Spring has Fully Sprung

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I just love the Crab Apple trees in the spring. The purple, pink, and white flowers aren’t only breathtakingly beautiful, but their sweet, tangy aroma is candy for the nose. (The legal kind!) As I was running this past weekend, I was in awe of how the landscape is painted and planted so perfectly, so pleasing. The patio furniture is out, the sun curtains hung, the grill ready, and flowers planted. Now if I can keep a very persistent robin from building her nest under the awning, we’ll be ready to roll.

On the writing front, another Spring session of Camp NaNo is now over and I met my goal–just barely, but I did. That means the first 40,000 words of book two in the Whispering Pines Mysteries are written. My plan is to keep the momentum going throughout May to finish the first draft. Also I have a story due by May 22nd to a publisher. Getting these two things accomplished while also working my day job as a Paralegal may require a weekend writing retreat where I head to the mountains and hole up, doing nothing but writing. My idea of a perfect weekend! July brings the summer session of Camp NaNo (and my favorite) in which I’ll be revising book four of the Melanie Hogan Mysteries.

May is also when we typically go for our first long bike ride of the season to Confluence Park in Denver. It’s about a 30-mile round trip and exhilarating! The park is home to all walks of life–similar to Boulder.

Do you have any plans for the remaining spring days and for summer? I would love to hear them.

Crab Apple Tree

Unique Boulder

We had family visiting from Minnesota this past week. With all the snow Minnesota has had this spring, my husband and I thought we would treat them to new sites. And the sites don’t get any better–or crazier–than Boulder, Colorado. In fact, Boulder is like it’s own little state. Comments like “Only in Boulder,” “That’s something you’d see in Boulder,” “Of course that happened—it’s Boulder!” And the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder is the cream of the crop.

However, that being said, Boulder is the best place to escape. It’s in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and home to University of Colorado Boulder, so it’s populated with full-of-life college students. It’s home to people who are comfortable being themselves, free from the chains of what society expects us to be. It’s a city that celebrates art and all walks of life, embracing human uniqueness, and holds no discrimination. It’s pure human freedom.

Below is a sampling. The gardening along the Pearl Street Mall was breathtaking, and the rest of the photos–well, there aren’t even words to explain. The pictures say it all.

Enjoy!

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And here’s a little shot of beauty with which to end.  And in the end, I’m all too happy to get home, where I’m free to be me. There’s nowhere like the quiet beauty of home.

And now it’s back off to Camp NaNo to finish up my writing goal.

Have a beautiful week!

Being different gives the world color.  Nelsan Ellis

Nature at its Finest

We spent some time at our place in Estes Park, Colorado this past weekend. In fact, we’re actually there now as I write this post. Before me is the amazing mountainside on the other side of the river right outside my sliding glass door, a cup of coffee at my side, one of my fur babies at my feet. This morning I enjoyed the hot tub right outside my door as the sun rose on the mountaintops. Typically there are a lot of tourists here, as Estes Park is consistently recognized as one of the top visiting sites, but this weekend was quiet and so peaceful. Every time I’m here, I’m reminded how blessed my life is.

Since I can’t seem to get enough of this place and would live up here if my day job and my husband’s commitments didn’t keep us elsewhere, I thought I’d share some of its charm with everyone. It doesn’t matter the season, it’s heaven on earth.

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This is one of my favorite little walkout hiding places. It’s located right off the trail that circles Lake Estes. The lake’s shoreline is about 4 miles.

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A lot of weddings are held here, also on the shoreline of Lake Estes.

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Bear frequent the area so these are located everywhere. Last fall as we were walking the fur babies in the early morning hours at our place, we ran into a mama and her two babies in our parking lot. That was a little too close for me!

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The art of fly fishing has always fascinated me and is on my bucket list. Someday. This river connects to Lake Estes. I’ve never fished here–yet–but rumor has it there are Rainbow trout, Brown trout, Sockeye salmon, Yellow perch, and Cutthroat trout.

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The mountains in the back of this photo were breathtaking on my run this morning.

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This beast was unconcerned with the growing crowd around him last summer.

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This duel was right outside of our sliding glass doors last fall.

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This beauty was allowing us to admire him this afternoon.

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We hiked this trail last summer. It’s located in Rocky Mountain National Park. Our place is a mere 1/2 mile from the entrance to the park.

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This is off the same hiking trail last summer in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Now it’s back to camp. Camp NaNo, that is. Book two in the Whispering Pines Mysteries is well underway. And no surprise, it’s set in the Colorado mountains. But I need to step it up a bit if I’m going to meet my goal.

Have a beautiful week.

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. John Muir

 

Revisions, Revisions, Revisions

This past weekend I went on a short, but perfect, writing retreat at our cabin in beautiful Estes Park, CO. The typical visitors there are 4-legged.

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This particular weekend, however, they must have known I couldn’t have any distractions. I was on a deadline. There wasn’t a single 4-legged animal in sight. Not. One. In fact, the hot tub even decided not to work, so no distraction there either. The writing Gods were smiling down on me. After clocking 20,000 steps on my Garmin step tracker and 9 hours of revisions in one day, my manuscript was sent off to the powers that be, calories burned, and I counted the day a huge success!

Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.
—Virginia Woolf

 

 

Permission to Write

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This past weekend I was fortunate to attend a writer’s conference in Niwot, CO, hosted by Rachel Weaver, founder of  Colorado Writing School. I went with enthusiasm for what I might learn and came away with so much more than that. I came away with a head chock full of knowledge, a soul with renewed energy, a heart with renewed passion for the craft, and most important of all, validation for why I do what I do. A hall pass.

We writers are an insecure lot, and if we’re not making a lot of money at what we’re doing, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wondering if our time spent writing is frivolous and if we should be doing something “important” instead. Despite five published books, another due out by the end of the year, it’s a rut I fall back into frequently, like the gutters my bowling balls rolled into when I used to bowl.

Stephen King, in his book On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft (a book I highly recommend for writers of all levels) states that only approximately 5% of writers can support themselves and their families with their writing. Considering his book was published in 1999, eighteen years ago, that the number of writers has grown exponentially with the boom of self-publishing, and  the cost of living has gone up, that percentage is likely even lower today. Does that mean those of us who fall into the less than 95 percentile should pack it up and stop writing? Absolutely not!

Going to conferences or writer’s workshops gives me permission, if you will, to do what I love to do. My day job is a job. It’s my vocation. Writing is my avocation. My passion. And being in a room filled with other writers, those who find joy and fulfillment in the written word and telling stories, doesn’t only make that okay for me, it makes it healthy and good. And  Lord knows we can never have enough goodness.

Conferences and workshops provide the power of brainstorming with each other, the room alive from the electrical energy of so much creativity in one place. In one of the sessions I attended, the writing prompts and exercises produced the synopsis for book two in the Whispering Pines Mysteries. That, alone, made it a success. 🙂

Lunch was spent with Kerrie Flanagan, author, presenter, and writing consultant, who shared invaluable insight. Another was an agent panel with Becky LeJeune and Shana Kelly, who also had invaluable advice when querying. A writer cannot get these nuggets of gold camped out in an office with the door closed.

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Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavor. In a profession where most of us are introverts, finding comfort within the walls of our home office or tucked comfortably behind a computer screen, conferences and workshops offer a way for us to interact with people to “get” us. They provide connections to others in the industry. And it’s even enjoyable for us introverts!

So write on.  Go create. Get your stories out into the world. Permission granted.

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.           W. Somerset Maugham

 

 

 

 

The Company We Keep

We Become Who We Spend Our Time With

Even though it’s not Wednesday, I had to sneak in an extra post.

This morning as I was running around Lake Estes in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado, my thoughts circled around who I am today, who I was, and who I want to be. Thank God–literally–that I’m not who I was, that I’m finally comfortable with who I am, and that the power to be who I want to be lies within me.

On a recent episode of Hallmark’s Chesapeake Shores (I admit it, I’m a Hallmark Channel junkie), the character played by Treat Williams told his daughter that life is about the re-writing more than the writing. If you don’t like what’s on the page, change it.

Wow! Just wow!

The profound truth of that statement is so enlightening and empowering. Our lives are not changed by anyone else unless we allow it to be.  We have the ultimate power to change our own lives in any direction we want it to be changed.

Last weekend I was out to breakfast in a busy restaurant with some of my extended family. A table of six, not far from our table, got their food, bowed their heads, kids as well, and prayed over their meal before eating. It wasn’t the in-your-face-notice-us prayer, but humble and discreet. My husband and I always pray before meals at home, and when we’re in a public place I will sometimes quietly bow my head and silently give thanks. But only sometimes. Why not all the time? Because I forget. It hasn’t become a habit. That morning, I asked my nephew who is a youth pastor in Minneapolis, MN, if he would say the prayer over our meal. It was powerful, it was beautiful, and it was meaningful.

A week later, I was having dinner with some friends. Our food arrived, we were talking and laughing, enjoying one another’s company. When I got home I realized I didn’t give thanks. I didn’t have the reminder from someone around me, I got busy having fun, and simply forgot. While that’s not a bad thing, I want to be the person who gives thanks all the time, not just sometimes when I remember.

My point is how easily influenced we are by those around us. Subconsciously, we take in and absorb the world around us. We become who we spend our time with. There are some powerful Bible verses about this as well:

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” – 1st Corinthians 15:33

Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. – Proverbs 22:24

Your boasting is not good Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 1 Corinthians 5:6

Take the time to figure out who it is you want to be, who you want to grow into, and how you want to re-write the pages of your life’s book. Because you, and only you, have the power to make that happen. Surround yourself with the people you admire and respect and you will become someone you admire and respect.

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Book Launch Partytime

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This past Saturday was my book launch for not one, but two books. Finding Abby was released in November. Life got in the way and I didn’t advertise, promote, nothing. With my recent release, Shear Malice, book three in the Melanie Hogan cozy mystery series, I decided to have a double release. And better yet, sharing it with a fellow author, Donna Schlachter and her alter ego, Leeann Betts. What a better way to celebrate literary success than with a fellow author!

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In each Melanie Hogan mystery I include a recipe from Nana’s kitchen. The recipe for Shear Malice is Nana’s Scrumptious Chocolate Zucchini Brownies. To stick with the theme, I made some for the launch party. While baking a recipe from scratch takes longer than opening a box, the results were amazing and well worth the time!

Next up? An author event in October with some cozy mystery authors. The planned theme is Cozy With Tea–a variety of hot teas, scones, a fire in the fireplace, and books, books, books.

And now it’s back to Camp. Camp NaNo, that is. A time for relaxation and fun, with virtual bonfires, smores, and campfire chatter with other campers. I’m sharing a virtual cabin with several fellow writers from the Longmont and Boulder area, and creating book four in the Melanie Hogan cozy mystery series, Shear Murder.

More to follow…

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See you next week. Until then…

 

Carpe diem