National Novel Writing Month

Every day, every week, and every month appears to celebrate one or more foods, activities, or occupations these days.

Some of these I celebrate more than others. There are the national holidays which are noted on a sliding scale of enthusiasm. Many I am unaware of unless a social media post catches my attention.

When I started writing seriously, and joined a writing group, (best thing a serious writer can do), I learned of NaNoWriMo. I needed an explanation.

It’s a writing challenge in the month of November. Write, ugly first draft encouraged, a complete novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. That works out to 1,667 words per day or 6.67 pages in standard format.

Novels are included in this bookcase at my house. I wonder if any of them started as a NaNoWriMo project?

Started as a project — then rewritten and polished to publication standards — New Dreams, a sweet, historical romance follows a pair of immigrants to their new life in 1850’s Illinois. Check it our here:


Authors like…

Coffee. Chocolate. Wine (many of us). Readers. And…reviewers.

Have you recently read a book you liked? The sort of book you tell your friend, or neighbor, or friendly neighbor about.

Consider telling a wider audience. Write a review.

Do you have a social media account? This is an excellent place to post the review. Did you purchase the book on-line? Post a review on the retailer’s site.

Did you know this author posts reviews? You can find them under the “book review” tab at the top of this page. One-click and you can find a sample of what I’ve been reading. And perhaps an example of a review to follow.

Here’s the cover of the most recent review — a cozy mystery set in Orange County, CA.


Play? Or Work?

When my sons were small (and not so small) they spent hours and hours building with their interlocking plastic blocks. They explained all sorts of specifications of the robot or spaceship of the day to me.

When they “flew the nest” and set out on their own after graduation, I encouraged them to take “things” with them. However, I laid claim to the plastic blocks. “I may want to use them myself.” I’m not sure what I had in mind when I said that — but I doubt it was this:

Through the years, I discovered I’m a visual, rather than auditory learner. One of the things I’ve done when beginning to write a book, is to draw a map of the fictional town or a floorplan of a key building in the story. Often, the homes and apartments are based on one either I have lived in or visited often.

In early 2021, when planning a historical romance — I decided to try a different approach before I sketched on graph paper. Many adjustments were made. But by the time I got to paper and pencil, the eraser got occasional, not constant, use.

When setting up the living areas in MORNING TRYST, I went to the internet to find an up-to-date floor plan for the motorhome. Check out this sweet romance with an introduction to several Missouri State Parks here:


A Good Dog

Today’s photo gives a peek into a happy day for an author. The arrival of a new book!

A little bit of magic happens when an author holds a copy of THEIR book in their hands. A sense of accomplishment. A dash of pride. I did it! I beat the odds — yes, the world of self-publishing has increased the number of published authors. However, the number decreases in each step of the process.

A large number of people think about writing a book. A percentage of them start writing a book. Fewer finish the book. A an even smaller number navigate the steps of editing, formatting, and publishing.

So cut your friend, neighbor, or relative a little slack. Let them brag for a little. Congratulate them on the accomplishment.

Does the topic appeal to you? Buy and read a copy. Did you like it? Write and post a review.

The title above – SEED OF DESIRE – is a sweet romance set in the small fictional town of Crystal Springs, WI. Meet Beth and Jackson as they overcome obstacles and receive a little help from canine friends. The book is available at all major on-line book retailers. Here’s the Kindle link:


Vital References

Writers read books. I think I’ve mentioned the fact several times over the years.

Writers do research. I’ve touched on this topic. Sometimes, depending upon topic, this can be the most interesting part of writing. After all, unless I already had the idea in hand, why would I visit a Christmas tree farm, or interview an apple orchard owner, or attend dog agility trials, or visit three Missouri state parks and historic sites in one day?

Use the computer search engine? Yes, it comes in handy. I depend on computer information when getting background places difficult or impossible for me to visit. Or looking for historical treatment of a disease. Or what sort of fabric was popular in the United States in 1851? Lots of useful and interesting information — best to double check before you put specifics in your manuscript. (When you have a character use an invention two years before the patent was granted — you risk creditability.)

This writer — and my writer friends — also depend on books. You know, the hold-in-your-hand bound paper volumes.

Popular, and useful, references for the writer in the house. Some, like the almanac and atlas are found in many homes. The use is wide-ranging — who was vice-president of the United States in 1852 or can you drive direct from Point A to B. Others, the human body atlas and gun guide are more specialized. Specialized thesauruses aid the writer to create a better character and present them well on the page. Dictionary? Thesaurus? When you can’t find the right word they can come to your rescue. (Also a great help when your spelling leaves word-check programs scratching their electronic brains.) Are these all? Absolutely not! Books on the craft of writing fill a good sized shelf in my office. Other books — special dictionaries, travel guides, non-fiction history — are scattered from one end of the house to the other. After all — a person never knows when they’ll have the need to find the directions for making soap in the 1830’s — or the name of that particle smaller than an electron.


Second Childhood?

A number of years ago, my children moved out after college. As they headed off to those first apartments, I urged them to take many things. Since then, I’ve presented them with more boxes of their “stuff”. (How did two boys accumulate this much?)

However, one box I kept. I actually informed them it was staying with me — for my second childhood.

Well, that time may have arrived. Within the last week, I’ve pulled it out of the closet, made a great mess on the coffee table, sorted, and set to work.

Yes, I used the word “work”. For I had a purpose and goal as I sorted the Lego blocks. As most readers of this blog are aware — I’m a romance author. We have a reputation for having individual habits and quirks. Well, I’m working on this book, getting ready to start the second draft, and I wanted floor plans for two of my buildings. So I worked out this with each “nub” equal to six inches.

Can you tell the dress shop with living quarters from the cobbler’s shop (formerly the wheelwright’s) building with living space?

Yes, I transfer them to graph paper when I’ve worked out size, doors, and stove locations to my satisfaction. Still uncertain as to the roof design of the second plan.

For the record — I come by a fondness for floorplans honestly. My mother always studied the ones in the Sunday paper.


Space Required

Like many occupations, professions, and hobbies — writing requires a space.

After all, an author needs a surface on which to work. And these days most of us compose and revise and edit on some sort of computer.

Unlike many occupations — writing is portable.

A writing space can vary from day to day. Or hour by hour. Did the coffee shop get too noisy? Is the library too quiet? The patio too cold? Pack up the laptop – or pad and pen – and move to a different sort of space.

What does a writer require? It depends on the author. Some need to flee the chaos of family. Others need to be available when that toddler wakes from their nap. And additions to the laptop mentioned above can be many.

A good chair. Reference books. Drinks and snacks. A method to take and retrieve notes. Music? Noise cancelling headphones? The ideal space varies by author, season, and sort of project.

Space waiting for addition of author.



The Unveiling

In the author circles in which I move, they call it a Cover Reveal.

It’s a good name for the action of making the cover art for a new, or re-released, volume public. In romance it can also imply other things — some of which will remain unsaid in this G-rated blog.

Are you ready for a pretty book cover???

This is a re-release of my debut novel. This sweet romance with a touch of mystery is set in a fictional small Wisconsin town.

The ebook is available for pre-order with an official release date of October 3, 2018. It’s available at your favorite ebook retailer.

The paperback is available from Amazon.

Click on over to the Starr Tree Farm page of this website for a slightly longer description.


My Library Shelf – P

One reference book is followed by another. I promise not to do three in a row.

Police Procedure & Investigation: A Guide for Writers

by Lee Lofland

Don’t believe everything you see — on TV or in the movies!

That’s the biggest takeaway in this volume by an experienced police officer.

An evening’s browse through this book will enlighten the reader to some of the education, equipment, and procedures common to all law enforcement agencies in the United States. Specif chapters are devoted to general qualifications plus; training, equipment, fingerprinting, autopsy, courts, and prisons.

So if you are an author — or one of the curious — this is an excellent source to clarify questions like: Would they need a warrant? Who does the officer writing my speeding ticket report to? Who’s a bailiff? How do they transport prisoners from coast-to-coast? This will be a valuable source.

View this as the basics. If you continue to have specific questions seek further guidance at your library or with your local police department. Many of the larger departments have public relations officers or will point you in the direction to help you “get it right”.

A bracelet fashion statement to avoid.

Check for this volume at your library, bookstore, and on-line.


One word – two meanings

A single English word often has more than one meaning. Most frequently these meanings are related. Walk, for example, can refer to the action of moving by foot or the path where you are treading along.

There are a few exceptions.

Lean.  The meanings for this word vary enough that my dictionary gives it two entries. What does it tell you if you saw a lean man lean against a wall?

Personally, I’d want to know more.

Can you find the two meanings of a single word in this photo?

Check out that eyeball in the distance.