Showing posts from June, 2006

Picnic Success

I survived the big picnic.

We arrived back here after an afternoon at my hubby’s Sportsmen’s Club where all my Sisters in Crime who write about murder and mayhem, but who in fact had never handled a real firearm, learned how to shoot trap and targets with shotguns, pistols and revolvers. Armed with loads of ideas for how to pump up their WIPs (Works in Progress for the uninitiated) and a major case of the hungries, no one noticed the weeds popping up through the mulch. My flowers looked bright and perky thanks to an abundance of rain. And said rain managed to give us a break and didn’t wash us out.

There was food and soft drinks and wine and beer. And lots of talk and camaraderie. My dear friends celebrated my finding an agent with a champagne toast. It was a nice day.

Am I glad it’s over? You bet. So is my cat, who spent the day hiding in the spare room wondering who were these people who had invaded her space.

Now, life is back to normal. The weeds are free to grow as they wish. The rai…

Write what you WANT to know

Anyone who’s written anything has heard the old adage: Write what you know. While I get the basic idea behind this, my initial reaction to it was, booorrrring. I mean, most of us probably think our lives are pretty dull. Who would want to read about any of the mundane things that go on in my ho-hum life? I had a teacher once who translated this age-old advice a bit differently. Write about what you know emotionally. Inject the emotions you’ve experienced in your life into the story. Beyond that, research the rest.

This, I like. Research used to scare me to death. (Hey, there’s a mystery plot in there somewhere!) Calling strangers and trying to get them to answer my questions gives me hives. Okay, I get a lot of my information from the Internet, but you can never be sure how accurate some of that stuff is. You need real, human verification of facts.

So I’ve altered the write-what-you-know phrase. Write what you want to know.

If you’re going to have to ask questions and talk to those stran…

Countdown and Clutter

Three days until my big Sisters in Crime picnic. Am I ready? Hell no.

The recent rains perked up my sickly flowers. It also brought the weeds back to life. And the winds last night knocked most of the flower heads off my hanging baskets. Ah, well. Some things you just can’t control.

Note to self: Just let it go. And pull weeds.

Inside the house, I’ve used the picnic as an excuse to replace the ratty curtains in the kitchen and bedroom. It’s June. There won’t be any coats to toss on the bed, so no one will even be in my bedroom. But, hey, I’ve got nice new curtains in there. Matching bedspread, too. Woo hoo.

My big task before Sunday is to de-clutter my workspace. It’s not really an office, since my desk and computer reside in one corner of the living room, but I call it my office. And it’s a mess. Piles of paper clutter everywhere. One pile on a chair contains magazines I’ve considered submitting short fiction to. And under the magazines are a stack of newspaper clippings about a local fi…

Illusion and Reality

I don’t have a green thumb. This is a pitiful thing to admit, coming from a farm family. Even though it’s been decades since my grandparents gave up on dairying, my mom still takes great solace in digging in the dirt, growing flowers and vegetables. My dad, before the ravages of stroke and dementia stole his soul, could always be found in their garden or puttering around in their yard.

Meanwhile, as I enjoy the dream of a country garden, blooming with flowers and fragrant with herbs, the reality is I grow a mean crop of weeds.

The intension is there. When the first warm breezes of spring rustle last year’s dead leaves that I conveniently left in the flower beds as “mulch,” I usually manage to do get a little dirt under my fingernails. But after that, the appeal of sweating over weeds that never die while bugs chew on my extremities eludes me.

About every five years or so, I do the only thing that prompts me to get the yard looking nice. I plan a picnic. Five years ago, it was a family a…


Today, I'm turning my blog over to Deborah Sutton from the U.K. who does the wonderful website Writers Unite (see link to the right) which offers all sorts of good, sound advice for up and coming writers.

A few years ago I interviewed a multi-published UK writer. I’m not going to mention her name here, but at the time she had published somewhere around 80 - 90 short stories in magazines all over the globe. Now that’s a lot of stories whichever way you look at it, never mind published stories. And that was back then – goodness knows what the tally is today.

During the course of the interview, we were talking about the closure of a well known British short story agency, and she mentioned the fact that several people had approached her to ask if she would take it over and keep it going.

Then she said something that I will never forget, and something that made me really think about my own writing desires and motivations.

She said: “The fact is I don’t want to empower people; I want to be…
In case you’re wondering what a person does next after gaining an agent, no, I didn’t go to Disney World.

Friday, after a few rounds of the Snoopy dance, I took my mom to visit my dad in the nursing home. And then to the store. And then BACK to the store to get the bag of groceries she forgot. I get my ditziness from my mom.

Saturday, I cleaned house and helped Ray spread mulch. Woo hoo, do we know how to have fun or what? Okay, we did go out to dinner to celebrate, but in all honesty, we were going to do that anyway. Kind of a belated anniversary dinner (23 years on May 21st). After our big dinner, we went to Lowes for garden supplies. Like I said, we know how to party.

Sunday, I got the contract in an email attachment from my agent (gosh, I love to say those words…my agent). I printed two copies and carried one around all day, occasionally giggling at it. At one point, I felt fairly certain a van with guys in white uniforms carrying a net was going to pull into my driveway. They’re com…

How Did It Happen?

Since I have emailed just about everyone I know with my big news, I have gotten the same question from several members of assorted writing groups to which I belong. My fingers are getting worn out from typing the story over and over, so I’m putting it here once and for all.

No, I didn’t query. I did do a lot of research and had a wish list of agents lined up with contact info and submission requirements noted. But first I hit the networking trail. I went to book signings and talked to authors, subtly dropping the fact that I had a completed manuscript into the conversation. That actually got me two offers to have me send it to their agents. I went to Malice Domestic and had a published friend (Nancy Martin…go buy her Blackbird Sisters Mysteries!) introduce me to an agent.

Then I went to the Pennwriters Conference two weeks ago in Harrisburg. Actually Grantville, but let’s not quibble over geography. I had signed up for an agent appointment and I had volunteered as a time keeper for the …

Dreams Do Come True

I have an agent!

It looks so calm in print. In actuality, I’m a quaking, quivering, excited mess. Since I got the phone call this morning, I’ve broken two fingernails, fallen off my shoes nearly spraining my ankle and accidentally ripped the fuse box cover off its hinges in my car.

But I’m fine now. Really.

Okay, I’m a little better than fine. This is one of those moments we writers dream of. Oh, yeah, I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t imagining all this. It hurt. It must be real.

Someone recently told me that the biggest high they had gotten in their writing career wasn't the sale of their first book. It was that first call from an agent wanting to represent them. I believe it. Of course, the rest of it hasn't happened to me yet, so I'll get back to you.

So don’t call me tomorrow night. My husband will be taking me out to dinner to celebrate. He doesn’t know this yet, because he wasn’t home when I got the news and then I had to take my mom shopping and he’s working aftern…

Maiden Voyages

Over the winter, my husband and I purchased a used camper trailer and last week we finally got it out of dry dock, as Ray referred to it, and hit the road. This maiden voyage of Camp Dash made me think of all the firsts I’ve been dealing with lately and the similar problems that arise.
We hadn’t made it six miles from home when the break-away cable pulled loose at a sharp turn at an intersection, locking up the trailer brakes. Let me tell you, the brakes work. Big old monster truck wouldn’t budge that camper. We both jumped out. I directed traffic while Ray scurried to make a quick repair and an adjustment to prevent a reoccurrence.

Traveling on Interstate 80, we encountered an obstacle course at 60 MPH. A tractor trailer’s tire had separated. A large chunk of tread sprawled across half of our lane of traffic. I managed to say, “look out.” At that speed, it’s hard to verbalize, “Slow down, honey. There’s a chunk of rubber in the middle of the road.” Ray swerved onto the berm of the roa…