Showing posts from 2006

Holiday Hangover Part 2

My holiday hangover evolved into a vacation week cold/flu/virus thing. I've been dealing with body aches and a runny nose since Tuesday night. So I'm putting off any attempt to write something entertaining until next week. With any luck, I'll have a new post up on Monday. Until then, have a safe and very Happy New Year!

Holiday Hangover

I imagine a lot of folks are suffering from holiday hangover today and the amount of eggnog imbibed has nothing to do with it. We spent months shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking, mailing Christmas cards, and now it’s over.

Thank goodness!

The last few years I haven’t gone overboard with Christmas. I used to do the Martha Stewart thing, bringing in fresh pine, making potpourri, baking dozens of cookies, and making handmade gifts. But the stress of getting everything ready for Christmas resulted in me not enjoying the day. One year, after all the gifts were opened my niece commented “Only 364 days until next Christmas.” I became homicidal. But I was too exhausted to act on it. Lucky for her.

For the last two years, I haven’t even decorated the house. The dust on the decorations stored in the basement make my eyes water and my nose run. I haven’t baked because my mid-forties metabolism (okay, LATE forties metabolism) has suddenly made me gain weight by simply looking at the pictures in …

What's Hot and What's Not

I learned a valuable lesson this week. If you really want to enjoy the holidays, don’t contact your agent a week before Christmas and ask how things are going with the manuscript.

She didn’t want to tell me until after the holidays, but, darn it, I asked.

In a nutshell, things are not going well. Here’s the problem: no one is buying original amateur sleuth mysteries right now. The current hot item that New York is hungering for are hard boiled, hard edged police procedurals. (Joyce, are you out there??? Perfect timing for you…not so good for me.)


Murder She Wrote is out. Bones, CSI, House, Shark, and Dexter are all in. So where does that leave me and my race track veterinarian? I have no idea. Having already received more information than I really wanted to know before the holidays, I’m waiting until after the New Year to delve into my options. To finish the current work in progress or not to finish, that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer through to the bloody end of bo…

Peace, Love and Mall Traffic

Writers tend to make use of all our life experiences, especially the bad ones, to make our stories and our characters more authentic, more believable. That being the case, I should be able to write about terror quite effectively after yesterday.

I took my mom Christmas shopping.

Inside the stores wasn’t too bad. I was surprised. But then again, we chose the prime time of the week to go shopping in our area…during the Steelers game. (We won even without me jumping up and down and screaming at the television.)

No, the terror was not in the stores. I found it in the parking lots.

People lose their minds this time of year. I’ve always found this to be true. A few years back, a little old lady ran a red light outside the mall and smashed into my husband’s pick up truck as he came home from his annual hunting trip. The lady never saw the light. She was in a post-shopping coma.

I’ve seen this over and over. I recently watched a girl run a stop sign (left-hand turn in front of an oncoming vehicle)…

The Big Move

Yes, I am now moved into what is officially my office. I love it. I haven’t had to close the door yet, but it’s there. Just having that wall separating me and my computer from the rest of the house insulates me and keeps me focused on the task at hand. Which is writing.

It would have happened anyway, but yesterday I reached the milestone of 200 pages written of my shitty first draft of Death Bet. I’ve been in a writing slump for the last few weeks. Not writer’s block, but a slump. I wasn’t entirely sure where the next few scenes were going. So I allowed myself to get distracted by an assortment of events. All of them were legitimate. Doctor’s appointments, emergency trips to the vet, holiday preparations and parties, blog posts… And of course, getting ready for the big move. If you want to see what this corner looked like before the big move, click here.

Okay, I’m never done with doctor’s appointments it seems. I have my annual check up today. I’m due to see the eye doctor before the en…

Moving Day

I’ve been dropping hints to my husband lately regarding my intention to move my work space into the spare room. If you’ve missed the earlier stages of this plan, click here to catch up. I feel that I’m getting close. You can now wander around in the spare room without tripping over anything. It wouldn’t take much to clear out the one corner that remains cluttered. So I wondered out-loud to Hubby, how in the world are we going to move my computer desk around the corner into the new office?

I built my computer desk from one of those kits from K-Mart. It weighs a ton. I have visions of hernias and emergency trips to the emergency room with blown disks and smashed toes. I’d really like to avoid that scenario.

Hubby comments, you’ve got a long way to go in that room yet. I gave him a very eloquent “nuh-uh!” He went on to say that this wasn’t something we would be getting to this winter anyhow. I assured him, we most certainly would get to it this winter. And soon. One afternoon, I boasted, i…

Procrastination and the Blog

Procrastination is a wonderful thing. I’ve been doing a bit of it myself this morning, mainly because I don’t know what to write about in this post. So I’ve been trawling the waters of the Internet for inspiration.

For those of us writers who do our writing on a computer as opposed to on paper with pen, the Internet is all too enticing. And since I went wireless a year ago, it’s entirely too easy. It’s always on, so just click and there’s my email. Another click and I can check on the latest news and weather (although I tend to try to avoid that…too depressing). Click again and I can browse all my favorite blogs.

Ah, blogs. The bane of anyone trying to get any work done. They are so much fun and there are so many of them. I could spent a full day just reading all my favorites and never get around to adding to the word count of my novel. But this morning, as my goal is to come up with a new post for my own contribution to writerly distraction everywhere, searching other blogs has offered…


I am now a published author.


My short story “A Signature in Blood” is now online in the Winter issue of Mysterical-e Magazine. So how does it feel to have a story you’ve written “out there” for everyone to read, you ask? Well, let me tell you. Pretty darned good.

When I first opened the page and saw the title with my name in the byline, I jumped up and down and nearly broke my desk chair. Then I saw the artwork which perfectly reflect the story and I jumped some more. The artist obviously read the story. And when I took a look at the contents page and saw the company I was in, I felt humbled and honored.

I hope you’ll pop over and read it. I wrote it quite a while ago and it’s been fun seeing it in print. I’ve also enjoyed hearing my reader’s comments on it. Feel free to post a comment. Unless you really hated it. Then I would request that you lie.

Just kidding. Sort of.

It Takes a Village to Write a Novel

I spent yesterday morning with my critique buddies working on our stories. I’ve heard of writers who don’t use a critique group. Personally, I can’t imagine NOT having one.

Actually, I belong to two. My face-to-face group that I met with yesterday and an online group. There are pros and cons to each. But then, there are pros and cons to each individual critique group, too. They’re kind of like shoes. You have to try them on and walk around in them a while before you know if it’s a good fit. If you join a group that belittles you and slashes your work to bits, get out. If the other members try to re-write your work so that it sounds like their work, get out. There are good groups out there. You just have to shop around.

My face-to-face group meets every three weeks. We are four women writing different genres. One writes sci-fi and some inspirational, another writes women’s fiction with mystery undertones, one writes children’s fiction and historical memoirs. I write murder mysteries. I’v…

Country Roads

Last week was not a good week for me and my family. Monday, I got the biopsy results back on my cat, Samantha. A tumor found under her tongue during an otherwise routine dental cleaning turned out to be squamous cell carcinoma. At the time, I knew nothing about the feline version of this cancer, but two days of Internet research left me feeling drained and saddened. My vet thinks he got it all. So does the lab. I’m holding onto that hope because apparently it’s about all Sammie and I have. The prognosis is not good otherwise. I’m having a hard time grasping all this. She’s so pleasantly plump and shiny, how can she be that sick?

By Wednesday I was getting a grip on my emotions, partly by allowing myself to be in a bit of denial. I kept chanting, “he got it all, he got it all.” We go back next week for a follow up exam.

Then Wednesday night my phone rang.

My sweet cousin, Flora Lee, who has been battling cancer of one type or another for well over twenty years and specifically breast canc…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last Tuesday during my Thanksgiving gets no respect rant, I started my gratitude list as follows:

I’m grateful for a wonderful husband, a comfortable home that we own outright, two sweet furry little cats to cuddle. And news that my friend Mary Alice came through surgery for breast cancer with good lab results.

I’ve been working on adding to it. One thing I had hoped to add was good news regarding my kitty, Samantha who had a biopsy done on a growth removed from beneath her tongue during an otherwise routine dental cleaning. Unfortunately, that news wasn’t so good. We’re hoping that my vet got it all. He thinks he did. So I’m hanging on to that hope for now.

So here goes with a continuation of what I’m grateful for in my life this year.

A wonderful, compassionate veterinary staff, my 86 year old mom’s good health, the staff at the Health Center who give such excellent care to my Alzheimer’s ridden dad.

I’m grateful for a working furnace on cold nights and for family and friends.

I’m thankfu…

Office Project Progress

After this weekend I feel like an archeologist. The past I dug into was my own and the site of the dig was my closets.

I found clothes from the 80’s. Stuff that I actually used to think looked good. Ha! I found a garbage bag tied in a knot and inside I discovered my old show bridle that I used on my mare Jenny. The tenth anniversary of her passing is next month. The silver has turned green, but the leather is in good shape. It’s totally useless, but I can’t part with it.

Like my wedding dress. It’s been preserved and boxed and takes up a huge chunk of storage space, but I can’t get rid of it. No one would want it anyway. The dress itself is quite small and looks like something from Gone with the Wind. So unless frill and ruffles and Chantilly lace come back in vogue, it stays.

But I did succeed in tossing a lot of stuff. Some of it hasn’t made it out the door yet, but it’s well on its way. I’ll be loading up my car with stuff for Good Will later this afternoon.

So, how much progress did I…

Office Project: Phase One

One of the reoccurring themes in my fiction writing is “letting go.” Accepting change and moving on. That’s probably because it’s become a reoccurring theme in my own life. I tend to get stuck and want to hang on to things as they are, simply because they’re comfortable. The known is always safer than the unknown.

But tomorrow I delve into letting go in a huge way.

I’m cleaning out my bedroom closet.

Actually, I started already. This morning I pulled all my clothes out that hang in there. It was like an archeological dig. I found several of those boxy, floral jackets with shoulder pads that were popular back in the ‘80’s. And to think I actually believed I looked good in those things! I also found a couple of cute dresses that I just don’t have the ambition to starve myself enough to get back into. I created quite a pile of stuff headed for the City Mission or Goodwill. Next, I have to get my husband AKA The Pack Rat to do the same. It could get ugly. Picture me in a tug of war with him …

What Happened to Thanksgiving?

As I was out and about yesterday, I saw it. A plastic Santa Claus in his sleigh pulled by plastic reindeer. It’s mid November, for Pete’s sake! The Halloween decorations haven’t been stored away long enough to collect dust yet. But here was a house already gearing up for a holiday that is six weeks away.

What happened to Thanksgiving???

Okay, I did see one lonely inflatable turkey on that same road. But it seemed dwarfed in comparison to the jolly old elf and his entourage. Thanksgiving gets no respect.

Why? I have some theories.

The original Thanksgiving revolves around the Native Americans and the pilgrims giving thanks for the harvest. But in this country today, how many people understand the importance of harvest anymore? Being a farm girl, I remember the relief in a full hay mow and grain bin. The silo filled with silage. The corn crib bulging with yellow ears. That’s field corn, folks. Not the sweet stuff you buy at a farmer’s market or the grocery store. This stuff is hard and feed…

Imaginary Friends

I am forty-seven years old and I have imaginary friends. There, I’ve admitted it.

I’ve always had imaginary friends, since I was a small child living a solitary farm life with one much older brother and no other kids around to play with. I had a “friend” who lived in one of our barns. In my mind the barn was a beautiful house. I had the floor plan and furnishings all laid out in my head. I could have become an interior designer. But instead, I write mysteries.

I still create imaginary worlds in my head. And I get to put my imaginary friends down on paper. With luck, I’ll eventually start seeing some money coming in as a result and NOT the guys in white coats coming to take me away. Ha ha.

My characters very often take over the scene. I try to keep them reined in to the general confines of the plot I have in mind, but they don’t always listen. And even when they play nice, they frequently throw in something I hadn’t expected. They’re always revealing things about themselves that I hadn’t …

My Winter Project

Yesterday my husband and I had a rare day off to spend together. So of course we couldn’t decide what to do. There weren’t any movies playing that I wanted to see. He said it was too cold to go bike riding (although we decided later that it would have been fine).

We ended up at Lowe’s.

We’ve been talking for a couple of years now about organizing our closets. We live in a small log house with only two closets in the entire house. And since we’re both “collectors,” also known as Pack Rats, we have more stuff than we have storage space. The result is clutter. We figure if we can organize our closets, we might be able to fit more stuff in there instead of piling it in the middle of the spare room floor.

Our spare room has gone through several incarnations. It served as a large walk-in closet. Then we converted it to a sewing room/meditation room. Then it devolved back into a large walk-in closet again.

Now I’m determined to transform it into my office. Right now my office space is in one cor…

Old Friends

Wednesday, I played hooky from life and traveled a hundred miles each way to spend the day with an old friend.

Let me clarify…she’s been a friend of mine for a long time. She isn’t old. We’re at an age where we can get a little touchy about certain terms of endearment.

She used to live thirty-five minutes from my home and we would spend several days each week visiting and hanging out either at her house or mine. Now she lives two hours away and we see each other once or twice a year. But when we get together, it feels like time has stopped.

She still has horses including an adorable little Paint filly. We trudged through the mud with her dog running laps around our feet to give the horses “cookies.” Actually horse treats, but they know the word “cookies” when they hear it.

We went out to lunch and caught up on all the gossip. We commiserated about our roles as caregivers to our elderly parents.

And we laughed. A lot.

Everyone needs an “old” friend or two. The kind that knows your deepest, d…

Random Monday Ramblings

Being from the Pittsburgh area, even though I’m out in farm country, I’m in a funk this morning. Most of us are. Our beloved Steelers lost yet again. I mentioned over on Working Stiffs that I think Ben Roethlisberger needs to take a week off and come to me for some Restorative Yoga and I’m renewing my plea here and now. Dear Bill Cowher, Let Charlie Batch play and give me Ben for one afternoon. He’ll be so relaxed and refreshed after a few hours of restorative yoga poses that he’ll come back and win every game the rest of the season.

Maybe we could fill Ben’s helmet with bubble wrap, too. I mean, good grief, the guy bounced his face off a car this summer.

Okay, I realize most of you didn’t come here to hear me whine about my Steelers, so I’ve leave it at that.

On to the Word Watchers Challenge. Tomorrow is our self imposed deadline for our latest goals. Once again, I’m not going to meet mine. I have rewritten chapters two through eight. And I’ve finished Chapter Nine, although, I now rea…

Another Acceptance

I really need to pay closer attention to my incoming emails.

First, I mistook the acceptance notice from Mysterical-E for spam and nearly deleted it. Then, just two days ago, I glanced at another email with something about “Submissions” in the subject line and assumed it was something more to do with the previous acceptance.

Wrong. It was another acceptance of another short story by another magazine.

So in addition to having “A Signature in Blood” in Mysterical-E’s Winter issue, another of my short stories, “Sanctuary” will be in Spinetingler’s Winter issue.

This one is entered in their cozy-noir contest. “Sanctuary” is a quirky piece. Dark, but with an uplifting ending. Too dark for cozy, too uplifting for noir. So I’d had a hard time finding a home for it. When I heard about the contest, I remember thinking, “Hmm. Yeah. Cozy-noir. That’s what it is.”

In publishing everything has to fit in a category. I think I’ve found mine. At least for short stories.

Anyhow, I’m pretty excited about hav…

How NOT To Get Published

There are many paths to publication. That discussion could go on for days. And does. If you’ve been to any writing conference, you’ve witnessed it.

But there is only one surefire method to NOT get published. Very simply, don’t submit.

Many of us are terrified of having our work actually read. Many more of us are mortified at the prospect of rejection. Get over it. If you have dreams of publication, you are going to have few nightmares involving rejection. It is going to happen. Accept it and move on.

The next stumbling block is the fear of multiple rejections. Okay, you sent that short story out and it got an impersonal form rejection letter. Don’t run the story through the shredder while wailing and gnashing your teeth. Find another potential market and send it back out. If you get a rejection from that one, send it out again. In the meantime, write something new to send to the first market on your list.


We’ve got about a week left to our October Word Watchers C…

Some days are diamonds...

…some days are stones. So goes the song lyrics. And nothing is more true when describing the life of a writer. The ups and downs’ll getcha if you’re not careful.

As previously reported, my debut short story has been accepted for publication this winter. I emailed the good news to my agent, hoping to get some good news back from her. Alas, such is not the case. I’ve had three rejections and two houses apparently aren’t interested in even looking at my novel.

I confess, I was seriously bummed out for a day or two. I weighed my options. Do I continue working on the second in the series when the first one isn’t selling? Should I pull one of my other ideas off the back burner and flesh it out into a new proposal?

Quitting entirely was never one of the choices. I may be a little down, but I’m still determined.

Times like these are when having a writing community around is vital. I whined to my writing friends in person and by email and they all patted me on the back and offered shoulders to cry…

When Spam Isn't

Saturday, I was waiting for responses to several e-mails I had sent earlier in the day, so when my computer played that chord that indicates “I’ve got mail,” I pulled up my chair to check it out.

I didn’t recognize the address of the incoming mail. My first thought was “darned spam.” But with my finger hovering over the delete button, I read the body of the message. It stated that Mysterical-E magazine will be publishing my story “A Signature in Blood” in their Winter Issue due out in December.

My second thought was, “alright, who’s playing a demented joke on me?”

I grabbed my submissions folder and, sure enough, I had submitted that story to Mysterical-E and the editor’s name matched the name of the e-mail’s sender.

My third thought was, “Oh, my God! I’ve had a piece of fiction accepted for publication!”

Then I nearly broke my chair jumping up and down in it.

Yes, I have finally cracked the fiction market. I’ve only had non-fiction articles published previously, but my dream, my first love…

Fun With Words

One of my favorite resources for research (besides hanging out at the racetrack) is Yahoo. No, not their search engine, although that can be quite useful, too. But rather their Yahoo Groups. When I first needed answers to questions on Thoroughbred racing, I did a search for groups on the subject and joined several. The members have been more than helpful. Besides, chatting with them is fun. And this whole Yahoo Group membership thing can become quite addictive. But that’s a subject for another day.

My friend Nancy Martin, author of the Blackbird Sisters Mysteries, introduced me to a little game she plays involving finding words. She listens and reads and certain words pop out at her. Each day, she collects a certain number of them. I forget how many…six, ten…something like that. For me, I haven’t set a number, but I do keep a running list of intriguing words. They might be something new and trendy. Or they may be something I’ve heard of long ago and never thought of using. The point is…

Writing Through Polarized Glasses

I left my favorite sunglasses at a friend’s house this weekend and have been forced to resort to my back up pair. They’re polarized. Colors, when viewed through them, are more saturated. The blue sky is VERY blue. The orange and yellow and crimson leaves of autumn blaze brighter than normal. When I take them off, the world seems dull in comparison.

Of course, this makes me think of writing. Pretty much everything makes me think of writing. But my polarized sunglasses make a good point about writing with emotion.

We want emotion in our writing. But writing from the gut, pouring it all out on the page is HARD. It’s so easy to just rush through those emotional scenes, brushing the surface, but never getting deep enough to pull our readers in. I have a couple of theories on this.

Perhaps, we assume that since we are feeling the anger, the passion, the fear, our readers certainly must be feeling it as well. Guess again.

Perhaps, we’ve been told to keep a lid on our feelings. Bottle up our inte…

The Joy of Research

We all strive for accuracy in our stories. Unless we’re writing an autobiography, that generally means we must do research. Does the idea of researching the fine points of your stories send chills down your spine? Do you put off making those phone calls and asking those questions? Or do you look forward to an opportunity to learn something new?

For me, it’s a little of both.

I need to track down someone in the West Virginia State Police to answer some procedural questions. I have an index card that I keep adding questions to. But I haven’t made the call yet. Why? I have no idea. Well, maybe I’m afraid they’ll think I’m some sort of kook who’s planning some horrendous crime. I did talk to one trooper while researching my first mystery. At first, he wanted to know who gave me his name. I got the feeling they were in deep trouble. But eventually, he softened up and gave me some great stuff. Still, I’ll try to find someone else to answer my questions this time.

On the other hand, there’s my …

Here We Go Again

I must confess, I haven’t added one new word to my work in progress since the end of the Word Watchers Challenge. That’s not to say I haven’t been working on it. I’ve done a little editing and I’ve done a little plotting and I’ve done a LOT of research. But nothing new has been added in weeks and this must not continue.

Besides, I heard from a lot of you that you wanted to do another one before the holidays so here we go again.

Word Watchers Challenge TWO.

I am pledging to reach 175 pages (I’m at 128 now) by Halloween. PLUS I intend to get the first five chapters rewritten due to changes that need to be made for accuracy sake. So, while that’s only 50 or so new pages, there is a lot to be done by the end of the month.

Come on in and state your pledge under comments and check back. Like before, we can do an update every Monday (except when I don’t get to it until Tuesday) and we’ll do a little cheerleading and, hopefully, inspirational stuff later in the week.

The writers are in the gat…

Defining Moments

I think it was Dr. Phil who introduced me to the term “defining moment.” Sorry, Doc. I’m borrowing your term for my blog.

My definition of a defining moment is an occurrence in your life that ultimately changes the course of your personal history. The funny thing is most of the time you don’t recognize those defining moments until years or decades later.

I can think of two big ones in my life.

The first one was going after a job at Lowry’s Western Shop. At the time, I had been out of high school for a year. I was working as an EMT at the local ambulance service, a job that paid just a little more than nothing. My mom kept hounding me to “get a job.” Lowry’s had recently opened a real store after operating out of the family’s basement for years. I became one of their very first employees who was not a family member. What made this little retail job where I spend most of my earnings right there in the store a defining moment was the guy who came in and picked up the sales girl (me). Within…

Refilling the Well

I confess. I’ve been suffering burnout. Not so much with my writing, although I think it’s probably suffered, but as a yoga teacher, I’ve been burnt out. Life in general has had me burnt out. Spending a couple hours daily sitting with my dad in the nursing facility drains me. Fizzled vacation plans all summer built resentment toward friends and family who did get to escape.

Then last weekend I attended that yoga workshop and surrendered my role as teacher, caregiver and fixer-of-all-wrongs and allowed myself to be the student. Just being the nurturee instead of the nurturer helped refill the well of my spirit.

I managed to get some one-on-one time with my teacher over Mexican food and she cut right through all the crap. I try to hold up the entire world on my very stiff lower back muscles. I need to learn to say “no” without explanation or apology. I need to…well…get in touch with my needs. And fill them.

I came away from the weekend feeling rested. I had new material to share with my yo…

Sympathetic Joy

I’m still digesting all the wonderful stuff I picked up last weekend at the yoga workshop. One of the assignments Judith Lasater gave us was the practice of Sympathetic Joy.

We’ve become all too familiar with the feeling of dread that seems to envelope the world today. Turn on the news and you’ll hear all the horrible things that mankind visits on itself. You walk away feeling tired and sad and doubtful that there’s any good left in the world. You absorb in other’s pain and become depressed as a result.

So why not use those empathetic abilities to drink in the joy in the world. It’s there. Oh, probably not on the news. Turn the darned TV off. But if you look, joy is there. Think of the feeling you get when you look at a baby and he smiles at you. THAT is Sympathetic Joy.

The party that I attended to celebrate the launch of Rebecca Drake’s new thriller was one example. I called it living vicariously through a friend’s success, but it’s the same thing. She was happy and all of her friends…

My Weekend

I had quite a busy weekend. Judith Lasater, one of my favorite people in the world, came to Pittsburgh to teach a yoga workshop. And Rebecca Drake, a friend and fellow Sister in Crime launched her first published thriller Don’t Be Afraid at a big bash at Mystery Lovers Bookshop.

The party was great. Elbow-to-elbow attendance, lots of food and drink and conversation. What could be better? Oh, yeah…and she sold out. Not to worry, more copies are on their way.

Here's a shot of me and Rebecca.

The rest of my weekend was devoted to yoga. If you are at all interested in yoga and you ever get a chance to study with Judith Lasater, grab it. She is wise and funny and generous. Not to mention a darned good yoga instructor. I admit to having a couple of AH HAH moments, both in my practice and in my ways of thinking. Judith offered us a number of challenges to try in our daily lives, the simplest of which is to simply pay attention to the person you’re talking to at the moment. If your husband o…

Sport Shopping

I hate shopping.

Okay, several of my family members, avowed shopaholics, have just fainted dead away. Not to mention my friend, Glamgal, who no doubt thinks I should be committed for making statements like this. So let me explain. I hate shopping for things that you HAVE to have. Groceries. Household supplies. I mean, you spend all that money and next week you have to go out and do it again because the cupboards are bare.

But then there’s what I call Sport Shopping. No, I don’t mean going to Dick’s Sporting Goods, although for some, that might qualify. I mean Shopping for Sport. For fun. Alas, I don’t have the funds to do a lot of Sport BUYING, but really the shopping is the fun part. I think we all have our favorite stores for Sport Shopping. Here are a few of mine:

Macy’s. Admittedly, I have a love/hate relationship with this store. I love the clothes. LOVE them. Hate the prices. I have Porsche tastes on a Kia budget. There is a Ralph Lauren jacket that I visit every time I go into Mac…

Remembering 9-11

In my lifetime there have been three major events that I can vividly recall where I was when I heard the news.

When I was quite small, my mom and I were sitting in our car waiting for my brother’s bus when a radio across the road blared the report that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. Years later, I was wandering through a local shopping mall when I encountered an ashen-faced friend who told me in a trembling voice that the Challenger had exploded.

And then there was September 11, 2001.

Five years ago, I taught yoga on Tuesday mornings at the Millsop Community Center in Weirton, West Virginia. So while the nation lost its innocence, my students and I were blissfully unaware. When I came out of class, Lucille, who worked the front counter, told me of the planes crashing into the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. I waited with a stupid smile on my face for a punch line that never came.

During the half hour drive home, I listen aghast to the radio. During that half hour, t…

What you've done vs. what you haven't

The Word Watcher Challenge is winding down with this Sunday being the BIG DAY. So far one of our participants has already reached her goal (YAY, Betty!). A couple of us are close. And a few have gotten so overwhelmed by the catastrophes dumped on them by life that they only see the pages not written. Or they see the success that others have experienced—the progress others have made and they feel like failures.

There are no failures here!

I think what we need to focus on as we gallop toward the finish line (my novels are set in the world of Thoroughbred racing, you know) is what we have accomplished, not what didn’t get done. Okay, so you pledged 50 words and only wrote 5 because family and health disasters crashed down around your ears two days into the challenge. You know what? You are now five pages further along than you were before this thing started. THAT is the point. Any progress made is just that. Progress. Don’t play it down because others did more.

I have a yoga class with a ra…

One Week To Go

The Word Watchers Challenge is entering its final week! So how is everyone doing? We’ve all been busy. We’ve all faced various distractions, some more serious than others. But hopefully, we’ve all put some words on paper (or screen), which puts us further ahead than when we started.

So let’s check in, folks. Paula? Betty? How’s it going?

Jaye, you wanted to get 40 pages done? Any progress? Darlene, you’ve been swamped, I know. Did you get any writing done in between everything else?

And how are you doing, Ruby? I realize you were very hesitant about committing to any kind of numbers, so any added pages will count as progress.

Hey, Joyce, are you approaching you 175 page goal?

Debby? Kaylee? How about it?

Okay, I’ll start. My goal is 150 pages. I am now on page 107. I figure I will need to produce almost eight pages every day until next Sunday to reach my goal. It’s do-able, but I’ll be struggling, like the rest of you, to get those words down in spite of other obligations. The only thing th…

Back from Vacation

Okay, so it wasn’t the vacation of my dreams, but it did involve escaping the daily routine and changing the scenery for a few days. The old truck and camper made the trip to Presque Isle (Erie) and back without incident. Even with me behind the wheel. All in all, it wasn’t bad.

As you can see, the sunsets at Presque Isle are gorgeous.

Hubby and his broken foot were stuck at camp most of the time. He’d soak his foot, which has developed into quite a work of art…purple and blue and green and yellow…and I’d ride my bike.
We went on the pontoon boat tour out into the lagoons of Presque Isle together on Thursday. Here is a shot of some turtles in the lagoon, taking in the sun. Yesterday, we explored downtown Erie courtesy of a new shuttle service. The rides are free and the buses look like old trolleys.

The remnants of Hurricane Ernesto caught up to us last night, but we’d planned on coming home this morning anyway, so we weren’t officially “rained out.”

I’d love to tell you I got a ton of wri…

Murphy's Law

I seem to have fallen victim to Murphy’s Law. I had my entire day scheduled with little in the way of free moments. Tomorrow, we leave for vacation. Four glorious days at Presque Isle on Lake Erie. Camping, biking, reading, eating out and, thanks to my laptop, working on my novel.

What I hadn’t counted on in my tight schedule today was my husband taking a bad step while putting the cap on the truck and twisting his ankle. All plans for the morning were cancelled. Instead, I drove hubby to the urgent care center a half hour away. I’ll have to sing the praises of this place in a future post. In and out in an hour sure beats a minimum of five hours in an emergency waiting room. The news was not good. He has a broken bone in his foot and needs to see the orthopedist. He is in a splint and on crutches with orders to NOT bear weight on it. Needless to say, the camping trip is on hold. Indefinitely.

If there is any good news here, it’s that we got an appointment with the man I consider to be t…

Training Your Muse

I hear so many writers complain that they aren’t getting any writing done because their muse isn’t showing up. Contemptuous beasts, these muses. They tease us and flirt with us, whispering beautiful prose in our ears one day and then crawling under a rock and refusing to come out no matter how hard we beckon and plead the next. So how’s a person supposed to get anything longer than flash fiction completed when the fickle muse refuses to play with us?

If your muse is present at this moment, stick your fingers in his (her?) ears, because he (she?) won’t want you to know about this. You can train your muse. Yes, it’s true. They may act like feral cats, but with some patience on your part, it is possible to have them behave and come when called.

Okay, so maybe I’m a little tongue-in-cheek today, but only a little.

Years ago I learned to meditate as part of my yoga practice. Meditation is hard! You sit and tell your brain to shut up so you can listen to the quiet. But spinning out thoughts is…

Let the Whining Begin

I’m never going to meet my goal in this Word Watchers Challenge.

Have any of the rest of you been singing this lament? Every day I look at my calendar, searching for an hour I could steal to work on my manuscript. Unfortunately, this week, it seems to be going the other way. Stuff comes up and I’m “borrowing” time designated for writing to tidy up the house because I have a friend coming for a visit on Wednesday for lunch. Tomorrow, I have to spend the morning taking my mom to a doctor’s appointment. Maybe I can take my laptop and get some work done in the waiting room. In the midst of preparing for company and going to doctor’s offices, I need to get the camper cleaned up and stocked for our upcoming vacation.

So, yes, I’m whining about too much to do and no time to write.

Okay, everyone who is taking part in this Word Watcher Challenge, time to leave a comment and let us know about your progress or lack of it. Feel free to whine. Or gloat.

As for me, I’m on page 82 (Goal: 150). Not bad,…

Writing Around Life

How is it that now that we’ve set these goals and given ourselves a deadline, that life starts exploding around us? Happens every time.

Doctors appointments crop up, major appliances go on the fritz, a new assignment comes up in our day job that requires hours of our precious writing time. Or it could be that old friend calls and invites us to lunch. How in the world are we supposed to meet our writing goals when life throws all these obstacles in our path?

I figure there are a number of ways to deal with this. If you’re already stressed to the max and ONE MORE THING is going to send you into a tailspin of depression, then by all means, blow off the deadline! That is, of course, assuming that you don’t currently have a contract for this novel and the deadline is self-imposed rather than editor imposed. I’m big on forgiving yourself. We tend to be very nice people who can forgive others in our lives, but turn around and beat the crap out of ourselves over some little thing. Let it go. Ma…

The Word Watchers Challenge

Back on August 1, I posted about my personal goal of reaching 150 pages by September tenth. Several of my writing friends latched onto the idea and “pledged” goals of their own. Before I quite knew what was happening, the Word Watchers Challenge was born.

Here’s how it goes: Leave a comment stating your writing goal to be reached by September tenth. It can be anything writing related from pages in a first draft, to revised or rewritten pages, to finishing a smaller writing project you’ve been putting off. One gal wants to get her character charts completed. That’s fine. As long as it’s something writing related.

No, you don’t have to post your writing efforts. You can, however, comment on your progress. Or lack thereof.

I’m keeping this as simple as possible. You don’t even have to come forward and post your goal. But it’s a lot easier to fudge on a promise that no one knows about. That’s why I put my intension in print two weeks ago. We’ll all hold each other’s feet to the proverbial f…

A Sad Twist

I’ve put off writing this post. Almost decided to write something different instead. Then decided I needed to write it. Consider this post as my therapy. Please bear with me.

I had planned on this post being about my weekend at the horse races. My friend had two horses from her barn running…DC on Saturday and Rocky on Sunday. I expected to able to write about an enjoyable couple of days trying to pick a few winners and cheering on the horses I know.

As a mystery writer, when I create a twist in my story that throws the reader for a loop, I feel quite smug and pleased with myself. I love it when a reader tells me, “I never saw that coming!” But sometimes life throws a twist at us that leaves us stunned and drained.

Saturday went pretty much as I’d hoped. My husband and I met up with our friends and tried unsuccessfully to pick some winners. I had my favorite snack (nachos). DC was in the last race and the nerves built to a fever pitch by post time. DC broke slow as is her habit and traile…

The Eyes Don't Have It

I would say that I recently celebrated my forty-seventh birthday, but “celebrating” isn’t really the right word. It came, it went. I received a few funny cards. My husband took me out to dinner. That about covers it.

I don’t feel like I’m getting older. Thanks largely, I suppose, to yoga, I don’t have any more aches or pains than I did ten years ago. If anything, I’m more flexible than I’ve ever been. Okay, I really don’t like the fact that my metabolism has slowed to a crawl and I have to work twice as hard and eat half as much and the numbers on the scales continue to creep upward. But what is beginning to bug me more than any of that is the conflict between my vision and modern technology.

Last week, my old handheld tape recorder died. Too much time left in the console of my sun-baked car, I suppose. So I splurged and bought a tiny digital recorder.

I like gadgets. At least, those that are useful to me. I haven’t ventured into the realm of I-Pods yet. I don’t even know what one is. Or…