Friday, March 22, 2013


On the last ordinary day of her life … those are the words that open my novel, EVIDENCE OF LIFE, my novel that will make its national print debut in just four days on Tuesday, March 26th. When I initially wrote them, I couldn’t foresee how accurately they would, one day, come to describe the opening of a very different life for me as well. Looking back they seem almost prophetic, but at the time, writing the story, I hadn’t an inkling of the impact it would have on my life. I had high hopes, of course, but not even in my wildest fantasy, could I have imagined the dream come true experience that was shaping itself in my future. I completed the novel and sent out multiple queries, beginning with my top tier of desirable agents, the high five. But nothing happened. I had requests to submit the full, but as time went on, I began to despair, to deflate like a days-old party balloon. And then, and then … I got THE CALL!! from my dream agent, Barbara Poelle. She had some suggestions for rewriting that made sense to me, plus she was my DREAM AGENT! So, of course, I’m going to jump through hoops, right? But, really, I didn’t hold out much hope. I’d had rewrite and resubmit requests before. But this time it was all good, and on the 28th of February, 2012, just a tish over one year ago, my writing life underwent a sea change when Barbara emailed, and said, I love it. Let’s chat. Or words to that effect. I was elated. Even now, writing about it, remembering, I want to pinch myself. One year, one little year ago, I woke up in one world and lay down that night in another. But that’s not all. Not by a long shot.

Because, exactly one year ago, today, on March 22nd, Barbara called or emailed, I forget which, to say, four publishers were interested in EVIDENCE OF LIFE. Four! What a day it was. I don’t think I really had a clue what was happening. I remember walking around my house in the afternoon, with my ears ringing and my heart hammering. I really think I was in a bit of shock and disbelief. But once the dust cleared, I’d signed with MIRA, and I have never looked back. Life underwent another sea change, one with the proportions of a tidal wave. I sit here, this morning, one short year later, and I’m still a bit dizzy. Wonderfully dizzy. And so filled with elation, with gratefulness. I have the loveliest of editors, Erika Imranyi, who knows exactly how to guide my fiction so it shines. But I could not have been more fortunate in that the entire team of professionals I work with at MIRA has been wonderful. And then I’ve met through virtual means the loveliest group of authors, fellow MIRA authors, Sophie Littlefield, (GARDEN OF STONES, February 26, 2013) Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan, (co-authors of I’LL BE SEEING YOU, May 28, 2013) and Jason Mott, (THE RETURNED, August 27, 2013). I’m thrilled for them and to know them and be a part of their success, too. I love their books and urge you to discover them.

I intend for this post to be inspiring of joy. I have a lot to share, and I hope it’s contagious. That you’ll catch it and run with it. If you’re a writer, or if you’ve undertaken any endeavor, and the going has gotten hard, but, still, you love it so much it breaks your heart to think of letting it go … don’t! Keep going. Stay open to the possibilities. I’m speaking from experience now when I say the wonder of life, its gifts, can be delivered in an instant. Joseph Campbell said it best: “If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living." Do it, follow your bliss, and try not to be afraid. Here's something else I've learned: You are the only one who can see the doors. They are only your doors, created for you and no one else, so be true to yourself. Keep your eyes open, don’t listen to the naysayers, even the one inside your own head (which is the worst of the lot, by far!) and never stop believing in yourself. Dreams really do come true. In just four days, you can see the EVIDENCE (OF LIFE) and of one dream made real, for yourself, on store bookshelves, nationwide!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Exercise, another four-letter word that isn't!

In the past year I’ve had a lot to celebrate. More of my dreams have come true in the short span of twelve months than I’ve ever thought possible. You would think I would be relaxed, right? After all, I’m doing what I love best in the world—writing—and making a living at it for once. And, trust me, most mornings when I wake up, I am in heaven, thinking of the day ahead. Even when the plot isn’t working or the character won’t be manhandled into whatever slot I want him to fit into, whatever the challenges are, they’re all food for my soul. I love the knots, I really do. So I’m definitely where I need to be, and it’s a great feeling. It’s aces, but guess what? It’s still stressful. Personally, I don’t think stress knows the difference between good news/bad news, or to be more accurate, I don’t think the human body knows the difference. It responds to changes in the status quo, good or bad, with the same uptight reaction. Stepping into new circumstances, even when they are desired, increases the pressure, regardless of the circumstances.

I prop my Kindle on the center column and read or listen to music when I ride.
It was when I had a couple of teenagers running around, while working a full-time office job, that I realized I need some tools to deal with the stress, so I bought a bike and started riding it every day after work around the neighborhood. Sometimes my kids would ride, too, but it didn’t matter. I would go, regardless, except in rainy and/or cold weather. But then when we’d get a spell of bad weather, and days would go by, and I couldn’t ride, I began to notice how my mood would fall. So I bought a stationary bike. At my sons’ urging, I added a free weight workout, too. And I meditate. When I worked outside jobs, I’d come home, walk in the backdoor, hand held up traffic cop style, and say one thing: “Give me forty-five minutes, please,” and I’d disappear to do my exercise routine and my quiet mental decompressing. The habit took; I’ve maintained it for years, and last week I was reminded just how vital it is to me.

Here I am, days away from seeing a dream I’ve held for years come full circle, and I’m ecstatic, but I’m also apprehensive. I think it’s only natural. It’s been so long in the making and so many have worked so hard now, not just me, but an entire team of publishing professionals to whom and for whom I am indebted beyond measure. So, yeah, I’m a tish nervous. Riding my stationary bike is one way I deal with those feelings, but imagine my distress when I got on it last week and it had no resistance. I rode it anyway. Of course I couldn’t do it again and began a search to find someone who could repair it. Meanwhile, amazingly, without the antidote of exercise, my mind, which was already more than ordinarily stressed, wasted no time seizing the opportunity to begin producing every single nightmarish scenario it could come up with.

As the week without the bike progressed, I got more snappish and teary and anxious. I shared my anxiety with friends and that’s something I strive never to do. It’s just not my usual demeanor. I wondered at myself, and it did cross my brain that maybe it was the lack of exercise, even though I continued the free weight workouts and meditation. But it didn’t really come home to me just how much of an impact riding the bike makes on my life until the use of it was restored. Getting back on it again after a six-day hiatus made a night and day difference in my anxiety level. Within the space of one forty-five minute, push it to the limit ride I was back to feeling my old optimism. It’s weird how quickly it was restored.

Now I look back on the years since I started doing this, and I can’t say how it happened, that this strong habit of regular exercise, in particular aerobic exercise, where heart and breathing rates are elevated, became a priority, but I’m glad for it nonetheless. I still suffer from a certain amount of anxiety. I’m still apprehensive about EVIDENCE OF LIFE and its national debut on Tuesday. But the quality of the apprehension since I’ve had access to my daily bike ride is much different. It’s not detrimental, if that makes sense. It’s more positive and upbeat. My sense of the difference is so strong that if I hadn’t been getting regular aerobic exercise before, I certainly would be now. Whether it’s good stress or bad stress, I think exercise is what a body needs, maybe even craves, and I know it does a mind, at least my mind, so much good. I recommend it!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Do you write about crime? Swim with the Guppies

I recently had the privilege of being interviewed by Lourdes Venard, an editor for the newsletter, First Draft. She contacted me after reading EVIDENCE OF LIFE to talk about the book and to ask about my publishing journey which has taken me from being an indie to a traditionally published author. She was interested because First Draft is the monthly publication by and for members of the Guppies, a chapter of Sisters in Crime, who write in several different mystery sub-genres, but share one common goal: to see their work in print. The Guppies became a formal Sisters in Crime chapter in 2005, following years as a Support and Information Group. They share the same mission as SinC, restated a few years ago: To promote the professional development and advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry.

If you are an author, writing in these genres, and you're looking for information on publishing, whether through traditional channels, finding an agent etc., or through indie channels, check out this site. There is a wealth of information and tons of support. In addition to publishing info and  author interviews, there are interviews with actual crime professionals. I'd share the newsletter (It was fantastic!) but it's for members only.