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Cat’s Ears and Survival Month

See the feathery puffballs? Did you think of dandelions? These are actually Cat’s Ears and are related to Dandelions, which I think should be spelled Dandy Lion, so we can remember the name of their distant cousin, Cat’s Ears, aka Dandy Cat’s Ears.

All parts of the Dandelions and Cat’s Ears plants are edible, but the leaves are a tender delicacy in the spring, and full of vitamins A, C, and K in addition to folate, calcium, and potassium. I’ve eaten dandelion salad, and it had a similar taste to arugula. As a side note: I think if I ever made a Cat’s Ears salad, I’d call it a dandelion salad, just because.

So, how is this related to survival? Including greens in a diet helps a body stay healthy, and walking outside to forage in a chemical-free yard or field is much more convenient and nowhere as costly as driving to a grocery story. Alternatives are good.

I’ve been trying my best to grow greens in my garden the past few years, and I’m looking at you, buttercrunch lettuce, bok choy, romaine, and collard greens, but the bugs feast on the leaves before I can.

I’ve discovered the leaves on the Cat’s Ears aren’t ravaged by bugs. Who knew? I had a whole field of salad with no painstaking planting, watering, thinning, weeding, or weeping.

So, why is this month Survival Month? Because first, I sobbed over my collard greens then researched Dandelions and Cat’s Ears; and second, Book 5 of the Grid Down Survival Series, Danger at the Farm, will be released at the end of this month!

Want to read Danger at the Farm? Click here for the link!

Or would you like to start the Grid Down Survival Series with Book 1, Danger in the Clouds? Click here for the link!

You keep reading; I’ll keep writing!

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Honey Bee Buffet

We don’t mow our front field in the early spring because the honey bees love the clover buffet. The bees gather pollen after the sun dries the dew in the morning until early afternoon when it’s bee quitting time because the Georgia sun is hot. I guess they get too sweaty, and they aren’t that kind of bee. *

Toby always goes with me when I take a walk in the front field. Evidently, Sadie taught him to take over her job of guarding me, and he takes his work seriously. I am particularly safe from all birds and grasshoppers. He used to snap at bumblebees, but he decided against that; we’re not to discuss that ever.

I don’t know if our bees are wild bees or if they have a lovely apartment at a beekeeper’s farm. It doesn’t matter to us; we’re happy they are enjoying their springtime buffet at our place.

I suppose you think there’s a story that was inspired by the Honey Bee Buffet… and you’re right. I’ll give you a hint: Donut Lady and Andrew decide to celebrate National Honey Bee Day.

You’ll have to wait for the story because it’s in SWEET AND SOUR DEAL. You can preorder now, and Book 6 of the Donut Lady Cozy Mystery Series will automatically be delivered to you on June 21.

       

Extortion, Murder, and Honey Bees. 

Another Story with a Twist.

Sweat bees* don’t make any honey and are particularly drawn to the salt and minerals of sweaty humans’ skin.

Not Into Cozy Mysteries? No Sweat*

*See what I did there? There’s a new Sci-Fi or Thriller book every month or so for you! Tap the link… to subscribe to the newsletter for book news and stories!

Or if you like, Tap on the cool Word Cloud!

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Inspiration, Weeds, and Books

How could weeds that overtook a garden be an inspiration for books? There’s a story for that!

This is one of my four raised garden beds. When I first heard about raised gardens, I thought the gardens were on tables that were waist-high. I loved the idea of not having to bend over or kneel in the dirt. I signed up for the local county Department of Agriculture Extension Service classes on raising vegetables, and I was excited that one seminar was devoted to raised beds. I was sorely disappointed when a tall (everybody’s tall to me), young (ditto, young) woman led us outside to view the raised bed garden she had constructed for the class.

Her raised bed garden was six feet by six feet, and she had some green plants in it. She knelt next to her raised bed to show how easily she could weed and maintain her garden. She implied that a raised garden bed had to be six feet by six feet for the garden magic to work, but I pointed out that she had a little trouble reaching the middle of the raised bed. She said her raised bed was new, and everyone limbers up as they garden.

I’m not sure how much gardening it takes to become so limber that you’re taller. She didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

A few years later when we moved to the farm, FarmerMan built a raised bed for my short self, and I can pull weeds from the middle of it without climbing in. Last year, this raised bed had serrano peppers. After a visit to the hardware store yesterday, I came home with vegetable plants and vegetable seeds, and it was time to weed.

The best weeding news of the week is that it rained a total of three inches this week, so pulling weeds could have been much worse.

Here we are! I weeded the raised bed garden and planted nine plants: all collard greens. The irrigation system is in place, and rain has been in the forecast for today and one day next week. The perfect supplement to our irrigation system.

So, how does that relate to books?

My oldest series got a little weeding and a snazzy new look too. The series is great and fun to read, but the covers weren’t quite limber enough because they didn’t line up well with the cozy mystery theme.  You wouldn’t see them in a group of covers and say, “Ah ha! That’s obviously a cozy mystery novel!” They aren’t bad, and they kind of imply they are mysteries, but that doesn’t make them limber or cozy mysteries.

Old Cover. You can tell it’s a mystery because it says so on the bottom line, but you probably didn’t immediately read the fine print at the bottom before you saw the picture.

  

New Cover. If you’re a cozy mystery reader, you’ll probably recognize this as a book that’s suited for you because of the cover. If you aren’t a cozy mystery reader, you might like the donut cover better; not because it’s a book you’d want to read, but instead…Donuts.

  

If you’ve read any of the Donut Lady Mysteries, just a note for you that the stories have NOT changed. We just gave our DONUT LADY more of the center stage on the cover. Unless you want to have the paperback with the most current cover, please wait just a little bit longer for Donut Lady, Book 6, for a new Donut Lady story.

 

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What’s In a Name?

If you grouped the first three novels in a series together, so readers could read them one after the other without having to search for the next book, what would your call that group? A litter? A caravan? A herd?

While caravan has a nice ring to it because you read the books one after the other, I’m not sure anyone but us would understand. There isn’t an actual word that everyone in the book world uses for a group of related books, so we have choices.

When I researched the online bookseller websites, I found three common terms:

  • Collection
  • Omnibus
  • Boxset
    • Collection may be confused with an anthology, which is a collection of unrelated short stories in one book; according to the dictionary, a collection of books is a library.
    • Omnibus sounds a little old-fashioned, but it’s probably the most accurate because it’s defined as a volume of several novels that were previously published separately.
    • Boxset originated with paperbacks sold in bookstores that were sold in a physical container: an actual open-ended box with a cover portraying the series. When ebook publishers first published ebooks as boxsets, readers, especially literal me, were disappointed because we didn’t receive the novels inside the pretty box in the mail.

Which term do you like?

Here is a caravan of three novels for you. No fuss, no bother; each novel leads you to the next while Donut Lady solves another murder or two.

Donut Lady attracts customers with sprinkles, donuts, and coffee and attracts the attention of killers when she closes in on solving murders.

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GRID DOWN SURVIVAL SERIES

Have you noticed there’s a new book on the block?

Dilemma: The original Grid Down Survival story made its appearance in 2018 as a Young Adult book, THE GIRL WHO SAW CLOUDS. The book was a blend of the stories of Major Dave Elliott and his granddaughter, Aimee Louise, but didn’t quite reach all the  readers who would enjoy the story.

Easy Fix: A “Major” (did you see what I did there?) adjustment, and DANGER IN THE CLOUDS expanded to focus on more of Major’s story and was released in January 2019.

A Series is Born: DANGER IN THE CLOUDS became Book 1 of the GRID DOWN SURVIVAL SERIES in 2020 when DANGER IN THE WIND, Book 2 was published. Watch for Book 5 in June 2022!

Dilemma: The Girl Who Saw Clouds still had a lot of non-YA adulty boring stuff.

Fun Fix:  THE GIRL WHO SAW CLOUDS underwent a huge Minor (get it?) rewrite, and THE GIRL WHO SAW CLOUDS, SECOND EDITION was released in January 2022.

Related to A Series is Actually A Thing: Because THE GIRL WHO SAW CLOUDS is the same story as Book 1, except it’s from Aimee Louise’s point of view, the next book to read is DANGER IN THE WIND, Book 2.

Your Dilemma: Should you read both DANGER IN THE CLOUDS and THE GIRL WHO SAW CLOUDS? Aren’t they exactly alike? It’s up to you because both books tell the same basic story, and you’ll know what happens next and how the book ends. There won’t be any surprises for you except remember that even if two people go through an experience together, their points of view are different. Your choice, but either way, if you enjoy one or both of the books, you can continue on with DANGER IN THE WIND.

Friendly Fix: Confused? Tell me what confused you, and maybe I can help!

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Fear of Missing Out

This is my FOMO jar. Fear of Missing Out.

When I reviewed my expenses for 2020 and 2020, I discovered I spent a significant amount of money, especially on the latest and greatest software tools that everybody else was getting, that was a total waste of money and of my  time. 

My reason for buying the Latest and Greatest Whiz Bang tools? FOMO

My reasons for not using the new tools were not impressive: the software wasn’t instinctive; the software tutorials were too much work to listen to; the software wasn’t as good as what I was using; I didn’t have time to spend learning new software; I had trouble with the download because my internet is slow, so I quit; it was foggy outside.  I know that last foggy excuse is pretty lame, but so are all the rest of them.

This year, I have a #FOMOjar. Every time I purchase something because FOMO, I’ll drop a quarter in the jar. Every time I decline a FOMO purchase, I’ll drop a penny in the jar. At the end of every month, I’ll set aside bonuses and penalties based on the cost of the purchase temptations. Penalties for FOMO purchases, and bonuses for saving money by avoiding a FOMO purchase.

The coins will be a reminder and a tracker of how I’m doing, and the bonuses and penalties will go toward paying for gas when we drive the the truck and camping trailer to a national convention next fall that I really want to attend.

Watch for my first report for January 2022 at the end of the month!

Follow my page on Facebook for more FOMO tips! Tap to follow me on Facebook

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Author Goals – 2022

strategy_image 2022

The road to 2022 is particularly appropriate because road trips are part of the plan.

RECAP

2018 Goals: Publish a book Results: Published two books

2019 Goals: Publish four books and earn a prestigious award Results: Published four books and received three prestigious awards.

2020 Goals: Publish four books, receive a prestigious award, sell one book through a bookstore; and stretch goal, end the year with a POSITIVE net income. Results: Published six books, received a prestigious award, sold books in US and UK bookstores, and ended the year with a POSITIVE net income.

2021 Goals: Publish six books including Book 1 of a New Series, sell a complete series through a bookstore, a wild dream of a stretch goal: end the year with a positive net income; and a bonus goal for 2021: Tame the wild unicorn.

2021 Results

  • Published six books including Books 1-3 of a new series
  • Sold 1 complete set of a series through a bookstore
  • Sold 4 complete sets of a series at in-person signing events
  • Sold and signed books at two in-person signing events
  • Wrote a short story that was included in a Halloween anthology
  • Attended a national book conference and incurred travel and lodging expenses but gained an incredible amount of knowledge.
  • Ended the year with a positive net income, and I learned a lot about marketing in 2021.
  • Tamed the wild unicorn! There’s a saying among authors that if a book receives 50 reviews on Amazon, the author receives a Unicorn. I received more than 50 reviews on 6 books: Each Book 1 in all four series, and Book 2 in two series. BOOM! Unicorns tamed!

UnicornsandCoffee

GOALS for 2022

  • Publish six books
  • Publish a Halloween novella
  • Publish a trilogy boxset
  • Write a Survivalist SciFi short story
  • Sell and sign books at four in-person signing events
  • Attend the national book conference (Road Trip, Baby!)
  • There’s a saying that when readers read more than one million pages of an author’s books in one month, the author has caught the Wild Rainbow Trout.

Bonus Goal: Capture the wild Rainbow Trout!

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Bingeworthy Thriller

MAGGIE SLOAN THRILLER SERIES

When Maggie and her unusual team uncover long-hidden crimes, the desperate criminals attack, and Maggie fights for survival. It’s kill or be killed.

 

Maggie Sloan, librarian and self-taught spy and her unforgettable, unique team avenge a heart-wrenching murder in I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A SPY, BOOK 1.

In RED IS THE NEW GRAY, BOOK 2, Maggie and her team travel to Galveston Island, Texas. Maggie  persists in her pursuit to uncover the deadly crime and the vicious criminal who has escaped detection for years.

In HIDDEN BY FIRE, BOOK 3, When Maggie and her team investigate the puzzling clues that point to a long ago, unsolved theft of famous works of art, Maggie intends to discover the truth hidden behind the series of fires.

In ONE EYE ON THE KILLER, BOOK 4, Maggie uses her uncanny skills and talents to piece together the deaths of senior center residents and staff and the theft of valuable jewelry. A deadly attack on Maggie leaves her maimed, but the killer wants her dead.

What the Readers say:

A well-crafted story! If you’ve thought you have it all figured out, the story jack-knives off the page and spins you in a whole other direction. Very fulfilling. — Amazon

I love it! Taut, well plotted mystery. Beautiful turns of phrase. Laugh aloud moments. A kickass heroine. Imaginary companions who are somehow tangible. You’ll love it, too. — Amazon

Have you read some of the Maggie books? Tap the download button for the ones you have missed!

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Hot Summer and Hot Peppers

Our jalapeno plants are producing fat, hot jalapenos. I can’t make jalapeno jelly to go with cream cheese on top of crackers, though, because we’d never be able to eat all the jelly before next year. Pickled jalapenos, however, go with everything – cheeseburgers, scrambled eggs, tacos, enchiladas, mixed with cream cheese for bagels, sloppy joes, spaghetti, fried potatoes…

Our jalapenos tend to be mild, but that’s our New Mexico-Texas taste buds talking. 

How many pounds are in a peck? It depends… the internet appears to be fond of random numbers. For example, a peck of apples is 12-14 pounds;  a peck of tomatoes is 10ish pounds… there’s a meandering trail on the internet of conflicting information if you’re ever tired of scrolling the same old stuff and want to read something different with no memes… be my guest.

While you’re doing that, I’ll be canning on the back deck in the sticky Georgia summer heat because who wants to overtax the air conditioning system with a canning pot that is full of boiling water? 

Bring a big ole glass of sweet tea if you wander by, and I’ll tell you a story about how the ripening of peppers can lead to a grand adventure. Better yet, bring a pitcher because you know one of my stories always leads to another…

 

 

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Another Sweet Donut Lady Novel with a Side of Murder

Donut Lady Mystery Series continues with Book 5, SWEET SECRET DEAL.

Donut Lady is in a race to uncover the secrets and solve the murders before the desperate killer murders her.

Donut Lady’s reputation for solving murders continues to grow in Book 5 of the Donut Lady Mystery saga.

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KAREN O’BRIEN is puzzled by the secrets of a respected, longtime resident of Asbury. How many secret partners can any one person have? And when one of the partners and then another is murdered, Karen is convinced the killer must have been one of the other partners, but which one? And why? The Donut Lady asks too many questions and uncovers too many secrets. She’s in the killer’s crosshairs.

DONUT LADY mysteries are best enjoyed by starting with Book 1: SWEET SEAL SEALED.

SweetDealSealedBuy  SweetDealConcealedBuy   SweetDealRevealedBuySweetDealAppealedBuy  SweetSecretDealBuy

DonutLadyMysterySeries 3D 5 Books July 25 2021