Friday, January 31, 2014

Ergo chair

This is an ergonomic chair someone gave me to try. John had to weld the broken wheel and I reupholstered it last night with some scraps I had on hand. So far, it keeps my spine straight and helps my breathing, resulting in more work output. We'll see how it does over time, but since it works my stomach, I'm in favor of it.

I don't know what I'm doing with Tremor today. Other stories are trying to lure me away, so if I can't move SE forward, I'll work on one of them.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

New couch & Snuffleupagus

This is my new couch on the showroom floor. I won't see it for a week, but it's exciting. The fuzzy lady in the back is Mom. I like the color of the pillows on the couch, but they have thick, rope-like hair. I call them the "Snuffleupagus" pillows.

They had feathered blue pillows, too. I think they mugged the Sesame Street gang on the way home.
I'll be buying my pillows from the mall, thanks.

Speaking of Sesame Street, John said his favorite show was when they showed the world inside Oscar's trash can. Who wasn't curious about where he kept the tubas and elephants? Wonder if they have that episode on Youtube?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Steel Sky

Ha! Thought that was a book, didn't you? Nope, it's the weather, week 3. It snowed today, so that was different, but otherwise it's been steel gray skies for most of January. How can we bribe the sun to come out? Will it accept cookies?

Kids are home. We have family eye appointments, plus school was going to start two hours late due to snow, so I gave them a holiday.

My parents left the RV in storage here and flew out yesterday. We went to the RV show and Mom and I went couch shopping. Just to torment her, we'd put black duck tape on our peeling chocolate brown, 2nd hand couch; upholsters hate that. Taking apart truck seats with sticky tape drove my mom crazy. Also, the couch swallowed my parents and hurt their backs, and tall people couldn't nap without their feet propped up on the arm. Hence, the kid's couch is being retired as soon as the new chocolate "leather" sectional is delivered. The vinyl is quality and the foam firm, plus the deck suits the petite in the family. It's also the only new furniture I've bought since the move, and I think I'll be very happy with it. I know my guests will be happy to have an option other than the floor or camping cot. That stuff gets old after 30.

My daughter likes to pose her Monster High dolls. I enjoy watching the stories unfold. Here her dolls are meeting the newest member. Looks like one group is plotting against her.

Snippet: I'll try not to hurt you

“I want to see where he kicked you. I’ll try not to hurt you,” he said, his voice deep and dark as a cavern. Brushing aside her hands, he gently probed her ribs as she hissed. He grunted and closed his eyes, and a green glow flowed into her belly, easing the pain. Astonished, she flinched when he did the same for her throat. It wasn’t completely healed, but she could talk now. “How did you do that?” she rasped.
He sat back on his heels and closed his eyes as if pained, or gathering strength. After a moment he drew a breath and glanced at her as if taking stock. Slowly, as if greatly fatigued, he stripped the shirt from the man with the broken neck and gave it to her. “I can’t make you clothes. His pants are soiled.”
She saw that urine had stained the man’s crotch and nodded, quickly buttoning the short-sleeved shirt. She was tall for a woman at 5”10, but the shirt covered the essentials, thank God. “Thanks.” She looked around. “Um, I need to get home.” The mud on her body was drying, itching madly as it flaked off. She desperately needed a shower and food; she was starving.
He nodded. “Lead the way. We want to leave before anyone else finds us.”
She shifted uncomfortably. “Ah, I don’t feel comfortable bringing strangers home.”
He snorted. “I saved your life. Is that nothing to you?”
“Technically, I saved you first. We’re even.”
He didn’t look impressed. “How do you think I found you? That jewelry is linked to me, and it’s a good thing or you’d be dead. I could simply follow you, but I don’t want to bother with subterfuge. We both need rest; I won’t be able to fight off another attack. Can you?”
He had a point, and it wasn’t as if she could stop him from following. Momentarily defeated, she started walking. “Who are you? Where are your friends?”
“I am Earth, but you may call me Tremor. Water took Raze to find fire. He was too weak to draw the lava to the cave.”
“What are they?”
“Water and Fire elementals.”
He wasn’t much for long conversation, was he? “Do you know who the women who tried to drown me were?” When he looked at her sharply, she summarized her attempted murder.
He drew a breath. “The Fates. You say they were happy at our release? They must have sent you.” His gaze lingered on her bracelet and earrings.
“I’d never seen them before. It’s my birthday today and I got the jewelry in the mail. I thought it was a gift,” she said bitterly.
He digested that. “Felicitations on your birthday.”
Cara snorted. “Yeah, it’s been a blast so far.”

Monday, January 27, 2014


My parents have been here for the last few days; hence the silence. They're leaving tomorrow, so I'll update soon :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Let them eat cake! Chocolate and vanilla

I once thought I was tired of the humble cupcake...and then I couldn't have any. I will never turn up my nose at a cupcake again, and thanks to this gluten free version, I won't have to.

Chocolate Cake

Make a mix time saver.


1 c GF flour with pectin (use ¾ c if using bean flour mix)
¾ c cocoa
1 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

To make, add:

¾ c water
1/3 c oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp mint, optional
1 tbsp coffee, optional

1. Combine dry stuff. Add wet stuff and stir. Bake at 350 F for 19 minutes (25 min for a 9 in cake round) until top springs back lightly when touched.

Vanilla Cupcakes

1 c GF flour with pectin (use ¾ c if using bean flour mix)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
4 egg whites
4 egg yolks
1/3 c sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla

1. Whip whites to stiff peaks.
2. In a separate bowl, combine dry stuff and mix. Add wet stuff (except for whites) and mix. Fold in whites. Pour into prepared muffin tin and bake at 350 F until top springs back lightly when done.

Frosting ideas: Fill with marshmallow crème (7 minute frosting). Dunk in melted chocolate or spread with jam and sprinkle on coarsely ground coconut. Pipe with pastry cream (think thick, rich pudding) and coat with caramel corn. Have fun!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Redid my cover for Through the Looking Glass. Very happy with it.

We've had fog for three days and now it's steel gray and overcast. Sun, come back!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

paperwork resolutions

I say it every year, but this year I have a resolution to keep up with my receipt register and look at my bank account monthly to record my paychecks in my spreadsheet. It's not fun to do it once a year. By the time I'm done, I'll feel like writing trolls into the book to do bloody, horrible things to people.

Wait, I already did that.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This is why I'm happy being self-published. Making a living as an author is not easy.

This is why I'm happy being self-published. Making a living as an author is not easy. Read this nice lady's post and see what you think.

Side note: why do authors feel guilty when we're successful? This poor lady is apologizing for not living up to glamorous expectations. The truth is, most of us live very mundane lives; the glamour only exists for the characters in our books.

Read post here:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

HONE$TY PO$T: An Average Traditionally Published Author's Pay

So, I'm going to talk about money.

Are you cringing yet?  I am, a little.  It's just one of those taboo subjects, you know?  Sort of...tacky.  But I'm an open book so I don't mind sharing some personal stuff for the sake of informing people.  Mostly because I think there's a huge misconception out there - one that makes me feel bad almost on a daily basis.  I get asked for free things a lot.  I'd be willing to bet that I get as many requests for free books and swag as I get fan mail.  It's just part of the industry, but when I have to say no and I get a sad-face response I feel even worse.

I'm not mean and greedy.  I promise you.  I'm just...broke.

Not broke as in "poor," but we're your average North American family working our butts off to keep our heads above water and be able to send our kids to college someday.  

I'm going to give you the lowdown.  Get ready.  (And please know that I am NOT bashing my publisher.  They are a business, so it's safe to say their goal is to make money along with spreading the love of reading.)

The day my first agent told me the publisher was going to make an offer I remember his exact words. My agent said, "Now, don't go thinking you're going to be able to buy a beach house."  He then told me to try and stay grounded and focus on my family.  So I braced myself.  And he was right.  There would be no beach house purchasing.

Shortly after my offer was made I came across a conversation on Goodreads that made me laugh.  Some readers were discussing upcoming books and they mentioned one new author who was given over $100K for her book. The reason this was funny to me is because I knew that author and I knew her deal was about the same as mine.  I got a $10,000 advance for my first book.  Not horrible for a brand new author, but not $100K either.  The average author does not get a huge advance like that.  

The thing people don't realize about advances is that: 1)You don't get it all at once - you get the first half when you sign the contract and the second half when you turn in the final manuscript, 2) It's not "bonus" income - it's an advance on royalties you will make from your portion of the book sales, so when the book goes on sale you have to pay all of that advance BACK before you start getting paychecks, 3)You have to share that advance and all income made with your agent (not complaining, believe me, they earn their 15% and I'm happy to pay it!!), and 4)You have to put a percentage of that money away to go toward taxes.

Alrighty, so now you know how much I made for an advance.  Glad we got that out of the way.  Let's forge ahead into regular pay.

I got the offer for my book in October 2010.  I received my advance in 2011.  My book published in 2012.  I did not get a paycheck during my publication year because all earnings went to paying back the advance.  To summarize, over the course of my first two full years as an author I made a net of $6,000 (that's my advance total after paying agent and taxes).  That is $3k a year to begin.  Let that sink in....

I did not start getting paid until eighteen months after my book hit the shelves.  From what I hear, this is completely normal for an average traditionally published author who hasn't hit any of the bestseller lists.  

So, now that the long waiting period is over, how much do I make?

Well, when I sold books two and three, I got $15K advances on each of those. Yay for that!

My books are paperback originals - no hardbacks - and I make 6% of the paperback sales, 25% of the ebook sales.  Publishers take a big chunk because they have a lot of employees to pay, and print costs are not cheap.  Of my percentages earned I share 15% with my agent and put away approximately 15% for taxes.  That means for every $10 paperback of mine that is sold I get $.60, and $.09 of that goes to my agent.  

I make about $.50 from each book.  Fifty cents.  So it's not that I don't want to send books when people ask for them - believe me, I'd like to send a book to every person on earth who wants it!  But I'd have to sell 60 books in order to send one internationally.  Pretty crazy when you think of it like that, huh?

I read once that this is how it is for musicians, as well.  They make very little from each sale.  Now it's clear why musicians and authors get so upset when we come across sites where people have downloaded our books and music for everyone to enjoy without paying.  Piracy sucks.  I may be living my dream, but I still need to feed my children and pay my bills like everyone else.  Being in the entertainment industry doesn't mean someone is filthy rich and it's okay to steal from them.  (Whoops, I digress...tiny rant over.)

All-in-all, if you want to be a writer for a big six publishing house it's best not to go into it for the money.  Go into it for the love of writing - the love of your story and the desire to share it.  Those reasons make this job fulfilling on a level that no other job has ever been able to do for me.  I love interacting with readers.  I love making stuff up and crafting it into a world that will transport someone's mind away from the harshness of reality for a bit.  That's what it has to be about.  That has to be the pay to get you through when you're not actually getting paid.

I now have two books out and the third will publish in four months.  With each year that passes and each book that publishes, things are more comfortable.  In 2013 I made somewhere between a fast-food worker and a small town teacher - SWEET!  I'm moving up in the world!  :)

And I'm happy - so grateful.  I truly am.  Please, please don't think this post is about me complaining or being negative.  I simply want to dispel the myth that all published authors are loaded with money.  It's an unhealthy assumption that hurts and disappoints all involved.

Here are a few other author facts concerning funds that are not general knowledge:

1)  Publishing houses do not send all of their authors on book tours.  In fact, some don't send any, and some select only a choice few authors who are either huge sellers or who they're trying to promote into becoming huge sellers.

I have never been sent to any signing events.  Anything I attend comes out of my own pocket (and just to give you an idea, full cost of attending an out of state event can cost around $1,000 for fees, hotel, food, travel, etc.)  I'm lucky if I get to do one big event a year.  As far as signings, I will generally only agree to signings that are in driving distance - day trips, woot! - or places where I'm already planning to travel.  I have family in Atlanta and Dallas, so I've recently signed in those places when I've gone to visit my family.  

2)  Publishing houses do not provide swag for authors.  Some might, but mine doesn't.  All bookmarks and buttons, even launch parties, etc, are paid for out of pocket by the author.

3)  Authors don't get a lifetime supply of free books.  We get a certain amount of our books up front  and after that we have to buy them (I get 25 of each book when it publishes).  I can contact the distribution warehouse to order them at 50% off, which is awesome, but not free.  

Unfortunately, we also don't get a bunch of free books by other authors.  I naively thought this was going to be one of my author perks.  I was very disappointed to find out I'd have to wait and buy the books on release day like the rest of the reading world, LOL!  Poor me.  ;)  I'm a fangirl at heart.

4)  Big publishing houses pay their authors twice a year.  I now receive a paycheck every six months so we have to budget carefully.

Monday, January 13, 2014

You know you need to cut the kids off on coffee when you go to get your first cup and only a 1/4 c comes out. Teenagers.

I want to write. Instead I'm finishing off the evil taxes so I can figure out how much excise tax needs to be paid. At least my washing machine will arrive tomorrow, so the piles of laundry won't torment me. At least I can pay for a washing machine. At least we haven't had a natural disaster & I don't have to pump, heat and bail my own water and make my own soap. At least the blud bunnies don't exist and I don't have to wear a corset.

Have you read The Damsel and the Daggerman? Good book.

No, I didn't get much sleep last night. Does it show?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Stalked by tax gnomes

Being to feel stalked by tax gnomes. Tried to work on them for three days to get the stupid things out of my hair, and each time stuff happens. One day it was dealing with a computer virus. Yesterday it was the washing machine breaking with soapy clothes in it. By the time we drained it, rinsed stuff out in the bathtub, took it over the neighbors to finish and went to Lowe's to buy a new one (that won't be delivered until Tuesday morning), I was done.

Girls just want to have fun; instead, we get to do taxes.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Snippet: She awoke

She awoke floating on the thickening mud, coated in it. Cara drug herself weakly to the firm earth at the edge, grateful to be alone. She was naked, slicked with mud, shaking with shock. Why wasn’t she dead?
She pressed her face to the earth, seeking comfort. Gritty dirt stuck to the mud, adding to her misery. It was almost sunset, and soon the temperature would fall. She had to get home.
A footstep scuffed the dirt, and she looked up, afraid, but hoping for help. She saw shoes and a pair of jean-clad knees.
“Well, look at this. We found one,” a man with an odd accent said with satisfaction. “I’ll just take care of this.” Moving fast, he looped a cord around her neck and pulled, choking off her cry.
She was going to die…again. Was the plan to kill her over and over? She couldn’t get the cord off. She was blacking out when there was a sudden jerk, and the pressure eased. She ripped the cord away, wheezing as two men fought next to her, their feet stomping perilously close. She struggled to crawl away, her body protesting bitterly.
That’s when the third man kicked her in the ribs, flipping her on her back. She cried out and tried to curl into a ball, but he planted a boot on her belly and plunged a dagger toward her heart.
A shadow fell over him and he shrieked as he flew back. He sailed through the air, and his assailant grabbed his shirt and pinned him to the rock. The man jerked and was still. Blood bubbled out his mouth as her savior let him go. The body remained pinned to the rock, stone spikes protruding through his body.
The victor looked at her. It was the chalk man, but a slightly improved version. This close, he was huge, nearly seven feet. While his skin was less crumbly, it still looked weathered, patchy and gray, like a gargoyle who’d seen a century or two, and his molting hair only aged him further. Eyes like copper chased bronze studied her, still bright with battle.
He was terrifying. Cara cringed and tried to look smaller. She wavered between wanting to cover herself and crawl away. She could see the first attacker’s body discarded on the ground, his head twisted at an unnatural angle.

The rock eater knelt beside her and she shrank away. She didn’t want those huge hands on her.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Dark Lands

Posted with permission:

I did want to drop a line and tell you how much I enjoy your books. I have several in e and physical copies. And I retread them periodically. I'm midway through Mathin's story and was reminded...

I don't think you're writing on the Haunt stories anymore. Too bad.  I always hoped that the old Sylph who warned Andrea away would find her own happy ending after a life of such horrors. I hoped one day she'd be brave enough and strong enough to rescue a Haunt from the cult that has tortured her for so long. Maybe even find out that the kills attributed to her had extenuating circumstances.

An excellent idea. I admit I never gave the old sylph another thought. Amazing how minor characters can affect us.

You've a powerful world if you've still got me trying to imagine an impossible scenario on a cameo character.

I'm baffled about why this world gets hands down, the most email. What is it that you love so much? Is it simply that there are more books in that series? What makes it so special? Why do you want to spend more time there? Obviously it's answering some deep seated need in my readers, but darned if I know what it is.

I'm glad things are going so well for you. Writing is hard work and so many people seem to think the words hit the page with ease and never realize the torture every sentence can be to get just right and lead the reader where you want them to be emotionally.

And yet, I love my job. It's cool that people pay to see what goes on in my head.

Hope you change your mind and return to the Dark Lands someday but I know you have to go where your muse leads you and can't force her hand.

Be well and have another good year.

A Reader

It's true that I can't force creativity, but it can be sparked. Question is, do I have enough tinder to make a blaze?

Reasons why I think readers might like the Dark Lands:

1. They are unique.

Yes, but so are all my worlds.
2. Jasmine was given a truckload of power and became a hero because she didn't use it.

Okay, that's a unique theme that I haven't found anywhere else. But is it enough to excite readers to extreme loyalty? The series has lots of other characters.

3. The men have self control...

Meh. That's common to many of my books. I simply don't get why they are special.

Reasons why I resist writing more Dark Lands:

1. I don't want to ruin it.

It's a fact that writers make money on a strong series, but so often, the books become tired and formulaisic. What's to keep that from happening here?

2. Got tired of it.

When you create a world, you have to keep track of it. Names, timeline, new creations. It gets exhausting, and just because you write the book doesn't mean you can track every detail. Of course, now I keep character sketches and automatically "map" new stuff.

The only thing that might work is a fast write. An ugly, top of my head, unedited word dump. Something so fast I didn't have time to think about it, and so public I couldn't delete it. It would be Dragon text-to-speech on the blog. I've never done that. Could I even restrain my type A self long enough to attempt it? What if I got stuck? What if the end won't come?

What reasonable reader wants to see what lurks under the hood of the writing process? It's not pretty without the wash, wax and shine.

Sudden Sucess Syndrome, New Year's Resolutions

Excessive guilt that inhibits decision-making and undermines pleasure. Guilt about having money. Guilt, and in particular unconscious guilt, may lead to self-defeating behaviors that are ways of punishing oneself for having what one never believed one deserved or was entitled to. We think of this as the “Clinton Syndrome”: when the disparity between one’s life in childhood and one’s adulthood is too great, human psychology seeks to reduce or resolve that disparity. One solution is for people to “shoot themselves in the foot” as a means of making the present more consistent with the past. Human being love consistency and predictability, so we may undermine our achievements if they make us feel guilty, and anxious. It’s as if we say to ourselves, this new person with all this money and success—that’s not me! So we may see people acting impulsively in ways that lead to potentially self-destructive behavior. Feeling guilty or overly self-confident, these folks may act on impulse, over-purchase things, or do things that undermine sound money management. They are not acting as stewards of their wealth.

I was a shy, geeky, sickly kid. Not much changed as a young adult. It wasn't until I moved from AK to WA with my husband and kids and got perspective (and a way better class of doctors) that things began to change. I realized I hated Alaska (there, I can say it) and I had mommy issues. Mom had a deeply narcissistic mother. Mom was always working (her way of dealing with the pain) and while there was love, things were missing. I was sickly, she couldn't take it after dealing with Grandma's hypochondriac stuff, and she had a way of making you feel as if you were making it all up to get attention. Didn't realize until I saw her do the same to my brother as an adult that it wasn't just me who was treated that way.

There's other stuff, but what matters is that I didn't feel worthy. That didn't change until the year I had huge success with my writing and brought in an unprecedented income. Suddenly, I was good enough. It was going to be great, right?

Wrong. It's not about the money. Suddenly becoming celebrated for something that was always frowned on as a kid does not make everything go away. It's not as if my parents were jumping up and down, either. I can count on one hand the times I heard, "Atta girl." They simply suck at encouragement. I hear second hand that they're proud, but that's not the same.

Granted, I was sick. My kid needed homeschooling for a year to combat bullying. People died, stuff happened. Still, things should have been smoother on the creative front. It's not until I began to confront my issues that things began to change.

This year, I want to be balanced no matter what changes happen. I give myself permission to succeed wildly, to not be nice (read: milksop) and to stop worrying about if I deserve it. I worked my tail off for it, I earned it, I'm going to enjoy it.

I give myself permission to guard my kitchen from allergens and to see a movie if I want, or buy six books a month. If I want lobster once a month, I'll buy a tail. If I want to go to lunch every two weeks, I will.

It's not about the money; it's about giving ourselves permission to enjoy our blessings. It's about not wasting what we have. Most of all, it's about not doing what someone else wants just because it's easier.

Screw the easy button! We don't celebrate the easy victories.