Monday, July 30, 2012

Watching the Olympics but Thinking About Writing.

Let's be honest, I'm completely distracted by the Olympics. Luckily, my son and his buddies are camped out in front of our TV and have graciously agreed to let me ask them some questions in between swimming and gymnastics.

To set the scene, the boys are bright, recent high school grads, all weeks away from heading to their freshman year in college. There is Max, class valedictorian, who is headed to Duke, Nick is headed to Santa Clara University. Aaron and Cass are going to University of Colorado. Dylan is going to Bates College in Maine and my son, Andrew, who spent the summer training with the Indiana University dive team and enrolled at IU where he took Analytical Writing.

Since a gang of boys isn't your typical Midnight Ink demographic (and despite some coming and going while I was trying to ask questions) I figured they'd be an interesting bunch to interview.

Question One:

What is the most recent book you've read?
Max:State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.
Nick:Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel
Aaron: Hunger Games and Game of Thrones
Cass:Hunger Games and Curious George Goes to the Zoo.
Andrew: Huck Finn.

What is your all time favorite book?
Max: Pendragon Series.
Nick: Native Son and I loved Where the Red Fern Grows. It made me cry.
Aaron: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Dylan: Cat's Cradle.
Andrew: Where the Wild Things Are.
Cass: The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Max: It's the only series I can read without falling asleep. 
Nick: I liked how Native Son showed how our surroundings impact behavior.
Aaron: Hunter Thompson is a great author and I love his point of view on society. 
Cass: I like books with pictures or coloring. (It should be noted, Cass has quite a sense of humor). 
Andrew: It stimulated my imagination. 

Who is your favorite writer?
Max: Roald Dahl
Nick: Jonathon Saffron Foer.
Aaron: Cormac McCarthy
Dylan: Kurt Vonnegut
Andrew:George Orwell
Cass: Shell Silverstein.

Do you like to read?
Max: I like to read Time and Newsweek.
Nick: I like magazines--Skiing and Rolling Stone--and if I'm interested in a topic I like to read about it.
Aaron: Yes. 
Andrew: Depends on the book.
Cass: I agree with Nick. I like to read when I'm interested in a topic. 

What is your preferred genre?
Aaron:I'll read anything I find interesting.
Andrew:Science Fiction.
Cass: Non-Fiction and The Hunger Games. I loved it.

What are you majoring in?
Max: Biomedical Engineering.
Nick: Biomedical Engineering.
Aaron: Political Science
Dylan: Business
Cass: Business

The boys are once again distracted by the Olympics and it's impossible to coax much else out of them, but my small survey sample has been enlightening, at least to me. 6 really smart boys. 2 are avid fiction readers. The others, who have read a lot and admire good writing, prefer to read non-fiction and magazines where possible. This gang has been hanging around my house since they were little tykes so I happen to know they all gobbled up the standard boy fare--Magic Tree House, Captain Underpants, Encyclopedia Brown, Calvin and Hobbes, the Aragon Series etc. etc. They all claim to have loved reading when they were young, but stopped wanting to read when it became homework. I've always heard young men, past the YA years, were a tough group readership wise. Interesting how accurate it seems for the moment. I'll have to ask again when they've all graduated and are reading for pleasure once again.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

INKSPOT NEWS - July 28, 2012

On Thursday, August 2, 2012, from 7 – 9 PM, Beth Groundwater will discuss her recent release, Wicked Eddies, with the Mystery Book Club at the Highlands Ranch Library, 9292 Ridgeline Blvd., Highlands Ranch, CO 80129. The event is open to the public, and Beth will sell and sign copies of her books afterward.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Me and Julie Andrews

by Shannon Baker

It’s been a rough week here in Colorado. Not just here, everyone in the country feels the horror of random acts of violence and the tragedy of wasted of lives. The air itself feels heavy with grief.

The Nebraska Sandhills, a few miles from here where I lived for twenty years, has turned into Crematoria. It is bursting into flames. The drought has sucked the hills so dry the incredible waves of grass are now incendiary fodder waiting for lightning strikes to send surges of fire to devour pastures, buildings and critters.

Last week not one but two of my friends had the heart-shredding experience of ending long-term relationships. Yeow. Life will go on for them, of course. But before they experience the exhilaration of freedom and the relief of getting away from a bad situation, they will live through the agony of loss.

And also, I found out I can't just cut and paste pictures willy-nilly from Google images so I'm stuck with what I can find on my computer and I got some weird virus because my sister was visiting and exposed my computer to some awful things and the IT guy who set up my new computer after my old one got stolen forgot to put virus protection on it and I am having all manner of technical difficulties just getting this blog to post and I want to tear my hair out but will probably settle for another Moscow mule...

Even for a shallow person like me, this bad news and tragedy can feel like the end of the world. I’m not nearly as wise as Solomon (wise-ass, maybe) but I feel sort of like doing what he did, throwing my hands up in the air and declaring life is all vanity. Really, what’s the point?

I’m no spring chicken (as if a pullet is something we all aspire to). I’ve seen a bit of sadness from time and time and I know that as callous as it all seems, we don’t live in that dark place forever. There’s always going to be good times and bad. As The Dude says, “Strikes and gutters, man.”

So I’m going to go all Julie Andrews on your ass and give you a list of My Favorite Things that have been helping me cope with this particularly sad week:

  • Fresh Colorado peaches from the farmer’s market.
  • My bike to work commute that takes me by a farm with piglets snorting in the tall weeds along the road.
  • A random glimpse of the Flatirons looking over Boulder.
  • Dogs at the pond at the dog park—even though they aren’t my dogs. 
  • Toddlers in the pop-up fountain at the Pearl Street Mall—especially since they aren’t my toddlers.
  • The movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that I watched with my sister on Saturday night.
  • My sister, obviously. 
  • An hour by the pool in the bright Colorado sunshine reading Defending Jacob, by William Landay.
  • The cool breeze from my bedroom window in the deep night.
  • A giggle or two during phone calls and emails from my daughters.

Even though it sounds trite, I’m hugging the Man With Endless Tolerance especially tight and feeling the MWET hold me even tighter. I’m sending out my best thoughts for the multitudes in sad places in their lives and I’m hoping they can just keep swimming. I don’t know much but I do know that it gets better. It always gets better.

PS. I hope you enjoyed the random picture of our old dog, Boomer, who's no longer with us. It always makes me smile and maybe it will make you smile, too.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Being in the Inside Crowd

A couple of recent happenings have made me realize that, after seven months of living in the small resort town of Breckenridge, I now feel like a local, part of the "inside crowd." And, being an author who has traditionally published multiple books, I realized I'm feeling the same way about the publishing industry.

(View of Breckenridge, looking west toward the ski area, by Neil Groundwater.)

(View of Breckenridge, looking east, by Neil Groundwater.)

Back to Breckenridge. The first happening that made me feel I belonged was when my Midnight Ink editor asked me if I wanted to add a Dedication to the trade paperback/ebook edition of To Hell in a Handbasket. The book will be re-released in November and it is set in Breckenridge. I decided to dedicate it this way: "To Breckenridge, my new home town, for welcoming my husband and me with open arms." The second happening was a typical day of errands, where I ran into a local friend at the Recreation Center, then into another at the dentist's office, and finally a third at the Post Office. (The USPS doesn't deliver mail to individual homes and businesses here, so everyone has to get a Post Office box and pick up their mail.)

Then I drove the few blocks home, snaking my way between jaywalking tourists, and it hit me. Yup, unlike them, I'm a local! I'll still be here when their summer vacations are over, and I'll still be here when the skiers' winter vacations are over. I vote here, I get my hair cut and my teeth cleaned here, I pick up my CSA organic vegetables at a nearby house each week, and I belong to a local book club, hiking group, and the Friends of the Summit County Library (and the librarians know me as the "local mystery author").

Similarly, I feel comfortable now in the publishing world. Before I was published, I felt like a tourist, peeking into bookstore windows, saying to myself that someday my own title would be on display. And now, I often find my books on bookstores and library shelves. When I go to mystery fan conventions, I feel comfortable talking to other authors as an equal. I am recognized and respected as an author by readers. When I contact or am contacted by booksellers or librarians to schedule events, I know that they can easily research me on the Internet and find out that I am an established mystery author with four books out and two in the works for 2013. I'm a "local" in the publishing industry, part of the inside crowd.

It's taken me a LOT longer to get that feeling in the publishing world, though, than it took me in Breckenridge! For many, many years as an aspiring author, I longed to become part of that inside crowd. Once I started publishing books, though, I was so busy writing, editing, and promoting, that I didn't realize that I HAD gradually become an insider. It wasn't until I had the similar experience of getting assimilated into a new home town that I realized the parallel.

For other writers, published and unpublished, what are your experiences in feeling like you are a part of the inside crowd in the publishing industry--or not? For readers, have you had similar transitions where you gradually became part of the inside crowd? What kind of crowd? What did you do to become an insider?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


by Lois Winston

When I was younger, I saw life in black and white. Everything was either good or bad, right or wrong. With age came experience, and I learned that there are an endless number of shades of gray between the black and white. I learned never to say never. You just don’t know where life will take you.

Recently, I set out on a new journey in my writing career, something I never expected ever to do because of the stigma once associated with it -- I decided to indie publish.

I began my writing life as a romance writer. For ten years I toiled away at love stories. Most of these manuscripts never sold, although many collected numerous awards in contests for unpublished authors. Some almost sold, but at the last minute the deal would fall through because the editor who loved the book left the publishing house or the publisher folded the line for which the book was intended.

Eventually, I sold two of my romances, but then a certain glue gun wielding amateur sleuth hijacked my romance career, and I found myself writing the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. Don’t get me wrong; I’m very happy telling Anastasia’s stories, and I hope to continue doing so for quite some time. 

However, the publishing world has gone through a dramatic change in the last few years. All around me I started seeing friends indie publishing not only their backlists but manuscripts that had never sold to New York. After hearing success story after success story, I began to think about all those manuscripts lolling around in my Dead Manuscripts File, those books that had won awards and almost sold but never did through no fault of either the writing or the stories. 

So after much mulling, I decided to create Emma Carlyle, my alter ego romance self, and begin indie publishing all those romances under her name. The first book launched on Kindle three and a half weeks ago. Hooking Mr. Right was my most successful, never published manuscript, a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist and winner of a slew of awards. Editors loved it, but for various reasons (see above,) no contract was ever offered. 

A week later I launched Finding Hope. That book was also a Golden Heart finalist, but because it fell somewhere between romance and chick lit, it was never quite right for any traditional publisher's lines. And this past weekend, I launched Four Uncles and a Wedding, a chick lit book.

Now I’m off on a grand experiment, offering these books and more directly to readers for less than the price of a Starbucks cappuccino. Never say never is my new motto.

Hooking Mr. Right blurb:
After writing a doctoral thesis that exposed fraud in the pop-psychology genre, thirty-two year old professor Althea Chandler has to sacrifice her professional integrity to save her family from financial disaster. She secretly becomes bestselling romance guru Dr. Trulee Lovejoy, a self-proclaimed expert on how to catch a man, even though Thea’s a miserable failure when it comes to relationships -- especially those with the opposite sex.

Burned by a failed marriage, Luke Bennett finds himself pursued by Dr. Lovejoy toting women after a gossip columnist dubs him New York’s most eligible bachelor. When he at first mistakes Thea for one of the women out to snare him, sparks fly, but the two soon find themselves battling sparks of a less hostile nature, thanks in part to an alley cat named Cupid.

Hooking Mr. Right link: 

Finding Hope blurb:
Being offered a position at a prestigious architectural firm is a dream-come-true for thirty-four year old widow Hope Morgan. For twelve years she’s attended college while working full-time and fending off family efforts to find her a new husband. Hope’s long-exiled libido escapes confinement the moment she sets eyes on Ben Schaffer, her married boss. When Ben’s wife walks out on him and their young sons, Hope steps in as temporary nanny, a bad move, considering all those traitorous hormones.

Ben finds himself developing feelings for Hope, feelings he knows better than to act on, given the mistakes of his past. But Hope refuses to take no for an answer, and her three-year-old accomplices are a triple threat of determination when it comes to finding everyone a happy ending.

Finding Hope links: 
Barnes & Noble:


Four Uncles and a Wedding blurb:
My Big Fat Greet Wedding  morphs into My Big Fat Multi-Ecumenical Wedding.

Back when thirty-one year old Polly Faith Harmony's feminist mother burned her bra, she wasn't thinking ahead to the day she'd want grandchildren. Behind Polly's back, her mother enlists the help of her four great-uncles -- the Catholic priest, the Episcopalian priest, the Jewish rabbi, and the gay Unitarian minister. The five relatives embark on an all out campaign to find Polly a mate in time to beat her biological clock. Like all loving relatives on a mission, they play dirty.

Four Uncles and a Wedding links:

Barnes & Noble:

Want to read more about Emma and her other books? Check out her website.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Just Dance!

by Jennifer Harlow

For once, my addictive personality has found something healthy to latch onto while clearing my head while writing. Anyway, my newest obsession comes in the form game exercise. Yes, not only am I Benjamin Buttoning from adult to teenager as I get older, but apparently I'm switching genders too. My brothers played video games ALL THE TIME and still do, but I avoided them in favor of books and far too much television. Then my mother saw a commercial for Wii's Just Dance 3 and decided she wanted to use the game to lose weight. 

See, with the exception of my weight lifting bro Ryan, us Harlow's are a sedentary bunch. My idea of exercise is walking up to the fridge. My body is simply a vehicle for my brain, like a car. An Accura will get you were you're going just like a Porche, but the Accura requires less time wasting upkeep. I'm healthy as a horse. I like chocolate and hate sweating. So I have a few extra pounds, but I'm not getting my own TLC show The 1,000 Pound Writer, (though it would help book sales). Story short, I'm not athletic, never have been. I do have a gym membership and go twice a week for 1/2 an hour each time. I just hate every second of it. Even with the cable TV, book, and/or music I'm bored to tears on the Elliptical. Plus with two books to write a year, I don’t have the spare time to waste driving the fifteen minutes one way to the gym. So when Mom wanted to try the Wii alternative, I was on board.

Now I've gone overboard.

I do the majority of my writing at home at my small desk in my bedroom. I usually have the internet radio from iTunes on as I stare at the blank page trying to create. This gets very boring very quickly. I can usually sit still for at most two hours before I need to get up and move around. Before Just Dance3, Just Dance 2, Just Dance ABBA, Just Dance Michael Jackson, and Zumba 2 (told you I had a problem) I'd get a snack or play with the cat for respite. Now I do three songs (approx 10min), dancing around the room with a remote in my hand like an idiot. The thing is, it really helps. I can usually clear my mind long enough for the gremlins living in my brain to come up with what will happen next. Just getting away from the story and doing something mind numbing reboots the old brain. This usually happens at least four times a day, forty minutes of exercise five times a week. And the happy bi-product is not only do I continue writing at a good click, I'm apparently slimming a little. (I don't see it but my family say it's happening.) I don't know how long this obsession will last, but hopefully long enough for me to finish my next book and fit into my college jeans.

So Just Dance B****s!

What about you? When you hit a road block in the creative process, what do you do to plow through?

And here's the cover for the first Midnight Magic book, out 3/13! I love it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book Clubs —The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

By Kathleen Ernst

I’ve visited a handful of book groups since my first Chloe Ellefson mystery came out two years ago, and usually have a good time.  I’ve participated in some lively discussions with readers who held a variety of opinions about my work.  That’s what makes book groups interesting, right?  If everyone agreed about every aspect of a novel…well, yawn.

But "lively" can go wrong.  A group once invited me to join their discussion of one of my titles.  Almost everyone told me they liked the book.  If they had questions to raise, they did so graciously.

Then I got clobbered.
A couple of people were not so gracious.  One man summarized his thoughts:  “Your book was nothing but empty words on paper.”  (Yes, that’s an exact quote.)

In fairness, I know it’s a tricky thing to invite an author to attend a book club.  People in these groups are used to having honest discussions about their reactions to a book.  I know in my own book group, we don’t hesitate to be blunt about aspects of any work that we don’t care for.
So is it reasonable to expect a group to automatically know how to switch gears?  How to leap into a discussion in a totally new way on those rare occasions when the author is present?

Honestly, I think that’s a lot to ask.

So I’d like to respectfully suggest a few pointers for anyone considering inviting an author to attend a book group’s discussion of her work:

1.  Even if your group usually proceeds in free-for-all fashion, determine a moderator in advance—someone who can step in if the conversation goes off-track.

2.  Start the conversation by providing the author with positive feedback.  And if you can, be specific.  Did you like the pacing, the depth of characterization, the language?  Let the author know.  It will mean a lot.

3.  When you raise a point about something that did not work well for you, try to phrase it as a question.  “What your character did in chapter four makes no sense” doesn’t leave any room for discussion.  “Why did your character make the choices she did in chapter four?” does.  I’ve facilitated a whole lot of book discussions, and I promise that this suggestion alone will make an enormous difference in the tone of the conversation.

4.  Give the author a chance to respond.  When a reader poses an unexpected question for me, I sometimes need a moment to collect my thoughts.  Don’t arrive with a written list of criticisms in hand and rattle through them at machine-gun speed.

5.  As with positive feedback, be specific.  Vague statements like that “empty words on paper” line aren’t helpful in any way.

6.  End on a positive note.  Circle back to things the group liked about the book.  Give the author a chance to share whatever visuals or other goodies she might have brought.  Express appreciation for the author’s time.

So, what am I missing?  What suggestions for book group members would you add to my list?  How about suggestions for the visiting author?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Laid Back or Lazy

By Deborah Sharp

I think I was born without the commerce gene. Does a lack of interest in selling my books make me laid back, or just lazy?

On the final day of a vacation on North Carolina's Outer Banks, I arranged for a quick swing by a bookstore in beautiful Elizabeth City, N.C. (That's the town in the picture above, right along the Pasquotank River. Motto: Harbor of Hospitality). A temperature of 104 put a damper on sightseeing. Still, I managed to meet some friendly folks at Page After Page, slurp down some watermelon punch at a downtown farmer's market, and search out some authentic Carolina barbecue  -- along with collards, hush puppies, and sweet tomato puddin.'

With a brief visit, I simply wanted to say hi in person and thank the store for selling my books a few months ago at a fundraiser for Camden County schools. I posted here about that benefit, which was an adaptation of my third mystery, ''Mama Gets Hitched,'' performed as a play.

As it happened, my husband's family gathered this summer for a reunion on the beach. Elizabeth City was only about 30 miles or so off the path back to the Norfolk airport and our flight home to Florida. I decided at the last minute to drop by on that final day.

''I'm out of your books,'' store owner Susan Hinkle told me in an email, ''but I'd be happy to do a signing if you brought any with you.'' 

I'm on vacation, I thought. Of course I didn't bring any books. But I know plenty of authors who would have. Many writers schedule signings whenever they travel anywhere. They plan vacations to coincide with commerce. Call me a slacker, but lining up sales when I'm supposed to be kicking back relaxing seems wrong. In this instance, I got tangled in the Outer Banks' notorious traffic, and spent an hour and a half driving (idling?) 15 miles to leave the island. With that time suck, I would have been a nervous wreck hewing to a tight schedule of appearances. Instead of sinking into the sand in a beach chair, I'd have been sweating in grown-up clothes, fretting about being late.

Instead, I enjoyed my casual pop-in at Page After Page. Susan had informed a few  people involved in the play. They stopped in to say hello, bringing along a handful of books for me to sign. I was touched that Adelle Drahos, Pat Cuthrell, and Lynne McLain showed, considering the sweltering heat and the fact I only confirmed the day before I'd definitely come by.

Judging by the texting, computing, and phone-calling going on among my hubby's family members at the rented beach house, mixing work and play isn't at all unusual. I even slipped away a couple of times to the Corolla public library to polish the last few chapters of my work in progress. Meeting the looming deadline for ''Mama Gets Trashed'' is a contractual obligation. That's different than setting up signings. I'm not a natural extrovert. Planning a book presentation and meeting new people  requires maximum effort. It makes me tense and nervous. That's not how I want to feel on vacation.

Even so, I did think a bit about the opportunity I missed. If I planned ahead, I could have combined my holiday with some hustle. The thought passed as I sat in the shade with a glass of sangria, reading one of Nicholas Sparks' zillion-selling paperbacks (The North Carolina-set ''True Believer,'' picked up at Corolla's library for 25 cents.)

Do you think he peddled books during vacations before he hit the big time? How about you? Do you work on holiday? Or are you a devoted loafer, like me?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Creative Synergy, Maine-ly

by Sheila Webster Boneham

On Wednesday, Linda Hull wrote that she was watching the fireworks in Portland, Maine. Funnily enough, by the time you read this I will be winging my way to Portland, and from there I'll head north to Brunswick where I get to spend ten days participating in the Stonecoast MFA program's workshops, classes, readings, and exhausting, exhilarating, inspiring, and generally fantastic interactions. The energy created by a hundred or so writers of all stripes in one place for a week and a half is hard to describe, but let me just say that I'm really excited to be heading north, and not just because Maine is ten degrees cooler than North Carolina right now!

As I write this, I'm partly packed and need to wrap that up. So I'm going to wimp out on this post and show you a few photo of one of my favorite places in Maine - not where I'm headed now, but Pemaquid Point, a bit further up the coast. The first mystery I remember reading was set there, and I wrote about that on my own blog on Monday. If you'd like to read about that, go to Click to go to "Mysterious Monday at Pemaquid Point: Real People Write Books."

Pemaquid Point lighthouse.

When I get back I'll be holing up to finish the final revision of my second Animals in Focus mystery, tentatively titled The Money Bird. Then I'll be going into high gear preparing for the launch of the first book, Drop Dead on Recall as I think about book three. I have a few other projects in the works, too, so I'm counting on my week in Maine to help rev me up. May we all take inspiration where we find it and live creatively.

And I'm off!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

As American As...

By the time this blog posts, I will be on my way back to Colorado. Fireworks, were there not a general statewide ban, have to be the last thing anyone I know wants to see lighting up the night sky. The photos you may have seen, many of them taken by friends as they’ve fled their homes in Colorado Springs, Boulder and Ft. Collins, only give a small sense of what our beleaguered state has been facing. Never mind the bonfire aroma in the air.

Tonight, on the beautiful, verdant East Coast, I sit amidst the roar of the sold out crowd at Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine. What could be more 3rd of July than a row of seats behind home plate, hot dogs, peanuts, cold beer and a Red Sox/Yankees farm team game between the Portland Seadogs and the Trenton Thunder? The only thing missing is apple pie. The signature Seabiscuits (a scoop of vanilla ice cream nestled between chocolate chip cookies) provide a more than worthy substitute. 

Add the fireworks at the end of the game and it’s pure joy, American style. 

We have to leave right after the game to shuffle down to Boston because of an early AM flight and will miss the post-game pyrotechnics. While I will miss the immediacy of the pop and burst of color in the sky, I'll settle for the thrill of spotting the various firework shows along Highway One on the way. My 3rd of July, celebrated on the East Coast, at a crowded minor league baseball game, couldn't be more Norman Rockwell. I wish the those who have lost so much in Colorado could feel the same about their 4th of July.    

Monday, July 2, 2012

Getting Lost

By Shannon Baker

I went for a bike ride this morning and nearly died. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but only slight. We just moved from Arizona to Colorado, in the Boulder area. I’ve lived around here before but in a different part of the community. I know of a few trusty bike trails and have scoped out a sweet course to work that involves all bike lanes. Boulder is a super biking city.

I haven’t found nice recreational routes from my new home yet. There’s a wonderful trail along a creek but it’s not paved and I have road tires on my bike, a little too narrow for a dirt road. So I’ve been exploring early in the morning, before traffic heats up.

One morning I followed a bike lane that took me into an old-town area and petered out. It was 6 AM so no traffic. But in the middle of the day it would be hairy riding. I crossed that off my list of possibilities.
This morning I took a turn, expecting it would take me under the Interstate and around to a quiet road to complete a loop. Logic told me it would work that way and I looked forward to climbing a hill, scooting through a quaint downtown, angling back across a busy highway and sliding into my garage.
That’s not exactly how it turned out.

I ended up on what, in effect, was an off ramp of the Interstate with cars barreling down and the shoulder strewn with rocks. Whoosh! Aghghgh! Talk about getting my heart rate up! I escaped with my life and my bike intact, but it seemed touch and go for a while.

Sadly, this search and find process is how my writing often progresses. I start going down one way and by the time I’m in the middle of the road, I find it strewn with potholes, traffic and danger. I have to get out quickly and make a new plan. I read books on craft and attend workshops and seek out better ways to plot a book. I also read maps to find the best road, path, or trail. But, as with writing, I’m never really sure how it goes until I’m on the ground, pedaling it out.

Sometimes I set out on a certain mission only to find an interesting path I hadn’t intended to take. I don’t know where it goes but I’ll follow it anyway. Even if it doesn’t get me to my destination, it’s rarely a wasted trip. You know that Zen saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.” 

I often wish my writing, route-finding, and life in general was less messy. Then again, by not always having a plan, or not always following the plan I lay out, I’ve done, seen, written better things than my pea brain thought of in the first place.

This morning, I discovered a route I should never take again. It won’t stop me from exploring another unknown next time. There’s got to be a nice morning ride somewhere close and I intend to find it.

If anyone out there has a foolproof plotting method, I’d love to hear from you. Currently, I’m using Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks. I find it extremely useful.