Category Archives: Free Book

Cover Reveal

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Lots to cover, but as I have the attention span of a mayfly, let’s be economical with the words.

The first Emma Parks book is free for download on Friday, October 19th. Lots of positive feedback for this and the sequel, so grab it! Here’s the link to Hope Knocks Twice.

Second, yep, that’s the cover of my new book, A Sheriff in Nevada. I bought two covers and pinged back and forth for weeks. They’re both excellent, but this one nudged ahead by a hair because I feel it best represents my home state. The second cover will be the subject of a future blog post.

Last, the book itself will be available for pre-order very soon with the release date of October 31, 2018. Why release it on this date? Because that’s Nevada Day, gosh darn it, and a book about Nevada for Nevadans should be released on our admission day.

I want you to read the book, so I’m asking for less than a buck of your hard-earned money. You’ll get more than your money’s worth, I promise!

Edit: Amazon got the link up quick! You can pre-order right now.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and take care of each other, okay?

Cover Me

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Ah, the Information Age. Folks say they wish they were born in different times, the past or future, but this is my time. The Information Superhighway made me the professional I am, for good and bad, and I think I’ve got a fair handle on most of the IT tools handed me. Every once in a while, though, something goes akilter and I’ve no clue how to fix it. Last night, it was this blog. Everything was here for you, my loyal followers, but you had to scroll down past a hundred error messages. After an hour of dramatic angst and chest beating, the blog is working now, I hope.

These troubles were worrisome because I feared they would interfere with the overdue debut of the book cover for Saturday’s Child. Lo and behold, the dark clouds parted and the cover is posted on the internet. Give it up to my fabulous partner of thirty-plus years, Cassidy Carson, as she guided me through the creation and selection of the final version.

Loyal readers know that SC is the sequel to Hope Knocks Twice, the adventures of newbie CPS worker Emma Parks. The second cover follows the same scheme as the first, and I’m very happy with Jarmilla’s cover, the result of a book cover contest through 99designs. I recommend her professional work and invite you to visit her site.

Publication follows the book cover reveal, so this weekend will be spent doing one last manuscript edit. The book will then be formatted for Kindle and posted to Amazon this Sunday or Monday. If you have not yet read the free book on my site, time is running out!

For now, please hop over to Facebook and drop some love (or hate) in comments. All feedback welcome!

Chapter 17

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It’s Oh-Dark-Thirty here in Cartoon City, as they used to say when I wore an Air Force uniform, so this is as good as time as any to post the last chapter of Saturday’s Child. A fun book to write, SC was a Christmas present for my partner in crime and co-author Cassidy Carson. It was yet another NaNoWriMo project, but Nano served as a guide more than a project. That’s a convoluted way of saying the book wrote itself.

Next up: the cover reveal next week, followed by the actual publication to Kindle during the week of January 30. Tell your friends and lovers to read this free book now, because the chapters will disappear once SC goes live on Amazon.

For now: Emma finds some closure as she gets ready to start a new adventure, a major one. Maybe. You’ll have to read this last chapter to learn more. Head over to my web site and thanks for reading.

Chapter 16

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Saturday’s Child is winding down, and this particular chapter is poignant to me as it deals with the complex relationships between parents and children. If you sense any emotion within the words, it’s because they came from the heart. And we should always write what we know, right? In any case, I’ve been mulling a blog post on the gossamer strings that bind families. Maybe Monday.

On the writing front, I was fortunate enough to join my first Twitter-based authors chat tonight, and it was a positive experience. Writing can be a lonesome vocation, almost like a Texas lawman on a lone prairie. The days are long, the human interaction is minimal, and sometimes you wonder if anyone even notices what you’re doing out there. A little person-to-person interaction goes a long way. My gratitude to Tui Snider for the invitation.

I’ve blabbered on long enough. Head on over to my site and read the next one. Thanks!

Backwards Day

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On this “Backwards Day” in northern Nevada, we’re floating away on the rivers and streams full of rain and snow melt. Yes, we live in a desert, but “Nevada” literally means “snow covered.” Those with common sense are either safe and/or volunteering their energies stem the tides of liquid destiny. Others with less sense are fording the waterways simply because they can, forgetting that it’s possible to drown in two inches of bath water. There’s way more than two inches outside.

Here inside the World-Wide Headquarters, The Bride (Cassidy Carson) and I are dry by engaging in our separate literary efforts. She drafting romance and I editing/writing a draft, which is breaking a personal rule of mine: write straight through to the end. The problem is I’m stuck at twenty-seven chapters, so I’m going “backwards” to see if I can break through this wall. One way or another, this WIP will get finished this week.

As we’re on writing styles, I am a pantser, someone who writes from the gut without a road map to the finish. This style rewards spontaneous creativity, but the two problems is sometimes I get lost in the woods and I forget key points, like character names (as noted last week). The best solution for me is to combine the pantser and plotter philosophy with a Google spreadsheet that outlines these key points.

The column headers are basic and self-explanatory: “Chapter,” “Title,” “Who First,” “Who Last,” “Age,” “Call Sign,” “Role/Relation,” “What (Scene),” “Where,” “When,” and “Details.” I started yesterday and it’s saved me from embarrassing errors. Even better, I’m forced to look at character links and such, which I’d do anyway, but another flavor of editing certainly helps.

Maybe I’ve overcomplicated a simple task, and this idea won’t fit every writer’s style, but we’re all in a battle of wits with the English language. We should use every weapon at our disposal.

For those of you with a technological spin, here’s the Storify’d livetweet from Saturday. Hope it helps.

Chapter 15

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I tend to be a loaner. I don’t dabble in too much sin, and this combined with my personality set and hearing deficiency means a lot of alone time. Before you think I’m whining, there’s a world of difference between being alone and being lonely. Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes is often alone with his imagination, but he is not lonely, thanks to Hobbes.

This week, I was reminded again that it takes a village to publish a book. This book underwent a dozen revisions, two passes by professional editors, and another three revisions before I started posting it. I still missed a significant typo. A kind and sharp-eyed reader found a chapter where I mixed up Devon and Trevor, two of the main characters. After thumping my head against the desk, I fixed the boo-boo, then checked every instance of the name “Devon” (150+ times) and “Trevor” (80+) in the manuscript.

Did I catch every mistake? Probably not, but that’s not uncommon. My Awesome Aunt is a technical editor of positive repute, having helped authors publish their wares for decades. She took me to Borders and pulled three of her company’s books off the shelf to point out their missed mistakes. This is one of those old-school publishers, too. You’d recognize the name if you speak English.

My much-buried point is take advantage of volunteers and others who will give you candid feedback on your drafts. Their fresh eyes are far more likely to catch mistakes than your eyes made weary by reading the same book twenty times. Such friends are diamonds in a sandy beach.

Chapter 15 is up and ready to go. Yes, I checked it before posting, but remember I checked the other chapter, too. Caveat emptor! Thanks.


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“Dying is easy, comedy is hard” was reputedly the last words of Edmund Kean, a British Shakespearean stage actor from days long past. If Monsieur Kean will forgive, my version would be, “writing is easy, publishing is hard.” This is certainly true as the latest WIP is reaching the point of becoming a Kindle book like its predecessor.

The act of writing is an extension of my imagination, always active, and the stories flow like a smooth river from the cerebrum to the keyboard. The act of preparing the book for the public ties me up in knots, like creating a Rube Goldburg machine (that graphic at the top). Each step is essential and, to me, complicated: editing, social media, marketing, converting text to Kindle, and so on. These are technical skills that I’d hire other people to perform if I were Stephen King or James Patterson.

It can be fun, too, like when creating a book cover that’ll catch the eye. I’ve used a couple of methods, from one designer (Humble Nations) to a book cover contest on 99designs. Each have their strengths, and I recommend both. Don’t let the above cover guide your decision. It was a random submission and entirely useless, as my book contains neither blazing guns or hot chicks in leather (but Kate Beckinsale from Underworld, ftw).

The actual act of pushing the “Publish It” button on Amazon brings both feelings of accomplishment and panic. One is the culmination of months, sometimes years, of planning and hard work; the other is the certainty that you’ve forgotten an important part or screwed something up. Four or five publishable books later, I’m learning those feelings never go away.

The hardest thing about pushing the button is training myself to sort of forget about the book after that. Sales never, ever meet expectations, and money is not the reason why I write in the first place. If it was, I’d be eating ramen in a cardboard box. Realistically, it’s eyes forward to the next WIP (58,990 words so far), and The Bride already asked for a third Emma Parks book for Christmas. The second book was a Christmas 2015 present.

This will be the year of publishing, with the roller coast emotions and such as companions. Some writers measure success by sales, but I go much simpler: just get the damn thing out the door. With that goal in mind, 2017 will already be a winner by the end of January.

[Postscript: the third paragraph of this blog post was changed from the original to correct grammar errors.]

Chapter 14

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Time for another chapter, and I usually spend part of the day thinking about what I’m going to blog. It’s a self-defense thing so I don’t open WordPress and stare blankly at a white screen.

Guess what I’m doing right now? Yeah. Yikes.

Well, you’re not here to read about a brain fart. You’re here for the link to Chapter 14, the one where you think Emma’s life is turning towards the light…when it doesn’t. Yeah, she wasn’t prepared for this new part of her life, but here it is.

I won’t hold you back. Head over to my site. You know the way. Thanks.

Draft Chapters

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A few years ago, Joss Whedon gave an interview about his creation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The interviewer asked about how the heroine always seemed to be the strongest of the characters on the screen at any given time. The question stuck with me more than the answer because it bothered me. Would the interviewer ask the same question if Buffy were a male vampire killer? Why did this person have a problem with a strong woman taking center stage? I swore then if I ever got into the writing gig, “my” women would be tough, and no one would ever have a reason to question their combined strength and femininity.

Roll forward to the present, and I’ve tried to keep that pledge through my books and stories. That may be one more reason why my books don’t sell: people want stereotypes. Men must be strong, and women want to be rescued and cared for. To that I say: bullshit. I will not propagate such idiocy. The strongest people in my life since Day One have been women, and I will respect their strength and impact on my life through my writing. You want frail? Go elsewhere.

Which brings us to my latest work in progress. Yes, it’s another NaNoWriMo project (gotta start somewhere), and this one will end up between the 60-70K word range. It’s coming together like it’s writing itself, always a fun thing. The best part is that it’s Nevada-centric, my home for most of my life. I’ve been meaning to do a Silver State book, but never had the means or inspiration, but this one might just do it.

The end of this WIP is in site, but in keeping with this blog post, I won’t make a promise as to when the rest will be available. There’s the matter of finishing the free book first, but this one will be right behind it. Probably.

Caveats: the posted chapters are very first-draft raw. I don’t like the second chapter yet, so that will get revised at a minimum. As always, this work has the usual national and international copyright protections. I respect yours, so respect mine.

Head over to my site and go to the bottom of the page for the link. Thanks.

No Final Resolution

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Welp, there goes 2016, and I promised there would be a published book this year. In the loosest of definitions, someone could say my free book meets that goal, but I’m not that loose (sounded better in my head). I made and publicized a resolution, and I did not follow through, not for the first time.

It seems resolutions fail for one of two reasons: we put a timeframe on complex resolutions, and we fail to make simple ones. For instance, The Bride and I were in our twenties during the Flintstone Age when I promised to take her to Ireland, and I remade that promise every December for thirty-something years, if only in my mind. It did happen, but holy moly, I put myself through some emotion contortions every year we didn’t go.

There’s also the traditional resolution to look less like that portly fellow at the top of the post, but food and me have an intimate relationship. It’s been places inside me that make me feel better than I deserve (again, sounded better in my head). Weight loss would be easier if I resolved to lose five pounds instead of twenty or thirty (or fifty). Baby steps are smarter than pushing a boulder up the hill.

So 2016 closes without an online book because I couldn’t get out of my own way. Again. Dare I make the same promise as twelve months ago? Seems like a safe bet since I actually have a book in hand, edited and publishable, but I won’t make this promise until I hit the Amazon “publish” button. I’m getting conservative in my older age, that’s for sure.