Thursday, August 16, 2018

8/16 Procrastinator no more! least temporarily. My manuscript has been turned in, sent to the formatter, returned for my viewing (and my publisher's viewing), and sent back to the formatter for a few small changes. He returned everything, but without my picture on the back. So that's been attended to, and book #8 (Is This the End?) should be out any day. As usual it will be out in both ebook and paperback.

To say I am happy is to totally understate my HUGE emotions. For some reason, this book took a little while longer than the others. Still 8 books in five and a half years isn't too bad.

I'm working on Where's My Passport? and I certainly hope it will be done more quickly than ITTE? but we'l see. To hurry it along, I am adding to my usual writing retreat by going to a new one. In October I'll be going to the Isle of Palm off of Charleston, SC with some new writer friends. The funny fact is that I've not met any of them IRL. However, one of them has been my FB friend for a few years, and I'm sure the other ones will soon be friends. I believe there will be six of us there, and I believe all of them are published authors. More about them after I meet them. Then I can recommend some books to you. I do think they are romance writers, at least I know a few of them are. I wonder if I'm the only mystery writer there. Hmmmm, that will be interesting, and perhaps fodder for another book.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

3/29 The Great Procrastinator

Everyone has to be good at something, right? It seems I'm good at procrastinating. But I'm writing today, and that's a good feeling.

I really like this book and I know how it ends now, so I don't know why I'm so slow at finishing it. Many people have let me know that it seems like forever since my last book came out and they are right. It's been almost a year. Normally I put out two a year, so I'm vowing to get back on track.

This morning I'm sitting in a coffee shop and I'm the only person here. So there's no excuse, although I do like a little noise of people talking in the background. It motivates me somehow.

I had a marvelous writers' retreat in Vermont in February, and I will be going to my annual writing retreat at Snowmass at the end of April. I'd like to get the first draft of this book finished before I go. I usually start a new book when I'm at the hermitage at Snowmass. It's so inspiring there, plus there's no WiFi or cellphone service, so not too many distractions. Well, except for the marvelous view and the animals that come right up to the door.

So as I look forward to that trip, I also know I need to be mindful of the NOW and to live in the present, so I can complete the task at hand.

Wish me luck! Sam and George are on another excellent adventure.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

3/11 Plugging along

The good news is that I got my hearing aid and things seem to be working well. Still takes some getting used to, but I’m very pleased overall.

Regarding writing, it’s going slowly but it’s going. :) I am editing a book for a friend, grading assignments for my QU teaching job, and counseling Au pairs online. However, I’m still making time for writing.

My Work in Progress includes: The heroes climb to great heights. Poor Clancy gets trapped. A priest helps Sam and George escape from a dangerous position. Those are all the hints I’m giving. Still don’t know how to get them out of all the situations. Plus I haven’t figures out who the villain is yet. Well, I know one for sure, but not the other.

Okay, done talking about what is involved in Is This the End? As I write, I’m thinking about the next one.

What do you think about a murder taking place in a dementia unit, and how difficult that would be for the investigators to get information? I think the concept is intriguing.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

2/24/18 Life is interesting....

I should be writing, and I will.

I should be editing a friend's manuscript, and I will.

But for now, I'm sitting in a coffee shop willing the tinnitus to stop.

But it won't.

Willing my right ear to start hearing again.

But it won't.

Went to bed on 12/27 hearing out of both ears. Woke up 12/28 with almost all hearing gone in my right ear. Tests show I do have a brain and it works okay. (A little MRI humor there.) Explanations are unsatisfactory. "Sometimes this just happens. Something goes wrong with the cochlea in the inner ear. We don't really know how it happens. It just does." Of course the doctor didn't really say it in those exact words, but it's what I heard.

I'm not complaining, truly I'm not. I'm grateful to have one ear that works perfectly. This is just such a big change. And I know that soon I'll get used to hearing in monaural instead of stereo. And hopefully I'll get used to the noises that my ear insists on making. Oh, and walking into walls.

In the meantime I'll get back to my writing and editing, and trying to remember to hold my phone to my left ear. Laughing, because so far that's been one of the hardest things about this situation.

I do feel incredibly lucky that my livelihood doesn't depend on my hearing. Another appointment with the audiologist next week will determine if a hearing aid will help. Here's hoping...

Now, back to the main event: Writing. Happy Saturday, everyone. I am one lucky bug.

Monday, February 12, 2018

2/12/18 Last full day here

I was supposed to leave yesterday, but am leaving tomorrow instead. Luckily I have a flexible schedule and was able to extend my journey by two days. A few others have as well.

I think my favorite part of this whole journey has been sitting around the fire every evening and listening to other people's writing from the day, then discussing it, hashing it out. And also the fear and joy of reading my own stuff aloud and hearing helpful critiques as well. This has been invaluable.

The setting is certainly gorgeous. The food is some of the best I've had.

So pardon me if I don't write much here, because I'm working on my manuscript.

Friday, February 09, 2018

2/9/18 Hey, I am a writer!

Yesterday was an amazing patchwork of laughter, wine, and primarily writing. I wrote a few thousand words and could have written more, but tiredness overtook me. After a perfect dinner (which followed a perfect lunch), all the writers gathered in the Gertrude Stein salon. It's expected that every evening we gather for a "hash session" where we read part of our work in progress and critique each other's work.

It's kind of scary to put your work out there and to hear what people honestly think of it. Of course, when my work is published people read it and judge it all the time. But I don't hear them. And I'm not sitting there taking it in person.

So I was nervous.

However, it was a super experience—enlightening, encouraging, and energizing. Not only did I get valuable feedback on Is This the End?, I also was able to give feedback to others. There are some talented folks here. Right now there are five female writers staying here. Everyone writes so differently, yet all have a gift. Really enjoyed hearing others read their prose. We'll do that every night while here.

I'm getting a lot done, and eating like a queen. The food is unbelievable. Two of the women are wives and mothers and are sure enjoying not cooking. I just say Yum a lot.

I was supposed to go home Sunday but have extended until Tuesday morning. It's because I'm getting so much work done here with no distractions, plus getting helpful feedback.

Supposed to snow again soon. This is a beautiful postcard of a place.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

2/8/18 Maybe my life IS an adventure after all

I'm in Vermont at a Writers' Retreat. However, getting here fills the requirement of being an adventure. I left Quincy, IL yesterday morning quite early, after bidding a tearful farewell to my animals, even knowing the house sitter loved them and would take good care of them.

So my flight from Quincy to Chicago was uneventful. My flight from Chicago to Boston was cancelled because of weather and we had to go on a later flight. I'd paid for Economy Plus because I wanted to be able to get out of the plane quickly and be able to make my next flight. So on the new flight to Boston they had me in the back of the plane. I went to a customer service person and explained my plight, and for an additional $25 I got First Class. It really was a treat. They even had a ton of vegan choices for snacks. I had barbecue chickpeas and cocoa-dusted almonds. Yum.

I shouldn't have hurried to get out of the plane. After all, the flight to Rutland, Vermont was going to leave in 10 minutes, and I was sure there was no way I could make it. But another customer service person said, "All flights are delayed because of the weather."

Hope springs eternal. Right?

So I walked as fast as these short old legs would carry me. Turns out that Cape Air was in another terminal and it meant I needed to go outside of security and then back through it again. Yeah, I was getting irritated, not to mention breathless.

I get to Cape Air and there's a sign that said, "Because of weather, all evening flights are cancelled."

When I was finally able to breathe, I said a bad word. Then I said out loud, "I wonder if I can sleep here tonight."

A lady stopped and said, "They won't let you do that."

"Thanks," I said, and smiled. After all, I wasn't serious about sleeping there, but she didn't know that.

There was a sign saying, "Need help?"

I thought, I sure do. And I followed the directions to a kind gentleman who told me which hotels had free shuttles and how far away each one was, as well as the cost of each. I chose the cheapest that I knew was still decent (Holiday Inn Express), and when I got there I ordered a huge Chinese meal to be delivered. The tofu, vegetables, and hot sauce were tremendous.

Then I thought I needed a little culture, and watched Big Brother Celebrity Edition. I was thoroughly cultured by the time it was over.

This morning I hopped a flight to Rutland, VT without incident. Jill, the manager, picked me up and drove me the 45 minutes to the When Words Count Retreat Center in Rochester.

It is GORGEOUS, you guys. The house is very old, and each room is named for a famous writer. I'm writing in the Gertrude Stein salon. My bedroom (the Fitzgerald) is so beautiful and has a private bath and a huge desk. Here's a picture of my bed and the view out my window.

I just got here and am already writing. But before writing I did have a delightful lunch with two other writers, as I wait for my friend Nancie to arrive. She has an even bigger adventure to share and I hope she does. I'll try to get her permission to post it here. It's a doozy. 

Sunday, February 04, 2018

2/4/18 Writing and...

Is This the End? is flowing along. I'm excited about finding out who the murderer is. Yeah, that's how I write. I get an idea and just start writing. At that point, there's no idea of who dies, how the person dies, or who committed the murder. It works for me. In this 8th book in the Sam Darling series, it's even more difficult to figure out who did it. But I'm sure that by the end of the book, Sam and George will not only solve the crime, but will be ready to take on another one.

I felt compelled to say that because the title scared a few readers. No, this is not the last book in the series. There will be at least two more after this one.

However, I already have ideas about another series. What do you think about a nun whose dad is a mafia boss? That idea makes my toes tingle. (No, not when George kisses Sam and her toes tingle. This is another type.) I get so excited about the idea of another series, but I hate to leave Sam and George. Of course, it has to happen at some point. Sigh. BUT NOT NOW!

By the way, the nun, Sister Jordan, makes her appearance in Mostly Murder: Til Death, an anthology of murderous short stories. The book has some great mysteries in it and is only $2.99 for the Kindle version. Check it out if you wan to meet Sister Jordan. I hope you like her. Let me know, please.

Monday, January 29, 2018

1/29/18 Ah...writing again.

It feels so good to be writing again. My goal is only 1,000 words a day for at least five days a week. I have friends who are much more prolific than I am, but for me 1,000 words does it. It's a good goal because I can easily reach it, and if I go over, well then that's all the better.

Is This the End? provides us an entirely different mystery. I know many of us have "skeletons in the closet," but what would you do if you found a skeleton in your attic? Hmmm. Yeah, Sam and George are confronted with a different kind of crime in this book.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

1/25/18 Where have I been?

Too many excuses and none of them are good enough excuses for me not to be here.

So Scouts' Honor, I will be posting. One of the main reasons is that I have a nifty new website to connect to. My Nifty New Website

My 8th book in the Sam Darling Mystery series will be out this summer. It's called Is This the End? and delivers a whole new type of mystery to Sam's doorstep.

Also, I'm doing two writing retreats this year. In February I'll be at When Words Count Retreat in Vermont and in April will be with my friend Nancie at our 4th Annual hermitage retreat in Snowmass, CO. Quite excited about both of these.

Friday, 9/15, Day 8, Dublin to Glasgow and Ft. William

Friday, 9/15

I got up at 2:30 and took my shower and Nan was up at 3. We had arranged for a cab and he was there by 4:10. The driver was from Poland and was one of the most intelligent dudes we'd met. If he'd been around 20 years older he would have been mine, I tell ya.

Our flight wasn’t until 6 AM, but we were told we had to get to the airport 1 1/2 to 2 hours in advance for the flight because of stringent checks they do when going through security. Boy, were they right. Because of my knee replacements I often have to get patted and wanded. Sounds vaguely dirty. Anyway, I’m used to that. But what took us longer, was they made Nancie throw away everything that didn’t fit into the quart bag (or maybe it was a litre bag). She had a hard time deciding. Finally I was able to take one thing for her and put it in mine. 

So we took RyanAir from Dublin to Glasgow. The flight was perfect. It’s a budget airline so no free soda, etc. However, at that hour we didn’t need anything, so were quite content. The one odd thing was what was on the tray table. So I looked at this the entire way.

We took a cab to Queen Street Station where we had three hours before our train was to leave. So we sat in a coffee shop across the street for a few hours.

The train to Ft. William was so much fun. We had hilarious neighboring passengers.

No Wi-Fi on train AND no electric plugs. We were sad. Yet it made us have to look at scenery and to converse, with each other and with other passengers.

Drank Bitter and Twisted ale with a neighboring woman. She said the title accurately described her. She (72 years old) and her friend (78) were on their way to the smallest island in the Irish Sea where they’d been going for many years. They used to backpack and camp but a few years ago gave themselves permission to start staying in a cabin. They were delightful.

We past the River Clyde estuary, where the Clyde meets the sea. Gorgeous. And Loch Long lived up to it’s name.

At our table, Graeme and Clare were going with friends to a wedding at Ft. William. 

Their friends Karen and David were across the aisle, sitting with the older women. 

The four friends played a card game called Scabby Queen to see who got the ensuite room at their Guesthouse. Karen and David won. It was a fun kids’ game and I look forward to teaching it to my great-nieces and -nephews.

We saw Loch Lomond, of fabled song and story. I well remembered it from my trip 13 years ago. When I get caught up I’m going to compare that trip’s blogs with this one’s.

So the party people kept offering me drinks and I kept taking them. Some were just small tastes, so it wasn’t as bad as it looks. I had:
Bitter and Twisted Ale
Vodka and juice (Irn Bru)
McClaren whisky (which I bought for myself)
Tenant Lager

Insert “drunk” picture

All in all, these people made an enjoyable trip even more fun.

We arrived at the Ft. William train station and grabbed a cab. Andrew and his son Andy own and operate A and A Taxis, so we’ll use them if we need other rides. He was an interesting dude.

 Acorn Lodge, our new home, sits like a tree house above the village. We’ve walked it a few times now, and it is really hard work. No wonder I’m hungry all the time. We do have a gorgeous view from our tree house.

Insert pictures.

I dearly love little oddities like how things work, plugs in the wall have to be turned on, refrigerator is behind a closet door, lights work differently. All these things are part of why I love traveling to different countries with different cultures.

We’ve noticed that both Ireland and the UK, not typically known for their fabulous food, both have fantastic fares. Every day I’ve been able to have a vegan soup for my starter. And there are so many vegan and vegetarian meals around. Every single restaurant has them. I feel so lucky.