Category Archives: Writing

Retirement? Hardly. Find Your “Icky Guy” and Do It Until You Die!

When should I retire? What will I do when I no longer have a job that requires me to get up, show up, and punch-in? This article from the Harvard Business Review questions whether we need or should want to retire at all. It goes on to present evidence that the happiest and longest-lived people are those who never really retire, and instead spend their later years pursuing their ikigai (pronounced “icky guy” and meaning, essentially, life dream or life purpose).

I’m not quite to retirement age yet, but I’m getting there faster than I care to admit. Fortunately, I have my retirement all planned out: quit the day job and spend all my time writing books, instead of just evenings and weekends. I started thinking this way a long time ago, because, as it happens, I have great role models for the second half of life in my mom and dad.

Upon retiring, Dad dove into his favorite pastime—wood-working. It’s something he’d done his whole life “on the side” of his engineering job. He didn’t do it for money; it was just a passion…and he’s good at it. He’s an incredibly talented craftsperson. He’s built custom-designed stage sets for my sister’s productions (she’s a drama queen and a drama teacher). He’s built several pieces of specialty furniture for my house and others, each with soft-close drawers and hidden storage and artful touches. And he even offered to build a fine outdoor home for my pampered pooch, but I declined this, as said pooch prefers the spot under my desk for her eighteen-hour days as personal foot-warmer.

My mother, on the other hand, has taken retirement to a whole new level. She learned two brand-new skills in her “dotage”: computer-aided embroidery and digital logo design, and combined them into a business she’s been successfully running for a couple decades now. Last Christmas, while we were trying to have a family holiday, she was constantly fielding phone calls from customers with last-minute embroidered gift requests. Thankfully, she told them all she was closed until New Year’s!

What can I tell you about my parents’ lives? Are they harried and hurried and worn out from their post-retirement-age activities? Heck no. Dad will be 83 this month, and Mom will kill me for telling you all that she’ll soon be 76. Both are happy, healthy, and energetic people, with all their wits about them. They travel, entertain, attend theater and concerts, and spend boatloads of time with the grandchildren. Rocking on the porch makes up a very small part of their daily routine. They are who I want to be when I grow up. Or grow old. Or whatever you want to call life past 65. But whatever you call it, don’t call it dull, boring, or RETIRED!

My First Book Trailer

So I’m finally being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the world of moving pictures. I’m not a huge fan of video myself; I tend to prefer reading articles to watching videos. Like many of you I’m sure, I can read (or at least skim) an article much faster than anyone can speak the information out loud to me, but more than that, I seldom want to hear every single word of text therein. If I’m in search of a single piece of information, I don’t want to patiently sit through three minutes of unneeded content to get to that one gem I’m after. And most importantly, once I’ve found the bit I seek, I want to be able to study it and think about it and get back to it quickly without having to fast-forward and rewind. All of that said, I’ll admit that, yes, sometimes, video is educational or entertaining in a way that words alone will never be, and to that end, I buckled down and created a video to present my two series and added a really cute, fun piece of background music to set the mood. Try it out and let me know what you think!

The Gifted Ones Book 3 Now Available!

I promised Book 3 of The Gifted Ones series for Halloween, and here it is. The Animator focuses on a Gifted One you’ve already met, and a certain lady he’s very taken with. This is the official blurb:

Ellie’s Aunt Grace has always had a love/hate relationship with The Gifted Ones. Deep down, she blames them for destroying her sister’s life, so when Doo Clovis, an especially kind-hearted Gifted One, shows her some attention, she isn’t quick to take the bait. When Grace finally lets her guard down and begins to warm to the handsome cowboy and his old-money Texas family, however, she is unprepared for the evil that lurks in the more distant branches of his family tree. The next thing she knows, Grace is found with blood on her hands, sucked into a web of lies and deceit, and must turn to The Gifted Ones to get herself out.

It’s showing on all the big vendors now. You can find the purchase links on the book’s page. So scoot on over there, and hunker down for a hunky read.

Cover Reveal for The Gifted Ones, Book 3

Still lots of editing to do on this puppy, but we’ve got a nice cover done, so I thought I’d float it out in the world and see what people think. Anyone who’s not sighing over this rugged-yet-thoughtful cowboy is clearly not into guys. But if that’s the case, that’s okay, because, as usual, there are plenty more players where that one came from—my stories are nothing if not packed with colorful characters. And if you’re wondering what they’ll be up to in this one, the blurb is up for The Gifted Ones Book 3, The Animator on the series page.
 
Given that we’ve now got the outside of Book 3 finished, and we’ll have the inside done in another 10-14 days, I’m certain this installment of The Gifted Ones series will go live before Halloween, as promised. The book will be available in all the popular ebook outlets, as I don’t do the whole “exclusive with Amazon” thing. Yes, I wish my books could be available to borrow in Amazon’s all-you-can-read club (“Kindle Unlimited“), but I’m just not willing to help Amazon shut down every other ebook vendor on the planet in exchange, and that’s what they require of small publishers who want to participate.
 

Worse Ways to Spend Your Weekend

Well, how-dee! Yes, there surely are worse ways to spend your weekend, but I have to admit, after staring at about a thousand pictures of handsome cowboys the past few days, my eyes are bugging out. I’ve been searching for just the right model and just right the pose for my next book cover, and as usual, I’m incredibly hard to please. No picture is ever quite right. It took me about a week to find the image I wanted for Book 2 of The Gifted Ones, but that was of a Native American man, and those are hard to come by. The striking cowboy from Amarillo, Texas needed for Book 3, I thought, should be a cinch. Well, the pictures are easy enough to find, it’s settling on just the right one that’s tough. I’ve been to five different photo sites already and found dozens of handsome hunks I’d be happy to marry…or adopt…or pay to just stand around looking pretty all day. But now I have to narrow it down. What do y’all think of this swoon-worthy farm boy from 123RF?
 

Under The Covers


 
Conventional ebook publishing wisdom has it that changing up your covers every so often is a good marketing move. You can revitalize an older book or series and draw in new readers by giving your product a whole new look, or so the recommendation goes. If it works for politicians and fast food restaurants, it ought to work for ebooks, right? Well, I’m not sure I follow the logic, but you’d be surprised—even covers that you once drooled over start to look old and tired when you’ve seen them too much. So, just to relieve my own eye fatigue, and in celebration of almost ten years since I started the first book in the series (Little Miss Straight Lace), I’ve invested in a beautiful new set of covers for my old standy-by, Unbreakable. Remember, if you haven’t read it yet, the first book is free, so grab it now and try out the new skin!

 

The Gifted Ones Book 2: A Learner

In case anyone missed it, last week we released the second book in The Gifted Ones series, as promised, on pi Day (3/14/15), though we didn’t quite make the 9:26 AM deadline to really give it the geeky math mojo (3.1415926). The book is available in all the usual outlets—just check the series page for purchase links.
 
And if you haven’t seen it yet, here is the final synopsis of the story to pique your interest:
In the second volume in the series, Daniel Holybear, a Native American Gifted One, finds himself at odds with a development company that is threatening the peaceful seaside town he grew up in. When the company’s construction project unearths a mysterious stone tablet, Daniel calls on his Gifted friends to help secure the stone and uncover its secrets. Their efforts to assist him, however, are complicated by a peculiar kinship Ellie senses between Daniel and the project’s lovely manager. As their relationship deepens, Ellie finds her Gift bringing more pain than pleasure to those around her, and ultimately leading one of them to the brink of tragedy.

 
Since the book is brand new, it’s painfully shy of reviews, so if anyone would like a free copy in exchange for a review, just drop us a line on our contact page, and we’ll send you the file type of your choice, straightaway.
 

 
Cover Photo Credit:

The Gifted Ones Book 2 Cover Reveal

Argh! Here I go, once again, madly in love with my own, sadly, fictional creation. Meet Daniel Holybear, another of the Gifted Ones, and a descendant of the Manitoke Indian tribe in eastern North Carolina. When a nearby construction project uncovers an ancient artifact on tribal lands, Daniel calls in some of the Gifted folks that readers met in Book One to help unravel the mystery and protect the property from unscrupulous developers. But you needn’t worry yourselves with all that, just sigh and drink in all the lovely alpha-maleness you can stand. He does make a very fine cover model, doesn’t he? And for those of you who want more than a just a pretty picture, hang in there, the book is in final editing now, and will be released before pi day (3/14/15).

 
Cover Photo Credit: fatalsweets @dreamstime.com