Unknown and Unown

We’re headed to Vegas the first week in April. It’s all research for Book Two in the Naked Eye series. I’m learning more about gambling as an industry than I ever thought I would need to know. I’m hoping this trip will get me out of my stuck place.

I knew how I wanted to start the book, but I’ve rewritten Chapter Two twice and just not happy with either direction it went. I have a plot, a couple of sub plots, characters, motives, some conflicts, but haven’t quite figured out the action scenes to pull it all off. I’ve also revamped my outline twice. Fear of the unknown…my anxieties are off the charts.

Sadly, I thought I would have the first draft finished by April, but unless something really sparks soon that’s not going to happen.

Admittedly, I’m distracted by Pokemon Go and other life activities…grandkids/birthdays. It will be good to get away for a little while. I have two FB groups I started and admin for in Pokemon Go and just got another admin so things should ease up there. We have 350 people in our battle group. There are about 30 hardcore players in my neighborhood and we play together daily in one capacity or another.

I’m failing miserably with RRBC. I thought I could be on the Tweet Team, but Sleuthfest last week and all the other activities of my life this week resulted in me forgetting to do my job there. I must get three or four emails a week from them and I can’t keep up with all the things they want us to participate in. I almost always see the emails long after the event they want me to attend is over. I’ve read a couple of books and still haven’t written the review for the last one. Plan to do that today. I joined some contest and sent in the required materials, but have no real clue what it’s for….lmao. Seriously, I can’t keep up.

When I get excited enough to start new projects and I can’t give them 110%, I fall into a melancholy place. That’s sort of where I am right now.

Sometimes I don’t even get my emails read for days, which explains why I’m often posting comments on your three day old blog posts. I haven’t been able to get around the internet like I used to either.

I’m doing my first countdown deal on Naked Alliances Book One, so it would be a good time to grab it if you missed the earlier promos. I would love to get some reviews on the audio book. Thirty people have bought it so far, but not one review that specifically focuses  on the audio book. 😦 And I thought Steven Barnett did such a fine job, I was certain he would have been praised for that. Actually, I’m stuck at 21 reviews and haven’t had one since Feb 23rd. That is likely affecting me also. I so wanted at least fifty before the next book comes out, hopefully this fall. It might be delayed until after Christmas if I can’t swing into high gear.

But this made my day:

Trophy Pokemon

It’s an exceptionally rare pokemon, more rare than ultra-rare. Me and about fourteen other people chased it down this morning. Unown is an extremely rare Pokémon that lives in its own dimension and rarely ventures outside. There are 28 of them representing the alphabet and the question mark and exclamation mark.

I’ve figured out how to have Brandi playing Pokemon Go in my next book and how that plays into catching the bad guy. I’m hoping I can execute it in a way that is not alienating to people who don’t play the game. It’s interesting to try and find the right words to convey activities taking place in an augmented reality game. My Beam Team helps me out there. They’re mostly in their thirties. I’m the only grandparent on the team. I figure if I stick to the basics and don’t go too deep with game lingo it’ll work out fine.

Do you play any video games? If so, what’s your favorite, and do you play online or multiplayer games?

Also, is anyone having trouble with the WordPress notifications pages? Mine errors me out every time I try to use it.

Holiday AfterGlow

The Christmas tree is still up and the snow village is still out. LED icicles hang from the eaves of the house and multi-colored lights twinkle on the shrubbery. The red velvet cake is all gone and the many guests have left the spare bedrooms empty. The grandchildren are home with their parents enjoying their gifts and the house is quieter than it’s been in two weeks. A special sort of peace has descended upon us.

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The sound of the coffee brewing is comforting and I am feeling reflective over the previous year and contemplating my resolutions for the upcoming one.

  1. Write more guest posts.
  2. Write more blog posts.
  3. Write more interviews.
  4. Write more outlines.
  5. Write more novels.
  6. Write more.

It all boils down to writing more.

I’ve never been one able to discipline myself to meeting a daily word count. It feels forced, to me, when I try, and unnatural…but being about six months behind where I thought I would be at this point in the series, I may have to buckle down and set myself some small goals.

I spent a lot of time in the parks playing Pokemon this past summer and fall. The weather is gorgeous here this time of year, cool breezes blow on sunshiny days and the air is dryer. Florida is wonderful from November until about April.

My North American Pokedex has been filled three or four times over. I don’t need to collect anymore until the new Gen 2 Pokemon come out (we’re thinking February), and all I have to do with the game now is battle gyms to collect my coins and star dust every day. I’ve been holding ten gyms for two weeks, and that’s all they allow you to cash out on every day, so there’s not a lot for me to do there except keep up the status quo.

The game has really helped me toward getting out of the house and meeting new and interesting people. I’ve gotten to know many of the homeless folk who hang out in our city and county parks as well as many young and old residents of the area. I have a team FB page with 200+ members and they’ve become like extended family.

I’ve never done anything half way. My grandfather used to say, “Anything worth doing at all is worth doing well.” So I gave it 100%, but there was a cost. Playing the game as hard as I have ate into my reading and writing time and I need to pull back from it and refocus on my big goals.

The Naked Eye private investigator series is swirling around in my mind up through about book eight and there are outlines to get written. I have Book Two outlined and that outline is in the process of getting fleshed out. It’s been added to Scrivener, where I can keep things organized, and it’s time to move it along. I have fishbone outlines of the next three books completed.

I was sorely disappointed that Mystery Writers of America doesn’t allow self-published authors to sit on panels and doesn’t allow anyone but panelists to place their books for sale in the Murder on the Beach bookstore. I’m still attending SleuthFest this year, but I’m not joining MWA until they get with the times. They invited me to be a moderator for a panel. I’m still mulling that over.

The audio book of Naked Alliances is coming along grand. I’m so excited to be able to bring the book to my audience in this format. Steven Barnett is absolutely the most wonderful narrator ever there could be. His voice is engaging and he’s having a blast with his reading. We’ll be done with the book by the end of the year. I don’t know how long it takes ACX to get the book uploaded for sale on Amazon, but I’m expecting some time in January the audio book will be available.

I have my coffee now, my keyboard, and plenty of time in front of me…so, today will be my first day back at work. Peace. May your Christmas cleanup be easy. Blessings for the upcoming year. May all your resolutions hold fast and may all your goals be met.

Have a happy and prosperous New Year!

End of Summer and Getting Ready for the New Year

In August I wrote a little post about how Pokemon Go was helping me with grief therapy after a series of tragic events involving family, friends, and community. The story was picked up on Twitter and the editor of Fanreads, Keith McArthur sent me a request to use the story in an anthology of The Greatest Pokemon Go Stories Ever Told. Fanreads puts together books on sports, music and gaming. The cover was created by “Inspired Cover Designs.” See, that’s my name on the cover. 🙂

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You can go to their page and download a few of the stories for free by subscribing to their site, or you can purchase a copy from Amazon, Kobo, or Apple.

I completed my pokedex, finding all 142 available U.S. pokemon, thanks to a lovely park here that spawns all the rare pokemon and has always been a magical, mystical place, Kissimmee Lakefront Park. It’s a gorgeous park on Lake Toho where I once owned a waterfront home. I would walk to the park daily and attend the Renaissance Fair events. The Medieval Times characters practiced their fighting moves for their shows there.  Sometimes the Disney and Universal characters practiced skits there, also.

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They’ve spent thirty million dollars on renovating the park since I lived there and it is a stunning, grassy waterfront park with cobbled walking paths, a fishing pier, picnic pavilions, a splash pad & two shaded playgrounds. A very nice place for me to take a break from my writing and step aside from my grandmotherly duties and just relax a while, watch the wildlife, and soak up sunshine in the daytime and enjoy cool breezes in the evening.

There is a blog tour for Naked Alliances scheduled to begin on October 24th. It’s a big crunch to get all of the documents prepared by the deadline, but we’re well on our way. I’m still feeling like this work should have been done months ago, not AFTER the release of the book. I’ve never worked with a publicist before, but some of her advice conflicts with what I have learned about successful marketing and promotions. We’ll see how this all turns out.

Sales started out very well and I have sold more books in the first month than I did in the first year of Red Clay and Roses.

Things have slowed down a bit, but my blog audience and author platform only reach so far. There are radio interviews scheduled for October and book tours coming up. I’ll post those as they are scheduled.

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I’ll be attending Sleuthfest again next year and invite all crime/mystery writers and readers to join me. I had a blast there this year and gained a tremendous amount of confidence in reading the first chapter of my manuscript aloud. I won’t have a finished manuscript to work with next year, but I do have a new book on the market. Hopefully, Naked Alliances will be available at Murder on the Beach Bookstore, owned and operated by co-chair Joanne Sinchuk.

We also have a trip to Vegas lined up for next year. This is research for the next book in the Naked Eye Series. More about that later.

If you’re not going to make the Sleuthfest event, but would like a copy of the book, you can get a downloadable or paperback copy from Amazon. As the weather turns, it will make a nice addition to your morning weekend coffee.

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Help Me Name This Character

When I was working for Hospice in the year 2000, I had an assignment that involved delivering morphine to a guy in Hallowpaw, Florida. With a town name like that, you can imagine the characters who live there.

Hallowpaw is a little village that sits out on a swamp in the middle of nowhere about forty miles south of Orlando.

It was pouring rain that day and I drove down a long sandy road with cypress swamp on either side to get to the address. When I arrive in front of the tiny makeshift shack, I turned onto a drive that was flooded in places and wondered if my car would make it out.

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Sitting on the front porch was a huge Haitian man of about four-hundred pounds, give or take a few.

In a foot and a half of murky coffee-colored water, I took my umbrella and waded, in my three inch heels and stockings, to the front steps.

A pillar of smoke rose from his head and I noticed he was smoking a doobie the size of a Cuban cigar, the fragrance unmistakable. I stepped up onto the porch, introduced myself and took a seat across from him. It was then that I saw the two foot alligator on a leash that he held in his hand. It lay quietly on the floor a few inches from my wet feet.

He was jovial, but obviously in pain, wincing with every move. I handed him his bag and he told me a couple of swamp stories and I was on my way.

A couple of months later I was in Washington, D.C. attending a luncheon hosted by Elizabeth Dole’s  secretary, where I was asked to describe a day in the life of a Hospice nurse. Hospice was a relatively new concept in this country at that time. We were trying to get political support.

The day I met the Haitian man came to mind because it was a full day. I had to leave him, go home and shower, and be at the top of the Winter Park Towers to give a presentation to a bunch of doctors and suits on the benefits of Hospice services and the feasibility of instituting an inpatient suite of beds in their facility. Next, I had to meet with a family in their home to process an admission of their dying family member. Those appointments took me from sunrise to way after sunset. I thought that day offered a comprehensive overview of what Hospice nurses do.

First lady: Did you call the police and report the illegal drugs?

Me: No, I was there to deliver his morphine. I doubt if anything he was imbibing in was anymore detrimental to his health than his disease or his narcotics.

Second lady: Did you call the Humane Society or Animal Control about the alligator?

Me: The man was dying. If he found some pleasure in entertaining himself with an alligator while getting high, who am I to wreck his fun.

They didn’t seem at all interested in my day beyond the flaws they found in that situation. I guess those stuffy, high society ladies had never seen the real Florida.

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I told you about this man because I’m thinking of working him into this book, Naked Malice, as an ancillary character.

He was a storyteller and I’m certain he knew all the secrets the swamp could hold in his area. I need people who know secrets of the swamp for this story. I mentioned him in Red Clay and Roses, but I really want to bring him to life in this next book. I’d like the old man to be immortal. I can’t recall his name. Any suggestions?

He was Haitian, so I’m thinking something with a bit of Creole French, but also need something that suits his quirky character or swamp life.

Book Two in the Naked Eye Series Sprouts Wings

Being introduced to Social Services at a very early age as a result of entering the foster care program, I have always had an interest in social issues.

With my debut novel, Red Clay and Roses, I focused on the inequalities of people living in the Deep South during the 1950s-60s, Women’s Rights, and Civil Rights as I told the stories of a black family and an independent, high-spirited white woman and her relationship with an African-American man who was in medical school and became very active in the Civil Rights Movement.

For a long time, I pondered over how my social issues of interest could be written into genre specific novels. Historical fiction was not conducive to current issues, except by virtue of how it is that current issues came to be issues at all.

I read across many genres and have always loved a good crime novel. But what is “good” to me may differ from what is “good” to you. I enjoy the witty comedy of crime that is characteristic of Serge and Coleman in Tim Dorsey’s work. I love the way Carl Hiaasen integrates current issues and history into his eco-thrillers and crime stories along with humor. Randy Wayne White fascinates me with the historical elements of place and time and contemporary elements of technology and current events. Tim Baker keeps me amused with his iconic justice for Florida weirdo criminals. They are more than crime novels, they are adventure stories. Not gritty noir, not hardcore city streets…but regional crime fiction that illuminates the unique culture that is Florida.

With this in mind, I set out to write my first crime novel, Naked Alliances. My goal was to write a Florida regional crime fiction novel that addressed the social issue and crime of sex-trafficking. I chose a private investigator as a protagonist because they have the unique ability to sometimes skirt the law to accomplish their goals, yet have boundaries they are governed by. (Though, sometimes, my P.I. oversteps these.) Richard Noggin is a bit naive, and a bit scattered, but both brave and intelligent, in his own way. I wanted him to have a female co-protagonist who was strong, smart, and skilled…but not necessarily traditionally feminine. Brandi, a transsexual exotic dancer, who was a cop briefly, and served time in the military as an E.O.D. Specialist, became his sidekick.

I’m not a comedian, but wanted there to be opportunity for subtle humor, while keeping the social issues and crimes serious. To that ends, I’m quite satisfied with book one in the Naked Eye Series.

Naked Alliances should be released this September, if all goes well.

In keeping with Florida themed social issues and crime, I have completed the outline of my next book, titled Naked Malice.

Richard Noggin, P.I., a gambler, sets out to investigate the suspicious death of his investment partner and friend, Milton Rexrode, in Vegas, but another death at the Reedy Creek Kennel Club and Card Room raises his suspicions that another investment partner is guilty of murder. But when a string of young Seminole men in the 3320 member Seminole Nation die under suspicious circumstances, and the Federal agents investigating rule the deaths accidents, Council Elders fear these are crimes against humanity in a conspiracy to commit genocide.

Each and every Seminole man, woman and child receives a check of from $7000. to $150,000 per year from the tribes’ gaming industry and non-gaming enterprises. The tribes have quickly gone from poverty to immense wealth over the past three decades. With a new generation that has never lived in the thatched roof chickees of their ancestors, or suffered the deplorable conditions of reservation life in the sixties and seventies, new problems arise as they receive distributions that lead the young people to believe they do not need to go to school or work for a living. Crime, excessive gambling, financial irresponsibility, and drug and alcohol problems threaten the existence of their culture. This is the skeleton that forms the basis of my next crime novel.

Huge efforts are being made to bring the youth back into the fold and keep the nation and its culture intact.

The Seminoles were not originally a single tribe. They were an alliance of Northern Florida and Southern Georgia natives that banded together in the 1700’s to fight the European invaders, including people from the Creek, Miccosukee, Hitchiti and Oconee tribes. Later the alliance became even closer, and today the Seminoles are a united sovereign nation, even though their people speak two languages and have different cultural backgrounds.

I really want to shine a good light on the Seminoles. In recent years, they’ve taken a lot of heat for irresponsible fiscal management, and I’m trying to use the story to demonstrate the positives that are coming out of their progress.

A Little Progress After a Very Emotional Week

It’s taken a good week to clear my head after the tragic shooting. How close to home it was – I nearly lost my daughter and son-in-law, my grandchildren could have been parent-less – in ways that would have changed my life dramatically. I keep the deceased in mind, but I also keep reminding myself that two-hundred seventy people there that night lived. It has changed my life. I went to the vigil downtown at Lake Eola. I felt surrounded by compassionate people, yet feared the very crowd there to offer support.

Vigil

I already have some social anxieties. I despise small talk with superficial people. Small groups of twenty or thirty don’t bother me, but crowds of hundreds of thousands make my knees weak. There were over 50,000 at the vigil. We were on the far side of the lake, but could still hear the speakers and the music. The music touched me deeply and made me cry. But I wasn’t the only one. I’ve never seen so many people in one place crying so many tears. To hear the talk, it wasn’t simply the forty-nine lost, it’s the direction of the nation that makes people sad. And then, there were the many tears of joy in seeing so much support.

Today, I am back at my computer and working on getting my files resubmitted to CreateSpace. I’ve chosen a template, though it wasn’t ideal, I think it will work. The fonts for the suggested “Mystery/Thriller/Suspense” genre called “Edgy, Bold and Unexpected” were way over-the-top and looked more like sci-fi. I went with one under “Modern, Clean and Contemporary”. I’m not impressed with the scene break fleuron, three small blocks. I won’t have chapter titles, just large numerals placed off to the right side of the chapter pages. Under this package, you’re not allowed to change anything, substitute fonts, fleurons or lay-outs in any way.

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I liked the lay-out and fleuron best under one of the “Edgy, Bold, and Unexpected”…but the fonts were all wrong. The “Steelfish” font of the option I liked best was just too futuristic.

Steelfish

I guess it’s trade-offs to get it done as simply, affordably, and painlessly as possible.

I’m only allowed one interior image, so I’m using my Book Imprint image on the title page. I won’t have an author photo. I use my initials to publish in order to prevent people from instantly being turned off by a female author. No need to have the author image there. Anybody wants to know, they can go to my author page or see my image on Amazon. My bio is a bit generic, but I do mention my husband.

My husband is also mentioned in my dedication this time. He’s been super supportive.

I have a special acknowledgement, then there are more acknowledgements in the back.

I’m waiting now for a couple of endorsements from other authors who have read the book. Those will go on the back cover, or front cover depending on what the cover designer has to say. He’s eagerly waiting in the wings. Of course, I have to acquire the page count and specs from finishing the interior before he can make the spine to the necessary specs.

I submitted interior files to CreateSpace, but had a blank page with the words “blank page” written on it. They rejected it and told me to correct it. Hmmm…I was like, “You can just delete that and move on?”, but apparently the file owner has to make all the changes with this package. I had some page breaks to add also. Hoping this one goes through.

It’s progress.

The nice thing is that I am finally to a point with this where I feel comfortable starting the next project. I’m torn between two stories as to which to produce next. One involves an ecological issue concerning Reedy Creek (a man-made creek Disney started when draining swamp land) and murder and the other missing persons. Either book will carry over some on-going material from the first book. Though the missing persons story seems like it will be more fun to write, the ecological issue/murder really takes precedence in the story arch.

As things are falling into place with Naked Alliances, I’m feeling a strong sense of relief. It’s been a long haul. I hope you enjoy it half as much as I enjoyed writing it.

My Self-Publishing Journey #amwriting

Upon learning that I am a self-published author, people often ask me what the process is like when writing and self-publishing a novel. It’s not something I can answer in a few words, other than to say, “It’s much more involved than most people realize.” Especially when you factor in all of the pre-marketing and marketing that is required.

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I made of a list of things I did with my book. Not everyone will share the same experience, but I thought I would share mine. The things in red haven’t been totally accomplished yet.

Check off list for self-publishing process:

  1. Ideas formulate
  2. Write book (eight weeks)
  3. Cry when alpha reader says book is a two on scale of one to five
  4. Re-write
  5. Edit and proof
  6. Feel better when Alpha reader says book is four on scale of one to five
  7. Send to Beta readers (nine months)
  8. Get ecstatic when eight readers love book 🙂
  9. Cry some more when two readers report they could not read book 😦
  10. Edit and proof some more
  11. Put book on shelf (eight or nine months)
  12. Take it down and read it again
  13. Send to professional editor for two round of edits and a proofread (six months) Edit, rewrite, edit, proof, read
  14. Jump for joy when Alpha reader says it’s a five on one to five scale and better than any book he’s read in three months.
  15. Polish text and remove cliché’s
  16. Get book cover designed (one month)
  17. Write synopsis, log-line and pitch
  18. Read at Sleuthfest and get excited when agents request manuscripts and partials, decide to trad publish
  19. Query more agents
  20. Cry over rejection letters, seven out of fifty, (three months)
  21. Get copyright
  22. Decide to self-publish
  23. Write front matter; Title page copyright, Dedication
  24. Write back matter; Acknowledgements, Author Bio, Request for reviews, thanks for support, links, promo for other book
  25. Enlist help with Book imprint art
  26. Seek endorsements??? (BTW, well known authors say they can’t read manuscripts for legal reasons…what’s an author to do? Contests??)
  27. Enlist someone to write Foreword???
  28. Get endorsements to book cover designer
  29. Sign on with CreateSpace for POD version, proof final product
  30. Get file formatted for eversion, proof final product, set pre-release, and set release date
  31. Contact publicist when POD proofs are ready (press release, blog tour)
  32. Make list of book bloggers and book promo sites
  33. Pre-release
  34. Start actively marketing and promoting beyond this blog
  35. Publish and go live
  36. What am I leaving out?