Archive for the ‘Work, in progress’ Category


beach 2018

A few years ago, I realized I’d become a writer who wasn’t writing.  I needed some time and some space and a room of my own, just as Virginia Woolf said.  But in our suburban ranch home, that wasn’t possible.

Then, it dawned on me I had access to a room without walls or a ceiling.  A room that stretched from one horizon to another.  The beach at Lake Michigan, just a few minutes from my house.

By carving out the time and scheduling it like any other important appointment, I found four hours every Thursday when I could head to the lakefront.

Now, it’s my favorite habit.  I keep my tote—packed with my current writing project, lots of pens, sunscreen and a big hat—right beside the door, so I can be off in a flash.

The peace I find watching the waves roll endlessly in to shore gives me the free space my mind needs to be creative.

This gift from my inland sea is a treasure beyond price, my most precious one of all.


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blog post july 2018

I could be writing                                                            

But, instead I am searching

Where did I leave notes?


Once upon a time, I was organized. Not just a little. A lot. I could find anything at any time in any folder. My motto was “don’t put off til tomorrow what you can do today”, and that meant filing.

Yes, well, those days seem a fairy tale now, when at some point every day, I am rummaging around and searching.

This morning, I was hunting for notes on my new novel. Historically, these are slap-dash jottings of brain waves, scrawled on the backs of receipts or scrap paper, shoved in an envelope until I write them all down coherently. Today, though, I’ve misplaced the coherent thing.

When my husband can’t find his glasses, I wonder why he doesn’t just put them in the same place very night, as I do with mine. (So, some of my organizational skills remain, I guess.) But now, my own very important papers have hidden and I will emulate him, retracing my steps, trying to remember where I saw them last.

Is this lack of focus just an age thing, or is it the result of a shorter attention span, induced by our high speed digital lives? Or do I just have too much stuff to keep tidy? It’s probably a combination of all three, a real “first world problem” as the saying goes.

No matter the cause, I’ve brought it on myself and an hour from now, when I cry “Eureka!”, I’ll be a happy woman, indeed, resolved to get it together. Until the next time.

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I checked my “junk mail”

And found some lost treasure there

You’d better check yours!


I never look in the “junk” folder of my email. Don’t ask me why, it’s just a habit I’ve never gotten into it.  If a message is in there, it must be for a darn good reason, right?  Well, I will now make it a weekly habit to take a peek in that neglected folder.

Here’s why: a friend and I submitted stories to a publisher looking to create an anthology. Months went by, which is par for the course, and I’d nearly forgotten about it, when she told me she’d gotten a “Dear Author” reply, declining her story.  I hadn’t gotten anything.  I told myself that must be positive—unless they were rejecting authors in alphabetical order, then I could still get bad news.

Overnight, my subconscious must have been working, because when I woke in the morning, I thought immediately of my “junk mail” folder. Sure enough, when I checked it, I found good news from that publisher.  My story had made the cut and would be part of the anthology.  I was smiling as I clicked the box that read “not junk”, moving the happy note to my inbox, where it should have gone all along.

While I was there, in my junk mail folder, I scrolled through about a hundred messages, most of which earned their place in that spot. I did find a few other messages that, while not crucial, were still important enough to move elsewhere.

It is hard to keep up with all the email messages that come in each week, and I’m glad Gmail, Outlook and others help a bit by sorting them. But you can’t beat human eyes for knowing best what should go where.  I’ll never neglect my junk mail folder again.

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So, here it is, the end of summer.  I hope I’ve used it wisely, with my weekly treks to the beach for Dedicated Writing Time. I guess the jury’s still out on that until I start sending my newly-finished manuscript out into the world.  Watch this space!

Summer’s end also brings the inevitable dazzling aisle of school supplies in every store, something I quite look forward to seeing.

This year, instead of dashing off willy-nilly to  load up on new notebooks, I took the time to inventory my supply of pristine notebooks from previous years’ sales.  There are quite a few.  Sad to say, since they represent all the stories I’ve not written yet.

But, oh, they are beauties.  Plaids, paisleys, pastels.  A set of four coordinating florals.  A few cheeky ones with vintage romance or detective novel covers.

As I held each one, I thought about what it should contain.  Essays?  Short stories?  A mystery?  A romance?  My mythical Big Book (read : sprawling, multi-generational saga.  Perhaps the four floral notebooks for that project?)

When I did head to the store, I knew what I wanted—and what I actually needed, conveniently enough.

Pens.  In lots of different colors.  Think how handy they’ll be!  Every edit in a different color.  Every mark-up session unique.  Yes, please!

And now they wait for me.  Twelve gel pens in twelve shades wait to meet all that lovely blank paper in the notebooks.

Welcome, friends!  Let’s get started!

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Victoria Magazine March April 2016As long as I’ve been writing, I’ve had a few publishing dreams.  Well, let’s call them “goals”.  Places where I longed to see my work appear.  Every now and then, I hit one of these goals and rejoice.  Brides magazine, Woman’s World and, in August of 2015, The Writer.  That was an especially great one for me, because I have been reading The Writer since I was in junior high school and it has inspired me countless times.  I still have copies of many, many articles written by my favorite fiction authors as they shared the tricks of the trade.  My essay, “A Charmed Life” was about the charm bracelet I’ve been creating for my alter ego, Kate Fellowes.

Now, I’m thrilled to report I’ve had another publishing dream come true.  Victoria magazine will publish one of my essays on the back page of the March/April 2016 issue, in their “Chimes” column.  Victoria has been my favorite magazine since the day I saw the premier issue at the hobby store in my hometown back in 1987.  The beautiful cover drew me in at once and I dropped my subscription card into the mailbox on my way home from the store. All these years, I’ve loved the magazine, reading of interesting people and places, admiring the beautiful home furnishings and fashions, enjoying time spent each issue with the Writer-in-Residence.  And savoring the essays in the “Chimes” column on the back page.

Every now and then, I’d send off an essay of my own, but, as is most often the case with writing, my pieces never hit the mark.  Until now.  Which just goes to show you persistence does pay off and one should never give up on a dream she holds dear.

When the issue appears, I’ll be easy to recognize from my ear-to-ear smile, enjoying the thrill of accomplishment and achievement.  Another highlight in my writing career, the publication will certainly encourage me, because there are always more dreams to pursue, more goals to strive for, more stories to tell.


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I’m so excited to be included in the anthology “Mystery Times 2015” from Buddhapuss Ink. http://t.co/kOhYLfw1Uf.  My “Stranger at the Door” will be one of ten stories in this annual publication.  It’s my first time in the anthology, but hopefully not my last.

The Guppies Chapter of Sisters in Crime will publish its third anthology, “Fish or Cut Bait”, in spring.  My “Bargaining Chip” will appear there.  It’s my second appearance in a Guppies anthology.  You can bet I’ll write my best stories so I can make the cut again next time!

I love to write short stories and am usually working on one or have recently finished writing one.

Sometimes, at the end of a long day, I don’t have the energy to crawl into a novel, but I can always read a short story before I get too sleepy.  I hope you’ll read a few short stories this year, too–the ones I mentioned above, of course!

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While I’ve made a good start on the holiday cards and have even purchased a few gifts, to me my holiday preparations aren’t underway until I’ve gotten out my “Christmas Memories” book by Susan Branch and made my first entry.  I love this journal/scrapbook!  It holds five full years’ worth of Christmas memories and pictures. I’m on my third volume now.  A treasure, it is worth its weight in gold–especially as the years go by and folks who are in the pictures from Volume 1 aren’t with us anymore.  I have always had everyone in attendance at the holiday gatherings write their name and a little something on one of the pages.  Oh, you should see how the handwriting of the children changes from one year to the next.  Figure, they first signed in nearly 15 years ago, scrawling over half the page with barely-formed letters.  Now, they’re in college.  Yikes!

A few years ago, I took the chock-a-block full volumes along on Christmas Eve and Day, so everyone could turn a few pages and remember when.  I’m big on Remember When, never more than at Christmas.  I was pleased to see, late in the evening, someone sitting quietly, leafing through, reading an entry here and there.

The thing I love about this book, other than the totally beautiful format (well, everything Susan Branch does is just so charming!), is how it allows me to capture in just a few pages all the details of each year–from the look of the tree to the new dessert someone made to the Christmas song most in my head this year.  And I include a few photos, of the tree, the pets, all of us or just some of us, depending.  Little girls in matching pajamas, the new puppy asleep under the tree, three generations–you know, the pictures that make up a celebration.

This year, I already know my song of the year is by Gloria Estefan, “Christmas Through Your Eyes”.  And my favorite ornaments will surely be the vintage ones my brothers attached to the grill of my car while I was at work one day.  What a cheery surprise!

So, here’s to happy holidays, and the tradition of writing about them in a favorite space.

http://www.susanbranch.com/hand-written-watercolor-cookbooks-from-the-heart-of-the-home/Christmas Memories


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