You cannot capture a dream until you reach for it.

computer cat

A top organization for mystery writers, SISTERS IN CRIME, tossed us an array of topics for their September SinC-Up blog hop. One captured me: “What’s the best part of writing for you?”

I’m tempted to reply, “Typing THE END.”
Or receiving the check.  (Not frequent enough)

Yet, the most fun & exciting part is when the seed of an idea begins to blossom into a story. Characters & storytlines burst forth, sometimes in rapidfire.

dog writer

It’s thrilling as characters pop out to demand their roles and the story spills in spurts, trickles or a flood.  The questions entice me.   Who? What happened? Where? Why?

It’s fun to weave threads in the tapestry of a mystery.  Playing with action/reaction, suspects and motives, red herrings and foreshadowing, artful confusion with a touch of slight of hand.  We are the masters– the creators, yet the story takes on a life of its own.

rainbow lightning

Midbook complications, hidden clues revealed, who gets knocked off next?  Challenges just keep rolling.

Causing trouble, playing havoc with our characters and allowing good to triumph over evil at the end is satisfying.  In our books we can do that — real life, not so much.

one g

Yay, it’s done!

owl & kitty

MY link:
cat reading
Now hop over to another blog:
SINC:

Design Duo Top Tips

DD metal-fireplace-

Cara Fazio & Maggie Ross of my Design Duo mystery series offer these interior decorating tips:

Whether you live in a tiny apartment, a sprawling house or a penthouse loft, surround yourself with things you enjoy. It doesn’t matter if it’s a flea market bargain, family heirloom or a designer chair, decorate with what inspires you, feels comfortable and makes you smile.

#1   Combine things you love and they will go together.

DD dining room

#2   Avoid going overboard with themes, matchy-matchy or collections.

#3   Dare to blend styles, as well as woods & metals.

#4   Color & texture add depth to a room.

#5   Furniture appears smaller in the showroom.  Always check dimensions before buying.

#6   Bold colors, patterns or prints in fabrics, pillows and accent pieces are more easily switched out than an expensive sofa.

#7   Create vignettes. We call it spot decorating. Imagine each area as an artistic snapshot.

#8    Weave beauty with the W guide.  Vary height and size whether you are hanging a wall grouping, arranging flowers in a vase or decorating a fireplace mantel.

#9    Capture the magic of three.  Cluster a trio of candles. Three of something adds an artistic touch.

#10   Build your decor around an object that enchants you.  It can be a painting, a fabric swatch, a Tuscan wall hanging or a flower pot from the garden.  Maybe your favorite mug or toss pillow? Use the colors and design to guide your choices.

DD Tuscan urn trio

DD corner crop

DD bed

DD ken's shelves

DD fireplace & logs

Make your home the place you belong, a place as unique and special as you.

sculpture

DD hall sculpture

CAPTURING CHRISTMAS

blue ornament

Someone asked if I was dreading Christmas season this year. I think they were joking. 

Maybe not.  Last year I got the flu, was ill through much of the holiday season and the year before I fell & broke my ankle curtailing many holiday activities.   Both still were very special Christmases full of blessings.

tree with star

Many times over the years the holidays have been bittersweet missing lost love ones and facing life challenges.  Yet the eternal spirit of Christmas always shimmers through– whether it’s a choir singing like an angel chorus, or wonder sparkling in the eyes of a child, or the joy deep within as we listen once again to the story of baby Jesus.

star above

So I intend to celebrate the holiday season this year  and will try to share a few moments with you,  family & friends.

WHISPER of MAGIC

magical-sunset-marina-likholat by Karen Elizabeth Rigley

Magic exists. It’s not just in the pages of story in once upon a time or happily ever after, sparking imagination of riding upon wings of a dragon, finding leprechaun gold or chasing a unicorn.

Every day magic surrounds us. Hear it in the whisper of butterfly wings, the snick of a door at midnight or the sigh of a baby dreaming. Discover magic in communications at your fingertips, the glory of a sunset or music that lifts your heart. Revel in the magic of a kiss, the purr of a kitten, or the timely call of a friend when you’re feeling blue. Savor a pine-scented breeze or ocean waves swishing your toes, or share wonder through a child’s eyes.

Our world teems with magic – we only must look for it. I wish you magic!

pink & blue sunset

Butterflies_wallpapers_136

rainbow lightning

My book links:

 
 

REBOOTING MY FLOWERS

flower images
Grass and weeds won the battle, tangled with flower roots so badly in my front flower bed, all plants had to be completely dug out. Now I need to start over. Reboot with new plants and bulbs. Only a few old-fashion daylilies and iris survived. I’m going for easy care perennials hardy enough to handle the cold snowy winters and hot dry summers in my area. To my delight there’s a potpourri of choices, restricted somewhat by price, time, energy and planting zone.

So far I’ve planted snow-in-summer, columbine, lavender, purple sage, basket-of-gold, plus the bare roots of daylilies, dwarf lilies & oriental lilies. I want to get balloon flowers, Cupid Darts, and something fragrant. Also planting anemone Grecian windflowers, hardy gladiolas, and bleeding hearts. Waiting until after Mother’s Day to plant tender flowers. The Rockies are notorious for sudden spring freezes or snowstorms hitting after a sunny seventy degree day. ;-)

My goal is add a potpourri of color with coreopsis for cheerful yellow next to feathery blue flax, some pink evening primrose, purple Liatris (feather flowers) and coral bells. It’s fun to cluster color together the way Nature paints a meadow.

Right now my garden looks sparse and a bit sad, but hopefully someday it will bloom like these:

flowers 2

PerennialsPhoto

Is It Spring, Yet?

On the doorstep of springtime, I’m staring out the window at piles of snow. Under there somewhere crocus, hyacinths and anemone windflowers struggle to sprout.

Usually by now they are already up and possibly blooming in violet, yellow or white.  Hardy, yet too delicate to battle this much snow, it temps me to shovel out the front garden.  Hmm, maybe not.

Spring promises us rebirth and renewal from tiny seeds to leaf buds on a giant oak, from baby lambs to robin eggs of blue, and from snow and ice to warm fragrant breezes and sunshine.

Here are a couple of my poems to celebrate the coming season:

SPRING

Nature

buds

with

promise

of

life,

beauty

and

renewal.

FAREWELL WINTER

Exploring tulip pokes shoots out

of melting ice and snow frosted ground,

daring winter dangers to scout

promise of springtime coming ‘round.

Proving to be one brave fellow

crocus blooms purple, white or yellow.

Sunshine!

Snowmelt! Birdsongs! A thaw to last.

Earth liberated from arctic blast.

Jonquil unfolds her lemon skirt;

leaves bud on branches too long bare;

March showers splatter garden dirt;

hyacinth blossoms scent the air.

Azure skies romance cloud puffs high

while all nature is heard to sigh,

Sunshine!

Snowmelt! Birdsongs! A thaw to last.

Earth liberated from arctic blast.

                                                                                           Karen Elizabeth Rigley

My links:

 

Leann, I was a fan even before you began your Cats in Trouble series, so this is special to interview you for MMC.

Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary.  What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?

I believe Mystery Most Cozy has always been so wonderful for reader interaction and fan support.

When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

I searched for groups a long time ago that brought together those who love the cozy genre and I joined as soon as I found this group. I’ll be a member as long as the group continues!

How did you know you were meant to write?

I started writing mysteries when I was in the 4th grade so I believe I was always meant to write. It just took me a long time to get up the courage to learn what I needed to know to create a coherent story and to get published. It’s tough putting your work out for criticism and rejection, but I survived and persisted.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

I love puzzles and I love human motivation. What makes a person a killer? What puts a person in harm’s way? I always look at mysteries from both sides of that equation. I do like a juicy secret.

What inspired you to write your mysteries?

First it was Dame Agatha. But then, I think the first truly awful mystery I read was the final motivation, as strange as that may sound. I thought, “If this can get published, then I can do better.” Of course I was quickly humbled by the gigantic learning curve involved in becoming a published writer. It took eleven years from the time I finished my first book to its publication. That’s persistence!

What intrigues you about writing a series?

I love making sure that my characters grow from each crime they become involved in. In reality, no ordinary person would find he or she stumbling over one murder victim after another, but oh, the fun. But I have to bring a touch of reality and that means, character evolution.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

For me, unfortunately, it is the challenge of the several “invisible” illnesses I deal with on a daily basis. That means I need to manage my time and energy. Who knew the complexities of creating something out of nothing? That a “what if?” question would consume so much energy? But it does.

What do you enjoy reading?

At this stage, I only read mysteries and an occasionally true crime. I don’t have time for anything else.

Which authors have influenced you?

Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Earl Stanley Gardner, Dorothy Sayers, Gillian Roberts, Carolyn Hart, P.D. James, Elizabeth George, Ruth Rendell—but there are more. I could go on and on!

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

I begin a new book with a synopsis—I am an outliner—so the start of a synopsis is always a “what if” question. For example, I began the synopsis of my first Cats in Trouble mystery with the “what if?” question “What if a cat was allergic to people?” I like to turn things on their head and that was something I hadn’t seen done in any cat cozies before.

Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?

I love Abby Rose in my Yellow Rose Mysteries. She is completely fearless, confident and fun. I love Jillian Hart in the Cats in Trouble Mysteries because she is so kind, forgiving and curious—rather like a cat in many ways. Speaking of secondary characters, I loved Ritaestelle in The Cat, The Lady and The Liar. She is such a strong lady. I also admire teenager Finn in The Cat, The Wife and The Weapon. He chose to remove himself from a difficult life at a young age. I can relate to that and it was the first time I consciously dealt with family dysfunction in a book. I’d done it before on a smaller scale, but in that book, my goal was to confront it head on. It was very cathartic.

What would you like to say to your readers & fans?

I cannot thank my readers enough for their support and for helping me make that coveted NY Times list. Never in a million years when I first started writing did I ever think that would happen. And twice? Wow! Thank you so so much!

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Learn your craft. Read. Take classes. Enter contests. Submit. Learn to accept criticism and change what you’re doing that’s NOT working—listen to what is being said. Find a writer’s group with like-minded people who are writing what you like to read. Know your goals. Do you want to write for pleasure? Or do you want to be published? Neither goal is better than the other. Persist!

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

I enjoy creating characters others can relate to. DEADLINES drive me crazy.

If you could meet three people (living or dead) and chat mysteries with them, who would you select?  What would you discuss?

I would choose Agatha Chistie because she was brilliant, but I doubt she’d talk about her process. I would choose Rex Stout because I absolutely loved the fact he created a main character who was NOT the narrator (Archie Goodwin was the narrator) and I want to ask him why he did that. Third would be Daphne DuMaurier. I’d ask her what the main character’s name was in Rebecca. It’s a secret we will never know. J

Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries?  Do you add it into your own stories?

 

Yes. But the mystery has to be paramount. I do add romance. It’s part of life, after all!

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

Jeans and a t-shirt.

As author you create magic offering readers an escape into your story.  As you write how deeply do you submerge into your own characters, setting and plot? Do you dream any of your scenes?

I don’t submerge, I observe. I ask myself, what does s/he look like? Sound like? What secret is s/he keeping? What’s his/her greatest strength and greatest weakness? What does s/he want? What’s stopping him/her?I never dream about scenes, but right before I go to sleep or right when I wake up, I often work through plot issues. The shower seems to be another hotbed of creativity! J

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

It was what I wrote best, probably because it’s the genre I grew up reading.

 Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much?

I cannot read cozies while writing. They influence me too much. I read much darker stuff, but still mystery or thrillers.

Do you feel you must write your cozies in a series? If so,why?

 Yes, because cozies need the luxury of time. The books are shorter than say a thriller or literary mystery. In cozies, characterization develops over time as I mentioned earlier. My story people are affected by the crimes in their small town. (Although my Yellow Rose Mysteries were set in an urban environment, which I thought made them a little different).

What are you writing now?

I just finished the 5th Cats in Trouble book. I am thinking about the 6th book in the series.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

 The Cat, The Mill and The Murder comes out in May. I can tell you that it the most researched book I have ever written, it involves a cold case and it also involves an element that is very different than anything I have ever written before.

 Where can we find out more about you and your books?

 I’m on Facebook as Leann Sweeney and Author Leann Sweeney, on twitter @leannsweeney, on Author Central on Amazon and my website is www.leannsweeney.com

There are bios on each book you pull up on B&N.com and Amazon.com

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her mysteries.

MYSTERY MOST COZY links:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/188620978695/?fref=ts

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MysteryMostCozy/?yguid=482689562

My links:

 
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