Monday, January 25, 2016


Family is, and always has been, important to me. I'm blessed and privileged to belong to many families.

Of course, there is the biological and legal family to which I belong. They are my first friends, fans, and support group. Then there is the family which I chose or, in some cases, chose me. The friends, co-workers, friends and family of family and friends... you get the idea. Those are the people who, for whatever reason, met me and liked me enough to care about me and my life and chose to stay in it.

Then there is my family of writers and readers--people who don't know me, personally, but know me through my writing and my stories and with whom I've struck a chord. There is a connection between us, perhaps not a strong as the one between me and my "real-life" family and friends, but one that spans time and distance and reminds us that, in truth, we are all family.

Family, by whatever definition, is there when times are good and everyone is happy and healthy. Joy shared is joy multiplied, to be sure. But more importantly, family is there when the times are difficult and some of us need help. Maybe all we can do is pray for each other and offer support, but knowing that someone is aware of your pain and shares in it, however they can, is enough to make that connection real. Sadness shared is sadness divided and it helps to have others there to help carry the load, even if it's only a small part.

When I sit down to write my Black Horse Campground novels, the characters become another family. They tell me their stories, their sorrows, their joys, their problems, their fears, and their hopes and dreams. And I tell them to my readers, who become a part of their family as well. It's one of the reasons I decided to write a series; one book wouldn't be enough time to spend with the Black Horse Campground family. And I look forward to a lot more "family time" in the future!

Coming soon from Oak Tree Press: "At the Crossroad: A Black Horse Campground Mystery"

Monday, January 18, 2016

Countdown to Book Launch! Blog Tour Dates Announced!

The time is approaching!

In preparation for the release of "At the Crossroad", the fourth book in the Black Horse Campground mystery series, I'm starting a blog tour. The lineup is here, with links to each blog where you can follow along and meet new authors, and help me build up to the release date:

John M. Wills, author of "Healer" and "The Year Without Christmas"
Friday, January 22

Oak Tree Press Blog
Sunday, January 24

Marilyn Meredith, author of the Rocky Bluff P.D. and Tempe Crabtree mysteries
Wednesday, January 27

Stephen Brayton, author of "ALPHA: A Mallory Petersen mystery"
Friday, January 29

Janet  (J.L.) Greger, author of the Sara Almquist mysteries
Wednesday, February 3

Ilene Schneider, author of "Chanukah Guilt" and "Unleavened Dead"
Friday, February 5

Erin McCole Cupp
Wednesday, February 10

Stop by each blog and leave a comment.  All those who do will be entered in a drawing to win a Black Horse Campground-themed prize and the opportunity to have a character in an upcoming Black Horse Campground mystery named after them!

Also, as a bonus, here is the cover reveal for "At the Crossroad"!

AND... I've updated my website, which contains the prologue to "At the Crossroad". Stop by and check it out, too!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Writer, Heal Thyself--the Agony and Ecstasy of Editing

With my latest Black Horse Campground novel, "At the Cross Road", scheduled to be released in the next few weeks, I'm at that point in the process that I love and loathe in almost equal amounts.

Final editing.

Any writer will tell you that editing is one of the least enjoyable aspects of the writing process... and one of the most enjoyable. Finishing the first draft is exhilarating, but then you begin to read it over and you cringe. What mad person wrote this mess? Once you get past the despairing feeling that your draft is beyond help, a spark of excitement suddenly flares. You can fix this. You have something to work with. Suddenly your draft acquires a name: Steve Austin. "We can rebuild him. We have the technology... Better than he was before. Better... stronger... faster." Not to mention coherent, cohesive, interesting, and entertaining. With fewer spelling and grammar errors!

So begins the first round of edits. First, spelling and grammar errors are tackled. Out comes the red pen. Then you ask a trusted reader to read the whole manuscript and point out other problems that the author might be too close to see for himself: "The story started on Tuesday. Four days later and it's Wednesday?" "Okay, so is this character's name Donald or David? It's changed three times in the first two chapters!" "It's chapter three and I already know who did it...."

After another round or two, in which the author adds some missing detail and takes out a lot of unnecessary detail (more is removed than is added, if the author does it right) and makes corrections in continuity and clarity, then off it goes to the publisher who sends it back in text block form. This means that it's set up just as it would look in the finished product. It's a heady thing to look at! It looks like a real book! And then....

Good Lord, how many ellipses did I use in one paragraph? Six chapters end with only ONE sentence on the last page? Am I really seeing the word "peculiar" four times on the same page? How many times DID I use the word "very" in the entire book??

And the editing begins again, with even more close scrutiny. Single-sentence pages require extensive pruning of the chapter they end (six sentences or fewer and I'm looking to see where I can make cuts!) My publisher was the one who noticed my affection for ellipses and kindly suggested that I could lower the page count (and price!) of my novel if learned to rein in the impulse to include an ellipse in almost every paragraph! And colored highlighters are a great way to find excessively used words (especially adverbs like "very" or "really".)

It might take a round or two of returning corrections (typos and errors get really good at hiding... you have to be sharp!) before you can finally say, "It is finished." You sign off on the finished, polished text block, your publisher signs off on it, and off it goes to the printer....

And panic sets in.

DID I get every last error in spelling, punctuation, and grammar corrected? Did I do my very best? Is the book the very best it can be?

And of course, there is always the possibility of a minor error slipping through (nothing like having your book printed and out there for public scrutiny for catching a glaring error... though it is rare!)

But you breathe a sigh of relief and offer a prayer of thanks that it's over.

And you start on the next book's first draft....

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year, New Goals

Of course, with the ringing in of the new year comes the making of resolutions and setting goals for the next twelve months. Usually these goals have to do with improving oneself--losing weight, living a healthier lifestyle, going back to school. I always admire those that set such goals and actually achieve them. I'm not one of them. As much as I know I have to do some of those things (especially eating healthier), I will probably do them as deadlines loom closer (for instance, I'll start my diet AFTER the holiday foods are completely cleared out of my freezer... and before I see my doctor in March!)

Other goals are already in place. Not only do I have a Black Horse Campground novel set to be released this month, I have already committed to having the fifth book in the series ready to be released in July. Those are goals I relish and are ones that I know I have a lot of support to accomplish, but along with those goals come others. If I am to continue to have my books published, writing them isn't enough. I have to promote them and find ways to boost sales. That's not always fun or easy to do. It means making time in an already busy schedule to research venues for promotion and then doing the promo work.

I also want to open up more possibilities for networking with other authors and with others who are in the business of book promotion and marketing. This may mean having to take time away from other things I enjoy doing and may mean spending a little more money and time than I usually would on such things. Yet if it helps me get closer to the real goals I want to achieve, it can be seen as being no different than skipping dessert or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It can feel like a sacrifice or a pain in the neck, but the rewards are immense.

So my resolution for this year? It's to look at these things as new adventures or challenges on the way to achieving my goals; to not groan or complain if "I don't feel like" doing research on a promo possibility; to resist the temptation to beg off any speaking engagements or events that might clash with a "fun" (i.e. no work) vacation. I'm fortunate that I have a spouse who is willing to go with anything that I have to do to further my writing career. It makes the challenged less daunting and more adventurous.

Hope you all have a great new year with many adventures waiting for you!