Thursday, December 3, 2015


December. How is that possible? Time for a post to the Insecure Writers Support Group, created by Alex Cavanaugh (thanks Alex!). 

Our topics are fears, struggles, insecurities, challenges, or encouragements as writers. This past month I’ve touched on all of the above.
My first two books were published with the help of a publisher, relieving me of any of the formatting issues. For my latest novel, Time Trials, I flew solo as a self-publisher. Hence the fears, struggles, insecurities and challenges.

I have always used a professional editor (which I highly recommend), and once I handed over the finished project I thought I had time to kick up my feet, and take a much needed deep breath.


Little did I know the worm hole I was days away from being hurled down. 

Each editing rewrite took only a day or so…there were three. Editing done.
Scramble. Scramble. Scramble. Blurb, title page, dedication & acknowledgements, copyright page…and then the formatting. Should be simple.


Not that formatting was difficult, I had just never done it before. And to top it off, I’d set a deadline to format, submit, review, publish, order, & have an initial shipment delivered in time for a possible book signing on December 5. EVERYTHING I attempted got screwed up and had to be redone…twice. Submitting a 8.5 x 11inch formatted manuscript for a 6 x 9 inch book didn’t work. Who knew? Cover design, margins, indentations, headers (different for even and odd pages), page numbers, page breaks for new chapters…any of this sound familiar to you who knew where the stones were when you walked on water?

Throwing myself on the floor, kicking, yanking my hair, screaming…every childish prank I could think of I pulled…royally. Then poof…it was completed.


Sunday night I hit the “submit” button on CreateSpace. Done.
Okay, time for a little breather.

Wrong again.

Monday morning I wake up to an email: “Congratulations! Your book has met our criteria. Your book will be published on Amazon in 3-5 days.”

Wow, that was fast.

But wait…it gets better.
Later that afternoon I find my book is already up on Amazon.
What? Amazon has nothing better to do on Cyber Monday? They said 3-5 days! 

This is happening too fast. It's going to be out there! On the big "Zon!" Will anyone like it? 

Sound familiar?
Now the encouragement: you too can make it through this crazy maze of self-publishing. It's a wacky ordeal of jumping through hoops...but worth it. As for the formatting lesson, I will certainly make notes for the next go-round. But it’s done. Today, I’m kicking up my feet…and waiting for the next something or another. But with a smile.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Birth of a Book…24 month gestation (ouch)

November is here and time for another post to the Insecure Writers Support Group, created by Alex Cavanaugh. To stay on track, our topics need to be about struggles, insecurities, challenges, or encouragement. Today I choose challenges...
 On September 30, at 12:38 PM, I completed book #3, announcing the arrival of my new born, Time Trials. Still steps to take before the final product is up for publication, but the characters finally allowed me to say DONE (my delivery date).

I speak only for myself as my writing career didn’t begin until my late 50’s, but writing a book is like having a baby…somewhat. There’s the initial stage where not much is showing. A lot of excitement, identified my characters, created the story board and off I go.

A bit into the story I began to feel rumblings of unease. Something didn’t feel right, although the belly of the book was beginning to show. Then, the ding, ding, ding goes off. What I’ve spent 8-12 months writing, turns out to be more the middle of the book. Rats.

 This sometimes happens when I give free-range to my characters.

Thank goodness the human female gestation periods don’t work this way. Can you imagine a woman having to “re-do” the first trimester? (I hear screams)

After some hormonal temper tantrums, I began the journey of creating the first part of the book. I rationalize, hey…by the time I catch up to my original beginning, I’ll be two-thirds done.

 Time Trials covers three different time periods (1972, 1992, 2012). And each required its own research, which required more time. And then more time.

Wading through the maze of publishing and marketing my first two books, Saving Gracie & Partly Sunny, I found less and less writing time geared toward Time Trials. Where did the hours, weeks, months go? Literally, days raced by in a blur. 

I have two pets who can tell time. They sat at my feet day after day. At five o’clock each afternoon they'd move in closer, if that is possible, and stare at me like “uh…duh, have you not looked at the clock lately?”

Seriously? Didn’t I just feed you guys? You mean another day has already slipped away? They nodded and proceeded with their meal.

Having a baby is a labor of love. Writing a book is a labor of love. My initial thoughts about the story line for Time Trials turned into much, much more “labor” than I anticipated. Tons of research later, which I found I actually enjoyed, year #1 rolled into year #2. Some days I’d sit at the computer and pat myself on the back after rolling out 1,000-2,000 words. Then I’d see a post on Facebook like:

“Had a creative idea when I woke up this morning. Have already cranked out 3,000 words and still going.”

Really? Where’s my light saber? I feel like zapping something...

Other days the typing went so slow one would think both hands had been tied behind me with a pencil wedged in my mouth pecking out each word.

Frustrating? Yes

Rewarding? Yes

Completing a novel? Ecstatic

According to my calculations, my trimesters on Time Trials lasted 8 months, which means my book/baby gestation period surpassed an African elephant’s pregnancy by 2.5 months…ouch


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What Will It Take?

Today is the first Wednesday of September and time for a post for the Insecure Writer’sSupport Group.

I have struggled for the past several days as to what to write. I’m moved to tears this morning by the violence and hate in our country at the moment. And I say this without having turned on a television to witness the latest unsettling news of the day.

The horrendous killing of that Harris County Deputy last Friday evening happened in Houston. I live in Houston. The man charged with this senseless crime lived in a subdivision called Copperfield. I lived in Copperfield in the 80’ & 90’s. He graduated from a Cy-Fair high school 12 years ago…the same school my daughter graduated from 20 years ago.

During his football career he was scouted by several colleges. He was a team player. There was no black/white hatred on that team. They played as a TEAM. But that was another time…

What happened over these last 12 years? It had to have been something monstrous. And now, a well-respected man is taken from this world, leaving a wife and two small children to piece together the rest of their lives.

The bright spot in all of this for me has been the peace rally that took place this past weekend. Hundreds and hundreds of people of all color walked together for the violence to stop. 

Yet yesterday on the news I saw graffiti had popped up several places here in Houston of a policeman with a gun pointed to his head. The news bulletin read “Anti-law-enforcement graffiti in the Houston area.”

Where will it end? What will it take? My heart is heavy this morning. To combat violence and hate with violence and hate isn’t the answer. Not the way I believe.

I lived through the assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963. I was 11 and felt a sense of shame something so horrible could happen in my state. Now, the feeling is much stronger. Yes, because the shooting happened in Houston, in my old neighborhood, at a corner where my daughter used to hang out in high school. But the pain in my heart over the hate and violence I now understand as an adult is overwhelming. We have to look deeper. What causes hate? My answer will be different than for someone else. We are all humans, but we are all different. 

All of us.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sounds of Silence

Hello people and the dog-days of summer. The first Wednesday of August and time for another segment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group created by Alex Cavanaugh. Houston, TX. Where the map on the evening weather report shows nothing but triple digit temperatures for the next week with no end in sight. And no, this does not include the heat index which bumps the numbers up at least another 15-20 degrees. Warning. Warning. Warning. Ozone alerts; people with breathing problems; the elderly; small children…all reminders to stay indoors. Heat is a serious health-hazard in this part of the country.

Back to my...

Two weeks ago Rich and I took Taylor, my 18 yr. old granddaughter, and her friends camping. I know that seems crazy after what I just stated above, but we were in the Hill Country. Yes, the temperature is high during the day, but the Frio (cold in Spanish) River is one of the main attractions at Garner State Park. There are dances every night at the pavilion for the teenagers and the heat gives way to a fresh and almost chilling breeze.

I catch a lot of grief from people from other parts of the country about camping in a trailer with A/C. There are some things I can do without, but camping in Garner, in July, is not one of them.

We had a morning and evening sitting area, according to how the sun filtered through the huge oak trees covering our campsite.

The evening area also became the star-gazing arena where the late night sported more stars than the actual darkness of the universe.
I even had an outdoor dishwashing station.

Across the road ran the Frio River, where we’d plant our behinds during the hottest part of the day.
Our biggest concern seemed whether to bring sandwiches for lunch or walk back across the road for food and more beverages.

I didn’t realize how much the silence of the week touched my soul until my first night back home. After a six-hour drive and a return to the humidity (which intensifies the heat and is a well-known thorn in the side of many Houstonians), I turned on the TV.

That’s when it hit me. For one single week I had been graced with the absence of “breaking news alerts,” new presidential aspirants slamming one another, drive-by shootings, lives ended by driving in the early morning hours after way too much alcohol, robberies and domestic violence deaths. Also the commercials, reality TV shows, late-night talk shows, not to mention all the shows I had set to record during my week away.

I want my silence back. How easy that silence slips into our psyches and becomes part of the day without the constant cacophony blasts of anything electronic. I had my iPhone and iPad at the park, but found I spent very little time on either, and it wasn’t because of the spotty wifi reception. I.Did.Not.Care.

Try it sometime. Give silence a chance.

Over and out from this Houstonian, who dashes from one piece of shade to the next.