Dianna Dann Narciso
Home On Reading On Writing



Madness dances in the light;

Solace sleeps in shadow.

                           --Camelia by Dianna Dann



*Photo by Prescott Enterprises

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Well, here we are about a year later. We ate out about a week ago when we took my mother-in-law out to lunch. Our first time since February 2020. We've learned to eat at home, which is a very good thing. We'd gotten into a terrible habit of eating out several times a week. We've been vaccinated and have started, slowly, going out without our masks on where we're allowed. But I don't mind wearing it. I made my masks and my favoite has tiny paw prints all over it.

I've finished the second book in the Downtown Divas Romatic Comedy series, Pari and the Ghost Whisperer. So glad to feel that sense of accomplishment. It'll be published later this year.

The two children's books that I published last year under the name Dana Trantham both won first place in their categories in the Royal Palm Literary Awards: Wayward Cat Saves the Day, First Place, Early Reader or Chapter Book. And Franken Lizard, First Place, Middle Grade Fiction.

So, not too bad, considering the last few years we've had. And now I'm hard at work on the next D.D. Charles book. I write paranormal humor under that name. The first book is Zombie Revolution. I've realized that having so many pen names is a pain, so I added the name Dianna Dann to Zombie Revolution and it'll be there on future D.D. Charles books.

I read my last entry with great sadness. What has transpired since then has left me with anxiety and about thirty extra pounds. It was just after I last posted that the pandemic came to light. The shelves at the grocery store were empty and food rationing was a thing. I never ran out of toilet paper or paper towels. Imagine being immensely relieved (no pun intended) about such a thing.

I haven't been to a restaurant or Walmart since late February. I've limited my shopping to one main store, and another only occasionally. I get a lot of stuff online. I made some masks because I can't stand the type that loop over my ears. Luckily for me, I was never a very social person, so the isolation hasn't been much of a problem. But I only recently saw my youngest son. I blogged a bit about these experiences at The Sunshine State in Chocolate Ice Cream is my Drug of Choice.

After the pandemic came the George Floyd thing. I'm the type of person who changes the channel when horror film trailers or SPCA ads come on tv. What's going on in this country horrifies me. So I've been eating a lot.

And then my mother died, which isn't as tragic as you might think. I'm working on quite a blog post about that. But though my mother and I were estranged, at the very least, her death was certainly impactful. All in all, I can say that the last four years has sucked and if we face another four years of it, I can't say how much ice cream I may eat.

I made it through the holiday cookie rampage rather unscathed, how about you? We tried to spread the holiday cookies out over a couple of months instead of cramming all of our favorites into two weeks, but I was still left reeling with cookie euphoria overload. So, this year, we're going to have some of our favorites at various times throughout the year. This month, chocolate chip. Father's Day we'll have the snickerdoodles and we'll do peanut butter cookies in August. That will leave the most celebratory cookies for December: peanut butter blossoms, magic cookies bars, and buckeyes. And don't worry about Mother's Day. I've decided that Mother's Day will be donut day!

I'm working on the next Downtown Divas book featuring psychologist Pari Logan. I'm not sure what the title will be. But it's going to be out by Halloween and it features lots of ghostly, paranormal fun.

I managed to get two more kids books out this year and I feel somewhat better. (I had a dry spell there for a couple of years.) I'm now ready to get started on some adult titles that I've been wanting to write. The kids books are the second in each series. In the Wayward Cat Adventure series, Wayward Cat Saves the Day is now available. And in The Monstrous Summer of Alfie Whitaker, I present: Franken Lizard! These books were a lot of fun to write which is probably why I was able to get them finished.

I'm not going to lie to you. Writing can be difficult. Nevertheless, I persist. Up next is the second book in the Downtown Divas series. Romantic comedy is fun, too, right? And then there's this book I've had in my head for a long, long time. It's called JoJo's Ghost and it will be the second paranormal humor title for me. The first was Zombie Revolution, a satirical take on the vampire/zombie craze. JoJo's Ghost is, obviously, about the ghost world. And, as coincidence would have it, the second Downtown Divas romantic comedy will also deal with ghosts! I should attempt to write these two at the same time. Great idea! Wish me luck.

Anyway, all this lighthearted writing should keep my mood up in the upcoming year which promises to be infuriating if not downright depressing. (I'm talking politics here. Other than the state of my country and the world, life is good. So don't worry.)

I'll be at FreeFlo2019 the first weekend in November. FreeFlo is the biannual conference of the Florida Humanist Association. I'll be featuring my atheist book, naturally. I have two editions. The original Like Rolling Uphill: Realizing the Honesty of Atheism was written so long ago it makes me feel old. The second edition has my snarky comments all intertwined with the rather dull and snooty original. And it has some additional essays.

I used to not really talk about these books. I guess I thought that certain people (ahem: religious) would find out that I'm a (gasp!) atheist and not give my fiction a chance. And then I realized that anyone who felt that way would probably not like my fiction anyway. So, I do include them on the Wayward Cat Publishing website. But I left them off the brochure.

Well, that's changing. The atheist titles, and the somewhat silly and desperately in need of an update The Narciso Family Cookbook, will now be on the brochure! I'm coming out fully folks. Yes. I'm an atheist! Atheist! Atheist!

Okay, calm down.

Also in November, the weekend of the 22nd through the 24th, I'll be at the Miami Book Fair! I really look forward to this huge street fair. But it's so tiring! I'm old now, you know. Standing for three days is hard on the body. But, as it turns out, we have a director's chair. We bought it a long time ago as a gift for one of our sons who wanted to be a film maker, got a film degree from UCF, and doesn't want to make films anymore. Well, the chair purchase won't be for naught. I can sit, and still be eye level with fair goers. We'll see how that works out. If you're in south Florida, you have to visit the fair! It's amazing. And I'll be there.



The February issue of Wayward Cat Book News can be found by clicking there. Right. There. Just click. I actually blogged at The Sunshine State today. You can read about collective nouns and the few that I suggest for various groups of humans. And I updated my reading list over on the fiction page.

Last weekend we spent Saturday at the Amelia Island Book Festival Author Expo. What a wonderful day! I accidently gave away a copy of Zombie Cats! Here's a shout-out to the kids whose grandma was so kind: It's a great thing to be so busy you forget to take the cash. So, consider it a gift!

We're already registered for the Decatur Book Festival 2019 in September and looking forward to it. Until then, I'll be trying to write more. I've been watching amazing lectures by Dan Brown, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Judy Blume, and more at Master Class. Very inspiring! And they have lectures about all sorts of creative pursuits, so check them out.

I'm still enjoying some photography when I can. Here, have a picture:



This was a rusted gate of some kind on the beach at Ft. Clinch State Park on Amelia Island. Amelia Island is a wonderful little place. They have a cutesy downtown shopping district. We ate dinner at Pepper's Cocina Mexicana & Tequila Bar. Fabulous! And on Saturday night we ate at the new Salt Life Food Shack on the beach near our hotel. The wait was about an hour and the food was okay. I'll have to try it again to be sure if it wasn't just our choices that were the problem. Hubs' fish was undercooked, to be sure. But I ordered fried grouper, and you really can't expect too much from a fried fish nougat. (The tartar sauce was excellent.)

Okay, back to work...


I feel like I've been through a wringer. I'm not sure I've been squeezed out the other end quite yet. But there does seem to be some relief in sight. I know I'm not alone in that. I remember when the nightmare first started. I felt alone, then. I knew others were struggling, but there seemed to be so few of us. Now it feels as if most everyone has woken to the realization of the truth that some of us were talking about from the beginning. It's not satisfying to be found right abut this horror story. But at least I don't feel as if I'm traveling through it alone, anymore.

Trying to get back into a sense of "work mode" after the holidays is a struggle. I sometimes wish I had a regular job. You get up, you get dressed, you go to work, and if you don't do your job, you get fired. And the work you do isn't connected to you---it's not like peeling off parts of your psyche and trying to form them into a coherent block of symbols and spaces. It's not a constant sense that there's a mistake in there somewhere and you'll never find it---the work will never be what you imagined it to be. But it'll jut have to be good enough. If it was just "the job" that someone else had you doing, it wouldn't matter so much. But this is your psyche we're talking about. This is you.

I added a link to the Wayward Cat Book News to the banner. I'm enjoying putting it together every month. I find a lot of great books to read just by searching them out for our readers. One thing that strikes me is the poetry. I was never much for it. I only put a poem in the newsletter originally as something of a nod to the poets out there. I knew that there would be little talk of poetry in the "books" sections. But as I found these wonderful old poems, I began to have a real appreciation for the form. And there are so many amazing poems by long-dead poets I've never heard of. I'm willing to be most readers haven't heard of them, either. So, that part is a definite joy--one of discovery.


I'm finally getting back into writing regularly. It's a good feeling to be productive again. I keep trying to blog regularly, but I usually feel as if I really don't have anything interesting to say. The fiction is more important, anyway.


I started a blog on writing but it fell by the wayside. I'm not sure I'm the right sort of person to be telling other people how to do things. But maybe I can find it and start it up again. Speaking of blogs, though, I haven't posted much to The Sunshine State lately either. I guess I've just been feeling like I have nothing to say anymore. And it's pretty much screaming into the void anyway, so why bother. But there is hope. We'll be going to the Epcot International Food [& Wine] Festival again this year. So, there's a blog post right there. I just know everyone wants to read about our food choices and how they were just...wrong. Except for the ones that are very right...like the Bailey's Irish Cream fudge cake at the Ireland booth. Oh, yeah.

I was accepted as a contributor at iStock Photo. How cool is that? You can see my photos here. I'll be uploading more and more as I complete photo shoots. I really enjoy looking at odd things in a different way. And, of course, I love wildlife.

Well, I guess I better get to those blogs. Thanks for reading.

I'm in therapy. Need I say more? Do you not feel apocalyptic these days? If not, I don't think you're paying enough attention. Enough about the end of the world as we know it.

I'm managing to write a bit here and there. I swear I'll publish another book soon...like, in several months. I attended a one-day conference, called a Focus Day, with the Florida Writers Association on marketing. It was interesting, I suppose. A lot of it seemed geared toward assertive, outgoing sorts--you know the type, right? There was a lot of talk about "fans." You should have a Facebook group for all of your fans. I'm sorry, but that's just weird. I only call someone a fan when I'm being funny. As in, "Oh, you're that person who bought my book!" or "Look, I have a fan!"

I don't feel weird saying I'm a fan of certain authors. But it seems arrogant the other way around. So, I won't call any people who read my books "fans." They can do it, but I won't. They're just wonderful people who adore my bo--Just kidding! They're just people who read my books.

I think this means I won't be winning the marketing race.

I am still struggling mightily to write daily. One day, I love the fantasy I'm working on. The next day, I hate it. I'm tinkering with ideas for other books, but suffer from butt-chair-itis, an affliction that makes sitting in one particular chair anathema. I sit, I type a bit, and then, for no earthly understandable reason other than some sort of affliction, I jump up from said chair and race out of the room. However, if said chair is raised and pushed over to the sewing machine, it doesn't seem to have the same effect.


I will keep plugging away. Perhaps try glue...?


I feel like writing epic poetry that no one will want to read because once they start they'll become so overwhelmingly depressed they'll burn the book and run away screaming.

How is your year going?

Wow. My last post of 2017 just oozes the mood of the entire year. What a waste of time. I blogged about the year and it felt good in that cathartic, get it all out of your system way. But I am definitely feeling better. I'm nearly finished with an outline and once I get that done, I'll write the [damn] book. I'm aiming for two ]damn] books this year. [Sorry. Still feeling a bit peeved, I suppose.]

I'm scaling back on festivals in 2018. I think the smaller ones aren't worth it, and are a tad humiliating to be honest. Seriously, isn't there something a bit pathetic about a room in some out of the way place, the walls lined with tables, and behind those tables standing hopeful authors, their eyes on the door waiting for someone to drop in? The table displays alone make me want to weep--photos, dolls, lace, candles. Anything to grab the attention of a would-be buyer. I was at one particularly dreadful event in a back room somewhere at which one of the authors would shout out to anyone brave enough to peek into the room. Waving frantically, she'd beckon the hapless stranger to come over to her table. She chased more people away than she drew in. And the spiels! Some of my fellow authors seem to be going the used-car-salesman route.

I'm just not a seller. If you like the look of one of my books, and ask me about it, I'll try to tell you what I remember. But ask me to sell it to you...? I have barely enough self-esteem to stand there and take your money. Surprisingly, I do rather well, in my opinion, at these things. I must appeal to those edging away from the hard sellers. They're just so happy to hear me telling them why they probably won't enjoy my book that they buy it on impulse.

The larger festivals that are focused on books and reading are time well spent, however, so that's where we'll spend our energy.

I'm having fun putting together the Wayward Cat Book News every month. I like staying focused on books and words. Okay, I admit it, it's quite like a homebody telling you how much she likes being at home. But maybe branching out...inserting oneself into uncomfortable issues...is over rated. So much is over rated these days.

I think I'll leave it at that for this month.

I guess this year is a wash. I'll see if I can't muster some enthusiasm and do some writing next year.

Well, the first half of 2017 was pretty much a bust as far as writing is concerned. I just got stuck, that's all. Stuck. I might be coming out of it, but I make no big promises.

The festival season is gearing up. After checking out the eclipse in Charleston, SC, in August, we'll be going to the Decatur Book Festival in Atlanta, Space Coast Comic Con in Cocoa, FL and the Florida Heritage Book Festival in St. Augustine, FL, all in September. We'll be at the Southwest Florida Writers' Showcase, featuring "Alternate Realities," in October. In November, we'll be in Tampa for the Tampa Bay
Festival of Reading and then we head south for the Miami International Book Festival. Very exciting! It doesn't end there, though. In December there's going to be an author showcase at Melbourne Square Mall in Melbourne, FL. I think we get to rest in January before the Amelia Island Book Festival in February.

It's so odd that I love to do these things. I'm really very introverted and shy. I have to force myself to smile, smile, smile. And talk to people! But I manage and I get to sell some books and feel like I'm a part of something for a while. It's fun. And then I get to go home and be alone again, relatively speaking.

So, as I was checking all that out in my calendar, I came across a sticky note on December's page. It says, "Just Buckeyes." I had to laugh. I guess I overdid it in the cookie department last Christmas and insisted I would only make Buckeyes this year. I didn't want to forget my resolve...because I absolutely would. But underneath that, on the note, I added, "and Magic Cookie Bars?" The whole idea is ridiculous. There have to be Peanut Blossoms (you know, peanut butter cookies with the Hershey's kiss) and Snicker Doodles. What was I thinking? And why am I thinking about it now? It's making me hungry.

There's a cat on my desk and he doesn't fit. My desk is the cluttered desk of a crazy, wild woman and there's just no room for a cat. He likes to curl up in one little spot where he can carve out space, and then...stretch. You know how cats often sit on the edges of tables or counters and paw at little things to knock them to the floor? Then they look down at it and up at you, as if to say, "Wasn't that
something?" This cat does that. But on the desk, he knocks things off by stretching. I'm getting too old to crawl under the desk to pick all this stuff up. He's napping now, his adorable front paws out in front of him, his head resting on my open appointment book---wait! Another stretch, reaching out to me for a smooch. He must know he's a pain in the ass.

They all know.

I was at OASIS this past weekend. It's a scifi/fantasy convention, but lately I realize it's more of a writers conference. Anyway, I brought most of my books because you never know what might interest people. And the tables are so large it looks pretty good to have a hefty stock of merchandise. One woman looked at all the titles and labeled me "prolific." I had to laugh. I've slacked off so much it's truly sad. And if hubs had his part in the conversation he'd have said so. But I guess I have trouble writing as a full-time job. It's, frankly, hard sometimes. Not for all writers, of course. And I don't mean to be a snowflake. But it does appear that I'm actually a bit crazy. I have issues.

That being said (as if it had to be), I am now going to get back to work. I'm determined to finish the first book in my new fantasy trilogy. And then I need to get the second Downtown Divas book written. Those are my goals for the rest of this year. Wish me luck (and a little bit of sanity!).

Okay okay. So I've been sewing and taking pictures of birds instead of being a writer. Check out my latest posts on The Sunshine State blog if you're into that sort of thing. My next blog, hopefully this weekend, but, hey, it's Easter, is going to be about giving up on your dreams.


The truth? 2016 sucked. It was a difficult year for me all around and it ended badly. But I'm feeling much better. I think I will survive this new crazy reality and I think I will be able to continue to write. I'm still blogging at The Sunshine State and plan to do so more regularly this year, so check it out and subscribe if you think you should.

Plans for this year include The Amelia Island Book Festival, OASIS in Orlando, and the Decatur Book Festival later this year. Let's see if I can get a few new books out to keep things fresh.

I've enjoyed learning to sew and hope to keep that up as well. I also am trying to get back into crochet. For my first project, I wanted to make a hat for the cat. That's right. A hat. I got the base completed, but have to put the stegosaurus fins on top of it. This isn't a difficult or time-consuming project; it just has to fight for my time. I really, really like sitting on the sofa with the tv on doing jigsaw puzzles on my ipad. A lot. It's a wonder I have written any books at all, or sewn a single thing. I will continue to muddle this year.

I'll definitely post pictures over at The Sunshine State of the cats in hats, my sewing projects, and whatever else I get myself into this year. Here's hoping we all have a better year in 2017.

I was over there on the fiction page talking about reading books on writing. (Okay, so I was writing about reading books on writing. But you knew what I meant, right?) I'm working on the new fantasy series and I want to do a really great job with this one. When I wrote The Kell Stone Prophecy, I had this great story in my head and I was able to add to that story and flesh it all out and write a trilogy. I still love, love, love The Kell Stone Prophecy story.

After that, I had a very vague idea of the sort of fantasy story I wanted to write. And I started writing it without much of a plan. I had the world in mind more than the story. In the end, my characters were very much like myself: wandering around trying to figure out who they were and what they were supposed to do. I'm not saying Story Runners: Awakening is an awful book. It's a pretty good story.

But that's not what I want to do with Shards of Kholkari. I want heroes and villains who know exactly who they are and what they are going to do. So, naturally that means that I have to know that up front. This isn't going to be the kind of book I can just sit down and write...or rather, I'm not going to write that kind of book this time.

Anyway, so I'm going through some books on writing to pump me up. You know, exercise those writing muscles. Get my game on. Woot, woot, woot!

But, as I'm reading them, I'm realizing that books on writing are pretty basic. They talk about The Hero's Journey and the Three Act Structure. They talk about plot points and how this sort of thing should happen at the 25% mark and then this other sort of thing should happen two-thirds of the way in. But at the same time, of course, the story must be fresh and new.

As I am looking through these books it occurs to me that I stopped reading them because I know it already. I know how to do this. It's just a matter of doing it. Books on structure and plot can tell you what goes where, but they can't tell you exactly what to do. I mean, no book is going to help you figure out what your story is about and what should happen in it.

You have to do that all by yourself.

I'm not saying the books aren't worth my time. I've already had some insights into my story just by reading them. But the reality is (ugh, as it's always been) that Nike is, once again, right. You have to just do it.

And this reminds me that, hey! I'm working on Shards of Kholkari now. That means Bury Me is done! Here's the back-of-book blurb:

Lenore Hawn lives in a cocoon, surrounded by her hoard.

When her young neighbor, Hannah, agrees to help her find something lost in the piles of junk sheís crammed into every free space of her house, she thinks she might finally be able to release the guilt and shame that has tormented her all these years.

The last thing seventeen-year-old Hannah wants is to dig through mounds of stinky trash in Mrs. Hawnís house. But for that kind of money...itíll be worth it. And what the old lady doesnít know canít hurt her.

After all, sheís already dying...

Two women. Two secrets. One road to redemption.


You can find Bury Me at Amazon here.

That's the last of the downer fiction/literary Dianna Dann books for a while. Not that I don't already know what the next one is going to be about. I do. (hint: it's an epic road piece.)

Bookish Meets Boy took second place at the Royal Palm Literary Awards this year, in the women's fiction category. After the first book in the fantasy series is out, I'll get to work on the next Downtown Divas Romance: Pari and the Ghost Whisperer. That should be a lot of fun. And then I need two more kids books.

So, what am I doing sitting here blogging?! Off with me to work! Shoo, shoo!

(see you later.)

I'm winding down on a very busy September here. You can read about some of it on The Sunshine State blog in my latest post: Try to remember without watching the video...

Here is a brief recap:
Weekend One: We drove up to Atlanta for the Decatur Book Festival. And a better time could not have been had. Not only did we get to sell a lot of books, meet a lot of great people, and visit Decatur and the big city next door, but I got to see my oldest son and his new wife again. They took us to eat at one of their favorite places, Taqueria del Sol, and to the Dragon Con event at the Georgia Aquarium. Lots of fun!

Weekend Two: Space Coast Comic Con in Cocoa, FL. We sold some books and got to see a lot of neat costumes. And I wore my own! Three days! (And then, on Sunday night, I took two of my boys over to Orlando to see Devin Townsend in concert. Didn't get home and into bed until after one in the morning! I am such a party girl.)

Weekend Three: Treasure Coast Comic Con in Port St. Lucie, FL. More books, more costumes, and yes, another three days on my feet!

This weekend, I will rest. But then it'll be two days at Disney World!

What about writing? When am I going to fit it all in? Well, the truth is that my production was poor so far this year. I am just about finished with the final phases of Bury Me. It'll be out there very soon. And then I will get to work on another book. I'm hoping to do the Decatur Book Festival again next year and I'd like to have a few more books under my belt by then. So, I really need to get to work.

Wish me luck! (And discipline.)

Oh, happy August! The sweat. The humidity. The wet bra against slimy skin. A sweaty bra is the most unnatural thing on earth. But it's better than what it would be without the bra. (Pardon that rather vulgar picture I painted.)

But, August has its merits. Football is about to begin again! It has yet to be decided whether I love football because I like football, or because I like sitting on the sofa all day on Sundays. This year, I have projects ready to make all that sitting worthwhile (as if watching football all day isn't worthwhile!). I'm going to crochet a couple of afghans and some hats for the cats. That's right. I'm going to put hats on my cats and take pictures of them and spread them all over the Internet. I'm a very bad cat mom.

I've missed football (or sitting on the sofa). My clever ploy to entertain myself on Sundays off season by purchasing a sewing machine and all the various accoutrements that go along with that hobby, did not, I'm sorry to say, work. I still spent most of my Sundays sitting on the sofa doing jigsaw puzzles on my iPad. I get it. I'm lazy. I like to sit around doing basically nothing. What is life for if not to be enjoyed by doing nothing?

There is also the annual August red velvet cake.* I get to make it this Friday for my youngest son's birthday. I'm sorry to say, he's a man now. But I still get to make the cake. And perhaps, after he's flown the nest, I will continue the tradition in his honor...but for my own enjoyment, true.

And this year, we have the Summer Olympics. I've been reading several articles lately about how truly awful the Olympics are--displaced poor, elitist corruption, epic tax-payer money wasted. Still, I'll enjoy the spectacle of the opening ceremonies, popcorn and red velvet cake at the ready.

With three weeks of Olympics and Jason Bourne, we'll probably make it to the other end of summer. Not that it'll do any good. Down here in the tropics, September can be worse than August. We won't get a whiff of fall until after Halloween...maybe not at all.

Here's the news about Story Runners: Awakening. I put it back in print and I changed the names of two characters. Chai Legend is appearing in the new book (title withheld for the big reveal) next year. She's much different from the character she was in Story Runners. So now, in Story Runners, the character is called Sasha Loren. Her family's name was also changed. And Nefraim Wolff has moved to the new book as well. In Story Runners, that character is now his brother Oron Wolff.

I did this for purely selfish reasons. I wanted to re-imagine the world of Story Runners for a more adult audience. I had no problem with a new main character; but I just really liked the names Chai Legend and Nefraim Wolff for the others. I wanted to use those names in this new story. So I stole them. It's not as if Story Runners has been a major seller. I really don't think anyone is going to notice.

I'm almost finished with Bury Me (you can see the cover mockup on the Wayward Cat Publishing home page), the latest Dianna Dann downer fiction book. It's not as downer as Always Magnolia or Camelia, so that's a plus, I guess. It also looks like it's going to be more of a novella. But it sure has taken me a long time to get it finished. Some books are just going to be like that, I suppose.


*My Red Velvet Cake recipe!

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. It's dryer than other recipes I've found, and we like that! It's one of the best cakes I've ever tasted.


Red Velvet Cake

Cream together:
1/2 cup Crisco All Vegetable Shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs

Sift together twice:
2 cups cake flour (I use all purpose)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Alternate flour and buttermilk into sugar mixture. Add 1 ounce red food coloring. Beat well. Dissolve 1 teaspoon baking soda into 1 tablespoon vinegar. Mix well. Fold into batter. Pour into 3, 8- or 9-inch round cake pans, greased and floured. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.


Combine in pot:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
Dash salt

Cook over low heat until thick. Really thick. Like, when you stir it, you can see the pot with each stroke of the spoon. Cool thoroughly.

Cream together:
1/2 cup Crisco All Vegetable Shortening
1 stick margarine
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add to flour mixture. Beat for 10 minutes. Slather all over and in between cake! Eat the rest and lick the bowl. You can add cocoa powder to the leftover for some chocolate heaven.



Check out my boards at Pinterest! I've just started doing this and I really don't know what it's all about, do you? I've got a board where I post weird stuff, one for stuff I think is beautiful, and of course a board for cats.

I just posted another blog about sewing. I know it's probably a distraction from writing, but I think I need to do it. It's better than sitting on the couch with my iPad doing virtual jigsaw puzzles. There's an inertia thing with sitting on the couch. You get stuck there and drawn back to it when you get up to go into the kitchen for something. But sewing has a lot of ups and downs and back and forths to it--a lot of places where you can stop and go back to writing if you get an idea. And I do get ideas when doing other creative things*. Sitting on the couch? Not so much. The couch is a black hole.

*Strangely enough, I get most ideas when I'm in the shower. That's not creative at all. In fact, it's the worst place to let your mind wander, because by the end of it, you can't remember if you've washed your face or not.

I've got a clock on my desk with the saddest tick you've ever heard. Tick...tick...tick. "We're getting old," it's telling me. "We're so tired."

Next weekend, my oldest son is getting married. It's like this whole-day thing. I'm in hair and makeup at 9 a.m. First Look and pictures at 2:30. Wedding at five. I've got an adorable party dress. I'm ready. My parents will be there. I want to be able to enjoy the whole thing without worrying about that--without dealing with the issue of my childhood family. But I can feel it bothering me. I need to be strong and suck it up and smile and just keep moving on. I know it's going to be a lot of fun.


It's March. You know what that means here in Florida? It means we have to give up all hope for more cool weather. It's done. Over. Finis. Summer....is here. That's okay. I'm an indoor kind of girl with air conditioning. However, I will take some time to whine about my office being too hot. I've got a ceiling fan, and a standing fan, and it's still hot. But I'll get over it.

I've got a lot of work to do and not much gumption to do it. I just read a book about that, about how all we artists suck at art-ing. How we spend so much energy avoiding art-ing and we need to buckle down and art, damn it. Then it went off the rails a little bit about how we're conduits for angels, or something, and it's not us, really, it's some force. All of that kind of took away from the motivational talk for me.

I'm not a conduit. I'm not a vessel through which some otherworldly entity tells a story. Geez, that's creepy. Where does it all come from? Where does the story come from? The symbolism, all the cool crap I write? From inside my head, dude. It's not angels. If it were, it'd be a heck of a lot better, wouldn't it? I mean, I could just zone out and let the angels do all the work. But I can't. Because there are no angels.

To tell the truth, if I must, and let's face it, someone must. There are no muses, either. No little embodiment of inspiration whispering in my ear, or shunning me more like. Nope. No Thalia or Melpomene guiding my hand. No one to appeal to. No prayers will help.

It's just me and my crazy brain sitting at my desk pecking away at a keyboard trying to get stories out of my head and into the world.

It's so lonely, isn't it? Ah, blpppppbbbbbbt.

You just have to write. Write harder. Write more. Write. Write. Write. Or art. Or school. Or do whatever it is you are doing. It's just what life is all about--forcing yourself to do something because you get bored sitting on the sofa watching television after a while. Isn't there, when you think about it, a sort of wonderful dull sheen to the people who have no lives? I mean...they sit around all day doing virtually nothing. And they're cool with it. No call to create. No desire to do or be anything. Just...exist. What does a person have to do to be able to just exist?

Whatever it is, I've not been able to grasp it. So, instead, I'm one of the many Sisyphuses, rolling that stone up the hill and watching the damn thing roll back down. No wonder regular people think creative people are nuts. We are.


The year is winding down. Time to look back and lament all we didn't accomplish. Time to engage in a delicate combination of harsh criticism to get our butts in gear for the future and tender consolation that we tried our best.

I've moved out of my downtown office and am ready to get back to work at home. I've got so much work to do that I should really stop blogging here and get back to it. It's wonderful to have the cats around again.

I had a wonderful weekend at our local Meet the Authors Book Fair in November. I sold quite a few books. Mostly the kids books. Nothing sells a book like a cat on the cover, am I right?

Right now, the house smells of pine, the lights on the tree are twinkling, there are sweet things everywhere, and my boys are home again. All is good in the Narciso household. I hope all is well in yours. Best wishes for the holidays!

Well, another Florida Writers Association conference has come and gone. I won two awards in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. Always Magnolia won first place in the women's fiction category, and was third highest score (along with two other titles) overall in book-length entries. And Wayward Cat Finds a Home won first place in the children's chapter books category. (I'm happy to announce that Always Magnolia also garnered an Honorable Mention in the Writer's Digest Self-published Book Awards!)

Next up is FREEFLO. The Florida Humanist Association conference in Orlando. I'm going as a vendor, selling my nonfiction title, as well as my fiction. I'm looking forward to it. After that is the Meet the Authors Book Fair in Melbourne. I always have a good time there. And this year, I'll be sharing a table with my brother, C.E. Trantham, author of The 12th Disciple.

Well, I finally made up my mind. I will definitely be giving up the office downtown and returning home to work by January. I really enjoyed having an office this year. It's a cozy, cute space. But all in all, I don't like spending the extra money. I've been spending my extra hours cleaning up the spare room that used to be my office, getting rid of a lot of the junk in there. The introvert in me is so excited to be back at home, she doesn't want to go back to the office. But I'm still paying for it, so too bad for her.

I've also made another big decision. I'm going to take Story Runners out of print and rewrite it. I can do that, you know. I got really psyched about it at the conference and had a few epiphanies about what isn't working about it. I suppose I shouldn't have rushed to publish, but sometimes you don't figure things out until you let the story go.


[I felt so crazy about this...I blogged it: Ten stages of grief over the one-star review]

Woe is I.

I've been getting a lot of page reads of my latest book, the romantic comedy, Bookish Meets Boy. And I finally got a review on Amazon!

One star.

A one-star review!

Open the flood gates and let the self-loathing begin. Maybe I could just get it all out at once. You know...in a big whoosh and be done with it:

Why did I think I could write romance? There's no sex in it! It's not really romance. Everybody knows there's got to be a lot of sex and stuff in romance! And anyway, my reviewer says the characters are flat and it was confusing! Maybe I can't write at all! Why did I think I could be a writer? I suck! I'm a sucky writer! No one will ever read any of my books or like any of my books! Sure, I've won some awards, but those are meaningless. Meaningless! Obviously the judges don't know what they're talking about. Nobody is reading any of my books but this one, and this one has a one-star review! That one-star review is now the sum total of my writing talent...uh, lack of talent.

I should just quit now. There must be something I'm good at. Shopping. I'm pretty good at that. And avoiding housework! That's like, my bestest thing! I'm not sure there's a career in it, though. Oh, why do I want to be a writer, anyway? What sort of loser introvert would put herself out there like that? It's like stripping naked and going outside! Everybody can see me! And now I've been rated one star! How can I leave the house now? How could I possibly go to my office? I can't. It's too embarrassing.

Well...I liked it. I feel like Del from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: I like me. I'm an annoying loser. But I like me.

Well, I did it. I wrote a romantic comedy. I really enjoyed the entire process--it kept me happy. It's called Bookish Meets Boy and the setting was inspired by Historic Downtown Melbourne, here in Florida. I'll be writing another one soon, in the same setting with the same Downtown Divas.

But first, I think I will write another non-romance Dianna Dann book. This one is called Bury Me. Should be an easy write for me. I also really need to write JoJo's Ghost. I've been promising myself I'd get it done but keep putting it off. It's a paranormal humor book under the D.D. Charles pen name, to go along with Zombie Revolution. Those books are pretty hilarious (to me) so that one will keep me happy, too. Nothing wrong with that...and I'll need some happiness after writing Bury Me, which, while it shouldn't be as haunting as Always Magnolia, looks like it's going to be a nice downer. (Is it wrong to like downer books so much?)

All right, then. Sounds like a plan.

Oh, wait. There's more. I'm really proud to announce that my brother, C.E. Trantham, has published his first book: The 12th Disciple. It's a thriller, along the lines of The Da Vinci Code. Check it out.

Progress is great on my new little romcom. The only problem I've been having is slipping from past tense into present. I started it in present tense, unconsciously, and made myself work in past, but the present keeps working its way back in. Part of me thinks this means it ought to be in present tense, but my head tells me that's not right. Now I'm even questioning my use of first person! I will keep researching this--it's not too late to change it all.

I went to OASIS and had a good time; it's hard not to have a good time when you're in the presence of sci/fi fans. For the present, I will keep doing these conventions and book festivals, although, and I'm being perfectly honest here, I'm not sure they're all they're cracked up to be. What I mean is this: There are a lot of people out there telling authors how to get published and how to sell books. And I'm starting to think that very, very few of them know what they're talking about.

Some of the things authors are told to do are: 1. Become a speaker. 2. Have a blog about writing. 3. Attend book signings.

Becoming a speaker is great advice for nonfiction writers. Generally, they have a topic of expertise. Becoming a speaker might be good for children's book authors. They can go into schools and talk to the kids and sell some books. But that's all local. And I don't mean local, as in your home town. I mean local, as in selling some books to that school at that time. And it's a lot of work.

I've tried blogging about writing and it's not for me. And who reads those blogs about writing? Other writers. Can you sell some books that way? Sure, if you get famous doing it, you'll sell a few books to some of the writers who are reading your blog. But I look at this in much the same way I look at following a bunch of writers on Twitter. All they're doing is talking about their books. Some of them (most?) do nothing but tweet about their books. I've seen some pages on which the author has absolutely no interaction with anyone. It's all tweets about her book. I don't follow that. And if I find it, I unfollow it.

I want to interact with people. And if they buy my books, that's great. But I don't want to be sold to, and I'm uncomfortable selling to people. Do I do it? Occasionally, yes. But when I do it, I'm doing it to the people who follow me because (I hope) they find all my other crazy tweets entertaining. I guess what I'm saying is...talking to other writers is not akin to finding readers for the books I write.

Attending book signings is offered as a way to make connections and network with other writers. I haven't figured out why this is so important, yet. I think the idea is that writers sell other writers' books for them. And while, sure, I blog about my experiences sometimes and link to the websites and Amazon pages of some of the writers I meet, I can guarantee you that I'm one of the very, very few (maybe the only one) who does that.

Other writers are not my target audience. Readers are. I just want people who like to read the stuff I write to be able to find my books. And I don't think that any of the advice I'm hearing is the way to do that. Honestly, I think the only way to do it is to write a lot of books, do the best job you can, get them out there online, tell your social media about them once in a while, and just keep doing that.

And now I'm going to go on a little rant. I sat in on a workshop that was supposed to be about one thing, but quite a bit of it turned out to be about scolding authors about being nice to people...er, not people, but agents, reviewers, and publicists. One person there was familiar to me. He is a reviewer. A small town, small paper reviewer. But he walks around local book festivals treating authors as if they should kiss his feet and praise him and he might deign to review their books for them. He instructed the audience about being nice to him, about the proper way in which they ought to massage his ego to get a review. He said, "If I don't like you, I won't stop at your table." Well, he didn't stop at my table at OASIS, that's for sure. And why doesn't he like me? I guess because I didn't give him any of my books free of charge and kiss his ass the first few times I met him.

So, here's my advice to all of you writers out there, and we can consider it my writing blog: Don't kiss anyone's ass. Do your thing. Be honest with yourself and with others. Don't worry about being blacklisted. These people are not your target audience. Readers are. And there are millions of them out there. Millions of them! And they don't care what's going on in publishing. They don't care who agents like and don't like. They don't even know! These people want your business and your money (and reviewers want free books). They should be groveling to you.

I think that's what's wrong with the entire traditional publishing industry: agents, editors, publishing houses, and reviewers. They have never truly valued the talent. They think they are the talent. They think they create talent. They make stars! Well, no they don't. Authors are the ones the readers want. It's the ones who write the stories that butter their bread. (And I'm saying this mostly as a reader.) I think they're starting to find that out.

So, keep writing. Keep publishing. And have a good time.

Yesterday, I spent the day sitting at a table at the Cocoa Beach Library for a book fair. The highlight of the day was when Tim Dorsey came and spoke about writing his books. He was a really funny guy. Anyway, there was a table set up for him in the room, but he didn't sit with us. He came shortly before he was to speak, he spoke, he sold and signed some books for people at his table, and then he left. He didn't come around and talk to any of us or look at any of our books. It reminded me of when I was at the Florida Heritage Book Festival in St. Augustine and I saw John Dufresne walk through. He didn't give one of us a single look. It made me sad.

I started to wonder if I wanted to continue to do these book fairs at all. I see the benefits for a lot of the authors who do them--they meet other authors and find new readers. I always sell at least a few books, but the act of selling is just not for me. I'm more than introverted--I'm shy. A day spent in a room full of people leaves me emotionally drained and depressed. (Hence this blog post, I guess.) I think I am that epitome of the perception people have of authors as recluses. I'd be a drunk with fifty cats if I thought I could handle the hangovers and the litter boxes.

Just the other week, I had to back out of a reading festival when I realized it wasn't a bunch of authors sitting at tables mingling with other authors and readers, but instead, a series of parties and socializing opportunities with a two-hour book signing thrown in. I was...like...no. Just no. I can't do that. Can you imagine? Me. Walking around a party. Trying to socialize? There's just no way. Remember when they used to call us wallflowers? At least they called us flowers.

Anyway, I'm just not sure that these book fairs are good for me. All that said, I'm still really excited about doing OASIS. I'm skittish, aren't I? That's right. You can't pin me down. I say one thing one minute, and another the next. That's what you call crazy. And crazy works when you write the stuff I do. Thanks for letting me vent. (Like you could do anything about it.)

I just released two new books: Story Runners: Awakening and Zombie Cats, both under the Dana Trantham pen name. I'm waiting to see if Amazon won't discount the print book prices--they usually do. But if not, rest assured, they'll be lowered.

Next up is the last book in The Kell Stone Prophecy series. I'm working on it now. It was going to be a five book series, but I changed my mind. I get to do that, because I'm...the author. (You have to say that with a snooty voice to get the proper effect.)

I'm taking down two of my blogs, the ones that were on hiatus before. I'll have to scroll down now and remove hyperlinks to them in this blog. What a pain in the neck. :) Perhaps if I weren't so flighty...

Well, I did it. I took an office. And I love it! I am excited to get to work each morning. The simple act of preparing for the day, packing my lunch, and leaving the house has had a tremendous impact on my productivity. And driving to the office building, taking the stairs, unlocking my office door and entering my little personal space...it's just the most wonderful feeling. And there is a title that keeps popping into my head lately:

A Room of One's Own

I've never read Virginia Woolf's essay and wasn't even sure it was appropriate for my situation until I looked it up. I still may have it a bit wrong, but I'll keep it, I think.

I'm writing a series of blog posts over at The Sunshine State about my experience writing in my lovely little office space.

The Year of the Office: Day one
The Year of the Office: Exercise...what's that?

So, I'm nearly ready to publish The Story Runner, a fantasy adventure, and Zombie Cats, a middle grade novel. And now I'm at work on the third book in The Kell Stone Prophecy series. I think it will be called Realm of Ice, but I'm not sure. After that, I've got another Dianna Dann book, Bury Me; a D.D. Charles novel, JoJo's Ghost; and a romantic comedy as yet untitled. I'm not sure if I am going to create another pen name for the romance. I thought maybe I could do the romances as "A Dianna Dann Romance" on the cover. Is that just weird? It might be. The Dianna Dann books are literary women's fiction...really, really different from romantic comedy. So...yeah, I'm thinking another pen name. Why not? It's a crazy new world of publishing...

I received the judge's scores and comments on Camelia from the 2014 Writer's Digest Self-published Book Awards. The book scored really, really well and the judge seemed to understand where I was going with it. I posted the entire comment over at The Sunshine State blog if you're interested.

I also got the comments and scores from all of my entries in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. As far as I know, I don't have permission to post those, so I won't. But I can certainly discuss them.

I entered Zombie Revolution but it didn't make the finals. One judge really liked it and gave it 44 out of 50. Another judge liked it okay and gave it 29 out of 50. But a third judge hated it! She said it was not appropriate for children (I entered it into the young adult category) and gave it 10 out of 50. I'm going to agree with that judge that Zombie Revolution is not appropriate for children. It's actually satire and probably more appropriate for adults; so I think I chose the wrong category.

I could certainly see why Children of Path won second place as its scores were a bit middling. The thing that struck me the most was that some of the judges thought I didn't reveal the ending in the summary. But I did. It's just that it's book one in a series and each one does not stand alone. Once I finish the entire series of five books, the digital editions will be bundled and sold as a unit. I really should make that a priority next year, but it's hard to do when I have so many other books to write as well.

One of the judges who read Camelia thought I must have spent some time in a suicide prevention unit because my description was spot on. Does that mean he/she did time in one? Anyway, I was simply thrilled with the comments on Camelia. It's always wonderful to feel like you've done a good job. One judge said the book was a tutorial on creating fully developed characters! That's got to be the best compliment an author can receive.

I've felt so humbled these past few weeks with all of the comments and awards I got. It's very validating. I only wish that would translate into more confidence, but I still work on a book and go back and forth thinking it's fabulous one day and utter rubbish the next. Such is the life of an author, I suppose. I'll take it! I must be one of the luckiest people in the world to be able to do this every day!

I think I'll do some more happy dance.

Wow! Both of my 'finalist' books won awards in the Royal Palm Literary Awards on Saturday, October 25.

Camelia by Dianna Dann won first place in the women's fiction category.

Children of Path by Dana Trantham won second place in the fantasy category.

It was a very exciting evening!

I'm hard at work trying to finish up two more titles by the end of the year. Then I have to plan out 2015. I have so many books to write!

Always Magnolia and Wayward Cat Finds a Home are launched!

I have finished Always Magnolia! I love it! I couldn't be more excited about it! See all the exclamation marks! I've completed the tedious editing process and all that remains is the print-out read through. I think we're looking at September for publication.

I've received the artwork for Wayward Cat Finds a Home from my niece Brandi Trantham and I'm thrilled with it! You'll love it, too. And the story is just as cute as it can be, if I do say so myself. I'm hoping to put some of her pictures on merchandise for the Wayward Cat Publishing Cafe Press store, too.

Next I'll be finalizing The Story Runner and getting it through its editing paces and then I promise I will get to the third book in the Kell Stone Prophecy series. Then I have to write JoJo's Ghost and I've already got another idea for a Dianna Dann novel. I also think I have a little romance book in my head. I don't know if I should create another pen name for some romance or not. I've got too many pen names already, don't you think?

Or are pen names like chocolates--a girl can never have too many.

I got some fifty thousand words into Always Magnolia, hated what I'd done, and started over. Completely over! Now I'm loving it.

Work seems slow. It bothers me. I hear of others writing six books a year. I told hubs about it some time ago and now he thinks I ought to be able to write six books a year. I don't know if it's that I'm writing different sorts of books (are the others more formulaic? And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with formulaic! There's a lot to be said for it.), or if mine are longer? Or am I just slower? It's frustrating. But it seems that even if I have an entire day, some six or eight hours to work, I can't work that long on the project. I get to point where I feel empty, like I can't go on, like I need to recharge, think some more, imagine some more.

And I thought I could work on another project at the same time, but so far, I've been unable to do it. It's as if I immerse myself in one book at a time and to shift takes time and effort.

I will continue to plug away at it.

Okay, so news. Hmm. Well, I renamed The Long Walk Home. It will be called Always Magnolia. And no, I'm not planning a series of Dianna Dann novels with flowers in their titles. It's completely coincidental. Truly. I'm pretty sure. And I'm nearly finished with the first draft.

I've also finished the first draft of the first book in a series of children's books based on the Wayward Cat Publishing logo. Wayward Cat's Adventures. In our first book, Wayward Cat Finds a Home, our little hero is born to a semi-feral Mama Cat in Mrs. Person's garage. He is taken to a cat rescue adoption event and well, you'll just have to wait and see what happens. Soon, I promise.

I attended the UCF Book Festival on campus in Orlando yesterday. It was a fabulous event. I'm sorry that I don't have the pictures to prove it, but I'm just not that girl. That girl was in the booth across from me. Hubs and I took a few pics for her so she could be in them. Let's see...there was a pirate (an author of pirate books); a wizard and Lady, of a sort (also authors); Clifford was there and not so big as you'd expect. R2D2, a Sand People person, Princess Luke (a girl dressed as Luke Skywalker, thus our dubbing), a very short Darth Vader, storm troopers, Jawas, Boba Fett, and...more that I can't remember. There was UCF Knight there as well.

In the children's section, volunteers were dressed as jellyfish for a reading of The Rainbow Fish. Have I ever told you how much I despise the story of The Rainbow Fish? I mean, the very idea! A beautiful person is expected to make herself less beautiful before others will like her? What kind of sick lesson is that to teach our children?

I'd better stop here or I'll be on a rant...

I had a fabulous time!

How did it get to be March?

I've been working on the next Dianna Dann book, tentatively called The Long Walk Home. It's much harder going than Camelia was. Camelia was written almost like a stream of consciousness--the wacky, crazy story just rolled off my fingertips. The Long Walk Home...not so much. But I'm 25,000 words in. (I cringe a bit writing that. I need to write harder.)

The first draft of The Story Runner is complete. I know exactly what's wrong with it and how to fix it, but it'll have to wait its turn.

And I'm very excited about a new project! I won't give too much away now, but let's just say it involves cats! Yay!

Stay tuned. Something new will be published at some point. <tapping foot>

Hubs and I went up to Amelia Island, for the Amelia Island Book Festival. It was a lot of fun. They have quite a turn out, both of authors and readers. I sold a few books and had a great time. David Baldacci was there somewhere, but I didn't get to see him.

Next weekend, we're headed to Fort Myers to check out the Southwest Florida Reading Festival there. No table for us; just a look-see. And in April, we have a Wayward Cat Publishing booth at the UCF Book Festival in Orlando. I'm excited about that!

I was skimming through my "life" notebook (I keep most of my life in 6x9 ring binders) and came across a page I'd headed: Working Stories. It's so old I don't even recognize some of the items on the list! I hope I have notes somewhere else. But one item stuck out. It reads: Therapy--needs synopsis.

I remember Therapy. It was a story about a young woman with a crazy family and a dark secret. And I suppose the main thrust of the story would be her visits with her therapist. I knew the sort of personality this young woman had--sarcastic, a bit rude, unhappy--and she hated to be touched. But she was all of those things only in her head. To other people, she would do and say what was expected.

I was still struggling with the story (what was it really about, anyway?) when I was talking with an online acquaintance about something that happened during my childhood that affected me in a very negative way. And while I was telling her about Camelia, it all just fell into place. That was it! That's what Therapy was about. And two years later, I published Camelia.

It's weird looking back on it now. It gave me a bit of a shiver when I saw the item in my notebook. It's amazing how inklings can turn into characters who turn into ideas that end up being stories that are published into books.

In many ways, because of its connection to my own life, I think Camelia is my life's ambition. Everything else I plan to write seems somehow like the falling action toward denouement.

I am extremely honored and humbled by my first review at Amazon! Not only did this reader enjoy Camelia, but I think she got what I was trying to say with it and that's so wonderful I can't really express it adequately.

Next weekend, I'm off to the Florida Writers Association conference. I had a great time last year and am getting excited now about my trip. Next up will be the Meet the Authors Book Fair in association with the Eau Gallie Arts Festival here in Central Florida. Two days of hobnobbing with other writers and readers!

Camelia is officially launched!

When I read Camelia, I think it's one of the greatest books ever written. And then, when I put it down, I think I'm a complete fraud and it's incredibly stupid, vapid, and poorly written. I hope it's somewhere in between those two! I've heard that other authors experience these bouts of delusion (we only hope the latter thoughts are delusion!). So, I suppose I should be glad to be normal, at least in that.

I'm currently awaiting the final proof before publication. Then I must get back to The Story Runner. If I could get it finished by the end of the year, it would be perfect! So that's my goal.

I've never been an excessively disciplined person. And yet, while I may have paid lip service to the idea, I also never really believed that I had to wait for the creative muse to strike before I could write. Today, I read a brief article on creativity: Creativity Is Really Just Persistence, And Science Can Prove It. I know it's true, but it doesn't make it any easier to get myself into the office and get to work.

I'm finding that I'm obsessed with the current project and I can't get myself to start again on the next until I'm done, completely finished, with the first one. I've got to get over that. I've got to learn to let go of the current project as soon as it goes to formatting and move on with writing time on the next.

Wish me luck!

Well, I did it. I finalized Camelia. Formatting was a snap! Just waiting for my Library of Congress number and I'll start the process of trying to get Create Space to make it right. (Yes, I know the fault is always on my end, but I like to blame CS, anyway.)

Next up is the Florida Writers Association conference in Lake Mary! I really enjoyed it last year. My books will be in the bookstore and I even have a slot for a little book signing. Don't you just love book signings? We poor authors sit there and watch people walk past; they try to be polite and let us down easy. I assure you, it's just as uncomfortable for the author! And trust me, you don't have to buy my book; I won't cry.

I had to give up my work on The Story Runner and get back to finalizing Camelia. I just couldn't get the story out of my mind and knew I'd never get any other real work done until I just finished it--as in published. I gave it another read-through and then printed it out. It's always a different experience reading your manuscript in print; and even more different when reading it in book form. But just the act of printing it out gave me clues to where it needs a nip and tuck. Three spots actually. These little things nag at you until you fix them. So, before I even read it through again, I'll be taking my red pen and marking it up.

I promise to get back to The Project Runway Diaries as soon as I can. Novels are my first priority (I know it's Runway sacrilege.) I'm really enjoying watching the latest season on Thursday nights!

I updated my fiction reads blog today, too. Check out what I'm reading now.

I had a wonderful time at the Florida Tech Creative Writing Institute. I took a class on fiction and wrote a couple of flash fiction pieces in the process. I'll publish them somewhere in the future and let you know. I sat in on a lecture about poet Laura Riding Jackson. I was instantly a fan when I heard that she and her husband, Schuyler B. Jackson, set out to rewrite the dictionary because she didn't believe in synonyms. Each word has a distinct, individual meaning. The result was Rational Meaning: A New Foundation for the Definition of Words.

Jackson and her husband moved to Wabasso, Florida--very near where I live--at some point, and lived in a Cracker style house without electricity. She wrote letters to friends telling them how happy she was there with her simple life. That's what the heat does to you--makes you crazy.

I'm hard at work on Camelia, almost finished with the penultimate draft, after which it will go into percolation. Later I'll attack it again and probably discover it wasn't the penultimate draft after all, but that's the way of it.

I went mad recently and decided I had too many blogs so I merged the Wayward Cat Publishing blog into my regular blog, The Sunshine State. I tend to whine about publishing anyway, so all those posts on writing will fit right in with the sunshine-y tone of the older blog.

And yes, yes, yes--I am still working on The Project Runway Diaries blog. I just have to put it on hold sometimes for the fiction. Fiction is life, you know, and Project Runway only entertainment.

Oh, and last but not least, I added our Adventures in Trash blog to this one. Check it out...if you're into trash.

Next week I'm taking a class at the Florida Tech Creative Writing Institute. I didn't attend last year and am happy to be able to go again. The classes are very basic, really, but it doesn't seem to matter where we are in our writing experience, there is always something to be learned. The best parts of the event are the bonus talks at lunch and late afternoon.

I finalized, I think, the cover for Camelia, but I don't think I'll be able to get it published before the end of the year. I was hoping to have it for the Florida Writers Association Conference in October and the Meet the Authors event in November. But I don't want to rush it. It's not an ordinary story.

Check out what I've been reading.

I had a wonderful trip to Alabama for a bit of research for my novel Camelia. I wrote a blog post about it at the Wayward Cat Publishing blog [now part of The Sunshine State] called Where death is held more sacred than life... I've been absorbed in formatting and publishing the second book in The Kell Stone Prophecy series, The Wretched, for the past two weeks and when I returned to writing the first draft of Camelia, I was afraid I would be at a loss.

But last night proved brilliant and unnerving. One day's writing on Camelia and I was up all night with scenes running through my head. Fearful that I'd forget them, I got up twice to write out notes. Today I'm exhausted, but not tired enough yet to sleep more. We'll just have to see how well I focus. And yet, I have to admit that focus isn't exactly necessary for this particular book.

For me, Camelia is the closest thing I've come to in my writing career that qualifies as a "life's work." It's truly one of those projects during which I feel like I'm opening wounds and exposing pain. It's cathartic to be able to do that through a character that is very little like me.

It's tax time. The time during which I am constantly reminded about how unorganized I am. There's nothing like digging through piles of un-filed papers looking for a receipt. It's enough to make you want to clean!

Next weekend, we're off on a trip to Alabama to visit a grave for research on my next novel: Camelia. I love a good cemetery, but I fear this one won't be much to look at. In a way, that will make it all the more endearing. I'll blog about it when I get back and give you all the deadly details.

Yesterday I posted a humorous piece on the Wayward Cat Publishing blog: The new dystopian bondage genre. Here is a brief excerpt:

Gabe Habash at Publishers Weekly tells us that "[h]alf of the top 20 bestselling books of 2012 in print were either Fifty Shades titles or Hunger Games titles, and only one book not written by E.L. James or Suzanne Collins...cracked the one-million-copies-sold mark for the year..."

Nerds, please join me in a deep, unsexy, all-too-normal sigh. Bondage and dystopia, dystopia and bondage. The people have spoken. Itís time to strap on theĖuh...penĖand get to work.

Behold, the battle plan for 2013.

Step one: Get thyself to the nearest sex-toy-extravaganza warehouse and buy up all the paraphernalia you can find. You canít expect to write about bondage without getting tied up. My husband wonít mind helping me out with this researchĖand no doubt you too can find someone willing. How bad could it be? Bring on the feathered handcuffs and cutesy leopard-print whips. Donít forget the stilettos. And men, youíre not getting out of itĖyou have wear the eight-inch heels, too.

Then...you know...bond. Or whatever it is they do. Be masochisticĖis that like whining? ĎCause Iím good at that. And then be sadistic. Thatís the nagging part. I think I could do this!

I first wrote this piece hoping to get a humor column on a wonderful blog, but alas, I was passed over for someone, no doubt, funnier. But I had a lot of fun writing it.

Today, on my various forms of social media, I posted a link to an article about a brief spat between Philip Roth and Elizabeth Gilbert on writing: Is writing hell, or heaven? Philip Roth and Elizabeth Gilbert disagree, while 20 writers tell all in 'Why We Write'

My first reaction to the idea was that writing is both. It truly can be hell. It's hell to know you have a story in your head that insists on being put to paper, but you sit and stare at the screen knowing that the first thing you write (from that very first beginning--the one you know won't make it to print--to merely the first thing in that writing session) is going to be pure crap. And you resist writing crap. Naturally.

Then there's the staring because you just don't know what to write. You don't know where to start, what to say, how to say it. You think maybe this writing thing isn't for you. Maybe you're a fraud. People were going to find out sooner or later; it's high time you realized it yourself.

And it's hell when you sit out in the family computer room blogging, or scrolling down Facebook's endless drivel looking for some diversion, playing Words with Friends, or a PopCap Mystery P.I. game, all the while knowing full well the novel is calling you. You can hear it. It's saying, "Get your fat bottom in here and write me." But you don't. And that's hell.

The day gets by you. Then a week. Sometimes more. That's hell. And it's a hell we create. All by ourselves. Fully knowing we're creating it.

We know we're making our own hell, because we've experienced heaven.

We know that once we get in there, sit down, and just start writing, even if it's crap, even if it's just some stupid thought that comes into our heads--once we do it, we start making art. We make ourselves laugh, and cry, and tingle with excitement. We're in heaven when we write, even when we write crap, because we know that once the crap is on the screen, it can be turned to molding clay, and that clay can be shaped into our hearts and our desires and our art.

So, why do we continue to put ourselves through the hell of it? Maybe we think, subconsciously, that we have to suffer for it. Or maybe...maybe the heaven is soul-wrenching, as wonderful as it is. It's frightening. It leaves us exposed and raw. We come away from heaven spent and satisfied, and worried that we won't get it back.

Maybe the heaven and the hell are both the same. The heaven is hell and the hell is heaven. And we just have to deal with it.

I hate philosophy.

Anyway, I've taken to planting candy in my work room as a lure. It doesn't really work. I may have come to the conclusion that there should be no lure. There should be no heaven, and no hell. There should only be my job. And as a job, I would have to agree with Elizabeth Gilbert, it's fantastic.

But, I don't have to pay the bills.

I'm going to the Cocoa Beach Writers Conference this weekend. Looking forward to it. This week's writing was a struggle. I know the conference will get me back into gear. Here's the corresponding Wayward Cat Publishing blog about the weekend.

My main struggle is writing when I know I have to do something shortly. I can understand not wanting to get started when I have to do something in a half hour, maybe even an hour. But if it's 9:15 and I don't have to do something until 11:45, what's the problem? Why can't I spend that time writing? It's a struggle for me and I'm just going to have to force myself to get over it.

I'm eager to get back to The Wretched and finish it up. But I'm forcing myself to only take a few notes on the thoughts that come to me and instead finish up The Story Runner. It's not easy to keep away from something I'm excited about and unfortunately, that excitement seems to be lessening my attraction to the new book! Maybe I should just give in, finish and publish The Wretched, and then my subconscious will be relatively free to devote itself to The Story Runner.

But I have this idea that The Wretched must rest! It must rest for a long time! Do I know if this is true? No! But nonetheless, the book will be rested. Well rested.

I had such a wonderful time at the Meet the Authors event. I sold a few books and bought a few--and two authors gave me a copy of theirs. The time went by rather quickly and for that I was glad, because it wasn't as great as a garage sale where you can go inside and grab a bite to eat whenever you want. My husband came along, though, so I had someone at my table when I needed a break--and he brought me lunch!

My two favorite sales were an older lady and a young girl.

I was over at John Ryan's table; he was telling me some of his history, when my husband pulled me away. One of the organizers was looking for me--she said there was a woman out in the lobby that wanted to meet me, so I followed her out there. An attractive, gray-haired, well-dressed lady was sitting on a bench outside, with a cane, and she had clipping of the Hometown News article that featured me and my books with her.

She'd come all that way just to get a copy of each of my books for her grandsons! But she'd recently developed vertigo, she said, and she just didn't think she could make it through the room to my table. What an awesome lady! I felt so honored--and not unlike a celebrity.

But I suppose my most favorite sale was the twin! Adorable teenaged twins were at my table while their father hovered around. One was very interested in Children of Path, while the other was not. The one looking at my book told me her sister could read a book in just a few hours. This avid reader then told me how she had read many series of books in a day, and the entire Harry Potter series in a week!

Anyway, the one looking at my book read the front, then the back; she asked about the picture of the panther on the cover, were there panthers in the story? Then she opened it up in the middle and read, then went to the first page and started reading. Her sister said, "What are you doing?" Impatient girl! Her twin said, "I'm reading this book!" Like, duh. Then the reader abruptly put the book down and went to her father and said, "I want that book."

She told her dad she had money for it at home and would pay him back. He made her promise. Then he made both girls say pretty please. And while getting out his money, he made them both call him "most awesome dad." And they did!

I loved this sale because I felt like my book was connecting with that young woman--in the way it connects with me. It was a wonderful feeling and I hope the book doesn't disappoint her.

At the book fair, I purchased Finn Flanagan and the Fledglings by Kip Taylor. This is a series book about a boy who dies, becomes an angel, then joins a league of young angels to save the world. At least that's what Taylor's rep told me. The cover picture is cool (I met the illustrator there and she signed the book for me) and I found the story idea intriguing.

I also purchased The Zen of Max by Lou Belcher. I'd heard about Lou's book subtitled "a memoir of great wisdom and many naps" and about her late cat Max some time ago and was glad to finally be able to get a copy.

Across from my table was Charles Nothe with his massive tome Proscriptii, historical fiction set in ancient Rome. I really wanted the book because I like really big books. But I knew that wasn't a good reason to spend $20 on a book and, after all, my husband was with me to remind me to be more frugal.

Unfortunately, when I went to speak with Nothe, I told him my dilemma and his response was to give me a copy of the book. Part of me understands why he did it. It was clear in talking with him that he and I were both passionate about history and historical fiction--he much more so than I because he actually researched and wrote, whereas I have only read and enjoyed, the subject (except for that little BA degree, of course). But, like with that young twin, when you find someone who clearly wants to read your book--you want them to read it!

Well, my husband refused the offer and insisted I pay, an idea I had no qualms with. But when I tried to give Nothe money he absolutely refused. So we decided upon an exchange. I gave him a copy of Zombie Revolution for a son or nephew, I can't exactly recall. I really don't think it was a fair exchange and depending on who you ask (me or hubs) one of us got the better deal. (Hubs isn't all that fond of heavy tomes of history.)

In fact, hubs later looked at me with a smile and said, I read the first sentence and almost put the book down, but it was okay after that. And he had me read the first sentence of Proscriptii. It was a long, complicated, glorious sentence and I told him, "I'm going to love this book!" We shared a good laugh at our differences.

I shared a table with Stanton Bronstein who writes under the name S.N. Bronstein. He turned out to be a fabulous table mate! Great sense of humor, great attitude--I think he and I and hubs all shared a basic outlook or worldview. I mean, imagine us sharing a table with Debra John who apparently brought along a psychic! (Don't get me wrong, Debra was a lovely person...but if you know me...you know what I mean.)

Stanton was much more of a pitchman than I could ever be. People were first drawn to his table by the covers of his detective book series--photos of places in Miami. He only had to give them his spiel and then turn to the children's book at the end of the table with its picture of a way-cool black cat and they were sold--if not on the adult series, then definitely on the kids book. He outsold me by a large margin.

And I am now intimately familiar with his books; if he had left for a while, by Sunday, I could have given shoppers the entire spiel in his stead.

When he was packing up, Stanton gave me a copy of the kids book, Private Eye Cats Book One: The Case of the Neighborhood Burglars. I was grateful. I didn't insist on paying Stanton, mostly because I hadn't slobbered all over the book practically asking for it. He shouldn't have given it to me though. But I'll definitely enjoy the read so I'm really thankful.

Next weekend, November 17 & 18, is the Meet the Authors event at the Eau Gallie Arts Festival! Two days from 10 'til 4. Forty local authors, including yours truly. Come visit. Come purchase books for Christmas, or for yourself.

This is my first year attending and I'm very excited about it. I'll have copies of Children of Path by Dana Trantham, and Zombie Revolution by D.D. Charles for sale.

I attended the Florida Writers Association conference this past weekend and had a wonderful time.

However, it's clear that there still remains a bias against self-publishing. I attended one workshop in which the presenter said that one of the "pros" of being traditionally published is a guarantee of quality. I called bull crap. Not out loud, of course.

Don't get me wrong. I perused the bookstore at the conference and found self-published books that were below my standards. One woman had misspelled "its" on the first page. The first page! I understand there will be errors in a 90,000-word book. But the first page? I picked up a little card advertising one woman's book and in the description, she spelled "but" as "butt." Seriously? I don't care how much I paid for those cards, I would have tossed them in the trash. No excuse.

But then I purchased a traditionally-published children's book and in its forty-five pages found no fewer than ten errors, along with a few questionable items.

Let me be clear: There is absolutely no excuse--none whatsoever--to have typos, misspellings, or consistency errors in a short picture book. No excuse. Yes, it is excusable in very long works. But in a forty-five page book? No. Sorry.

Being traditionally published is no guarantee of quality. At all. Don't even go there with me.

Yes, you can find horrible books by self-published authors. But you will also find quality books at, or exceeding, the standards of traditional publishers.

Now that that uncomfortable nonsense is out of the way, I'd like to give a thankful shout out to Janice Decker. Janice was at the conference and sat in on a panel discussion on self-publishing. Strangely enough, most of the others on the panel were actually publishers. Not publishers like myself who only publish their own works, but publishers who help authors "self-publish." I know; it's confusing. But this is what the new world of publishing has wrought.

Janice was not a publisher. She self-published her book Take the War.

Before the discussion began, I conversed a bit with the guy sitting next to me and somehow our conversation wound around to him telling me how he hired a professional editor for all of his books. I'm beginning to see what's happening here. Self-publishers are ashamed of themselves. They still consider themselves the step-children of the writing world. So, they have to prove themselves whenever they talk about their books. Having someone professionally edit their books is like saying, "My books may be self-published, but they're good. Honest."

He had to go through several edits, he said, to weed out all the mistakes. And his editor helped him to see where his writing was weak and where the story needed improvement. And I'm sitting there thinking, "That's your job, dude! If you have to hire someone to figure all that out, you're not doing your job."

But instead, I fell into the same trap and explained that I self edit because I'm a control freak, so I'm good at it. And while I would think that being a grammar control freak would make someone a good editor, I should have just told him what I really thought. Editing, and knowing how to write a well-structured, well-paced story is your job as the author. The more you write, the better you should get at it. If you have to hire in help, or send your book through the round of critique groups, agents, and editors, you are not the author of your book. It's a collaboration.

So, naturally, during the panel discussion, this very topic was brought up and kudos to Janice Decker who did not hesitate or falter. To the question: Do you really need to hire a professional editor? She said, "No." Editing is part of the writing process, she said. It's part of the craft of writing. Learn it.

I was so happy to hear someone else say it, I was giddy. And I missed the comment that Eugene Orlando made. When I finally came down from my cloud he was saying something about teaching his writers reverse editing and how well it worked. So, he might have been in agreement with Decker and I as well.

But the others, especially one woman who offered us a patronizing smile and shake of her head, continued on with the myth that writers are not capable of producing quality work without the help of other people. Bull crap.

Cat treasures...

The article about me, and Wayward Cat Publishing, and my books is in The Hometown News today! It's called, "Bringing fantasy to life: Palm Bay author publishes two books, with more on the way."

Writer Brittany Llorente did a wonderful job. In the print edition, they printed the covers of both my current books; only one is online. I sound a tad odd and I can't remember saying things exactly the way I'm quoted. But it's so hard to remember what you said, and when you're talking, you feel like you're babbling. Being interviewed is definitely something to get used to.

This morning I was up early because there was an estate sale down the street. My neighbor died a while ago and left a few cats. I took care of them for a while until they could be placed in foster homes. Though I didn't know my neighbor, I could tell she was a very cool lady--her home was filled with cat stuff. Her sister gave me a lovely gift of a small cat statue for helping out.

I knew they were planning a sale and was excited to go over today and find more cat treasures. I got a lot! A white ceramic cat that sits atop a shelf with his head looking over the edge. Another larger white ceramic long-hair that sits on the floor. A fabulous heavy statue of a leopard lounging on a branch. Cat Christmas tree ornaments; little cat figures for my shelves; a cat teapot; cat salt and pepper shakers (my second set!). And I found a long, narrow plate of fired clay with pictures of cats on it. Its "handles" on either end look like kitty paws grasping it from behind. Love that! I have no idea where to put it so the cats won't break it; but I love it.

It was rather awful to feel the want of things that belonged to my neighbor. I felt greedy for going over early and buying up all the best things. I thought I should leave some for others. But of course, the people handling the estate don't care if one person buys it all. And not everyone is out for cat treasures.

I may be at my limit now. Although, there's a bare spot on my desk that just cries out for some sort of cat. The live ones generally prefer the spot just in front of the screen...

Nice work if you can get it...

Tom Rizzo, author of Last Stand at Bitter Creek, posted a bit of Ray Bradbury over at Linkedin the other day.

"Writing is not a serious business. Itís a joy and a celebration ... If itís work, stop and do something else."

My first reaction was to choke on my Diet Coke. My second was to clatter off a quick response: That's like telling a group of older women that you never had hot flashes while going through menopause.
I know, because I've done something quite like that. I went to see Menopause The Musical last weekend with my mother, my sisters-in-law, and their mothers. And I innocently explained that I am not suffering, for which I was leered at menacingly. I was no longer one of them--I was...suspicious.

Anyway, writing can be work. Often. It can be hard work.

Bradbury himself said, "I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true - hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do it."

Of course he explains that said hard work has to be engaged in what you love doing. I can agree with that.

Writing is, and frankly ought to be, work. Most of the time, that work is joyful, for me. Sometimes it's positively dreary, and sure, it's best at those times to switch to another project or get up and take a walk. But there are times in our creative process that slog. God, they slog.

The only saving action, for me, is to read what I've already got. Then I see that it's a jewel, maybe rough, but it's got so much potential. Heck, there are even sentences...or paragraphs!...that sing. This thing's going to be great. If I could just get through this scene. What the heck am I going to do with this scene?

So, after muttering curses about men and how they all too often bliss their way through life not recognizing how hard it really is, probably because they've got some woman making their damn sandwiches for them, I decided to check out this Ray Bradbury quote. Surely Mr. Bradbury isn't really saying that writing is pure, unadulterated joy (unadulterated by hard work).

And you'll notice in Tom's quote, there is an ellipsis. Damn those ellipses. You've got to really watch out for those little buggers. Here's the actual quote:

"I want your loves to be multiple. I donít want you to be a snob about anything. Anything you love, you do it. Itís got to be with a great sense of fun. Writing is not a serious business. Itís a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it. Ignore the authors who say ĎOh, my God, what word? Oh, Jesus ChristÖ,í you know. Now, to hell with that. Itís not work. If itís work, stop and do something else."

And this, I can agree with. Do the things (plural) that you love doing. But if you're constantly carping over the smallest element of that activity (I'd call it work, because it is actually work--creative, rewarding, joyful work, yes. But work.), then don't do it.

If you labor over every verb, frustrated that you can't get it right, are you having any fun at all? Just write the damn thing. If you're rewriting the heck out of your manuscript, you're writing your own voice out of it. And that means you're writing all the passion and individuality out of it.

Just write it. Then read it and listen for its song. It has one. It has to have one.

But if you don't like the song you're singing, maybe you should go do something else.

Wayward Cat Publishing has put its books up on BookDaily.com. If you love to read, you can sign up for emails from BookDaily and they will send samples of books to your inbox with an option to purchase. You can also browse samples right at the website. Authors can have samples of their books sent out to Book Daily's thousands of subscribers for $49 a month. We're thinking about it here...thinking. Would it be worth it?

I have to admit, the main thing that makes me hesitate is that you don't just sign up for one month at a time. You sign up, and when you want to stop the service, you have to do so "in writing." I hate that "in writing" proviso wherever I find it. If I can't just log on and click "stop," I don't really want to get involved. But maybe... For now, though, the books are simply there.

Here are the links for Zombie Revolution and Children of Path.

Another resource I'm using is GoodReads. But to have your book in the general population of books, it has to be listed by a librarian. Still, authors can put samples of their work on the site; people can read them and "like" them. I can't say if it's worth it at this point or not.

Today I donated one copy of each of my books to Palm Bay High School. They're having a book drive right now for the teachers' classrooms. If any of my fellow local authors are interested, and have age-appropriate books, just drop them off at the front office.

Wayward Cat Publishing is up and running. The following is a brief and exciting history of this endeavor.

I've been a writer since middle school when I wrote my first book. I have no recollection of it; no doubt it was awful. In high school I wrote short stories (had one published in Impetus, the high school journal of poetry and prose) and another novel.

This second novel, I remember. The main character was Sherland. Yes, I made her a country. She had long, straight, shiny, black hair (the opposite of my wavy, often frizzy, blonde). Sherland was stunningly beautiful (also opposite of the author). After her mother's death, she moved to the east coast to live with her father (who had gray eyes...uh huh, that's right), her step-sister, -brother, and -mother. She promptly tried out for the cheerleading squad and made it, naturally, to the fury of her step-sister, whose spot she'd taken.

Lots of conflict at the get-go.

The love interest was Greg. He was obviously also the love interest of the step-sister. I wish I could remember her name; it was probably a name I didn't like. Sherland, who was sweet and kind, (opposite the author?), took on an unpopular girl, made her over, and she became popular. Then she turned on our lovely Sherland and joined forces with the evil step-sister.

In the end, Greg was crossing the street to tell Sherland how much he loved her, and as Sherland watched from an upstairs window at the house, the step-sister, upset about another awful thing our heroine had done to her, ran him down with the car. It was raining, though. And she was crying. So, it was an accident. Really. At the hospital, the last person Greg wanted to see before he died was Sherland. Not his parents. It's a YA novel.

And with his last dying breath....I can't remember what he said.

Let's not forget the father with the gray eyes. Sherland and he had been at odds since she moved in. It must have been difficult trying to fit in with your dad's new family and I can't imagine I explored that aspect very much, being immature and never having experienced such a thing. But at least I had the good sense to put the father and daughter at odds. At some point, either after Greg's demise or shortly before, the man fell down the stairs. And when our Sherland realized how much she loved her father, his gray eyes turned to blue.

O-M-G. Could I tell a story or what?

Then I discovered alcohol.

Cut to the time when I'm, like, 50. I've published a non-fiction book with Llumina press on rationalism and atheism. I've continued to dabble in fiction, and even written a couple of books. Over the course of 30-some odd years of writing, we can only assume it has improved. My books and short stories found a tad bit of interest from the powers that be--good rejections, but no takers. And then it dawned on me (probably after reading Dean Wesley Smith's blog) that I didn't need a publisher anymore...not even for fiction.

Wayward Cat Publishing was born. My husband, George, is in charge of art. He drew the logo, and helps with some book cover art. He is also the computer expert and helps with formatting problems that plague me.

Now that two of my books (Children of Path and Zombie Revolution) are out and selling at Amazon, on Kindle, and other electronic devices, I look back and realize that I've broken all the rules. But I would highly recommend doing so to others. Sure, listen to what they tell you. And take what sounds right for you. Leave the rest and stop worrying about it. Here are some of the rules I was given:

1. Be a drunk.
Okay, not a rule, really. But seriously. When I was a teenager, this was the vision of a writer in my head: A desk in a dark room lit by a dim lamp. An ashtray filled with butts and one lit cigarette. A typewriter. (You remember those, don't you?) And a bottle of some kind of booze. This is odd, really, as my preference was for beer. You see, I was already breaking rules.

2. Polish those prose. Polish the hell out of them.
Or, in another words, strip them of your heart and soul.

3. Join a critique group.
Right. This isn't your book--it belongs in committee. Go over it line by line, word by word, and let's all make it work.

4. You must, absolutely must, hire a copy-editor.
For me, hiring a copy-editor is a lot like taking my book to a critique group. Why would I need someone else to do my job? Yes, it's difficult to find errors and typos. But it's my job to write clean copy. It's part of what writing is all about. If you can't do it, by all means, get someone to do it for you. But if you can't edit, or rewrite, or, heck, come up with a plot, who's going to do that?

5. Get an agent.
For the life of me I can't understand why writers hire someone who doesn't write and doesn't publish to tell them how to rewrite their books and then give them fifteen percent of their profits (forever) to put it in front of an editor. Why do we do this?

6. Find a publisher.
Well, certainly when I started out in this game, there were only three routes to take. 1. Traditional (or what they're calling legacy now) publishing. 2. Vanity publishing. That's where you pay some people a lot of money and they produce your book for you and it costs a ridiculous amount of money. And 3. Self-publishing. Here you went to a printer and did the whole thing yourself and then had boxes of books sent to your house.

Back in the day, the only good way to go was traditional. But that's just not where it's at anymore. Is it? So, I didn't do that one either. I'm not ruling it out. I'm not saying that I wouldn't take a good contract if one presented itself to me. But, with traditional publishing you give up a lot. Money, for one thing. Rights to your work. Control--control over the manuscript, control over the title and the cover. We don't have to do that anymore and I think the world is better for it.

So, I'm a rule-breaker. I'm a rebel. And like everything else in life, practice makes perfect. We here at Wayward Cat Publishing are practicing the art of waywardness and the craft of writing what we please, naming it what we want, creating our own covers, and offering it all up to the world of readers.

Sure, copy-editing is hard. Formatting is hard. Covers are hard. Blurbs are hard. Marketing is hard. But it's also thrilling!
Go wayward, my friends!


And that's the end of our integration. Back to our regular blog--now filled no doubt with some redundancy.

I was interviewed this afternoon for a newspaper feature in The Hometown News. Very scary stuff, interviewing. My motto going in was simply, be yourself. What else can one do? I've tried being other people, it never works.

I remember as a child, I didn't have a good relationship with myself. I didn't think people liked me the way I was. I can remember figuring out what I was going to "be like" before going to family get-togethers where I would spend time with my cousins, whom I deemed much prettier, more popular, and better all-round than me. I had to make myself into someone different, someone better. It never, ever worked. I always ended up being "stupid old me" (in my eyes, then).

The last time my high school reunion came around...last summer?...someone started up a website for us and we re-introduced ourselves. My first try was downright morose. I talked about how awkward and depressed I was in school. Someone actually emailed me and said, basically, "What are you talking about? I don't remember you that way at all."

It doesn't matter, of course, how others see us. It matters only how we see ourselves. If we see ourselves as personable, confident, and funny, we'll come off that way.

Wait a minute. I just contradicted myself. In high school I was a complete wreck, but few people knew it, apparently. Now, I'm a confident, personable...oh, dear. Oh, dear, oh dear. Well, we'll just have to wait until Friday to see how the interview went!

Well, the publishing has begun. Children of Path: The Kell Stone Prophecy Book One is available in paperback, on Kindle, and via other electronic devices through Smashwords. All the above goes for Zombie Revolution, too! [Our books are no longer distributed by Smashwords. They are available at various retail locations in print and digital. You can find the basic listings at our website: Wayward Cat Publishing.

You know, I didn't really intend to publish Zombie Revolution at all. And then, when I reread it and thought, "why not," I only planned to release it as an ebook. But my mentor, Dean Wesley Smith said that would be stupid. (Not to me--he doesn't even know me--but on his blog.) So, I was on again with the "why not" and there you have it. Zombies. Who knew?

But not only that...I have another idea for a D.D. Charles book. So, I guess I'm a paranormal humor writer now.

I am concerned that I wear too many pen names. Readers like to find more books by authors they like. But I am adamant against publishing in different genres under the same name. So, I'm pushing Wayward Cat Publishing as much as I can.

Well, I have four books due out in 2013. So, it's off to work. You may not hear from me again for a long time. If you do, I'll be hearing your voice in my head saying, "get back to work!" And thank you for that.

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the Zumba Instructors Convention at the Peabody Hotel and Orange County Convention Center. While I enjoyed the visit from the Rockettes, the Daddy Yankee concert, the fabulous Zumbathon for Party in Pink, and the march of the Peabody ducks, the best part for me was the keynote speaker for the event: Kathy Najimy, who has apparently lost a bit of weight recently and credits her Zumba classes.

She gave us a funny, inspiring message of inclusiveness and confidence and perseverance. She said that someone (I'm sure she named the person, but I can't recall who it was) told her once that if you write a book and no one wants to publish it, find a printer, start a publishing company. Do it yourself.

Naturally, I thought she was talking directly to me. Kathy Najimy was speaking to me!

Wayward Cat Publishing is striving to put out my first book, The Kell Stone Prophecy: Book One by the end of September. Shortly after that, Zombie Revolution will debut.

I have a lot of work to do.

We lost our logo cat, JJ, this past May; it was tragic. I still think of him when I pass various spots in the house, or when his litter mate requires extra attention.

I've been fast and furious with fiction lately and have been lax at blogging, but I'm holding my own.

My first novel, The Kell Stone Prophecy Book One, is coming soon from Wayward Cat Publishing. Once that is put to print, I will have no choice but to finish the series. It's always good to have a deadline looming. Isn't it?

As always, check out the fiction page for more blog and my book list.

The highlight of the Space Coast Writers' Conference this year was The Nardini Sisters. They presented two workshops on publishing with CreateSpace and marketing on Amazon. They were engaging, funny, and very helpful. They wrote and self-published The Underwear Dare. It's a fabulous book for kids--lots of vomit and farts.

At dinner the evening after I sat in on their presentations, one of them mentioned that boys eventually grow out of their immature love of fart jokes and potty humor. I said, "No they don't." My husband's favorite word is "duty," always interpreted by him as "doody."

So when I purchased their book from the author store, I had one of them write "doody," and the other was kind enough to draw a picture of a steaming pile. Wonderful people!

I have much work to do, and so very little time to do it. I'm threatening myself with a time-clock. And I'm serious.

I've been so curious about the title of that horrible, horrible book I couldn't finish reading. I think the description I gave (about a perfectly beautiful woman who had a perfect singing voice--and let me add, she was so beautiful everyone turned to look at her every time she entered any room) was for the book Star, by Danielle Steel. I didn't finish reading that one, either.

But I was thinking of another book and I can't remember anything about it now, except that it was awful. It would have been in hardcover in about 1987. There, that's all I know. I should go to the bookstore and amuse the clerks.

"I'm looking for a novel."
"Wonderful, what is the title?"
"I don't recall the title or the author. But it was a romance novel, except I'm pretty sure it wasn't found in the romance section. It was hardcover in 1987. And it might have been white, with some purple on it."

LOL. Yes. People really do ask bookstore clerks to find books for them when they know absolutely nothing about them.

Speaking of bookstore clerks, I have something to get off my chest. It's been bugging me for over twenty years.

I used to manage a bookstore. One day, a woman came in with a hardcover book that she'd received as a gift from a friend. She didn't like it and wanted a refund or credit. She had no receipt. I looked that book up from here to Sunday and could not find it. I was pretty sure it was a remainder. It was one of those books we'd have in a big bin in the store that would be marked down to a dollar, then to fifty cents, and then I don't remember what we did with them. Maybe they were free.

I tried to explain to this woman that the book she had was probably not worth fourteen or fifteen dollars that was on the jacket, and the only way I could find out about it would be to call the home office for advice. But by that time she was livid and stormed out of the store.

A month or so later, she was back again and made a purchase. She mentioned something to the clerk who checked her out about the book being for a friend and hoping she'd like it. The clerk said, "she can always return it." And the woman called out, as she left, "I've heard that before!"

That always bugged me. It bugs me because I never told that lady the truth: that her "friend" bought her a book for a dollar or less and passed it off as a new title.

Welcome to the new year! I finished the two books on my schedule last year. I have three books planned this year with a fourth working in my head. Maybe I'll get them all finished.

Check out the Oxford word of the year. Mostly check out the comments section in which a lot of people (much like me) argue over whether it's defriend or unfriend and over the true meaning of the term teabagger. Nuts.

Don't yell at me, but I've decided to go back to teaching Zumba. I originally stopped teaching because I felt I spent too much time practicing when I could be writing. But, as it turns out, I am an afternoon writer. I did write a few mornings, but I spent most "gearing up" for the writing session on Facebook and Farm Town. Well, I'd rather be dancing! So, I'm back to "having it all." (Not to mention the fact that I regained 10 pounds after quitting Zumba. And now here it is a week before the holidays officially start and I have to lose 10 before I can, in good conscience, gain the holiday 5. Dang it.)

My latest novel is almost complete! I should be sending it out next month. I really enjoyed this one: zombies! The zombie/vampire craze may be over, but when you have a book in you that wants to get out, well, you let it out.

Today is Towel Day, by the way. So sad.

I've decided to read Doctor Zhivago again. This may come as a surprise, if you read my earlier review, which basically stated, 'this is the worst book I've ever read.' But, yes, I will read it again. I think I may be able to appreciate the book a lot more after a review of Russian history, now that I think I know what it's actually about.

I was finally able to see the film and I liked it very much. But the film is not like the book. The film is the story of a quiet, emotional man, struggling against the revolution and between the two women he loves. The film is a love story. Man marries woman, man meets soul mate, oops. That sort of story. And in the end, of course, we learn he has a bad heart (aww) and he sees Lara! He tries to get off the bus! He manages! He chases after her! He collapses! (kind of funny collapse) And dies! Oh, the sadness.

Well, that's not at all like the book. The book is about, in my opinion, a weak man--an opportunist, in the way that a person floats from one opportunity to the next--a man struggling against a changing world. He's married with a family. Then he takes up with a beautiful woman. There is no mention of love or desire. We find out he's been sleeping with Lara almost offhandedly, and at the same time we find out he plans to end the affair. Zhivago is conscripted into the Red Army, and after he escapes, he only takes up with Lara again because his wife and family have been deported. He sends Lara away to save her life.

Then Zhivago, growing weaker and weaker, takes up with another woman and has another family. He dies getting off a bus. His death is in no way meaningful or monumental. There is nothing romantic about it.

And that is why I think I will read the book again. I have a suspicion that Pasternak did not intend to write one of the greatest love stories of all time, simply because he clearly did not do that. I think Pasternak may have written a book about a man never being allowed to become what he could have become. Pasternak's story isn't about a beautiful soul and love, it's bare, tedious, melancholy, downright sad--it's, frankly, human. And that's the kind of book I'd like to read.

I was over at the Lipstick Chronicles reading about Lisa Daily's crush on Shaun Cassidy (snork). I was going to reply but there were already 68 responses and they all sound like they know each other, don't they? I guess part of me is still stuck in wallflower land.

Anyway. I was going to reply about two things. First, she only had one poster of said crush? Pfflbt. That's childish. Every inch of my wall space was plastered with posters of Donny Osmond. His eyes moved and followed me around the room. He watched me dress and primp and pick my nose! Oh, Donny. All we've been through together! Donny was only four years older than I was (still is, I suppose), so my chances of marrying him were much greater than Lisa's of marrying Shaun. I had a little record player over in the corner of my room and my mother had a little collection of fancy bottles. I mean a collection of fancy little bottles. And I used to turn this particular one upside-down and use it for a microphone and pretend to be a singer, just like Donny (only female--wait, no, uh, yeah).

And, I was going to reply about the PG-13 film that she wouldn't let her six-year old daughter see. Child. My youngest son was 2 1/2 when he would beg us to let him watch 'great big T-rex get out the boat and eat the guys', aka Jurassic Park 2, The Lost World. And he's not warped a bit. Strange. Sarcastic. Possibly devoid of true compassion. But hey, he gets that from his father, not Hollywood. (snork)

Let the kid watch the movie. She's too young to understand the things she shouldn't understand anyway. But that's me and my weird family. Maybe it's a good thing that our weirdness doesn't spread too far. Then what would the world be? I mean, I might have to be sociable if everyone was cool like me, right?


Announcing the winner of Dianna's Next Top Cat Model! JJ!

JJ easily beat out his competitors: Squeakers, who was too large and black and looked like something out of a B-rated horror flick; Rice Cake, who kept giving the photographer 'Southern Madam' instead of intellectual feline; and Tiger, who wanted nothing whatsoever to do with a book or a seat by the window...until the shoot was over, of course.

So, congratulations, JJ (also known as Jeffrey Junior, to his owner, Jeffrey, who clearly has something of an ego). Your reward is fame, such as you can get here on my little website.

I still have a bit of work to do on the site, but thank you for reading as it is!




My blog
The Sunshine State
Favorite Authors
Craig Lancaster
John Dufresne
Christopher Moore
Some Most Excellent Books (in no particular order)
Theory of Remainders
The Book Thief
I Was There the Night he Died
A Separate Peace
Unraveling Oliver
The Giver
600 Hours of Edward
Louisiana Power & Light
Requiem, Mass: A Novel
Hood, Scarlet, Tuck
Vanity Fair
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
Anne of Green Gables
Practical Demonkeeping
A Suitable Boy
A Dirty Job
Nicholas Nickleby