NaNoWriMo Success and the Path Forward

 

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NaNoWriMo 2019 was a huge success! I get so amped-up every year–like already in September–and then on the first day I get this “Oh, no!” feeling come over me. Once the first few pages are written, it’s the “I’ve got this” feeling. After week two and into the beginning of week three, it’s the “What in the heck did I ever commit to this for?” feeling. And after week three and into week four, it’s a flurry of flying fingers trying to get it done. Crossing the 50K mark is sheer exhilaration! So many emotions in one month!

The project I worked on is the first draft of book 7–and the final book–of the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Misfortune. Fifty thousand words doesn’t mean it’s complete yet, so I’ll continue writing daily until it’s done, but crossing that 50K mark was huge. The first draft of book 6, Shear Fear, is ready to be revised. And revised. And revised again. And the Christmas novella is also in the works.

But first–after completing the first draft of Shear Misfortune–is finalizing the revisions in book two of the Whispering Pines duology, Abby’s Retribution. The anticipated release is this spring. If all goes according to plan and, God willing, of course, 2020 should be a grand year in the writing life!

Happy Writing and Happy December!

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Character Interview with Rose Donnelly

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This is the last of the character interviews from the Melanie Hogan cozy mystery series. I hope you enjoyed getting to know them.

Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m Melanie’s grandmother, but I’ve raised her since my daughter, Violet, left her with me when Melanie was just four years old. Violet broke Melanie’s heart when she decided that making it in Hollywood was more important than her own daughter. At first Melanie didn’t understand, but as she got older, her resentment grew. I pray that someday Violet will find peace and she and Melanie can have a relationship. But I have to say, raising Melanie has been my greatest joy. That child is more precious to me than anything in the world. I couldn’t ever imagine my life without her. Back when I was working as a nurse at St. Luke’s hospital, Melanie helped me take care of her granddad when he became ill. She has been a Godsend.

Where do you live?
I’ve lived in Birch Haven, Minnesota all my life. I was born here, and I’ll die here.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
No further than my own front porch. I love my home and every day I spend here is a blessing.

What is your favorite pastime?
Gardening and cooking. I love to work in my flower gardens and to teach Melanie how to cook. We Minnesotans love our hotdish, dontcha know, so there’s never a shortage of recipes to teach her. And there’s no better place to connect and spend time together as a family than in the kitchen. Melanie and I have had our best conversations while cooking or sitting at the kitchen table.

What is your favorite way to spend a weekend?
When you’re retired, dear, every day is a weekend. My favorite way to spend any day is with Melanie and her friends. And they always make time for this old woman, those sweet kids.

What brings you the most joy?
Melanie. And my memories of her granddad. It’s those memories that help me through my broken heart from Violet. But I believe there’s still hope for her.

What is your most fond memory?
When Melanie was young, watching her with her granddad in the garage. He loved to work on cars and she was right by his side, soaking up everything he taught her. She’d come in with grease smudged on her face and cute as a button.

If you could change one thing about your life what would it be?
I wouldn’t change a single thing. I’m the most blessed woman on this earth.

You wouldn’t change anything?
Well, maybe for Violet to finally find peace so she and Melanie could have a relationship. Maybe someday. Perhaps in one of the next books. Tune in to find out.

 

 

Beauty in Brokenness

Nature in its Perfectness

I spent a lot of time in nature this past weekend and marveled, as usual, in all of its splendor. The perfect creations as well as the stunning beauty in the broken.

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And I started thinking…wouldn’t it be wonderful if we appreciated people as we do nature, in all of their brokenness and all of their flaws? If we truly accepted people exactly as they are, broken and bruised, and simply admired them for what they have to offer the world?  After all, we’re all a little broken, but each of us is so unique, so beautifully and wonderfully made.

Next time you see glass that’s broken or cracked, hold it up to the light. It’s those cracks in the glass that lets the light shine through. It’s not the perfectness, but the cracks, that create a brilliant light show you otherwise wouldn’t see.

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” –Leonard Cohen

Broken and Beautiful

This week may we look for the broken and choose to love them exactly as they are. Don’t judge or try to fix, just accept. Acceptance is the key to greatness and that greatness unlocks the door to bountiful love. And love, pure love, is what the world desperately needs.

“Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.”                   –Terry Tempest Williams

And now it’s off to the final week of Camp NaNo with its virtual cabins, campfires, and s’mores, and 30,000 words into Shear Murder, book 3 in the Melanie Hogan cozy mysteries.

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The Season for Gratitude

Give ThanksDuring this holiday season, cultivating an attitude of gratitude is at the top of my to-do list. Family is top of the top, hands down. After family, my top 10 for 2016 is:

10.)  Election season being over! Nationally as well as locally. My day job is in a political office, which makes election season ultra stressful.

9.)   Chemotherapy and radiation. If you just said, “say what?!?” I totally get it. But as evil as these treatments can be, it’s what we have to kill the killer–cancer. It’s what made the cancer-free diagnosis for my dad possible. And it’s the hope for a dear friend who’s battling cancer.

8.)   The opportunity to attend an amazing Writer’s Conference, Colorado Gold, in September. It helped me grow as a writer in skill, confidence, and productivity; and the opportunity to participate in a 5-week online writing workshop hosted by the University of Iowa.

7.)   Spending priceless time with my kids and grandkids, and preparing to welcome another granddaughter to the mix!

6.)   My husband, a man of honor, integrity, and faith, retiring after 40 years serving in law enforcement, the last 21 years as Chief of Police. I couldn’t be more proud.

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5.)   Publishing two books this year, Shear Deception and Finding Abby, and hosting a successful book event that included several local authors.

4.)   The finances and job that allowed me several trips back to Minnesota to help my parents as my dad battled cancer.

3.)   Just three weeks away from 5 years of sobriety which led to the rebirth of my writing career.

2.)   Friends, old and new, who have each left a handprint on my heart.

1.)   God bestowing millions of blessings on my life throughout the year. All that and the year isn’t even over yet! 🙂

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Cover Reveal

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I’m back up and running! I want to share two pieces of exciting news:

1.)  My website has had a complete overhaul and is now primarily an author website – a landing page for my electronic home – Please take a moment and browse. And…

2.)  The cover for my next book, Finding Abby, a romantic suspense, is completed. I’m absolutely thrilled with the work my cover designer has done on this one. The book is scheduled to be released later this year. Stay tuned for further details.

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Camp NaNo 2016

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Coming into the game late, I still made it! Because of sheer stubbornness, of course. I can’t stand to lose against myself. 🙂 I didn’t decide to participate until April 8th when I decided it would give me the extra encouragement and push I needed to get the revision done on my novel, Finding Abby. Now I have the momentum going to finish by the end of this month and get it to amazing editor Rachel Overton! 🙂

Write on!

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Book Launch Party

The book launch party for my cozy mystery, Shear Deception, was a success! Between drawings for free books, reading from my book as well as readings by other local authors, a drawing using the cards and weapons from the board game, Clue (the heroine’s favorite game), swag, and sparking grape juice, I think it’s safe to say everyone had a good time. 🙂

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Listening to local author Karen Whalen read from her cozy mystery.

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My two biggest fans, granddaughters Olivia and Zoey.

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“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

Shear Deception Now Available!

Book two in the Melanie Hogan Mysteries, Shear Deception, is now available. Book three, Shear Malice, is in progress.

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Amazon, Welcome to the Bookstore

When a body is discovered in the woods by Melanie’s Minnesota lake house, it nearly gets both her and her estranged mother, Violet, killed. Melanie retreats to the familiar and comfortable surroundings of the beauty salon she owns with her best friend Claire, but when the details surrounding the death begin to unravel, Melanie is thrust into the middle of the investigation.

When her grandmother, Rose Donnelly, is the next target, Melanie will stop at nothing to catch the killer. Melanie begins unraveling a tangled web of lies and deceit that finally reveals the painful truth of the question that has haunted her since youth. The truth that ultimately cuts her loose from the burden of her past that has held her captive for far too long and sets her on a path to freedom.

** Reviews are greatly appreciated. 🙂 **

 

NaNoWriMo 2015

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I’ve participated in, and loved, NaNoWriMo for the past three years. This year, however, I decided not to because I have two WIP’s I really want to focus on editing.

The problem?

I’m not getting it done. I had a writing schedule that I followed faithfully for a while, but that “while” didn’t last very long.

Here’s how it goes more often than not, or some variation of it:

I see it’s time to sit down to write. I really should throw a load of laundry in first. The dishwasher needs to be started. I need to make a quick phone call first. Ok, now I can write. Oh wait! I need a cup of coffee/can of root beer/square of chocolate–you get the idea–first. Whew! That’s done. Okay, now I can write. I sit down at my desk, or usually my floor desk because I love to write sitting on the floor. The door is closed, I’m ready to write until I hear a little scratch on the door–the dog wants in. The dog is in the room laying by my side. NOW I can begin. My phone rings. It’s one of my boys. I have to take this call. Family first. Checking to see if I’m going to be home because he’s stopping by for a visit. Are you kidding me??? I LOVE when my boys come by. That takes priority over everything. Or it might be my other son asking if I can watch my granddaughter. Again, are you kidding me??? I would move mountains to be able to spend time with my precious princess.

Again, family first. I need to get the toys out, especially the playdoh, watercolors, and sidewalk chalk because she’s a budding little artist, child-proof the house, and figure out what I will feed her for lunch/dinner, etc. I may even need to run to the store to get a special snack for her.

So! I’m finally able to sit down to write and remember the laundry needs to be folded, the bathrooms need to be cleaned, I need to make dinner for my husband and perhaps even have a conversation with him…

You get the picture.

While I decided to spend time on my WIP’s rather than create a new project, it wasn’t getting done. And all because of one little word–well, okay, two words. Procrastination and guilt. They’re best friends, in case you didn’t know that. Putting everything else first to make writing time perfect, and feeling guilt over taking time to write when I should be doing something “important.” Oh, yes, that “should” word is a writer’s enemy in case you haven’t figured that out yet.

So NaNoWriMo it is! The fun, support, fun, motivation, fun, and inspiration I get from being part of a tribe of writers, the positive energy that flows through the keyboard knowing I’m part of such a huge mutual goal…WOW! It’s the justification I need to sit my butt down and write. Seat. In. Chair. Or on the floor, in my case. Family still comes first, and it always will, but the rest of what threatens to take control of my time no longer does during November. And who knows? Maybe that will stay with me for a while, however long that “while” may be.

It’s not too late to decide to jump on the NaNoWriMo train. Just hop on over to the website here and create your novel. Ready, set, go! 🙂

 

 

Research Life Hands On

Internet Learning

While the Internet provides the virtual world at our fingertips, making it possible to do research for writing projects that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do, it’s the hands-on research that benefits me the most. The times that get me out of my office and catapults me into the real world of experience. Of course, I suppose one’s primary learning style is largely responsible for how one best retains information. Of the three learning styles, audio, visual, and kinesthetic, my primary is kinesthetic, then visual, then audio. That being said, my audio learning ability has increased tremendously since I’ve been listening to writing books on audible every chance I get.

As for doing research out in the field, traveling provides amazing opportunities to create settings that paint a vivid, real picture in the reader’s mind. Actually seeing the sights and experiencing it with all of the senses, makes it a real part of the writer.

One’s job provides bottomless ideas for story fodder.

Relationships provide ideas for feelings and dialogue.

People watching, whether it be at the mall, at the coffee shop, on the bus, at work, in an elevator, etc.,  provides the opportunity to capture facial expressions, snippets of dialogue, clothing styles, interactions between people, etc.

Participating in volunteer activities and hobbies helps grow characters into well-rounded people to incorporate into a novel/story.

Last weekend I attended the quarterly meeting for a writer’s group I belong to, Sisters in Crime – Colorado. We had a guest speaker, Dr. Laurie Sperry, Associate Professor, Regis University, who discussed the different typologies of stalkers. By the time she was done, we knew the behavioral traits our stalker characters would portray on the page, depending on what type of stalker s/he is. That kind of information is like candy to a group of mystery writers. And how much better it is to be there and taste that candy than to simply look at a picture of it on the Internet!

The place I work has a Citizen’s Academy going on this month. Next week is the class on arson investigations and a presentation from the Coroner’s Office. The following week is a presentation on Crime Scene Analysis. Bonus for a mystery writer!

An organization for which I’m a sponsor, Compassion International, offers an opportunity called The Compassion Experience, where you get to experience another country, another culture, without leaving yours.

There are opportunities literally everywhere to taste life and be a doer rather than sit back and be an observer. Make it a goal to do something every day, starting today.

Seize the Day

Let’s talk – What is your primary learning style? What kind of research do you do for your writing?