• Missing…One Muse

    It’s been a while since I’ve done any real writing. I sit down with my laptop and put forth an effort to write, but nothing much is happening.

    My muse has gone missing. Haven’t heard a peep from her in months. Maybe she’s in self-isolation.

    The lack of inspiration is rather inconvenient because I have two mostly-written books that I want to finish and get online.

    I’m also supposed to be working on a comic strip that features two of my characters, Floyd and Essie Watson. I don’t have even one panel drawn for the strip. I can’t decide where I want to start with their story.

    I’ve pretty much given up on sticking with a release date for my upcoming e-books. I keep listing dates for releases only to have to change them. I have a rough draft for both e-books, but I’m not satisfied with them. Rather than rush and put them online, I’m going to wait until I get them like I want them.

    The struggle to finish the books is making me question my sanity. I mean, why did I ever think I could write books? Some authors make it look easy. It’s not easy for me. There has got to be a better way to spend my free time than trying to tell fun stories about Lizzie Chandler and the Watsons.

    I could go back to sitting on my couch watching Spongebob or horror movies. With the dreams I’ve been having after watching those scary flicks, writing Once Haunted, Twice Shy should be a breeze – even with a missing muse.

  • Privacy Lost

    Yesterday while I was writing, I got off task and Googled myself. I should’ve known better. I read somewhere years ago that you should never do that. Too bad I didn’t follow that advice, because the results of my search were mildly horrifying. 

    I found my name, date of birth and address on one site. I also found my home number. (I know—the fact that I still have a home phone is a whole other issue.) My home phone is not even in my name, but somehow it is listed for me on the internet. I was not so pleased with that. 

    The site even listed my mother’s name, age and address.  

    That’s a whole lot of information out there about me. And it’s not on one of those sites where you pay. It’s free to the public. Some non-law abiding citizen can steal my identity with very little effort. 

    In spite of my extreme annoyance at finding that information online, here’s the thing that really bothered me: The site listed my vehicle’s make, model and year. Why would that information be online? It’s ridiculous. 

    I work with criminals for a living. It’s not very comforting to know that they can whip out their cell phones and get my address and phone number. If they come to my apartment complex, it should be easy enough for them to figure out which unit I live in. After all, they’ll also know what vehicle I drive. 

    I’ve gone to pretty good lengths to not put personal information out there. I don’t use my real name on any web sites. I don’t post personal pictures. My cell phone is prepaid, which I think means it’s not linked to me. I don’t own a smart TV. 

    Not very happy to learn that all my effort to protect my privacy was for nothing. I’ve always known that Big Brother was watching, but apparently, he’s not the only one! 

    From now on, when I don’t feel like writing, I’ll find some other way to amuse myself because looking up myself online is bad for my peace of mind.


  • Dreamin’ big!

    I’ve got plans—big plans.  

    I plan to work on this website to make it as good as I can possibly get it. I also plan to create a comic strip to go on my home page.  I’m going to finish my current e-book and get it online by October. 

    While I’m working on those things, I plan to revise two—maybe all three—of the e-books I have on Amazon and find new improved ways to promote them. 

    That all sounds pretty reasonable, right? It would be, if I had a longer time frame in mind and didn’t have a full-time job.  I want all of this done in just over four months.  

    I’m absolutely positive I can turn my writing into a profitable, fun business.  

    Where do I get that confidence about my success? I’ve been studying about how we create the lives we want. It’s all based on Biblical principles that tell us we can have what we want out of life. A lot of people call it law of attraction, but I prefer to think of it in more spiritual terms.  

    Even with my faith and determination, this will be a challenge.  

    I’m not tech savvy and have to watch a lot of YouTube videos to figure out ways to improve my website. All that info gathering will be worth it in the end, but right now, my brain is seriously overloaded.  

    It’s not just new technical info floating around up there in my gray matter. I’ve also watched at ton of videos on how to draw. Yes, I’ve decided to start a comic strip when I don’t know how to draw. A little odd, I know, but it’s not out of character for me to try and do something I know nothing about.   

    The comic strip will be based on two of my characters, Essie and Floyd Watson. I love the characters and want to tell stories about them in a fun way. Hopefully by July, I will have gained enough drawing skills to put a simple weekly comic strip on my home page.

    With all that to get done, I’m also going to finish one book and revise a few others. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was losing it because I’m being overly ambitious.

    In spite of having big goals, and there being only twenty-four hours in a day, I plan to get all that stuff done on time—and without pulling my hair out. 


  • A writing self challenge

    The e-book I’m working on, A Most Unusual Hexplanation, is a great read.  It has a little of everything—humor, love, family drama, the paranormal. Including all that good stuff has led to the book being longer than I want it to be.

    I’ve decided to limit Hexplanation to 60,000 words. The first draft is already at 62,000 words, and there are some scenes to flesh out, so this will be a challenging task.

    Where did I get my 60,000 word plan? Blame it on being on lockdown for the corona virus. I have way too much free time. When my mind is idle, it tends to wander to strange places.

    But I didn’t come up with this plan entirely on my own. For the past week or so, I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos, and not just of baby pandas (but mostly of baby pandas!).

    I’ve watched one video after another where writers give tips on making books more interesting. The writers talk about deleting unnecessary scenes and words.

    And so I’m working to follow that advice because I want to make Hexplanation best seller quality—even if it never reaches best seller status. I want people who buy my book to feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth.  I’ve been cramming the YouTubers’ writing advice into my brain to the point where I feel like it’s about to explode from excess information.

    I didn’t do nearly this much info gathering for my first two books. In fact, I didn’t do any. I just started typing and kept going until I ran out of words to add to the stories.

    But now, I’m a serious writer, and I want to do things the right way. That means getting rid of unnecessary scenes and words.  I’d like to believe every word—heck, every comma—is absolutely essential. Still, I’m going to bite the bullet and cut some stuff from my baby.

    Coming soon!

    I’ve changed the release date of Hexplanation many, many times. At the moment, I’m looking at getting it online in July or August. It’s going to be the most amazing book ever. Well, the most amazing book ever written by Zanna Johns.

    By the way, please tell me that you guys know what the image at the beginning of this post is. If you don’t know, I’m going to feel very, very old!

  • Life as a technically challenged blogger

    Blogging is not my strong point. That may seem like a strange thing to read on anyone’s blog, but it’s true. I enjoy releasing my inner silliness anonymously, so creating articles is not the issue. However, setting up the basic elements of a blog is proving to be a challenge, to put it very mildly.

    I’ve had this site for years, and last week I realized it was missing an essential feature: a way for readers to contact me. You’d think that I would’ve had that in place before my page went public, or at least two or three years in. But nope, not me.

    I went along my merry way, creating posts while doing nothing to promote them. That approach has been less than successful, as I get few visitors. I’m going to work on that issue—as soon as I get all the necessary pieces in place for a good blog.

    I think I’ve set up the contact page correctly. It took a couple days to do it. Seems like it wouldn’t be so hard, right? I tried a plugin to create my contact page, but for some reason, it wouldn’t work. I deleted the plugin and tried another one. Then another…and another…and another…

    Finally, I figured out what was wrong. The confirmations were going to an email address that I never use. In fact, I don’t know if I ever finished setting up the account for that email address. After a couple days of frustration, I got the contact page working right.

    That project completed, I began a new one – coming up with a way  to notify readers of new posts. This turned out to be just as much fun as creating the contact page, but I got it done, and I finally had things properly set up on here. Or so I thought.

    A few days ago, it dawned on me that my page had no footer. How did I miss that?

    I haven’t been nearly as dedicated to fixing that problem as I was with the contact and subscription issues. After all, how many readers care about what’s at the bottom of a web page? I’m counting on that number being zero, because the footer I added is a work in progress and leaves much to be desired.

    With the footer in place – even a crappy one – I was ready to rest easy, knowing all was mostly well with this site. Then today, I discovered a new problem. There’s no privacy policy. No one reads that stuff, but I still need one. I think I do anyway. Who knows?

    I’m not ready to tackle the privacy policy just yet. I need time to recover from the trauma of working on the other things. From the little I’ve read on the subject, creating the privacy policy page promises to be a whole lot of fun for someone as technically challenged as I am.

  • I survived the beta readers!

    I did it!

    I looked at the beta reader feedback for my two-star shame (known on Amazon as Undead of Night) and lived to write a blog post about it. I was a bit hesitant to read the information, even though I’d paid for it. I was worried that I’d become unglued over the slightest criticism about my baby.

    I only used two readers. I sent out requests to three workers on Fiverr, but one person did not respond until six days later. By then, I had the info I wanted. Two beta readers are probably all my fragile writer’s ego can handle right now anyway.

    The ladies who read my work said they liked the stories overall. That led to a surprising issue: I questioned their motives for saying good things. Did they only pretend to like the stories because they wanted bonuses? Or maybe because they want me to hire them to beta read future books?

    I know I’m seriously overthinking this. I do believe the stories in Undead of Night are pretty good, so I shouldn’t be surprised the ladies said positive things about them. If I thought the stories were bad, I never would’ve put them online.

    Some of the weaknesses the beta readers mentioned were issues that I was already aware of. So I’ll take the attitude that the ladies were honest with their feedback. I’m going to use it to polish Undead of Night to the best of my ability.

    I’m going to move that two-star rating up to a solid three!

  • Can I handle the truth? 

    I just had the most amazing idea.

    In order to fix all that’s wrong with Undead of Night (AKA my two-star shame!), I’m going to get feedback from others.  

    You’d probably be horrified to know that I didn’t have the book critiqued at all before I posted it online. My only excuse—I’m just special like that. I like to pretend I can do everything—write, critique, edit and proofread my e-books—without one bit of input from others. 

    Clearly, I’ve been deluding myself. And now I’m going to fix the problem. But how to go about this? I live as if I’m an island unto myself, so I don’t have any online writing friends to call on for help.  

    I’m certainly not going to let family and friends see my work. They might hurt my feelings with the truth. Or even worse, lie to avoid bruising my sometimes fragile writer’s ego! 

    My bank account is not exactly overflowing with money at this moment, so I have to be frugal. That leaves me with using Fiverr, because that site is about as affordable as they come. I used it once to advertise my books. The results were disappointing, to put it mildly.  

    Still, I’m going to give Fiverr one more chance, mostly because broke beggars can’t be choosers. I’m gonna turn my two-star baby, Undead of Night, over to complete strangers to tell me all that’s wrong with it. Can’t say I’m looking forward to that, but I’ll never grow as a writer if I don’t start getting feedback from readers.  

    That sounded pretty mature of me, right? Hope I don’t end up crying like a baby when I read the critiques!



  • Oh, my stars!

    As I’m typing this, I’m amazed that I am not in the bottom of my closet in fetal position. I had a horrible shock yesterday, the kind an amateur author might have difficulty surviving.

    I was getting ready to do more editing on my first e-book, even though it’s been online for years.  I want that book as good as I can possibly get it. I was debating whether more editing is worth my time. I decided that I should probably leave that book—and the second one—alone.

    To reinforce that decision, I went to Goodreads to look at the ratings for the first two e-books. They both average four-star ratings. I decided I can live with that, so no more editing for Doesn’t Take a Crystal Ball or a Psychic Couldn’t See It.

    I was about to leave that page when I saw it.

    My other e-book, Undead of Night, had finally received a rating. It wasn’t a good one – TWO stars!

    I always figured I’d be distraught at my first low rating. To my extreme amazement, I was somewhat amused by those two stars.

    I gave that book a very good effort, but it’s not what I’d hoped it would be. Now, I do think it’s worth three stars, but that reader obviously disagrees.

    Because I’m an amateur, it’s comforting that disappointed readers can get their money back from Amazon. As far as I can tell, my non-fan has not gotten a refund. Wouldn’t blame him/her if he/she did. No one should lose money on a crappy e-book. 

    In some ways, it’s good to have that low rating. I no longer have to worry about when it’ll happen, or how I’ll respond. It’s happened. I’ve mostly shrugged it off. And now I’m going to move on with the writing.

    While I’ve decided not to revise my first two books, I do plan to revise Undead of Night. Obviously, there’s room for improvement.

    It will remain on Amazon until the new version is available. It’ll be my badge of dishonor!