What Happened To My Hour?

Today, March 8, 2015, is Daylight Savings time. Not my favorite day, since we lose a precious hour of sleep, and I never really recover.

It also is the first time in almost a year that I have posted on this blog. Not the first time I’ve done a blog post this past year. Over at Wicked Cozy Authors, my name crops up regularly. On Live to Write/Write to Live, I post every other week.

The year has also been a big one in my writing life. I am writing the Clock Shop Mystery Series as Julianne Holmes, and boy, has she been busy. My first novel, Just Killing Time, is going to be released on October 6. Book #2 is plotted, and being written (due May 15). Book #3 is due in January.

I am and at large member of the boards of Sisters in Crime, and Sisters in Crime New England. Both of these organizations mean the world to me, and I am thrilled to be involved. (If you are a mystery writer, join Sisters in Crime.)

So I’ve been busy, but haven’t been checking in. That will change, even though I’ve lost an hour. Though losing an hour is a fairly regular situation for me. NOTHING takes as long as I think it is going to take. You’d think by now I’d be better at it, but you’d be wrong. Even a ten minute walk takes twenty minutes these days, due in no small part to the mountains of ice and snow in New England, and the layers and layers of clothes I need to wear.

I sprang forward, rebooted the blog, and exercised this morning. Even though I lost an hour.

A Wicked Happy New Year to Me

J.A. Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes:

Passed on some good news on Wicked Cozy Authors!

Originally posted on Wicked Cozy Authors:

Since I wanted to share my good news with everyone at the same time, I am doing my first cross post on my two blogs, Wicked Cozy Authors and Live to Write/Write to Live. Here it goes:

I will be writing The Clock Shop Mystery Series for Berkley Prime Crime under the pseudonym Julianne Holmes. I am under contract for three books. The first one will be released in 2015, and is due this September.

To say that this is a dream come true is an understatement. And even though the release date is a long way away, I wanted to share this with all of you. On Live to Write/Write to Live, we all talk about our writing journeys, and this is an important part of the conversation. On Wicked Cozy Authors, my other five collaborators are all in different stages of their series being written, submitted…

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In the Company of Writers

This weekend I went to Bouchercon in Albany, New York. Bouchercon is one of (or the) largest mystery conference in the world. It was predicted that over 1200 were there over the 3.5 days.

While much can be said about the event itself, and will be on Wicked Cozy Authors later this week, what struck me is my journey as a writer. I attended my first conference in 2003 when I went to Malice Domestic. My friend was waiting in line to send back her books (I love bag of books conferences) and she met Dana Cameron, who told her about Sisters in Crime. We both joined. That fall we went to the New England Crime Bake.

I was thrilled, overwhelmed, anxious, and quite sure I would never “get there”. Ten years later, and I am actively involved in Sisters in Crime, both regionally and now nationally. I have been to every Crime Bake since 2003, and am now on the conference committee. I have had three short stories published. I have not managed the dream of holding a book in my hand with my name on it, but the dream doesn’t feel impossible. And it has become a reality for many of my friends.

Barbara Ross, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Edith Maxwell, Leslie Wheeler, Liz Mugavero, yours truly

Barbara Ross, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Edith Maxwell, Leslie Wheeler, Liz Mugavero, yours truly

Now, when I go to a conference, I take fewer notes at panels, but I still learn. I don’t buy as many books, but my Kindle gets a few additions. Conferences are a chance to catch up with friends, and to make new ones.

There are a lot of challenges to being a writer, and success is a moving target. But here’s what I’ve learned in the past ten years:

  • Community is everything. It helps you network, it helps your writing improve, it helps you understand the business, and it helps you keep on keeping on. Find your people. And if you are a crime writer, join Sisters in Crime and/or Mystery Writers of America.
  • Success of others doesn’t diminish your chance of success. It improves it.
  • Leading a writer’s life takes time, balance, and energy. But if you keep on moving forward, you move forward. And the pace, whatever it is, is the right one.
  • Enjoy the ride.

Silencing the Barking Dogs

When you get to be a certain age (mine), you start worrying that you are losing your mojo. Your short hair looks like a helmet without some serious product. Eye makeup methods you have employed for years suddenly makes you look like Tammy Faye Baker. Your pants are too short, and belts become the enemy. The war against frumpy is on, and the battles are intense. I am fighting them, and fighting them hard. Above the ankle. Below the ankle, I surrender.

I live and work near Boston. My commute involves buses, trains, and walking. And since I have a 10,000 step a day goal (and a FitBit keeping me honest), I walk a lot. A number of events and business meetings kept me in “girl” shoes–boots with slight heels and flats with little support. None of these were too crazy, but they have taken a toll. My feet hurt. All the time.

1640477-t-THUMBNAILSo I recently bought some fun sneakers and Earth shoes. The sneakers can pass, sort of an updated 80’s vibe. (Remember–suits with sneakers?). But the Earth shoes. I’ll admit, they have an old lady vibe. But they are really comfortable, so I am going with it.

2168159-t-THUMBNAIL

Here’s the question though–will this start creeping up past my ankles? Are yoga pants 24/7 next? I already wear the flowing jackets–will scarves help? How do I manage professional and comfortable,and toss in some  hip? Or has the hip hopped?

Going to keep fighting the fashion fight. But those Earth shoes come in a summer floral print.

Reboot

I tried to have a weekly archive of my fabulous life. An online gratitude journal, if you will. It puttered out at the three month mark. I am not proud of this, nor have I been slacking off. Instead, I throw in the towel. Too much pressure.

And some things aren’t so fabulous. They just are what they are. Take, for instance, my current journey into meditation. I am trying, really trying. A weekly class. A conscious effort to try every day. But it is SO hard. Getting my mind to acknowledge then dismiss random thoughts is a chore. My patience is tried by other people. Long wandering questions. Slow movers. The woman who’s watch beeps every so often.

But I am try. And will keep trying. I have heard too much about the benefits. And I need to find more stress relievers. Or one that works. And so I keep trying.

One of the challenges of being a writer, especially a mystery writer, is that the observer is never able to be quieted. Ever. Perhaps that is part of my struggle. I can’t help but wonder why the guy who can barely put down his blackberry is really in a meditation class. (Doctor’s insistence? A girlfriend or boyfriend’s ultimatum? A part of his parole?) What is the story of the man who never gets out of his pose (meditation bench, on his knees. I can’t do it for a minute, never mind a two hour class) and never stops smiling. And what about the woman with all the jewelry who dresses with an 80’s vibe and has a wicked Boston accent? And what about the older guy who I sat next to who had a small scrap of paper and kept taking notes with his green ink pen? What was he writing?

See, this is how I roll. I wonder, and then make up stories. And then put them in mine. Or maybe I focus on how he could be poisoned during a meeting. Or how she could smuggle something in under her too tight coat. Or what would happen if the huge statue in the meditation room fell off the platform during the walking meditation exercise.

No wonder I need to take the class.

Too Much Fabulous to Track

I have lost control of this blog. My weekly posts haven’t happened, and I don’t know where I was. So here’s a catch up, and then we’ll move from there.

There have been some fabulous things that have happened. I have a story in BLOOD MOON. I have spent time with friends and family. I have seen some wonderful theater. I went to the New England Crime Bake, moderated a panel, and had a great time. Lots of fabulous.

I have a wonderful life, and am grateful. I am even grateful for challenges, because they are lessons for gratitude.

But is that fabulous?

I need to reboot my definition of fabulous. To keep up with my gratitude, and call out the bright spots. But to push myself to fabulous.

Not sure what that will look like, but I will let you know.

Week #7–Stepping Up

My fabulous event for Week #7 became fabulous after I did an attitude adjustment. I walked the Tufts 10K. When I signed last summer, the idea was to use it as a goal towards getting back in shape. See, three years ago I did the BAA Half. And two years ago I did a Spring Tri.  So I thought, 10K, you need to get in shape, go.

No go.

Work is nuts. Life is nuts. My knees turned 50. I just didn’t pull it together. And so, leading up to the day, I thought “I’m just not going to do it.” Then I thought “I’ll pick up my packet, and get the shirt. Who’ll know if I don’t do it?” [Note: The Tufts 10K shirts are great. Just saying. Long sleeve tech shirts.]

Who’ll know? Me. So I got out the clothes (running tights under running pants, good shoes, good socks, layers on top, running cap), and set them out. And then I woke up Monday, had a light breakfast, ate a banana and hydrated. And I still wrestled. Then I said “Just go. And don’t try and run.”

So I walked to the T (about a mile), went to the starting line, got in the back of the pack, walked the 10K, and then walked from the T back home. I walked a good pace, but not great. I am really out of shape. BUT I did it.

And here’s the thing. I liked walking it. Why do I always feel like I need to run? I don’t love running. It is hard on my body. But I always try to be this athlete that I never was. But why not walk? And ride my bike? And do yoga? AND JUST MOVE?

I had plenty of time to think about this during my 10K. I didn’t wear an iPod (the rules said no, even though most solo runners/walkers wore one. I am a geek. Need to stop following all the rules all the time.) And I liked the walk. It wasn’t easy, but I felt good afterwards. So kinder, gentler, but firmer with myself. Here’s to more fabulous walks this year.