It’s good to come up for air once in awhile! All work and we know what happens to Jack. I try not to let my “real” life and my writer’s life encroach on one another. There’s a line. But when I’m trying to finish a book in the month of May, that line gets downright fuzzy!
For example, civic duty- something I take seriously. If you live in a community, you should be an active part of that community – give back when you can. I’m a big supporter of non-profits especially when they raise money to further the education of young adults. Of consequence, I belong to the University Women of Flagler, a local group that fundraises to provide scholarships for young women graduating high school and entering college. I think I wrote about our fundraiser this year – bringing Craig Johnson of Longmire fame to Palm Coast
So, May is the month we interview possible scholarship recipients and give our money away. In the last two years we’ve awarded almost forty thousand dollars to a very bright, talented, group of young women. It’s a lot of extra work (we had 29 applicants this year that narrowed down to 14 to interview and then decided upon 5 recipients). And I find myself needing to juggle writing vs. being on the scholarship committee. I know what you’re thinking, but saying No is not an option.
I’m happy to say that this May I’ve survived – I’ve managed to finish a “rough” version of my next Ben Pecos novel, Under A Mulberry Moon, AND, as of yesterday, to hand out five scholarships! Whew! Back to getting between those covers!
Oh yes, if you’re curious about Mulberry, here’s an excerpt. I’m liking this book (can you forgive me saying that?), but
I’m bringing Ben and Julie to Florida and enjoying introducing them to my new home….
. . . She heard the nervous giggles before she looked up. Or maybe she heard a click, she couldn’t say for certain. What she did remember was staring at the revolver as it came toward her—at the barrel before it came to rest against her temple. There was a confused moment of “Where am I?” Her brain refused to register the situation. But a chorus of “Miss Beltzer, help me, me first” echoed in her ears. She had to calm her nerves—this was a third grade classroom. She was the teacher and she acted accordingly. “Put the gun down, Toby.” She kept her voice just above a whisper and didn’t try to get up from her kneeling position beside the low table. She was helping the group of boys with math, nothing more, nothing less—she didn’t want to put others in danger. . .
I love the ocean–it certainly has its own brand of beauty. But when I think of missing my “home”, I’m thinking of New Mexico. I don’t think there’s any other state so defined by color as it is. This picture of spring in NM captures that. It’s a land of the earth whether it’s sand-hued adobes, acres of white sand or golden clay-yellow mesas. I always knew when traveling back to my home exactly when I crossed the state-line–the scenery, and color, was that distinct. I think I mention in one of my novels that it’s really earned the motto: Land of enchantment.
Tell me about your home state…. what defines Spring where you are? What part does color play?
I love cozy reading or writing corners. I want both of those areas to be private and quiet! My reading corner is
at one end of my lanai–Florida’s term for a screened or glassed-in porch. It’s comfy, well-lighted and tucked
away from the rest of my bungalow–yes, I’m big on “tiny” homes.
My office is in an alcove at the other end of the lanai. My only prerequisite for a working space? A window above
my desk! Not sure why but it’s important that I have an opening to the real world close by. It’s more than just the
natural light–somehow I can’t see staring at a wall when I’m thinking through a scene or troublesome element
of a story. Maybe it’s just the promise of escapism–if I work really hard I can go out and play later?
Do you have special places set aside to read? Or maybe write? If so, what makes them special?
Every once in awhile, writers get recognized and not just on the Oscars!
I’ve written for a local magazine, The Pelican Post, for the last two and half years. It’s an eye-catching quarterly that
is known for great local interest articles, super photography, and even publishing the tide tables–a plus for all
fishermen in the area. I’ve loved my assignments. I’ve written about our local humane society (its an absolute
miracle that nothing furry followed me home), the Intracoastal Fishing Contest, the Artist of the Year, the Modern
Western and many other topics. It’s allowed me to get acquainted with my community and highlight some of the
special events offered. Article writing is fun. In the eighty thousand words or so of a novel, I can meander around
a bit but not so in the eight hundred words of an article. That’s a challenge. This “thank you” plaque was a wonderful
There are book signings . . . and then there are BOOK SIGNINGS!! I wish I had a nickel for every library broom closet, tiny Indy bookstore backroom or outdoor patio in the rain (yes, I know it never rains in Southern California) that I’ve signed in. I think it was past experience that made me want to have a gala book signing when I brought Craig Johnson (of Longmire fame) to Palm Coast, Florida on February 3.
His fans come in three categories: rabid, semi-rabid and “Craig who?” I managed to find one-hundred and fifty-two fans from the first category and made a mere signing into an event. Starting with the venue: a turn of the last century dairy barn surrounded by horses served as backdrop. Absolutely fitting for Walt. Then, perhaps, the best grilled chicken ever for a chuck wagon lunch, moving onto an interview and book signing and ending with a local C/W band with line-dancing lessons offered by one of our members. This was a fundraising event sponsored by the University Women of Flagler and all monies go to scholarships for young women in the area.
Flagler County’s own Sheriff Rick Staly attended gifting Craig with a commemorative coin celebrating Florida law enforcement. I really couldn’t have improved upon the day. It was a neat celebration of reading and camaraderie and just plain fun. Craig has never met an audience he didn’t like and is a great, personable speaker. One woman—and I don’t think she was joking—suggested a campaign to draft Craig to run for political office. I think I better warn him!
My writing career began in New Mexico with Tony Hillerman as my mentor—Tony wrote about the Navajo, and my first series involved Pueblo Indians. Having spent time on various reservations, I wrote what I knew about, and Tony answered all the dumb beginning writer questions I had and then some. What came out of that support was a series I was reluctant to put on the shelf.
But by then I’d tossed my two Schnauzers and four canaries into the SUV and moved to Florida. People marvel that I moved to the ocean without friends or family in the area but they forget I have wonderful friends who live in my head. I’m never alone. OK, maybe that’s a bit too weird, but you know what I mean.
Ben Pecos was one of those characters who has always demanded more page-time. My first “fictional child,” so to speak, will always be the favorite. And I’m writing about him again! Florida is rich with Native lore and as an Indian Health Services’ psychologist, Ben can move anywhere. So, as you can imagine I jumped at a chance to write him into new situations here. I’m currently hard at work on Under A Mulberry Moon.
Thank you for joining me!
This Winter/ Spring is an exciting time as I have several Ben Pecos titles that will be released in all e-book formats for the first time. I will post fun facts and a bit more about my writing and teaching experiences … so check back frequently.
If you haven’t already joined my mailing list for my newsletter – join now! In the coming months, there will be opportunities for monthly prize drawings… don’t miss out!