On Getting Started at Writing (or Don’t Buy Something When You Don’t Know What It Is)

Hummingbird Fountain
Hummingbird Fountain

The above picture has nothing to do with this post. My husband built a hummingbird fountain for me this spring. The hummers come in early morning. Sometimes they sit on the side and preen as they dip water from the dish. Sometimes they fly into the water, then sit on a branch and preen.  It is really neat to watch.

How does one get started toward having a book published?

When I started writing, I found other authors on Facebook and began asking them questions. These were not famous authors, btw. I didn’t shoot for Danielle Steele or Stephen King. These were authors who were just getting started or authors who had one or two books under their belts.

One of the authors told me, “You have to buy a domain with your name. Buy it now, before someone else buys it, and then you can’t use your name.”

“What’s a domain?” I asked.

“It’s a website.”


“Where do I get one?”

“You can buy one on Google for about $10.00.”

Note: You don’t actually pay Google for the domain. You pay a different company for the domain. Google just helps you purchase it.

I got on Google and bought my domain: catherinehackman.com

One problem: When you buy the domain, it doesn’t just automatically pop up on the Internet with everything ready to go. Silly me-I thought it did.

Three months and a lot of research later, I hired a company to set up my website and my blog. You can do it yourself, but I don’t know how.

If you are a writer just starting out, see if you can find a friend or relative to help you set up your website or blog and get it on the Internet. There are a lot of people out there who know how to do it–try a third grader–LOL! A third grader probably doesn’t know how to do it, but I bet a high school kid does.

Also, do some research and look at other authors’ websites/blogs before purchasing a domain or hiring someone to set up a website for you.

#1 Thing to Remember as a New Writer: Many writers invest a lot of money when they first start out because LIKE ME, THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. Research, ask questions to other writers just starting out, join some writers’ groups on Facebook, and ask questions to other writers who have a few books under their belts, and research.

Fortunately, I found a good company, and they didn’t charge a whole lot to set up and host my website.

What is “host”? Your website has to be “hosted” on a server somewhere in order for it to appear on the Internet.

I intend most of my posts to be funny and informational. I must apologize: this one is just informational.

Coming Thursday:  STRANGER THINGS

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See Ya!


Dear Younger Me. . .

Mercy Me has a song out called “Dear Younger Me. ” In it the singer tries to decide whether or not to give his younger self “spoilers” about how his life will turn out.

Here’s Mine



Savor all of those fresh vegetables from the garden. Find out how Grandpa Dave does it because when you are older, your vegetable garden is going to leave something to be desired, like vegetables.

You were a good kid. The incident with the concrete wasn’t your fault. Grandpa Dave should have locked the door.

This is how you thought you looked:

Me–Teenager in Play

This is how you really looked:


Me–High School Graduation Party*

You will look like both when you are older, depending on the day and how much effort you want to put out.

Yes, you will eventually find Grandpa Dave’s secret hot chocolate recipe. It will be in the last place you thought you’d ever find it.

Invest in Wal-Mart, Disney, and Pepsi. You will be rich in about 20 years.

The Bionic Woman doll was ugly, and you will get SO MUCH mileage out of how it gets broken. Don’t take it too hard. After all, she was truly bionic for about an hour.


Someday, you will be athletic! Believe it or don’t!

Relax more. Read more books and watch more television. Spend more time with friends. In college you are going to have so much fun with Debbie, Lorrayne, and Dale. You are going to meet some awesome people and have some great adventures.

Keep track of Lynette, who talked you into rappelling that day. (Don’t worry, it’s fun, and neither of you die.) She just kind of disappears from your life, and although you try to find her, you haven’t yet.

Someday you will meet a man who will laugh with you. You will know when he laughs that he is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with.


You do get a dog eventually, and she is a good one.

Post in the comments below what you would tell your younger self. I would LOVE to know. And if you know a woman over 35 whose name is Lynnette and who is from the Chicago area, please show her this blog post, and tell her to get in touch with me.


Life Saving Tips


This article is full of practical ideas on everyday living that just might save your life.

I love watching stories about how people survive under adverse circumstances. One man was stranded on a mountain for several days.  He had to stay zipped up in his sleeping bag, make sure his hands and feet didn’t freeze, etc.  One thing he said stayed with me: he filled a water bottle with snow and kept it against his body until the snow melted before he drank it.  He said that he had to do that because eating snow would lower his core body temperature, and he would freeze to death.  Remember that for later; it’ll give my story more street cred.

On Shopping:

I was shopping the other day in an underwear store–I guess to be fancy, I should call it “lingerie.”  Anyway, the store clerk told me that if you want to know if a pair of underwear will fit, put the waistband around your neck, with the rest of the panty hanging down in back, like a scarf.  If the waistband overlaps a little, you’ve got a winner.  If it overlaps a lot, hooray!, you get to go down a size.  If you strangle yourself and pass out in the store, probably not a good fit.  My friend and I stood there wearing underwear around out necks for about half an hour.  I forgot I had one on and made it about two stores down before somebody said, “Cool scarf!”  Oops!

I tried it with a pair of skinny jeans.  I wrapped the legs around my neck–way  too big–hooray!  I am going to have to write the company, however.  When I got into the dressing room, I couldn’t even get my foot in.  They have got their pants way out of proportion.

On Body Image:

Coincidentally, my insurance company’s quarterly newsletter was in the mail box.  The main report said the new way to calculate health is waist-to-height ration.  The measurement of the waist is supposed to be half the measurement of height.  I got out the tape measure.  After figuring the numbers in my head twice and on a calculator three times, I decided to remeasure after I buy myself a pair of six-inch heels.

On Bargain Shopping:

If your husband is a bit stingier than you and looks at price tags, there is a win-win suggested by one of my friends.  When you purchase an item on sale, cut off the tag and put it in a box.  When you buy something a little pricey, get a tag out of the box and put it on the item.  Your husband will think you are a super-shopper, and no one is the wiser.  Make sure the box of tags is well-hidden and burn the store receipt.


On Ice Cream

It is my considered opinion that ice cream has gotten the bad end of the stick in the nutrition wars.  Ice cream is perfectly healthy and is good for any meal.  My kids lived on ice cream for breakfast for years (and neither one is even close to overweight.).  Their friends loved to spend the night at our house because for breakfast, they got ice cream with chocolate syrup (also healthy because of its high magnesium, copper, and potassium content and great antioxidant value).  I only see one danger in ice cream:  if you eat too much, you could lower your core body temperature so much that you could freeze to death.  It’s true; I saw it headlined in a tabloid once:  Woman eats 40 gallons of ice cream and freezes to death.  Don’t worry, I always watched the kids closely, and if their breath started to frost, I said tactfully, “I think you’ve had enough.”  You now stand warned of an inherent danger of ice cream that you probably never thought of before.  Remember:  It’s always funny until someone freezes to death.

It’s Harvest Time: A Teaching Tool for Parents

This is a combine.
This is a combine.
This is a tractor.
This is a tractor.

I am posting this for the benefit of those who did not grow up around this kind of machinery as I did not. Also for those who would like to teach their children the difference between a combine and a tractor.

My husband used to farm. He did not like it when I called the combine a tractor. I didn’t really see what difference it made what I called them, but I soon found out that their names ARE NOT interchangeable, at least not within earshot of a farmer.  I took the time to study them and learned that a combine has a cow catcher on front and a tractor does not. I guess that is because there is more chance of the cows being in the field eating the ripe corn at harvest than there is at any other time.

This is a tractor in front of a gravity wagon.
This is a tractor in front of a gravity wagon.


I am not sure why a gravity wagon is called that except that probably gravity drags the grain to the bottom of the wagon.

Anyway, if you live in the Midwest, you are going to see A LOT of these on the roads in the coming weeks and months.

This is what a combine looks like from behind.
This is what a combine looks like from behind.

Parents, please tell your driving-age children to allow extra time during harvest in case they are caught behind a slow moving farm vehicle. You can show them the pictures in case you think they might not know when they are behind farm machinery, or if you think they might not know what the orange triangle means. I failed that one on my driver’s test last year–trudat. I labeled it a “yield sign.” Hey, don’t judge, they’re both triangles. (In case you are like I was and still don’t know what that orange triangle means, it means, “Slow Moving Vehicle.” Tip: You will be tested on that if your name is ever drawn to take the written driver’s test.)

You can also tell them about ICKY: Impatience Can Kill You.

Our farmers deserve a little of our patience and a lot of our gratitude. I really don’t want to be purchasing my food from other countries. If we have to rely on other countries for our food, we will face poor quality and expensive prices.

So, remember, it’s better to arrive late than not to arrive at all. We need to support our farmers so that we’ll have good healthy food for years to come. And, if you ever need to know the difference between a combine and a tractor, you can reference my blog.

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Until Next Time: Be Safe!





My Dog and I Do Ab Work-Outs Together.
My Dog and I Do Ab Work-Outs Together.

Reepicheep and I are working out to get ready for the expedition. As you can see, she pushes me to do just one more crunch when I am too tired to go on.

When I started teaching back in the day, I commented to another teacher that I was a body builder. (Those days are long past, btw.) She said, “You are going to need that.” I puzzled and puzzled over what she meant. I now know.

Teaching, writing, any kind of stressful or sit-down work requires physical stamina. Lifting weights and running provided the strength and stress relief I needed to do the best at my job then, teaching. Running and working out provide the strength and stress relief I need now to do the best at my job now, writing.

I estimate that we will walk four to ten miles a day on our expedition. To prepare, my dog, Reepicheep, and I walk every day. When we are finished walking, Reepicheep stinks. She stinks regularly anyway because she is a dog. I really don’t like the smell, and I don’t like to think of that smell building up in my couches, etc.

I could give her a bath every day.


But that would take a lot of time and dry out her skin.

I have discovered a trick to keeping her clean and fresh smelling without daily baths.

After we walk, I wet down a cloth diaper with warm water. I then spray the diaper with Naturally Green Tropiclean ® Refreshing Body Spray for pets. Available on Amazon for about $12.00. (It is also called “Pet Cologne.”) Next, I rub the damp diaper all over her body. The Baby Powder scent keeps her smelling fresh, but someone can only detect it if sniffing right up against her fur. She seems to like the rub down.

Disclaimer: Please consult your vet before trying this on your pet. I do not claim responsibility from any detrimental effects this treatment might have on your pets– especially if your neighbors steal your pet because they think it is the one dog with the unique trait of not stinking, ever.

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See you soon!

Has My Bible Been Lying to Me?

For about 30 minutes last night, I thought my Bible had been lying to me. I was studying maps for our expedition. The maps were of the same area. Since old expeditions involved hand drawn maps, I drew renditions of the maps I was examining.

Map One
Map One

The first map was in a book I am using for research.

Map Two
Map Two

The second map was in my Bible. The Bible map didn’t look right. Where was the Arabian Gulf? Also, clearly, from the first map, there should only be water to the East of the desert, not dry land and more desert.

I got a globe and examined it. The first map looked right. The second map looked really wrong.

I finally realized that the scale of the two maps was what was throwing me off.  If you combine the two maps, here is what I was really looking at:

This is Map One with Map Two in the orange circle.
This is Map One with Map Two in the orange circle.

I always believed the Israelites wandered for forty years in a desert the size of the Arabian Desert when they really traveled in an area the size of the “triangle” in the orange circle (The Sinai Penninsula). That triangle is about half the size of the state of Alabama  in the U.S. or half the size of the country of England (reference.com and Britannica.com), so even though it looks comparatively small, it is quite expansive.

I hope you will continue to explore with me in the weeks and months ahead. You might want to bring your own maps, (GPS, Compass, Smart Phone). I am directionally challenged, and from the looks of the above, we are going to be lost MOST OF THE TIME.

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A Writer’s Expedition

Reepicheep and I Planning Our Expedition
Reepicheep and I Planning Our Expedition

I am going to start with a confession. Remember, if you confess something, it’s something socially deviant, or you would tell people.  Here is my first big confession:  I don’t have any parents or a sister. I do have a brother. Don’t ask me how this is possible.  If I did have parents or a sister, they would tell me that absolutely under no circumstances am I to write about them.  Once you get to know me, you will understand why. In future, I will refer to my “pretend” family. Anything I write about them has not one thing to do with any other family I might have—real or imagined. My brother did give me permission to write about him. He knows that I know that if I write anything bad, he will get me, so he isn’t worried.

Big Confession Number Two: I am a second-hand smoker.  Definition:  I like to breathe second-hand cigarette smoke.  When I told my brother (who has smoked off and on in his lifetime), first he wanted a definition.  Then he said, “That’s really odd (paraphrase of what he really said which I will not print here).”  I said, “What do you mean?”  He said, “Even smokers don’t like the smell of cigarette smoke.”

If you are smoking and see a stranger sidle up next to you, it’s probably me.  I try to act casual about it.  Before smoking in public places was banned in this state, I was probably the only non-smoker who asked to sit in the smoking section of restaurants.  I have asked some of the candle and wax makers to make cigarette scented products.  They don’t ever reply, but I think they have added my email to some of those anti-smoking websites, and I have started getting solicitations from those electronic cigarette companies.

You now know two things about me: I don’t have a family, and I am a second-hand smoker. I know one thing about you: you are still reading my blog. That makes us casual acquaintances.

Now that we kind of know each other, I want to invite you on an expedition I have been wanting to take since I was ten. Going by myself would be a clichéd journey. If you go with me, it is a legit expedition because more than one person has to be involved for an expedition.

When I tell people I am an author with a self-published book, they generally ask: how do you do that? I hope that together we can answer this question. My expedition involves publishing my second, third, and possibly fourth books. At the end of the expedition, we will both know more about the publishing industry and what authors do to get published. I can’t go on this expedition without you, so get your passport and camera and join me. If someone you know is interested in writing, please invite them to come with.


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New Books

Fluffy Editing

Two people asked me to co-write books with them. I said, “Yes,” to both, of course.  One book should be ready for publication in a year, and the other in two to three years as the second book is going to require a lot of research. The LORD appears to have opened several doors at once for me to do this.

First, He provided me with a part time job. I had a great job as a bookkeeper. I loved everybody I worked with, the hours were good, and the work changed constantly–which kept me from getting bored. For personal reasons, I resigned from that job in May; my official last day was in June. A part time job which begins this fall will leave time for me to at least get started on the books.

Second, He has provided resources and ideas. A format for the first book has presented itself which is going to make the book so cool once it is finished. As for the second book, I have been struggling for the last year with finding sources. This month, I found three! I am so excited.

Don’t worry, this blog isn’t going to be all “churchy” and “religious.” The LORD is playing a huge role in these books, as He does in all of my work, so I want to make sure I give Him credit for this opportunity.

What are the books going to be about?  I am not ready to reveal that, yet. Keep reading my blog for clues, and tell me if you figure it out.



ReInventing My Website

I am reinventing my website. As my Internet is painfully slow, this will take a while. I will have it up and running asap.