My Happy Place

When you have a friend with power tools, this can happen.

For my entire adult life, I’ve wanted a garden. The apparent sad fact seemed to be that a garden didn’t want me. If I got past the planning, plotting and tilling up the yard to actually get to the planting, I didn’t seem to grow a darn thing. Well except for frustration in my wife with the square of dried dirt in the yard. I grew that pretty well. So, let’s say she was less than excited when I said I wanted to try it again. But this time I would do something different.

While strolling through Pinterest I saw a garden that caught my eye. It was an area for a container garden. This I had never tried before. I shared it with a friend in our day-dream conversations. Never did I imagine she would say, “Oh, I can build this.” From there the planning began. Much of this was on her part as I did have to verify at one point in time that she was still speaking English as I had absolutely no clue what she was talking about. One Friday morning, she came with a trunk full of power tools. She had me using power table saws and others that I can’t remember the name of. I joke with my wife that she fell in love with me all over again when she came home to see me using them.

By Sunday morning, we had this 12×12 foot enclosure. The fencing is 4-foot high. The posts are set with Quik-crete. The small pergola and trellis rail are 6-ft high.

Getting read

The next weekend I hit Lowe’s and a local farming supply store. It was great timing as Lowe’s had their fertilizer and mulch on sale for 5 for $20. I used 15 bags of black mulch to fill the space. I purchased two 2x4x2 galvanized stock tanks, two whiskey barrel planters, painter’s tape and copper spray paint. I drilled drain holes in the bottom of the stock tanks to have well-drained soil for my plantings. (After a summer of heavy rain I did have to go back and put a few in the sides.) There was a plug that could be removed for draining. Keep this little sucker handy because I do many times plug it in as well as remove it dependent on the rain.

I like to upcycle as much as I can to reduce my footprint on this world so my other containers were ones I was already using around the home. I transplanted the salvageable herbs and painted them with the same copper paint.

These brick pavers were leftovers from a patio project we had done a couple of years before. WeedEx material was laid down prior to the black mulch for a nice ground covering.

I waited a full month to let the wood dry before staining. (Note the total photo bomb of Socks and the Who Dat flare!)

My little happy place has given me hours of peace and tranquility not to mention little nuggets of veggies and herbs. I tend to it nearly daily with bits of time to walk out and look over the day’s growth. Sometimes my wife and I even have a glass of wine while sitting on the bench I placed out by it. It’s a wonderful way to end the work day.

It wasn’t too bad of a harvest it’s first year. Although, it was not without lessons learned, ie: avoid overcrowding by only planting one plant per whiskey barrel. But in the end, this little weekend project has been a welcome edition to our home both aesthetically and in our tummies.

An Amazon Pre-Order Disaster

Please read if you have recently downloaded “It Pours”.

IT’S FIXED!!! Please update your Kindle to get the correct version!

There has been a mistake in the ebook manuscript with Amazon. The book currently being sent out to readers and those who ordered a pre-order copy is the working draft Word document that was submitted to Amazon for the purpose of posting pre-order availability. This was a working Word document draft copy and unfortunately this is the copy you may be currently reading.

You will recognize it as it has no copyright page, title page, table of contents, dedication or blurb for my next book at the end.

When the first reader contacted me, I immediately checked my account with Amazon. The finished final copy is the only one present in my account. Thus, the only one I can revise. Yet, it is not the one being sent. Eight emails and one phone call later, Amazon has accepted full responsibility and is working to correct the situation. Although, I think the best outcome they are pushing for is to send the corrected copy to readers, which will essentially be asking them to read a book twice. For this, I am truly sorry.

Beyond quality of the writing and professional appearance of the finished book, I do not think you as a reader will have too many differences in the story itself except for a small addition to the end and the blurb for “After the Storm“.

If you have received one of these unfinished copies, please do contact me. I am terribly sorry for this and would like to try to make it right. My proof of the print version is correct. So I am hoping those will be correct.


As of Thursday, May 16th, three weeks after I contacted Amazon about the incorrect push content for the book, I’ve heard back again. This time from the technical support team that is having trouble seeing the mistake. They have requested I list the location of each variation, change or difference between the version that is sadly still being sent to readers and the correct, current version I have uploaded into my Amazon bookshelf. As you can imagine this is virtually impossible! I did however send a detailed email of the forefront pages that are missing and the last pages. As for the inner content, I truly don’t know how to send every single change as the copy being sent out was a working copy and has been saved over many times since the pre-order posted. What I do have trouble understanding is that the print version is correct, yet the ebook is not. There is only one bookshelf where I can download the book. There is only one copy there, so how can the print and ebook differ? I have to admit I am terribly frustrated and disheartened at this point that it will ever be fixed and am helpless to do anything. I’ve contemplated deleting the whole book, waiting a week, and then republishing it. But as it is listed with Kindle Unlimited, I can not do any thing for 90 days.

So, for my readers, what possible solution can I offer you? That is what I keep trying to find the answer to. I considered emailing the ebook version to those who contacted me but yes, you guess it…this is against Amazon’s agreement with Kindle Unlimited. I can not offer the ebook version anywhere outside of their site for the 90 day period. I then thought about trying to find an affordable way to offer signed print copies to those readers who would like them but who wants to pay for a book twice? For the large majority, the biggest story addition is the end. The book you read was missing a small piece at the end. Small but big. Ha! I was contacted this morning by a reader who has both the Kindle ebook version and the corrected version. She recommended to post the ending on this post as the small addition at the end changed her entire feelings toward the ending of the story and anticipation for the upcoming books. As I do listen greatly to my readers and those who take the time to reach out or review, I am listening now. Please see the complete last chapter further down the post after the blurb for “After the Storm”.

In the meantime, one of the elements missing from that version is the blurb for After the Storm. I am going to post it below for those who did not see it.

After the Storm

The weight of her heels carried on her fingertips grew exponentially with each step Samantha LeJeune took walking away from the only woman she ever loved. She wanted to turn back, take Rayne Storm into her arms and run away from everything that would keep them apart. The problem was Rayne wasn’t ready to give her what she needed to make a life with her. If she couldn’t runaway with her, she would at least runaway from her and all of the memories of Alabama. Without a clue as to her destination, she hit the road with nothing on her mind but healing her broken heart strong enough to never fall in love again. 

Gentry Bell didn’t really have a home like others would describe. For her, home was a small town filled with suffocating memories of painful abuse and betrayal by those who were supposed to love her. There were only two woman who kept her from moving as far away as possible. The sudden passing of one of those women and a new job with the National Park Service, were her signs that it’s time for her to move on. She’s never feared being on her own or venturing out into the unknown. Actually, it has always been her breath of life. But this time, she isn’t alone. Maybe the silence of the wilderness will have the answer she needs to decide what to do about the baby she is carrying. 

An immediate connection develops when these two broken women meet on the road that carries them away from the life they were living. But will it be enough to open their hearts to trust again? And if so, will they be strong enough to hold onto that connection when an unborn child seems to be pointing them to return back to a home where memories of trauma and a first love are still everso present in each of their hearts? 

When Writer and Editor Meet

When two passionate hearts meet, wonderful things can happen.

That’s what happened when I met Kira. We both had a passion for writing and well…superheroes but that’s another story for another day. A couple of years ago, I lost my way with my writing. With the soon to be released revision of It Pours and blurb for After the Storm tucked nicely at the end of that revision, I wanted to take a minute to introduce one of the women who helped me find my way again. So, I asked her to write a little blog about herself and why she would spend the late hours of her day helping a little southern writer like me. I hope you enjoy her introduction and the stories she helps me put into your hands. Thank you Kira 

My first editing experience was volunteer editing for I was 20 years old. If you’ve never visited the site, I suggest it. Many stories are…graphic, to say the least, but if you enjoy erotica in any genre, you can find something to your liking. At that time in my life, I had just decided that I wanted my life-long career to be editing, but no one wanted to hire a woman without any ACTUAL editing experience. Even when I graduated with a bachelors degree that focused on publishing, I had no offers, no opportunities. Can you imagine approaching anyone with the knowledge that your only editing experience was for an erotic romance site? I did once; the look on the poor man’s face was something I’ll never forget.

For a couple of years after college, I went back to my roots of working fast food to pay my bills. I was, unfortunately, very good at working in a kitchen, coming home every night smelling like some kind of awful. I continued to edit for random strangers on the erotica site though, gaining quite a following of authors because of my attention to detail and my consistent, positive feedback. It was this experience that really cemented not just my love for editing, but my love for authors. 

Most of these authors I worked with were “regular” people: husband/wife, kids, 9–5 job, etc. They just happened to write erotica in their spare time. They had no aspirations of making a career out of it; this was years before 50 Shades of Greyreared its ugly head and turned the publishing world upside-down. But more than the edits, more than the feedback on their stories, I got the sense that many of my author friends just wanted someone to talk to about their writing. It’s not every day that you get to talk “shop” with someone when your “shop” happens to be transexual BDSM. I learned to be objective, approaching each story with a blank slate frame of mind and putting in 100% effort. It didn’t pay, but it didn’t matter to me. I was helping, and that was good enough for me.

I finally got a breakthrough when I was invited to move to Chicago, IL, and stay with friends for cheap while I got on my feet. On a trip to Half Price Books (a place I’d never heard of, let alone been in), I fell in love with the place and applied to work there on a whim. I got the job a week later. I spent the next two years learning all about the other side of publishing: the selling. I shelved books, bought books from sellers, created marketing displays, and read everything I possibly could. If you had the chance to read everything you’ve always wanted to read, wouldn’t you do it too? I still edited for regularly at that point. It was always comforting to come home and edit a few chapters for a grateful author.

After two years at Half Price, an opportunity to work as a proofreader for an accounting firm popped up and I jumped at it. I, somehow, impressed them enough to give me a shot, despite not having any real-life experience. That job was difficult. Numbers people and word people don’t mesh well, as you can imagine. I received a lot of pushback at times, but I took it all in stride, just happy to have a job doing what I loved to do. It was at this accounting firm that I also found the first publisher that wanted to hire me on as a freelance proofreader. I read a book by Jake Bible about a giant killer shark (my favorite horror subgenre) and loved it, but I noticed there were typos, punctuation errors, and formatting mistakes. I reached out to him via his website and he directed me to his publisher, Severed Press. Not knowing what to say, I resorted to the crazy, passionate version of myself and wrote a long email that probably didn’t make much sense. Something I said worked though, and they offered me money to proofread their stories. I couldn’t believe my luck! 

The way I approached Severed Press is how I approached other publishers, hoping to continue with the good luck. At one point, I had stories coming in from three publishers at once. It was chaotic, but it was fun and it was worth it. It was at that point that I finally stopped volunteer editing for the erotica site. I loved what I did, but I had to prioritize my editing for people that were paying me to do it. I had it made; I didn’t need the good karma as payment anymore.

Three years after starting at the accounting firm, I finally found my dream job: editorial and production assistant. It is higher level, better pay, and greater responsibility. To this day, it still tests all my skills and I’m learning something new every day. It’s the kind of job that every future editor wants because of the wealth of experience gained. I’m thankful every day to have such a great job that will undoubtedly point me in the right direction for future job options.

But, unfortunately, the side stories stopped coming in as much. I never completely understood why, but I accepted it as inevitable. Where I used to get 10–12 stories a month to edit, I started to only receive maybe 1–2. Money wasn’t an issue…but I was bored. Doing 9–5 work was fine, but I never considered my freelance work to be “work.” I mean, I got a chance to edit a book and read it first before anyone else. It was my dream come true, and I didn’t want to lose it. It kept me sane on my worst days and made my best days even better.

With a lack of paid freelance work, I started to re-evaluate my situation. I didn’t need the money but I missed the joy of editing fiction. Maybe that good karma editing that I so readily dismissed was something I need in my life after all. So, rather than advertising myself as a freelance editor looking for paid work, I took a different approach: I personally started reaching out to self-published authors and asking if I could edit their books for free. Like reaching out to publishers to ask for work, this approach missed the mark 98% of the time. I rarely received responses, even though I advertised myself as a free editor. Some authors already had a team of editors; some probably thought I was nuts. How do you explain my kind of passion? 

I feel like authors and I share a kindred spirit. A goal for an author is to write something amazing and perfect that other people can enjoy. Similarly, my goal is to help mold that creative work into that amazing and perfect idea of what a book should be. I’m a self-described worker bee, helping the other bees make the best honey ever. I don’t care much for attention or limelight because I value self-satisfaction more than anything else. And the one thing that gives me the most pride is knowing that I did my best to make a book the best book it can be. If that’s just fixing typos and grammar, so be it. If it’s a detailed process from beginning to end—editing, copy-editing, proofreading, formatting, conversing, discussing, questioning—then I’m all about that too. If you need me for a little or a lot, I’ll take it all and be happy every day of the project to just be a part of the process.

What I’ve finally realized about myself and my career is that as long as I love what I do and I make a difference, no matter how big or small, it’s all worth it. Authors are always blown away when I offer to edit for free. Who would do something like that? Am I crazy? Iwould do something like that, and yes, I am probably crazy, but in the best way possible. I have the means to offer my editing skills to those who need them for free so I’m going to do it. It makes too much sense not to.

And, oddly enough, everything comes back to 20-year-old me, editing for people on Those everyday people trusted me enough to share their stories and accept edits, good and bad. They put themselves out there, writing stories they weren’t sure anyone was going to like but hoping and praying they would…that somebody would read their story and love it enough to leave a comment, encouraging them to keep writing. Similarly, every step of my editing career has been about taking chances, putting myself out there, and doing what I love, even if no one else cares but me. At the end of the day, the pride I have in myself is worth more than anything money can buy.

So, if you need an editor, a commenter, good feedback, or just a sympathetic ear, I’m available. It’s why I’m here, and I’m happy to be here.



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