My Life as a Writer

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!

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.


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

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

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

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

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!

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!)


Be An Encourager, Not a Discourager

Sprinkled Notes

My column from the Albert Lea Tribune, October 24, 2016

yellow-chair-purposeOver the past few years when I speak at an author event, someone always asks me if I knew I wanted to become a writer when I was in grade school. I usually come up with an off-hand answer because I was never quite sure when the spark of creativity was born in my life. I knew it wasn’t during my elementary school years because I pretty much felt as if I wasn’t very smart or didn’t have much to offer.

It wasn’t until I listened to author Allen Eskens highlight his years in school that the lightbulb came on in my own brain. Listening to his story about his challenges in the school systems, I came to understand I wasn’t alone in my interest or noninterest in formal education in my youth. I’ve always felt guilty about the…

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I Want To Save Puff!

Why do I write?  That may seem like an odd question to ask, but I think the answer can make a big difference.

I got the idea to ask that question after having dinner with a young author.  Her book is due out in the next few months.  She bubbled over with excitement about her characters and the different stories she is working on.  Her body oozed creativity.  She continued to apologize for talking my ear off, but I loved listening to her.  She stirred feelings inside of me I seemed to have buried.

Over the next few days, I thought back to the time when I was the person oozing creativity.   My characters once spun their stories in my head no matter where I was.  I was so involved in watching the story unfold in my head that I didn’t realize I had stopped following my husband and proceeded to follow another man right out of the grocery store.  To be fair, I wasn’t really looking at the man.  I was looking down and following a pair of sneakers.  Don’t most men’s sneakers look the same?  Anyway, I followed the sneakers out of the store and right to his car.  I got in the passenger side of the car and looked over at a stranger.

“Oh, you’re not my husband!”

“No, ma’am, I am not,” he said calmly.

I quickly exited the vehicle and looked down the aisle of cars.  My husband was about ten cars away, standing there shaking his head.

Where did that obsessed writer go?  I think life happened.  Jobs demanded more of my time.  I felt I should clean my house more.   People always needed to eat.  My characters suffered the fate of Puff the Magic Dragon.

Let’s consider poor Puff for a moment.  Puff from the song “Puff the Magic Dragon” is an imaginary dragon dreamed up by a child named Jackie Paper.   Puff fades away as Jackie grows up.  I always found the song heart wrenching.  The words “One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more, and Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar,” put a lump in my throat.  To me, it speaks of the loss of the wonderful imagination found in children because of their zest for adventure.

Again the question, why do I write?  The answer can be different for each author.  One of my favorite authors, Lilian Jackson Braun, once told a reporter that she loved to get up in the morning, sit in front of her typewriter and see where her imagination would take her.  When I read that, I knew I wanted to write.  I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my days.  The thought of it brought back the excitement of childhood and the joy of waking up every morning to a day filled with possibilities.  From my neighborhood, one friend is a playwright, another is a stand-up comic, and another is an artist.  We grew up feeding each other’s creativity.  It was how we lived.  It is how I want to live.

My answer to the question is that I write because it touches the core of who I am.  I don’t want to let Puff fade away.  I realize I need to make some changes.  I’ll keep you posted.


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