NaNoWriMo 2015

NaNo-2015-Participant-Banner

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! ūüôā

 

 

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?

 

Hodge Podge and Update

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I’ve been a bit of a slacker lately. Although, I guess slacker isn’t an accurate term. Life has been exceptionally¬†busy, but I’m so grateful that I’ve got a¬†good life to live. My son was the passenger in a car that was totaled in an accident two days ago and he came out of it with nothing more than an injured shoulder. And that injury is already healing nicely. Some people say he’s lucky. I say he’s beyond blessed. God was also in the car with him that day. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that my sisters and I have an ongoing¬†prayer challenge where we find a stranger to pray for each day. I believe my son was somebody’s stranger that day.

My book, Shear Madness, is doing better than I expected, and on September 5th I have a book signing¬†at the book store in the town where I live. I’ve ordered my book postcards, flyers, and pens with the name of the book and my name, which are due to arrive tomorrow. It feels like¬†tomorrow is¬†Christmas morning. ūüôā

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Tomorrow brings with it a weekend trip to the mountains with lots of trails to run, elk that roam freely, and eagles flying overhead. And did I mention a Starbucks that sits just off the riverwalk by the creek?¬†I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the¬†live entertainment by said creek on Friday night. It’s sheer heaven listening to folk music with¬†mountains on every side of us, breathing deeply of the¬†fresh mountain air. A perfect place to drive creativity to all new heights. With that renewed creativity comes the time to lounge outside working on my current novel, Finding Abby.¬† Complete joy! ūüôā

Estes, 8.1.14 029 Have yourselves a beautiful weekend.

 

Shear Madness is now Available!

My second book, Shear Madness, is now available!  **Doing a little happy dance**

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Melanie Hogan is anything but your average beauty salon owner. She’s created a life for herself that’s an exact contradiction to that of her wanderlust, absentee mother who bailed on her when Melanie was four years old. She has gone above and beyond to make sure her life is stable, predictable, and…boring. While deciding to add some spontaneity to her life, she learns an important lesson: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. And she does. 

Velma Johnson, the town busy body, keels over in Melanie’s stylist chair just as she’s about to reveal a secret to Melanie. As details emerge around Velma’s death, Melanie enlists the help of her best friends and business partners, Claire Davis and Jack Dancy, to find the killer. Could it be one of the three girls who work side by side with Melanie at the salon, all of whom were present when Velma died? Or one of their clients that were present as well? Or what about Buford Woods, the client who threatened to have the last laugh when Melanie refused to date him and who suspiciously shows up outside the salon right after Velma died? 

It’s a race against time as Melanie finds herself prey to a stalker intent on ruining her life, and one who’s behavior is escalating. As Melanie sets out to solve the puzzle that has become her life, someone is dead set against letting her discover the truth, much less live to tell about it. And as she discovers the truth, she finds a missing piece to an unfinished puzzle from her past.

(Available at Amazon in soft cover and Kindle, and soon Barnes and Noble)

 

It’s hard to believe that I can make money at something I love so much. Now I didn’t say a lot of money, mind you,¬†but a mere few bucks is more than worth it when you love what you’re doing so much it breathes life into you. When that “something” is something¬†I can’t imagine not doing. When doing that “something” brings¬† joy beyond what I’d ever dreamed.

I’ve made so many friends in the writing community, and it’s that community that has encouraged me to keep on keepin’ on.

And to those of us who have moments where it feels nearly impossible, let’s remember the words of Winston Churchill.

Never give up

And now it’s off to¬†plan¬†some marketing¬†strategies and to do some serious writing to catch up on my word count for Camp NaNoWriMo. Life is amazing! ūüôā

 

Birthday Blessings

Seize the Day

I’ve heard people talk about 50 as being “over the hill,” “half of a century old,” “on the downward slide,” etc.

When I woke up this morning, having turned 50 myself, the first thing that came to mind was:

I AM SO BLESSED!

I got out of bed, got dressed and headed out the door for an early morning run. As I ran, I reflected on my life. What a better time than a milestone birthday, right? And as I strolled down memory lane, my heart nearly exploded with gratitude. I am, at 50 years of age, at a place in my life that is the best it’s ever been. The heart¬†breaking moments and tragedies of years past are a direct connection to where I’m at now. If every one of those crises hadn’t happened, my life¬†literally would not¬†be what it is today. I think of all the prayers I’ve prayed, disappointed when they weren’t answered, only to realize that they were answered. Thankfully not the way I had hoped for at the time.

So today, at 50 years old, let me share with you some of what makes me the richest woman in the world.

First of all, the people who have been placed in my life by God, at the exact time and in the exact role that He knew I needed exactly when I did.

  • An amazing husband, Clint,¬†who has given me the marriage, friendship, and partnership in life that I’ve always dreamed of.
  • Two amazing boys, Ben and Alex,¬†who have taught me¬†the true meaning of unconditional love and acceptance.
  • A granddaughter, Zoey,¬†who brings unmatched joy to my life, and a chance to experience part of her father as a little one all over again.
  • A step-daughter, Jennifer,¬†and five step-grandchildren who have accepted me into their lives, my life all the more beautiful because of them.
  • A step-daughter, Becky, who enriched my life with her kindness, sparkle and beauty–inside and out–who has gone ahead to greet me at the gates of heaven when I’m called home.
  • Parents who gave me the gift of life and the foundation of family and faith. It took me a while to catch on, but I eventually got it. ūüôā And while they waited, they taught me patience and perseverance.
  • Sisters, Sandy and Brenda, my best friends chosen by God for me to share life with from beginning to end.
  • My grandma Cielinski and my Uncle Earl who helped carry me through some of the most difficult times of my life.
  • Mr. Rude, my high school English teacher, who made such a difference in the life of this high school student with a love of writing.
  • My “Brighton Group” (you know who you are), who have accepted me exactly as I am, broken and flawed, who have taught me how to live a clean life, honest and true, how to love, and how to be a friend.
  • A Church and Church Family that lifts me up.
  • A blogging community with which I’ve grown as a writer and as a person.

And beyond these angels in my life, I’m blessed with and grateful for:

  • A¬†job in which I’m blessed to serve victims of crime. Since I was¬†a victim of crime at one time, I’ve come full circle, blessed to use my tragedy for good.
  • The ability to sponsor three kiddos from Africa (Togo, Burkina Faso, and Tanzania) through Compassion International, helping to release them from poverty and give them hope. Alex, Amede and Mamounata have taught me compassion, that the gift of giving blesses the giver, and the power of prayer.
  • The ability to be a sponsor to Amazima Ministries in Uganda, furthering the work of Christ as he reaches the unreachable.
  • The ability to be a donor to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I¬†mention these things because it is not me or my money that helps in these areas, it’s all because of an amazing God who has laid these passions upon my heart and¬†has given me the resources to be able to do so. And it’s this giving that has changed my heart as nothing else could ever do.
  • The gift of writing, which brings me so much joy and satisfaction. I published a book last year, The Inheritance, a dream I’ve had as far back as I’ve¬†been able to dream, and another book, Shear Madness, due out next month.

And the blessings just go on and on. Go back to my thirties? Not a chance. Not even my forties. My best days, my best life, is right here, right now.

And as a side note, at the end of my run, still dancing on my pink cloud, I nearly stepped on not one, but two, squished flat as a pancake, messy¬†toads. If that was the enemy’s way of bringing me down from my high, it didn’t work. It simply made me drive more carefully than ever to work. Just in case… ūüôā

Carpe Diem

 

 

A Little of This, A Little of That

My novel, Shear Madness, Book One in The Melanie Hogan Mystery Series, gets shipped off for a final edit this week. The planned release is in July. ūüôā The rest of this month I’m going to focus on the revision of Book Two, Shear Deception. And then July 1st it’s off to Camp again for¬†Camp NaNo, where I plan to¬†“pen” the first draft of a YA mystery series I have tumbling around in my brain.

My morning run was spent absorbing not only the wisdom by Sol Stein in his audio book Stein on Writing (The chapter on dialogue is among the best I’ve ever read/heard) but also absorbing the brilliant warm sunshine and nature’s beauty. Thought I would share a couple of snapshots with you.

In our not-yet-acknowledged secret garden lie the seeds of some of our best not-yet-written stories.‚Ä̬†-Sol Stein

Have a beautiful week, my friends. Seize each moment of every day, and make every one count!

Carpe diem

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Running is Cheaper Than Therapy

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I’ve posted in the past that running is my therapy. And a whole lot cheaper!¬†Running in the early morning is when¬†my mind churns out ideas for my novels or short stories, or brings to light an answer to something¬†I’ve been praying for.¬†However, that being said, this typically only happens when I’m running outside in nature, not on a treadmill or on the track at the gym where I feel like a hamster on a wheel. This was my lesson this morning:

When I think I’m certain of what God is telling me, it’s important for me¬†not to be so certain I’ve heard the message¬†that I miss what He’s¬†really telling me. In other words, when I think I’ve heard the message, listen further and don’t walk out of the room¬†while He’s still talking.

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The last several weeks I’ve been promising myself that I¬†am going to work on staying tuned in to His presence throughout¬†my day. That usually lasts until I walk through the door at work when busyness, deadlines, the phone ringing, and constant chatter around me transports me far away from Him. Without realizing it, I allow the noise of the world around me¬†to drown¬†out the One who brings me peace in¬†the midst of chaos.

Which brings up the importance of mindfulness even in the small things. While I was running this morning I mentally mapped out the route I would take, a different path from the one I typically enjoy. When I got to the crossroads that would take me on my preplanned route, I was so busy thinking about the day ahead of me, my mind miles ahead from where I was physically at that moment, that I automatically and mindlessly turned onto the same path that is routine. I was certain the message was to pay attention. And while that is a good thing to work on, it was just the surface of what went so much deeper.

That happens all too often in¬†life every day. What has become habit in our lives is what we tend to do naturally, and¬†if¬†we¬†aren’t mindful of the present moment, our thoughts and behaviors fall into the¬†habit rut. The only way to create a new, more positive habit is to be mindful of what we’re doing and thinking in the present moment. And the only way to make mindfulness a natural activity is to mindfully practice mindfulness.

Had I not kept my mind and ears open,¬†I would have walked out of the room at the “pay attention” part of the conversation, figuratively speaking, which was a very small¬†brush stroke¬†in¬†the¬†whole picture. I would have¬†been blessed by the sun but would have¬†missed out on the beauty of the entire landscape.

Another thought that came to me during my run? An entire scene for one of the books in my mystery series. I would say it was a pretty productive day before I even left my house for the office.

Rather than morning coming too soon, I’m already looking forward to my morning therapy session¬†to see what gems He will bless me with. ūüôā

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