It’s spring which in Texas lasts about five minutes. I was inspired to do a tiny bit of gardening after attending an iris show, so I picked up a couple of rose bushes for my front yard. If I think about it, I’ll post pics to prove that I actually planted them and didn’t immediately kill them. Other than that, April is kind of a not-much-going-on kinda month in our family, but there were a few things of note.
I began the month with a new job. Of all the clinics that I’ve been part of starting up or reestablishing, this one has been weird. I spent two days in training for the documentation system sitting next to my new clinic director who had a sore throat. Well, lo and behold, guess what? I caught his cold. I don’t get sick often, and when I do, it usually doesn’t last long, but this time that sucker lasted a good two weeks. Sneezing, congestion, coughing and no over the counter meds touched it, thank you very much. But I’m better now and back to my usual 3-5 violent sneezes every morning and the occasional choking while unintentionally coughing and sipping my hot tea at the same time. Es no bueno.
A fair amount of family stuff this month: my mother sold some of her property, my FIL had two procedures for a skin cancer on his eyelid, and mi esposo scheduled what should be his final surgery following his accident from a year and a half ago. That’ll take place this summer, then let the healing begin. Healing takes time, people! It also takes patience and sheer determination for success.
One of my biggest fears in life is missing a commitment, and I did just that very thing last week. I was supposed to be available to help with the book launch and signing for Reckless in Texas, and I totally had the wrong date in my calendar. OOPS! So, to make up for my faux pax, please click the link and check it out. Lots of great stories in there. The last one, Malice in Dallas, contained more than one award-winning stories. Take a look at both of them.
I haven’t written much this month (less than 1000 words as of today,) but there’s lots of ideas brewing in the noggin. Instead of writing, I’ve read 28 books this month. If you need cozy paranormal mysteries and Texas-based romances recommendations, all you got to do is ask. We can talk books for hours. If you haven’t already bought And They Danced, here’s another plug. If you have but haven’t done a review yet, here’s me begging: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE write a quickie review! (Pretty please and Thank you!)
It’s Spring! In Texas! Which means the weather is confused.
I’ve been enjoying some time off this month. I left my last job on March 10th and don’t start the new job until March 30. Almost a full 3 weeks of an intentional vacation, y’all! That’s a record for me, because I usually forget to plan vacations. What have I done with this time off, you ask? Not much. Got rid of a few things, read, did laundry and dishes, read, a little writing, read, went to my mother’s for two days, read. Whew! That’s a lot!
And They Danced came out earlier this month. I don’t have any sales information as yet, but I’ve been following the Amazon ranking. It’s fluctuated from 300,000 to 1.2 million in the ebook ranking. I didn’t expect it to hit Bestseller out of the starting line, but I think it’s doing well. People seem interested, and those who have been reading it are liking it so far. I haven’t seen any reviews yet, so PLEASE write a little something when you have a chance. It’s the reviews that help promote the book, especially when there are literally millions of books to choose from.
My book was previewed on Lone Star Literary Life. The blog tour is set to begin in May, so that’s coming up. I can’t wait to see how that goes!
My best of list was published on Shepherd.com. I chose The Best Mystery and Suspense Novels Based in Texas. I have no way of knowing how my little list is doing, but it was fun to do and hopefully it helps some of my favorite Texas mystery authors find new readers.
My podcast interview with Kathryn McClatchy at Authorpreneurs Unleashed is available. We discussed Creating a Healthy Writing Lifestyle. The information is for writers and nonwriters alike.
Other than that, it’s been quiet. I’m a member of the board for Writer’s Guild of Texas, and this year I took on the Secretary position for Sisters in Crime North Dallas. Hopefully, I won’t get too overwhelmed or get behind on my other duties. I’m also trying to do more on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram to let people know I’m alive. This also makes for my third blog post in 2023, so that’s impressive. It’s really hard for a homicidally introverted person to be social on any medium. I don’t think of much to say, so unless y’all give me some ideas, you get my ramblings and mutterings.
Can you believe it? Two posts so far this year! Unbelievable!
No, I haven’t been taken over by bots or whatever. I’ve just had a lot going on that I wanted to share.
I got a new car. That’s always a fun thing, right? I’m just the idiot who bought a new car and drove it home in the beginning of an ice storm that shut down Texas for several days. No snow. Just ice. We don’t drive on ice. Ever. (On a side note, the car has all these fancy bells and whistles that I really didn’t need. I kept asking where the Eject button was. Since it didn’t have one, mi esposo installed two much-needed buttons–one for when he’s in the car and one for all other times.
I quit my job. To be fair, I did this after I bought the new car, and I did have another job offer on the table. Whew! Good news is that the new job is half the distance to work as the old one (saving some gas and wear/tear on the new car!). Will still have more than my fair share of traffic but that can’t be helped. Not in Dallas, anyway. I’m currently doing all the set-up for the new clinic, while sorting out my patients at the old clinic.
I submitted book recommendations for Shepherd.com. It’s a website that allows authors to promote their book, while recommending others. I did the 5 best mystery and suspense novels based in Texas. It just so happened that all of them are female authors, and several of them live here as well. My list will be published on February 27.
I set up a blog tour with Lone Star Literary Life. It’s another wonderful site that promotes Texas-based authors and books based in Texas. They will have my book on Preview in March and the tour will be in May. I’ve gotten several great reads from this site, so please check them out.
I completed an interview for the Authorpreneurs Unleased podcast. Kathryn McClatchy and I had a fun discussion about health and writers, although the information applies to all humanoids. The podcast should air in March. I’ll share the link again when it goes live.
I am trying to get the word out about And They Danced (did I mention the release date is March 6?). Please feel free to check it out, share it, and read it. Please, please, pretty please! (Extra brownie points if you can leave a review.)
Until next time (hopefully March) for more updates.
It’s been a while. I know. I’m the suckiest blogger in blogging. I can live with that.
I thought I’d catch you up on recent (2022) events:
In April, my short story, Lost, Then Found, was published in Next Chapters Unleashed.
In July, I signed a contract with Wild Rose Press to publish book 1 of The Tess Corona Chronicles. And They Danced will be available on March 6, 2023. The editing process was interesting and (if you know me at all) involved much cursing.
My work life remained steady until a buyout occurred the end of September. What does one do in upheaval? Take a short vacation to see the grandbaby. Yea!
Outside of work, I read, I wrote (30K words written in November!) and experienced as much as an introverted human can experience without losing her mind. A haunted tavern, Writers in the Field, work happy hours and parties, writing groups, mentoring therapists, and a slew of other peopling events. No wonder I read over 200 books in 2022. Escape is vital to my mental health.
Oh! And my short story, Bjorn Was Here, placed 2nd in the Writers Guild of Texas Kathryn McClatchy Flash Fiction contest.
So, here I am in January 2023. I don’t do resolutions or goals, so don’t ask about those. I’ve got plenty on my to-do list, but I’ve already accomplished a lot this month.
I was strong-armed into being Secretary for my Sisters in Crime group and took possession of the Secretary box last week.
I’ve had some good interviews this week for clinics closer to home.
I’ve read over 20 books so far this year.
I proved that my husband does steal the covers, and I didn’t laugh (much) when he forgot to put his truck in park and had to chase it down.
And I received copies of And They Danced to begin my marketing process. Did I mention that release date is March 6?
Here’s hoping it’s not another year before I can give you a progress report.
Yes, I made up a word. The past two years have been surreal and reality, hence Surreality. You’re welcome.
Like most people, my world has been rocked and rolled over the past two years. I work in health care, so I continued to work through the pandemic, although my patient load and hours got cut back for a while. Things are roughly back to normal on the work front, so that’s good news.
The home front is decidedly not normal. Over the years, we have enjoyed a relatively healthy existence. 2021 decided that needed to change, so in January, the entire household came down with Covid-19. I don’t think I’ve ever been that sick for that long, but we recovered without any major issues.
During my downtime, I decided it was time to find a primary physician and made an appointment with my husband’s doctor. As a healthcare provider I have certain expectations of doctors, and this one didn’t make the cut. I take issue with any doctor who doesn’t ask basic questions regarding my health history, doesn’t address current conditions and concerns, and repeats no less than four times that I need to eat more plant-based foods (without asking about my diet). At least, she did request lab work, a mammogram, and a colon screen (done, done, and done). Now, to find another doctor.
All was going along relatively smoothly until I woke up at 3am over Labor Day weekend in atrial fibrillation. Most might say they had heart palpitations. I’d call it an asynchronized kettle drum thumping on the wrong side of my chest. After an early morning trek to the emergency room (via Whataburger because mi esposo needed breakfast), voila–I now have history of a-fib. Fun. Fortunately, my little, ole heart decided to go back to a normal rhythm without further drama, and I went home with a very nice, shiny cardiologist to call my own. Yippee.
That was nothing.
The next week, mi esposo went in for a cardiac catheterization–nothing was wrong, but his cardiologist wanted to take a look around his heart’s arteries. Mi esposo came away with two stents and a buttload of blood thinners. Nothing wrong, my fanny!
You’d think that would be enough, right? Nope.
In October, mi esposo, the Mimi, and I took a tiny trip to Georgia to meet our new grandbaby girl (I shall call her Girlie). She’s gorgeous, adorable, magnificent, smart, opinionated, and possesses a set of lungs that lets you know she means Business (That’s my girl!). Anyway, on our last day visiting, mi esposo decided to help Myrtle the Elder put some things away in the attic. He took an ill-advised shortcut out of the attic and landed on the concrete garage floor. Did you know that bones don’t like concrete all that much? Nor do they appreciate 8-foot drops onto said concrete. We also discovered that morphine is not his friend, and neither is the LSD-type concoction that he received in the emergency room to control the pain.
So, while mi esposo experienced life in a Georgia hospital and rehab, I had to come home and figure out how I was going to get him back to Texas. After three weeks, Myrtle the Younger and I trekked back to Georgia, sprung mi esposo from jail–I mean rehab, and hauled him home in a four-day, whirlwind trip that I’m still recovering from four months later. He’s healing well but has more therapy and surgery in his future.
And we have a new normal.
The weirdness of 2020 and 2021 has given me a lot of time and fodder for my writing. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve entered a few more short story/flash fiction contests and done pretty darn well if you’re interested (well, you must be if you’re reading this). A friend is producing an anthology this spring, and I’ve submitted a story for it. Stay tuned for more details.
I have finished the first two books of my newest series, The Tess Corona Chronicles. (No, I did not name her after the virus! The name was given two years before the pandemic, and no, I am not changing it. So, there.) I’m querying agents and publishers for the first novel–And They Danced, and I’m working with my critique group on the second–And They Played. Writing of the third book, And They Hid, has commenced. If that isn’t enough, I still have to write the last book of the Spiritual Gifts trilogy, books 3 and 4 of the Daemon series, a non-fiction work, and at least a dozen or so short stories.
Did I mention that I work full-time? And that mi esposo can’t do most of the things I need him to do? There aren’t enough hours in the day.
In typical fashion, I haven’t blogged in awhile. Sorry. I’ve been busy–aren’t we all?
In April, I received first place in the Writer’s Guild of Texas Flash Fiction for my submission, The Cape. I am writing and submitting other short stories to a wide range of contests and anthologies as I hear about them. Wish me luck!
I finished the first book for the Tess Corona Chronicles. The series title has got through several agonizing changes, but I think I’ll just stick with the above. Now to nail a title for the book itself. The current title is And They Danced. Book two (currently titled And They Played) is about halfway written.
I did some querying for the first book but got frustrated–as predicted in my last post. It seems that after all one’s hard work to jump through the required hoops (What authors/books/movies is your book comparable to? How should I know? No one else has written my book!), many agents don’t bother to reply if they aren’t interested. Out of about 25 queries, I received about 5 responses. I may try again–I may not. Stay tuned.
Right now, I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone. I mentioned before that I took a board position for one of my writer’s groups, and last month I opened my big mouth and took over the webmaster position. No joke, people. I (the least technology-savvy of all) am a webmaster. The first thing I did after getting the training–I wrote the password down wrong. Once we got that squared away, I got in and somehow managed to update a couple of items, but gave a section an extra space that won’t go away. To add to my insanity, I volunteered to be a Facebook moderator for a writing conference. I’ve never moderated anything before, and I don’t tend to interact much, so this will be interesting. This is all on top of my brilliant decision to attend two conferences in the same weekend.
The only other notable is that I’ll be a grandmother by September. It’s a scary thought, but I’m proud of Myrtle the Elder. I don’t know what to ask the baby to call me. The current contenders are Nana, Nonnie, or Gilly. Gilly is a play on Gilda (which is what the Myrtles called me whenever I caught them goofing off). Or the baby might decide on some other name that will be a great fit.
Most of my social media feeds show people reflecting on 2020 and planning for 2021. I am not a planner–not even what’s for dinner–but I do make an effort to at least sketch out a calendar with important dates. This year I tried to at least look at what I accomplished in 2020. In a year of global ups and downs, I have to admit my year was mostly up.
Ups: I opened the year getting 3rd place in a local short story contest (Transplant), then got 1st place in August (All Saints). I published my 4th book (Valkyrie) in May, finished my 1st manuscript for a new series-The Cerveza Chronicles, and made headway on the 2nd novel. I participated in National Write a Novel Month for the 5th time, and PitchWars for the 1st time.
My learning process continued with (in person and online) meetings and classes for Skywarn, TCU Center of Texas Studies, Texas Discovery Gardens, Sisters in Crime (North Dallas, Heart of Texas, Houston, North California, National), Bourchercon-Sacramento, Writer’s Guild of Texas, Dallas Mystery Writers, Dallas Area Writers Group (DAWG), Roanoke Writers Conference, Writer’s Organizations ‘Round Dallas (WORD), and Frisco Area Writers Group (FAWN). Basically, if they let me in, I took notes.
My oldest–Myrtle the Elder–came to visit in January and bought her first home in February. She also got a new puppy–a Boston Terrier name Moose. My other granddogs are doing well. Doc had a bloody ear, but otherwise avoided having his stomach pumped again (win!). I’ve been able to keep in touch with friends through Zoom, Discord, texting, and the occasional porch or driveway visit.
T’s Adventures in Cooking including learning to fill tamales (yum!), making my first chicken and dumplings and beef stew, my first cobbler (blog post-Drunk Peaches), not-my-first-but-it’d-been-awhile Thanksgiving turkey, and the best smoked Christmas ham with a cranberry-dijon glaze (seriously good and ham isn’t my favorite meat).
Downs: In March, my husband and I had to put our 15 year old black lab to sleep (blog post-My Boy). I still miss my boy.
Covid-19 affected everyone I know in one way or another. One family member (a nurse) caught it early on but recovered. Friends went into strict quarantine due to health concerns, and most transitioned their work to home. My job (occupational therapist) doesn’t have the luxury of working from home, but we did have to decrease our hours temporarily. Fortunately, my employer did everything they could to keep us working, and I had over 100 hours of vacation time (because I forget to plan time off) accumulated to offset the difference.
Personally, I haven’t allowed the pandemic to limit me. I live my life, wear a mask, and respect others space. It doesn’t work for many, but it works for me.
What does 2021 hold for T?
No clue. I’m attempting to make a few plans. I’m going to take the leap and query agents for The Cerveza Chronicles. Honestly, I’m not sure how patient I will be with that process, but we’ll see. I am a new board member of Writers Guild of Texas (pray for them, they know not what possessed them). Any and all classes, meetings, critiques, contests, etc that I am capable of participating in, shall be participated in. And Myrtle the Younger and I will continue our Adventures in Cooking (she got a tiny waffle maker for Christmas-yummy!) so stay tuned for whatever crazy whim we get a taste for, without setting the kitchen on fire (it’s a skill I haven’t mastered yet. My mother has achieved that greatness at least 3 times that I know of).
Many blessing to all for a HEALTHY and SAFE 2021!
I have mentioned in the past–more than once–that I am not a cook. It’s not that I can’t cook, I don’t like planning to cook, preparing to cook, cooking, and cleaning up after cooking. Except on special occasions like when I have help, inspiration, or a really good reason to darken the kitchen doors. Let me just say that I haven’t killed anybody or anything with my cooking–yet.
I should also mention that–despite not possessing the will to cook wholesome food for my family on a daily basis–I apparently inherited the family trait of collecting recipes and improvising, which I have passed on to the Myrtles. Myrtle the Eldest is quite amazing in the kitchen and Myrtle the Youngest is my partner in crime when I want to test out something wild and crazy.
The latter was the case a couple of weeks ago, but let me first give a little background. I live in Texas which has many “state foods”: BBQ, chili, Tex-Mex, corny dogs, to name a few. Cobblers might be considered a “state dessert” and are a staple at many pot-lucks. That said, I had never ever made a cobbler–homemade or otherwise. So June, 2020 rolled around along with my father-in-law’s birthday and I decided I would attempt to make a peach cobbler for him.
Now when I do cook, especially for a special occasion, I make an effort to do it right. I follow a recipe (not always–rarely–with precision), and, when possible, I use fresh ingredients. This peach cobbler had to have fresh peaches (it took freakin’ forever to peel and cut up six or seven peaches only to find one of them was bad). It smelled good, it tasted good, and everyone in the vicinity wanted a repeat. Which I proceeded to do a few weeks later for mi espouso’s birthday.
Moving on to a couple of weeks ago, I decided that peach cobbler with brandied peaches sounded kinda good. Have I ever had brandied peach cobbler? No. Have I ever sampled brandied peaches? No. Have I ever had brandy? No. Am I going to modify the current successful recipe to meet my current yen? Why yes, yes I am.
Fortunately, Myrtle the Younger is on board with this idea, so off we go to the liquor store (because one must have brandy to make brandied peaches, don’t you know–did I mention that I’ve never had brandy before?). Obtaining peaches and brandy, we proceeded to skin the poor little darlings and I decide that a cup of brandy in the pot oughta do the trick. But first, as all good chefs should do, we must taste the brandy.
I do not like brandy.
But I continue with the plan and allow the peaches to soak up as much alcohol as they wished while the bowl sat in my fridge. Every few days, Myrtle the Younger would ask when we were going to do the cobbler. I kept putting it off because–you know–I don’t want to cook. We even bought a few more unsaturated peaches to mix with the drunk ones so we would be able to drive after sampling the cobbler (not that we needed to go anywhere, but just in case someone had to go buy another dessert or go to the ER).
Finally, she corners me and I agreed we needed to do the deed today. The first thing we did, with great trepidation, was remove the lid of the sloshed peaches in hopes that they would still be edible. They seemed happy, so we moved to the fresh peaches. The three remaining ones were REALLY RIPE by this time but were still usable.
While I’m peeling the fresh peaches, Myrtle looks up the recipe and happens upon a recipe (get this) for brandied peach cobbler. It called for 1.5 TEASPOONS of brandy over fresh peaches without letting them set. If I recall correctly, I doused my little guys in about 1 CUP and let them percolate for two weeks. OOPS!
We continued with our endeavor, deciding to follow the original recipe, and lo and behold, we made a darn good drunk peach cobbler for dessert!
Now I have to get more peaches, before they are out of season, and set them to swimming in a new bath of brandy. I also have reserved peachy brandy marinade that I need a use for. Stay tuned.
A couple of weeks ago, I did this thing–I entered a local writer’s group short story contest. Each month the Granbury Writers’ Bloc posts a challenge to write a story of less than 1500 words for a given prompt. August happened to be an open prompt category. While there are many contests out there, few offer a critique for each entry. This contest offers feedback for each entry, and that alone is worth the entry fee.
This month had the added incentive of receiving a “plot bunny”. Meet Lena the Lizard.
Lena promises to help me write more short stories (I have to provide the poop).
Before this year, I had written two short stories–SMACK! and A Smile for Noelle–as a challenge to myself. While I did submit SMACK! for a Texas horror anthology (I figured Hey! Why not!), those stories were never critiqued. In January, I submitted Transplant to the GWB Short Story Contest. I was pleased to get 3rd place for that effort. In addition to this contest, I’ve written a few flash fiction stories (under 300 words) for another group I belong to (maybe someday I’ll post those).
So back to my current short story–I wrote All Saints as a complement to my paranormal cold case series (formerly referred to as The Corona Chronicles, but now will be called Chronicles of the Cerveza Twins–or something like that). Wanting good feedback, I submitted All Saints as a short story.
And I won. First place. To say I was excited is an understatement. Mi Espouso said I was going to be difficult to live with (I think he’ll survive). There were only two comments given in the feedback, including the statement “One of the best stroies[sic] of any genre I’ve read in a long time.”
Well, doesn’t that just put things in perspective? I am floored. This is someone who reads as much as I do, if not more, and my fourth attempt at a short story was the best they’ve read in a long time?
Wow. If that isn’t the incentive to keep writing, I don’t know what is.
My story, along with the 2nd and 3rd place winners, are posted at Granbury Writers’ Bloc. Check them out. Send them love and support.
A while back, a friend asked about first concerts. You know the type of question: What was your 1st car (’73 government surplus AMC Ambassador station wagon–top that for ugly!), What was your 1st pet? (a Boston terrier–Lady Noble Blue (edit-the Mimi corrects me. It was Noble Lady Blue. Forgive me for screwing up a pedigreed name. I was one! I called her Boo or Blue)–given to me for my 1st birthday by my great-grandparents), etc.
Anyway, I assumed my friend was referring to big, popular music-type concerts. As the daughter of a musician, I’ve been to many concerts of the symphonic and choral variety as an attendee, volunteer, or participant. Of the typical rock or country concert, I have only attended a handful.
My first was at the tender age of 12ish. My mother and a friend of hers took me to see Fleetwood Mac. That’s a pretty cool first concert in anybody’s book. I clearly remember 4 things from this event. The first was Stevie Nicks standing on stage, wearing a flow-y, handkerchief-type dress, standing in front of a fan which blew everything around. She was probably singing Rhiannon, but I don’t remember for sure. My preteen self thought it was cool. Second, I remember Christine McVie apologize for John McVie’s absence from the stage; he apparently ate some bad fish.
After that, the two things I remember weren’t so much fun. There was the drunk-off-his-keister dude who plopped his smelly self on the steps next to me and proceeded to drink, smoke, yell, and flick his Bic while falling over into my lap. Mom removed me to the next seat and called for security clean-up on aisle 5. That was fun.
As we were leaving, another, equally stoned/drunk/stupid guy tried to stop me from leaving. Not the thing to do in front of a Momma Bear. Nope. I do not recommend it.
Needless to say, that experience set the tone for subsequent concerts. For my 16th birthday, my dad got me and 3 friends tickets to see Van Halen. I only remember David Lee Roth’s backside-less leather jeans that he waggled around on stage (why did I think that was cool?), and the guy who tried to pick me up after the concert. Fortunately, my friends possessed more sense than me and told him off.
Then there was the Journey concert with mi (future) espouso, his brother, my brother, and whoever my brother was dating at the time. I think the concert was good, but I don’t remember because a couple of girls decided to park themselves in the aisle to smoke their joints, block my view, and sing along (badly and loudly). It took me about twenty minutes to get mi (future) espouso to have security remove them from the vicinity. One would think with me beating on his arm for that long, he might have gotten the message a little quicker. I might have been a little upset by the ordeal.
Any excitement about going to see someone live has since been squashed. I’ll go to see someone if it’s a quieter venue or if it’s part of another event like a ballgame.
That’s enough about my concert experiences. Feel free to share yours. If you can top the 1st car category, I’m sorry…so, so sorry.