The last three months of 2012 were full of promise, but as one learns through experience, life sometimes throws you a curve.  My curve happened over the holidays in California, but more on that later.

Before leaving Minneapolis I was attempting to write every day, but I found it hard to stay on task.  My inspiration seemed to come every second or third day.  To be poetic, I could state this is when the muse inspired me.  In reality, it was more mundane.  I was driven to write by the pure guilt of a type A personality.

My story line was developing toward a scene that would impact my characters in a variety of ways.  It would take place in Minneapolis along the Mississippi River.  Hopefully, it would move the arc of my story forward.  As I progressed toward this point, I began to flesh out several of the following characters: Ashley Crane, who is Elizabeth’s sister, changes careers from finance to becoming a registered dietitian.  She and her husband live in Palo Alto, California, and she is studying nutrition.  Paloma Pena, a neuroscientist, is a graduate student at Sanford University.  An alien microbe awakens in the ocean off Japan and begins to move up the food chain.  John Stevens works for the CIA and is resentful for not being promoted.  Alex, a professional surfer, becomes famous on the beaches of La Jolla California.

As I wrote I continued to network.  A good friend, Steve Carples, suggested I attend a lunch sponsored by a local Minneapolis publisher, The Coffee House Press.  My action thriller genre was not the focus of their writers, but I learned about the depth of our local writing community plus some of the challenges facing a smaller publisher.  Their concern was not the larger publishing houses but electronic publishers.  I definitely needed to learn more about this issue since, it appeared, the publishing industry had changed.

In addition, my little network of writers expanded to three in November.  Through Tom and Sue-Sue Stillman, I met Dennis Kelly.  In 2011, Dennis published Blizzard Ball through the North Star Press of St. Cloud, Minnesota.  An intriguing and entertaining read about the events set in motion when a bungled robbery results in the theft of winning lottery tickets for one of the richest amounts in “blizzard ball” history.  Dennis and I met at the Grand Tavern in St. Paul.  I had an insightful discussion with him about writing and the industry in general.  Dennis was also correct about the walleye at the Grand Tavern.  It was delicious.

In mid-November we left for Palm Springs, California but upon our arrival we headed straight to San Francisco for the funeral of Marvin Siegel, one of my favorite cousins.  A day after the funeral we drove the nine hours back to Palm Springs with our daughter, Annie, and her husband Bryan.  We had a great Thanksgiving together and were looking forward to seeing them again in mid-December, when they planned to move into their new home in Palo Alto.

After Thanksgiving, I had a few moments writing, but again the new environment and routine made consistency difficult.  I continued to develop my characters either via notes or in my mind, but struggled getting them incorporated into my actual draft.  Time flew by and we were soon off to San Francisco again for the move.  Their contractor fell behind schedule and Annie and Bryan’s move was delayed.  We did not remain idle since additional shopping had to be done for a variety of daily items needed in their new home.

During a side trip to Lululemon on University Avenue in Palo Alto, an epiphany happened.  One of the staff members struck up a conversation with me, and we ended up talking about her love of surfing.  I always assumed most surfing in California took place in the southern part of the state.  The staff member enlightened me.  After walking out of the store, I pulled out my cell phone and typed in notes about Santa Cruz and the Mavericks of Half Moon Bay.  The residence of my surfer, Alex, shifted from La Jolla to Santa Cruz.  My plan all along was to have him encounter a Great White shark.  I believe they are more prevalent in northern California.  So the change in residence was a perfect fit.

A few days after we flew back to Palm Springs, our other daughter, Emily, came to the rescue by arriving in Palo Alto to help with the move since the new house was finally done.  After getting unpacked and a little settled into their new home, Annie, Bryan, and Emily flew down to stay with us over Christmas.

The curveball thrown at us by life occurred shortly after their arrival.  We inadvertently discovered mold in our home in Palm Springs.  The holiday festivities went on without a hitch, but after everyone had left, the serious work of mold abatement began.  To say it mildly, our house was thrown into turmoil, as was any chance of writing.


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  1. Steve Carples

    Thanks for the mention, Mark. I know that this journey has been filled with lots of rollercoaster ups and downs – but that you’re making good progress on something you’ve dreamed about doing for many years. Keep the words of intrigue flowing my friend! All the best — Steve Carples


  2. Keep up the good work. You are becoming more aware of each new place and adding changes as you go…maybe even a little mold might creep into the storyline. Can’t wait to read the finished project. ❤💁big fans St. Paul Sue-Sue and Tom


  3. Love your updates! Sorry about the mold, hopefully it is remediated by now, and your writing is moving along. I look forward to reading more!!


  4. Candy Bridgman

    Well done! I thought you may have a character Monique. Nice chatting with you last week


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