Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sunday Book Review: Me and Aunt Izzy

Me and Aunt Izzy

by Max Yoho

Max Yoho is one of my favorite Kansas authors, both in person and in the pages of his books. His love of language shines through his writing and he is obviously a story-teller all the way deep down to his core.

Eleven-year-old Jeffie was in trouble for burning down the outhouse. His punishment? A summer spent with Great Aunt Queen Isabella of Spain, aka Aunt Izzy. A little time with the family matriarch was sure to set him right. 

Somewhat reluctantly at first, the boy embarks on a summer that includes Indians, Jesse James, and a durned girl named Lucille who can cuss and run fast as a bullet. Jeffie also continues his quest to enhance his vocabulary one random word at a time.  

Don't get me wrong, though. In this book, Max Yoho manages to provide more than just light-hearted entertainment. As someone who has been accused of being somewhat of a bathroom connoisseur, Max opened my mind to something I had previously spent little time considering... the impact of indoor plumbing on the modern human psyche.

Upon the completion of the new indoor plumbing: "He pulled the chain and Niagara Falls itself couldn't have made more noise. And that's when I realized I could never use the indoor plumbing. It would be like bragging! It would be like saying, 'Look here, world. I've done it!' Pulling that chain would be calling the attention of everybody within forty miles to the fact that Jefferson Davis Johnson had peed in the new indoor plumbing."

I swear I have not gone to the bathroom since that I did not reminisce on this line.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Blurbs for the back cover are in!

Many Thanks to Cheryl, Max and Gloria.

Tracy Million Simmons takes the reader on a fun romp across the High Plains of southwest Kansas in a hunt for an escaped white tiger. With an engaging story of loss, family expectations, and finding one's way, Simmons shows us that home can be the greatest healer of all.

~ Cheryl Unruh, author & columnist, Flyover People: Life on the Ground in a Rectangular State

The right amount of magic! 

Tiger Hunting is a winner from the start. Most of us have lost our direction at one time or another. Follow Jeni as her search leads through the most unexpected events around Tracy Million Simmons' own stomping grounds of Dodge City, Kansas. 

This book comes with a wonderful insight (for some of us) into the mysterious way a woman's mind works.

I welcome this white tiger to Kansas.

~ Max Yoho, author, Me and Aunt Izzy and The Moon Butter Route

Tracy Million Simmons writes with heartfelt warmth and humor when she develops her characters and their relationships in this entertaining and delightful story.
~ Gloria Zachgo, author, The Rocking Horse

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Announcing my first novel... or, I never was very good at being patient.

At first I was going to release an e-book. Then I talked myself into going for a print book, as well.

I thought I'd announce each as they were ready, then decided I should wait and announce both at the same time.

I keep going back and forth on the matter. Maybe impatience is not my problem, but the inability to commit to a plan.

The question I keep asking myself, however, is this: Is this really an obstacle? Or is this one more way to avoid getting where I want to go?

So today I am committing. For those of you with e-readers, my first novel, Tiger Hunting, is available. A print version will be available soon. I'll let you know!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


If you've arrived here already, you are a bit early, but I welcome you anyway. This is an historic event. Should 2013 go down in history as the year Tracy finally got her stuff together and completed a novel, you can say that you knew it first... or knew her when... or whatever.

For those who might be a bit curious about the publishing process, I thought I'd go ahead and document some of the highlights.

  • Tiger Hunting began as a NaNoWriMo project, November 2009. Here's a blog entry from that time period.

"It's a silly little thing, but I get a kick from entering my words each day and watching these little bars appear on my NaNoWriMo site. I am at 9,013 words as of day 4. My friend Cheryl and I have been sending daily check-ins. I think she's having as much fun as I am.
Believe it or not, this is only my 2nd time doing NaNo. I think the last time I tried it was 2001, and I've pretty much spent the last 8 or so years tweaking that novel, or some version of that novel, or some spin-off from that novel about related characters whom I thought might be more interesting to write about. In 2001, they did not have the cool bar graph function. I'm not even sure that they had a website."

  • I did earn my NaNo badge that year, and then promptly filed that novel away and spent the next couple of years editing away at that 2001 project, or some descendant of it. On the first day of 2011, I suffered what I thought was a complete computer meltdown and spent about 24 hours believing I had lost most of my life's work. The next day, miraculously, the computer rebooted and I commenced backing up writing files like there was no tomorrow. 

  • Since NaNo 2009, I've completed a first, second, or third draft of perhaps one, two, or three novels. I have gotten into the habit of writing and revising until I frustrate myself enough to quit and move on to the next novel idea. The NaNo model, of writing a lot of material quickly, has proven for me to be the most effective way of getting a first draft complete. Revising? I'm still hoping to find the method that works best for me.

  • Sometime in early January this year, I was visiting with my friend Cheryl and she asked, "If you could do anything, what would you do?" I presumed she was asking in terms of not having to worry about making ends meet... paying bills or thinking practically about feeding the children or keeping them clothed. And the answer, of course, is that I'd really like to see my name on the cover of a book or two in the local bookstore. So the next obvious question, of course... what's stopping me?

  • When I pulled out the backup copies of my life's work... in fiction, at least, the NaNo 2009 project was the last one I would have expected to settle on as my first publishing endeavor. I had never titled it. I could barely remember what it was about. Reading it, in fact, was a surprise, page after page, as I tried to guess where I'd been headed. In fact, the story changed direction and focus several times, but after three years I was able to look at it objectively and I knew exactly where I wanted to go with it. It only took a couple of weeks of dedicated revising to come up with a draft I was willing to share with my friend.

  • When Cheryl responded positively, I knew it was time to just get over myself and get this thing published. I completed another round of revisions and tightened up some pages where the pace of the story slowed. Reminding myself that perfect is not my goal, but a roadblock to getting where I want to be, I began the process of formatting my manuscript as an ebook (fairly easy, thanks to this guidebook) and coming up with an image for the cover (much more difficult). Here's an early version. It features the artwork of my daughter, Maddie Simmons. 

  •  I ended up spending a couple of solid weeks working on the cover. At some point, I realized it was becoming yet another excuse for why I didn't have a book published, so I committed to an idea and then contented myself with "good enough" and moved on.

  • As well, I decided that having a printed copy of the book was still important to me. I began the task of  formatting the book for print, something I have considerably more experience doing, but it still took more time than I expected. I ordered four copies to proof and forward as Advanced Reader Copies to writers I hope might supply blurbs. Three of those copies were put in the mail this morning.
  • I am currently aiming for a mid-April release! 

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