It’s been a sad several days. For Halloween we drove to our old neighborhood as we’ve done for the last four years to let Little One trick or treat. She’s not so little anymore, though. She’s half a head shorter than I am, and I’m 5’9″.

I was, anyway. At my last checkup I discovered I have started to shrink. Age didn’t creep up on me – it vaulted over the couch and landed on my back with a loud thud. I have to wear reading glasses to see a menu, I’m counting new grays daily, and now I’m shrinking. You know what runs in my family, aside from breast cancer and high cholesterol and heart problems? Humps! My great-grandmother was practically perpendicular in her early 90s. We had to order an L-shaped coffin. I don’t want that to happen to me. My goal for the month is to freebase calcium supplements until morale and my spine improve.

Anyway, the old neighborhood remains awesome. We’d have stayed if our landlord hadn’t want to move back into the house. Every Halloween there’s a block party with a tiki bar and grill. Some people set up haunted houses in their yards and garages, and others offer “adult” treats like Jell-o shots in addition to candy (shots are for the grown-ups, of course). We liked to visit with one older lady who always set out a Hormel tray and hot cider. We’d let Little One zig zag the street while we chatted with our former neighbor and ate cheese.

This year, though, she wasn’t there. Instead we saw a for sale sign on her lawn. I looked at my husband in dismay: OMG, THE CHEESE LADY DIED!

Or she moved. We’ll never know. That’s the first significant change we’ve seen in our Halloween routine, other than my daughter about to surpass my height. Next year, we may do something different like Busch Gardens. My daughter doesn’t eat much candy as it is, and I have a large plastic pumpkin full of miniature Baby Ruths and Butterfingers within reach. Guh.

As for writing…I’m still in the brooding stage. I edit as well, and assignments have piled up. I have a deadline looming and want to finish that project before I move on. The change of seasons always farks with my head. I have little to no privacy and no writing cave to complete work. I’d like to take a weekend off and lock myself in a hotel room, but apparently the house will become unglued and collapse if I leave these people for more than twenty minutes. I’m the only person who can operate the dishwasher and microwave, so chances are if I left on a retreat I’d come home to two skeletons reaching for the last Oreo. No, of course, family, I can wait until you’ve moved out/divorced me to resume my career.

I still have my geek romance to place, too. The more I think about it, though, the more I’m leaning toward just putting it out myself. I’m hearing from authors everywhere how sales are down, regardless of how the books are published. Algorithms and subscription programs might have something to do with it, but I’m sure there’s more involved. Email bargain letters seem to be the new gatekeepers – you will always pay to be seen. For me, though, it’s a matter of how I’m seen.

I want to do right by this new book’s cover. A cover sells. I’ve picked up books just by the cover, without bothering to read the blurb. A cover sends a message, and if you’re using Comic Sans that message is I hired a fifth grader to design this.

I don’t doubt a publisher would make a good cover, but my story has a specific theme that stock photography can’t relay. I’m scouting artists for promo art and am thinking…why not pay for a whole cover. I’ve been burned before. See Little Flowers up there? It didn’t always look like that. This horrible purple thing to the right was the original cover when Highbridge Press published me in 2001. Effin clip art against Grimace’s backside! You look at this and you know something Catholic is involved, but is it a devotional, a memoir, what? Oh, the stories I could tell about my first publishing experience. I’ll have to make it a serial here one day. For now, I’m happy with the latest incarnation of Little Flowers – it was my LentWriMo book. That’s a nice story to share one day, too.

For the next story, I’ll be looking for a good fan art artist. If you know of any, drop me a line.