Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Finally... A Bookstore!

Hello, my gentle readers, I join you today with good news! Two weeks ago a bookstore opened up in a nearby town (DeKalb, IL), and they are much MUCH better than those bigger snooty stores--we shall not name them.

My husband, Dennis, and I went in to see it the other day after lunch. It's a very nice place, has everything you'd want, and yet it isn't too big or overwhelming. 

Here is link to their facebook page, and there is a nice little slide show of their offerings.

While I was perusing the shelves for my favorite authors (I've many, but they are mostly in mysteries and fantasy, but also I found Grisham, as well), Dennis was looking around, wanting to buy a brand new atlas (which he did find). And someone came up to him asking him if he needed help in finding anything. I could barely hear this from several rows away while trying to decide on one of the Murder She Wrote books or one of the books in the alphabet series by Sue Grafton (I went with Murder She Wrote: "The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher").

I meandered over as Dennis and the gentleman stepped with him. We shook hands over introductions. Dennis is basically my manager and will speak to anyone about me and my books. I let him do that because I'm somewhat shy and don't like to brag about myself a lot. But I do in times when it's needed.

Anyway, we spoke about getting my books into the store. Found out they don't order the books, but I can bring them in and they sell on consignment. Well, golly gee! This is like when I was in the crafting business. He said getting my books into the store will give people a chance to see and buy them, and as a sort of advertisement to a future book signing. The consignment is a 60% - 40% split. He told me that I would have to determine if it would be a good enough profit for me.

Well, I have been in touch with my publisher, Miika, and he thought I could make "a nice little profit" off them.

I'm working on figuring out which ones and how many. I thought small amounts at first. I don't want to overwhelm them with all 6 of my books--Spell of the Black Unicorn being the only non-Sabrina Strong one. I thought maybe two of the first books in series and see how it goes.

I've also posted about it, asking if anyone in my area, who can get to the bookstore in DeKalb, wants/needs one of my books, could tell me, and I'd order and get it into the store for them (and maybe a few more to make sure).

So, this is the news. My last best news was the new cover for my first book. I think it came out really well, and I can see it sitting on a shelf in a new bookstore soon!


Friday, August 26, 2016

Dear World;

I'm reaching a milestone. In age and in writing.

I'm never sure if I should count those early years, I was just messing around, at first, and took a creative writing course in high school (you know the one where when I told my English teacher who taught it that I wanted to become a writer/author, and she said I should find something else since my spelling and grammar was so bad).

That was 1972. Which makes 44 years I've been messing around with words. As I've said, my first attempts were mostly childish poems (I still have them), and some really silly stories that became a marathon of words, since I had no idea how to plot, and that there was a "beginning, middle, and ending".

I often thought myself on some sort of stage, and I was an actor in a play. So much has happened to me in those years. I've touched on a few here. But like everyone, I've got baggage up the ying-yang. Some of it has managed to just go away (divorces and deaths tend to do that), but my main thing has been, throughout, WRITING.

I wrote through the worst of times, when my father passed--before and after--back in 1999. Oddly enough, I was writing the book I'm currently on (and re-writing still). This book has been with me since almost the beginning. And for the sake of writing and taking it seriously, and having my first piece published by ByLine in 1983, we'll say for argument's sake, I've been writing this same story since then, on and off (mostly off), since then. It was very different back then. The whole thing was a totally different take on vampires, and a young teenage girl becoming infatuated with an older man. (that was one of those baggage things I mentioned earlier, which I used, and have used in my stories from time to time.) And her father who becomes concerned because this man keeps odd hours, owns the old mansion nearby, etc. And, of course, this older man is a vampire.

In a way the basic story didn't actually change, but I've reworked it, many times, rewrote the hell out of it, went back and forth a number of times on what to do where. At one point it was actually so long, no one wanted it (800 pages). I believe that was the 1999 version.


In 2013, I dragged this story out again--I needed a bulldozer to move it around. I was determined this story would get published some day if it killed me doing it. I took all the pages from various versions, I know I had more than 1,000 pages strewn on the floor, bed, an 8 foot table, and worked for a month or so trying to put it into some sort of order. After which I chopped, rewrote, rewrote, and chopped again.

But, since I was so busy with the Sabrina Strong series (and trying to find a new publisher), I couldn't do too much with it at that time. But, I had time to write the story anew. However, I didn't put an ending on it. As it stands, I'm working along in it and will finish it at some point in September (unless I have an unseen delay).

But for now, everything is okay. I just don't usually have much time after my job, what with doing all sorts of things when I get home. But the weekends are mine.

Speaking of which I'm having another UN-Birthday!
I'm gonna need a bigger cake than this to get all the candles on it. However, I'm happy, healthy, and all is well over here at the old Afton Homestead.

Have a good weekend all!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

In Bed With the Devil--or Almost

Hi, all, I thought I'd share this quote from Steve Martin: 
"I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper."
Steve Martin


Let me take you back in time. It was 1983, I was a struggling writer and was working on something I called "Vampire Legacy". It might have been called something else at one time, but this would be the working title ... for the next umpteen years. I was looking for some way to get published. It was my dream. Has been all my adult life.

I was in contact with a writer who said he had a writing circle he taught. We'll call him John. This was in Dubuque, Iowa, and a 3 hour drive from where I lived. I was a novice. Green as can be, trying to "break" into published author. I had been writing to him (back then, we didn't have the Internet, and you wrote letters or called) (on a land-line phone). You with me so far? Good.

I told him I couldn't be expected to drive out to Dubuque every day (3 times a week) to attend this writer's circle, but I did want to attend. I knew rubbing elbows with other writers/authors would be the only way to learn anything. So, John arranged it for me to stay in his house--it was an old house, of the Victorian age, or there about. Painted charcoal gray with white trim. It had a gable on one side which reminded me a little of the "Amityville" house. There was a number of stained glass, too. The house itself was situated on a hill, and let me tell you it might have been a few rooms short of a mansion (which requires 33 rooms), but it was pretty damned big. 2 and 1/2 baths, a small kitchen, with John's office situated in behind this and a laundry room.

I did pay rent to him. Come to find out John had a wife and 3 grown children still living there--his son was still in high school, his two daughters had jobs. The wife worked in an insurance place. I understood that John once was an agent of said office at one time, but chose to become a professional writer. And he had a New York agent. He did get a horror book published, and it was what I would call a more-or-less rip off of The Exorcist.

I had told him what I was working on dealt with vampires, and this intrigued him.

Anyway, I sat in on not one, not two, but three different writing circles. Each one one echelon higher than the next. In the highest degree, the third group, had those who were either better writers, or had books published. One had just gotten her romance book picked up by Zebra. Yeah. I was excited to be included in this bunch of authors. We'll call her Deb. She came into our circle one night in a rabbit fir coat, new glasses, and smoked these little black cigarettes. Her advance must have been pretty good.

I said I was green, in more ways than one. First of all, I'd been divorced for about 8 years, at this point. To say I was hopeful in getting something larger than a mere article published  (I'd been published in ByLine) a few times, no big deal. But at this point in time I wasn't so desperate I'd sell my soul. Or anything else.

John had read my first chapter and told me "Pretty good, some of the mechanics need help, but that's something to worry about down the line." Or something to that effect.

I had a room upstairs adjacent to the room his two daughters shared. Funny story, there was one of those "secret" doors that you could go through my closet to their room (visa versa). One night the girls had been out late. And there I was in a hard single bed hearing her come through that secret door and proceeded to lay down beside me. I had the feeling this might have been her room, or something, at one point.

Her sister went and got her mother, mother quietly urged daughter #2 out of my bed and bedroom, and I lay pretending to sleep through the whole thing.

Anyway, we all laughed it off in the morning. Ha-ha.

Everyone would be gone during the day to their jobs, and that left me and John in this big house. We sometimes did "brain storming" where we'd talk about what I was working on. I had some problems in plotting. To begin with, I really didn't know what I was doing. And, instead of any real help in this, he tells me to change the name of one of my characters.

It wasn't long before I was tired of being there. Sure, at first the family was nice, and his wife sweet, and could cook, but after a while, even as bad as I wanted to be away from home, I was homesick. I did go home every weekend, and returned for three days to Dubuque.

It was February. I was fighting off a cold. I got up and went downstairs for something to eat. John asked to join me. Sure, I say, although I was really sick of his smoking either a cigar or cigarette. He talks about himself a lot, and sometimes his thoughts about life, marriage and sex. This morning was no different. He was telling me that sex and love wasn't the same thing. I said I agreed with that, but in the back of my mind I had had this growing sense of unease about him putting the moves on me. There I was, alone with him while his wife was away at work, and he was talking about sex. Not only that I'd been getting these little hints that Deb and John have been having, or are having an affair. Call it woman's intuition. I just had a feeling there might have been some sort of agreement, since they were both married, and she was always bringing up the fact (in our writer's meetings) she wanted to get her husband out of the meat packing plant soon. She was working on the second book in her romance series. I'll add that she was an excellent writer, and I did envy her writing abilities.

So, today he talked about affairs, and he actually told me about a woman whom he worked with he'd had an affair with. He kept on saying "It didn't mean anything. It was just sex."

Of course, he was setting the stage, maybe hinting at the fact that we could have a fling. Sex. Means nothing to him. Here I was dealing with a relationship that was going nowhere and I'd been divorced (because my first husband had slept around).

And then, when I didn't expect it, he'd cornered me and kissed me. Nothing passionate, just a peck on the lips.

At this point he asks me to join him "upstairs". I told him I didn't do such things, for one.
He asked me later on if I was mad at him. I said no. This was the first time anything like this had happened to me. In these situations I never know what to do, what to say--at least then. Now I'd tell them to go take a flying leap.
He tried to kiss me again and I said no and hurried up to my room.

I think he was a bit nervous about my saying something. Crap. I should have blackmailed him, but it would have been my word against his. And in reviewing this, and the other events surrounding my stay at John's house, I could only wonder if I had gone to bed with him, would I have wound up with an agent, and maybe eventually a publishing contract like Deb? I sort of doubt it, but who's to say?

Ah, well. Life goes on. I'm sure John, and probably Deb are long gone (dead) by now. I was in my twenties, they were much older than myself.

At least I never gave up on my writing. This manuscript has gone through a multitude of rewrites. And my frustration with what happened in Dubuque (there's a lot more to the story, but I'm saving that back), had me quit writing for a while, as I didn't know if I should have trusted someone who kept saying Stephen King couldn't write.

As of this writing, "Vampire Legacy" has a new title, and new life. It won't be ready until next year, some time, but I'm excited about it. I WILL finally see this book published!

What do you think? One I borrowed from a JB Fletcher novel title--which are all fictitious, of course.

"The Crypt of Death" 
or
"Crypt of the Dead"

I'm playing with it. I'd rewritten this puppy in 1999-2000. Tried to sell it to an agent, and at the time it was 800 pages long. It really needed to be chopped in half, and I did so for one agent who had seemed somewhat interested. Long story short, no one picked it up. Boohoo.

I worked on major, MAJOR rewrites in 2013. But other works had me busy at this point, so, I went on and concentrated on those. Once again, this book got stored away again.

Now, I'm working through this manuscript. Seeing where it fails, what I should do with it, and keep the word "vampire" out of the title. I'm thinking it would make a horror/suspense novel, if I worked out the kinks. And I've already made some changes and pulled a chapter out of the beginning. Not wanting the vampires to be shown in this too soon. I want readers to learn along with my detective, and another character what's going on in this town.

Well, that's my story of what happened in Dubuque, and my manuscript "Vampire Legacy" so long ago. I guess you could say this book has a story behind it all its own. I still wonder what would have happened had I went to bed with John. Just so you know, I was NOT attracted to him at all. At one time I thought about writing about it in some version and selling it to a rag (changing names, of course). I think I'll just keep it as a memoir project at some point down the line.

Have a good week, fellow writers!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Getting Organized... Riiiight

I'm sitting here at the computer writing this amid a flotsam of newspaper articles, which I've collected in the past several years. I've brought down one of my craft tables because of the over-flow, and need to do something with these clippings. There's everything from Harry Potter news of its rise in popularity, to the end of the series and movies (I am a big fan), to just different articles on anything that caught my eye. Some of it I remember, and some of it I don't. A number of things have gone into the trash where it belongs.

I've complained about having some place to put things, but it goes in one ear and out the other. I'm waiting for my royalty check in order to buy something to help the over-flow. But in the meantime, I'm trying to organize my crap.

Upstairs I've consolidated all my yarn into 3 bins--well, one is delegated to keeping the unfinished projects, so that one doesn't count.

The two bins I've emptied of yarn will become the place I will keep my journals. These are in notebooks--regular sized school notebooks, and the smaller ones, like Gregg stenos. I've kept writing a journal since 1973 (wish I'd kept one in high school, it would have been good to remember the stupid things that happened back then). But, in all I have 4 bins--you know the colored ones you see in stores. I'm trying to keep them to the 10 gallon size. Anything bigger would be insanely heavy.

At any rate, I'm in the middle of this, at the moment, having put an ending on my murder mystery. And, as usual, I've got ideas for the next one. One character I'll be introducing is inspired by someone I knew, but I'm changing him enough to at least be more likable, more intelegent, but still somewhat of a braggart and story-teller. Well, he's going to be a writer in Lainey's college writing class, and I'm seeing him as someone who commands attention, not only with his mouth, but he's a very large guy. He'll be a fan/writer of fantasy--which makes sense to me.

Well, you'll excuse me. I've got to work on my mess here in my office. Have a good week!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Running in Circles

Too many projects, I guess.

Have been working on certain re-writes of the mystery novel. It doesn't surprise me that I'm going back and forth like this. It's sort of normal for me and first tries a something (like books).

At first, and for months, I couldn't decide who was my murderer. I mean, I had someone, then decided it was too easy. Everyone would guess who it was. That would be your "red herring". So, I went through a number of people/characters in the book. No. No. No... but maybe this one.

And the clues. I came up with another clue just the other day, because it's another piece of jewelry, other than the necklace that's clutched in the dead woman's hand. It's something she wore--oh, yeah, have to write this in.

Ooops, don't want to give away too much.

I began this book last year. Had to take about half the year off from writing, last summer, before I felt like writing anything. Just go through those times when I need to recharge, and not writing anything much helps.

I've also been working on other things. Trying to make my facebook pages look more professional. You know you can add a button to sell your book to a page you have? Or anything, even your website. I've been working on this with all my pages. It's time consuming.

Also, I'm redoing my "Baby Boomer at Large" blogsite. I've just revamped it. This is a very clean, paired down version in blogger. I sort of like it. You have the article you've written w/o all the other junk getting in the way. I just wrote about the healthful benefits of elderberry. However, I think I didn't mention that you can buy this juice, or the dried berries from healthfood markets. Be aware that it is very expensive. Our HyVee store has a whole health market, and they've jacked the prices up on everything there. Elderberry juice was once $18, and I think they've jacked it up out of my reach, thus I'm making my own this year. I'll be drying the berries and storing them for use, as they are growing everywhere, not just on our property, but in the park as well. If you've never heard about how elderberries boosts your immune system, and how people have discovered it for abating flu and colds, you might want to check out this story, and the links about it. I'll be working on more posts at Baby Boomer at Large a little more often. I've been wanting to write about healthful foods and herbs for a long time. I think it's about time I worked on it, and have found the best way/place to do it.

That's about it for today. Have a good week!