Saturday, December 15, 2018


Publication day arrived December 12, 2018. It was the moment I had anticipated for over a year and a half. The book was released in both paperback and Kindle formats just in time for Christmas.

It felt incredibly satisfying to search Amazon for the title and see the cover of The Disappearance of Millicent Hart: A Detective Scott McGregor Mystery pop up on the screen. I peeked at a behind-the-scenes graphic and saw that book sales had already begun!

I’m pretty sure my publisher purchased the first copy. (Thank you for all your hard work! I expect it took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to pull a first-time author through the process of getting out a debut novel.) The sales continued … and I probably know everyone who bought a copy the first few days. I suspect some people bought them just to stop my excited babbling.

“The publication of your first book only happens once,” my publisher insisted, and she treated me to a celebration lunch.

Then I went to my day job.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Mystery is Solved!

"I have meticulously followed the leads in The Disappearance of Millicent Hart and have solved the case. As soon as I finish writing my reports, they will be posted for all to read." Detective Scott McGregor

At long last, the first book in the Detective Scott McGregor mystery series is in the final wrap-up stages before it goes to the publisher for formatting and uploading for print-on-demand (POD) publication and distribution. My publisher at E. Gads Hill Press sent me Page 1 to show me the formatting. I am really excited!

By the way, Detective McGregor is planning a long weekend vacation in Las Vegas with his girlfriend, Lynn, and his best friend, Ryan, to attend a computer conference. What could possibly go wrong there? Join him in 2019 for his next case, Murder Goes on Vacation.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving week and I’m juggling work, family, and plans for a large weekend get-together. Although it’s National Novel Writing Month ( and I’m working on the second Detective McGregor mystery, I had intended to put down my pen (shut down my computer) a few days to prepare for the holiday party.

I’m learning about the craft of writing and how to weave subplots into the main story line. When I wondered if the way my detective, Scott McGregor, celebrates Thanksgiving might lead to a subplot, I realized I’d started viewing the world through the eyes of an author.

Recently I’ve heard the saying ‘Ideas are a dime a dozen; the only ones worth anything are the ones you write.’ A few years ago, I couldn’t fathom having a dozen book ideas waiting to be written; now, I’m not surprised when ideas materialize unexpectedly.

Write and allow your creativity to flow. The creation of a book draft, short story, journal entry, blog post, poem, song lyric, whatever – is fulfilling, even if you don’t choose to publish.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Searching for Millicent Hart

I’m Veronica Hart. My grandmother, Millicent Hart, is missing. She lives in the San Joaquin Valley just outside Fresno, CA. I’m sure she didn’t disappear of her own accord because she left without making plans for someone to take care of her dog. She’s 79 and the police seem to think she’s senile and just wandered off. But they’re wrong.

Fresno Police Detective Scott McGregor is assigned to the missing person’s case. Please contact him if you have any information about my grandmother.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Writing the Rails

My end-of-the-summer vacation was a weekend in Portland, Oregon sandwiched between round-trip segments of multi-day train rides. The gentle rocking of the train was conducive to nodding off and I dozed several times the first day. The second day I accomplished a bit more. Train rides are also conducive to looking out the window and daydreaming; I did a lot of both. No matter how often I travel by train, I never tire of looking at the scenery and getting glimpses of how people live their lives near the tracks.

I booked the train for the opportunity to write undisturbed by the interruptions of my normal life. Inspired by the trip, I ignored my pre-planned work agenda and laid out a storyline about a woman who was followed on a train.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Draft Submitted to Editor!

What a strange sensation! I just emailed the draft of “The Disappearance of Millicent Hart” to my editor.

I feel a mixture of subdued elation and numb disbelief, with a bit of shock throw in. I don’t think it’s quite sunk in that my very first novel has moved to the next step along its way to being published.

August 17 - Update

I had waited so long for the first novel to be finished so I could get back to work on the second, “Murder Goes on Vacation.” But after a day of almost not thinking about writing, I launched right back in… developing the characters and plotline for the eighth in the series.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Writer Support beats ‘Learning on the Run’

Being a new, unpublished, aspiring author, I’m just getting my feet wet in the writing and publishing world. I don’t know all the questions yet but I’m beginning to get a few of the answers.

Recently I ran across a local library’s ‘Writers and Aspiring Writers’ Meetup group online and attended an author talk featuring Anne Cleeland discussing ‘Creating Memorable Characters.’ Her talk and concept of the reader as a baby duckling needing to imprint immediately on the protagonist inspired me so much I rewrote the opening scene of my work in progress.

Today I joined the ‘Sisters in Crime’ national organization. They offer authors and aspiring authors support and resources including regional chapters and an online support and critique group for unpublished writers.

I still have a lot to learn but I’m feeling more confident every day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Imagination, Persistence & Encouragement

The book writing journey starts with imagination but requires persistence to put ideas into a draft which is then revised and edited (numerous times).

Sometimes, though, life gets in the way of passion and the best laid plans. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I’m not able to incorporate all the beta reader feedback into my draft and submit it to the editor on schedule. But I’m not giving up. I can still see the finish line—it just seems to have moved, like a mirage.

Sometimes I need encouragement to get moving again. I can browse the draft and see how much I’ve accomplished but for that encouraging pat on the back, I text my biggest fan and supporter. (Thank you!)

Perhaps you know someone who needs a little encouragement.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Super Hero Update

Image from
As beta reader (a.k.a., Super Hero) feedback begins trickling in, I can more clearly see problems that need to be addressed.

The feedback has identified sections of the draft that need clarification and other areas that need additional development. As an example, it’s hard for readers to care much about a two-dimensional main character. And that’s one of the reasons beta readers are so important. I’ve ‘known’ the characters for a year and they aren’t 2-D to me but the full depth of the character wasn’t portrayed in the writing.

Now I’m editing the draft (again) in preparation for submitting it to the editor in July. The crooked path that has been the creation of this book is straightening and I’m beginning to see the finish line on the horizon!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Beta Readers are Super Heroes!

Writing a novel for the first time can feel like walking a tightrope without a net. Without previous training or experience in creative writing, I haven’t known what to expect along the way. I’ve worked on The Disappearance of Millicent Hart on and off for almost fourteen months. Developing the plot and characters was exciting and rewarding—and for the most part—solitary. But editing the draft and knowing someone else will be reading it can activate self-doubt.

Fortunately, a new super hero is in town. Beta Reader to the rescue! Beta readers give feedback on the plot, characters, and scenes letting the author know what works and doesn’t work from a reader’s perspective. The feedback helps identify areas needing improvement. Imagine your beta readers as super heroes wearing capes and tights. (Or not, if you prefer.)

If your writing has stalled or you’re concerned your written masterpiece isn’t as masterful as you’d hoped, beta readers can help.

Saturday, April 21, 2018


Decades ago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) curated a display of Picasso paintings that included some from his Blue period. The exhibit expanded my awareness of, and appreciation for, Picasso’s work. Although I loved paintings and had visited museums on two continents, Picasso had always been inextricably linked to Cubism in my mind. The exhibit shattered that link.

Years later, I attempted for the first and last time to draw a picture on the computer. Art is definitely not my forte. My awkward attempt reminded me of Picasso’s paintings, and in his honor, I colored it blue and named it “Picasso’s Dog.”

Museums, whether they curate fine art, culture, history, or automobiles, enrich people’s lives. Visit and support your local museums.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dirty Little Secrets

Once you’re infected by the writing bug, all bets are off. Lack of self-discipline, poor self-care, and ignoring social commitments hit the top of the offenses list.

I used to adhere to an early bedtime, get sufficient rest, eat properly, and exercise regularly. Seems like ages ago. Now I’m shocked that dawn comes so early when I’ve been writing until 2 AM. Sometimes I don’t clean the kitchen and just put the dirty pots, pans, and plates into the refrigerator to delay the eventual decomposition. ‘Social hermitism’ might not be a real affliction with a legitimate basis in some people’s mind but ask a writer in the throes of a creative streak. You’ll get confirmation.

Fortunately, I work part-time and so far, I’ve been disciplined enough to complete tasks and meet deadlines. But the siren call of retirement has been sounding louder in my head lately. Oh, to be able to write non-stop!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Writing: The Editing Phase

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the online writing community in which November participants pump out large quantities of unedited words, also sponsors the less intense Camp NaNo during April and July. Camp begins in a few days and like many others, I’ll be revising and editing a work in progress.

Learning to write a novel is an ongoing process for me. I began with a loose plot outline and a cast of characters. Then I wrote the most exciting scenes and compiled them into a chronological draft. Last month, I re-read the draft and created a six-page list of editing notes.

Fortunately for me, a novel isn’t created in a void. Feedback from others has helped tremendously to recognize areas and approaches that need editing. The most impactful feedback made me realize that my novel’s tone was passive, not active. April will be busy, but everything I learn and do for this book will make the next book stronger.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Valentine's Day in Chicago

Photo taken by Wayne Woodcock, used with permission
I was in Chicago on Valentine’s Day this year. It was cold with ice floating on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. The snow piled on curbs and buildings was slowly melting as the temperature rose above 40 degrees after the previous weekend’s snow storm.

References to Al Capone seemed to be everywhere—especially in the tourist souvenir shops where I bought postcards and refrigerator magnets sporting bullet holes. Prohibition, Elliot Ness, and the Untouchables also flavor my view of Chicago’s history along with the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. (I was told that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was posthumously cleared of starting that fire.)

But Upper Whacker, Lower Whacker, and Lower Lower Whacker Drives, a multi-level street bordering the Chicago River, captured my interest. The stairwell descending into Lower Whacker seemed to exude mystery and suspense and I’m sure it’s a great setting for a book.

Monday, January 29, 2018

McGregor is back at work!

Excitement reigns at the beginning of a new book with plot ideas, character development, and settings furiously being committed to paper (or digital documents). The initial momentum carried me well into planting and solving clues in Millicent Hart’s missing persons case. That excitement also led Scott into three other cases for which the main characters and plotlines have been developed.

Eventually though, the initial momentum faded when the to-do list acquired a high concentration of editing, reworking scenes, and filling in the gaps. Those of you who write, whether professionally or for personal fulfillment, may also have experienced this slump. Perhaps it’s a major contributor to the untimely death of many projects.

But after a brief break I am re-energized, and Detective McGregor is back at work!