Ready. Set. Research.

Have you ever finished a book, sat back with a sigh, and thought how easy it must have been to write the story?

Want to know a secret? (Well, it’s not really a secret.)

Writing a book is work. It takes time. Effort. And an active “delete” key.

And no matter what you are writing – fiction or non-fiction, past, present, or future – a good author researches. To get the facts straight– to be consistent in the fantasy world they are building.

Twenty-seven days from the time this blog post releases — my new contemporary novel Morning Tryst will release. (Available for pre-order now.)

Considerable hours of research went into the project. Much of it was on the computer — the internet is very helpful in a great many things. Some things I picked up in conversations with friends at various times in my life. But, due to the setting of the story, this particular book required some road trips.

Some of the basic needs for my research trips to the various Missouri State Parks. A few years ago, I purchased the “coffee table” book Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites. This volume has wandered around the house, and state, as I used it as a reference before or during each visit. Park brochures were useful and the park maps. I also had a state road map, my phone, and water. Often a bottle of juice or soda shared a spot in the insulated bag with water, ice (you can freeze a bottle of water and use as an ice pack) and snacks. I never camped in the parks, but I did drive through a few of the campgrounds in the off season (when I would not disturb campers). I hiked a few portions of trails. While not in the photo, I always took my camera. Hat, coat (depending on season), and good walking shoes were required.

Want to re-create an adventure from the book?

Pick a state park near your home. Supply yourself with some of the “basics” from above. Check the weather. GO! Friend or family member want to go along? Great! No one else interested? Go anyway. Picnic is optional. Sense of humor and desire for adventure required.

Who knows — after a little time in fresh air, a visit to forest, lake, or historical site — you may have an improved outlook and attitude.

At sunrise, the world displays a moment of hope and promise.

To pre-order Morning Tryst use the links below:

Kindle readers: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

Nook readers: https://bit.ly/3IQfFeG

The Countdown Begins

Five…four…three…

Yes, I’m of the generation that listened to lots and lots of countdowns for rocket launches. Does this mean I’m good at counting backward? Not necessarily.

Today, I’m starting a one month, actually 31 days from today, countdown to the release of Morning Tryst.

Test yourself at this series of questions.

Do you like to read?

Do you like to read novels?

Do you like to read romance?

If you answered one, two, or three of the above with “yes”, I urge you to check out this sweet contemporary romance with mature characters — you know, the sort of people that have lived enough life to know what they want.

Listen in as the two main characters introduce themselves to each other.

Zack Sans, part-time bartender and full-time irritation to the relatives.

Serena Carter, free-lance photographer and Navy veteran.

Preorder your Amazon copy here: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

Nook readers preorder here: https://bit.ly/3IQfFeG

Silent Witness

Have you ever been a witness?

I’m not limiting this to the courtroom. Have you witnessed a wedding? A birth? An accident?

Perhaps, in your role as witness, you need to sign a marriage or birth certificate. Or give a statement to an official. In other cases, you may have witnessed something and been able to nip gossip before it took root.

In these days of cameras capturing more and more of our life, little snips of video act as a witness. But the other day, when exploring a State Historic Site and having my mind on locating items on the site map — I found a new sort of witness.

While I’ve seen my share of survey and geological markers in my life, and read the warnings not to move or disturb, this is the first Witness Post I’ve encountered.

Have you found a new-to-you marker recently?

Summer Project

Here we are, near the middle of May. Students are graduating and/or anticipating the end of the academic year in the United States. Parents are planning activities or childcare for the summer.

Are you the sort of person who makes a special plan for summer?

When I was a child, summer had some scheduled activities: one or two weeks of swimming lessons, 4-H projects to get ready for the county fair, and summer band during high school.

But I guess I’ve always been a goal type person. I’d set reading goals — reading Gone with the Wind filled a good portion of one summer. Several other novels we had in the house filled hours in other years.

Last year, with travel still rather limited, for the first time in several years I set a reading goal.

Many hours from May through August were spend with one of these volumes on my lap. I enjoyed the organization and learned a few new things along the way. Am I ready to give these to the next reader?

Not yet. One of these days, I’ll actually compare the information I have on the units the great, great uncles served in and try to locate when and where they put their lives in danger from battle. (This was the army in 1861-65, lives were always in danger from disease and accident.)

Did you have ancestors involved in this war? One or both sides?

The Greening

During 2021 I tried keeping an informal record of the most prominent tree visible from my front door.

The assignment, carried out with a passing grade, was to photograph the tree from approximately the same position on the first day of each month. (Due to the age of my brain — some photos were taken on the second, or third, or…you get the idea.)

May happened to be a month when I was prompt.

Spring was making an appearance in St. Louis during May. From an April photo of mostly bare twigs, we’re progressed to light green, small, and delicate leaves. At the moment, it does not provide much shade for the car parked nearby. But that’s okay — even the afternoon sun is not strong enough to be a bother. However, the leaves at this stage give hope that the alternating cool and warm days of spring will yield to full summer by the time schools dismiss and swimming pools open.

Did the photographer stand in the middle of the street to take this?

Yes, she did. However, she did follow the wise advice to check traffic first and was ready to dash to the side if necessary.

Time Travel

Tuesday, at lunch, I journeyed to 1815 Vienna.

Two weeks ago, I was in 1870’s London.

Early in April, I visited Tang Dynasty China.

Impossible? No, easy. Long before the pandemic of 2020-21 kept me close to home, I traveled through time and space in books.

Does real travel enrich your life? Absolutely. While visiting 1815 Vienna, the references to St. Stephens, a wine garden, and the plague pillar were more vivid for having seen them in person. The sights and sounds of the London I visited several years ago may be different — cars and buses have replaced carriages and wagons. Certain landmarks remain. Does the heroine dash past St. Paul’s? Cross the river at the Tower Bridge?

Do you prefer non-fiction? Try a biography and put yourself in Thomas Jefferson or George Marshall’s shoes.

Want to escape this world and all the current problems? May I suggest the science fiction section of your local bookstore or library?

Also visited in 2022: 1855 Wisconsin, 1740 Scotland, plus previously mentioned Tang Dynasty China.

Welcome May

Did you celebrate May Day?

When I was a child, the tradition was to make a paper cone basket, add some early flowers, take the gift to a neighbor, and run away before they answered the door.

Or did you have a party? Special food? Dancing? Is a May Pole part of your tradition?

The month of May includes lots of good things. Warmer weather to plant gardens. Grass, nurtured by spring rain, races toward the sun. Mother’s Day is celebrated in the United States. My high school and college graduations had May dates — as did those for my children. Memorial Day — to remember those fallen in war — ends the month. (And begins the summer weekend traditions.)

The delicate blossoms of lily-of-the-valley greet people from shady spots in flower beds. This official flower of the month is one of my favorites. Breath deep — can you imagine the scent?

Bouquet of Milestones

In my current career, I’ve met a number of authors. Some successful. Others struggling with various steps on the writing path. What I have not met, or even heard referred to by these author friends and acquaintances, is an author who wrote an entire book without encountering obstacles and then continued unobstructed to be published and make thousands of sales.

A more common experience is a mixture of days of progress and hours, or days, of mired down in writing or publishing problems. If you think in graphs, do NOT draw a smooth, ascending line from start to goal. If an author is lucky, the graph would be jerky steps in a generally upward direction. Other time, the trend goes down, perhaps as far as needing to start over.

How does an author cope? Well, it varies by the person — but a common way is to set small goals and celebrate when each is achieved. Did you meet your word count for the week? Treat yourself to…a manicure? Ice cream? Visit to a museum?

One of the writing groups I belong to celebrates specific milestones once a year. Each color representing a different achievement in the writing and publishing process. When I’ve had a “down” day, perhaps where chapters had to be discarded or a publisher sent a rejection — this bouquet offers a little comfort. “You’ve done this before. You can do it again.”

Top Reason to Eat Cake

Have you eaten cake recently? Within the last month? Week? Yesterday?

Perhaps you seldom bake. That’s fine. Many restaurants offer cake on the dessert menu. Too full after a meal out? How about a “to go” box?

A cake exists for almost every taste. My brother’s favorite is chocolate. I prefer Angel food. Lemon is a beautiful flavor for summer. Perhaps carrot cake is more to your liking.

Just in case you need a reason…

CELEBRATE WITH CAKE!

Joyful Author

Several things bring a smile to an author’s face.

The phrase: The End.

A contract with a publisher.

A royalty check.

And — (drum roll) — receiving the first copies of a new book.

To my great pleasure – and mild surprise – I arrived home from errands to find a box on my doorstep. A wonderful box. Splashed with a scenic sunrise and camera on the cover. And my name — I don’t care if it’s your first book or your hundred and first (I’m far from that number), a joyful bubble forms when you see your name across the book cover.

Morning Tryst is a sweet contemporary romance. I ask you to join Serena and Zack in their journey of discovery – of each other and themselves – in this California and Missouri setting.

Available June 20, 2022 from all major on-line retailers. Pre-orders accepted now.

Here’s a link to a popular one: https://amzn.to/36AKzuv