Friday, December 9, 2016

Ch-ch-changes Ahead

Who needs a break? Show of hands. I had to drop mine back down to the keys so I could finish typing. Also, I would like to point out that I looked up pictures for “changes” to accompany my post and this is what popped up:

Interpret as you will.

There were also pics of people changing light bulbs. If you want me to add one of those, just let me know and I can make that happen for you. For the record, I use CanStockPhoto and there is never a shortage of material. But that’s not what this blog post is about.

I stepped away from the nation of Facebook for a little bit and it was one of the very best things I have done for myself lately. I’m an indie author, which means I’m also a small business owner. That was never, ever, ever, ever, on my radar. For almost three years now I’ve had to figure out how to promote my books and get myself out there because…I’m it. There isn’t a marketing department or big publishing company behind me to help with anything. Unless you count these guys:

 I enrolled in webinars and conference calls to help get a better idea of what on earth I should be doing. I came across some helpful people and ideas, and some who weren’t so helpful. For the most part, there’s a similar business model that they abide by to help businesses gain more exposure. It involves posting on Facebook just about every hour, or at the very least, a certain amount of times per day. There are also specific types of posts to post at those various times. Post, post, post. Honestly this does work if you’re willing to follow that model…and if you have enough time to devote to putting together content for every. single. post. There are people whose sole responsibility is to manage social media presence. I tried asking one of the squirrels to take care of that for me, but every potential post revolved around acorns or tips for evading mockingbird attacks. Interesting if you’re a squirrel, but for a human? Not so much.

It certainly doesn’t help matters that I’m a socially awkward introvert. I don’t say this in a disparaging way, but one of acceptance. I understand that if you initiate a conversation with me before I’m ready, I won’t have complete control of what pops out of my mouth. I also have problems not doling out inadvertent fist bumps.

All of that to say…I struggle with engaging an audience. It’s not at all that I don’t want to hear from you, it’s that I honestly don’t know how to get the ball rolling on conversations because it is so far outside my comfort zone. I drew a diagram in case you need a visual:

What it all came down to was focusing more on the business/marketing/social media side of things than actually engaging in the creative process. Most days I just ended up feeling frustrated with my meager accomplishments and pitiful attempts at writing something worth reading. When I realized that Facebook was sapping my creative drive, I knew a break was needed.

So what happened when I stepped away from the screen and business side of things? I felt the pressure dissipate and got back to creating again. It’s been wonderful. I’m not saying Facebook is bad or something I won’t use. It’s too convenient for building a community. I am saying that some of us have more difficulties than others with the whole concept of social media and putting ourselves out there. Sometimes we just need a minute to regroup.

To sum things up, I’m still stepping away a little longer. I’m also writing, rebuilding, and trying new avenues to tell stories. I'll have some exciting news to share soon!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Freestyle Friday: Gunther

Sometimes my heart feels a little lost and my sense of direction gets trapped inside a brown paper bag. That paper bag is on the shelf of an old gas station that will not accept credit or debit cards. The Doritos are stale, but the beer is ice cold. And Gunther works the counter where he supplements his meager paycheck with an ever steady stream of dry roasted peanuts. He gave up the daily jelly beans because he read somewhere that peanuts were better for his health. If you ask him, he won't be able to recall where he gathered that information, but he does remember that he read it in the waiting room at Doc Kimmel's office when he went in to see her about his sore toe. The jelly beans still call to him and he doesn't regret one bit that on Friday afternoons he celebrates life with a packet of the colorful confections. He always picks out the sour apples because he has a fierce sense of loyalty to classic flavors. Cherry, grape, orange...these are acceptable. Lemon pushes the envelope, and peach is just not done.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gathering Ducks

I like ducks. Look at these little guys and tell me you didn’t at least think about cracking a smile.

What do you think they’re talking about? Maybe how good the fishing is? What are the best products to maintain their excellent coifs? 

Check out this snazzy little thing:
Thanks to Rex for snapping this.
Pretty incredible.

Ducks really don’t have much to do with this post, other than me giving the fleeting statement that I like for my ducks to be in a row. (Metaphorical ducks, not actual ducks. I don’t want to control wildlife. I’m team nature.) Right now my metaphorical ducks are hanging out all over the pond, just being ducks. 

The ducks I’m referring to are story ideas, projects, and dreams. I’m basically trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Because I’m certainly not there yet. Heck, I’ve been sleeping in dragon pajamas for the past three nights.

I’m not even kidding.

I’m trying to figure out what I really want to do and where I need to focus my attention. The Ransom Series will always hold a special place in my heart. But it isn’t, and never has been, the only project I want to work on. Honestly, I’m struggling to write book three, Reign of the Judges. Supernatural fiction and fantasy require intense creative stamina. I guess that little duck is on the far side of the pond right now. While he is over there exploring the reeds and hanging out with turtles, I’m just going to spend my time with the ducks that aren’t so aloof. I can’t say at the moment what those ducks are, but they are currently making me happy and stretching me to dream bigger.

I think sometimes it's freeing to admit that we don't know what the next step is. I don't have to have everything figured out and plan every single aspect of the journey. The only thing I'm certain of is that whatever I do, I want to use my platform and my voice to remind you that you are awesome. I want to cultivate a sense of community where you can know that you're important. That you are valuable. I honestly don't care if it sounds cheesy or sappy. There is too much negativity out there and if a picture of me in my current favorite pjs can put a smile on your face, so be it. If I can throw a happy quote, a wish for a good morning, or pleasant thought your way, I want to do it. 

Because I believe we are all here for a reason. 

And we are all in this together. 

Having everyone know their worth is more important than any story I could ever write.

Now, if anyone needs me, I'll be wading into the pond and seeing which ducks have a hankering for some Autry toes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


1995 was a very good year. I was in eighth grade and editor for my junior high yearbook and newspaper. I loved it. Honestly, it was probably one of my favorite years of school throughout my entire scholastic career. Why? Because I was able to go to a class each day that I loved, doing the things I enjoyed most. I loved writing articles for the paper and cropping pictures for the yearbook. I also enjoyed the leadership role of being the editor. I worked closely with my teacher to double check proofs and layouts to make sure we were getting what we wanted. (Shout out to Mrs. Dendy! Twenty years later and you’re still one of my favorite teachers.)

It took a lot of work and effort for our publications staff to put out the Hitchin' Post and Hoofbeats, and I wanted the final products to reflect that. One day while going over a yearbook proof, I noticed that the publishing company had made a mistake. They had an image pointing in the wrong direction. So my teacher and I circled it and told them to reverse the image so it would look just like the many others in the book. Imagine my shock when the yearbooks finally arrive and I turn the page to see the “correction.”  

This is what the design was supposed to look like:

I'd also like to offer a shout out to Michelle!

And this is what they printed:

I felt horrible. It was wrong. It was a mistake on my watch. It wasn’t perfect.

I don’t know how many others even noticed the mistake. I just know that it bothered me tremendously.

Fast forward two decades later to a girl who grew up and published two books of her own. When a stomach bug/virus/inconvenience attacked this weekend, I decided I would finally get around to reading those two books. (Hello, unexpected downtime!) So I read Ransom of the Healer and Rise of theSeer. And you know what? I found mistakes. And I felt horrible. Or in this case, horribler. We could say even more horrible, but horribler just seems to sum it up better. And I wanted to pull each and every copy and shut the whole thing down. And I let myself hear the awful things I’ve been afraid of since deciding to put my books out there three years ago.

I am, without a doubt, my own worst critic. No one is better at tearing me down than my own thoughts and voice. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. I know there are more out there like myself and I just have to ask:

Why do we do that to ourselves?

Why do we kick ourselves for imperfections and perceived failures?   

Why are we so quick to notice what isn’t perfect without looking at all of the positives that got us there in the first place?

There is no one, not one single person on this planet right now, who is walking around as perfection personified. And I think we need to see that as a good thing. I think we need to see it as an opportunity to offer ourselves grace when we make mistakes. Because we’re human, and they are going to happen. So we have a choice to make.

We can let the weight of past failures keep us tethered to a moment that wasn’t ideal, or we can acknowledge it and move on.

Move on, my friends.

Pull an Elsa and let it go. (Apologies if you end up singing that all day now.) We are more than the sum of our imperfections and failures. To stay in that place of regret is to forgo future joy. There is so much more freedom when we just acknowledge mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow.

I just thought someone else might want to hear those words. Give yourself permission to move on. And be kind to yourself. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

To Boston and Back Again: A tale of travels from a self-proclaimed socially awkward introvert.

(Remember when I mentioned that I had several things written that I never posted? This is one of those. I'm tired of it looking at me with its judgy, unpublished eyes when I log in. So, here you go! Better six months late than never.)

In a house in the country lived a writer. Not a well-traveled writer, but one who hadn’t been on an adventure in far too long. When the opportunity to take a trip to Boston was presented, the creatively thirsty word worker jumped at the chance to step away from the ever glowing computer screen and meet new characters. Below is the account of this quasi impromptu trip.

Day 1:
I haven’t flown in five years. A three and a half hour flight seems like a great way to get back into the habit. (If only someone would invent a sarcasm font.)  The flight was very bumpy with quite a bit of turbulence. I found myself realizing more than once that I needed to get outta dodge. And by dodge I mean the metal tube hurling me through the heavens. It was horrible. Thankfully the view of Boston Harbor eventually popped up and salvaged what remained of my sanity and ability to retain my breakfast.

And then we started banking and the world shifted to an angle my brain did not want to process. I actually heard equilibrium laughing at me as it parachuted to the land where it belonged.

So what do you do when you finally touch down and your stomach is unsure which way is up? You head for Faneuil Hall! (Sarcasm font initiated there.) If you’ve never been there before, it is a gauntlet of pretty much any food you could ever want. We’re not talking mall food court though. The amount of options could have been intimidating, but I had already decided I would be adventurous. This is what adventure looks like to someone who eats beef maybe a couple of times a month:

After some much needed downtime, and by that I mean lying perfectly still for almost two hours, the earth was stationary enough for me to venture out again…just in time for dinner. We ended up at The Black Rose where a group of "slightly" inebriated folks were singing Irish ballads in the corner. The volume was stuck on an 11 and I didn’t think I could love it more, until things slowly devolved into an awkward and slurry version of “Teddy Bear.” You win some, you lose some.

Day 2:
I hit the streets alone and stumbled upon this:

They really don’t want their dogs to have any fun in Boston.

I’m just going to post my touristy photos here. I went to the New England Aquarium and may have smiled to myself at all of the parents wrangling kids while I was free to do pretty much anything I wanted without being responsible for anyone else.

Everything was fun and penguin filled, and then things took a turn.

I’m going to preface this by saying, no disrespect is intended in the following account of this situation. I highly doubt the authenticity of this particular man of the cloth. A monk had tried to catch my eye on Day 1, but I was all, “Oooh, Boston!” and I didn’t make eye contact. I was also with a 6 foot+ traveling companion. This day I was flying solo and the monk walked right in front of me and shoved something in my hand. I almost died. Three things happened at once:

  1. He has a hand on my shoulder.
  2. He is standing inches away from me.
  3. He is speaking to me in a language I don't understand.

Flight or fight kicked in. No, I didn’t kick the monk. I guess I’m more civilized than I realized. He pulled out a notebook and showed me a picture of a temple being built. So my brilliant response was, “Oh. You want money.” Still no English on his part. He pulled out a notebook of the people who had donated $20. No way, shoulder toucher. That’s my lobster money.

At this point I want to end this confrontation at all costs. And by all costs I mean reaching in and pulling out a five dollar bill while this guy is leaning over trying to look in my wallet. Seriously. I hand him the five and he shakes his head. He then pulls out the notebook again and flips to the page where people have donated $10. The fight response finally kicks in and then I kick him.

Just kidding. I wouldn’t do that. Yet.

But I did put the amulet in his hand and try to grab the fiver back. Suddenly five dollars was enough of a donation for him. He smiled and went on to looking for the next philanthropist. So if anyone is interested, I know where you can purchase an amulet for "real cheap." I’ll sell it to you for a $10 "donation." 

After that I was peopled out. I spent what remained of the afternoon with a cup of mediocre coffee and Norman Rockwell.

And promptly fell in love with this print:

This post is getting a little long and we all know how fun it is to sit through vacation photos. I’ll wrap this up by saying, sometimes it’s good to get 1,500+ miles away from your comfort zone. Mine was a whirlwind trip, but I’ve been to Boston. I will always be able to say that. 

And if you open a pack of crackers on the dock you are guaranteed to have company...

Friday, April 29, 2016

Today is the day!

Toss that confetti, my friends!

Rise of the Seer is officially ready for purchase! 

Before I get into the specifics, I’d like to introduce you to the newest member of my writing team. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Ransom.

Now for a little Q & A on Rise of the Seer and how you can get your very own copy:

How can I get my very own copy of Rise of the Seer?
Excellent question! I’m so glad you asked.
It is also available on Amazon and most other online bookstores.

Is there a Kindle edition?
Yes! You can find it here

I went to ____________ bookstore and asked them for your books, but they looked at me like I was crazy. Why would they do that?
People these days. Because I am an independently published author, I’m doing this all on my own. It would be magical to walk in and see my books sitting on a shelf in any bookstore, but that’s not where I am in my publishing journey yet. As of now, I will have physical copies of my book in Roma’s Books out here in Rockwall.  Local business, local author. It’s a good fit. They should be available there in the next few days. I also have my own copies to sell. If you know me and see me, I’ll sell you some books out of the trunk of my car. I’m not even kidding.

Why is the paperback so much?
Again, because of the independent publishing, I have to be careful with the pricing. This isn’t a mass production. Each book is only printed when it’s ordered. Because of the weight and length of the book, the bare minimum price I could sell it for logistically speaking, was only a dollar less than the purchase price. I promise, I’m not trying to charge an arm and a leg to make oodles of money off of you. If I lower the price, I’ll end up losing money with each purchase and I honestly can’t afford to do that. Book sales aren’t buying a vacation home or paying my mortgage, they are recouping the funds I’ve already invested into publishing two books.

Will you sign my book?
Sure! Because you asked. Just know that sometimes I get a little awkward and may end up writing things such as, Have a great summer!  Or things like Keep in touch!  And my favorite, A.C. Autry was here!

Why are your palms wet?
Sheer, unbridled terror.

My book club will be reading your book. Can we Skype for questions and discussions?
First of all, thank you tremendously. Secondly, I’m happy to Skype during some of the meeting. Just get in touch with me and we will work out the details.

What’s next in the Ransom series?
Book three is Reign of the Judges. I don’t have an idea for a release date. What I do know is that I’d rather not go through this publishing process again because of the numerous hiccups I’ve encountered along the way. So I’m looking into new avenues for the final books in the series. I have no idea what that will look like, or where it will lead. I guess we’ll find out together.

How many books will be in the series?
From the beginning I’ve seen this as a four book series. We’re halfway there!

Any final thoughts on this beautiful day?
Yes. I cannot thank you enough for your interest, enthusiasm, and encouragement. I'm just a girl who fell in love with writing and have been trying to keep it in my life in some way, shape, or form along the way. I don't proclaim to be an expert by any means, but I do expect to become a better writer with each subsequent project. This is me, doing the thing that I love and not letting fear dictate who I want to be or what I want to do. Be brave and courageous, my friends. And if you happen to be in the market for a fun weekend read, I have a suggestion:

Friday, March 4, 2016

Writing Prompt #3 and "The Week That Ate My Lunch"

Yowzah. That's all I can say about this week. Influenza B has invaded our home and it's taken down two of my people. Writing and social media have taken a backseat to supply runs, doting, and rest. Life is gloriously messy sometimes.

I haven't written my prompts this week, so I grabbed one from a few weeks back. It's short and applicable.

Caution: Stay back 200 feet. Stay back 300 feet before meals are consumed.

And now for no other reason other than the fact that this made me happy, enjoy this unrelated photo:

Now it's your turn. What would your warning label say?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Weekly Prompt 2.154

We've made it to another Friday! It's the weekend and I've got a new stack of books to work through. That is my favorite combination. Speaking of favorites, this was my favorite writing prompt for the week. Post your response below if you'd like to create one also! Once again, this one is from Writers Write:

“Write a paragraph where a character apologizes without using the words ‘apologize’, ‘regret’, or ‘sorry’.”

Dearest Emily,

A cloud of discontent has settled upon our relationship and I understand that I am the one to shoulder this blame. I recognize that I have hurt you and I desperately wish that I could go back in time and put a filter over my mouth. Please understand that this mistake will never happen again and I will do all that I can to make this up to you. When I said, “You snore like a banshee,” what I meant to say was, “Baby, you’re so talented. I’ve never met another person who could sing through their nose while they slept. And to be able to sustain that intriguing melody all throughout the night is nothing less than a sign of greatness.” Truly, I bow to your genius and can’t wait to spend the rest of my life listening to your nightly nasal serenade. Do you take requests?

All my love,


Friday, February 19, 2016

Writing Prompts

Hold on to your hats, I'm about to tell you something without entering our share circle.

I enjoy writing.

While I wait for you to pick yourself up from the shock of it all, I'll just move this post along. I'm learning that there are things in this life that I don't care for at all. I'm looking at you, calamari, goat cheese, rooms without windows, folks who don't use blinkers, and crowds of people. There are also things I adore. Hello, hot tea, reading chairs, good books, laughter, stargazing, family, dogs sleeping at my feet...this list is extensive. For the sake of saving your eyes, I'll just let that end there.

I've recently discovered that writing energizes me. I can get absolutely nothing substantial or noteworthy accomplished during my day, but if I've added a few words to my book or worked on a short story, I will walk away feeling like I showed that day who's boss. I think we have different skill sets and abilities that make us feel fully engaged in life, something that takes living from ordinary to abundant in record time. I hope you know what that looks like for you. If not, why not make this the year that you discover what makes your heart light and your spirit zing?

I decided to really focus on writing this year to, hopefully, improve my craft and get back into the swing of things. Each morning I'm using a  writing prompt from Writers Write. I thought I would begin posting one at the end of the week to pry me out of my comfort zone. Somebody grab a crowbar....

Here is the prompt and my response:

“She knew about the strawberries and the vanilla pods, but she couldn’t remember why she needed to know.”

It tickled the back of her memory. The juicy red berries and the soothing scent of the vanilla brought a sense of comfort. In another life these meant something. In another life she would check ingredients three times before beginning to slice and measure, chop and prep. Not that she remembered that life now. Muddled thoughts ushered in frustrations and fears she never wanted to share. It was a weakness, a failure on her part, to admit that things were slipping. Things that should have a permanent hold on her, faces of loved ones, and places once known were slowly falling away. She felt the tears well up in her eyes as she stared at the kitchen counter with the chipped tile and dingy grout. Today would not be the day she let the forgetting begin. She cleared her mind of the jumbled confusion and reached a gnarled hand towards the basket of berries. If nothing else, her hands would remember. They would remember for her when memory faltered. Slowly, slowly, they took over and began to slice and create what she had forgotten.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Will You Be My Best Friend?

A funny thing happened to me on the way to February. I suddenly remembered that I had a blog. That’s me acknowledging the lack of recent posts, but not quite apologizing. Unless you want me to. All requests for apologies must be sent in writing and submitted to the address listed on my website. Wait a second. I have a website?! A funny thing happened to me on the way to February…

For those of you interested, I’ve got a quick Rise of the Seer update. It still hasn’t been published. I’m waiting…still waiting…on the copy for the back of the book. Those little words have to be just right. I’ve submitted suggestions and am currently awaiting the final product. After that I’ll see interior layouts and approve the cover. That’s it. I want to give a release date. I don’t have a precise one yet other than to say, soon. I don’t think there is anyone on earth who wants this book to be finished more than I do. When the publishing date draws close I’ll post a countdown so you can prepare for how hard to party and acquire the appropriate amount of confetti.

I approve of this level of celebration and confetti. 
On that happy note, let’s talk about becoming friends with books. As with most relationships and interactions, I know I don’t approach things from a typical perspective. And I can’t be trusted in a bookstore without a budget. Inevitably books just jump off of the shelves and into my hands. I’ve mentioned before our house rule is that no new books may be purchased if there is no longer room available on your assigned “to-read” shelf. Here’s a current look at my shelf for those curious:

Still plenty of room to work with!
Some of these books I’ve started and placed back on the shelf because I’m always on the lookout for the perfect book. I don’t know how it is for you, but when I begin a book I recognize that we’re going to spend some time together. We’re forming a relationship. The length and depth of that relationship is entirely up to the book. I really don’t have any control over it.

I will say that the last couple of books I’ve read have turned out to be acquaintances only. We hung out for a little while, but nothing progressed and they’ve ended up in my trade back bin. Usually within the first chapter or so I can get a general sense of how our relationship will proceed. I’m not often wrong. I will confess here, that if we are still on an acquaintance level friendship and I’m more than halfway through the book, skimming will begin to happen and sometimes, on a rare and unhappy occasion for both of us, a clean break will occur. Yes, a couple of books have ended up in the trade back bin before completion. When the relationship isn’t right, it’s best to part ways.

Sometimes though…


Something magical happens in the pages of a book.

The story grabs you and says, “Hey, I think I know you.”

And as you read it the more you feel that pull, like this one could swallow you entirely…and you wouldn’t mind one bit.

A line grabs you and you relate to it on some cosmic level in a way that doesn’t happen all that often. The words wash over you and you never knew you needed them strung together in that particular order until now.

And then you realize that this book could quite easily become one of your best friends.

And there is no way this one would ever mingle with acquaintances in the trade back bin.

But you’re only 14 pages in, so you have to restrain yourself so you don’t appear too eager. And you tell yourself, “Play it cool, Autry. Play it cool. There’s a lot of story left.” But you’re already secretly planning the next time you’ll curl up in your reading blanket with a cup of tea and your not-yet-but-soon-hopefully best friend. Now, I didn’t want to say anything because we’re so early in the relationship, but I *may* have found another best friend. I’m hopeful that things will keep rolling along like they have for the last 37 pages. I know it’s early, but I’m tired of meeting acquaintances every evening. So if you need me this weekend, I’ll be getting to know this book a little more. 

I even gave this book a bona fide bookmark. No old receipt or meaningless scrap of paper for this new friend!
Notice the little glint of sunlight illuminating the cover? This means something. I know it.

Happy reading to you and yours, my fellow bookworms! Here’s hoping your next book is one you will meet again in another few years with just as much excitement and joy as your first meeting.