Giftmas 2021

(aka “Frozen Came the Stranger”)

The incomparable Rhonda Parrish hosts an annual fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. There’s all sorts of reasons why but lemme’ break it down for you: no one should go hungry, especially not in Winter, and really especially not during the Holidays.

Canada Helps hosts the fundraising page and every single dime goes to the food bank.

Every year some of us chip in with a story, or personal anecdote, or other creative piece. This year, Rhonda came up with a great idea: one single story – written across several days – by several seriously talented writers (then she invited me…)

Rhonda kicks it off and brings it home, and in between the rest of us carry the tale along 500-600 words at a time. My section falls near the end, so if you have not yet found the head of this snake, please visit the following blogs first:

December 7th — Rhonda Parrish

December 8th — Jennifer Lee Rossman

December 9th — Iseult Murphy

December 10th — Beth Cato

December 11th — Jemima Pett

December 12th — Stephanie A. Cain

December 13th — Pete Aldin

December 14th — E.C. Bell

And then check back here. I have already passed my section along to Laura VAB to work from (pretty sure I heard muttered swear words coming from way down Indiana-way after I finished). At the end of this trail, we will have told you a complete story and, hopefully raised some money to help support the food bank. It’s Holiday magic! Even more magical? Every dollar raised will result in three meals for hungry people. That means, quite literally, that every dollar counts.

Our goal this year is $1,200 (Canadian) and if we meet it that will be 3,600 meals for people who could really use them. Once again, here’s the link:

I would appreciate it if you enjoy my section, drop some coins their way. If you didn’t enjoy my section? That’s okay by me – you can add a dedication that says “JB sucks but I’m still donating” if you’d like.

If you can’t donate please consider supporting via signal boost. Tell a friend? Share it on social media? As with the monetary donations every little bit helps and we really appreciate it.

So here we go –

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

There was a sudden *pop* as she pushed the door open, and loud noise poured out toward her in a wave of sound. Cherie shielded her eyes against bright light then froze: the tower was hollow and she was standing at the top of a huge assembly of conveyers and scaffolds, throughout which worked small clean-shaven people dressed in pink and blue and smaller, hairier people dressed in kelly green.

‘Looks like I found the elves and leprechauns,’ she thought, slightly dazed.

“Close the door!” a deep voice boomed. She obeyed, then looked around. A large man stood partway around the catwalk that ringed the top of the structure. He was wearing a white hardhat that matched his long beard and was staring at her, clipboard in one hand with the other hooked into his red suspenders.

“Sir Eldrick?” she managed, pitching her voice to carry over the din.

“If you’re looking for my brother you’ve come to the wrong place,” the man replied. “And if you don’t mind, we’re on a rather tight schedule here. State your business and then leave, if you please.” He strode along the catwalk toward her, moving like a dancer despite his more-than-ample waistline.

“My-“ Cherie squeaked, then cleared her throat and tried again. “My business is you are polluting the water and it’s killed all the dryads and-“

He paled. “What? Wait here.” He dropped the clipboard, put a finger alongside his nose, and vaulted over the rail of the catwalk.

Cherie screamed – she couldn’t help it – and rushed to the rail. She looked down to see the top of the man’s hardhat three levels below as he floated gently down, grabbed onto a rail, hopped over it, and started yelling for Maintenance.

Agnes and Clover both jumped when the tower door slammed. Cherie came out of the tower and walked toward them, wearing a bulky backpack and carrying a large duffle.

They looked at her anxiously. “Well?” Clover finally asked.

“Nine years.”

“Pardon?” Great-aunt Agnes asked.

“Nine years of Christmas presents. Nine years of goodies from the Easter Bunny. The Tooth Fairy. The Great Pumpkin. Nine years when I was at the orphanage before you took me in. Nine years when I didn’t get one single gift.”

Cherie smiled grimly. “Nine years of presents – plus interest, penalties and amortization – is a lot and Claus Co. is on a time crunch, so I swapped for three wishes. To ensure a way home,” she pulled an ornate brass doorknob out of her pocket.

“To restore the watershed and the dryads.” They all looked toward the water – which was already running cleaner – then along the banks where a haze of light green buds covered previously dead tree branches. Cherie smiled.

“Great-aunt Agnes, you and Septimus are going to have to find Sir Eldrick by yourselves, I’m afraid. Clover, you’re with me.”

“But – what about your third wish?” Clover asked as Cherie knelt and opened the duffle.

“My third wish? Oh, that was easy.” Cherie pulled a long metal nozzle out of the duffle and attached it to the metal-braided hose she uncoiled from the backpack. She climbed onto Clover’s back. “I wanted to be helpful and also have a little bit of fun.”

She hefted the flamethrower, smile turning into a toothy grin “Now. Let’s go melt some snowmen. Then we can talk about that cheese some more.”

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Can’t wait to see what happens next? Please click the link to Laura’s section, tomorrow, then be sure to tune in at Rhonda’s on 12/17 for the wrap up.

December 16th — Laura VanArendonk Baugh

December 17th — Rhonda Parrish

Tying the Knot: A Guest Post

Today I turn my wee little blog over to one of the niftiest people I know: E.C. Bell. She’s here to talk about the penultimate book in her wonderful Marie Jenner mystery series (the first one is “Seeing the Light” if you are someone who has to read a series in order; you won’t be too lost if you start here or elsewhere…)

Marie Jenner just wants a Vegas holiday.

When psychic Crystal Demoines tells James Lavall that his uncle’s spirit is trapped in Las Vegas, Marie is thrilled. All she’ll have to do is help Jimmy “anything for a buck” Lavall move on to the next plane of existence, and then she and James can have the holiday of her dreams.

But she never dreamed that a lieutenant of the drug kingpin from Edmonton would be staying at the same hotel as her and James, and that James would become his new best friend. Or that she’d have to find Jimmy’s girlfriend Rita—who disappeared the same night Jimmy died—before he would finally move on. Or that the most powerful man in the hotel would be looking for Rita too. To find the money she stole.

And Marie never dreamed that she’d be planning a Vegas wedding in the middle of it all. But she is.

Looks like her dream vacation is about to become a nightmare.

I love these books. They are fun, interesting, and keep the action moving along. Without further ado, here’s the author herself, discussing Marie’s journey to date, and what our lass can look forward to. It’s not necessarily going to be a smooth landing…

So, what’s it like to write the second last book in a series?

I started writing the Marie Jenner Mystery series more than a decade ago. When I wrote the first book, I felt it had the potential to be a series, but didn’t have a clear idea what it would look like. Then, I wrote the second book, and the series arc crystallized for me. I knew it would be a series, that it would end, and how. I just needed to get Marie Jenner, my main character, where I needed her to be, to have the ending I wanted.

That was before I really got to know Marie. And before I realized that in order for me to tell a good story, I was going to have to put her through some of the worst days of her life. I did it, but with every book it got harder and harder. I liked this girl I’d invented, and I wished I could treat her better. But a girl happily living her life makes a boring story, so that never happened.

And now, I’m here. Near the end. Tying up some loose ends in the second last book, so I can finish the series. Which is why Marie had to go to Las Vegas.

In Seeing the Light, the first book in the series, Jimmy “Anything for a buck” Lavall died in Vegas, and I knew his spirit would eventually have to come home, and Marie would be the one to help him.

Besides, a holiday in Vegas sounded like fun. But it wasn’t for Marie. It couldn’t be, because  I had to tell an entertaining story. And honestly? I feel badly about that. She deserved a holiday, because I’d put her through hell in the first six books. And I know what’s coming.

In the final book, Marie’s life is going to change forever. She doesn’t know that yet, because I haven’t written it, but I know. And all I can say is, “I’m sorry, Marie. From the bottom of my heart.”

She’s like a real person in my life, and I don’t know what it’s going to be like without her stories in my head. I’ll meet new people, of course, as I write new books and stories, but I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for her. Which is why writing this second last book was so hard. I’m saying good-bye, and I don’t want to.

As a new writer, I really enjoy learning from my more seasoned colleagues but most important, I am a reader first and foremost; and love a cracking good mystery series. Give this one a try – you won’t be disappointed!

If you want to know more, links are below (impolite commentary: order directly through Tyche Books or request via your local independent bookseller if you can. Amazon may be a necessary evil but an evil nonetheless):

Tying the Knot on Goodreads –>

Tying the Knot on Tyche Books –>

Tying the Knot on Amazon –>

Tying the Knot on Kobo –>

For anyone who wishes to connect, access points follow:

Join Eileen’s mailing list via her website at news about new books, upcoming appearances and, occasionally, recipes.

Follow her on Facebook at and Twitter at

Thanks for reading. This has been a year, and supporting small press publishers, independent bookstores and all authors is more important than ever. Now go visit Las Vegas with Marie – it’s a COVID-friendly trip!

Only hearing the flaws

Among the late, great Harry Chapin’s best songs* was “Mr. Tanner**.” At the urging of family and friends, an amateur singer risks everything to perform. It does not go particularly well.

The song includes the line “He did not know how well his sang, he only heard the flaws.” I’ve been thinking about that line recently, as part of reviewing some of my writing. Whereas shrugging off bad reviews is simple (even if my default is “f*ck ’em if they don’t get it”), hearing my own flaws as a writer is brutal. I DO get what I’m trying to say and can’t hide behind a simple “f*ck ’em” when I am the one sitting in my own head.

So what’s to do? On the one hand, revising is a critical tool, but then there’s the trap of “just one more round of revisions” becoming an endless cycle where nothing is ever truly complete. One of the good things about my Day Job are the inflexible deadlines – I have to accept “good enough” and get it out the door, even if sometimes the words could be polished further. The most compelling proposal in the world is going to get rejected if it is received after the deadline…. my team’s motto is “Get it Right, Get it Done, Get it GONE.”

On the other hand, a “great is the enemy of good” philosophy can drive sloppy work. I have revisited stories after I have sent them out – heck, even after they’ve been published – and realized how much better I could do if I only tried one more round of polishing.

I’ve talked here (scroll down to read below if you’re just joining us…) about the need to give a story my best shot and then let it marinate in its little folder for a few days before I take one more pass at it. I’m still working on the timeline. I might need to build a week in, as by that time the words have mostly sifted out of my brain and I can look with slightly fresh eyes. Stay tuned to see if that works – I am trying to write ahead of several known calls for submission and if I get far enough ahead for that extra week I will try it and report back!

*One of the best live albums of all time was his “Greatest Stories Live”; fight me.


Giftmas 2020: Connections

First things first. Let’s discuss the purpose for this post.

It’s been… well… It’s been a year that soon will end. And with year’s end, my awesome friend and editor, Rhonda Parrish, is once again running her annual fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. The Food Bank’s resources are strained more than ever, as it fulfills its mission of helping those in need. If you right-click the link below, you will be taken to the fundraiser page. This year’s goal is $1,000 (CDN), which will provide 3,000 meals through the magic of really, really hard work by a lot of people determined to feed their neighbors.

2020 Giftmas Fundraiser – CanadaHelps

This has been one bear of a year, but any amount helps. If you can, please donate. Thank you.

This year’s theme is “Connections.” At first this seemed easy Holidays fluff. I could type up a couple hundred words about chestnuts roasting/Santa/Carols etc. and be good to go. However…

Connections aren’t positive or negative, which is why this is not an easy topic. Sometimes they are both at once. Anyone who has been in the middle of a particularly nasty fight with their spouse and considered – even for a moment – where to hide a body will attest to the complexities of love, which drives the deepest connections.

Now, I have many positive connections in my life: lifetime friends, dear family, close colleagues, good neighbors. Folks I like and admire, who I miss terribly during pandemic isolation, and who I look forward to seeing in person again.

I have negative connections, too. Former friends who chose different paths. Colleagues who focused only on what was good for them. Neighbors who became antagonists over the smallest of irritants.

Family who kept cycles of fear and pain going, instead of putting in the work to break them.

These are the connections of my life, good and bad. They connect me to the “me” I came from, the “me” I am now, and help lead toward a (hopefully) better “me” to come.

I recently wrote up a remembrance for Tabatha Wood’s amazing Memento Vitae Project ( found at Memento Vitae | Tabatha Wood ) about my Grandfather. Where other kids had an imaginary friend they spent time with, I had Grandpa Riley, and as an only child I talked to him all the time. Even though he died before I was born he is a cornerstone – a prime connection – in my life; almost as much as my Nana was, and she lived to 101.

Together they connect me to the “me” that I was, and inspire me to become not only a better person but an unfailingly positive connection for my circle of people, my family and friends. I may not achieve this but thanks to them I try.

I love them both, and I miss them terribly.


My grandfather was born in December 1898.

He died a few days before my mother would have found she was pregnant.

She was 21 and unmarried; so we lived with my grandmother in the tidy 2-bedroom house my grandparents built in 1941. It was a household that had just lost a husband and father to a withering cancer at a time when chemotherapy was referred to as “poison” and thought to cause more harm than good.

It was a house my grandfather still inhabited, not only in the memories of my mother and grandmother but also neighbors, family and friends. “You have his eyes”; “he would have loved you”; “you look just like him.”

He permeated my childhood. My favorite plaything when I was a toddler was his basement workbench.  I played with hammers and screwdrivers, hand drills and saws. I pounded nails into the heavy bench posts, pulled them out, and hammered them in again. I sawed scraps of lumber into smaller and smaller scraps, learning to steady boards with the heavy bench clamp and barking my knuckles nonstop.

My second-favorite space was the semi-finished attic, where his big steamer trunk was stored. I would open it and rummage through the layers of “stuff”; pieces of his youth that had not been lost over the years or donated after he died. Everything from spats to sepia photos to his Canadian Forces medals from The Great War were in there, and I handled them with a reverence I didn’t hold for my own toys.

But most precious, tucked in my Mom’s closet and not in the basement or attic, was his walking stick. My memory is vague, but I think it was his grandfather’s, a proper shillelagh handed down. For a young man who had traveled extensively as a merchant marine and a soldier, then moved to a different country, his keeping this small stick of wood all along the way meant it was important to him, which made it a treasure to me.

His tools were given away when my grandmother sold the house in the 1980s. My Mom has his medals and a few photos in a bookcase– the rest of his trunk is gone.  But the walking stick has pride of place in my living room; and it’s the only non-living thing I would go for if my house was on fire.

It helps me to remember:

  • The man I have never seen but whose eyes look out at me from the mirror.
  • Who was hit with mustard gas in France serving King and Country.
  • Who loved my grandmother and mother so much I could feel it in my own life though he was gone.
  • Who kept a walking stick through the changes of his life as memento of his own grandfather.

Thank you, Grandpa.

Hear Me Roar!

I’m tardy on this, but… *waves at news wires*

My latest published story came out in September – Hear Me Roar (via poiseandpen publishing and available at all the usual places) includes “Blackout” and the reviews got me thinking.

(yes, I read my own reviews. Mistake? Usually. But I hope as a newbie writer that even obnoxious comments hold some opportunity to improve my skillset.)

Some of them called out that my story was really dark. Now I can’t stand scary movies. I’m not a big fan of scary books. As for TV? even the X-Files used to creep me out. But I enjoy learning how to write horror…. especially the human kind. Oh, sure, zombies and aliens and all that other stuff has its place but true terror lies in what people do to each other, and the lingering effects of trauma and PTSD.

See, a zombie by definition is mindless hunger. Aliens may see us as nothing different than we see chickens or carrots. But people know better. People choose to inflict horrors on other people, knowing humans feel pain. Feel hunger. Feel hopelessness and despair. Much as reading a scary book can give me the willies, what really scares me is not a haunted laundry press or a ghost ship but child abuse and terrorizing the helpless.

So – my latest story should carry pretty much every trigger warning there is. I hope if you read it, you enjoy it anyway.

The Fourth Estate

15 press Pass PNG cliparts for free download | UIHere

In addition to being a voracious reader, I’m a news junkie. My original plan for “what I want to be when I grow up” was a Reporter. I was fortunate enough to grow up in Detroit, which in the 1970s and ’80s had two stellar independent newspapers – the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press – and from junior high school onward I wrote for each school newspaper, the Parish bulletin, the local penny saver, any print medium that would let me.

I won just enough awards to feel like I could ‘do this,’ and followed my favorite columnists like other kids followed sports stars… More than one Hallowe’en costume included a narrow spiral notebook and a fedora with a “press” card tucked into the band.

I mastered the basics of photography, editorial reviews, and layout far before the days of digital media; certain scents (darkroom chemicals, hot wax…) carry me back decades each time I smell them. Though I focused on print I also learned Radio and TV reporting just in case.

After college I did have some success as a reporter at small local papers, but I had not anticipated how (small-P) political newsrooms were. As a young reporter, I didn’t play the game very well, and bounced around as a stringer for longer than I want to recall.

Also, even though I knew going in that “journalist” was among the lowest-compensated professions (I made more money bar tending on weekends than I did working about 60 hours a week as a reporter) after a certain point I realized the best way to dig myself out from under the debt load I had accumulated was to work in restaurants and bars full time (yes, I made more money waiting tables than working in my college-degreed field…) Finally around age 30 I gave up story-chasing and got (as my Mom puts it) a real job as a technical writer. I haven’t filed a story since.

For a while my ultimate goal had been to serve as an AP or UPI Stringer: a foreign correspondent. I was ready to carry the strength and integrity of a Free Press with me to repressed societies and dictatorships around the world. To use my narrow spiral notebook and press card to shine a light into darkness, and be a voice for good. To bear witness.

This reminisce has a point, one that seems to be sharpening with each day’s news cycle. What I’m afraid is being forgotten is – just like fire fighters running into burning buildings – journalists put their lives on the line on a regular basis, and the job is getting more dangerous, not due to the usual suspects of wars and disasters but purposeful targeting.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think in 2020 the country with possibly the greatest need to journalistic strength and integrity would be the one I grew up in.

I’m closer to the end than the beginning these days, without the drive and determination (or physical ability, if we’re being frank) needed to jump into a jeep and roar toward the story. But I can still bear witness. So every day I read the morning paper and watch the evening news to bear witness: the courage of my colleagues; the voice of the stories themselves; and strength and integrity of a new generation, who only need an iPhone to by heard ’round the world.

I am proud of the journalists, bloggers, reporters, stringers and foreign correspondents who commit their lives to chase and publish the truth. Good reporting is just as important fighting fires, and there are a lot of fires – of all kinds – that need to be fought these days.

Swashbuckling Cats!

It started – as the best things do – with a friend being silly. It ended with a anthology of stories curated by Rhonda Parrish, including my first attempt at humor (or at least silly) writing: the short story Buccaneer’s Revenge.

I am a fan of Cats (the Musical… haven’t seen the movie but I am bracing myself to rent the DVD), have a decades-long subscription to Vanity Fair, and passing familiarity with what used to be known as B Grade movies before they were called “International Blockbusters.”

I took those three facts, put them in a blender, added as many animal puns as I could squeeze in, and hit “pulse.” Buccaneer’s was the result. I hope you enjoy it, as it shares pages with an awesome array of stories. Release date is May 26 right into the teeth of the pandemic, but Rhonda and Margaret (our stalwart publisher) are running a virtual launch party, which will be loads of fun!

Giftmas 2019

Ho Freakin’ Ho! It’s that time of year when Rhonda Parrish and her merry elves put on a fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. This year’s goal is to raise $1,000, which will feed a lot of hungry people during a very cold time of year. To that end, Rhonda donates time and treasure; a lot of really nice people have put in raffle prizes; and several of us are sharing stories, recipes and other fun stuff. This year I get to share Friday the 13th with two superb writers and All Around Good Folk: Stephanie Loree and Laura VanArendonk Baugh. Please visit their blogs, and be sure to drop into all the sites from the 10th to the 15th.

Points to keep in mind:

  • Money is donated directly through Canada Helps, so people can trust their donations are going where we say they are — to help feed families
  • Donations are in Canadian dollars so some international donors (American and British, especially) can get a lot of bang for their buck
  • Each dollar raised equals 3 meals

Here are links to donate (PLEASE DONATE) and to the raffle (BUY COOL STUFF):

Okay got it? Good. Without further ado, here’s my Holiday Story.


At first Carol enjoyed her friends’ comments.  “Did you lose weight?  You look different.”  But then they changed.  “Are you feeling okay?  You look… pale.” 

By the Holiday block party, the comments had stopped all together.  Carol found herself in the kitchen of her own home, ignored by her neighbors and trying to convince herself she wasn’t hiding from their snubs.

She thought she understood, one morning, as she looked toward the window and saw her reflection waver in the thin cold light.  “I’m disappearing,” she whispered (when was the last time she’d raised her voice?) “but – why?”

In the kitchen, she sipped her morning decaf while making breakfast.  Their plates were ready (scrambled eggs, toast and coffee for Ron, freezer waffles for Ronny, Egg Beaters for Beth, who was on her fourth different diet that month) when her family blew by in a maelstrom of noise, backpacks and car keys, spurning her food with “I’m late no time!” “We’re hitting McDonald’s on the way” and one simple, surly grunt.

“They didn’t even say good-bye,” Carol mourned, scraping the plates off into the disposal. 

At Sunday dinner Carol found herself competing with two smartphones and the Packers game.  After Ron fell asleep on the coach (Seahawks-Vikings on the West Coast) Carol went to tuck her children in, only to encounter one locked door (Beth) and one video game (Ronny) so violent and noisy she backed out of his room, unseen and slightly afraid.

That night she had trouble seeing herself in the mirror as she brushed her hair. 

The day she was cleaning the den and noticed the vacuum cast a shadow but she didn’t, Carol realized she had to DO something.  She called her doctor’s office twice, but the receptionist only said “Hello?  Hello?” before hanging up, despite Carol’s response.  She went to church, but the priest never noticed her waiting politely in the front pew while he discussed Midnight Mass decorations with the ladies’ auxiliary. 

Carol went back to her clean, quiet home and looked around.  “Is this how ghosts are born?” she wondered.  “Not as spirits of the dead but simply the neglected?”

Well, not her.  Not at Christmas. It was her favorite holiday, even if every year the kids demanded more gifts she had to find.  Even if Ron never even thanked her for all her planning, shopping, decorating, cleaning and cooking to make the Holiday so special.

Even if – more and more – she couldn’t help but feel a little taken for granted.

Fine.  She would MAKE her family sit up and take notice of all she did for them, and then they’d have a wonderful Christmas with love and joy and laughter, just like when the children were small.

That afternoon before Ron got home Carol put her plan into action.  Through the sounds of game explosions and Snapchat giggling, she drifted through the ceiling into the attic (how long had she been able to do that, Carol wondered faintly) and wrapped her hands around the main router cord.  It kept slipping through her fingers but she finally grasped it firmly enough to give a good tug.  When the Wifi stopped Ronny and Beth would call her.  They would need her.  They would SEE her and appreciate her and she’d be back to normal. Christmas would be great.

With a faint blip the router cord disconnected.  There was sudden, blessed silence downstairs.  Sure enough… “MOM!!!!” Ronny yelled from his room.  “The Internet’s out!” 

Carol sighed contentedly as she drifted toward the stairs.  Then she heard her daughter.  “Mom doesn’t know anything,” Beth said, scorn layered into every word.  “We’re going to have to wait until Dad’s home.”

And Carol was gone.

Edits or Revisions?

A very large part of my Day Job involves writing and editing, often under very tight deadlines; I have been inculcated for decades with the understanding: there’s no such thing as deathless prose. Oh sure, there’s nice clean copy. A strong proposal. A compelling narrative. But very rarely is something so perfect as to not need even a tweak.

In the few small fictions I’ve had published, the editor has come back each time with a handful of suggestions; all but one of which I have agreed to*. My theory? This person is buying my words, and should get at least an opinion as to how they flow. Also sometimes I’ve been staring at a page so long I look right past obvious changes, and part of an editor’s job is to make the words work together as best they can.

I recently got a note back on a story I submitted saying it was short-listed (happy dance) but the editor wasn’t thrilled with the ending. She didn’t have any specific edits or revisions, it just left her going “meh” and was there something I could do?

Changing words or their flow is different than “your ending sucks, please fix it”; to me, one is basic editing (which I do a lot of) and the other is revising an entire story. I dove back in knowing I might have to make significant changes from Word One, and that was scary and a little sad…. but a really good exercise.

So what happened? I ended up adding a paragraph right in the middle that didn’t mean anything to the revisions but my Muse dropped right into my brain as I got to that part of the story. Then I added about 500 words and came up with a far better ending than I had in the original submission (if I do say so myself).

I also learned something along the way I think is going to be really important. I knew that I need to let stories percolate in the back of my mind before my Muse puts down the tequila and kicks out a decent idea. But apparently my “Done!” draft is only a final one, and I need to set it aside for a couple of days before picking it up for one more round.

This is hard to do. With the deadlines of my Day Job, I’m used to finishing, proofing and shipping projects out because there are more coming at me like jets landing O’Hare and I have GOT to clear the runways before a crash. Fiction has deadlines too (obviously) but ordinarily they are more forgiving…. especially if I learn to plan time for one more review. I will always proofread and do my own editing (and yes, the old “fool for a client” axiom applies to writers as well as lawyers) but I need to get a better feel for revising, in order to become a stronger fiction writer.

I have a rolling calendar for my Day Job that includes due dates, ship dates, etc. I think it’s time to create one for fiction, too.

*The only one I pushed back on was because I clearly “heard” the character’s voice saying the words one way and not the other

On the Road Again

I am headed for Parts North (and somewhat West) again this August to the 2019 “When Words Collide” writers’ convention, part of a larger driving tour I have mapped out.  The plan is to fly into Calgary then driving north to Edmonton, west to Jasper, south through the Ice Fields Parkway to Banff and Canmore, hitting “WWC” in Calgary for three days; then south to Glacier, Helena and Yellowstone before retracing my steps and flying from Calgary home to Chicago.

Yikes that’s ambitious.  But it gives me time to not only see some of the planet’s most beautiful scenery, I have found long drives to be conducive to thinking about stories.  It’s amazing the plot points my brain can hammer out alone in the car.

This will be helpful, as I need to hammer out a lot of plot points; it’s time to ramp up my summer writing.  I’m a massive procrastinator, and with the “WWC” deadline fast approaching (even though it’s only in my head… I have nothing due for the convention) it’s time to start typing away.

PS – the photo above is the (only) road within Denali National Park. I took it during a trip to Alaska some years back…. yes, it’s real. I don;’t have enough skill to use Photoshop.