Gemstones Again!! Faceted Emerald, Quartz, and Citrine!

Gemstones again! I haven’t done a gemstone post in a while (partially because I haven’t been gemstone hunting due to other commitments – like marketing The Gemstone Chronicles), but I now have some very cool stones to showcase! Before I get to the final versions of the gemstones, though, I wanted to show you what the stones looked like when I found them.

The first stone is an emerald. I sent this one over to my gem cutter friend because it had a great green color when illuminated by a strong light. And, the natural shape was pretty cool!

Gemstones Again Emerald

I know the picture doesn’t show the green color. It was difficult to capture…

The second stone I want to show you is a quartz crystal. I found this one and it was extremely clear. Now, I believe the stone is beautiful in its natural state. What do you think?


Gemstones Again Quartz

The final stone is a citrine. For those not familiar with citrines, they are the same stone as an amethyst, but with different impurities to give them a yellowish-orange color.

How did the gemstones turn out? I think they are amazing! Here is the finished emerald. While not as green as Lana’s emerald from posts past, or what I envision the Emerald from the Elven Bow in Book Three: The Emerald, it is a great stone!

Gemstones Again Emerald-Cut-Emerald-6.5-Carats-Web

If you recall from my Rubies and Diamonds post, I asked my gem cutter friend Gene to facet two round brilliant cut quartz stones. They are 1.25 carats each. Here is a picture of them!

Gemstones Again Faceted Gemstones Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

Round Brilliant Cut Quartz


To match these, I asked Gene to cut the quartz rough above in a brilliant cut, as well. I think he did a fantastic job! I can see this as a pendant or perhaps a really big ring!

Gemstones Again Round-Brilliant-3-Carats-Web


The last stone is the citrine. I have a bunch of citrines, but they are usually so fractured inside that they aren’t really suitable for faceting. The stone above seemed very clear and, as it turned out, it was!

Gemstones Again Citrine-Princess-Cut-1.7-Carats-Web

Apologizes again for the pictures as they really don’t show the beauty of the stones, but, as you can see, this Princess Cut weighed in at 1.7 carats and is a great yellow color!

I have to go through the stones I found this past weekend and see if I can find a few more to send to Gene! I also plan to start creating cabochons after the holidays, so stayed as I post progress on them!

What do you think of the finished stones? How do you think they should be mounted? Gold or Silver settings? Pendants or rings? Let me know how you would mount them?

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You can connect with me on social media, too, and let me know what your thoughts about the stones are. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, or just send me an email to!

Happy Holidays!!

Food Blogs and What Authors Can Learn!

This blog post is a bit of a departure from my usual topics of The Gemstone Chronicles, submarines, unusual and mysterious places, and conspiracy theories. Today I want to talk about food blogs!

Why food blogs? As readers of The Gemstone Chronicles know, my lovely and adorable wife Lana has a food blog. It was her foray into the blogging world that prompted me to self-publish my books and embark on my writing efforts. So, I owe food blogs for that inspiration. Besides the inspiration, though, food blogs like Lana’s can teach authors quite a bit.

Food stuffed-turkey-breast-feature-600x480

In the current environment in which we Indie authors exist, we have to be writers, publicists, marketers, social media experts, and many other roles. Such is the life of most bloggers. But, I think food bloggers have a little more to do. What do I mean? Take Lana’s blog for instance. Here is a normal routine for her to get a blog post ready:

  • Decide on the recipe. Will it be a theme or a recipe from her childhood?
  • Purchase the ingredients
  • Do the prep work for the ingredients
  • Cook the dish and photograph each step while cooking
  • Design the photo shoot, get the props arranged, style the food once the cooking is done
  • Set up lighting
  • Shoot the food before it dies (a term that describes the length of time before the food loses its desired appearance)
  • Process the photos
  • Write and edit the copy for the narrative around the recipe
  • Post the blog post, send out to social media and email list
  • Interact with others on social media to promote and market the blog

I’m sure I missed a step or two in Lana’s process, but you get the general idea. Now, compare that to what an indie author might do when writing a novel.

  • Decide what to write about
  • Research the book
  • Flesh out characters, plot, and story
  • Write the first draft
  • Either work on a cover or contract it out, but author still has to approve it
  • Rewrites and edits until the book is ready for release
  • Decide on the platform(s) for publishing (Amazon, Smashwords, etc.)
  • Publish
  • Promote, market, and publicize

The processes are very similar, I think, but food bloggers have to do it 2-3 times per week! And there are some extremely successful food bloggers out there. One of the first (and probably the most well-known food blogger) is Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman. While Lana’s blog isn’t quite a large as Ree Drummond’s, Lana does get almost 2 million hits per year on her site! Compare that with my blog, where I get 15,000 per year (which I am trying to grow), and you see how much more popular her site is.

I will be taking a few pages from her book, and using some of her promotional ideas and efforts to see how they translate to my blog. As I am trying to use the blog to help promote my books, I can see how more blog traffic spreads the word about The Gemstone Chronicles. I encourage writers to visit food blogs, study how they write their posts, interact with their readers, and build an audience. I do caution authors, though, that they have to be sure to be genuine and not just act like sleazy salespeople. Yes, we all want to sell books, but just selling is a turn off. Be real, get to know your readers (of both your blog and your books), and reciprocate with supporters. Read other authors’ books, and write reviews. Tweet, pin, and post the reviews on Facebook and other social networks. When someone posts a review of your book, post it. This gives readers information about your book, but it also recognizes the effort that someone took to produce the review. And remember, you have to be persistent!

Here are some of the food blogs that Lana visits frequently:

I encourage authors to visit food blogs (and other blogs, too). Read over the recipes (and maybe make one or two), leave a comment (even if it is about the writing), and learn from what the bloggers do.

What food blogs to you follow? Have you learned anything from them? Leave me a comment and let me know! And, if you happen to have made a recipe from Lana’s blog, I would be interested to know how you liked it. As chief taste tester, I like to know that people enjoy her dishes as much as I do!

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Faceted Gemstones – Newest Additions!!

Regular readers of my blog (or my books) know that I’m a big fan of gemstones. I love faceted gemstones, cabochons, and tumbled stones. My books, The Gemstone Chronicles series, use the magical and mystical properties of gemstones as the basis of the magic the characters discover. I frequently go gemstone hunting at my favorite spot in the North Georgia Mountains, Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’, in Cleveland, GA. My two rock tumblers run almost all of the time, smoothing out the rough edges and polishing the stones I’ve found to a brilliant luster. Occasionally, though, I find a special stone that can be cut and faceted. Shown below is the first stone I ever had cut (an emerald)!


Faceted Gemstones Lana's emerald

Lana’s emerald


A 2.25 carat stone, it appraised nicely, and is still loose. Lana hasn’t decided on a setting yet. The stone is gorgeous, and since it was my first find, it is extra special!

My brother John found the peridot shown in the photo below. I had it cut for Lana. It weighed in at about 2.5 carats and I had it set in a sterling silver ring for her birthday. Beautiful!!


Faceted Gemstones

Lana’s peridot ring


Now, I have two new additions to the faceted gemstones family! I was hunting and found this rough ruby and sent it over to my faceting friend and he worked his magic. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the rough.

After cutting and polishing, here is the final faceted stone. Not huge by any means, but still weighing in at 1.3 carats, it is a great little stone!


Faceted Gemstones Ruby

Faceted Ruby


Note the description in the picture says sapphire, which is true. Recall that red sapphires are rubies! Gene cut the stone in a Cushion Cut, and it turned out beautifully!

I also sent over a piece of clear quartz that was stunning as a rough piece. Gene cut me two round brilliant cut stones about 1.25 carats each. I wanted to see how the quartz would turn out in a traditional diamond cut. I think they turned out great! What do you think?


Faceted Gemstones Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

Round Brilliant Cut Quartz


What do you think about my faceted gemstones! I have some garnets that might facet well, but I have to get them cleaned up and see what they look like. A nice sapphire (blue not red) or a piece of aquamarine to have cut might be nice, but no such luck yet. I guess I just have to keep on looking!

Which of my faceted gemstones is your favorite? What setting would you use for the emerald or the ruby? Do you think the quartz brilliant cuts look like diamonds? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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What I Have Learned From Being an Indie Author!

I haven’t done an update to my experiences as an Indie Author in quite some time, so I thought now would be a great time to do one. What exactly is an Indie Author? There are a number of definitions of Indie Author, but this one is my favorite from the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).

So what marks out an indie from other authors? The Alliance allows that you are an independent author if you:

  • Have self-published at least one book.
  • Recognise that ‘indie’ does not necessarily mean ‘self-publishing only’ and acknowledge that even the most indie-spirited self-publisher works in collaboration with other publishing professionals (editors, designers, distributors) to produce a good book and reach readers. You are open to mutual beneficial partnerships, including trade publishing deals where appropriate for you, so long as the author’s status as creative director of the book is acknowledged.
  • Expect your status in the partnership to be reflected in contracts and terms, not just lip service.
  • Recognise that you are central to a revolutionary shift in publishing which is moving from seeing the author as resource (in the new parlance ‘content provider’) to respecting the author as creative director.
  • Are proud of your indie status, which you carry into all your ventures, negotiations and collaborations for your own benefit and to the benefit of all writers.

You can find the entire article about the definition here!

What have I learned in the 2 plus years of being an indie author? I’ve learned that writing The Gemstone Chronicles was the easiest part of the process. It’s a great feeling to get the words down on the page, finishing the story, and heaving a huge sigh of satisfaction. Below is the cover of Book One: The Carnelian, my first book!



Then the work began! The initial step is the editing and rewrites. After reading through the manuscript and correcting all the typos, grammar mistakes, misspelled words, and other errors that you can find, you send the manuscript off to your editor for honest (and sometimes painful) critique. It helps to have thick skin.


After going through the manuscript on your own, it’s time to get the manuscript professionally edited. I don’t think I can stress that enough. I was lucky in that I have a wonderful friend who did my editing and made such a huge difference in the finished product. I’ve seen some books (both Indie and traditionally published) that had grammar and spelling issues. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read snuck in the narrative. I understand you can use it as part of a character’s dialogue, but not in the narrative. Complected is another one of my pet grammar peeves, as in she was dark-complected. The term is complexioned, but I digress. My point is that a good editor will find things like the examples and point them out. I know that my editor used a red pen freely (and deservedly so) on my manuscripts!


Once the editor goes through the manuscript and corrections made, I have seen a couple of different techniques for a final proof of the manuscript. I personally like reading it through a couple of times. One of the most creative proofing ideas is to read the book aloud to see if it makes sense. I may try that technique in the future. I don’t think either method is better than the other and I’m certain there are hundreds more options, but it is a necessary step. Even the best editors can miss something or, if you are like me, typos can happen during the correction process.


Now, the manuscript is complete and its time to format it for ebooks, printing, or both. Of course, this assumes that the cover is complete, but if that isn’t done yet, I would once again recommend getting some professional help, but that is up to the you, the author. There are so many resources out there that are affordable options, but this in one area where the author can spend as much as he or she wants. Whatever route the author chooses, just make sure that the cover is done well.

Formatting services also abound on the web. However, at least for ebooks, there are great formatting guides available from Kindle and Smashwords. I like to format the manuscript for Smashwords first, simply because it is more comprehensive than Kindle. Once I have completed the Smashwords formatting, the Kindle formatting is easier for me.

For the print version of the book, I learned much from trial and error. I use Createspace to publish my print books. Word to the wise. Study other books of the same genre!Pay close attention to the page color (cream vs. white), fonts, the front matter, copyright page, and all those little details that make the print book look professional and appealing to the readers. It will save you a lot of time and frustration!


I’m not going to spend a lot of time in this post on marketing. It deserves a post of its own and I’ll do one soon! Suffice it to say that marketing the book(s) has proven to be the biggest challenge of all.

Social Media

Most of us use social media of some sort. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, my blog, Goodreads, and LinkedIn. I recently signed up for Ello (though I haven’t used it much yet). I’ve joined groups on Facebook, Google +, and Goodreads and interact in them. I think the groups are the greatest! They give me the opportunity to ask stupid questions, find new strategies, and foster relationships with other writers (both indie authors and traditionally published). I get to learn more about the writing process and business. Good stuff that I recommend all writers try!

So, that’s my update on what I have learned in the past couple of years as an indie author! I’ve enjoyed the journey thus far, and I’ve just started writing my fifth book (and the first that isn’t part of The Gemstone Chronicles). It has been an amazing experience and I have met some awesome people. The biggest thing I have learned is that there are tons of people willing to help. All you have to do is ask!

Are you thinking about writing? Have you written something but don’t know what to do next? Torn between sending out query letters and trying to find an agent and a traditional publisher or becoming an indie author and self-publishing? Leave me a comment and let me know! I would be happy to try to steer you toward some help if I can. I know there are folks that helped me and I would be willing to bet they would help you, too!


Bragging on Lana!

Bragging on Lana!

Bragging on Lana



Readers of blog or any of my books know that my lovely and adorable bride, Lana, is my inspiration. It was with her encouragement that I began to write The Gemstone Chronicles and she had to put up with my frequent forays into the realms of elves, trolls, magical gemstones, and mythical monsters. It was also her willingness to begin her own blog that convinced me to publish my books. It’s time to do some bragging on Lana!!

Lana does all of the cooking (except for one or two guest posts by me) and does her own photography. She has taught me so many things about food, photography, blogging, writing, and life in general. I can’t say enough about her! Lana totally rocks!

So, today marks the fourth anniversary of her wonderful cooking blog! She started the blog on Superbowl Sunday in 2009. The first recipe she posted on her blog was one of my all-time favorites – Pasta d’Arrabiata. Since then, she has posted over 400 times to her blog, has thousands of comments, and millions of visits. Her blog has exposed me to a lot of new and different foods and, as the chief taste-tester, I have eaten most of them. And, they have been delicious! I mean, who can resist a Pecan-Cheesecake pie? How about Beef and Stout Pie using Guinness Stout? All of this and more can be found on her site.

Join me in celebrating her 4th anniversary and head on over to her blog to check it out. You can find it at Visit, check out the recipes, leave a comment, and make yourself eligible to win her giveaway of 4 four-piece place settings of Fiesta ware!!