If You Want Something Done . . .

I’ve heard the saying over and over . . . “if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.”  Always thought that saying was for the anal-retentive amongst us, and not for us creative types. I mean, who wants to be busy day in and day out?  I was quite happy for a long time to hang back when the call for volunteers and help went out.

Book copies from the publisher.

Success comes from getting the work done!

“Sorry, no can do. I’m in search of my Muse today.”

But then, I joined Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America.  Life picked up and I was running around doing a lot of volunteer work.  Still, there was no organization to my day.  If something slipped I thought, “I’m not getting paid for this after all.” I simply let the guilt build up dust bunny castles in the corners of my mind until I finally got whatever project was on my mind done.

Today, I’m looking toward having full time work again.  This is so cool!  I’ll actually get a pay check (hopefully) in the next couple of months.  No matter how small the check, I find work with pay a very self-validating experience. Ego boosting at its finest.  Thing is, will there still be time to write?


In fact, I think that work is just what the doctor ordered for the writer’s block I’ve been indulging in for far too long.  When I wrote Faith on the Rocks, I was working full time as a vice president of marketing for a software company.  And when I wrote Sliced Vegetarian, I had two or three clients that were keeping me busy full time.  When those jobs stopped, I found myself doing a whole lot of busy work without getting anything done.

And then, this summer, I noticed something about the stars of publishing–they’re really busy doing what they do too.

I spoke with Desiree Holt, who writes about 17 (SEVENTEEN!) novels a year.  She said she’s always excited to write and has projects in varying degrees of completeness going all of the time.  When she meets an interesting person, she takes his or her picture and asks them personal questions about themselves.  Her character driven erotica novels are rich with this constant level of input from the world around her.

Jeffery Deaver also spoke of having multiple works in process.  Joan Johnston, Cindi Myers, and many more successful authors keep plugging away with multiple successes. Slow learner here, but I finally caught on.

But all of these writers, to the best of my knowledge, started by being busy in their “work lives” before becoming full time authors.  Are you seeing trend here?

Creating ideas in a vacuum may not be the way to get things done.  Sitting around looking for that perfect moment, when the light flows across your page in such a way that every good feeling abounds and the words flow like champaign on New Year’s eve,  is for the birds.  I believe the human experience is as much about what we soak up in a day as it is about how we digest our experiences and put them down in story for others to enjoy.

When you have a job, you make time to read (because we writers love the written word) and carve out that sacred hour a day for writing.  You naturally become that busy person others admire or think of as an over-achiever. But don’t tell anyone that you wouldn’t want to be sitting in a quiet corner of your house, hoping your Muse will make a visit. That’s our secret.

I’m going back to work, and I couldn’t be more excited.  I hope that having new experiences will help me become a better writer–or at least a more organized one.

Wishing you a productive week.

Michele W photo of Sliced Vegetarian

Thank you Michele W.

P.S. THANK YOU to Michele W. who sent this photo from her library.  Ooh! I feel like a real author sometimes.


Bouchercon 2015–Raleigh and Readers

Liesa with Beth Ann at Bouchercon

Beth Ann from Jackson, MI is a great reader!

Last week, I had the chance to visit with readers from all over the country as I attended Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Activities spread between two large hotels, and I’d have to guess there were about 1,000 readers, writers, reviewers, and others from the publishing industry.  If you ever want to steep your soul in crime writing and reading, Bouchercon is the place to go.

The panel discussions were thoughtful, humorous, and sometimes provocative, as we listened to writers cover such topics as “Just the Facts: The Police Procedural,” “Mysteries: Small Towns/Big Secrets,” or “American Guests of Honor Spotlight with Kathy Reichs, Tom Franklin and Oline H. Cogdil.” More than three days of this left me with my head in a creative swirl and full of gratitude for the many readers who came, bought books and asked authors for autographs.

Moderator Catherine Dilts at Bouchercon

Great times with “Taking the Reader on a Journey,” and moderator Catherine Dilts.

Much of my time was spent with authors Catherine Dilts and Patricia Coleman as we visited each others’ panels and enjoyed a “death by chocolate” evening sponsored by the Raleigh chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Some of the take-aways for writing I garnered included:

  • Writing mystery is a great way to get to know the victim.  If you explore your victim’s life through the sleuths, suspects, and witnesses, your story has a richer texture for your readers–Oline Gogdill
  • When writing short fiction, find the one interesting thing that happens and focus on it in your writing–Pam DeVoe
  • The author gives a blank coloring book to the reader with his/her story. The reader has the crayons to color it in.  Keep the crayons in the reader’s hands–Chantelle Osman.
  • Great fiction comes out of problems–Tom Franklin.

Another reason to like Bouchercon is that so many writing recognitions and awards are announced there.  These awards include the McCavity, The Derringer, and, of course, The Anthony awards.

The McCavity is named for T.S. Eliot’s cat, McCavity, and is awarded by the Mystery Readers international group.  The Derringer is awarded for excellence in short mystery fiction as voted on by members of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.  And the Anthony, named for William Anthony Parker White, pen name Anthony Boucher, is awarded by the people who come to the Bouchercon convention.

Stop, You’re Killing Me editors Lucinda Surber and Stan Ulrich keep an up-to-date list of all these writing awards on their site.  They were at Bouchercon again and helped people find more great reads.

Next year, Bouchercon will move to New Orleans.  Should be great.