Category Archives: Publishing


When I was a little girl, there were so many things to do, but not when the weather was bad. If the day was nice, we were out in the yard playing, like all the kids where we lived. We didn’t have a television until I was five, so that was never an option. The only phone we had was an old black rotary that was a party line. Although always forbidden, you could lift the phone and listen to someone else’s conversation, but if you breathed or giggled, you would get yelled at and would have to just ease it down.

We did the usual, played with dolls or paper dolls. When we didn’t have any we cut out paper dolls from the newspaper or catalogs, colored pages in our coloring books, and argued over everything. Mother would stop and make the newspaper dolls whenever someone tore the others. She just fan pleated the sheet , went snip, snip and opened it out to girls or boys holding hands. Then we would color on some clothes with our crayons. No matter how hard we tried to cut them out, they never came out as perfect.

Sometimes we would play jack rocks. These worked great on the tile floor or outside on the porch. You had to bounce the ball and pick up a jack, then catch the ball until you had all ten in your hand. Next time pick them up by twos, then threes, etc. Think eight’s were usually my limit, before one or more of the jacks would leak out of my hand.

Boys never played jacks or dolls. But we always wanted to play marbles and they would never let us. They were no fun inside. Even on a smooth made bed, marbles didn’t roll right, not like outside in the dirt.

Then as now, my favorite thing was books. When I was little it was looking at the pictures and being read to. We didn’t have a lot of money and my parents felt toys were foolishness. We were always making things to play with and the toys or books you got at Christmas were special.

At school, I was so excited to learn to read. It was from the Dick and Jane series, with little Sally and Spot along for mischief. Can’t remember the cats name, but remember Miss Kelso holding an index card to cover all but one line while you read out, “See Spot Run. Run Spot Run,” and variations of the same.  I can remember having enough money saved and the thrill of buying my first book.

But the real magic came when I was old enough to walk up to town, about a mile, with my sisters. They would go to the dime store or drug store to spend their ten cents, but I always went to the library. It wasn’t a grand place, there was a gym in one half of the building and you could always hear someone bouncing a ball as they dribbled up and down the court. Can’t remember anyone yelling or carrying on, just the slap, slap of that ball and the stale smell that filtered into the room with its walls of shelves and books. My goal was to have my name on the card of every book in that room. But unlike this card, in ours, only the librarian stamped the date and wrote your name down.





I start every new year the same, making resolutions. The first month ends tomorrow and I have already cracked a few.

Image result for images cracked egg

Promised my husband I would buy no ice cream this year. Snuck in some vanilla ice cream bars on a trip to the store, rushed to hide them behind a frozen pot roast as soon as I got home. I’ll beg for mercy (if he finds them before I eat them). After all, in forty-eight years of marriage, he has never beaten me.

I took another blog challenge, and here I sit, two minutes before midnight and I need three more blogs. If I post this one (late) tonight, then I’ll only have to write two tomorrow, when I get home from swimming (to burn off the ice cream, I know, I know). Sometimes it is tough being a weak human. I do have high goals and good intentions but alas, I am a weak soul.


Nothing wild. I started reading a book on my tablet, then read some of my 800 emails. We went out to eat with friends tonight, something we never do. Have never been a social person, but she is another writer and it was such a special treat. We all talked so long, my husband and hers, she and I, that the little waitress came around three times to ask if we needed anything else.

I ate half a slice each of pecan and chocolate pie for desert. Still doing the 5:2 diet and fasted yesterday. It does say eat what you want the other five days – but I think I fractured the diet pretty good today. Might weigh tomorrow to see.

Tonight, instead of researching and writing, I sank into my recliner and indulged in two episodes of Antique Road Show. I always wonder why, as much junk as I’ve accumulated, I never see anything like it on the show. Unless it’s at the end where the people laugh about their not so valuable treasures.

Such a nice day.


Tomorrow I’ll be good. Write a blog when I get home from the Y, eat a salad, work on my new book, and write another blog. At least, that is what I intend to do.

th2b9fv1pm  Not sure this really works, look at POTUS.

Of course one can look at it this way. th54l9h4xc

But, I’m always prone to regrets. Think these two point to the truth as I’ve always known it. Have found my greatest joy comes from not being a slacker, but by making a list and crossing off things as done at the end of the day.


Of course, I’ve finished another post, so not totally bad. Deleted a bunch of emails today and my new book, Fires Down the Shenandoah, Joanna of Virginia is finally live on Amazon. Instead of feeling guilty, I’m headed to bed, early for me, to finish reading that little novel and get some sleep. Will close with my special plea.









Tonight we have company. Trying to be sociable, but dying to finish the new updates received back from two Beta readers. No matter how hard I try, there are always little errors that I’ve missed. Love having friends and readers who will help me spot and correct these. Does that mean the book is now perfect? Well, for tonight it is.

Love the satisfaction of having a list and crossing off today’s objectives. Of course there is still the email to deal with, from last week’s list. Now over 1100 and something. Would be funny, if I hadn’t been deleting two or three hundred a day the last couple of days. So tempting to just dump into the round can and look at a clean window. For now, will resist that temptation.

My list includes, start the next book.

Just taking a breather for now, tomorrow looks like a better day to begin something new. It isn’t as though I’m taking a day away from writing every day. I’ve been pretty good about keeping ‘My 500 words’ a day pledge. Even the day I missed blogging, I was writing and formatting, working on this current novel. And I did double up the next day. The one thing I’ve not done is to submit the blog before midnight. So even though I’m writing today, it is so late, that I will be posting tomorrow. Glad the month ends soon. Wish it were about a week longer though, so I could get caught up.


Have a friend, Eric Beaty, in my local writer’s group who has written a nice book on scheduling, setting goals and managing tasks. It’s full of wonderful material on how to actually do that. He’s also taught the group a couple of sessions on mind-mapping and two of the writers last meeting had put his advice into action and mind-mapped their next novels. Another reason to cultivate friends who share your interests but who are smarter than you.



As Scarlett and I like to say, I’ll have another chance at this, tomorrow. Like this series of quotes, I know they are about art, but all seem to apply to writing as well, or making music, sculpture, anything creative.


I’ve written before about the New Renaissance in Art and creativity. With Amazon, Etsy, Pinterest, and this article names fifteen more, it is possible to earn money by being creative.

Two different writers this week asked me about publishers. There are the Big Five Publishers in the U.S. now: Hachette, Harper Collins, MacMillian, Penquin Random House, Simon & Schuster. Last year there were six, but Penquin and Random House merged.

If you look at the world, there are 56 Big Publishers in the latest article I found. Of course there are thousands of small publishers ready to help you publish a book.

If you are looking to publish an ebook, according to Dione Shaw, there are three major publishing sites. Quoting his/her answer from the forum Quora.

Amazon/Kindle is the biggest name in the eBook market.  Authors can easily self-publish their eBooks on Amazon’s website.  It is also possible to create a cover using Amazon’s tools.

Smashwords (dot) com is another major eBook publishing website.   Smash words distributes to iBooks (Apple), Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Overdrive, Scribd, and more.  Instructions for self-publishing on Smashwords are here: A Guide to eBook Publishing on Smashwords

Smashwords does not have a cover generator similar to Amazon. Individuals will need to create their own covers and abide by Smashwords rules.

Google is a third platform to sell your eBooks on, but it does not have a self-publishing option. Google books/play accepts PDF, .epub, and .doc documents for sale on their website.  Google does not require a cover for publication, but it is recommended to submit a cover.”

Lot of opportunity out there. I’m still only publishing on Amazon, because I am a slow learner and it is all that I can manage now.

Good luck to you and add something on your creative list for tomorrow.








I’ve never believed in swearing, dagnabit, wish I did. Used to remind students not to swear, because it cripples your vocabulary. The average person only uses four or five bad words, the proficient like my husband, maybe a dozen unique ones. They become a crutch instead of thinking for the right word or a better way to express your thoughts. Children whose parents swear, enter school with a massive vocabulary deficit and most never catch up with their peers.

Trying to finish this book has nearly finished me. I have a couple of dozen things up on Amazon, more if you count stories in anthologies. I’ve been doing this three years now, so you’d think I would get better and it would be easier each time. Well, it’s been this kind of a week.

Wrote the first half of the book during November’s Nanowrimo challenge, then finished it before Christmas. Since then, I’ve discarded the second half and rewritten the book again. After rewriting and editing, and procrastinating another two weeks, I’m finally ready to surrender it to a reader or two. So this weekend, I started formatting for the two versions, a Kindle ebook and a Create Space paperback.


I love my computer. It makes writing so much faster and easier than by hand and typewriter, like the old days. On the other hand, when it doesn’t do what I want, I really want to scream. I am the least technically competent person I know. I talked nice to it, turned it off to rest, came back and tried again. Still had lots of difficulty formatting.

The only thing different from the mystery novel I posted back in November, is I now have the free version of Grammarly on my desktop. I really like it, although it makes the opposite changes sometimes that Paperrater makes to the same sentence, there’s no copy and pasting to check anything. Because the advice is different, I always stop and look up the rule or flip a coin before accepting suggestions, but it does let me move faster.

I don’t think it and Word play well together at all. Yesterday as I added headers for the paperback version, the program would not number correctly. Ended up having to reset page numbering for each and every chapter. Wish there weren’t forty of them. Someday I may write a book that is all one chapter. Or else try one that is only one hundred pages long.

Have set up both versions today on Amazon. Never viewed myself as a perfectionist, but the more I write, the more I worry about getting everything right. Good thing I guess, but it makes me slower.

I’m not fool enough to think I’m through. After I hear from Amazon and their preview, I’ll probably have to make another version of the cover, or change several things to meet their approval, but I am on the way to being done.


The worst part was I broke my blogging chain. Set the goal of posting my blog everyday. Now I’m one day behind. Will try to double-up tomorrow to get back on schedule. It’s not the number of posts this month, but the everyday thing I was trying to master.  Apologies in case anyone has been reading them and suffered disappointment. (I know, that was a joke.)


Finished my last edits on my book, today working on the back book copy. Have decided to put the book up for preorders while I wait on reports back from early readers with any last minute changes. Expect these last edits to take another couple of days to make after I hear from them.

The blurb on the back is a short 100 to 200 word piece that is the second most important part of selling the book. Of course, the cover is the most important part. Some authors list four things a blurb must do, others up to seven.  It has to accomplish at least these three things about the book.

1.Make clear the genre and central theme

2.Introduce your main character (s) and their goal(s)

3.Create intrigue and establish the main conflict or obstacle to that goal

I think you also need to reveal the setting and mood of your novel.

The blurb is a more detailed version of your logline, which is a single sentence summary of the story. Although these are used to write a logline for a script, I always find the Save the Cat short version helpful.

Here are the genre logline templates (with the three elements for each genre in italics):


Monster in the House: Monster, House, Sin
A culpable hero is forced to save a trapped group of people from being killed by a monster he inadvertently unleashed.

Golden Fleece: Road, Team, Prize
A driven hero must lead a group of allies to retrieve a prized possession through a perilous journey that wasn’t what the hero expected.

Out of the Bottle: Wish, Spell, Lesson
A covetous hero must learn to undo a spell he wished for before it turns into a curse he can’t undo.

Dude With A Problem: Innocent Hero, Sudden Event, Life or Death
An unwitting hero must survive at all costs when he is dragged into a life or death situation he never saw coming and cannot escape.

Rites of Passage: Life Problem, Wrong Way, Acceptance
A troubled hero’s only way to overcome a spiraling life crisis is to defeat his worst enemy – himself.

Buddy Love: Incomplete Hero, Counterpart, Complication
An inadequate hero must rise above an extremely difficult situation to be with a uniquely unlikely partner who is the only one capable of bringing him peace.

Whydunit: Detective, Secret, Dark Turn
A single-minded hero must find the truth to a mystery so intriguing before he is swallowed by the darkness he desperately seeks to expose.

Fool Triumphant: Fool, Establishment, Transmutation
An innocent hero’s only way to defeat the prejudices of a group is to change himself without losing what made him the group’s target of disdain in the first place – his uniqueness.

Institutionalized: Group, Choice, Sacrifice
An outsider’s only way to save his individuality is by going against the many who wish to integrate him into their fold.

Superhero: Special Power, Nemesis, Curse
A uniquely special hero must defeat an opponent with stronger capabilities by using the same powers that disconnect him from the people he hopes to save.

Here is a nice summary from one of the tips on my Pinterest board.


Here are a couple of links to more detailed explanations of how to write back blurbs. Of course Joanna Penn is the best.

Marilyn offers a lot of specific advice depending on your genre.


This is what I have on my cover tonight. Keep rewriting it and will probably change several times before I publish. Running later on my blog because of it. Hope some of this is helpful.










Sometimes I listen to music, but when I’m editing, I prefer to listen to the endless webinars and podcasts that land in my mailbox these days. Signed up for one to learn from three years ago. (I know no one shares or sells your email, but I sure get a lot of them these days.) All are spellbinders and keep me from falling asleep as I do this nitpicking work. Starting to hear ones though that seem like retreads from that first year. Not sure, it may be that they all just sound alike. Always make you want them, then have a count-down, several have-to-have bonuses, and the stinger that keeps me from buying – only  ______ dollars.

Listening to a Mike Koenigs, who’s ‘writing a best-selling book’ sounds so easy and doable. Unfortunately, all the examples were nonfiction. This one is only $797, and that’s a thousand dollars off.



It helps as I run through Grammarly on my recent novel, correcting errors as I go. Since Joanna, of Virginia  is set during the Civil War, some of the terms and expressions are getting flagged. Have to carefully weigh the suggestions it keeps making.

One of the things I hate most about making corrections is the issue of commas. Where do they go? Why do some editors tell you to put them in before every conjunction, and this one is indicating I should take them out before but, or although, or, some other word. Looks like I need them when there’s a verb in the clause, omit when there’s not.

I’ve always believed in using one when the character pauses for a breath, but some of these experts tend to disagree. I’ve generously scattered them where I think they go, but now it is becoming tedious evaluating each suggestion before making a change or leaving it.


I’m enjoying this ‘My 500-word’ challenge because Jeff Goins urges us to write without considering grammar, kind of the free-flow of a Nanowrimo sprint. Not sure if posting them as a blog is the intended consequence, but I have limited time and patience and if I’ve written something, I now believe in sharing it.

Posting late again, because I was so intent on catching the next error, it was after midnight when I checked the time. Don’t want to break my string of continuous posts, though.


I’m not sure of the title for this first book in the series, but this is what I’m going with for now. If you have suggestions, please offer them. There was a long series of mail-order brides last year that used their first name and state. I’m hoping this will be a longer series than my earlier ones.

Have a request from one of my local fans to finish the Mountain Wives series by writing Cicely’s story. Have to squeeze it in sometime this year.

Anyway, here is the current cover. Still working on the blurb. Will try to share it with you tomorrow and some tips for writing back of cover sales copy.



Despite stopping to waste time worrying about what I need to do about marketing, I am back at editing tonight, round three. The two days since I finished the total rewrite and structural edit, were needed by me before I could do the line edits.
The big edits include major changes to the story. These are some of them.
1. I look for inconsistencies from the beginning of the novel to the end. Like changing a character’s name from John to Jason half-way through, or the baby who is one year at the beginning but three by the end, only two months later in my story line.
2. Killing darlings, that is taking out characters who do little, or eliminating scenes that don’t do one of the three chores of a scene. These are moving the plot forward, increasing stakes, or showing character development.  If I have a weakness it would be not taking out favorite scenes, but I try to rewrite them so they are working and essential to the story.
3. I check the character arc, to make sure the characters undergo some growth or change. Began writing short stories, and a character change or come-to-realize moment was always part of a selling story.
4. Since writing a few scripts and reading lots of books on screenwriting, I am much more aware of story tension. If things are too easy on your character, the tension evaporates, and readers lose interest. Since I’ve been writing stories about women and their ordinary lives in the eighteen hundreds, this can be difficult. But I try to keep their minds on the big obstacles they are facing, even in simpler moments like cooking or tending a sick child.  An excellent book to help with story tension is by Debra Dixon called GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.

5. I did a lot of sentence edits during my big rewrite. Making sentences less bloated or convoluted, and more direct. I will check if I caught all these by running the chapters through my Hemingway App. After doing a few books, I have pretty much abandoned the endless sentence style of Faulkner, and although not Hemingway, I am writing more directly even in draft mode. Not.

Jody’s infographic names these first two steps as macro-edits, and line edits.
Now comes the nitpicking stage of, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
I also like this method by an elementary teacher, called Arms and Cups.  These match the line edits and copy edits above.

Sol Stein says, “One plus one equals one-half.” He means that if you use two adjectives at a time rather than choosing the stronger of the two, you cut your impact in half. (Jerry Jenkins, 5 Ninja Self-Editing Tips.)

Don’t use flowery attributions like “he said gravely,” or “he shouted enthusiastically,” or any other variations that read like Horatio Alger and his rags to riches tales.

I have tons of lists on editing grammar on my Pinterest board for writers,

Here is one, although there are lots of tools like Grammarly (free version), (free), and other tools online that help with most of these.

I trust my early readers to catch the things I miss, bless their hearts.




On the top of my list of to do’s, every year for the last three years, has been to create an email list. Every few days I will make the mistake of listening to a webinar (you know, for $99 a month I will tell you all the secrets to being successful at writing), and they always say, make an email list.

So, I haven’t been able to figure out how to add a click on thing on my WordPress site. Honestly, I just come and visit because of the blog challenges. I’m rather addicted to challenges.

I did figure out the add comment thing, but if it takes your email, it’s like Amazon, and keeps it secret from me.



I go on Facebook four or five times a week – just to keep up with the many lists I’ve joined. I think it must know who follows my list and have your email, but again, it is secret from me. Apparently, according to all the experts, if you want to make any money from writing, you must build an email list.

Tonight or tomorrow, the few chosen ones, people who’ve written and given me their email, hopefully, will receive my first Mailchimp email. Wave flags or dance or something, because you are special. I hope to have the new book edited by Friday, and would love some Beta readers to reassure me it is ready to publish. I feel blessed to have a handful of real, actual fans. People who have written to share how much they’ve loved a book (s). Most post reviews as well. (I am still shocked to write that word, ‘fan.’)

I’ve not wanted to abuse anyone’s trust and annoy them with a lot of emails. I get so many, and believe me, it can be annoying. But, now that I’ve slowed down and there’s just a new book every three or four months, it will not be often, or very long, when I write, “have a new baby, please take a look.”

Hopefully, I can figure out how to add a box to unsubscribe, so if you don’t want to ever hear from me again, you’ll have the option.

I know it is pathetic, but this is the part of writing that scares me the most. Selling the books. I like it, love it when I sell one. But it’s hard to say “look at the pretty book, buy the pretty book, you must have the pretty book.” (I was channeling Svengali as I wrote that, you know, you are under my spell, do as I say, to hypnotize you.)



I’ve made lists before. Used to do a newsletter every month, for over twenty-five years, for the writers’ group. I mean, I’ve been writing about the Civil War, and every one of these handsome men were on a list or roster. I kept one for every class I ever taught. I’ve written lots of letters before, and many pages of other things as well. (I can do this, surely I can do this, I will get this done.)

So if any of these emails that I scribbled down in various notebooks, have been entered correctly, you may hear from me. Smile, and know that I just want to be a successful writer when I grow up, and I love you.




Trying to finish the structural or content edit on the new book. Hope to finish tonight or after swimming in the morning. That is, if it doesn’t snow. One of the beautiful and frustrating things about living in Tennessee is how even a light snow can cause many places to close, not just the schools. Most of those in our part of the state closed before noon, just on the announcement that it might be snowing at the normal end of the school day. There have been too many bus accidents recently for anyone to want to risk it. Of course, we only had a few flurries, nothing to stick on the roads, yet.


Yesterday, I talked about novel outlining and using screenwriting beat sheets. Next to writing, I think I love Pinterest the best. One reason is I don’t have to have as many stacks of writing books at hand, or copies of outlines and notes. Pinterest is just a nice filing cabinet in the sky, or a book with unlimited pages. It relies on images, often from Instagram (a site I haven’t adopted yet), that provide quick, instant summaries of things like this illustration of basic story structure by Kurt Vonnegut.


If I find a good article or a useful graphic, I pin it on one of my Pinterest boards and I can instantly access it from anywhere. We were discussing story structure at the Foxleaf Writer’s meeting today, how some things are taboo, and why. What are the key elements of a mystery novel, etc. (Pat Gentry has just finished a lovely little mystery, Lizzie Shanks, about a nosy neighbor, and I wrote one last fall, No Visible Tattoos, about a woman Sheriff trying to solve the murder of her husband in a secretive, small town. If you want to know the rules for a specific genre, there is an article or video about how to write that type of story somewhere on the internet now. You just have to google it. But when you come across something valuable, I suggest you join Pinterest and add it to your page.

Another tool that I adore is Pixabay. All the images on it are free, and I think beautiful. Most of what appears in this blog have come from that site. Others are from Creative Commons licensed images from the Library of Congress or Bing images (sorted by clicking on license (free to modify, share, and use commercially.) Then I tinker with them on Canva or Picmonkey, if I want to post them on Twitter. 4c46d3b25ce82499d7fff0c7ec8628fa

All I know, I love to share, but I need to get busy on my edits. No puzzling today, but was captured by Webinars full of promises. All offer programs, software, support, script evaluations, etc., all at a nominal cost. Lacking that nominal $99 or $999 that each usually requires, I’m afraid I will stick to the free. Although one site promised all the tools to help you create your character and plot in minutes, using a simple plug in method, all for only twenty-seven dollars. I must admit, I was a little tempted.

Yet, doing that, I would miss all the joy of slipping into a secret space with new people to meet and a new world to explore. After all, it’s the research and dreaming that make me happy.

Visit my Pinterest and take anything you find useful. I keep a board called Amwriting, to post images for the current or next story. And, there are spots for my miscellaneous hoarding that I seem to need–at least, all safely stored in the cloud not in my house.






Life is Fleeting

Summertime, and the living is easy.

At least it’s supposed to be. I sit here, doing my usual search for how to move forward. On a day like today, I would love to hire someone to help promote me, to build a working funnel, and a better webpage. Only two things stop me. Money first, everyone who is out hawking their services claim their method has made them rich. But I don’t want to pay a big training charge and add a monthly fee to pay for the rest of my life, to help them stay there. The second thing, is unlike the beauty lounging with her graceful hands in the water, I don’t have a daring or trusting bone in my body. This is what I imagine is below the surface.


Danger, Beware

Like this fit guy on his paddle board, I keep wondering if you encounter a shark, or a school of them, how do you proceed to get back to shore and safe ground. After my little episode with the computer this week, I know I lack the skills to make it back safely. So I sit here, like a little turtle stuck in its shell. Wishing and dreaming, but never sticking my nose out to move forward. Well, at least inside, I can retreat into my imagination and just write.


Many of you have looked at the Internet and taken the plunge for self-promotion. Please share what method you use and whether or not you are happy with it.