Category Archives: Writers

Adventures in Jury Duty

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At my age, you would think I would have served on at least one jury, but all of the times I’ve been called, I’d never even made it to the jury box. Until two weeks ago, when I was selected to serve in the US Court.

The trial is over and I thought I’d share my updated thoughts about jury duty.

  1. It’s Expensive – I’m a writer with a part-time job that pays the bills when book sales are sluggish. I don’t have jury duty leave, so I don’t get paid when I don’t work. Sure, the court will eventually get around to sending me $40 a day, but that’s my hourly rate. I’m out more than $1,000 for my little civic adventure. I’m incredibly fortunate because my employer gives me vacation time so I won’t have to take that hit, but I’m out 7 days of vacation.
  2. It’s Boring – You see all those exciting courtroom dramas on TV and in the movies but a real trial is nothing like that. The case itself was interesting, but the process was not. There were lots of “side bar” conversations where the attorneys chat with the judge off in a corner to decide some complicated thing they may not want the jury to hear. They turn on a white noise generator during these side bars and whenever the attorney doing the questioning consults with the second attorney on the team. There’s a whole lot of nothing to do during these times for the jury.
  3. It’s Fascinating – The testimony of the witnesses was fascinating and I found myself completely wrapped up in it. As a juror, part of my job was to judge who might be fudging on the truth, who might be biased because of personal or professional issues and to what degree the witness testimony was trustworthy. I had questions that went unanswered and that made it more challenging during deliberations, but you have to decide the case based only on what is presented so unanswered questions remain unanswered at the end of the day.
  4. It’s Sad – This was a wrongful death case. A man was killed at work, falling off the top of his truck as he was loading it with molten sulfur. The one eye witness had been hard hit emotionally, something that was very obvious during his testimony three years after the fact. No matter how we would decide the case, it’s tragic to hear about somebody who was just trying to make a living, have his life end like that.
  5. It’s Educational – This case made me painfully aware of how dangerous some jobs are. I know this from living in Wyoming and hearing the workplace fatality statistics, but dry statistics can’t show you the real individuals who do this work every day. The men who testified about their experiences doing the same job, were tough but admitted they’re scared up on their trucks every time, but you have a job to do and you get it done. That really touched me.
  6. It’s Frustrating – During deliberations, reaching agreement on all aspects of the decision was an adventure. It took us five hours, but we were unanimous in the end. To protect my fellow jurists, that’s all I’ll say about that process.
  7. It’s Important – I know it sounds corny, but the judicial system wouldn’t work if it weren’t for people being willing to make the sacrifice to answer the summons and come in for jury duty. I know everyone talks about ways to get out of it, but if I were a plaintiff or a defendant, I’d sure be thankful for the people who serve. A jury of ordinary people, taking time to hear both sides, weigh the cases presented, talk through the issues and come to a decision is a beautiful thing.

I’m glad that I’ve completed my service and am free from being called (by this level anyway) for two years, but after all those times not even making it to the jury box, I’m kind of glad that for once, I got to see the process from start to finish.

Where I’m at…

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Where I’m at…

After being in Texas for a while, you begin to pick up some of the jargon. Obviously, I find myself saying ‘y’all’ instead of ‘all of you,’ as if three words were too difficult to say. And instead of saying, ‘where are you?’ for some reason, ‘Where’re you at?’ pops out of my mouth. I do realize that after returning to Canada, I have to let go of my Texas talk. Not that anyone would say anything; folks are much too polite but they might secretly roll their eyes. Canadians are proud of their British roots, which means finishing each word properly and not leaving anything off – like the ‘g’ in words that end with ‘ing.’ It also means speaking slowly and pronouncing each syllable. To Texans, this is a foreign language.

However, I digress. I really do want to tell you where I’m at.

Where I’m at with my writing, that is.

A couple of months ago, I was not pleased with how my writing was going. Basically,  that is because it was going nowhere. It wasn’t that I wanted or had the desire to become a well known author or even make tons of money. I wanted to enjoy what I was doing but I was not. That’s where I was at then.

I decided to change my whole outlook about writing. Writing should be fun. I did not want it to be stressful in any way. When I’m not writing, there is something missing in my life. It’s good for my brain. It forces me to widen my vocabulary. In other words, it’s healthy. Especially as we age.

I was never satisfied with two of my books and I always thought that if someone read one of those books first, they would never want to read another. It feels terrible not liking your own books. However, they were there for anyone to buy. Overnight, I made the decision to republish all my books. It was as if a weight lifted off my shoulders. When you decide to do this without any premeditation, it is like plunging into a pool of cold water!

While family members worked on covers, I edited one book at a time. After publishing my books the first time, I never picked one up to read. I was too afraid they might be as bad as some reviewers wrote. Well, guess what? I read, I edited, I did some rewriting, and in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed every book! Creating covers was a bit of a challenge but I have a very talented daughter, and together with her dad’s finishing touches, I was very pleased with the end result. They were ‘me.’

I now have all my books on Kindle for 99 cents and they will stay that price. These I write for friends and family and for anyone else who would enjoy reading them. Every few weeks, I will pick one book and do a free promotion. I feel happy doing this.

And, that is where I’m at.

Presidents and Their Best Friends!

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My latest column. Happy President’s Day.

Sprinkled Notes

Column the week of February 20, 2017,Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday in the Albert Lea Tribune. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.

FDR at a picnic on "Sunset Hill" near Pine Plains, NY. Fala is 4 months old. The doll next to the president is a handmade shaker doll made by Mary Garettson of Rhinebeck, NY. August 8, 1940 FDR at a picnic on “Sunset Hill” near Pine Plains, NY. Fala is 4 months old. The doll next to the president is a handmade shaker doll made by Mary Garettson of Rhinebeck, NY. August 8, 1940

Today is Presidents Day. Do you know why we celebrate this day? I am one of those people who have not paid much attention as to the observance, other than it is a holiday to shop and have a long weekend.

I decided to look up a little history, and then I thought it might be fun to look a little into the history of first dogs, too. Those presidents loved their animals.

Following George Washington’s death in 1799, the day of his birthday, Feb. 22, became…

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My Life as a Writer

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I have published six books but it’s only recently I’ve begun telling people I am a writer. Before my dizzying dance on the top of the Amazon Best Seller list, I defined myself as my day job, a career coach who  by the way, wrote books. Being a writer was something I thought only other people did, even as my books appeared on the bookshelves of tens of thousands of people.

Being a writer, really BEING a writer, takes a serious investment of time and energy. My characters sit in the back of my mind, whispering ideas, suggesting scenes and waking me up at night to get it on paper before I miss the solution to a thorny plot problem.

To jump-start my creative energy, I write for ten minutes a day. It doesn’t matter what I write about, only that I write. I’ve written a short story that I’ve submitted to journals for consideration and I’ve written snippets of stories that I may or may not develop into books. The free writing, not editing what I write, but letting the words tumble onto the page, has been an adventure for me. I’ve discovered characters I didn’t know were there and settings I can see and touch even though they exist only in my mind.

I returned to the draft I’ve been working on of the second Caribou King Mystery and re-vamped the parts I realized weren’t working and were holding me back. I’ve let my daily writing explore possible twists and turns in this second book, some of which I suspect will end up making the final cut and others are already on the cutting room floor.

I’ve been writing stories since I was old enough to string sentences together. I wrote a play in fourth grade that was produced as our class play. I wrote short stories and newspaper articles all through junior high and high school and I won my first check for my writing as a senior. Then life swept in and writing became reports and press releases and carefully cited position papers. It wasn’t until I let my mind wander that I met Jake and Emma, Matt and Kristy, Caribou and her many friends in Coho Bay.

I still don’t make my living as a writer, but most writers don’t make a living from their writing, just as most artists have a day job to support their addiction to their creativity. I’m happy whenever someone buys one of my books and I’m over the moon when someone likes it enough to write a kind review. Then there are the readers who email me and tell me how much they enjoyed what I wrote. Those emails I save and whenever I think I can’t possibly be a writer, I pull them out and read them again.

It’s The Cozy Times Chronicle!

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What is it like to be a mystery reviewer and blogger? Lisa A. Kelley will let you know.

Sprinkled Notes

Today I have Lisa A. Kelley and her Cozy Times Chronicle. We will find out a little about life as a book reviewer. Lisa is on my blog and I am on hers with Fuchsia’s Cozy Times Chronicle. Make sure you read both of ours to find out the lengths we go to  read books.

cozy-time

Editor: Lisa A, Kelley     Staff Reporter: Lisa A. Kelley     Staff Photographer: Lisa A. Kelley

feetThe Glamorous Life of a Cozy Mystery Reviewer/Blogger

I get out of bed at the crack of 7:00, sometime 8:00, okay . . . sometimes’s 9:00 AM. I go through my morning grooming routine, which takes a solid five minutes, unless I’m in a  hurry. I change into my work clothes, a fresh nightgown and my not always so fresh slippers a.k.a my scuff scuffs. It’s on to the kitchen to prepare a healthy breakfast of Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies

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New Year, New Ideas

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Happy New Year! I love setting New Year Resolutions, but here’s my trick to success. I never write them down! That way, by the end of the year, I don’t remember what they were so I don’t remember if I didn’t get where I thought I was going.

In 2016, I do remember one of my goals – to have my new series published by a small press instead of my own imprint, as I do with my Jake & Emma series. That’s when I approached Cozy Cat Press, a publisher I’d had my eye on for a year or more. I’m happy to say that’s one resolution I achieved! The Deadly Art of Deception was released September 30.

In 2017, I hope to release the second book in that series and the (oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m saying this) the sixth Jake & Emma. I’m also planning to devote more time to my writing since I’ve been writing pretty much whenever I feel the inspiration. That’s nice, but it doesn’t get much writing done! I’ve started writing every day but Sunday and it’s been great. I’ve already written two short stories based on my daily writing prompts.

My second resolution is to start working my way through my “to be read” pile. Do you have books waiting for you? I have them in my e-reader, on my shelf and stacked on the bedside table!

What are your plans for the new year?

Shredding A Life

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Sprinkled Notes

Column published November 21, 2016 Something About Nothing

Grandpa thanksgiving Happy Thanksgiving

I shredded a life today. Piece by piece I dropped it into the shredder, pushed the button and ground it up.

This has been a topsy-turvy month that has swung from the uncertainty of the presidential election to honoring our veterans, to being thankful for all we have with the celebration of Thanksgiving.

This is the month friends and family are posting 30 days of thanks on Facebook, and I intended to do that, too. I have been hit and miss, not because I have not been thankful, but I found disorganization and weariness stopping me from taking the time to post. And so, I took some time to get rid of the past that is weighing me down.

As I was shredding the life, I realized that many of the details going into my shredder were not happy things…

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Cats & Cozies – A Match Made for Mystery

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I love classic cozy mysteries, where ordinary people do extraordinary things all in the name of justice. When I started writing my Jake & Emma Mystery series, I knew I my books would have all the hallmarks of the classic cozy. Jake and Emma are amateur sleuths, or what I call accidental detectives. Their lives were much like yours and mine, until they stumble across the frozen body of a woman after a winter storm. Where you or I might leave it up to the police, Jake and Emma — like all good sleuths — take it upon themselves to crack the case.

Cats are a natural fit for cozies because curiosity is a born and bred part of their nature, as it is with the hero and heroine of any good mystery. A variety of barn cats keep Jake and Emma company but their main companions are a couple of indoor beauties. Peachy is a mature, sedate, orange and white cat whose specialty is providing calm and comfort to the many guests who spend a little time in Jake and Emma’s home in the shadow of Casper Mountain. Peachy is based on one of my own kitties, Willow.

Sparky is a fluffy white tornado whose antics keep Jake and Emma on their toes, but whose purr can melt the iciest of hearts. She is especially fascinated with the lights and glass balls on Christmas trees and you have to be quick to keep the tree from becoming a kitty condo with Sparky around! Sparky is based on one of my own kitties by the same name, who left us last year.

My literary kitties provide humor and color to my stories, but they aren’t feline detectives. If you enjoy your animals taking a more active role, let me recommend two of my favorite authors. Lilian Jackson Braun, late author of “The Cat Who” series wrote about an unusually intelligent Siamese cat named Koko, who never failed to help the inquisitive James M. Quilleran root out the culprit. Koko’s partner, Yumm-Yumm, was a beautiful counterpoint to the regal Koko. My preference is for the earlier books in the series, both when Quill is a starving reporter and in the first few books where he has moved “up north.”

Rita Mae Brown has several series featuring animals but my favorite are the “Mrs. Murphy” books. Mrs. Murphy is a wise and lovely tiger cat who, along with a gray cat named Pewter, and a lively Welsh Corgi named Tucker, takes a very “paws on” approach to crime fighting. Not only do they sniff out clues on their own, they bravely attack any would-be killer who dares to get too close to their Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen. I’ve enjoyed all of the books in this series.

botb_ebookcover_v3My fifth Jake and Emma Mystery, “Body on the Ballot“, is being released on December 15. Peachy is gone but Sparky continues to offer comfort and moral support. Jake is running for County Attorney, but someone seems determined to keep him out of office. By the time the election rolls around, there may be more than one body on this ballot.

Proud To Be An American

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My Tribute to Americans

Sprinkled Notes

I am grateful that I was born in the United States of America because my Polish Grandparents and my Great-Great Grandparents immigrated from Holland. I am here because they took the risk to come to a new country. This week is not only the week we vote but also the week we honor Veterans. My husband is a Veteran of the Viet Nam war. This week I will honor Veterans each day in some way on my Author Page and also on my personal page and my blog Sprinkled Notes. So Veterans, This week

is for you.

My column this week in the Albert Lea Tribune and The Courier-Sentinel

This past week my husband and I visited the VA Clinic in Minneapolis. Since the elections are tomorrow and this is also the week we celebrate our Veterans it might be fitting to write about our experience with the Veterans Administration…

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Reading it over…for the first time!

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Reading it over…for the first time!

Good morning, everyone.

First of all, let’s talk about the weather. No, seriously… we are having a heatwave in central Canada! I keep advertising my books and telling readers they should stalk up for the fall/winter weather reading. I don’t think anyone is even reading my posts, they are all outside walking around in shorts. Aww, good for them. When the cold does hit us, we will be in shock for the first few weeks and really complaining. Especially here in Canada. That is our national pastime – we may be polite but we are also big time complainers when it comes to the weather. No one is complaining at the moment though.

Were any of you wondering about my subject line? How can you read something over again … for the first time? I discovered that you can. Perhaps some of you have noticed that my Parson’s Cove mystery series is no longer available. There is a reason; I am reading them over again for the first time. In doing so, I have discovered something about myself. I am not the horrible writer that I thought I was. My first book, Slip and Go Die, is actually quite a good read.

I don’t know if other authors are like me but once a book was published, I never went back to read it. I moved on. In the back of my mind, I was afraid I would see too many mistakes and I would see what readers didn’t like about it. By that time, I felt it was too late to do anything about it anyway, so why torture myself. However, once it was unpublished, I could read it with an open mind and make all those changes I was dreading that I would find.

Guess what? There were very few changes that I had to make. I did remove about a hundred commas, semi-colons, and colons, but other than that, I was quite pleased with my writing.

The moral of this story is not to tell writers to republish all their books, it is simply to say, you are probably a better writer than you think you are. Don’t be afraid to go back and reread your old books. It will boost your confidence and give you the incentive to encourage readers to buy your books. Then when you are promoting your work, you will do it like you mean it … and you will mean it!

(On the other hand, you might read it, hate it, and stop writing altogether. That, of course, is a discussion for another day!)

 

https://www.amazon.com/Sharon-Rose/e/B00BL8HTZY/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1