I’m changing jobs because quality of life matters

Hey ya’ll, I know I’ve been promising Steamboat Reunion forever. It’s coming, I swear. We’re in the editing process. I’m hoping for a late-week, this week release. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m in the process of changing jobs.

I currently work for the United States Postal Service. It’s a great job and I love what I do. What I don’t love is how much I do it and how little time I have for things like writing and family these days. Between work and a major legal issue we’ve finally muddled through with a family member, my writing has been severely limited…no time and just too darn tired.

Honey Run Waterfall

My wife and I moved out here in the middle of nowhere (the area where she grew up) in 2013 after my son graduated from high school. We downsized our lifestyle. I took a part-time, Monday through Friday job with the USPS literal steps from our house. Work was a two-minute walk away. I geared my eBay business back up and I started doing what I’d wanted to do for some time, writing.

My work week has since evolved from M-F, 9:00-1:00 to Monday through Saturday, varying hours usually adding up to 40 or more, plus travel to another location twelve miles away after a couple of forced promotions. The money has been great. The quality of life I was striving for when I first took the job, not so much.

My new job? I’ll work alone, but I’ll rarely be alone, as the second shift person at the village Marathon gas/service station. It’s seven days on, seven days off – paid, so it’s like having 26 weeks of paid vacation a year. Plus, out of long habit from my military days, I’m an early riser. Even in my work weeks, I’ll have lots of morning time for writing and the business of being an author.

I’m looking forward to having more writing time and more weekend time with my wife and with the extended family. Those are things I value more than money. There are significant other family circumstances I’ll now be able to assist with too that would have been impossible before. And the best part is, even when I’m working, I’ll be right here in this tiny village we live in, like I was when I started with the USPS.

Wish me luck! Have you ever downsized a job and been better off for it? I’d love to hear about it.

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Ten Weird Facts About Anne Hagan

In the spirit of fun, I present ten weird facts about me that you probably didn’t know. Get ready!

International Morse Code Key
  1. I went to a vocational high school and have a certificate in drafting; both architectural and mechanical. This was before CAD/CAM became a thing, so it’s a dead skill for me. Loved designing houses though!

2. My military career started in the mid-1980s. I was a ‘Signal Intelligence Morse Interceptor‘ which is a fancy way of saying I copied the morse code communications of the armed forces of hostile foreign powers. Don’t know if that’s still a thing or not, but in the mid to late 1980s, I heard code in my sleep.

3. I broke my right hand – my dominant hand – in a freak motorcycle accident in 2005. I’m now missing a knuckle and I have pins and plates in my hand. I haven’t been able to throw a ball properly since or grip a bat or a golf club. I can’t even chuck a corn hole bean bag effectively and bowling is completely out of the question.

4. Despite my short stature (I’m all of 5′ tall on a good day) and hand handicap, I excel at pool volleyball and can ace most serves. You’re gonna get wet when I send the ball over the net!

5. Needles scare the crap out of me and having my blood drawn is usually an adventure in fainting. During my 21 year military career, there were more than a few times during mandatory immunizations when I – as a sergeant – had to have my hand held.

That’s five…whew! This is both embarrassing and cathartic.

Five More Weird Facts

6. I can recite almost every line in the original ‘Dirty Dancing‘ movie. Not afraid to admit I crushed on the pairing of Swayze and Grey, yet I hear it told that they barely got along during filming after their earlier meeting in the movie, ‘Red Dawn‘. I miss Patrick Swayze and cried when he passed away.

7. The area I live in is deep ‘red’…deep. Some of the same people who have accepted my wife and I as part of the community still say ‘colored’ instead of ‘black’ or ‘African American’ and it’s not uncommon, two plus years after our last presidential election to see signs posted around the countryside here that say things like “Hillary for Prison” and “God, Guns, Coal & Trump”. I’m not making that up. You can’t make some of this stuff up.

8. I drove very occasionally without a license from ages 18 to 19. Oh, I had a proper legal permit at 16, but I went into the military at 17 and never went on to test and get a license. Didn’t stop me from driving my then boyfriend’s truck occasionally. He actually (and unknowingly) helped me get my first legal license. He thought I had one all along – and I can say that now because he’s long gone and the statute of limitations is up! I’ve been driving legally for more than thirty years.

There’s that catharsis of old guilt again…

9. Harry Potter? The Hunger Games? Never read them. With all due respect to J.K. Rowling (amazing!) and to Suzanne Collins, those sorts of works just aren’t my thing. I tried to read the first Harry Potter book. Made it about a quarter of the way before putting it down forever. Before the movies came out, I had to look up things like ‘Hufflepuff’ and ‘Slytherin’ to know what people were talking about. Those are among the few times I found movies preferable to books.

10. Anne Hagan is a pen name. My real name is Michelle Hagans. Why use a pen name? Look up Michelle Hagans on Facebook and in Google and then you tell me. Oh, there are a lot of people named Anne Hagan too, but they’re not authors and they don’t have Goodreads and Amazon profiles. Who wants to compete with all of those other Michelle’s?!

There you have it; ten weird facts. My dirtiest secrets – okay, not so dirty – are all out.

Now, tell me something people don’t know about you!

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Life is Nuts Sometimes

I have three different books I’ve been promising for a while. Four, actually. Two are way off track. Two are on track, but just barely. People keep asking me ‘Will there be another Morelville Mystery — and one after that?’ and ‘When is your legal thriller coming out?’ I wish there were an easy answer, but life is nuts sometimes.

Let me tell you a story about what’s really been going on around here. You see, I have this niece. She’s twenty-four, nearly twenty-five, and a good kid, but that’s just it, she’s a kid. She’s a baby who has babies; two toddlers, one who will start school in the fall. Yes, there are two different dads.

My niece is surrounded by a lot of family, and her boys get a lot of love and support. That hasn’t stopped one of the dads from thinking that he can do better by his son living in a house with his girlfriend (a felon and a former – possibly current – addict) that he had to have my niece and his son evicted out of so he and she could live there and he could have an appropriately sized residence to file for and qualify for more parenting time. Yes, you read that right. Yes, we – my wife and I, her mother and her grandmother – all helped her file a countersuit against him.

We spent the past ten months battling in court and running into walls at every turn. The judge who wrote the original custody agreement who had to step down after a DUI. A magistrate who didn’t agree with points in her original custody ruling so he disregarded multiple contempt of court counts filed against the father. A guardian ad litem who is supposed to represent the best interests of the child who was easily manipulated by the father, a story that would take pages to tell.

Life is Nuts Sometimes…

We lost on the primary bone of contention, custody. He got 50-50. We won on all of the smaller points, most of which we know he’ll completely disregard, as he has previously, with no retribution. He’s already doing it. He’s also crowing about his victory, about how the court saw through the lies and the accusations.

Custody of Child...life is nuts sometimes.

The system in this county, in this state is broken. The police can’t enforce the finer points of a custody order because they’re civil matters. They can only file a report. Sometimes you must beg them to do that. Then, you must pay to file contempt of court and fight to get a hearing. When you do, a magistrate or a judge can decide not to enforce or punish even a blatant disregard of the agreement.

What’s the point of having an agreement in the first place if the parties to it can just do whatever they want?

Oh, even better? The magistrate was appointed to the judge’s position by the Governor. The Guardian ad litem? She became the magistrate immeadiatly following the trial. How’s that for two strikes against my niece ever getting a fair shake against this father again? Life is nuts sometimes.

I was moved from one office to another in my day job because the father filed complaints against me, knowing full well that I was behind a lot of the fight my niece was putting up. Since I was moved to the office where I’m technically assigned, I had no recourse. In the interim, my own boss had to take time off for medical reasons – four months of time – increasing my workload and time on the job significantly. That has only marginally improved with her return to full work.

It’s been hard to write. No time. Emotionally drained. Physically exhausted. I’m working back into it, but it’s taken some time. Maybe I’ll write about this experience, tell the whole story, one day…maybe.

I appreciate your patience and your support during this difficult time. Thank you. Thank you for sticking by me.

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Anne’s Current Projects

I’m writing…really! I know it’s been a while since I’ve released new work. I’m also aware that I’ve been promising a certain book’s release since some time in November, Steamboat Reunion. It’s the most current of my current projects, I swear!

Steamboat Reunion Cover

I have a grand plan for 2019, but as with the last several months of 2018, life has managed to remain in the way. I write a little most days, but I’m already off the schedule I set. I’m not adjusting it. I plan to catch up.

This book will be out by the end of this month or very early April. It’s nearly done.

Cover of Steel City Confidential

I’m working on a tight deadline, due to a challenge, to get my first legal thriller, Steel City Confidential, finished. The due date to meet the challenge is May 2nd. The book is plotted in deep detail and I’m about 14,000 words in. That’s a long way from done, but I still have 47 days and a great story that’s just rolling off my fingertips. I promise at least a pre-order release by then with the book to follow no later than the end of May. I have to all0w for proofreading and any necessary edits, after all.

A little secret about this one? A writing group friend gave me an idea for the plot that incorporates all of the points that I have to hit to meet the challenge. You’re going to be shocked when you read it! Thanks, Sarah!

The Cover for Tennessee Bound

Last, but by no means least where books are concerned, there’s a 12th Morelville Mystery in the works, Tennessee Bound. It’s also plotted and around 11,000 words done. I had it scheduled for a late May release, but since I’m pulling back on it to get Steel City Confidential done, it will probably be later.

Rest assured, Sheriff Mel and Dana – and the family – are going to have quite the adventure in this one. I’ve been listening. I know my loyal readers are missing all the family interaction that wasn’t really there in Finding Sheila.

This website is due for a redesign or, at minimum, some major updates. That’s another one of my current projects that’s in the works too and so is another project I can’t announce quite yet.

Thanks for your patience and for hanging around waiting for these books. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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Twitter: Who I follow and Why

Let’s talk about Twitter. I’m a fan. Oh, I wasn’t at first, but over time the platform really grew on me. It fills a void for me that other social media networks don’t approach. How?

I have a lot of fellow author friends. I have a few fans of my work too. On Twitter, I can catch up with all of them and what they’re up to in a couple of minutes. I can have a conversation with them publicly or privately. Most importantly for me, support is a tweet away.

Hate Twitter? Think it’s full of nothing but political trolls? You’re probably not using it right. Block those people. Yes, they’ll know you blocked them. So what! It’s your feed. Think it’s a time suck? Don’t let it frustrate you. Make it a positive and uplifting thing for you. How? Use lists.

Twitter Lists

You can create lists on Twitter of people you follow or even that you don’t follow and then make those lists public or private. I’ve created four lists and I’m on or I subscribe to another 16 that have been shared publicly.

Of my own four lists, one is private and is my go-to list to catch up with the people I interact with frequently or people who post great things I find myself sharing often. I’ve simply called the private list I keep, ‘personal’. I’m an author so it’s a list of 111 people, many of them also authors and/or readers, that I interact with frequently. Others on the list are people I find that have inspiring or important things to say or things that are helpful to me as I write.

Another list I use often is my public ‘lesfic’ list. On it are mostly authors of lesbian/women loving women themed fiction and a handful of very supportive readers who tweet often about the books they read – lesfic or mainstream.

It’s Twitter users from these lists that I’m going to list below. All are worth a follow. I wish I could list them all!

If you’re not an author or reader, especially of WLW themed fiction, there won’t be much here for you. That’s okay. Go off and create your own lists of people who inspire, influence and support you.

Who I Follow on Twitter and You Should Too

There are so many more! This isn’t even half of my ‘private’ list and represents only a small portion of my lesfic list. Follow some of these folks. Explore and find your own tribe too. They’re out there tweeting great, interesting and helpful things.

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Read an Ebook Week Sale

Smashwords is promoting ‘Read an eBook Week’ 2019 Edition with another great sale. This week only, you can get thousands of eBooks from 25% to 75% off – and even free – at Smashwords. Even better? Most discounted books are available in multiple formats, so they’ll work with whatever e-reader or eBook software you have including Kindle, Nook, iPhone/iPad, Kobo, Sony and more.

I’m participating, of course and so are a couple of my author friends. Scroll on to hear about some of the deals!

Almost all of my books are on sale, exclusively at Smashwords, for Read an eBook Week. Discounts on books and sets previously priced higher than $.99 are 50% off! Better still? This set, featuring eight of the eleven (and soon to be twelve) Morelville Mysteries, is 75% off!

You can get it for just $2.50 – regularly $9.99 and still a steal – this week only. This is the set that features Sheriff Melissa ‘Mel’ Crane and Special Agent Dana Rossi and their crazy, loving, semi-supportive extended families.

The Morelville Mysteries Collection Box Set

My good friend Elizabeth Andre is also participating in the sale with good deals on several of her novels and collections, including her most recent novel and one of my personal favorites of hers, The Curse of the Old Woods, from her all-new series, Paranormal Grievance Committee Chronicles. The book is a good deal at 25% off, this week only. A new installment is coming soon!

Thora by Red Hope

I recently had the pleasure of meeting ‘Lillian’, a longtime writer of fanfic and now of LGBT fiction who writes as Red Hope. Red Hope has put her ancient history lesbian fiction novel, Thora, A Spartan Hoplite’s Slave on sale this week. It’s half price at just $3.00. ‘Red’ is working on getting some of her other work onto the Smashwords platform.

So there you have it; some great discounts on some new fiction for you to read during these last couple of dreary weeks of winter in the northern hemisphere. Enjoy, and as always, thanks for reading!

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An Interview with Tammy Bird, Author of ‘Sandman’

In December, my friend and fellow author, Tammy Bird, released her debut novel, Sandman, a serial killer thriller set in the Buxton Beach area of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. She’s here today to talk about the book and her journey to becoming a published author…and some other fun stuff.

Anne: Hi there, Tammy! Welcome.

Tammy: Hi Anne. Thanks for the invite.

Anne: Let’s talk first about your novel, Sandman. Wow, what a debut! It’s taken me a few years to work up to writing a thriller. You did one out of the gate and what a great book it is. Can you share a little, like what was the inspiration for it?

Tammy: I consider the setting of Sandman to be a character all its own. And I owe its creation in my book to a man I met when I was on vacation in Buxton, NC in the winter. I mentioned that it was very quiet on the beach. To which he answered, “Yes. So quiet you could bury a body in the dune and it would never be found.” Just like that. The beach was central to the story. 

Sandman by Tammy Bird

Anne: That’s creepy and cool all at the same time. Did you go digging in any dunes, after that?

Tammy: Uh, no.

Anne: Probably a good thing! Stick to making stuff up.

Anne: There’s so much detail here and you use real places. Talk to me about researching and writing the book.

Tammy: There was so much research. I think this is such an important part of the process. In Sandman, I have a character who is central to the story who has autism. He is a teenager. I am not a teen, nor do I have autism. I do have a grandson who is on the spectrum, so I talked a lot to him. I also used a subject matter expert (a mom and teenage son) to read Marco’s parts to make sure I was getting it right. I researched Buxton, and I talked to people who live there. I interviewed EMS workers. The list is endless.

Anne: Please tell us you’re working on something else…this isn’t all we’re going to hear from you?

Tammy: I have the outline for the second book in the Sandman series ready. I am about ¾ of the way to completion for another book, a coming out story with a wicked twist. I have a book with probably one hundred or more titles, ideas, and barely started stories, with more coming to me all of the time. This is one of the reasons I wish I started this writing journey when I was twenty instead of fifty.

Anne: LOL. I’m not laughing at you; I’m laughing with you. Every writer ever feels this, no matter when they ‘start’. Welcome to our club!

Talking Writing with Tammy Bird:

Anne: The age old writing question: Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Tammy: I was actually just having this conversation with someone. I am a bit of a mix. Intuition gives me the kick in the pants I need to keep going, but logic slows me down and makes me research to get it right. I plan a general outline of a new novel, but if a character wants his own voice I let him have it and follow along in pantser fashion.

Anne: Sometimes those characters have a mind all their own. A question that always comes up whenever I interview an author or someone interviews me, did you hide any secrets in your book that only a few people will find?

Tammy: I love this question, and yes. A non-existent coffee shop that a friend and I named years ago is now a real fictional coffee shop; Marco loves his sister “a lottle,” which is a shout out to someone who created the word for us; The gorgeous red hair of my granddaughter and the freckles that I used to count on her daddy’s elbows. It is fun to watch the smiles on the faces of people who catch the secrets.

Anne: Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

Tammy: Sex. I think this is mostly because I have heard authors talk about how horribly written sex scenes are in some books. We all write from our own knowledge base, and what I do or don’t do (or can do, for that matter) is not the same as someone else. It is hard to know where the sweet spot is, so to speak. Also, as much as I hate it, I am from a time when talking about sex at all was taboo. I try to not be surprised or affected when someone just boldly discusses vaginas and fluids and allathat.  

Anne: I just knew you were going to say that. Almost every debut author who has ever written a sex scene does…and so do lots of authors who have been around a while. I know it’s my biggest weakness.

Fun Stuff with Tammy Bird:

Anne: It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t ask you a couple of offbeat questions. So…first, what are you afraid of?

Tammy: Heights. Deep water. Losing my favorites.

Anne: So when you vacation in the Outer Banks, no deep sea fishing or parasailing for you?

Tammy: No.

Anne: Any other fears? What takes you out of your What takes you out of your comfort zone?

Tammy: Readings. Conferences. Speaking engagements. People find this amusing because I’m a teacher. I can walk into a room full of students and instruct for hours, but that is such a different skill.

Anne: One last question, before we go. What item, that you don’t have already, would you most like to own?

Tammy: Can this be alive? Because I totally want a Boston terrier that doesn’t bark.

Anne: I love that answer. I think they’re so cool, I gave one to one of my characters, Dana, in my mystery series.

Tammy: I had one for sixteen years. Her name was Roxie. She was the best. Now I have two cats who are fifteen and seventeen. They have put their paws down. No dog.

Anne: Too bad. A Boston would give those cats a good run.

That’s all we have for today. I’d like to thank Tammy for hanging out and chatting. You can buy her book Sandman on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, for sure. Look for it wherever you like to buy your books.

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A Sweetwater Christmas Released

Winter Hearts, the 13 author compilation to raise money for charity, is now history. We raised several thousand dollars to be split between The Trevor Project and Stonewall! An official announcement of all proceeds is coming soon. In the meantime, that means my contribution to the anthology, A Sweetwater Christmas, is now available for sale as an individual book.

A Sweetwater Christmas

In 2017, I started a short story series, ‘Loving Blue in Red States’. There are currently seven short stories in the series. The first one was Sweetwater Texas. This novella, at reader request, is an expansion of that story, more than doubling it in length. Dozens of readers asked for the continuation of the Cass and Emmie story. They got their wish!

If you purchased Winter Hearts (thank you!), and read it cover to cover, you’ve already read A Sweetwater Christmas. If you missed out on Winter Hearts, you’ll get a chance at an all new anthology by a dozen or more authors next year. In the meantime, all of the stories and novellas in the anthology have been released back to their authors, just like mine has been.

For a limited time, A Sweetwater Christmas is available exclusively at Amazon and free to read via Kindle Unlimited.

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The Winner Is…

And the winner is…Sarah Auzina! What do you mean the winner of what? The naming contest, of course!

Oh, you want to know what she named and what she won? I see! Sarah is the lucky winner of the contest I put out to my newsletter subscribers to name the lawyer in my upcoming legal thriller, Steel City Confidential. She presented me with the name “Rochelle Robinowitz” and, after a back and forth exchange over how she came up with the name, I ran with it, with a minor change to spell the surname as ‘Rabinowitz’. That’s more common and it’s the spelling which my spell check likes; always a plus!

Cover of Steel City Confidential

Rochelle Rabinowitz will be the defense attorney in the story. We’ll call her “Ro”. She’s a woman in her forties of Polish, Jewish descent living and working in Pittsburgh, The Steel City. Don’t even try to tell me that’s not authentic, ethnic Pittsburgh!

Sarah wins the autographed copy of Steel City Confidential and special mention on the title page in all editions of the book. But, she’s not the only winner…oh no, no. You see, several people submitted some truly great names and, since this is an all-new book for me – and possibly a new series – I needed lots of names. Everyone listed below wins too! You’ll all get eBook copies of the book and special mention in the acknowledgments.

Additional Winners

I need many, many characters but these are characters whose names I took from those submitted for the contest followed by the name of the winner who submitted it:

  • Amanda Stein-Rabinowitz, Ro’s spouse – Kitty Author
  • Dominque Loya – Jr. laywer in Ro’s firm – Marcey Ruiz (Marcey also submitted Juliette Sawyer which I’m likely to use and Lily Bennett. I’m using the first name ‘Lily’ for Amanda’s daughter)
  • Gael O’Connor – Secretary/Paralegal (Male) – Deb Amia (she submitted it as a woman’s name but it works perfect for this)
  • Catherine Mueller, an investigator for Ro – A.C. Miller
  • Chase Haven, a police detective – Anita Helliwell (Also submitted as a female option but I’m using it as male.)
  • Declan Powers, the District Attorney – Also Deb Amia and also submitted as a woman’s name that I’m using as a male’s name.
  • Kimberly MartinKim Dyke – I haven’t picked a character for it yet but Kimberly is a very common name for women born in the years I’m working with and Martin is a very common last name in that area.

Thank you to all of the winners! Stay tuned for more about the book!

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Update on ‘The List’

I made a lot of promises last week. Many, many promises. I published this post about the lesfic list…The List, as it’s come to be known and the response was overwhelming. There are at least 40 missing/new names to be added. There are many corrections and updates to entries already listed as well.

Write Hand Woman NZ

Because I’m one person, with a day job, it was going to take forever to do all of that, without help. The updates and corrections, I’ll be doing. My good friend, freelancer Erin of Write Hand Woman, will be doing the research to make the additions and adding those to the master spreadsheet that drives the list that appears on this site.

If you’re waiting to be added – and some of you are checking daily, judging by site stats – your time is coming.

If you’re sitting there thinking, “Hey, I could use some assistance with ‘author stuff’ that has nothing to do with actually writing” then look Erin up. She’s great and likes to do the weird, time-consuming tasks we all hate but we know need doing. Oh, and she’s in New Zealand, so she does a lot of your work for you while you’re sleeping!

Stay tuned for the update of ‘The List’. It’s coming!

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