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Celebrating Autumn

Cotton smaller clipped Sept 23 2022

Our neighbor on one side of us planted cotton this year. He plants later than other farmers because he farms on the weekends and in the evenings, so while other farmers are harvesting, I watch the transformation of the cotton plants.

The flowers are white very briefly, only 24 hours or so, then they self-pollinate and become a vivid fuchsia before they wither and die after another 24-36 hours. While the wind blows away the brown petals, the boll begins to form. The bolls are green at first then turn purple then brown. The protective part of the boll dries then opens as the cotton grows, and the cotton fiber spills out.

Do you see the puffy balls of cotton? They are deceptive because they aren’t soft at all. There are seeds inside the cotton, which actually make the cotton fruit. Who knew, right?

I walk around our field three or four times a day to stretch my legs between writing sprints, so I’ve seen each stage of the cotton growing next door. It’s a glorious celebration of cotton bolls at the farm!

QuickJAB

The Road Less Traveled

Robert Frost ends his poem: “I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

We all travel different roads, don’t we? I love hearing the stories of others’ journeys and enjoy imagining the different paths we all take.

Taking the concept of the different path literally, which is very easy for a literal person like me to do, we’re checking our trail through the woods after a storm; it’s not unusual for a large limb or even an old tree to crash across the trail during one of our wicked, late summer storms. I’m always thinking of a reason to go outside on a quick writing break. Three times a day, I walk the perimeter of our field with the dogs. They look for voles and grasshoppers, and I listen to the birds and exchange trash talk with the crows. Four times a day, I check the chickens then report back with their latest antics. Be very wary if I approach you and ask if you want to see a picture of our baby chicks because a picture may be worth a thousand words, but I’ve got stories to go with the pictures. Unless, of course, you’ve set aside enough time to hear about our twelve baby chicks, then let’s go for a walk or for a coffee, and I’ll tell you a story.

If I were to write a memoir, I’d title it, “The Different Road.” It would be easy to write and edit, and it wouldn’t take long to read because it would consist of one page with five words: Our road was less traveled.

I promise I’ll stick with fiction.

You keep reading; I’ll keep writing.

Judith A. Barrett Books is 100% reader-sponsored. If you’re so inclined, buy me a cup of writer fuel that others may call coffee. Tap the cup or HERE!

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Sponsor a Judith A. Barrett Book

Support Judith’s Writing to Create More Books!

Judith is reader-sponsored. If you buy Judith a cup of coffee,  she promises to drink it while she’s writing her next book; did you know her VIP readers vote at the beginning of the year which books they’d like to read next?

Tap on the cup, the ko-fi link (get it?), or HERE to donate to Judith’s coffee fund.

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You keep reading; I’ll keep writing!

     

QuickJAB

Bugged by Bugs

 

I love dragonflies because they eat mosquitoes. Anything that can catch a mosquito and chomp it down is a hero to me. I managed to snap a photo of a red dragonfly as she zipped past me. 

I had a day this week that was obviously a concerted attempt by bugs to terrify me, and they were successful.

Are you squeamish about bugs? Stop reading now because this is not for you.

Bugged #1

I was sweeping out our chicken coop that hasn’t had any chickens in it for almost a year. Most of my sweeping was sweeping down the walls and corners near the ceiling because the cobwebs were thick and sticky. I had my hair pushed up into a ballcap, not my writer ballcap, and I wore work gloves, but my arms were bare because it was hot. I had knocked down all the cobwebs and spiders’ eggs and was sweeping the floor when FarmerMan came into the coop to check on me. 

 

We have dropdown doors on the inside of the coop for the nest boxes that close the boxes when the chickens are too little to lay because we don’t want them to learn to roost in the boxes. FarmerMan knows how I feel about cockroaches, so he peeked behind the doors and told me he found cockroaches. He sprinkled the poultry dust that we use in the nest boxes to keep out bugs and mites. Cockroaches evidently hate poultry dust because 200 (okay, maybe it was 20) cockroaches flew out from behind the doors and LANDED ON ME. I screamed, brushed off cockroaches, and flew out of the coop, almost literally.  

Bugged #2

Later that morning, we sprayed our trees. FarmerMan had more chores that didn’t require my participation, so I went to the camper to write.

 

Toby helps with mowing by clearing the mowed area of grasshoppers that fly up, in case you wondered why I don’t help with mowing.

The camper is my favorite writing spot because I don’t have any distractions. When I went into the camper, TWO aggressive, black WASPS went in with me and buzzed me. I’m allergic to stings, but my most severe reaction was a few years ago when a black wasp stung me, and I collapsed. I had no intention of a repeat performance, so I flew out of the camper. FarmerMan killed the two, found their nest, and dispatched the nest. I was kind of over trying to write in the camper, so I went inside the farmhouse.

Bugged #3

 

After I was inside, I was certain I was over being bugged. I wrote until it was almost time for lunch, then my computer rebooted itself then came back up and rebooted itself: automatically and repeatedly. I pulled out every computer trick I knew, including trying to catch it mid-reboots, so I could run a diagnostic test or two. It finally quit rebooting and mooned me with the Blue Screen of Death. 

I called a Computer Guy, who said it sounded like a hardware failure, but they could probably recover my hard drive. FarmerMan took it to the computer shop. I discovered I have every file on the computer backed up, except for one: my Character Bible, which is a listing of  the names of all my characters (4 series with 27 books and approximately 50 different characters per series), major, secondary, and minor and their physical descriptions, relationships, and in which books they appear. I certainly hope they can recover the hard drive. I bought a new laptop, so I can write in the camper, at the coffee shop, on trips, and while I sit on the sofa with my feet up.

Meanwhile, that’s The End of my sorry tale of being Bugged by Bugs, and I’m writing.

 

Guess which series my newest book belongs in…

 

Did you know I’m a full-time author who is completely supported by my Readers?

If you buy me a cup of coffee,  I promise I’ll drink it while I’m writing at the coffee shop. 

Tap on the cup, the ko-fi link (get it?), or HERE to donate to Judith’s coffee fund.

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QuickJAB

Spies Blend In

The best spies blend in with the herd.  

You know the Cow Rule, right? When you’re driving in the countryside, it’s obligatory for all passengers to say, “Cows,” when they see cows in a field. I may not always follow all the rules, but I definitely would never break the Cow Rule. 

The Spy in the field is banking on the Cow Rule, so when cars and trucks pass by, the passengers say, “Cow,” and everybody’s happy.  

Except for that one time we were driving on a familiar road near our small farm, and I startled FarmerMan when I shouted, “DEER!” He slammed on the brakes and pulled to the side of the road, fully expecting to see a doe with a fawn or two behind her as they darted across the road in front of us. He was even more startled when I hopped out of the truck and stepped near the ditch and snapped a photo then climbed back in. “I got it!”   

This deer with her tribe is exactly what Maggie Sloan had in mind when she decided she needed to blend in, like a Gray Man. If you haven’t read any of the Maggie Sloan Thriller Series, I suggest you start with Book 1, I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A SPY.

UNLESS you’d like to read a New Unpublished Short Story that isn’t included in any of the Maggie Sloan Thriller Series, THE LIBRARIAN WHO WANTED TO BE A SPY, that is available when you sign up for a Giveaway that includes the books and stories of 70+ authors through July 31. Of course, if you love the short story, you’ll love the Maggie Sloan Thriller Series. 

Here are the covers, so you’ll have a visual when you look for the MAGGIE SPY books.

   

If you’ve already read THE LIBRARIAN short story, you might enjoy I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A SPY!

QuickJAB

The Eccentric Historian

My Foster Plants

Foster Plants June 2022 smaller

Sometimes people fall into a position at a company that isn’t a good fit for their interests or their skills. My favorite was a brilliant historian with a PhD who worked in a group of software engineers. I don’t know how it happened because he was there when I joined the company and the group.

He had an incredible knowledge of history, particularly of his niche specialty, but I had trouble following all his wonderful tales, so I’m not sure I ever knew what his area of expertise was. One day, he came into my office with two large, brown paper grocery sacks and set them down on my already-crowded desk. 

Inside the heavy sacks were plants and dirt. He told me that he stayed up all night  to dig up the plants in his yard because he decided to retire immediately and sell his house, and he was sure whoever bought the house wouldn’t be the right type of person to give the plants proper care. He told me what kind of plants they were, but I was still in awe of his plan to walk out and walk away from work and his house. 

He told me the plants were rare, native plants and very delicate, and I was the only one he knew that would take care of them properly, so he decided I could foster them until he bought another house and could get them back from me. 

That was seventeen years ago, and we have moved twice since he gave me the plants. We’ve never watered them, but we have divided them several times and have more pots of plants.

Over a dozen years after he abruptly disappeared, I was so inspired by his example that I gave two weeks’ notice, instead of the “expected” three months’, that I was retiring. Then I started writing…

You keep reading; I’ll keep writing! 

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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!

QuickJAB

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!