Writer’s block? Procrastinator? Too busy? Tell it like it is! All those words mean LAZY.

Writer’s block? Procrastinator? Too busy? Tell it like it is! All those words mean LAZY. At least, for me, they do. Those are the words I tell myself to explain why I never seem to get anything done. I make big plans, buy supplies, make announcements.  But the jobs don’t get done.

The hall needs to be spruced up. I bought the paint and new flooring almost a year ago.

The utility room is stuffed  full of totes and baskets.  I need to go through, donate, mend, pitch.

My desk is littered with notes, books, and printouts – research for the new novel.

I was home alone most of yesterday and should have made progress on at least one of those jobs.

Oh, I did try. I started working on each one of those jobs at different times yesterday. I got the paint out, found rollers and brushes. Now I have all that out on the counter, adding to the mess.  I folded one basket of laundry.

I sorted through my research and wrote two paragraphs on the novel.  Two paragraphs.

Most of the day I spent reading, browsing Facebook, and playing online games.   When my husband came home, I cooked a big supper and settled in for the evening to watch TV with him.

Okay. The first step toward getting better is to admit you have a problem.

  • added Personal Block List extension to Chrome.  blocked all my favorite game sites.
  • opened control panel and removed all the games on my computer’s hard drive.
  • added the Stay Focused extension – it will temporarily block all websites.
  • put my Kindle away in a drawer where I can’t see it.

I realize I’m treating myself like a child who has no self control and must be watched constantly to make sure she behaves.  Well, as Mama used to say, “if the shoe fits – wear it.”

Am I the only one with this problem? Do you lose unintended hours to social media?

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Twenty-Four Days – a thriller by J Murray

One of the best things about being a writer is meeting other writers who generously share information, ideas, and inspiration.  Jacqui Murray is a writer I met through the A-Z Blogging Challenge in April.

In Murray’s  latest thriller, U.S. and British agencies have less than a month to stop a North Korean missile strike after hijackers steal nuclear warhead–armed submarines.

A blistering pace is set from the beginning: dates open each new chapter/section, generating a countdown that intensifies the title’s time limit. Murray skillfully bounces from scene to scene, handling numerous characters, from hijackers to an MI6 special agent.

Interested? The first chapter is free.

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99 Cent Sale!

99 Cents today!

Snakes in the Kitchen is on sale for only 99 cents this week, for all ebook readers! That’s exciting news for me, because it means my book will reach more readers.  Thank you, Three Creeks Press & Macmillan!

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Mama

My Mother in her white uniform on the way to work at the State Hospital. Taken in Grandma Rogers yard in Mokane.

Mama was modest and didn’t usually let anybody watch her get dressed, but on the first day of her new job she called Sissy into the bedroom to help her and I went, too.  Mama had a list of everything she had to wear. One thing on the list was a “good” underwire brassiere with “firm support.” She couldn’t get it fastened in back so I climbed up on a chair and guided the little hooks together for her.  She already had on her firm support girdle, another required garment.  It was a “long line” model that started just a few inches below the brassiere and stretched down to the top of her thighs. Four long elastic straps, with clips on the ends to hold up her stockings, dangled from the bottom of the girdle. Her cotton panties were pulled up over top of the garters and the girdle. A full slip came next, then the starched white cotton uniform with snaps marching up the front. She had cut her wavy dark auburn hair to a chin length bob and what was left had to be tucked into a hairnet. The finishing touch was a starched nurse’s cap. Everything, including the stockings, was pure bright white.

“Wow! Mama you look so different! Like a real nurse!” Sissy spoke in an awestruck whisper.

“Do I really?” Mama turned and looked over her shoulder to see the new woman reflected in the dresser mirror. She straightened the white cap and tucked a loose curl under the brown hair net. “I do look different, don’t I?”  She danced around the bedroom, gathering up her purse, her keys and the pure white sweater to wear home at midnight when the air was chilly.

Sissy and I followed Mama out the door and stood side by side on the sidewalk watching as she drove away.

“How long does she have to work? Will she be home for supper?”

Sissy shook her head. “No. She won’t be home until a long time after we go to bed tonight. She’s working four to midnight.”

An excerpt from my memoir Snakes in the Kitchen.

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Tangled Roots has a new cover!

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try,  again. . . Tangled Roots, my mystery novel, hasn’t been selling very well as an ebook. Many of my wonderful friends, relatives, and neighbors bought the paperback edition, and some of you even wrote lovely five-star reviews for me. Thank you all so very much! You have my everlasting gratitude.

But, in order to succeed out in the big wide world, Tangled Roots must find readers who never heard of Carolyn Paul Branch. The experts I consulted tell me  the original cover doesn’t show up very well as a tiny thumbnail picture on a telephone or ereader.  And that’s the way most people order books these days.

The new cover will be on all the book selling sites within the next few days.

It’s still the same story! Don’t buy another one if you’ve already read Tangled Roots.

What do you think? Do you like my new cover?

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The body – a snippet from Sanity of Strawberries

The county hospital was a low, sprawling building over on the west side, but in a town of 12,000, nothing is very far away, and I was there in less than five minutes. I pulled around back to the emergency exit and parked in one of the “emergency vehicles only” slots. The door opened into a narrow hall with a small glassed in waiting room on the right with the treatment room on the right.  I checked the waiting room first, mostly out of habit. Sometimes,  those who care enough to sit in that dingy little room for hours will tell you more about what really happened than you learn in days of official investigation.

The only occupant today was an older man, narrow shoulders hunched over a bible on his lap. I couldn’t see any connection he might have to Delaney, so I turned to the door on the left,  tapped the button and looked up at the camera. The buzzer sounded and I went in.   Joe Harrison stood behind a high counter on the right, working at a computer. I knew he was a full fledged M.D., even if he did look like a teenager in his pale blue scrubs. He acted like one, too, ignoring me while while he tapped at his keyboard, watching the screen intently for what seemed like a long time before he finally looked up.

“Sheriff?  That was fast. I just hung up the phone. . . You are here about him, aren’t you?”  There were three treatment areas directly across from the counter.  When they were in use curtains pulled around to partition each bed off for privacy. Two of the narrow beds were empty. William Delaney lay on the third. All the dull tan drapes were pulled aside. He didn’t need any privacy.

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Inside Biggs – a snippet from Sanity of Strawberries

The hallway was mostly empty now, the heavy scent of hamburger and cooked onions hung in the hot humid air.  That must be where they were all heading before, to an early supper.  When I came around the corner at the end of the hall, only one man  lounged against the wall, but he was big and broad enough for two or three and had  tattoos covering his arms, neck, and even his shiny pink bald head. I nodded. He didn’t nod back, but his eyes followed me, and the short hairs on the back of my neck prickled.

When his big hand landed on my shoulder, I was expecting it enough to keep from flinching, from breaking into a run, from wetting my pants. Barely.  I turned around to face him, hoping I looked calmer than I felt.

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Renee – a snippet from Sanity of Strawberries

I should have known William was bad news the first time he stepped up on Mama’s front porch, on account of he showed up with my cousin Ricky, and everybody knew what all kinds of meanness Ricky was into. But all I could think of when I saw William was how big he was. Big and tall and solid.  Ever one of us Stantons looked like the runt of the litter, pushed back on the hind tit and never getting quite enough to grow right.  William looked like he always got his share and then some.

#storyaday

 

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Story-a-Day for May – snippets from my new mystery

The A to Z Challenge for April kept me writing every day. The blog posts were a good warm-up for my novel writing sessions and I made progress on The Sanity of Strawberries.

Since I am a master procrastinator, the accountability of posting something online every day is a great motivator, and I need to keep at it a finish this mystery.  So for this month I signed up for another challenge: StoryaDay, where the founder, Julia Duffy, encourages writer’s to design their own challenge.

For each day in May, I’ll post a snippet from my work-in-progress, a murder mystery about a murder at Fulton State Hospital, The Sanity of Strawberries. Here’s the first snippet.

The phone by my elbow rang, my direct line that by-passed the dispatchers.

“Bo, we’ve had some trouble at the Biggs building. Can you come over here?”  Konner Dey’s voice, ordinarily mellow, was brittle with tension.

“Sure. Be right there.”

Trouble at the Biggs building?  As the state’s only maximum security facility for the criminally insane, there was always trouble at Biggs. The unflappable Dr. Dey didn’t call in outside help for fights between patients or for staff with broken bones and smashed in faces.

This had to be trouble with a capital T.

I grabbed my hat and stuck my head into Communications to let the dispatchers know where I was going. Two minutes after Dey’s call I was at the entrance to the parking lot.

A county ambulance, red lights flashing, pulled out, just as I pulled in.  Did that have something to do with the emergency?  The lot was packed with cars and pickups, so I parked  close to the door in the emergency spot just vacated by the ambulance.

Narrow barred windows and a twenty foot, two-layer fence topped with a three foot coil of razor wire made the old red brick building look more like a prison than a hospital. A newer, smaller building squatted directly in front of the old three story hulk. It housed security people and a secure sally port. Right inside the door the narrow hallway was blocked by a steel gate.

“You can’t bring that there gun in here.” A skinny, wrinkled old codger grinned at me from behind a glassed in counter on the right.

“I’m the County Sheriff.”

“It don’t matter if you’re Jesus Christ hisself. You can’t bring no guns in here.”

I pulled my Glock out and looked around for a place to put it.

“You got to lock it up in your trunk,” the old guy informed me. “Before you come in. Your knife, too, if you have one, and that shiny star, anything metal.”

“Maybe you could call Dr. Dey?”

“Nope.  And don’t forget to take off that there belt, cause it has a metal buckle.”

When I came back from the car he made me hand over my keys, the only thing I had left in my pockets. I felt naked, but the old man finally pushed the magic button.

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Z is for Zinnias

Every time I see beautiful zinnias in a flower garden, I think of my mother and how much she loved her flowers.  She didn’t have very many pretty things to enjoy.

When I was child her life was an endless round of cooking, cleaning, washing clothes with an old wringer washing machine, hanging them out to dry winter and summer, ironing for hours at a time, and raising a huge vegetable garden with no equipment any more advanced than a simple hoe. She loved gardening and took delight in filling shelves with jars of beans, tomatoes, and corn. But her favorite part of gardening was the blazing bright color and beauty of the wide border of zinnias and marigolds all around the garden.

She always said the flowers kept bugs from bothering the vegetables.  She was careful to explain that they didn’t cost anything extra because she saved her seeds from year to year, sometimes trading with friends and neighbors to get a new color or variety.

She wore faded flour sack house dresses most of the time. Her dishes were plain and mismatched.  But she brightened the inside of our house with quilts she stitched from leftover sewing scraps, and crocheted pretty rag rugs from our worn out clothes.

And in the summer time, nobody in town was able to match the glory of her zinnias.

Z is for Zinnia, and this is my last post for the April 2017 A-Z Blogging Challenge.

#atozchallenge

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