Status or What Do We Call Ourselves & Does It Matter? 

I friended a woman the other day who did accept my request and I went to her facebook page to check her out. I will admit this is something I probably should have done before I asked her to be friends, but then I have been known to do things ass-backward.

There I found a link to career Helpful? Oh my yes! Professional? Yes again. It sounds as if it would really good to be one. But it got me thinking about being a career author.

I fear I am not.

I am not if being a career author means you make enough money writing books to pay the bills. After all, that is the goal of any career, is it not?

I am not if finding a reason to step away from the computer for an hour or an afternoon or a day when you couldn’t do that in any other career job makes me less of a career author. (Yes, I am fully aware that the first step to writing is to put the butt in the chair and just do it. And no, I seldom suffer from writer’s block.  In fact, I have more ideas jumping around in my head than I will ever get down on paper. I just step away now and again.)

I am not if education has anything to do with being a career author. No degrees in English Lit or journalism here. In fact, I’ve barely made it through an English class in my life. If it weren’t for my sister heaven alone knows what my work would look like. Well, my sister and Grammarly.

Anyway. Moving on to the What Do We Call Ourselves part. I write books. I have a need to write. I have a compulsion and a desire. I can call myself a writer. Not because I’ve ever had anything published but because I write.  In fact, there are some days I am able to sit in my PJs all day and just write. If that constitutes a career I am all for it. I wish I had known about that earlier.

And Does It Matter. At this point in my life, I like myself enough to take whatever I am and accept it. I write and I am still learning. Can not say enough good things about The 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing.  And I am going to closely watch and learn all I can. But I am still just a writer, part-time and sometimes self-published and often in PJs.

As Always,     Annie

P.S. I do urge anyone interested to check out It looks like it’s full of good ideas and great points and helpful articles. And I absolutely love The 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing.  I have read some books that were terrible but until I read T12FFOFW I didn’t know why they were so bad. Or what I was doing wrong in my own writing and more importantly how to (hopefully) correct it.

And everyone must check out the webpage Candi has been working on this past week. It is fantastic.  Maybe I should have mentioned that first?


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The Art of Deep Thinking

No one would ever accuse me of being a deep thinker. I do not know if I am even capable of very deep thought. The deepest I ever think is in planning a murder and Rae helps me with that.

I do, however, often procrastinate. My question is this: If I put writing off and do not think about it is that procrastination? Or by not thinking about it am I letting those creative juices simmer? I mean if I still think about what I’m writing then I’m not really putting it off, am I? I know there are times when you have to take a step back and let your brain rest. Is “letting my brain rest”a euphemism for procrastination? And if so, is procrastination a bad thing?

Okay, what’s gotten me to this sorry place you may ask. Or you may not give a hoot. Either way, I’m going to tell you.  I thought I had a novella almost finished. I knew what I was going to follow it with, a second book that would tie up some loose ends. Loose ends? Hell, I had a cliffhanger. I have been dragging my feet in the process of re-reading trying to catch typos and such when it hit me last night. I need to finish this in its entirety. No cliffs, no hanging, no second book, just a nice clean finish. Was my procrastination my mind telling me this book was not done when I thought it was?

Rae and I are venturing into Bittersweet Hollow again. At this point, we both feel good about it. We will see how we feel by chapter five. Five is usually the magic number for us when we either go ahead or scrap what we have and start over. We have taken pains this time to avoid the starting over business and I hope we have managed to get the outline right and can just forge ahead.  Deep thinking about murder.

Still waiting for warm, or warmer, weather and get depressed every time I look out the window and see snow.  Bittersweet Hollow is now at the end of June and we are looking forward to the 4th, on paper at least.  Yet another reason to write.  Everyone take care and stay warm and I’ll catch you later,


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More Idle Thoughts on The Struggles and Rewards of Self Publishing

You’ve finished the story you’ve been working on for months and months. Re-read it twenty times, put it through your spelling and grammar programs and even let a  friend or two read it. A back cover synopsis now has to be written. Only a few paragraphs but for some of us that can take a few days.  (I think the next time I am going to write this first and then see how close it comes to the finished product).  But then—-

You have to pick a cover. I have had several books out there and they have gone absolutely nowhere. I don’t think they were bad, but they did have boring covers.  With the Cozy books we have an editor who takes care of that sort of thing. She picks a few and sends them to us to choose the final one and when we agree it’s a done deal. I love her for this alone.

I don’t have that luxury with my self-published books and I can’t stop writing them. I think they are getting better and I love the writing part. But I have decided that I need better covers and that means actually paying money for one.  That means I will have to take a gamble and actually sell so many books at x amount to make the y amount I spent equal to my bottom line z even before I make any money to blow on a pedicure. (High finance has always intrigued me.)

So I am looking at a cover that has either a scantily clad couple or a guy half naked with great abs and maybe a loose tie around his neck or just tight jeans. Whatever. I think this is what really sells books today.  The promise of totally naked guys.  And I am talking adult romance books here so all the naked bits are a given.  And it’s not like I’m ready to hit the publish key. It will be after the first of the year. And I’m not really sure I am grousing about any of this. It is a process after all, and one I guess I like or I wouldn’t be doing it. I guess self publishing is a lot like real life. Looking for the right half-naked guy for the cover of your book is a lot like looking for the right half-naked guy period.  Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t. The point is you keep on looking.  And writing. And self-publishing.

As ever,  Annie

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The Perils Of Reading

I read once the only thing better than reading a book was writing one. The problem, for me anyway, arises when I try reading books while writing one. I allow another’s POV and feelings to influence mine. Maybe others are strong enough to avoid this, but I am not. Sooooo, I find myself changing direction, rethinking plots, questioning characters, It slows me down to the place where I have to question where this is going. Do I stop reading or stop writing?

Of course, we’re all influenced by the books we have read. From Agatha Christi and Raymond Chandler to Stephen King and Frank Herbert. And we will be influenced by the authors we read tomorrow whether it’s Melody Anne or Karin Slaughter or the collected works of William Shakespeare. But I just can’t read while I’m working on a book of my own!!

And this just made me think about the books my sister and I write. Are we going to influence someone? I don’t think we’re out there to influence anyone so much as take you on a mini vacation to a place we like with people we enjoy being with. I hope we do that and I hope you enjoy it.

I had said I was going to scrap five chapters in the book I was working on. Then I had Candi read the first chapter and it came back with errors highlighted in colors. (Yes, plural colors there.) In fact, it was mostly in color. I guess you could say there is nothing black and white about my writing. Bad jokes aside, I am going to scrap the entire thing. Not the premise or the characters, I can work with those. So before we start on our next Bittersweet Hollow mystery, I am going to work on my writing from a different perspective and try to stay away from being so colorful. It will save my sister a lot of work, and make her happy. And I should apologize to every English teacher I had ever had. It wasn’t you, it was me.

So for everyone out there who is not writing one go ahead and read a book. Of course, I hope it’s Final Sale and Down A Deadly River.

As  always, Annie

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Iowa, Tractors and Cozy Murders

The husband and I drove out to the lake yesterday for our annual Fat Saturday deep fry where once a year the two of us, along with a few of the kids, grandkids and friends, spend several hours of a sunny mid-summer day paying homage to anything that can be breaded and cooked in the portable deep fat fryer. We also manage to drain several cans of cold beer and a bottle or two of cheap wine. But this isn’t about Fat Saturday. Or the greasy yet tasty food. Or the bubbly beverages. This is about the ride to the lake and soaking up all the scenery during the last warm blush of summer.

We live in Minnesota but I spent half of my life in Iowa and it’s there that my roots are planted. However, as far as scenery goes, there’s not much difference between southern Minnesota and southern Iowa. One looks remarkably like the other and as we drove along country roads past farm fields sprawling across the land, I looked out the window at acre after acre filled with tall, tasseled cornstalks and plump green soybean plants.  Oak, maple, birch and a myriad of other trees stood proud and tall, each spreading its full, leafy canopy like a peacock strutting his tail feathers for the ladies. Farmhouses—some old, some new—sat amidst grassy lawns and I could smell that sweet aroma of fresh mown grass and hay. We made our way past horses, cows and a few sheep, all safely grazing behind wire fences. Many farmsteads had neatly weeded gardens ripe with an abundance of fully mature, colorful veggies. We spotted a farm stand or two with sweet corn, cabbages, onions, summer squash, peppers and tomatoes for sale.

Varying hues of fragrant flowers and shrubs in full bloom were splashed liked watercolor brush strokes across the lawns and around the farmhouses. And I was struck as I always am this time of year by the absolute richness of it all, the so-very-greenness of corn and beans and grass and leaves that can only be found in the heartland during summer’s peak, right before she decides to loosen her grip on the season.

As one thought led to another I recalled an article I read a year or so ago about cozy mysteries and the Midwest. I don’t remember the writer’s name or very much about his article (serves him right) but I do remember his criticism that went something like this, and I paraphrase: Please deliver me from a cozy mystery set in Iowa with tractors and cornfields. He went on to say the whole idea of such stories is trite, which is what he thinks of the middle part of the country. Apparently crime amongst the tall corn of Iowa can’t hold a candle to crime amongst the tall skyscrapers of New York, at least in his opinion.  And he could be right.  I admit I can see the difference in a probable storyline.

New York: Murder is committed with a long, sharp switchblade knife, perp sneaks along the dark streets of the city, flags down a taxi and says, “Just drive,” until he reaches Big Lou’s Bar where he orders a double scotch on the rocks before disappearing among the crowd.

Iowa:  Murder is committed with a rusty, antique garden tool, perp sneaks through a chicken coop, jumps on a John Deere tractor and plows through the back forty before he reaches a corn field where he scares off a few hungry raccoons before disappearing among the stalks.

Still, if I could remember the writer’s name, I would invite him to visit the heartland during a week in mid-August.  How could he not be impressed with a leisurely trip to the lake, riding along country roads running beside fields of tall corn and hardy soybeans, past grassy lawns shaded by old oaks and maples, the scent of purple clover filling the air? I’m sure he would realize this is a pretty cool place and might even be an okay backdrop for a little cozy murder. As a matter of fact, I’d bet my tractor on it.

Best regards,



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Ramblings Of An Imperfect Mind

Read a FB entry yesterday from another Cozy Catter who is setting her next book in the 1960s. She was doing research on the clothing and I rambled on about knee sox and hairspray, cutoff sweatshirts and pink lipstick. But it got me thinking about the “Good Old Days” of the 60’s. There was a lot going on when you stop to think about it. Kennedy’s trip to Dallas, the war in Vietnam, the pill, the peace movement, women starting to push themselves up to the male dominated table to demand an equal serving of wages and benefits. More killings and more social change. It wasn’t all short skirts and go-go boots.

Anyway, Sally got me thinking. Maybe because it was my generation I think it was so full of special things and world changing happenings. Maybe everyone thinks that about their own generation. Maybe they’re right.

Change of subject:
They say you should write about what you know. I’m thinking maybe I (we) should write about the 1960s. Which we know. But then we write about murder. Well, when you write about murder what can you say? I mean you don’t have to commit one to write about one. So, are THEY wrong?

Another change:
Just finished a book by one of my favorite authors, Karin Slaughters’, The Good Daughter, and I do not want her to have the first-hand experience about shotgun deaths and vicious rapes. She can be very explicit and gruesome. It must be a gift. Anyway, I absolutely love her books. One of the few authors I do not think I could ever write like. As in, I couldn’t copy her style at all. I wonder how she gets the amount of detail she achieves? I have to go back several times to fill in on my bare bones work, so does she have to go back or is it all there painstakingly at once.

Diana Gabaldon says she works on one paragraph until she is completely satisfied with it and then never goes back to it. Man, there would be days, weeks even that I would not be able to move past that one paragraph. Okay, let’s be honest. I never feel satisfied with my work. I have never reached perfection. So, I’m not gifted in my writing. I am gifted with my sister who is good at it so that still counts, right?

Now I must go. I’m going to ignore the vacuuming, the dusting, and the shopping until 12:30 when I am going to meet a friend for lunch and then after I eat I’ll go buy food for my family. Until then I am going to write! Nothing perfect, but still I’ll be writing. Later,

As always, Annie

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Talk About Murder

What do sisters talk about on a rainy Saturday morning? I don’t know about others, but my sister and I really enjoy talking about murder. I mean we really enjoy it. We talk about other things, family and what’s happened during the week, but when we start on the subject of murder we become almost giddy.

For a while it seemed as if every entry on my Facebook was about someone’s recipe. They were even taking pictures of whichever dish they had made and posting it. I was almost ready to drop my Facebook account. If they were only talking about murder I could have participated. Who, why, where and how. Means, motive, and opportunity draw Rae and me in more than any other ingredients.

I don’t want other family members to become concerned, either about us or that stray gene floating around our DNA. You are all as normal as anyone with our bloodlines can be. Probably.

So I’ll get back to thinking about my favorite past time and let you all get on with your lives. And cooking is good, I don’t mean to say it isn’t. I just prefer my microwave and murder to anything else.

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The Open Road

The neighbors moved the other day. Last Sunday my daughter and I watched them pull away in their U-Haul. It’s not like we even knew them, we didn’t. The lived in the next complex and other than seeing their stuff sitting in the grass waiting to be loaded into the back end of the truck we weren’t aware of their existence.

As they drove past us sitting on our little deck enjoying the weather I felt a longing in my chest. A longing to be in their shoes. Almost a need to be on that open road.

I looked at my daughter and she said she felt the same. Not that the idea of packing up every last scrap is enticing, it isn’t, but getting those boxes and bags into the back of a U-Haul and setting off on an adventure is very damn enticing.

It is because we’ve moved around a lot. Not as much as military families but a lot more than most people we know. There are folks who have never ever lived anywhere but in one town. Some in one house. This boggles our collective minds.

By the time I started kindergarten I had moved four times. By the time I started third grade we had moved twice more. When I graduated from high school there were six more moves to add. And we won’t even talk about after I was older. And why did we move so much you might ask. We might ask the same thing and I could probably tell you but it would take some extensive counseling and I just don’t want to go there right now. The thing is, even after I had my kids we (or I should admit that I) kept moving and now my daughter loves it as much as I do.

We will really try to stay put until her boys graduate from high school. That’s in three more years. But we are already talking about saving moving money and where we want to go. We may not go together, but we will each find our open road and embrace the thrill of moving on.

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The Active Mind of a Writer

So everyone knows that in order to write one must have a good active imagination. I mean you have to be able to people a whole story with fictional characters. Characters born of your active mind. What people don’t know is our dirty little secret. (If I tell, you have to promise to never let another soul know I said anything.) Writers can find more ways to postpone actual writing than the Colonel has nuggets.

I know because I have used every one of them this past week: check a bank balance, surf for information you may need one day, do a load of laundry, clean the kitchen, fold the load of laundry and my favorite, take a nap.

Still, I have managed to get a lot of work done. Several thousand words actually. And Rae and I are making progress on getting through our second book edit. Still a lot of wasted hours doing little or nothing. I’m getting old enough I sure don’t need to waste any time at all.

So, I should either blog more or write more. Right now I want to get back to the world of make-believe.

Later Annie

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So It’s Time To Blog

This space is headed “What’s On Your Mind”. Wow. That leaves it wide open.

Had a call this morning canceling the boy’s ortho appointments today. Patty had to take the time off work so orthodontist can give HER his consult. No regard for the hours she has to miss work and the cut to her paycheck. I have taken the boys to this office for two years now for their check-ups, but I can’t sign them in to see the God powerful Orthodontist.

Yes, we have the signed letter allowing me to take the boys in for work. I do this for the MD for check-ups and to the dentists—but this is the ORTHODONTIST. The dentists will talk to me, this jerk won’t and I guess that has hurt my vanity, pride, self-importance. Not to mention Patty’s paycheck.

So everyone, be aware that in a future book I am going to kill an orthodontist!!! I want to do it slowly, painfully and with lots of blood.
So much for venting this morning.

Rae and I are almost done with our second book. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal in and of itself, but it has taken us many moons and a couple of scrapped starts to get to this place.

Have another blog brewing in the back of my mind and will be here again in a couple of days.


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