Book No. 5

I put the finishing touches on my dad’s book last week and was finally able to submit it to Amazon’s CreateSpace.

CreateSpace is a handy publishing tool for those of us who want their books published, but don’t want to waste our time with rejections by popular publishers.

Maybe someday I will see my dream of being a best-selling author realized, but for now, I am content with marketing my book myself.

CreateSpace is very helpful with online marketing, but it’s up to the author to get out and sell it. Published books are available in digital and paperback forms, though paperbacks are a lot more costly.

For those of you who may not know, I posted stories my dad wrote about his life on a separate blog, “Leaving a Legacy.” I started the blog, so my family would have access to it. One of my uncles asked if I was going to publish it, and though I had thought about it, I wasn’t sure how I should frame it. Should I write it “as is,” or do a little editing so it made sense? Or maybe I should tell the story about how I found it in a box after he died and became closer to my family after reading about his life? Or maybe I should break the stories up and put them in chronological order, adding a forward and introduction to explain the misses pieces in his story.

I chose the latter, and got to work editing. It took a few months to complete putting it in order and making it make sense, and another month to edit, but I finally submitted it to CreateSpace last week.

I have used CreateSpace before, publishing a series of three teen sci-fi books and a recipe book, but it has been a while since I used it.

I had to create a cover of my own in the right size in PDF form, and then using a template, had to save my interior content in PDF form, as well. Once I walked through the process a few times, it became a no-brainer.

Here is the link to my dad’s book, which is for sale on Amazon: Legacy: An Autobiography.

I have decided that all the proceeds with go to one of my dad’s favorite charities, but because he had so many, I’ll have to give it more thought. My father was a generous man, and I think he would not appreciate the gesture, but he’d be a little proud, too.

It’s all about the journey

It’s been more than a month since I wrote a blog post. I could offer a variety of excuses,but the truth is, I just haven’t myasworldhad the time. My spare time, when I have any, has been filled with my many projects. Most recently, I’ve been busy putting the final touches on the third and final book in my “Between Worlds” series, “Mya’s World.”

I started editing last week, but it’s slow-going. I have to be careful about how I go about it. As other writers will agree, it’s tough trying to edit your own work. We stop seeing the mistakes. We know what we intended to write, and our minds can play tricks on us. Handing it off to someone to edit is always a good idea, but if you are like me, I have to look at it one more time before I submit it, and that’s usually where I get into trouble.

I end up wanting to rewrite some of it, and that usually takes even more time. Then I have to hand it back to my editing buddy, and well, you know what happens. It ends up becoming a perpetual and never-ending cycle of editing.

I literally have to force myself to stop writing, or I would never finish a book.

As daunting as the editing process is, it doesn’t compare to the feeling I have when I open the cardboard box and pull out a finished version of something I created.

But satisfaction isn’t the only thing I gained from this experience. Since I started the “Between Worlds” series 3 years ago, I have not only become a better writer, but I have become a better storyteller, too. There is a distinct difference between reporting a news or feature story and trying to engage a reader while telling an interesting tale. I have learned more from this experience than I ever did sitting in a classroom.

I don’t have a lot of reviews of my book on Amazon, but the people who have read my books say they enjoy them. And though I am grateful I can write something that people enjoy, I have my own selfish reasons for writing them.

I write because I love to write. It’s what I do. And if I couldn’t do it, well, I’m not sure what I would do. Most likely, I would just suck it up and move on, but there would be definitely something missing from my life.

(You can read a preview of the book by going to my website.)









You’re never too old for Halloween

I love Halloween. Ever since I opened my bag and uttered the magical words, “Trick or Treat,” for the first time, I was hooked.haunted house

No matter if it was raining or snowing or blowing like a typhoon, I was determined to go trick or treating every year. For a little kid who was addicted to candy, it was a holiday that ranked right up there with Christmas.

The year I turned 13 was a little disappointing one. True, becoming a teenager should have been thrilling enough, but the way I saw it, it meant I had to grow up. And when my mom told me I was too old to go trick or treating, I was beyond disappointed. I got over it, though, when I realized I was now old enough to do other fun things on Halloween, things like terrorizing little kids, TPing trees, and ….

Haunted Houses!

Every year for as long as I can remember, Cedar Rapids had at least one haunted house that would terrify the pants off me. But as I got older, the thrill began to wear off.

But there was one time when I realized I wasn’t as brave as I thought. It was 1980 or ’81, and my boyfriend  at the time took me and his little sister to a haunted house, which was said to be the best yet.

“According to who?” I asked in defiance.

“Everyone I’ve talked to,” he said, trying to build it up as best he could.

“Well, I’m not afraid,” I told him as we stood in the line for our turn to get in. After nearly an hour, it was our turn. We stepped into the purplish-green light and came face to face with a mummy (with a horrible make-up job).

I turned to Bruce and said, “Told you it would be lame.”

He didn’t answer, but walked ahead me. I grabbed his hand, and then Deanna’s, and we made our way through the dark rooms, lighted only by occasional grim scenes, played out by bad actors. Fake, fake, fake, I said to myself as we wandered through the rooms.

As we went through one door, the lights suddenly went out.  I felt Bruce pull me along, but then he let go. I could hear people upstairs and in the next room banging on the walls, chains rattling, moans and shrieks sounding throughout the house.

Deanna grabbed my arm with both hands and screamed, “I need to get out of here!”  And then she screamed as loud as she could, “Let me out! Let me out!”

She pushed past me, though the door, and shut it on me.

“Wait!” I called to her but she was gone. I was on my own.

Okay, don’t panic, I told myself. My heart started to pound in my chest, as I felt my way along the wall in the dark, not really sure where I was going. I called for Bruce and Deanna but they didn’t answer.

I saw light flicker in the shadows, and I knew I was almost out. I finally found the door and opened it. But as I did, I came face to face with an ax-wielding monster!  He was about ready to bring the ax down on me when I pushed him as hard as I could, screaming so loud I could feel the muscles in my throat being stretched. For a split-second, I lost my grip on reality, and shut my eyes to the horror I was experiencing.

I could feel myself fall but couldn’t catch myself. With my eyes clenched shut, I landed on top of the would-be ax murderer. Suddenly, I heard squeals of laughter. I opened my eyes and saw Bruce and Deanna standing over us. Realizing I would live another day, I stood up and smacked Bruce on the shoulder.

“You jerk,” I told him, but I knew he got me.

The monster, who happened to be a friend of Bruce’s, stood up and took off his mask. I had to admit, they played a pretty good joke.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a really good haunted house, but there was always at least one haunted house in CR, where people could find a few thrills.

Until this year.  This is the first year in a long time since Cedar Rapids won’t have a haunted house within its city limits. Circle of Ash, located at 412 7th Avenue SE, has been around for the past 14 years, but won’t be in operation this year.  However, the website promises that it will return next year, “better than ever.”

But never fear-there are haunts that still close enough to drive to … if you dare.

Bloomsberry Farms, 3260 69th Street in Atkins, offers a variety of family activities by day and Scream Acres by night. At Scream Acres, which includes two indoor haunts-Curtain Chaos and the Slaughterhouse-and a Haunted Corn Field.

A few haunted houses are the north of Cedar Rapids, and might be worth the 45 minute drive.

Garrison’s Haunted is located in Garrison, halfway between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, but only opened on the weekends till Oct. 24.

Harris Haven Funeral Home, 3767 Lafayette Rd., Evansdale, is just outside of Waterloo. (I don’t know about you but the thought of a haunted funeral parlor is extremely tempting!)

The Heart of Darkness, 5111 Osage Road, Waterloo, is a haunt through a 22,000 square foot field.  It features a monster midway with games and entertainment, and tickets can be purchased online.

Panic Park Haunted House , 5932 North Union Road in Cedar Falls, which is home to UNI.

Dark Chambers is located at 121 E. 4th Street in Dubuque, northeast of Cedar Rapids. It also offers a lighted haunted house for a cheaper admission price.

Halloween isn’t even close to what it used to be, but it can still be pretty fun for the kids, and kids at heart, like me. And even if haunted houses are rare in your neck of the woods, you can still curl up with a great Halloween flick (many come to mind) and scare yourself silly.