Are you really blowing caution to the wind?

Think about it. Sometimes caution is a good thing. Sometime you need to regroup. There is a reason for the yellow light between stop and go.


Last night  I woke up at 1:30 a.m. and couldn’t sleep. I watched TV for five minutes and clicked it off.  I picked up an article. Went from one thing to another. Tried to fall asleep again. Never happened. Then I decided to go work out at the gym a good 25 minutes away. I was dressed in sweats and headed to the car at 3:45 a.m. I felt excitement at my being able to check off one of my daily goals so early!

I was amazed at how easy it was to fly through the empty dark streets at that hour of the morning, I had passed right through several lights marveling at how astute some programmer of lights was when finally I was confronted with a red stop light.

Interesting though, I could see the next five stop lights lying in front of me up the hill and they were all green.

I considered how often we take a red light, or even a yellow light, as a negative. We’re in a hurry. A light slows us down. It’s stopping us from getting somewhere, from reaching a goal.

I realized that if I  had gotten through the red light, I would have had clear sailing for miles. That reminded me of how we writers deal with rejection.

What if when I pulled up to the red light I had decided it wasn’t worth the effort and had driven back home because it was easier and too much trouble to have to wait, never finding out what would have happened if I’d stayed and carried on.  Maybe I would have hit lots of red lights.  OR, maybe I would have found out that all green lights lay ahead.

And so, right there in the very dark early morning I considered the times I had quit. One in particular.

I quit writing for five years in the early 80s to teach skin care classes. And I was successful. But then I realized cosmetics didn’t have the interest that mystery writing did.  I still  had that burning desire to write. So I got back on track. And this time I created a support system of writers by joining writing groups and attending writing conferences.

I often wonder if I hadn’t stopped writing those five years, would my novel be published, instead of finished and making the rounds?  Sometimes life happens. Disappointments occur. We keep on. That’s what we do as writers.

That early morning I encountered a blinking yellow light and paused, realizing that the smaller bumps are like yellow lights.

Something occurs to make us as writers re-access our approach to our work, your query letters or the selection of publishers we’re approaching.

Who knew even a mere yellow blinking light, a caution light, could be so important?

Whenever your writing is not working,  think of the blinking light, and if it reaches red light status,  remember all those green lights waiting on the other side.

Thanks Pinterest for photos.


Once upon a time…

Trained as a journalist with a dream of living abroad, I married, produced my first three adorable children and figured that had squelched any plans of living overseas.

But no.

As it turned out, when the universe wants to help you, by golly, it helps you.

My spouse received a wonderful offer from his company that we could not refuse. Both of us were from small Texas towns and had always wanted to go somewhere.  We packed up our three kids and headed to Africa for what we knew would be the biggest adventure of our lives.


I had written for newspapers and magazines in the states, creating news and feature stories from my observations. And so, when we hit Africa, I wrote several stories for The Star.  I also had our fourth beautiful child.

In Africa, though, my writing took a turn.  I discovered fiction.

I had the flu and tiring of the bed, I stumbled into the study and rummaged through bookshelves where dwellers before us had left behind Agatha Christie books. How had I not discovered her before?  I devoured several in a very short time. These murder mysteries began lighting a spark inside me.

Fair Lady in South Africa published my very first short fiction (though not a mystery yet) while I tended an infant and shuttled three children back and forth to their two schools each day. Plus I was out and about with my new daughter talking to people and  checking the pulse of a nation growing politically uneasy as the days passed.

A few months after I narrowly escaped conflict in Alexandra township, we were transferred to the Netherlands where our fifth and last fabulous child was born.

Now I had a newborn and a preschooler and three who went to the American International School in Rotterdam. My children had gone from living with apartheid to a school with 125 different nationalities. I was deliriously happy for their experiences!

Living in a skinny duplex I sent story after story out to various publications from the third floor while watching storms most of the season and becoming depressed with each rejection.


Life progressed. We returned to the states. Children grew up and I would later find myself on my own and that was when it clicked.

I began where any writer begins. With the first word.

I would write day after day, every morning from the moment I put my coffee pot on. Most times I would sit and write and never turn on the lights because I was more focused with no distractions. (I was an early riser.)

I can now say I’ve written in Midland, TX; Tyler,TX, Mesquite,TX; St.Louis, MO; Cleveland, Ohio; Johannesburg, South Africa; Zevenhuizen, the Netherlands; Colts Neck, N.J.; Conway, AR; Little Rock, AR; New York, New York; Denver, CO; Sterling, CO; Denver, CO; Littleton, CO. And, many other places as well.

That has worked for me. I’ve completed several books and with each one, I have become a better writer.

Having been published in The New York Times, The Plain Dealer, The Asbury Park Press and The Star, Johannesburg,  South Africa, it’s tough to be working on fiction and not have reached publication with my mysteries.

But this is what I’ve discovered.

I began to realize there were networks out there I’d never had before. I began joining organizations like the Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and others. And I am on the cusp of being published. I can feel it.

Querying agents brought me 75 rejections. But apparently, that’s nothing, which, most writers will tell you. Do I believe them?  I must.


Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

1. Every agent, editor or publisher doesn’t have to like your book. Just one person who will believe in you.

2. Attitude is everything. Keeping yourself upbeat despite rejection is a journey and it can be a joy, demonstrating your determination. Plus, that can be an inspiration for others no matter their goals. So win-win!

3. It’s important to keep writing on other projects, as well as that gem you have so much faith in.

4. Attend writing conferences. You will  receive feedback there and make connections with other writers and editors and publishers and hopefully agents. The Gold Conference sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is in Denver September 20-22. You can sign up at www.rmfw.com.

5. Blog. What tremendous joy I have felt from connecting to others. Instant feedback and gratification to spur the writer on.

So stay tuned. I will keep you in the loop.

If you’re a writer, just begin!