Friday, November 30, 2012

Fab Fun Friday: We Write to Avoid Oblivion -Faulkner

In the end, Writers Simply Cannot Help Themselves!

Why would you want to even do this writing thing…?

Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was killed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman's name out of a satire then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to be a writer – and if so, why?
– Bennett Cerf

Writing is hard work and bad for the health. - E B White


The original writer is not he who refrains from imitating others, but he who can be imitated by none. – Francois Rene de Chateaubriand

I was always a bit reluctant with anything like fame and the limelight and it didn't sit very well with me, although I love singing and writing. - Alex Parks

Writing a book is not as tough as it is to haul thirty-five people around the country and sweat like a horse five nights a week. - Bette Midler



All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. – Red Smith

I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit. – P.G. Wodehouse

You can be a little ungrammatical if you come from the right part of the country.
Robert Frost

He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.
William Faulkner

In the writing of books, as all the world knows, two things are above all other things essential - the one is to know exactly when and where to leave off, and the other to be equally certain when and where to begin. - Jeffrey Farnol

My brother-in-law wrote an unusual murder story. The victim got killed by a man from another book. - Robert Sylvester


So that...

[The writer] knows he has a short span of life; that the day will come when he must pass through the wall of oblivion, and he wants to leave a scratch on that wall – Kilroy was here – that somebody a hundred, or a thousand years later will see.
William Faulkner

Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals. - Don DeLillo
Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tax Deductions for Authors--Updated

Granted, it's a bit early to be thinking about IRS and taxes and various other non-Christmasy things--five months too early, in fact--but just in case you're going to need all that time to dig up receipts, I figured being a little early couldn't hurt. 

Earlier in AC's history, author/accountant Pamela Thibodeaux wrote a post for us about what kinds of things we authors can use as deductions on our tax returns. Now she's back with an updated version. So, even though this is early, bookmark it and make use of it whenever you're ready.

Now, from Pam~~~

Writing is more than creating the "great American novel"; writing is a business and a business requires record keeping and tax preparation. Many have already begun gathering information and getting things in order. Most will wait until the last minute then will be in a panic. Don’t be one of them, BE PREPARED!

IRS rules state that you can claim a loss for business expenses
 even if you’re unpublished as long as you can “prove you are actively pursuing a career in writing” and as long as the expenses are considered “necessary business expenses.” (IRS pub. 535)

Most writers will use a
Schedule C or Profit and Loss statement to file their business tax. This form is found in your 1040 forms and instructions book or from your local IRS office. You can file a 1040 form with a Schedule C and still take standard deductions in lieu of itemizing. Use your social security number and your name unless writing under a pseudonym then it’s your name DBA (your pseudonym). The “Principal Business or Professional Activity Code” (711510) is listed in your 1040 book under the Performing Arts section.

How do you prove you’re “actively pursuing a career in writing” and what are “necessary business expenses”?
 Here are a few examples:

1). Send letters to agents, editors, publishers. Postage is deductible as well as return postage on your SASE. Do this via email? Print out a copy of your email query and their response.

2). Office supplies (paper, ink, envelopes, business cards, etc.) are valid expenditures. If you have an office set up in your home you may be able to claim a portion of your rent or house note and utility bills for the use of this room. Also,
long distance phone calls that are writing related are deductible as well as Internet service fees if you’re using the Internet to develop your craft and/or promote yourself and your work. Postage and/or shipping fees for books sent to wholesalers, retailers, readers, reviewers, etc. are necessary business expenses.

3). Membership dues, conference fees, hotel expenses, gas mileage and meals are all deductible expenses even for unpublished writers. Mileage (round trip) to meetings, speaking engagements, book signings, conferences, etc.
*for 2012 55.5 cents per mile - changes annually. Map quest the directions and mileage to business activities (meetings, speaking engagements, etc.) for records. Keeping a calendar also helps to provide proof of your activities should you be audited. (IRS Publication 463)

4). Fees related to the creation, development and maintenance of your website are tax deductible.

5). Professional fees and services (CPA, Tax Consultant, professional evaluation or critique, attorney fees, etc)

How do you keep track of all those expenses?

Spreadsheets and receipts. Keep receipts in a standard manila envelope or organized by category in a pocket sized file folder. Spreadsheets are easy to set up and easy to maintain. Most programs like Windows come with a standard spreadsheet application. One column (or page) for Income and one for Expenses. What about all those formulas? Simple. Most spreadsheets have an Auto Sum (
) feature for the addition of a column or you can manually do this by using the formula =sum(cell+cell) or =sum(cell:cell) for a range of cells. Need to subtract, divide or multiply? Formula would be: =Sum(cell*cell) to multiply; =sum(cell/cell) to divide; and =sum(cell-cell) to subtract.

Additional items that can be written off as expenses for published writers:

Promotional expenses (brochures, flyers, press kits, press releases, etc.)

Advertising is also deductible but separately

COGS: What does your book cost you including shipping – figure on a per book basis and deduct from your gross receipts to figure gross profit for the year. If you include an expense in the cost of goods sold, you cannot deduct it again as a business expense. Be careful with inventory because in some cases you’ll actually pay inventory tax. This is something you want to research or consult a tax professional about.

Set up costs, cover art, and the charge for producing (or buying) your self/ E-published books. Occupational or Resale License fees are also deductible.

Self Employed Health Insurance

Charitable Donations to NP – Do you tithe off of your income separately? (IRS Publication 526)

Education Expenses – are you working toward a degree to benefit your writing? (IRS Publication 970)

Other miscellaneous expenses (IRS Publication 529)

Trademark/Copyright fees (copyright your book or trademark your tagline?)

Subscriptions to professional, technical and trade journals (Writers Magazines)

Books, professional equipment, etc. (Writers Market Guide or books bought for research; Computer, printer, etc – this can be done on a one-time basis (full expense) or depreciation *see a tax professional*)

Remember, if it falls under “Necessary Business Expense” it is deductible!

Worried about being audited? Don’t. Be careful and be honest.

One more note; IRS suggests that you keep all tax records for a minimum of seven but up to ten years. Remember, tax laws change yearly. For more information visit the IRS website at, or call them toll free at: 800-829-3676 and request IRS Publications such as # 334 (Tax Guide for Small Businesses and Individuals who use Schedule C or C-EZ), #535 (Business Expense –this guide tells you what you can and CANNOT deduct), and #552 (Record keeping for Individuals).

For more information on deductions available to you, check out: Tax Tips for Freelance Writers, Photographers and Artists by Julian Block. Julian Block is a nationally recognized attorney who has been singled out by the New York Times as a "leading tax professional" and by the Wall Street Journal as "an accomplished writer on taxes." E-mail him at or telephone (914) 834-3227. His address is 3 Washington Square, #1-G, Larchmont, NY 10538-2032. Website:

© 2003 Variations of this article have appeared in print and e-publications. Updated November 2012.

Author Bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux has been a bookkeeper for over twenty years. She is the co-founder and a member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana and the CEO of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine. Pam’s writing has been tagged as “Inspirational with an Edge!” and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark and Share

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Launch Piggybacking

Greetings. I'm Sophie Dawson, a new contributor to Author Culture. I've self published the first two books of the Christian Historical Fiction Cottonwood Series, Healing Love and Lord's Love. The third book, Giving Love is set for release in December 2012.

I commend Lynnette Bonner, an online friend of mine, for her bravery in not only realizing it was best for her to pass this blog on to others but to actually do it. Blessing Lynnette. Your books are on my vacation reading list.

I live in a very rural area of Illinois. The county has 16,000 people. The town my children went to school in, which is the largest, has 3600. Surprise, not all of Illinois is Chicago and the suburbs. It takes an hour to get to the outskirts of a town over 30,000.

The challenge is to find creative ways to attract attention to your books when there are so few outlets conveniently located. As a self published author, and a new one at that, getting your books into retail outlets is a challenge, especially with the need to drive so far to speak with anyone about it.

I launched my first book, Healing Love, this past June at a local festival. Aledo, IL is the self proclaimed Rhubarb Capital of the World. For the past 20 years heat, cold, rain and shine, for two days on the first weekend in June Rhubarb has been celebrated. Each year it gains more visitors.

I rented a half space, set up my table and sold my book. I was pleased with the results. I sold over 50 paperback books which may not seem like a lot but for me it was a great start. I plan to launch a book each year at Rhubarb Fest and find other festivals in the area to use as launching platforms.

It only cost me the booth space fee, two days of my time and some labor of hauling and setting up of my booth. Oh, smiling and being friendly is important too. I had also sent press releases in the area newspapers, making sure I called to insure the correct person had received it. A number of people who came to the festival said they had seen it in the paper that morning.

I know it's as unconventional way to do a book launch but it worked for me. My third book Giving Love, will be launched during Aledo's Holly Days. At least I'll be in the VFW and won't have to worry about the weather, unless we have a blizzard and can't get there.
Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark and Share

Friday, November 23, 2012

Santa and The Elusive Cookies

The fantasy writer and the musician in me both love this video. It's a little long but so entertaining you won't care. Merry Christmas from Author Culture!

Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Times of Change

I confess. There are times I don't like change. After all, if everything stays the same, I won't have to take risks. New challenges won't raise the threat of potential failure. And I won't have to mourn the loss of what went before.

Distrusting change is part of the human condition. And yet, without change, I won't grow. If I don't face my own fears, I'll never know I can win against them or learn to regroup when I fail. If I don't say goodbye to yesterday, today will slip right by me.

It takes courage to answer the call to write. In these days of 99-cent e-books, dwindling advances and bookstore bankruptcies, writing has turned into something of a rat race. Many traditionally-published authors work long hours to write multiple books each year just to survive. Others spend themselves producing self-published books as the gates to the realm of publishing come crashing down right on top of the gatekeepers. All it takes is the willingness to learn and a bit of persistence, right? Well, and a good chunk of your life and energy.

I, like every writer in these murky waters, must chart my course regardless. If I am wise, I will heed the warning of the lighthouse beacon and steer clear of shoals.

As the waters of publishing shift and toss around me, change is my lifeline.

Note From Janalyn:

When I signed on as an Author Culture contributor, I didn't foresee the sheer amount of time marketing DawnSinger, my debut novel, would take or the work that goes into the care and feeding of an agent. With my additional move into teaching at writers' conferences, it's apparent that something had to give. I've enjoyed my stint as an Author Culture contributor, but this is my last post in that capcity. If you'd like to stay in touch, you can find me at my Janalyn Voigt site and connect to me via social sites from there. I'll stop in and say hello on Author Culture, here and there. I'm confident that the posts will be as informative and inspiring as always.

Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark and Share

Friday, November 16, 2012

Peretti's Illusion is Pure Magic

I can't begin to figure out how Frank Peretti's mind works, learned to not even try, to not even anticipate, to just sit back and enjoy the show. His newest, Illusion, is one magic show I'm glad I didn't miss. Peretti has mastered the concept of RUE--Resist the Urge to Explain. He doesn't explain much of anything until it's time; you just have to follow along until he starts bringing things together, revealing secrets. And you can't get too comfortable--with every question answered, every secret revealed, he throws out more to take their place.

After forty years as world renowned magicians, Dane and Mandy Collins are ready to retire. But a tragic auto accident takes Mandy's life--or so everyone thinks.

A hospital counselor warns Dane that he may hallucinate about seeing Mandy in days to come, but not to worry--grief, combined with his pain meds, works that way sometimes. If he ever thinks he sees her, he can call the counselor anytime, day or night. But she didn't warn him that the delusion would take the form of a 19-year-old street magician with Mandy's eyes and smile.

And no one warned Mandy what would happen to her as a 19 year old born in 1951 but dropped unceremoniously into the 21st century. She had no clue about cell phones, lap top computers, Starbucks, or what happened to her father who disappeared from the county fair they'd been attending that morning. And she had no clue about her irresistible draw to a man 40 years older than her with a kind heart and a knowledge of magic that far exceeds her own.

As they form a tentative mentor-protégée relationship--as she tries to figure out what's going on with her and he tries to figure out whether she really could be Mandy--forces behind the scenes, the only ones who know the truth, are watching and waiting.

This story will keep you glued from the beginning to the end as you keep digging, searching for the answer to the latest question Peretti plants in your head, anticipating what's to happen only to be taken by surprise.

Peretti's writing style is beyond reproach--characterization, setting description, dialogue. Everything is presented with an ease as deceptive as the illusion itself. Before you know it, you're totally immersed in the novel, and if you put the book down at all, it's with reluctance.

There are many things going on in the story, but my favorite is the illustration of a man who, after 40 years, still adored his wife, still loved her with a depth unfathomable to most young couples. My favorite lines are toward the end:

He hadn't thought of it in these terms until now, but maybe this was why he always opened doors for her, let her take his arm when they walked, stood when she entered the room. Loving her had always been easy, but somewhere along the way he just knew he had to honor her.

This book is worth the read for the story alone. Writers need to read it twice to study technique. Peretti is a master.

Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jerry B. Jenkins Talks with CWG alum Lisa Lickel

Best-selling author Jerry B. Jenkins talks about goals, success, and the changing face of publishing.

Jerry 1-LRThank you for stopping by AuthorCulture, Jerry. It’s nice to connect with again since my Christian Writers Guild course ten years ago. You’ve had a long and amazing career in the writing and publishing industry from, among many facets, writing biographies, to how-to books, articles, and teaching, to writing best-selling internationally recognized fiction and children’s stories. Can you share with us the top three elements of the formula that led to your ultimate success and how you made those elements combine for a well-rounded full-time stellar profession?
Actually, I have no formula. At the risk of sounding falsely modest, I believe I have been bestowed only one gift and thus I feel obligated to exercise it. I don’t sing or dance or preach. Writing is all I do. I don’t worry about competing with anyone or anything except my own capabilities. I believe we most honor God by being the best we can be at whatever it is we’re called to—whether that means we’re the best in the world, or the tenth, or the thousandth. It’s possible for the thousandth best writer in the business to be working at his/her fullest potential and for the number one author to not be living up to his/her potential. If a person makes the mistake of shooting to be number one, should he/she be depressed if they wind up second or fourth? Better to be the best you’re capable of and leave the results to the marketplace.
Does your momentum keep you rolling these days, or do you still have to convince someone to tackle a project for publication?
It is nice to have enjoyed a level of commercial success that makes publishers trust that my ideas have merit. That said, we still hammer out which would be the best idea to pursue first, etc.

If you had to stick to only one type of writing from now on, what would it be and why?
I do love being able to specialize in adult fiction, though there are the occasional nonfiction people books that intrigue me.
If you could work in only one aspect of your career, what would it be and why?
Ironically—though there’s little money in it—I’m probably a better editor than I am a writer. If I could edit and show others how to become ferocious self-editors, I could be happy with that. But had I done only that, I’d probably be destitute by now. J



Outside of your flesh and blood family, who mentors/critiques/edits and encourages you these days?
SolStein has been a mentor. My current editor is Phyllis Grann, a legend.


Who’s your biggest hero in today’s writing world and why?
I believe the best living American writer is Rick Bragg (former New York Times columnist and now an author). My favorite of his is All Over but the Shoutin’, his memoir of being raised in the deep south by a single mother. It’s poetic and a masterpiece. Some writers I long to emulate. Him I simply surrender to.

You have a well-recognized passion for training up authors. I came on board the CWG train soon after you took over and credit the Apprentice course with my transition from secretary to writer. Please share about the importance of getting the appropriate education and encouragement.
Writers at every point on the spectrum, from unpublished to bestseller, must realize that the education process never ends. I still read everything there is to read about writing, and I attend writing seminars as a camper and not always a teacher. The more I learn the more I realize I don’t know. We never stop being students.
What’s changed and what’s stayed the same at Christian Writers Guild over the years? Can you tell us some of your favorite success stories?
Norm Rohrer, my old friend and founder of the Guild, used to do it all by mail with a typewriter, personally mentoring hundreds of writers at a time. He was patient and pastoral, knowing his students’ needs and wants and families and even prayer requests. My goal has been to reproduce Norm dozens of times—not easy—and manage all these personally mentored courses via email. Our annual first novel contest winners have been successfully published. We also had a teenager land a multi-book deal. I recently hooked up a brilliant octogenarian with an agent.
The publishing industry has changed so much even in the last five years that we are seeing the need to help people publish their own books when necessary.
The courses are expensive – there’s just no other way to say it. I appreciated the one I took. But if a hopeful author simply cannot swing the cost, what other training can you suggest?
I would argue that the courses are cheaper than college, but there are always alternatives for those on a tight budget. The internet is full of blogs, courses, training, books, etc., from which a committed student could benefit.


Thank you for your time and insights.

Connect with Jerry Jenkins:

Author of more than 180 books with sales of more than 70 million copies, including the best-selling Left Behind series, Jerry B. Jenkins is former vice president for publishing and currently chairman of the board of trustees for the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Jerry’s writing has appeared in Time, Reader’s Digest, Parade, Guideposts, and dozens of Christian periodicals. Twenty of his books have reached The New York Times best-seller list (seven debuting number one). Jerry released Matthew’s Story in February 2010 from Putnam Praise and The Last Operative in July 2010 from Tyndale House. The Brotherhood / A Precinct 11 Novel, a police thriller set in Chicago, released in February 2011 from Tyndale, the first of a trilogy. The second, The Betrayal, released in Septermber of 2011. The third, The Breakthrough, is scheduled to release in the summer of 2012.
Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark and Share

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Sensual Writer: Taste

The Sensual Writer
Taste vs. Flavor


First, here are the Answers to last month’s quiz on Scent:

Men have a better sense of smell than women.

Answer: False

Proper training can enhance human ability to smell.

Answer: True
Thank you to the brave employees of the Philadelphia Water Department who had been trained to serve on the Department’s water quality evaluation panel. The researchers concluded that training is the factor most likely to enhance performance on smell tests.

Infants can pick out their mothers by scent.

Answer: True
Tests have shown that infants can detect their own mother’s unwashed breast and show preference the breast milk of their own mother vs. a substitute breastmilk.

Steel has its own aroma.

Answer: False
To give off a scent, a substance has to be able to dissolve in order to send molecules through the atmosphere to reach our nostrils. Steel does not dissolve.

The inability to smell can affect your weight.

Answer: True, as the ability to detect aromas affect our ability to taste to a great degree, loss of appetite or its opposite, may affect a person’s weight.

Once you lose your sense of smell, you’ll never regain it.

Answer: False to a large extent, depending on the reason for the loss.
If a person has a nasal blockage, a curable or even treatable disease, or a change of medication that affects the sense of smell, the loss can be reversed.

If you can’t smell a particular food, you can’t taste it either.

Answer: False
While smell and taste are largely connected, they are not completely dependent upon each other. A person who has a cold, for example, or a blocked nose, can still taste; if you burn your tongue so badly that you can hardly taste anything, barring any other problems, you can still smell. For example, have you ever smelled something so delicious, then been thoroughly disappointed at how it tasted?

Teenagers have the greatest sensory reception.

Answer: True-for now.
Tests have shown that by age 8, most children have reached a peak ability to detect scent; by age 15, the ability is already in decline.

People who cannot smell anything else can usually smell menthol.

Answer: True
Actually, the pain of the menthol that is received by the nostrils’ receptors, not the aroma.

Your left nostril processes pleasant smells and your left nostril, unpleasant odors.

Answer: False—just because: Right hemisphere of the brain processes pleasant sensation/emotion; left negative emotions, does not mean each nostril leads to a certain hemisphere of the brain to process the scent


Taste is as important as our other major senses, yet is often at least as much as, if not more so, overlooked than that of smell. Can we survive without being able to taste? Certainly, as much as we can exist without our other senses. Yet we would be the poorer for our loss.
In a word…chocolate.
Okay, I do know two people who don’t care for chocolate. They are both male.
Gustation, the sense of taste, is also a biological function involving chemical introduction to our sensory organs, commonly known as “taste buds” on our tongues. The olfactory system, our sense of smell, is located closely juxtaposed, so these senses work somewhat in conjunction. Can a person taste without smell, and vice versa? Naturally, although the perceptions of the individual sense are greatly enhanced by the other senses.
Taste: simply tasting food is a chemical process; the physical substance comes in contact with the gustatory calyculi, or taste bud, releasing the chemical signal sent to the brain which sorts it out and then reminds us of a previous experience, putting a name to the sensation.
Flavor, however, is the experience; the layer of pleasure, pain, reminiscence, that makes up the sensation of physically tasting a substance. As with the other others senses, a taste can evoke a powerful reaction.
Humans taste with the tongue. There are four basic recognized flavors: salt, sweet, bitter, sour. There are others identified in other cultures or even science, such as meaty (Japan), or metallic. Can those taste experiences stand alone or be justifiably one of the “four”? Go ahead, state your case! I’d love to hear your discussion.
What does taste or flavor add to a literary scene? Like the other four, the more a writer naturally portrays behavior, the more a reader can identify with not only the characters, but the story. Create a scene of a family meal. Is it a happy scene? A thought-provoking one? Angry, bitter, normal or dreadful? The food prepared, served, chosen, eaten can say a lot about your characters. How people react to a dinner, a breakfast in a diner, a power lunch, create a unique and intimate insight into an event.
Here’s where the layers of texture, of temperature of the food, of gourmet or completely outside-the-expected meals or parts of meals can be a character itself. What do people in your world eat or drink? What are their individual customs? Is meal time a social activity, a family event, or an evil necessity that takes away from life? Is food something your people look forward to? Obsess over? Annoyance? Treat? Are your characters adventurous, risk-takers, bold? Or shy, reluctant, bound by known likes and dislikes. Even those with emotional or physical disturbances can find their identity, their quirkiness, or uniqueness in food choice or food response. Shopping for food, gardening, hunting/gathering can create a powerful reader experience.
Other senses that add to our human nature include “Intuition” which I’ve colored gray in the excerpt; animals have the ability to sense certain natural experiences than humans, such as: sensing magnetism, echolocation, sensing infrared, chemicals, or pitches outside of our human perception, and a few others that may or may not separate, pure senses. I hope you were encouraged by these posts to add more sensory layers to your writing.
Don't forget to visit the other sense posts:
The final excerpt from my upcoming mystery, Meow Mayhem, follows here. It is color-coded for sensual imagery; something you may want to practice with scenes in your own work to see where you’re using scenes and where you might want to adjust. When I did this exercise, I noted that I had nothing of taste in this scene. Of course every scene doesn’t need all five senses, but I still wondered if taste would add anything. Check my solution. What would you do?


Original excerpt:

Yellow – sight

Green – touch

Aqua – hear                                                                                                      

Red - smell  

Olive - taste  

Gray - intuition


“Ivy!” Martha Robbins called to me from her stoop next door. I stopped at the end of the driveway. “Do you know what’s going on?” We could see the orange glow in the sky. Her kids were huddled with her in a blanket. “Dale was called to the station, but he didn’t say where the fire was.”

“At True’s store,” I ground out. “I have to go.”

“Oh, Ivy. I’m so…” Her voice faded as I started to jog. Two blocks later I realized that loafers were a poor choice of footwear and I slowed to a very fast walk. The evening was still plenty warm and I was...glowing. Soon I slowed as I met up with throngs of people who gathered to watch and wait for news.

I headed toward the alley behind True’s place only to find the entrance taped off. A squad car, lights stabbing the night, sat empty, close by, as Officer Larken spoke to people a few feet away. I moved in their direction, dodging sightseers. I held my nose against the acrid odor of burnt tar paper and wiring. A spray of water arced high over the building, which stood sooty but intact, billowing black smoke from broken windows and vents. At least any flames appeared to be out.

“Officer! Officer Larken! Where’s True?”

“Miss Preston. Good eve—”

It is not!” I snapped. “I need to know what’s happening. How bad is it? Where’s Mr. Thompson?”

True’s voice called from our left. “Here, Ivy. I’m here!”

“Oh, thank you, Lord, thank you!” I rushed to him. “I was so worried. I just ran. Are you all right?” I cupped his face in my hands. “How bad is it?”

“The fire burned mostly upstairs, my apartment. The firefighters did a good job. Lots of smoke damage, and of course, water damage. I don’t know about the store stock, but I wouldn’t be surprised if—” He had to stop to catch his breath. The front of his shirt wiggled.

“Isis. Oh, baby.” I had not even felt her when I had grabbed True so roughly. He opened the edges of his vest so I could see her. I reached my hand out to stroke between her ears. “She’s safe, oh, she’s safe.” Isis had no intention of letting True go. She even nipped at me, which I would have done too, under similar circumstances, but I did back off.

“She was already outside,” True said. “She wouldn’t let anyone grab her, but came to me when she saw me.”

“I wonder how she got out?” The prickly sensation at the back of my neck, when I had last been in the basement of Mea Cuppa, returned.


I was exhausted, as if I had been fighting the fire myself. Smoke hung heavy everywhere, blotting out some figures and creating other images that wafted, ethereal. My eyes stung and I blinked back tears. Due to the smoke. More than one person coughed and Officer Larken got on the microphone. “Go home, now. We don’t want anyone developing breathing problems.”

The auxiliary ladies had arrived with hastily assembled ham sandwiches and paper cups of coffee. I was surprised to discover that I could still detect the aroma of coffee under all the smoke. I accepted a cup and took a grateful sip, noticing and smiling at True’s familiar Mea Cuppa logo.

“Why don’t you stay with my wife and me?” Hanley offered True. “Our son’s gone for the weekend, a camp outing, so you can use his room. In the morning, we’ll figure out what to do.”

Cal Stewart dashed up. Just in time to save the day, I thought sourly. The third musketeer in this strange little web. Stop it, Ivy! You’re just tired.

“Hey! What’s going on?” Stewart asked.

Apparently the quality of the conversation, like the smoky air, was not about to improve any time soon.

“Thompson’s coming home with me tonight,” Hanley told him. “Why don’t you stop in for a while, too?”

“Uh, okay. Sure.” Stewart said, his attitude eerily similar to Hanley. They were plotting something. I could tell.

“Can I drop you off at home, Ivy?” Hanley asked. True looked at me intently, as if willing me to do something. But what?

“No thanks. I walked here. I’ll just walk back. Clear my head. Good exercise.” True nodded ever so faintly, so I had guessed the right answer. Goody for me.

“Can you take Isis for me?” True asked. “She knows you and you have her special food and supplies.”

“Sure. Fine.” I had laid in a stock of her favorite salmon treats, but I hadn’t told him that. True came close, transferring the uncooperative feline from inside of his vest to me. She settled under my chin, dug her claws in enough to make me wince and growled low, just to make sure we knew she was upset.

“Don’t believe everything you see,” True whispered while he kissed me on the cheek, his touch lingering in my hair.
Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark and Share

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Pen is Mightier

This reminds me of what happens when one of my characters just won't behave.

Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish!

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish is the fourth book of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "series" written by Douglas Adams. Its title is the message left by the dolphins when they departed Planet Earth just before it was demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass, as described in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The phrase has since been adopted by science fiction fans as a humorous way to say "goodbye.

Yes, I'm heading out, as well. On Monday, Lynnette posted her farewell message and it seems like a good time for me to take a step back and take stock of my writing future. I'm got some opportunities lined up but need more creative bandwidth to really do them justice. I try not to pick up a new passion or past-time without letting something else lapse, a balance thing.

I've really enjoyed being a part of the AuthorCulture team, and have thoroughly enjoyed sharing some of the genre side of things. I got to interview some really cool people. I've learned a lot and shared a lot and I'll continue to be a reader of the blog.

So, thanks, ya'll (but don't go anywhere without your towel).
Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark and Share

Monday, November 5, 2012

It's Been a Fun Run...

It is with some sadness, a little relief, a bit of angst, and a good measure of thankfulness that I write this post today. For many reasons I've decided to step away from my roll as a contributor here at AuthorCulture.

The sadness stems from the fact that I've been in on this blog from the foundation up. Leaving was not an easy decision to make.

The relief is due to the fact that I've never enjoyed blogging overly much. Although I did enjoy the camaraderie with my blogging partners and the followers here on the blog, I never felt like I had any great teaching or answers to offer that couldn't be found elsewhere on the net with a simple Google search.

The angst is of course due to the fact that "they" (the great authorial advisers in the sky) say that every writer should blog. However, I feel much is changing. My "fans" (if I ever get to the place where I have more than 10 :) ) can interact with me via Facebook (or 10 years from now, whatever media is the then current social phenomenon of the day) and I will be happy to chat with them there.

The thankfulness is because I've had a fun run here at AuthorCulture; made some great friends who I know will remain friends through the many changes of the future; and learned a lot about a variety of writing related issues while I was here.

Still, all good things must come to an end, as they say, and I'm excited to see where the future will take me.

On that vein, if you'd like to connect with me on Facebook you can find me at And I do encourage you to check out the page as, in celebration of the November 15th release of the 4th book in The Shepherd's Heart series, I have a big give-away going on right now for a one night stay at The Outback Mini Resort in Pierce, Idaho. The drawing will be held on December 15th - so you'll know if you won in time for Christmas!

God bless you one and all!
Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark and Share