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She's baaaack!


Your favorite defective detective is returning with a brand new adventure.

 

Cynthia's is finally settling into her new routine.

 

Then her sister is arrested for murder, Sheriff Joseph gets shot, and her beloved Beetle catches on fire.

 

To top it off, someone is determined to make sure that Cynthia's life gets snuffed out in the flames.

 

She has ADHD. Routines are boring anyway, right? 

 

Book 2 in the Cynthia Shade mysteries is landing soon.

 

In the meantime, you can catch up on her adventures in Casket Case. 

 

Get it here!

 

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Atonement is Here!

 

 

 

It's been ten years since Cherry left Flat Hope.

Her days are full, but exhausting until a wealthy man offers her a life of ease.

 

When her daughter is kidnapped, Regan crashes back into her world.

 

With the war in the background and her daughter missing, Cherry's safely held existence is tossed into chaos.

 

Her daughter's future depends on her choice.

 

Does she dare follow her heart?

 

 

 

Now Available

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Just Keep Swimming

 

How do you do it?

 

How do you go on day after day? Word after word? Story after story with no guarantee of success? You sit down time after time and put words on the page never knowing if those words will see the light of day. You may never have accolades. You may never be well known outside of your small circle of friends and family, but you still press on.

 


How? What is the secret to your tenacity? I'm asking for a friend. Full disclosure, some days, I'm asking for me. What is the "why" behind what you do that makes what you do so...doable?

 


I'm sure you've had those days. It's wet, it's cold. You've been soaked to the bone and ruined your favorite shoes. There's nothing in the fridge so you order takeout-and they deliver burned food. It's just one of those days you want to end. Then you get that little notification that says the agent/publisher read your submission. You click on it with eager fingers and get that oh, so recognizable form letter that says you've been declined...again.

 

It stinks.

 

But you don't give up.

 

You're still a card carrying, devoted member of the five o'clock in the morning writer's club. You still churn out your stories, your novels and your novellas. You still cheer on your fellow writers and help them celebrate their milestones.

 

What is the secret to your endurance? What is this tiny flame that insists on flickering in the soul of every creative that forces us to create even if it's only for us? You've seen the evidence; doodles on the gum wrappers, poems on the table napkin even the limericks on the bathroom stalls. What drives one to carry out this madness for no reason at all?

 

What about those who firmly desire to earn a living this way. What if it never happens? That tiny flame never dies. It's always there, tickling the back of our brains with ideas and dreams. It fuels a desperate tenacity that won't let us give up.

 

How many times have you tried to quit? Really? How many times have you stepped away and sworn you were never going to enter a fictional world again and yet found yourself doing just that. Creating new characters. Building new kingdoms. Breathing life into the unknown by bringing the unknown into our lives.

 

Is it tenacity? Is it madness? Or is this who you're meant to be? A fighter. A scrappy little get 'er doner.

 

Even if you don't get the multi-million dollar deal.

 

Keep at it.

 

We are all waiting on you.

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Does Your Work Actually Matter?

"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important." ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important."
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

 

 

We have twenty-four hours in every day. If we spend the recommended eight of those hours sleeping, we're left with sixteen hours to get things done. But, what if you hold down a full time job? That takes another eight hours out of our day. So that leaves us with a remaining eight hours for family, school, meal times, pets and, oh yes...writing.

 


The really lucky ones can maybe carve out two hours of that day to work on that book baby, article or story. At five days a week, that's ten hours during the week that you can work on your passion. If you're really lucky you can get a few extra hours in on the weekends.

 


But then, there's your blog, your newsletter, your social media posts and all of the other marketing efforts that we have to make. How do you make time for it all?

 


As the old proverb states, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

 


One hour here, fifteen minutes there. We fill the void between Disney movies, family issues and walking the dog, with words and worlds that we build from nothing. We work hard. But do we value what we do?

 


You know that story that's been dancing through your waking thoughts for years, daring you to breathe life into it? You finally do it. You put it out there and wait.

 


You don't sell a million copies in the first week. You don't get that movie deal. You don't even get mentioned in the local paper. (Yes, that's still a thing.)

 


Does this mean your work doesn't matter? Of course not.

 


Repeat after me. My work is important because I've made time for it. It has value because I put time and effort into it.

 


Writing is rarely a profession of instant gratification. The tangible benefits of our efforts can sometimes be a long time coming. The old adage of try, try, try again has a different meaning for us writers.

 


Yes we try, try, try again, but we may want to keep detailed notes since all of the rejections and so called failures may well end up being the subject of our eventual best seller. Nothing is wasted.

 


But being a best selling author isn't what gives our writing value. It's the story behind it that matters. Did you join the 5am writing club? Did you disappear for three solid hours every Sunday? It's the passion you put into it that matters. Did you defy your worst fears and launch your characters out into the world?

 


You made it happen.

 


No matter how the story is written, it has been written.

 


That's what gives it value.

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We Need Your Support

Have You Supported A Fellow Writer Today? 

 


"A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."
― Desmond Tutu

 

 

 

     Writing is hard.

 

     For real. Just sitting down and putting words on the page can be difficult. Top that with story lines that race through your head without mercy. They tease you, dancing around till you can't capture their perfection, only their essence.

 

     It's brutal.

 

Then, you finally get the words down. You edit till you bleed. You wrap it up and send it to your editor who cuts you, er, your work some more. It's always just one more edit. Until it's done.

 

Then it's over. And you're alone again until the voices in your head start talking again.

   

     Writing is hard.

 

     It's a lonely process that involves one human and a massive imagination. Medication won't help this particular insanity, but a tiny bit of support can.

 

     This is where many of us come up short. Sometimes we label our fellow writers as competition rather than companions. This ultimately hurts us more than it does the others because after you spend months, nay, years, working with yourself-and your invisible characters-you put your book baby out into the world and watch in helplessness as it tries to swim. It needs support.

 

Fortunately, there are a few easy ways we writers can help each other.

 

     1. Promote. Post someone else's work on your social media.

 

     2. Review. I can't say enough about reviews. They are essential in this world. Everyone wants to know what they're getting into before they spend that $3.99 on your book. Take a moment and review a fellow author's work, honestly, but thoroughly. It counts for more than you know.

 

     3. Advocate. Our writing is as diverse as we are. We don't all know everything that's out there. We need someone watching our backs.

 

     4. Let it go. Stress is a silent killer and one sure way to foster its growth is to spend way too much time watching what someone else is doing. Someone has better sales than you? Has more reviews than you? Has better reviews than you? It stings but it's no reflection on you. It's better for your health if you cheer them on.

 

     5. Encourage. See a struggling writer? Drop them a word of encouragement and see how much better you feel. It only takes a minute, but it's so worth the time. Teamwork makes the dream work.

 

     6. Write it out. Write out the discouragement, the fear, the worries and the disappointments. Write hard, write fast. Chances are someone else is dealing with the same thing and your words can soothe, maybe even heal.These are those who pen the books that you love the most.

 

     Being a writer can be a choppy ride, but it's worth it. Our thoughts and words will be deciphered by new generations when they are studying our civilization. It's a record not only of one. It's you. It's me. It's all of us.

 

     When you think of it like that, maybe writing is really not that hard. 

 

 

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A Writer's Rule

 

 

So far this morning I have spilled coffee on my office floor. Spilled coffee on my desk (two separate incidents) and poked myself in my own eye with my glasses.

 

Yes, it did hurt.

 

It's barely 9 am. I have plans that involve me leaving the house later and I'm a tiny bit concerned about being unsupervised out there if I can't even get my glasses on without causing self harm. So instead, I do what comforts me best. I write. Rather, I plot. Here's where it gets interesting. You know the old question for us writers.

 

Plotter or pantser?

 

This debate has been raging in the writing community for years. There are entire courses devoted to it.

There are advantages to both I suppose. Plotters spend a massive amount of time on world building and creating character tics. Some of the more ambitious ones even create their own languages for their characters. There's much to be said for this method. If you plot this meticulously, you know exactly where your story is going and it can make it a lot easier. Sub-plots are developed, story arcs are defined from beginning to end and plot holes are neatly plugged.

 

No surprises. Character A starts out in a car headed to Kansas City and they take a pre-planned route with no unforeseen incidents to get there.

 

Things are different for a pantser. You just write and let the story go where it may. You put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard and just let the words free flow. Characters emerge at will. Plot lines boil to the surface on their own. Ideas emerge and break free-kind of like free range chickens. But like the eggs from said chickens, is the result actually better? There are arguments for both. But don't take sides just yet.

You see, there's a third option and that's where I fall.

 

I start with a written plot. An outline, if you will. A general idea. Maybe some plot lines emerge. Maybe some character traits. Maybe some world building. It's a great place to start. Though try as I might, I can never stick to it. Character A will be walking along following the plan when something will come out of the blue and force them to run, jump or-you know, do whatever. Some characters are lost along the way. Some are born. Some pop up out of the mist and demand to be fleshed out. This does sometimes take me around a bush or two but eventually a character's voice will emerge. It may or may not align with the outline but I've learned not to fight it.

 


Unconventional. Unscripted. Unexpected. Maybe it's all or none of these. But that's the beauty of writing. As long as the end result is a well crafted story, there are no rules. This works for me.

What works for you?

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Failure Is Not The End

 

 

Who likes making decisions? Please raise your hand. Go on. I dare you. The back and forth in your mind. The what ifs and the how comes and the possible outcomes- they can drive you mad. Are decisive people born with a special DNA sequencing that allows them to ignore what could be coming around the bend? Or is the curse of the ones with imagination that forces them to live out what could happen before it actually happens?

 


Or is it just good old fashioned fear? Fear of failure. Fear of change. Fear of success. After all, if you succeed, change is guaranteed. And what if success isn't what you thought it would be? What if it doesn't bring you the squealing happiness of a three year old on a Christmas morning? What if it's just a bit, well...more mundane?

 


What is that saying? "What if I take that leap and I fall? But, my darling, what if you fly?" You never know what's waiting for you on the other side of the crevasse. If you take those short steps and cross that bridge, or ocean. If you take that new position or walk away from the old. Who knows what could happen? You might sink like a stone.

 


Or you just might soar like an eagle. This is why fear is so dangerous. I mean what are all the 'what ifs' about? Just because you sink doesn't mean you die. You make the leap count. You learn from your mistakes. Next time, you'll jump higher, practice longer, work with a mentor, prepare harder. As long as you're alive, you're allowed a next time.

 


And that's what life's about. It's not about guarantees. It's not about cheating your way in, skipping the bruised knees and black eyes. No, the bruised knees and black eyes are your battle wounds, proof that you did it the hard way, the right way. Proof that you tried and you're going to try again and again and again. Cuz that's who you are. When your bones ache and you're slumped in a corner wiping away tears of disappointment and anger, you're not fading away. You're earning your title. Your moniker. After every bout you emerge stronger and you're earning your rank of battle hardened warrior.

 


In the words of Edmund Vance Cook's poem How Did You Die?

The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce;

 


Be proud of your blackened eye!

It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts;

It's how did you fight and why?

 


Ignore the fear. Make the decision. Try one more time. Then once more. We only get one shot on this planet. Make it count. You deserve it.

 

 

 

P.S. I would strongly recommend reading the entire poem by Edmund Vance Cook "How Did You Die."  It's worth the two minutes.

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Can You Imagine?

Have you ever wanted to hang out with a fictional character? Or maybe not fictional, just historical. Can you imagine being there when Jane Eyre decided she was done being a door mat and finally stood up and said 'No'! Or chatting with Janie Crawford from Zora Neal Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. What must it have been like to watch Samson carry off the gates of the city. Can you imagine the terror and astonishmet that filled the onlookers?

 

We crawl into other worlds to visit our fictional characters for as long we can. How many of us have gone through that closet in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe? Did you ever see yourself riding with them? What about traveling with Frodo as he took the ring back to Mordor in Lord of the Rings? Yes, we've all seen the movies, but to be a part of that group!

 

We enjoy all of these stories but if a genie granted you a wish to spend an afternoon with one fictional or historical character-who would it be?

 

I know it's against the rules, but I would have to wish for more wishes. There's just too many interesting people to meet. Too many back stories we can never know. Let's jump across that little pond and land in England during the reign of Henry the VIII. Let's chat with his wife. Anne Boleyn? No Catherine, his first wife. What strength of character she had to have. Her husband demanded an heir and she only produced a living daughter. She was under immense pressure as his wandering gaze struck close to home. One of her biographer's noted that Catherine prayed often during her trials and she was once heard praying, "Lord you must love me to try me so much."

 

Then there's Mekeda, the Queen of Sheba. Her visit to King Solomon is well known. Let's not forget Princess Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. This queen of the Maratha ruled the princely state of Jhansi in North India. According to legend, she died in the heat of battle with the reins of her horse in her teeth and a sword in each hand. Feel those goose bumps?

 

The list goes on and on. These are men and women who lived one day at a time just like us. But they lived their lives to the fullest and they became legends. They saw greatness even in the worst of times. If you can see it, you can achieve it.

 


So tell me...can you imagine? Who would you most like to meet and why?

 

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"They shall not be ashamed that wait for Me."

 

 

When the Watchmen first rode up, they were a nebulous thought. The fog surrounding them soon dissipated and one by one they came into view. I had to know more of these people. What was it like to be so close to the Garden of Eden and yet so far away? What was it like to be so blessed and yet so persecuted?

 

Determined to get answers, I tracked them down just before the noon meal in the great hall and requested a short interview.

 

Me: Bree, you are central to this story of Azriel. How does all this attention make you feel?

 

Bree lifts her chin and glares.

 

Rafe: (Smiling slightly and shaking his head.) She's not going to answer that.

 

Me: (Taken aback) Oh…ok. Would you like to tell me where you're from? Where were you born?

 

Bree: Here.

 

Me: (After a moment's pause.) Here as in Azriel?

 

Bree: It's in the book, right? (Her eyes narrow.)

 

Me: Y-yes. I thought you might want to…(taking a deep breath and watching her sword arm) Is there anything in particular you'd like the readers to know? I mean, your story is pretty incredible. You brought down SHE. Your presence in Azriel has benefited the people here greatly. (Bree shuffles her feet and glances at the ground) The Watchmen are all indebted to you.

 

Bree: (Quietly) I am indebted to them.

 

Me: (I wait for more but there's only silence.)

 

Wesley: (Stepping forward) We are grateful to have her back with us.

 

Rafe smiles at Bree and she returns it, briefly.

 

Me: Bree, do you have any plans for the future?

 

Bree: Drucilla is still out there. She must be brought to justice.

 

Me: Do you know where she is right now?

 

Bree: It's rumored she's taken shelter in Marsena. We will track her down.

 

The bell sounds. The midday meal is ready. Finn dips his head in a goodbye and leads the group into the hall. Bree turns on her heel and follows Rafe in. Just before she enters the door she turns to me and I'm struck by the resolve that radiates off her diminutive figure.

 

We live our lives in awe of those who do great things, as if they have some special magic that makes them larger than life. We fail to realize that these are men and women who live one day at a time just as we do. They have the same number of hours in each day as we do. The same gifts, talents and abilities. But they are legends because they choose to embrace the struggle, to take the narrow path and live their lives to the fullest. 

 

Bree: (Lifts her head. She has a final word for me.) Thank you.

She turns and disappears behind the doors.

 

My smile wobbles as I try to ignore the lump in my throat, the tears stinging behind my eyes.

 

The Watchmen Are Here.

 

Claim Yours Now!

 

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Finding characters

Writer's don't have magical powers. Using skills we hone and sharpen we weave tales of enchantment that pull you onto the page and leave you spell bound, but we don't actually carry wands or sprinkle fairy dust. We are highly imaginative but we can't actually pull characters out of thin air.

 

So where do our characters come from? You'd be surprised.

 

Yes, I did say we can't pull them out of thin air but it sometimes does work that way. I'm not talking in circles.

 

None of us exist in a vacuum. It can be something as simple a laugh in the next aisle of a grocery store. You don't see the person but in your mind's eye, a character takes shape. They dress a little bohemian, maybe. They are vegan, rather, they want to be vegan but can't resist real cheese. They prefer cats over dogs because they relate to the cat's air of smug superiority. But cats don't like them. Their apartment manager doesn't allow dogs, even as a consolation prize, so they opt for a gerbil instead. A gerbil that hates them. It sits in the corner glaring at them through malevolent beady eyes.

 

You see what's happening here? You've never seen this person, but an entire world is building around that one sound you heard for less than five seconds. A simple laugh. But what kind of a laugh is it? Is person who is hated by a gerbil the kind of person to have a carefree laugh?

 

This is the life of a writer. We take elements of the world around us and build on it. Characters take shape out of it. The vapid hairdresser who can't remember any of her customer's names but can fix any hair problem known to man. Have I met her? Possibly. Maybe a tiny piece of her is buried somewhere deep in my psyche and is waiting to come out and meet the chatty barista- who just happens to be pursuing her law degree. Oh wait, that was a move, right? Or close to it.

 

A writer absorbs their surroundings like a sponge. The smells of an outdoor grill, the soft coos emitted by a happy baby, the riotous color of a farmer's market. Your character sitting in the depressing diner? Where did that come from? Remember that trip to Phoenix you took years ago and had to make that stop?

 

Every experience gets stamped in indelible ink on our memories. It's then filed by an chaotically organized brain that stands ready to pull them out at the slightest whiff. 

 

Nothing is wasted. The six senses are always reporting, the brain always recording. Life is always happening.

 

This is where our characters come from. 

 

 

 

 

 

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