Friday, March 23, 2018


The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.
Marcus Aurelius

Dear Writer Friends,
She time ago, longer than I thought, I joined FMF to take an online writing class from Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. We read their book On Being A Writer together. I still read the blogs of those of you who took the class. You are still writing which means you have a routine in your life that includes the written word. If there was one thing that I have treasured up in my study it was to arrange my life so I can write a little bit every day. Now that is obvious.

What wasn't so obvious was the importance of place. I write in two places; on the couch, with my computer on my lap or at the kitchen table. I installed a lamp that casts a soft glow on the space, which I really love. The space must call out to you. Come, come tell your story (w)right here. My routine for starting "the write" is to make some tea, stash a small snack near by, and open my computer to the Scriverner App. The app alone makes me feel like a professional. Thank you Kate Motaung for the suggestion.
"These rituals create space and rhythm"
On Being A Writer

A piano teacher is found dead and a lost autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt is discovered. Who wanted that document enough to kill? 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Writing Wednesday- Physical Ways That Ground A Scene

Your character communicates who she is through her physical actions.

I just finished a writing class and one of the critiques I received many times was to "show not tell". That seems obvious but not easy. Another level of observation starts when I imagine how my characters are moving or how they are physically responding. In Rubato, my mystery novel, I have a pragmatic, logical thinking male homicide detective who is more smart than macho. He is working with a right brained, feeling partner who once aspired to be a concert pianist. They have a case where her knowledge of the music world gives her an upper hand. Below is a scene where they are together eating dinner after a long day. Do I have enough description of their actions to show you more of who they are?

           Stevie continued through to the kitchen and he heard her open a fridge. He walked through the living room and beyond into what was surely a music room. Open french doors with gauzy curtains separated the two spaces. He was drawn to the piano and gently touched the black and white keys. There was a grandeur to the shiny black instrument. He moved his hands across the smooth surface. The black body seemed to be longer than his car.
      “This is a big piano.” he said, hearing Stevie come in.
       “It is my mother’s six foot concert grand.” She joined Reggie on the piano bench. He could smell her light citrus perfume. 
       “What is a trouble clef?” he asked.
       “You mean the coat rack?” Stevie laughed. “It isn’t trouble but treble and it's a musical sign that indicates higher notes on the staff. My mother had the large wooden one made to amuse her piano students.”
       A blue music booklet entitled, Consolations by Franz Liszt, lay open to view on the stand in front of them. 
       Reggie reached up and touched the book."Have you been playing his music?”
       “I have. These pieces called Consolations have been rumbling around my head throughout the last few days.”
       “Does this Liszt guy offer consolation to the nasty work of murder?”
       “Surprisingly, he does.” Stevie stood and took his arm firmly, nudging Reggie to his feet. “Come on into the kitchen. I’m reheating some lasagna from Sunday.” 
        The kitchen had bright yellow walls and frilly patterned curtains. A round kitchen table was nestled into the bay window which looked out to the garden. Reggie thought that his mother would have loved a kitchen just like this. The garden outside was barely discernible as dusk fell. 
       “I can’t get used to the fact that it’s dark at 5:00 o'clock. It feels like the middle of the night.” Reggie said. 
       Stevie handed him two placemats and two white china plates. 
     “Can you grab two glasses out of the cupboard there?” With her head she motioned to the cupboard by the sink. She balanced a steaming platter of noodles with sauce and cheese in her hands. 
       He carefully brought the glasses to the table and seated himself across from Stevie.
      “You look hungry. Let me dish you up a big plate.”
      “Looks really good. Thank you.” He suddenly felt a little self-conscious eating in front of his work partner. Reggie picked up his fork and without further hesitation commenced devouring the food. It was delicious and it’s warmth made him relax. 
     “You have a tiny splat of tomato sauce on your lip.” She picked up her napkin but Reggie saw her stop herself from bringing the napkin to his face.
       “I’ve got it.” he said,as he brushed the napkin across his mouth. 

A piano teacher is found dead and a lost autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt is discovered. Who wanted that document enough to kill? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Umkehr and Starting Fresh Everyday

"Getting a fresh start doesn't mean starting over--it could mean simply seeing the current project with new eyes, trying something different, or coming at the story from a different angle."
Shawn Smucker, author of The Day The Angels Fell

When doing something everyday there is a risk that the doing will become stale. If you are exercising the routine may become boring, if you are eating differently, the foods you made with gusto in week one may be suddenly too blah. Writing everyday certainly has that risk. I come to my book everyday knowing my weaknesses in the story and trying to look at them with new perspective. 

The quote above is by a writer who sends an e-mail out every weekday with motivating words from his own writing desk. He is currently writing a novel and his e-mails demonstrate the everyday struggle. I can relate to all his words. I find the promise of seeing anew very captivating. I can't control it, but I will be working on a paragraph which is not right and an idea will come which brings a new energy to my vision. Suddenly the words almost write themselves. I love that moment! 

I see on my chart that Thursdays are not working as writing days. That's fine. My day begins when I leave the house at 6 am and when I'm home from work it just doesn't happen. Seventeen out of twenty is just peachy and I feel satisfied. What are you trying to do everyday? Is it working? Could you look at it from a new perspective? 

A piano teacher is found dead and a lost autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt is discovered. Who wanted that document enough to kill? 

Friday, March 16, 2018


"The Lord my pasture will prepare

And feed me with a shepherd’s care.
His presence will my want supply
And guard me with a watchful eye.
My noonday walks he will attend
And all my silent midnight hours defend."

The Lord has provided for me. I have evidence. He has blessed my family with enough to progress spiritually and physically. I used to tell my husband that God always grants us enough, but just enough, because he knows we would squander our gifts if we had more than enough. Many times when we were struggling financially my husband would be asked to do overtime hours. My greedy little mind would add together the extra income and I would pre-spend the excess. Then we would receive an unexpected bill and the extra money would just cover the new expense. Just enough.

That "just enough" provision was not mirrored in my spiritual life. There God granted more than enough. When my emotional health flagged he would open my eyes to see beauty. Even in a sunrise he would teach me that he had more than enough to flood my senses. I am ever so grateful for his provisions and I desire to have more faith. You see, I still after all these years worry that I might not have enough in the future.

My Novel Rubato

A Mystery With a Musical Theme.

A piano teacher is found dead and a lost autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt is discovered. Where did it come from and why was it so valuable?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Writing Wednesday- Point Of View

"Point of view is a decision a writer makes that will determine through whose eyes the story is going to be told."
    Elizabeth George Write Away

Point of view is a difficult tool for me. I was aware of it from a long ago look as an English major in college. When it came to writing my novel I found myself in a quandary about who should tell the story. I settled on multiple narrators because I needed the story to come out through several sets of eyes. Here is a short vignette about an adventure I had with my grandchildren. I am writing in the point of view of my eight year old granddaughter.

   We arrived at my grandma's house really early because my mother was leaving for the day. I had the dog on a leash as we arrived and before I could take off my shoes and coat, Grandma announced we would be going to see a sunrise. I understand that the sun rises everyday but really, we needed to go see it happen?

 Grandma picked the beach as a viewpoint. I love the beach, but it was cold. Rex, the dog, was over joyed to visit those sandy shores. He pushed ahead making me pick up speed. When we arrived at the sand his nose was digging up new smells. I was afraid he would run away if we let him off leash, but he really would have liked to be free. He made the strangest motion when he started digging with his hind legs. When back legs far apart, he pushed away the sand to uncover who knows what?

Grandma kept telling us to look at the horizon. The sun would soon come over the far away mountains. I liked the sound of the waves lapping up on the rocks. I noticed Rex carefully stepping into the cold watery foam. I got as close as I could, avoiding wet feet. Wet feet would make me unbearably cold.

Then the light grew brighter and an actual yellow ball rose up. At first it was like a fiery fan shape and then within seconds it popped up over the hill. Wow! Beautiful! A river of gold made a pathway over the water almost to my feet. This happens everyday while I'm asleep? The cold made me agreeable to Grandma's call to go home. She made us shake the sand off our shoes and off the dog's paws before we got into her car. Breakfast does taste better after seeing a sunrise, and the hot chocolate is the best ending to a truly great adventure.


In my novel Rubato a piano teacher is found dead and a lost autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt is discovered. Who wanted that document enough to kill? 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Umkehr and Fighting Resistance

"The more Resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you-and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it."

Have you read The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield? This little book encapsulates the opposition we might feel to doing something everyday for a month. Pressfield makes a through case for all the normal and odd resistance we can encounter for getting our work done. From procrastination to embracing drama to avoid doing our work, we as mortals seem to have an undoer on our tail all the time. I think of resistance as sticky sludge. Each day I wade through this strange entity and it never gets easier. Once my everyday goal of writing has commenced, in earnest, I love it and I feel in sync with my true desires. 

What does Pressfield say about overcoming resistance? Nothing that we haven't heard before. See yourself as a professional in what you are trying to do, be patient, recognize your limitations, seek help, show up everyday, self-evaluate, don't take your failure personally, and one that it hard for me, dedicate yourself to mastering technique. I have this crazy notion that if something doesn't come easily then you might not have talent. A lie. Keep coming back with new tools. To come back, that is the key. 


"Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance."


A piano teacher is found dead and a lost autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt is discovered. Who wanted that document enough to kill? 

Friday, March 9, 2018


The Goal Was To Make Everyone And The Dog, Tired

I had two children and a dog for the day. For me the dog was top priority. He was a nuisance in the house. So we set out to walk the loop around the peninsula. "We need to walk twenty minutes and then we can decide if we are going to turn around or continue the loop." The children wanted to turn around after fifteen minutes but I pushed on. Spring had made an entrance in the last forty-eight hours. The buds on the trees were bursting forth like fairy puff balls  out of canons.

I pulled my phone out of my pocket to check the time. We had reached twenty minutes. From past experience I knew the half way mark was not too far.
   "We should go around the whole loop because if we turn around now we'll just see the same thing as before."
   They moaned but the dog pulled us on. At the half-way mark the public beach opened to view. The children and the dog wanted to get close to the water. So we did. My knees were feeling just a bit wobbly at that point. After chasing away several geese and getting our shoes wet, we continued around along the road. It occurred to me that I hadn't walked this far in years. Six months ago I had a total knee replacement on the right but the left knee was in pretty bad shape. Would I survive? 

   To distract my physical twinges of pain I asked each of them what we could take home as a souvenir of our adventure. Alvin found a piece of driftwood that looked like a duck, Olea, a seashell that looked like a sunrise was painted on the outside, and I spotted a little free library along the roadside. To my utter delight the box had a hardcover book by an author I was dying to read. 
I squinted down the road to see if I could spot my car. Surely we were almost around. The dog slowed down. The children stopped more often to picked up rocks and twigs. I was feeling the throbbing of my knee.
   "How long have we been walking?"
   "Almost an hour." I said.
   "I see the car!"
    The dog started running, the children started running. I hobbled, slowly. This was what 'bone tired' meant. 
   As we buckled into our seatbelts I looked into the back. My grandchildren were quiet. The dog was quiet. I couldn't wait to get home and start reading my book.


A piano teacher is found dead and a lost autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt is discovered. Who wanted that document enough to kill? 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Writing Wednesday- Dialog

"The reward comes in the unexpected inspiration."
Journal of A Novel, Elizabeth George

My novel Rubato has a great deal of dialog. I'm learning that dialog, well crafted, can reveal the attributes of the characters. The way they talk and the words they use give insight into their thoughts.

Here is a small segment of an interview with my two detectives.

     Reggie was propped up against the dirty wall of the precinct, one leg wrapped around the other, anchoring him to the floor in a straight line. His blue eyes brightened when he saw her. 
   “Took you long enough.” He said. “Horak is in there and he looks agitated. Do you want to take the lead and tell him about his wife?”
    “Sure.” She turned the doorknob firmly and walked in without hesitation.
     Dominik Horak sat awkwardly upright in a black plastic chair. Reggie noticed that his charcoal gray suit still looked pressed at the end of the day. His round face seemed even more rounded by the bowl shaped haircut. Strands of hair fell across his forehead, matted with perspiration. 
    “Mr. Horak?” Stevie held out her hand. “I’m Detective Dangerfield and this is my partner Detective Watts. We need to ask you a few questions about your wife, Judith Whitesides.”
   “What about Judith? Has something happened to her?”
   “When did you last see her?”
    “Yesterday around noon. I rented a vehicle at the airport and came to the island to bring her my luggage. She was teaching all afternoon and evening so I told her I would stay in the city until Saturday. What has happened? “ Dominik pressed his hands into his lap and searched the faces of the detectives. 
   “We are so very sorry to tell you that your wife is dead.” Reggie watched the reaction of Mr. Horak while Stevie delivered this information. “She was found dead by the mother of a piano student. The cause of death is still unknown. We won’t know what happened until we receive a full report from the medical examiner.”
   Dominik stood and leaned forward with both hands on the table.
   “If you think I had anything to do with this, you are wrong. I just arrived from Prague and only spent a few minutes with her. She was fine and very busy with her students.”
   “Sit down, Mr. Horak.” Reggie said. “We are not accusing you of anything. We need information to figure out what happened. Please, make yourself comfortable.” Reggie looked to Stevie to continue her questions.

    What I hope this dialog reveals is the work relationship between my detectives. One is the senior detective but I hope you can see that his partner as an equal partner. 
   I am trying to weed out weak taglines. Taglines are "words that precede, interrupt, or follow the dialog." I am one of those novice writers who thought that adverbs were my friend. "Hello!" she said blatantly. According to good writing craft the word blatantly is a reader's bump. It calls attention to itself. So, the actual dialog should give the information that her 'hello' was blatant. That is the challenge.
   "When the writing is really doing it's job, the reader will be aware that someone is shouting, snarling, moaning, or groaning. The scene will build up to it, so the writer doesn't have to use obvious words to indicate the manner in which the speaker is speaking."
                 Elizabeth George, Write Way


And, I thank-you for reading my mystery novel, Rubato. Judith, a piano teacher extraordinaire, makes a decision which, upon reflection, changes the lives of others and ends her own life. Detectives Stevie Dangerfield and Reggie Watts investigate her death and find musical intrigue that started in Eastern Europe.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Umkehr or Return to Writing Everyday

       Write, Delete, Write, Edit, Write Everyday

    In November when I had the audacity to try to write a mystery novel, I wrote everyday because I was trying to do it in by November 30th. It took until January 2018. Then I passed it around to people I love and they said it was worth publishing. I started a writing class in February and passed it around there. They said publish it, but edit, edit, edit. 

It is lucky my 2018 word is Umkehr. A German word meaning to come back, return, and repent.
I am not repenting of writing the book but I am returning to the text over and over again. I am so appreciative of the writers I love because I now fully understand the work they do. 

   One thing I've learned from the editing process is that changing a sentence can open another pathway, unforeseen before. Sometimes I feel so stuck and then I think of a piece of dialog which shows me another idea and off I go, again.


And, I thank-you for reading my mystery novel, Rubato. Judith, a piano teacher extraordinaire, makes a decision which, upon reflection, changes the lives of others and ends her own life. Detectives Stevie Dangerfield and Reggie Watts investigate her death and find musical intrigue that started in Eastern Europe.

Friday, March 2, 2018


Will I regret my action, even if it was for the greater good?

My husband and I were debating the notion that for the greater good we sometimes do things that are not in line with our values. Does the greater good hold priority? 

This is a theme in my novel Rubato. Judith has a passion for the work of Franz Liszt. When she finds a long forgotten autograph manuscript of a Hungarian Rhapsody in the basement of the Liszt museum, she takes it home. It is a matter of protecting a treasure so that it is not lost or used as a commodity by someone who would sell it to the highest bidder. As the story unfolds, she regrets her actions. The manuscript ends up in a tug of war between several people who go to extreme lengths to claim it as their own. 

It is always a current theme whether it appears in the Bible or a best seller. It usually ends in regret. 

Stay In Your Own Lane

What you know is right is always the best course.

A piano teacher is found dead and a lost autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt is discovered. Who wanted that document enough to kill?