New Year’s Resolutions 2012

I can’t figure out which is more unbelievable: (1) that I’ve let nearly two months go by without posting here, or (2) that it’s time for New Year’s Resolutions again. Every year on the blog, I take the New Year’s Resolutions I made last year and evaluate how I did with keeping them. Then I make new resolutions for the year to come. I’ve been doing this for, what, going on six years now? Hey, it’s a tradition! And it’s always instructive about how my goals — and even my attitudes — can change.

thomma lyn grindstaff, southern fiction, appalachian fiction, heart's chalice, magical realism

Here are my old resolutions for 2011, in bold type:

1. Get Heart’s Chalice submission-ready. I WILL do this. No kerTHUNKs. No excuses.

*applause* — I accomplished this goal. I got Heart’s Chalice whipped into fine shape, thanks to my faithful Beta readers and to the expertise of my wonderful editor, Susan Helene Gottfried, whom I have titled Editor Laureate of the Universe (fellow indies, if you’re looking for someone who can help you polish your manuscript to a high shine, look no farther than Susan: she’s both a top-notch writer and a top-notch editor).

2. Get an agent for Heart’s Chalice (and future novels).

Here’s an example of how goals can radically change. I decided to go indie instead, and I’m self-publishing my fiction as ebooks (so far, I’ve released two novels including Heart’s Chalice, a novella, a collection of flash fiction, and two individual short stories). Going indie isn’t right for everyone — heck, there’s no one path that’s right for everyone — but it’s right for me, and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. If you’re interested in Heart’s Chalice (it’s a page-turner, even if I do say so myself), it’s for sale at Amazon’s Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Smashwords. And you might like to check out a stellar review. To browse the rest of my offerings, check out the sidebar of this blog, my website, or my Amazon Author Page.

3. Keep my freelance writing going — very important, high priority, and freelancing is wonderful, as well, for honing my writer’s tool kit.

*applause* — I accomplished this goal, too, and I am proud and happy to be working as Content Specialist for Blue Volcano Media, an outstanding web marketing and creative content company that’s growing, growing, growing. Exciting times lie ahead! *~*~*happy dance!*~*~* Working for Blue Volcano Media is an important part of my writing career, and I’m delighted to be a part of such a fabulous team.

4. Perhaps write completely different sorts of novels under a pseudonym. I’m going to be very mysterious about this. *singing* — “Oh no, I’ve said too much… I haven’t said enough.” LOL (apologies to R.E.M.)

kerTHUNK. And no, I’m not going to explain the mystery, either. Just forget I ever said it. T’was a bad idea. For me, anyway. (What was I thinking?!)

5. Get my original music out there. I have many songs and instrumental pieces, and they’re tired of being cooped up.

kerTHUNK. For numerous reasons, it just didn’t happen. But 2012 will be a different story (read on).

6. Draft Deirdre of the Sorrows.

kerTHUNK. Didn’t happen. Deirdre is still on my mind’s shelf, though, and it will be written soon.

And here are my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012.

1. Currently, I’m planning a novel-to-be, working title of Maestro. The brainstorming is going fabulously, and my muse is kicking up her heels. Maestro is already hitting my sweet spot, and I haven’t even started writing it yet. In 2012, I want to get Maestro finished, edited, and available for purchase on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.

2. I’d also like to get Deirdre of the Sorrows finished, edited, and available for purchase on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.

3. Continue to do my very best work as Content Specialist for Blue Volcano Media — what a wonderful job!

4. Get my original music (songs and instrumental pieces, composed on the piano and played and sung by yours truly) out there.

5. In addition to Maestro and Deirdre of the Sorrows, I’d like to write and make available for purchase other pieces of fiction, including short stories and possibly a novella or two. When you’re an indie author, it’s an excellent thing to have numerous fictional pieces available for readers who discover you and love your work.

6. BLOG MORE. And yes, I mean that. Both here and on Grace Notes, my creative writing blog, where I’d like to post flash fiction related to my works-in-progress.

7. This one isn’t a goal. It’s a “maybe.” But possibly — just possibly — I’ll release one or more of my titles in print.

Happy New Year, everybody! 😀

Catching Up… and Going Indie!

Oh my goodness, will you look at the tumbleweeds on this blog! I’ve neglected this poor little blog since July, but it seems like I’ve only turned around twice while three months somehow zipped by. My summer was a blur. I stayed extremely busy with my freelance writing endeavors — good busy, but busy nonetheless.

Our garden did fabulously. It was the best yet. You wouldn’t believe all the green beans, and we had huge, red tomatoes. We grew cabbage, green and banana peppers, onions, potatoes, and squash out the yin yang. We love squash, and this year, we planted the yellow variety as well as zucchini and butternut squash (YUMMY). We ate stir fry until we almost popped.

I’ve been hiking as time permits, but that has slowed way down. Still, I take opportunities as I can to get up on what I think of as the Magic Mountain. It’s a wonderful place to get perspective, and I don’t mean just visually. Fall is in full swing on the mountain, and the autumn colors are gorgeous. Here are pictures from a (fairly) recent hike.

fall leaves, autumn, east tennessee, southern appalachia

Autumn Leaves and Blue Sky

mountain trail, east tennessee, appalachian mountains
Sunlit Mountain Trail

autumn leaves, east tennessee, appalachian mountains

Fall Comes to the Forest


Last but not least, I’ve decided to get my fiction out there as an independent author. Soon, I’ll publish four books to Smashwords, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Amazon Kindle (all digital formats, but at some point, I might decide to make print editions available). By soon, I mean very soon. I’m in the process of finalizing the formatting on my mss, revising my website, and soon, I’ll add links on this blog and upload my revised website.

Without further ado, here are the books I’ll be offering:

Heart’s Chalice (novel, dark edgy women’s fiction)
Destiny rarely gives a woman a second chance at love, especially not with a man who died twenty years ago.

As a young woman, Laurel misinterpreted a psychic vision, causing the death of her first and only love. She has lived with the guilt ever since. Two decades later, struggling to free herself from a toxic marriage, she’s pulled to an alternate reality where her beloved still lives. There, she’s the dead one, and he and their children are grieving for her. When she tries to contact them, they think she’s a ghost or a product of their wishful thinking.

She desperately wants to remain in her family’s reality and connect with them. By enjoying a long, happy life with the man she loves, she can rectify her mistake and free herself from her guilt. But she’s running out of time. Every shift between realities damages her body further. And her soon-to-be-ex will stop at nothing to shackle her to a life she despises.


ripples, ripples short stories, thomma lyn grindstaff, stories by thomma lyn grindstaffRipples (short stories, magical realism)
If Heart’s Chalice, the novel, is a waterfall, then these short stories are its ripples.

 The short stories in Ripples can serve either as the reader’s introduction to the characters who populate my novel Heart’s Chalice, or as a supplement for readers who have already read the novel.

Most of the stories in Ripples take place before the main action of Heart’s Chalice, when Laurel and Nate are teenagers, growing up in their famlies of origin. Some of the stories, however, are woven into the novel’s in-between spaces.


patchwork stained glass, thomma lyn grindstaff, novels by thomma lyn grindstaff, novel by thomma lyn grindstaff
Patchwork Stained Glass (Novel — Book Club Fiction)
An atheist falls for a country preacher. Can love triumph over two conflicting ideologies?

Romilly Shepard spent her childhood with abusive parents, and as a college student, she finds comfort in the hard facts of science. She lives with her friend Martha, also an atheist, and they see each other as like-minded rationalists who stand elbow-to-elbow against a hopelessly irrational world. Intent on debunking, Romilly and Martha sign up for a comparative religion class, but the instructor, a graduate student and preacher named Ernest, challenges Romilly’s assumptions. His open-mindedness and tolerance broaden Romilly’s mind and win her heart.

Martha feels betrayed by Romilly’s love for a preacher, and Ernest’s congregation thinks Romilly is a heathen in need of salvation. Friction mounts between Romilly and Ernest, and she fears she’s nothing more than his Convert-an-Atheist Project. But when a chronic disease threatens Ernest’s life, labels given by other people no longer seem so important. Romilly takes a crash course in faith and hope — faith in Ernest’s love, hope for his healing. In doing so, she learns to embrace their differences and not fear them, but has her awakening come too late?


thy eternal summer, novella by thomma lyn grindstaff, thomma lyn grindstaffThy Eternal Summer (novella, contemporary romance)
Can an older couple overcome the memories of their deceased spouses and enjoy a spicy Golden Years romance?
(This novel was previously published in 2006 by Chippewa Publishing, which went out of business in 2007. The rights reverted back to me, so now, I’m re-releasing it.)

Sarah Harrison is a housewife and the mother of two grown children, but her marriage is tainted by alcoholism and emotional abuse. When her husband Ed drowns in a river at an RV park in Tennessee, she’s on her own for the first time in her life. She can’t drive the Winnebago to return to their home in North Carolina.

Max McCloud, newly retired from NASA, is parked next to Ed and Sarah’s Winnebago. He designs aircraft components online with his friends and misses his late wife, Adela, who died the previous year. He befriends the newly widowed Sarah and offers to drive her home in her Winnebago.

Can their new friendship and potential romantic attachment overcome the memories of their deceased spouses and provide them with the kind of Golden Years they both desire?


Why am I going indie, you might ask. My answer: Why not? These days, opportunities made possible by the internet have created many intriguing paths an author can take, and one size never fits all. Of course, writers — especially new writers — need to do their research so they’ll know what they’re getting into. But I’ve been doing this fiction-writing thing for quite a while now. I’ve learned a lot, and I feel good about the path I’m preparing to walk.

Trade publishing — whether with big New York houses or smaller houses — is great for some, but for others, especially us do-it-yourself types, self-publishing holds considerable promise. I’m excited about this new venture, and I hope you will be, too.

So watch this space (and this blog)!  More information is on its way, as well as more frequent blog posts. :)

Oh, How the Garden Grows!

The broccoli is floreting:

The cabbage is becoming heady:

We’re staggering our corn crop this year.  Here are the elder rows, reaching for the sky…

…while the youngest are beginning to sprout.

We’re also staggering our green bean crop.  Here are the elder rows, which should start beaning out soon now…

…and here are the young’uns.

And meanwhile on the mountain are multiple clusters of ghost flowers — even more than last year.

The tadpoles are doing well, and as long as we keep getting decent rain, their pond should prove sufficient for frogging out.

And last but never least, the mountain laurel is blooming.

On the writing front:  I’m brainstorming my next novel-to-be, Deirdre of the Sorrows, while I allow Heart’s Chalice, the novel for which I recently completed first-pass revisions, to bake.  Come July, I’ll dive into second-pass revisions for Heart’s Chalice.  In the meantime, my muse is having great time with Deirdre.

I haven’t felt as creative with short fiction and poetry lately, but that creativity is going, instead, into music (songwriting).  Believe me, I’m not complaining.  I love time spent at my piano.

Catching Up (or trying to)

I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long.  Time has really gotten away from me.  *blinks*, is 2010 already half-gone?  Or nearly so?  It simply can’t be!

Sigh.  Plea to time:  SLOW DOWN, why don’t ya!?

Let’s see — first off, my friend Gwen Mitchell bestowed upon me the Soulmate Award.  Thanks, Gwennie!

It comes with four rules:

1. Five recipients.
2. Make up something about the people you give the award to.
3. Link to the people you give it to.
4. Link back to the original award post.

Bwahahaha. *rubbing hands together*  Here we go:

Dorothy Bumber.  She and I, kindred spirits, both have faeries who live in our gardens and tend our flowers and veggies.

Ann Pino.  Her rabbit, Cadbury, and my cat, MaoMao, are one and the same, and their secret lies in shapeshifting.  And in all seriousness, please check out Ann’s newly released novel, Maelstrom.  It rocks — quite literally. One heck of a fun read.

Susan Helene Gottfried.  Trevor and Mitchell, from her fictional band ShapeShifter, are actually real people, and they like to come over and jam with me while I play my piano.

Jannie Funster.  She and I are twins separated at birth — storytellers and musicians who tell stories through our music and make music via our stories, and we commune on projects whilst we dream.

Leah Utas.  We are both ardent mountain climbers and are looking forward to the challenge of Mt. Everest.

And speaking of awards, my friend Paige gave me the Happiness 101 Award.  Cool beans, and thank you!

As part and parcel of this award, I must tell ten things that make me happy.  Not hard at all, I assure you.  I’ll even provide photo illustrations, where appropriate. 😉

1.  Watching the garden grow.  Or should I say, explode.  We used fertilizer this year, and well… talk about some huge vegetation.  The cabbage plants are enormous, and the potato plants are twice as tall this year as last.  And though I feared we’d have a dry spring, we’ve gotten fairly decent rain.

Check out this garden.  Soon we’ll be getting all kinds of yummies, and in the meantime, we’ll keep picking the bugs off the potato plants.

Our potato plants (hopefully, you can’t see the bugs):

Broccoli plant working on a floret:

Ginormous cabbage plants:

Green bean plants that are already climbing their wires:

Tomato plants, already hanging full of developing tomatoes:

And sprouting corn:

2.  Hiking.  I’m not a writer who can do constant BIC (butt-in-chair).  I consider myself productive, actually quite driven, but I’ve got to get out and shake off the mold on a regular basis.  No, on a frequent basis.  And for me, that means going to the mountain.  Every hike is different.  There’s always something new to see.  For example, fresh ghost flowers, growing in the same location as the old ones from last year, which are still standing like mummified matchsticks.  As you can see, the new ones are just now pushing themselves out of the dirt.  Ghost flowers are fascinating — rare and strange and lovely.  You can read more about them here.

Thanks to recent rain, the tadpoles on the mountain are thriving and still have a well-watered pond.  Here’s a tadpole hanging out in a skeletonized leaf:

Soon, there’ll be scrumptious snacking on the mountain — behold, blackberries in development.  In my appetite for blackberries, I rival any black bear.

The forest looks particularly lush after a spring rain.

The mountain laurel is starting to bloom.  Here are the first blossoms I’ve seen, this warm season.  The rest of the laurel will soon follow suit.

And no series of spring-on-the-mountain pictures would be complete without a dazzling drift of daisies.

3.  Writing novels.  I’m proud of myself, having recently completed first-pass revisions to Heart’s Chalice.  But much work remains to be done on that novel.  I’m going to let it bake for the rest of June, then come July, I will dive, in earnest, into second-pass revisions.  This story has been a long time coming together, but I believe — hope — it’ll be worth the wait.

During June, I’ll brainstorm rewrites to House on Bear Branch, to be retitled Deirdre of the Sorrows.  I also have a completed novel, Patchwork Stained Glass, on my plate, on which I have put final polish.  And more novels are bubbling in the constantly-churning stew of my mind.  Stay tuned for updates.

4.  Writing short fiction.  Check out my story blog, Grace Notes, to read flash fiction based on my novel-in-progress, Heart’s Chalice.  I haven’t updated Grace Notes in a while, because I’ve been focused on revising the actual novel.  Another consideration — I don’t want to tap out Heart’s Chalice short fiction before the book can come out.  But I will be writing short fiction again, you can count on it — whether about Heart’s Chalice, or another novel.

5. Playing piano and writing music.  While my inner editor has been ruthlessly whacking at my novel, my muse has come out to indulge my other great artistic passion:  music.  I’m entering a new songwriting phase, and I’m finding it particularly delightful.  At some point (hopefully soon), I plan on recording my music and making it available online.

6.  Ballicai.  In other words, my much-loved cats.

Marilyn MonREOW:


Brainball and MaoMao:

7.  Writing and reading poetry.  Often, my poems become song lyrics.  If they’re sufficiently lyrical and rhythmic, that is.

8.  Studying philosophy.  I’ve been doing quite a bit of that lately.  Everything from ancient Greek thought to modern philosophers.  The meaning of philosophy is “love of wisdom”, and that’s a direction I seek to grow: in wisdom.

9. Blogging.  Yes, I still enjoy blogging, even if time is passing too quickly, I keep crazy-busy, and I don’t wind up blogging as often as I would like.  I’m fairly active on Facebook, and from time to time, on Twitter.

10.  Love and friendship.  Speak for themselves, in a way which can’t be done justice in words.