Leaving 2020 on a Positive Note

I’ll take the positive over the negative, any time. How about you?

About a week ago, I learned that Book #3 in my series, MURDER: DOUBLE OR NOTHING, won the 2020 Cozy Mystery Award from N.N. Light’s Book Heaven, which was quite gratifying! It’s a writer’s dream that somebody “gets” their book and that readers find enjoyment in reading it. In this case, Mr. Light reviewed my book and liked it enough to select it a winner. Hooray!

2020 has been an unusual year. My heart goes out to those who’ve lost loved ones. In my own small way, I try to help, but it never seems enough. I remind myself that every day that passes brings us closer to leaving the virus withering away. That is my sincere hope. Meanwhile, I work on focusing on the positives in life. A few personal examples:

– A father I’ve not been close to was moved from one care facility to another closer to my home, after he tested positive for the virus and wasn’t doing well. He’s since recovered, happy and as comfortable as can be. So far, so good.
– We adopted another rescue dog who was left tied to a post with a bag of food open before him for who knows how long. He suffered from obesity and other issues. When I brought him home, I wondered if I’d made a big mistake. He seemed so despondent. Months later, he’s as happy as can be, and slimmed down. It was definitely a right choice.

– I met and virtually toured the country with a trio of lovely mystery authors that I would not have gotten to know otherwise. I’m so grateful for that opportunity!
– My perspective has shifted by a series of small circumstances. Here’s a tiny example:
I walked around my yard, staring at autumn leaves carpeting the ground when I was knocked in the head by a tree branch. When I whipped around to face the naughty branch, I burst out laughing at the stiff culprit. How simple life would be if we were able to laugh away all irritations rather than feeling irked. Laughter feels splendid! Smiling feels pretty good, too.

I’m not writing down resolutions for the New Year, but I am writing a list of all that I am grateful for. That will help start the New Year on the right note, don’t you think?

Little Read Writing Hood (or Writing Gratitude)

Full disclosure: my title has nothing to do with this post; I just liked the sound of it.

I, like many others these days, have been pondering how much I have to be grateful for, despite the current difficulties surrounding us. For today’s post, I’m focusing on reasons to be grateful as a writer, published or not. Why am I grateful? Let me count a few of the reasons:

1. I write stories, mostly long and a few short, that make me feel good. I’m grateful for that marvelous fluttery feeling! I fill my stories with interesting characters, I hope, that are learning and growing to be better people, which is what I aspire to be myself. Sometimes, I slip life lessons onto my pages or find ways for my characters to discover or display virtues like courage, kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness. Virtues I hope to make shine in my own, everyday life.
2. My writing makes my mother happy and a few others happy too, which I find so heartwarming. I wish I had the magic power of making people feel good all the time. Meanwhile, I practice.
3. I’m not quite sure how it happens (besides spending long hours and thinking-heavy time in the desk chair), but my books get finished somehow, for which I’m exceptionally grateful.
3a. I’m truly grateful to be a published author, and remind myself that it wasn’t that long ago when I wasn’t yet “out there.” This helps me to remember to carry on, even when I don’t want to because it’s not going as well as I’d like. Pre-publication, I reminded myself that if I carry on, I could be published one day, and that fueled my writing engine. I’m grateful I talked myself into continuing on.

4. The fervor that accompanies writing spills into other endeavors and helps me to believe I can accomplish a task that may seem challenging. I am grateful each time I make the attempt, even if it’s not entirely successful. I tried! Anything is possible when we make the effort.

Breaking Down the Novel

I’m busy working on Book Five these days. One would think (not me, but others might), that after writing four books in the same genre, in the same series, featuring the same main characters, the story should flow smoothly. But in fact, sometimes, it doesn’t flow at all. A plunger would be helpful (not the toilet unplugging kind, but the elusive type that could work to unstop the writing mind).

During my first stab at it, nearly five thousand words later, I didn’t like the locale I’d selected for heroine Corrie’s latest adventure. She was investigating criminal activity at a nursing facility. In real life, I am blessed with older relatives who are experiencing some challenging issues. This location and the events struck too close to home. Back to the drawing…or more accurately, the writing…board.

I painted another adventure with words and, this time, the opening sequence hobbled. Not just because Michael (Corrie’s love interest) and Corrie were on horseback. But because Michael had planned a special date which, naturally, was upended by a crime. That’s a typical day in the life of Corrie. But the crime was a little too dark for my liking. The beauty of writing (one of the many) is the flexibility. If a scene or a character doesn’t work, they can disappear, forever, or until some future scene beckons them back. Meanwhile, I get to flex my writing skills and fan my creative fires.

I find writing alternately scary and marvelous. Kind of like Halloween.

Scary because of the ghosts, goblins and witches, but marvelous, too, because of the ghosts (the Casper types), carved pumpkins and candy.

Back to writing. It can be scary because the sheer amount of words that need to coagulate in a cohesive, engaging and enjoyable manner can be daunting. 77,000 words, give or take.

I break the draft down, starting with the title. In my first two tries, I mulled over the title while I wrote. Not a good sign. In my previous books, the title came first. After the arrival of the title, I challenge myself to write 1000 words. I can do that. After I write the 1000, I ask, can you write more? I can do that…usually. And so on, until sooner, hopefully, rather than later, I reach The End!