Now Available!

Shear Murder, book four in the Melanie Hogan Mysteries, is now available on Kindle! Paperback soon to follow.

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When beauty salon owner Melanie Hogan joins six of her pals from beauty college for a reunion in Pinewood Village, Minnesota, one of the gang turns up dead the morning after the party. With Melanie’s shears as the murder weapon, she’s the prime suspect in the investigation. As Melanie launches an investigation of her own to clear her name and to eliminate each of her friends as the murderer, she uncovers secrets of the victim that rocks her world.
As Melanie digs into her old friends’ histories, her own past comes back to haunt her. With someone working overtime to set her up as the killer, Melanie enlists the help of her beauty salon cohorts to find the real Shears Slayer before she’s next.

Book comes complete with two delicious recipes at the end, submitted by Minnesotan Kerri Keprios.

Happy New Year to all of you. May your new year be filled with love, joy, peace, good health, and many blessings.

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals. –Melody Beattie

Each year’s regret are envelopes in which messages of hope are found for the new year.  –Ralph Waldo Emerson 

 

And in the Beginning…

Beginnings

For those who have read my bio, you know my writing years began at the tender age of four. I took my fat little crayons in my fat little fingers and decided to experiment with words on the knotty pine walls of the living room. My parents were not impressed! But even back then, I had something to say and writing was the natural way for me to say it.
As the years went by, that didn’t change. The only thing that did change is that I graduated from crayon on walls to pen on paper. For that, my parents were grateful.

In my teen years, it was writing that helped me work through the tumultuous teen emotions and heartbreak. Many summer days, I lay in our little fishing boat, tied up to the dock, rocking as waves rolled up against the shoreline and lapped the bottom of the boat. I clutched my pen and paper and wrote poetry like there was no tomorrow. The words flowed endlessly. When I wasn’t in the boat, I was perched on the end of the dock, my feet dangling in the water, or plopped on my bed in my basement bedroom, crafting more poetry.

Fishing Boat
Fast forward a few years. I was still writing when I got pregnant with my first son. I penned 2 ½ novels (yup, not just 2, but 2 ½), which are still in boxes in my home office. I took a few writing classes, too. Then came my second son. The writing stopped. There was no spare time.

When my second son was in high school, I got my Associates of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies, and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. While everyone else was impressed, I knew it wasn’t what I was meant to do. My heart longed for the days when I was a writer.

When my second son graduated from high school, I followed my dream. I got back to writing and haven’t looked back. While I still maintain a day job in the legal field, my true calling, my avocation, is writing.

As I think about the journey to where I am now—five published books, two more in the works—there are three suggestions I have for beginning authors.

1.) Find a writing community, or even one or two other writers. Non-writers, family and friends included, think we just sit down, write and voila! A book appears. A non-writer can’t possibly know the blood, sweat, and tears that go into a piece of creative fiction—or non-fiction. And if that’s the only mindset you’re subjected to and hearing on your writing journey, you’ll start believing it yourself. Eventually you’ll start to think of yourself a failure when you’re unable to just sit down and magically produce a novel.

Additionally, the non-writer can view writing as a waste of time unless the writer is making a lot of money. You may hear that you should be spending your time on something more worthwhile, something “important,” whatever that means. “Important” means different things to different people. Writing is hugely important to me. And if you’re a writer, it will be to you, too. It’s not about how much money we make (though, I imagine you wouldn’t catch any of us complaining if we made a dollar to two), it’s about a need to express the creative side that’s burning inside of us. And it’s work. Hard work. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

“To labor in the arts for any reason other than love is prostitution.”
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

That being said, not all non-writers think this way. And if you feel they are, it’s important to ask yourself if there’s any validity to your feelings or if it’s your own insecurity and self-doubt that makes it feel that way. We writers are frequently tormented with self-doubt. It’s what many of us do best. Either way, let it go. If you don’t already, you’ll soon have a writing community reminding you you’re not alone. 

2.)  Plan your week and schedule in writing time. When first starting out, set a timer and just write. Don’t get up under any circumstance. Not for anything. This exercises your butt-in-chair muscle, even if it’s only for 15 minutes at a time. And don’t open the Internet to check anything. Your email will still be there when you’re done with your writing session, and your Facebook likes will still be there waiting. Even hard-core social media addicts can stay away for 15 minutes. If not, invest in Freedom. After you’ve created a habit of writing, play around to discover which method most accommodates your lifestyle—continue with timed writing sessions, decide on a set number of pages per day, word count goals, etc.

3.)  Don’t compare yourself to anyone else in the writing industry. We all have mentors and people we admire in the writing industry (think Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Joanna Penn) but don’t strive to be just like them. You are you. And you are fabulous. You have something unique to contribute to the reading world. And it would be a waste to deprive the world of that because you’re trying to be like someone else. As well, comparing yourself to other writers is the kiss of death. I struggle with comparisonitis as much as the next person, but I recognize it for what it is and kick it to the curb as soon as I realize that it’s trying to sink its fangs into my writing life.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

And now it’s back for week three of Camp NaNo and more virtual camping.

Bonfire-Brainerd

Carpe Diem

T.G.I.F. – Gratitude Friday

gratitude

The Week’s Top Three:

3.)  Completing the first draft of my book Shear Madness, which I began in Camp Nano this past July, and beginning to loosely plan the second in the series, Brush with Death, for NaNoWriMo next month.

2.)  That first sweet, juicy, crunchy bite of a Honeycrisp apple on a fall day. Mmmmmm…they are the best! 🙂

1.)  My son calling so happy to tell me that they just closed on their first house, asking if we wanted to come and see it that evening, and my baby granddaughter getting so excited when she saw papa and grandma pull in the driveway of her new home. Melted my heart then and there. 🙂

What tops your list this week?

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Timeout Tuesday

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

-Philippians 4:8-9

And what could be more true, pure and lovely than nature. Abundant blessings from God Himself.

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 “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Carpe Diem-2

Seize the Day

Seize the Day

When I was on my morning run today, it occurred to me how much of life is spent waiting for something to get here. Whether that something is:

  • Vacation.
  • A loved one coming for a visit.
  • Payday.
  • A movie you’ve been waiting to come out on the big screen.
  • The good part of a book you’re reading.
  • Summer (Winter, Fall, Spring).
  • Cleaning to be done.
  • The rain to be over (or the thunderstorm to come, for those who enjoy cozying up with a good book and a cup of tea while the thunder cracks, the rain pounds on the roof, and lightning bolts illuminate the sky).
  • The wedding day (conference, reunion, anniversary, holiday, etc) to arrive.
  • The weekend alone to do whatever your heart desires.

And so on and so on…

While waiting, however, one’s focus is on the event waited for, and so much living is missed during that waiting. All that time up to the moment is lived mindlessly, tasks performed without a second thought, or if thought be given, it’s often rife with anticipation of getting it done so we can get to it.

Days and years go by so quickly, that if we aren’t truly living every moment we’re given, it only results in speeding by even faster. The view outside of the window we’re looking through blurs as we’re focused on what’s not even here. And truly, do we even know it will get here? Tomorrow is not guaranteed, but only the here and now is. What we hold in our hands at this very moment, what we are experiencing right here, right now, is all we really have. Do we want to waste that precious time and experience for what may not come?

We are always getting ready to live but never living.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

These thought have crossed my mind before, and I have had good intentions of changing. I tell myself, “from now on I’m going to…”

But then life happens, I fall into the old habitual rut of mindless living, I forget to appreciate the here and now, and I forget to truly live in this moment. Exactly where I am with what I have right now.

I’ve heard it said that it takes two weeks of consistently doing something to make it a habit. What if…

Each morning upon rising, I tell myself that this day, just this one day, I’m going to pay attention to each moment I’m living. I’m going to truly live, just this one day. And what if I do that consistently for two weeks? After all, “One Day at a Time” are not only words of wisdom for maintaining sobriety, but a guide for life in general.

Afterall, in the scheme of things, each event we wait for is only a miniscule of time in our lives, provided we live a full life.  If that event in time actually arrives at all. And when I do come to pass, I want to know, and I want others to know, I’ve lived each God-given day to the fullest, experiencing everything possible there is to experience, whether it’s:

  • My hands in warm soapy bubbles, washing away any stress as I wash the dishes.
  • The feel of a snowflake melting on my eyelashes, or on the tip of my tongue.
  • The scent of a fragrant oil, carrying me back to a favorite memory, as scents have a way of doing –  it’s free transportation that allows me to live favorite moments more than once through memories.
  • The exhilaration of running in the rain or feeling the warmth of the sun caressing my shoulders.
  • Appreciating the stillness and beautiful silence of early morning before the rush of traffic and chatter become the majority of the day.
  • The satisfaction that being of service can bring, whether that service is keeping a clean house for my family, preparing good, healthy nourishment for them, or making a difference in the life of another, no matter what that looks like.
  • Truly feeling the presence of God, hearing His still, small voice, that can only be heard in silence, and in the here and now.

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future; concentrate the mind on the present moment.” -Buddha

I will begin day one in the morning when my eyes open to see the first light of daybreak. But why wait until then? Right now, right here, I have a book to read, words to write, prayers to say…life to really fully live.

 Seize the Day. (Click for an awesome music video.)

Carpe diem.