One of my hobbies is painting rocks. This is a kindness project. Artists create designs or encouraging messages, and leave them on trails or other public places to bring a smile to passersby. Here are some I painted and left last year, hoping to brighten a stranger's day. I'll be ramping up my rock painting in 2024, after we complete a home improvement project that seems to be taking more time and energy than I expected.
Writing a novel is in process. From idea to publication may take many years. The fun thing about writing fiction series is that the plot changes with each book, but the author doesn't need to reinvent the setting and characters. Once a series is established, with a defined world and familiar characters, the writing process may speed up.
The idea for the Rose Creek series began five years ago, in 2019. It took time to develop the world, and settle on the story tone. Then finding a publishing home for the series took more time. The Body in the Cattails was born in May 2023. The Body in the Cornfield followed quickly in November.
Work on Rose Creek Mystery number three began in earnest back in August 2023. Brainstorming the plot started with the birth of the series, but I actually began outlining and writing The Body in the Hayloft six months ago.
At the beginning of a novel, I typically tell myself to pick a plot requiring little research. Then a spark hits me, an idea, and I'm combing the internet for information on interesting technology, potential murder weapons, and in this book, the average age of a hunter-jumper horse in Olympic competition.
Now that I've written The End, The Body in the Hayloft will be reviewed by my critique partners. Whether in a critique group or by using beta readers, authors almost always rely on these early readers to catch everything from continuity mistakes to typos. I return the favor by reading their manuscripts. We provide mutual aid to one another in an effort to make our books the best they can be before approaching agents, editors, and publishers.
Not just the book must be completed. I fill out an extensive document with blurbs, synopses of different lengths, author bio, and other information needed by the publisher.
By March I hope to send my novel to my editor at Encircle Publications. If she recommends it for publication, she will make her own edits and comments. She will catch what my critique partners miss. A publication date will be set.
From there, the book will receive cover art. And we're off to the races! Readers will see the novel pre-release and release notices, unaware of the years that may have preceded the birth of the book. And that the author has most likely already begun work on their next novel!
A windmill is central to the plot of The Body in the Cornfield. There are different types of windmills. The photo here is of the modern energy generating windmills you may have seen alongside highways.
Other windmills use energy to turn the blades, used in orchards and vineyards to prevent damaging freezes.
The windmill in The Body in the Cattails is an energy generating variety. It is a project by university engineer Emiko, using renewable materials. The windmill in my novel looks more like the traditional wooden windmills in the Netherlands.
Cattails are found in swampy, marshy areas. They are an aquatic to semi-aquatic plant. In my novel, The Body in the Cattails, the plants grow along the banks of Rose Creek. They also grow here in town, along the creeks in the many greenways through town. Artist Deirdre Wait created the beautiful cover for my novel, featuring cattails.
Here are five of the painted rocks I saw on the walking trails in 2023. People paint images or encouraging messages on rocks, and leave them in public places to bring a smile to passersby. One of my goals for 2024 is to paint and leave these bits of amateur art on the trails. I know these cuties brought me a smile! #719 Rocks!
Reviewing 2023 from strictly a writing point of view, I racked up some mileage.
My new Rose Creek Mystery series made its debut with The Body in the Cattails in May, and The Body in the Cornfield in November.
In the short fiction world, Claire's Cabin appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine - March/April issue. Also in March, my story Annie's Snow appeared in the Pikes Peak Writers anthology, Journeys into Possibility.
I completed two manuscripts for Annie's Publishing, which have not yet been released. I finished an outline for an additional Annie's book.
Another short story has been submitted to an anthology.
Will I slow down in 2024? I hope not. Although I intend to focus on two projects that have been slow to come to fruition. Maybe 2024 is the year to push these two books to the top of my priority list.
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