Introducing Mikala, the reluctant ghost hunter

A few months ago, a friend sent me information about a writing contest.  I decided to enter it. Unfortunately, because of work, I didn’t finish the e-book in time to enter the contest.  I hope to put it online near the end of October.

The story features Mikala, a psychic who sees dead people. If you’ve read either of my other e-books, you’ve seen her name mentioned.

I’ve always planned to write a series about Mikala. The contest sped things up a bit. The book will only be around 75 pages because it was supposed to be a short story for the contest. The title is Once Haunted, Twice Shy.

I hope you will check out Mikala!

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My dream, Take two

My dream of becoming a successful writer is still something of a surprise to me. It amazes me that I have written two books and have started on a third.

But writing is not my only dream. There is one other thing I’ve been hoping for since 2002—winning the lottery.

That dream is not going so well. If it was, I wouldn’t be trying to make a living as a writer.

I’m fairly good at math, and I know what the odds are of winning a major prize in the lottery. Well, the rational part of me knows.

The irrational part buys scratch-off tickets week after week, year after year, sure that any day I’m going to end up with that million dollar win.

If—I mean, when—that happens, very few people will know. I’m not going to be on the news smiling for the camera while holding a big check. There certainly won’t be a blog post about it.

I don’t want unknown or long lost relatives coming out of the woodwork with pressing needs. I’ll share my gains with parents, siblings and a few charities. Once that’s done, the Goodwill Bank of Zanna Johns will be closed!

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My dream, Take one

When I was young and people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I really didn’t have a clue.

For a very brief period of time in middle school, I wanted to be a corporate attorney. To this day, I don’t know where I got that foolishness. Maybe I heard the term on some TV show and thought it sounded cool.

Fortunately, that was only a phase and the whole corporate law nonsense passed quickly. I’m not overly fond of attorneys, so it’s hard to fathom that I considered being one, even for a moment.

In high school, I decided I wanted to be a social scientist. I’m not sure how I arrived at that goal either, but it was probably because that one sociology class I took was easier than algebra, physics, chemistry and English.

Basically, I chose a major using the process of elimination. How could that possibly go wrong?

So I went to college and majored in sociology. Graduation day drew near, and I began looking for work. I learned a shocking fact: You can’t get a good research job with just a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

I was a little on the lazy side back then. Rather than apply to colleges that offered a master’s degree in sociology, I got a master’s in counseling at the school I was attending, mainly because the application process was easy since I was already a student there.

Upon completing my master’s degree, I discovered a huge problem with my chosen career path. I didn’t want to spend my days listening to other people’s problems.

I didn’t let that minor detail keep me from getting a job in the counseling field. As you can probably guess, my level of satisfaction with the job wasn’t very high.

Over the years, I moved from one field to another—social services, juvenile justice and adult corrections, with an occasional part-time research job thrown in. I never found that perfect, fulfilling job.

Now, after a couple decades of trial and error with my career, I’m happy to say that I’ve decided what I want to be when I grow up—a successful fiction writer.

While I don’t know how that corporate law thing came about, and the research scientist plan was somewhat of a whim, I’m completely aware of where I got the dream to be a writer.

It was in the fall of 2008. I was lying in bed unable to sleep—as usual. The thought came to me out of nowhere to write about a psychic matchmaker who works out of her friend’s office.

Initially, I blew the writing thing off. I had no desire to write books. When I had to write ten-page papers for class, I went into meltdown mode, knowing I’d get to page six and be out of ideas. How the heck was I going to write an entire book?

Somehow, I got the first draft of Doesn’t Take a Crystal Ball completed. It took about four months…and it was a very long book. I ended up cutting some scenes before posting it online.

I have mostly completed my second e-book, A Psychic Couldn’t See It. The book is available on Amazon, but I’m not entirely satisfied with it.  I’m revising it and hope to get the new version online in March.

I’ve started my third e-book in the series, Visions of Love, and I’m pleased with how it’s going.

While I can’t say that writing is easy for me, it is fun for the most part. I would definitely say I have been bitten by the writing bug, even though the jury’s still out on how good I am at it.

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Living the dream…

Five thousand women flock to this page every day, eager to read my witty words of wisdom.  They make thoughtful comments that inspire and uplift others.

Daily, a hundred of those readers click on the links for my e-books and purchase them on Amazon. They post glowing reviews of my e-books, leading to great sales.

Those things haven’t happened…yet. But they will soon. It’s my dream.

I want to sit at home-or on a balcony overlooking the ocean-writing blog posts that make women think, laugh and feel good. It’s a pretty big goal, but I hate all the negativity I see online. My blog will be a feel-good place.

The same goes for my e-books. I want to write fun books that let women escape from the stress and boredom of everyday life.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not the Pollyanna, do-gooder type. I do want to uplift women. But I also want to make great money as a writer-or at least enough to give up the nine to five gig.

I’m not sure how I’m going to accomplish my dream of being a successful blog and e-book writer, but I have faith that it’ll happen—in spite of the fact that my e-books aren’t exactly setting the world on fire. Or the fact that the only people on my blog are ones who seem to be landing here by accident. They leave so fast, the counter barely has time to add them to my total visitors.

But any day now, thousands of readers will be coming to this page on purpose, and we’re going to have loads of fun discussing everything under the sun.

I’ve already admitted in a previous post that I can occasionally be delusional, but that’s not the case here. I fully expect that one day soon, I will be living my dream!

Endless editing… Why can’t I stop???

I’d love for my books to be perfect–error free, interesting and fun. With that goal in mind, I’ve spent countless hours proofreading and revising Doesn’t Take a Crystal Ball and A Psychic Couldn’t See It.

I am nowhere near perfection with either book and never will be. I’ve never written a book before. I’d have to be completely delusional to think that I’d produce flawless books. And most days, I’m not delusional.

So why am I constantly editing e-books that are already available on Amazon?  I don’t know. It’s not like I’m making big changes to the content.

No matter how many times I proofread the books, I find typos and grammatical errors. If I proof them a hundred times, I’ll find errors a hundred times. Still, I keep proofreading. It’s like an obsession.

While I play around with the first two books, the third one remains incomplete. At the end of book two, there’s a statement about when the third one will be available. If I don’t stop with the editing, I’m never going to get book three online in time.

A new year is right around the corner, and next year things are going to be different. In 2017, I’m going to write a book, put it online and move on. And if I really believe that, this is definitely one of my delusional days!

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Lizzie’s weight loss struggles

ID-10038816I’m new to writing, but I know that it’s important to create characters with whom readers can identify. (That sentence sounds a little snooty, but I’m using proper English because I want people to think I can actually write!) I gave Lizzie a struggle that is an issue for a lot of women – weight loss.

I have struggled my entire life to lose weight and keep it off. So have many of my friends. If I put my mind to it, I can usually shed some pounds. Shortly after I reach my goal, I return to my old eating habits. Of course, the weight comes right back.

Like Lizzie, I’m searching for a diet that allows me to eat whatever I want, not exercise, and still lose weight. Unfortunately, I think such a diet will only exist in my novels.

Lizzie does lose weight in book two, A Psychic Couldn’t See It. It’s a pretty rapid weight loss, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend the way she manages to do it. (Just a little teaser there. You’ll have to wait until April 2016 to learn Lizzie’s weight loss trick.)

As far as my own weight loss, I guess I will have to do it the old fashioned way – with diet and exercise. If you ladies know a more fun way to get slim and trim quickly with little effort, please give me some tips!

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Need a little spending money? Become a paid psychic!

ID-100263381Like my character Lizzie, I am in need of some extra money. Unlike Lizzie, I don’t have any psychic skills. That’s unfortunate, because there are so many ads online for companies needing psychics.

One company is hiring “ethical and dependable psychic Advisors.” Another company is hiring psychics to entertain others by telling fortunes through “incredible spiritual insight or by perceiving another’s thoughts.” I saw an advertisement for a company holding a “psychic job fair.”

Are the job advertisements even necessary? Wouldn’t true psychics know those businesses are hiring without seeing the ads?

Psychics that have a steady stream of customers can make pretty good money – around eighteen bucks an hour. Not bad at all for sitting at home talking on the phone or chatting with people online.

Even though I don’t have one ounce of psychic ability, it’s very tempting to apply for those jobs. I would love to make eighteen dollars an hour while sitting on my living room couch.

It’s not like my predictions have to be right. The commercials and web sites for psychics always state the readings are for entertainment purposes only. If people believe that I know the winning lottery numbers, that’s their own fault. They should know that if I could predict winning numbers, I wouldn’t be working for eighteen bucks an hour.

And who would they complain to if I’m wrong? I seriously doubt the Better Business Bureau is going to care. The po po is not going to come knocking on my door because some woman did not meet Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome like I predicted.

In spite of the fact that I wouldn’t get into trouble for being a bad psychic, I’m not going to apply for any of those gigs. I have a conscience, and earning money from gullible people just seems wrong.

What do you think? Is it wrong for fake psychics to take money from people? Or are the customers to blame for falling for that telephone/online psychic nonsense?

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Do real psychics exist?

canstockphoto16619575Lizzie Chandler, the heroine in my books, is a psychic. While psychics make for great entertainment in books, movies and TV, I’m not sure if there is any more to them than that.

I grew up in the South. I won’t say where, but it’s one of those states that people are a little embarrassed to claim. A few years ago, I moved to another state, but I’m still a Southerner.

We believe some odd things down here. All my life, I’ve been around people who firmly believe in psychics. They believe in ghosts, too. I’m not going into that right now, because ghosts are the topic of my next series of e-books. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.

So, back to psychics. I’ve always wavered on that subject. I’ve had psychic readings at fairs and flea markets (or swap meets as some people call them). The psychics at those places were pretty bad.

There was one older Native American gentleman doing psychic readings at a flea market. I immediately thought of those wise old Indians in the movies. Not being racist there, but we all know Hollywood plays up that stereotype.

I’m guessing the guy at the flea market was counting on poor suckers believing that Hollywood nonsense. I’m embarrassed to admit I was one of those suckers who forked over ten bucks, or however much he charged me that day.

He started the psychic reading by telling me I’d live to be 45 or 50 years old. As you can probably imagine, things went downhill from there! That’s been ____ years ago, and I still can’t shake that stupid prediction. I’m not going to admit my age, but let’s just say that if the guy was right, the Grim Reaper may be knocking on my door any day now.

Once, I went to a house that had one of those “psychic adviser” signs in the yard. The sign should have had the “for entertainment purposes only” disclaimer on it, because it was the most laughable psychic reading a person could ever have.

Every time that psychic made a statement, she paused and asked if it was right. When I told her no, she said, “Yes, it is.” It was quite entertaining, but probably not in the way that woman meant for it to be.

Before I go on, I’m going to take a moment to offer words of wisdom: never, ever go into a total stranger’s home for a psychic reading (or for any other reason if you can avoid it). There are a lot of crazy people out there! I had my coworker with me, but still, it was beyond stupid for two young females to willingly go into a stranger’s home.

I saw a sign in one yard for “physic” readings. I was smart enough not to stop there. If the person couldn’t see that the sign was wrong, then he or she certainly couldn’t see into my future.

I did go to one psychic who seemed to REALLY know his stuff. I’m not going to say more about that person, because I’m paranoid that he’ll know I’ve been talking about him online. I’m thinking it might be a bad thing to get on the wrong side of a true psychic.

But then again, maybe that guy snowed me, and true psychics don’t even exist. What do you think?