Chapter 5’s up

Is there such a thing as Destiny?  And can you run from it?  Everyone in the town of Prosperity has been waiting for Zoey to return, to fix things for them.  But when Zoey meets Zak, he always knew she’d come back to him.  He says that his heart beat in rhythm with hers, that he could feel her.  “Our names both start with Z.  We’re meant to finish things together.”   Finish what?  She’s tired of hints.  She wants answers.

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Inspiration comes from odd places

Almost every time I’m on a writing panel, and we open it to question and answer, someone asks, “Where do you get your ideas?”  I understand that question.  I’ve sat in front of my computer screen many a time wondering what the heck I’m going to write.  Worse, when I first started writing, I grabbed onto an idea that looked wonderful until I tried to make it into a story . . . and it couldn’t hold up to twenty, sixty, or three hundred pages.

The good news is, the longer you write, the more ideas you have and the more tricks you learn to weed the good ideas from the flash fiction variety.  Now, if I can’t think of a good set-up, three key turning points, and an ending, I know I’d better write something really short.  For the YA novel I’m posting, chapter by chapter, on my webpage, though, I knew I had a large enough cast of characters and a big enough concept to make a book.

When I was younger and hungry to dig deeper into beliefs and mythology, I took a Bible study class on Judas Iscariot.  The minister insisted that Judas never meant to betray Jesus. He only wanted to push Him into proving to the world that He was the Savior, that He had powers the rest of us didn’t and never will have.  According to our study book, Judas had Jesus arrested, sure that He’d pull out His powers and pizzazz the Roman soldiers to save Himself.  And when Jesus didn’t save Himself and let the soldiers crucify Him, Judas couldn’t live with his mistake, threw away his thirty pieces of silver, and hanged himself.

I’m not knowledgeable enough to know if I agree with that theory or not, but it did make me think.  And it gave me an idea for a story.  I read another article (because I’m a horoscope fan), that each disciple Jesus chose stood for a different horoscope sign.  Twelve signs, twelve disciples.  And that made me think of a coven.  Twelve witches led by one priestess.  What if each witch came from one sign of the zodiac?  And what if the priestess practiced only white magic, but a witch she’d started to train was more tempted by dark spells and turned the town against her?  Until finally, one of the “good” witches decided to force the priestess into proving herself.  And…  Well, one idea led to another, and soon I had enough plot points to write a book.

The ideas for the book came from a few random, different articles, but they came together to give me a solid plot after I asked myself a few “what ifs?” along the way.  What ifs, cause and effect–if my character does this, this will happen–, and characters’ motivations can tease your mind into filling in the blanks between story spaces.  Enjoy the process!  And happy writing.

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Twitter:  @judypost




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Chapter 4’s up

Zoey’s familiar comes for her–a black cat, of course.  I had one for 20 years–yup, Pywackett had a long life.  Loved that beast.canstockphoto26865874 Ink has an attitude, too, and he’ll lead Zoey to the circle of thirteen, dead trees.

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Chapter 3’s up

Chapter 3 of The Familiars is up if you like witches, paranormal, and YA.

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Copy Edits

Okay, the content edits for Mill Pond 4 are over and done with.  My editor approved the book.  No more rewrites.  Now, I have the final draft to proofread for any small mistakes.  I like every process of writing EXCEPT this one.  So I put it off.  Not a brilliant thing to do.  I should have started it the same day the pages showed up on my front steps from Fed Ex. But did I mention that I really don’t like copy edits?  So I did everything I could think of to stall.  I’m great at procrastinating.  But I knew I still had plenty of time to get them done. Except time slips away, and now I have to finish them this weekend.

It’s not that copy edits are torturous or hard.  They’re not.  I’m the problem.   When I copy edit, I have to read every single word, look at commas, grammar, etc, and look for mistakes.  There aren’t many.  Kensington’s editors have caught most of them.  But I’m one of those people, who when I finish a book and have to look at it again, I can’t stand my own writing.  I read every sentence and think of a way that I could have done it better.

Thank heavens, I’m not allowed to change anything but mistakes, or I’d probably end up rewriting the entire book.  And when it was finished, and I copy edited that version, I wouldn’t like it either.  I’ll wish I was more lyrical, more descriptive.  I’ll compare myself to Elizabeth George and Alice Hoffman and come up short.  I’ll tell myself I’m no Neil Gaiman or Theodore Sturgeon.  Copy editing is always humbling for me.

A few years from now, when the book’s “rested” for a while, I might like it again.  Maybe. Maybe not.  But I’ve learned my moods and habits when it comes to writing.  And I know this is  normal–for me.  So I just have to sit butt in chair and go through the pages. Which I’m doing.  And when I get back to writing Book 5, I’ll like my writing again.  I’ll even like it when I do serious edits.  But when I can’t tinker with it anymore, when I’m just reading it for spelling and grammar, I’ll sneer at Book 5, too.  It’s the way I am.

Does any writer finish a book and not worry about how it fell short?  If there’s one of you out there, you’re lucky.  If you’re more like me, though, happy writing anyway!

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twitter: @judypost




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Chapter 2’s up

Since this is a book, not a novella, I decided to load a new chapter more often than once a week, or it will take FOREVER before we reach The End.  So, here’s chapter 2.  Hope you like it.

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Why not?

I’ve had a  novel I like, resting in a drawer, for a while now.  It’s a one-shot YA.  I explained why on my webpage, and thought I might as well share it.  So, if you’re interested, chapter 1’s up at:


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How do I love thee, food?

Okay, I’ve confessed before, but I love to cook.  It’s been interesting with my broken leg.  I can’t stand up and balance long enough to fix a meal, so my poor husband’s been pressed into duty.  John was a good cook when I married him, but he was glad to pass the skillet to me as soon as possible.  Now, he grills, but he even does that less and less.  He says it’s because I’m such a good cook.  I suspect he thinks flattery will get him out of kitchen duty. But his standards have gotten a lot higher year after year.  He loves sauces and glazes.  He loves the little extras, so he doesn’t want something simple night after night.  He gets tired of take-out.  So now, I roll myself into the kitchen in my wheelchair and we walk through recipes together.  And to tell you the truth, that’s pretty fun for me.  Maybe not as much for him:)

A long time ago, my agent asked me if I’d like to include recipes with my novels, because my characters always cook and share meals together.  That’s how my family and friends bond…over food.  We eat meals and yak and catch up with each other.  My sister Patty and my cousin Jenny are coming to see me tonight, and John and I have a pork roast (with a rub) in the slow cooker to shred for pulled pork, and cole slaw, and chips.  When we think people, we think “feed them.”

My friend Mary Lou teases me that I’m one of those people who talk about what I’m going to cook while I’m eating what I’ve already cooked.  Guilty as charged.  My friend Paula brings me special spices back from her trips to Israel, and I love her for it.   I have files full of recipes, and I tinker with all of them, but I’m never sure how much I need to change a recipe I’ve found in a magazine before I can call it my own.  So I’ve always shied away from calling something “mine.”

Kensington, however, loves to promote authors who have food in their novels by sharing recipes online.  If you mention a food in your book, they’ll ask you to share the recipe.  So finally, I’ve gotten braver and sent them recipes for a few of the things that my chef, Tyne, (in book 4) makes at Ian’s inn.  Tyne has traveled the world to hone his skills.  I haven’t, and I don’t have the budget Ian’s resort does.  So I sent in my versions (simpler and cheaper) of Tyne’s dishes.  It was fun. If one of them is chosen for their publicity site, I hope people try them and like them.

My family’s pretty adventurous.  My daughter Holly loves Mexican and Thai food.  She also loves cassoulets.  What can I say?  She lived with a chef for a few years.  I had to step up my game.  John loves salmon, seafood, and Creole.  Tyler loves Asian, curries, and spicy.     They all love Italian and barbecue.  None of them like repetition.  If I make chicken piccata at the beginning of the month and make it again at the end of the month, I hear, “Didn’t you just make that?”

They’re all spoiled.  But so am I.  So it’s been fun trying to share recipes with readers.  And I love it when my friends cook for me.  We all get sick of our own cooking, no matter how many recipes we have.

This has been sort of a ramble, and you might not like to cook, but happy writing!




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Critique Partners

I write this blog about wherever I am or whatever I’m working on or worrying about on my writing each week.  This week, I just finished critiquing a friend’s manuscript, so that’s what’s on my mind–the art of critiquing.

I swear, every time I read one of this friend’s books, it’s better than the last one.  That makes going through her pages a pleasure.  I gave her the marked-up manuscript today, because soon, another friend will give me a manuscript to go through.  She’s a fast writer, like I am, but I always look forward to getting her pages.  I love her voice, her characters, her story lines.  What can I say?  I usually enjoy the manuscripts my friends give me as much or more than  any books I buy–not because I’m prejudiced–but because we’ve all worked so hard to become the best writers we can be.  That said, though, I’m going to try to sneak in reading a book my brother-in-law sent me, just for the fun of it, because it looks so different than my usual reads–SWAMPLANDIA, by Karen Russell.  I read a few opening pages, and it feels offbeat enough to be a winner.

I have four people I trade manuscripts with, and that’s enough.  Any more feedback would be too much.  It would confuse me.  And critiquing for four friends keeps me plenty busy, especially if I want any fun reading time. Each of my friends is strong in a different area, both in critiquing and in their writing.  My daughter nails me on characters.  Paula tells me when I’m being too “nice.”  She looks for grit and depth, tells me to push my protagonists harder.  Ann S has a knack for noticing little details and marks them all.  And Mary Lou marks everything–like I do:  word choice, verb tense, timing, pacing, inconsistencies, and the dreaded repetition.  Each of us takes care to mark sections we like, as well as sections that confused us or slowed us down.  We tend to draw happy faces at paragraphs that made us chuckle.

I value each and every one of my critique partners.  When I’ve fixed the changes they’ve marked, I know my manuscript has to be in decent shape.  That doesn’t mean that every reader is going to love it.  I learned that truth a long time ago.  You can’t win them all.  Some readers are a lot harder on manuscripts than editors are.  But after I’ve finished my critique partners’ comments, I feel that my story’s ready to send out into the world.

I used to think a day would come when all of the lessons I’ve learned along the way would coalesce and every word I put to paper would be a gem, that I’d be self-reliant.  I know better now.  Yes, I write pretty clean.  Yes, I plot so much, the story flows pretty well.  But every writer’s too close to her own work.  In our minds, we’ve given all the information a reader needs to understand a scene or subplot or a character’s motivation, but just because that info’s floating around inside our heads doesn’t mean it’s made it to the pages.   And that’s when a critique partner saves you.

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7 Questions

Last week, I answered questions that my fellow friend/writer, Kathy Palm, asked when she nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger award.  This week, another friend/writer answered questions for me, and Mary Lou never fails to surprise me.  How many people, if they could travel back in time to watch an event in history, would choose the parting of the Red Sea? Okay, that had to be a major event and dramatic to boot,  but I honestly thought she’d pick the sinking of Atlantis, since she has sort of a thing for crystal skulls and Cayce.  Just look at the books she’s written as M. L. Rigdon:    Her answers show what a history buff she is.  A movie buff, as well.  Anyway, without further ado, here’s my friend M. L. Rigdon’s 7 questions and answers:.  And if YOU had a chance to witness a scene in history, what would you choose?


Many thanks to Judith Post/Judi Lynn, who invited and suggested this blog thingie. She is my guru. She’s also the Fearless Leader of Summit City Scribes, the best writing group in the world. Many local writers are blessed by her open-hearted support. For me, I cannot imagine a better critique partner. Strike that. There is none. She knows how to slash through my work with unerring directions and corrections, her teacher’s pen bent on perfection. I shudder, and go briefly catatonic, to think what would go into print without her input. But most of all, her encouragement keeps me lifted up and on track. She can tell me with precision what doesn’t work, and as importantly, what does.


The deliciously quirky Kathy Palm promoted Judy for the sunshine award. Perfect choice. Here are my responses to Judy’s questions.


Wine or beer?

Depends on what I’m eating. German food or pizza, must have beer. Everything else, wine, if I’m not driving. (More than one glass, I’m on the table or under it.)


Your favorite food?

Is this a trick question? The list goes on and on.


If you could be transported back in time and WATCH a moment of history, what would it be?

The parting of the Red Sea.


If you won a trip to anywhere in the world, were would you go?


If you could be any author in the world, past or present, besides yourself, who would you be? And why?

Carson McCullers. All that’s needed to make me teary eyed is to think the title The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Read it in my teens and never recovered. Can’t even aspire to that kind of literary empathy.


Cats, dogs or guinea pigs.

Dogs. (First up is horses, but you never asked that. Maybe because you already knew.)


Your favorite movie.

The Best Years of Our Lives. More than its capture of the aftermath of war on our valiant warriors when they had to return to “normal” life, this work exemplifies the “Greatest Generation.” So few remember what our country had to endure to win two world wars simultaneously, especially stateside. The courage and determination of mothers, who sometimes had to wait for years to hear if their loved ones survived, had to put their children in temporary orphanages to build planes and tanks. What kid today would understand the rationing of sugar, bacon and gasoline? Due to the present, widespread entitlement attitudes, I doubt that our nation could again rise to that level.


Thank you for visiting my blog, Mary Lou!  And thanks for being my critique partner.  I value your critiques every bit as much as you appreciate mine.  Every writer needs a critique partner, and we make a pretty good fit:)

And just so you know, Mary Lou also writes Regency romances under the name Julia Donner.    Once every full moon or when the mood strikes her, she also writes a blog:

You can find her on twitter at: @RigdonML

Her Facebook page:

Happy writing, everyone!


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