Wednesday, December 4, 2019

December #IWSG: "What I Want, What I Really, Really Want."

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. 

December 4 question - Let's play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

The awesome co-hosts for the December 4 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Beverly Stowe McClure, Nicki Elson, Fundy Blue, and Tyrean Martinson!

What I want is MORE TIME! If I were living the dream, my days would be filled with more writing time. On the other hand, I love being a school librarian. Reading hundreds of books a year has tightened my writing, twisted my plots (in a good way), and given me a better understanding of the children's book market.

Even though I'm not a publisher or an owner of a cozy book store, I am a buyer, seller, and lender of kid lit. Easy readers, chapter books, graphic novels, full-length novels fly across my desk. Librarians use Scholastic Book Fair and other avenues for obtaining books. We are the gateway to a child's mind. Okay, that sounded way creepier than I intended.

In a nut shell, we know what genres kids of various ages want to read. This is the advantage of reading more books over more writing time. I've included some fun kid lit data on my new website that is still under construction due to technical difficulites. I promise it's coming soon!

What do you want this Christmas? More writing time? More reading time? More coffee?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your \
November 6 question - What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?

The awesome co-hosts for the November 6 posting of the IWSG are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!

When you're a murder mystery writer (even for kids!), one must google the many facets of detective work and death. My recent google search led me to the definition of county coroner: an elected official who is responsible for the investigation of determine cause and mode of death. 

Well, okay, then. On a lighter note, I dressed up as Hermione Granger for Halloween. And, yes, it snowed the morning of October 31st. I hope everyone has a fantastic November. And may the force be with you if you plan to participate in NaNo.

How about the craziest thing you've ever googled? I can't wait to hear everyone's responses!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

October #IWSG: Speedreading is my Super Power

October 2 optional question:
 It's been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

The awesome co-hosts for the October 2 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

I can't imagine a world without reading. Just as I can't imagine a world without Octobers. Yet, we endured another grueling ninety-five degree day yesterday. Where is my sweater weather???? Meanwhile, in Montana... (No, thanks!)

selective focus photography of orange fruit
free image via Unsplash

As a school librarian, I inspire kids to read every day. Currently, I'm devouring three books a week. Speedreading is my super power! I have no regrets. 

Reading books helps a writer write well. Re-reading my favorite book several times inspires me to reach for my best writing. 

Okay, I won't take all day to say that reading is knowledge. I am a professional book worm who promotes reading for a living. 

My hubs is having carpal tunnel surgery today. Sorry, I am late posting. He had the left hand done last week. He feels amazing after having this procedure! Today will be the right hand. I will visit blogs and respond to comments later in the day. 

Hope you are experiencing sweater weather and not shoveling snow or getting sunburned. Keep writing and READING.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

September #IWSG: Digging Deep into My Soul, er, Amazon Account

September 4 question - If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why?

The awesome co-hosts for the September 4 posting of the IWSG are Gwen Gardner,Doreen McGettigan, Tyrean Martinson, Chemist Ken, andCathrina Constantine!

What a great question for this month's post. To answer this, I must dig deep into my Amazon account. Where are the settings for my novels? What genre of books do I read most? What movies do I watch over and over?

My Pinterest novel research board is locked. I don't need the FBI on my doorstep.However, my other boards contain a few of my favorite things: intimidating mansions with beautiful architecture and a past, spine-tingling abandoned places, dark forests, ancient cemeterys, fog-filled haunted houses, and October landscapes. 

The one place I'd like to sit and write my next story is...

Drum roll, please.

Inside a Harry Potter movie (or book).

free image from Unsplash

I'd enjoy writing any place where mist rises from the river, shadows dance in the firelight, candles hang suspended in the room. England, Ireland, perhaps Scotland? Or Salem, Massachusetts. Hocus Pocus is also one of my favorite movies!! Please don't ask me how many times I've watched this epic classic.

What can I say? I love mysteries, and I love fantasy. I love stories about boarding schools and adventures. And most of all I love fall. I didn't mean to rhyme! 

How about you? I can't wait to hear everyone's top choice.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

#IWSG August: Surprise! School Starts Next Week

First Wed of Every Month

August 7 question - Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you'd forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

The awesome co-hosts for the August 7 posting of the IWSG are Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!

I used to love when my kids went back to school. Now that I'm an elementary school librain, well, my sympathies are in full swing for the children. 

I met a lot of my writing goals this summer. My oldest son (computer science major) is helping me design a new website with Wix. I can't wait to share his amazing talent soon! 

To answer the above question, it's hard to stay positive in this tough writing world. Most surprises that come our way aren't good. I love when my writing takes me to another level--ususally after a long run, a round of editing, and a successful binge watching of Stranger Things.

One positive thing I'm looking forward to is FALL. My favorite time of the year. Story ideas flood my mind when the leaves begin to change. Hello, pumpkin spice! Hello, spooky tales. Hello, Hocus Pocus!

Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tours
It has begun.

Did you meet any goals this year? Any surprises this summer? Are you ready for the school year? Ready for fall? Ready to take the Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tour? 

Monday, July 1, 2019

July #IWSG: Out of the Office

I'm leaving today for vacation! Interent is spotty up North, so I'll see you guys next month.

P.S. We survived the flooding. The levees and flood gates held nicely! Thanks for all your prayers and kind thoughts. Have a fabulous month. Don't mind me. I'll be over here binge watching Stranger Things 3. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019


OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

The awesome co-hosts for the June 5 posting of the IWSG areDiane Burton, Kim Lajevardi,Sylvia Ney, Sarah Foster,Jennifer Hawes, and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

I'm excited to be co-hosting today! Of all the genres in the whole writing realm, mysteries are my absolute favorite. I know I sound like a broken record. The thrill of the chase, the clues, the secrets, the riddles, the red herrings, and the ability to solve the crime before the detective does are just a few of the reasons why I LOVE mysteries. Adult, YA, MG. 

I love the overall vibe and atmosphere presented with each new mystery! 

Yes, our town is partially underwater. But thankfully our flood gates and levees are holding back the Mississippi River from the downtown area!! They even added a five foot extension on all the gates. Here is a pic of Tom Sawyer, literally, fishing in the Big River.

Now, get back to writing. THE GAME IS AFOOT! 

This is located about a mile from downtown where the highway is under water. 

Lover's Leap- Eerily quiet on the river with the no boats or barges restriction!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May #IWSG: The End (of the school year) is Near

First Wed of Every Month

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: 
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
The awesome co-hosts for the May 1 posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin! 

The first time I realized that language had power was after reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in the fifth grade. I never knew I could get lost in a book. Before this, I read well and often for school but not for pleasure. It changed me. Then I discovered mysteries.The rest of my life has become an unending quest to read and write my favorite genre. 

My family and I just returned from a three-day trip to Chicago, enjoying all the sights and sounds of the windy city. And, yes, it was seriously windy!! Navy Pier, the Bean (aka Cloud Gate), Giordanno's were some of the highlights. We moved away from my favorite city about ten years ago. Venturing out into this urban setting made me want to dive back into writing! Ideas are swirling around my head. Just a few more weeks until SUMMER. The end of the school year is near!

I enjoyed taking a few candid shots of my oldest son photographing the city. He has an excellent artistic eye. Not to mention my kid is an amazing techie nerd, majoring in computer science. 

Anyone else looking forward to more writing time? Ready for summer? Taking any trips? Anyone else enjoy the Windy City? I'll make my way around the blogs and answer comments after school.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

April #IWSG: As You Wish...

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: If you could use a wish to help you write just one scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be?
Co-Hosts:  J.H. Moncrieff, Natalie Aguirre, Patsy Collins, and Chemist Ken!

I'm loving where my current MG mystery is headed. However, my full-time school librarian job takes up a lot of time. Yes, I get to read all the books. But right now I'd wish for more writing time. I guess summer's coming, and I'll get my wish!

One of my favorite movies growing up was The Princess Bride. I loved the plot twist of Westley becoming the dread Pirate Roberts, his identity a secret until Princess Buttercup figures it out. As an adult, I enjoy watching Cary Elwes (Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts) as the infamous Pierre Despereaux in the Psych series. You never quite know if he's the good guy or the bad guy. And Shawn worships him to no end. I adore a villain who is more than just an evil overlord. I love the complexity of Despereax;s character especially in Season 8 when he transforms from "world's greatest art thief" to the head of MI6. Yes, it's one of my all-time favorite Psych episodes.

For my current WIP, I wish to create an antagonist that leaves you guessing if he's the good guy in disguise or if he's been the villain the entire time. Wish me luck! 

How about you? What would you wish for? Are you ready for summer? What are your plans? Are you getting in writing time? Who is your favorite villain? 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019


OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?
Co-Hosts:  Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

Each of my novels have been written from the protagonist's point of view. However, I do enjoy reading alternating POVs as well. I don't think I've ever read a novel written from the villain's POV. And, if we're all honest, we know that each villain thinks he's the main character. He is a hero in his own mind.

I love a good villain who is justified by his actions. I loathe antagonists who are ruthless and mean for no good reason. Talk about STEREOTYPE. PREDICTABLE. BORING. Please don't bore your readers. We endure enough tedious, uninteresting, dull, and monotonous moments in our lives already. Working in a school library has taught me one thing: kids won't tolerate boring books. 

I was invited to my first live Twitter chat on Monday night! You can check out the #RevPit feed on Twitter. My middle-grade murder mystery, THE INK AND PAPER SOCIETY, won runner-up in the #RevPit contest last April run by a group of professional editors.This contest led to feedback on my manuscript (other than my wonderful critique partner) and eventually resulted in me getting an agent. 

I'm so over the snow, ice, and below freezing temps. The end is in sight. Fifty-five degrees on Saturday!

I'm on a roll with my new murder mystery. Anyone else having a sudden burst of writing inspiration? I must go to the library this morning--my day job. But I'll try to make my rounds later today! 

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!! 

June #IWSG: The Perfect Storm

                                                                Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We ...