November saw the release of my 5th book in the River City Mysteries. The series is comprised currently of four full novels and a prequel. The latest full novel is Your Addiction is Deadly.
Here’s the information on what happens in the latest exploits of Becca and her friends. All stories are stand alone novels.
Intrepid amateur sleuth Becca Reynolds believes she is leaving family, friends, and murder behind when she travels from River City to St. Louis, Missouri, to attend her first mental health conference. But things rarely go as planned, and this trip is no exception.
Instead of instructional workshops with a bit of sightseeing on the side, Becca finds herself embroiled in murder and mayhem when she is discovered alone with a dead body. To her horror, the police focus on her as their prime suspect. Visions of a prison cell with a mandatory dress code of stipes, or worse orange, and a new best friend named Bertha, forces Becca to launch her own investigation. If she ever wants to see River City again, it’s up to her to solve the case.
As the body count increases, she has serious doubts about who she can trust. But never a quitter, Becca vows she will find the killer and see justice prevail.
Hot men, dangerous suspects, and twisted motives keep Becca on her toes as she works to solve her latest case and clear her name.
Join Becca and her gang of quirky characters in the latest installment of the River City Mysteries, Your Addiction is Deadly.
Several of the quirky things that happen to Becca in the book are actually things that happened to me on several trips to St. Louis over the years. This month in my newsletter I’ll be talking about those real life exploits that fueled my writing imagination. I hope you will join me later this month as I reveal them.
Are you living your best life? It’s hard to do in pandemic times. But I hope you are really seriously thinking about your future and all that you want to accomplish. We get one life. We should be filling our days with things to make us feel good about ourselves and our accomplishments.
This year I started out with one novel and one book that needed to be edited. Since then I have written two full novels and a novella that is half the length of the full length books. I’m hoping to squeeze a good chunk of writing the next book into the remaining months of this year. When 2020 ends, my goal is to have 5 books published. With more on the way in 2021.
For the first time in a long time, I feel like I am living my best working life. If we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic that might also extend to my personal life as well. But for now, I need to be content that I am doing well with my work life. I am fulfilled and I am totally satisfied. I feel like I am finally putting my talents to good use.
So are you living your best life? Why or why not?
It all starts with a vision. What is the one thing you want to accomplish with your time? To be married? To find love? To have a family? To find freedom to live your best life unencumbered? To play an instrument? To make an impact on someone else’s life? To learn a new skill? To travel? To learn a new language? To take better care of yourself? To exercise? To help others?
Figure out what you want. That’s the first thing to do.
Once you have your priority figured out, then you need to think of ways of getting to your goal. Start brainstorming and writing your ideas down. Don’t initially discount anything. You might surprise yourself.
Narrow your list of possibilities down until you have made yourself a roadmap to achieving your goal. Then put those steps in order.
Soon you will find yourself well on your way to achieving your dreams and living your best life. One step at a time.
I’d love to hear about what you want to accomplish. 2021 will be here before we know it. It’s already autumn and winter will be coming soon. Just a few more months left in 2020. Figure out your goals now. Make your plans and then implement them. By the time 2021 rolls around you will be well on your way to success.
Mine seems to be Mondays. Remember the words to the Mamas and Papas song? Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day. That’s kind of how I feel about it.
Usually I take the weekends off from my writing. I catch up on things around the house, run errands, cook a bit so I have easy meals for the coming week. You know odds and ends. There’s always plenty to do on the weekend.
But I also like to have time to watch television, read or work on my craft projects. And just relax without any pressures for a few days.
But then another Monday rolls around. It’s back into the work week. And as much as I love what I do, it’s hard to get back into things.
My mind is often still on the weekend. I get off to shaky starts on Mondays. There’s a reason we don’t trust it. It expects things from us. We are supposed to show up on Mondays with bright eyes, an alert brain, fully engaged and ready to put new things into action.
But seriously, how many of us greet a Monday warmly? I sure don’t. I usually go into a Monday kicking and screaming. What happened to those extra hours of sleep I get on Saturdays and Sundays? Mondays sure don’t let you sleep in. Mondays have lots of expectations. More so than any other day of the week.
But somehow I adjust to every new Monday. Then as I work my way back from the lazy weekend days that expect very little of me, I eventually get with the program.
By Tuesday, I’m fully back into a good solid work ethic. Until the next Monday rolls around.
So what’s your hardest day of any week? And why? I’m guessing there are a lot of folks like me. Mondays – yeah, they are tough.
Since I’m taking a bit of time off from work, my mind naturally turns to how will I amuse myself in these days of Covid.
I could do housework? HAHAHHAH! I crack myself up sometimes. I’m on vacation. Why would I want to do housework other than the day to day necessities?
I could take walks outside. That’s always a good option, but I can’t do that all day.
I could read a good book. I do love to read.
Or I could knit or crochet. I love to do handwork. And I enjoy starting a new project and choosing colors.
There are tons of options to occupy me. I just need to make choices. I’ll find things to delight me and refresh and relax me. But it would be lovely to have the option of being with friends and sharing time with them in person as we did in pre-covid times.
I have to remind myself to be patient. We are going through tough times. We need to be able to get creative with our free time and to look forward to when we can comfortably socialize in person again.
So how do you keep yourself busy in your downtime? What things do you enjoy doing these days? And what do you wish you could do that the continued pandemic keeps you from doing?
Looking forward to more normal times. But until then Milo, Sam and I will enjoy ourselves.
Yesterday I finished the draft of my 4th book in the River City Mystery series. Today I’m on a self imposed vacation.
Sadly, I’m not in the Maldives as the picture above depicts. But I’m home. Enjoying some downtime.
Writing is hard work. But it is also very rewarding. I am so pleased with this latest book project. My characters are all in a very good place at the end of the story. I’ve revealed a series secret or two and I have seen a lot of character growth.
One of my personal pet peeves in reading series from any genre is when the characters do not grow. We all grow in our lives from day to day. Why shouldn’t our characters? So that’s something I always try to work on with my story people. And I have to say, I’m pleased. And they seem pleased as well.
I don’t have a hint of what my cover will look like for this book. I hope to get some glimpses of it in early October. My cover artist always surprises and delights me. This story will be available in both e-book and paperback.
After this book is published, I will have two months until the end of the year. Originally, I thought I’d work on one of my unfinished projects or start a new series. But I always try to listen to what my characters want too.
Your Addiction is Deadly, this 4th book, had all of the characters telling me – don’t stop now. Pull out your notes for book 5. We want to be the next project in your line up. So they have spoken and I have listened. The last two months and into the new year will be book 5 in this series. And then I’ll see where we will go.
I know there will be at least one more book in The River City Mysteries. But I haven’t thought much more after book 6. So time – and my characters – will decide on that.
But I do have two or three other series just waiting for their chance to shine too. It’s a great problem to have.
So while I’m taking some much needed time off I’m going to do a few things around the house, some knitting and crocheting, walking in the fall weather and chilling out with some movies. But I’d rather have this as my view for the next week.
Hope you are enjoying the start of the autumn season. And I hope you are challenging yourself with new projects and even managing some downtime. We need work and play in our lives to stay balanced.
Please join me Friday, July 10th, as the main character in my River City Mystery series guest blogs on the Anastasia Pollock blog. Becca dishes and reveals a few interesting things. I never know what she’s going to say. We might need to talk after this interview.
I’ve been getting a lot done during the pandemic. I think people are falling into two camps – those who can get a lot done and those who aren’t able to be so productive. Both are very valid responses to the unusual times we are living through.
Staying positive is key. I firmly believe that. We have to take care of ourselves, mentally, physically and spiritually.
Nothing lasts forever. There is a finite end to everything, even our lives. The pandemic will end at some point. Life as we know it may be altered somewhat, but we will get back to living our lives and being careful as we go forward.
So keep looking to the future. Plan for it. Do things to keep yourself mentally sharp whether it’s working puzzles or doing brain games. Reading is wonderful for keeping a sharp mind. And for relaxation and enjoyment.
Visit with friends. If you can’t do it safely and responsibly in person, then have a FaceTime meeting or a zoom meeting. I’ve done both and they are great. Not as perfect as being in the same place at the same time, but the next best thing. Maintaining relationships is key to our well-being. Humans do not function well without social contact. Find ways to make it happen. Emails and texts are also great ways to stay in touch with friends and family.
Make sure you have a hobby that you enjoy. Something to occupy your spare time instead of spending it worrying about things. Paint, plant a garden, write a book, play an instrument. Take up photography. Whatever will nurture your soul, fulfill you and enrich your life.
For the physical component, make sure you are exercising. Walking, biking, dancing, doing stretches or strength training. Any movement is good to keep the body in good working order.
Also, make sure you are getting good nutrition and staying hydrated, especially during the hot summer months. Proper hydration will help keep your mind clear and focused as well.
Sleep is crucial. Good sleep. So many people are currently wrestling with getting a good night’s sleep due to the unsettling situations in our lives. Try to meditate before bedtime or put on relaxing music. Set a timer so the music will shut off automatically. Journal at bedtime about the things that are bothering you. Once you commit your thoughts to paper, let them go. If you have to, you can pick them back up in the morning. But let them go at night. Read a good book. I always read at night to get my mind to unwind.
For the spiritual, I’ll leave that up to you. We all have our specific belief systems. Prayer is helpful in general and even more important in trying times. Be in frequent communication with your higher power. There is much in life we cannot control. Turning out problems over to a higher power is very freeing.
In May I published two novels. One was actually a second edition with some reformatting and a pretty new cover. But the other was brand new. And then the real job started. Marketing. I almost say it like it’s a dirty word and that’s because I have quickly found out that I have a lot to learn.
And it is humbling. My learning curve is steep. I’ve been trying things one by one to see what works. So far, I’ve been coming up mostly blank with a lot of back to the drawing board for me moments. And a few successes here and there.
It’s largely made me feel like a creative mess. I have notes everywhere and lists of things to try. Things crossed out and others inserted. Big black Xs by the things that didn’t work. My excel marketing sheet is looking like the loser in some intricate military campaign. Arrows everywhere. Little notations. But not a lot of success as far as reaching new readers.
I’m using social media as much as I can. Not sure how effective that is either. But I’m still very much trying out different things. The very last thing I want to do is look like I’m asking friends and family to buy my books over and over again.
I’m trying to alert them to where I am doing promos and inviting them to take a look – not just at my book, but at the other books offered from the other participating authors. It’s hard for someone who is an introvert to do these kinds of things.
But I do want to succeed as a writer. So I will keep trying to come up with a solid strategy.
If you’re a writer, how do you handle the marketing end of things? And is there any advice you would offer someone trying to learn? If you’re not a writer, and have a good idea for me, I’d like to hear from you too.
As always, I’m focused on my goals. I will keep writing books. And keep trying different things. We learn from our mistakes and sometimes we actually figure things out. Never give up on your dreams.
How many of us have sat in front of a blank sheet of paper? How many of us can identify with crumpled up pieces of paper? How many of us have suffered from writer’s block?
I have. I went through years of writer’s block. I tried and tried to get words down on the page. For the most part unsuccessfully. It was brutal. Ideas were in my head. Characters were talking to me. But there was a huge disconnect going on from my brain to the keyboard. Can any of you identify with that? I hope not, but I suspect I’m not alone in what I went through. Sad to say, but it happens to most writers at one time or another.
But I continued to try to write. There was a lot more crumpled and discarded paper going on.
Oh, I’d have brief moments of success where I’d start a new project and get maybe 50 or 75 pages into it before doubting myself and my abilities and putting it aside. The inability to write was painful. And frustrating.
It’s heartbreaking to have a passion for something and you just cannot sustain it. I had gotten to the point where I had almost resigned myself to the fact that I’d never write again.
But before giving up, I decided to confront my demons once more. Could I beat this thing?
I’m happy to say I have.
So how did I do it?
First, I searched for a writing coach/mentor. Someone who would hold me accountable. Someone I’d pay for the service. I’d tried to do the whole accountability thing with friends, but I had no penalty factor in play. With a paid coach, if I wimped out, I’d lose money.
Second, I set goals. I know I harp on goal setting a lot. But if you set realistic goals for whatever you’re trying to accomplish and steps to reach those goals, it really does work.
Third, I paired with a dear writing friend and asked her for help and accountability too. And this time this did work for me. We do daily check-ins on what we actually get accomplished. We also review our monthly goals with a FaceTime meeting and assess how we did for the past month. And declare our goals for the coming month. This helps to keep me pushing forward.
Because my writer’s block was so strong and of such a lengthy duration, my final step was to work with a therapist to get to the root of my problem. My issue stemmed from the loss of my husband. Things are sometimes connected in ways we’d never think they could be.
And all of my efforts have paid off. I now write every day without fail. I’ve completed two full length mystery novels already this year. I have plotted out two more. And I have concrete ideas for several more books and series. My goal is by year end to have five books for sale. I’m well on my way.
My latest novel is the second book in The River City Mysteries, set in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Your Time is Up. It gives me great joy to see readers buying it and to hear from many who take the time to write to tell me how much they are enjoying it.
The first book in the series,Your Eight O’clock is Dead, is enjoying a new cover and new life as readers discover the story and the series all over again.
What’s stopping you today from pursuing your dreams? I suggest you sit with that for a bit and see if you can write down anything that comes to mind – no matter how far-fetched it might be. I know I discounted a lot of things that really were connected if I’d only taken the time to figure them out.
Do you set goals for yourself? Do you have someone with who you are accountable? Do you review your goals and revise them as needed to get where you want to go? Are your goals realistic? Unrealistic goals will sideline you quicker than anything. Are you prepared to do the hard work? Perseverance can take you far in writing and in life. Giving up or giving in gets you no where.
The key to your success is waiting for you. Pick it up. Figure things out. Get a plan. Implement your plan with concrete actions. Reach for your dreams each and every day. And never give up.
I wish each of you success and happiness in whatever you do.