Hat Trick

It’s difficult to switch from writer to reader. I’m in the final phase of editing, and I’m reading my middle-grade mystery for the umpteenth time to see if it flows, hits the vital plot points, and becomes something the reader will, hopefully, have difficulty putting down. The reader in me dives in, and becomes engrossed…

Cut Me Some Slack

No, not you. It’s a message to me, from me, granting permission to step away from the computer screen, to let my brain rest, and mull a plot point over in my brain while I sweep the driveway. Several drafts in, and I’m again at a pivotal point in my story – the Turning Point….

The Moose Stays

  The setting for my middle grade mystery is northern Minnesota. There was no doubt in my mind that a moose had to play a part, had to be in the story somewhere. If you’ve ever lived in, or visited northern Minnesota, you’ll know that the décor usually reflects the breathtaking natural environment and the…

The Story Doesn’t Start at the Beginning

My middle-grade story starts (for the reader) when Emma (my main character), her mother, and her best friend are standing at the imposing entry gates to Moz Hollow. With the first draft complete, I jumped into the second draft.  The scenes were great.  The basic story line was awesome.  But it didn’t feel quite right.  Something…

Trust Me, Emma

Yeah, she did it again.  Emma’s standing in the woods this time, arms crossed in front of her chest, wondering where I’ve been.  She’s a muddy mess and covered in scratches from running through the woods.  She’s not happy about my being gone for as long as I was.  “Where were you?  We were almost…

What Is In Your Attic?

Do you have an attic?  What’s in it? The characters in my middle-grade mystery are lucky – they’re at a Gothic mansion in northern Minnesota and the woman who owns the place is going to bring them up to the attic.  No, she’s not going to lock them up there and leave.  Isabel’s not that…

Don’t Watch Me Write!

Writing, from my perspective, is a solitary endeavor that takes place within the confines of my office. I have two windows that I can stare out of when I’m trying to figure something out or if I’m lost and need to clear my brain for a bit. I hope no one’s looking in. If they…

First Draft – Short, Sweet Celebration!

  Completing the first draft of a story is something to celebrate.  I forged ahead many times when it would be easier to “Select All”, “Delete,” and watch a Netflix movie.  Or go out with friends.  Or have a nap.  I created a beginning, middle, and end.  I did the “Yes!” cheer and gesture like…

Delightful Devices

Writers refer to them as devices.  They are things you use for various reasons in a story, depending on what you need them to do.  In my middle-grade mystery, I’m plucking them from here and there, inserting them into my story, and giving them a job to do. My devices fulfill more than one purpose. …

Apologies to Emma

Emma’s holding the door and looking back at me with an impatient, frustrated look on her face.  She’s got her arms crossed against her chest and is shifting her weight from one foot to the other.  Clearly, she’s been waiting much too long for me to show up.  I try to explain the reasons I’ve…

Striking a Balance

I like strong, female characters. I am one. I can mix cement, handle a chainsaw, and shingle a roof. I want my main character Emma to be able to do the same if the situation presents itself. I also want her to be a feminine, young lady who will grow up to be a confident, self-assured…

Got Senses?

I have to constantly remind myself to stop, look around, and make sure I’m providing a real, sensory world for the characters in my middle-grade story. Emma and her friends have to not only see the Gothic mansion they’re visiting – they have to know that it is old because of the ivy crawling up its…

Becoming a Heroine

The main character in the middle-grade mystery I’m writing doesn’t know it, yet, but she’s about to become a heroine.  Not right now, not exactly at the point of the story where I am, but she will be one when the story ends.  Right now, she’s just a “regular kid” having some adventures and finding…

The Clue About Clues

  I’m pretty clueless (yes, pun intended).  I’m writing my first middle-grade mystery.  I know for certain you can’t solve a mystery without clues.  Now comes the tricky part. How many clues do you plant?  Do they all have to lead somewhere, or can you have some that dead end?  How soon in the story…

Being Afraid

  Were you afraid of the dark when you were little? I suppose it’s one of the “universal” fears. What I suffered from (and maybe still do, to some extent) is termed “nyctophobia,” a word derived from the Greek “nyx” (night) and the Greek “phobos” (fear). Mine was pretty intense. I don’t think it helped…

Outdoor Kids

I know life was different when I was a kid.  I think about those lists that come out periodically, reminding me of all the things that were unheard of when I was growing up (computers, cell phones, email, CD/DVDs).  Conversely, there are lists of things today’s kids will never experience (skate keys, fixing a cassette…

About Cemeteries

I had to get into my middle-grade mind when I wrote a scene for my current work-in-progress about visiting a cemetery.  I thought about cemeteries I visited at that age – one that is most vivid in my memory is Round Lake cemetery, not far from our lake cabin.  My sister and next-cabin friends hiked…