Monthly Archives: March 2014

A birthing…of sorts

Another poetry book by Pamela B. in collaboration with Kirsten A. now available for just 99 cents! This time nature has the stage.

Year 'Round Thanksgiving Project

My latest baby has been born – And early too (our projected release date was April 1 – it was a lengthy labor but not too painful. And, I’ve forgotten all about that stuff anyway.

My latest poetry collection is a collaboration with Kirsten A. and is titled Voices of Nature. It features poems of many different poetry forms. Check it out – the Kindle version is only $.99 and the paperback version is $7.59.

Your support is always appreciated and I would love to spread the word on our new book. Reviews are appreciated as well. Working together with another poet was fun and I could not have chosen anyone more compatible to collaborate with. You can also follow my poetry blog here

You can see Kirsten’s blog here, along with one of her sample poems from the book.

Here is one of my sample poems from the…

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Flirting with Disaster

I know it is late (or early, depending on where you live), but after a day of unending flashbacks, I have to tell you about how we nearly died last night.

My husband, the rocket scientist, is a humble man in many ways, gregarious, kind, and compassionate, but he has a flaw or two (or three, or four): 1) He can be auspiciously flamboyant, 2) He likes to be right, and 3) He turns sixty next month. You cannot softly tell him anything he does not want to hear, or you’ll be accused of yelling at him, even if you whisper.

“Dear, you are about to put salt in your coffee.”

“I know, stop yelling at me.”

He’s extremely sensitive.

You all know how horrible Orlando, Florida can be to drive in. With the traffic, tourists, and old people, you are lucky to make it home alive anytime you dare to go out.

Yesterday we spent a few hours at a car dealership. My husband drives a Mercedes SLK 32 AMG. It’s a sporty little two-seater hard top convertible. He’s been thinking about trading it in. Youth is wasted on the young. The only people driving these cars are 60 year old rocket scientists. This car has a lot of horsepower. God help us if he was twenty.

After a few hours at the dealership, which we were smart enough to walk out of without a new set of keys, we decided to go down the street and dine at a lovely little Greek restaurant. After a delicious meal of phyllo pastries stuffed with spinach and feta, dolmades, roast lamb with rich gravy over rice we got on the road to head home.

We’re traveling east on Highway 50, also known as Colonial. For those unfamiliar, this is a seven lane road that cuts across the center of Orlando west to east, parallel to the 408 toll road. It is also one of the busiest roads in three counties. We are approaching the 417 which connects to the 408.

I say to the rocket scientist, “I think you need to turn left before the bridge.”

“I want to go south on the 417, so I turn right,” he says from the far right lane.

“No,” I say as we near the bridge, “You’ll have to turn left. The on ramp does a 180, and then you’ll be headed south.”

“I don’t think so,” he says going even farther over to the right, across the white line. Now we are riding on the paved shoulder to the right of the white line, a hair’s breadth from the ditch. He has his right blinker on. He never slows the vehicle. We are in the fucking median between the road and death, and we are running out of road as we come to the overpass. The light turns red at the intersection ahead of us.

“Honey, you are NOT on the road, you are on the shoulder, there’s a sign twenty feet in front of us.” I say calmly, refusing to scream. “There is not a right turn onto the 417 before the overpass.”

Jerking the car back onto the road to avoid the oncoming sign, speeding under the overpass, he blasts through the red light, starts to turn right against “one way” signs into traffic that is stopped at the intersection preparing to go left from the off ramp of the 417 onto Colonial, suddenly realizes his mistake, veers left, cuts across seven lanes, including three lanes of oncoming traffic which he miraculously weaves through to do a U-Turn that has us going back west in the right lane.

I grabbed ahold to my stomach, doing all that I could to keep the dolmades down.

He says, “I think I go right up here after the bridge.”

“I think you’re right,” I say.

“There should have been a right turn onto the 417 going south.”

“You’re right. But there’s not.”

Happy Birthday Red Clay and Roses!


Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the day that Red Clay and Roses went live for the whole world to see.

I want to express my appreciation to all of the people who gave me an opportunity to share this story. Thank you most sincerely for the decision to invest in me and the time you spent reading; perhaps reviewing, my work.

Tomorrow I will put on my lab coat and go to work on an assignment that will pay me more in eight hours than I have earned in sales on this book this year. Yes, nurses often earn more than writers. Does this mean my sales are bad? No, it means my earnings in nursing are better. Most of you know I stepped out of career nursing to write. “You must be crazy!” some people have said to me.

Though I can’t refute that I am crazy, what they don’t understand is this: It is not about the money. Not for me, anyway. It’s about having the time and the peace of mind to dedicate myself to a life that I love. To do what I most enjoy. To spend my time pleasing myself and my readers.

I don’t write genre fiction. I don’t cater to trends. I don’t even write to fit into any specific category.

I write American life drama. Maybe some would call it historical fiction; maybe some would call it literary fiction. There is even a little romance in there. It wasn’t written about the last ten years, so it doesn’t qualify as contemporary fiction, but there are issues explored in it that are contemporary issues. I cannot even claim to know what it is by Amazon or Goodreads definitions.

I cannot claim to to know anything except that I am a perpetual student.

I have learned so very much this year and there is so much for me yet to learn.

Red Clay and Roses was written between April and July of 2012. I spent four months doing nothing but writing. It was not written as a novel to be published. It was a creative writing project that I devoted myself to out of a passion to record a story.

After I wrote it, I placed it on a shelf for about a year. I took it down, read it, and made a few changes. After sharing it with others, which took immeasurable courage, we (my support group and I) decided to publish. It was published March 27, 2013.

I did not know what the hell I was doing. (Not sure if I know now.)

I liked to read. I liked to read stories about life in America. I liked to write stories about life in America.

I liked history. I liked reading about history. I liked writing about history.

I made all of the mistakes it is possible to make. I published Red Clay and Roses in its rawest form. I was clueless. I didn’t know a damned thing. I did not know about blogs, platforms, branding, writing rules, beta readers, editing, blurbs, book cover images, marketing, sales. I didn’t know shit. I won’t claim to be an expert now either. I am learning every day and I am writing and reading every day.  I will say this: I have mentors, trusted confidants, other authors, a reader audience, friends, colleagues, valuable associates that I did not have a year ago.

As I learned from these people, and continue to learn, I made improvements on my product, my book, my novel, Red Clay and Roses. I know now that it is not the best that it could have been, but it is what it is, features, flaws and faults included.  I know that my next product will be even better, because you are who you are. Most significantly, I have the capacity to keep learning from YOU!

I was going to end this post right here with my eternal gratitude, but I think this is a good place to tell you the rest of the story if you will bear with me. I want to tell you how I feel about the concept of success. Success is measured many ways through different perspectives.

I have read numerous posts declaring success is measured by numbers sold, dollars earned, an ability to make a living at the craft, and I suppose that may be true for some, but it isn’t for me. Success is measured by starting a project and seeing it through.

Red Clay and Roses is a success.

After we (I say we because I had support people around me at the time.) pushed the publish button, there was a celebration. Of course, nothing much happened.

For weeks, nothing much happened. I think a few friends and family bought the book, nobody posted any reviews. On the advice of a friend, I started a blog. I didn’t know much about that either, but I learned. (Am still learning.)

Not knowing anything about how to find readers, I went to the library. Surely there would be readers there. I met a reading group, strangers, people I did not know, and they expressed interest in reading my book. So they bought it and read it. This was in May of last year.

They were eight people, a nurse, a middle school teacher, a college professor, an IBM corporate executive, and so on. Ordinary people, strangers who became acquaintances. Four of the eight wrote my first reviews on Amazon. Five star reviews. I was excited, overjoyed. That was enough for me. My confidence was stoked, but they did not stop there.

These eight people, whom I barely knew, were so very impressed with my literary work that they entered me in a contest. It was a surprise to me when they shared the news. What grand support is that?

My book deals with American life during an era of conflict and political strife. It is about everyday people who made tremendous sacrifices to promote social progress, whether they knew it at the time, or not.

The Pulitzer is awarded: “For distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life.”

This group of eight people had pooled their resources to pay the fifty dollars necessary to submit Red Clay and Roses as an entry for the Pulitzer. Eight people thought my literary work was distinguished.

Now, I chuckle, and you may be laughing out loud as you read this. But I thought it was an amazing honor that they bothered to do this.

I have no unrealistic expectations to win a Pulitzer, or to even become a nominated finalist.

They discourage anyone from claiming nomination simply because an entry has been submitted, so there are no grandiose expectations here. I did not know how simple it was to be entered. It takes fifty dollars and four copies of your book in physical form. That’s all!

I am not trying to belittle the Pulitzer award, I am just saying that I did not know.

Anyone can enter. An author or publisher can submit their own work. Self-published works are accepted, but not in eversion. It is easy to do online. Then you mail in your proofs or your books. I have only sold one paperback copy, but four of them were mailed off by this group of readers, and passed through the hands of Pulitzer judges. Whether or not they felt the book had any merit I may never know, but it has been an exciting adventure in writing.

The Pulitzer winner and nominated finalists are to be announced on April 14, 2014.

They receive approximately 2400 entries, and there are 21 awards. In 2012 there were three nominated finalists in fiction, but no one was awarded. How they determine finalists and award winners is a mystery. The judges have the final say.

I have read many Pulitzer Prize winners, some I thought had merit and some I did not like. So, at least in my mind, it is all relative to personal opinion…a subjective analysis like it is for any reader. I am not holding my breath or anything like that, but I am honored by these readers who thought my work worthy.

I only mention it to say this; DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOURSELF!

Whether they are Pulitzer judges, a library group, hundreds of strangers found through a marketing campaign, or a few blogger friends, all of your readers are what makes doing this worthwhile. They are the measure of your success.

It is not a finished project until it is read, so keep writing! I love you all!

I am not doing any special promotions or running any sales or ads for this birthday, but if you would like to pick up a copy of Red Clay and Roses you can find it here on Amazon, where you can also find the paperback. You can also find it on Kobo, Apple, Barnes and Noble and smashwords.


Let’s make a deal — Yesterday Road is on sale!

This is a sale you don’t want to miss! If you don’ already have a copy, grab your’s now!


Blue gorilla

I thought I’d tip off readers of the blog to a promotion that I’m running through April 7. Officially it starts on 4/1, with a listing on Ereader News Today and a few other daily lists, but I wanted all y’all to have a crack at it sooner than later — if you haven’t already bought the book, that is.

Grab it at Amazon here.

The other retail outlets are listed here, but I’m not sure when the price cut will appear at each of them. Amazon is already live.

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Sunday Synopsis

This is the first Sunday Synopsis in a couple of weeks. It has been a busy and a not so busy couple of weeks.

Past two weeks:

  • I am not doing any promos/ads in particular anywhere, but my Kirkus review and my Reader’s Favorite reviews posted. I am picking up new readers every day or two, which is WAAAY cool. It is so very exciting to me to think of folk passing on my writing through word of mouth. That’s the nicest compliment ever!
  • I am finally satisfied with my chapter one in my WIP. So I feel like I can now move forward. I have the first five chapters done already, but kept going back to the first one. That has resulted in a couple of edits with subsequent chapters. Who knows, maybe I will change it again after a beta reading? We will see. For now, I am leaving it alone.
  • My Writers’ Group has added a daytime meeting that gives me more options.
  • I am seriously reading much more than usual. Got a couple of book reviews done. Reading for another couple of authors. I put my writing on hold when I am reading because the styles, in my mind, sometimes conflict.  I also concentrate and focus better if I am not trying to do both reading and writing at the same time.
  • My grandson had his first birthday party! He is also just taking his first steps. It is an odd thing that he was born on my mother’s birthday and my granddaughter was born on the anniversary of my mother’s death. Do you have any weird dates like that in your family? It’s quite common.
  • Along with his first birthday celebration came a gathering that included the outlaws. I say outlaws instead of in-laws because they are not in-laws anymore. They are the former spouse’s family, whom I divorced eighteen years ago. These are folk I have not been in the company of for eighteen more years. Aunt Leann and Uncle Phil were fun.  I am glad the baby had his Great Oma and Opa there, and his Pappy. Sorry that my son, the baby’s Uncle Daniel, could not join us, but somebody had to hold down the farm. Glad my husband braved the crowd with me.
Allamanda is blooming!
Allamanda is blooming!
Colorful Pentas are always pretty. They bloom all year, unless it freezes.
Colorful Pentas are always pretty. They bloom all year, unless it freezes.
Happy Birthday Sebastian!
Happy Birthday Sebastian!
Had to slip this one in of the grandson with his smash cake.
Had to slip this one in of the grandson with his smash cake.
This is a thirty year old hibiscus tree (not bush). few leaves yet, but just started putting out blooms. It will be covered in leaves and blooms in a couple of weeks.
This is a thirty year old hibiscus tree (not bush). Few leaves yet, but just started putting out blooms. It will be covered in leaves and blooms in a couple of weeks. The blossoms are doubled.
Bright red double hibiscus blossom. I love how frilly they are.
Bright red double hibiscus blossom. I love how frilly they are.

Next two weeks:

  • I have work days scheduled. I don’t work often anymore, but when old nursing friends call with assignments they need help with I can’t say no. So I have a couple of days scheduled for wellness clinics the end of this month and a few scheduled for the first of next month.
  • Writing, writing and more writing. I am at a point with my WIP where things can really begin to move quickly, I think. Excited about that. We will see how things pan out over the next few weeks.
  • The rocket scientist has to be out of town this upcoming week on business, so I won’t be obliged to have meals or laundry prepared…lots of “me time”.
  • Some of our snowbird friends will be heading north soon, so trying to enjoy their company while we can.
  • Black algae appeared in little spots in the pool, so that has to be treated immediately or we will get into serious trouble fast…so I already have the chemicals to deal with that.

What are you up to?

My GRL and Me Podcast- With Adam Scull of Eat, Sleep, Write

Pod cast of John Howell about his thriller My GRL and the writing process.

Fiction Favorites


Here is a podcast done by Adam Scull of Eat, Sleep, Write. His questions are very good and explores the writer’s mind in a way in which we can all identify. Please give it a visit and you can also send comments to Adam at If you would like to do a podcast you can give Adam a pitch at

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Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest 2014: I Made it to Round 2!

If you have not started Sarah Cradit’s paranormal romance series, really you should. It’s THAT GOOD!

...and then there was Sarah



Yesterday, I received an email from Amazon with a link to the names of all the authors/books who had made it through the first round of cuts for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I was floored to see my name on the short list!

download (1)For those who don’t know, the ABNA contest starts with 10,000 entrants and works its way down to a final winner, for a $50,000 check and a big book contract. Now, after this first round, the contest is down to 2,000 (400 in each main category). During the quarter-finals, that list will be narrowed down even further, and so on. If you want to learn more about the contest, click here.

Critical Contest Dates:

March 18 – Round 2 entries are announced.

April 14 – Quarter-Finalists are announced.

June 13 – Semi-Finalists are announced.

July 8 – Finalists are announced. Customer voting begins on…

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Pop Culture in Books and Editorial Reviews

This post is two-fold because I have two questions to ask 1) is there a place in literature for pop culture references, and 2) are editorial reviews necessary?

Are pop culture references cheating?

dick_clark_bransonI am being a bit lazy today by putting these two ideas in one post, but, for me personally, they are sort of related. I have a popular culture reference in my current WIP and I don’t want to take it out. American Bandstand and Dick Clark were iconic.

Dick Clark was a legend. He MC’d a popular TV show that started in the 1950s and became a household name. Everybody knew is image, his timeless face. Even after American Bandstand, his image became synonymous with the New Year’s celebration.

American Bandstand was a television show that spirited musicians and the music movements through nearly a half of a century. Teenagers learned the new dance crazes by watching his show and dancing in their living rooms. I did. Everyone knew all the latest music and teen idols by watching his dance and music show. The Top Ten list was a dream goal for most performers.  American Bandstand stayed popular throughout the decades until MTV came along.

I have a reference, more than one actually, to the TV show in my work in progress and I want to keep it there, which brings me to my next topic:

Editorial Reviews: Do they really help sell books?

One thing some big advertisers have told me is that I need more reviews and editorial reviews before they can consider my book on their promotional sites.

So, like many eager authors, I begged for reviews and then I went to the editorial review closet to see what I could find. Even though I have more respect for blogger review recommendations, myself, I know that not all people have access to these. Personally, as a reader, I care more about customer reviews than editorial reviews. What do the readers think? I like to see a variety of reviews on one work I am considering, but there are those who will only read books that have been recommended by their favorite review service. There is a separate space for Editorial Reviews on your Amazon page.

With that in mind, I set out to petition some bigger name and popular review services. One of my issues as a reader is that editorial reviews are posted by the author. They can use excerpts rather than post the review in its entirety, and OF COURSE, they want to shine their book in its brightest light. I would.

Reader’s Favorite gave me four five star reviews and one four star review and I was readily able to pull excerpts to create one very nice Readers Favorite review. I won’t post all five reviews here, but you can read the excerpted review on my Amazon page here.

I was really nervous about the next one, because they are such a big name. I got a decent Kirkus review, which pleased me immensely because they are so well renowned…yes, they were critical about my, “Nearly fatal flaw,” in the full review, but they also had some very kind words to say about my work, so I managed to excerpt plenty to create a an editorial review on my Amazon page.

Then there was another place, which will remain nameless, for several reasons that I won’t get into here, but I will say that they ripped me to shreds. They tore out my heart and then dissected it into little bitty unchewable pieces and spit it out. They basically told me that I needed to rewrite my book as a trilogy, and even offered me helpful services, for a fee. There was only a portion of one sentence that I could bear to repeat, so obviously, I won’t be using theirs.

brady_bunch_onstai-9494One thing that one of the reviewers took issue with was a sentence wherein a pop culture reference was used. I had said, “[The suburban years]…were our “Brady Bunch” and Wonder Years.”  The reference was to growing up in the seventies era.

This reviewer admonished the pop culture reference saying that it destroyed the timelessness of the story and, “Revealed amateurishness.” That stung.

I just recently read a book that referenced the TV show CSI. csicastI thought it was an appropriate reference in context to the story and the character’s personality. AT THE SAME TIME, my husband was reading a John Kellerman, (certainly NOT an amateur) who did the very same thing, twice in his book. He made hilarious references to the CSI teams in his crime novel.

How do you feel about pop culture references? Do they help carry the reader into an appropriate mindset or time period, or do they bother you as amateurish writing?

How do you feel about editorial reviews? Are you influenced to purchase books based on these sorts of reviews? Should advertisers make them conditional for carrying promotions?

The Author Delusion: Your Book is FREE!

Piracy-150x150I am pounding away at my WIP. I would like to put another book out there at some point.

As an independent author, I am reminded of garage bands in the sixties through the eighties, strumming and banging away…hoping to be that next great band.

That was all before internet.

That was before you could download any song out there on your computer.

Musicians went through an angry phase, where they seriously resented the pirating and file sharing of music. There were lawsuits all over the place. Napster, developed by John and Shawn Fanning, released initially in 1999, in particular, became the target of a serious lawsuit.  The downloading of MP3s was credited for ushering in the downfall of the album era. The bottom line is: NO royalties were ever paid the artists.

Along with the accusations that Napster was hurting the sales of the record industry, there were those who felt just the opposite that file trading on Napster actually stimulated, rather than hurt, sales.

I won’t get into the long and sordid legal complications of that suit or the finances of how Napster still made off with a small fortune despite bankruptcy, I only brought it up to speak about book pirating.

Though there are many law suits that have come and gone concerning copyright infringement since that time, most musicians will agree that they now make their money off of tours and venues where they perform live. Movies and games, as well, are pirated on the web daily by many.

And so are books.

Problem is: we can’t have book concerts or fill box office theaters with what we are producing.

Are we producing Art for Art’s Sake?

I am not trying to make a living writing, but I know many career authors who are.

When I first put my book out there, I had it on a free site for two weeks. It got thousands of downloads and I felt special…only to discover twenty, or more, sites selling my book. I asked them all to take it down and they all did, with the exception of one, a torrents site. It took threat of legal action to get it down. At that time, there was contact info on the site, but that has been removed.

Today, I revisited that site, and guess what? My book is right back up there. Also, it has been contributed on the site by several different sources that you can pick from. These torrents sites don’t have any contact info on them…you simply put the title that you want in the search bar, and download the book, voila! That simple. There is no membership required, no fees, and no money changing hands.

Through one site I found five more that offer my book for free.

There is NO way to contact them. They are elusive.

They are put up by a bunch of geeks and nerds who do it for the joy of being able to prove that they can. They are hackers and they are running rampant. actually has a page teaching people how to use the torrents sites. It posts the following disclaimer:

Disclaimer and legal warning for new torrent users: does not condone illegal sharing of copyrighted material. While P2P file sharing technology is completely legal, many of the files traded through P2P are indeed copyrighted. Uploading these copyrighted files puts you at risk of a civil lawsuit in the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK. While these lawsuits are often class-action suits, filed against groups of users who blatantly copy and distribute copyrighted materials, some lawsuits are harshly targeted at making examples of individual downloaders. These P2P civil lawsuits are very real, and whether or not they are successful, they are extreme financial and emotional burdens on the defendant.

ISP warning: your ISP may choose to release logs of your downloading/uploading activity to potential copyright plaintiffs. The more megabytes you download, the more you risk being sued by copyright protection groups.

•Piracy IS going on — and it’s much bigger than you.

Music. Movies. Television shows. Newspapers. Magazines. Games. And books. All are pirated, content being aggregated and sold or given away without the content creators and producers receiving a dime. One source says media piracy is costing the US economy $58 billion in losses every year.

Is it to much to expect the big retailers like Amazon, B&N, smashwords, Kobo and others, companies with a lot more money than me, to come crashing down on their heads? Not a lucid dream, huh?

Think you are immune? You are not.

I put in over thirty titles of author friend’s books, traditionally published, self-published. You are all there for me at the push of a key. All in .pdf format, but a slightly computer savvy person could convert to .mobi or .epub in minutes. Apparently, if you are published on Amazon in digital, you are published on this torrents site.

The only books I could not find were those of an author friend who only publishes in paperback or hard copy, no digital.

This is particularly disheartening since I have sold one (1) copy of my paperback to hundreds of my digital…but could it have been more? There must be a huge audience for these torrents sites to go through so much effort…if it is any effort. Seems they have it down to a master science.

Should I care?

I mean, what can we do?…Besides relax and hope we have established a reader audience willing to pay for our work. I have acquaintances and family (many who are wealthy) who boast that they don’t pay for  fiction books. Rather than pay what they would tip the valet or the pizza delivery guy, they choose to, “Beat the system.”

Do you think there will come a time when NOBODY pays for fiction?