I hit an unexpected writer’s block this past year. I sort of lost my way and it had me really wondering what to do next with myself. I have always been a goal driven person who needed to be reaching for that next carrot in order to feel good about myself. Yes, I agree that may not be the healthiest way to live, but I guess it’s just how I’m wired. The other part of me is that I expect that dedication and hard work will more times than not – result in success. But it’s the definition of that word – success – that suddenly had me paralyzed, and more than a little uncertain of my writing future.
It all started three and a half years ago. After thirty-five years in education, I retired. I had loved being an elementary school principal and there were still a thousand stories, strategies and recommendations racing through my head. I wanted to share all that I had learned and decided to try writing parenting books. I poured out my heart and soul with strategies on bullying, homework issues, parent/teacher relationships and more.
Six books later I realized that I was getting bored talking about the same old stuff I had for the last thirty-five years. I needed to do something different. I took a chance, deciding to throw my hat into the world of fiction writing. And I had a blast creating my first fictional series The Witches Of New Moon Beach. I created a welcoming – albeit quirky, action packed world filled with witches, magic and love, all at the beach.
Although I was happy with how the series did, I guess I had hoped for more. After all, I felt like I had worked really hard, spending endless hours in front of my computer. Suddenly I was wondering what the “more” was that I was looking for? More sales..more exposure more…
A couple of my friends gently suggested that I might consider giving up. Why spend so much time if it wasn’t truly productive. “I mean are you even making any money?” one asked. Others said that I should give in to the fact that the e-book market may have shrunk. Maybe I’d missed my chance and I’d never make it big. Maybe I just wasn’t good enough. It left me considering, who was I to think that I might actually make it in this gigantic world of publishing?
It was my husband who caught me feeling down one day and said something rather life changing – Get Real! What the heck did that mean, I asked – not really wanting to know the answer.
Then he asked me four powerful questions.
1) Did I still have a passion for writing?
2) Was I having fun?
3) Had I done all that I could to improve my writing skills and publishing opportunities?
4) Was I really ready to throw in the towel and walk away from writing?
After dropping these atomic questions on me, he calmly reassured me that whatever my answers were – he’d still have my back.
I spent a lot of time thinking about his queries. And in the end, it was the answers to those questions that helped me to redefine my idea of success and happiness.
I do have a passion for writing. I love creating fictional worlds over which I have total artistic freedom and control. My mind is constantly spinning with new characters, themes and plot lines.
I love creating new characters. It’s fun. In fact, I wake up at night to jot down new ideas that just popped into my head while I was supposed to be sleeping. I carry around my Book O’ Names with me so that when I hear an unusual name I quickly jot it down for later use.
Ouch! No, I hadn’t done everything that I could to improve my writing skills. I listened to writer podcasts, read articles by other writers and secured new support software. I knew that I needed to do a better job editing my books. I’d been zinged for it in the past and recognized that it was one of the areas I could strengthen. I secured the help of a fab editor – Jenny Jensen. She has been a godsend and has made all of the difference in the world in helping me to tighten up my story lines and confirm correct grammar usage. Most importantly, I feel better about my work with her support.
Hell No! I am not ready to throw in the towel. I love writing and even though I still hit bumps in the road; writing makes me happy.
So what did I do with all these newly found answers? I put my head down, recognized that this was what I’m meant to be doing right now – and wrote. I reawakened by imagination and had fun creating a new story – one that I am ready to share with you.
Murder By Magic is my first cozy mystery and I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
And should you feel stuck along the way, you are more than welcome to borrow my husband’s four questions to get you headed in the right direction – right for you that is!
Oh, and thank you Paranormal Romance Writers Guild for giving me a 5 star review!
I recently returned from an incredible trip to Europe with my husband. We took a Viking Ocean Cruise, visiting Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Germany, Denmark and Norway. The ship was awesome, crew amazing and tours incredible. Everyone that we met both on and off the ship were friendly and anxious to share their personal stories. If you get a chance to travel, as we did, on the Viking Star you are sure to make more than a few lasting memories. Throughout the two weeks I had to frequently recharge my phone as there were so many interesting people and places to photograph.
Prior to leaving for our trip I had finished my latest soon to be titled book. After sending it off to my editor for review, I decided that I needed a little break from writing. I was sure that I would be so busy during my travels that I wouldn’t have a chance to even consider any future storylines. But I was wrong, very wrong.
Any of you who have read my books know that I write about witches, magic and mystery. Little did I know that I would discover a magical world filled with witches, Trolls and more as we toured about.
I was especially intrigued at our last stop – Bergen, Norway. Snuggled between mountains, fjords and glaciers, Bergen is a fishing city steeped in history. Viking warriors, The Hanseatic League and the oil industry have all had a lasting effect on this port town. But I was truly surprised to find enchanting folklore and captivating mysteries tucked throughout this city and roaming freely in the hillsides of this quaint fairy-tale city by the sea.
Early inhabitants of Bergen were sure that something supernatural could be found hiding in the dark forests that surrounded their city. Thought to hide in the rocky slopes and pathways, Trolls have been a big part of the local folklore since the 13th century. Feared, revered – yet loved by many, these supernatural creatures have been included in the history of Norway for over 700 years. So much so that
local roads and byways reflect their presence from Trollstigen to Troll’s Tongue and Troll Peaks – Trolls are ever present. Magical trolls are said to roam the hillsides and I was able to capture a few with my camera as I climbed the hillsides. So many strange and alluring tales attributed to these strange looking inhabitants and I was eager to catalog as many of them as I could.
Not content with just chasing Trolls through the countryside, I came upon an ear catching conversation regarding the witches of Bergen and was soon directed to The Witch Stone (Hekse Steinen). Near the center of town, this memorial honors the 350 witches burned between 1550 and 1700. Anne Pedersdotter, perhaps one of the most famous Norwegian women accused of witchcraft, was killed for her beliefs in 1590. Her history is engaging to say the least and her presence apparently still felt in Bergen today. Locals all seem to have their own story to share of how they think witchcraft effected the history of their town. Some share remorse for the killings, others express superstition regarding witchcraft in general and a few thought it best not to speak of it at all. Interesting!
All in all I found this trip unexpectedly ripe with ideas to mine for my next book. Returning home, I couldn’t wait to get to my computer to begin. Witches, Trolls, magic and mystery – wow who knew! Little did I know just how many ideas I’d capture as I traveled throughout this exciting region. You too must take this fun filled, mind engaging journey!
The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it. When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.
I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.
I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.
I was recently at a get together where there were guests of all ages in attendance. We were engaged in a lively discussion about the latest techniques for sewing a baby quilt and I was trying to remember the name of a particular tool I’ve used. Needless to say, I was stumbling around for the correct word.
I said, ‘You know what it’s called. Help me out. It’s um a …thingamajig…you know..’
And so it began…
“Oh, I know what you’re talking about. You mean a whatchamacallit?”
“No, she wants a thingamajiggery”
“Or do you mean a thingamabob?”
“We call those a thingerdoodle.”
“You’re all making it too difficult. Just call it a whatsit.”
“A thingermabobble is what my mom always called it.”
“Maybe a doodad?”
“You mean a oojamaflip?”
Wait – hold on a minute.
Now not only couldn’t I remember the original word I’d been searching for, now I had a second one to worry about. What the heck was a oojamaflip?
I was just trying to remember the name for an Interchangeable Dual Feed sewing machine foot. How did we get so far off track? And who knew there were so many substitute words for thingamajig. By the time I remembered the name I was originally searching for, it no longer seemed important. I was plagued with a new need-to-know word. What did oojamaflip mean and was it the same as thingamajig?
I never did get to talk about this incredible sewing tool as everyone was caught up in their stories of why they use the term they used. In the meantime, I grabbed my phone and typed in oojamaflip. Apparently it’s slang for a thing whose name is temporarily forgotten and used more in Britain than the U.S. It can also be spelled whojamaflip or hoojamaflip.
Next time I forget the name of something I’m going to need to remember to say oojamaflip…that is if I can remember it.
I recently posted a picture on my Facebook site of a Simplicity sewing pattern from around the 1970’s. The banner on the top read, “ SHARE IF YOU REMEMBER WHEN MOM WOULD MAKE YOUR CLOTHES.”
Boy, did it stir some special memories of a different time and place. In one short afternoon, hundreds liked it and over the days that followed many more liked, shared and commented. The comments keep coming. It’s probably one of the most active posts I’ve ever had and I’m guessing that many of the comments came from men and women in their 50’s and 60’s.
Some remembered their mothers (or grandmothers) sewing them everything from pajamas to school uniforms to prom dresses. A few bragged that their moms made clothing for their Barbie, Ken and even GI Joe dolls. Some struggled through Home EC classes themselves and shared tales filled with evil task masters and measuring tape miracle workers. It was not uncommon to hear about failed sewing projects that made their way home only to be resuscitated by mom. A few said that they themselves now successfully sewed for their kids or that they had friends who had become master seamstresses.
There were some lovely, often humorous, memories shared and it really got me to thinking.
I have four real passions in my life: Family, Writing, Reading and of course, Sewing. And as I was thinking about it, I realized that each of these passions grew from time spent with my mother. To mom, family was everything and she raised us to always remember that. She was an avid reader, a poet and a phenomenal seamstress. And through her example, she ingrained a love for each of these things in me. Those are such wonderful memories to have.
My own kids have grown up watching me living a life centered around my family, always working on a sewing project, with a book close in hand. Recently they watched me as I’ve thrown my hat into the writers’ ring.
So now I have to I wonder what tales they’ll tell when asked…”Do you remember when your mom would…”
Do you remember when your mom…or dad…would…? What would you say?