Bright Lights, Big Cacti

Arizona through the Eyes of a Native

Category: Novels

Why I Love the Boss

As I occasionally mention here, I’m a novelist. I have a small but loyal publisher and a small but loyal following of readers. I’m not the kind of novelist who gets a lot of attention these days — primarily because my genre of choice tends to be something called “literary fiction.” Most people, when they hear those words, immediately put my books in the “only read when suffering from insomnia” category. They are wrong of course, but they won’t know it until one of my books has kept them up all night.

The main reason I’m mentioning my avocation today is to point out that very few writers ever achieve the status of self-supporting novelist. That’s not to say it’s not a worthy goal — it’s just unlikely. It’s a little like winning the lottery, though the pool of players is considerably smaller.  For an indie author, the burden of finding editors and artists can be ridiculously time-consuming and expensive, which is why so many of them opt not to pay for those services. Instead, they do their best to edit their own work and rely heavily on their (usually limited) artistic skills to create the cover art. When their book reaches Amazon, it looks and reads exactly like what it is: amateurish. And then they are surprised when their book doesn’t immediately become a best seller.

The best that most of us can hope for is to win the support of a publisher — a group of people who will make it their goal to see our words in print. The greatest benefit of having a publisher is knowing that someone else is worrying about the details of prettying up your manuscript — including editing and layout. The support they provide allows you to move on and start writing your next novel.

The biggest myth about publishers of any size is that they have a team of publicists devoted to selling your book. THEY DON’T. Simply put, no publisher has the budget to assign a publicist to all of their authors. Ninety percent of the burden of building an audience always falls on the author — unless you happen to be Stephen King. And even Stephen King wasn’t always STEPHEN KING.

So, thank you, Jo Lowe. You made my dream come true. As the founder of Inknbeans Press, you accepted my novels and have continued to be one of my most vocal cheerleaders over the last several years. Thanks to you (and my readers), I continue to write. Who knows? Maybe I’ll write a lottery winner one day soon.

In a perfect world…


Meandering through the Last Days of Summer

My parental units are finally off on their long-delayed summer vacation. Mom’s arms are sufficiently healed for her to get in and out of their RV and she hasn’t fallen in a few weeks, so I’m crossing my fingers and toes that they will have a nice trip. Of course, their original destination of Alaska is on hold for now — the window for Far North travel has closed for the season. Nevertheless, they are making the best of things and planning to visit family in the Midwest.

Meanwhile, Dan and I continue to dream about a trip to the British Isles. Our previous trip abroad only whetted our appetite for more foreign vacations. Years ago, just after my first trip to Italy, I purchased a round-trip ticket to Heathrow. I was going alone — I figured I’d be fine since I understood the language. Unfortunately, about a month before I was supposed to go, my maternal grandfather died. I just didn’t have the heart for the trip after that. I ended up spending a week with my best friend Ella* and her family in Florida instead. Ultimately, I’m glad I didn’t go; when Dan and I eventually make it there, the city will be new to both of us. With any luck, we’ll be able to carve out the funds for the trip within the next year or two.

Fall is nearly upon us. Beta Sigma Phi has started again, and I’m glad to see my sorority sisters. In a week and a half, I’ll be at the Beta Sigma Phi convention being held at Casino Arizona. I’m going to sell some books to support my chapter. Nikki and I are the only two attending from Eta Delta, but I know we’ll have fun — we always have fun when we’re together!

My apologies for this meandering, newsy post. I’ll try to come up with something more cohesive next week. Until then, Dear Reader, live life like you mean it.

*Not her real name. 🙂

One of Dan’s and my favorite paintings.

Life Changes

Is it really Wednesday again already? Where did the last week and a half go?

Oh…right. Now I remember.

I’m the proud owner of one-fourth of KEPCO Engraving, and I’ve spent just about every minute of the last ten days setting up our new business in what used to be my guest bedroom. I say “just about every minute” because in my spare minutes I’ve also been writing my next book. As I told a curious sales representative today, my new hobby is…sleeping.

In addition to those activities, we have also happily welcomed one of my sisters-in-law and her husband to the valley. This morning, Dan and I went to their new house and assisted in unloading the storage pod that was finally delivered this morning. For anyone considering moving to Arizona, here’s some friendly advice: do it in the winter. It was already ninety degrees with something like 50% humidity at nine o’clock this morning. That whole “it’s a dry heat” thing seems more like a myth today.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate summer? Ugh.

Alan Jobe

A dear friend of mine passed away last night. I had known him for about two years. He had read every one of my books, and he reviewed most of them. We met as a result of my writing — otherwise, our paths would never have crossed. And no, we never sat down on a couch and had a face-to-face talk. In fact, I can’t rightly say what he looked like…he never had a picture of himself on Facebook, Twitter, or Empire Avenue. But he was my friend, nonetheless.

It seems unfair that he died the day before the Supreme Court took up the matter of gay marriage. Unlike some of my other friends, he didn’t get to take comfort in the massive groundswell of support for gay rights that many of us witnessed on Tuesday. He was openly gay, and he loved my gay characters. He thought Sax, Adam, and Steve were pitch-perfect.

Last year, he endeavored to write a blog post every day. In doing so, he revealed to his readers his struggle with bipolar disorder — all of the manic highs and frightening lows that accompany the disease. Though he didn’t succeed in posting every day, he did post 80% of the time — giving himself the grade of “a gentleman’s C,” as he put it. Considering that there are days (like today, for instance) that I really don’t even want to write one of my two posts a week, I greatly admire his dedication.

In recent months, he had made it his mission to support my writing in a way that very few have done. He posted reviews and blogged about me at least five or six times since January. In his review of my last book, Just One Note, he wrote, “I honestly can’t wait to see what she writes next.”

I wish he were going to be here for that. I’ll do my best not to let him down anyway.

A bear for Alan.

A bear for Alan.

And Now, a Word from Our Sponsor…

My latest novel, Just One Note, is now available! It’s a tale that grew out of an email I received last spring. It had no sender and was dated 12/31/69. Most people would have dismissed it as a computer glitch, but I began to wonder if someone from the future was trying to get a message through. That thought germinated and grew this novel:

Just One Note


What if, on a particular day in the future, you could send an email that would change your past? What would you change? How many lifetimes would it take for your life to be perfect?

Diana spent her life married to her college sweetheart – a dream who believed that such a day was coming. She gave up her musical and theatrical aspirations to bear his three sons. Now, at last, the day Joe said was coming has arrived.

Should she hit send?

Digital copies of this novel at Smashwords and Amazon for $2.99 now. It will be available through other vendors in the coming weeks.

The print version is also available at Amazon for just $9.99.

Thank you, and I now return you to my regularly scheduled programming.