Mission Mode, as mode de vie

At a recent Atlanta Sisters in Crime meeting, the invited speaker, a former FBI Special Agent, described how she kept emotion in check for over two decades when she worked on heartrending, tragic cases: She went into “mission mode.”

Being writers, we pushed her to elaborate. “How did you feel?” asked one member. “What was going on inside of you?” The agent responded that she drew on her professional training and experience to compartmentalize* her feelings.

“I just went into ‘mission mode,'” she said. “You’re on a mission, so you stay in mission mode until you get the job done.” As she described an example to us, tears came to her eyes.

Afterward, another ‘sister’ and I discussed the Agent’s talk, and the term “mission mode.”

“I can use that in my current work in progress,” said my sister, whose book has Secret Service Agent characters. “I’d been looking for the terminology they use for that, and now I can use it in dialogue and elsewhere.” **

I can’t use the term in the book I’m writing. But in a different way, it described my attitude–my mode de vie, or way of life–when my son Jack battled cancer almost five years ago. I went into mission mode trying to protect and support him. I lived on hope. And I refused to take No for an answer. Last year, I wrote the story of our journey together. Titled ALL THE ABOVE, it will be released this spring.

Jack, weeks after his diagnosis and his first surgery (and first scar):IMG_0022

 

 

 

 

 

 I can’t fathom what’s it like to work in law enforcement, where mission mode is normale, if not obligatoire. As an author, I imagine*** stories–make them up–and though I also have to “get the job done,” it seems a much easier job. But for 6 months in 2010, I had a lot going on inside of me that I shared with no one but my husband.

Until I wrote ALL THE ABOVE.

 * my word, not hers

**paraphrasing

*** fiction, that is; ALL THE ABOVE is a true story

 

 

 

 

 

List Post, février 2015 (already?!)

  • Writing back on schedule, after I had la grippe in January (despite getting my 1st flu shot in October)
  • Enjoyed meeting authors and signing books, after my “Member Minute” talk at the Atlanta Writers Club meeting on January 17
  • Excited that the Atlanta Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC) has nominated UNDERWATER for the Georgia Author of the Year Award (GAYA) in the Detective/Mystery category (which includes psychological thrillers) – winners will be announced June 6
  • Looking forward to Augusta in March and Chapel Hill in April (but don’t have to go back to NC in May anymore)
  • Can’t wait for the Feb. 24 release of UNTER WASSER, the German translation of UNDERWATER by AmazonCrossing
  • Ecstatic that someone I recently interviewed for research on my current work in progress (WIP) is currently reading UNDERWATER, and said he thinks I’m “a really good writer.” And, his assistant read it in a day, and loved it
  • Thankful to him and to a mutual friend of ours who also met with me, to help me fine tune some story details and make sure specifics are accurate and plausible
  • Very, very happy to find a new critique partner in my genre for my WIP…We’ve already exchanged several chapters and sent each other our feedback
  • Resolved to write more (non-list) posts on my blog this month as the days lengthen and springtime beckons

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List Post, nouvelle année (2015)

  • Almost finished UN-decorating the house for the holiday season
  • Writing back on schedule, after more than two weeks when I couldn’t remember what day of the week it was
  • Several signed copies of UNDERWATER are available for purchase at Dunwoody Bakery, open Wednesdays through Saturdays
  • Looking forward to my “Member Minute” talk at the Atlanta Writers Club meeting on January 17, 2015 at 1:30 pm, at Georgia Perimeter College
  • On the horizon: My appearance at the Augusta Literary Festival on March 6-7. Looking forward to attending, meeting readers and signing books
  • Planning the release of my work of creative nonfiction, titled ALL THE ABOVE this spring
  • Resolving to step up my exercise routine this year
  • Cheering for the Cowboys and the Seahawks during the NFL playoffs
  • Happy that I’m traveling to Chapel Hill, NC in April and in May
  • Glad to share family news with close friends and family

ee605e7f-224b-44f4-a1a5-f0184e945720Photo courtesy of Alliance Française d’Atlanta

Book Talk for Noel

Fun “Book Talk” moments at a recent holiday gathering:

  • Telling a writer friend and his wife about my experience at my first Bouchercon in Long Beach, CA last month (the glow is still with me).
  • Selling an audio version (CD set) of UNDERWATER to a member of my Writers Group I hadn’t seen in months, who said he spends a lot of time driving. He was a regular attendee when I brought scenes of the manuscript to the group for feedback.
  • Finding out that a friend loves LONESOME DOVE as much as I do, talking about the book, and lending it to someone else who wants to read it (despite its length).
  • Asking another friend if I can interview him to help me do research for my work-in-progress. He agreed, and suggested I speak to someone else we know who might help, too.
  • Talking about the German translation of UNDERWATER (“UNTER WASSER”) to be released on February 24, 2015.
  • Describing how I use social media to engage with readers and market my books.
  • Mentioning that my next book (Book 3) is a work of creative nonfiction called ALL THE ABOVE, which will be out in the spring.
  • Hearing a (lawyer) friend recite poetry by Ezra Pound.
  • Listening to a writer friend talk about his mystery series.
  • Explaining that after Book 3, I’m sticking with the psychological thriller genre and writing fiction.

Happy Holidays, and Bonne Année 2015!

List Post, Numéro Quatre (de décembre)

  • Finished decorating the house for the holiday season (but trimming the tree next weekend)
  • Starting my Christmas shopping next week
  • Writing in between everything, including on the weekends; hope to meet my WIP word count goal for 2014
  • Nostalgic about past Christmases, when my kids found bikes and toys under the tree
  • Delivered 10 signed copies of UNDERWATER to Dunwoody Bakery, open Wednesdays through Saturdays…If you live in the Atlanta area, pick up your copy there!
  • Looking forward to a writerly holiday gathering next Saturday, where I’ll sign more copies and will have audio versions, too
  • Thinking about what I’ll talk about for 15 minutes for the “Member Minute” at the Atlanta Writers Club meeting on January 17, 2015
  • Happy that lots of UK readers have downloaded UNDERWATER during the last week! (and even more USA readers)
  • Excited (and thrilled) that the Falcons won last Sunday!
  • Recently tried “Abs” class, and going again tomorrow
  • Favorite Christmas candy (but must avoid): peppermint bark

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“Bone Jour” Novembre!

C’est à dire, Bonjour, November! 

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Halloween is over…So click here and read about me, my thriller UNDERWATER, and its upcoming release this month by Thomas & Mercer, on PAGE 6 of the November 2014 newsletter of the Atlanta Writers Club!

equill

 

Getting it done, sans doute

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on til you come to the end; then stop.”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
 

“Best advice I’ve ever received: Finish.”
– Peter Mayle
 

Sounds easy, right?

I doubt “the King” was talking about writing a novel (I never read Alice in Wonderland), but I think A Year in Provence* author Peter Mayle was.

When I wrote UNDERWATER, I did begin at (what I thought was) the beginning. But it didn’t turn out to be. To guess what I mean, click here and “Look Inside” to read the first few pages.

Now I’m working on Book 4, another thriller with tie-ins to UNDERWATER, and I’m at that part between the beginning and the end, where I must “go on.” (I’ve written about un tiers – a third – so far.) While I’m behind on my goal of 50,000 words** by Thanksgiving (looks like it will be Noel), at least I’m hitting my plot points. And when I’m finished, I’ll stop.

(Then I’ll begin revisions, editing, etc…but that’s another post.)

“Going on” right now is work, and it can be hard to focus sometimes. Doubt creeps in…and I push it away.

This book, like UNDERWATER, is set in Atlanta, and scenes take place in fictional neighborhoods here, with a few (real) landmarks as anchors. And, like in UNDERWATER, characters are not based on people I know, and events are made up. Drawn from my own experiences, observations, and imagination, they interweave and eventually turn into a novel.

“Focus more on your desire than on your doubt, and the dream will take care of itself.”
– Mark Twain
 
* Which I have read, as well as many of his other books
** Which is well over the mid-point of the story 
 
 
 
 

 

Germans, Chocolate, and a Birthday

A party without a cake is just a meeting.
– Julia Child
 
photo 2
 
 

To celebrate my birthday (which is today), and in honor of the German translation of my novel UNDERWATER*, my husband baked a German chocolate cake for me yesterday (pictured above).

You might think the sides don’t look right  look a little messy  don’t look the way they are supposed to, but the recipe he used said to put the (gooey, but yummy) icing on the top, and let it drizzle down the sides.

Which he did.

It tasted great, of course, just like everything he bakes and cooks.  He didn’t get the recipe from one of his Julia Child cookbooks, though. It came from another one of the many cookbooks he has either bought or been given over the years.

Before eating cake, we sat outside to enjoy the perfect October weather here in Atlanta, then enjoyed a dinner of poached salmon and salad (also prepared by my husband). Naturally, I felt very fêted…! We were missing some family members who live elsewhere, but those who could attend, did, and one had just been home for a few days’ visit.

I’m not sure if German chocolate cake is something you can find in Germany (I’ve never been there). I suspect maybe you can, but it might be a little bit different from our this version. If it does exist, I’ll bet it’s just as yummy.

In any case, with our cake, what could have been just a meeting  normal dinner was a party…

 

* The German version of UNDERWATER will be released next spring, but the English language versions (print, digital and audio) will be released on November 25, 2014! Click here to pre-order and have automatically delivered on 11-25-14!

 

List Post, Numéro deux:

Because “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” here is my updated List for this week October:

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  • Two more (print) books purchased, to read this month: a memoir and a work of literary fiction. Both signed by the author, and both authors are new friends
  • On track (?): WIP at 15k words…If I write 1,000 words a (work)day between now and Thanksgiving (and allow for my trip to Bouchercon in November), I’ll meet my goal of 50k by then. If. 
  • Work on Cover for ALL THE ABOVE has begun. Thanks, Michael!
  • Atlanta area bookstores: Some will stock a few copies of UNDERWATER upon its release by Thomas & Mercer on November 25, 2014. Lesquelles? Books for Less in Buford, GA; Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA; Charis Books in Atlanta, GA; and possibly Bound to be Read Books, also in Atlanta! (If it’s not in your bookstore, ask them to carry it)
  • Keeping up with travel updates from friends in the Czech Republic and in France maintenant!
  • Trying out a new Atlanta restaurant with mon mari later this month to celebrate mon anniversaire
  • Preparing my presentation at my Author Focus panel at Bouchercon 2014; looking ahead, même chose, plus ou moins, at the Atlanta Writers Club January 2015 meeting (“Member Minute”)
  • Taking heed of some advice of un ami, un auteur bien connu, en ce qui concerne my (unnamed) WIP and its writing, editing and development
  • Following and watching football: the Atlanta Falcons, the Georgia Bulldogs (Dawgs!), and the UNC Tar Heels!

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