Friday, May 27, 2016
I love politics and politicians. In studying historical trends and how people react to different stimuli, I’ve taken classes, read books, and listened to the pundits. As you can imagine, the last few months have provided sensory overload and given me much to think and comment on, but this isn’t the platform I choose to share my views on the current election race or the issues that face our country. Hopefully, if we sit down in a living room and talk, we can find a way to listen to each other and respect what each of us thinks - even if our opinions differ. In the meantime, I pray, as this Memorial Day approaches, we can agree on one thing:
Thursday, May 26, 2016
It’s that time of year. We’re all thinking about summer and that, invariably, leads us to considering where we would like to be if we could go to our vacation spot. As usual, our answers are as varied as we are.
Dru Ann Love – My favorite vacation spot is any place where I am not obligated to do a thing. I like the idea that I can go to a place and take one of the area’s highlight bus tours where the touristy attractions are pointed out to me while I sit, look and listen.
Bethany Maines – To be perfectly honest, every place I just visited is my favorite spot. But the anything that has delicious food and cheap lodgings is the best. M most recent favorite is Iceland. Their butter is delicious.
Juliana Aragon Fatula – Stonehenge. When I visited Stonehenge I had a river of electricity/magnetism run through my body and move my head physically toward the ground. It was freaky/cool. I wanted to stay all night and stargaze while lying on my back feeling the earth’s pull. I had a similar experience at Chichen Itza, but it was a power pulling my whole body down to the ground. I couldn’t climb the pyramid because my balance was wacked out.
Jennae M. Phillippe – The best vacation that I have actually been on: Maui. Best that I daydream about: an English cottage with lots of books and unlimited tea near a quaint village.
Linda Rodriguez – My favorite place I’ve ever visited was Oxford, English. I felt as if I had come home. I stayed there for two weeks and loved everything about it. I think I need to write a series of books set in Oxford, so I can visit there for tax-deductible research every year or so. Until then, there’s always Morse and Lewis on Netflix.
Debra H. Goldstein – Australia. When my daughter was studying abroad, I made a quick trip to visit her. Between the beaches, lush greenery, rocky areas, I was impressed, but the most fun was seeing the countryside and the famous sites like the Sydney Opera House (we took the backstage tour at four a.m. – the two of us and a journalist from London) through my daughter’s eyes. As she led me around the country, I realized we had reversed roles – she had become an adult.
Paffi Flood – My favorite vacation spot is Siena, Italy. The entire city is the color found in the crayon boxes, and near one edge, a black-and-white marble cathedral rises from all the brown, and it’s absolutely stunning.
Sparkle Abbey – We’d have to say Laguna Beach, California. Not only is it the setting for our mystery series, but I’s also just a great place. It almost has a European flavor with all the wonderful shops, restaurants and galleries. And then there’s a beach itself….
Marilyn Meredith – My favorite vacation spot is anywhere on California’s Central Coast. I once lived close to the beach and I miss it. Morrow Bay is a place we try to get to once a year. My Rocky Bluff P.D. series is set in a small beach town, and I like to get energized by visiting similar places.
Kay Kendall – I cannot choose just one favorite vacation spot. Here is my list. Small to mid-sized European city in these countries: the UK, France, Germany, Italy. Plus these historic larger cities that really grab me: Prague; Venice; St. Petersburg, Russia.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Monday, May 23, 2016
I’ve recently attended my sixth Malice Domestic Convention where I had a great time. I came out of one comfort zone when I first attended this conference and stuck like glue to my friend who convinced me to attend. Also, I was traveling all alone to the unknown where I only knew the one person. Six years later, I’m all over the place and I like it.
The following year, I attended my first Bouchercon in St. Louis and once again, I was going into the unknown, traveling to a city I’ve never been to and knowing only a few people. I had a good time and there were moments where it got overwhelming with the crowd that I had to escape to my room. Again, coming out of that comfort zone.
At the Albany Bouchercon, I was asked if I wanted to be on a panel and my immediate answer was “no.” Going forward one year and at the Long Beach Bouchercon, not only was I sitting on a panel, but I was also moderating a panel for the first time. Talk about double anxiety. I was a nervous wreck right up to me sitting on the panel and then moderating one the following day. Again, coming out of that comfort zone.
When I attended Bouchercon Raleigh, there was a comfort zone I was not sure I could do and I’m happy that I didn’t have to address that one.
In February, I headed to Phoenix to attend my first ever Left Coast Crime convention and once again, I was moderating a panel and sitting on a panel and yes I was nervous, but once again, I’m coming out of my comfort zone.
And early in the month, I moderated my first panel at Malice Domestic and yes, I was nervous, but I was better prepared for all that needed to be done and it helped that I had met most of the panelists at other author events. Once again, coming out of that comfort zone.
Next year I tackle another comfort zone, traveling direct (11 hour flight) to Hawaii and I’m thinking I want to wade in the waters in Hawaii. If that is accomplished, that is a BIG coming out of my comfort zone.
So readers, have you come out of your comfort zone and done something you never thought you would?
Friday, May 20, 2016
This month, Bethany challenged all of the members of the Stiletto Gang to think about and possibly write a post revealing our thoughts on “Author Fitness.” She specifically asked: “What do you do to keep yourself in shape for writing? Anything physical (running, meditation, secret wrist stretches) or mental (journaling, daily free writes, writing by hand) that you do weekly or daily to keep you on your writing game.”
Because Linda has been ill with a nasty bug this past week, I’m posting for her. I think it is a safe bet to say none of the above would be Linda’s response this week. Consequently, before I write my response, join me in wishing Linda a speedy recovery by leaving a comment.
My answer also is nothing. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I tried water aerobics with a trainer a few years ago. When she said, “Raise your right arm,” I complied. Although I felt a sharp pain, I attributed it to being out of shape not to having just torn my rotator cuff. I pressed on with exercising for several weeks before an examination revealed a tear necessitating surgery. Perhaps the morphine helped my creative thinking at that point in time.
Earlier this year, I signed up for a F.I.T. class. Let me give you the entire perspective of this class. It
Next, I tried a personal trainer. He was kind, he was smart, and he quickly realized I wasn’t going to be one of those people who strives for a marathon or high intensity exercise level. I was assuring him my goal was merely to be healthy by losing some weight when I did a sit-up and something in my back popped. Between epidurals, physical therapy, and plain old doctor visits, I didn’t have time (or permission) to exercise.
Now, I’m back in the pool, but with my signing schedule for Should Have Played Poker being so crazy, who knows what calamity exercise might induce? I’m not sure, but I’m not going to take any chances.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Cathy Perkins is questioning her commitment to releasing a new novella next month, Malbec Mayhem, a spinoff related to So About the Money. She has lists--lots of lists--and may survive the day to day activities needed to make it happen.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
by J.M. Phillippe
An entire generation, MY generation, has been living by these words of wisdom ever since. Or, at least aspiring to. Want to get good grades in school? Just do it. Want to learn to play guitar? Just do it. Want to see if you can eat an entire bag of cookies in one go? Just do it. Whatever it is you want to do, just go on out and do it.
Do an internet search on writing, and you'll find much the same advice:
Writer's write. The end. Want to be a writer? Write. Want to become good writer? Write more. Want to become the greatest writer that ever lived? Write, write more, and then write some more after that.
The doing makes you the thing. Runners run. Swimmers swim. Competitive food champions eat lots of food in really short amounts of time. Writers write.
If only it actually were that easy.
What the ad execs were getting at (in an attempt to sell shoes and other various fitness apparel) is that there really should be no excuses between you and the thing you are setting out to do. "Just do it" cuts through any possible block you could put up. "I don't have time" becomes "make time." "I don't have the right equipment" becomes "get the right equipment." "I don't know what to say" becomes "say anything, keep saying anything until it becomes something, and then say more about that."
There is -- or there should be -- nothing that keeps writers from writing. Like running, swimming, and sure, probably competitive eating, daily practice is the key. Just do the thing. Just write.
People obviously underestimate just how creative writers can be in coming up with excuses why they can't, in fact, just write.
I have never been a particularly disciplined writer, relying on the sheer terror that a looming deadline evokes in me to get me through that giant cloud of resistance so that I can actually write. I don't have great writing discipline, or, really, any writing discipline, and it frankly shocks me every time I actually finish any piece of writing. It's almost as though I finally force myself into a fugue state, after which I have something I can maybe sort of push and prod into something else that I feel mostly okay having other people read. At some point, despite all my best efforts not to, I finally do in fact, just do it. I write.
This is less than ideal. I would love a daily writing practice. I would love to get to the point where I can sit down in front of my computer and get to work without a certain tightening of my chest, a sudden thirst or hunger, or a desperate need to just rest my eyes, just for a few minutes, and then I'll totally knock out some pages. It's not like I don't know what I have to do. Nike has been telling me what to do for the past almost 30 years. Just do it. Just. Do. It.
And I'm totally going to.
J.M. Phillippe is the author of Perfect Likeness. She has lived in the deserts of California, the suburbs of Seattle, and the mad rush of New York City. She worked as a freelance journalist before earning a masters’ in social work. She works as a family therapist in Brooklyn, New York and spends her free-time decorating her tiny apartment to her cat Oscar Wilde’s liking, drinking cider at her favorite British-style pub, and training to be the next Karate Kid, one wax-on at a time.
Monday, May 16, 2016
|From right, Art Taylor, Debra Goldstein, Cathy Pickens and husband Bob, and me.|
Somehow, all the pieces came together. Impossibility became reality. I went. Standing in line to get my picture with Mary Higgins Clark, I met Dana Cameron, who has become a wonderful, supportive friend. The photo with Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter Carol Higgins Clark has become a talisman for me, a symbol of what I can achieve. When one of my relatives asked who those people were (not recognizing me), I convinced myself I looked enough like an author to be mistaken for one. I’ve continued that happy delusion ever since.