The Strangest Things Happen on the Way to My Desk

This is February’s post, so look out your window and imagine rain or snow pelting down, especially if your in the North West. I meant to write this post on time, just like I plan monthly  to dedicate myself to writing, to make it a priority. I realized the other day that I may not have been putting fingers to keys, but in my brain I was still gathering information. Tidbits of real life that will enrich my writing. Unusual flaws and traits I experienced in the real characters I have met recently. And in times of boredom, I realize I often pull my stories and characters  to the for front of my mind and think about where they have gone and where they should go. So, I am making no more excuses. I think I have been wearing my observation hat quite well. Here are a few of the things I have slipped into my writer’s gear bag recently.

When he gets nervous he drums his thighs. Two fingers on each hand tapping his jeans in rapid succession. He’s a security guard, but used to be a plumber. He sharpens knives on the side.  He quits drumming and pulls out his hunting knife to show off the smooth flat blade. “Sliced open a lot of things with this,” he says.  “It’s so sharp I could fillet a bear before he he to the ground.”

She smokes the shortest marlboro reds one after the other. Her pink plastic cup doesn’t hide her margarita as well as she thinks. Tequila from yesterday wafts from her pores to mix with todays blend. She drums her cup with four fingers eyeing the man with the knife.


At 7 she is crow-like. Can’t resist shiny things on the ground. A nickel, a nail, a piece of glass if the sun makes it shimmer. She grasps them tightly in her pocket. Hidden treasure to worry till her fingers bleed.

He looks over-confident as he saunters over. His gait is wide and bowed like a cowboys. Like he thinks he is cool. It is actually caused by partial paralysis from back surgery. His gate gets wider as his spin disintegrates.

He never lets the small scar on his wrist heal. Picks at it as soon as it seals. A reminder of something?

As soon as anyone asks her a question her eyes dart to her father’s. A half nod from him and she will speak. If he narrows his  eyes, she remains silent.

He plucks his eyebrows until they are close to hairless and red and swollen. It’s 85 degrees outside and his ski hat doesn’t cover the damage. This is meth addict behavior. (Who Knew)

Please share any gems you have observed recently too:)

Sharing My Addiction

In the writing industry, I have taken on many roles. Those that come to mind at the moment: fiction writer, non-fiction writer, copywriter, creative director, editor, publisher, freelancer, news-and-magazine reporter. I’m not so much crazy as…addicted.

Since I penned my first poem as a girl, I have become addicted not only to the act art of writing but also to the business and the science of it. In an industry where so little is certain, one thing I am certain about is that, if you want to be a successful writer, you’d better be an addict!

And it’s not easy being an addict, as any addict will tell you. I also am a wife, the mother of two teens and three dogs, stepmother to three adults, Grandy to five delightful tots, a dutiful daughter, a field-hockey timer and so on. Yet every day, in every direction I look, it’s the writing I feed. In every occupation I undertake, I find promising characters and potential plot lines to fuel my addiction.

In the sauna at the gym I am approached by a withered, bone-thin woman wrapped in a rough white towel: “Do you have a band-aid?” she asks.

“I’m afraid not,” I answer.
She twists her neck from side to side. “How about a comb?”
I begin to wonder if she is homeless and somehow managed to sneak in to use the showers. Perhaps she is the locker thief we have been warned about and is living in the supply closet.
Oops, no. Someone gives her a band-aid and now she is pulling a designer sweater over her head.
End of story? Not for me. I like my scenario better. As I dress, I outline my homeless-locker-thief plot. The old woman might slip into another story. Or maybe I’ll use the thief plot and turn her into a–.

I pick up my teenage son, who is text-fighting with his ex. I sneak a peek at the screen: “I guess I just don’t mean anything to you.” Ah, love gone wrong for a future locker thief. Another plot kernel pops.

Years ago I found out I an not alone in my affliction. I joined The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and got a wonderful gift: a community of sane people who just happen to be crazy in the same ways I’m crazy. I’ve learned much from my peers and my experiences. And perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is one I already knew, albeit intuitively: If I want to master my craft, I must completely immerse myself in it.That’s not crazy; that’s just good research.

I run into a cafe, my writer-vision goggles telescoping around me. I watch flakes drift onto an expensive black suit; a huge ruby glows in the mouth of a skill ring glaring from the gnarled hand that brushes away the dandruff. I activate my other writer senses and detect whiskey on the fermented breath of the man in the line behind me. My writer’s radar picks up a snippet of hushed, urgent conversation….

Welcome to our blog. Now tell us, what dastardly plots and skulking characters did you come across today? Pull up a chair, get comfy and spill. Who knows how we’ll be able to use whatever you tell us about yourself.