Friday, June 21, 2019


Timing is everything.  When I was in seventh grade our reading class read Pride and Prejudice .  We had to underline words we didn't understand and find the meaning.  I had no idea of the story, just lots of underlined words that were strange.  I hated the book.

And then one summer when I was in high school I read the book again.  As I recall it was just for pleasure this time and I was older.  This time I got the story and ended up loving the book.

I recently started reading it again.  This time my take was totally different.  I looked at it from a writer's point of view. The first thing I noticed was how the dialogue worked for the story.  I was struck at how funny Mr. Bennett was.  I hadn't noticed that before.  Also thanks to watching things like Downton Abbey some of the rules of society were easier to understand.

This takes me to The Phantom Tollboth .  I don't remember when I bought the copy of it, but it had to be twenty years ago.  I'd heard from somewhere that it was a hot kids' book.  I started to read and it left me cold.  It sat for years, like twenty of them I guess, on  shelf unnoticed until a few days ago.  I was cleaning and trying to clear away stuff when I saw the book.  I remembered that my daughter in law had said it was one of her favorite books.  I was looking for a break from my tasks and sat down right then to give the book another try.  I'm not sure why  -- maybe it was just that I was looking for an excuse to take a rest from cleaning -- but this time I found the book funny and oh, so clever.  I can't understand why I didn't like it before.

If you could see me I'm shrugging because  I have no answer other than I'm in a different place now.  It's funny and a little scary to see how my take on things can change.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


As you can tell from my recent posts, I've got a bunch of deadlines to meet.  I'm fine with the first two but need to dig in even more for the third.

But there are always distractions--like the conferences I've mentioned here, for example --California Crime Writers, California Dreamin', and Malice Domestic so far, and the Romance Writers of America annual conference takes place next month.

Then there are the usual things like my adorable dogs giving me orders--for treats, going outside, meals, whatever.  By the way, I just heard yesterday that it's been discovered that dogs have evolved muscles around their eyes that allow them to make expressions that particularly appeal to humans. Puppy eyes.  And I can't say that I'm surprised!

Then there was Father's Day and...  well, there are more distractions to come that I won't mention here. 

But am I writing?  Yes!  And I'm trying hard to continue to meet my deadlines.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Art of the Rewrite

I finished the draft of MIXED KNOTS. I will let it sit for awhile while I work on a proposal for another series I started putting together last month. I am excited to work on it because it is all about things I love.

Rewriting MIXED KNOTS is going to be fun when I get to it. Maybe fun is the wrong word. I think exciting is better. It’s always interesting when I read the whole of what I’ve written. I never know if it will make sense or not until I look it over. I do know I have to add more to characters because now that I’ve finished the story I know more who they are and their motivation for what they did. It is always a challenge to try to blow life into characters on a page.

I look at my books as entertainment, so making them fun and light is my goal. I stopped reading two cozies recently because one had an urban setting and was simply too dark. I don’t want to read about drive by shootings. The other had something with dead animals used as a warning. It totally turned me off and I shut the book.

It may sound weird that I try to make the books fun since I’m writing murder mysteries, but the point of cozies is to make it more about the puzzle of figuring out who did while hanging out with a group of characters who are friends.

I have notes all over the place for the rewrite and yellow sheets with handwritten notes. It’s always a challenge to figure out the logistics of rewriting. I seem to always start out with the same plan - to read the whole thing from a hard copy and then rewrite. But it never works out. I get ants in my pants to start changing things and I start rewriting while I’m reading. Then I start moving around in the manuscript because early changes affect what happens later.

I really need to have a list of characters next to me with their names and appearances. I know that I changed people’s names while I was writing and I’d rather not have someone start out with short hair in the beginning and suddenly have hair cascading down her back. It helps if I associate the characters with a real person to keep their eye color straight throughout the book.

But rewriting when you have something to work with is much easier than starting with a blank screen.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

California Crime Writers Conference

The California Crime Writers Conference was last weekend.  I'm sure it's not surprising that I attended it, since I've mentioned it here before.  And yep, I'm a California crime writer!

The official schedule didn't begin until Saturday, I think, although there were things happening on Friday, too.  I was commuting there, to the Doubletree Hotel in Culver City, and had no interest in undertaking Friday traffic, so I just went on Saturday and Sunday.  And, thanks to it being the weekend, traffic wasn't bad--especially on Sunday morning when it hardly took me any time at all to drive there from the San Fernando Valley.

Enjoyable conference! People of all levels of mystery writing attended, from very dedicated wannabes to some big names--like Tess Gerritsen and Catriona McPherson.  There were quite a few panels of all kinds relating to mystery writing, plus speeches and lunches and even cookie breaks.  Also booksellers and signings and prizes. Agents and editors, too. And plenty of coffee.

The panel I was on related to having a long-time career, and Tess Gerritsen was on it, too. It was fun meeting her.  I enjoyed it the panel a lot but don't think I gave dogs enough credit for my career when I spoke, so I wouldn't have minded a do-over.  I'd imagine, if you're reading this post and know who I am, you're aware of the importance of dogs in my life and in my stories.

Like the locally-held romance conference California Dreamin', the California Crime Writers Conference is held every other year.  Both of them always occur in the same year, which has contributed to my over-active conference attendance this year--and it's not over yet.

But I definitely enjoyed the CCWC and will look forward to the next one, in 2021!