Friday, November 11, 2022

About Amir


Somewhere in July, a black and white Persian cat started hanging out in our yard. Very skittish. Would not address us, ran when he saw us. Poor sweetie. Collar-less cats are not unusual in our neighborhood. Charlie, for example, is a grey cat that is also skittish, but he belongs to my neighbor Joyce. She can't keep a collar on him. We lost five collars on Grendel before Dan found him a puppy collar.

So when we saw this cat, we tried to approach him. No dice. We left kibble out, just in case. And yes, Charlie eats from it too. Grendel also eats from Charlie's stash that Joyce leaves out in her garage. Joyce would ask me if the Persian was my cat. No,  I thought it was hers. Apparently, there's another man down the block who wondered the same thing. 

So we left food out for the Persian. Timid cat. Didn't want much to do with us at all, very wary, and we couldn't touch him. He'd run and jump if we tried. 

I'm going to condense this. Too many boring details, so let's talk about November the second. 

It had snowed the day before, and I was concerned, of course. I went to put food out, and found him waiting as he sometimes did. But THIS TIME...

I invited kitty in. I stood guard as he ate, but this time I held the door open and asked if he wanted to come inside. He followed me up the porch stairs. It might have taken five or seven minutes, but it felt like twenty before he crept his way into the kitchen and I quietly shut the door. 

He looked alarmed when the exit closed, but still ventured inside. I used my most soothing voice, as he slinked into the living room. He sniffed Grendel's face. Grendel has always been nice to him, and sniffed back.His sniffed Freya's face, She gave him The Swat. 

Once he figured out there was a basement, he hid in the spare bedroom, under the futon. I left him a dish of food and let him diffuse. A day and a half, I left food, and left him alone. 

That evening, a different cat came up the stairs. He was shouty and purring. He demanded pets, and rolled around being adorable so we would indulge him. We won him over! Yay! He's been here ever since.

Here's the thing....He's not a stray cat. Someone must be missing him. I'm doing the right thing and looking for his owners, But...

I had other names for him. I thought about naming him Balder, Norse god of all things pure and innocent.(Bald-er. People wouldn't get it, and would think that was a dumb name for a fluffy kitty)  I thought about calling him Helios, for the Greek god who drives the sun chariot, based on his beautiful yellow eyes that look like an eclipse when his pupils are large. I started calling him 'Amir' because he was a little prince and he was a Persian longhair. Many people know this...Yes, 'Amir' is the Persian word for 'Prince'. 

I'm not sure I like it. I catch myself saying, "C'mere Amir." and it sounds dumb. And Amir Milward sounds like 'A mere Milward.'

Not particularly imaginative of me, but he suits it. He's a little prince. He yells for affection and food. He likes to be held. I tried brushing him, and he knows the routine. I wouldn't say he likes it like Freya does, but he accepts the brush and rolls over accordingly. He's taken over the couch and has taken other surfaces accordingly. What do I mean by that? I mean my desk, the couch, my makeup table, the kitchen counter. Everything, everywhere. But he's rather polite about it, if that makes sense.  He knows how to play with toys and he SHOUTS for attention. 

We're in love with him, but he clearly belongs to someone. I've put him on all my social media, including 'Next Door', the neighborhood app. No answers, no replies in ten days. Currently looking for posters about him. 

The truth is, we don't need another mouth to feed, but what could I do? Leave him to scrounge kibble from our yard? What if it gets REALLY cold. Today was -20 Celsius, and it's early yet. There's still December and January to get through. . I can't imagine. Here's another thing. He's been here for ten days and NOT ONCE has he asked to go outside. He isn't fixed either. He also hasn't sprayed. He's an impressively good cat. Like he's been trained. He even knows not to scratch the furniture with a simple "Noooo."

There is no microchip. That doesn't mean this won't end in heartbreak. I do believe someone else owns Amir. In the meantime, I will look for his owners and hope that they will let me be a part of his life once we find them. In the meantime, Amir is a part of this family. He will be safe, warm and loved. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Earth to Thoeba: Hurray for Fall!

Earth to Thoeba: Hurray for Fall!:   I love September. I love summer and fall, but September is the best of both worlds. It's still warm, but not too much so. There's ...

Hurray for Fall!


I love September. I love summer and fall, but September is the best of both worlds.

It's still warm, but not too much so. There's more yardwork to do, but because it's cooler, it's easier to do. Don't get me wrong, I love yardwork, but those plus 30 Celsius temperatures can really sap a person's energy. It's time to harvest and reap the rewards of all that spring and summer work. 

I've stopped raking my yard in the fall. Or at least I don't rake too much of them. Someone pointed out how a yard full of leaves is bad for your grass and attracts pests and snow mold. It's true, but I'm not talking about that kind of thing. Mine never gets that bad. 

My neighbor across the street gets the carpet of leaves. They're the people who clear my sidewalks and driveway in the winter. So I rake their tiny lawn clean and put the leaves in my compost. Win/win, and it's the least we can do for them.  

I do my fall cleaning. Like I said, it's a lot cooler outside, but I can still keep my windows open to air things out. Perfect.

Then there's the harvesting and canning. I've already done a batch of canned tomatos and a batch of freezer pickles. The pears are plump this year, and that means I'll spend my evenings making pear bread. It's also a lot of work, but the results are so rewarding. When last I visited my friend Tracey, his mom gave me QUALITY vanilla--the kind you get from Mexico--and I'm excited to try it out. 

Melaida's new business is off to a good start. She'd given me a stack of flyers to put out when she started the business, and today I got them all out. She's got new ones coming soon, and I've already figured out new neighborhoods to hand them out. There's entire blocks in my own region I haven't even been to, not even in my garage sale days. I'm finding that those long walks around the neighborhoods are a lot more pleasant this month.

I'm excited and proud of her, but I just realized I haven't done anything to promote my own work lately. I was thinking I should publish an excerpt of Chasing Monsters for Halloween. Then later, one for Elaina's Fate. maybe a contest. With all the aggravation that went into publishing Elaina's Fate, and the length of time it took to finish it, I stepped back from it, and never really came back. I didn't even hold a contest for it. 

I intend to fix that...soon. There's still a lot going on. I finished the first draft for HER TRUE NAME: VOLUME THREE, but I'm taking a short break on that before I edit. I'll start in October. There's also the anthology that has new stories to add, and truthfully, I need to get all of it organized. At least get all the stories on a single USB key. ( Yeep!) I finished a short story named 'Bad Clown'but it needs work. 

I've got a new short called 'Darkness Encroaches' but I don't like the title. Yet another piece that needs a lot of work.  

I've started work on a eulogy for a friend that has signed up for the MAID program, but that's the only new thing right now, and as you can imagine, it's not fun. 

So, yeah...I'm still hard at work. You can probably expect something new from me next year. Hopefully. We'll see. At least two new books are on their way. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Happy Birthday Grandma


My last living grandparent turns one hundred years old tomorrow. I love her so much, and I'd love to celebrate it with her, or at least phone her. So you're asking, why don't I? She's a Jehovah's Witness. 

That sucks a bit. I have to pretend it isn't a big deal. I told her I'd phone her after she turned one hundred years old, because I can't celebrate it. At least not in any obvious ways. 

I think she's amazing. She raised four boys in a time of need. When her husband broke his back, she took on THREE jobs and still kept her house and her children. Egg grader, janitor, newspaper columnist.. She did whatever.

She was the sixth born child, the first born in Canada, when her parents, Walter and Lydia P:ajunen, arrived in Canada. The first two children didn't survive.  They died in Finland, and I think two died on the journey to the new country. Lydia Pajunen became a midwife who delivered over 2000 babies, though older locals said the number was closer to 5000. I'm not sure I believe that for the simple reason that I can't picture Grandma Lydia having the time to raise my grandma, also conceiving  and giving birth to Aunt Toini and being the bread winner in the whole process Two thousand? There's records. FIVE thousand? Can you even picture that kind of number? Though I'm certain that she probably got paid in things like food. Or maybe nothing. All while taking care of a husband with a drinking problem. Maybe she did, maybe she didn't. Maybe she left him on his own while she did whatever she had to. 

Grandma told me a story... She slept between her parents almost always. One morning, she woke up in a different  place, and she had  a new sister.  They told her an angel brought her down from the chimney. My grandmother's first thought was...Why didn't the angel use the door? 

My grandma had four boys. Jerrold, Arnold, Richard (Sandy) and David. Lydia delivered all but Uncle David, who arrived  14 years after my father and at 14 pounds. 

When my father, Sandy, as he was commonly known, died, I was struck by how hard it must be for my grandmother to out live one of her children. She told me, "I used to consider it such a blessing to live this long..." My heart broke her her that day. 

She dreamed of my father. He was wearing a white shirt, so bright, it glowed. He asked her to come outside, She asked him to come in for a cup of coffee. He would not. And she wasn't coming out. It remained that way until she finally woke up,

Don't worry...I didn't out her. My relatives, even the ones who aren't Jehovah's Witnesses never read this blog or anything else I write. I'm a bit of a black sheep and they are religious in one way or another.  

This photo I have of her is the last time she came to Alberta to see everyone, so to speak. She saw my cat, Freya and she said, "Kitty is washing her face. You'll get company."

My uncle, who brought her there, and is a Jehovah's Witness Elder gave her a poisonous glare.  So I said, "Well you're here, aren't you? She's a bit late."

I love my Grandma. She's the last grandparent I have left. She can't call me, so I will call her. On Thursday. 

Friday, July 8, 2022

iListen: Proud of my Bestie


My best friend embarked on a new and unusual business, and I couldn't be prouder. She is a professional listener. And why not? There are professional dog walkers and professional cuddlers, why not a professional listener? 

In this day and age, I think it's a fantastic idea. No one listens anymore. No one listens without offering advice and opinions. Have you expressed something on social media, only to be bombarded by advice and ideas or other things you didn't ask for?

 Don't you sometimes just want to vent without someone butting in with an opinion?  Are you sick of being interrupted?  Are your friends and family bored and tired of your so-called whining?  Do people roll their eyes when you need to talk about something? It's becoming all too common. 

It might sound like a luxury, but it's really self-care.

If this sounds a bit like advertising, it kind of is. I'm proud of her and I think it's a great idea. It's my blog and I can say what I like anyway, right? 

I trust her. I know her listening skills, not just because she's my bestie. She has a thoughtfulness that astounds me at times. Not only is she educated in the art of listening, she's simply good at it naturally. She's teaching classes now. She's taught me a lot, and now I'm trying to emulate her. I want to be a better listener.

One of the reasons she's my best friend is because we both share a desire to be heard, and because we give each other that kind of space, She just happens to be WAAAAAY better at it than I am. 

Melaida is self-aware. Her own experience has brought her to this. She knows that everyone in the world has lives and complications of their own and sometimes all you want to do is get it off your chest. She understands that importance. She knows not everything is about her, which I find is a rarity. 

She's not a therapist or psychologist.  She's just there to listen, that's all. Sometimes, that's all you need. I invite you to check it out.  Here's the link :

What if, just this once, it was all about YOU? Why should talking about yourself, FOR yourself be selfish,? Not anymore. This has been a long time coming. 

Friday, June 17, 2022

Earth to Thoeba: Mom is Home

Earth to Thoeba: Mom is Home:   Been awhile since I blogged, I know. Sometimes I have trouble finding a good topic. Sometimes my life runs away with me. I'm still wor...

Mom is Home


Been awhile since I blogged, I know. Sometimes I have trouble finding a good topic. Sometimes my life runs away with me. I'm still working on more publishing stuff. I need to research how to create a UBL so I can create an author page on Draft2Digital. 

But something else happened that was a bit scary and required a lot of my time. My mother broke her hip. That was freaky. Her walker slipped out from under her and she landed hard on the floor. She tried to get up for two hours before my sister called me, and I drove to their place to help. 

Why was she on the floor so long? Because my mother is stubborn and thought she could get up herself. When that didn't work, they called me. Apparently, they thought that I could just help lift Mom off the floor and all would be fine. It was obvious by the screaming and Mom's inability to move her left leg that we needed to call 911. 

So, yeah...broken hip. Surgery was immediate, recovery took longer than expected due to the arthritis in Mom's back and diabetes. It's been just over a month, and we finally got her home. 

I didn't say anything on Facebook. I guess it was about Mom's privacy, but also because I was pretty sure it was no big deal and I didn't want the sympathy. Our relatives freaked out a bit--telling me and my sister that everything will be fine and not to worry. The medical community will give her the best care and she'll be fine--Don't Worry! Really, DON'T WORRY!!  Medical science has come a long way, and are you and Jody okay? DON'T WORRY!! 

Yeah, we weren't worried. Tough old broad, my mother. She's dealt with arthritis for decades, survived cancer and a stroke...pneumonia, car accident. Not like a broken bone is going to take her out. Not even a broken hip. 

I'll admit though, I stayed quiet because I think I was holding my breath.  Hope for the best, but brace for the worst. 

But now that she's home and doing so much better, I thought I'd share a story about her, one of my favorites. 

                                          *                                  *                                      *

I was twelve years old and stayed home from school because I had laryngitis. It was around Christmas time. I remember this because there were non-stop toy commercials on TV. 

My mother brought me mushroom soup and Neo Citran to sooth my throat. Just then, a My Little Pony commercial came on. My mother looked on in irritation and disgust as the jingle sang, 

"I'm a My Little Pony Mommy..."

"That's so stupid!" My mother complained, "How can a little girl be a Mommy to a toy pony?"

"I could be," I said. "I'm a little hoarse."

My mother gave me the STRANGEST look. She had a slight smile on her face, like she was amused. But her eyes were wide and focused with murderous intent. She looked like she wanted to kill me for that joke.  I don't blame her, but the juxtaposition of the expression made me laugh out loud. 

Unfortunately, my laughter came out a wheezing bark.  I tried to stop, but the more I heard myself, the harder I laughed. Remember when Luke Skywalker is attacked by the Sandpeople in Star Wars? HUUUUUR, HURR, HURR, HURR, HURRR! Imagine high-pitched version of that for a solid twenty minutes. It was quite painful! I couldn't breathe and I began to wonder if it was possible to actually die from laughter. 

I covered my ears, that made it worse. I covered my mouth, it didn't help. My throat was killing me and tears flooded my face. And I'm LOUD. My mother's lips pursed up like she sucked a lemon and she kept saying, "That's enough now." But I couldn't stop!  

Eventually, I ran out of energy. My fit of giggles dissipated into hiccups and sighs. I was tired, sweaty, and my throat was raw.  I laid there, spent. My throat needed soothing in a bad way. I struggled to sit up, pick up my spoon. 

My mother placed her hand on my shoulder and said, "Donna, Sweetie. It wasn't that funny." 

Oh God, I started again. I don't remember much after that. I may have passed out. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Excerpt from Elaina's Fate


What's this? Elaina's Fate has been out for two months and I haven't published an excerpt? Shame on me! I intend to remedy that right now. 

So here for your reading enjoyment are the first three pages of Elaina's Fate. 


Forgive them, Elaina. “ My younger sister Jodian curls her arm through mine as we stroll Bane’s packed dirt streets. It stinks of blood, grease, and manure piled upon filthy layers of fear and resentment. You can almost taste the bitterness. If Jodian notices, she ignores it as she does so many awful things. “They can’t help their jealousy.”

Emerald silk drapes from her ivory shoulders, complimenting her shining brown curls, her jade and gold eyes. As per antiquated Bane custom, her dress length brushes her ankles.

I pale against her beauty. I’m all sinews and straw hair. Where her dress emphasizes her looks, my skirts of midnight blue wash me out. My muscles strain at my sleeves in an embarrassingly masculine way, but I’m skinny everywhere else. My mouth is too small and grim, and my eyes are dull as Bane’s cloudy skies. I always resemble a scarecrow. Today I feel like a lampshade.

I don’t envy her loveliness. My sister is a treasure, and I won’t deny her perfection. Not today, not any day.

I know,” But the villager’s derision often gets under my cowl. My work as the Master’s Assassin not only ensures the safety of my family, but theirs as well. Yet I am greeted with suspicion and disparaging glares. I can’t help my anger. “But it’s your birthday. Can’t they keep their dirty looks to themselves for once?”

Jodian shrugs. “They don’t know you as we do.”

True. They don’t know anything about me.

My name is Elaina. I spy and kill for Master Issac Smith. Bastard that he is, he’s kept my family sheltered and fed for the seven years I have been in his service. Of course it came with a price. Everything in the world of Phaeton comes with a price, but especially in the village of Bane.

Mind your souls and pray to the Energy you don’t end up here. This is where the Energy, the so-called ‘God’ puts spirits It can’t control, save, or rehabilitate. This is where the truly wicked find themselves. We are the fallen, and this is Hell.

We should get manicures.” Jodian tosses her hair and smiles hard at the old woman who spits at my feet.

If that is what you want.” I glare at the shrivelled bitch. She had the nerve to glare back. Perhaps she has forgotten fear in her age-addled brain. Perhaps I should re-educate her.

Absolutely. I mean look at your hands.” Jodian emphasizes her point by bringing my clenched fist up to her critical eye.

My hands are scarred, dry and ugly to behold, and they always look dirty. Vanities such as manicures are not for the likes of me. Still, I let her drag me into Maxine’s. It’s her day, after all.

Jodian chooses pink nail polish, as I knew she would. I choose a flat black. It will blend better with—

Really, Elaina?” My sister scowls at my practicality. “Why would you pick something so dull? Does everything you wear involve some kind of camouflage?”

Fine,” I roll my eyes. “You choose then.”

I shouldn’t have said that. I watch, uneasy as her index finger dwells over pinks, purples and reds. All the prissy colours.

This one.” I breathe a sigh of relief. Metallic Electric Blue is better than Grape Bubblegum whatever-the-hell she likes. “It matches your dress.”

When we arrange our skirts and sit in the leather chairs, I can’t help but hear the conversations going on in the back as my sister settles in beside me. They’re arguing about who will work on my nails.

You’re the newest.”

You do her. It’s your shop....” The whispers are harsh.

No one wants to serve me. It’s not as though I’m going to stab everyone if I’m not satisfied with my manicure. What would be the point of that?

Maybe it’s because your hands are such a mess.” Jodian says. She’s trying to be playful, but the arm rest squeaks in her grip.

I stare at the black and white tiled floor, biting my lip, peeling chapped skin away with my teeth until I taste blood. “Maybe I should just kill them for being rude.” I’m not sure I’m joking.

Sudden silence. They hear us as well. The staff meeting ends, and Maxine herself shoves a young woman toward me, which earns the owner a look of such hatred I’m guessing I won’t be the one spilling blood. I’ll probably know by next week. Death is commonplace here.

For all her animosity toward Maxine, the woman attending me is nervous. She pushes my cuticles back with extra care, and trembles as she applies the polish. Sigh. Fear is tedious. There is no conversation, no sound but the occasional drip from the faucets.

In my day, in a different incarnation on Earth, in a country named Canada, we had no such thing as ‘manicures’. Nothing but trees and foliage. Naught but hard labour and harder men. My fingernails were cracked and bleeding from lye, splinters and other work related wounds. I didn’t leave the splendour of France only to become an unwilling slave to a dense husband in a frigid forest.

My marriages were short. My punishment is eternal. Such is the blessing of The Energy.

I’m so often alone; I have ample time to ponder my existence on the world of Phaeton. Everyone does, I imagine. Every time we are reborn, we are reminded why we are here, and that there will be no escape. Yet another gift from The Energy. The memories, the dreams.

Jodian knows the horrors she has done. She still speaks with an accent sometimes. Her voice is soft, but her words are abrupt and peppered with buzzing sounds. Your handz are zuch a mess. She was a German, and tells me that there was a great war, but speaks rarely of it because she is ashamed. I can’t imagine her being cruel, but she assures me she was.

A man bursts through the door, nearly slamming it off the hinges in his hurry, and everyone startles.

He narrows his eyes at the blubbering Maxine, her eyes are wide and bloodshot with terror. She recognizes one who wears the armor of the Elite Guard. He wears the silhouette of a howling wolf’s head on his breastplate and oversized shoulder pads painted blood red. His hand tightens on his sword.

Elaina,” he demands, no need for pleasantries. “She is here?”

I hope you enjoy it. I will remember to publish another excerpt soon. 

Friday, March 4, 2022

When a Cat Learns to Love You.


It's been about a year and two months since Grendel became a permanent member of our family. A year and two months since we brought Grendel inside and got his broken leg fixed.  No regrets. 

He's a sweet. happy and loud boy. I don't mind when he yells at both two and five o'clock in the morning. Okay--I mind a little bit, but it sure beats staying up late worrying and keeping an ear open for him at the door. 

Freya used to hiss at him. He was always following her around, getting in her space. 

He bonded with Dan immediately, shouting for his attention and jumping on his desk. He would boop Dan's hands while he pet him, and Dan would call him Sweetie-Doodle and tell Grendel how happy he was that he was here. 

It was me Grendel wasn't quite sure of. He liked me well enough, but I hadn't earned his trust yet. I always seemed to startle him. I'd let him sniff my hand, and sometimes he would tolerate my petting. Sometimes I'd get a kiss. Sometimes he would back away from my touch. Dan was his rescuer and I was the human that lived with his rescuer. 

I tried to give him space, tried not to be too handsy. According to Jackson Galaxy, trust equals love to a cat, and trust takes time. I did my best to learn what Grendel needed. When he sat at the window, I opened it for him so he could smell outside. When he cried and paced at two in the morning, I learned that a small snack would calm him down. If he ran around the house trilling, it meant he was bored and he wanted to play, so we learned what he liked to play with. 

His favorite toys are the green ball that dispenses crunchy treats if he rolls it right. He loves to stalk and pounce on Mr. Bug, a pink spider on a string. Dan puts the string under his shoe and drags it around the kitchen table.

I have a close friend who trapped three feral cats from her garage eight years ago. She brought them in because she was sure they'd never survive the dropping temperatures. She told me it took years to earn their trust.  They are Mama, (RIP)  Baby and Lookie. Mama eventually became a friendly cat to other humans, but Lookie still hides from company and I can count on one hand how many times I've seen Baby. 

My friend told me some cats never warm up to humans, and maybe Grendel might not accept me. I was okay with that. I knew he got along well with Dan--they make each other so happy-- and now that she feels better, Freya has started playing Chase with him. That might just have to be enough and that was okay. I love him anyway.

But something happened yesterday. It was like a flipped switch. Grendel jumped up on my desk and chirped at me and looked me in the eye. That was a surprise. He never jumps on my desk, only Dan's. I said, "Hello, Sweet Boy."  I extended my hand to him and he rubbed his face all over my fingers. I pet his nose and head and he leaned into it hard.  He let me cradle his face in the palm of my hand. I tried not to get too excited. 

But this was a new day. I opened a window for him and together we looked out at Squirrel and Bird TV.  When I looked over at him, he leaned in and booped me. I was so delighted, I kissed his nose. I worried that I may have offended him, but he didn't seem to mind. I decided not to push my luck and let him be. 

Later that night, Dan and I were sitting on the couch. Grendel jumped into Dan's lap and asked for love. It's not the first time he's jumped into Dan's lap, but it's the first time he's done it while I was sitting there too. Dan stroked his ears and I reached out and hoped my affection would be accepted. Grendel responded by purring louder than I've ever heard him and nuzzling into both of our hands. 

I'm writing this because I need to tell you, in that moment it felt like our family was whole again. For the first time since we lost Spartacus, I felt like our little family was complete and at peace.  I was hoping Grendel would eventually love me, and now I believe that he does. 

When he grew tired of Cuddletime, he crawled up on Freya's towel and fell asleep next to her, and I snapped that picture. I think he understands now that he truly belongs here and he knows how much he is loved by all of us. 

The world has become a comic book, but I have a corner of happiness.  It's a fantastic feeling that I thought I'd share. The world feels just a little brighter, just because I've earned the love of a cat. 

Friday, February 18, 2022

What Does it Take?


This post is inspired by a conversation I had with David Fingerman about critique groups and learning to write. 

It made me think about my first and only critique group and what an amateur I was when I started. 

I was one of those people that believed that simply because I did exceptionally well in English class that I could be a writer. 

God, was I wrong. It's not that simple. 

When I joined my critique group,  I was unpublished and probably the only one without any formal education in creative writing. I hadn't even attended a single seminar or convention. 
It was a group of four and the rules were that we meet once a week with new chapters each time. 

My first meeting went well. They were awesome and nice....except they were brutally honest to the point that my chapters were eclipsed with red ink. I expected honesty, and I they buried me. 

That was okay. I asked for guidance, and I received it. I didn't want to be a good writer, I wanted to be GREAT. I tucked my ego away and absorbed what felt like punishment. I wanted to be taken seriously. 

That meant absorbing the critique, taking notes and fixing my chapters according to direction. When we met every week, I had a new chapter to show as well as the previous one with all the corrections. That is how I learned how to write properly. That is how I earned the respect of my critique group. 

I learned, many months later, that the other three members considered tossing me out after the first meeting. I was too raw, I was such an amateur. I had no idea what I was doing. 

It's true, I didn't know what I was doing. But they decided I was teachable. I had 'Belly Fire' as they called it. They decided I really wanted it. And they went at me harder. 

I'm so grateful for it. I'm not the best writer out there, but I strive for it every time. There's always something to learn, and you have no idea how I agonize over simple sentences. Sometimes even here on this blog. 

I have friends who have started writing. They ask what I think, and I tell them I will be brutally honest. I tell them that if they want to publish, there are other things they'll have to creating a social media platform. Like going to conventions, like taking honest criticisms. Things that are not fun and dull things involved with publishing. 

 I've given honest criticism when someone asks me to look at their work. I think they feel it was too much. I can't really speak for other writers, but I feel that if you've asked, and I've agreed, I have your best interests at heart. I'm not being mean. I'm not being passive-aggressive. I'm not jealous of you. I'm trying to help, because if my critique group hadn't helped me, I wouldn't have published my sixth novel. 

Well, I'm self-published, so it's an odd flex, but I'm proud of my work and how far I've come. I don't suck, and I'll keep trying to get better. 

Friday, January 21, 2022

ANNOUNCEMENT: So happy to tell you.


I have some great news about publishing ELAINA'S FATE. Who would have thought, eh? I feel a lot better about publishing right now, and I credit Heather Savage and Draft2Digital. 

As you know, I've been having issues publishing ELAINA'S FATE through Amazon and KDP. I tried a few times to figure out why I can't see the paperback, even though KDP insists that it's out there. I believe it has something to do with formats not matching up between the ebook and the paperback. The thing is, between myself, Emma and Heather we jumped through a lot of hoops trying to meet KDP's standards. It still didn't work. 

Heather INSISTED I try Draft2Digital. I promised I would look into it in January. Today I made good on that promise. She was absolutely right. 

I can't believe how easy it was to use. I did the whole thing in 45 minutes, maybe less. It is truly user-friendly. A Facebook friend and writer named Victoria Ryan Meadow told me they do print books too, and she's correct, I saw it. I haven't made a decision yet, but I might just print through them as well. 

I know it's my first time with them, but it already feels like I should move all my books there. The only thing stopping me is how I handle the ISBNs. I need to think it through when I'm not so excitable. 

This is how self-publishing should be. Not only was it easy, but they're only taking ten percent of the sales. I'm gobsmacked. 

I am pleased to tell you ELAINA'S FATE the ebook is now available at: 

Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Vivlio, Rakuten Kobo, Tolino and Borrow Box. 

I know there are people who prefer paperbacks, I get it. It's always nice to see them on a shelf, and I was worried that my work would never been seen on bookshelves again. I'm going to make the paperback happen. I spent too much time ( so did Emma and Heather) and money to just surrender to technology that I don't understand. Honestly, I love the feel of one of my novels in my hands, I love the look. 

I hope this brings my work to new people who might not have had access to my books before. I know there are people who don't want to use Amazon for their reading entertainment, and I don't blame them. Jeff Bezos doesn't need more money and he needs to treat his workers better, right? I would much rather work with Draft2Digital. 

In case you're interested, ELAINA'S FATE  is priced at $3.99 USD. I intend to get on the paperback issues a lot faster now, especially now that I know it can be so much simpler. 

Wish me luck!