New Book

I have a new book of short stories out. They are mostly urban fantasy with a bit of humor.

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The Pain of Pancakes

I have a younger cousin in high school, who is a writer. She isn’t published yet as far as I know but she ended up with that creative gene that affects so many in my family. I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. It is actually comforting when one of us is experiencing one of those pesky writer problems and the other knows exactly what it feels like. This kid has such a bright spark too. Her life hasn’t been the easiest but I know one day she is going to take all of that and use it to do something fantastic.

fairy-1181702_1280My eldest child and this cousin are exactly one year and one day apart in age. If this were a fairy tale that would mean joining together on an epic journey to a hopefully happy ending. Honestly, if they ever decide to do comics or something, it could happen. My eldest is an artist. ( And yes, I realize there are more ways for a collaboration between a writer and an artist to happen other than comic books, but I watch Into the Spider-Verse last night and so comics were the first things that popped into my head.)

I am horrible at making pancakes. (Also know as hotcakes or flapjacks.) You are probably wondering what one thing has to do with the other, but stick with me please, I really do have a point.

This past week was filled to the gills with errands and appointments and I didn’t sleep catnapwell all week. I’ve been having trouble with writing because when I sit down to write I know I don’t have the time to just get lost in the words like I prefer. Everyday worries and responsibilities keep crowding in and I lose my focus. Also, I have just been so tired.

I take naps in my car on my lunch break at work because my head is too fuzzy to concentrate. I have trouble string words together coherently and the filter between my brain and my mouth isn’t working correctly either. This has been going on for a while. I’ve been depressed and frustrated with life and it only seems to get more difficult as the days go on.

Last week my annoyance levels hit the “to hell with it mark”. Often, that is a bad thing but it can occasionally be a good thing too. When I reach THWI, I can either go do something stupid or I can stop looking at all I can’t accomplish and start looking for things I can.

UndertowIn this case, I pulled up the poetry chapbook I have been fighting the formatting on for months. I sat down, added another poem, deleted all the pretty pictures I had plucked off pixabay, added some simplistic basic art instead (also from pixabay), and then spent hours adjusting and deleting things. I paid attention to what got me the result I was after and what caused problems when I uploaded my manuscript to Amazon. I came to the conclusion that I was an idiot when I realized I was causing one of the main issues myself. However, I kept plugging away and now I have a new poetry chapbook available.

(Right now I am also working on a book of short stories because I have had some complaints from readers who prefer physical copies. Once I am done, it will include all of the shorts I currently have up on Amazon and even more shiny new ones.)

Once I finished the book and ordered a proof of the physical copy, I got the oil changed in my car and then washed the poor thing. I started feeling better because I could see progress. I still had all of the other obligations that had been dragging me down but now I felt better about my ability to get things done and I managed to get a little more sleep.

This brings us back to pancakes. I truly am awful when it comes to making pancakes. pancake-640869_1920I have heard all the tips and tricks. I have watched carefully as other people make them but my pancakes still turn out barely edible if I am lucky. My kids beg me to buy the frozen kind that you heat up in the microwave so that they won’t be forced to endure my attempts at the homemade variety.

I usually listen to them, but a few weeks ago there was a sale at the grocery store on mixes. I picked up a packet of confetti style and a packet of chocolate chip batter mix. I smiled as I thought about getting up early on a Sunday and surprising the kids with a breakfast of fun pancakes and bacon. If one of the kids had been at the store with me, those packets would have never made it to the cart.

I know I am bad at pancakes but I still keep hoping that one day I’ll get it, that it will just click and suddenly I’ll be the pancake queen. I am awesome at grilled cheese so I don’t understand why pancakes are so difficult. I used to be really bad at scrambled eggs but my sister eventually fixed that, so I live in hope that I one day I will be good at pancakes too.

(If you doubt my inept pancake skills, I have had at least three different friends on separate occasions walk in on me during pancake experiments over the years. Each time they wore the same expression of horrified disbelief before they pushed me away from the cooking surface and took my spatula, then proceeded to churn out perfect pancakes from the rest of the batter. My friend Jessi could even make them look like cute little animals.)

cold-2722002_1920This morning the house was chilly because yesterday was lovely and sunny and I didn’t think to turn the heat on before bed last night. I slept in because warm blankets in a cool house are one of the best things in the world. When I awoke, I laid there in my warm cocoon and remembered the packets of pancake mix I had stored in the drawer. It was a perfect warm breakfast day.

After letting the dogs out and feeding the cats, I pulled together all of the things I would need and carefully read the instructions on the back of the package. My son walked in while the first pancake was in the pan and quickly requested something different for breakfast. I frowned but told him he could have what he was asking for along with the chocolate chip pancakes. (He is on the autism spectrum and it is hard to get him to eat different things.) Defeated, he left me to it.

craft-1423803_1920.jpgThe first pancake was black. I lost track of how long it was in the pan while talking to my son. The second one was less black but still overdone and with tiny bits of plastic stuck to it where the spatula melted. I cleaned the pan and switch to the metal spatula that I should have been using all along. This time I had better results. Still not good, but better. By the time I got to the end of the batter, I managed two reasonably roundish, lightly browned pancakes. I presented them to my son and ate a couple of the more promising failures myself.  We each ate about half of our pancakes because warm chocolate chips first thing in the morning turned out not to be the best idea.

Life is full of challenges like pancakes. It may seem like something simple that everyonevintage-1722329_1920 you know can accomplish without issue. That doesn’t mean you should be disheartened because it is difficult for you. It just means that it is going to take you extra effort to accomplish what seems easy to them. There are probably things that you do without a second thought that others find hard.

Something I hope both my cousin and my eldest child remember as they grow in talent and in life is that it is okay if the first try doesn’t work. It is okay if your repeated attempts don’t turn out perfect. Success is defined by the person who is attempting to achieve it.

In my case successful pancakes aren’t bunny shaped, they are just edible ones. One day that may change. Right now I know what I need to master first; the challenge that is in front of me.

I have a new book

I still have a lot to learn about publishing and marketing. Honestly, I know very little about marketing at all. I have a few ideas and I did order a few promotional post cards. However, as I was putting the post cards together my ten year old was looking over my shoulder and giving me tips like: “Mommy you need to use a brighter color there, you are trying to draw attention.”I still have a lot to learn about publishing and marketing. Honestly, I know very little about marketing at all. I have a few ideas and I did order a few promotional post cards. However, as I was putting the post cards together my ten year old was looking over my shoulder and giving me tips like: “Mommy you need to use a brighter color there, you are trying to draw attention.”

So he is now my official marketing agent. Especially since he managed to sell a copy of my poetry chap book to the nurse at the doctor’s office a couple of days ago. I guess, being a kid, he gets a lot of promotions shoved in his face all the time. He is smart enough to pick out what the advertisers do to draw attention. So while having a ten year old as a marketing executive may not sound like a wise business move, it is a resource not everyone else is using. I was impressed by him tossing out a sales pitch for the old book while I had my head stuck in editing the proof of the new one. And he had the flu and was running a fever while he did it too.

Anyway, if you want to check out the new book just follow the link below. It is a book of short stories. Most of them are a little odd. The person who edited them referred to them as “Fantastically Weird”. I read at least eight of them to my son while we were in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, even though I didn’t really intend for it to be a children’s book. (There are a few curse words in a couple of stories.) He liked “Deflated” the most. It was one of the newer ones that I wrote just a week before I put the book together.

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The Oak Muse And Other Stories

Overcoming perfection

I started writing a new book.  The other one is still simmering.  I may pull it out this afternoon to poke at it and see if it is ready for the next edit.

My new book isn’t actually very shinny new.  I’ve had the middle of it tucked away for awhile now, I just didn’t know what it was.  I’ve started at the beginning and am planning on writing all the way through to the end. (You know, like how a story is pretty much supposed to go.)   My problem is that I am getting in my way again.  The part I’ve already done is kind of awesome (in my personal opinion) and I want the rest of it to be awesome too.  This is a problem for a first draft.

First drafts may have awesome bits but the whole thing isn’t going to be spectacular the first time through.  That’s why it’s called a First draft.  I have to give myself permission to possibly screw it up.

It is really hard to write something that cannot be fixed later.  I know that.  I’ve written books before. (Mistakes can always be corrected in the next draft.) However, every single time I write a book I still have to force myself over that same hurdle.  It is okay to not be perfect.  Perfect comes later.