Yesterday, I was feeling frustrated and I used my T day to vent. Then, in the afternoon, my mother called to let me know that my cousin Tiffany died and I’ve got to tell you, I felt the weight of my petty frustrations like an elephant on my chest. So, today, instead of talking about writing or home improvement projects, I’d like to talk about unconditional love.
One thing that I’ve always cherished about my family is the way we love each other. We’re all so splendidly flawed, but not a day goes by when I don’t know that I have their love and support lifting me up. We make mistakes, but we find a way back to each other. I wouldn’t trade my family for anything in the world.
As I’m writing this, my thoughts are with Tiff. No matter what was going on in our lives, I always felt that she loved me. The last time I spoke with her was after her birthday. We shared milestones last year. I turned 40, she turned 50 and my mother turned 60. I sent her a card and then we exchanged texts. The last thing I said to Tiff was “I love you” and for that, I am so grateful. I hope she knew how much I loved her.
Death has a way of making us think about the people we love, the ones who have left us and the ones who remain. As I process Tiff’s passing, I will do my very best to reach out to those people and make sure they know how much I love them now, and will always love them. The love I have for my family is unconditional, and my heart is full with them.
I despise Monday mornings. Not the whole day….just the mornings. Trying to get the kids ready for school and out the door is so much more challenging when they’re both asleep on their feet. My daughter literally falls asleep at the breakfast table sometimes. And neither my son nor my daughter is particularly pleasant.
When my sweet little angels are on the bus and off to school, I find that my step has a little bit more spring in it. The thought of getting to work is actually amazing! And I ride that high all day.
Unlike many people, I am most productive on Monday’s. I can get a million tasks done because I am finally free to do so, relieved of the tyranny and oppression of my demanding cherubs. While they’re off learning, I’m writing, and planning, and checking things off my to-do list like a madwoman, completely content despite the fact that we’re at the start of an uphill climb to the next weekend.
Monday mornings are torture, but Monday afternoons are pure bliss.
Does anyone else feel like this?
Where’s my coffee!?!
(T is also for tomorrow, when I will quit all my complaining and write about writing and home improvement again :) ).
Avery Daniels was born and raised in Colorado, graduated from college with a degree in business administration and has worked in fortune 500 companies and Department of Defense her entire life. Her most eventful job was apartment management for 352 units. She still resides in Colorado with two brother black cats as her spirited companions. She volunteers for a cat shelter, enjoys scrapbooking and card making, photography, and painting in watercolor and acrylic. She inherited a love for reading from her mother and grandmother and grew up talking about books at the dinner table
When I first began writing, there were plenty of stories I started. It took a few years of studying writing craft books and taking writing classes to learn how to do more than just start a story.
I am very appreciative to all those who share their author expertise with newbies like me. They are the reason I have two cozy mysteries published, am editing a suspense thriller novel, and plotted the third cozy mystery in the series.
The suspense thriller is one of the early ideas that stood out and I felt was a story I really wanted to tell. I have learned so much over the years. It seems like such a simple idea to write a story, just write a beginning - middle - and end. There is so very much more involved than taking all the ingredients and throwing them together. The process is part alchemy, part art, and part science.
I am finally getting that early idea for a suspense thriller finished up, edited, and close to finished. Even though this is my third book to complete and publish, there is always a sense of pure magic to have a finished book that others read and enjoy. I don't think I will ever get tired of that feeling.
My inspirations are different depending upon the genre. For my cozy mystery series, I start working from the victim and murder method then develop the rest from there. But the Suspense Thriller novel, which will be a trilogy, begins with a current event or concept that my imagination has run with and built a big plot idea. Then through in a few levels of complexity. Both are fun but very different to me.
My motivation for writing is simple. I want to create the type stories I enjoy reading - where I get caught up in the world of the book and loose track of time. I had read many stories and thought to myself, "What if the story had gone in this direction?" Thus began the kernel of the idea to write some novels myself. I found I enjoyed the writing process, coming up with characters, plots, and twists.
I am so appreciative of getting to take the ideas that keep coming into my mind and write them into complete novels.
I have been very fortunate to meet Jeffery Deaver and Rhys Bowen. I would like to meet and discuss writing and books with David Baldacci and Daniel Silva because their suspense and thriller novels are among my favorites.
Thank you for letting me share a little about my writing with you.
Nailed (Resort to Murder #2)
Julienne is snow bound in the middle of the Rocky Mountains with a killer striking at will.
Julienne LaMere gets to attend a Resort Management conference at a prestigious ski resort in the Colorado Mountains. What should be an enjoyable getaway attending workshops by day and shopping and enjoying the resort by night comes to a screeching halt when a loud-mouthed guest is murdered plus the roads and town shut down for an epic blizzard.
In addition to attending the conference, dodging a smitten teen boy, and seeking clues among the gossiping - and increasingly tense - guests, her best friend’s heart has warmed to an unlikely man and may get broken. As if her mind isn’t already fully occupied, Julienne and her new boyfriend Mason are skiing down troubled slopes in their relationship. Will Julienne put the scant clues together and unveil the culprit before a murderer gets away?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Avery-Daniels/e/B0719JXY83
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AveryDanielsAuthor/
Where to Buy Nailed
First, a funny tale from last night’s sleepover. My son, who is a huge introvert, has become quite the socialite lately. So yesterday, he had a playdate and then a sleepover with two different kids in one night. I was exhausted. This morning, I go to wake up the boys. I say, “I’m going to take a shower and then I can make you breakfast.” His friend says, “Can you lock the door when you take a shower?” I raise my eyebrows and say, “Why? Are you planning on walking in?” And he says, “No, just lock it please.” Umm…
I’ve convinced myself that this request is the result of school discussions about privacy. Otherwise, I don’t want to know.
On a house note, we found a great sectional for the new house. I was really concerned about how we were going to manage to get a couch up to the 3rd floor suite in our 100+ year old home without damaging something. Luckily, my friend just got a new sectional and she mentioned that it came in about 15 boxes and I thought “Hmm…something that breaks down into tiny pieces would be really really good.” She bought the couch at Lovesac. I didn’t even know they sold couches. Yesterday, my husband and I went into their mall shop to do some information gathering and we came away with a sectional that is going to be amazing in that space. Plus, we got to play with wooden blocks. Score!
Research is a key component in both my writing and my home improvement project. I spent so much time last week and at the beginning of this week doing research for the house, that I had to redouble my efforts for my book. So, I spent quite a lot of time researching locations, and specifically resorts, that one might choose for a relaxing vacation. I have a vision in my head of how the setting will influence the characters and the conflict, but I don’t’ have a specific place in mind. Now that I’m so close to drafting, I need to nail it down.
(Anyone want to recommend a vacation destination in the continental United States that might provide some relaxation and also a chance for adventure?)
And while we’re on the topic of resorts (and retreats) why does everything have to be tied to romance? It’s not that I’m against romantic getaways but since my goal is to have sinister things happen to my characters at their location, romance isn’t exactly high on my priority list. Though sexual tension is always fun. Hmm…
My book outline expands and contracts as the vision becomes clearer in my mind. I love this part of the writing process! It’s fun to play with the details and try out scenarios, poking holes and playing devil’s advocate. Revising the plan as I go along….it’s getting very exciting!
As I work on my next book, I’m also querying agents with a completed thriller based in North Georgia. I just started the process a few months ago, and when it comes to querying, it’s hard to predict how long it might take. But I would guess I’ll be at it for a while. The good news is that I’ve had several full and partial requests, so keeping my fingers crossed. Well, actually they’re uncrossed, because I have a new book to write and I can’t type with them crossed. So maybe cross your fingers for me, yes?
My family has been watching the Netflix production of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I loved those books and this version is so good. So so much better than the Jim Carrey attempt of yesteryear. Anyway, we just watched the episodes where we meet the Quagmire triplets. Needless to say, the word keeps coming up in the conversation. And since I’m writing about writing and querying and home improvement projects, I think quagmire is an effective visual for how some days can be. A soft boggy area of land that gives way underfoot?…OR, a sagging piece of floorboard in a new kitchen. An awkward, complex, or hazardous situation?...OR sending your book baby out to persons unknown and awaiting feedback with bated breath. Hey writers! Do you ever feel stuck in the bog? Me too, sometimes. But the feeling fades and then I move on with a smile on my face.
And finally, the Questionable Quotes archive on Snopes. Because it’s just a fun read J https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/category/quotes/
Doing the AtoZ Challenge this year has been a stretch, given my already hectic schedule, but I always enjoy the way it forces me to sit down and just write. The end project may be a little bit insane and choppy, but I appreciate you reading and hope you’ll stick with me to the end.
See you tomorrow for R day!
It’s crunch time. My parents will be here in a month and a half and there is so much to do. I setup a phone number for the new house yesterday. That was actually pretty easy. Then, after reading the new draft planning & zoning regulations, I spent the morning reading forms and doing research and setting up accounts and generally doing the legwork required to get everything up and running. This will be my life for a while. I’m seeing double already. *another BIG sigh*
On a planning note, in addition to planning this project with my parents, I’m outlining my new book. That’s right, this pantser is doing some experimental outlining to see how I like it. Eep! With so many things swirling around in my head, I think I need the added structure if I want to get this first draft down on paper by June. Fingers crossed.
I spent a fair amount of time pontificating this morning once the panic subsided. I am not comfortable with uncertainty. Thankfully, my husband knows this about me so when I go a little panicky, he steps in with a calm and level head. That being said, I think that local government (and really any governmental body) has a really tough job trying to appease the masses and the special interests and those in positions of power without going completely loony. I’m curious to see what kind of response the draft planning & zoning regs get. The area I’m interested in seems like it would be difficult to enforce, so I’m struggling to understand how the City expects code enforcement to stay on top of things. BUT, I got most of the exasperation out of my system this morning and am ready to move on to more pleasant things.
And more planning.
And less panic.
And maybe some pancakes.
I’ve suffered from migraines since I was in elementary school, and last year around this time, I had a huge flare up, losing 3-4 days a week to debilitating headaches. After six months of treatment with a completely fabulous doctor, I was able to break the cycle, but then we started talking prevention and I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of going the pharmaceutical route (even though I know it’s worked well for many people). So in January I did food sensitivity testing and stated working on a 12-week diet plan to eliminate inflammatory foods, identify triggers, and (hopefully) help prevent migraines without medical intervention. And so far, things are going well. I’m down to 2-3 manageable migraines a month, which is a miracle compared to last year.
So why do I bring this up? Because today is O day and O is for onions, one of my very favorite foods and one that, as it turns out, I am sensitive to. I haven’t eaten onions or anything onion related in 10 weeks. And it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I mean, I grew up in New Mexico. Onions were a staple in my diet and onion powder is found in an awful lot of mixes and sauces. It can be tricky.
And then there are oats. This one shouldn’t have surprised me. Oatmeal has always given me heartburn, but I ignored it because….well, it’s oatmeal. That’s what you eat when you can’t eat spicy things or when you’re wanting to be more healthy, yes? Apparently, no. At least, not for me. Cutting out oats can be a challenge, especially if you are also cutting out gluten. Many gluten free breads and mixes contain oats or oat flour. It’s a bummer. But I’ve managed.
A few suprising things about this diet? My husband and son are enjoying the new foods I’ve been making (not my daughter, but she’s so picky I wasn’t really expecting her to). As a family, our eating habits have gotten much much better. And it’s been interesting having to cook with things that I’m not used to using.
What does this have to do with writing or home improvement? Nothing really. But I will say that I’ve been considering food choices quite a bit for our new family project, and homemade roasted chickpeas have become my favorite writing snack. My next food project is to find a good stir-fry sauce that doesn’t have soy or coconut, neither of which I can have. Any suggestions?
For your entertainment, here’s my list of prohibited foods:
And a couple of food additives
I’m reading Joe Clifford’s third book in the Jay Porter series Give Up The Dead (Joe’s featured on today’s #WhatsYourStory post on my blog – check him out!). Given all the things going on in my life right now, I was struck by a comment in the book about the name of a restaurant – Julie’s – even though there had never been a Julie. That’s the scenario we’re expecting with the new business. “So, who’s Melissa Leigh?” “Er, there’s no such person, but here’s the story…”
The story behind the name is actually really simple. My parent’s wanted to name it Melissa’s, which is my middle name. And I wanted to add my sister, so it became Melissa Leigh’s. It’s a family company and its name is rooted in family. Of course, someone suggested yesterday that I make up a story about a woman who died in one of the rooms and that got me to thinking, maybe I’ll make up several stories and pick the one that seems right for the audience. What Melissa Leigh would you like to hear about?
When I was born, my parents named me Amy Melissa knowing that my initials would spell my name. Of course, when I was learning to write, I wrote my M upside down so they still call me Awy from time to time…even my sister, who wasn’t even born yet!
What’s the point of all of this? Naming is important. Or sometimes it’s totally arbitrary, but we tend to want to see significance in the names people choose. For instance, right now my children go to school with three Tenzins. I certainly wasn’t the only Amy in my age group and Isaac and Lily have both gone to school with their share of kids by the same names. Why do people choose the names they do?
Which brings me to writing. As writers, we have to name characters. I personally hate having to come up with names and I think I’m pretty horrible at it. I ask my husband and my writing group and even my children to help me come up with names for my characters. If a character was inspired by a real person, I invariably name the character using the same initials and don’t even notice until someone who knows me well points it out. (Now you’re wondering if you’re in one of those books, eh?)
In a craft class several years ago, the speaker talked at length about the use of symbolism and theme in naming, stressing the importance of choosing strong names that reflect our characters traits, desires and/or needs.
Well, suffice it to say, this is not my strong point. Though I did enjoy naming my children (one after a Bible story and one after a Smashing Pumpkins song…go figure).
Joe Clifford is the author of several books, including Junkie Love and the Jay Porter Thriller Series, as well as editor of the anthologies Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Bruce Springsteen; Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash, and Hard Sentences, which he co-edited. Joe’s writing can be found at www.joeclifford.com.
Last night I spoke at a meeting for the Napa Valley Writers. I get these speaking engagements periodically, and they are always fun. Had a lovely time. Wonderful people. Sold books, got paid. Afterward one of the group members asked me if I perform professionally. Like a monologist, Eric Bogosian or Joel Grey. Which was hysterical given my crippling fear of public speaking. But I’ve been doing it a while, forcing myself to perform live. I guess I’ve gotten okay at it. Then again, I’m pretty sure any success is due mostly to the story.
I used to be a junkie. And even writing that now, I want to roll my eyes into the back of my skull. It’s been years since I was shooting smack, homeless on the streets of San Francisco. I stopped doing that shit in 2001. Since then, I’ve gotten married (twice), earned multiple college degrees, had a couple kids, published close to a dozen novels, mainly mysteries and thrillers. Today I spent all afternoon golfing at the country club. But anytime I am contacted by press, asked to speak for whatever, it ain’t the mystery novels they want to talk about. It’s always, to quote Johnny Thunders, the junkie bullshit.
And if it sounds like I am bitter, tired of reading and performing from my recovery memoir Junkie Love—I’m not. I’m deeply appreciative that I wrote a book that means so much to so many. I’m not implying I’m a household name or famous by any stretch. My wife, Justine, calls me an “E-list celebrity.” Which might be overselling it. But I do get a lot of e-mails from folks who’ve read Junkie Love, which has become something of a cult novel. They write and thank me for telling the story of my addiction. Usually they have a friend, family member, loved one battling drugs, and they want advice, encouragement; and I try to give it to them. Because people can change.
No, any resentment you’re sensing is directed squarely at me. I accepted a while ago that, like Rick Springfield never being able to skip “Jessie’s Girl” at a concert, Junkie Love will always be my greatest hit. Which is fine. I love the book. I mean, I wrote the damn thing. What bugs me is getting credit for having crawled out of a hole I dug for myself. I have a tough time recognizing anything admirable in my behavior. I was cruel, selfish; I hurt people. Because I wanted to be high all day long, whatever the price, no matter whom I stepped over or disappointed. I can’t celebrate stopping what I never should’ve started.
As time goes on, as I move further from the drug years, I only feel regret. Regret that I couldn’t get straight sooner so that my mother might’ve lived long enough to meet my sons. Regret that I couldn’t save my brother, Josh, who did many of the same things I did. Only I got out. I got the nice house, some money, a family. He got cirrhosis. Josh died last November. He was 43. I suppose it’s a form of survivor’s guilt, what I’m experiencing. At least that is what my psychiatrists say. I suppose it’s a common enough reaction when you move on to better things while so many others suffer.
And yet those ten years I spent homeless and addicted paved the way to my becoming a writer. I don’t know if I would’ve published a book without the experience. Being stomped down daily, ground into dirt, you are forced to learn compassion, empathy. You can’t be a cocky, smug sonofabitch. You learn humility by being humiliated.
My son, Holden, is seven. And one day, trying to be a good dad, I was attempting to impart sage advice. He was commenting on how many books I had published. I said, “Son, if you want to be successful at anything in life you have to work hard.” To which my boy replied, “You just had to live without a house.”
He wasn’t wrong.
Most of my life has been a series of epic fuck-ups. Going left when I should’ve gone right, up when I should’ve done down, and somehow I’m okay. I don’t hear the good in that. I don’t hear, “Hey, nice job stopping being a scumbag junkie, getting your shit together, being a responsible father, helping other writers.” What I see instead is the dog that’s been rewarded for pissing on the couch.
All my work—short stories, novels, collections—tend to involve drugs. More than the drugs, however, I aim to share the story the outcast and the downtrodden, the ne’er-do-well and screw-up. The Jay Porter thriller series, which comprises five books, revolves around the subject of addiction. I’m trying to shine a light on what that life is really like, hoping the afflicted are treated with dignity, cared for long enough that maybe they, too, get to turn their lives around. Maybe that’s the real point of what I do. It’s not about me or my mistakes. Maybe this is what folks hear when they ask me to speak or read Junkie Love. Maybe that’s the important part. Not how I feel. I don’t get to be exonerated. But by reporting where I came from, what I saw, I can finally start paying back some of the tremendous debt I owe.
At an AA meeting, handyman and part-time investigator Jay Porter meets a recovering addict who needs his help. In the midst of another grueling northern New Hampshire winter, Amy Lupus' younger sister, Emily, has gone missing from the Coos County Center, the newly opened rehab run by Jay's old nemeses, Adam and Michael Lombardi. As Jay begins looking into Emily's disappearance, he finds that all who knew Emily swear that she's never used drugs. She's a straight shooter and an intern at a newspaper investigating the Center—and the horrendous secret hidden in it—or beneath it.
Where to Buy Broken Ground
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.
Be My Guest!
#WhatsYourStory? Are you an author? I'd love to hear your story and so would my readers. Email me for more information.