Reining in the Reader

Have you picked up a book that caught your interest because of the title, as well as the genre you like? I look at titles first since that is what first grabs me only, at times, to find when I read the first paragraph I already want to put the book down. Why? It is because the story begins with an overload of scenery descriptions, back story or just doesn’t grab me enough to make me want to continue reading.

When I write a mystery (my favorite genre) I begin with a paragraph that will draw the reader into the scene, the character(s) first presented which of course, includes the protagonist, and characterizations that will let the reader have an idea of how the mix intertwines. All of this is done with wording that is brief but to the point. The reader will then move on to the next page and all the pages after that because a momentum has been established early on and continues until the last sentence.

Sometimes I start with the crime itself without giving clues away. I pick out a paragraph that will stun the reader and then continue with the story and how the characters reached this point.

I use alliterations once or twice in the book for diversity and fun; try to give the reader enough to not tell it all, but to allow the reader to imagine being a part of the story. Many readers have told me when they read “Heart of the Wheat Shaft – Mystery in Nebraska Wheatland” they couldn’t put the book down. That is the highest compliment a writer can receive in my eyes. (

My next book will be the first of a series called The Beatrice Chandler Mystery Series. The first book is titled “Disappearance in Plain Country.” The story centers around a small Amish child who is kidnapped at an Amish Quilt auction. All settings for the series are in Missouri, my home State.

(excerpt from upcoming book:) “Shock registered with me like an unexpected current zigzagging through me with no shut-off switch. Reuben’s voice quivered. Tears fringed his eyelids. I edged closer and my eyes wandered around the small group of Amish for a little boy who I knew in my heart was not there.” (“Disappearance in Plain Country.”)




Blank Mind

For anyone who wakes up in the morning and finds his or her mind a blank blob you will know what I mean when I say it happened to me today. Outside, it is semi-sunny and the air is packed with humidity. That’s how I picture my mind. It seems to be packed with a haze of humidity or something that is blocking my thinking process. I would be happy to just plop on the couch for the day but knowing by afternoon I would hate myself for wasting a day like that keeps me upright.

I try to remember the cliches about writing: ‘just do it,’ ‘you’re not a writer if you don’t write,’ ‘writing is not a hobby,’ and etc. So should I just go do something physical and hope that creative juices will begin to run? It worked quite by accident not so long ago for me. I cleaned out a big closet, shredded unnecessary papers for an hour (yes, I had that many in the closet) and discovered treasures among useless things hidden away. I separated useful stuff for someone else to be taken to Good Will, empty boxes that went to recycle and the rest was headed for the trash bin. You may question empty boxes. At the time of storage it made perfect sense. If I moved they would come in handy. I know, it sounds lame but it made sense at the time.

And, now I look around to see what else I can do that is meaningful. Oh, never mind. My mind is awakening and I have found several ideas to write about. And I didn’t have to take a long walk through humidity with summer heat creeping in. A huge relief for me. I am not a fan of summer.



The word stranded has multiple meanings in that one can be stranded in a variety of ways. As for me, I find myself stranded on the border of Arkansas/Missouri and sitting in the lounge of a car dealership waiting for car repairs. After a wonderful visit with my sister and brother-in-law in the beautiful Ozark mountains of northwestern Arkansas I stopped at the border for snacks and to fill the car tank with gas only to find the car wouldn’t start again. Someone jumped it for me to no avail. While I sat there and pondered, in near panic mode, I made phone calls to my daughter and others who may feel sorry for me and come to my rescue.

Not that they wouldn’t have, but I had the dilemma that if anyone rescued me and took me to the comfort of my home three hours away my car would still be sitting here. That would mean more transportation back and forth to rescue my car. I had the car towed across the four-lane highway. The tow truck driver offered to take me to the motel down the highway where I had made a reservation so I took him up on that. Lugging two pieces of luggage and my computer down the highway didn’t appeal to me so I will never forget him for that offer. (I was going to ask him to do that anyway, but so much nicer that he offered first.)

I didn’t realize how helpless I could be without transportation. I consider I have been stranded for a 24-hour period at this point and my car won’t be ready until around two p.m. and then I can get on the road and hibernate in my own home and recoup. Being stranded turns me into a different person. At first, panic followed by frustration and then the shock of being hit with a major car repair bill. That’s why I need to recuperate again and who knows I may never get on the road again.

On the other hand, I’m sure I won’t go to that extreme. I do notice I still have a view of the beautiful Ozark mountains from where I sit and wait. That’s soothing and provides me a time to meditate and get my mind off what’s going on out there in the garage. I don’t want to look in that direction. Watching rain clouds clear out and showplace the peaks is enough for me right now, and getting a car that runs again.


For a few years while nourishing my addiction to writing I wondered why anyone would want to ghostwrite. Didn’t that mean the other person gets the credit and the writer doesn’t? Yes, it does mean that. And so in the last two years of freelance writing jobs the idea nagged at me off and on. Then one day I saw a job posted on the freelance site I use that wanted a ghostwriter for a short story. The theme wasn’t something I wanted to write about but the fact the story was to take place in the late 1880s lured me in. I found through research of that era in the territory of Wyoming was more than interesting and so I sent my proposal in and got the job. Since it wasn’t something I was interested in writing under my own name I found it very satisfying. Don’t get the idea it was anywhere near a demeaning theme, not by a long shot.

That client hired me again and soon I found I was looking at jobs for ghostwriting. In the meantime I was working on getting my own book in the mystery genre self-published and successfully did that this past February 2014 (“Heart of the Wheat Shaft – Mystery in Nebraska Wheatland”) and now working on my second one, the first in a series.

I still take on ghostwriting jobs and put as much effort into that as I do my writing that appears under my own name. I like the diversity of subject matter. I like it that I can pick and choose. When I see something posted for a contractor that is something I want to write about under my own name, I pass it by.

I’m not planning to give everything away when it comes to my addiction. But I have to say I find ghostwriting is a liberating exercise. It takes me outside my comfort zone and that’s not a bad thing.