Friday, September 30, 2022

The Little Oak Tree that Could

 Last year I wrote about a beautiful pine tree that my husband and I bought and with Dani and Chris's help planted in the backyard. (That after having the folks that check for gas lines and underground cables come by and paint different colored lines around our yard.) Well, when my husband had his knee surgery, the poor pine tree was neglected and by the time I realized my error, it was dead. By late fall I finally pulled it up and took it back to Lowe's. No questions asked, I got a refund. I didn't like the look of any of the trees that were left, so the spot was bare for a couple of weeks. 

In the meantime, I had found a volunteer twig growing under one of the grow boxes. When I pulled it up, I found an acorn at the bottom of the plant. Where the nut had come from was beyond me, but I put it in a pot and and watered it. Then after the pine died I decided to plant it in the vacant spot. Almost immediately, it shed its leaves. Poor little twig. We continued to pamper the bare 'nekkid' tree all winter. 

About halfway through spring when I thought the oak was dead, too, and I was ready to dig it up, I saw tiny little leaves popping out on the twig. They grew large and the little sapling was holding its own. I suspect it will shed its leaves this year, too, but I won't worry about it like I did the previous year. 

Will we live long enough to enjoy its shade? I doubt it, but someone will and that's what's important.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Helping Out an Author

I will be perfectly honest here--I love hearing people say that they loved my book. I have written and published twelve books, (not including my stories in several anthologies) so I have lost count of the number of times someone has said that about one or the other of my books. 

With that said, I periodically check the reviews on Amazon. Authors are continually told how important reviews are. "Authors live and die by reviews. Readers like to see lots of reviews before they buy a book." So do I! However, there is a disparity between the number of reviews my books have and those who have said they love this or that book. I guess I getting down on my knees and begging. 

If you have read one of my books, or any other self-published, or struggling/beginning author's book, please post a review, whether on Amazon, Goodreads, the publisher's website, and so forth. 

I am saying this for those author's who are not in the James Patterson or J.K. Rowling league. A new review there would get lost or take someone three days to wade through them all. Don't get me wrong, I have done reviews for famous authors. However if I only have time to write one review and it's a choice between C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and a fellow author, I will write the review for the fellow author. They need it more. 

And it usually only takes a few minutes to write a short review. (And you notice that I didn't say 'a review if you liked it.') We like honest reviews. If you thought my book sucked, say what you didn't like about it. (Nicely, of course. I can use those comments when I am working on my next book.)

Thanks in advance!

And let me know your thoughts!        

Monday, July 11, 2022

Making the Unfamiliar Sound Familiar

 I was on a Zoom critique meeting yesterday afternoon and had an a-ha! moment. We were working on each other's chapter that had been submitted. I had been submitting chapters of my latest sci fi novel, Voyage of the Sea Dragon. (Or some such title...) The setting of this one is a repurposed LA class submarine. This story isn't supposed to be a thriller. As I mentioned, it's sci fi and will have an alien or two, something else wonky (but I'm not going to give that one away). 

This one didn't tell me much!

The basic premise is that a scientist and a high ranking naval officer manage to take a decommissioned U.S. submarine and convert it to scientific research. Yes, there are some naval personnel as well as the scientists (someone's got to run the boat). 

I have done some research, read submariners' stories and tried to make this setting as realistic as I could. I also wanted to not have to spend pages explaining things that are commonplace on all modern subs. So I was questioned on how submarine toilets worked, (the crew would call them heads) since I was telling about how an uninitiated character experienced a mishap with said head. I realized I am walking a very thin tightrope. I have never been on a submarine--any submarine. And yet I want you all to feel like this is a real and dynamic place. I don't want part of the suspension of disbelief to be the setting as well as the aliens. This is probably the biggest stretch for a novel I have done, but I have loved working on the draft. And thank goodness for critique partners who let me know when I need to change something, explain something, or add something. 

I have also been very fortunate to have found a YouTube channel called Smarter Every Day, where the host was able to spend time on a nuclear submarine, specifically the USS Toledo, an LA class submarine. I have some research to do!

Let me know of your writing 'stretches.' 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Events and Attention Grabbers

 Last month I flew out to Tennessee to attend the Children's Book Festival at the World's Fair Park in Knoxville.  The weather was warm, but there was a nice breeze and the event volunteers had erected canopies for each of us. I had forgotten about all the hills in that part of the country. I guess I've gotten spoiled living in central Oklahoma. 

I had copies of all of my books, (the dozen published books and two anthologies.) I had giveaway cards, bookmarks, and stickers as well as a few other things for the kids and parents. I also had my lifelike (and cat-sized) stuffed black kitty and baby possum. I got everything set up and ready for whoever came. 

And came they did! I heard later that it was in excess of 12,000 people. The kids were drawn to my stuffed TB (Toe Biter, in case you forgot. LOL). He was like a magnet! It was fun to talk to everyone who came by.  

It turned out to be a red letter cat day. My two books about TB the black cat, Realms of the Cat and First Realm were the book of the day. I sold all nineteen copies of them. I only sold a few other book titles. It was interesting that when I had no more copies and put my stuffed TB  away, I stopped getting visitors. 

That had me thinking that I should try to find eye-catchers for my other books. I wonder if a 'tornado in a bottle' would work for Billy Bob Flybottom? I'll let you know at my next event. I just got the table top tornado a couple of days ago.  

If you have any ideas for my other books, let me know in the comments below. 

At a previous event, TB is holding up a book. 

Thursday, February 17, 2022

I am So Excited about Zorro

I usually don't write more than one blog a month, but now that all four of my new books are out and official, I have to send another post. I am so excited about my new Zorro books coming out. It's a trilogy I drafted a while back and was recently picked up by Bold Venture Press, sanctioned by Zorro Productions, with the covers created by Francisco Silva. (Mr. Silva pulled in the action and the emotion of the novels so beautifully.) 

So why in the heck did I choose to write Zorro stories back in the beginning of a new millennium? 

How many of you are old enough to to remember turning on the bulky old TV and watching a black horse with a rider dressed all in black race across the small screen? That was back in the late fifties. I was around six at the time so I was mainly watching the horse (just as I watched Fury, Trigger, etc.) I was also living in Alaska, so there were many things to keep my attention--snow, skating, camping. Anyway, I didn't see all of the Zorro episodes until I was grown. 

By then I could appreciate all of the nuances of the show. Guy Williams, (who in my opinion was made for the role), the marvelous writers, the detail Walt Disney put into the show, as well as the coal black horse, Tornado. As brief as it ran, there were over 70 episodes and they were all fodder for thought. Was this girl or that one the best match for Zorro/Diego? What happened next? Or what happened during that time the episode didn't cover? Or simply what other adventures might Zorro have?  (Even the trilogy, has a very tenuous link to an episode.)

I wrote what came to my mind, let friends critique the stories and make suggestions. During this time my writing skills improved and my thoughts led to original characters and their adventures. I still never forgot Zorro. I have eight published books, (not including the Zorro trilogy), but when I was invited to write a story for the anthology, Zorro: The Daring Escapades, late in 2019/early 2020, I was thrilled. 

Now the publication of Zorro's Pacific Odyssey is beyond thrilling. I am so happy to be revisiting the early 1800's southern California and especially writing about a hero who has long sparked my imagination. 

I like my historical fiction to be as accurate as possible. So for Zorro's Pacific Odyssey, I started with non-fiction books from the library, looked online, and ordered books I couldn't find locally. I still have my copy of Beasty's cutaway book of the old man 'o war sailing ships. This research became the story of a hero (Diego de la Vega) kidnapped by ruthless men and indentured on board a British cargo ship under the hand of a cruel and vindictive captain. (Zorro and the Outward Journey.) It's also the story of heroic Californians who refuse to be crushed under tyranny, and about a friend from far away who helps Zorro, the person who saved his life when he had been kidnapped. (Zorro and the Forbidden Country.) How Zorro manages to return home and root out the evil in his homeland is the third book of the trilogy, Zorro and the Deadly Homecoming

Some people shook their heads at my desires to write stories about TV characters almost thirty years ago, but I owe much to Zorro. I am grateful for my own odyssey. 


 (Thanks to Francisco Silva for the picture.) Please do not copy.
Zorro created by Johnston McCulley. Copyright © 2022 Zorro Productions, Inc. 
Zorro ® & © Zorro Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Published under license from Zorro Productions, Inc.

All in all, I am very proud of these novels and hope readers will like them, too. 

The dust jacket of last year's anthology from Bold Venture Press.