Summertime and the Fishing is Easy…

One of the things I like best about growing up in a small town was fishing with my dad.

I’m sure I enjoyed the experience more than he did.  Fishing then was simple.  Find a worm, push it on a hook, and throw the line in the water and watch the red and white bobber until it turned and was pulled underwater.  That meant there was a fish on the line.

It was the waiting part that was hard for me…and my dad.

He demanded I remain silent…and still.

I’m surprised that he never tied me up and gagged me.

But fishing to a kid was exciting.  I wondered what fish did all day, where did they go, what else did they eat besides worms, why were a bunch of them called schools?

Then the bobber would go underwater.  What a thrill!  You’d hooked a fish, now the trick was to get it out of the water.  You had to gently turn the reel handle so that you wouldn’t lose the fish, too easy and you would lose it.  Too hard and you would lose it.  It was a challenge, which is the whole point of fishing.  If you were lucky, you landed the fish and got bragging rights, and maybe dinner.

Another challenge to fishing was my favorite part.  Casting.  To learn how to throw out the line and hit a certain area in the water, without getting the line snagged.  When using a bobber it was important that you didn’t throw the line overhand, but sideways.

I became an expert on undoing a snagged line.  Dad would have to help me sometimes when I’d throw a line up in a tree.  And I was famous for getting a snarled line.  For some reason the line would become a tangled mess.  I’d play with it until I would finally get the loops and knots out.  I learned a lot fishing.

My dad would walk up and down the streambed to find better conditions, but I usually sat in one place.  I think that was because he ordered me to stay there.  I was making too much noise and chasing the fish away!  LOL

What I put that man through.

But I learned a lot and spent quality time with my dad.  What could be better than that for a kid?

In my next book, Unconditionally, which will be released next month, fly fishing is a part of the story.  I can hardly wait to release this novella.  It started out as a screenplay and did well in contests, got a rave review from a major screenwriting guru, and I decided to flesh it out into a novella.

Here is a copy of the cover…

Image

A lovely escape

To escape stress or routine, some people choose to read a good book or spend an evening at a movie theater; others travel or take a nearby vacation. For me the best relaxation is to write a book and live in my characters’ heads, and better even, to receive my grandchildren and take care of them—without their parents, of course.

Have you noticed how people smile when a child walks by? I had two off my grandchildren for three weeks. Three fantastic and exhausting weeks, during which I learned to share my little girls’ fun. It doesn’t take much to make them happy.

Swimming in the pool, playing in the surf at the beach, building sand castles, walking to Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast, watching cartoons on TV, kept us busy all day, and replaced, for me, blogs, emails, writing and editing. The girls monopolized my computer and used it to play games while I cooked their favorite meals.

Did I miss my daily life? Not exactly. I felt a bit guilty for neglecting my “usual duties”, then I realized that nothing in the world could top the lovely duty of taking care of my sweet girls and listening to their babbling.

The latest from my six-year-old granddaughter:
She was eating her noodles for dinner and carefully removing every tiny bit of meat. “I don’t like meat.”
Grandpa: “But at lunch you ate you hamburger.”
Six-year old: “I ate it because I had to.” Looking pointedly at Nonna. “It doesn’t mean I like it.”

From my eight-year-old granddaughter, when I was sitting with the girls reading on my Kindle while they were building their Legos.
Eight-year old: “What are you doing, Nonna?”
Me: “I’m reading a book. This is called an eReader.”
Eight-year old: “Oh, we call it a Kindle.”

Have you ever featured children in your books?

I have several babies in BABIES IN THE BARGAIN; a teenager in NO MORE LIES; a baby girl and four little boys in Rx in RUSSIAN.

Children add humor and emotion to our stories, and bring smiles into our lives.

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN http://tinyurl.com/6mcd6e3

Mona Risk can be found at http://monarisk.com    www.monarisk.blogspot.com

Escape Into Life

Yes, there are times I want to escape and find a place to hide. With life being so crazy these days, I can’t seem to find time to get everything done. But, I step back and take everything into consideration and start at the top of my priority list. This week, my list grew by leaps and bounds. So much going on it was hard to breathe some days. Every time I tried to  stick to one, just one project, the phone would ring and off I go to take care of something or someone.

But you know what? I had to step back again and decide if I wanted to run my life or let someone else run it for me. Some things aren’t worth the time it takes to keep life in shambles. I prefer a routine and staying organized keeps me sane.

Talk about the priority list growing! The heat has kept me from finishing several chores around the yard. But, you know what? The work will be there when it cools off, and that decision takes the pressure off!

I’d love to escape to the beach with good books, a computer and my family. Spending time with family is the best way to enjoy quality time with those you love. I’ve had my grandson for the past three days and the time we spent together was priceless. He’s going into the sixth grade this year and has grown so much physically and mentally the past year. His dad let him cut the grass for the first time a few weeks ago. Now he wants to come over and cut ours. But, we live on the main road so I wouldn’t feel safe with him cutting the front yard. When his dad has time to come with him, we’ll see about him helping us out.

Escape  is a good thing. You can rejuvenate your mind and soul, and we all need special times alone. So many times I’d like to go back to my grandmother’s home place, sit in her rocking chair and stare out over the lush green fields and garden. My grandmother was a hard worker and I can’t ever remember her complaining about anything. She simply did whatever came next because it was the thing to do. Times have changed since way back then. But, I believe taking life in stride as she did would do me a world of good.

While escape isn’t possible at the moment, I’m going to think of my grandmother’s life and be thankful for all the conveniences today’s women have available.

The spectrum is wide and I’ll choose to escape into dreams for the moment.

My Vote for Best Real Life Romance Hero: Tim Tebow

Cover model for romance novel?

He has all the makings. Dudley Do-Right handsome and larger than life, he’s a Winner at All Things He’s Ever Tried. Tim Tebow’s real story reads like that of a fiction hero. He stays positive, loves his mother and fights against great odds—and wins!

What gives with the football star talk?
I know you’re thinking that talking football now is like buying mittens in July, but the ESPY’s were on TV last week and I was captivated.

Tim Tebow won the ESPY Award for the Best Moment in sports for 2012. He threw an 80-yard touchdown pass—against great odds, of course—to win a playoff game against the Steelers for his underdog team—after coming from behind, of course. Geesh.
If I wrote a novel about Tim Tebow’s rise to fame, I’d get laughed out of the novel writing business with taunts like, “Ever hear about credibility?” or “That’s so cliché!” or “That would never happen in real life!”

How the heck does this guy do it? How does he manage to come out on top every time, no matter what? And what makes him such an irresistible hero to all his fans, aside from his amazing genetic gifts? Good old-fashioned decency, hard work and humility. These are the heroic qualities we all look for in our romance heroes. But not only that, a hero has to be great at what he does—if not an actual superhero who flies faster than a speeding bullet.

Check, check, check and check.

Since I’m in the business of writing men like this, I’m fascinated at finding a real life example and wonder where the inevitable flaw is—because we all know every good romance hero has a flaw. But secretly, I’m hoping that this is where real life departs from fiction, and Tim Tebow is that exception to the rule, and he really is as good as his story says.
In reality, Tim Tebow is a good example of why they say “Truth is stranger than fiction.” 

The hero in my sports romance, PLAING THE GAME, was not so noble and had more than his share of flaws. It made for an interesting story according to reader response. In a novel, writing Tim Tebow as a character would make him end up exactly like Dudley Do-Right, a cartoon character.

So Tim Tebow may get my vote for best real life  hero, but not for best romance novel hero.

What do you look for most in your romance heroes? Do you need him to have a flaw?

Blog Post by Stephanie Queen

Waiting For Inspiration & Time

Joan Reeves

Books by Joan Reeves

Have you ever had an idea for something you’d like to create? It could be a quilt, a decorating project, a rose garden, or writing a book. A lot of people stockpile these projects for the summer since more daylight hours equals more leisure time, or so the theory goes.

Here in Texas, it’s definitely more comfortable to be inside working on a decorating project than outside in the heat and humidity. Of course, I think if you live in cold country, this might be reversed where you save up your creativity for the months when the weather’s too cold and icy to be outside.

Whatever the project you want to create, and whenever you plan to do it, have you ever noticed how time passes, and you never find the time to get started? The summer’s over, and those cross stitch table napkins you were going to do for your sister’s Christmas present just didn’t get done. Or maybe that goal of reading all of Jane Austen’s books again fell by the wayside. For writers, creative projects usually mean a book written “just for the fun of it” to see if, maybe, you can pull together a book in a different genre.

Why couldn’t you find the time to do what you wanted to do? Maybe you were inspired, but the inspiration cooled, and, suddenly, the project looked more like work than fun.

The Secret To Achievement

Rita Dove, former Poet Laureate of the United States, said: “If you wait for inspiration, inspiration’s going to go away and look for more fertile ground to work with.”

The way many aspiring writers work is the way most people work on anything drawn from the imagination: they wait for the “muse” to commune with them. However, there’s something all these people don’t know that professional writers have learned. Inspiration comes to those who work consistently, every day, on the creative project.

Do It Like Pro Writers

Regardless of what you want to achieve, I encourage you to work like a Professional Writer works. Professional writers don’t wait for inspiration before hitting the keyboard. We know that the part of the brain that spews words is like an old-fashioned water pump. If you don’t know how one of those water pumps work, let me enlighten you.

The pump has a long, cast iron handle. You pump the handle up and down vigorously. After a few seconds of pumping, water spurts out—unless the pump hasn’t been used in a long time. If the pump isn’t used regularly, you may have to pump and pump until your arm muscles scream in protest and you’re out of breath. It takes a long time for that water to spurt out. Sometimes, you even have to prime the pump by pouring water into it in order for it to start pumping water out again.

How Achievement Works

That’s how writing works. When you write every day, it’s easy to get that outpouring of words. But, if you write every now and then, when inspired, it takes a lot longer to get the words flowing. Many professional writers leave nothing to chance. They prime the pump every day by leaving a dangling thread that can easily be picked up the next day. They also may prime the pump by reading over what they wrote the previous day, editing it a bit, and then diving into the current day’s writing.

This holds true for planting a rose garden, stitching a quilt, or faux painting a wall. You can’t just work at it when you’re inspired. To complete anything like this, you have to work at it consistently until it’s finished.

If you stop and start, stop and start, the garden will be overgrown with weeds before the first rose ever blooms. The quilt will be a partially finished project haunting you every time you see it on the shelf in the closet. The wall will be a hideous mess that makes you ashamed if anyone comes to visit.

Frozen

Everyone has heard of writer’s block. I think it happens when writers who don’t write regularly have a difficult time getting the words to flow. Sometimes the flow is less than a drizzle, only a drip or two. If they give up then, it’s even harder the next day. Sometimes if they don’t persist and keep pumping that handle and priming that pump, the flow dries up completely. The longer they go without producing a flow of words, the harder it gets to squeeze a word out. That’s when they’re diagnosed with writer’s block.

You might as well call it creativity block because this same phenomenon afflicts anyone who attempts to create something from their imagination. If they stop working consistently on it, it never gets finished. What’s worse, every time you think of it, you feel guilty and overwhelmed. If you don’t follow through this time then next time it’s even easier to shelve the project.

Post Script

Consistency of effort finishes the painting, plants the garden, writes the book, and establishes the habit of finishing what you start.

(Joan’s Books are available at all major ebook sellers. Please visit JoanReeves.com and her blog SlingWords for more information.)

How do you escape when you have traveling feet and nowhere to go?

I was going to write about the Declaration of Independence and what it meant for a fledgling nation to declare war against the superpower of the time, an important and timely topic to be sure. Bella wrote about freedom beautifully on the 4th. If any of you missed her post, it’s worth a look. It’s beautifully written and I find I have little to add to her fine work.

So this July what’s of import? Lot’s I suspect. The height of summer is upon us and there’s lots to celebrate just being alive. I live in south-eastern Wisconsin, where I’ve lived in various small towns my entire life. Here there are Memorial Day parades down main street followed by 4th of July parades down main street, County fairs just off main street and Labor Day picnics and barbecues. It’s pedestrian and, well, nice. I’m thirty five minutes from Milwaukee’s lovely lakefront and ninety minutes from Chicago’s. So nestled in all this small town-ness is the opportunity to live large in the city. It’s pretty ordinary really, the every-day-ness of it eclipsing at times the specialness of time and place. Sometime appreciating what we have requires distance. This July I’m hoping to appreciate it while being present. I’m finding the task harder perhaps than it should be.

Usually this is the month my family and I go on vacation. Sometimes to the Rockies. Sometimes to Ontario. Sometimes to New Mexico, specifically Santa Fe. This year things are different. Jobs are different. Children are different; older, more independent, with their own lives that have little to do with me or their father. We’re busy with a new business and sticking closer to home.

So what does one do in a small town where streets can be comforting or claustrophobic on any given day? Well, for one who travels to expand my soul and my spirit, I have to admit I’m feeling a bit stifled. I shouldn’t, but there it is. So what’s a girl to do when she’s stuck at home longing for new sights? Journey inward is always a good choice. Books, books, and more books. I’m reading more and writing more and trying to adjust to having more time to do what I want with fewer resources than I had a year ago. Weird, all the way around.

So what opportunities does this new life bring?  Well, this July I’ve been to the largest Renaissance Faire in the U.S. twice so far (It’s been open only 2 weekends and I’ve been both). I’ve been going since I was a little girl since it’s in the small town where I grew up, Bristol, Wisconsin. Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival is held at Milwaukee’s lakefront ten days at the end of June and beginning of July. I spent more days there this summer than ever before. Irish Fest, the world’s largest Celtic festival is coming up in August. I sponsor a team for Arthritis research every year for the run/walk to Irish Fest at Milwaukee’s lakefront. This year I’m sponsoring two. One for my dojo. One for our new haggis business. As much as I love it, it is something I’ve done every year for many years. (And now I sound so whiny I’d like to slap myself…I need a vacation!)

So why are my feet itchy beneath me? I need to change my routine. I need to see new places and do new things. It’s a need imprinted in every cell of my body. Traveling gives a new perspective and it makes me more thankful for what I have in my own backyard. It also clears the cobwebs from my psyche, especially when I visit the mountains. Something about their grandeur and my being present in it makes life more clear and more basic. I will be going to the Rockies for a few days in September and my palms are itchy just thinking about it. The visit is for business, not pleasure, but I’m pretty sure I’ll find pleasure in the journey.

And that’s ultimately the goal, I think. To find pleasure in the journey whether it’s just to my backyard or 3000 miles away. Both are significant if we attach significance to them. Some of the best books I’ve read involve small places and the everyday life that occurs there. The magic happens in small moments of appreciation and often in small towns or small environments. The magic is in everyday, I think, if we’re open to it. So how do you open to it when time or circumstance don’t allow for travel? I read. I water my flowers and try to absorb their beauty because I dread the long and very cold winter that blankets life here for five months of the year. And I dream of mountains and the Highlands and the magical places in Britain and I plan the next trip. After each trip I’m so happy to be home.

So, my fellow travelers, help a girl out. What do you do when you can’t get away. Does reading and dreaming do it for you? What are your favorite reads of the summer? How do you escape?

When Your Muse Takes a Holiday

You know how it is. One week you have so many ideas, you’re constantly jotting them down on the backs of old receipts dug out of your purse; then, without warning, your muse takes a vacation to parts unknown, leaving you struggling to come up with even one decent idea.

Here are a few of the strategies I use to get the creative juices flowing:

Meet new people – Talk to people and listen to their stories. A remarkable experience from someone else’s life can provide a jumping-off point for a story that you can take in your own direction.

Take a trip – Whether it’s a town steeped in history, a funky neighborhood or an exotic tropical locale, a new location can often inspire a story idea. (“Honey, I’m off to Aruba to do research!”)

Read – I mean anything and everything, fiction and non-fiction. You don’t want to copy another writer’s plot, but a theme, character or incident from the story can touch off an idea of your own. Even the newspaper can generate ideas – explore the “what ifs” of an intriguing true story.

Watch TV or go to the movies – Vegging on the couch isn’t a waste of time; after all, the sexy archaeologist in my new book, Where the Heart Lies, didn’t come entirely from my imagination!

Listen to music –Adele’s album 21 always gets me in the mood to write. Each song is a perfect encapsulation of an emotional journey, and her sultry, soulful voice and gut-wrenching lyrics never fail to spark my romantic imagination.

What do you do to overcome writer’s block?

If sexy archaeologists are your cup of tea, download a FREE copy of Where the Heart Lies on Amazon July 16 and 17.

Visit me at www.susanrhughes.weebly.com to learn more about me and my books.

Escaping My Family

Yes, that title does sound harsh. Try living with a mother who was bi-polar before it was trendy to be so and it didn’t yet come with a diagnosis and a dozen pills to try to see if they worked. It was like living with Glinda and the Wicked Witch at the same time.

I never knew if today would be Good Mom or Bad Mom. When she walked up to you she could hug and kiss you or backhand your head into the wall. It was anybody’s guess which one I would get on any given day.

Books and television were my escape. Little House on the Prairie and The Brady Bunch were there for me. No matter what crisis hit at the beginning, by the end of the book or the episode all was right in the imaginary world. Laura found her way home or Cindy confronted the school bully and won. I wanted my life to be like that. So I started living in my books. In there the evil stepmother always got her comeuppance. In books everyone lived happily ever after, no matter what catastrophes happened before The End.

Escaping to school didn’t help either. I was the shy kid with their nose in a book who always had it hit out of my hands by the school bully. Do shy, introvert kids have a “kick me” sign taped to our backs? Because it sure seemed that way in school. I loved school and learning, if only I could have attended all by myself. LOL

By 18 I was an unwed, teen mother. Books from the used book store were my only salvation. I was stuck going nowhere in a mess I had made for myself. But in books I was the belle of the ball, the spunky reporter getting the story, or the female sleuth solving the crime. Those cast off, hand-me-down books saved me. The used book store on my street corner knew me well. I was the little blonde girl (I looked about 12 back then.) with the baby in the stroller sitting in the corner with her nose in a book. I lived for the Wednesdays to take my daughter, a few books to trade in, and the prospect of a few “new” ones to take back home after an hour inhaling book dust and dreams.

By the time I turned 40 my life was in such a different place. A husband, a grown daughter who gave me a grandson, a son who is the light of my life, and contentment with where I was in life. Except for one thing. I was tired of escaping into the books I bought at the store, I wanted to write my own. I wanted to be published. I wanted my books to be someone else’s escape pod. It took 7 long years, but I’m there.

So nowadays, I escape into a story I’m telling, taking to the readers. I believe in the true love I write because I live it. I still escape into books, but when the day is done and I turn off the computer or put down the paper and pen I have a real-life story I’m living that I don’t need to escape from anymore.

Jill James, author of Tempting Adam and
The Lake Willowbee series and
coming soon: Dangerous Shift

Escaping Reality in the Pages of a Book

How many times have you escaped into the pages of a book to get away from the realities of life? Whether it’s stress, marital problems, money problems, or just plain boredom, books offer us a chance to turn off the outside world for a few wonderful hours and live in a different world, become someone else, do something exciting.

I started reading romance novels in my teens when I’d read everything on my bookshelves and discovered my mother’s stash of Harlequins when I went hunting for something else to read. I was hooked by the end of the first one I read. At the time, I escaped into books to get away from all the usual teenaged angst. Like most teens, I felt unloved, unappreciated, unwanted. None of which was true, of course, but that’s part of being a teen. In those novels, I became the heroine. I found true love. I traveled the world and embarked on great adventures.

As a young wife and mother, I escaped into books as a way to be the woman I wished I could be, but wasn’t. I would start reading after the kids and husband went to bed and would read until two in the morning. I’d read while the children napped. As they got older and I went to work, I’d read while I ate my lunch and again late at night. I hated reaching the end of the book, especially if I didn’t have another one handy to start reading.

That’s one reason I love e-books. The next book is only a click away. I’m never without something to read. Though I read less now than I used to because I spend so much time writing or online, I still buy books by authors I love and those by my friends who also write. My Kindle is bulging with books to be read. And even though I can now escape into the words of my own novels as I write them, I still enjoy visiting the worlds and characters of other authors. It gives me a new perspective, introduces me to new places, and takes me on new adventures.

Writing has also taken me on some real-life adventures in the name of research. My husband and I took a round-about trip to California a couple of years ago by way of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. We stopped along the way to spend a day at Mesa Verde National Park to visit the cliff dwellings. I wanted to do some research for Superstition–my paranormal, Native American romance. By way of setting the scene, I need to confess that I have a fear of heights. As long as there’s a wall or railing between me and a big drop, I’m generally okay. But put me on a ladder and tell me to climb? Panic attack.

The easy part.

If you’ve ever been to Mesa Verde, you’ll know there are a lot of opportunities to be on the edge. And the worst of all is climbing the ladders to get out of the cliff dwellings. I really didn’t think things through when I descended those steep stairways down into the dwellings. I didn’t think about how I would get out once the tour was over. But with the Ranger and a couple of dozen people behind me, that ladder was my only choice.

And I did it. I had to sit down once I got out, but I made it.

And I got a lot of material for my book. 

Have you been on any grand adventures this summer? Or do you prefer to get your adventures through the pages of a book?

Superstition received 4 1/2 stars and a Top Pick from Romantic Times Magazine and is a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Reviews Best Indie Romance Novel of 2012 contest. You can find it on Amazon at http://amzn.com/B006NGUEGA

Writer’s Workshops

In 2005 when I was asked to serve as Relief Society president I decided to set my writing aside. At that time I was taking classes from Raymond Obstfeld, a brilliant teacher and writer, but I knew that with the demands of my family and the my new responsibilities, I wouldn’t have the time, energy or the creative humph to spare. I happened to meet Jack Weyland, a bestselling LDS author, who disagreed. He assured me that his most creative time came while he served as a bishop. I thought that might be true for him, but not necessarily for me. But after our conversation, I returned to my daily writing sessions and on my birthday, as a present to myself, I looked at writer’s conferences. On a whim I signed up for the New York Pitch Workshop where, if accepted, I would work in a small group, perfect my pitch, and then present it to three New York agents and a senior editor at Penguin publishing.

I sent in the novel I had spent the last three years working on in Raymond’s class, a small bio and synopsis. Michael Neff called me a few weeks later. We’re very excited about your Library in Rhyme. I know some people scream when they’re excited. I whispered, No one has ever said that to me before.

And so I went to New York and spent two days in working with an amazing group of fifteen mystery writers. Most were doctors writing medical thrillers, but there was also an attorney from Harvard law school, a professor from Vanderbuilt, a CIA agent. Feeling totally out of my element, when Charles Salzberg, our director, asked for volunteers to meet with the first agent, I didn’t raise my hand. I went dead last. This worked out well for me, because when the next agent came, Charles said, now we’ll reverse the order. Which meant I got to go first, and since Charles never reversed the order again, I was the first to meet the remaining agents and editors. And since I’m typically a prompt, anxious person, I showed up early to every appointment and since Charles always showed up late, I had several minutes of dead time with the each agent and editor. (I still have a warm place for Charles in my heart.)

I remember the day I met Tom Colgan, the editor from Penguin. I wore a new pink sweater. The sweater shed and left pink fuzz clinging to my black wool pants. I was almost in tears. One fellow writer, a guy, said I’m positive that your book won’t be judged by pink fuzz. But another writer, a compassionate female, took one look at me, swore and began patting down my legs with scotch tape. While I met with Mr. Colgan, editor to Tom Clancy, a puff of pink floated between us. It hung in the air inches from his nose when he said, I can see myself working with you.

This is the pitch I gave Mr. Colgan:

Mad Aunt Charlotte is missing again. Blair Rhyme, Rose Arbor’s librarian, doesn’t bother to check Charlotte’s regular haunts—the Foreign Wars lodge, the Four H-Club, or the bins behind Milton’s Fish Shop—because unlike her past vanishing acts, Charlotte is dead. Blair discovers Charlotte’s body amongst the boxes of what-nots and whatevers in the library’s basement. Unfortunately, when she returns to the library with police in tow, they find that Charlotte is missing. Again.
Desperate, Blair tangles with a Boy Scout troop who would rather swing each other from hooks in the slaughter house than do a good turn, Friends of the Library more interested in aliens and blackmail than updating the card-catalogue. She also picks up a couple of unwanted allies, a half drowned cat and a feisty eighty-three year old Romeo.
A hooded face in a window, a shoe robbery, her aunt’s disappearance—Blair needs to prove to the police, and to herself, that she doesn’t share her aunt’s dementia, but a former love and a stranger with his own agenda try her sanity.
At first Blair dismisses the skin pricking feeling of being watched, but as small disturbances grow increasingly threatening, Blair must examine the boundaries between paranoia and truth before she falls victim to the enemies, real or imagined, that haunted and drove her aunt to madness and death in the Rose Arbor City Library.

A Library in Rhyme spent ten months on Tom Colgan’s desk. When my tattered and gray manuscript finally returned home, I agreed with Tom’s critique. Riddled with passive verbs, adjectives, and too many characters, an overly complex plot—it wasn’t ready.

Fast forward seven years and umpteen writer’s classes and workshops later, is the novel ready? I hope so. Overhauled, trimmed to its bare bones and boiled to its essence, I’ll publish The Rhyme’s Library at the end of the month.

Do I regret the money I spent for the writer’s conference? Not at all. My few days there sent my flagging writer’s ego sailing. Do I resent Tom Colgan for not loving my manuscript enough to nurture it to a best seller? Not at all. Not only was my manuscript not ready, I wasn’t ready. I had a busy, full life. I still do. Do I expect The Rhyme’s Library to be an indie best seller? Not at all. But I’m looking forward to the question—whatever happened to crazy Aunt Charlotte?