Exciting news! My newest novel, Silent Knife, based on the Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library world, is available in a three book gift set for the bargain price of $24.99. https://www.anniesfiction.com/products/mistletoe-mysteries
Is it really the middle of July?
Summer is flying by. Almost every weekend, we're spending at our "ranch," a dry, rocky acreage in the Colorado mountains.
This weekend, we hosted family for a picnic, flying kites, and riding ATVs.
When the weather is hot and dry, remember to hydrate. Forgetting to drink water can deplete your energy and mental focus.
Creativity can run dry, too. This isn't dependent upon weather factors. Your imagination may atrophy if you're dealing with a lot of stress. For other folks, stress sends creativity into hyperdrive.
I heard many authors stopped writing during the height of COVID-19, round one. I'm part of the group that found social isolation and the world-on-fire liberating. I finished a new novel, and am planning to dive into my next project.
Whatever your creative outlet - writing, painting, sewing, playing a musical instrument, cooking - your energy needs to be recharged. Pay attention to your mental and emotional signals.
If you find yourself stuck, check out these ideas for recharging your creativity.
I finished the AHMM May/June 2020 issue, and look forward to diving into July/August. A new feature in the magazine, Case Files, is written by former police detective Lee Lofland. The article covered the day-to-day life of police officers, describing uniforms in great detail. As an author, I appreciated these insider tips on the reality of police work. I am certain readers will find the information engaging, too.
Lofland describes his experience becoming published in AHMM here.
For more reviews and links to author websites, check out the Trace Evidence blog here.
I hate to admit it, but I have not finished reading the May/June issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and the July/August issue just arrived. I only have two stories left in the earlier issue. This happy problem means I still have plenty of great reading material.
This year has been difficult. That may be why I gravitated toward an appreciation of the lighter stories. Don't get me wrong. Every story is stellar, and well worth reading.
Buck Solves the Case, by Parker Littlewood, is told from the point of view of a cowboy's crime solving horse. A little romance, plenty of humor, and a mystery make this an entertaining read.
In Shanks Saves the World, by Robert Lopresti, mystery author Leopold Longshanks sets out to solicit a donation to repair the roof of the World Theater. He befriends a former record producer, some of whose bands performed in the old theater, in the process of seeking funds. Before he can secure a donation, the producer goes missing.
The Wolf and Lamb, by Joslyn Chase, was an exception to my quest for humor. This story of a sheltered young woman in 1888 London forced by her parson father's death to work in her uncle's tavern was a nicely written and compelling read. A killer stalks London, preying upon women who ply their trade from The Wolf and Lamb.
Sleepy River, by Michael Bracken, was a fun read about two teenage girls in a southern hamlet who long for adventure. They soon regret the realization of their summer day dreaming.
Drama in the grocery aisle unfolds in Mark Thielman's The Case of the Cereal Killer. The protagonist is a representative of the Potato Advisory Board, and peddles spuds in stores while dressed as a russet, Kennebec, or other potato variety. He stumbles onto a body in the cereal aisle, and must solve the mystery to save the lovely store manager.
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine never fails to provide an interesting variety of stories, from humorous to frightening.
Silent Knife is my entry in the Annie's Mistletoe Mysteries series. Faith and her detective cat Watson are caught in the middle of a deadly rift as Castleton Manor hosts a family reunion.
The murder mystery opens with a sleigh ride and ends on the knife edge of disaster.
I used to dabble in photography. I still have the camera my father gave me when I was in high school. It uses actual film. Nothing digital about it.
Unfortunately, I have gotten lazy. I only use my cell phone camera. It's an older model phone, with a poor quality camera.
The specks in the mountain pasture are elk. Although based on the quality of the photo, I could as easily claim they are a family of Sasquatches. You'll just have to take my word for it. They are elk.
Stopping to smell the roses means slowing down to enjoy life, especially if you've been spending too much time in the fast lane. I've been talking in my last few blog posts about pausing to celebrate writing success.
During these COVID-19 days, I've also been spending a lot of time outdoors, walking and hiking. Many scenes from nature distracted me from the tension of a world gone crazy.
I enjoyed admiring these delicate pink and yellow flowers. Smelling them meant getting a little too close to the spines. You might stick your face into a rose flower to inhale its delicious scent, but cactus flowers demand social distancing.
Climbing mountains is a process. You prepare, you plan your route, you hike until you're certain you haven'y got any more to give, physically. You keep going, and eventually reach that peak. The return trip is only easy in comparison to the climb up.
Writing a novel is much the same process, but it's an entirely mental game.
I love the process in both situations. Reaching the top of the mountain is an amazing experience, but hiking the trail through forest, field, and tundra is what appeals most to me.
The journey of creating a story is what I enjoy when writing a novel. There is great satisfaction in facing a blank page and filling it with a story. I even enjoy the revision phase once the draft is completed.
I don't linger when I achieve the goal. This is a character flaw I'm working to change. I have come a long way since my first novel publication in 2013. I need to remember where I began, and recognize where I'm at now.
Today is a celebration of my write-to-hire experience. This was a new mountain to scale, writing stories to fit into an existing story world. The Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library is an adorable cozy mystery series. I was privileged to write two novels in the 24 book series: Ink or Swim, and A Thorny Plot.
Annie's Publishing trusted me with their story. I had a blast writing about Watson the cat and his human companion Faith Newberry.
I'm excited to be interviewed in the national newsletter for Mystery Writers of America, The 3rd Degree. I share the stage with short story authors R. T. Lawton and Manuel Ramos. The interview was conducted by award-winning author Suzanne Proulx.
If you're a member of MWA, you can read the article in the May 2020 issue.
My husband and I went for a 6 mile hike on the Santa Fe Trail, a setting that inspired my first published novel. The mystery today is not in my story. We've noticed a gate, detached from any fencing, standing solo in a field. It has been there as long as I remember.
What's new is the addition of a lock. And then another lock. Over a dozen random locks.
Locks on the gate to nowhere.
I probably won't write a story about the gate. The image is visual art, offering a moment to reflect and ask, WHY?
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