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.

 

Stranded

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.

Ghostwriting

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.

 

Rising to the Goal

This morning I’m listening to geese who are lagging behind their counterparts winging their way back north for the summer. They call to each other in encouragement and in perfect form they soar ahead. They have a purpose and a goal to reach and in that sense they don’t lag behind. As seasons change, they adapt and move forward.

Such is a writer who is purpose-driven. We stick to our goal even when life in general tries to divide us from it and causes us to lag behind. Our lives may take different turns along the way but a writer keeps his or her goal tucked neatly where it belongs. We allow it to surface again and again and let it take a grip on us like any other addiction. We find ourselves lifted into a world that swirls around us like a current that sucks us in and we love it. Imagination and curiosity overtake everything else and we put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard and are surprised when we reread what we have written.

Writing is more than wanting a bestseller from our efforts. It is the ability to express thoughts, enhance reality and make it a fantasy and so to please the reader. It is a gift that we impart to someone who wants to become the sleuth or the problem-solver in the story, who wants to leave their own worries and concerns and sink into a world the writer has created for him or her.

That is the goal of a writer.

Awakenings

Spring has finally arrived to stay, or so I hope. I do like winter but this past one even got to be too much for me. Spring gives new hope through deep green grass, a stupendous array of colors and as I look up into the sky my eyes brush the tops of trees sporting new growth. All of nature is there for the taking and I revel in my renewed energy that seems to be in sync with my surroundings.

I have new ideas for stories to write. All I have to do is reach back into my own experiences and connect them with the many personalities I have encountered along the road and I have my story. Someone once asked me how I come up with ideas to put into narratives. I tell them one can simply look at a plain door and imagine it the core of a tale. What is behind that door? Is there anything behind it or is it just there? If that’s the case, why is it there to begin with? You get the idea. All kinds of things can be conjured up and since I like writing mysteries I feel I could run with it.

My editing of “Disappearance in Plain Country” is almost finished and soon ready for self-publishing it. I was surprised and astounded at the reception my first novel “Heart of the Wheat Shaft – Mystery in Nebraska Wheatland” brought me. We can expect friends and family to compliment us and it makes me feel really, really good. But when perfect strangers respond so favorably that is the icing on the cake. And that’s what happened with “Heart of the Wheat Shaft.” I have been published in magazines for short stories and articles for children and for adults. I have done freelance writing for the past two years and wrote novellas for clients. When I decided to concentrate on writing a book I went for it with gusto. It paid off for me and spurred me on to the next one.

That’s what Spring can do for me. Renewal is the path to a whole new life ahead and I plan to take full advantage.

Mystery Series Coming

The small boy crouched in the back seat of the fast moving taxi. He had no idea why his parents weren’t getting to them until he remembered the horse and buggy couldn’t race like the wind like the car he was in. The lady in front leaned back and covered his small body with the quilt and a smile on her face attempted to reassure him.

The first book “Disappearance in Plain Country” will debut in June, 2014. This is the first of a four-book series of the Beatrice Chandler Mystery Series. Each book is set in a different area of Missouri, my home State. Bea Chandler gets caught up in solving cold cases with Detective Alan McIntyre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Once solved, she writes about the cases and is now a renown author. She often visits her small hometown of Devils Creek, Missouri and finds cases closer to home that need solutions, none of which are cold cases but hit close to home for her.

“Disappearance in Plain Country” depicts a small boy, an only child of a young Amish couple who are visiting relatives in Seymour, Missouri for the annual Quilt Auction which draws crowds of Amish as well as the English from across America. Abe Stotzfus and his parents and grandparents have arrived from Ohio with their quilts to be sold. They are given two rooms in a relative’s bed and breakfast on the second floor of Miller Bed and Breakfast and Bakery. Across the hall from them, Beatrice and her best friend Margaret Bartlett have booked their rooms. To everyone’s horror the lively group finds themselves in deep sadness when Abe, age three is snatched from the family’s quilt booth during the auction. Bea has grown close to the Plain People she just met and is determined to find the kidnapper or kidnappers and bring Abe home safely to his parents.

By tracing the kidnappers, a childless couple throughout the Midwest Beatrice realizes they are adept at being elusive. Law enforcement, the FBI and Beatrice manage to stay one step behind them hoping an inevitable slip-up will occur.

You will be drawn into the chase, be disappointed when they escape once again and before the end you will have divided your sympathies for the characters. Throughout the book there are times when you will believe Abe will never be rescued at all. In spite of seemingly insurmountable hurdles, Beatrice Chandler vows to bring him home.

Siblings’ Roles

When I was growing up it was the natural thing to have others in front of me, on my heels and generally just there. I had seven sisters and two brothers though not all in the house at one time. My oldest sister married when I was five or so. During the school year some of my sisters were in boarding school and so for the most part, it seemed like I only had two brothers and two sisters but they were always there! My refuge at times was to walk across the road and sit on the other side of the levee that held the Mississippi River back from land, with a bayou and fields and pecan orchards between me and the river. I sat and listened to loons wailing in the background and thought about things a child would think of, all the while hoping no one would come looking for me.

Only later did I realize my brothers and sisters served a real purpose in my life. I learned how to communicate. Sometimes in shouting matches, sometimes in fun during play times, sometimes while doing chores but that was something that was a given: communication. I learned the value of siblings as I grew older. They were always there when needed and even when I didn’t think I needed them, they were there standing loyal and forgiving.

Recently, we all gathered once more in the town where we all grew up (actually, we grew up a half mile or so from the town in the country but after my father’s death my mother moved into town and settled in her home in the middle of five acres of family pecan trees.) We gathered with our own children and their children to say farewell to a loved brother-in-law. We were there to support his wife who is one of my sisters, and her three children, now adults. It was a beautiful Spring day. Everyone changed to casual wear and we all gathered for the famous photo shots so common in our family. The Orchard sported green trees, flowers blooming and lush green grass as the backdrop for smiling faces in the midst of grief.

Siblings were there, supporting, loyal and yes, forgiving. We united as if still children. We are bonded like glue that will hold us all together into eternity and though spread wide geographically, we are only a phone call, a text, an email, or via Skype away. Any one of us will drop everything and will come running if another needs or calls us.

And that is the role siblings play. It’s a natural result of having them in my life and I don’t mind if one of them comes looking for me.

Talk About My Book

I had a great time yesterday afternoon at The Windsor of Lawrence in Lawrence, KS yesterday. I was given the opportunity by my good friend Robin Clevenger to talk about my book “Heart of the Wheat Shaft” to a group of approximately twenty people. We had a good time discussing the book, our lives and a few there were originally from Nebraska (the setting for my book.) Good to hear their stories, too. I couldn’t resist munching on cookies and sipping a refreshing punch while there.

Take every chance you get to talk about your writing. You will be surprised how many people have the talent and just need a little encouragement to follow their own dreams.

Now to get down to work on editing the first of my four-book Beatrice Chandler Series. I hope to have “Disappearance in Plain Country” out by early summer 2014. All books in the series will have stories set in various areas of Missouri, my home state. All will be in the mystery genre. I’m looking forward to your enjoyment of them!

“Heart of the Wheat Shaft”

It’s been quite a while since I posted on my blog but now resuming in earnest. I recently self-published my first novel “Heart of the Wheat Shaft – Mystery in Nebraska Wheatland.” It is a fictional piece in the mystery genre. It tells the story of Elizabeth Blanton, a high -powered Executive Marketer in the Hospitality business who hailed from herts in Nebraska. She is suddenly called home by her estranged grandmother. Elizabeth returns home and finds herself in the middle of a quest to find the true cause of her beloved grandfather’s death. While there she discovers hidden secrets of both grandparents. Before she uncovers the reasons for Alex Blanton’s untimely death, she is surprised to learn how much of a hold the waving wheat fields have on her.

This is a story you will not be able to put down until the last word and still want to read more. It is on amazon.com in kindle and paperback formats.

Happy reading!

Writing Forward

It’s been a while since I blogged but lots has happened since July. I have completed a mystery novel “Betrayal of the River” and have joined elance to procure freelance jobs as fillers for slack times.

So you ask is freelancing a good idea? Yes, it is. When I first proposed a job I immediately was chosen to write a Project Narrative. This was a first and I was a little nervous since I entered a new horizon. I didn’t even know what a Project Narrative meant, but thanks to Google I learned immediately and successfully completed the job.

Then I got really brave and proposed other job possibilities. One turned out to be a bummer. The editor kept changing her mind about what I should be doing with a short story and soon she required a novella. I might add the set fee was for a short story, not a novella or a novel. I canceled that project. It was sort of like getting a rejection slip from myself but once recovered, I brushed that experience off and went on to another proposal and landed that one, too. I learned I could sell myself in regard to writing skills that some clients want.

A week ago I was asked for an outline of another mystery in the making. When a client invites you, that is a real boost to one’s ego which as writers we can stand to have once in a while.

It is a good thing to branch out. Don’t lose focus on your original plans for writing but if other opportunities come along, go for it! I bask in diversity so that is why I encourage you to go into other avenues of writing. It hones your writing style as well as the mind.  It helps to relieve pressure and causes freedom of expression to explode.

I encourage you to keep writing forward. I don’t look back on occasional writers’ block, rejection slips and any other negativity. It affects creativity and besides I’m not going backward.