Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In Loving Memory

I know regular readers know what I've been sorting through this month. But for others... I spent the first week of the month with a dying aunt and have since been trying to sort her estate. She had no husband or children, and as the main heir, it falls to me to do... the stuff...

*Cancel the utilities.
*Sort the belongings with respect given to others who have claim.
*Herd the cats, metaphorically speaking—different people know different stuff. I need to collect that and try to sort where things are contradictory... which has happened...
*Hire the lawyers to deal with probate.
*DEAL WITH PROBATE. (I know I have lawyer friends, but MAN, this class of people turns my stomach... probably because I only have to deal with them when I've been dealt a mess to sort)
*Mediate among family members, many disfunctional... Okay... not many... but painful when it happens.

But by far the most humbling of these experiences has been writing the obituary. Because see... I'm a writer. This shouldn't BE something that is that hard to me.

But see... it is.

Part of it is that this is BIG. A person I love has a life that needs representation. But the bigger part of it is that I just didn't know her that well. I knew her as my aunt. I have some memories of her as my dad's baby sister. She used to sing Puff the Magic Dragon to me when I was small and I loved it. I couldn't have thought of a better song. And I remember her as the caretaker for my grandpa for the last few years of his life. He lived to be 91, but he had a heart attack maybe 3 years before that and she moved home and cared for him... not easily. It was very hard for her. Hard because she had to give up a life she liked. Hard because I think the relationship wasn't an easy one. Hard because... taking care of someone who needs A LOT is just HARD.

So I wrote a few things I thought an obituary ought to have. I used some published models... and I ended up with something woefully inadequate. So I sent to some family and friends for help...

And one came through in spades. Her best friend from the last place she lived—a coworker from her most recent job—she wrote a heartfelt, beautiful paragraph. It made me happy Merilyn had someone who appreciated her so... and sad I hadn't known her that way. But it was really nice to find a home, so that finally my nonsense had a home. Here is what we ended up with:

Merilyn Kay Hart, 60

Born November 27, 1951 in Moscow, Idaho, daughter of Merrill and Sylvia (Carlson), Merilyn Hart died of cancer August 7th in the home of her niece Camala Bailey in Tempe, Arizona. Merilyn worked with children in Vallivue School district in Caldwell, Idaho for 6 years as a Speech and Language Pathologist and previously worked in the Phoenix and Moscow areas doing similar work.  She was highly intelligent and an excellent teacher. She was called upon often for mentoring teachers and assisting with educational plans for many students over her career.  She was admired and respected by colleagues, parents whose children she taught, teachers, principals, and other speech pathologists.  Merilyn will be greatly missed by her Idaho friends for the insight and help she gave so many educators in how to approach children with speech or language disabilities.

Merilyn had a sweet temperament and calm presence. In addition to her work, Merilyn loved reading, movies and animals—cats, in particular. She is survived by her sister, Patricia Clark (Rio Rico, Arizona), nieces Cammi Bailey (Tempe, Arizona) and Tami Hart-Johnson (Ann Arbor, Michican) and three great nephews and a great niece.

A memorial pot-luck will be held at her home (19878 Essex Avenue, Caldwell, ID  83605) at 4pm, Friday, August 24th for friends and colleagues and burial and a memorial service will be held next summer in Troy, Idaho when her family is able to all assemble.


See that highlighted part... the GOOD part... that was Mary, not me. A friend from the heart is better than a writer any day.

So all of you know, I will be gone for the next week, plus a few days. I may or may not blog again in August, but come September, I plan to pull my life back together, so you have that to look forward to. Don't forget that Joy's contest to win her books will run for this time I'm gone—we plan on a winner that Friday I get back (so I guess there will at least be that post).

In the meantime I will be in Idaho, learning about my aunt post-mortem. That sounds morbid, eh? But I look forward to a chance to meet the people who were important to her and go through her things and get to know her a bit. It's a bit of a sacred task. Does that make me sound crazy? I feel like it is, though—digging through somebody's life. You don't trust that to just anybody. I will see you on the other side.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lynch Syndrome

So most of you know the story of going to take care of my aunt with cancer. But one of the details I haven't talked about, mostly because it is so peripheral to the 'what needs to be done now' domain, is one of the details of her illness.

They suspect, based on family history, which I didn't fully understand until now, that she had something called Lynch Syndrome.

What it is

A genetic disorder, in short. Cells reproduce themselves, yes? Well we have a protective cell function whereby they RECOGNIZE if the cell they reproduce isn't LIKE them and destroys them... mutant destroyers. In Lynch Syndrome there is a failure of cells to murder those unlike themselves... which sounds all nice and all, but SOME... in fact possibly MOST of those mutant cells are cancer cells. I don't mean that in a judgmental, mean way... it's just how it is. Cells like to breed others that are like themselves and in the case of cells, that is probably for the best.

The Effect

One in five people is destined for colon cancer. Did you know? Among people with Lynch Syndrom, 60%. That is triple the chance. Lynch Syndrome is most commonly associated with colon and reproductive cancers for whatever reason, though there is a slightly elevated chance of other cancers as well.


At least three people in two successive generations, one of them first degree, with cancer.

See... the PROBLEM... as an only child I have no SIBLINGS to the first degree... and my PARENT on this side died at 31 of a car crash... well before the age he was likely to have gotten cancer. The age is early—50s, they say, but not THAT early. So I will never meet the technical qualification, even if in reality, I may very well be in line.

I COULD just get the genetic test done, but here's the rub... I not only have to pay up front for the test. I then have to pay higher premiums for having a pre-existing condition... financially, it is not better to know.

But See, That's Not So Bad.

Why? Because all testing positive does is earn me the nudge to get screened more often. It ISN'T so often my insurance won't allow it (especially once my doctor documents possible risk). So while a portion of me hates not knowing, I am just going to act like I have the gene... (lack the gene? Am a mutant? Whatever it is... am genetically pre-disposed).

Friday, August 17, 2012

JL Campbell and A Bakers Dozen

Today I'm hosting JL Campbell as part of her book release for A Baker's Dozen: 13 Steps to Distraction which is a prequel to her book Distraction which came out in June, and Joy has made a great theme of her blog hop, as her book is about friendship and the important role we can play in each others lives. It's true that this writer's network fits all the great parameters of friendship so well. I love that we can reach across oceans and land masses and form friendships over words: the great love for most of us.

I wish Joy a ton of luck on her blog tour!  And without further ado, Welcome Joy!


Many thanks to Hart for hosting my second stop on what I’ve dubbed the Friendship-is-forever Tour.

I dropped by Hart’s blog early in July, having not visited for a long while. I read the Is it Over? post, which spoke a little bit about Hart’s book tour activity and how she got through it. One of the things I said in my comment was that I hoped to get through my tour okay. To my surprise, when she responded, Hart stated her willingness to help by hosting me on her blog. I was blown away. Remember, I hadn’t stopped in with Hart in a while, so she had no reason to make me that offer, which made me shrivel inside. So now you might be wondering why. Wait for it…

I’d visited Mary’s blog just before hopping over to Hart. I thought about signing up for Mary’s release blog hop, but didn’t leave a comment, because I told myself that with all I had to do for my tour, I just couldn’t spare the time. You know what happened after Hart’s awesome generosity with no strings attached, right?
I immediately went back to M.Pax’s blog to sign up for her release of Book 2 of The Backworlds. Sure, I have a lot to do, but it doesn’t cost anything but time—and maybe the price of a book—to support another writer.

Friendship works in the same way. We do favours without stopping to think about what it might mean in terms of time and expense. Some of us even do kindnesses for strangers.

The women in Distraction share this kind of relationship. They help each other, despite the nature of their needs. Even when they don’t agree with the decisions taken, they rally around each other until the storm passes. One of the best things about friendship is that pals give of their time, talent and resources without asking for anything in return.

And for your generosity is sticking around to read this, please feel free to download a complimentary copy of A Baker’s Dozen: Thirteen Steps to Distraction. In this prequel, you’ll meet Dionne, Kyra and Justine a year before Distraction takes place. I hope you’ll like this taste of things Jamaican.

Each person who leaves a comment will be entered to win an e-copy of Distraction. At the end of this Friendship tour, there’ll be a main prize of a Distraction note pad & pen and a $10 Amazon gift card. The second prize is a paperback copy of Distraction. Sign up for that at the Rafflecopter here.

Special thanks go to Hart whose generosity I’ll always remember.

Book Blurb

Three Jamaican women walk a tightrope of decisions when their lives are derailed by blackmail, deceit and infidelity. 

JUSTINE CHARLES, sensible and self-contained, battles an addiction which could destroy her marriage, reputation, and relationship with her daughter.

DIONNE JONES, an aggressive go-getter, takes risks that cut a trail of devastation through her family and business.

KYRA MILLS, struggling single mother, is crippled by debt, bad judgment and destructive choices.

Can two of the long-time friends survive startling revelations involving their partners?  And will the other push her obsession to the point of danger?

J.L. Campbell on Amazon
J.L. Campbell on Facebook
J.L. Campbell on Goodreads
J.L. Campbell on Twitter

J.L. Campbell is a proud Jamaican and the author of Contraband, Distraction, Dissolution, Don’t Get Mad…Get Even, Giving up the Dream and Hardware (pen name Jayda McTyson). Campbell is always on the lookout for story making material, loves company and can usually be found lollygagging on her blog at http://thecharacterdepot.blogspot.com Link to her on Facebook or through her Twitter handle @JL_Campbell.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hospice: A History

So you know that part in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the man goes through town shouting “Bring out your dead!” And then John Cleese brings out the guy who insists he's NOT dead? Seriously... it's good stuff. You should go watch it to get in the mood:


Turns out this scene isn't so far from accurate. During the Black Plague people not only threw their dead out... they were throwing out their dying... they didn't want to be exposed, couldn't take care... so they would take their sickly out in the streets and leave them with the dead to be picked up (and burned, I think)... ah yes... fact checking says buried at first, but as the bodies got to be too many for the living to handle, they began burning...

But what of those who could whimper, “I'm not dead”? Turns out THIS was the origins of hospice. Really and for true.

Kindly nuns decided these people who'd been cast out deserved comfort and care as they died and took them in to provide what they could. (probably NOT like the Castle Anthrax, though... dressing... undressing... knitting exciting underwear...)

I found this very cool... sad that people would turn people out, but when I think about how needy most people were at the time, and the very real risk of a sick person exposing the rest of the family... I guess I get that. But it makes the kindness of those women that much more heroic, too. I'm sure they knew the risk they were taking.

I ALSO though, love that Monty Python is a go-to source for historical accuracy. I mean really... isn't that a huge bonus?

Monday, August 13, 2012

In a Funk

So I had a theme for yesterday.... one for today. One for tomorrow... but I am having trouble doing the things I need to. In fact since August began, I've only written about 8000 words. That wouldn't be horrible, but I have a book I'm meant to have completed... I only have 4 scenes left, but I feel like I am pulling teeth trying to get them out there.

You want to know how bad it REALLY is? On Saturday I got up at 11:00 puttered a bit, then took a nap from 12-2. I spent a little time online, and that was 2000 of my 8000 I've written... but man... not such a productive day.

Sunday it was so bad I spent several hours cleaning out shelves and putting up a new set... CLEANING! This is NOT me.

So there is no blog today... just a few amusing pictures...

"Oooh, that's cold!"

(or wine)

Are these the cutest little buddies ever, or what?

And finally... you new tool for insulting intelligently...

Hopefully I will be a real person again soon...  

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Attending the Dying

Sorry if this topic seems depressing. I just have some processing to do... it will probably come as follows:

Today: My week of helping care
Sunday: My aunt remembered/family
Monday: The origins of hospice
Tuesday: Lynch Syndrome

Then a few normal days and another week or more GONE (settling my aunt's estate, such as it is, in Idaho). I'd love it if you want to share my process, but if you tend to come for nutty, zany Tart, she probably won't be around much until September. This stuff is weighty. It's just how it is. Hospice origins has some humor involved... how is that for strange? But it does... Mostly, though, not so much.

So if you dropped by last week, you already know I went to Phoenix to spend some time with my dying aunt. I have dropped in for last good-byes before. Most notably, in late 2006, my grandmother... the best person the world ever made... died and I believe she waited for me. She'd been sick and going down hill. When I arrived, she had a very good lucid day, then a stroke that night and died the following night.

That happens, you know. There is some matter of control for a lot of people as to when they actually go, though I think it is a power to hang on, rather than a power to let go.

This though, was my first experience at caregiving when someone is dying. I won't pretend to have been the heavy here. My cousin's husband retrieved Merilyn from a hospital in Boise and flew via Angel Flight (a collection of private pilots who volunteer this AMAZING service to get dying people to their families for the end)--they flew her to Phoenix where my cousin then worked tirelessly as caretaker, her husband helping a lot... the hospice people being AMAZING, but only present for 1-2 hours most days. If you have a loved one in the Phoenix area who needs hospice, I can say Hearts for Hospice is phenomenal. Our nurse, our CNA, there was a social worker and a chaplain... seriously—they took such good care of all of us.

But dying is a moving target.

Part of it is that doctors give these bizarro world false positive possibilities, so Merilyn had told me 'up to three months' when in reality, it was two weeks from that conversation with her until she passed (which happened Tuesday evening, but I will get there). Nurses are MUCH more accurate reporters. Believe in your nurses. Seriously.

The Trip

So I flew to Phoenix last Thursday. My cousin picked me up at the airport. And I got... two really good days with my aunt. By good I mean, she didn't feel very well, but she was lucid, knew me, knew I was there. She was a pill... kept insisting she had to get up when in fact she didn't (all tubed up to avoid all that) and every time she talked someone into it (we each fell for it at least once) it was a ton of work and made her so tired... We really had to tag team the care as SOMEONE needed to be near ALL the time for fear of her hurting herself (she got up a few times when no one was in the room—that was REALLY bad, though thankfully no falls). There were hourly adjustment to her person to get her more comfortable (head up, head down, knees up, onto side), semi-hourly medications for pain, anxiety... among other things... This piece... the real WORK OF IT, I had never done before. And NONE of us expected it would take as much. My cousin's husband had even done this before, but I think her particular cancer made for a lot more restlessness.

And I was SO GLAD to be there to help out, both for feeling like I was helping my aunt, and because it was way too much for my cousin to do all of it. It was so amazing of her to open her home and say 'we'll do it' but it is too big a job for one couple. It just is. At least if it doesn't go fast.

The hard part (other than the sleep deprivation) is watching someone you love hurting. She had a cancer than began simultaneously in colon and uterus and the tumors were very fast-growing, cutting off this and that from passing where they should. She had pain medications... three of them initially. But the state of Arizona worries about overdosing, even when someone is dying and would probably appreciate it. I have little patience for this. My time in Oregon made me a believer in the death with dignity idea—a person who knows they have a short time and is in a lot of pain can take great comfort from knowing if it gets to point X, then I can just take these pills and go to sleep forever and be done with it. We are honestly more humane with our animals than with our people.

Not that we had the exact conversation with Merilyn... since it wasn't possible and all. But on Sunday, she said separately to each of us that she was ready and wanted to go. By Monday she was no longer coherent, her body was spasming and gasping... but was NOT yet dying. Tell me. WHY do 49 states not let a person who would like to go GO at this point. Pain. No positive interaction. No body control. I don't really understand.

Sunday we switched the pills to liquid medications, as she couldn't swallow anymore... and by Monday, she couldn't take the liquid, either, except the few that were tiny dose and would absorb under the tongue. And she got that fever... see... if a body isn't passing the toxins out, an infection can set in. Though it might ALSO be that her body temperature regulation just was early on the system failure list. The nurse said both were possible. So we added cool towels to the helplessness...

On Tuesday I had to fly back to Michigan. I left about 10:30 in the morning. Said my good-byes before I left. Cried with my cousin a bit. Then flew home. Merilyn passed at 7:30 that night.

Now all of that might sound like it was horrible, and honestly, it wasn't at all. I would have rather been there than anywhere else. Certainly above being at home worrying about what I wasn't doing to help. I just wanted to express that there are times we pitch in, and it isn't some romantic call of sitting and hand holding. But it is so crucial. Crucial to have the people attending us be people who love us. Crucial to have people around us who have us as a priority (as opposed to a facility with LOTS of patients). And it ISN'T one... if your brother says 'oh, I can do it' that your brother should then be expected to take on alone. It is NOT a one-person task. In fact ideally, everyone who can pitches in. Spread it out. Then everyone gets the time, everyone gets the closure, everyone gives a little and nobody feels over burdened.

I will talk a lot more about family on Sunday, but I think this act of sharing the care has helped my cousin and I a lot—we are more than six years apart in age and have only rarely lived in the same place. It was good for us to do this. Good for what we could do for our aunt and good for our relationship as family. We lost an aunt, but maybe aren't as alone as we thought we'd be from it.

Have you had any growing experiences from loss?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Scared of the Dark (Fear Blogfest)

So today is the last day of Christine Rains' Childhood Fears Blogfest in honor of the release of her book, Fearless.

[So another day delay to telling you about my brief time away and family stuff... but believe me... I have several blogs on it, so you won't mind the delay]

Christine ASKS about our childhood monster...

I'm too old for THIS scary santa story, but it's the right flavor.
Lemme tell you a story... my first memory...

I was still sleeping in a crib and was in the bedroom in our duplex, which we moved out of when I was three... so I was probably in my 2s... it was a DREAM... a NIGHTMARE actually... of Santa popping up from behind my crib... only he was a puppet Santa... suggesting I hadn't actually SEEN Santa at that time... FURTHER suggesting it was BEFORE I was 2 ½, because we have a picture of me at 2 ½ SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER on Santa's lap... but probably my fear of going to see Santa stemmed from this fear of the TALK of going to see Santa which had led to this NIGHTMARE that is still totally vivid to me.... puppet Santa popping up behind my bed...

But my fear of Santa was short lived... probably only that season... and once I realized he BROUGHT TOYS all fear evaporated. It was replaced by what I believe is STILL one of the most common fears... In fact in another iteration, it is one I still have (and not unrelated to my silly Santa fear). The childhood version is FEAR OF THE DARK.

Because see... ANYTHING could be in the dark. Under the bed. In the closet. RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU ONCE THE LIGHTS GO OUT... Wolves, Frankensteins, mummies... CLOWNS!

D'oh!  And I forgot about my fear of basements!
Are you spotting what the real fear is? The unknown. Whatever the fear du jour... it could be imagined to be lurking there in the dark... from giant spiders to swarms of ants... All of which I talked myself into at some point or other... I was afraid of what I DIDN'T know about what was there in the dark... [In addition to a fear of the dark, I was also afraid of trying new foods and afraid of meeting new people. There was a lady I made rude faces at when I was five (thinking I was funny) who came out of the store and yelled at me, and I had an intense fear until I was about eight that every new teacher or adult I knew I would encounter would be HER...]  All related...

My fear of the dark lasted quite a while. I think I was seven or eight when I gave up the night light at last... About the time I fell in love with the 'spooking ourselves at parties' thing and learned to enjoy a little RUSH from my fear.

And I am STILL a little bit dubious of the unknown... but now it isn't unknown STUFF... new foods, new places... FABULOUS. I love a little stimulation from something I've never tried. NOW it is fear of not knowing how things will go. (and I want a career in writing?--yeah, but you saw the thing about the rush from the fear, right?)

Be sure to go see the other entries for Childhood Fears, too!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Carol Kilgore and In Name Only

Hello, friends!  Back, and I will give you the scoop tomorrow. Looking a lot like a lean August in terms of blogging, as I have another break near the end of the month, but there you have it. TODAY, I am hosting my friend Carol Kilgore, who I had the pleasure to meet in person just over a year ago. She is delightful, friendly, and what's more, she has written a FABULOUS book.  So in honor of her release, I've interviewed her...

Without further ado, Welcome Carol!

Tart:  So you did a FANTASTIC job across the board, plot, characters, setting... what inquiring minds want to know is where you STARTED?  Which of these seeds of genius came to you first and how did you build from there?

Carol:  Thanks so much for having me here. And thanks for the kind words. You're so witty, I'm not sure I can keep up, but I'll try. Right now I'm trying to keep a straight face over "seeds of genius." Somehow I missed those during the writing.

The character of Summer Newcombe had stuck with me from a previous short story titled "Never Say My Name." I wanted to pick up her life five years later inside WitSec and plop her down near where I was living at the time, which was on the South Texas Coast. What better place than Padre Island!

So characters came first, then setting. Plot came last. I didn't know what Summer would find on Padre except an older man, a sexy firefighter, and trouble. The original plot looked a lot like Swiss cheese. I didn't see the holes, but the excellent editor for this book, Helen Ginger at Straight from Hel, spotted all of them. My mission was set before me, and one by one, I filled each hole. The story grew stronger until the last hole was filled and In Name Only was complete.

Tart:  Okay, now and this is because I really want to learn how to do this and you did it SO WELL on your freaking DEBUT (yes, I'm impressed as heck). Did you do anything special to learn the THRILLER pacing?  Because you really got it. Did you read any 'how to's or read a certain kind of book, or use a certain checklist?

Carol:  Ummm…no. But I'm happy you think I did a good job. I think it's the way my brain works. Mixed with all the thrillers I've read. All I wanted was to tell a story that would keep the reader turning pages to see what happens next. I have read enough writing how-to books and articles to know that the first priority is to invest the reader in the characters, so that was my main goal. Then each time I could think of a problem or calamity or fear to add, I dumped it on them.

At the end of each section and chapter, I tried to have a problem for the character or a question planted in the reader's mind. Then I switched to a different viewpoint character so the problem or question wasn't resolved or even dealt with immediately. This is another way to build suspense and keep the tension high.

Tart:  So is Gabe really your dream hunka hunka?  Or did you more specifically match him to Summer?  Do you really have a hand fetish? (he WAS pretty dreamy... who can resist a hot fireman?)  

Carol:  Laughing I wanted to write about a firefighter. Their calendars inspired me, but I also wanted to know the man behind the hunk. South Texas is heavily Hispanic, with many residents descendants of settlers who lived there before Texas achieved independence from Mexico, and I wanted to show the Mexican influence. What better way to do that without interfering with Summer's story than with a hunky firefighter. And his father.

My personal hunka hunka has blue eyes and freckles, but he is tall. And has the best hands EVER! So it's possible I may have a mini hand fetish. Just sayin'. I do look at men's hands when I meet them. Eyes first, hands second. Some hands are hunky, like Gabe's. And some hands really put me off. It's a feeling. Hope that's not TMI!

Tart:  And I could tell you did a fair amount of research—arson, witness protection, firearms... did you mostly approach friends? Or did you cold call people you thought might be good sources?  (or friends of friends?)--how did you find all your resources and approach them?

Carol:  I LOVE research. I have to make myself stop researching and start writing – only to have to stop to research something else. Or so it seems. I had some ideas about the arsonist, and had begun constructing his character. I asked on a writers group if anyone had contacts who were firefighters or would talk to be about basic firefighting techniques and about arson investigation. I received a few replies. One of them was from a writer/psychologist who wanted to know about my arsonist and how I was putting him together. "By the seat of my pants," was my answer. Turns out I had some of it right, but not all. She answered questions and provided a basic psychological profile for an arsonist that let me add many kinky details to the novel's resident arsonist.

Little was forthcoming from the U.S. Marshals Service about the Federal Witness Security Program. And despite all my Google searches, no men in black showed up at my door. I think both of those things are good! So I used my imagination.

I'm a believer in cold calling and cold emailing. The worst that can happen is they never respond, say no, or hang up on you. The hanging up part once happened to me with a sheriff's office when I was researching a different story. So I made their deputy a dirty cop in that story. In this story, I cold called the Corpus Christi Fire Department and met two really great firefighters who filled me in on how their department operates.

I knew a little about firearms and learned more from another writing friend. For this story, I took a basic shooting class, asked a lot of questions, and shot a lot of different guns. Turns out I don't like those little semi-automatics like Summer's Beretta. I like the big full-size-oh-yeah-baby Glock. And I have a decent aim. I'm thinking we probably need to keep all this secret and not tell the psychologist who helped me with the arsonist.

Tart:  Okay, I want to change modes a little here and talk about your publishing decision and process. Am I seeing this right? You self published?  Honestly, and this is a HUGE compliment to you, I was surprised because your quality is SO HIGH... I mean I know some self pubbed IS, but most of it I've seen has some typos or oddities, and your book was really clean. What was behind your self-publishing decision and what did you do to ensure the quality you got? (hire an editor? Buy one of the CreateSpace packages?)

Carol:  I'm glad you were impressed. When I made the decision to self-publish, I knew I was not qualified to do everything myself. I began with Elizabeth Spann Craig's Ebook Services Directory and branched out from there. The book had already been through a developmental edit and a line edit, so I searched for a cover designer, proofreader, and formatter. I made long lists for each, crossed off names, and queried the names that were left. I read a lot of articles and blog posts by other self-published authors and asked a lot of questions. A LOT of questions! From my queries, I found people I liked and trusted. They deserve all the credit for a clean book with a great layout and a kickass cover!

Tart:  And one of the things self-publishing sort of allows for that traditional tends NOT to, is putting out a few close together. Do you have more books in the queue fairly soon? Or are you taking this one at a time?

Carol:  I'm in-between. I plan to release another book in either March or April. My work on the writing is complete – it's been written and edited. And my cover/proof/format peeps have a heads-up. I hope to move forward in the fall and have a cover by the end of the year. So that's like a 8-9 month span between books. I would love to pump out four books a year. Sadly, I don't write that fast, and I spend quite a bit of time on promotion.

Tart:  And finally, what are you working on now? Are you sticking with the same (or similar genre)?  Tell us a little about your current projects.

Carol:  The book that will release in early spring is SOLOMON'S COMPASS. In it, U.S. Coast Guard Commander Taylor Campbell returns to the Texas Coast to handle her uncle's estate and becomes his killer's next target. When she learns the mysterious Jake Solomon is not the man he's portrayed himself to be, Taylor takes matters into her own hands to find her uncle's killer. Jake has other plans.

After SOLOMON'S COMPASS, the next book is SECRETS OF HONOR. It's written but not yet edited. I hope to release this book in Fall 2013, but that's not yet a firm timeframe.

My current WIP is AMAZING GRACIE, the first book in a series about San Antonio Police Detective Grace Hofner. Although Gracie is a detective, the story is not a procedural. This novel is still very much a work in progress.

All of these books are Crime Fiction with a Kiss. All have crimes; all have a romance.

Tart Note:  High recommendation to read... Here is what I posted on it at Amazon and Goodreads:

This story had a fabulous pace, a tightly woven plot, and well developed characters that kept pulling me back to reading, even when I was supposed to be doing other things.

Summer Newcombe is having to start over. Again. She does that a lot as someone in the witness protection program, but when she finds herself on Padre Island in the Gulf there are several things that make her wish she could finally just settle down and stay somewhere. Unfortunately, her past is still right on her tail.

I really think this is a fabulous debut and look forward to more from the author.

Book blurb:  No home. No family. No place to hide. For Summer Newcombe, that's only the beginning.

The night Summer escapes from a burning Padre Island eatery and discovers the arsonist is stalking her, is the same night she meets Fire Captain Gabriel Duran. As much as she's attracted to Gabe, five years in the Federal Witness Security Program because of her father’s testimony against a mob boss have taught her the importance of being alone and invisible.

No matter how much she yearns for a real home, Summer relinquished that option the night she killed the man who murdered her father. But Gabe breaks down her guard and places both of them in danger. Summer has vowed never to kill again, but she's frantic she'll cost Gabe his life unless she stops running and fights for the future she wants with the man she loves.

Brief biography:  Carol Kilgore is a Texas native who has lived in locations across the U.S. as the wife of a Coast Guard officer. Back under the hot Texas sun in San Antonio, Carol writes a blend of mystery, suspense, and romance she calls Crime Fiction with a Kiss. She and her husband share their home and patio with two active herding dogs, and every so often the dogs let them sit on the sofa.

Learn more about Carol and follow her here:
Website: http://www.carolkilgore.net
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/author/ckilgore