Progress Report January

On this, the third full week of January…where am I at on these goals for 2015?

Without further ado, and in no particular order…

  • Finish THE BUNYAN BARTER. Well, I am writing like a maniac and closing in on the end, but not done yet…good thing I’ve still got a week to go!
  • Edit SHADES OF GRAY. Not on my radar yet until after January. Have been discussing with Hubby the need for cover art, edits, and have been talking to another author about interior formatting. More as I figure this out.
  • Finish GIRL VERSUS DEMON: DEMON DEADLY SINS. Not on my radar yet until after January.
  • Research THE PERRAULT VOW. Not on my radar yet until after January.
  • SEKRIT PLAN #1. Working on it.
  • Blog at least once a week. This counts…so I’m still on it!
  • Work out on a regular basis. Hauling books into the house, taking inventory for 2015, reorganizing everything for upcoming appearances, and repacking the car, and then unloading and reloading for my first event of the year counts, doesn’t it?
  • Bathroom remodel. We are actually going this weekend to look at faucet fixtures or a light/vent fan combo. We’ll see what we see and see what prices we can find. Is it sad that date night is dinner and Home Depot?
  • Write at least two new short stories. Too many ideas popping up while on deadline for something else…needs to stay off my radar for me until after January.
  • Plant some roses. Where are my gardening gurus? I’d like pink or red flowers, possibly sweetheart roses. I’ve had roses in containers before, so I get that these aren’t the easiest, but what would you recommend for fairly low (relatively speaking) maintenance in a small yard?
  • SEKRIT PLAN #2. Will have to happen if #1 happens. And yes, this is another remodeling project in the house. We have the paint. That’s as far as we’ve gotten.
  • SEKRIT PUBLISHING NEWS AND THE WORK BEHIND IT. Will have to keep you updated as I can; this is not yet in stone, and is still in flux, but the work it will take to do this will be in the to do list.

So, it doesn’t seem to look like a lot of progress yet, but progress is being made. Once I get through January, you might see a bit more accomplished.

Until then, keep your hands and arms back, and provide the writer on deadline with a continuous IV of coffee!

Upcoming Events

I mentioned something to the Husband the other day that I felt like I wasn’t scheduling that much for this year for appearances and events.

He asked me what I was talking about.

I listed off the four events I’d absolutely committed to and the three local events I was planning to attend if I could. That’s seven appearances. That’s not a small amount of places to be.

Last year, I did eleven. Which is why it seems like it’s light this year. It’s really not. I have to remind myself of that. And, of course, I’m still in flux for appearances at the end of the year, and some of that will depend on the Sekrit Planz that are on my 2015 goals list; they could conceivably turn schedules upside down at that point. It’s making me nuts that I can’t commit to things just yet, but hey, that’s the way my life is these days.

The events I’m committed to are as follows;

BookFest at IceFest                        January 17, 2015 10 am-4 pm      Hamilton, Ohio (Ryan’s Tavern)

Wizard World Cleveland               February 20-22, 2015                     Cleveland, Ohio (Convention Center)

Cleveland Concoction                    March 13-15, 2015                           Cleveland, Ohio (Sheraton at Airport)

Origins Game Fair                            June 3-7, 2015                                Columbus, Ohio (Convention Center)

More to come as things start to firm up for the year; if I’ve done this right, I think I might have been able to schedule events such that I’ll have no events during The Boy’s spring soccer/track season.

Life’s going well, but busy, as my nose is totally to the grindstone working on THE BUNYAN BARTER. Not a lot of news to report, other than putting up schedule and seeing what’s going on.


Goals for 2015


Yeah, I’ve gone to WAY too many soccer games….or, as Husband and The Boy would put it…not enough.

My point is that this post isn’t about New Year’s resolutions, but rather goals for 2015.

My thought is that if I set myself twelve goals for 2015, enough that MAYBE I could complete one each month, that it would be a really nice way to see what progress I’ve made this year. However, as some of these will take more than a single month to finish…I’d like to set them, and then keep myself honest by posting here on progress throughout the year…

Without further ado, and in no particular order…

  • Finish THE BUNYAN BARTER. This one will come up fairly quick, as the manuscript is due at the end of January to the publisher. This is my biggest priority at the moment, so if I turn down plans with someone…you know why!
  • Edit SHADES OF GRAY. Yeah, that werewolf novel I’ve been kicking around for a long time. I’ve just about decided to self-publish it, having put out some feelers about editing and cover art and etc., but it needs a heavy duty deep line edit before I do it. I’ve noticed some inconsistencies I’d want to fix before putting it out there.
  • Finish GIRL VERSUS DEMON: DEMON DEADLY SINS. It’s a third plus of the way done. Once I get contracted deadlines met, this needs to come off the back burner and get out there. I do plan to query with this one; I have a great publisher, but I do not have an agent as of yet, and I’d like to see what I can do with this one.
  • Research THE PERRAULT VOW. The final (!) book in The Grimm Legacy series needs some research foundation under it, and a loose outline finished so I’ll be ready to start writing it in the fall.
  • SEKRIT PLAN #1. I’ll tell you more when this gets started. So to speak.
  • Blog at least once a week. This will be my week one blog…so I’m keeping up already!
  • Work out on a regular basis. I don’t want to make weight loss a plan, because I don’t want this just to be about losing weight, although I’m a-okay with dropping a few pounds. I want getting healthy to be the plan, so I’m good with the idea of some kind of exercise two to three times a week.
  • Bathroom remodel. Husband and I have been stockpiling supplies to remodel our upstairs bathroom. So far, we have linoleum and laminate flooring, a vanity and vanity top, and a mirror/medicine cabinet. We’ll likely be able to reuse the existing toilet, so all we need is to save up the money for a new tub and shower surround, the materials for behind it, a new light/fan, and all the remaining hardware and supplies. Once we have the rest bought, we’ll be able to determine how much time it’ll take to do the work, which we’ll try to do a lot of ourselves.
  • Write at least two new short stories. With new characters and different worlds. I wrote two short stories in 2014; one an epic fantasy work for hire project (more on that later), and a story set in outer space. It’s my understanding that BOTH of them will be released in anthologies in 2015; time to start work on two more.
  • Plant some roses. I’ve wanted some rosebushes in my flowerbeds for YEARS. Grandma King used to have rosebushes, and I always loved them. I’ve had some luck with a rosebush in a big container on a patio in the past. Now that Husband has yanked out the ornamental grasses that I HATED in my flowerbeds, I can start thinking about putting rosebushes in. Not a ton. Thinking maybe one this year, and see how it does. Unless I get talked/tempted into more, that is.
  • SEKRIT PLAN #2. Will have to happen if #1 happens.
  • SEKRIT PUBLISHING NEWS AND THE WORK BEHIND IT. Will have to keep you updated as I can; this is not yet in stone, and is still in flux, but the work it will take to do this will be in the to do list.

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things…

Halloween, that is.

Candy corn, cheesy costumes, fun times, scary movies…

Yeah, I’m a total dork about Halloween.

I love it. And I love giving out candy to all the kids in the neighborhood. As much as I enjoyed growing up out in the country, we didn’t get tons and tons of trick or treaters ringing the doorbell. Instead, I remember going in town with my folks, or with my friends when I got older, and ending the night with homemade glazed donuts at Grandma King’s house. Mmmm, those were AWESOME! And worth putting off stuffing your face with candy to make sure you had room for those donuts at the end of the night!

Now, Grandma’s been gone for about six years. And I’ve started a bit of my own Halloween tradition.

See, my sister and my cousins, and all the family that live out in the country all have little ones who love to trick or treat, and they would stop at all the different family houses to see everyone before hitting the street in town. This meant that the parents had to rush home from work, get the kids into costume, make the rounds, and hope the kids weren’t cranky by the time they actually got to ring some doorbells to fill their candy buckets.

I, on the other hand, bought a house on one of the heaviest trick-or-treating streets in town.

Which means that we’re averaging 800 plus pieces of candy given out in an hour and a half. It’s NUTS. And even if I LOVE Halloween, that’s a serious dent in the pocketbook.

The first year I lived in the house, I had bought two or three bags of candy, and we ran out in minutes. I ended up calling my sister and my cousin and begging them to bring reinforcements…and the idea was born.

The past few years, much of the family that lives out in the country, a bunch of friends, and a whole lot of kids, all show up at my house. They all bring candy to pass out, and a bit of cash, we order a small mountain of pizza, we decorate the house, and the kids all have a warm place to come back to, hot chocolate if it’s THAT kind of night, and a base of operations to go between candy runs. We’ve even got a firepit in the backyard for S’mores if the weather cooperates. It’s become a yearly thing. Last year, we even put together goody bags with Halloween trinkets for the little kids who were based out of our house. The Husband and I ended the night last year with an exhausted screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And wine.

I’m totally looking forward to it.

What are your Halloween traditions?

REVIEW–Leaping at Thorns by L. Andrew Cooper

Let me say at the outset that I’ve met both the author and the publisher and like both of them a lot. I’ve appeared on panels with the author at conventions, and had several conversations about publishing and trends with both men that I thoroughly enjoyed. Other than a review copy for me to read and savor for myself, I’ve received NOTHING in compensation for this review.

This book is dark. And when I say dark, I mean dark. It’s a collection of short stories by the author, not a novel, so don’t be surprised when each seems to have a different bent than the last.

I enjoyed each and every one of these stories. A few left me wondering if the conclusion of the story was hurried, but the fact that I wanted to see more drawn out of them is also a good sign of the author drawing me into the story. Some of these are definitely not for the faint of heart (or stomach), but the detail is chillingly done and effective at evoking a reaction in the reader.

Don’t read these late at night….unless you like to be scared by a good tale told by someone with a genuinely dark imagination. It makes me very glad I’m not allergic to bees…at least so far! (definitely related to one of the stories contained in this collection!)

It’s a mind-provoking collection, to say the least. Many of the stories contain a psychological component along with the actual events of the story and to me that was the draw to many of the stories. Many of them have an unexpected ending, which makes for a satisfying read.

Let me be the first to say…if you’re looking for a book or story that is similar in tone to my own, this is not what you are looking for.

If you, like me, read across the spectrum of fiction and enjoy variety, especially horror and dark fiction, pick up this collection right away. It’s a solid, bone-chillingly human and relatable collection of deliciously dark stories that’s available in good time to enjoy in the run-up to Halloween.

I’m looking forward to re-reading this slowly over the next few weeks as we gear up to Halloween, re-examining these stories as we celebrate all the things that go bump in the night, and as I decorate my house for the holiday (my favorite).

Jack the Ripper “SOLVED” or NOT

I’ve responded several times on Facebook, and I thought I’d flesh out my response (for lack of a better phrase) here, and tell you exactly why I don’t think the newest revelations mean much of anything.

1) The media source that first broke the news that the Ripper mystery was “solved” wasn’t a scientific journal, or a scientific periodical, or well, anything with a reputation for good science.

The Daily Mail, in the UK, just isn’t a publication known for science. It’s a little hard to swallow that this is the outlet chosen by a well-respected scientist to expose such major find. It makes me wonder if the Daily Mail funded the scientific testing. I have no information regarding this, but if they did, it’s another concern about the authenticity of the finding.

2) But the shawl where they got the samples came from the scene!

Someone says that it did. There’s a really bad chain of custody here. Some dude bought the shawl at an auction, and got a letter from someone that claims to be descended from a police officer on scene, who claimed to have brought it home to his wife, who was a dressmaker. Ew. I mean, I like to sew. If my husband brought me a bloody semen stained shawl as a gift, I think I’d throw up, and then seriously rethink my life choices. (lol he knows better!) The claim is that the shawl was never touched, went into storage, and then was sold at auction.

It’s interesting that the Ripper Museum itself refused to display it because they did not think the chain of custody proved anything…it was too muddled.

And a police officer, even then, removing potential evidence from a crime scene, does not bode well for the credibility of the story as to where it came from. It’s true that science wasn’t what it is now. It’s true that the local constabulary wasn’t as well trained as they are now. But removing anything from a scene with an ongoing investigation doesn’t make the guy look like a credible source.

3) But it’s not like you’re going to court with it now! Who needs chain of custody if you don’t have to convict someone?

Well, see, the thing is, that random evidence kept in someone’s attic isn’t exactly preserved well. Hot and cold fluctuations can degrade biological evidence. And a modern evidence locker has a system for who has access to the room and could tamper with the evidence. Crime Labs know how to preserve evidence to get reliable results.

It’s hard to believe that a sample could survive an unpredictable temperature change over 126 years and not be degraded. It’s hard to believe that a usable sample, much less two distinct samples, could be retrieved and that enough material would exit to be able to be tested.

You know what else bothers me? THAT THE DUDE IN ALL THE PHOTOS IS HOLDING UP THE SHAWL WITH HIS FREAKING BARE HANDS!! If it’s evidence, and someone might want to replicate your results, because, you know, SCIENCE, you are potentially contaminating your evidence with your own hands.

4) But they said it’s a 100% match!

NOPE. Even in paternity testing positive results are NOT 100%. It’s generally 99.something percent. Courts generally consider a positive when it’s over 99%. That’s pretty darn certain. It’s figured within a statistical certainty that something is a positive result. And the results generally tell you the statistical probability that it’s the same dude, with a 1 in (a number generally bigger than the world’s population) possibility of someone else matching. And that’s with a lot more certain technique than they used in this case.

DNA testing on blood, semen, saliva, etc., from the crime labs? Very similar results. I’ve yet to see a lab do a DNA test and say 100%. It’s generally 99.93 percent, or 99.97 percent, or something like that. And that’s in ten years of working with law enforcement and three working with paternity test results. Rounding up does not give me faith in the science of the thing, because if nothing else, science is more precise in their specific results than that.

5) EVEN IF it’s the actual shawl from the crime scene, and EVEN IF the genetic material did survive unscathed, and even if the Daily Mail is acting from the purest of scientific intentions, and EVEN IF they really did match the genetic material, IT DOESN’T PROVE WHO WAS HOLDING THE KNIFE!

Reports about Kosminski state that he was a woman hating paranoid schizophrenic with a known tendency toward “self-abuse”. That’s Victorian-era talk for masturbation. And for it to be known, that means he’s doing it where people see it…in public. So you have a man with a delusional mental illness who hates women and likes to masturbate in public leaving a semen stain on a shawl belonging to a known prostitute.

I can think of lots of ways that it got there other than that he killed her and none of those ways involve a bloody knife or other cutting instrument.

6) But that proves that they met that night!

Nope. No it doesn’t. It proves that at some point he left a genetic sample on her. It proves that she left blood on the shawl, likely at the time of her death, but even that’s not certain. Matching DNA does NOT prove WHEN something happened without other evidence to establish a timeline.

Here’s a better example. Let’s say that the police come to your house and test your pillow for saliva (Please don’t ask me why…that’s beyond this example). You might be a habitual drooler in your sleep, and they know that. The police want to prove that you slept at home last night. You, however, have just come back from a work conference in another city, and slept the night before at a hotel. You didn’t have time to wash your home pillowcase before you left. Does the drool found on your pillow prove that you slept at home? No. The crime lab isn’t able to say when you left the drool unless the pillow was still wet when it came in. And you can prove that you didn’t drool on it that night when you show your hotel receipt from the night before in another city. If they tested the hotel pillow (if it hadn’t already been washed), in conjunction with your receipt, they could prove when you slept at the hotel. The sample from your own pillowcase only proves that at some point since you washed it last, you slept at home and drooled on the pillow. The time that you washed it last? Another piece of evidence that helps prove a timeline, but it doesn’t narrow it down to one specific night, unless you wash your pillowcase every single day.


Never say never, but the likelihood of having forensic evidence that is a smoking gun (or in this case, a bloody knife), that can be reliably tested and conclusively determined is unlikely. It very well could be that Kosminski could be Jack the Ripper. It seems he was on the hit parade list for likely suspects back in the day, and police began tailing him. The murders stopped shortly thereafter. Is this definitive proof? Nope. Just like the shawl just means that Kosminski had contact with Eddowes at some point before she died, and left a rather disgusting sample. Cleanliness standards at the time weren’t all that high, so it’s likely that she hadn’t washed the shawl for a while.

So, is it cool? Sure. Does it prove anything? Not to me. I’m not a criminologist. I’m not a geneticist. I do, however, have lots of years in court dealing with forensic and genetic testing results. And this is not anywhere near enough to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.

Thank You All For an AWESOME Birthday!


Guys, you’ve made me soooooo happy by downloading lots and lots of copies of THE GRIMM LEGACY. Sales rankings looked pretty awesome. I hope you enjoy it. IF YOU DO…go get books two and three…I think you’ll like them too!

LOTS of people ask me at book events and conferences whether the book is safe for pre-teens. I will tell you that YES it is…depending on the pre-teen. The Boy read the first book at 12. At that point, he’d already seen The Hunger Games (movies, that is, he’s reading the book now), and I always tell people that there’s more violence in The Hunger Games than in my books. There might be a tad more kissing in the books, but it’s pretty limited. I’d say it’s pretty young adult safe. The characters are definitely more worried about the latest magical going-to-eat-their-faces-off-before-breakfast type of evil than their love lives, although there’s plenty of romance and drama there, too.

I’ve also ordered some promotional buttons. I’ve still got three appearances coming up this year. Will post a picture when I get them; I totally love them. THANK YOU to Kelly Shorten, the art director at Musa, for humoring my wild-hair idea and turning it into something pretty neat.

A lot of people asked me what I did to celebrate my birthday besides giving away a bunch of free books. I’ve put this on Facebook, but I’ll repeat here…

My husband brought me coffee in bed…which he does quite a lot! I got donuts and cookies from Schuler’s Bakery in Urbana from co-workers. YUM! I spent all day at work, and got home to find a DOZEN RED ROSES from my wonderful, loving, husband. HE ROCKS, and NO, I’m NOT sharing…he’s MINEMINEMINEMINEMINE!!! (LOL) He and The Boy had a card for me, there was one from my mother and father…I had phone calls wishing me a happy birthday from Mom and Grandma, text messages from my sister and my dad. We headed off to The Boy’s soccer game…and my in laws presented me with a cake with Cinderella and her pumpkin carriage on it! I’m not a girly girl…but I loved it!

So…I had a pumpkin cookie for breakfast and cake for dinner yesterday. Not exactly health food, but definitely a good day of celebrating. Need to get some vegetables and healthy stuff in here soon…

A friend took me out for lunch today for my birthday, and I get to go out for a girl’s night tonight with another friend…then a weekend with my guys…

I’d say that’s an awesome birthday.

Oh, and…hint hint hint…it’s still up there for free on Amazon.

Today only…The Grimm Legacy free!

I just have to thank everyone who stopped by Facebook and wished me a happy birthday. WOW I have some awesome friends, co-workers, and readers! You guys seriously know how to make a girl’s day.

I woke up this morning to my wonderful husband bringing me coffee, my co-workers brought in Schuler’s donuts and cookies to our morning video conference, and when I checked through the day, you guys have downloaded the freebie of Book One THE GRIMM LEGACY so many times that it hit #3 in Fairy Tales under Mythology and Folk Tales. WOW.

Just a reminder that this freebie is ONLY for today. If you’ve been meaning to download the book, please do so before the end of the day! I have to thank my publisher Musa Publishing for allowing me to do this. And if you like the freebie (or if you’ve already read and liked Book One), check out books two and three, THE ANDERSEN ANCESTRY and THE WONDERLAND WOES. These continue the saga of Janie, Mia, Bert, Aiden, and all the rest.

Also, if you downloaded the book, and are willing to leave an honest review, please do so. Reviews help authors get the word out about their books. If you don’t feel comfortable reviewing the book, no worries…but don’t be afraid to review other books if you feel you can. Spread the word…let others know if you like it. Word of mouth is a beautiful thing!

My inbox, my facebook page, my twitter account, and this website are all places where people can catch me, and it’s been wonderful and overwhelming today.



Life, Our Universe, and Everything..including a FREEBIE!

I realized that I forgot to actually say that The Boy really enjoyed his stay at soccer camp this summer at Ohio Northern University. It’s my alma mater, so it was really interesting to go up there and see all the things that have changed. Silly me, I’ve been up there to judge mock trial competitions in Hill building and the law school building several times over the years, but I haven’t gotten past those buildings to see the rest of the campus in a long time. The trees in the Tundra are much much taller and the residence halls are soooo much nicer; they’ve done a lot of work on campus. It’s changed a lot since I was there. Some of those were good changes; some were changes that weren’t unexpected, but I was disappointed to see the change.

We’re heavily into fall already, even though it’s only August. The Boy is running cross country this year, as well as playing for the Springfield Thunder soccer club, and starting seventh grade, so we’re a little nuts running to All The Event Things. The Boy, on the other hand, is vacillating between “I’m too hot and tired to eat,” and “EAT ALL THE FOOD THINGS!” Even so, we wouldn’t change it a bit.

Hubby and I haven’t had the Model T out much this year, because my wonderful husband hurt his foot pretty bad at the beginning of summer, and hasn’t been able to drive it. (Handy tip…when playing soccer, one is supposed to land on the BOTTOM of one’s foot, not the TOP). We are hoping to get a bit of driving in before the weather makes it impossible to do so.

We’re crazy busy around here, but that hasn’t stopped us from going together to Fandom Fest in Louisville, KY, attending the Champaign County Fair, and getting The Boy ready for school. I’m constantly staring at a computer a lot, working the day job, the part time job, the private cases, and, of course, working on two different novel projects. AND…trying to blog more often. I need to get better at this, I know.

ALSO my birthday is TOMORROW….and for TOMORROW ONLY I’ve signed up with my publishers for a FREEBIE DAY. I’m giving YOU a present to celebrate my birthday. TOMORROW ONLY you can get THE GRIMM LEGACY in ebook for FREE!!

That’s right. FREE. Check it out. And then, once you’re totally in love with Bert, Janie, Aiden, Mia, and the rest, check out books two and three.




On the ALS challenge

When I first started seeing it on Facebook, I thought it was kinda dumb. What does ice have to do with ALS? And then, I realized that there was a point to it, that the ice was supposed to simulate some of the symptoms with ALS.

And I realized that I really didn’t want to do it. I had no problem with donating. It’s a good cause. What I didn’t like was the crowd-sourced peer pressure to dump buckets of ice on one’s own head. The internet pressure to do something I thought monumentally dumb was more than a little ridiculous, I thought, and so I watched, as my husband was challenged, and got himself, with the giggling help of my stepson.

They had a goofy night, and I was glad of it; it’s always good to see a teenager bond with their parent.

I was glad when he didn’t challenge me. I thought the whole thing was stupid, still. I was very clear with my husband that I would donate rather than dump ice on my own head, because I thought, honestly, that writing a check would do more good than giving me pneumonia, or me slipping on an errant piece of ice and landing in the emergency room. And then, I thought, maybe it’s better to say out loud that I don’t like being pressured into doing something I don’t really want to do. In fact, I get downright stubborn about NOT doing something when someone pushes me hard to do something I don’t want to do. (just ask my parents ;-)

Don’t get me wrong…I like that it’s raising awareness.

However, I also think it’s a good idea not to pressure people who are willing to donate, but don’t really have the desire to have a cold bucket of ice water dumped over their heads. I don’t like the idea of online peer pressure, or online bullying, or anything like that.

There’s some people out there who think I should just do it and donate as well, and I’m going to say no. Not because I can’t afford the donation. I can, and I am donating. I have a freezer, and water, and ice. I am physically capable of doing it. But there’s a higher purpose in my sticking to my guns.

So here’s me, saying I’m not going to dump ice over my own head because I don’t really want to, and that no one should feel shamed or bullied into doing something that they don’t want to do. I’m happy to donate to a good cause, but if me standing up and saying no I won’t do something I don’t want to do, makes even one of my nieces and nephews, or cousins, or young friends, realize that they don’t have to join a trend, just because everyone else is doing it so it must be fun…I’ll be the fuddy duddy that sends in a check. I’m secure enough in myself to say I’m not going to follow a crowd just because. There’s a bigger lesson to learn here than just how to heave an ice bucket high enough to drench myself.

So, no, I will not be dunking my head with ice water, because I don’t believe in peer pressure dictating my choices. I will be writing a check for ALS research, because I do believe in helping good causes.