31 December, 2011

Ebook Royalites

Most of you know that I send every penny I make from the ebook shorts to charity (Johns Hopkins Burn Unit will get the last 2011 check once my year-end royalties hit in January). Past recipients have included a battered women's shelter, a food bank, and a children's literacy group.

In 2012, though, in an effort to make my wackydoodle life just a little less wacky (but totally keeping up on the doodle lol) I'm sending all those royalties to a single charity, Project Night Night. I might send them some quilts too!

All About Me posts start tomorrow and, sometime today, I need to take a self portrait. Not looking forward to that. ;)

19 December, 2011

30 Days of ME!!

I actually wrote a rather long, rambly post about me and my introversion, but I don't want to bore you all with my shyness, so I'll just cut to the chase. 

a good friend is taking the plunge - and I certainly need to blog more regularly - I'm going to do 30 Days of Me blog prompts in January.

Some of these scare me. Too bad. Gonna do 'em anyway.

Here's the schedule:

Day 30- In this past month, what have you learned

If anyone else wants to join in the fun, let me know and I'll put a 30 Days of Me blogroll here on TamboWrites so we all can follow along.

I'm telling you all right now that the pictures are going to be HARD for me to locate. I avoid cameras like they're spreading Ebola. I know there's a pic out there of Michele and me, but... me? With other people? Do such things even exist??

Guess I better start looking. 

26 November, 2011

Moar Nuttiness

Peanut again, on her spider plant.

She sits there every night when I'm cooking supper or cleaning. The spider plant doesn't seem to mind. ;)

21 November, 2011

Nutty, nutty

This is Peanut.

Peanut and her sister, Echo, joined our household this past August and while Echo's name was chosen for her (she chirps instead of meows and it sounds a lot like a dolphin's echolocation, so... Echo) Peanut chose her own name. We had something else picked out for her but we all kept calling her Peanut, or Nutty.

Which she is.

She's super gentle, sweet, and prone to random acts of purring, but she also gets herself into crazy troubles.

This morning The Nut woke us up by being upside down in the corner of our bedroom closet so she could un-attach the corner of the carpet just barely reachable behind a set of shelves.

We've had to remove Miss Nutty from being stuck - again upside down - from a packing tube, the broom closet, and the coat tree. She consistently leaps in, gleeful and oblivious, looking for the fun and novelty of almost anything. She likes to ride on shoulders. She helps me type. Monster Under The Blanket is her favorite game. If something gets knocked over (especially things like button jars), we can pretty much guarantee she did it. Her favorite perch is the middle of my big spider plant, which has been flattened for weeks now but otherwise suffering no ill efects. And, as you can see in the pic above, taking the regular path (even out of a paper bag) just isn't her thing. She just has to do it her own Nutty way.

I still miss our Princess Malaysia quite a lot, but The Nut has become pretty freaking cool to have around.

08 November, 2011

Plus Pages and Banner Graphics

Now that Google Plus is allowing pseudonyms and business pages, I've set one up for my novels and shorts. If you're a plusser, please check it out! :)

I made a square banner graphic for that page, plus a much larger, longer graphic on facebook. I think they've both turned out well, but if anyone has suggestions to make the artwork better, I'm always open to critique. :)

31 October, 2011


I am officially participating in National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNo, where a slew of crazy writers dedicate one month to writing FAST. The goal is 50,000 words in November, usually in a new project special for NaNo, but I desperately need to make good progress on Stain of Corruption. Soon. I need to have at least the first draft finished this year. I need to get this book out of my head and off to the fans, despite the endless insanity we've been mired in since, well, March when the postal closing mess tipped the first domino of 2011 life chaos. And I need to get back in the habit of daily prose creation.

Anyway, I'm all signed up and I've been working on the book steadily since I promised to get my 50k in November. I will post daily (well, nightly since I write at night, ha ha) word counts on Twitter, or you can follow along and friend me on NaNoWriMo. :)

Life nuttiness continues (gak, don't get me started on the post office!!), but books don't write themselves. C'mon, November! Let's get LOTS done!!

13 October, 2011


I live in Iowa. Small town Iowa, to be precise, and have lived essentially my whole life surrounded by corn and soybeans.

Corn whispers, did you know that? The leaves caress one another in the wind. Deep into a big, green, field it is quite possible to lose sense of direction since the corn gan grow well over most anyone's head (hint: follow the row, it'll end sooner or later, or listen for traffic and go that way) but, mostly it's pretty mindless to walk through a cornfield in high summer. Just wear a long sleeved shirt and pants, not shorts - I don't care how hot it is, wear the full-coverage clothes anyway. You'll thank me later. You'll be surrounded by green, emersed in it, swimming in it, and, other than the whispers and the wind, it's nearly silent there. Peaceful. Cut off from most everything. You can think in a green cornfield, like walking through a sensory deprivation chamber of green (unless you're wearing a tank top and shorts, in which case you'll be too scratched up and itchy to notice the peacefulness).


Anyone who has to call the cops for being lost, TWENTY FIVE FEET into a corn maze is crazy, stupid, or both. Twenty five feet. It's not that far. Four tallish guys put head to foot. TEN STEPS. Tops. And taking a cranky toddler and a newborn into an hour-long maze only highlights the idiocy. What? They couldn't simply turn around? Couldn't yell 'Hey! We need some help here!' Couldn't climb back up onto the platform they'd just crossed and look to see which way was the 15 feet to the entrance?

Nope. They called the cops.

I couldn't put this in a book. No one with any sense would believe it.

10 October, 2011

Reviews. And warning stickers.

While checking out some stats on Amazon (thanks, whoever bought Fire and Sid this past week!) I noticed that there was a newer review in my cue. For Threads of Malice. The reader gave it one star.

I honestly don't have a problem with bad reviews - I know my books aren't for everyone and I'm totally cool with that - but the reader obviously didn't read any of the numerous other reviews bluntly stating the subject matter of the story, or realize that my stuff, especially Threads, is gruesome, violent, and brutally frank about the dark underbelly of humanity. And, I'd like to take a moment to note, despite the violence and horror of Dubric's world, it's nothing in comparison to what happens to real people when captured by sociopaths and murderers.

My characters are fiction. Pretend. Mere imagination. Serial killers do things to real, living people that are horrific beyond comprehension. As twisted as I'm often said to be, I can't even imagine how anyone could actually do what I've read during research, let alone the worse acts that no one outside of law enforcement ever gets to see. What I make up is pale and frothy in comparison to reality and I always, always, try to offset some of the darkness with a bit of light from humor, romance, and family - an important facet of my work that doesn't usually brighten the reality of murder.

I wish I could apologize to this poor woman. I dunno what she was expecting, but obviously Dubric's version of John Wayne Gacy was too much. While I don't expect to thrill every reader, I also don't want to leave mortified, angry readers in my wake either. It's a hard line to walk sometimes, remaining honest yet inoffensive. I just tend to step toward the 'honest' side of that choice.

Some days I wish I could have NC-17 for Violence and Depravity stickers put on the books. Especially Threads.

Or, as my buddy Michele often suggested, 'Do NOT Eat Tacos While Reading This Book!'

(She was eating tacos while first reading the autopsy scene. Maggots. Remember the maggots? Apparently the combination wasn't pleasant. ;) )

Anyway, if, by some miracle, that reviewer is reading this, I am sorry that you hated the book, that it was too gratuitous and you thought the violence served no purpose. I am. I'm sorry that you had to endure the depravity and perversion. I don't want to disgust people, so in that I obviously failed.

But, in the mid 70's, a man named John Wayne Gacy raped, tortured and killed more than 30 teenage boys and young men in far nastier ways than I put in Threads. Gacy finally got caught, thank God. But there are others out there, roaming free and doing similar and worse things even now to men, women, children, and the elderly. It happens every day. For real. I've tried to write 'nice books' but it's simply not in my makeup. I cannot do it. During my forays into the dark, however, I try to shine the brightest light I have and report honestly on what I see. Abuse. Murder. Madness. I don't choose these topics, they choose me. And I always, ALWAYS, try to tell the unvarnished truth as best I can. I might write fiction, but I don't lie. And I don't flinch.

The books really aren't about the dark, though, they're about the people, the good people, who stand up and say that they will no longer allow this to happen. And they stop it. They're about how no matter how awful, how incredibly, impossibly awful things get, Dubric will endure, regardless of how heavy the burden of his ghosts becomes. How Dien will protect the weak, even if it kills him. How Lars will always get back on his feet and snarl at the dark.

How someone has to say NO! I won't allow it anymore!

And, in the end, that someone succeeds.

I write about the people who refuse to falter in the face of evil. And that, I am never sorry about.

06 October, 2011

Links! I have links!!

I've created a new page here on TamboWrites called Books and Such. It's over to the right and has anything you need to know about the novels, shorts, and where to buy them. :) Thanks for your patience.

05 October, 2011

Two posts. One day. Omg, I've lost my mind.

I've been reading a lot about writing lately, craft, e-vs-traditional publishing, marketing, platforms, royalties, and all the other assorted important-to-writers-but-no-one-else concepts. I love this stuff, just gobble it up (and I spit it back out, as evidenced by my many re-tweets and G+ shares).  ;)

One thing I keep running into, though, is:

Every concept has its lovers and detractors. 

Writers are people too and we all have preferences and opinions. And we like to be heard. So we, as a group, tend to respond to articles we agree with, and ones we absolutely disagree with. All that's fine. However, some writers (a few in particular who shall remain nameless) apparently live to spit on others.

Free Pie Day

For those  of you who don't know, Wednesday is FREE pie day at Village Inn restaurants. Yeah, it's only fruit pie, but still. Free. Pie.

Bill and I imbibe in the freeness now and then - went last week, but not this week - and, if nothing else, it's a nice, cheap date. We each get iced tea to go with our free pie, so for about $4 total, it's a pretty good deal, especially when you're on a budget.

Then again, we don't get out much. ;)

Since almost everyone's been impacted by the current economic climate, what kinds of cheap yet enjoyable things have you found to do?

03 October, 2011

Waving goodbye to Facebook

I joined facebook a couple of years ago when a friend started an author page for me. It was a fun place to hang out, catch up with friends and family, and play a few games. But it soon became a time suck and, as the rules kept changing, a bit too public for me. I didn't like having my personal data up for sale (not that almost every social site online doesn't do that, too) that anything I posted, clicked at, or even potentially visited outside of facebook would become public knowledge.

That really bothered me. Not because anyone would care that I frequent quilting sites, writing blogs, and news (Seriously. Who cares that I like Moda Bake Shop?), but does anyone really need to know if I'm researching decapitation, spousal abuse, or how long a person can live after a disemboweling? Not only would it potentially label me as psychotic, it could give away a story element long before the story went public.

And what writer wants that? ;)

The real kicker for me, though, was the increasing negativity. It's like people's self-sensors have turned off. While there's always been that free wheeling 'F this!' attitude to facebook posts, especially by the younger set, I lost count how many non-teenagers were telling others to do things to themselves best not said in public. Or posted raunchy, nasty pics and videos. Or just plain bullying and harassment. On my wall, at least, the venom exploded over the past couple of weeks.

I have no issue with disagreement, only the lack of politeness. People can disagree without calling each other names or making threats. People can be upset and angry without being vicious. Just apparently not on Facebook. And God help you if you ask someone to tone it down.

I just don't want that crap shoved in my face anymore. I have enough of my own to deal with, thanks anyway. So, between the nastiness and privacy issues, I decided I was done. I didn't want to lose my author page or that path of interacting with fans, so I haven't deleted my account, just closed the social 'wall'. I hope that works for everyone, including me. :)

I'll keep checking the page - promise! - but I'm also maintaining a twitter account (http://twitter.com/#!/tambojones) and Google+ (http://gplus.to/tambo). And I'll make a greater effort to update this blog frequently.


30 September, 2011

Reflections on Network TV.

This is all because of Star Trek Voyager.


I'd like to point out that I've never really watched much TV. Never seen The Sopranos or the West Wing, barely knew LOST existed, and, frankly, the one time I tried to sit through Sex in the City I thought WTF? People actually like this crap??

(Please don't be offended if you're a fan, I am just so far removed from New York, fashion, or being single that it was like watching a show of aliens doing alien things. In their alien language. Nowhere near a cornfield.)

Anyway, growing up and into my adulthood, I occasionally had one TV show that I watched, at least to the point where I looked forward to the day and time, and made plans in my life accordingly. One. Show. At a time. Not 'Fab Fridays' or whatever. Just the one show. SOAP was a must-see fave. Twin Peaks (oh, the flowcharts and character-plot-dissections I made) was another. And Voyager... Yup, it was a third.

I can't think of any *since* Voyager, at least none come to mind, (well, maybe the Goren and Eames episodes of Criminal Intent, which rock) but back in 1996 I was totally, completely hooked on happenings in the Delta Quadrant.

Then our local Fox affiliate quit buying the rights to show the new episodes. My one show, after a cliffhanger season ender, was gone. I was distraught, upset - not quite as upset as I was with Twin Peaks' cancellation, but close - and I frantically sent letters and searched far and wide for some way, any way to get my Voyager fix.

Very few stations picked it up that year (I think it was season 2??) but WSBK in Boston carried it. I lived in Iowa, though, and didn't know a soul in Boston who could tape it for me. Our local Fox affiliate was immune to my pleas, as was the cable company, but, lo and behold, there was a brand spanking new satellite dish company, Dish Network, that listed WSBK as one of their upgrade channels.

Because I get rabidly attached to a TV show roughly once a decade (and because I'm relentless when I'm fixated on something) my darling husband agreed to check into it (spouse speak for 'I'd better agree to this or she'll never give me any peace') and, right about the same time, like that very DAY if I remember right, a local radio station ran a promotional offer for this newfangled Dish Network. One phone call and a couple of days later, I became one of the very first Dish subscribers in Iowa. Seriously. Me, who didn't even watch TV, other than Voyager, of course.

This was back when internet service, at least for us, was dialup, btw. 28 baud or some crappy speed. Us getting a dish was a hugely big technological coup.

Yes, I know I'm spoiled. I do.

Anyway, I'd missed a good hunk of that season, but by-golly we had Dish. Voyager (spoiler alert!! ;) ) finally made it back to the Alpha Quadrant in 2001, and I went back to not-really-watching TV. My family watched, though, shows like MXC and South Park and some screwy ass thing called Cow and Chicken. (I pretty much hated Cow and Chicken. I'm sorry, but Cow bouncing through life with her udders bouncing along with her was just wrong on so many levels just thinking about it makes me cringe). Life moved on to Sponge Bob, CSI reruns on Spike (along with Voyager, wooohoooo!!!! who cares if it was on at 2am, it's VOYAGER!!), and crappy SyFy movies. We dragged the dish with us to the wilds of northern Iowa, upgraded our system a couple of times, and, even as the originally cheap fees steadily grew (and, for me at least, the TV was mostly background noise), we remained constant subscribers despite a hundred channels with nothing on (as Bill liked to say).

Until about a week ago.

With Bill's diminished hours at the posty office and rising prices on everything else in our universe, we decided to let Dish go. It was a luxury, and we didn't need all those channels anyway. Not even WSBK. So we cancelled our service, and promptly discovered that despite having digital TVs, we couldn't receive anything up here. Nothing. But static. And, once, a really grainy episode of Matlock.

So we bought an antenna - gasp! - a big, shiny aluminum monster that could supposedly pick up the signal all the way from Des Moines. It's mounted on the garage now. With its assistance, we receive 5 networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and THIS) plus three separate public television stations that show the exact same things. Despite it being 'on the list' the ION channel out of Newton is just too far away. All of the stations have additional 'kinda crappy' affiliate channels (1 to 3 more, like our FOX is 17.1, 17.2, 17.3) I find this perplexing. Why have these other subordinate channels? All Iowa weather? What's the point in that? Channels with sound but only a blank black screen? That's like radio. On TV! I do, however, really like how one channel is nothing but music videos!  It's what MTv used to be! Cool.

Like Spock, I squint at it and mutter, "Fascinating."

This week I half-watched auditions for X Factor. I'd never seen a 'talent reality TV show' before. Weird and sad, all at the same time. Why show the obviously awful entrants? It just seems cruel. I doubt I'll watch any more. I saw Aston Kutcher debut on 2 1/2 Men (which we'd seen in reruns) and, yanno, he seemed just like Kelso (on That 70's Show, also only seen in reruns). Saw the premier of TerraNova (other than Laura insisting we had to watch 2 1/2 Men during TerraNova's third quarter so I missed the kids getting chased by dinos) and it was a lot like a cardboard SyFy movie. Watched some PBS. The local news (first time in more than a decade) and a couple of things on daytime TV. Was vastly disappointed in The Chew.

Anyway, we've only had 'Broadcast TV' since Monday. It's just background noise now, if it's even on at all. I think the best thing we'd found was M*A*S*H reruns. Even my nearly-addicted-to-TV daughter isn't watching.

Maybe one day they'll rerun Voyager. Until then, I'll leave it on the music video channel. :)

26 September, 2011

Getting social

I'm on facebook (as myself, and as Tamara Siler Jones), on Google+, and on Twitter. Some of these activities are professional while some are purely social - I have quite a lot of friends and extended family who use some or all of these services, and, frankly, it's kind of nice to know what my cousin in Georgia is up to - but they do take a lot of time to monitor and update and such. I'd really like to cut back.

But, as an author and a somewhat public person, I need to maintain an online presence that's easy for fans and new readers to access. I've been thinking about re-starting the TSJ website again, that was certainly easy for the readers to find me, but interactions were difficult and often mired by spam. This blog has not yet received one single spam comment, and I've had no trouble with any of the social networks or their affiliates spamming me, not yet at least.

I am going to sell mainstream/thrillers under a different name, so there's that diversification, too. Do I have two unrelated sites? Put both under the 'tambo' banner somehow? Maintain two separate everythings? I've already made a blog, email and a G+ account for the pseudonym, but what about all the rest? Heck, am I better off, for sales and my sanity, to just write the mainstream books as Tammy Jones (or Tamara Jones) instead of a totally different name?

I love talking with all of you, comments and emails and other interactions (in some ways, that's the best part of this job, and many of you have become good friends over these past years), and I don't want to become a hermit, I'd just like to find a way to manage all of these 'internet presence' responsibilities without spending so much time doing it.

I'd love to hear any suggestions you might have, and remember, you can always email me at tambowrites AT gmail DOT com. :)

{{huggs}} and have a great week, everyone!

19 September, 2011

We have a winner!

All of the comments were awesome and really insightful - THANK YOU!!!

Bill picked the random number today and the price-point quilt winner is Childlight! Please send me your snail mail address to tambowrites AT gmail DOT com.

Thank you again everyone who commented. :)

09 September, 2011

Price Points

Since I've sort of lumbered into the self-publishing arena with the short stories (again, they're still available for FREE at http://tambowrites.blogspot.com/p/downloads.html) and listed them all for 99¢ at online retailers, I've noticed a few things.

Online sales - not the freebies. Btw, I do not track the freebies in ANY WAY, there are no counters at all and I don't even pay attention to how many people visit my blog or any page on it - show that FIRE sells about four copies for any single copy of the others. ENDORPHINS sells better than SID (more than twice as many). While I understand how fans are more likely to buy the story featuring Lars Hargrove, and 4:1 sounds like a reasonable ratio, I assumed the other two would sell at about the same rate. Nope. The lighter story of Edyth and her chomping quest for happy weight loss totally trumps the gruesome price of Theo facing his writer's block.


Is this due to the covers? The 'free sample' pages? The concept? Do readers care more about fat farms than writer angst? I dunno. But I find it very interesting. While I do write primarily to please myself and keep my own 'Sid' quiet and well fed, I also want to keep the fans happy. So I wonder.

I also wonder, especially after reading Chuck Wendig's essay on pricing ebooks at 99¢, if the perceived value of 99¢ or free is working against me and the stories. None have received any reviews anywhere that I have seen - despite dozens and dozens of paid downloads (and I can only assume even more free ones). Are they great? Are they crappy? Are they - most likely - somewhere between? Is there a stigma associated with reading, or reviewing, or, hell, enjoying, a super-cheap story? All things to ponder as I contemplate another Dubric short and the future completion of Stain of Corruption.

I'd like to try an experiment, but I'd also like some input beforehand. So, how do you all value free and cheap ebooks? Would they be more desirable if they were a bit more expensive - say $1.49 - $1.99 for short stories, more for novel length? Are you more inclined to read or review something you paid for vs something you picked up for free? If an author has a selection of super-cheap ebooks, does that make you more or less inclined to purchase their traditionally published works? Does the fact that I send all of my ebook royalties to charity make any difference at all? (John Hopkins Burn Unit is the fall recipient, btw.) Do you have any other comments or concerns as an ebook buyer?

How about I turn this into a contest? Anyone who leaves a comment answering questions about ebooks in general - or mine in particular - on the blog or facebook will be entered into a drawing to receive one of my table-topper quilts. I actually have four here ready to go. One's black, white and red, one's kinda purple, teal, and green, one's Christmas, and the other is neutrals and browns. So note a color scheme with your comments and I'll leave the contest open until Saturday September 17, at midnight.

Thanks for your help!!  {{huggs}}

24 August, 2011


It amazes me sometimes how easy it is to derail my writing and other plans. Things happen and I sit, shell shocked, and unable to concentrate. I guess that's normal, but this summer has been crammed full of bumps in the road, some good, most not. But Stain is chugging along fairly nicely, not as quickly as I want, no, but I'm pretty happy with it.

To celebrate passing the troublesome beginning and getting into the meaty middle, I'm including a scene from Chapter 3 below the cut. It's first draft, will likely be TONS of changes, but it's fun.

I do love writing Kia and Fyn when they're together. ;)

02 August, 2011

Back on it, and a good writing night.

We're still kinda reeling over last week's many life implosions, but I'm back on Stain. Last night I wrote about 10 pages of Dien interrogating a would-be assassin - while struggling to rein in his temper - which was fun.

Today is set aside for errand running, then it's back to work.

The book is starting to fall together. Finally! Yippeeeeee!!

27 July, 2011

Okay, so maybe this thing is working out. Maybe.

I've spent the last couple of weeks trying to integrate a massive amount of backstory (mostly from the War) into the current story as a parallel narrative and, so far at least, it seems to be working.

Stain has a whole new opening, I finally got to write a scene from Albin Darril's POV, and I'm actually pretty happy with this!

This integration has, however, shown the need for massive restructuring of the middle of the book - including a different villain, er, assassin, er, sort of both and neither, and that too is coming along quite well. Now I just have to figure out how to kill someone(s) without Dubric getting (or at least being stuck with) their ghosts. ;)

Feel free to make suggestions. lol

26 July, 2011

Farewell to a Princess

Our Malaysia died this morning, hit by a car right in front of our house. She was three years old, had been a fabulous mama to a perfect litter of kittens, and was very much adored. She was also determined, ornery, spoiled, particular, and in all ways a Princess. Since we can no longer worship at her altar and bow to her many whims, I can only say goodbye my sweet princess. We loved you and miss you very much.

16 July, 2011

For a mere ten dollars

I meet with my writing group twice a month for lunch followed by much gabbing at Borders. We critique each other, support and encourage each other, and do our best to keep each other accountable because, let's face it, we're all mired with life upheaval. Grandkids. Grown children moving back home. Job changes. New romances. Illness and injuries and car trouble and, well, life.

In short, we've been slacking with our writing, all of us so we've devised a plan. Create a writing goal. Hit it, there's no penalty. Miss it, pony up $10 toward a writing retreat.

My goal is 8 more finished chapters of Stain by our next meeting (the end of this month). I'm CHEAP and there's no way I'll have to pay.

No freaking way.

Speaking of Stain, I'm working at integrating the Pavlis Accords and other important events into the narrative, not as flashbacks but as intersecting story. It's coming along really, really well.  :)

06 July, 2011

Gilby and Otlee

Now that all the house-stuff is done, I've been trying to focus on Stain. The current draft is mostly finished, length wise, but a real mess, content wise. That's okay, it's fixable.

But, in an effort to show that it's not all awful, I'm sharing a scene from about mid-book with Gilby and Otlee. Since Dubric, Dien and Lars are insanely busy with bigger problems, Dien has sent the boys to bring in a known drunk (Crith) supposedly for a minor offense, but actually because Dubric has been haunted by Crith's wife's ghost for a couple of days. There's been no time to investigate her murder because things in Faldorrah are a bit nuts to say the least, and Dien assumed it would be an easy and safe task to delegate.

Easy and safe in a tambo book? Um... no.

Anyway, the scene's below the cut. Hopefully it'll last through revisions because I really like Gilby. ;)

25 June, 2011

Yup, I'm 47. Not sure if I like it much.

It's my birthday today, and I'd like to say we had a big party and cake and gobs of presents, but that'd be fibbing. I did get to go out to lunch with Bill and Laura (which was nice), and we did a little shopping (also nice), but mostly we went through lists of postal sorting centers to filter out all the upcoming closings and places we really didn't want to relocate too (huge cities, like New York, Chicago, etc, and locations in the southwestern desert because Laura and I both burn like crazy) and then tried to pick our top contenders from what remained

Honestly, not a lot remained. It's shocking and quite worrisome how many postal centers are closing. We had twelve pages of centers, HUNDREDS to start with, and more than half are just gone or soon will be. Where are all their employees going to go? How can so many people relocate? Will they? Since Bill's only been a postal employee 5 years, will he even be able to find a place to relocate to? Hell, will he even have a job after October?

Very scary stuff. Neither of us are good with uncertainty and it's really dragging our psyches down.

Our house has been on the market for 2 weeks and no nibbles yet - not that we expected any this quickly - and we're having an open house tomorrow. Hopefully that will go well.

We really could use some good news.

21 June, 2011

Dermatological 2

The doc was really nice, if a bit rushed, and I now have new, pricey, super-gentle cleanser and am awaiting arrival of special, super pricey, must order it in because our pharmacy doesn't stock it, antibiotic lotion. Both of which must be used twice a day.

If they won't help, there's one more thing she can try, then it's off to laser surgery for me. So, hopefully this stuff will work.

I must admit, the cleanser makes my face feel 'happy'. I am rather encouraged if humbled by the price of all this stuff.

15 June, 2011


I'm biting the bullet - again - and going to a dermatologist to have my Rosacea looked at. I'm just tired of my face stinging all the time and people asking me if I'm okay, since I'm so red.

ARRGH. I don't want to go because it will almost certainly be a waste of time. I went to one once, years ago, a guy highly recommended by my regular doc, supposed to be the best in the area, and it didn't go well. He blustered in, confirmed that I did, indeed, have Rosacea, remarked that - oh! - I was allergic to tetracyclines, so here's some amoxicillin pills. Put some moisturizer on it and good luck. Poof, right back out the door.

Was with me all of maybe 45 seconds. We didn't have insurance at the time and it cost more than a hundred bucks. The amoxicillin helped my sinuses, but I was already moisturizing, and the visit was all just a big waste of my time and money. My regular doc has since tried tried a couple of things, but nothing's helped. It just is what it is, I guess.

Here's hoping next week's appointment helps, at least a little.

02 June, 2011


Our darling daughter has never expressed an interest in driving. Ever. All of her friends and cousins were chomping at the bit to get their permits and licenses, thinking up a zillion great reasons why they needed the keys to the car. Not Laura, not ever. For one thing, she never had anywhere to go that someone else wasn't going to. For another, she's not much of a social butterfly, more of a homebody (although she does get feeling cooped up and stir crazy from time to time) so when she did go out, it was with friends, or family. Or she just walked. Mostly, though, she just stayed home or asked someone to drive her, which often became a PITA for her mom (me), especially considering Laura's wackydoodle work schedule.

Last week, after her parents pretty much demanded she rectify this situation, she got her permit. Today, since he's home, her dad is taking her driving. I'm sitting her queasy and worried.

They're heading out to dirt roads in the rural cornfield wilderness. Here's hoping they can stay out of the ditches.

Drive safe, Laura!

26 May, 2011

Royalties to help spread Literacy!

Okay, gang, I need some brainstorming help here. Smashwords and Amazon have both paid me within the past few days (a total of $26.27) for the three short stories. Last winter's income went to a women's shelter, and this round is slated for a library/literacy.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to where to send it? I can write a physical check, or send money through paypal. While I'm sure my teeny local library could use the funds, I'd kinda rather have it go somewhere that would actually help people learn to read.

I know it's not much money, but every little bit helps!

11 May, 2011


Life has, in its random pain-in-the-butt way, imploded. Hubby is getting 'excised' at work - which means he'll be forcibly transferred who-knows-where who-knows-when - and we're trying to get the house ready for sale. Our community wide yard sale is this weekend, and we're getting ready for that. Plus our daughter has moved back home, adding more stuff to the house and our worries.

Needless to say, I haven't written much. I have, though, decided that the original opening, where Lars and Dien deal with a child rapist, is still the opening, only changed somewhat, with Dien being the POV character in the initial scene, before Lars heads upstairs to talk to the victim.

My sewing room is all packed up and hauled off to storage, the kitchen is in shambles, the bathroom is half gutted, and I have a pile of, well, crap we're trying to get rid of, in my living room. I'm planning on working on Stain tonight, get chapter 3 roughed out at least, because I need to do something besides worry and pack boxes.

Here's hoping we all have a good weekend and this next upcoming week!

25 April, 2011

Updates and such

After all of these years/months of struggling to wrap my brain around all the things that need to happen in Stain of Corruption, I think I may have actually figured out the book! Been making good progress the past few days and I'm not angsty of gnashy or anything. I do, however, stay up till 4am or so writing. ;)

Btw, pretty much everyone is still totally screwed, which is awesome!  Well, at least for me. ;)

M has received two declinations so far and both have been very encouraging. Loved the book, couldn't put it down, but must decline due to this one (minor, easy to fix) issue. And, of course, the issues do not match. That's all perfectly normal and fine. I think that the real issue, if there is one, is that print markets are shrinking due to both the increase in ebooks and the tightening of the American economy, and that the rejections of M are, in a large part, due to that financial reality. I totally understand, and it's okay. The book will find a home, sooner or later, and, if not, I'll just write something else.

It is nice to get such gushing rejections though. lol

I don't think I've mentioned our Looming Big Life Change here on the blog, but due to posty office restructuring, we'll likely have to move sometime this summer or fall. We don't want to - we both love it up here in the corn-fed wilds of Northern Iowa, so Bill and I have been struggling to decide what we're going to do and how we're going to do it. We've agreed upon a plan and have set it into motion, including the partial gutting of our bathroom as we totally update and move stuff around to better suit the space. So, here at Casa Del Jones, we're in remodeling mode.

We love remodeling mode! Been to Menards four times in the last three days and it's pretty awesome. As our new shower will be! Woot!

Once the new shower's in and functioning, Bill will rip out the existing shower and put in a jet-tub (you can kinda see part of it on the left edge of the picture). Today we looked at tile for the 'top' of the tub surround thing and found some really nice granite tiles that just about perfectly match our vanity. This is all so exciting! :)

28 March, 2011

M is off to the next stage

My agent loved M and he's sending the book out to editors. I'm nervous and scared and excited, but it's been a great journey. Im pretty confident someone will buy it.

Managed to finish some sewing over the weekend and I've also started cleaning out closets and things for this spring's community yard sale. I'll be working on Stain's narrative starting either this weekend or the first of next week.

26 March, 2011

Let's finish chapter 1

Here's the final scene from Stain's chapter one, but that's probably all I can post, copyright issues and all that jazz. As always, it's subject to change if it ever sees print, and I'm reserving all rights. :)

Not much gruesomeness below the cut. :)

25 March, 2011

Stain, scene two

Since I'm pretty sure I'd snipped Stain's opening scene before, here's the next. It's a bit more violent. Hope 'yall like it. (scene below the cut)

24 March, 2011

It's out the door!

M left my emailbox this morning and is in the hands of my agent. I'm taking this weekend and all of next week off to sew, then I'm back to working on Stain of Corruption. I thought you'd all like to hear that. :) 

As a bonus, I'm including part of Stain's opening chapter below the cut. Please note there is ADULT CONTENT and this scene may be offensive to some readers. Just probably not mine. :)

17 March, 2011

The Joys of Getting Old

I had some weird bright flashes in my peripheral vision last weekend followed by a new and annoying 'floater'. Today (Thursday), I visited the eye doctor and learned that these are common symptoms as the fluid in the eye shrinks and detaches from the retina. This process usually happens without symptoms or fanfare, but, since I *have* flashes and floaters, there's a chance I might get a retinal tear.

Whee. As if I don't have enough excitement in my life.

So far, everything looks fine, it's all just normal aging (but with fireworks and streamers - ha ha), but I'm supposed to go back in two weeks and get checked again.  I'll keep y'all posted.

13 March, 2011

Fly away little birdie

Our daughter moved out this past Thursday to start her own life and we're so proud and happy for her. She has a job. She has roommates. And she's super excited and happy.

Her parents, however, are stuck cleaning up the aftermath that's scattered and piled in her old room, but that's okay. Nothing a few bins, trash bags, and the washing machine won't fix.

Good luck, Laura! We love you and don't forget to call home once in a while!

01 March, 2011

Cops? Why'd it have to be cops?!?

There are several scenes in Secret Project M where M has to talk to, deal with, and explain things to the police and detectives. I must admit that it's MUCH EASIER to write such conversations from the viewpoint of the questioners than the question-ee. This is a single POV book and, sometimes, it's proving tricky to get information and questions across to M and the readers without being overly blunt about it.

Semi-stalled again on Chapter 14, but I think I can get this one cleared out fairly quickly.

Now that February is over...

Let me just say that it sucked. Mightily. With great, heaving amounts of negative-displacement-pressure. 

Like an open airlock into space.

Well, maybe not *that* bad, but still. February sucked.

I don't know if it was the weather, too much caffeine, hormones, or the drastic revisions to M that I struggled to wrap my brain around, but I spent pretty much all of February in a pissy little funk. Sort of depressed. Kind of angry. Incredibly lazy. I watched too much reality TV - things like Worst Cooks in America and Next Great Baker. I napped. I grumbled. I played Spider Solitaire. And that was pretty much it.

I didn't really write anything other than going over and over and OVER M's Chapter !(@*$&@ 7. I didn't really sew anything other than what I had to sew for class - and last week, I didn't even do that. I ate crappy (which didn't help) and barely exercised (also didn't help) and generally just sat on my butt being a grouch.

Last week, though, as February started to wind down, my mood began to lift. A little. I sewed. A little. I wrote. A little. I cooked with vegetables a little. But I was still a grump.

This past weekend was my guild's annual quilting retreat where we quilters invade a lakeside conference site for a three-day weekend of sewing. My roomies were all friends (Deb, Vicki and Jennie) so that was good (other than the lingering terror of sharing living space with others), but I'd never gone before and I don't do well in new situations. I also don't handle crowds well, I'm just too introverted, and I knew there were going to be a lot of people.

Daily, as the retreat approached, I told Bill that I didn't think I was going to go. And he would inform me that I ought to, it was already paid for and, besides, what's the point of trying to make friends (something I'm not particularly good at) if I never go to things where said friends will be? (I think he was looking forward to getting my grumpy self out of the house for a few days, to be perfectly honest.)

I'd decided that I didn't want to inflict my pissiness on the quilt ladies so I gave myself a deadline. If I wasn't in a better mood by that Friday morning, I wasn't going to go. Period. I even warned a few people that I was grumpy and might not come, but everyone insisted that I should because what's the point of a bad mood if you can't share it and, besides, it gave them an excuse to pick on me. Seriously. That's what they said. Come. We'll pick on you. It'll be fun!

Quilters are crazy.

Anyway, on Wednesday, my friend Tanya called to ask if I'd crawled under a rock and died (I'm usually in her quilt shop every couple of days or so to hang out or work or cut fabric or something), so I whined to her on the phone about being cranky and anti-social. Then I went over to her shop and we sat and talked and I bawled a bit about nothing in particular, other than pretty much hating my mood (and my age and my weight and my book and y'all know the drill). And I felt a smidge better. Not much, but some.

Thursday came and my mood had another marginal improvement. Then, me being me, I just had to put my lower back out. Well, actually my gluteus medius & multifidus, er, the upper/side part of my butt and upward. Lemme tell you, pain is not a mood lifter, and I hadn't even done anything! Came downstairs, walked across the living room and whammo! Tambo broke her butt.

Chiropractor helped some, and, at Bill's insistence urging - and armed with ointment and ibuprofen - I went to the retreat. Sitting sucked. Walking sucked. And most everyone felt sorry for me. But everyone was super nice. I hurt, and didn't sleep very well. Saturday I signed up for a massage - had only endured one before and it was, well, meh - but the woman had been fussing a bit over me, she could see I was hurting (and, I swear, Deb, Betty, Bonnie and Janelle conspired against me, offering to loan me the money to pay for the massage and informing me I'd feel WONDERFUL afterwards) so I finally relented.

Never had a full-body deep tissue massage before and she worked on me for about an hour and twenty minutes. Hurt like hell, but afterwards I went and took a nap and SLEPT. After supper I got a lot of sewing done and even managed to finish that rotten Chapter 7. Sunday I felt worlds better (mood and back both) and, today - Monday - I have full movement, only a little ache when I sit too long, and even managed to exercise. Mood is pretty much awesome, too!

So, anyway, that's where I've been. Sitting around being a grouch butt until the quilting ladies talked me into getting massaged and maneuvered back into some semblance of normal.

Now that this long, rambling post is done, I'm off to write for the night's words, and, tomorrow, I'm meeting my writing group in Ames for fun, conversation, and critique. Woohoo!!

14 January, 2011

Kicking Dubric in the, um, knee. Yeah, knee.

My fabulous daughter, Laura, has been living with Dubric and Co. as long as I have. She's heard all the character backstories, all the unwritten forces pushing the plots forward, who's related to whom and how it all became such a tangled web. She knows the characters who haven't appeared on the page yet, the politics, the mage war, all that, almost as well as I do. Mostly because her mom is a bit neurotic and likes to talk things through, but also because she's genuinely interested. After all, I started writing Faldorrahn stories when she was just a toddler.

I am also blessed to have Sammie, my main pre-reader and good friend who is never afraid to tell me when I'm being a wuss and playing too nice (or letting my tenses slip like a loose bolt on a stepladder). She, too, knows all the layers of the Dubricverse, both written and unwritten. Sam's been with me since October of 2001. She's ruthless and just awesome. She's not as handy as Laura to brainstorm with - most of our conversations are via email - but she's always totally accurate and on the mark.

Anyway, I've been struggling with Stain of Corruption for a long time, since shortly after finishing Valley of the Soul - perhaps even long before that since I discussed some character development issues with my friend Stuart when he was visiting back before Valley had been published.

I guess what I'm saying is that this book has been stewing way too long. There are a few things I *need* to happen, a few select balls that have been put in motion that must hit hard, somewhere, and others that need to be caught and put to rest.

I've talked at length with Sammie and, the other night, Laura and I brainstormed the opening as I drove her to an old friend's place. I think, maybe, I've got it now, how to mesh the things that the overall storyline needs with enough punch of a plot to make a functional, riveting book.

I've written nine pages of a loose roadmap, and sent it to Sam for additional tweaks. Laura will likely take a look at it tonight. Feeling pretty good about this, I really am.

I've taken a bit of a different tack, in a way, while pre-planning some aspects of this story. Among them I've considered the fact that Ghosts in the Snow by far out-sold the other two novels. Why'd that happen? How can I make it happen again? As I considered this, it meshed really well with different aspects Sam and Laura have brought up and commented on as I struggled to get the characters' stories to fit into a tight, vicious plot.

So, if this version flies...

Dubric is fucked.
Lars is fucked.
Kia's fucked.
Dien's merely screwed. As is Serian. And Gilby.
Jess is shattered.
Otlee's broken.
Half the castle is destroyed.
At least one major character dies.
There is much carnage. And burning.
And tambo is happy. :)

Here's hoping this works.