WWK--Better than ever--Look for the return of blogs by Linda Rodriguez! She's back--on 1/4. Watch for our new blogger Tammy Euliano--debuting on 1/17
Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Killer Weeds," appears in the January 20 edition of Texas Gardener's Seeds: From Our Garden to Yours. Congratulations, Margaret, who, if you follow Facebook know, is a superb gardener herself!
Congratulations to Jennifer J. Chow for garnering a 2021 Lefty Nomination for Best Humorous Mystery Novel. We're crossing our fingers for Jennifer!
Congratulations to Paula Gail Benson whose "Reputation or Soul" has been chosen for Malice Domestic 16: Mystery Most Diabolical anthology to be released this spring.
KM Rockwood's "Stay Safe--Very Safe" appears in this year's 2020 BOULD anthology. Congratulations, KM!
Margaret S. Hamilton's "Dealing at the Dump" appears in Cozy Villages of Death Fall 2020.
Margaret S. Hamilton's "Black Market Baby" and Debra H. Goldstein's "Forensic Magic" appear in Masthead: Best New England Crime Stories Fall 2020.
Jennifer J. Chow's Mimi Lee Reads Between the Lines (interview on WWK on 11/11) released on November 10.
Annette Dashofy signed with agent Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Congratulations, Annette!
KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" has been published in the SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, released by Wildside Press on 10/6.
Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequin's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.
Friday, June 30, 2017
Thursday, June 29, 2017
I deliver Mobile Meals every other Thursday. On my route I met a woman for the first time last week although I’ve been delivering meals to her and her husband for over a year. I met him briefly once, and at that time he told me to leave the meals in the basket by the back door and not to knock on the door. The woman – I only know their last names – was cleaning out the car and her little dog came up to greet me. I said “Hi” to her and asked about the dog and made some small talk to which she barely responded. However, she did follow me to the door where I put their meals. I got a glimpse of her husband inside the door, but he quickly disappeared. I mentioned that I knew of her sorrow, and that I had lost my oldest son, too, and I gave her a quick hug. She started to open up, but still did not lose the sadness and anger from her face. She said she and her husband had been married for 39 years and he never hugged her anymore. To tell the truth, the more I listened to her the more I understood his pulling away. She was not only in full grief after five years since her son died from suicide – an Iraq War vet – but she was angry at the whole community and went nowhere anymore. She ranted about how they weren’t there for her anymore and then ranted about how when they did come around they mentioned suicide. What is especially tragic, they have a younger son who now lives in California, and she doesn’t want him to come home because he’s not like her older son, who was special. Foolishly, I gave her my phone number when she said she wanted to call and console me sometimes. I don’t need consoling, but I didn’t tell her that.
|My granddaughter, Megan's and son, John's graves.|
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
I hate every second of it. The sweat stings my eyes and the sunlight beats me about the head and face like a mugger. Every step feels like I'm moving through sludge, and with the humidity at almost one hundred percent, I literally am. The air is heavy and still and thick, and I am no natural athlete. I have no generous allotments of either fast-twitch or slow-twitch muscles. I am a plodder. I have come to accept this about myself.
But I run anyway. And my coach is right — it makes me a better boxer. It keeps my legs well-muscled and my cardio capacity strong. But then, so would a host of other physical activities. The real reason I run, the one that keeps me lacing up those athletic shoes, is what running does for my writerly brain, which gets stronger and more capable with every step I take.
I'm not the only writer to have noticed the cognitive and creative benefits of running, of course. Many famous authors, including Joyce Carol Oates, are also runners. Three of the authors in my own creative circle have completed half-marathons with dang fine times, but the prowess is not the point. The point is one foot in front of the other. Rinse and repeat.
Scientists have noticed this correlation. Some connect it to the pattern of brain waves known as gamma rhythm, typically controlled by attention and learning, but also governed by, apparently, how quick one is on one’s feet. As researcher Mayank Mehta of the University of California, Los Angeles, explains, there is "an interesting link between the world of learning and the world of speed." Other studies show that vigorous physical exercise literally creates new neurons, and it makes them in the region of the brain associated with learning and memory. Running also increases blood flow to the frontal lobes, the place where clear thinking and good planning happen, and provides support for emotional regulation and recovery. Though researchers remain unsure how that latter result comes about, they have documented that it does.
I regularly do other physical activities, but nothing primes the creative pump like running. During a good run, it's as if my body goes into autopilot mode, letting my brain hang out and enjoy the ride. Boxing and swimming and yoga all require mindfulness—I must be present in my body every second of the time. My thoughts are not allowed to wander because I need them to keep my fighting stance, or my alignment in a pose, or my head above water when I need to breathe. Running lets me experience mindlessness, a kind of mental anti-gravity that's both useful and refreshing.
And so I run, even in the summer. My body and brain are the better for it, and so are my stories.
Monday, June 26, 2017
|My dog, Dyson|
Sunday, June 25, 2017
by Julie Tollefson
The revisions I’m making to my current manuscript have taken the story in unexpected directions, developments that have created holes in the storyline—huge, gaping canyons in logic and flow that leave me breathless.
The way forward is clear. I simply need to write several new scenes that bridge the gap from Ugly Draft to Not-So-Ugly Draft. I know the characters. I know what needs to happen to make the story make sense. Yet here I sit, fingers poised, and the words will not come. Faced with the blank screen, I freeze.
I’ve been in this exact same position a number of times in the past month. Once I finally start writing, the fear and the doubt fall away. But in that space between thinking about writing and writing, I can lose minutes, hours, in staring at the empty screen. Or worse, I’ll decide to pop over to check Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, just for a minute (uh-huh) while I marshal my thoughts.
It’s the polar opposite of the way I feel when I’m so far inside my story the real world feels alien. Then, when the words flow effortlessly, I resent people, real people, who dare to intrude in my fictional world and drag me back to reality.
I’ve heard other authors say that every new project feels like the first time. Daunting, with a healthy side of “I don’t know how to do this.” That’s a comfort when I feel truly stuck. Maybe this down time is my subconscious brain working out the best plot.
Or maybe I’m just a hopeless procrastinator.
Regardless, I’ve picked up a few strategies that help turn the word tap back on. The obvious—re-read previous scenes to get my head back in the story—works most of the time.
The rest of the time?
Occasionally, my brain says, “Here are some ideas, but they’re stupid, predictable, clichéd, and not very elegant.” Then, I give myself a stern talking to, a reminder that the first words on the screen can be weak or trite because I will revise them later.
And when the doubts seriously set in, I stoke my ego by re-reading previous work (“It’s not dreck! Cool!”) or feedback from others (“rich, lyrical descriptions”) to regain that “I’ve done it before, I can do it again” determination.
What are your go-to strategies when you’re stuck on a problem?
Friday, June 23, 2017
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
|Rosemarie and Vince Keenan|