Don’t Panic

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I’ve been blithely writing away, Ta da da, happy as can be, on Muddy River mysteries for a while now.  As if I didn’t have a care in the world.  I mean, I’m self-publishing this series, so there are no deadlines.  Right?

Except there IS a deadline for the next Jazzi Zanders mystery due–number 5.  But it’s not until Nov. 4th, months away.  Except…it takes me months to write a Jazzi cozy.  I still wouldn’t have actually counted out the months on my fingers except that I went to Amazon and accidentally found this:    A blurb for book 4, that doesn’t even come out until March 17, 2020.  Kensington was way ahead of me…again.

That made me seriously look at how much time I had to do what.  And all of a sudden, the lazy days of summer didn’t look as lazy anymore.  Yes, I panicked.  I couldn’t dawdle around finishing Muddy River 3.  I glued my fanny in chair, hit the keyboard, and wrote like the crazed person I occasionally become.  And today, at last, I finished the last chapter of the first draft.  RELIEF!  I can pass the pages on to my trusty critique partners and start work on Jazzi 5 on Monday.

And I’m even pretty much on track.  I shouldn’t have to buy stronger hair dye to cover any more gray hairs trying to get it done in time.  I won’t have to rush it.  I think that always shows (at least when I do it).

So, now that I can take a deep breath, I can settle down in front of my computer and write one scene or chapter a day every open weekday for months and months without having to try to write a kazillion pages in a short period of time.  I can breathe again.  And enjoy the summer.

Hope you had a great Fourth and happy writing!

(And if you live elsewhere in the world, hope your fourth was great anyway:)


The temperatures are dropping in northeast Indiana.  It’s going to be a cold weekend and an even colder week.  Thankfully, my husband and I are retired, and we don’t have any appointments on our calendar.  So, we’re hibernating.

I’ve always loved the four seasons, but I have to admit winter was more fun when I was young.  As a kid, it meant snowball fights and sledding.  As a young adult, it was something to battle to make it to work.  When our backs were strong and supple, we shoveled it, but the fresh, crisp air was bracing, and the yards looked beautiful covered in their white blankets.  Sometimes, when the schools and businesses closed, John and I would pile in the car with a snow shovel and take off to drive around the lakes.  Ah, youth. We never worried we’d get stuck.  We’d shovel and rock the car until we broke free.  When we got older, we bought a snow blower.  We still got out and about unless there was ice.

I don’t like the feeling of no control when my car goes into a skid.  My grandsons, however, headed to the biggest parking lots to do donuts with my old, beat-up Ford, enjoying the spinning and sliding.  And now that the kids are grown and gone, we’re retired, and we can watch snow fall and deal with it when we get around to it.  There’s no sense of urgency.  So, for the coming week, snow and bitter cold mean filling the bird feeders and snuggling up inside, spending more time writing and reading.

First, we’re finally taking down our Christmas decorations.  The kids made it up last weekend, so the tree and wreathes have served their purpose.  John and I are going to store things away for next year, then bake a coffee cake together.  The fridge is stocked with plenty of food.  No worries we’ll starve.

I’m going to work in more writing time than usual.  I’m halfway through my free supernatural mystery for my webpage, and I’d like to write a chunk of chapters ahead.  John went to the library and has a pile of books to read.  I’m expecting a manuscript to critique.  Never work.  I love Julia Donner’s historical novels.  This one’s a Western.  I can’t wait to read it.

All in all, dear hubby and I are ready for a quiet, easy week, staying home and cocooning.  Hope you find some solid writing time, too.



No Motivation

Life has been busy lately.  Almost all fun stuff.  My writers club had its last meeting of the year–our annual holiday carry-in–last Wednesday.  Dawn and David went all out to decorate their beautiful house for Christmas, and trees and holiday decorations brightened every room.  The food was wonderful.  It always is.  We gossiped and laughed, and since we’re writers, ended up talking shop here and there.

We won’t have another meeting until January 9.  And for some reason, that makes me feel like I don’t have to be a “good” writer and pound out so many words a day, like I usually do.  The pressure’s off, which is silly.  I still have 15,000 words to write on my fourth Jazzi mystery.  But no matter how hard I try, when I don’t feel accountable to Scribes for making progress, I revert to being a kid on summer break.  And I don’t even feel that guilty about it:)

I intend to still write, still work on book four, but I’ll write at a more leisurely pace.  I’ll enjoy the perks of the season more than usual.  We had friends over for supper on Friday night and I made Cheryl’s favorite dessert–bread pudding with rum sauce.  Next Friday, we’re having another friend come for supper.  She loves smoked meat, so I’m making smoked Cornish hens.  And Tuesday night, I’m going to a Christmas program with Sia.  I’m in the mood to play more than work, ready to make jolly.

I still have writerly duties to do.  Lyrical Press scheduled the book cover reveal for The Body in the Wetlands for December 22nd.  I need to go to to design Facebook and twitter headers for the second book.  I need to find some excerpts I can share once in a while.  Today, I want to polish the Jazzi and Ansel Christmas story I’m going to post on my webpage this coming week.  BUT, I can work for a while, play for a while, because I won’t be reporting what I’m up to at Scribes.  I don’t have to be a responsible author again until January 9th:)

Happy writing to all of you, but I hope you get some play time, too!


Writing: Play Time

This coming Wednesday is another Scribes meeting. My writing group meets twice a month most months. We only get in one meeting in November. Thanksgiving sidetracks our second one. And one meeting in December. We don’t even try to compete with Christmas. But once a summer–this coming Wednesday this year–and every December, instead of a regular meeting we have a carry-in. We used to pretend that we’d still get around to serious subjects. We’d schedule one or two readers and a speaker. Now, we don’t even bother with that. We just bring food, get together, and enjoy each other’s company.

I have to say when you get a lot of writers together, somewhere during the day, we end up talking about all of the things we can’t get to in regular meetings. Marketing. Books we’ve read and loved. Anything new we’ve read or learned. If someone has a book coming out. All of the things that go along with the writing life. And once we’ve covered those things, then we talk about our kids, our lives….we’ve become close friends over the years.

It’s nice to shake up the old routine once in a while. It rejuvenates me, kicks me out of my rut. And sometimes, let’s face it, it IS a rut instead of a routine. Or should I say habit? I’m a pretty focused person. I plop my fanny in a chair most week days and pound out words, and I write a blog most Sundays, but breaks can be good. My friend Kathy, (she belongs to Scribes, too), tweeted about going on vacation and panicking because she wouldn’t be sitting in front of her computer everyday. It was a fun blog, but I know what she means. We get so wrapped up in the worlds and words we create that sometimes, we need to get away from them. We need to LIVE and ENJOY. And then, when we return to our computers, we’re refreshed. And ready to write again:)

FYI: This blog is shorter than usual, because Sia Marion invited me to a World Blog Tour about “how I write.” Her post went up July 15: Mine goes up this Tuesday, July 22. It always interests me how different writers write, so hope you check these out.

P.S. My agent okayed my rewrites for SPINNERS OF MISFORTUNE, and Sharon can get to it in a couple of weeks, so hopefully, it will be up near the end of July or the beginning of August. Good news to me!


It’s spring.  73 degrees outside.  And I’m not sure why, but every year, when the weather turns warm, for at least a week, sometimes two, I’m LAZY.  I just feel like slumping in a hammock, sipping lemonade, and doing NOTHING.  I looked at my flower beds today, got excited about seeing the green sprouts poke higher and higher, but did I rake them?  No.  What did I do instead?  I made two, huge pots of soup.

My daughter, Robyn, called and laughed at me.  “Soup, when it’s 73 outside?”  She and her husband live in Florida.  What does she know?  She doesn’t make big pots of soup on Saturdays to have for lunches during the week.  Because it’s too nice and sunny for her to WANT soup.  My daughter, Holly–a nurse, dropped in on her way to work, and she took a few plastic containers of soup to work with her to eat on supper breaks, because soup’s fast and satisfying.

I know, though, that sometime in the near future–I’ll ease myself from one season to the next–I’ll switch my jeans for capris, and I’ll want salads or sandwiches for lunch instead of soup, but it takes me a while.  My friend, Carl, told me that it takes at least two weeks to even start to break a bad habit or start a good one and at least a month before you can relax your guard.  It takes me two weeks to settle into good weather.

As for my writing?  That’s my constant.  I sit at my computer every week day and hit the keys.  It’s the personal core that the rest of my life revolves around.  So just like the mailman–through rain, sleet, or snow, sunshine or blizzard–I’ll work to write a scene and turn out pages every day.

I hope the Muses smile on you and the sun caresses your soul, and keep writing!

P.S.  Michael Prete, who does my covers, came up with a new one for me for Empty Altars.  The old cover fit the story, but the new cover fits it better AND it will blend with the cover for the 2nd Emtpy Altars novel, which should be out soon.  Anway, I love what Michael did!  cover_38_thumb



Writing & Boys

I didn’t write my blog on Sunday, like I usually do.  Why?  I rented the movie Jack the Giant Slayer and watched it with Tyler and Nathan.  A fun movie, but a great evening.  I didn’t dust the house or weed my flower beds on Saturday.  I spent the afternoon watching repeats of the TV show Psych with Tyler–one of his favorites.  He intends to watch every segment before he goes back to IU this Fall–a worthy challenge:)  And I’ll watch quite a few of them, right along with him.

I take my writing goals seriously and make deadlines for myself that I intend to meet…and usually do.  But my grandsons are staying with us this summer, and this will be the last summer that Tyler means to come home.  He’s moving into an apartment in Bloomington before college starts and plans to live there year-round.  Nate will be a senior in high school this year and after he graduates, he’s itching to move away, too.  I have to enjoy them while I can.  Even now, while they zoom in and out of the house, they’re usually too “busy” for me.  That’s the way of kids.  They have jobs, friends, and plenty of things to do.  So when they finally want to spend time with me, I make time.

I learned a long time ago that kids talk to you when the moment strikes, not before and not after.  When I ask, “How was your day?”–I usually get “Okay” or a few mumbled words for an answer.  Over supper, we might get a few more sentences about this or that, but a kid only really talks to you when he’s in the mood.  And if you’re too busy to listen?  The moment passes.

So, for this summer, I write while the boys are out and about, and when a boy wants to “hang with me,” I save whatever I’m working on, put my writing aside, and make myself available.

Summer Reading

One of the things that I look forward to in the summer is the chance to stay up later than usual, read more, and sleep later in the mornings.  It’s been a slow start on my reading this year.  Summer’s been busier than usual.  My daughter’s been picking up extra hours as a nurse.  My grandson got a job in construction.  He comes home for lunch every day–hot, sweaty, and covered in dust.   Teenagers have been bopping in and out of our house.  But we’re finally settling into a routine.  And I can snatch time in the evenings to read.

I belong to Goodreads on the internet.  These girls can whip through a book in a day.  Their reading goals are almost all over one hundred books a year, some over two hundred, whereas I’m a slow reader.  If I push myself, I can finish a novel in a few days, two books a week at warp speed.  I’d like to think it’s because I savor every word.  I suspect it’s because I dawdle and ponder as I go.  I turn things over in my mind, consider plotting and pacing instead of just enjoying the ride.  I’m going to try to change that about myself, to just say Whoopee and turn pages, to go with the flow.  But it hasn’t happened yet.

Goodreads has introduced me to more series and writers than I ever knew existed.  And the readers debate what they liked or didn’t like about the books they read.  I’ve learned a lot from them, but by the time a few different people write glowing endorsements for a novel with an interesting premise, it ends up on my to-be-read list.  At the  moment, I have so many books on that list that someone will probably have to bury it with me when I pass, but that doesn’t discourage me.   Unfortunately, it doesn’t even deter me from walking into bookstores and browsing.  Okay, buying.  I have a terrible time leaving a bookstore empty-handed.  Meaning, I have piles and piles of novels to read….

But there’s hope, because summer is officially upon us.  The solstice came and went.  Warm evenings stretch before me, and I’ll have more time to read–one of my favorite parts of the long days of summer.


Summer’s three days away, but the heat’s here already.  And I’m feeling sort of like the flowers in my garden bed.  I’m drooping.  Heat makes me want to melt, to sag into a chair and not move any more than I have to.  I don’t want meals.  I think of salads and sandwiches.  I don’t want to mow or weed or even sort laundry.  But life doesn’t stop just because I’m feeling lazy.

This is a short blog, because my fingers are getting tired.  So is my brain.  I intend to enjoy the labors of others and to read what they’ve already written.  The temperatures are climbing all week and won’t dip until Sunday.  Finally, no nineties predicted.   The world can carry on without me until then.  But I know myself.   I can only relax for so long, and then I get antsy.  Chores will stockpile, ready to crush me beneath them.  I’ll push myself into work mode again.  But until then…the couch beckons.  So does a book.