and the proof copy is on its way.  It still needs a final read-through and last minute edits, but for the most part, I’m feeling really good about this book.  I’ve also found that the more I write, the easier the editing and formatting process gets.  At first, it was so daunting and intimidating and to be honest, I was kind of terrified of the idea.  But now, I actually look forward to it.  It’s so much fun to see your manuscript become a real book.  It’s also such a left-brained project.  Sometimes it’s really nice to turn off the emotional, creative, la-de-da side of your brain and just rely on the driven, logic-based, task-oriented side.  It’s not a side I consult very often, so whenever I do, it’s very efficient and eager to prove itself.  And it rarely lets me down.  My right brain is very talented, but it’s so easily distracted and it has to have like ten things to focus on at once or it gets bored and it’s very emotional and sometimes hard to work with.  My right brain is basically Dory from Finding Nemo.

That being said, I think I’m going to head out.  My dad is at the eye doctor again, this time for a consultation for cataract surgery.  Good times.  After that, however, I really want to try and make pumpkin spice muffins.  I also need to get started on a new short story for the next Lurking anthology.  Then I might just learn to crochet.  See?  That right brain is never fully satisfied.

Words, Words, Words

I remember in one of my grad school writing classes, one of the guest speakers told us, “One of the most difficult things that you will ever do as a writer is scrap and entire novel and start from scratch.  And you will do it.”  I’m here to tell you today it’s actually not that bad.

Is it time-consuming?  Yes.

Is it a hard decision to make?  Somewhat.

Is it worth it?  Oh my goodness, yes.

I got to the seventeenth chapter of the new Cemetery Tours before I was finally able to admit that I wasn’t happy with it.  I tried to deny it for a while, tried to convince myself that I could write through it.  But the story was going around in circles.  It was all discussion and no action.  Worst of all, the plot was very thin and barely there.  I knew I needed to change something or else there was no way it would measure up to the first two.

Making the decision to completely rewrite has been one of the best professional decisions I’ve ever made.  I’m SO much happier with the story now.  It’s less convoluted and far more interesting.  It’s holding my attention better, which is a necessity.  If you can’t get into your own story, then you know you’ve got a problem.  Yes, it’s a lot of work, and yes it is really hard to acknowledge that you’ve got seventeen chapters of nothing, but in the long run, it was the best thing I could have done for my stories, for my characters, and for my readers.  I want to give them the best books that I can.  I would never publish a book that I was even a little unsure of.  I have to believe in a book.  I have to love it.  I have to know it’s my best work.  Otherwise, there’s no way I’m putting it out there for others to read.  My first novel will never, ever see the light of day because it is just so bad.

Speaking of first novels, I’m currently in the process of beta-reading my friend Paula Walker Baker’s first novel!  I’m so, so, so excited for her and so impressed by how much she’s accomplished and how far she’s come in the year that I’ve known her.  This lady is going places and nothing is going to stop her!


That being said, I’m off to go read the rest of her book.  Goodnight, all!


Hi, friends!  Today’s post is not going to be a long one because I have a few projects that need to be finished by tomorrow.  That being said, the new manuscript is in the hands of one editor and flying off to the second this afternoon.  Yay!  So excited!

So, instead of a lengthy post, please enjoy some pictures of the snow that fell yesterday morning.  Expecting more tomorrow.  Oh joy.

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Answers Part II: Publishing

Hi, everyone!  It’s Friday!  YAY!

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, here are the answers to the publishing questions that you asked!  Thanks again to all who stopped by to comment!  You supplied me with a couple days of great blog material!


Does it matter if your book is traditionally vs. self vs. hybrid published?  

In a perfect world, I’d say no.  I’ve read independently published books that were infinitely better than some traditionally published books.  Then again, I’ve read independent books that were incredibly low-quality.  Even if the story was decent, the editing may have been poor, or the formatting sloppy, and unfortunately, that makes a huge impact when reading.  Having a great story and being able to write well is only half of what publishing is really about.  When you go the traditional route, a big company takes care of all of that for you.  When you independently publish, it’s all on you.  That was my main goal in publishing Cemetery Tours.  I wanted people to read it and think that it had come from a big publishing house.  That means professional cover, studying traditionally published books and their formatting, ISBN, PCN, bar codes, etc…

Did you try traditional publishing before you went the independent route?

I did for about a month.  I queried a handful of agents, but after being rejected and/or never hearing back from them, I decided to go the independent route.

What made you decide to self-publish?

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t try very hard with traditional publishing, but I’ll also be the first to admit I am not a patient person.  I believed in my book and I wanted to get it out there.  I figured I could either waste months waiting around for something I was not guaranteed, or I could take matters into my own hands and publish my book the way I thought it deserved to be published, with care.  Independently publishing also means I own all the rights to my book.  It is mine and mine alone.  I love my book.  I think it’s a good story with great characters and I am proud to be able to say that I wrote it.  That’s something I never thought I would achieve, since I used to keep all my art and writings strictly to myself.  I would willingly share Cemetery Tours and it’s sequel with the world, though, and in the end, I think that’s what makes independent publishing so worthwhile, because it truly is a labor of love.

Is there a special meaning behind the name of your company, Wind Trail Publishing?  

Not a special meaning, per se, but I was very careful and deliberate when coming up with the name.  I wanted it to be something that I would be willing to stick with for the rest of my life, since I do plan on this being a lifelong career and not just a passing fancy.  I also wanted something that reflected my location (Texas) and something I held near and dear to my heart.  I ultimately decided on Wind Trail because of my experience working as a camp counselor.  I love hiking trails, I love wind in my hair, I love being outside.  I value freedom very highly, and I never feel freer than when I am out in nature.  I’m also proud to be able to say I designed the compass logo for my company.  I sketched it out, at least.  Ben, my graphic designer, put it into the computer since I’m like, the least tech savvy person ever and I have no idea how to do that.


What was your publishing experience like?

In a word, intimidating.  I had a few people offer me guidance and words of wisdom, but for the most part, I learned most of the stuff on my own, probably because I’m not a very good listener.  I don’t know why, but people talk and I just don’t understand what they’re trying to tell me.  It’s a lot easier for me to read and learn for myself than to have another person guide me.  I’m a very visual learner.  There is also a lot of decision making involved, and that’s something that no one can guide you on, because you have to make the best decision for you and your book and what you want to accomplish.  Now, looking back, it all seemed like a lot and it seemed like everyone was trying to tell me different things and oh my gosh, I’ll never get it all done and get published, but when you simplify the process, take out all the advice that other people offer you, and just do what you know you need to do to get your book out there, it’s really not that bad.

Essentially, you need…

A cover, both front and back.

ISBN (go to https://www.myidentifiers.com for ISBN and Bar Codes.  My advice?  Buy ISBN in bulk.  I own 10 and it’s a great investment)

PCN (go to http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/ for everything you could possibly want to know)



What do you do to promote books other than Twitter and Facebook?

Oh, book promotion, you glorious pain the butt.  To be honest, my book has only been out since September, and although it’s done fairly well, I still can’t quit my day job and move to Fiji.  Twitter and Facebook are great tools, but honestly, I think I’ve found the most success here on my blog.  It’s a great way to connect with readers and fellow authors.  Review swaps are also fantastic!  You get a new book and an honest review for yours.  Right now, I’m working on getting my book into libraries and independent book stores, but that means investing a lot of time and money into copies of the book while at the same time preparing my new book for publication, which is a task in and of itself.  GoodReads is one of my absolute favorite websites for book promotion and for meeting new people.  It’s like Pinterest for books.  Pinterest is also a great promotional tool.

(GoodReads/Shameless self promotion: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18470430-cemetery-tours)

I’ve read about the importance of newsletters, but I’ve yet to figure out how to really accomplish that.  Reviews are so, so, so important, I can’t even begin to describe it.  My goal is for Cemetery Tours to have 50 reviews by the time the sequel is released in June, and I only need 14 more, so I think I can make it happen.  I hope I can, anyway!  There are several website, also, that offer promotional services for a fee, but let’s be honest here, some of us have student loans to pay off and if we can save a buck and do it ourselves, then that’s what we’re going to do.

I hope this has been somewhat helpful and enlightening!  Thank you all for your questions and if you have any more, please don’t hesitate to ask!  I’ll always try to answer to the best of my ability!  Have a great weekend!

TGFE or Thank God For Editors

Yesterday, one of my three editors/beta readers returned my manuscript, full of little notes and corrections.  I’m always nervous to find out what people will think.  Even though I’ve hired them to be honest and to tell me what works, what doesn’t work, where I wrote “their” instead of “there”, etc., I still get jittery.  What if I don’t like what they think?  What if they think I’m a total idiot because I forgot to add a comma?  What if they think the story sucks and that I just need to rewrite the whole darn thing?

Fortunately, she loved the story and made several quite useful suggestions.  It’s so nice getting an outside perception.  “No, you don’t need this.  You need to expand on this.”  I know what’s going on in my head in the story, but having someone who doesn’t know let you know what’s missing or what is not needed… oh my gosh, this is why writers have beta readers and editors!

My favorite part is that the program she used to edit allowed her to go through and add in little corrections that I’d missed!  DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH BUSY WORK THAT IS GOING TO SAVE ME?!  I’m not even going to lie to you.  I am a lazy person and I hate going back and fixing every itsy bitsy little detail.  I will, because I want my book to be professional quality, but oh man!  I am so excited about that.  I can’t even tell you.

Her final note on the last page of the manuscript really made my day.


Now I am even more excited to get this book done and out there!

In other news, I’ve been thinking about my newer projects.  I will be working on getting the third CT book started, but I also want to get some new stuff out there.  There is one story I’ve had in my head for ages, and I’ve tried multiple times to get it started, but somehow, something always feels off.  That’s not a new feeling.  It took me four failed attempts and two years to get Cemetery Tours right.  In the first draft, Michael Sinclair’s character was named Nick Tanner and he had to travel all across the country to find a dead guy’s fiancee.  I definitely like the story better now.

I realized today that one of my problems with the new story is my female protagonist.  She’s very serious and very quiet, and it’s hard for me to write characters like that because I am so the opposite.  That’s something I love about writing Kate from CT.  She’s so funny and neurotic and outspoken.  That’s the kind of female character I enjoy writing.  When I write the timid, serious characters, I think, “Oh my God, how do you have friends?  You’re so boring and annoying!”  I think this character has a lot of potential, but she needs to be more fun and interesting.  I also realized that I’ve been trying to write the story as an adult novel while, in all honesty, I’m pretty sure it’s more of a YA.  Some reconfiguration might be in order, but you know, when isn’t it?  The most important thing is to keep writing and to keep moving forward.

Hello Friends

I feel like it’s been a while.  Life is busy.  A little stressful.  But good overall.

On Saturday, I fulfilled one of my admittedly odd lifelong ambitions.  I went to the movie theater by myself.  Again, I know it’s weird, but for some reason, I’ve always wanted to experience seeing a movie just with myself.  I decided to go see Divergent.  It was really good.  For the most part, it stayed true to the book, though it was definitely watered down.  For once, I was strangely okay with that.  Maybe because I’ve only read through the series once and I’m not quite as emotionally invested in it as I am in Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.  It could also be because Veronica Roth’s books are long and very intricately detailed.  I’ll probably have to read through the trilogy again before the next movie comes out because I don’t really remember all that happened, especially in the second one.

One recently announced book-to-movie adaptation that I probably will not be seeing, however, is The Giver. I might change my mind as the release date draws nearer, but from what I’ve seen in the trailer… I’m just not interested.  Nothing I saw in that trailer even remotely resembles the utter magic that the book held for me the first time I read it in middle school and every time I reread it after.  That book is a masterpiece and one that really impacted me as a reader and, consequentially, as a writer.  I’ll be curious to find out what other fans of the book think of it.

I also saw the new Hobbit movie again.  I still think there are too many orcs, too may elves, and not enough Bilbo and the Dwarves. But what do I know?

On the book front, I finished reading The Amazing Crystal by Gerald Lizee.


I’m not a sci-fi reader, but I really enjoyed it!  I posted reviews on both Amazon and GoodReads, but I thought I’d share it here too.

Here’s the deal. I do not read a whole lot of science fiction. In fact, I could probably count on one hand the number of Sci-Fi books I’ve actually read and enjoyed. Add The Amazing Crystal by Gerald Lizee to that list.

Set in a futuristic society, protagonist Lydia receives an amulet from her grandfather, who has gone into hiding our of fear that he may be robbed or kidnapped. This amulet, it turns out, possesses the ability to communicate with whom it chooses and influence the world around it.

Something I loved and that makes The Amazing Crystal very unique is that it plays out like an action show, with episodes instead of chapters. This makes for a fun and fast-paced read with no slow spots in the narrative. The descriptions are vivid and yet, Mr. Lizee tells the story in such a way that even those of us who’ve spent more of our time in the worlds of romance and fantasy will understand and enjoy.

Congratulations and 5 stars to Gerald Lizee. I look forward to reading his future works!

The next book that I’m reading and reviewing is The Calling by Louise G. White.  It’s a fantasy and it looks right up my alley!  I’m really looking forward to reading it!


Finally, I’m about two chapters in to my newest manuscript!  While the sequel to Cemetery Tours is in the editors’ hands, I’m enjoying having something new to engage me.  It’s really excited about the story, and even though it hasn’t been in my head very long, just since January, it’s already better developed than ideas that have been brewing for years.  It’s kind of funny how the brain works like that.

Well, that’s about all I’ve got for today!  Talk to you all tomorrow!


It’s the Weekend!

Three of my favorite words!  Other than “Going to beach” or “Your book’s selling,” I love hearing “It’s the weekend” probably more than anything else in the world!  Better yet, I have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING planned this weekend.  It’s such a liberating and wonderful feeling. 

And yet I’ve come to realize that authors, particularly independent authors, never truly have NOTHING to do.  There is always something that we can be working on.  For example…

1) Although my latest manuscript is in the hands of editors and proof-readers, I could still be going back through, re-reading, and making sure I’m happy with everything.  I could also be brushing up on my formatting, coming up with a blurb for the back of the book, investigating the ISBN, etc.

2) Researching my current WIP. I have six books that I need to read, or at least browse, for information on my newest manuscript.  Four of those books are library books, so my time is limited on those.

3) Actually writing my new  manuscript.

4) Finishing up The Amazing Crystal, the latest book that I’m reading and reviewing.  PS – If you’re interested in a book exchange to read and review (I review on Amazon and GoodReads) leave me a note in the comments section! 

5) Reading any of the other books that I have lying around.  Reading is IMPORTANT for authors!  If you don’t enjoy reading, how can you enjoy writing?  Besides, there is always something to be learned! 

6) Working on my new trilogy of paintings.  Okay, that has nothing to do with being an author, but I don’t like leaving projects unfinished.  And these paintings are going to be really cool! 

So if I’m being honest, I’m actually in for a very busy weekend.  In a lot of ways, being an author really reminds me of being in graduate school.  There’s a lot of reading and libraries involved and the writing never seems to end.  The only difference is now I’m reading and researching and writing what I want instead of being assigned something.  I love it so much! 

However, on the downside, there are no professors around to make sure you finish your work, and I’ve met plenty of aspiring writers who love writing but who have difficulties actually finishing a manuscript.  I can’t judge them, because I have plenty of unfinished manuscripts lying around.  It’s easy to think, “Oh, there’s no one holding me to finishing this.  I can just take my time.”  In the world of independent writing, you’ve got to hold yourself accountable.  Set deadlines for yourself, and if you don’t make them, set new deadlines.  That way, you’re always pushing yourself to keep going, to keep writing.  Don’t be intimidated.  Don’t worry about what anyone else will think.  Write first and foremost for yourself and because you love it.  There are so many people out there who will think you’re crazy for spending so much of your time writing, but the truth is, if you love it, you’d do it for free.  For you, writing is fun.  It’s a way of life, a release, a joy.  I hope each and every one of us gets to the point where we can write for a living. 

Life is a gift, meant to be loved and enjoyed.  That’s why I write, because I want to live life the way I was meant to live it; thankful, in awe, and in love. 

Happy Weekend, all!

Long Weekend

This past weekend has been a long one, and not necessarily in the good sense.  It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t the best either.  For one thing, I’ve been feeling a little under the weather (even though the weather outside now is GLORIOUS!  Finally it’s feeling like spring!).  For another (and this is the big stressor), my sweet almost 21-year-old kitty has not been feeling her best, so I’ve pretty much been on round-the-clock nurse duty.  She’s doing okay.  I honestly thought she might not make it through the weekend, but she’s still happy, still purring, and most importantly, still eating and drinking.  So yeah, she’s been my number one priority these last few days. 





She’s my girl and she’s been my friend for a long time!    

On the book front, however, I am pleased to report that I have made quite a bit of progress.  I went through and did sort of a quick edit/format/spell-check and it’s ready for my editor and beta readers.  In doing all that, I got to reread and refresh and I am so happy to say that I love this book.  I love it just as much as I love the first one, maybe even more because there’s some new scenery and new characters and the old characters are already established so it was more fun to write!  If you enjoyed Cemetery Tours, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this one.  I’m in the process of assigning its ISBN, but I still need to know a few things, like publication date, how many words the final copy has, etc…  Right now, it’s at 73,000 but that is always subject to change.  I do need to get back in touch with my cover designer, but he’s currently in Kentucky filming at the site of the sinkhole that swallowed up all those Corvettes (my uncles were in mourning for days…).  

Finally, A Platform of Sorts was nominated once again for the Liebster Award!  I’m so honored, and I will try to get around to nominating and doing all the facts, but Jazzy and the new book are, again, my first and second priorities.  Thank you to my friend Diana at http://brilliantlynovel.wordpress.com for nominating me!  I’m honored!  🙂  


I also took a trip to the library for research for my next book.  If all goes according to plan (I’ve learned that nothing is set in stone when it comes to writing), my next book will be either a stand-alone novel or the first in a trilogy.  I’m thinking it will be the former though.  I guess we’ll all find out!  And hey, I’d rather have too many ideas to choose from than no clue at all!  

I hope you all have a wonderful week.  

Also, if you’ve read Cemetery Tours, it only needs ONE MORE REVIEW to break 30 on Amazon!  It’s been stuck at 29 for a few weeks now, so if you’d like to stop by and write like, two or three sentences on why it’s a good book (or an awful book, but honestly, I’d prefer the former), I’d be eternally in your debt.  Thank you all!  

Peace out.  

Mission Accomplished!

Hey, y’all!  I’m back.  

After a simultaneously productive and lazy weekend, I’m excited to announce that I finished the first draft of the short nonfiction manuscript I’ve been working on.  Hopefully will start the editing on that tonight so I can get it out there relatively soon.  I’m meeting with my graphic designer on Thursday.  I love working with him.  He’s always so enthusiastic!  

It’s been a lot of fun working on this project, but I really am ready to get back to the Cemetery Tours sequel and finally finish that up.  Not only do I want to begin the publishing process, but I also really miss my characters.  I like writing them!  

In other updates, I literally just had a new idea for a story as I was eating lunch.  Not that I need any new ideas.  I have at least four planned after Cemetery Tours, not including more possible sequels, but this one… I don’t know… it might have to be bumped up in front of stories that aren’t quite as developed yet.  I’ll think about it.  

That’s the best thing about writing.  There’s so much freedom.  That’s really all I want out of life, to be free, with never-ending possibilities.  

I guess that’s pretty much all for now.  As always, I’ll keep you updated!    Happy Monday!  

The Block

I’ve only seen the movie Pitch Perfect once (unheard of, I know), but one of the funniest moments in my opinion was when Brittany Snow’s character was confessing to her fellow singers that she had “The Nodes.”  My sister is a singer, so I know that vocal nodes are actually quite serious and nothing to laugh at, but her delivery was priceless and I cracked up.  

I think that every branch of the creative and performing arts has some version of “The Nodes.”  I’m not really sure what actors’ or artists’ might be, for for writers, it’s The Block – Writer’s Block, that is.  

At one time or another, every writer has experienced writer’s block.  I’ve had some writers tell me that it’s the reason they quit working on their manuscript.  “I have writer’s block and I can’t get past it.  I can’t write.  I bet Stephen King never gets writer’s block.”  

That might be a poor example, because I feel like if there’s one person in the world who has more than enough weird and twisted ideas to last him a lifetime, it’s Stephen King, but you know what I’m trying to say.  

It’s easy to believe that Writer’s Block = Failure.  If you have writer’s block, then there’s clearly something wrong with you and you’re not meant to write, but that’s simply not the case.  Writer’s block is a pain, but it’s also, unfortunately, an inevitable part of life as a writer.  And when you think about it, of course you’re going to experience some kind of setback.  This story is precious to you and you want it to be perfect.  If what you’re writing is, in your mind, less than perfect, then it’s going to be difficult to go on.  If you know where the story’s going but you’re not sure how to get there, then you’ll probably drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out.  

The key is not to let writer’s block intimidate you or scare you away.  If you give me a copy of Cemetery Tours, I can go through and highlight every single part that I struggled through, that I rewrote ten times over, that made me think I was just the lousiest writer ever.  The good (or bad news) is that writing your manuscript is actually the smallest and least stressful part of writing and publishing a book.  It doesn’t matter if the first manuscript sucks, because guess what?  You are going to read and read and reread that manuscript over and over and over again while you’re editing.  But the best thing about editing is that it’s like endless second chances to make a great book.  

The only cure to writer’s block is to keep writing.  Even if you have to force yourself to press your fingers to the keys, keep writing.  Heck, you can even skip the part that’s giving you trouble and write what you know, then find a way to connect the two.  Once you’re finished, printing off the manuscript and reading it on paper instead of on a computer screen present a whole different perspective and experience.  It’s so much easier to read and edit and to make sense of things when you have the paper in your hands as opposed to scrolling mindlessly through a word document.  

Writer’s block is very real and it’s a huge nuisance, but it is NOT invincible.  No matter how much it threatens, do not let it overcome you.  Write your way through.  You’ll be glad you did.