Confessions of a creative mind….

On writing, reading and pretty much anything else

My next big thing

My good friend Edith Maxwell/Tace Baker asked me to participate in this fun post about “The Next Big Thing.” Here’s mine:Image

What is your working title of your book?
I’m struggling with this one! The title of the first book in the series is Kneading to Die, and it fits the baking treats/cat paws/murder theme so well. I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to find just the right one, this time with a Halloween theme! Any ideas?

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I had a discussion with my agent about what types of themes he thought he might be able to sell combined with my interest in animals, and voila! The Pawsitively Organic Gourmet Pet Food Mysteries were born. This is the second book in the series.

What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a cozy mystery – a bit lighthearted, no major violence on stage, an overall fun read.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Stan Connor – Kristen Bell
Nikki Manning – Rooney Mara or Lauren Graham
Jake McGee – That’s a tough one!
Carole Morganwick – Jessica Lange, perhaps?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When Stan’s dairy farmer neighbor meets an untimely death, she wants to be a good neighbor and help his wife on the farm – but the dead farmer’s secrets are making the picturesque setting a dangerous place to be.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I have an agent, John Talbot, and my book will be published by Kensington.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took me about six months for the first book, and I’m thinking it will be about the same here (I hope!)

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Clea Simon’s Pru Marlowe Pet Noir mysteries, Krista Davis’ Domestic Diva mysteries, Miranda James’ Cat in the Stacks mysteries all feature pets.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
All my amazing animal friends, past and present!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Animal lovers — and animal rescuers — will enjoy it and, I hope, find relatable themes. I always wanted to be a voice for animals, and wasn’t sure how my writing would fit into that goal. This series allowed me to do that.  

10 Lessons from 2011.

Yes, 2011 had it’s challenges. I was part of the group cheering it off the clock yesterday. But there’s no denying the lessons I learned during the worst–and best–times. Here are my top 10:

  1. You CAN lose power for days–weeks, even–in this day and age.
  2. There is always something to be grateful for, even when it takes a while to find it.
  3. The universe is always working, if you’re open to it. Even when something seems like a catastrophe, it’s probably working for your highest good.
  4. It is possible to become debt free and build wealth. On any salary. Thank you, Dave Ramsey!
  5. It’s okay to not be who others want you to be, or act how they expect you to act. I can be immune to those opinions.
  6. My voice does count.
  7. Families should love each other unconditionally. If someone in my family doesn’t, it’s on them. Just like if I don’t, it’s on me.
  8. No one is going to hand me confidence. I have to decide to have it.
  9. Dreams really can come true – thank you, John Talbot!
  10. Having your health is everything.

Let’s all have a healthy, blessed, prosperous, productive new year….with lots of lessons.

Let’s try this again.

Last summer when I started this blog, I vowed not to let it be one of “those projects.” You know the ones–we’re all gung-ho about them, and then suddenly we just stop doing them, run out of time, get involved in something else, etc. That was not going to be me. And I did well for the first month.
Then, life happened.
Or rather, I chose to let life be my excuse for why I didn’t feel I had anything to say one week, and then the next, and so on. But there’s always something to say, isn’t there? I think I missed a lot of opportunities to get some stuff down on paper and out of my head.
Then life happened again–good stuff this time. I sold a three-book cozy series to Kensington right before Christmas, with the help of agent John Talbot. The series will feature the cat Nutty and the dog Scruffy (based on the real Tuffy and Shaggy).

I’m thrilled and excited and have a whole lot of great stuff ahead. I need to get back to this blog–or perhaps a new one when my website is up and running–and I need to get marketing, and most importantly, I need to get writing.
So there you have it. My end-of-year resolution. Here’s to a prolific, successful 2012.

Father’s Day, and Forgiveness

Yesterday was Father’s Day. I didn’t call my dad. I thought about him a lot, though, and it was bittersweet, as most holidays are these days. Last month ticked off an entire year I haven’t spoken to either parent.
We’ve had periods of estrangement before, but this one has been the longest. There are a lot of reasons for it, some of which matter, some of which probably don’t anymore. But as I struggle with the guilt that comes with the recovering Catholic territory, I have found I’m learning valuable lessons on forgiveness.
I used to think forgiveness meant I had to suck it up, take whatever anyone felt like dishing out without question, and go back for more. I could never quite comprehend the idea of forgiving someone without actually being in their presence again, or telling them I’d forgiven them. And when I repeatedly completed this cycle, I never quite found the peace or happiness I’d been expecting–and most times, I’d be just as frustrated again soon after, when the subject of my generous forgiveness did something suspiciously similar to what I’d just “forgiven” them for.
Now I realize the concept is much different. I haven’t by any means mastered it yet, but I’m getting better at reconciling it. Forgiveness is for me, not them. It’s there to give me freedom, not give them absolution. If I forgive someone, they don’t even have to know about it. That’s a pretty big breakthrough. Now if I could just figure out how to do the actual forgiving part, I think I’ll be well on my way to healing.
I do hope my dad had a happy day yesterday. I’d like to think something was missing on his end, as it was on mine, but that’s something he needs to figure out. And maybe he has some forgiving to do as well.

Off…And Back On Again.

I’ve been feeling kind of off lately. You know when you just don’t know what the heck is wrong, but don’t feel a hundred percent? So to make myself feel better, I spent some time thinking about all the work I’ve been doing on myself–and no, I don’t mean plastic surgery.

The past five years have been full of challenges, new experiences, opportunities, epiphanies – you name it, it’s happened. I created a whole new life, got my creativity back, took a lot of risks and made a ton of mistakes, celebrated triumphs and mourned failures. I learned a lot about myself, and I’ve validated that age-old idea that happiness does come from within. I’ve mostly figured out what feeds my soul and what doesn’t. I’ve screwed up a lot, too, but hopefully the lessons will outweigh the aggravation.

I’ve become a devoted subject of Louise Hay, Deepak Chopra, The Secret, SARK. I’ve worked with crystals, tried my hand at meditation (not so good at it yet), learned about power animals, started to change my handwriting, bought stock in positivity quotes. I’ve done Transformational Kinesiology, became a homeopathic patient, tried acupuncture and got better at yoga. I even became Reiki I certified, thanks to Kim, and Reiki II is on the horizon. I did The Artist’s Way, which totally changed my life (again, thanks to Kim). I’ve made vision boards, I’ve affirmed myself to the point of no return, and I’ve done P90X. I’ve been really sad, and really happy.

It’s all been pretty awesome.

I still have a lot of work to do–patience and forgiveness come immediately to mind–but I think I’ve done ok. I know there’s more to learn that I haven’t discovered yet. I’m hoping I can take a break from learning hard lessons for a while, and that the next phase comes a bit more easily. I’m grateful for the opportunities that have come my way. Yes, even the ones that came in the form of challenges.

And I’m thinking it’s ok to feel a little off sometimes, as long as I can bring myself back, with gratitude.

Do people REALLY want to be helpful?

I had a conversation with a lovely gentleman today who reminded me of my grandfather – and he said something that stuck with me for the rest of the day. “I believe,” he said, “that most people do want to help each other.”

And so, skeptical, cynical me (who is trying to be better about being skeptical and cynical) spent the rest of the day thinking about this concept. It’s true I’ve met my share of unhelpful people, but that’s actually not what’s been sticking with me lately. I’ve been working really hard to turn that thinking around and focus on the people who have been helpful. From the people in our world – the wonderful friends who donated to Ferris the cat’s surgery and the people who offered to sponsor the stray cats who (continually) wander into the yard –  to the people who help others more broadly, like the staff and volunteers at the Women’s Center of Southeastern CT, the Red Cross rescuers, animal shelter workers – once you really start to think about it, this guy may be on to something.

Like the really good friend who gives up his Saturday to put a fence up for the dogs, or when my boss picks me up a coffee to brighten a crazy day. Or the friend who will drive two hours to do electrical work, or the random neighbor who comes to plow the driveway during the (many) blizzards.

So yes, I think my new friend is right – most people really do want to help. And it makes you want  to help them right back.

Has someone helped you out recently?

Meet the Muses, Part 1

Shaggy the Wonder Schnoodle

I’ll be introducing my many muses sporadically here and I thought I’d start with Shaggy, the South Carolina rescue schnoodle who lights up the world (and annoys a few cats along the way), and Petey, also from SC (and I can’t really tell you what he is).

Shaggy is destined to become a therapy dog. She makes everyone who meets her happy 🙂

Petey

Petey is a cutie in his own right, albeit a bit grouchy….but he’s coming along. Only officially bit me once.

Rapture? Not today, folks.

Well, it’s taken me long enough to get this blog up and running, so what better night to officially launch than post-non-existent Rapture? It’s got to be fate. Or something. But it’s actually really fitting, because when I finally got up to speed on this whole Rapture thing (hey, I had a busy week, what can I say?), I couldn’t help but wonder what my parents were doing about it. I mean, I know the believers are part of the special Camping religion, whatever it’s called, and my parents are staunch Catholics, but still. They spent enough time telling me I was going to hell as a kid, so this would be right up their alley. And my mother is a firm believer that all natural disasters happen because God wants to punish the sinners who are ruining the world. (Yes, I had a fun childhood.)

But really, Rapture talk, in my humble opinion, was simply another way for these fanatics to have a platform, to take gullible, insecure people’s money, and ultimately, to instill fear. I mean, really, people – 6 p.m. eastern time? You think the Bible gets that specific?

Whether you’re a Camping follower or a fanatic subscribing to another religion, understand this: Your fellow humans who are inherently good people doing mostly the right thing every day don’t want to hear your preaching, your doomsday  prophecies, or your judgments. We’re okay. We’re still here. And I, for one, would rather put my energy into doing something worthwhile for a person or an animal – not predicting their fiery destruction. I’m not an expert, but I suspect that might be a better way to get into heaven.

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