Posts Tagged "Double Cousins Mysteries"

Beat The Heat – Ten Wintery Picture Books

Posted by on Jul 19, 2018 in Blog, Double Cousins |

Beat The Heat – Ten Wintery Picture Books

Tacky and the Winter Games by Helen Lester Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger Tacky the Penguin tops my favorite wintery picture book list because Tacky is my favorite. There are several Tacky books and they would all be great for this list, but I chose this particular one because it has “winter” in the title. I bought my first Tacky book when my oldest nieces and nephews were little and they loved it. I haven’t met a child who doesn’t love Tacky. He isn’t perfect. He’s a little—well—Tacky! But he is NICE to have around!   The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats This book is a classic. In fact, when I asked others what their favorite snowy picture books were this one was invariably mentioned. The thing I especially love about this book is that the author takes common snowy activities, ones all children in snow enjoy, and he makes a story out of it. This pulls the child right into the story and I would be surprised if your children wouldn’t be shivering by the end!   Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton Katy and the Big Snow is written by the same author/illustrator as The Little House and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. The artwork on this book is incredible. There are detailed borders to each page that pull children in and give a lot of room for discussion and fun exploration! This book isn’t just a story. It is an experience.   Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik Illustrated by Maurice Sendak This book is actually considered a chapter book. It is “An I CAN READ Book.” But, there are so many pictures that this book is great for a read aloud with little children too! I love the way the mother bear allows the little bear to explore and use his imagination. Read this to your children and they may play by themselves for awhile afterwards.   Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson  Illustrated by Jane Chapman Bear Snores On was suggested by my librarian niece. I had never heard of it before, so I hurried right down to the library and checked it out. (I have to say that the Hendersonville Library has it going on. They had a shelf with “seasonal books.” The winter section was huge and such a great resource.) Anyway, back to the book. The story is simple but repetitive which as we all know makes for an amazing picture book. I absolutely loved the artwork and I kept wondering what was going to happen if. . . well, I don’t want to spoil the story!   Snipp Snapp Snurr and the Yellow Sled by Maj Lindman Snipp Snapp and Snurr are old books. This author also wrote a series called Ricka, Dicka, and Flicka. The names are almost laughable, but I’m telling you, children adore them. I loved them when I was little and a friend mentioned that her children love them too! They are...

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Beat the Heat – Ten Wintery Chapter Books

Posted by on Jul 15, 2018 in Blog, Double Cousins |

Beat the Heat – Ten Wintery Chapter Books

I don’t know if you have noticed, but July is whizzing by. My niece, Megan, the librarian was mentioning that their summer reading program is almost over! How can this be? We are entering what is typically the hottest part of the summer and reading programs are wrapping up. So, in case you are looking for a way to fill the gap, entertain yourselves or your children during these remaining weeks of summer, or simply beat the heat I offer a list of chapter books that include winter scenes. You can call it Winter in July if you want, but here we go. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder This is, by far, my favorite winter book. I find myself shivering every time I read it, no matter the weather. The true story of the Ingalls family and their survival during that horrible winter in DeSmet, SD puts me on the edge of my seat every time. My fingers hurt with Laura’s and Pa’s as they twist the straw. My stomach growls with hunger as they eat their last potato. It’s a very real experience.  And, as my sister pointed out, most of the “Little House” books have winter scenes, so you could just keep right on reading the series! Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater This was one of my absolute favorites when I was a kid. I read it and reread it. Just this week I was in the store and saw it on a shelf. Yes, I bought it. Of course I did. And, I spent a very enjoyable evening reading it again, thank you very much. Mr. Popper, a painter, dreams of going to the Antarctic to live among the penguins. When he writes to Admiral Drake he is surprised with the gift of a real, live penguin. The situation balloons from there. This is a great story for encouraging children to dream big and follow their dreams. I was surprised to discover this was made into a movie. Bonus: after you read the book, you could have a movie night. (Always read the book first. Always.) The Lion , The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis I am not a big reader of fantasy, but this book captured my interest when I was in my early teens. Once I read the first book and grew to love the characters, I had to read the whole series. This classic is great for children who enjoy fantasy worlds, but believable enough for readers of realism like me. There are many great lessons, and this book also was made into a movie. Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge This is a classic written in 1865. It takes place in the Netherlands and is a wonderful story of dreams, sacrificing for those you love, determination, and good winning out in the end. This book was effective in introducing the Netherlands and their speed skating to Americans. I loved this story,...

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Double Cousins Gazette and Trip Report

Posted by on Dec 8, 2016 in Blog, Double Cousins |

  For those of you who have long waited for the much promised newsletter and report on the trip to North Platte click on the Double Cousins Logo above! Also, if you want to have the newsletter automatically sent to you, please sign up here on the blog page or on the home page of the website! Here are a few stats from the trip out west: 4169 miles 2 Elementary School Visits 1 Literacy event at an Elementary School 1 Home School event 1 Library event 2 book signings 1 Open Mic 1 Ladies Luncheon 1 TV interview Several Newspaper articles Sold: 203 books! I’m taking a much needed break from writing now to regain some equilibrium. However, I am working on unit studies to go with the Double Cousins books and I am registered to have a book at the Great Homeschool Convention in Greenville, SC in March! Have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year! I hope to be blogging on a more regular basis...

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When the Watch Stops

Posted by on Sep 10, 2016 in Blog, Double Cousins | 1 comment

When the Watch Stops

My husband bought me a new watch the other day. Well, really it is an old watch. He decided I needed a wind-up one in addition to the quartz watch I was wearing. I used to have a wind-up watch and I loved it. But when quartz watches came in vogue and I made the switch. After all, no winding! I was delighted with my new/old watch and happily put it on my wrist. I held the watch to my ear and listened to the soft ticking. I love hearing a watch tick. So relaxing. Over the next couple of days I smiled every time I checked the time. The watch was so beautiful. Until it stopped. What? Was it broken? Then I realized what the problem was. I hadn’t wound it. I forgot that one little detail. So, I wound it, reset it and it was as good as before. My husband asked how it was working. Was it keeping time? I laughed and told him it was doing fine as long as I wound it. He said if it had any problems it might need cleaned. No telling if it has ever been cleaned. That got me thinking. I’m afraid I’ve become a bit like an unwound watch, maybe even one that needs a good cleaning. You see, over the past couple of years we have embarked on a grand experiment. Is it possible for Miriam to write, edit, get published, and promote two books a year while maintaining her day job and life at home? During that time I have written three children’s mysteries, they have all been released, and my husband put together, designed, edited and published a collection of my columns from Newberry under the title of You Ain’t From Here, Are Ya? So, in the past fifteen months we have released four books. So, yes. I can write a book every six months. I can market each book, kind of. But, after the third one my watch stops. I come unwound. I need a good cleaning and must be rewound. I need a break. Besides, with each new project always looming ahead there wasn’t truly time to focus on the marketing. Hence, we have a lot of books sitting at our house in boxes. We need to do more marketing. So, the plan for now is no more new books will be written at least for a year. During that year I will focus on marketing, home life, and work. Oh, and rewinding my watch. What about you? Are you taking the time needed to rewind? I would love to hear your favorite ways to rewind your internal watch! Please share...

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Where In The World Has She Been?–Missing in Action

Posted by on Jul 2, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Where In The World Has She Been?–Missing in Action

It has been far too long since I posted here. Every weekend and Wednesday it has been on my to-do list. Yet, no posts. I’ve thought of ideas that came and went. But yet, nothing. So, here in pictures is my past month!       So there you have it. A pictorial diary. Look for upcoming opportunities to get your copy of the newest book here and on my Facebook page. It is available in online stores as well!        ...

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“GET CAUGHT READING MONTH” CONTEST!

Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Blog, Double Cousins, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

“GET CAUGHT READING MONTH” CONTEST!

ANNOUNCING: THE FIRST EVER “GET CAUGHT READING MONTH” CONTEST! Fact: May is Get Caught Reading Month. Fact: I like to give away books. Fact: If you send a picture of you reading a book you will be entered in the drawing for a free book. Fact: You can pick which of the books by Miriam Jones Bradley you want to win! Fact: You must post the picture on Facebook by “liking” the Double Cousins Mysteries (Ages 7-13) page and then posting your picture there, OR email it to me at miriamjonesbradley@gmail.com and I will post it there for you. (Please give me the name of the person in the picture so I know who to enter in the contest! After all, I may not see your face because you will be . . . well, reading! First name is fine.) Fact: All pictures posted by midnight EST May 31st will be entered in the contest. Fact: You can be CAUGHT READING any book, but if you send a picture of you reading a book by Miriam Jones Bradley you will be entered twice! Fact: Somebody will be really happy on June 1st! Maybe it will be you! Them’s the rules folks! READY . . . SET . . ....

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A Lesson From Harper Lee

Posted by on Feb 22, 2016 in Blog, Double Cousins |

A Lesson From Harper Lee

Like so many others I was sad to hear that Harper Lee died. I often cite To Kill A Mockingbird as my favorite book. I would say it definitely was the first “grown up” book I remember making me think about my assumptions and beliefs.   I must have picked it up and read it in junior high, because I was in high school when I watched the movie one New Year’s Eve while babysitting. It was the first movie I watched based on a book I had read and I learned that no matter how good the movie, it is never as good as the book, a fact I still hold to be true.   Scout captured my interest. In my mind, I was Scout. I could relate to her on so many levels. My mother had died too. I was a tomboy. I could be outspoken. And I had an Atticus for a father. Gentle, meek but definitely not weak, determined to do the right thing no matter the consequences, protective but eager to let his children learn from life, and as Harper Lee put it,  “Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets.” These traits describe my father.   I was thinking about this book earlier today and that is when I realized exactly why I so love the characters of Scout and Atticus. (For me the others are all just peripheral characters necessary to having a story.) In the character of these two people I see myself and my daddy. So as the story develops I am able to fully experience all of the different events and learn from them as if I were really there. I guess it was the perfect storm.   I believe telling a story in such a way that the reader can find herself in a character is a gift. One I, as an author, aspire to. Thank you, Harper Lee, for Scout and Atticus. And thank you for the creative writing lesson you gave me just by “the doing of...

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My Book of Possibilities

Posted by on Feb 3, 2016 in Blog, Double Cousins | 2 comments

My Book of Possibilities

Knowing what to pack when you are going on a month long writing retreat is a bit tricky. It’s not the clothes thing. Which clothes to take rarely bothers me. I just throw some in and live with it. I guess I’m not a clothes person. I’m a book person. And therein lies the challenge. Let me put it this way. I came with one suitcase, packed in about ten minutes. I came with three bags of books, and they took me weeks to pack. I started with one canvas bag, then I pulled out some books and put others in. After a few days, I added more and put some of the original ones back in. Then the bag was too full, so I got a second bag. You get the picture. The problem is I didn’t know what I would want or need to read. I knew I would need my tried and true reference books, the ones I use with revisions. But, I wanted this retreat to be about more than just writing a book. I wanted to have times of learning new stuff. I also wanted a spiritual retreat. Oh, better put in some devotional books and journaling books. And talking about journaling books, I might need a  couple composition books for new projects I wanted to start. Then, there is the important work of reading for fun. I know that writers are readers, and sometimes you just need to run away into a book. I even put in a book of adult coloring pages for when I needed to figure out the next scene.   So, I came with three bags of books. After two weeks we went home for a weekend. I took one bag of books with me. These were books that I realized I wouldn’t need after all. Having only two bags of books to bring home at the end of the month would be just that much less to load up. It was a great plan. But. I had two new books waiting for me at home when I arrived. Books I had become aware of and ordered while I was gone. In addition, I found a pile of books I had intended to bring from the outset, but alas, they hadn’t made it into any of the bags. So, I emptied my third bag, refilled it and brought it with me.   Today I saw a quote that helped me realize why I always take so many books everywhere. Here it is.  “Having a huge number of books is not exactly about reading them all—it’s about having the possibility of reading them.” I like possibilities. My husband says my “Book of Possibilities” is an index to my home library! He may just be...

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Here, Let Me Show You . . .

Posted by on Jan 14, 2016 in Blog, Double Cousins | 2 comments

Here, Let Me Show You . . .

What do my plans for the month, Mentoring Month, and you have in common? Let me tell you! I hear these questions often. “How do you write a book? How long does it take? Where do you get your ideas?” There are several questions here, but the bottom line is, “What is your process?”   I do my best to answer the specific question, but sometimes I can tell that the person asking would love a little more information. But telling someone how you do something in detail is a bit overwhelming, isn’t it?   This is National Mentor Month, something I didn’t know until I looked at my “National Day Calendar.” Who knew? Certainly, it seems that I have already had several opportunities to encourage beginning and young writers this year. I love it. It makes me happy to help someone who is just starting out, or maybe just needs a bit of encouragement. So, how can I celebrate National Mentor Month? God gave me an idea yesterday while on my way to Myrtle Beach for a working retreat. Yes, I will be at the beach for most of the next month to work on important projects. I have a list. A long one.   But, the number one item on the list—the priority—is to write the fifth mystery in the Double Cousins Mystery Series. I don’t have a title yet, but it will be set in North Platte, Nebraska, and I do have a pretty good idea of the plot! My goal is to go home with a completed manuscript, ready for my last-minute edits. During writing break times I’ll work on the rest of the list. So, what’s all of this about mentoring?   I would like to invite you along on this journey. There are many of you out there who love the Double Cousins. Some of you love writing.  You may be contemplating writing a book yourself. Now, I’m not here to say this is THE WAY to do it. I just want to share MY process and maybe you can gain a little information from it—and probably a whole lot of amusement!   So, if you are up for the experience, make sure you have “liked” my Double Cousins Mysteries (Ages 7-13) Facebook page because THAT is where the action will be. At least once a day, maybe several times, I’ll be journaling there about the process: the good, the bad, and the “what was I thinking!”   Some posts will be educational, some informational, some silly, and some probably mindless I’ve-been-writing-so-long-my-brain-is-fried. But, hopefully you can get a feel for what is involved. Here are a few possible  topics:   How I organize the project. How I stay focused. . . or not! How I work to overcome personal writing pitfalls. What happens when the story takes a turn I don’t expect. (It can happen, you know!) What I learn along the way about writing and editing. Things I pick up from writing books...

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A Dream Come True. . . Mostly

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

A Dream Come True. . . Mostly

Most of us have ONE place we think of when we are asked where we grew up. For some people, like my husband that place is still home since we live in the house he was born to and grew up in. It is really an awesome thing. For a preacher’s kid, I think I had a fairly stable childhood. I look at North Platte, Nebraska as my place, even though we only lived in that house 6 ½ years. It was the most consequential 6 ½ years of my life, by far, and when you are in grade school time does pass slower, doesn’t it? Have you ever gone back to your childhood home? I did last month and it was a dream come true. . . mostly! Because the next book in my Double Cousins Mystery series will be set in North Platte, we planned a side-trip through Nebraska on the way home. We pulled into North Platte about noon and the first place we stopped was the park, simply because we passed right by it on our way into town. There were three specific memories that popped into my head when we were there. First, were the peacocks. I loved seeing the males showing off all of their gorgeous colors. The peacocks were too far away for me to get pictures, but just the sight of them across the park sent the memory-picture shooting through my head. Memories are great that way. The second thing I remembered was the carousel and the cotton candy. Of course, in November there wasn’t any action there, but once again, just the location brought back all of the sounds, smells, and sights of an afternoon at the park. We stopped and I pointed out the area where I remember having church picnics. Picnics where the women threw rolling pins, the kids had gunny sack races, and the men. . . I don’t remember what the men did. Any childhood friends remember? After that, we drove around town a bit and then ate at Wendy’s. That part of town has changed so much I didn’t recognize anything. Even the big old hospital appears to be gone. It was kind of sad. But, we forged onward to the part I was most looking forward to. That morning as I was waking up, I had one of those dreams. The ones where you are half awake, half sleeping. I thought, “What if when we get to my childhood home it is for sale and I can go inside and see what it looks like?” Then the dream part started, because I bought it. Believe me; I do not need to buy a house in Nebraska! So, when we pulled up to the house and I saw the for sale sign (FOR REAL-NO KIDDING) I was a little taken-aback. Whoa! We parked beside the house. There was much activity going on. A man was blowing the leaves from the side yard. Another man was...

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Rolls, Muffins, Cookies, and Bread. . .

Posted by on Dec 3, 2015 in Blog, Double Cousins |

Rolls, Muffins, Cookies, and Bread. . .

In the Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Rushmore Treasure, Chad makes up a chant to help sell items at a bake sale held to save Mr. Crosby’s store. It goes like this:   Rolls, muffins, cookies, and bread. Help keep the water off Mr. Crosby’s head. Stop and get yours before the bake sale is dead. Rolls, muffins, cookies, and bread.   When my sister-in-law read it out loud to her children, my youngest nephew, then six got a huge kick out of the chant. He walked around saying it over and over. His brothers picked up on it and it mutated to:   Rolls, muffins, cookies, and bread. Make Aunt Miriam famous before she is dead! I thought it was hilarious. Evidently Chad is the favorite cousin in some circles because he is so funny. My source said this: “He gets all the good lines.”   Last month we had an opportunity to once again celebrate rolls, muffins, cookies, and bread. Well, at least cookies and bread! When planning the book launch party for the most recent mystery, The Double Cousins and the Mystery of Custer’s Gold, my husband and I decided to use recipes from the different nationalities who immigrated to Nemo, South Dakota during the Sawmill era.   The countries represented were Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, French Canada, Ireland, and America. We sent out a message to friends, looked online and came up with cookies, Irish soda bread, potato candy, zucchini bread, brownies, and Swedish rosettes, among others. My husband made flags for each country and a label for each cookie. I enjoyed watching people gather around the table and discuss the different cookies. It ended up being a highlight of the event. I believe the favorites were the potato candy and the Norwegian pepper cookies. The prettiest, by far, were the rosettes.   The only thing missing from the day was a real visit from Chad. I would love to hear what he had to say about that table of food!   Cookies and bread, Chad would have said. To promote the book, whatever it took, to plant a rhyme in their head, using cookies and bread.   Today, I want to share the recipe for potato candy. After all, it really won the award for the most unique! Old Fashioned Potato Candy  1 small potato  2 pounds confectioner’s sugar   Peanut butter Peel and slice potato. In small sauce pot, cover with water and cook until soft. Drain potato and place in mixing bowl. Mash potato. Add ½ sugar and mix well. Mix in remaining sugar, scraping down sides as needed. Line countertop with waxed paper dusted with powdered sugar. Place dough on wax paper and dust with sugar. Roll out to ¼ inch thick. Spread dough with peanut butter. Roll up like cinnamon rolls into a log. Roll up in the waxed paper. Cut it in half. Place in ziplock bag. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Then remove waxed paper and slice...

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Someone’s Example, Someone’s Hero

Posted by on Nov 18, 2015 in Blog, Double Cousins, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

Someone’s Example, Someone’s Hero

  I Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Have you ever noticed that no matter your age, someone is always looking up to you? Who do you look up to or admire? I bet if you made a list it would include older siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, parents, grandparents, sports figures, teachers, and even your Pastor. What do all of these people have in common? For the most part, I would say they are older than you! It is normal for us to admire and look up to those who are older than us. Elementary kids look up to the teenagers in their church and school. They want to be just like them. They hope to attain that status soon. Similarly, the teenagers look up to college students, college students to young parents, and young parents look up to older adults. Where does this leave you? Say you are ten years old.  Does it matter what you do? After all, you’re just a kid. No one would look up to you! But wait, hold your horses! What about those younger kids, you know the ones? The little kindergarten, first, and second graders that hang around and get in your way? The ones that annoy you until you think you will scream!? Why don’t they just go play with their friends and leave you alone? Here’s why. They look up to you. They admire you. They want to be just like you when they are ten. Gulp! That’s right. They are watching you, imitating you, learning how to behave from you. So, when you are tempted to fudge the rules, think! Who (besides God) is watching me? Who am I influencing? Believe it or not, you are someone’s example. Someone’s hero. Be a good...

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Reporter Max. . . Interrupting Regular Programming

Posted by on Nov 6, 2015 in Blog, Double Cousins |

Reporter Max. . . Interrupting Regular Programming

Hi! This is Max Rawson and I know I am interrupting the regular blog programming schedule, but I wanted to make sure you are aware of the opportunities this weekend. FIRST: This one is for EVERYONE! Today and tomorrow, only our newest adventure is only 99 cents on Kindle! WOWZERS! The author also tells me that she noticed ALL of the other Double Cousins Mysteries were also 99 cents on Kindle! Get the whole set. SECOND: THIS SATURDAY, as in tomorrow, at Nemo, South Dakota the author is hosting a launch party for our newest mystery. It is set in Nemo. I hope to see you there. (You won’t see me as I reside securely in “The Author’s” imagination.) You will, however, spot some of the real live Double Cousins. There will be door prizes, a self-guided tour of Nemo, lots of good cookies from all over the world-just like the immigrants to Nemo-and a fun, informative program from 2-3 p.m. Come a bit before the program or stay after the program. The event lasts from 1-4 p.m. and is at the restaurant in Nemo, which is a really cool place! THIRD: Sunday Afternoon – from 3-4 p.m. the author will be speaking about the writing process and the Double Cousins Mysteries. She will also be signing books! This will be a blast for families. (And educational too. . . just thought I would slip  that in for the parents.) Hope to “see” you there too. This ends the interruption to our normal blogging schedule. Thank you, and goodby! Max Rawson of The Double Cousins...

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Adjectives! You Need More Adjectives!

Posted by on Oct 5, 2015 in Blog, Double Cousins |

Adjectives! You Need More Adjectives!

This month is all about school visits. No wait, this month is all about finishing the manuscript of my latest book. Sigh. These are both true statements. I am focusing a lot on school visits. In between I am snatching a few hours here and there to revise my current work in progress. Throw in a couple of days a week at my “day job” and the other stuff that must be done. Yes, sometimes I’m not sure if I’m coming or going. But, in the midst of the hectic days I find humor. It is what makes it all joyful fun! Last week I visited Pomaria-Garmany Elementary School in South Carolina. I spoke to all of the students from 1st through 5th grades. I was allowed to set up in the library and each hour a different grade would come in, the students would sit on the rug, and I would talk to them about the writing process. It was a blast. One of the things I talk about is plot. I try to demonstrate to the students that you must have a plot. I’ll usually say something like this: “So, if I wrote a book about being at my grandpa’s ranch and I said, ‘One morning Carly and Max got up and they gathered the eggs, watched Grandpa milk the cow, rode the horses, picked berries, and Max stepped on a snake. . . The End. . .’ would that be a good book?” Of course, inevitably I hear a chorus of “NO! That would be boring!” At this point I ask them what is missing. The older grades often guess that it is plot I am talking about. Sometimes, with guidance they come to the answer. But, last Monday in the first grade class I had a totally unexpected response. One little girl raised her hand as high as it would go. When I pointed to her she burst out with a brilliant answer! “Adjectives! You need more adjectives,” she declared. I didn’t laugh! I looked at her teacher and she was looking at the other teacher with an incredulous look. They shrugged their shoulders. She must have been listening in class. I told her that adjectives are always a good addition and went on. Later that day, I sat at my computer and contemplated my revision project. I need to go through each scene and count how many of the senses I’ve used in description. I must have at least three senses in each scene, and it would be great to have all five. What I need are. . . wait for it. . . ADJECTIVES! I need more...

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Ten Things This Author Loves to Hear!

Posted by on Sep 14, 2015 in Blog, Double Cousins |

Ten Things This Author Loves to Hear!

    1. I  couldn’t stop reading your book. 2. When is the next book coming out? 3. This reminded me of my Grandma/Grandpa. 4. I just put a review up on Amazon. 5. This is the first book my son ever enjoyed reading. He can’t wait for the next one. 6. My children/grandchildren and I are reading the book together. 7. I caught my child reading your book under the covers with a flashlight. 8. I would like two please! 9. I could really relate to that piece! 10. Can I publish your book and give you a large advance? (A girl can dream, can’t she?)      ...

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The Tale of the Plot Skeleton-Start to Finish!

Posted by on Feb 10, 2015 in Double Cousins |

The Tale of the Plot Skeleton-Start to Finish!

I will finish the rough draft of my newest Double Cousins Mystery before I go to bed tonight—even if that means I don’t go to bed until tomorrow. I am that close, down to the last few scenes. That sounds easy, right? Well, not so fast there. The end is where all of the plot elements have to come together. It is only slightly easier than what I call the muddled middle. That is the place where my plot elements start to fall apart, or at least show their fault lines.  I used a different tool this go-around. For the past several years I have been teaching Angela E Hunt’s plot skeleton when I visit schools. It is an amazing tool for developing a plot and having it work! The thing was; I hadn’t used it start to finish. The rough draft of my last mystery was written in 2007, well before I heard of the plot skeleton. True, I used it a lot to help me find the faults and holes in the plot of that book, but not to come up with a plot. So, this time I did. I was excited about the tool and anxious to see how it worked for me. So, here is the report. I took Ms. Hunt’s advice and started with my little skeleton drawing. I plugged in my main character, my internal and external problems, the inciting incident that causes the main character to set a goal, the complications, the darkest moment where all hope of meeting that goal is lost, the “kneecap” who offers a helping hand, a lesson learned which leads to the resolution. Then I started writing. But, like I have experienced before, things happen. Characters do things I’m not expecting but wholly approve of. Characters who are just supposed to be in a supporting role suddenly become a major player (Double Cousins fans—think Slim). And somewhere in the middle the cracks begin to show. A major supporting character becomes a minor one and puff, there goes my kneecap. So, I muddle through. I rethink things. And I near the end. But, in so doing I find I have lost sight not only of my kneecap but of my darkest moment? When is it? So I revisit the plot skeleton and I think to myself. Where is that point at which all hope of reaching the goal they have set is lost? BAM! There it is, the darkest moment. Solidified. And how are they going to get out of it? Who offers a helping hand? BAM! The “kneecap” arrives! And quickly, easily, and without fanfare the resolution presents itself. I like how the plot skeleton works with MY style! Bet it would work with yours too! This is what happened at my house this morning. What’s going on at...

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