The Versatile Blogger Award redo

When Roger Lawrence tagged me for the Versatile Blogger Award, I thought I’d done that before. So I looked back and sure enough, I was nominated by Rosanne Dingli – in 2011. Here’s Roger’s post, in which he tells 7 fun facts about himself:

The man once cussed out Cary Grant—I can’t outdo that. Since it’s been four years since my time around, I thought I’d put my original answers here for those who’ve come along since, and see if there’ve been any changes along the way. I’m not going to tag anyone—because I already have:

1.       Last year I got my 30 year pin as a volunteer firefighter (I joined on my 18th birthday), and this year made 20 years as an emergency dispatcher. (Ahem … I hit 35 fire years this July 14th.)

2.       I have Seasonal Affected Disorder: Winter quite literally drives me crazy. (But stupidity also drives me crazy, and that happens all year ‘round.)

3.       My fiancĂ©e is half my age – and twice my maturity.  (Married! But she’s still more mature.)

4.       I can’t stand America’s two great drinks: coffee and beer.  (Earl Grey—hot.)

5.       It took me over three decades from the moment I first ventured into fiction writing as a child to getting my first novel published. (Now I kill myself trying to get a new book published at least twice a year.)

6.       My humor column, Slightly Off the Mark, was named after a line in a newspaper story about a bowling league. (And it’s not related to the comic strip “Off the Mark” by Mark Parisi, which is very funny.)

7.       I was known throughout my school years for being painfully shy.  (At least, by those who knew I was there. For those of you who watch “The Middle”, I was a mix of Sue Heck, the invisible geek, and her brother Brick, the bookworm.)

"Speed Trap", a Castle/Walking Dead fanfiction crossover. Seriously.

 Well, I did say I’d post fanfiction to celebrate new writing milestones (and for fun!). So for the release of Slightly Off the Mark here’s an unusual crossover for you; I almost titled it “The Two Ricks”. One universe, as you’ll see, is in prequel territory.

Title: Speed Trap
Author: ozma914
Castle's road trip from Atlanta to New York gets sidetracked when Deputy Rick Grimes takes a bite out of crime. Luckily, Castle has an unlikely fan.
Rating: PG
Length: 1,075 words


Richard Castle was not unfamiliar with the sight of flashing red and blue lights in his rear view mirror. However, having it happen in rural Georgia gave him pause.

His daughter, who had been half-dozing in the passenger seat, poked her head up. “I told you to rent a plain sedan.”

“But a Porsche is—“

“A police magnet.” Straightening, Alexis adjusted her safety belt.

Castle pulled onto the berm and lowered the window, then recoiled from a blast of hot air. “Oh, he’s going to be grouchy from the heat.”

“How fast were you going?”

In the rearview mirror, Castle watched a sheriff’s deputy step out of his car. “Um …”

“Maybe that’s why he’s going to be grouchy.”

The deputy stepped forward, one hand on the grip of an amazingly large revolver. “License and registration, please.”
 “Ah, yes, um, it’s a rental …” Alexis handed him the paperwork, which Castle in turn handed over to the officer. Being in the middle of Deep South nowhere was a bit intimidating by itself, but Castle’s thoughts kept going to what a great character this guy would be for his next book. Surely Nikki Heat could venture into, say, northern Alabama on a case.
 In addition to what appeared to be a .357 Magnum, which couldn’t possibly be department issued, the guy wore an honest to goodness cowboy hat with a star on the front. How cool was that?

“Do you know how fast you were going, Mr. Castle?”

That brought him right back down to earth. “I, um … yes, I do, um, Deputy Grimes. I’m sorry.”

Grimes flipped his eyes up to Castle. “I’ll be back.” Taking the paperwork, Grimes headed toward the patrol car.

Castle looked toward Alexis, and only then realized another deputy had stealthed his way to the passenger side of the car. “Say, maybe you should roll your window down, too.”

She glanced toward the window. “Why, eek!”

The other deputy had the good grace to look embarrassed when the window came down. “Sorry about that, ma’am, I didn’t mean to startle you.”

She gave him a onceover, and went from startled to swooning. “Oh, that’s all right.”

Daddy-daughter cross-country drives weren’t what they used to be. The guy was handsome in his own way, with a baseball cap instead of a cowboy hat, a bit more bulk than Grimes, and dark, curly hair. To Castle’s relief, the deputy’s attention didn’t stay on Alexis long. To something less than Castle’s relief, he instead bent down and gave Castle a hard stare.

“Hey. Are you … Richard Castle?”

Oh, boy. “Well, there are probably lots of—“

“Richard Castle, the writer?”

“Heh. Yes, I am.” Oh, please let this be …

The deputy grinned, just as his partner returned to the driver’s side. “I love your Nikki Heat books!”

Oh, thank God.

Grimes lost his cop stance and straightened, looking over the top of the Porsche. Turning a little red, the other deputy also straightened.

“Shane? You read?”

“Come on, man, how long have we known each other? Ya know I like a good cop thriller.”

“Cop thriller?” As a unit, both bent down again. “Oh.” Grimes nodded. “Castle, got it. I didn’t much like it when you killed off Storm.”


“Yeah, but we got Nikki Heat,” Shane said, leaning into the window. Alexis swooned a bit more. “So, that detective, the one ya based Nikki on. Is she really--?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Wow. You’re one lucky guy.”

Grimes cleared his throat. “That’s right, because I’m letting you off with a warning, Mr. Castle … if you can tell me why you were going twenty miles over the speed limit.”

“Twenty—was it twenty?” Grimes nodded. “Well, the truth is, we got into a nasty incident as we were getting ready to leave Atlanta, and it kind of made us anxious to head on home. I mean, we wanted the road trip—“

Alexis broke in. “Some crazy guy tried to bite him!”

The officers looked at each other.

“He missed.” Castle thought he should stress that, so they didn’t haul him in for rabies shots, or something. The laws in King County were most likely different from the ones in New York.

 “Did you report this?” Grimes sounded like he’d run Castle in if he hadn’t.

“Didn’t have to. Some Federal guys showed up just in time and hauled the guy in, said they were taking him for tests. I thought at first he was just a fan …”

The officers looked at each other again. “Do fans do that?” Shane asked.

Alexis rolled her eyes. “You’d be surprised. It’s where the term ‘rabid fan’ came from.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Grimes looked at Shane. “I guess living in the big city isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

“Not if people are always biting each other.”

Finally, Grimes handed the license and registration back. “Mr. Castle, I’m sure you had a difficult day … but I’d appreciate it if you’d slow down and be careful.” He gestured toward Alexis. “Your daughter, right? I have a son. Wouldn’t want to see him get lost in a car accident.”

“No … no, thank you, officer.” He watched Grimes walk back toward the patrol car. The guy knew how to slow a dad down, for sure.

Then the window was filled again, by another brown and tan clad body. “Um, Mr. Castle?” Shane glanced around, then held out a ticket book. “If ya don’t mind …”

“I’d be happy to.” It was, indeed, the first time Castle had ever been happy about signing a ticket.

“Thanks. Looking forward to your next book.” Tipping his hat to Alexis, Shane headed back to the car.

They’d traveled on for half an hour—at the speed limit—before Alexis spoke again. “No offense to the NYPD, but Georgia cops are hot.”


Still, it might make for a great new plotline. Nikki Heat, trying to solve a murder while navigating a love triangle with Jameson Rook and a hunky, down home Deep South lawman? With a cowboy hat, and a big .357 strapped to his side … Ooh. It could make a great spin-off series.

Who knows what kind of challenges might spring up for a Georgie deputy? The Porsche’s speed began to pick up, as Castle’s anxiousness to start work on the new idea increased.

But he didn’t get pulled over again until Kentucky.

Speak of the Devil: A Day In The Life Of A Dog

Speak of the Devil: A Day In The Life Of A Dog: Some links before getting started today. Norma posted about  an unlikely transformation.  Cheryl made note of her ill cat.  Ivy had a Capt...

Making a Living at Art, and Other Fantasies

            The good news is, thousands of writers report they’re making a pretty good living.

Unfortunately, that’s a proverbial iceberg tip, being held up by several hundred thousand writers deep underwater. Have you ever tried breathing while being held underwater by thousands of writers?

The median income for authors is less than the amount they spend on computer equipment, Starbucks membership cards, and books about how to write for a living.

Now, I’m not telling you this so you’ll feel sorry for me, a writer. No, I’m telling you this so you’ll feel sorry for me and buy my books. That’s the way it is, for a working writer: It’s not work if you don’t sell it. Until then it’s a hobby that saps your health and makes all your relatives question your sanity, but you still can’t stop

In other words, it’s an addiction.

There’s no Writer’s Anonymous meeting to go to, because a real writer is unwilling to quit. Oh, they’ll keep saying they will … but they can be found late at night, hiding in their home office also known as the basement, attic, or spare bedroom, working by the light of a computer screen. “I can quit anytime I want. Just … one more novel. And this one will sell for sure!”

So, if we write for the joy of it, why do we try to sell? It’s an art, right? We’re supposed to starve for our art. Somebody said it, so it must be true.

Yeah, you go ahead and starve.

Are there really that many artists who don’t care to make a living at their art? I’ll bet not. I’ll bet, deep down, that most artists dream of selling enough paintings, pottery, or macramĂ© wall hangings to make a living. If it’s your joy, you want to do it all the time, right? With just enough break time for lunch?

So when I published my latest book, I decided to go on an all-out selling frenzy, to see if I could possibly push enough copies to encourage me toward that eventual goal of taking early retirement. The good news is, in eight years I can take full retirement, at which point I can expect a regular check of half what I’m currently making.

In other words, one way or another, in eight years I’m going to be taking another job—whether it’s writing or not.

The experiment started when my wife and I decided to drop the e-book price on my already-published book, The No-Campfire Girls. It wasn’t exactly flying off the shelves, partially because it can’t be found on a lot of shelves. We dropped the e-book price to 99 cents, which is less than you’d pay for a trip to most soda machines. We also increased how much of the profit goes to support my wife’s former Girl Scout camp, from a third to half.

Yeah, I know, that flies in the face of my earlier desire for a living wage, but sometimes it’s nice to do something nice.

I sent notice of this to all the local media, and to the local media down in Missouri, where the camp is. I also hit a heavy rotation on social media, blaring the word as far and hard as I could. I became so annoying that some of my internet friends flew in from other countries and knocked on my front door, just so they could slap me.

“We get it! You have a new book! But you’re interfering with our cute kitten videos!”

I sold four copies.

Not long after that my newest book, Slightly Off the Mark: The Unpublished Columns, came out. This was a book of my unpublished Slightly Off the Mark columns. You probably figured that out. I’m writing a column now for the Kendallville Mall, but I had a lot of material left over after being downsized from my old job.

I spent two weeks being as obnoxious as I possibly could about this book, which to be honest I’m pretty proud of. I blabbed about it on Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, and I’m pretty sure I got it up on a site that normally caters to people who dress in Wookie costumes to go swinging in Rio. I sent it to newspapers in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Well, the one newspaper. I sent it to CNN. I sent it to that guy who used to publish Penthouse magazine: “Dear Penthouse Letters, I never thought this would happen to me, but I published a book!”

I sent my grandkids out with sandwich boards. I decaled my website ( on the side of the car. I wrote the book title in white paint on several area streets, thus causing an incident I’d rather not talk about. (It did NOT look like a railroad crossing sign!)

The result? Mediocre. I have not turned in two weeks’ notice at my day job.

Now, we’ll see what happens when my next book comes out, on August 24th. But that’s another media blitz.
Oh, and flyers. Don't forget the flyers.

To all our veterans

 I don't recall where I got this from, but kudos to the original author; it says it all:

"It is the
not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.

It is
not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is
not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is
not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is
not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is
not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote."

But Nobody Bought The Yard

How many books we sold at my daughter’s yard sale depends on whether you mean the ones I wrote or the ones I read. Either way, I came back with a lighter load.

I’ve concluded that for most people yard sales aren’t worth the time and effort: It’s like putting all the work into setting up a small business, then shutting it down again after just three days. But in this case I got to hang out with my daughter and grandkids, so there was that.