It’s Live – The Latest Ruby’s Place Story

I’ve said it before, but 2022’s been rough. Really rough. But I was lucky in that I had a place where I could go to get away from it all. A place that makes my heart feel warm, makes me believe that happy endings are on the way: the fictional Sullivan, Missouri, where my Ruby’s Place stories are set.

And now, Rare Gems, the latest in the ongoing series of Ruby’s Place stories, is officially live!

This time around, the story focuses on Elizabeth, Ruby’s best friend. I hope readers will feel as warm and happy reading this one as I felt writing it.

Check ‘er out:





Goodbye, Summer

Sun is setting on summer. 

The kids are already back in school. I’ve made the appointment for my dog’s fall annual exam. I’m thinking about Christmas gifts and how to prepare for the mounds of snow the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting. 

Will I miss it?

Hahahahahahaha. No.

This summer, in short, has been a disaster. But so has 2022. Everything is breaking in my house. This summer, that meant losing, at different intervals, the attic fan, the dryer, the sliding glass door…Oh, that sliding glass door! That one was horrendous–the rollers busted and the door fell off right in the midst of the well-over-hundred-degrees July. I mean, the whole month was over a hundred. The heat just poured in incessantly while we scrambled to get the door fixed. We couldn’t get cool. But that’s really been par for the course for ’22. I’ve had two weird infections that could have been covid. I had to jump through unending hoops to prove my identity to the IRS. In February, I fell through the attic. 

It’s been one thing after another. And another. And another. 

That’s the awful truth of this summer–it’s been one of broken family heirloom vases (I’m still trying to figure out how to repair it), and foxtails embedded in the dog’s foot. It’s been limping everywhere because I can’t get rid of this insane plantar fasciitis. (I’ve tried stretching and splints and frozen socks–frozen socks!–and right now dry cupping the bottoms of my feet.)

This summer has been rotten. And exhausting.  Just like the rest of ’22. And it has stolen hundreds–hundreds–of my writing hours.

The good thing is, though, we got the new rollers on that sliding glass back door. And as soon as summer–and ’22–is gone for good, I’m locking the door behind them. 🙂

Booktoker –

So I’ve officially joined those over at TikTok, offering sneak peeks and writing advice. It’s really the most fun I’ve had on a social media site.

Where to find me:

I used to think this would be a terrible way to write–that it’d result in a mess of a first draft. But it’s one of the best ways I’ve found to get from idea to completed draft–and often needs less rewriting. #writingtips #booktok #authorsoftiktok #amwriting #writingcommunity

♬ Paperback Writer – Remastered 2015 – The Beatles

Calling All YA Authors

My YA authors’ blog, YAOTL, has been going strong for the past ten years. But it was time for a bit of a dust-off and update. Same address, new look:

I’d love, love, love to get more guest posts or tour posts from YA authors (or editors, etc.) at the site. The more voices, the better.

Got a book coming out soon? Heck, got a book that released some time ago that you’d like to get more eyeballs? Hit me up here or at yaoutsidethelines (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Suddenly a Podcast Junkie

I’m as late to the party as it gets, but I’ve suddenly become a podcast junkie. I’d never really been able to get into audiobooks much, but I’m in love with scripted, serial podcasting. They come with music–and sound effects–and actors! (See what I mean? As late to the party as it gets.) I’m sure it’s like listening to radio programs of old.

I’m in love and fascinated with the power of sound in storytelling.

Right now, I’m really into horror podcasts. The scarier the better. Alice Isn’t Dead has my complete attention right now:

I can’t wait to see what else is out there. Got any recommendations? Drop ’em in the comments.

The Funny Thing Is…Humor Collection

So a dog (part Irish Setter, part Snuffleupagus), a would-be gas station robber, and a girl with a plane ticket to the other side of grief (literally!) all walk into a bar…

Joking aside, these are characters in Holly Schindler’s funny shorts, compiled here into a single download of chuckles and smiles.

This compilation features all the short stories published in the following humorous collections: Funny Meeting You Here, Funny You Should Mention That, and Once Upon a Punchline.

$2.99 for a limited time. It’s also on Kindle Unlimited.

Stickin’ With It (Getting Your Novel Written)

I get it. I get it more than I have at any other time in my life.

How hard it is to get a book finished, that is.

I’ve always written through life’s ups and downs. But even in the worst of it, I was able to put in 6-8 (or more) hours of hardcore writing a day.

These days?

Between a roof that leaks and showers that leaks, dishes, an epileptic dog that needs meds, cooking, shopping, dishes, caring for two aging parents, dishes, laundry, mowing, dishes, linoleum floor-laying, ceiling repair, dishes, bill paying (did I mention the never-ending pile of DISHES???), I know how the world can suck all the hours out of your day.

I don’t have the same luxury of uninterrupted writing time, not like I did when I was younger.

So here’s what I have been doing:

Writing at night. Most of my stuff’s written between the hours of, say, seven and ten. I get some additional work done in spurts during the day, as well. But this is my time to sprint. Figure out when your best sprinting sessions can take place (and where).

Planning ahead of time. I can make far more of the time I do have if I know ahead of time what I’m going to write.

Don’t sweat not having some new release every 2.4 seconds. The indie world especially seems to think that the key to success is about ten releases a year. Okay, not really–mostly, I see indie experts advocating four new releases. Which is still a ton of work. Seriously. And while it is true that the more books you have available, the more you’re going to sell, it doesn’t help anything to release books you’re not happy with. And I’m not just talking about the reviews and your Amazon star rating. I’m talking about how you personally feel about your work. Release what you believe in and what you’re proud of.

Don’t let fatigue let you move the finish line. There are times, when you are on the seventeenth draft, that you just want to call it done. Don’t do it. Don’t claim you’re at the finish line when you know that line should still be about another ten miles down the road. Again–feel proud of your work.

I mean, most things in life take about three times longer to finish than you think they will. That’s frustrating. But if you don’t keep at it, if you let the frustration take over, you never get there at all. Better to release a book a month or two later than expected than to give up and never release it.

And seriously–those of you who work from home can agree with me when I say, What is the deal with all the dishes??????

Where I Find New Reads

I remember, I was getting ready to get my undergrad degree…I had this night class, a lit class, and during our last official class period of the semester, we all brainstormed essay questions for our final. (We were supposed to write out answers to two questions and slip them in the prof’s mailbox.) Once everybody had their questions ironed out, it all got informal and chatty. One of the students asked the prof, “Where do you find books to read?”

I never forgot that. She was totally serious. She was a soon-to-graduate lit major, and she had no idea where to find books. Now that they weren’t going to be spoon-fed to her, anyway. Now that they would no longer be assigned, how could she find good books? Books worth reading?

We don’t give enough attention to that question, really. I think adults really do have a hard time finding books. Especially since books don’t come to you much anymore–you have to seek out books.

Where do I find books? I find them in the trade pubs I subscribe to: Publishers Weekly, Booklist, etc. I buy books after seeing them mentioned by readers online. I get enticed by reviews in my local newspaper.

But I buy the vast majority of books–especially books by new authors–through newsletters. BookBub, of course, but also Fussy Librarian, eReader Cafe, Ereader News Today.

I’ve discovered indie authors, picked up Pulitzer Prize winners, binged several series. I love how those newsletters are just the great equalizer–indies featured side-by-side with traditionally published authors. And they’re so cheap, I can load up my ereader the same way I once loaded up my arms with giant stacks of library books during those summers when I was a kid.

Oh, and the answer to her question–how do you find books worth reading? The book that’s worth reading is the book that speaks to you–that keeps you up at night, that you can’t wait to get back to, that makes you think or feel or hope.

Jutoh Writing Software – Speech Function for Copyediting

My new favorite function of Jutoh (which I’ve been using for formatting Ebooks) is the speech function. Not dictation–speech. As in: the program reads your work back to you.

To be fair, other writing softwares have this feature as well. (I found it in Scrivener and it might even be in Word somewhere–I know some versions of Word have dictation, so it might also have speech.) But the program I tried it out in is Jutoh, so I’ll focus my post on that experience.

I used it for my copyediting. And it’s fantastic.

My mind has a tendency to wander a bit on the very last read-through. At that point, I can usually recite the book. And there’s something about finding mistakes that can also help keep you focused. But on the last couple of reads, when the typos are down to a minimum, it’s so easy to read right by a mistake and never see it.

I found the speech function helped keep my mind on the text. You really do have to stay zeroed in on the project in order to keep your reading in time with the voice. (I was also pleasantly surprised by the voice–it didn’t sound too terribly artificial, wasn’t too fast or too slow, and it even did a surprisingly good job of pronouncing proper nouns that were unique to my work.)

The best part is that when there’s a typo, the speech function will read an incorrect word: though instead of through, for example. It stands out in a way it wouldn’t if you were reading quietly.

I’ll be using that function on final copyedits from here on out.