German “Truth” Release Day!

Today is the official release day for the German edition of Truth – called “The Sign“.  Happy Book Birthday!

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XVI Series – Book III in progress

NaNoWriMo is over for 2014, but the first draft of Book III is not yet complete. For those of you who are following my progress, I will update my status here, and on Twitter, and on my Facebook Author Page.

A little teaser line from Book III:

“She loved him desperately—but desperation and love do not equal happiness.”

Word Count: 57,464 (out of an estimated 75K)

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Upcoming Event

I’ll be reading at the following:

First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic

Presented by the Writers Guild

With Guest Readers:  Hilda Davis and Julia Karr

Sunday, Dec. 7
3:00 to 5:00 pm
Boxcar Books 408 E 6th St

AbegundeAbegunde is an egungun (ancestral) priest in the Yoruba Orisa tradition, Reiki Master, and doula with a focus on the recovery of ancestral memory from the Earth and human body. Her writing has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Kenyon ReviewBest African American Fiction 2010Beyond the Frontier: African-American Poetry for the 21st Century, and nocturnes (re)view of the literary arts.  She is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, Sacatar (Brazil), Ragdale, and Norcroft.  She is currently a doctoral candidate in the department of African American and African Diaspora Studies at IU.  More information about her work can be found at:

Hilda Davis is a first-generation American from Staten Island, New York.  She began Hilda Daviswriting to discover and develop her voice, and is enjoying the process. She is currently a first year M.A. Candidate in the Department of African-American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University Bloomington.


Julia KarrJulia Karr lives in Bloomington, Indiana with three persnickety cats and one really chill one. Julia’s first paid publications were poems, followed by her first book, XVI, a young adult futuristic thriller that began its life as a NaNoWriMo novel. XVI and the sequel entitled TRUTH are published by Speak/Penguin Books for Young Readers. She’s currently working on the XVI series final book, which is also coming out of NaNoWriMo.

 Come early to sign up for Open Mic!


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Strange research – Book III

Possibly the weirdest thing I’ve googled yet…

“testing DNA on a decomposed body”

The things a writer gets to investigate!



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Book III – NaNoWriMo break

Just thought I would share another piece of the book III puzzle…

Recognize this?

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Book III ?

Could Buddhist goddess, Green Tara, figure into XVI, book III?

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Can Americans live on the current minimum wage?

I just read that a Republican candidate for the Senate in Iowa is opposed to any increase to the Federal Minimum Wage – thinking that states should handle the issue. Well… let’s look at the current minimum wage & what it buys in my neck of the woods. Oh – we’ll assume you can get a job at minimum wage – note: restaurant staff in Indiana aren’t paid minimum wage. A waiter in Indiana is paid $2.13/hour plus tips (which are usually shared with other staff.)

Minimum wage – $7.25 an hour – $15,080 year for 1 person working 40 hours a week. Deduct necessary taxes of $1.154 and you are left with $13,926 a year, which comes out to $1160 a month.

Like to eat? How much is that going to cost?

Thrifty plan for males aged 19-50 – $187.70 – low cost plan is $242
Thrifty plan for females aged 19-50 – $166.80 – low cost plan is $210

These figures are the lowest possible on the chart, follow the USDA guidelines for what a body needs, & expect that food will be prepared in the home. In other words – beans & rice & just the basics. This does NOT include toothpaste, toilet paper, shampoo, soap, etc. – just food. (oh – and the IRS figures allowable living expense of $315/mo for food for 1 person – but you won’t get there on minimum wage.)

Need a place to live? (Take into account that my town’s cost of living is 87% lower than the national average)

Lowest found listing for 1 bedroom apartment $431(and you have to have transportation of some kind to get anywhere from here – no grocery stores, etc. within walking distance & it’s kind of rough) (also – you have to come up with security deposit and usually 1st & last month’s rent – hope you have some savings!)
average of electric/gas/water for comparable apartment $178 (although that seems mighty low to me)
transportation – if you have a car figure gas costs, maintenance, insurance, parking, etc.
if you don’t have a car payment, maybe $150/month (spreading out costs like oil changes & repairs over the year & this is really low)
annual bus pass is $300 (but buses do not run 24 hours – more like 6 a.m. to midnight)
renter’s insurance – State Farm says less than $1/day – so figure $30/month to be on the safe side. (not necessary – but you could change this to life insurance)
phone – cheapest plan – AT&T for $45 bucks (no frills, period) – It’s probably cheaper to have a phone you can load with minutes
cable/internet – we’re going with $74

I’m up to $1095 here (using the food amount for a male) and haven’t even taken into account Medical Insurance, optical, dental, or anything even remotely like savings. And, yes – I realize that a phone and cable/internet are not necessities. But, take those out and add in clothing, toiletries, cleaning supplies – those are not included in the above grocery costs.

So – let’s take out that $119 for phone & cable internet and add in what the government (IRS) feels are reasonable amounts for housekeeping supplies, apparel, personal care products – $152/month for 1 person.

Medical care? Maybe…

Healthy Indiana Plan (because Gov. Pence chose not to up Medicaid enrollment so the ACA isn’t available to low income Indiana families) – near as I can tell would cost this hypothetical person at least $25 month (it might be more.)

So – we are up to $1128 out of the $1160 a month that this person is bringing in. That means you have $32 a month to cover any deductibles on medical costs, any emergencies (car repairs that haven’t been saved for yet), additional food costs (in case you run out), raises of any of these costs (car insurance, phone, cable, etc.), medicines… you can probably come up with other possible emergency events on your own.

Your monthly disposable income (no phone or TV/internet) is $32 – which can disappear in a heartbeat with any kind of emergency.)

So – you say that a single person can do this? Sure – they can. It’s doable. It’s hard. It’s spartan. But, it can be done.

Now – let me ask you this… would YOU do it? Or are you already doing it?

If you tally up your monthly grocery bill – is it less than $189 month?
Do you have a pet? You wouldn’t if you lived in an apartment – and had to spend money on pet food, vaccinations, spay/neuter, medical emergencies, etc.
What about utilities? Are you willing to turn the thermostat down to 65 or less during a Polar Vortex? Can you do without A/C in the humid Midwest summers?

I’d challenge any member of the Senate or House of Representatives to live in these exact conditions for a year, or even a month. But, like in the song Common People by Pulp they know they have an out – it’s something done on a lark, or on a bet, or to “show” that it can be done – they can always yell “Uncle” and go home to their $174,000 a year job/lifestyle.

But, is this now the American Dream? Just to be able to live in your own place, and have enough food to eat, and medical assistance if you get sick or are hurt, and a bit of relief via maybe a pet, a TV, to be able to go to a movie once in a while – yeah… some dream, eh? What do you think? Are we living in an Oligarchy now? Is that what the United States of America is all about?

(Feel free to check my figures  - I added & subtracted a lot! – and note that all links are the most reliable figures I could find.)

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XVI Series Swag winners

Since there were only 4 commenters on the Sal or Chris question – I am happy to be able to send swag to all 4 people! YAY!

Please contact me so I can get that out to you! (I’ve emailed you all. :) )

Watch this space for more exciting news on Book III!


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Question to fans of XVI Series

Hi all!

I’m hard at work on Book III in the XVI Series.

And – yes – all your favorite characters are back! Nina, Dee, Wei, Sal, and Chris – and others – the girls of the Sisterhood, Mike and Derek, Martin & Percy, Miss Maldovar, the Jenkins’ family, etc.

Of course, there will be new characters, too. Some will be good, some will be evil – and some may not be so easily pigeon-holed.

I know some of you have strong feelings about who Nina should be with – Sal or Chris. If you are one of those people, I’d love to know who you champion and why! Please leave a comment with your thoughts!

Next Thursday I’ll randomly pick a commenter and send you a bit of XVI swag.

Back to writing!


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Radio interview

Recently I sat down and talked with Michael Glab (correspondent, blogger, author, bookseller, and friend) for WFHB radio’s Big Talk. We discussed writing, the XVI series (and a third book), and maybe mentioned cats. Hungry cats.

Michael (almost daily) sends out the informative, entertaining, and opinionated newsletter, The Electron Pencil, that I love. Be sure to click on the “follow” button on his blog and sign up to receive the Pencil via email.

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