Thursday, February 29, 2024

Leap Day Inspiration

The perfect ending for the secondary plot in my work in progress (WIP) evaded me for years. (Yes, years.) This morning, inspiration hit.

I was doing a mundane chore – going through my email – as I thought about conflict driving a story’s action. The primary plot has loads of conflict driving the middle, but the secondary plot pales in comparison.

I know the secondary plot’s motivation, how and why it intersects with the primary plot, and how the protagonist reacts to it, but I couldn’t find a believable scenario that flowed into and synchronized with the ending.

Now I have that ending, and I can tune the secondary plot to support it. What a feeling of success and satisfaction.

I hope I don’t have to wait four years for the next bolt of inspiration.


Friday, February 2, 2024


Meet Daisy, the project’s mascot
My father always said he loved the sound of deadlines whooshing by. And who can blame him – unless the deadlines are taken seriously.

(I just felt my publisher cringe.)

I took a break last month from blogging and ‘intending’ to edit the draft of my long overdue detective mystery. If my publisher assumed I was merely procrastinating, she would’ve been partially correct.

But we did meet for tea and have several business chats regarding plans to publish a children’s book this summer before the fall Omnifete event. This afternoon I hired an illustrator. The project is taking off.

A plan and a deadline. Gulp.


Friday, December 15, 2023

Christmas with Characters

As an author, I need to view my fictional characters as real people to help them come to life on the page and in the reader’s mind.

At Christmas time, when a decorated live tree fills Lynn Carter’s home with the scent of evergreen, will she be reminded of happy holidays with her family or of being lost in the forest?

Lynn Carter is Detective Scott McGregor’s girlfriend and one of three point-of-view characters in “Forever After,” the third Detective McGregor mystery (to be released in 2024). The story is set in Washington State’s Puget Sound, an area of great natural beauty with forest-covered islands.

Lynn has physical and emotional scars from the literary ordeal. How will the trauma impact her in future stories?

Wishing you and yours Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Thanksgiving Tradition

Bluegrass Turkey Jam “Founders” (2000)
A favorite holiday tradition began over twenty years ago with my first Thanksgiving weekend Bluegrass Turkey Jam.

In the 1980s, I’d hosted weekend potluck exchanges of Thanksgiving leftovers. But in 2000, the Saturday event evolved into a turkey feast with potluck side dishes and desserts followed by live music.

That first year, I’d expected six bluegrass loving friends to come to dinner. A few hours before they were to arrive, I got a call from one of them, asking if she and her husband could bring four more musicians. “They’re good,” she said. And, boy, were they.

From that humble beginning, the party grew and grew, and musicians I didn’t know often showed up. One year, fifty people drifted in and out of my house between afternoon and midnight, but most years there were 15-25 players and 30-40 guests in total.

Through the years, the music was predominantly bluegrass, but often included classic rock and roll, blues, jazz, and country. The annual party was a holiday highlight that ended due to the covid pandemic.

I wasn't going to have a party this year but decided to invite a few friends over after all. I’m glad I did because I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it.

Music is such a part of my life that it’s included in my books.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023


Norman Rockwell, Freedom from Want, 1943
Sometimes I get so immersed in my own little world that I forget how grateful I am for my friends and family. The Thanksgiving season is upon us, and now’s a good time to express my gratitude.

With my father’s failing heath, I’m grateful for the friends and family who have rallied around me with their love and support.

My son, his girlfriend, and their dogs are hosting the family Thanksgiving dinner. I’m grateful not to be cooking, cleaning, and hosting this year.

I’m grateful for my loving daughter who is always there to help whenever I need it.

I’m grateful for my friends and our weekly dinners. Without a solid social network, I might become a hermit.

And I’m grateful for my writerly friends – those who have encouraged, critiqued, published, and read my stories. It’s so easy to get discouraged when the path to the goal is long.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Subplot Dilemma

Last month, I gathered a year’s worth of scattered, hand-written pages of story ideas, partially written scenes, character development, etc., for a work in progress.

Then I roughly organized those pages and my previously typed computer documents into four sections (the four quarters of the W-plot) in a large three-ring notebook. After shuffling scenes around, I fine-tuned the chronology for each of the four quarters of the plot.

Next, I created a color-coded spreadsheet of the story scenes. At a glance, the colors identify the main plot, the subplots, and the red herrings. But I must admit, categorization of some story elements stumped me.

A subplot requires a beginning, middle, and end, just like the main plot. And, just like the main plot, a problem or conflict should drive the subplot’s action.

A secondary character has a secret. The secret’s thread has a beginning, middle, end, and is driven by a conflict. The entire thread occurs in one act.

Must a subplot weave throughout the entire story like the main plot, or can it be introduced, developed, and resolved in one act?

My color-coding dilemma: is this secret a subplot, or merely a red herring?



Monday, October 16, 2023

Making Lemonade

Sometimes “stuff” happens. And when it happened in a draft I’m writing, I made it a plot point.

I’d been fretting over the realization multiple character names began with the same initial in my cozy mystery. I try to avoid similar names to minimize reader confusion.

Renaming a character is my go-to fix for this problem. In this instance, though, the names had special significance. Real people had volunteered their names for the characters and their roles.

This morning, a solution presented itself for salvaging the current names. The main character finds a crumpled piece of paper on the ground. She smooths it out and reveals a mysterious note signed only with an initial.

The note will draw attention to characters with that initial, nuancing them as suspects. The note will be introduced prior to a frightening incident and cause the main character to doubt her co-worker’s true intentions.