Scare The Dickens Out Of Us

Entries to the 2011 Scare The Dickens Out of Us ghost story writing contest/Friends of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library fundraiser can start coming in NOW! Official opening date is July 1, but we’ve already got our first two entries. Deadline is October 1. Go to for full rules and entry forms. We are expecting great stories this third year. Make yours one of them.                          

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:  Devil’s Lair by David Wisehart. Dead in the Water by Stuart Woods.

Photos by Roxanne Rix. Contest banner design by Molly Humphrey.

The Cowboy’s Baby Chapter 16, continued

When Cassie returned, little Leon’s grandmother was handed down and Ralph Maybeath took her place in the truck. “My turn,” Frank said. So he ferried Ralph up to the house to use Cassie’s clean, modern bathroom while little Leon’s grandmother got reoriented to the idea of sleeping bags and tents and mosquitoes. Cassie told her to shut up when she squawked about mosquitoes for the third time, making little Leon giggle.  

“Shut up,” he said, giggling again. His grandmother gave him “the look”. He shut up.    

Marian and her husband helped little Leon and his grandmother back to their tent without comment, and then gave the old woman a generous spray from their dwindling supply of mosquito repellant.    

“Don’t get it in my face,” she demanded, flapping her hands to disperse the stuff. “I can’t breathe.”    

Little Leon took advantage of her discomfort and ran to the big boys’ tents where Peter and Leon welcomed him with identical grimaces. “Did you poop in the woods?” he asked them, wide-eyed. “My grandmother had to go back to the house.”    

“No, we didn’t poop in the woods,” Peter said. “Now, be quiet if you want to stay with us.”    

“Will you be all right here on your own?” Marian asked little Leon’s grandmother after the old woman crawled shakily into the tent, and after seeing her struggle to get into the sleeping bag.    

The old lady muttered something and turned on her side, facing away from her. It sounded like “…to suck eggs” to Marian as she worked her way back out the tent opening. When she told her husband he laughed. “She said she’s fine,” he said. “Let’s get back to our own tent. I want to show you something.”    

But on returning he fell over Ellison who was still outside his tent on his sleeping bag. Bishop caught himself on his hands and was able to keep most of his weight off the young idiot who thought sleeping in the open was such a great idea, but he still fell onto him.    


Then, “Get off me!”    

“I’m trying. Keep still and give me a chance.”    

Ellison forced himself to lie still. True to his word, Mr. Bishop extricated himself pretty quickly without doing any harm. Why couldn’t it have been Marcia falling into his arms like that, he groused as Bishop grunted and scooted and quickly stood up.    

The couple apologized and moved back to their own tent, Mr. Bishop taking advantage of his bruises to lean heavily on his wife who clearly enjoyed the contact. Ellison sat up and looked toward Marcia’s tent. He couldn’t see anything. He wasn’t sure Marcia was even in her tent anymore. And he was supposed to keep her safe.    

Ellison stood up. Getting his feet tangled in the sleeping bag almost proved his undoing, but he was able to maintain his balance; he looked like a human windmill for a minute, but he stayed upright.    

He made his way carefully to Marcia’s tent. And he was right. She wasn’t there.    



WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Died On A Rainy Sunday by Joan Aiken.  

E-Publishing: Advantages and Disadvantages

A GUEST BLOG BY AUTHOR LINDSAY BUROKER. E-Publishing: Advantages and Disadvantages

Have you been wondering if you should forget agents and publishing houses, turn your novel into an ebook, and start a new life as an independent author?

Thanks to the rising popularity of e-readers (Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc), the number of authors choosing to e-publish has grown tremendously, and it’s hard not to get excited when you read about the indie success stories (some authors making six figures and others receiving traditional publishing contracts with lucrative advances). That said, it’s not a road to riches for most, and it’s not the path for everyone. But it can work for some.

I published my first ebook, a fantasy adventure novel called The Emperor’s Edge ( in late December 2010, and I’m about to publish the sequel. I also published another stand-alone novel and a couple of short-story collections. I’m not one of those folks making six figures, or anything close to a full-time income for that matter, but I can see the potential. I’ve made back the initial costs of putting the ebooks together (editing, formatting, having cover art designed, etc.), and I’m making a modest part-time income from my writing efforts now.

While that doesn’t make me an expert on e-publishing, I figured I could offer some advice for those on the fence, trying to decide between e-publishing and pursuing a deal with an agent and a traditional house.

So, without further ado, here are some of the pros and cons of e-publishing.

Advantages of E-Publishing

It’s a speedy process.

Between the hunt for an agent, the hunt for a publisher, and the wait-time before a book is actually printed and available in a bookstore, the traditional publishing model is slow. You can expect that process to take one to two years, if you’re able to find an agent and publisher at all. A lot of people don’t, and it’s not always a reflection of talent or the saleability of a book.

It’s much different with e-publishing.

For my first ebook, it took me about a month from first deciding to publish it to having it go live. In that time, an editor proofread it, an artist created a cover, and an ebook formatter turned my Mac Pages file into something readable on the Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc. When I uploaded the finished file at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords (a distributor that gets your ebooks into the stores that require ISBNs), it took a maximum of two days for it to go live.

You have full control.

Everything is up to you with e-publishing. You write the story or book you want to write, and you choose the artwork. You also choose the price, and you can experiment with that price at will. This means you can tinker around and see if you sell ten times as many books at $0.99 as you do at $2.99, or if you can raise the price to $3.99 or higher and see if people will still buy.

You can also see novel sales as they’re happening, which gives you insight into what marketing tactics are paying off and which are taking up time and money and returning no profits.

You can potentially earn more money as an indie.

Like I said, this isn’t an easy road to wealth, but, because you’re cutting out the middlemen, you make more per book than you would going through a traditional publisher. Sell your ebook for $2.99 to $9.99, and you’ll earn 70% on each sale at Amazon (with similar royalty rates from other major bookstores). Compare this to the 20% or less most traditionally published authors take home.

Also, the higher prices mainstream publishers sell their ebooks for can be a sales deterrent. At $2.99, your novel might look more attractive to folks than others at $8.99 or more.

Downsides of E-Publishing.

Okay, I can see you’re getting excited, but it’s not all fun and profits, and there are reasons this path isn’t for everyone. Here are a couple of cons.

Upfront costs.

If you want to create a professional looking product, something that can compete with ebooks from publishing houses, you’ll need to invest money up front.

Unless you’re artistically inclined, you should pay for custom cover art. You’ll also want to hire someone to edit your work. It’s best to have a professional editor (you can find freelancers on any job board) do the task, someone who edits for a living and can quote the Chicago Manual of Style to you. The formatting is something you can learn to do yourself if you want to save a few bucks.

I paid $600-$800 each to put together my first two novels, and I’ve seen people spend more if they had heavy line editing done (I had several critique buddies read my work first so didn’t feel I needed that).

You’re on your own for marketing.

While traditionally published authors may complain that they don’t get much help from the publishing houses any more when it comes to marketing, you’re really and truly on your own as an indie. If you’re not willing to push your book and network online, this business is not for you.

That said, I’m a hardcore introvert who isn’t that comfortable with selling either, and I’m doing all right so far. The internet does offer many ways to market, and it’s likely you can find something that works for you as long as you’re willing to invest time in learning. Oh, yeah, and then you have to invest a lot of time in the actual marketing!

There you have it: some of the pros and cons of e-publishing. I hope this article has helped you decide wheher or not this road is right for you. If you want to learn more, please visit my e-publishing blog ( . I talk about everything from getting started to pricing books to online promotion. If you’re curious about my work, you can also check out my Amazon book (  page or my Author Page on Smashwords (Smashwords offers every ebook format out there, so it’s good for any e-reader or even online PC reading) ( ).

Good luck!


Thank you Goblin Writer.

I’d like to add that to succeed as an indie writer/publisher, the one quality you need most is patience. With the caveat that you need to write a good novel to begin with, you may find that what starts out selling poorly can build month by month and year by year into a good income. 

WHAT I’VE READ THIS WEEK—Fatal Tide by Iris Johansen. And The Ballad of Frankie Silver by Sharyn McCrumb.

All photos by Roxanne Rix.

Great links for writers

When I first began thinking of publishing to Kindle at I was reading J.A. Konrath’s blog pretty regularly (as in all the time) and I also bought a copy of his book The Newbies Guide To Publishing. Following his progress as he works his way into e-book stardom is both fascinating and educational. If you’re a writer (or want to be one) you should be following Mr. Konrath.

Later I rediscovered Dean Wesley Smith . His Killing The Sacred Cows of Publishingarticles are a revelation. Everyone should be reading this. And all writers should also be reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch at You will be very, very sorry if you don’t follow what is going on through both these respected writers.

For Word help, check out Terry’s Place: Word Formatting at She’ll save you a lot of frustration and trouble.

For short story markets go to

That’s enough links for one time.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK—Dinner On A Flying Saucer by Dean Wesley Smith. The Dead Butler Caper by Frank Norman. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. and Follow the Stone by John Locke. Seems I had a lot of reading time on my hands, but really, all of these were short books except the Dan Brown.

Photos by Roxanne Rix

P.S. In less than one month we will begin accepting entries to Scare The Dickens Out of Us, the ghost story writing contest benefiting the Dr. Eugene Clark Library in Lockhart, Texas. Check the rules at

P.P.S. My novel The Cowboy’s Baby is available as a Kindle e-book at