When the Time is Right

Eden didn’t peg bribery, kidnapping, and murder for summer activities

For eighteen-year-old Eden, her court-mandated community service is set to be every bit as punishing as prison. Sent off to work at a pizza joint while living with her grandmother in a little out-of-the-way town, at least she can appreciate the peace and quiet.

But the town is hiding its own secrets, and pretty soon peace and quiet will be very hard to come by. She might not realize it, but between the spiteful neighbor, the enigmatic mayor, and the calculating owner of the abandoned hospital, Eden’s 90 days in Halstead are set to be the most exciting of her life.

Follow Eden’s unexpected adventure in this strange and entertaining tale of mystery.

Purchase When the Time is Right

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Whatever you think of me, it’s probably true

If you entered my house you would quickly notice that I have areas of clutter, especially my bedroom where few people see. My house isn’t terribly dirty—I don’t keep dirty dishes and such lying around—but I don’t always put things away. I don’t have a place for everything so I tend to have piles lying around. I easily ignore them until I need something from that pile. Your impression of me from the visit might be one of a lazy, uncaring, disorganized, and unmotivated person.

However, if you focused you attention on my lifestyle you may get a different opinion. I work full-time, am a single parent, run 5-6 days a week, am involved at my church, am a published author, write several books a year, and I use my website to blog and market my stories. From that perspective, you might call me driven, disciplined, focused, well-organized, overachieving.

The fact is, both are true. I’m complicated—highly organized and disciplined in some areas and lazy and unmotivated in others.

The same holds true on a deeper level as well.

I view myself as a failure. Why? Because I have a half century of factual data to support that conclusion. I’ve failed professionally, personally, morally, spiritually, financially, relationally; with multiple examples in each category. Need I got on?

It isn’t that I haven’t had successes; I have. But the truth is I’ve had enough failures (and enough big failures) that those experiences are ingrained into my self-identity.

There is a large piece of me that I battle nearly every day, that wants to kick back, find an easy job, and spend my time being comfortable and safe. I want to disconnect from the world; from reality.

I would like to fiddle away as much of my life as possible watching movies, sports, whatever, just to limit situations that provide an opportunity to fail. I am so tired of making mistakes, feeling frustrated, disappointing myself and those I love, and not living up to the standards I have set for myself.

That easy, relaxing, less stressful life sounds so, so, so inviting.

But the other part of me is driven—maybe even from the result of the aforementioned failures—to find a way to justify my existence. I’m afraid that if my life ended now that I would have lost, failed to fulfill my purpose. I love to do something to prove my life was worth it.

I have an inner longing to find a way to feel like I’m contributing to the world. I strive, continually, to figure out what I need to do so I feel like I’ve tipped the scale and the positive contributions of my life outweigh the failures.

It’s complicated, because I often feel like two people at war—both with the same scars, fears, and anxiety—but with completely different needs.

The truth is, whether you see me as a person who’s disorganized and cluttered, or as disciplined and productive, the truth is I’m both. I’m a giant mess doing the best I know how.

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Habits – December Update and 2020 Conclusion

My word for 2020 is habits, so each month in 2020 I selected one habit that I wanted to stop and one I wanted to start. I’ll list those by month below.

But first, a short recap of the year.

Like anything new, I had some successes and failures. I took some time in December to consider the new habits I attempted to develop this year—both habits in giving up and in starting. In short, this is how I would grade myself.

Habits relating to:

Writing – A
Spiritual – B
Exercise/body care – C
Food/drinks – D

My goal was to try something new each month and see how I responded and decide if I wanted to continue the habit. I realize now that I did not give up anything on a long-term basis. All of my attempts were for a month, or at most two.

Honestly, I had far less success in these goals than I did in the ones I started in 2020.

I think that tells me I should consider areas of my life that I need to make a change and give up something. I suspect that I am either blind to or in denial of things I should give up. Or maybe I am flat out unwilling to give us some unhealthy areas of my life. I don’t have an answer today.

My major successes in 2020 occurred in some new goals I started, primarily in the writing, but also in doing devotions.

I wanted to increase writing new fiction last year and set a goal to use a ten minute timer at least once a day for new writing. On December 31 I completed my 366th day in a row. Yes, I did not miss a single day. Yay!!!  During the year I wrote 1,578 TMTs, which is 15,780 minutes or 263 hours of new fiction writing. I am beyond thrilled.

Although I maintained the habit throughout the year, the biggest difference in my writing production happened in the last 3-4 months. I reached the point where my TMTs increased significantly, as did the time I spent on other writing activities like revision and marketing. I contribute the increased discipline and production to the focus on increasing my writing habits all year long. I think my efforts of fighting through the struggles really bore fruit toward the end of the year and I hit a rhythm like I have never experienced before.

I hope, hope, hope I can maintain my pace.

I finished with mixed results with the goals I set relating to my devotional times, though overall I made very good progress. I only missed a handful of days of reading a daily devotional using the YouVersion app on my phone. And although it wasn’t a set goal, I believe I wrote in my journal more last year than I ever have.

I did really well at holding my devotional time in the morning for much of the year but waned off the last couple of months, often doing it before I turned in the for night. And while I succeeded more often than not with my goals of reading spiritual truths and praying, I still didn’t always stick to them the way I had hoped.

I don’t plan to do the goal setting each month going forward, but it is something that I could return to if I reach a point I believe I need the added focus in making some changes. I hope that having a year of intense focus on goal setting will help me be more conscious of patterns of behavior in my life and prepared to address those behaviors (habits) accordingly.

My stopping habits for 2020:

January – Watching shows for entertainment
February – Soda
March – Chocolate
April – Chocolate
May – No hitting the snooze
June – No hitting the snooze
July – Avoiding the national news
August – Avoiding the national news
September – Soda
October – Watching the Chiefs football games
November – No hitting the snooze
December – Quit Amazon Prime

My starting habits for 2020:

January – A daily devotion using the YouVersion Bible app and a ten-minute writing timer (TMT)
February – Read a list of truth declarations (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
March – Twelve minutes in prayer (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
April – Twelve minutes in prayer (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
May – Two minutes of prayer after devotions (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
June – Two minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
July – Three minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
August – Four minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
September – Five minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing);  read truth declarations every day
October – Five minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running and one ten-minute workout a week; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing);  read truth declarations every day
November – Five minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running and one ten-minute workout a week; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing);  read truth declarations every day
December – Six minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running and one ten-minute workout a week; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing);  read truth declarations every day

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Favorite Christmas Movies

Christmas would not be the same without movies, so I thought it would be fun to compile my favorites. See how they compare to yours.

10) It’s A Wonderful Life – This classic with Jimmy Stewart never fails to tug on the emotional strings make me thankful.

9) The Santa Clause – A clever twist on the tale of Santa Claus with funny man Tim Allen

8) Elf – A nice combination of comedy and Christmas spirit.

For me, this is where the level of Christmas movies divides. The previous movies are good, and I enjoy them, but the top seven on my list are ones I try to watch every year. They are in a class by themselves.

7) Die Hard 2 – Sequel to the great and indisputable Christmas move, Die Hard.

6) Die Hard – Not a Christmas movie in the traditional sense, but a Christmas movie nonetheless. And one I watch every year. The season wouldn’t be the same without it.

5) Home Alone 2 – Almost as good as the original.

4) Christmas Vacation – One of the funniest movies every made. And so many classic lines. “Can I refill your eggnog? Get you something to eat, drive you into th emiddle of nowhere, and leave you for dead?”

3) Holiday Inn – The movie debut for the song White Christmas. Great music, dance, story, with slips of humor thrown in at the right times.

2) White Christmas – Love this movie! Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye were brilliant. Depending on the year, numbers two and three switch for me.

1) Home Alone – What can I say? My emotional growth stunted at age ten. I saw this movie in the theater on Christmas Day, 1990, when I lived in California, away from my family on Christmas for the first time. I related to the loneliness Kevin experienced, and cried from laughing uncontrollably for the final thirty minutes.

Disagree with the order of my choices? What movies are on your list that didn’t make mine? Share your thoughts below.

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Don’t ignore how you’re feeling emotionally

The week of Thanksgiving felt pretty crazy.

Because of the holiday, our newspaper deadline was a day early. That meant that Monday felt like Tuesday; Tuesday felt like Wednesday; and Wednesday felt like Thursday.

Because I stayed at home alone all day on Thanksgiving and did my normal Sunday activities, Thursday felt like Sunday.

I worked on Friday so it felt like Monday. I celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday with some extended family, so Saturday felt like Thursday. Sunday felt like Saturday because my church didn’t meet.

So if you’re scoring from home:

Monday felt like Tuesday
Tuesday felt like Wednesday
Wednesday felt like Thursday
Thursday felt like Sunday
Friday felt like Monday
Saturday felt like Thursday
Sunday felt like Saturday.

Notice what’s missing?  I didn’t get a Friday; just two Thursdays.

But the holiday week was even more out of sorts for me than that, I think.

For a couple of weeks I have experienced more anxiety than normal. Yes, weeks where all the days seem jumbled can cause that, but I think it’s something else. I think it’s been my lack of contact with people. Physical contact.

It isn’t that I haven’t seen people, I have. It’s just been a lot less.

It’s great that we can stay in touch with people through technology, but it just isn’t the same.

I paused to think about the way I was feeling, which led me to the following discoveries. I hadn’t done an in-person interview in at least three weeks. Until last Friday, the last in-person story I covered was the Sedgwick City Council meeting on Nov. 16. All my other interviews had been over the phone or by e-mail.

My church took a couple of weeks off of meeting because of the rising COVID-19 numbers. While I supported the decision, I’ve missed seeing and interacting with my church family. We’ve sent numerous texts encouraging each other and I’ve stayed connected through Facebook with some of them, but it isn’t the same as seeing them face to face and having a conversation that includes direct eye contact and body language.

My church met last Sunday, but I wasn’t feeling well so I’m staying at home for a few days, just in case. That means more isolation.

I did get some family time over Thanksgiving weekend and that helped, a lot. And I’m starting, at least a little, to feel better.

Because of the rising positive COVID-19 numbers, I’ve been trying to work at home a little more than I normally do. I honestly don’t know if my working at home instead of from the office helps in the big scheme of things, but I’m trying to do at least a couple of things that might help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

It’s easy to focus on things we can measure, like active cases and accumulated deaths. What isn’t as easy to measure is our mental and emotional health. While not everyone has been directly affected by COVID-19, we have all been indirectly touched by it, and everyone has experienced added stress and anxiety since March.

I didn’t start to feel better until I paused to recognize what was going on inside of me. It’s a busy season, but please, pause, reflect, meditate, worship, and be honest with how you’re feeling. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s not okay to ignore it.

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Author Interview: N. Jade Gray

I met N. Jade Gray shortly before we each released our first books in April, 2017. We’ve done several book events together and meet regularly to discuss story ideas, publishing goals, and marketing strategies.

Her newest book, Tangled in Tinsel, is a Christmas romance story and was released yesterday, December 7, 2020. Romance isn’t typically a genre I read, but I will read everything N. Jade Gray write. I hope you’ll check out her new book… after you read her interview below, of course!

Biography:

N. Jade Gray grew up on a farm in Oklahoma with one sister and three brothers. She began reading romance novels in high school and was hooked. In an attempt to entertain her friends, she began writing stories.

The biggest hurdle she had to overcome with her writing was sharing her stories. Her former writing groups, the Wichita Area Romance Authors and Low Country Romance Writer’s, helped with her confidence and shook the needed pom poms to get her motivated for publication. She is also a former member of the Romance Writers of America.

She met her husband while attending college and has two grown sons. Not really knowing what she wanted to do when she grew up, she’s held various jobs in the accounting and legal fields. She lives in Kansas with her husband, rescue cats Meera and Mango, and one spoiled dog-named Fabio.

Share a little bit about your latest book.

Tangled in Tinsel is a Christmas romance. A second chance story about a high school crush who didn’t realize he was the one who got away.

Tell us about your previous books.

My debut novel, All for the Love of a Cowboy, is a Historical Time-Travel Romance. My heroine finds herself flung back to 1892 Durango, Colorado and struggles with finding a way back home or risking it all for the love of a cowboy.

Raider of Her Heart is a Historical Time-Travel romance as well. My hero is a Cavalry scout who needs to warn Lawrence, Kansas of Quantrill’s planned raid. Ambushed and left for dead he finds himself in current day. Will he find his way back to complete his mission or stay with a woman who doesn’t trust him?

How long have you been writing and why did you start?

I started writing in high school. I would make up stories to entertain friends. I didn’t entertain the idea of having a book published until after college.

N. Jade Gray celebrates after completing Tangled in Tinsel

If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?

Ireland or Scotland

What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

Sometimes the actual sitting down and getting the words down. Either on paper or on computer. You might say I may be easily distracted. (I have squirrel moments).  😊

Excerpt:

The yard light shined upon his face, but she couldn’t read his expression. “Thank you for going to the party with me. I had a great time.”

A smile appeared as he shifted closer and raised a hand to tuck a wisp of her hair behind her ear. “We got interrupted earlier.”

Her breath caught in her chest as she struggled with his nearness. “There’s no mistletoe.” She scooted back against the front door as he advanced further.

A devilish twinkle appeared in his brown eyes. “Use your imagination.”

Website: https://www.njadegray.com
Email:
njadegray@gmail.com
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
BookBub
YouTube
Instagram

Book Locations: Where can people purchase your books?

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes (books)

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Habits – November 2020 Update

My word for 2020 is habits, so each month I select one habit that I want to stop and one I want to start.

So far in 2020 I’ve given up:

January – Watching shows for entertainment
February – Soda
March – Chocolate
April – Chocolate
May – No hitting the snooze
June – No hitting the snooze
July – Avoiding the national news
August – Avoiding the national news
September – Soda
October – Watching the Chiefs football games
November – No hitting the snooze

In November I quit hitting the snooze. This is something I probably need to do every once in a while as it’s so easy for me to fall back into the habit. Although, honestly, my normal this year is only hitting the snooze once. I used to use it multiple times in the morning but I seem to have at least broken that habit.

I am going to give up Amazon Prime in December. Well, once I cancel, the effects of giving it up will last longer than one month, but it’s something I need to do. The biggest reason to give it up is that I don’t get my money’s worth from paying for the service. I don’t order much from Amazon and it would be cheaper to pay the postage. I have a few more episodes of the television show Monk to watch and then I’ll be finished with the series. That’s when I will cancel the automatic monthly payments.

My starting habits for 2020 include:

January – A daily devotion using the YouVersion Bible app and a ten-minute writing timer (TMT)
February – Read a list of truth declarations (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
March – Twelve minutes in prayer (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
April – Twelve minutes in prayer (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
May – Two minutes of prayer after devotions (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
June – Two minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
July – Three minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
August – Four minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing)
September – Five minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing); read truth declarations every day
October – Five minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running and one ten-minute workout a week; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing); read truth declarations every day
November – Five minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running and one ten-minute workout a week; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing); read truth declarations every day

My big challenge in November was to participate in National Novel Writing Month and make significant progress on two novels. If you have followed my habits in 2020 you know that I have completed at least one ten minute timer (TMT), which is writing for ten straight minutes without interruption, every day of the year. November 30 marked 335 straight days without a miss.

During the first ten months of the year, May was the month I completed the most TMTs with 167. I shattered that in November with 277 TMTs. That brings my yearly total to 1,378

One of the reason I had such great success in November is because I focused almost exclusively on writing new words. Many of the other months I focused on revision and not new writing, so I expected my TMTs to be lower during those months. My original goal for November was to write 60,000 new words. I completed 70,099.

I plan to keep the streak alive through the end of the year. I haven’t considered yet what I will do next year. In general, using a timer has helped me be productive and focus on writing new words throughout the year. I’m sure I will continue to use them going into next year, but will decide and share in my next Habits blog.

I haven’t increased my prayer time in several months, so for December I will change my morning prayer time from five to six minutes.

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Vacation includes a new state, baseball bats, and a small world

Bill Bush and his daughter Sydney in front of the Louisville Slugger Factor and Museum

It’s been a long time since I’ve traveled to a state I had never been to before.

I’ve never flown overseas, so I’ve never been to Hawaii. I’ve been to Mexico a couple of times and Canada several. In fact, I’ve been to all the provinces in Canada that border the United States. I’ve never been north enough to reach Alaska.

And until last week I had been to 41 of the continental United States. Last week I made it to number 42.

Last week I helped my daughter move to Louisville, Kentucky. Until last Thursday around noon I had never been to Kentucky.

I only lack North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware.

I saw some beautiful scenery—early November was a great time of year for the drive—as I steered the U-haul through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, then ending in Kentucky. And I listened to WAY too much talk radio on the drive.

Since I had never been to Kentucky I didn’t know much about the state outside of their college basketball teams. Louisville is right on the border of Indiana. In fact, my daughter’s apartment is only, I would guess, three or four miles from the border.

The highlight for me, other than the time with my daughter, was visiting the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum. I saw and read lots of history of the game of baseball, particularly about the bats and who used Louisville Slugger bats. And I saw how the bats are made.

They had batting cages where you could pay $2 for ten pitches. They offered both aluminum and wood bats, but I chose a wooden one because I probably haven’t swung a wood bat since I was a kid. You can choose to hit baseballs or softballs and I chose baseballs because I probably haven’t swung at one of those, well, maybe not since college.

Considering I haven’t swung a bat in several years I felt good about my time in the cage. I hit every pitch, and some of them were solid line drives.

And I’ve added a bat to my collection. After taking the tour they gave each of us a souvenir bat, maybe eighteen inches long. I might have been tempted to buy a regular sized bat but I didn’t figure the airline would allow me to carry it to Chicago and then Wichita.

One other strange experience on the trip. After I boarded the plane in Chicago I received a text from Jared, the Harvey County Independent editor, saying his sister was on the same flight as me. Apparently she had thought I looked familiar so took my picture and sent it to Jared to confirm. She had an empty seat next to her, so after we took off I went back and visited with her for a while. That was fun because I didn’t really know her well, plus it made the flight go by quickly.

It was a short vacation, but a productive and enjoyable one. As fun as it is to travel to other places, especially ones I have never been to before, it’s always good to come home to a small town in Kansas.

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Author Interview: A.R. Crebs

 

A.R. Crebs is a multi-talented author, creator, graphic designer, and artist. I’ve worked with her enough to know that she’s fast, talented, and smart. She is a friend and I’m thrilled to introduce her and her writings to my readers.

As a bonus, she shared a short story from her new book, Whispers from Beyond, found at the end of this interview.

Biography:

           

Illustration from The Esoteric Design

A. R. Crebs is the writer and illustrator of the Esoteric Design series and a couple of stand-alone novels.

A native to Kansas, Crebs dove into the creative world at a young age. Her passion for gaming and creating characters led her to pursue an art career, taking art classes throughout her academic life, leading to her attendance at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, where she received a BFA in illustration / children’s book specialization.

With experience in graphic design, formatting, illustration, and writing, Crebs creates and designs everything for her novel series while working freelance on the side.

    The Esoteric Design is a sci-fi/fantasy novel series with chapter illustrations. There are currently 3 books in the series. The Trouble with Mystery is a romantic thriller. Whispers from Beyond is a collection of miniature horror/thriller stories.

    Go to www.ARCrebs.com for more information.

Share a little bit about your latest book Whispers from Beyond: 30 Miniature Tales

A small child survives the end of time in a silent world, but is he truly alone?

People awake within a dark tunnel haunted by death. Can they escape?

A woman strives to make her husband happy with a new dinner recipe, a meal he will never forget.

An evil being assists a man trapped in a psych ward.

As fire consumes an entire city, a mysterious figure emerges, its intentions unknown.

A simple game of hide-and-seek goes wrong, destroying a family.

​This collection of miniature stories explores the dark side of both humanity and the supernatural. Whispers from Beyond is a series of ever-changing themes and styles per chapter, offering thirty horrific tales of death, murder, loneliness, and revenge.

Tell us about your previous books

The Esoteric Design is an action-packed sci-fi/fantasy novel series paired with illustrations in every chapter and an additional section with character biographies, bestiary, weapons, and more.

There are currently three books in the series, with more to come in the future.

            The Trouble with Mystery is a romantic thriller that does contain mature content. The plot-twist is the real inspiration for creating the story.

How long have you been writing and why did you start?

I’ve been writing and creating stories since I was a child, along with creating art. Character creation is my favorite process, and from there, I move on to world-building.

It was a hobby at first, but I started writing heavily in college and posted the stories online, where my readers encouraged me to write and publish my own books. A few years later, I worked on The Esoteric Design while working full time until I published it in 2014. I then focused solely on running my own business for 5 years as an author and illustrator and freelance for businesses and other authors, acting as a publisher, editor, and designer.

I currently work full time while continuing my business.

What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

I have suffered dramatically from writer’s block in recent years. The hardest part for me is finding the motivation I once had to write and getting started in the first place. I’m not sure why the trouble started in the first place, other than stress and constant significant life changes over the past few years.

Soundtrack music, video games, and film help inspire me. When my block is too dense to fight through, I often create art, a book cover, or a book trailer to motivate myself to finish.

Do you have an interesting writing quirk?

I’m not sure. I am inspired by video games mostly and often binge play games to build up my creative gauge. A glass of wine always helps, but that isn’t a very unique trait for most creatives!

Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?

The idea of not writing enough exhausts me and discourages me. Once I start and get a good flow, I feel energized and more motivated.

What are the essential characteristics of a hero you can root for?

A hero that is relatable. I enjoy flawed characters who have development and growth, maybe even a dark side. Perfect heroes with little personality bore me.

A.R. Crebs at a comicon dressed as Aria (from Esoteric Design)

Talk about your interest in graphic design/art. Is it related to your writing or a separate interest?

I started drawing as a small child and always wanted to be an artist. As I aged, I wanted to work as a concept artist for games and film.

I went to the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design and received a BFA in illustration with a specialization in children’s books, which taught me a bit about formatting, graphic design, and the publishing world.

For my grad show, I reworked the concept art for The Esoteric Design characters, which I had created through character concepts when I was fourteen years old and continued to revisit over the years. Though the art was initially intended as a concept for a video game, I wrote out the storyline in a novel format due to encouragement from readers and the fact that I had no way to create the story as a game. So, frequently, art inspires the stories I create, whether from character concepts or book covers and trailers I create along the way, which helps motivate me to write when I feel stuck.

Who has been the biggest support(s) or your writing?

I have regular fans and a few close friends who encourage me to continue writing. They purchase my books, visit me at shows, and help bring in new customers.

What does being a successful author look like to you?

Success, to me, is continuing to create and publish. Furthermore, it’s obviously about selling your product and growing your business. Everyone has the dream of being rich and famous off of their books, but as long as you can keep creating and maintaining readers, I would say you are successful.

It’s a challenging world to compete in, especially with how easy it is for everyone to publish their own books now. There is a lot of good stuff and a lot of bad for readers to wade through, which has harmed the indie community a bit. That’s why I’ve educated myself in writing, art, design, publishing, editing, and marketing. It requires a lot of motivation, but as long as you maintain a good work ethic and understanding of the shifting marketing world, you can make things work out in your favor.

Is indie publishing all bad? Absolutely not. There are pluses and minuses to both the indie and traditionally published world. I have spoken with traditional publishers in the past for my Esoteric series. Due to its size, art, and design, they would have made many changes to my books that I disagreed with. Because of this, I stuck with self-publishing so I would have 100% creative control over the project.

Would I publish something traditionally? Yes, I wouldn’t mind in the future, and I’ve been invited to work on professional projects as well, which are still in progress. I would love to be a part of both worlds. And to be in both worlds, I would consider that successful as well.

Anything additional you want to share with readers?

The most important part of writing is actually writing. Every year I come into contact with people who label themselves as writers and sometimes even authors when they have never completed even one project.

To be a writer, you must write. To be an author, I believe you must actually finish a book and publish it in some format. But don’t be discouraged if you find your progress to be slow. Force yourself, find new ways of motivation and inspiration. The challenge is finishing.

Also, your story will never be perfect. So, yes, while it is crucial to have a clean and professional manuscript (please don’t publish a book full of mistakes and errors.), you also have to let the project go eventually. Let people read it. Learn from trial and error and reviews. Learn from your own creative processes and experience. But, most importantly, don’t give up. Even if it takes you years to finish a manuscript, it’s better than never finishing at all.

Links to book trailers:

The Esoteric Design

The Trouble with Mystery

Whispers from Beyond

Pumpkin (From Whispers from Beyond)

Little Victoria sat upon the wrought iron fence, kicking her feet back and forth as she stared at the pale moon of the midnight sky. It was larger than usual, and she wondered if that meant it was closer, brighter, or had merely grown in size like her tummy used to when she overindulged in Mr. and Mrs. Kaplan’s baked pies. A dense fog eddied low across the dirt roadway in front of her, a chill wind carrying dead leaves along with it.

The clip-clop of hooves echoed in the distance, attracting her attention. She narrowed her eyes. Rarely a man journeyed along this path, especially at this time of night. A large silhouette formed within the mist—tall, dark, a man on a giant horse. An excited whinny blared into the night, and Victoria smiled.

“It is Mr. Irving and Sir Washington!” she happily declared.

The horse and man neared her position; the clopping hooves provided a parading fanfare as they approached the iron gate. The young girl smiled and waved. Mr. Irving’s shoulders turned toward her as Sir Washington reared, crying out. She wasn’t sure what the real names of the man and his horse were. Mr. Irving never spoke, but she felt it odd not to have a proper title, so she made up her own, which she believed to be very fitting. The man never protested, and so the labels remained.

“It’s been countless nights since you paid me a visit, Mr. Irving!” Victoria hopped off the fence and strolled toward the man and his horse. “How is Sir Washington? He seems a bit bonier than last I saw him.”

Mr. Irving remained silent as the girl inspected the horse’s hooves. Black goo covered the front right foot, where a chunk of flesh had fallen off the leg, revealing dried and torn muscle and a bit of bone. The girl patted the horse’s neck with a frown, inspecting Sir Washington’s blood-red eye and muzzle, which also looked about as poorly as his legs. On one side, a pair of ribs shimmered white in the moonlight.

“He needs to eat,” Victoria scolded Mr. Irving, who sat straight as a board upon his saddle, his leather-covered hands tightly gripping the reins. “And I dare say you don’t look much better. Where has your head gone? Did you lose it once again?”

Irving’s shoulders slumped, a gesture that told her he was slightly disappointed and perhaps a little tired. She couldn’t remember ever seeing the man’s real head, but frequently he wore a replacement, usually something Victoria had made-up herself.

“No matter! I have just the thing!” The girl skipped away, capturing a plump orange pumpkin that sat beside the entrance gate. “I was bored earlier, so I carved this! I think it is quite lively, don’t you?”

Mr. Irving turned a bit toward her, still no words spoken, as would be difficult for a man without a head. The pumpkin was large in her hands but appeared to be about the right fit for his shoulders. A pair of carved eyes and a crooked smirk decorated its surface. Leaning forward, a large hand reached toward the girl. She happily dropped the gourd into the man’s palm. Without much more than an invisible glance, Mr. Irving placed the pumpkin directly where his head should be. After some twisting and adjusting, he peered down at Victoria with a sizeable black smile.

“I think it lacks something,” she said, holding her chin.

Mr. Irving nodded and snapped his fingers; a blaze of yellow flame sputtered to life inside, illuminating his features. Victoria giggled and clapped.

“Perfect! That is much better! I must say, I think this is my favorite look for you. Any time you lose your head, be sure to come back to me, and I shall make you another.” Victoria twirled, eyeing the pumpkin patch that lay on the horizon in a faraway field. “I shall take stock to hold us over for the rest of the season…just in case.”

Mr. Irving remained silent, but he did manage a short nod. After a moment, he returned his attention to the small town occupying the edge of the forest. It mostly lay dark save for the glowing lanterns lining the main road and a few windows. Smoke seeped from the chimneys, the scent carrying on the breeze. Victoria followed his gaze, eyeing the sleepy little town.

“You’re going into town, aren’t you?” she asked. There came no response. “Well…as you most likely are, it may be pertinent information for you to know that little Billy Kaplan passed away the other day.”

Mr. Irving met her stare, and Victoria continued. “Turns out, he drowned unexpectedly in the river on the edge of town. But whispers on the wind say it was no accident. Mrs. Kaplan had become quite friendly with Mr. Parker in recent years. A few quiet rumors spread that Billy wasn’t Mr. Kaplan’s child but Mr. Parker’s instead. It seems the allegations reached Mr. Kaplan’s ears, and not long after did he and Billy go on a fishing trip, where the boy met his untimely end. Tripped and hit his head on a rock, says Mr. Kaplan.”

Irving looked toward the town, his fiery eyes narrowing a bit.

“But I know the truth,” Victoria sang. “For I spoke with Billy before he crossed over. Mr. Kaplan knocked him upside the skull with a rock and then held the poor boy underwater for a whole ten minutes!”

Squeezing the reins, Mr. Irving readied to ride forward. Sir Washington snorted, the animal’s red eyes looking straight ahead.

“You know, it’s been an awfully long time since I had one of the Kaplan’s fine pies. Despite being a mean, crotchety man, Mr. Kaplan surely knows how to bake.” Victoria lightly kicked at a small rock. “I would think it’d be nice to share a warm apple pie with you before you disappear again.”

Mr. Irving pulled back on the leather straps, and Sir Washington reared, neighing like a wild beast. Without another word, the pumpkin-headed specter and his horse sped off into the foggy night toward the small town. Victoria turned back to look toward the cemetery behind her, passing through the gate entry. She’d sit atop her stone, gleefully awaiting the return of her friend, for she knew that despite his scary exterior, he would be kind and thoughtful enough to bring her some pie.

She played with a trinket lying across her tombstone. It had been many years since her own family, close and extended, laid flowers on her grave. However, Mr. Irving always returned with a gift in thanks for any information regarding the latest victim of the atrocities that occurred within the small, dark town. It was home to a long list of filthy crimes and corruption, governed by a society that protected their own. After Victoria’s murder, she made it her pastime to avenge those who similarly met their end. And for those who appeared within the cemetery—lost and confused—she helped guide them to the other side. The girl could leave whenever she wanted but chose to stay in the cemetery until she felt she had assisted enough, and the ugly, dark secrets would come to an end. Besides, it wasn’t entirely lonely. She had Mr. Irving and Sir Washington. A scream roared in the distance, and one by one, the windows of the small town lit up, a few more shrieks following in panic throughout the streets as the frightening specter took his revenge upon Mr. Kaplan. Victoria smiled. She could almost smell the pie from where she sat, and then she wondered if he would bring her a slice of pumpkin pie as well.

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Habits – October 2020 Update

My word for 2020 is habits, so each month I select one habit that I want to stop and one I want to start. So far in 2020 I’ve given up: January – Watching shows for entertainment February – Soda March – Chocolate April – Chocolate May – No hitting the snooze June – No hitting the snooze July – Avoiding the national news August – Avoiding the national news September – Soda October – Watching the Chiefs football games I gave up watching the Kansas City Chiefs play football in October. Well, I didn’t watch any full games but I did see parts of several games, probably a half at most. I picked it because I didn’t have any better ideas the time and honestly I wasn’t committed to giving them up. What do I want to give up in November? I should really challenge myself this time but I’m not confident I could give up something like chocolate or sweets, not this time of year. I think I want to do the no hitting the snooze again. I did well for a while but have slumped back into using it more than I would like.
My starting habits for 2020 include: January – A daily devotion using the YouVersion Bible app and a ten-minute writing timer (TMT) February – Read a list of truth declarations (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing) March – Twelve minutes in prayer (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing) April – Twelve minutes in prayer (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing) May – Two minutes of prayer after devotions (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing) June – Two minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing) July – Three minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing) August – Four minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing) September – Five minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing); read truth declarations every day October – Five minutes of prayer after devotions; Two minutes of core after running and one ten-minute workout a week; (Plus daily devotions and TMT writing); read truth declarations every day I continued my YouVersion devotional streak to ??? in October. Most days I read my truth declarations and spend five minutes in prayer as part of my devotional time. I’ve been doing them more at night as I haven’t been as faithful of getting up early enough to make them a priority, so I hope to change that in November. Finally I am seeing some progress with my core workouts. I was 100% successful is doing at least two minutes of core training after each run, and once a week I did one 10-15 minute workout. But the biggest breakthrough is in my mind. While I still don’t look forward to the workouts, I don’t dread them and I don’t think about not doing them. My mind has accepted they are going to happen, so I don’t have the temptation to skip. For November I want to continue my core workouts to see if they can stick. Also, I am participating in National Novel Writing Month and I am trying to write 60,000 words by the end of November. In order to do that I’ll need a lot of TMTs, so my goal is to not have any days less than six. I’ll need a lot more than that and on good days I can do that, but even on my extra busy days I need to see if I can squeeze in an hour of writing fiction. I have successfully written for at least one ten minute timer (TMT) session every day of 2020. That’s 305 days in a row. In ten months of writing TMTs I have completed 1,101 TMTs, which is 11,010 minutes (183.5 Hours) of new writing in 2020.
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Book Launch, Cold Weather, and the Election

Note: The following article was first published in the Harvey County Independent on October 29, 2020.

This is the seventh and final article in the series. If you haven’t read the previous articles and want to start with the first, click here.

Wow, it’s hard to put into words my reaction to Saturday night’s book launch and haunted house.

The turnout was spectacular. We didn’t count visitors, but someone estimated that 250-300 people walked through the haunted house. I believe it. Zone 33 did a fantastic job setting it up and running it and I can’t thank them enough.

I had lot of family and friends stop by to congratulate me and to buy books. Even more people from the community came by and I’m grateful for every one, even though with masks on I didn’t recognize many.

Initially I ordered 50 books, then decided at the last minute to order 50 more, just in case. I’m glad I did because I sold 56 copies of When the Time is Right on Saturday night. I also sold a couple of dozen of my other books.

It was by far the best even I’ve ever participated in.

I still haven’t broken even on the new book, but it won’t be long until I do. That’s a significant step since it took over three years before I made it into the positive for my first book. Baby steps, right?

The best part is that I had someone tell me that they started reading my book and were hooked. There is no greater compliment to a writer than to tell them you couldn’t stop reading their story.

If you’re interested in my book, When the Time is Right, it’s available on Amazon or you can check out my website, billbushauthor.com.

Readers won’t have to wait long for more books in the series. I have much of the rough draft done on book two and I plan to work on book three in November.

We have two significant events in the next few days—the time change and the elections. Over the last 22 months I ran a series of columns about running for the United States Senate. For those of you who read any of them you know that one of the issues I want to address is the time change.

I won’t rehash my disdain for setting our clocks forward and backward as if we controlled time, but I have put the series of columns on my website for anyone who would like to be reminded of the brilliance of my campaign. If not for COVID-19 I might have been on the ballot and on my way to Washington D.C. Instead, all we are left with is an opportunity to write in my name.

And finally, I’ve lived the majority of my life in Kansas. I’ve left twice for places like Texas, California, and New Mexico, but, well, here I am. While I have seen snow in October on a number of occasions, I don’t recall ever having the freezing ice and cold that caused many schools to close on Monday.

I remember when I was a kid in the 1970’s a magazine—Time Magazine, I believe—announced the coming ice age. What if they were just fifty years too early with their prediction?

If so, then every one of you will rue the day you didn’t write my name in for U.S. Senator so I could introduce my bill to ban cold weather. Do you want to look your shivering grandchildren with ice cycles hanging from their noses in the eyes and tell them, “I could have prevented this?”

Stand up to cold weather! Vote Bush!

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