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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Why you should be a writer-- or not

Be a writer because it takes you from the current outside world into an internal one. If you write nonfiction, you do research and that includes if you are writing a memoir. If it's self-help, you will need to look for answers to people's problems. And if it's fiction, you create a world and characters to live in it. You give them problems that feel real; but at the same time, there are answers-- real life doesn't always operate that way.
 This has been one of the most difficult times I remember to stick to editing the second Barrio Viejo book due out in August. I am distracted by outside events where it comes to cultural and political issues

The United States has just ended its convention season and now has two candidates to run the country-- sort of-- for the next four years. I have mentioned I don't watch conventions at all. I read the words said as I find it easier to avoid getting caught up in emotion-- which is what both conventions were intended to stir up

So Republicans brought up the concerns over stagnant economy, globalization as a threat to business in America, immigration that must be regulated, violence that must be stopped, and the risk of terrorism from Islamic jihadists. Less government is a solution (except when we want it to do our will like ban abortion or end gay marriage). Strengthen individualism.

Democrats painted a picture of a country doing well but where it could do better and will-- if they get more globalization, minimum wage increases, and keep Republicans out of power. Their candidate would take out ISIS but little was said about Islamic jihadists. More government is a solution (but to pay for it, we will only tax the other guy). We can do more together.

Darkness or light? Whatever these two candidates promise for their issues, the question that will dog each will be their personal ethics. This is going to go on for three more months-- Yeehaw... not!

And then, there is inside my home with four cats, and the adjustment to two strays entering into a house that had two house cats. I am delighted when the four get along and smile when the little black one plays, which might be for the first time in her life as strays don't get a lot of time for playing. She has totally adapted to being in the house-- even if still easily frightened by anything moving too fast.  The orange one is in and out with some freedom we could not give the little one. He is not adjusting to the other cats except for being close without hissing.

And I am in the part of writing that is not fun-- editing, which is especially true if the edits are too close together. I have felt the second book needs to get out there to encourage sales for the first; but I'd much rather be starting the third in the Barrio Viejo series. If I ever make 'real' money on the books, I'd be very happy to hire a top-rate editor. Currently, I have to do it myself-- with the aid of beta readers. I'd much rather be starting the third in this series. 

The next book will involve reincarnation, the spirit world, redemption, love, and politics. My hero will have the toughest road to walk of any I've written as he won't understand from where his negative impulses come, since he's not a believer in the spirit world or the soul as an entity. This book will also have a marriage of convenience which will be revealed fairly early in the book. From that point, it'll get into the crooked world that so much of politics has evolved into being-- in this case complicated by the intervention of the spirit world. I am anticipating this to be an interesting book to write-- but then I always anticipate that. 

Between cat adjustments and our own economics, our plans have been changing. We had been planning to spend the winter in our Tucson home. 

Because of changes to the agency with which we advertise the house, we decided we better rent it at least one more season before our contract with them runs out. That means we spend the winter up here, which is okay as we might get down there in the late spring when the cactus bloom and a few wildflowers are left. 

Notice the word might because plans haven't worked out very well lately. So maybe... 


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Politics in the world and the house

For those who think there are two political persuasions-- liberal or conservative-- there has always been a third. I liked this article that explains a lot about my thinking, which has never fit all of either party.

This explain a lot of why I don't watch conventions and never have. To me, they are all about propaganda. They reassure those, who already think a certain way. I do read what is said and find often it totally distorted by the media who always have one side or the other that they favor.

The one thing I can say about the conventions is that my bet if you are a liberal, you don't care how the DNC manipulated the primary and as a conservative you are in shock that anybody believes Putin released those emails because he's scared to have Clinton as President. You will love to hear what the speakers said on each side and ridicule or not watch the other side. For someone like me, who is not a liberal or a conservative, I have no side and frankly am disgusted by the whole spectacle. Have party platforms ever actually told you what the President will do once he or she is in power? Not so much. It's propaganda.

Besides the political stuff that is driving me nuts, cats are at war in the house as the two new cats are both jittery for being feral and suddenly finding they have a choice. Whether that can be worked out, who knows. We aren't giving up but  have to take it slower than we had hoped.

When I should be editing to get the new book out, I really have to fight for the mood to do it.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

fresh eyes

For the last week, we've had our 15, 12, and 8 year old grandsons (off and on) at the farm. They've been helping build fence, laying irrigation pipe, watching movies, playing their games, and generally enjoying the experience of working hard enough to have sore muscles (maybe not exactly enjoy).

The week has had its chaotic aspects with trying to figure out what we will be doing with our two stray cats. The orange one is wanting to come in off and on but not stay. We haven't been able to keep him in the yard because he's very good at climbing. The black one was caught in the live trap and has been in (unwillingly) for a couple of days. She is antsy, growls at anything that moves fast, and meows a lot. So, in the cat world, chaos reigns.

My second book in the Barrio Viejo series (changed title for it) is off to the beta readers, and I'm making changes as they come back with issues they see. So far it's been minor things, and a suggestion to tighten up one of the chapters. That's the neat thing about beta readers-- that they see the work through fresh eyes.

When I was working on the trailer, my middle grandson took an interest in the images I'd put together. He said, "But, you just told the whole story."

Hmmmm, that's not what a trailer is supposed to do. So I reworked the images to do more suggesting the risks and introducing the dangers (some of them) the hero and heroine face. It improved the video-- again the advantage of having someone else see the work through fresh eyes. 

My youngest grandson really got into the idea of monsters; so we looked through the possible images I could add, which fascinated him and is always fun for me. I don't use the really horrible monster images because I don't want something ghoulish on my books. There are no zombies, and demons can look however they want (in my stories). 

So writing a blurb, finishing the edits as suggestions come in, and then this book will be ready to go out. I am having a hard time understanding why these books haven't caught the interest of those who've read my other books; but what someone enjoys in a book is so subjective. There isn't a right or wrong. It's what piques interest and add to someone's life either through knowledge or enjoyment.

Here's the trailer for the book due out early August as I am thinking of doing a pre-release for it-- which means 10 days that it can be ordered but not purchased. Summer doesn't seem a good time for book sales for many of the authors. Still, I can't wait for fall for this one as it will be ready way ahead of that with another to write.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

giving up control-- or not

With my first, word-for-word edit done and the book off to beta readers, I have grandsons visiting but that's mainly for ranch work with their grandpa-- building fence and changing irrigation pipes. For the book, I have things I need to do like creating the trailer and writing the blurbs, but there likely will be a bit of an hiatus before I start the third book.

 probable cover for Book 2

One thing we opted to do was change the series title (causing minor problems since only one book was already out). I liked the original, but when a book tanks, you look at what might be a turnoff. The new one will relate to the place it's set-- Barrio Viejo. Because I am unsure, with four books to go, if that name will stick, covers won't have the series name on them-- for now.

I've wondered if opening the first book with a murder has intimidated some readers but that can't change. The book is after all romantic suspense with a paranormal element. The whole message of Enchantress' Secret is how a search for power can not only corrupt but get us to trusting the wrong people. Very apropos right now with the world having major challenges to governmental power. Who can you trust? Why do you give away your own power? Those are questions not only for my books but life.

We are still trying to convince the two outside cats to become inside. One will come in, but he escapes out of the yard as fast as he can-- even as he also will return. The other cat simply would not enter the house.

She does not yet have a name but has a lopped ear which means she was regarded as feral and has been spayed. We finally got her into the house by the live trap. She is currently, unhappily residing in the solarium with food, water and a litter box (we have no idea if she is box trained). We think she's 6 months old or so.

 this one is Eddie, we think... cat names are flexible right now.
I don't like having inside/outside cats as I worry about them at night-- the time predators roam and cats get in trouble. Until they are willing to give up their control to us, it's how it will be. If they simply cannot tolerate being house cats, then we will have another problem. We'll face it when we do

With a Republican convention this week, I am watching almost no television. I won't be with the Democratic one either. I have never been much on watching speeches. I prefer to read issue statements and am not that impressed by speakers who can excite others as it makes me suspicious they are using that instead of issues.

One totally crazy thing to me is the open carry in Ohio at the GOP convention. Seriously, this seems insane in a time like ours. If I walked into a store, restaurant, convention center, etc. with someone slinging a rifle over their shoulder, I'd walk right out. I am not afraid of guns. I own quite a few of them and have a concealed weapon permit. I am afraid of those who have them and use them carelessly or to hurt others. It's one place I am not willing to give up control, I guess-- to be where AR-15s are in open display with someone I don't know in control of them.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


There is no writing a normal type blog on a day like this where the world has again suffered a horrendous tragedy. I think a lot of us are asking-- is there any sort of logical reason for such violence? 
Wyatt Earp: What makes a man like Ringo, Doc? What makes him do the things he does?
Doc Holliday: A man like Ringo has got a great big hole, right in the middle of him. He can never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict enough pain to ever fill it.
Wyatt Earp: What does he need?
Doc Holliday: Revenge.
Wyatt Earp: For what?
Doc Holliday: Bein' born. 
from the film, Tombstone
The ones doing these senseless acts are losers looking for revenge on life is all I can think as it's not about religion-- religion is always just an excuse-- just as being black or not black is. 

Trying to understand such uncaring rage is something we don't want to do. We just want to stop it, but it seems for now it's one angry loser at life after another and because they aren't part of a gang, as such, they are impossible to stop-- although the police didn't make a truck like this one move on when they questioned the driver? It sat there for hours and they let it-- seriously? What if there had been a bomb inside-- not that that is required when it's a vehicle that is a weapon all on its own.

So life goes on for most of us but for some, it's changed forever. It's not fair-- but whoever said life was fair didn't understand life. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


In a time of editing the next manuscript, my mind switches between how a sentence sounds best, to what I just saw on the news, to how the cats are adjusting to an in-and-out brother (kind of). 

The news is tough to follow, as I am on the other side of an issue where generally I am not. That's kind of surprising, but I suspect it comes down to my own experiences and how I was raised. In the end, a lot does. I am not going to get into the relevant issue right now as people who are interested in the news already get more info than they probably want and don't need another opinion. 

The cat issue is more pertinent to our immediate problem. The orange cat, who has been a stray around here, has now been neutered and had his abscess treated ($$$s flying out the window). Most of the time, we can get him to come in at night but frankly, he does not want to be a house cat for more than spraying walls to mark or food. I am not sure he's litter trained. He likes his freedom. Now what do you do about that? We had to neuter and have his abscess treated regardless of whether he wanted to be adopted. As an outside cat, he needed that kind of boost to his chances of survival. We only have power over what we can actually control-- not the consequences.

I tend to think there is some truth about that for us as humans too. There are prices we pay for our success or not. When we break the rules and expect others to accept us as we are, we cannot demand it-- although some never take responsibility for anything. Of course, some are born with disabilities or acquire them through illnesses which means their consequences are not just in their control but also in a society that either deals with that-- or does not.

A belief I have had all my life is that, for most of us, we have choices unless we are slaves. Don't bother telling me that some people don't because I don't believe it-- based on my own life, of course. I grew up in a home where the consequences were always pointed out. Want to eat what you want to eat? Fine but then you will be sick or fat or not have food later. Consequences are part of choices even if some don't want to accept that.

Because we don't like the ramifications of some choices does not mean the choices are not there. So we can work at a boring job that lets us pay the bills, or we can choose to not work. We can try to get our culture to pay for us either way-- but we cannot force the choices others make.

So my choice right now is to edit this book, even though the one before it has not sold much at all. I could forget the series and write what I think might sell better-- think 28,000 word mail-order bride or sweet romance. I cannot though force the consequences to be to my liking if I do write a book others don't find appealing. 

Thinking this way is actually a liberating way to live. We have freedom but not from consequences.

It's not hard for me to see why I am at odds with many of the political persuasions, with which I used to be in tune-- why I can now watch a news program I used to hold in disdain and not watch a news program I used to enjoy...  

The photos below are from our live-cam and the problem we and our orange cat had one night in the yard that was supposed to be fenced and safe. If you follow the timeline, you see how our night went... and worse the cat's.

In a pack, they will hunt and kill cats or whatever else they need to survive. It puts them at cross-purposes with us. I'd say consequences again but by now it's pretty obvious what I think-- sometimes guilt goes with consequences and I don't even know that it's justified-- maybe more taught.

  The above image is the only one where there is nothing to see, because the raccoon must have gone over the gate, which has wire several feet above it. They were determined to get in-- and out. We need them unable to do so but haven't yet succeeded in that.

 and then back in...

The cat, who meowed at our bedroom door many times, with us oblivious as to why, had an obviously bad night. The wound on his neck is healing from the abscess when the raccoons tried to corner him last week. If he comes in at night, we can keep him safe from them by letting him sleep in the solarium, which we have more or less protected from spraying. If he doesn't, well, that's consequences and he does know what is out there.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Writing a series

Writing a series can become addictive. Reading them also. The appeal is getting to know characters or a locale. Characters in a series come to feel like friends. The secondary characters, even those who never become hero/heroine, end up those we enjoy knowing how they are doing. 

For the writer, a series requires timeline and character analysis sheets. All of these characters are floating around, having children, dying, leaving, arriving, and it's easy to lose track especially for books that go over a period of many years. Readers keep track of the details; so the writer better be sure they don't blow it. 

The other must for me is that I like the characters enough to stick around for more of their lives. A reader will be in a book for a few hours or days. When I write one, especially the historicals, I am in it for months. I don't do that unless I really enjoy the hero and heroine and often the secondary characters that add flavor.

In my Oregon series, the first book was in 1851 at the onset of the Oregon Trail. When I wrote it, I saw it as a stand-alone. It is the story of the Oregon Trail, two families and the growth of not only a love story but of two young people through what they experienced. It was only many years later that I thought-- what about the guy who lost out on the girl? In many ways, he was more the stereotypical hero than the hero who won her love. Who would he love?

Series are born out of such ideas and a desire to know-- what comes next?

The Oregon series moved from one setting to another. Some series writers set their books in a community and not only does time not change so much but neither does the setting. Readers there get used to knowing how the towns are set up and who owns the ranches.  

The Oregon series went from 1851 to 1866 with some skips in time and then back into a new romance. With four books out, there are several more ideas for future stories that would tell more of the Oregon story as well as romances. If I write them, they will be helped by my knowing these characters. The drawback for moving too far in the future is some of the characters will have to die of old age. That is life but not sure I am ready for it in my Oregon historical series.

I did some looking around for articles on the series for any writers who might be thinking of doing one. 

In my contemporary romances, I often have connecting characters, but I don't consider something a series unless it is 3 or more. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

series or serial

I would say that today I am much more aware of starting a series than I once was. I began what became the Arizona historical series with no clue. I was satisfied when I finished Arizona Sunset and thought that was that-- except, then I began to think about a strong secondary character and then another one. Before I had even brought out the first, I knew there was going to be a second book, Tucson Moon. Brothers under the skin or were they?

Those first three Arizona historicals all came out of existing characters-- with no advance planning. By the third, Arizona Dawn, I knew the epilogue was introducing a future heroine. The fourth, a novella, Rose's Gift, had me firmly in the camp of writing a series, with the next three in my mind before I wrote the first of the Taggert brothers (Echoes from the Past; Lands of Fire; and Bound for the Hills).

That left me with seven Arizona historicals with one more gelling around in my head by say next winter. That one has to be written, set in 1906 Arizona and California, because it's part of the families that make up the contemporary, suspense, paranormal series of an Arizona family of witches. How did that family come to use magic will be in the eighth Arizona historical.

See how series grow like topsy. They evolve and even when they are planned... sort of, it's still interesting (to me at least) how they grow into more than I originally had expected. Stories get more complex, characters become intriguing, and they show potential for just one more story.

In between writing, or at night when my back needs a break, I've been reading what amounts to a serial. I hadn't exactly planned it that way, but the author, who shall remain nameless) is a friend of other authors. I am always interested in how someone else, who does well, tells their story. It's been educational, but although this book is supposed to be funny, to me, it's not. My sense of humor is not non-existent, but I think it comes more out of natural events than what seem to be forced. I like to laugh but just not be told when I should, I guess. The heroine is such a loose cannon that I'd hate to even know her in my personal life and not that interested in knowing her through the books.

A serial is connected stories but not necessarily with any conclusions- except maybe the last one. So in the book I am reading, the author has a series of events happening, but no story arc at all. It's just walking through these events. I've looked at the reviews for this author with LOTS of reviews, hundreds. Most like her humor and style, but there were those, like me, who absolutely did not. No writer can satisfy everybody, and she satisfies an awful lot of readers; so sure she can manage without my approval.

In my own reading, I enjoy stand-alones or a series, where you can step into it anywhere along the way-- even if you'd be happiest perhaps picking the characters up where they begin. But each story has a separate love story and a conclusion-- even if there are threads running into the next stories. I've never tried writing a serial, maybe never would; but I've written several series, some lengthier than others

I think I'll write more about the appeal of the series on Saturday as this has gotten long enough.

Saturday, July 02, 2016


Because the stories I write are almost always based in places I've been, my writing something new tends to bring up memories. The second Hemstreet Witches book begins in Tucson, Arizona but travels to the Verde Valley where the hero and heroine go on a camping trip into Sycamore Canyon. 

Now, I've never been camping in Sycamore Canyon but in May of 1995, we hiked into it. It's not a hike I could do these days as it is rugged country, a steep climb down it from the trailhead. I know the year we did it only because we'd taken photos, and I'd put them in an album

I had hoped to use one in a trailer for the book. Their lack of quality probably says I won't, but looking at them reminded me of what I saw and can use in the story. That's what writing is about-- using what the writer has experienced and putting it into an imaginary story (well, unless they are writing non-fiction.).

One thing I thought, when looking through them-- how wonderful that today we use digital for most of our photos. They don't get heat damaged and hold their colors forever. I used to think slides took the best shots possible. As it turns out, I had no idea what was coming.

 Always carry water in any desert hike or a water purifying system. Since this was a day hike, we carried what we needed. I researched the best purifying system for my characters to use. Amazing how cool those devices are today.
 Ranch boss is showing the debris in the tree to indicate the level the floods had filled the valley. In desert regions, those happen often in the summer, with the monsoon.