By Diane Bator (Guest Blogger)
I started down the writing path at a very early age, more to amuse myself than to impress others. Stories fascinated me. Daydreams swept me away to other worlds, other realities I longed to capture and relive time and time again.
I can't recall my earliest stories, they probably had a lot to do with me becoming a famous singer or actress. The later stories, from junior and senior high school, had more depth. Those stories were filled with damaged people who held onto a sliver of hope for a better world.
Later, when I married and had kids, I set aside my passion for writing, only allowing my muse out of the closet occasionally. Still, I didn't take my talents or my passion seriously, it was more something I did to unwind. To daydream.
Eventually, we moved across Canada to a new town 2,000 miles away from home. I discovered a great way to meet like-minded people, I joined a writing group in 2007. My first meeting, I was terrified! We went around the group to introduce ourselves then the group leader gave us a writing prompt and we wrote for 10 minutes. How freeing to write without censoring the thoughts that tumbled out of my head! The fear factor escalated, however, when we were invited to read what we had written. I dove in and read, my hands shaking so hard I couldn't even hold my paper.
I discovered I truly enjoyed working with other writers, working from prompts, and eventually created a complete novel using one prompt at a time. Voila The Bookstore Lady was born. The book had gone through so many different incarnations over the years and while I queried it to every agent and publisher I thought would like it, my story remained unpublished. Not one to sit back and wait patiently, I kept writing. Eventually The Mystery Lady followed. Slowly, I dared to take myself seriously as a writer and dreamed of having one of those novels published.
I've been called a prolific writer, even once I had gone back to a "real" job, not a stay-at-home mom, and taking care of three kids, taking them to appointments and activities and so on. My best time-management secret was to write everywhere. I wrote on lunch breaks, while waiting at appointments, waiting for kids at soccer, karate, baseball, etc. Writer's block was never an issue. Everything that popped into my head, I'd write into a notebook to work on later.
In 2010, I happened upon a writing contest called Murder in Ink sponsored by a small publisher. I entered on a whim and won! My first e-novella, Murder on Manitou, was published in 2012 and print copies soon followed. My daydream started to become reality. This was the catalyst for taking a bigger plunge, becoming involved with an online critique group.
It was through this group, I met a lady who encouraged me to send my novel to an agent she knew. I submitted a query to Dawn Dowdle, who went on to helped me polish The Bookstore Lady to the point we could query it with confidence. The Bookstore Lady was accepted by Books We Love in 2013. Shortly later, they offered to published more books in my Wild Blue Mysteries series. The Mystery Lady was released in March 2014 as an e-book and will be available in print this summer.
As well as the Wild Blue Mysteries series, I am working on a new series that my agent is querying, which I cannot wait to see in print. Sorry, no details yet, but I can say it's a cozy mystery set in an unlikely business I'm very familiar with.
Along with writing, I've picked up some invaluable editing skills. I've had the pleasure of doing critiques for some fellow authors and - as nasty as I feel I've been to them - they seem happy for my help. In turn, I'm more than happy to share what I've learned and help them sell their books. I have to admit, I find it much easier to edit for other people than for myself.
My goal as a writer isn't to become rich or famous. My goal is to write stories people want to read and can enjoy. Many, many, many stories! Rather than give up or tuck everything aside, I've given in to full-fledged goal setting and planning now, with a side of daydreaming when it's time to write.
And now for a little taste from The Mystery Lady.
Wanna-be writer Lucy Stephen never wrote about murder until her husband moved out and now she thinks some man in a blue car is stalking her. When her husband and his girlfriend take her kids on vacation, Lucy discovers a hidden package of jewelry her husband desperately wants back. The more she learns about the assorted pieces, the more Lucy realizes she may never see her kids again and needs to fight for her life with the help of the man who's stalking her.
Lucy clenched her jaw, headed for the door, and marched to the Davidson house, the oldest house the street. The slap of her flip-flops ricocheted down the street like gunshots and drowned out the radio murmuring in his garage. The clatter of tools and revving of the pickup’s engine for the past three hours had finally pushed her over the edge. Again.
She stormed up the asphalt driveway behind a tall, broad-shouldered man and cleared her throat. “Excuse me.”
He straightened up, the top of his head cracking on the open hood of the rusty pickup truck. As he rubbed the wound, she tried not to snicker. If he wasn’t more careful, he’d need to get both he and his truck fixed by professionals.
He ran a greasy hand through his hair, then turned and wiped his hands on his faded blue t-shirt. Six-foot-four and two hundred or so pounds, the man was a mass of tattooed, rippling muscles and had shiny brown curls and pale green eyes. “Well, hello, gorgeous. What brings you by today?”
Lucy sucked in a sharp breath. Totally not her type of guy, yet her hands shook as badly as her voice and her heart raced. Perspiration trickled down her chest in rivers and soaked her tank top as she babbled. “My air conditioner broke down, there’s a hole in our pool, and I’ve had to listen to my kids whine all day because they’re hot and tired. Top that off with listening to you and that stupid truck all afternoon and I’ve had enough. So knock it off.”
Her neighbor could have been sympathetic. He could have even offered to make peace. Instead, he winked and asked, “But aside from that, how are things going?”
“You’re not funny. I have two deadlines, three bored kids, and a flat pool in my yard.” She stopped ranting and pasted on a fake smile. “Other than that, things are wonderful. Thanks for asking.”
He narrowed his lime green eyes. “Was that sarcasm?”
She stared hard. Nope. No way he was her type. Too rude. Too…glistening with sweat and easy on the eyes. When her knees wobbled, she thought about her three kids. “Yeah, that was sarcasm. You’re not the brightest bulb in the string, are you?”
He grinned then studied her. “I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure. Clancy Davidson. Mel and Daisy’s son. I’m watching the house while my mom’s in the hospital.”
“Sorry to hear that.” She folded her arms across her chest, aware he was checking her out inch by sweaty inch. “Lucy. Lucy Stephen. Hot and cranky mom of three.”
“Hot I agree with. I notice you didn’t say married.” His smile made her knees flinch. “Are you sorry to hear my mom’s ill or that I’m staying here?”
“Well, Lucy Stephen. Either I work on the clunker now, or later tonight when I’ll keep you and your three kids awake.” He waved a hand toward her. “Your choice.”
Her shoulders drooped in defeat, but her jaw remained tight and defiant. “Fine, but if I still hear you out here after nine o’clock tonight, I will personally blow this heap up.”
“Honey, if I’m still out here at nine o’clock tonight, you and I’ll have a beer then I’ll supply the dynamite and help you.” He winked then picked up a rag and wiped his hands again.
Unconvinced he was sincere, her gaze shifted back toward her house and she tapped the toe of her flip-flop on the driveway.
Roger always said she’d make a good writer because she was such a drama queen, but maybe she was a drama queen because she was a writer. In truth, her mood was more about Roger and her deep down reluctance to let her kids go with him for the week. Normally, she’d probably have a hard time staying mad at someone like Clancy.
“Look, sweetheart.” He chuckled. “You go back to whatever it is you do all day and have fun with your kids. I’ll pad my tools with bubble wrap so you can relax.”
“You are such a jerk.” She snapped.
“That’s quite an observation considering you just met me. Maybe you should give me a chance to actually be a jerk before you accuse me of such a heinous crime.” He toyed with a wrench.
Fondled? Stroked? Darn her writer’s brain. What was wrong with her? Lucy blew out a frustrated breath then rolled her eyes and stomped away. “Men.”
She stormed up the cobblestone pathway to her front door and cursed under her breath. Her entire body vibrated after her confrontation with Clancy. She glanced over her shoulder to make sure he hadn’t followed. One yard over, Clancy stood in the middle of his driveway grinning then waved.
She huffed. There were a thousand things she needed to do before the kids went away with Roger on Sunday. Every single one of them would make her cry since next week marked the first time they’d ever be away from her and Lucy was already on edge.
After confronting Clancy, the whole neighborhood now knew what a nutcase she really was. Maybe they’d leave her alone so she could write in peace.
Get your copy of The Mystery Lady here: http://www.amazon.com/Mystery-Lady-Wild-Blue-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00J456WK4
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Leave me a comment with your email address, and you could win a print copy of The Bookstore Lady!
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