It is said that writing is the world’s second oldest profession, and it is just about as respected. From a young age, I was taught that doing what you love was no way to make a living. In some ways, those who dispensed that wisdom were right: writing for a living is hard, and there are seasons where it is less hard, but it is never easy.
I was told this despite the fact that many who told me I needed to plan for a “real job” were Christian school teachers, pastors, and others who certainly had not pursued wealth, but were doing “ministry” work, something God had called them too. But the arts? Please. That was a dirty word.
Not to mention that I wanted to write the things I read: sci-fi, horror, and thrillers. These books and their topics were clearly sent to my mind from the depths of hell. After all, many of those sci-fi writers were atheists who believed in evolution. The horror!
It never seemed to resonate with me that I was part of the evil poor: that my single mom, a school teacher, might be somehow less because she chose to do something she loved for less money than she could have earned elsewhere because she loved it, and felt like she was making a difference.
But musicians, artists, authors, even freelance writers are told to live frugally. Often we are told we should stop acting like children and get “real jobs.” Yet without writers, almost any business is dead in the water: you need artists, you need writers, you need musicians. Yet there is a strange aversion to paying for this type of work: when there is free music you can pick up on the internet (the equivalent of a dive bar) why would you purchase an album (i.e. hire an escort).
Art is Not Always a Choice
Here’s the thing. As a creative, making time for your art is not always a choice. Sometimes it is a need, and if you ignore it long enough, bad things happen in your life. A bored creative who is not creating is a monster.
It is good to understand this, even if you are not a creative yourself. If a creative person can get paid to do what they love, they should do so, even if it means sacrificing a huge income or grandiose career prospects.
As I stated above, as a musician, artist, or a writer, you must learn to live frugally. That has always been true. However, someone who gets paid for their craft, especially if they get paid well, is not a shameful thing. It doesn’t mean they have sold out. It simply means they have found a way to make what they are compelled to do into a job.
Art is an Honor
Have you ever read a book or an article that changed your thinking or your life almost instantly? Have you ever looked at a painting or read a poem that took your breath away? Someone created that art or wrote those words, and that person has bills to pay just like you do.
As a creator, it is an honor to inspire others with the things you do. As a writer, the goal is not only to make a living, but to touch others, and to be read and understood. When someone gets what you have to say, or even better is moved to action, the euphoria is amazing.
As one who has been inspired, it should be an honor to support the artist who inspires you, the writer who influences your thinking, or the poet who touches your heart.
Art Should not Equal Poverty
Despite what art does for us, we are often loathe to pay for it. We download books onto our Kindles or other e-readers for free. We listen to free music, complaining when we have to pay a premium to remove ads. We download art and photos through Google images, often without credit to the creator. We torrent movies, justifying to ourselves that they are just too expensive, and those Hollywood types make tons of money anyway.
We steal creative endeavors from the creator and then make snide comments about how no one can make a living as an author, an artist, or a musician. We laugh at them because they have to work a “day job” and pursue their hobbies in the wee hours of the morning or late at night.
It is not the profession that is the problem. It is our unwillingness to pay for things that are truly valuable, that add meaning to our lives.
Making a living doing what you love is hard. Not being able to pay your bills by doing it makes things even tougher. Your profession being treated like something that has no value is discouraging and depressing.
But loving what you do and making money should not be things that are exclusive. Being able to do both should be considered one of life’s highest achievements.
There are times when I realize fiction is really hard work. It is perhaps the most time consuming of things that I do in the writing and publishing world, and if you work out the pay by the word or the hour, there are plenty of other ways to make more money writing.
At the same time, I love it. I am a born storyteller. Every article I write, every blog I post is a story of some sort. Even marketing materials take the reader on a journey, if a short one. The reader has a problem, and the writer leads them on the journey to solve it, even if it is as mundane as someone with dirty clothes looking for the best laundry soap to get them clean.
But every now and then, a reader or reviewer reaches out, and when you hear or read that your words, the story you have told, touches someone, you pause and realize those words, those touched lives, are why you do what you do. It is worth all of the pain, the hours of writing and editing that go into producing a book.
It happened to me again recently, when I got a notification of a five-star review of my Kindle short, The Angel. The reviewer said simply this:
“I’ve suffered several tragedies in the last few years. I thought I had dealt with each loss in turn. Yet Lambert’s prose is so deceptively innocent that shines a light on any darkness lurking on the fringes of your consciousness. I found the message of The Angel stayed with me for days.”
I write stories so not only will they be read, but the world will be changed for the better because they have been told. I have not always been successful in achieving that goal. Sometimes a story is just a story.
But The Angel was different. It was special to me and still is. When I read Hans Christian Anderson’s poem “The Dying Child” I knew it had to be a part of this.
When we read, we do so for many reasons. We want to feel, we want to escape, we want to travel to other places. But sometimes if I can make you feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, if the light that shines from my stories can dispel the darkness in you at all, it is worth it.
That is why I write stories. That is why I bother to write fiction at all. Because words can change the world, even if only the world of one person, and only for a moment.
It’s a simple thing that happens every day. People get married, and when they do, one party takes the other one’s last name, symbolizing their family unity. Sometimes people choose to do things differently though. Some women keep their maiden name, while others retain it while hyphenating it with their new last name.
My wife Abby and I decided to do something a little different and come up with an entirely new last name, The conversation went something like this:
H: “We should come up with a new last name, and combine ours.”
M: “That’s a great idea. What did you have in mind?”
H: “I don’t know. Let’s try some.”
Then the hilarity began. I mean, how do you combine Lambert and Morehouse without making something that sounds, well, awful?
H: “Lambhouse? Nope, sounds like a slaughterhouse.”
M: “I like it.” (Thriller author, cool ass name, bro, Plus, Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut? What could be better?)
H: “No, our last name should not be scary. Morebert?”
M: “Just ew. How about Berthouse?”
H: “Sounds like a Sesame Street spin off.”
M: “Morelamb. That one makes me hungry.”
H: “Our name is not going to be a dinner request. How about Bertmore?”
M: “Not too bad. Bertmore. I like it.”
So we kicked it around, and it stuck. However, life also happened. Our July wedding moved to March, Abby had an emergency surgery in February, and we were frazzled, financially strapped, and stressed out. So we really didn’t clearly research of think through HOW to change both of our names.
See, here’s the deal. Either party can change their last name to that of the person they are marrying, provided at least one of those names is on the marriage certificate. But you can’t both change your name to something else without going through the legal name change. Ideally one of us would have changed our names before the wedding, but we didn’t know what we didn’t know, and we certainly didn’t have the bandwidth or the finances to take care of it either.
So we discovered how much it would cost. Court filings, $160. Each. Running your ad in the legals to tell the world (and any creditors or anyone else who would object to the name change) that you are changing your name for good? $130. Each. Both of us having a new name all our own? Priceless.
On November 15th, we stood before a judge, and became officially the Bertmores, about 8 months after our wedding, which is perhaps another story for another day.
It’s a different feeling, having a new last name. Standing in front of the judge felt good, peaceful. We both feel even more united, more solid as a couple.
Or course now begins the process of changing our names on literally everything. Social Security Card, Driver’s License, debit cards, payroll, car registrations.
I’ll be keeping Lambert as my nom de plume for writing, so my books will not be changing, and you may see me sporting the hyphen some places, just so people are not confused too much.
We’ve become the Bertmores. The process started in March, and is now complete. So if you see us slowing down to sign our names that’s why.
There is an aspect of education that is missing when your childhood is sheltered by four brick walls and a steeple. Inside, all knowledge is filtered by a certain set of rules and expectations, and nothing is allowed to pass through the row of glass doors that does not conform to the road declared to be both narrow and hard to find.
It’s not that my private school education wasn’t excellent. I learned Latin when many kids my age did not, which has many significant advantages that have served me well, including ease in expanding vocabulary and studying certain languages. We read from selected classic literature, Mathematics classes were rigid and rigorous. We were encouraged to read, although our choices were limited by morality. In addition we of course knew the Bible inside and out, at least the approved version and the scriptures that aligned with the culture the church and school were trying to promote, a sure way to dominate certain trivia and Jeopardy categories.
See the full article about how Christian school shaped my life here, on Huffington Post and find all my Huffington Post Articles on my Troy Lambert author page.
Of late you could say that things have been hard. But before you take some kind of pity on me, let me say that these have also been some of the best times of my life. It’s a paradox hard to come to terms with, and one that has left me deep in thought. If you have been following my blog, you know the story, or at least parts of it.
So let me enlighten you a little, and see if in doing so I may also be able to help you when you are going through tough, but awesome days as well.
Love and Marriage
Finding the woman I love and getting married has been the most wonderful thing on the planet. I mean, Abby is the light of my life, and I have never loved anyone as much as I love her, and never had as much fun with anyone either.
At the same time, she has an incurable and unpredictable disease. One week she is fine, the next not so much. It is a much tougher position for her of course: she has to go through the pain, the lack of energy, and the frustration.
I knew early on the role of caregiver would fall heavily on my shoulders, and because of the love I have for her, I don’t object at all. But that does not mean it is not hard sometimes. The unpredictability is the hardest: it is really tough to plan anything other than tentative events.
Still, we’re growing together and we are having some really fantastic times together, and I would not trade being by her side for anything. Times are good, and times are hard at the same time.
In the last year I have gone from being 100% freelance to part freelance, part day job. Things I thought would be long term parts of my career have taken a back seat or disappeared altogether, and it looks like I am headed a whole different direction.
Fiction writing has been slow. The unpredictable thing mentioned above, along with balancing the interests of a really cool and really involved teenager and all of us coming together as a new family, have combined to make setting aside consistent time to write difficult.
I’ve come to a crossroads where I need to make more money, so I really need to decide what direction I am going: am I going to get a Bachelor’s and head for a Masters? Am I getting my real estate license and doing that on the side, while continuing with my writing and hoping to make some investments in property? Or do I stay where I am and get on a career track balancing them and freelance work?
You see the dilemma I am sure. Where do I go to school, and how do I find the time? What happens if Abby gets sick? Do I have jobs I can keep working, classes I can attend online? How do I balance all of this and still have time for a life?
What About Friends?
I used to be heavy into writers groups and out with my friends all the time. But with the new job, the new family (where I actually like staying home and spending time with them) I have been doing the typical newlywed isolation thing, even when Abby is well.
So I have not been getting out as much. I have been a pretty shitty friend, and I miss large parts of my friend group I have not seen in a while. There are times when I just feel overwhelmed with it all. I miss that one aspect of my life, while other parts are going really well.
It’s hard, and it is good. I almost feel depressed sometimes at how much I want to get back into the social and writing group swing of things, and yet euphoric at how our son is blossoming and how wonderful spending time with my new bride is.
So how do I handle these things? Well, I do not always handle them well. But thanks to counseling and many things I have learned over the last few years about self-care, most of the time I try to use the RAIN method something taught by Tara Brach.
Recognize: Check in on yourself and see how you are feeling. This is something that takes some getting used to.
A few times I check in and find that in a positive situation, I am actually feeling a little down, as if I am missing something. Others, I am feeling frustrated and angry due to some event from my past similar to the situation I am in. The emotion is triggered in the present by those past events, and I need to recognize what the emotion is, and if possible what is causing it.
Allow: What we resist, persists. So it is important to give space to the emotion, and allow it to exists. It is okay to have negative feelings about a situation.
What is more important is how you react to them, and what place you allow them to have in your life. However, simply pushing down or denying an emotion seldom works long term. You need to simply allow the emotion to be.
Investigate: Determine where you feel the emotion? Is it in your head, your gut, your heart? As you deal with or process through the emotion, does it move? Does it hurt less?
Nurture: Realize in a non-judgmental way that the emotion exists, but that it is simply a passing cloud, and does not need to define you.
Last, have a safe space in your mind that you can go to. A place that is peaceful and calms and soothes your spirit.
Is this a perfect way to make the best of hard but good times? Maybe not. Is it hard? Yes. Does it work for everyone? No, probably not.
But taking the time to follow RAIN has helped me deal with these issues better, at least mentally. As for the rest, all I can try to do is be the best husband, worker, and friend I can be. And if I fail, forgive me. After all, it is the best of hard times.
Thanks so much to my fellow authors from Tirgearr Publishing for giving us each the opportunity to guest on their blogs. It’s been a pleasure to discover more about Elizabeth Delisi, Troy Lambert, and Kristi Ahlers during this process.
As you have likely realized over the past few days- our Press is having a birthday, their fifth, in fact! So to celebrate authors are discounting their books for a few precious days, February 26th through the 29th. Each our books will be available for just 0.99. That’s unreal to me. That means you could my book, The Dragon in The Garden, twenty times for the same price as a typical hardback. What a wonderful time to be a reader!
It’s a wonderful time to be a writer as well. While, traditional publishing is struggling, people ARE reading more than ever. They are simply doing it in new ways. The trick is to figure out how to capitalize on those ways in such a manner as to make a living wage at this business. I’ll let you know if I ever figure that part out. Still, with computers our work is faster and easier, while the digital age offers a myriad of new formats in which to distribute and market our work.
The Dragon in The Garden is my first published novel and is included in the Tirgearr Super Sale! Here’s a bit about it: There is magic beneath the mundane and in The Dragon in the Garden, Siobhan Orsini witnesses it all. No lie can fool her, no glamour or illusion can cloud her Sight. She sees through them all and wishes she could close her eyes. Returning to face her past, Siobhan inherits her grandparents’ house in California’s wine country. She encounters a talking dragon, a hot fallen angel, a demon lord, a Valkyrie, and, oh yes, her ex-boyfriend. And that is just in the first twenty-four hours.
It’s time to find out why she has this power.
Siobhan seeks out the Oracle and learns that only her Sight can help mankind navigate the travails of an ancient war. Our world is the prize in a battle between the dragons, who would defend us, and Lucifer’s fallen angels, who seek to take the Earth for themselves. Using her gift, she will have to make a choice that will decide humanity’s future.
Please enjoy this excerpt from The Dragon in The Garden. Happy Anniversary Sale!!!
I woke filled with the dreadful certainty that I was not alone. Blinking, I tried to see around me. In the faint light, I discerned the shape of a man sitting in a chair by the window. I started to cry out when I realized a faint, growing luminosity filled the room. It came from me. I glowed with a silvery light. A slender illuminated cord came off me, traveling upward. Pulses of energy flowed along the cord away from my body, leaving me drained and weak. Movement seemed incredibly difficult, impossible. As my eyes followed the shining strand aloft, I saw in sick horror that some kind of creature hovered above me.
I couldn’t figure out at first if this dreadful phantasm actually lived. Fragile, paper-like skin covered its skeletal frame. She? He? I couldn’t say, but the thing’s emaciation made it difficult to tell if skin actually covered those bones. The thing appeared all cheekbones, its features shrunken and shriveled. The being possessed wild, wispy hair so white it shone in the shimmering glow projected from my body. The strands floated in all directions around the apparition as did its robes, more rags than clothing. I was grateful for anything shrouding any part of the wraith-like figure.
I’ll never, for all my days, be able to explain the dread radiating from its presence. The sensation came from the thing’s eyes. They burned with an electric red, yet, this flame burned in a cold fire, devoid of any warmth or compassion. Though it wore a humanoid form, nothing remotely human emanated from it.
I drew in breath to scream for Daisy, Turel, anyone. More than anything I wanted to call for help, to be as loud as possible. Instead, I whimpered. No other sound came. The thing turned its withered head to the man in the chair. “Abraxas, it speaks. Never do they talk.”
“That’s because they usually don’t wake up and even if they did, they couldn’t see you,” explained the man named Abraxas. “This one is special.”
“Yes,” it rasped. “I see it is. I like it, so delicious, my ducky.” The thing’s voice rasped as thin and emaciated as its form. The death rattle sound of those words conjured nightmares from the dark corners of my mind, places where nameless terrors lurked, and my fears scurried like beetles under a rock. The faint smell of death and decay clung to the air around us.
“What are you?” I managed to whisper. My voice sounded faint, a breath, nothing more.
The thing floating over me cackled, an insane, evil sound. “Now it speaks to me. I love its fear. See it? So pretty, wants to run and hide, but can barely move.” It drifted an inch or two closer to me and I cringed, but couldn’t look away; its hellish eyes consumed me. “Soon it will never move again. Never, ever move, little pig.”
Abraxas snorted at the creature. “Why the pet names, Hag?”
The nightmare above me reached out with one bony finger as though to tap my face. Locked inside my head, I became a screaming, gibbering thing, beyond rational thought. It didn’t touch me though; it moved the finger back and forth as though conducting an invisible orchestra, its blood-red eyes burning into me. “It is food for me. I am calling it food names it understands, so it will know, it will suffer. Going to eat you, pretty lamb, eat you up.” It made a slithering noise, a slurping sound.
I strained again to scream, but only mustered a gasp. “Why? What are you?” Speech grew even more difficult. The draining left me a shadow of myself. So tired, so very tired.
Abraxas shifted in his chair and fumbled around in his pockets. The faint flick of a lighter registered and then came a small flame as he lit a cigar. As he puffed furiously I had my first glimpse of his face and shuddered. Abraxas wasn’t human.
I’d lay odds he looked human to anyone else gazing upon him. However, to my eyes, even weakened, I saw the clever-faced demonic visage peering out from under the sharply dressed businessman exterior. It was as if he wore a people suit. He smiled at me with wickedly pointed teeth. Abraxas puffed on the cigar and remarked in a matter-of-fact voice, “You should save your strength. I have already answered your question.”
“Yes,” hissed the creature above me. “Save for me, all of you for me.”
I made my lips move. “No, you didn’t.”
The sound came out so softly, I didn’t know if I said it out loud, but Abraxas heard me anyway. His eyebrows flipped up in surprise. He leaned forward, exposing short, pointy horns on his head like a goat, or to more accurate, like a devil. He puffed his cigar. “Certainly, I answered you, she’s a Hag.”
“Hag,” agreed the terrifying vision above me. “Riding you, taking you, soon all gone.”
Abraxas shrugged. “She calls it riding, I say eating. She’s draining your life force, your will to live.”
“And fear, Abraxas, fear and hope. I take them all, yes, ducky.”
Abraxas crossed and re-crossed his legs in an impatient gesture. “Get on with it. We need to finish before Turiel returns. I don’t want to be meat for that tiger.”
The Hag snarled at him, “No rush me.”
“Oh fine, have it your way,” Abraxas grumbled, glancing at his watch. He smiled a nasty grin. “Just think, Watcher, if you had left a broomstick by your bed, folklore says she’d have been forced to ride away on it, instead of riding your spirit. A broomstick, isn’t that the craziest thing you’ve ever heard?” He chuckled, an evil sound, and shook his head. “You can’t make this shit up, I tell you.”
The Hag exhaled in a quivering, rattling way. The sound created images of broken body parts and decomposing flesh rolling through my mind as I shuddered again in pain and fear. She commanded Abraxas, saying, “We go now. No nasty angel and I take little lamb with me. I drain her slowly, play with her forever.” Her eyes burned like two pits of hellish fire as she examined me again. “So special, so delicious, little piggy.”
“No, the Black God wants this finished before Gwyrdd can find a way back to this world. I didn’t hire you for playtime,” snapped Abraxas. “Finish and let’s get out of here.”
“No broomsticks,” said the Hag. “Bad Abraxas.”
He held up his hands. “Right, no broomsticks. Just hurry up.”
“Poor ducky,” said the Hag, gloating.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered in a drifting way a program I had once seen on television. It was a wildlife show, one of those safari ones. Some lions ambushed a zebra and began to eat the poor animal before it even died. I remember being shocked at the way the zebra lay there, waiting to die, waiting to lose enough blood to bring on oblivion. I was the zebra now. My body grew colder. It no longer seemed important enough or worth the effort to be terrified, although the Hag looked even more frightening now as she fed on me. The more of my life force she consumed, the brighter she burned luminescent, as I faded. As she devoured me, she became more substantial.
The faint odor of an open rotting grave became a ripe, overwhelming stench. If I could have gagged, I would have. All thoughts of escape, of curiosity, vanished as I waited for the end. The Hag smiled, showing rotten, yellow bits of teeth, her evil, red eyes danced. In her deathly voice she said, “Good chickie. Good. Never moves again. No, it doesn’t want to. It belongs to me. Mine.”
Something stirred in me at that moment. I didn’t belong to her. I belonged to me. No one else got to decide who I was or who I belonged to. I spent my whole life hanging on to my sense of self. No one else, not even a supernatural Hag sucking out my life force, and killing me in my own bed got to take that away from me. If ten different psychiatrists and more prescriptions than I could count hadn’t changed my mind, then I’d be damned if I’d let her decide for me.
There in the darkness, with my glimmer disappearing and a chill enveloping my limbs, I found a small spark inside of me, a stubborn iota of will. I searched my mind, seeking some way out. Then I did the only thing I had left, the only recourse still in my power. I prayed.
I didn’t pray to God. At the time, I don’t think it ever even crossed my mind to pray to Him. I didn’t have the strength of Tim’s quiet faith. Still, I knew who I needed. I prayed to Turel, only this time I called him Turiel. I prayed to him, partly in my heart, partly through lips like ice; lips gone numb. I prayed with fervor, hanging on to the spark even as I grew still colder, darker, and the Hag above me glowed in stolen radiance.
My breath slowed, and I fought for each inhalation. Each heartbeat echoed through the room. That, too, slowed. My world reduced to these things: breathing and my heartbeat. Still my frozen lips moved and my spark of will pushed my prayers out into the universe. With my vision blurred as Abraxas regarded his cigar from his chair. He tapped his foot, frowning at us.
The Hag tilted her head in a gesture that in her hideousness suggested a caricature of a human’s movement. She seemed puzzled. “It is saying something, Abraxas. This I do not understand. What does my duck say?” She leaned closer and the stench of death and decay enveloped me. Still I prayed.
“What is it?” asked Abraxas, impatient.
The withered Hag tilted her head. “I do not remember the word for what it does. It is asking for help,” she answered. “It does not know no help will come? What a strange lamb it is.” She shrugged her now much more substantial shoulders, her hideous features twisting in concentration. “Ah, Abraxas,” she continued in her gruesome voice, “I remember the word. My piggy prays.”
Abraxas sprang to his feet in alarm. “She prays? To whom?”
A bolt of lightning exploding in the small room blinded my eyes. Turel appeared in its flash, his face drawn in a snarl, glorious wings extended. Sunlight, beautiful, sweet sunlight, filled my night shrouded bedroom. Turel took one look at me and the Hag over me. “She prays to me,” he roared. His arm drew back in a graceful arc and a second bolt of lightning shot toward me.
This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller. Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.
Elizabeth had joined me on my blog before, but this time she is talking about her novel, Fatal Fortune. Below is an interview with her, a few quick questions, but first an introduction:
Elizabeth Delisi is a multi-published, award-winning author of romance, mystery and suspense. Her time-travel romance set in ancient Egypt, LADY OF THE TWO LANDS, won a Bloody Dagger Award and was a Golden Rose Award nominee. Her romantic suspense novel, SINCE ALL IS PASSING, was an EPPIE Award finalist and Bloody Dagger Award finalist. FATAL FORTUNE, a paranormal mystery, was a Word Museum Reviewer’s Choice Masterpiece. Three of Elizabeth’s contemporary romance novellas are combined in one volume, HEART SPELL, due out in June from Tirgearr Publishing. Elizabeth also has a short story collection available, THE MIDNIGHT ZONE.
Elizabeth is a writing instructor for Writer’s Digest University. She has taught creative writing at the community college level, has worked as an editor for several small publishers, and has been a newspaper reporter and columnist. She invites readers to visit her web page: www.elizabethdelisi.com and her blog: http://elizabethdelisi.blogspot.com/
Tell us a little about yourself, and what inspired you to become a writer.
I’ve always enjoyed reading, and have wanted to be a writer since I was in first grade. After many years of expressing my quirky imagination and being told I was eccentric at the least, it was a natural step to become a writer. I love having the opportunity to share the stories in my head with others. There’s not much better in life than a good read! And there’s no thrill like someone saying, “I loved your book.”
Tell us what FATAL FORTUNE is about.
FATAL FORTUNE, the first book in the Lottie Baldwin mystery series, is a mystery with a touch of the paranormal. No one in Cheyenne, ND believes in Lottie Baldwin’s psychic abilities; especially not Harlan Erikson, Lottie’s boyfriend, and Chief Deputy in the Sheriff’s Office. When a friend’s husband disappears, Lottie can’t leave it to Harlan. Armed with her courage and her tarot cards, she tries to solve the mystery herself, regardless of who attempts to stop her: Harlan, her friend—or the criminal.
If you were casting the movie version of FATAL FORTUNE, who would you choose for the leading roles?
Lottie would be played by a young Joan Blondell. She looks the part, and would be a perfect fit for sassy, independent Lottie.
Harlan would be played by a young Robert Redford. He’s got a great sense of humor, and has no trouble being strong when it counts.
Tell us about a hidden talent you have that most people don’t know about.
I know how to tat, which seems to be—alas—a lost art. I also know how to do card-weaving (another nearly lost art), and my husband and I built an inkle loom for weaving.
What’s your favorite comfort food?
Chocolate anything, of course! No contest. Current favorite: Almond Roca. Yum! I also have a fondness for Sky Bars, which I remember from my childhood. Hard to find now. They’re like a Whitman’s Sampler in a candy bar, with four different flavors.
Are you an outliner or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I outline before I write. I’ve tried just winging it, but I feel too uneasy if I have no idea where I’m going. Outlines don’t constrict me, as I feel free to change and adapt them as I write. If I come up with a better idea for a particular scene, I change the outline to match. That allows me to keep track of all the loose threads, and make sure everything works.
What’s your favorite season and why?
I love all the seasons, and am happy to live in a state with four distinct seasons. Here in beautiful New Hampshire, I’d have to choose fall as my favorite—early fall. With all the gorgeous leaves in shades of red, scarlet, orange and gold, apple cider everywhere, crisp nights and mild days, I’m in a constant state of wonder.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Tough question. I think I’d probably own a combination book store/yarn store/coffee shop. Just the kind of store where I’d like to shop myself! Anyone know of one in New Hampshire?
Tell us about anyone famous you’ve met.
Ooh, let’s see. I met Captain Seawhiskers when I was five years old and got to be on the show. J I’ve met Jim Nabors, Gary Puckett, Kathleen Sibelius and Bill Graves (both Kansas governors), and Peter Noone. My most recent meet: Steve Smith, a.k.a. Red Green, from the hilarious PBS show, “The Red Green Show.”
This weekend is Tirgearr Publishing birthday. Their first one, really, since the company was founded on the last Leap Day.
I’ve been proud to be a part of Tirgearr, and have edited for them as a managing editor for the City Nights series when it first got started, senior editor, and I still edit for them on a regular basis.
In addition, but two of my works are published by them, Stray Ally, a military thriller about a man who saves a dog in the wilderness, but in the end the dog saves him; and my erotic thriller One Night in Boise, the kickoff book for the City Nights series.
Both e-books are on sale for .99 on Amazon this weekend, but they are not the only ones. Many of the Tirgearr authors are participating in the Birthday Bash, so their work is on sale as well. Check out the graphic below, head to the publisher’s home page, and find some great deals.
Not only that, but watch this space. Over the next few days, there will be three Tirgearr authors and their work featured here on my blog. Erika Gardner,Elizabeth Delisi, and Kristi Ahlers will all join me. Look for their posts, and grab up some great books and fill your Kindle Reading list.
It wasn’t one of the detours I planned to make this trip, but Thursday afternoon rolled around, and I needed a break from the hospital, and I was in Seattle. Two logical things came to mind: I wanted to visit Stumptown coffee, as often as possible. And I wanted to visit a bookstore.
One of my usual picks is Seattle Mystery Bookshop, but after one of the worst customer experiences ever there, along with my experience as an author trying to work with them, I looked around and found a few options, then I remembered.
Amazon now had a physical book store.
And it was something I thought I could probably learn from, as an author, an entrepreneur, and someone experienced in management and business.
When I heard about Amazon Books, my immediate reaction was “Why would the world’s biggest online retailer often blamed for driving bookstores out of business, want to open a physical store?”
First, I considered why Amazon has been so successful in the first place: not only was the retailer willing to innovate while keeping overhead costs low, they were also willing to operate on a narrow profit margin, always betting on what was next.
And what was always number one? Customer satisfaction. They developed an often criticized review system, an unparalleled return policy and process, and a drive to assure that every customer was happy.
The daring to forage into the digital book process, to that point only offered by Apple, and in a very limited way, offered customers a new reading experience, on new, customer friendly devices. The instant satisfaction of downloading and reading a book replaced the browsing of shelves, to the point where even libraries embraced, if reluctantly, the rise of e-books.
So bookstores and libraries changed. Many smaller book retailers and even a few giants did not survive, many refusing to adapt until the ship sank below the waves.
In many ways, with Amazon Prime and now Prime Now in some locations and the entry into the potential world of drone deliveries, Amazon has bought into the Culture of Now, the business of instant gratification.
But what is the easiest way for a customer to get instant gratification? To walk into a store, see an item, and buy it. Or order it online, and walk into a store moments later, leaving with their purchase in hand. A physical purchase, not a digital one like a digital music file or e-book.
A physical location seems like Amazon’s next evolution. But what else does Amazon have to leverage at physical locations?
First, these locations can turn into distribution hubs for Amazon products, as well as a showroom much like what Apple has created, yet also very different. That’s what struck me first: the blend of the digital and physical in the store. Kindle devices and tablets lined a center aisle, with more than one of each model for customers to try. There were even kiosks on each aisle that encouraged customers to browse the world of Kindle with the books on the shelves, or just in the category itself.
Second, Amazon has access to a lot of data. There was a very picked over section called. “Books Popular in the University District.” How does Amazon know what sells here? We tell them, not only by what we purchase, but what we buy. Amazon has a tone of data that almost assures them what is likely to sell in a certain locale.
There is another section dedicated to local authors as well. It’s called “Read Local,” and it is much like the local author section Barnes and Noble and Borders used to have. Those sections are slim now, as instead of embracing the self-publishing revolution and vetting titles, bookstores just run from them.
This is a problem Amazon just doesn’t have. They know what local titles are well reviewed and sell reasonably well, so embracing the local writing community, even those who are self-published is simply not difficult for them.
On top of that, they carry books popular to local readers. The Seattle store carries books on the Seahawks, and Pete Carrol. Not a surprise, except that it’s rare for national chains to follow this lead. But why is that?
Amazon targets readers, not stores. Here is the final rub, the war Amazon has won over and over again: for a bit, the Big 5 were the only path for an author to get published and make a living. So their customers became, instead of the reader, the bookstores. The best seller lists became not what people were actually reading, but what book stores could be convinced to buy and stock.
Amazon skipped the retailer section of the funnel, and sold directly to readers, relying on their reviews and feedback instead of the traditional system. The result is that Amazon became the retailer instead of a wholesaler, and the retailer that conforms to the wishes and whims of readers rather than bookstore purchase agents.
Readers love it, and Amazon profits. Authors have a new platform to express themselves, and while there is debate about how much an author really makes with Kindle, it certainly is more than the zero they would have made with the Big 5, and at least there work is out there to be discovered (a whole other issue, for another later blog post)
So will Amazon plant more book stores across the country? I think it’s possible, and they could do so with some success. What I would almost rather see is other book stores to wake up to what Amazon is doing, and follow their lead, or innovate in a new and better way to reach customers.
But it’s more likely that Amazon will spread physical bookstores, slowly, and with success. I hope one comes to my area soon. I want to work there part time while I write. I’d be spending a lot of time there anyway.
This year I have already written about the Holiday season: the fun it is to track Santa, but also how scary it is we are giving the big guy (and many other people) about us. It seems we are in a giving mood year round, whether we know it or not.
I’ve had the privilege the last half of the year to write about teachers, libraries, and business, sharing what I have learned, and bit of my writer’s journey with other people.
You see, I have been blessed, and learned a lot this year about not being such a workaholic, but still working hard. About love and family, and what those words really mean. I’m still learning: if somehow you are offended by my journey, or part of it, stick with me. I’ll get it right eventually.
I’ve been thinking about doing something, a little different author event. The idea started a couple of years ago, in a bookstore. It has been sitting in the back of my mind.
Then this summer, while in California, I took some things a little girl said, and fulfilled my ambition in a really small way. I wrote her a story, on the spot.
I took some things she said about herself, and I crafted her a unique tale. It starred her, and was built with her thoughts. She loved it.
So this year, I am making you a special offer this Holiday. Click here to find out more about it.
Because one thing I never want to stop doing is giving back.
In that spirit, if you Subscribe to my newsletter between now and the first of the year, I will give you a free e-copy of Typewriter Repair Shop. Subscribe, and I will be in touch to ask you want format you need.
They’re both my Holiday gifts to you, my readers. Happy Holidays.