Sunday, September 29, 2013

Conversation with Cubbie

"Cubbie" is my three+ year-old granddaughter. She and her sister have been spending quite a bit of time with me this weekend as their parents execute a move into a new home. She followed me into the utility room this afternoon, and I boosted her up onto the washer as I removed towels from the dryer and folded them. The following conversation ensued:

"Where's your daddy? Do you have a daddy?"
(I knew she didn't mean my father.) "Yes, he lives in Heaven now."
"Why? Did he die?"
"Yes, but I'm sure he's watching you and Hanna and thinking what sweet girls you are."
"Did he get hurt?"
(He died in a plane crash when her daddy, my oldest son, was 7 1/2.)
"That happens sometimes. But I know he's watching you."
The small bottom lip came out, and she clutched polka-dot blanket for comfort.
"I want him to hold me."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Reviewing the Reviews

I'm gratified that so many people have taken time to review the Penelope books. It's plain a reader either really, really liked the books or really really didn't! And that's no surprise at all.

The main 'complaint' seems to be Penelope's sticking to her moral principles i.e. not hopping in bed with Sam. I don't apologize for that at all. The other beef is her use of the by-word 'blessed' (pronounced bless-ed NOT blest). One person even said she didn't appreciate it being used as a 'curse word', and I regret it was perceived as such. Almost everyone has a favorite 'by-word', and that happened to be Penelope's. Unfortunately, the f-word and the s-word are totally acceptable these days, but I'll guarantee they'll never find their way into my books.

I had a one-star review from someone who admitted she hadn't even read the book because of lack of time! Also, poor Penelope has been lambasted as a 'prude'. One reviewer never mentioned the book at all, only went on and on about how much she would pay for a book of a certain length! 

The good news is, the books have sold over 11,000 copies. While I'm sorry some people felt their money was wasted, I'm delighted the majority feel they've gotten good value for their buck(s).

The bottom line is, a variety of reviews are a good thing. Too many 5-stars, for example, almost make one wonder if they are from friends of the author. The bad with the good lets people see different views and make their decisions to buy or not buy based on those. And the line under that is, an author who puts herself 'out there' better have the hide of a rhinoceros!  Our books are our babies--but not everyone likes babies!

My approach to reviews is to only review if I can give at least a 3-star. The reasons are simple: (1) Some books are badly written, but at least the author made the effort, and I don't want to discourage her/him from trying again. (2) I might be offended by the subject matter (not reflected in the title)--e.g. graphic sex, obscenity, etc. However, many people are not offended by such, and I don't consider it my duty to 'preach' about it. (3) I might not actually understand the twists and turns of the story, but that doesn't mean someone else won't. So--if I can't be enthusiastic about a book, I try to be neutral--and if I can't do that in all honesty, I just let it go. My philosophy may be entirely wrong--but it's just the way it is.

I didn't expect to sell a large number of books and am still in a state of near-shock over the numbers. It's been a learning experience. Some people have mentioned typos, and I'm sure they are there despite all efforts to root them out. Those mentions are appreciated. I think everything is fixed in the print books, but who knows. I'll be working on the Kindle books one at a time in the near future.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to decide what else to 'put up'. Like the king who said, "My kingdom for a horse!", my wail is, "My kingdom for some TIME!"

Monday, September 16, 2013


It's a 10K day for Penelope. What else can I say except 'thank you' to all who have purchased/borrowed my little tales and also to those who have left reviews recommending them to other readers.

From everyone in Amaryillis, Arkansas, especially  Penelope, Jake, Mary Lynn, Harry, Mike, Millie, Shana, Rosabel, Brad, and--of course--Sam--

Thank you!

And Abijah adds his "Have a meow-onderful day!"

Monday, September 9, 2013

Another week...

No rest for the weary...or is it the wicked? This week promises to be busy as usual. I'm not complaining--well, maybe a little. The alternative of nothing to do isn't pleasant.

Today I have a lunch-conference with two other writers to discuss a proposal for a 'writers' college'.

Tomorrow I'm back to weeping, wailing, and gnashing my teeth over the genealogical publication, BUT this time I think I've come up with a fix.

Wednesday there's a board meeting for the genealogical group followed by lunch.

Thursday--a ME day! Massage followed by haircut!

Friday is a work-day at the Melting Pot Library (our genealogical library).

Today and Friday I'll be picking up the small person from school.

And then, what? A week-end?

I'm waiting for things to slow down a bit...I thought I was retired!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

It's the end of the road...

for Sam, Penelope, Jake, Brad, Rosabel, Mary Lynn, Harry, Shana, Peter, Mike, Millie, and all the inhabitants of tiny Amaryllis, Arkansas. The final book of the Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series, Sam's Last Stand, has debuted on You can find it here.

Am I sad to see them go? Well, I hope they'll hang around a bit longer so far as sales go, and that seems to be happening. But I'm very relieved that they are all UP and out of my hair! It's been a long summer trying to learn all the ins and outs of formatting and meeting self-imposed deadlines.

So what's next? Several volumes of short stories, The Kate Chronicles, which began as fan fiction for "The Big Valley" site and have been mainstreamed. Just before Christmas 1880, a passing hand discovers a newborn baby in the arms of her dead mother in a line shack on a Texas Panhandle ranch. On Christmas Eve, an older couple, Olivia and Dan Bancroft, see the baby and fall in love with her as quickly and as completely as they fell in love with each other only a few months earlier. They adopt her and take her home to Galveston, where she is raised with the best of everything--including love, discipline, and devotion. The stories focus on the highlights of her century-long life.

After that (and with some luck and hard writing) I'll complete The Dreamland Series. In the first book, Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland, thirty-year-old Trixie Collier Blake, widowed when her husband Major Ned Blake died in an Air Force training accident, returns to her hometown, Dreamland, Arkansas, to look into disposing of the building left to her by her grandfather, Quimby Loyd. It's empty since the departure of Stella and Letha Drake who ran a dress shop on the ground floor. And the town is changed. It's almost as if the people are afraid of something--or someone. As she investigates, she doesn't realize she's opening up a closed, dark chapter in the life of her estranged mother, Lorraine. She also meets Mitch Langworth, son of the mayor-elect and Lorraine's lover, and also a widower. Reconnecting with school chums, Rudy James and wife Delores Jefferson James, Trixie gets an unpleasant lesson in dirty politics--and murder. Two more books, Under the Sil'vry Moon and Come with the Lovelight Gleaming will complete the series--if Trixie survives that long!

But I'm ready for life to settle down a bit and to do some traveling, so I'm not setting any self-imposed deadlines on getting these books 'up'. They'll be there when they're there and not a minute sooner.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Locks are for honest people...

...or so my father always said. It's true, I suppose. In this day and age, the determination (or desperation) of a house-breaker can easily overcome the hindrance of a mere lock.

Still, I felt confident with deadbolts and the added security of non-monitored door alarms. I live in a wooded and somewhat isolated area, but I've lived in worse. Try the middle of Africa with no electricity, no phone communication, no near neighbors who spoke English...and I survived, thank you.

Given the current economic impetus to take what one can get, I might be safer there! Well, no, not really, but in the last year or two I've had occasion to think that the days of taking safety and security for granted is long gone. While I've always had smoke alarms, I really didn't plan on anything else.

Then, one morning, I woke to find that the local property owners' association, in all its great wisdom, had decided to open up the common property on the side of my house, extending past the back, for a walking trail--which is large enough for a vehicle to access. Hidden by the trees, one could enter the house from the back and load up. So--a security system became a semi-urgent necessity.

The company recommended to me came out and gave me an estimate, and we scheduled today for the installation. They are here now, and I am "exiled" to my study while they work. On the first visit, the rep assured me he'd walk me through how to use it. "I won't hand you an instruction book and leave," he said. 

I complained quite loudly about the violation of my security and privacy. (I will have to buy something to screen my deck from curious onlookers--more $$.) I was told, rather arrogantly IMO, that "they" (the POA) could do what it wanted to. Obviously.

However, I don't have time to stress over "these kinds" and am thankful I could put in the security system. I'll feel better when I travel--and I understand the monitored smoke alarm will get me a discount on my homeowners' insurance. This is good.

Penelope didn't even lock her doors at the B&B until Sam insisted, so I'm sure she didn't have a security system. LOL And by the way, in the first four days of September, Penelope has sold an additional 1200+ copies of the first four books! Book #6 is coming probably this weekend.  That's in addition to about 5100+ copies in August! I'm amazed and delighted. All those good readers make up for the attitude of certain people I have to deal with out here!

Oh, to be in Amaryllis, Arkansas! Sigh.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's September?

Wait, where did August go? For that matter, where did June and July go? It is really true that time flies when you're having fun--or just when you're getting old? Sigh.

It's been a productive summer. The Penelope books are launched. Number 5 goes up tomorrow, and Number 6 will follow as soon as possible. The first four have sold well over 5000 copies! I'm shocked, amazed, and surprised but nonetheless delighted.

I've enjoyed one day a week with my Small Person. In addition to other books--and books she's read to me--we've enjoyed The Secret Garden and Heidi. She even requested I read aloud while she ate her lunch!

The genealogical society's yearly publication, of which I'm the new editor, has taken up much time. That plus formatting the Penelope books has resulted in copious weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, but everything will come out all right in the end.

The fall has pleasant prospects--new writing projects, putting together (with two other writers) a proposal for a 'writer's college', and a new eight-week Bible study. In order not to miss two consecutive sessions, I've decided to take two or three short trips as opposed to the long trip I'd planned.

Christmas will bring Son #2 and our wee Sir Scrumptious--making great strides now that all those nasty hospital stays seem to be behind him, and he's no longer tethered to oxygen.

This is Liam, age 17 months.Isn't he a happy little fellow? And what's not to be happy about when one has so many people to love him and cheer him on! This was taken on an outing to the park--where he's 'parked' in the welcoming bend of an old mesquite tree.

Before I know it, a new year will arrive. Whew! Time flies when...well, let's just say time flies!