You Do What You Can.

Well here it is, 8:00 PM on a Sunday night, and I just know that there are a few of you out there asking:

Hello?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s the Blogger?

Well, let’s just say that today was a pretty busy day, and I’m still working on the whole work-writing-life balance thing.

AND

I am not skimping on sleep.

So, some decisions needed to be made today.

Adulting happened.

If this late post, threw some of you off, I apologize. I’ll try to do better in the future.

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Be sure to stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

 

I’ll see you on Thursday. Have a great week!

Be Safe Y’All.

 

Posted in Balance, LIfe, Self Care | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Friday Fess-Up: July 20th

Happy Friday, Everyone!! We Made it!!!

I honestly shouldn’t feel like making it through to the end of the work week was a particular challenge…seeings as how this week was only three days long for me.

But it was. Nothing like coming back from a mini-vacation to remind you why the hell you left in the first place, right?

So, with having Monday and Tuesday off, this was a particularly productive week. Add in Wednesday Write Club (Is that the name of another Weekly Blog post?) and that made for three, consecutive One-Thousand-Plus word days.

I confess that feels pretty good.

I also confess that the return to “Reality” was kind of a downer.

I also, also confess that Past Me kinda screwed Present Me when it came to getting enough sleep this week.

Monday and Tuesday were awesome. Hands down awesome. I got my – what is becoming increasingly apparent – necessary eight hours of sleep. I did the morning things, then went upstairs to write.

I kept at it until I had somewhere between  650 to 800 words or so. It took me, say, a couple of hours (I confess I wasn’t paying attention).

By that time, I was ready to get up and start moving around (Now-a-days my tolerance for sitting in one place is about two hours). I grabbed lunch, then went outside to do chores.

After that, I came in, showered, and I went back upstairs for another writing session!

That took the total to somewhere over one Thousand words for the day.

After that, I had time for other stuff. I did dishes, Laundry, went for a 3 mile walk, fired up the grill for dinner, I did a load of stuff.

It was a tantalizing look at what my life might look like as a full time writer.

Then I went back to work and “The Schedule” reasserted itself. I got the third Thousand word day courtesy of Write Club after work Wednesday.

But there was a price to pay. My currency? Time.

I got back home later than usual on Wednesday, which bunched up the usual weeknight stuff: Dinner, family time, etc.

I got to bed late.

And that’s what started the slide. I skimped on the amount of sleep I was getting and, on Thursday, I could feel the drain on the drive home.

I certainly felt it this morning when I got up to write.

So there’s definitely some work-life-writing balance stuff that needs to be tweaked.

If I can, I’d like to keep up the kind of numbers I was seeing earlier in the week. Not that I’m unhappy with the rest of the week’s numbers: 598 words on Thursday. 780 words this morning.

Every step forward is a step forward, but I would like to manage a thousand words a day consistently, if I can swing it.

But not at the expense of sleep.

It’s something that I’m going to have to figure out.

Never stop learning, that’s the thing.

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Be sure to stop by on Sunday for the regular (These are all becoming regular, aren’t they?) blog post.

Be sure, also, the check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

Be safe Y’All.

Posted in Friday Fess-Up, LIfe, Self Care, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Five Thing Thursday: July 19th

Welcome, everyone to another installment of Five Thing Thursday

Here are Five Things that I want you to know:

Thing #1: Grilling twice in the same week is amazingly good for the soul. If you can manage it, do it. Unreservedly.

Thing #2: “Trail of Lightning,” the debut novel by Rebecca Roanhorse just arrived at my house, and I can honestly say that I haven’t been *This* jazzed to read a book in a long time.

Now all I have to do is finish the one I’m currently reading.

Thing #3: Nothing brings a bunch of strangers together like a conversation about bad movies that are actually awesome.

Thing #4: Tangentially related to Thing #3 – assuming that you aren’t hurting yourself or others…there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure.

Thing #5: If you’d asked me when I started this segment of the blog whether I thought it would be difficult to come up with 5 things worth mentioning every week, I would have said, “No.”

Might be that I might need to be more observant of the world around me…

 

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Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

See you tomorrow for the Friday Fess-up post.

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.

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Good Exposure vs Bad Exposure

Happy Sunday, Y’All!

 

This week, I wanted to talk about something that came to mind earlier about exposure and how there can be two different kinds of it.

A light side, and a dark side.

Let’s tackle the dark side first. The dark side of exposure is commonly found in those places where someone wants you to do some work for them…without paying you for that work.

“Oh, you’ll be doing it for the exposure,” they’ll say. “We have thousands of readers (or viewers, or whatever). Just imagine how many people will see it and follow you to your other work. You can’t put a price tag on that kind of exposure.”

Actually, yes. Yes you can. And you should.

Why?

Because your time is valuable. And you should absolutely be compensated for your time. The time you spend creating something for someone else – something that you will probably be signing away rights to, at least for a little while – is time that you could have been using to create something that would generate revenue.

But, what about all that exposure? Isn’t that worth something in terms of potential sales?

No.

The key word here is “Potential.” something that could happen, but hasn’t happened yet.

Something which might not happen at all.

You can’t spend exposure. You can’t eat it, you can’t take it to the bank, and you sure as hell can’t use it to keep the lights on, or pay the rent.

Exposure is what kills you out in the wilderness.

And those folks that want you to work for free will tell you damned near anything to get you do just that.

Stick to your guns. Your time has value, and you should be compensated for it.

Remember your Malcolm Reynolds:

Let me make this abundantly clear. I do a job, and then I get paid.

So what – exactly – is good exposure?

Good exposure is an investment. Most of the time (though not always) it will be something that you initiate yourself.

Keeping a regular blog, an active social media account, things that will put your name out in front of potential readers. Self promoting is a form of good exposure.

Blog tours are another form of good exposure. I just wrapped up a small blog tour last month. It started with an idea about possibly expanding blog readership – putting my name out there in places where it might not normally be.

I asked some friends if they’d be interested in participating. There wasn’t any mention of payment, no promises that they’d have thousands of readers generating potential sales.

It was simply, “Hey, I’m going to do this. You think you might be interested?”

The folks that were involved – Janet Walden-WestPat Esden , and Anne Raven all decided to invest their time and participate.

Sure, there was a little bit of work involved, but there’s that whole investment thing. We were each investing in ourselves.

And I think it had a positive impact. Janet reported that her site traffic tripled over the course of the tour.

That’s what good exposure looks like.

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Be sure to stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

I’ll see you on the 19th for the next Five Thing Thursday.

Until then…

Be Safe, Y’All.

Time: 11:45 am – ish

Music: Blind Guardian – Mordred’s Song

 

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Friday (ish) Fess up: July 13th-14th

Happy Friday Everyone (Although, technically, it’s Saturday by the time this will post…but I haven’t been to bed yet, so my brain tells me that it’s still Friday. Go Brain!!)

Anyway, For having the day off today, I did a *Boatload* of work. And I’m not talking about those tiny, little Pontoon boats. I’m talking about one of those ships that ship shipping ships.

Kinda like this:

 

 

 

 

This is a boatload of work…

Anyway, this is why I’m typing this post up in the Wee hours of what, I suppose, is technically Saturday morning, while listening to Unleash the Archers on a loop.

This was a pretty surprising find for me. I bought their latest album, “Apex” on the strength of the Title Track, and “The Matriarch,” but the more I listen to this band, the more I like them.

Not that any of this has any impact on why this post is so, freaking late (Better late than never, right?  Right?)

Suffice to say that I got caught up in the real world. I got up at 7:00 this morning and was going non-stop until about 11:00 PM. I got a ton of stuff done, and *None* of it was writing.

I put in nearly a 12 hour day doing some pretty heavy farm-work, and I still feel that I haven’t done anything, because I let the writing slide.

I confess that I’d love to be able to tell you that this feeling goes away, but it doesn’t.

Realistically, I know this is foolish. But there it is. It doesn’t get any better, but you do develop coping strategies.

How?  Damn, that’s something I also wish I could tell you how to do.  What works for me, might not, necessarily work for you, but here’s how I do it:

I recognize that Writing is a very long game.  I’ve said it before: Writing is a marathon, not a sprint.

Some days, for a multitude of very good reasons, you simply won’t be able to get the writing done.

And that’s ok. You can always come back to it tomorrow.

Which is what I plan on doing.

How about you?

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Be sure to check out the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

Be sure to check back Sunday for the regular post.

Until then…

Be safe Y’All!!

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Five Thing Thursday: July 12th

Hello Everyone! Welcome to another installment of Five Thing Thursday!

Here are Five Things I want you to know!

Thing #1: My agent-sibling, Karen Osborne, recently signed a TWO-BOOK DEAL with TOR!!!

I couldn’t be happier for her. Do yourself a favor and check her work out.

Thing #2: The Webcomic Strong Female Protagonist is going to begin it’s final chapter this July 24th. Now would be an awesome time to get caught up. I’m kinda sad to see that the story is ending, but I also can’t wait to see what’s coming.

Thing #3: If it’s bad on Friday the 13th, it’s worse on Saturday the 14th…

And it’s also my Birthday (On the 14th) If you liked any of my work, please go and leave a review on places like Amazon, etc. If you’ve already left a review, thank you! Each review is important.

Thing #4: The words “Podium” and “Lectern” used to refer to two very different things. A Podium was something that you actually stood on while speaking, A Lectern was something that you stood behind. According to Merriam-Webster language has evolved to the point where the two can be used interchangeably.

Thing #5: There may be times where if feels like you aren’t getting anywhere. Remember: creating art isn’t a zero-sum game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you’ll get there.

Now I’m going to get some writing in while it’s still Thursday.

Until next Thursday…

Be Safe Y’all!

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Be sure to check out the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

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Organizing a Blog Tour

The month of June saw me doing something new here on the blog. Might be you saw a recurring theme on Mondays:

The Two Questions With…blog tour.

To recap, myself and a group of amazing writers each hosted the other on our blogs where we would answer two questions.

Who were the authors, you ask?

They were:

Janet Walden-West

Pat Esden

Anne Raven

You should go check out their work. You’ll be glad you did.

What I’d like to talk about this week is how our Blog tour came together.

In the Beginning…

Like most things, this one started with an idea. I had been kicking around the idea of putting something together that would have the potential to, not only, give me additional content for my own blog, but would hopefully generate additional readership/views for a small group of friends.

I was under no illusions that doing this would result in a massive increase in book sales or anything like that. The point was to put each of our names in front of folks that might not otherwise be aware of our websites, what we had to offer, etc.

I keep dancing around the word, Exposure, in my head, but that’s really what this was meant to generate. And, as I’m typing this, I’m slowly coming to realize that there exists two different kinds of exposure…and that’s going to be the subject of a different Blog post.

I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but I’d never done anything like this. So, in the spirit of “Hey, what does this button do?” I jumped in.

Sink or Swim?

First, I reached out to my friends. Folks that have active blogs (You do have an active blog, right?), and I asked them if they’d be interested in doing a themed blog tour. I’d already had the idea of the “Two Questions” kind of format.

I wanted to keep the initial number of bloggers small. First, so that it would be manageable, and second, because I was kinda building the boat while it was on the water.

In the end, we ended up with the four of us. At that point, I put out a few suggestions for when we could run the tour and a few questions that I thought would be good for the tour.

I didn’t want it to be too heavy, but I did want it to have a certain degree of seriousness.

I took the ideas I had and I put them out there and I asked the group for input. What I got was a load of great questions and consensus (There’s that manageable part) on when we should start the tour, how long it would run for (2 questions, among 4 authors, made the math easy. You all know about my shaky relationship with Math), and what days we’d post.

At this point, I do confess to secretly hoping that the posts would be scheduled for Sundays, which would have taken less effort, since I’m already doing a weekly Sunday Blog post – but the day we decided on was Monday.

And that turned out to be a good thing for me. It made me stretch a little bit, and it gave me the confidence to see about adding more weekly content, which turned into my Five Thing Thursday posts.

So we had the questions, we had an enthusiastic group, we had a schedule, dates and days, and we had answers. So we were done, right?

Not so much.

You’re swimmng…now what?

It occurred to me just before we began, that we’d have to tell folks what we were doing. Advertise the existence of the tour. That was something new.

Let me take a moment to thank Pat Esden who came up with the Two Questions With… graphic that we all used.

The plan (and I think we all pretty much simultaneously came up with the same thing) was to use Twitter, and other social media platforms to get the word out. Myself, I’m on Twitter – primarily – and I mirror my tweets to Facebook – where I’m not on as much as I used to be. I think some of the other writers in the group cross posted to places like Instagram, etc.

I currently use the free-to-play version of Hootsuite to schedule my during-the-week Tweet-bumps for other authors, and my own stuff, so working in scheduled tweets about the tour was pretty simple.

In the end…

Like I said above, I wasn’t going into this thinking that there would be any significant changes. I was both right and wrong at the same time.

I didn’t figure that there would be this huge number of book sales as a result of our tour. We weren’t all going to retire to some beach somewhere and drink expensive margaritas.

In fact, I’ve got no concrete evidence that the tour generated a single sale.

So I that part, I was right.

But, after checking her numbers, Janet reported that during the tour her traffic numbers tripled. 

So in that part, I’m happy to say that I was wrong.

I’ve yet to check my own site statistics (that would be getting uncomfortably close to math), and I haven’t heard anything from Pat or Anne, but I’m willing to bet that we all saw an increase in traffic.

I don’t believe that everyone that stopped by as a result of the tour, became a loyal follower of my blog.

But maybe some of them did.

Maybe, as a result of this tour, we each expanded our readership bases so that when the next book gets released, the announcement will reach more ears than it would have if the tour had never happened.

And in that respect, the blog tour did exactly what I’d hoped it would. It also had the added benefit of gaining me some new friends.

Was it a bit of work? Sure, but it was totally worth the effort, and I’m looking forward to doing it again.

Maybe in the fall…

Stay tuned.

Be safe Y’All

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Be sure to check out the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

And be sure to check out Janet Walden-WestPat Esden, and Anne Raven‘s websites.

Also, if you haven’t had enough of me yet, I’m up on the blog at the Million Words website this week. Come check it out.

See you for the next Five Thing Thursday.

Time: 12:48 PM – ish

Music: Scorpions – The Zoo

Posted in Blog Tours, Planning, Social Media, Two Questions With, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Fess-Up: July 6th

Happy Friday Y’All! We made it!

Welcome to the First Friday Fess-Up for the month of July. I hope you had (or are still having) a great Holiday.

I confess that having a holiday drop in the middle of the week really messes with my head.

In this case, Tuesday felt like Friday. Wednesday felt like an incredibly short weekend – which was kinda depressing – and Thursday felt like a Monday.

And now it’s Friday. And it feels like a proper Friday which, taking into account Thursday’s Monday feeling, makes it feel like a week has somehow been squished into 48 hours.

And if that seems complicated all spelled out on the page, It’s even more complicated up in my head.

Complicated.  And it messes with my schedule.

I’d like to say that I stuck to my guns and kept up with the schedule through the holiday, but getting up as early as I do on a day where I don’t have to do it…well, let’s just say that I got my eight hours and then some.

And that’s something new. For so long, I’d tried to convince myself (and my body) that I could skate by on 7 and a half hours of sleep. I mean, come on, it’s almost eight hours. That’s enough, right?

Right?

Well, it turns out that hasn’t been working as well as it used to – honestly, if it ever worked at all. I’m sure I survived some of those Fridays on sheer bull-headedness and caffeine.

I’ve decided that the time has come to stop fighting physiology. That extra thirty minutes wasn’t doing me any good if I’m trying to be productive AND staggering around struggling to wake up.

I’d like to say that it’s been working, but it’s only been a week…with a holiday dropped right in the middle of it.

Schedule = messed up.

Next week, I’ve shaved a few days off the work week on account of my Birthday, so I won’t be able to tell if changing up my schedule to get a solid eight hours of sleep a night will have any real impact. I’m betting it will.

I’ll keep you posted.

Be sure to stop by on Sunday for the usual post.

And be sure to check out the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

Be safe Y’All.

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Five Thing Thursday: July 5th. The Return of the Podcasts…

Welcome to Thursday, Everyone!

If you recall, I mentioned last Thursday something to the effect that if you subscribed to one podcast, and didn’t pay attention, you’d end up subscribed to 9 or 10.

That’s not so far from the truth.

So, in the spirit of collecting podcasts to listen to, here are Five More Things (Podcasts) that I want you to know about:

Thing #1: Get to Work Hurley  This is Kameron Hurley’s podcast and it is, without question, one of my favorites. Like most of these, it is writing oriented, but well worth your time.

Thing #2: The Shared Desk Hosted by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine his was one of my inaugural podcasts. This one is one of the ones I save for last…like dessert.

Thing #3: Unreliable Narrators This was a recent find, and I’ve already burned through the back catalog of episodes. Pretty entertaining, and you can totally trust everything they say…or, since they’re unreliable, maybe not…

Thing #4: The Rugby Pod Since everything can’t be writing oriented, I’ve included this one. I love me some Rugby, and, Like I said earlier, I’ll stop a book in its tracks to listen to a new episode of this.

Thing #5: Writing in Suburbia Jake Bible’s Unedited, Unscripted, podcast for Fiction Writers, or those that want to make a living writing fiction. Not Safe For Work. Jake pulls back the curtain and talks about…well…everything. Come see how the sausage is made folks.

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And that’ll do it for another Five Thing Thursday.

As always, thanks for reading. Be sure to check the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

Be safe Y’all.

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2 Questions With…Recap

Early in June, I and three other amazing writers kicked off a mini blog tour that we called “Two Questions With…”

Each week, each of us would answer two questions and we’d post the answers on our respective blogs.

This week I’m going to recap each of my Two Questions and combine my answers into a single post. Are you ready?

Here goes:

Question #1: Why do you write?

I write because I’ve always wanted to see what’s “Out There.”

For me, that can have a number of definitions. “Out There” can be just around the corner, out of sight. It can be whatever is over that next rise, around that bend in the road, beneath the sea, or a million light years away.

I write because I wanted to be The Doctor. I wanted a big blue box that could take me anywhere in space and time. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. I was that little boy staring off into the sunset, or up into the night sky (Hoo, boy, the night sky…) and, in most respects, I still am.

I’ve grown up enough to know that I’m probably never going to leave this wonderful little planet with all of its places to explore and experience.

But I haven’t lost the wonder of the stars.

I’ll stand outside, staring up at the night sky, until my neck gets stiff, wondering what else is out there, what is going on, even as I stand there.

And since I can’t get out there, I do what I can to bring the “Out There,” down here.

Question 2: What does a typical writing day look like? Any Pre-Writing rituals?

My typical writing day begins at 5:00 am. I get up early, so that I can get my writing done and out of the way. I’ve tried writing at other times with varying degrees of success. Typically, when I get home from the day job, I’m too drained to get anything down. I’m also wired to be available to my family. It takes a lot of effort for me to shut myself off from everyone, so I bypass that by getting up before everyone else.

I usually have about 60 to 90 minutes to write per day during the week, with the exception being the weekends, and on Wednesdays where I meet up with some local writers at a nearby coffee shop and get some work done.

Pre-Writing Rituals?

Coffee.

Ok, seriously, the majority of those first few minutes in the wee hours of the morning are part of the ritual. I get up, throw something on, and shuffle out of the bedroom. I let the oldest dog out, then start making the coffee (a critical part of the ritual). While the coffee is brewing, I’ll heat up something for breakfast (First meal of the day is really important). Once I’ve got the coffee, let the dog back in, etc. I’ll head to the writing room, sit down, and get to work.

I write to music. Almost exclusively to Blind Guardian, so they’ve got to be playing before I get started. The very last thing I do is go back and read the last few lines of what I was working on the session before, to gather some momentum.

Question #3:  What is the hardest part about writing?

Beginning. Hands down. I have the most trouble with beginning. Now, when I say “Beginning,” I don’t mean beginnings, as in the start of the story. I mean Beginning. Sitting down to write, making that commitment, shutting yourself away from family, friends, the dogs, TV, games, the internet, dishes, that bit of laundry you’ve got to d—

Stop it.

Go write.

That’s the hardest part for me. I won’t say that the rest is easy. Writing is hard work, no matter how you go about it. But it’s also fun work. Once I get started, I can fall so deeply into it that I’ll lose time. And it doesn’t matter what part of the process I’m in. Drafting, editing, revising (yes, there’s a difference), or any other part of it.

Beginning, though, is a hurdle that I’ve got to jump every time.

 

Question #4: What is your “Go-to” thing that you treat yourself to when you finish a first draft?

The thing I go for when I finish a draft is a grilled steak. Where I go depends on the time of year it is. If it’s not near freezing (or raining), I’ll happily bundle up and get the charcoal grill going. In the event that’s not a viable thing, then there are a couple of places around that I could go to.

Pizza from one of the local places is a good “Plan B”

Question #5: What attracted you to your genre(s)?

The first book that I can remember reading was “Sir MacHinery” by Tom McGowan. This is the book that made me a reader. It was the first book to make me forget that I was reading a book at all. The pages went away, and I was filled with a sense of wonder at what I was seeing in my mind.

There were other books, to be sure. Tolkien, The Dragonlance Chronicles, The Iron Tower Trilogy, but I’ve always had a spot in my heart for MacHinery. Arguably, one of the first urban fantasy books out there, I think that the reason why the book struck me the way it did was because it was steeped in a world that I recognized, but was, somehow, more. In its pages, indeed on the very cover, science and magic walked side by side, and I was convinced that, if I only looked in the right place at the right time, I would discover that it was all real. That’s what draws me to fantasy

Then came Star Wars. First the movie, and then the novelisation, turned my attentions from this world, to other worlds far, far, away. Interestingly enough, the famous opening line “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” also brought to mind the world that I recognized.

I would stand in my back yard or – as I do to this very day – my front porch, looking up at the night sky and wonder what was going on far, far away. If, a long time ago, they had star fighters and light sabers, I wondered, what do they have now? What epic struggles were taking place out there, while the rest of my world went on about its business, oblivious.

I had to know. And, realistically, the only way I could find out was to answer those questions myself.

Question #6: What is one thing that you’ve done for research that you’ve struggled to explain to a non-writer?

This is a great question, and situations like this, where I’m doing something for the WIP (Work in Progress) that cause non-writerly folk to raise an eyebrow, or take a few steps away, happen more often than you think.

The most recent example involves me and a bottle of brandy.

I’m currently working on a Space Opera, set “Far, far, away,” where there aren’t many current world analogues. So I’m trying to describe, using the senses (This is a good thing. Smell, taste, touch, all of that. Use it when you can) what would, essentially, be very close to a glass of brandy.

Brandy is like chocolate in that it is very difficult to describe what chocolate smells, or tastes like without using the word “Chocolate” in the description.

So there I was, at 7:30 in the morning (I get up to write pretty early, usually before the rest of the house wakes up), standing in the kitchen, with my nose stuck in a bottle of brandy – notepad and pen close at hand – inhaling over and over, and jotting down my interpretations of the smells.

Then my wife comes out of the bedroom. She takes one look at me, with the open bottle of alcohol in one hand, and a ballpoint pen in the other.

“Do I really want to know?” She asks.

I stop to consider this answer, very carefully.

“Probably not,” I say.

She nods, and returns to the bedroom.

And that was my Two Questions.

If you’re interested in what the other authors involved in the blog tour had to say about their questions, Please check out their Websites.

 

Who are the other authors, you ask?

They are:

Janet Walden-West

Pat Esden

Anne Raven

These are an awesome collection of writers, and it would be well worth your time to check out their stories.

Trust me, Future You will think Present You is pretty damned awesome.

 

If you’ve followed this tour so far, I want to thank you so much for coming along for the ride. We do it for each and every one of you.

We hope you liked our little Q and A sessions and we hope you stayed for the stories. Until next time…

 

Be safe Y’All.

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Be sure to stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

 

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