Thankful

13360ad580536c1639f5e1bed96c97db[1]I have been thinking of all that I am thankful for. I am, of course, thankful for all the usual suspects—my husband, my children and grandchildren, friends, and all of my family—a warm home and a full belly. But thoughts flow into my mind about this astonishing country we live in. The Founding Fathers and Mothers who sacrificed to create this “Great Experiment” are in the forefront this Thanksgiving weekend. Also, all those who have held onto and fought for this belief throughout the years. The belief that anyone, anyone, can achieve great things. It doesn’t matter where you were born or if your family has an illustrious pedigree. You set your goals, stretch yourself beyond your limits, and make your dreams come true! 

The least of us can become the best of us. For this I am grateful, thankful, and feel so blessed not only today but every single day.

 

A Cozy Experience’s Review of “Second Week in November”

New CoverAbout the Book

Thanksgiving is approaching, but the town of Amelia Bay is anything but quiet. A waitress has gone missing and suspicion falls on Clare’s brother, Finn, who is in town visiting for the holiday. Can Clare clear her brother’s name and find out what happened to the missing girl?

Stuff You Should Know

Sub-Themes
pacific northwest, small town charm, scenic location, strong female protagonist, middle aged protagonist, strong female friendships, multi-generational family, Thanksgiving, animals / dogs

Can You Start the Series in the Middle?
I enjoyed the first book in the series, so my opinion on this isn’t totally objective. Clare has a strong group of friends and family that enhance the story and even though the book can stand alone, I’d recommend starting at book one (First of September by Kathleen Joyce).

If You Like …
Maya Corrigan’s Five-Ingredient Mystery Series, you’ll enjoy this book.

Marie’s Thoughts

Clare and her gal pals are back at it again when death and mystery cast a shadow over their beloved town of Amelia Bay. There is a lot going on in this book. The characters are well developed, even the secondary ones, and you really feel like you are looking into the world of real people. There is some minor language in the book, but it doesn’t take away from the story and fits within the personality of the character using the words. I look forward to more adventures of Clare and seeing where her story goes next.

Writers are Sexy!

c82cc682aced0193eca90985081f2737[2]Whether you’re reading a historical novel, a romance, a thriller, a bang, bang shoot ‘em up, or a cozy mystery (Hint, hint. I could recommend a couple.) you are escaping into another dimension of time and space. Books give you the chance to live in another world and root for the protagonists, cry with them, or laugh at their antics. How many times have you thought, no, no don’t go down that dark alley, don’t open that door? And then thought, see I told you not to do that! Now, how are you going to get us out of this mess? Peering into a world that is not your own, allows you to learn—always learning all kinds of things about the world around us, ahead of us, and the history that is behind us. Reading takes you to places you will never visit or maybe encourages you to travel to some far-flung locale. Writers spend hours researching the world their characters live in, then they agonize over just the right word to set a mood or put the reader in the moment. Writers like to play at make-believe, dress-up, and create havoc for the women and men who live on the pages of their books. I say “their” books, but that isn’t always true. Writers set up scenarios and create characters who pretty much take over. I know that sounds a little crazy…but it is true. Every now and then one of them gets a little out of hand, and you’ve got to put them in their place, if that fails…well…you kill them off.

So, what is the moral of this brief. It’s simple. Read, read, read, learn, learn, learn, and maybe, just maybe, be inspired to write. There’s a story swirling around in your head that someone wants to read! Get lost in your imagination. Write it! What could be sexier than that?

 

On Writing in General and Writer’s Groups in Particular

Why-all-amazing-writers-have-writing-groups[1]Writing is something I’ve always felt drawn to. I’d read a book and think, yeah, I could write a book…someday. I actually thought I could write a better book than a lot of those I read. After all, writers do need a bit of ego, or in many cases they possess a lot of ego. With a huge heaping helping of humility, I believe I fall somewhere in the middle. Perhaps some of my friends would disagree. But with all that aside, the someday arrived. I sat down and wrote a book. I let it ferment in a drawer for ten years until I pulled it out, dusted it off, and not having a clue as to what to expect, walked through the doors of a conference room at my local library, and the heads of three men snapped around, with mouths agape they stared at me. “Who is this strange creature who has entered our sanctuary?” Their eyes darted back and forth. Undaunted, I adjusted my ego, smiled, and introduced myself. They mumbled their names. Within a few moments, a man, I now call our fearless leader, entered the room. He looked surprised but delighted to see me there. I’d brought with me copies of the first chapter of my book. I explained what genre I wrote in—cozy mysteries. One gentleman, in total disbelief, asked our fearless leader, “Is that really a genre?” The response was, yes, it most certainly is and a popular one. These fellas were writing sci-fi, zombies, and one a kind of fantasy, I think it was a fantasy, but that I never quite figured out. I trudged on. I passed out my chapters for all to read, chatted with them for a while and left brimming with confidence at the kudos I would receive at the next meeting. When I returned two weeks later, our fearless leader had hemorrhaged all over my chapter with his “red pen.” Wow! That surprised me. My ego was bruised…but not broken. I became a little defensive, okay maybe more than a little. I was sure he clearly did not understand the genre I was writing in. Oh, but he did. The more we talked, the more I realized how right he was. My chapter was awful and needed gobs of cutting and rewriting. So, I dug in and went to work.

Write with wild abandon and let it all pour out, then be brutal when you edit. I slashed more than a thousand words out of that first chapter and tightened it until it squealed. Bring the mystery up to the beginning of the book, I was told—show the reader some action—make them want to keep reading. It doesn’t matter what genre you write, you must draw the reader in. I forget who said, the first chapter sells the book and the last chapter sells the next book. Whoever it was, was spot on.

It’s been three years since I walked through those doors. The three gents who were there then are now gone. Others have come and gone as well. As a group, we are now about ten to twelve strong. All at different levels of writing in a plethora of different genres. We jump in to help others along by critiquing their work. We rejoice when some win awards for their stories, celebrate each other when a book is published, and we pray for some and support them when they go through rough times in their lives. As the pastor in our group once said, we are a family. We actually like to hang out together when we are not meeting in group. We go to lunch, grab a cup of coffee, or visit at each other’s homes.

I have two published books under my belt now, which have been greeted with wonderful reviews. Another book will soon be published. Maybe it would have happened without the support and encouragement of my fellow writers, but I don’t think so. If you don’t have a writers’ group—start one. One of our writers told me her previous group started because a woman put up a simple placard on her table in a coffee shop asking for people interested in writing.

I am fortunate to have found myself in the right place at the right time. I feel blessed. I am a much better writer because of these folks. You know who you are! Thanks.

Photo credit goes to WritingJourney.co

 

It’s Good to be Home!

I just returned from California. I went for the wedding of a beautiful young woman who married one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. I also went to see my daughter and son-in-law. And of course, the big draw was my grands. I’ve missed my family. They are scattered around the country, but they were all there for the wedding. What an excellent time I had. I sat on the deck of my kids’ boat and listened to the melodious sounds of Kenny G and…wait for it…The Beach Boys as they performed their concerts in a venue on the harbor. I slept on the boat—an experience. I’ve slept on boats before, but I was, ah…mm…much younger then. I thought I’d have a tremendous desire to move back to California. I didn’t. The state has become too crowded. I was saddened by the loss of the beautiful, old stucco buildings that were razed to make way for skyscrapers downtown. The same way I’m saddened in my little town that is bent on tearing down our old homes and buildings to make way for progress. I loved all the plants and trees and flowers that don’t grow in the Midwest—bougainvillea, pepper trees, palms, jacarandas… I think my kids were rolling their eyes as I pointed out species of trees and plants. Mexican food! Need I say more? I haven’t stumbled on any truly great Mexican restaurants in my area yet, but there’s always hope. If you’re in San Diego, stop by Miguel’s in Point Loma, you won’t be disappointed. These are just random thoughts. It is good to go, but it is oh, so good to be home.