Category Archives: About the Books

I Need a Hard Hat








After all the work I’ve done on my house (aka Money Pit) over the last 10 years, it has never occurred to me that I should get a hard hat. How I have missed out on this piece of important safety equipment, I’ll never know. (Thanks, Tom, for the recommendation! I will get one!).

Today’s plan was all house project work, nothing with writing since I was saving that for Sunday. Turned out I ended up doing a bit of book related stuff anyway. More on that in a sec.

I’ve posted before that I love learning new things. I’ll jot a few down for you that I learned today while demolishing one of the rooms in my house down to studs and plywood.

1. I have safety goggles, three pairs of safety glasses, several painters’ masks, a respirator, two sets of hearing protectors, and four pairs of work gloves. I use these things when I do house projects and/or use power equipment. I need to add a hard hat to the menagerie. ย (I clearly need two sets of hearing protectors, one for each head ?! Maybe I need two hard hats.)

2. When removing nails from studs, do not put your finger between the pry bar and the wood. This hurts like a mother.

3. Do not lose control of the sucking end of the shop vac. It promptly attaches itself to your neck like a leech. I know this to be a fact.

4. Do not pull on drywall while standing on a ladder. When the drywall breaks free, the odds of you falling off the ladder increase exponentially. Now I know.

5. When pulling up pieces of flooring, do not lift them higher than your head. Pieces will fall off and peg you in the ear. If you have religion, you will certainly lose it after taking the corner of a board in the ear. Yes. Hard hat. I know!

6. When dumping debris from the giant garbage can into the dumpster sitting in your driveway, hold on to the garbage can. Thus far I only had to go dumpster diving once to retrieve my can.

7. I have a busted lip. I don’t even know what, when, or how that happened today. Probably another stealth attack from the shop vac. Sneaky bastard.

8. This is an 80 year old house. Eighty years of mouse poop is the stuff of nightmares.

Today was a good day. I clearly learned many things. I will announce it ahead of time the next time I do demolition so folks can pop popcorn and sit on my deck to watch the shenanigans. It’s a hoot!

Book stuff. The new cover for the first book, The Monster Within, to release it as a second edition is well underway. The editor sent me back his first round of comments on the rewrites that will make up the second edition. I need to get that room remodel a bit more under control before I can dive into his notes, but it’s on the to-do list (still hoping for lots of writing related stuff on Sunday!).

The new, new book, unrelated to the Burnt Mountain series is eyeball deep in the planning stages. I did some early writing on it several weeks ago just to feel things out, and those three chapters are getting scrapped so I can take things in a different, and better, direction. All good stuff.


Image from

Nail Gun Success










If you’ve never messed with a nail gun, I recommend it (of course, that’s messing with it in the terms of reading the manual, safety equipment, proper use, and all that jazz). Around 9 this morning I plopped my rumpus in the floor next to the nail gun and the nail compressor with user manuals in hand. It didn’t take me long to (totally lying … took me longer than I want to admit) realize that I was missing an adapter for the air hose.

What should have been a quick jaunt to the hardware store ended up with a wee detour after finding someone’s phone at the end of my driveway. I live in the willywags. The road I live on is paved, but you have to go a bit out of your way to find it. I monkeyed with the phone, made a couple of calls with it, and tracked down the owner. After my side trip to deliver the phone in Hampden, I made it to the store to get my missing part.

I’m not sure what time I actually started working on the hall trim since I had to re-read parts of the manuals and refresh myself on the miter saw. I’m a writer. I type around 100 words per minute. I do that with all 10 digits intact. I intend to keep the aforementioned digits.

I trimmed out three doors and a partial fourth. The last one is going to be a seriously wonky cut because the door is against part of the ceiling so there are all sorts of stupid angles with it being an old house. Instead of a three piece door trim, it’ll be four. Lovely. ย I’ll deal with that one later. The above picture is of one of the frames.

Nope, not perfect. BUT, I did not shoot myself with the nail gun. I did not cut any fingers or other body parts off with the saw. I did not blow anything up with the air compressor (though I will mention that it kicked on at one point to re-pressurize as I walked by, and I almost crapped myself). As for the door trim, I can fix the wee gap with caulk and paint.

I also grossly miscalculated how many pieces of trim I’d need to do the entire hall. I am sure I will have many trips back to the store to pick up more lumber. I think I worked on the trim for 2 to 3 hours. I’m sure a skilled carpenter could have done it in 1 hour, but that’s OK. I’m learning this on my own by reading user manuals and making mistakes. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t mind it taking a while.

In book news, the second edition of The Monster Within is ready for the editor as of yesterday. It will get shipped off once I have the green light to email it from Maine to California to go through a more rigorous meat grinding experience than what I can do with AutoCrit on my own. I’m all for DIY, but I also know when I need reinforcements!

Changing Gears

7-29-2014 9-30-31 PM





Maine may have finally emerged from a very soggy spring to a somewhat drier version. I’m not convinced so celebrations are on hold that mud season is actually over.

For any college softball fans out there, the semi finals for the world series start this afternoon. My team, LSU, was sent packing last night. Oh well. Great games are still to be played. Guess what I’ll be watching?

In other news, as of today, I have finished the first draft of the overhaul of the first book. Just in time for the semis. Coincidence? Hardly.

Next up for writing, I’ll be starting on the new idea in my head and running the draft I just finished through Autocrit’s online editor. Love that program. It’s tedious, time consuming, and not exactly fun. It’s like doing laundry. If you want to go out in public smelling like something the dog would roll in, by all means, never wash your clothes. If you’d rather present yourself around other people and smell a bit less gamey, wash away.

Autocrit works in a similar fashion. It runs your manuscript (I tend to go in manageable chunks of chapter by chapter) through an editing washing machine to find adverbs, redundancies, overuse of words, cliches, and all that kind of crap that clogs up stories. Then I choose what goes, stays, or changes to clean things up. This creates draft #2.

Considering I started the rewrite in Jan and just finished it up, let’s say end of May (close enough), June becomes Autocrit/editing month to get it ready for the editor early August. Always something going on!

The house project, just for giggles, is still in the crazy mix. Hallway floor is still just plywood and the walls are primed. I have everything I need to get cracking on the hallway revamp. I have far more resistance to starting to sling paint on those walls than I do with sitting down to write. If you figure that one out, let me know. Maybe I can paint and listen to softball games. Maybe I can just watch the softball games. The hall isn’t going anywhere. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Softball Addict


This week kicked off the SEC softball tournament which equates to: Cheryl ain’t gettin’ crap done this week. I grew up in SEC country, went to an SEC university (while rooting for a different SEC university…Geaux Tigers!), and foam at the mouth every spring for the start of SEC softball.

The beauty of being an SEC fan is that I’m happy regardless of who wins, yes, even if it’s Ole Miss. As a Mississippi State alum, I am required by Mississippi law to despise Ole Miss. I am faithful to abide by that law for all sports except softball. I love watching Ole Miss lose a football game. But give me a great softball game and I can forgive you for even being Ole Miss.

The SEC tourney starts the post season that leads into regional tourneys, super regional tourneys, and on to the NCAA College Softball World Series. Yes, I’m an addict. Yes, I probably need help. I’m sure I’ll get it after the softball world series is over. Yep, uh huh, just like I did last year.

The good news is the games aren’t on every single day of the week. If so, I’d have to take 2 months of vacation. I do still write on my days off of work, but my productivity does take a hit. Oh well.

I’m in MD this week, off to VA tomorrow, back to MD on Sunday, and home to ME on Thursday. More importantly, the SEC tourney continues with three remaining games today, semi finals tomorrow, and the final on Saturday. ย When it comes to softball, I’m a happy addict.

The Blue Horse

denver horse

If you’re going to sculpt a gigantic horse statue, it might as well be blue with glowing red eyes. Why not? Pictured above is the fella on a wee hill on your way in to the Denver airport. My brain was goo when I flew into Denver last week late at night, but when I was heading back out on Sunday, I got to see him. Apparently there is a bit of history behind this particular pony that you can look up online. I’m just completely captivated by his color.

Love horses. Love blue. Yes, I wanted to take him home with me. He was a little too big to fit in the carry on though since he’s over 30 feet tall. He’d look amazing in my front yard.

Thursday, from Maine to Colorado, ended up being a 14 hour travel day. That amount of time is a round tripper to the UK from the east coast. The good part about that long, grueling day is that the wifi on the plane crapped out. Why would a 4 hour flight be good when you can’t get to any movies on your tablet? Because it opens up time for writing.

I pulled out my tablet and went to town with my stylus jotting notes. The few notes turned into more notes which grew into me creating multiple files and folders to hold said notes. These notes are the early pieces of laying out my next novel. I don’t have all the pieces in place yet, but I know the beginning and I know the ending.

For me, I have to know the ending before I can start writing. I can’t just get in a car and drive. I need to know where I’m going even if I don’t know how I’m going to get there. Writing is the same way for me. I might not know all the middle pieces and parts, but if I have the ending, I know where I’m going. Getting there becomes the journey.

Here’s what I know about this next story:

1. Female protagonist

2. The beginning

3. The ending

4. Will be geared more for an adult audience (rated PG 13 to R)

5. SciFi/Fantasy genre

It doesn’t look like much, but for me, it’s a gold mine with oodles of potential. ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S. My Dad is neck deep in the 5th book right now. He told me today that he thought my mind was highly creative and a bit squirrely. I told him I absolutely agreed except that my mind had more than just a touch of squirrel in it. I’m in my head a lot. It can be a kooky place to be!