It’s a Miracle That I’m Not in Prison


THIS is a fabulous poster that will be framed and hung in a place of honor in my new writing room. It is a gift from my devious sister-in-crime, Anna Adams. For those of you not familiar with this painting, the title is ‘Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette’ by an obscure painter Dutch painter named Vincent Van Gogh. (possibly a self-portrait, but hard to tell without the flesh).

It will hang in my writing room. IF IT EVER GETS BUILT.

To wit: I have mentioned to Coe, off an on, for at least the last year, that I am taking the unused “formal” living room and turning it into a writing room. I have complained to Coe since Thanksgiving that our designer has not called me back to get said project started and I suspect he’s avoiding me. Says Coe, “Brian just lives across the street. Why don’t you hunt him down and kill him.” Coe is such a smart ass. If I kill Brian, I’ll never get my writing room done. Duh.

Finally, I actually booked AN APPOINTMENT with Brian for today. Oh joy! I tell Coe on Friday. “I’m seeing Brian on Monday!” Sunday, I am measuring, drawing TO SCALE floor plans, downloading photos, choosing flooring, choosing fabric, choosing paint. I am NOT wearing an invisible cape while busying myself with these tasks.

Today, I meet with Brian, portfolio of assembled plans in hand. Two hours later, we have hashed out everything and he knows exactly what I want. He has even suggested some really fabulous changes/additions/ideas that I have not thought of. He will draw up the plans and send to me for “red lines.” (that’s a professional term for “change shit I don’t like.”)

As I survey my new queendom in my overactive imagination, I am already curled up in the new window seat nestled between bookshelves, sipping wine, reading a good book. (while I’m taking a break from writing, having met my daily word quota, of course).

Back to reality at a late lunch. Coe is suddenly all, “you know, maybe it would be better if I moved into that room and you could have the den as your writing room.” Then he ticks off a list of reasons why this is so much better for him. Not on his list is how much closer to the front door he would be when the undertaker comes to take his bludgeoned body away. Oh wait, that one is better for me.

Did I mention “since last year”? “Since Thanksgiving”? “Last Friday”? “Sunday”?

The only reason Coe lives to eat his Breyer’s Natural Vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s Five Ingredient chocolate sauce is because Anna reminds me that if I kill him and get caught (HAH! Bloody unlikely) I won’t be able to go to Murder and Mayhem in March and Haunted Scotland in October.

So fine. I have lost two days of my life on a writing room that will never be. The alternate space is only marginally acceptable (because I’m going to pout about this for a while). It does, however, have a fireplace. And it’s more remote from the rest of the house. So when Anna comes for breakfast on Saturday, we’ll take new measurements and plot a new comfortably malevolent space.

And other miscellaneous malevolent stuff. Because I’m just flexible that way.

Posted in Criminal Intent, I Am Not Making This Up, Idle Threats, The Opposite of Making Progress | 1 Comment

If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail

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The first posting of IWSG is upon us, and 2018 is shaping up to be a fabulous year! Benjamin Franklin’s sage words play right into the question Captain Ninja has posed for January: 

“What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?”

I love this question! As I have possibly mentioned before, I am the queen-clipart-word-small of the written goal plan. My father [gone now over 30 years] introduced me to the power of a written plan during some very challenging times in my teen years. I cultivated this habit and  credit the many successes I have achieved in life to my father’s wisdom and love. I have his original hardback copies of the Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie books in my library. And my favorite book on the subject is still Write it Down, Make it Happen, by Henriette Anne Klauser.

I am wrapping up a 2-year plan at the end of March, 2018, wherein I am transitioning to a full-time writing career. The first three months of this year will still be very busy writing-wise. My number one goal is to have an outline/synopsis finished [I am also the duchess of abandoned outlines and half-assed projects], ready to be expanded into a full length manuscript, beginning in April. To that end, I’m experimenting with the Snowflake Pro software. I’m finding it much, much easier to use than Scrivener’s.


I’ve made it clear to everyone that this transition is a career change and I will still be keeping regular working hours. I’m merely trading a business suit and power heels for yoga pants, comfy sweaters, and ballet flats! I’m drafting a new 3-year plan, which moves “writing” into the number 1 goal, replacing “transitioning to writing full-time” [mission {will be} accomplished!]

I expect some trial and error until I get into the rhythm of my new life. I’m looking forward to the wisdom, advice, and support of the IWSG community in this new phase of my writing career!

Many thanks to our awesome co-hosts for the January 3 posting:

Tyrean Martinson
Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor
Megan Morgan
Jennifer Lane
Rachna Chhabria

Posted in Enjoying the Journey, IWSG, Making Progress | 16 Comments

New Year’s Resolutions – a Pictorial

Writing the story

For 2018, I firmly resolve to:


Chapter 1

Quit my day job.



Read more books


ATFM judith

Kill more people (but only if they really need killing).


Fitbit not

Work out more.



Drink more wine.



Embrace the unusual.



Unleash the power.


Sparkling whine dog

Enjoy the journey.


Monkey typing

Finish my manuscript before he does.



Wishing you all the blessings of the new year!


Posted in Enjoying the Journey, Holiday Festivities, Idle Threats | Leave a comment

Because . . . Saturn

winter solstice1

Winter Solstice is getting a very bad rap this year. Some claiming to be in the ‘equinox-know’ warn that today will be “the worst day of 2017.” News outlets everywhere report this negative Nell story as if it is Real News™.

According USA Today, “. . . the sun will appear to pass in front of the constellation Capricorn hours after Saturn does likewise. This will cause both of these orbs to line up for the first time since 1664 . . ..”  This auspicious alignment of Saturn, we are warned, will cause delays, frustration, traffic gridlock. Tempers might be short, and folks may become confrontational.

Or in other words, a typical day during the holiday season.

Newsweek also claims it’s all the fault of Saturn.  “At the same time, Mercury will no longer be in retrograde—which is good—but the shift from this period to the dominance of Capricorn, a sign of power, patriarchy and the law will not be a pleasant, astrologers say.”

Just another day in the practice of law.

Travel + Leisure has a real ‘the glass completely empty’ point of view. “Even if you don’t believe that the positioning of Saturn will have any effect on your life whatsoever, winter solstice already has all of the ingredients for unpleasantness, including the shortest day of the year and the longest night.”

Excuse me, but some people LIKE long nights. Vampires, anyone? [Coe has long accused me of being a closet vampire, an accusation which I neither admit nor deny.]

There’s also a major meltdown at Bustle, where it is alleged that we are all ‘freaking out” [we’re not], providing this brilliant advice: “Dec. 21 might not be the luckiest day of the year, [ ], it’s just a series of hours that we can all get through together. Just be cautious, practice as much self-care as you can, and stay positive.”

Just. Kill. Me. Now.

Jessica Saggio at Florida Today has a brighter [bwahaha] take on the dirges. “’Tempers will be short,’ which in my house means nothing because we’re Italian.” She’s also funny.

Always delighted to be the contrarian, I am having a fabulous day! I love winter and Winter Solstice. The history, the lore, the magical stories feed my imagination with a vivid montage of snow-capped landscapes, star-filled galaxies, and Celtic festivals. Now in front of the fireplace, I am “cautiously” practicing “self-care” with a glass of the “positively” delicious Avant-Garde Pinot Noir.

And I predict that life will be always be filled with traffic jams and irritable people no matter how the Sun, Capricorn, and Saturn line up.

Posted in Holiday Festivities, Just Kill Me Now, Public Service Announcement, Wine - the First Miracle | Leave a comment

The Rats are NOT Winning the Rat Race

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Insecure Writer’s Group


And now, the end is near,
and so we face the final Wednesday
My friends, the past is clear
I’ll state my case, life’s just a frenzy . . . *

pedestrians frenzy2

I am always so surprised at how quickly the first Wednesday rolls around. And a bit dismayed at how little I have accomplished writing-wise since the last one. Which segues nicely into this month’s IWSG’s question:

As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently? Two words.


Life moves with such reckless speed. The pressure to do more in less time is simply relentless. I was raised in the era where women learned to “multi-task” in order to accomplish the expected daily output of obligation. “Multi-task” is just a fancy word for doing too many things at one time, and none of them very well. Now we’re all on our devices, checking email, texting, web surfing, doing business, getting directions, buying stuff, going going going and all the while completely oblivious to our surroundings.

I had a smack-my-head moment a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday morning when my dog was scheduled for a bath and nails. In multi-task mode, I wondered how many things I could get “done” on that side of town while she was pampered and petted. I can’t remember the last time I got a massage and manicure . . . oh wait, it was last March.

With a long-lost rebel’s heart, I thought ‘screw it’ to all the obligations and took myself to Panera, bought a latte, and pulled out my writer’s notebook. For two glorious hours, I wrote about whatever came into my view or into my head. A total stream of consciousness of life unfolding in front of me. Groceries and dry cleaning be damned.

But, I have not reviewed those musings or written in my book since. Two hours of doing nothing is very difficult to come by. My writing is squeezed into my lunch hours [multi-tasking, eating without much thought or enjoyment while trying to disengage from the law and into my story – guess how that’s working out . . .] And with the Hell-iday season upon us, legions are now in the HOV lane, hurtling towards exhaustion. [sidebar: is there a law requiring that the five weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas have to be a rushed hot mess?]

But it’s all good. Soon, this rat is leaving the rat race for full-time writing. And when I do, I’m not just moving to the slow lane, I’m getting off the damn super highway and taking some back roads to places I’ve never been. I’ll count my writing time in hours and days instead of minutes. Until then, when I take the dog for her grooming appointments, I’m heading for Panera, notebook in hand.

The best wrap-up on the subject of the rat race is a brilliant video by Steve Cutts, a London-based artist specializing in animation, illustration, painting and sculpture. It’s 4 minutes 16 seconds and it worth every second. I give you:



Many thanks to Captain Ninja and the awesome co-hosts for this month’s IWSG blog hop:

Julie Flanders
Shannon Lawrence
Fundy Blue
Heather Gardner

*[apologies to Frank Sinatra]

Posted in It's the Law, IWSG, The Road to Hell . . . | 25 Comments