Wednesday, February 6, 2019


First Wed of Every Month

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

My latest hobby is collecting snow days or ice days, like today. The Midwest, home to blizzards, ten-foot snow drifts, and ice, makes me happy. Don't get me wrong. I HATE winter. But I love SNOW DAYS (when they call and cancel school) !! During the sleet falling last night, we experienced thunder and lightning. What is happening?? Snow days make for a great time to edit and write! 

Okay, I'll get serious. One of my favorite creative outlets other than writing is reading. My kids in the library asked me this week how many books I was currently reading. I admitted that I, the librarian, have a problem. I can't stop. I just finished a Scottish murder mystery/thriller and the second book in the Truly, Devious murder mystery series, which I almost threw across the room when I read the last page. Seriously??? That's how you end?? I was left on a cliffhanger the size of Alaska. I can't deal.  

Reading books in many different genres helps me think creatively to plot and to plan multiple murders--mysteries, people!! I know it sounds morbid, but my younger self always wanted to be a detective. 

Also hiking. Hiking makes me happy. I love exploring the great outdoors!

In other news, I just recorded my first radio interview that went out on Monday on VoiceAmerica radio station!  My publisher wanted to interview an award-winning author. That's me! 

I can't wait to read what everyone else does for fun and inspiration! Now, please, excuse me while I enjoy another snow, er, ice day! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?
Co-Hosts:  Patricia Lynne, Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue!

I've had several people tell me lately they've read my first book and loved it. It amazes me how genuine they are! It was so many books ago.Then they ask, "So, when's your next one coming out?" 

It's almost as bad as the age old question spoken five minutes into a nine hour road trip, "Are we there yet?"

UGH. My middle-grade murder mystery went out on submission a few weeks ago. If only a button existed to make it appear on bookstore shelves instantly! Several more of my mysteries are itching to be released into the wild. My friends don't realize this takes TIME. Lots of time and PATIENCE. I'd love to be able to give them an answer, but it's impossible to tell when in the publishing world. I think this is precisely why people self publish. They have more control over their careers. Call me crazy, but I'm doing this old school, letting my amazing agent work her magic with a group of wonderful publishing houses. 

My favorite writing question is, "Where do you get your story ideas?"

Rubs hands together. "Gather around." *Speaks in a deep, gravely voice next to a camp fire* NO ONE IS SAFE. Friends, family, the people I eavesdrop on in the streets, photos, events, you name it, I take from everything in life and hoard it in my mind palace. 

I hope you've had a relaxing yet productive Christmas break filled with family fun and writing! Here's to the New Year filled with wonderful book news!! 

Monday, December 3, 2018


OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: What are five objects we'd find in your writing space? 

The awesome co-hosts today are December 5 posting of the IWSG are J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker, Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey!

The five essentials you'd find in my writing space besides a laptop, of course, are the following: 

1. Punching bag (when I was querying) Rejection isn't easy. 

2. My favorite middle-grade murder mystery books for inspiring...well-formed plots, of course, silly.

3. A fort made out of my TBR list. Makes a good hiding place when you're trying to write and the kids keep asking about dinner. Sheesh.  

4. Cat one trying to type. 

5. Cat two trying to snuggle.The distractions are real, folks. 

Bonus item: My contract with my agent to remind me that I met my NUMBER ONE GOAL this year!! WOOHOO!!! 

Okay, so I don't really have a punching bag or plans for murder (or do I?) lying around my work space. And my virtual TBR list (I mostly order e-books) dwindles everyday. I just finished James Ponti's excellent MG mystery series, FRAMED!, VANISHED!, TRAPPED! I'm also finishing Sheila Turnage's MG mystery series, Three Times Lucky, Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, and I'm half way through The Odds of Getting Even. Boy, can Turnage write suspense and humor! My hero.  

People in the hallway outside my library door at school must think I'm crazy or plotting murder mysteries. Actually, I'm reading and giggling. Boy, do I read fast! I've tackled countless books since August. I've also written fifty plus pages of my WIP for the month of November. Not as much as I hoped. But I'm planning to write more this month. 

If you witness murder plots, criminal profiling books, and plans for the perfect crime, you've entered my work space. 

Hope you are enjoying this crazy busy month. Happy writing and Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

November #IWSG: The Perks of Being a School Librarian

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?
Co-Hosts:  Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman!

Over the past few years, my creativity has evolved into an insatiable monster. Events, awkward situations, conversations, and personalities get thrown into a folder in the back of my brain, ready to use in any given scene. EVERYTHING that comes my way in life turns into potential story ideas. That goofy middle-aged man I just met would make a great side character. That annoyingly perky woman would make an awesome villain--hiding her real personality behind her perfect life. 

One of the perks of being a school librarian is the interaction with the kids. Eavesdropping on their conversations and watching them in the "wild" (aka school) provides great material since I write middle-grade.

Can you guess the best perk of being a librarian? Yep, I get to read all the books. The other day as I explored the library I discovered a stack of Mark Twain Award books on a top shelf. A whole stack of unread novels just waiting for me! I dove into the first one, a middle-grade mystery, FRAMED! by James Ponti and I was hooked. I read it in a day. Now I'm onto Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. My kids at school are like, "Mrs. Hawes has her nose in a book again." And I'm like, "What? Oh, hey kids, didn't see you there."

I need an intervention.

Anyone else doing NaNo this month? Do you need an intervention? Are you reading all the books? I'm almost ten thousand words into my next murder mystery! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

October #IWSG: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (to write murder mysteries)

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Co-Hosts:  Dolorah @ Book Lover, Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, andChemist Ken!

October affects my writing like no other month. Ideas are piling up faster than the leaves falling. I'm already five thousand words into a new story! There's just something about this season that inspires a well plotted murder mystery. I sense a change in the atmosphere. Haunted houses creep up everywhere. Cooler nights descend on us in shadowy form. Spooky graveyards beckon for a visit. Wax museums become all too real.

My new job (major life change!) as an elementary school librarian has me scrambling for different writing times. Early morning is still a go, but no more afternoon writing binges. Late nights or weekends are my choice for writing all the words now.

Mark Twain's boyhood home town has it all: gorgeous fall colors, haunted houses and wagon rides. Yes, even a disturbingly life-like wax museum. The perfect writing inspiration for me!

Does October inspire you to write? How are you celebrating fall? 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

September #IWSG: Wait For It...(Getting the CALL!!)

First Wed of Every Month

Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month!

I apologize for being MIA last month. My crazy summer ended in a trip to Mackinac Island then off to a new job as an elementary school librarian to getting the most important phone call of my writing career!!! 

Wait for it...

A few weeks ago an agent emailed me (I assumed another lovely rejection) to tell me how much they loved my story. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard this before, but usually they end with a "but it just isn't a good fit for my list right now." Instead, she ended with the words, "I'd like to set up a phone call with you." 

I almost fainted. I most certainly cried. Probably screamed in excitement. Danced around the room a few times. Passed out in my writing chair.

Yes, it was THE CALL. I am now represented by Britt Siess at Martin Literary Management!!!! Britt is kind and knowledgeable and professional and personal! And I'm super excited about her vision for my book and my writing career.

Here's the timeline: 

I started writing this book in November during NANO. I slogged through December and January with tons of self doubt swirling around me, like an endless demon fog with sharp teeth ready to devour every shred of my self confidence. I finally convinced myself to continue in February to the shouting of my critique partner, "FINISH THE BOOK!" After bribing myself with coffee and more coffee, I  exchanged the final draft with my CP in March. I entered my middle-grade murder mystery in a contest at the end of April. Won Runner-Up in said contest!!! 

Confidence boost!!

In June, I entered the fierce competition of Query Kombat and found myself on Michelle Hauck's team. I lost the battle in round one, but became a host save and made it to the agent round. My MG entry THE INK AND PAPER SOCIETY nicknamed "I Can Keep a Secret" got the second highest number of agent requests! However, this summer has been slow, searing hot, and full of crickets. Britt was not one of the requesting agents from Query Kombat. I queried a few agents in July, but then stopped. Seriously, I barely queried this manuscript. Not wanting more rejections (because I freaking LOVE this story!!!!), I enjoyed the rest of my summer. I had queried another agent at her agency, and she kindly referred me to Britt! 

I'm over the moon at attaining my long-time dream of securing literary representation! How's your month going? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July #IWSG: Summer and My Great Expectations

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

Co-Hosts: Nicki Elson, Juneta Key, Tamara Narayan, and Patricia Lynne!

My ultimate writing goals stay the same: agent + book deal + bestseller list. Ha. A girl can dream. Last month I landed in the agent round of Query Kombat. I am pleased to say my middle grade mystery got the second highest amount of requests!! Now I wait. Always waiting. 

This week I am on vacation in the great cheese state of Wisconsin, visiting family and enjoying the great outdoors. Yes, you can actually step outside here and not get your face melted off. Oh, how I've missed my home state---in the summer. Not so much in the winter! 

I hope everyone has lofty writing goals and great expectations! Have a fantastic rest of summer.


Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecuriti...