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Do you know what month it is?

 It's November so it must be time to NaNoWriMo.  I'm not participating this year as I'm midway through my current manuscript, but for all of you who are, I wish you luck. I did NaNo three times and managed to finish twice. The first drafts were abominable but the words were there, and that's all that counts.  Due to other commitments, I will not be posting inspirational thoughts on FaceBook this year, but I thought I'd post a few here so you can read them as necessary. “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” —Ernest Hemingway “Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.” —Hunter S. Thompson “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.” —Elmore Leonard  “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” —Stephen King “We’re past the age of heroes

It finally happened!

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 It finally happened.  I was beginning to think the day would never come, but it did. Can you guess? My short story was chosen for an anthology!  I feel honored to be included in Best New England Crime Stories 2019: SEASCAPE. I'm not giving away the plot, but the title of the story is The Spice of Life.  Congratulations to all my short-story authors: William Ade, Christine Bagley , Michael Bracken , Tina Tersigni de Bellegarde, Marjorie Howes Drake, Cynthia Drew, Peter W. J. Hayes, Linda Masterson Leszczuk, Adam Meyer, Rory O'Brien, Alan S. Orloff, Ang Pompano, Verena Main Rose, Cynthia Sabelhaus, Harriette Wasserman Sackler, Brenda Seabrooke, Lynn Sheft, Shawn Reilly Simmons, and Janet Raye Stevens

Stumped for a Last Minute Gift?

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I can count the days from now until Christmas on one hand, a fact  I find both exciting and terrifying.  Every year it seems like I get a last minute invitation or surprise visit and I'm left scrambling for a gift. The trend, at least among my friends, is all about downsizing, getting rid of junk, and only wanting gifts that can be worn out or used up--not one more thing to put on a shelf or in a closet. Books are always good, but sometimes it's hard to choose if you don't know the person well. To that end, I offer you my favorite, DIY, comestible gift. It's quick, it's easy, and paired with a box of crackers and a nice bottle of wine, it's the perfect offering. I like to pack it in Christmas-y ramekins. Cheddar Ale Spread  6 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (1 1/2 lbs) 3 oz cream cheese, softened 4 Tbsp butter, softened 3/4 cup ale or beer (not light, you want a robust flavour) 1 tsp dry mustard 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper 1 Beat cheddar,

Is there a support group for my addiction?

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What did we do before Post-Its? Is there a Post-Its Anonymous I can join? Like many (most?) writers I always carry a small note book in my purse to jot down those priceless ideas that pop into my mind at inopportune moments. When I'm home, however, I tend to use pads of sticky notes—probably because they take up less room than having a notebook in every room of the house. This has led to a rather unfortunate decorating style, or lack thereof. Sticky notes adorn the table next to the couch, the wall next to the commode (don't ask), and the bed stand, not to mention the refrigerator. At one point, I even tried color-coding the notes: blue for plot, green for dialog, yellow for description, etc. I gave that up when I ran out of blue Post-its and grabbed whatever colour was at hand leading to a total breakdown of my system. Since then I've managed to control my OCD and use whatever colour is nearest. So proud of myself. Some people are more organized and can

Must Haves for Writers

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Some "must haves" for aspiring writers are obvious—a computer or pen and pad, a good dictionary, a Chicago Style Guide—but I'm thinking more of personality traits. I've been writing seriously for about eight years now. I've finished two mysteries (the first being totally useless) and I'm working on two others. So far, I've received a large number of rejections and not a single agent has jumped at the opportunity to sign me up. No surprise there, but it does highlight a special writer need: perseverance. The dictionary defines perseverance as "steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success." Sounds about right. W ritin g is hard work and it takes time, both to complete the writing (and never ending editing) and to find an editor or publisher. Louis L'Amour received 200 rejections before a publisher took a chance on him. It took J.R.R. Tolkien 12 years to write Lord of the Rings. And just

New Year Goals

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Everyone is familiar with New Year's resolutions -- and how quickly they get broken or forgotten -- so this year instead of resolutions I've made goals, goals with no set timetable, just something to achieve. One of those goals is to simplify and declutter my life, starting with my office and computer.  Between them, my hard drive and filing cabinet have over 4,000 untested recipes.  A staggering number, but one I hope to whittle down by both cooking and simply admitting that "I'm never going to make that!" So my goal for 2017 is to try at least 2 or 3 new recipes each week, to toss the bad ones, and share the good ones. I started the year with a tomato soup which was pretty ghastly, so that recipe went straight into the trash.  My second "taste thrill," as new recipes are know in our family, was a cheddar chive scone.  Delicious and easy. I hope you'll check back here occasionally and try out some of my successes.  And maybe have a good laug

Even if it hurts . . .

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When I started writing many, many moons ago, a friend told me to enter contests even if I had no hope of winning. That seemed like a strange form of masochism at the time, but over the years I've come to appreciate her advice for many reasons. 1 - It's a free, or low cost, way to get objective critiques of your book. 2 - It makes you feel like a part of the writing community. 3 - There's always a deadline and deadlines are good. And today I discovered a fourth: when you've been through a long period of agent rejections, it feels really good to be told that even though you didn't win, you made it to the finals and the reviewers think the book is worthy of publishing. Thank you, reviewers.  PS. I did win one!