The Unfinished Pile

Dear Reader,
Welcome to the unfinished pile. The following is one of many essays I wrote for a working manuscript titled, My Mother the Mediocre Witch. The collection was originally aimed at my son, a random assortment of stories and lessons – something he might refer back to when speaking with his future therapist. Most of the essays are very short, just a brief glance at an unusual life. I’ve plugged away at this project for years with no clear idea of what to do with it. Periodically, I’ll share a bit of it here on my blog. –Tarrant

Sweeping Chickens off the Porch; Gratitude

A hen pecks near the base of the washing machine, one of two sitting at the edge of our driveway. Both, along with a single two-decade-old dryer, stand like rusting white sentinels at their ill-chosen post. If I am going to be totally honest here, I must confess that the trio irritates the hell out of me, as does the chicken poop dotting the walkway, the steps, and the worn porch. But somehow the discarded machines lined up in the driveway bother me the most. Occasionally, I’ve deposited bags of household trash on top of each washer, a not so subtle hint to your father that the entire lot should be carted off to the dump. Yet the washers remain where he left them. The bags are gone, as are the boxes of collected household recycling. It baffles me that he can’t see it.

I watch the hen for a few more moments. She seems happy in her foraging, her contentment a sharp contrast to my present mood. I stalk back into the house.

Our house. Where do I start? And where are you in this essay? I think at this point, son, you are in middle school and are just now beginning to compare your family’s net worth to other families who homes you visit.

Once grand and with bones that are still sound, the aged Antebellum landmark we reside in is known to everyone who has lived in this area. But appearances are always deceiving. What they don’t know is that we don’t own this grand old house. We rent it. And the rent is cheap for a reason.

The windows rattle on windy days, there’s a good bit of water damage, the wiring is hodge-podge and highly questionable, most of the plumbing in the house is backward, there is little to no insulation, and mysterious critters have now laid claim to the second floor. Thankfully, there is a line of demarcation and it ends at the top of the stairs. The first floor is ours. The entire house is of course too expensive to heat and air-condition, so we have always closed portions of it off. We have learned to ignore the things we don’t have the money to fix. We live shabby chic. It’s a thing. Some people pay big bucks to attain what we have stumbled upon by necessity. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is about the fact that the proof of the crumbling insides of our house has taken up residence in the driveway. My life does not feel magickal at this moment. I feel like I’ve become the person with the ratty porch couch. You know the ones. The same place that has the rusted car half-overgrown with weeds. Oh yeah, we’ve got one of those too. It was a project that never got finished. Lack of money, if I recall.

Lack of money. Poor to some, but I prefer the term broke. You see poor is a condition and de-moralizing, but broke can be fixed. Broke has hope. Of course, it helps if you can see the world as a Buddhist might, or as a witch might if a Buddhist isn’t around. Did I mention that my husband is one? A Buddhist that is. Which is why the discarded washers and dryer doesn’t bother him. He knows there residence in the driveway is only temporary, for all things are temporary. Perhaps the hen knows this as well. One day the white sentinels will be gone, and the bugs the chickens’ hunt will have to find another place to take refuge.

I think I feel better. I sometimes forget that many years ago I stepped off the path that most would consider normal; college, career, home ownership, and debt. I confess I sometimes lose my gratitude for the things I do have; family, friends, love, humor, health, and fresh eggs.

One day son, you will look back on this big drafty house and smile with gratitude. Or at least I hope so.

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To explore more sides of my writing, check out Beyond the Books where I share some of my older Medium posts.

Sprucing up for a Book Release

With The Fate of Wolves hitting the market this month, I find myself spending a lot of time in the design chair as I dust off and breathe new life into my brand image. It happens every time I release a new book, and honestly, I look forward to it. Social media banners are redesigned. New book signing posters are made. New posters and advertisements are crafted.

Facebook page banner
tabletop display for signings

I try to stick to one theme or image to describe the book. For The Fate of Wolves, it’s this wonderful bluish moon I found.

You’ll begin to notice it cropping up everywhere: Facebook banner, FB ads, Twitter banner, and on this website. Unfortunately, I ran across this fantastic image after I’d created my poster. I’m considering the idea of redesigning it. I know that the most impactful advertising message is one that is concise and unified. And this pale-blue moon image references the werewolves in the second book, but it also speaks to the nature of the universe of the Pale itself. So, the solution might be to use it again for the entire Legends of the Pale Series when The Dreams of Demons is released in 2020.

Facebook Ad

Of course, my redesign time isn’t entirely relegated to the new series. I also have a previous series to market and keep fresh. When I was writing the Darkly Series, I never considered the interesting problem of how to handle the promotion of my back catalog of books. I’ve only recently discovered the hidden cost of having seven different books at each book signing. My next event at the end of this month in my home town of Madison, Georgia will be the first big test. How many books from the Darkly Series should I bring? I’m not sure, but it’s a fun problem to have. I never thought I’d get this far actually. There was a point a few years ago that my writing took a backseat to everything else going on in my life. I’m writing full-time now and my life is all about my books and publishing. It’s amazing how quickly life can change.

Read. Write. And stay Grateful.

That was going to be the end…

But I couldn’t help myself. I have moon fever. Here are the new posters for The Fate of Wolves and the Legends of the Pale Series of books. I’ve also given the Legends books and the Darkly books their own individual pages on the website’s menu.

Legends of the Pale Series

A Day in the Life of an Author

“The learning curve is a bitch, my dear.”

I spent most of last weekend supporting others. I do that from time to time to remind myself that it’s not all about me and my books. And because I strive to be a good friend. My social skills are, at times, limited —so occasional practice helps.

Anyway, one friend had scheduled a yard sale and another was having her first-ever book signing. Both events were just ripe with opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone and talk to strangers.

Over the two days of selling nick-knacks for five or less dollars, I just happened to meet a fellow writer who was new to our town and going through the querying phase. I loved commiserating with him. As it turns out, he’d gotten several requests for partial manuscripts. Of course, I told him to pounce on them immediately! I know that the publishing industry can be a fickle siren. What’s in-demand now probably won’t be in a year’s time. After I’d offered him my encouragement and good wishes, we moved on to the subject of self-publishing. I was pro for obvious reasons, and I got the feeling he was firmly in the con column. The misconception he and many other yet-to-be-published authors hold tight to is that the traditionally published book will be heavily promoted by the publisher. And somehow, he will be magically left alone to write. Because, after all, writers are creative beings who love nothing more than a good cup of coffee and seclusion. “Please don’t make me talk to people!”

I informed him that the industry has changed. If he gets picked up, he’ll have to actively and heavily promote his book. That means Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and perhaps blogging. I’ve seen that face of disbelief before and I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut. “I’ve done that learning curve. Now it’s your turn.”

What you do get with the traditionally published route is distribution. Some bookstores and book faires are still built into the system. But not all and promotion isn’t usually apart of the debut author experience.

My friend, with the book signing this past weekend, was traditionally published. It is a small but growing publisher and she was very excited to sign the contract with them. She was also under the misconception that she’d sit back and write while her publisher pushed her books. She’s currently learning that the majority of the promotion load is hers to handle. She’s having to contact bookstores. She’s having to promote across social media. She’s having to set up events that she wants to participate in.

Neither road is an easy one, traditional or indie. And neither is made for the socially awkward creature called writers. Entry into the publishing world is a painful lesson for a lot of first-time authors, especially those over the age of fifty. I truly hope my new writer friend lands the deal he dreams of and makes a name for himself. In the meantime, I’ll be over here selling my books one at a time and talking about myself until you and I are both uncomfortable.

By the way, I sold two books and gave one away this weekend. “Totally awesome!”