The Hurdles I’m Jumping Along the Way

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Before I get started, I have a confession to make. I went without caffeine eight months, but finally broke down a couple of weeks ago and started back with a cup or two a day—no sugar. I was waking with brain fog that prevailed for two hours and couldn’t get anything accomplished in the early morning.

Happy to say the fog has lifted, and it wasn’t so difficult to learn to drink coffee without it. My blood sugar remains under control.

For the past week, or so, I have been preparing for Sleuth Fest. I have about memorized the first chapter in my book, which I plan to read aloud. It’s on my iPad, and I also have a paper copy, but fumbling with them always slows me down. With the papers, I use all but ten seconds of my ten minute time limit (which includes my brief introduction), but with the iPad, I end with twenty to thirty seconds remaining. This is reading slow and clear enough to be well understood.

I’ve done public reads before, but short stories for my writer’s group, not reading from my book. And I’ve read at my local library. With some of the short story reads, the lighting in the venues was terrible, and that slowed me down. I know our Reader’s Corner at the convention is set by the pool patio outside at night (weather permitting), so I’m thinking having it on the iPad is the best way to go…with a backup on paper for the just-in-case scenario.

The long synopsis and the short synopsis have been completed and proofed. The cover letter has been written and I’m presently engaged in memorizing my pitch.  I memorize words best by writing them down over and over. It’s just something about how my brain files information. So my fingers are numb.

One of my biggest hang-ups comes from the fact that I rewrote my log-line about a hundred times before deciding on the best one. Now I have bits and pieces of the wrong lines stuck in my head and they slip out unexpectedly when I try reciting the correct one.

For anyone trying to write a synopsis, I found a really cool link to how to un-demonize the process by fiction editor Beth Hill here:

http://theeditorsblog.net/2012/07/15/clear-the-dread-from-the-dreaded-synopsis/

And another author, Helen Jones, recommended a helpful book today on her blog:

http://journeytoambeth.com/2016/02/05/the-joy-of-synopses/

Write a Great Synopsis – An Expert Guide,’ by Nicola Morgan

Helen has her log-line down to twenty-six words.

Mine is a dual-plot thriller, and I’ve gotten it down to thirty-two. I’m not going to try to cut it any closer than that, to do so would make it less appealing and less likely to demonstrate its entertainment value.

It’s not a log-line I would use to promote the book, but a great one for an agent pitch.

I’ve been looking over the Sleuth Fest schedule and, of course, there are workshops I’d love to attend that conflict with times other workshops and panels are being held. I’ll have to narrow down choices soon.

A photographer friend is going to be doing a photo shoot in the near future. We’re going out to a park that has cypress knees and tropical foliage in hopes of getting some outdoor shots that might be useful, and he has professional screens that we can get some photos in front of. You will likely see changes in my social media and bio pics once this gets accomplished so don’t be surprised if the thin, bright, young woman with long blonde hair on the side turns into a plump, gray, short- haired old lady. It happened rather suddenly and surprised me. No witch cast any spells on me that I know of, time and good food.

It is truly amazing when I think of all that has transpired over the past five years. I went from working eight to sixteen hours a day in a pediatric extended care ward and a psych hospital to sitting in front of a keyboard for sixteen plus hours a day. I’ve published one book and written three. My free time is spent reading and researching, learning about the business, marketing, writing and trying out new ideas.

Being a nudist and a nurse with a most extroverted personality who used to teach and speak before large groups, as well as work with people most intimately, I’ve gone through some changes on a personal level.  In crowds and public groups, I suffer social anxiety and despise small talk. I’ve gotten deep inside my head. I need this Sleuth Fest, not only to learn and promote my work, but to get outside myself. I’ve become an introvert. Not that being one is a bad thing. I honestly believe it helps with regards to creative productivity in writing.

I’ll end here by asking for a small prayer, if you pray, and positive vibes of energy and good luck.

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Hitting the Ground Running with Crazy Characters

With Sleuth Fest just a few weeks away, I’ve been practicing my Reader’s Corner piece. Twelve attendees were invited to pick a short read with a ten minute time limit. I haven’t decided if I want to read half a chapter in five minutes, or the whole chapter in ten. From what I gather from people who have done this before, the shorter reads hold the audience’s attention better. But, high action prevails over exposition or back story. To cut my piece to five minutes would clip off the high action. It’s a crime romp and the tone of the book is well demonstrated in this piece.

The suggested categories are:

Hitting the ground running

Calls to action

The usual suspects

Peeking through keyholes

Clever tricks

Milieu scenes

Stark confrontations

Mulling it over

Crazy characters

Cliff hanging suspense

And there should be a point to the read.

I can read my first chapter aloud in less than ten minutes. It’s a “hitting the ground running” chapter that does introduce the crazy characters. It’s also a non-spoiler chapter that will show in the book’s Look Inside, so I don’t mind sharing. However, I recently read a post about NOT naming street names in fiction, unless they are iconic. The photos show the iconic gay club complex and an iconic Orlando street in the first chapter. The piece I plan to read names several streets. My editor didn’t seem to mind, as they are necessary for the car chase. Now I’m wondering if I should strike them for more generic terms.

Chapter One

There was only one thing worse for business than not solving cases and that was keeping a new client waiting, and this one was the former mayor. Already running late for a meeting in Winter Park, Richard Noggin drove north on Orange Avenue through moderate nighttime traffic in his sporty, silver, two-seater Mercedes convertible, the top down and the air-conditioner blasting. As he approached Michigan Avenue, coming into downtown Orlando, two figures darted onto the road from his left.

Swerving and slamming on the brakes, tires squealed as he screeched to a halt in the middle lane. They stood like deer in the headlights, a tall woman and a young girl. A transfer truck thundered past on his left, its horn blasting him senseless. The woman whacked the car’s hood with a pair of stilettos and jumped, grabbing the girl close.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Richard yelled as cars whizzed past on either side. The woman marched the girl by the shoulders around to the passenger’s side. “Hurry. Let us in!” Releasing the girl, she tried the locked door, then grabbed the window ledge with both hands, shoes dangling.

He eased off the brakes, starting to roll, and looked across the car. Standing in the street in her sequined white halter and miniskirt, the woman looked terrified, panting and wiping her windswept, auburn locks back from her face. The almond-eyed girl even more so, with facial bruises and a busted lip. He took his foot off the gas. Dammit, he couldn’t drive off and leave them in the middle of the busy street. Before he could let them in, the woman tossed the high heels and her oversized shoulder bag inside, threw her long, lean leg over the door, and plopped herself into the passenger’s seat. She yanked the young girl over onto her lap.

“Drive,” she screamed. “Drive!”

Richard raced to the intersection.

“Turn left here!” she ordered.

“Isn’t this the direction you came from?”

“Just do it!”

He had a green light and took a hard, fast left in front of oncoming traffic, heading for Orange Blossom Trail, known locally as O.B.T. Then it hit him – these two had come off the Trail; the hooker trail in the red-light district. This was asking for trouble, but his investigative curiosity took over. “Why are you running?”

“Because standing on the curb waiting on a bus wasn’t an option.” A black car raced past in the opposite direction. She ducked, trying to pull the girl down with her. “I don’t think they saw us.”

“How could they have missed you? She’s sitting with her face pressed against the windshield.”

“You’re exaggerating.” The woman sat upright, shifted the girl in her lap to one side, and stroked the dash of the car. “Damn, your payments on this pretty girl must be more than Donald Trump’s monthly tab for hair spray.”

“She’s paid for.” He rolled his eyes and shot her a quick look. “Who are you hiding from?”

“Men with guns. Damn, I hate guns.”

“What men?”

“All I know is I was coming out of the Brown Pelican Lounge on south O.B.T. when this girl came charging across the parking lot next door in front of the Shady Breeze Motel, screaming, ‘Help, men with guns!’ I looked at her and her busted lip, and hearing ‘Guns!’ figured we ought to run. I snatched off my shoes and did just that.”

“Why didn’t you take her inside and call the police?”

“Let’s just say there were a few gentlemen inside whose company I didn’t care to keep.”

“So, you ran with her?”

“You catch on real quick. Two guys chased us on foot and two ran for their car.”

“Now what am I supposed to do?”

“Turn right at the light and take me home.”

“You live on the Trail?” he asked, only half-joking. He slowed for traffic at the intersection. Her scent caught him. The voice was mellow and raspy, like a smoker, but her fragrance was cinnamon and oranges, her skin, the color of fine café latte. Arms wrapped around the young girl made her cleavage deepen. She turned to him with emerald eyes sparkling.

“I’m staying at the Parliament House.”

“The gay club?”

“Resort. The Parliament House Resort. I’m a showgirl. Name’s Brandi, formerly Brandon.”

Richard did a double take, swallowed hard, and took a right turn, proceeding north on Orange Blossom Trail. “Where were you taking her?”

“The twenty-four hour pharmacy on Michigan, to get something for her lip, and let them deal with her. I dunno. What would you do?”

“I’d probably call the police.” He sped up and passed a few cars ahead.

“I’m sure those guys with the guns would’ve waited for us to do that.” Her sarcasm as strong as her perfume. “I used to be a cop and I know they’re not gonna do a damn thing for her. As far as they’re concerned, she’s just another poor girl walkin’ the streets.”

“Somehow, you don’t strike me as a cop.”

“It was a brief stint.”

He ran through the caution light at Kaley Avenue. “Call the police and have them meet us at the Parliament House. I have an important dinner appointment in Winter Park and I’m already late.”

“And I have a show to do tonight,” Brandi fired back.

“Well, I can’t keep her.” He glanced at the silent girl. “What’s your name?”

“Cara Kieu.”

“Where do you live?”

“I not know much English. Cara Kieu scared.”

Richard gave Brandi a hard look. “Listen, I can’t keep her. You’re going to have to figure this out.” He reached into the pocket of his sport coat. “Here’s my card. Call me later if you can’t deal with her, and I’ll see what I can do.”

She took the card. “Richard Noggin, P.I. Just my luck, I get picked up by Dick Head, P.I.” She tucked the card into her purse at her feet.

“Yeah, I get that a lot.”

He felt Brandi’s soft touch on his shoulder and cringed, her hand caressing as it moved up his neck. What the hell was he getting himself into?

She nudged him and smiled. “Has anyone ever told you that you have the most striking crystal-blue eyes? They’re really set off by your thick, dark hair.”

“Yeah, I get that a lot, too.”

“I notice things about men.”

“I’m sure you do.” He leaned away, hoping she’d get the message that he wasn’t interested.

They crossed the intersection at West Church Street. A black Nissan pulled out behind them. Brandi jerked back her hand and ducked, pulling Cara down with her. “Holy shit, it’s them!”

“Hold on.”

He took a fast right onto West Central and another onto Parramore. The Nissan followed. He sped through the stop sign at Jackson and turned left into oncoming traffic on South Street, a busy, three-lane, one-way road. Cara screamed and clung to Brandi.

“You’re going to get us killed!”

“Wasn’t that your problem in the first place?” In his rearview, he noted the Nissan cross South Street behind them.

Horns blasted as cars roared by left and right. He saw a black Nissan speeding along on the next street over. Dodging angry traffic, he careened past the Amway Center, turning onto yet another one-way at Hughy. With no sign of their pursuers behind them, he plowed through.

Cara Kieu screamed again as he swerved to avoid a head-on collision with a city bus. After a couple of blocks and a quick left, he drove around the State Marshall’s Building, then made several fast turns through the downtown neighborhood streets. Soon, they would come out on the Trail.

He’d made a complete, albeit dangerous, wide circle. When they reached Orange Blossom Trail in front of the Parliament House, he parked the car on the corner. “Get out.”

Brandi looked at him in disgust. “You can’t just leave us here.”

“You need to get out and run. I don’t know how long we’ve got before these guys are back on our tail.”

“Okay, we’re outta here.” She opened the door, pushed Cara from her lap, grabbed her shoes and bag, then jumped from the vehicle and slammed the door. “Thanks for the ride, dude.”

Richard watched as they crossed O.B.T. to the Parliament House. RuPaul’s Raja: Heaven Scent gleamed on the billboard. Beneath all the neon multicolor, Brandi dazzled, looking like she was right where she belonged.

He sped away north up the Trail, and east onto Colonial through Little Saigon, then headed north on Mills Ave, with no sign of the black Nissan all the way to Winter Park.

 

 What do you think?

 Do street names in fiction bother you?

 Would you cut this down to a five minute read?

Red Clay and Roses – a review

Susan Toy featured a review from Marie Bailey on her Reading Recommendations–Reviews blog yesterday. The review was Marie’s first “Different” sort of review and is quite amusing in and of itself. Marie was one of the first people I met on my blogging journey when I first published. I applaud her creativity. Since this review, Red Clay and Roses has received a revision. This is a perfect example of why your reviews as readers mean so much. Authors learn so much from readers who honestly express their opinions about the works they read, and Marie really handled her concerns with grace and charm. Have a read. It’s delightful.

reading recommendations reviewed

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Red Clay and Roses
by S.K. Nicholls

Purchase copies here

A Different Kind of Book Review

Melissa set the tray of coffee mugs, sugar bowl and creamer on the table, and quickly began to pour the coffee. Her hands shook a bit and she missed Maggie’s cup by a hair. Maggie cocked an eyebrow in wonder. Mary was fixing plates of mini-scones and cookies for them to nibble on, oblivious to her cousin’s anxiety. This was their first book club meeting, although Melissa wondered if a book club could have as few as three people and still be a club. She told herself it didn’t matter. Now that she and Maggie were living in town, it would be a way for the three cousins to see each other regularly.

“Well, I can’t wait to talk about the book we read for tonight.” Mary put the plates of goodies on the…

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Moving Right Along

Study this image. How does it make you feel? Does it affect your mood? There will be a test question at the end.
Study this image. There will be a test question at the end.

 

If you didn’t notice, I’ve altered my tag-line. It’s always been a bit smug…after all, I’m no genius. I explained all that on my About page. My husband suggested mybrandofgenius and it sort of stuck. I’m not ready to let that go. It reminds me to laugh at myself.

The added tag-line speaks to the two sorts of writing, 1950’s-60s historic literary fiction, and riveting contemporary crime romps, I’m vested in. I’ve spent a great deal of time promoting Red Clay and Roses on this blog and have connected with some fabulous people in the process. My intention really wasn’t to promote my book when I first got started, (I wanted a place to socialize and talk about writing) but I was told that was what I was supposed to be doing.

Tons of people showed up to teach me how. I watched you and listened and learned. I traveled around the blogosphere and got to know you. I need for you to know you mean the world to me. When I first became disabled, I had no clue how I was going to spend my time. A workaholic nurse used to racing around on my feet eight to sixteen hours a day, I found myself at a loss. Bewildered and lonely.

The characters that developed in my head and my memories were my only comfort. And then, you came along and brighten my path. Since then, I’ve gained three grandchildren, and those quiet times became something I have to defend. But still, I have plenty.

For the last four months, I’ve been back and forth with my editor getting things done. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished and feel I can present the work with confidence at Sleuth Fest. I’ve completed a three page long synopsis and a one page short synopsis, a cover letter, a tag-line for the book, a log-line, a blurb, and a perfect pitch. (Thank you Carrie and Sue, for allowing me to pick your brains.)

Since writing Naked Alliances, it’s always troubled me how I would market the book without abandoning Red Clay and Roses, as they are two completely different genres and styles. After much research with branding, I realized I don’t have to abandon anything at all. I began to look at the common features of the books and what motivated me to write both of them. I also examined those attributes of myself that I’ve learned from you by reading through the comments you’ve left me…that I am compassionate, candid, and honest…and sometimes funny.

In Red Clay and Roses, we have a book that includes rape, racism, illegal abortion and murder. In Naked Alliances, we have child abuse, murder, and sex-trafficking. I thought about how my work as a nurse influenced the writing in either book. RC&R with direct references, and NA with indirect. As a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner in an active ER, I was unfortunately exposed to a number of situations that did influence the writing of NA.  Out of respect, and due to HIPAA laws, I’ve been very careful not to put anything on this blog that might reference any particular incident in such a way as to identify people involved. My work in forensic psychiatry also contributed to the writing of NA in a more indirect manner having to do with the character development of the antagonist and the psychology of the killer.

The tone of RC&R is dark and serious. The tone of NA is lighter and somewhat amusing. That was intentional. Crime, while often dark and serious, allows for different approach. Here, we have a most responsible, loner P.I. who is forced to, by circumstance, work with a brassy, and irresponsible transgendered sidekick. To protect a young girl from an evil vixen, they must hide in a nudist resort while the body count rises. There are two protagonists, an unlikely pairing in an unpredictable setting, which makes for entertaining reading. It’s a riveting crime romp through Central Florida. A rather motley crew of characters that speak to the diversity we have in this neck of the woods.

While the crimes are serious, the tone of the book really isn’t all that serious. Herein lies my marketing dilemma. How do I promote both books across one set of platforms? Setting up platforms for each book is not an option for me. I’ve come up with some ideas I’ll be testing out in the near future, so you’ll likely see some gradual changes on FB, Twitter, and this blog.

All I ask is that you remember I am compassionate, candid, honest…and sometimes funny, or at least try to be. Sometimes that’s hard without being rude. I’ll try not to be too rude.

Day before yesterday, I pulled my car over to a bus stop in a torrential downpour and gave a guy my umbrella if that helps.

Is there something you’d like to hear more about?

Any ideas on promoting books of different tone and/or genre?

Do the colors in the image above illicit any particular mood or feeling?

#amblogging: WordPress Blues

Please WordPress, stop trying to force us to use a dashboard we are not comfortable with. What’s the point? The dashboard has nothing to do with how the posts are displayed.

Life in the Realm of Fantasy

wordpress logoWordPress people…you have pissed me off.

For a year now you have been trying to shove this new, less-than-useful dashboard down my throat, and for that same year, I have refused to use it. You allowed me the option to stay with the expanded version that played to my needs, and so I didn’t complain.

Today, however, you  cut off my simple access to the old, better-for-my-purposes dashboard, and forced me to hunt for a way to get back to it. So rather than the post I had intended, we are going to discuss how a determined blogger can get around your arbitrary decision.

I do not post my blogs from a cell phone. For those people who do, I am sure the bland wall of white fog that is the new default dashboard is fine, but for me it is NOT USEFUL.

First of all, the writing is pale…

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Sleuth Fest 2016: Do I dare?

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Sleuth Fest 2016 is being held in February here in Deerfield Beach, Florida. This is Mystery Writers of America’s premier conference. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet and greet other authors in the crime fiction/mystery writer league. Seminars are held to provide attendants ways to hone craft skills. There is also time given to pitch your completed, unpublished manuscript to agents. The list of offerings:

* Agent Appointments to pitch your finished work

* Critiques of your 10 page manuscript submission

* Forensic track with current forensic techniques and hands-on forensic workshops

* Social events to mingle with agents, editors and your favorite authors

* Auction to purchase critiques of your work by bestselling authors

* Sessions on the craft of writing

* Sessions on marketing and promoting your work
* Practice your Pitch sessions with experienced authors

 

You’re not promised a one:one with an agent as the 10 minute time slots fill up fast and I’d be coming in kind of late to the party. Yet, the introverted part of me that cringes at the thought of physically putting myself into a social situation like this also feels it would be grand experience. Do I dare?

Anybody want to meet me there and hold my hand? I’ll pay your plane fair. I’m serious.

I want to go and give it a try, but my social anxiety cripples me.

I need a fan club!

Sequins and Sandals

Second edits were completed on Naked Alliances and the manuscript has been sent to the editor for proofing. I’m excited about this book and also a bit nervous. It’s a break away from the philosophical meanderings of Red Clay and Roses. It was also a world of fun to write.

Naked Alliances is a regional fast paced crime thriller with a humorous edge.

Florida is notorious for its crazy but memorable, and sometimes lovable, fictional characters:

Here’s an A-Z list with some you may recognize:

 A

B

C

D

G

H

I

  • Ike

 

J

K

L

M

P

R

S

T

V

W

As anyone with a Facebook account knows, Florida is filled with the dregs of society, hell bent on wreaking havoc wherever they go. It’s the perfect place to find wacko, colorful criminals, along with odd protagonists whose motives might be less than conventional.

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We have the highest rate of homeless people in the nation due, in part, to our wonderful weather, but also because it is relatively easy to live anonymously here, blending in with all the other wackos and tourists. Nobody really strikes you as unusual, because everybody, to some degree, is unusual. Yet, we also have one of the highest rates of millionaires in the nation perhaps due to the wonderful weather, but also because they, too, find it easy to live anonymously here, blending in with the wackos and tourists.

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“Sequins and Sandals” is a term the locals use when describing Central Florida. We’re a hodgepodge. From the beach bums and bikers, the rednecks and outdoorsmen, to the big time gamblers risking it all in high-end casinos, cruise ships, Jai alai courts, horsetracks and dogtracks, the land developers and profiteers, Floridians are Long Island iced tea poured over rocky road ice cream, a soothing soda that “normal” people drink through a straw for entertainment.

In Naked Alliances, you’ll be introduced to the real Central Florida that Disney World tries so hard to keep from public view.

How diverse are your locals?

What’s your favorite regional novel and why?

 

Guest Post: Writing Weird Stuff- Or Breaking Every Rule in the Book by Sue Vincent

Sue tells of her writing adventure in a guest post hosted by Charles.

Legends of Windemere

(Give a big welcome to Sue Vincent!  She has a lot to say, so we’ll get right into it!)

Wayland's Smithy

We never set out to write a book. We were just a couple of friends who fell into an incredible adventure… an adventure we didn’t even begin to understand for quite some time.

Even that first weekend was an ‘accident’… we had been supposed to attend another gathering that had been cancelled; an event to mark the coming into being of the Silent Eye, a spiritual school we were helping to bring to birth. We decided that, rather than waste the time off, Stuart would travel the two hundred miles south to my home. From there we could visit Wayland’s Smithy, a burial mound, over five and a half thousand years old… and possibly take in a few of the other sacred sites of England. You might call it a bit…

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New Release! Do Not Wash Hands in Plates #Travel #humor #India

The entertaining Barb Taub, and two friends for over forty years have produced a travel memoir of a revisit to India. “If you like your trips filled with laughter and misadventures and great food and elephants and toilets, if you’d like a mini virtual-vacation, or if you just want a quick and humorous read, please take a look at Do Not Wash Hands In Plates.”

Barb Taub

Do Not Wash Hands In Plates: Elephant frenzy, parathas, temples, palaces, monkeys…and the kindness of Indian strangers

–Text by Barb Taub, Photographs by Jayalakshmi Ayyer and Janine Smith

DO NOT WASH HANDS IN PLATES

This is the story of three women eating our way across India in search of adventure, elephants, temples, palaces, western toilets, monkeys, the perfect paratha… and the kindness of Indian strangers.

Once upon the Land Before Time (or at least before mobile phones), my two best friends and I decided to leave the US from separate locations and meet up in Europe. To everyone’s shock, Janine, Jaya and I pulled it off—mostly because we went to Luxembourg, a country so small the odds in favor of chance street encounters were almost 100%, but also because Jaya was carrying the BS, a blue suitcase so enormous it took up approximately a third of the country’s square footage and was visible on satellite images…

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The Sun Sets on Another Year: 2015

Reading posts on this year in review and resolutions for next year, I’ve decided I should at least make some attempt at summarizing 2015. I’m no good at resolutions. The rebel in me causes me to rebuke my own.

I decided to do this by months, as it’s the only way I am apt to recall what has actually gone on this year, it’s been such a whirlwind. Really, it has gone by like a fast moving hurricane, cutting like a circular saw through the center of Florida. We ended 2014 with a wonderful, memorable trip to St. Augustine while it was all decorated for Christmas and had a lovely time.

JANUARY– We were stressed by a “would be” boat scammer who took off with our 36 foot cabin cruiser without paying. That took a couple of months to resolve. In the end we received our money, after many painful hours of dealing with authorities and detectives and banks.

FEBRUARY-The movie “Selma” came out and I missed a really good opportunity to ride the coattails of that one in promoting my book, Red Clay and Roses. Things were too hectic around here to do much in the way of marketing.

MARCH-I finally convinced my doctor to cut my bipolar meds in half after many years of begging him to allow me to give it a try. I dabbled with beginning a book about a couple of characters who started the orphanage I lived in a few years in the seventies. With my creative juices flowing, my finished and fully beta-read crime novel Naked Alliances was shelved and I got started on the next novel in The Naked Eye Series and was making fast progress until April rolled in.

I wacked off my long blonde hair that took way too much time to manage with my lifestyle, and was pleasantly surprised with the results. Yes, it’s short, yes it’s gray. I’m embracing the me I have become in 55 years. No regrets.

APRIL-Nearly crushed me with the loss of my dad. I had so hoped once he sold his business and finally retired he would make a trip down here to visit, but that wasn’t in God’s plan. He was a quick-witted man and one of a kind. He is sorely missed.

MAY-Brought the sudden birth of our third grandchild. I say sudden because I don’t believe my daughter was in labor more than a few hours, and the baby decided not to wait for the mid-wife. Kira was born into her daddy’s hands, while grandmother was trying to get the other two kids into the car for a trip to her house. The midwife did get there in time for daddy to cut the cord. One life ends and another begins.

Before the baby was born, I committed to detoxing my body and quit smoking tobacco, started vaping. I’m doing really good with that and have cut down the nicotine. I also stopped the 6-8 diet cokes I was drinking daily, along with the 6-8 cups of coffee. It’s slowed me down a bit, but I feel 100% better.

JUNE-With the new baby and dealing with all that ensued in the wake of my dad’s death, this month pulled me off the computer while trying to assist my dad’s widow and a half-sister with running his insurance business. They both leaned on me and it was a difficult position to be in trying to advise from 500 miles away. Making matters worse, two estranged sisters who had not had anything much to do with Daddy in thirty years came up with a law suit against his wife and the estate. Needless to say, that was no fun. That discord lasted for months.

I started a new book, The Conduit, in the hope that throwing myself into some creative work might ease some of my mental load. It worked off and on, but about a third of the way through the book, I had to back off on that, also. I re-blogged a lot and tried to stay in touch with my online friends offering what little support I could.

Getting diagnosed with diabetes sent me online for some heavy research and I unveiled so much new research that contradicts what I was taught in nursing school about the disease, it’s complications and management, that it is just now starting to sink in that it may not have ill-fated prognosis it once had. It can be totally reversed, and I’m on a personal mission to do that. This mission resulted in a nutritional consult and major lifestyle changes that pull me off the computer daily, but have my blood sugars within normal range and my Hgb A1C down from 7.5 to 5.6.

JULY-I set out to find a developmental editor for The Conduit about the middle of the year and got connected to a English gentleman in Ireland who took on the challenge of giving Naked Alliances a few passes as that manuscript was finished, I thought. He was quite impressed with the progress me and my beta readers had made, but certainly has helped polish that novel into something I’m really proud of. I had shelved that book, not knowing if I would ever publish it, but encouragement and support from some very dear blogging friends motivated me to go forward. Thank you all…you know who you are.

It’s a far cry from Red Clay in Roses in both style and content, but it’s been a really fun project. I’m still working through the second edits and it will need a final proof. I’ve thought about pitching it at the 2016 Sleuth Fest in Deerfield Beach in February…still uncertain if I want to go that route. It just might add pressure I don’t need at this point. I enjoy writing for fun and would not want to get myself into a position that might jeopardize the joy I find in writing.

I had to have surgery this month and that set me back both with my lifestyle changes and writing as I could not sit at the computer for more than just a few minutes at a time. But all is well.

AUGUST-Things started settling down a bit. I got into Kombucha brewing, and I’m on my ninth or tenth 2 ½ gallon brew now. The lifestyle changes really started making a difference and I began to shed some pounds. Managed a small promo that sold a few books and revived my firstborn a bit. Got heavy into my writing and got two more book outlines accomplished for the Naked Eye Series.

SEPTEMBER-More of the same. More time for writing and editing, but less time for marketing and blogging. Tradeoffs. I’ve missed you.

OCTOBER-I was so deep in the zone, I was barely able to manage three re-blogs this month, but I did manage to get by familiar blogs for some awesome reading and a few comments.

NOVEMBER-Back in May, the 13th to be exact, when I smoked my last cigarette, I had connected with a large group of vapers that support each other in every way imaginable through a forum and Google Hang Outs and we’re planning a big shin-dig in Florida for April. I took on the role of treasurer and organizer for that group, so about twenty of us, from all over the U.S. will be meeting up in Bradenton Beach in April. These people literally saved my life. We’ve rented a huge house and have plans to eat good food, talk for hours, get some boating and fishing in. This adventure gave me and the RS the delightful task of a reconnaissance mission over to the area and we had a lovely vacation of sorts with the RS and his brother and girlfriend for a week on Anna Maria Island with the Bay out the front door and the beach out the back. It served well to let us leisurely scope out the area and rejuvenate my soul.

I managed to get one guest post done this year on the dear and amusing Barb Taub’s blog. I’m looking forward to setting up more guest posts and interviews over the next few months, so if you hear anything about anyone on the lookout, let me know. I’ll have more time on the computer as the year turns.

DECEMBER– Well, I managed to lose forty pounds this year. I only have forty-five to go. Hopefully, by this time next year I will have met my goal. I have a photographer friend who is doing a photo shoot in the near future, so you might see my 8 year old profile pics change everywhere in the next few months.

Naked Alliances is almost ready for its final proof. Yay! It’s been nearly two years since that first draft was penned and I am most grateful for the dozen people who gave me feedback as beta readers. It really did turn into a team project with me at the helm. With your help, I narrowed down to two choices for a cover image via 99Designs, and I’m giving one more cover artist a shot at it.

This really grew into a much longer post than I anticipated. I’m truly grateful to be alive and to have so many wonderful people in my life. I am looking forward to healthy and happy NEW YEAR and hope the same for you. As the sun sets on the old year, I leave you with a meditation video I made on Anna Maria Island. The silence between the surf as significant as the sounds of the sea.