Sunday, May 22, 2011

Horror of Horrors

It's been a blog fest for me this week with all the chatter about the children's book "Who Stole Baby Ruth." Thank you for the kind comments on my artwork. I'm still on schedule for a June 1st or 15th release (I haven't decided yet)

I've switched gears again, are you surprised? While I'm still hard at work on "Surviving Hank," "The Mayan Serpent" remix, creating artwork for the next in the children's series "mr. Goodbar Goes to the Hospital" I couldn't pass up the opportunity to let my creative talents get really nasty. <wicked evil grin>

A conspiracy buff tidbit came to my attention, House bill HR 465. Wait you haven't read that one yet? Let me tell you a little bit about it. It sets up refugee camps in ten states. One of them being mine in Georgia. Madison to be exact. To hear Jesse Ventura (wrestler turned governor, turn conspiracy spouter) who has visited these sites noticed the concertina wire is positioned to keep people in, not out. Hmm, sounds a little like WWII with the concentration camps to me. But how would Americans feel about that? How would you get Americans to voluntarily go to one?

I am sure you have heard through the news, social media, radio or wherever...the world was supposed to come to an end at 6PM yesterday.  Well, I'm still here and writing. Fox news broke a story from the CDC about a Zombie Apocalypse. (Yes, I know it was a hype for hurricane preparedness). All these things were running around in my head while I took a long, hot bubble bath yesterday. Yeah! down time...sort of. My mind started putting together a story. Of course, I'm a writer and that's what all writers do, right?

The whole zombie thing streaked through social media sites. "The zombies are coming!" I in fact also posted this with the CDC link. It hit a chord. My children even called me! They feared their old mother had gone off the deep end. Not that me doing shenanigans like this is anything new to them. I've been a writer for most of their lives.

Okay, so I might write horrific scenes in my adult novels, but to write horror? Never done it, and thought I never would until yesterday. I got out of the tub and sat down at my computer and laid out the premise for a story. Tentatively titled, "Zombie Apocalypse:Redemption. I got my pens and watercolors out and played with a cover. To the right is what I came up with. Bloody colored, clouded moon/sun (oooh ahhh!), streaked text, cityscape, one lonely light shining through a window, and of course, a zombie. (shivers!).

I estimate it to be a novella of about 25,000 words by the time I finish. It's was 10,000 words as of yesterday. Yes, I typed that many words yesterday and another 5,000 today so far. I'm on a roll. I am estimating.completion in about three weeks with the editing. It will only be available through I will keep you posted on this. As with my tag line at the happens.

I can hear y'all screaming, "Jo, make up your mind on what you want to write!" My answer is this.. Why? There are so many new things out there and so many genres to play with, Why not try them all if they interest you, and you can do it well? But yes, I understand. If I was still a standard published author, I'd be writing in one genre only, but the fact of the matter is I'm not.

Will I make a huge splash in any genre pond by writing this way? Nope, but little ripples in a big pond can still rock a boat. I don't relish the thought of being tied to one genre at this point of my life. My nonfiction is my nonfiction. My children's books will always be geared for children. My suspense is carried through all genres I write whether it is espionage novels with a touches of romance, & chick lit, or southern fiction with touches of romance & chick lit, or horror with touches of chick lit.

I guess if I had to be catagorized in one genre it would be chick lit now that I look at it. That's only because I am female and that's the way my mind works. All  my protagonist are female. They face insurmountable odds, and come out on top. I basically believe in happy endings so the end of any book works out this way.

Do I hope to be discovered? Not really. Do I hope to be standard published again? Possibly. Do I write for my fans? Nope, I write for me and the love of storytelling. Can I tell a story which will grip you, twist you around, and then leave you panting for more? Oh, yeah I can!

As always keep writing and loving the Lord.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Who Stole Baby Ruth?

Thought y'all might like a look at the drawings I've done for Who Stole Baby Ruth. It's a shame color printed books are so expensive to produce.  The images in the book are in black and white, and basic line drawings. These are not in any particular order.

 This is cover choice #1 (Left to Right) Officer nestle Crunch, Baby Ruth, and Mayor mr. Goodbar of Sweet Haven. After spending a full day figuring this one out, I was thinking that a simpler version might be better.
Chapter 7
S'Mores the Merrier

Pictured Mayor mr. Goodbar, Baby Ruth, Miss Almond Joy, Baby Ruth's teacher.
 Chapter 2

The Gang's All Here

Pictured are the members of the Reeses Pieces gang.
 Chapter 3
Snitches in Stitches

Mr. Butterfingers, as the snitch
 Chapter 4
Crunch Time
Pictured 3 Musketeers, as private detectives.
 Alternate cover - I actually like this one better than the first one. It is simpler in design and shows more detail to the faces instead of the town.

Mayor mr. Goodbar and Baby Ruth
Chapter 5
Cat-astrophes Happen

Mrs. Twix and her cat Caramelo
 Chapter 6
Time Marches to a Different Drummer

Pictured the world famous band and home town boys, the M&M's (not shown is their back-up singers, the SugarBabies).
Chapter 1
Let the Chips Fall Where They May

Pictured Officer Nestle Crunch in front of Mrs. Mars Bar's Bakery.

Now that you have an idea of some of the pictures...this is the short synopsis. The target audience is 6 to12 year-olds. Of course, many adults like it too, so I guess you could say it's for the young at heart.

Officer Nestle Crunch thought he had his hands full with the charity concert  with the hottest band, the M&M's and their backup singers, the SugarBabies, coming to town. When Mayor mr. Goodbar's daughter, Baby Ruth, is kidnapped the town of Sweet Haven will never be the same.. Will they find her in time?

As always keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Changes Coming!

Well my last post had me firmly on the "pity pot" and let me tell you I was wallowing in it. But today is a new day and being pro-active is the key.  I've now added a services page to my blog. I've been giving away my creative talents for too long..ten years or more. So now to the list of phenomenal other talents (pastor, author, chef) I include book trailer video production, editorial comment and review, and manuscript formatting for self-publishers.  I came to realization I should be paid for services I do. It was a DOH! moment for me.

I am also creating a Publisher logo and imprint for All genres accepted. I'm not leaving anybody out who wants to join. Targeted start date is June 1st. I still haven't come up with a name yet. Any suggestions?

I am currently doing all new illustrations and cover art for another self-published manuscript in a totally different genre, are you surprised? It is a children's story or actually about four children stories I wrote with my grandchildren with a fifth and sixth one on the planning schedule. The first is "Who Stole Baby Ruth." This series uses characters names based on candies all out children eat too much of.  Age group is 6-12 although there have been plenty of adults who have enjoyed these books in the past. What makes this series of children's books different is that it covers issues in child friendly format which affects children. This first one covers child abduction.

Other titles in this series and publication dates are as follows. They are meant to help children and are issues my children and grandchildren have or are facing. Although I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or medical professional I am a parent and grandparent. These are not picture books although they do have some illustrations. They are chapter books on average four to eight chapters per book. Each book is about 25-50 pages long and will be published through CreateSpace/Amazon. These are all new revamped stories I've shared with my own grandchildren over the years. The dates mentioned at this point are for my reference and are not set in stone.

Fall 2011
“mr. Goodbar® goes to the Hospital”
How to explain to children when a parent goes into the hospital. Often they are scared and confused by when a parent goes into the hospital for surgeries and illness. I wrote this for a friend who had a three-year old daughter and she was going into the hospital for a hysterectomy.

Winter 2011
“Miss Almond Joy:®: Stepmother or Stepmonster?”
Help children get a healthy view of remarriage issues and stepchildren.

Spring 2012
“Milky Way® Gets a Divorce”
Helping children get a healthy view of divorcing parents. Children often feel that they are the cause of parents splitting up when actually it has nothing to do with them.

Summer 2012
“The M&M’s® & the SugarBabies®”
Just for fun. Thought everyone would like to see what a music road trip was like.

Fall 2012
“The Monsters Under Baby Ruth’s® Bed”
Night terrors and peaceful night’s sleep. A lot of times children fear night and darkness at bedtime.

This is not to say I will stop writing espionage suspense, southern fiction, science fiction. These are still in my love to write category. They just take longer to write, rewrite, edit, and publish.

As always keep writing and loving the Lord.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Frustration and What in the World Am I Doing?

It has been a rough week and life is kicking me in the butt and I'm venting here... I've gone through mid-terms, watched my bank account dwindle into double digits and bills pile up. A friend of mine had an interesting way of putting this situation.  You've borrowed from Peter to pay Paul and now both are broke. I'm basically jobless except for volunteering my services as a pastor, educator, or editor, and no one is going to hire and actually PAY a woman of my age for a job.  I was rejected by McDonald's!

On top of all this, I'm finding the only way to get my books in people's hands is to offer them free. Such is the life of a true indie author. I'm suffering from what is commonly called artistic frustration or starving artist syndrome. It's when you KNOW you have an excellent product and you are trying to make others aware of it. I offer my books for free to military's the least I can do for our service men and women. This is my largest market so far.

I've social media'ed myself into a part not the buyers.I've offered coupons for free Fridays for the month of May and watched my numbers go no where. (Message me for the e-book code)I've followed every guideline I could get my hands on. I've tweeted it. I've added it to my messengers. I've emailed. I've Googled it. I've Stumbled it. I've Dug it. I've LinkedIn it. I've Facebooked it. I've myspaced it. I've SheWrites it. I've added it to the signature in every message I've posted. I've hit every place I could advertise and promote for free. I've created trailers to hit the youtube viewers. I've press released to all the regional newspapers. I've created and distributed bookmarks, flyers, and posters.

I've sold two books...count them one...two in the past month. At $0.84 per copy that's $1.68 cents...that's less than $0.01 an hour for labor (that's just in advertising)...oh wait, there is taxes to be paid, Internet services to deduct, power bill, printing costs like paper and ink.  Well, I'm in the hole big-time! What kind of marketing professional am I when I can't sell my own books? What in the devil am I doing? I have to be certifiably INSANE! Let me put the calculator away before I really get going and see how much I didn't earn while writing these books.

No book clubs here to promote at. No bookstore is willing to let an indie author in to even do a book signing. Just missed the author's reading/sale at the one public library in town. I cannot travel more than day trips and with gas prices the way they are I'd have to sell a couple hundred copies a trip to even make it profitable. Ah, the joys of living in a small town. About the only thing I haven't tried is running down Newcastle Street butt naked screaming at people to buy one...wait that would only serve to make people throw up and get me arrested...Nope, can't do that.

I know, I know it's brand building. It's making people aware of who you this blog. But after months of this, I'm tired, beaten, and FRUSTRATED!  I'm not giving up, but I've spent far too much time doing all this instead of writing. It's is not a you build-they will come living.

Do I have thousands of dollars to pump into advertising...nope (remember the double digit bank account). I had thought to buy my paperbacks from CreateSpace and sell them at the local writer's conference in June, or even grab a booth at the local festival...wrong! At this point even ten copies of one book would break the my bank account. My account is screaming at me and teetering on the edge of red. I found myself in tears today just balancing my checkbook! The old "you gotta have money to make money" keeps biting me in the butt. That's when I knew I was seriously frustrated. I'm sure all you eleven followers know my feelings. I didn't self-publish to get rich, but I also did not self-publish to just provide free reading material for everyone either.

I emailed a friend, Jack McDevitt, and he agreed it was a rough way to go. Of course, he's been published in standard publishing for years and he and his wife are great. I think if I really had the choice I would have gone back to standard publishing, but that isn't even an option right now. I'm thinking about why I am doing this to myself. The answer is clear. I do it because I have to. I know I'm a good writer. I know how to tell a good story.

BUT is there anybody listening?

For good measure I'll promote it here again-
Both available at and
The Sacrificial Lamb
CreateSpace Link
Smashwords Link 
Facebook Author Page
Lamb Trailer

Escape from Second Eden
CreateSpace Link
Smashwords Link
Facebook Author Page
Eden Trailer
Author Page Amazon

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Video & Editing

This week has flown by! If you notice I posted a new video on the right hand side of the page.  This one is for "Escape from Second Eden." This project, being my second, went a lot faster than the first. Four days total. It's amazing how quickly it went that I know the program to produce it with.

The same thing goes for writing. You research and struggle as you write your first, second or maybe even your third book.  Editing it all into proper English grammar, making sure each line is supposed to be where it is, etc.  It's a process that takes forever or at least, it seems that way. But each time you correct your own mistakes you learn.  By learning the proper way to write, you become a better writer so with each progressive novel you make less mistakes in the beginning. As a result, each subsequent novel you write becomes easier to edit.

Writing is an art form. Whether it is blogging, journaling, writing nonfiction, fiction, article,or an essay. It is a creative process. I know you've heard practice makes perfect a thousand times or more in your life...I know I have. The same goes for writing. It is a learned process. Stop being so hard on yourself for not getting it right the first time.  Nobody ever does which is why publishing houses have editors. Everyone dreads the red pen process.A first, second or third draft is usually covered in arrows, strikeouts, and comments and even after all this and all is are still making changes.

I call it tweaking a work to death. I'm a master at this. I'm never satisfied with what I write even when others say it's perfect. I look at the copy yet again. What's worse is I do it to everyone else I read too.  God help me! I can't stop! I reach a point in my own writing where I say enough...usually after a couple major rewrites and about the fifth tweaking pass, I put the whole thing aside for a week or so and work on something else. At this point I'm tired of reading the same thing over and over again.  No matter what you are reading or how exciting it is you start making mistakes and over looking mistakes at this point. It becomes like reading text books in high school, a boring, mundane act of reading. Put it away before you throw it away.

Okay, a couple weeks have passed. A lot of new ideas from the storyline you have been working on flows through your mind. You are recharged by writing something new. You have your zip back and you are bouncing with excitement. Now, is the time to bring out the copy you stuck in the drawer (file folder). Print it out double spaced lines. Now, one final time for this manuscript, and grab your red pen. Read and edit carefully. Then make the changes to your copy. This should be the final copy (not draft). You are done! Finish! Finito! Congratulations!

I spend quite a bit of time blogging about editing because all writers know their story. It's the mechanics which go along with the storytelling which trip most would-be authors up. Almost every agent and publisher out there online or publishing house stress the importance of editing well. In fact, I've seen this on every site on the web as a requirement before submission.

A word to the wise here, do not hire an English teacher to edit your novel. Hire a fellow author, join a writing/critique group, or some other outside source if you choose not to edit your book yourself. The main reason is an English teacher will make your grammar perfect, but you lose your voice. Teachers of English do not teach English because they love to write. Most teachers teach English because they love to read. I know I will probably take a few hits on this previous statement, but it's true. Very few English teachers are also authors. Your writing is written in your style. Dialogue is almost never spoken in perfect English. While your writing, when edited by an English teacher, will be grammatically all likelihood so will your dialogue.  Dialogue makes your characters come alive to the reader. More on dialogue in another post.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I have been busy if you noticed the changes on my page.  Thank you so much Zan Marie for helping me revamp my blog into a website. The instructions I read in the help files were like an alien language to me.  You made it simple. Thank you, thank you, thank you!