Today’s pick: What are you reading?

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In honor of a dear friend who shared my passion for reading—and who left this earth too soon—I’m offering a review of Greg Olsen’s “Lying Next to Me” for fans of suspense. Although not a genre I commonly seek out, on a whim I downloaded Olsen’s novel to my Kindle app. In my opinion, the multi-published author delivers a topnotch, and disturbing, psychological crime thriller that kept me turning the pages. To summarize: a couple on shaky marital grounds, along with their three-year-old daughter, escape to a lakefront cabin getaway, where the wife—abducted in broad daylight in front of her husband—winds up assaulted and murdered. Olsen introduces the officers in charge, as well as other major and minor players, as he deftly manipulates and weaves a master thread of suspicion. He strings readers along on a not-always reliable journey through multiple character viewpoints, leading up to the climax and a finish that ties up loose ends. Or does it?

What book do you recommend?

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Crisis of identity: discovering your ‘story’

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I’m smack dab in the middle of an identity crisis. Oh, I know who I am: a middle-aged Christian woman and married mother of an adult child. I work as an editorial and advertising coordinator for a commercial magazine publisher (see About Me). My Facebook profile describes me as a lover of words, kitties, laughter, yoga and animal print. And sparkles. I’m also a published author (see Links) of nonfiction and fiction. However, I’ve been questioning my “identity” over the past few weeks in relation to my “story.” I’ve never understood what that means. Until now. For me, my story translates into what I’m called to write. In “Trusting the process…,” I talk about completing the first draft of a sweet romance. But herein lies the crux of my “crisis.” While preparing to write the second draft, I realized I possess a different story to tell. I shared this revelation with my husband, who said, “Why can’t you write both?” Indeed.

What’s your story—or crisis of identity?

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Trusting the process (Or, you wrote a book: now what?)

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In less than 10 weeks, I wrote 60,092 words to complete the first draft of my novel (see “My future self…”). So here I sit with #allthefeels. When I first began this journey, I imagined what it would feel like to hold my finished manuscript. And, although it’s still in electronic form, I can’t say it’s what I expected. Since the day I typed “the end” (or in my case ###), my emotions vacillate from elated to underwhelm, with several limiting beliefs tossed in to create mental drama. But now that I’ve completed the first draft, it seems logical to undertake the second draft, possibly a third, followed by critique groups and/or beta readers, revisions and editing; then soliciting agents and editors and creating a platform to further engage with readers. At first, it appears daunting. Yet I’ve done the hard part: I wrote a book. Now I get to continue trusting the process and focus on one step at a time.

Where can you trust the process?

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Shaking things up: writing prompt #4 (Or: your life as a musical)

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I’m having a blast with my latest dabble in posting writing prompts (see writing prompt #3). And whether you consider yourself family, friend, fellow creative or simply support my rambling and rhetoric—thank you, by the way—I encourage any and all to play along. What better way to take a break from the competing news media, weather updates and cat videos? I’m kidding, of course, because there’s no such thing as too many cat videos. But I digress. This month, I’m focusing on the topic of Broadway musicals. As a refresher, musical theater is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance. Popular musicals include Grease, The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Aladdin, Cats and Hamilton—among countless others. A favorite of mine, Little Shop of Horrors, happened to be presented by an outstanding all-youth cast.

A new Broadway musical is about your life. Come up with a title for the big show, and write a mini-review in 25 words or less.