New Hampshire Writer’s Week

NHWP writers week - logo 2Hard on the Heals of NaNoWriMo comes New Hampshire Writer’s Week, an initiative spearheaded by the New Hampshire Writer’s Project (NHWP). NWHP is a non-profit organization that supports the development of individual writers and encourages an audience for literature in New Hampshire. On November 12th, Governor Maggie Hassan made it official declaring November 30th to December 6th 2014 New Hampshire Writer’s week.

According to the NHWP web site the goal of Writer’s Week 2014 is to

“celebrate our rich literary heritage while also putting a spotlight on the diverse writers living and working in our state.”

Events are scheduled statewide in bookstores, libraries, and cafes. There will also be special announcements scheduled for that week, such as the opening of nominations for the upcoming NH Literary Hall of Fame and the release of a list of NH authors available to appear at book clubs in 2015. A detailed listing of all the events associated with Writer’s Week can be found on the NHWP web site.  One of the events will be a special Writer’s Night Out on Monday December 1st. Writer’s Night Out is a casual networking event for writers. To find a WNO event near you visit the event list.

Are you an author living in New Hampshire? It’s not too late to participate in the festivities, but you have to act fast. Visit the Writer’s Week page at NHWP for details on how to participate.
Not a published author, but still interested in supporting the New Hampshire writing community?  You can help!

Are you going to participate in New Hampshire Writer’s week activities?


Lee Laughlin is a writer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at She is currently a member of the Concord Monitor Board of Contributors. Her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe.

It’s #CrimeBake Time!

L-R, Liz Mugavero, Kate Flora, me, Edith Maxwell, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Barbara Ross, Sherry Harris, Maureen Walsh. Some of my Sisters in Crime at Malice Domestic this year.

L-R, Liz Mugavero, Kate Flora, me, Edith Maxwell, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Barbara Ross, Sherry Harris, Maureen Walsh. Some of my Sisters in Crime at Malice Domestic this year.

In the fall of 2002 I took a mystery writing seminar, taught by Abigail Padgett. It was my first step toward finding my own tribe, people who wrote in the same genre. Now, at that point I had an idea for a novel, nothing more. But I wanted to try. The class was a great mixture of wonderful participants and a good teacher. Abbie had three great pieces of advice for all of us.

First, keep working on your craft. Never stop trying to be a better writer.

Second, write what resonates with you. Sure romance sells, but if you have disdain for the genre, don’t try and write it. You can stretch, and you can grow, but you need to like what you are writing.

And finally, start networking now. She mentioned conferences, and specifically mentioned Malice Domestic to three of us. “You both will fit right in there. They like what you want to write.” So two of us decided to go to Malice. It was overwhelming, but being there together made it doable. While my friend was in the postage line (to send back a box of books), she started chatting with the woman in front of her. The woman was Dana Cameron, then Vice-President of Sisters in Crime New England.

When my friend and I met again, she announced that we had to join Sisters in Crime. So we both did. In 2003 we both went to the New England Crime Bake, which was the second time it was being held. I will always remember committee member Kate Flora handing out toilet paper to the lines of women, since the bathrooms had run out. Kate Flora. I’d read her Thea Kozak series, and was a fan. And she was handing me toilet paper. I had, in fact, found my people. But little did I know that path that would set me on.

Writers are typically introverts. But going to a conference, and learning how to network, is good for you. Not just because you can move ahead professionally. You also meet people who understand what you are trying to do. They offer support. And some of them become your friend.

I am honored to be the co-chair of this year’s New England Crime Bake. I look forward to seeing Lisa and Diane there (we will take a picture), and to seeing all of my Wicked Cozy Authors.

I also look forward to meeting the next me, someone moving out of her comfort zone, and going to a writer’s conference. And to welcome her to the fold.


J.A. Hennrikus writes short stories, Julianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop Mystery Series, which debuts in 2015.

Go, NaNoWriMo Participants!

It’s almost November 1st—a thrilling time of year! I love the idea of National Novel Writing Month and I love that the only criteria for winning is to “have written” 50,000 words by November 30th.

Quantity over quality for one month gives you a lot of material to work with for the next eleven months.

I know this and that’s why I’m excited about NaNo—even though I haven’t signed up.

When I look at my life realistically, I know I’m not going to be able to write 50,000 words this November, so I’m not even going to try.

What I am going to do is host a couple of write-ins for those brave souls in my area who make that amazing commitment. While I’m with them, I’ll put aside my regular life and write with them as if I was on my way to 50,000 words.

20,000 words in the month of November would be a win for me. So would 10,000 words.

I’m using the energy and excitement of NaNo to fuel my writing. Just being in the month of November prompts me to do word sprints, to shut off my computer screen so I can’t edit as I write, and to turn off the Internet so I can get some words on the page.

Are you doing NaNo? If yes, congratulations! I’m cheering you on. If no, what are you doing this November with your writing? And I’m still cheering you on!

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon, MD: is a writer, blogger, life coach, physician, mother, and stepmother. I love contributing to this blog because it helps me keep my writing a priority when I know so many others are out there getting the words down on the page! Happy Halloween!



Well who knew? Nanowrimo – here I come


Healing wishes being sent to my friends on a regular basis


I didn’t know I was going to do it until this past weekend. A friend of mine left town and asked me to house-sit until she came back.

I love house-sitting for her for several reasons:

  • She keeps a fantastic stash of cookies (yup, I broke that ketogenic diet right in half this weekend)
  • She’s got great pets that make me laugh
  • I don’t know how to work her TV set (she has about a half dozen remotes that must be used in a highly specific sequence) so I can’t waste time watching shows

This all means that I get to read and write uninterrupted (expect for the occasional cookie run) the entire time I’m there. While munching on a handful of goldfish crackers, I was thinking about some friends of ours who had gotten into a horrific car accident (sending positive prayers to you guys constantly.) Their accident was so random, so out of the blue, so not their fault.

You just never know.

It got me thinking. What are the lessons I’ve learned that I want my kids to know and what if I never get around to telling them because I’m too busy?

I started listing bits of advice this mama hen has gathered throughout her life that she’d want to share with her chicks. When I looked at the list (it currently stands at over 200 items), I realized that I could match pretty much every lesson up with a story from our backyard chicken flock.

Ah-ha! That would make for a great book (if only to give my kids.)

But how on earth was I going to find the time on top of all of my other writing assignments to get this project done?

Enter Nanowrimo which starts when the clock strikes 12:00 a.m. on October 31.

I didn’t do Nanowrimo last year and I certainly didn’t *think* that I was going to do it this year (too occupied with other writing is my  standard excuse), but in this case, Nano is the prefect kick in the butt for what I want to do. I have the stories, they all exist in my head – and because I hate to lose, the incentive is there to find the time to get them out and onto the screen.

Nanowrimo will be the gift of “getting it done no matter how busy I am.”

So while I wasn’t planning on participating in a writing challenge this year, you can count me in. Nanowrimo gives me the perfect opportunity to write all those stories of life lessons for my kids – because you just never know, right?

How about you? Anyone else going to take the Nanowrimo challenge?


Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). ( She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.


The Artist’s Date

artistsway-t           Several years ago I followed the exercises in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Well, I followed some of them; I wrote my morning pages without fail. But I confess: I didn’t do the collages, and even though I went so far as to schedule regular Artist Dates, I didn’t always follow through.

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron prescribes taking oneself on a regularly scheduled “artist date.” An artist date is “a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you pre-plan and defend against all interlopers.”

Even though I’m good at blocking out time for writing and other word-related activities, I’ve never followed through on Cameron’s advice, even though I carried a shadow of shame that I should – if only I had the time.

Then last weekend, while I was in the Hudson River Valley for a family wedding, I visited The Storm King Art Center, a world-class sculpture park.

Waves, by Maya Lin

Waves, by Maya Lin

It was as I was strolling across the rolling terrain studded with sculpture of all sizes that I finally got it – what the artist date was all about.

Most of all, I became more observant, especially as my point-of-view of each sculpture kept shifting first as I saw it from a distance, then as I walked closer to it, around it, and then again from a distance. What I was seeing changed from each vantage point, just as our stories are shaped by the point of view from which we tell them.

I was also struck by the way the relationship of objects and angles bent space and changed one another, just the way details in narrative shift in importance and meaning depending on how they are presented.

I was especially struck by the power of negative space – the blank area created by sculptural lines that nearly vibrated with tension. Great prose can do this too – outline what’s not there, what’s not being said, but what may in fact be forcing all the characters in a story rushing toward mayhem.

Abstract sculptures at Storm King Art Center

Abstract sculptures at Storm King Art Center

Many of the sculptures were abstract. Nevertheless, I nearly always tried to make up a story about them, to ground them in narrative, because that’s how humans (or this human, anyway) makes sense of the world: through story. And once I noticed myself trying to tell a story about each orange girder, I challenged myself to see it simply qua orange girder, the way in yoga class I’m learning to acknowledge intrusive thoughts and then let them go. This technique allowed me the freedom of seeing without storytelling, sharpening my observational capability and focusing my concentration, two key tools for writers.

Some of the artwork literally stopped me in my tracks, they were so breathtaking, others barely registered as I strolled by. I simply noted this, without trying to evaluate it. Isn’t it interesting, I said to myself, that some of this art is so moving and some leaves me cold? And I walked on.

By the end of the day, I was seeing ordinary objects in new ways, which is one of the wonderful things that any IMG_1302art can do – sculpture, painting, music, prose. Suddenly, the way two trees leaned toward each other was pregnant with meaning, as was the relationship of two trashcans standing shoulder to shoulder, like sentinels guarding the parking lot.IMG_1312

And that was it: looking at art changed how I look at the world.

It also taught me the importance of the artist’s date, which I’ll now ink into my calendar and heed.




IMG_1298Deborah Lee Luskin is a novelist living in southern Vermont.

Be My Guest: Oct 11 Event for Mystery Writers and Others

There’s a fun day on tap this coming Saturday, and if you’re somewhat local to Concord, MA and this is of interest, make sure to register today, Monday, October 6.

Fellow NHWN bloggers, Diane and Julie, and I are part of a mystery writers group called Sisters in Crime. We also both belong to the New England chapter. And it’s the chapter that has pulled together a wonderful mystery-focused event this Saturday.

Here are the details:

Sisters in Crime New England Presents

History, Mystery & Murder!

Saturday, October 11, at Concord’s Historic Colonial Inn

11 a.m. Guided Walking Tour (optional)

12:15 p.m. Luncheon & Author Panel

What happened when two Puritan ministers and a fur trader wandered into the wilderness? What was Nathaniel Hawthorne’s shocking and grisly encounter? What’s so memorable about Major Pitcairn’s boo-boo or Tildy Holden and her chickens?

This easy-going, 60-minute walking tour of downtown Concord and Sleepy Hollow covers a bit of what you’ve read in history books and a whole lot that was left out, including tales of witches and shoemakers, drunken barbers, and the almost unbelievable story of Frank Sanborn, “possibly the coolest dude that ever lived in Concord”.

Afterward, enjoy a luncheon at the historic Colonial Inn and a spirited author panel on writing one of the hottest properties in our industry, Historical Mysteries.

Moderator Leslie Wheeler and award-winning authors M.E. Kemp, Ben and Beth Oak, Tempa Pagel, and Sarah Smith discuss how to make the past come alive while spinning an exciting tale for contemporary readers.

SinC/NE is covering most of the cost of this unique chapter event for members and their invited guests.

Register as my guest at these rates:

Tour & Luncheon/Panel: $25

Luncheon/Panel Only: $15

Reserve your tickets now/today (this is the last call for RSVPs) at

It should be a fun time on a beautiful New England fall afternoon… as long as no headless horsemen appear, I’ll be just fine.


LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

Rejuvenate and Explore: My Two Nights in a Museum

We’ve talked about getaways and writing retreats and taking time for ourselves as ways to recharge, get back in touch with the muse, and just to enjoy life — because what’s life if you aren’t enjoying it, right?

A couple of weeks ago, I had a fabulous opportunity to join a group of other active older adults who enjoy group outings through Boomerang Adventures. This one involved an island, a ferry, a golf cart, tai chi, yoga, kayaking, walking, cycling, and dining on fresh-from-the-ocean lobster, mussels, and clams.

NightAtTheMuseumHave you ever seen the movie Night at the Museum? It’s from 2006 and stars Ben Stiller. It’s a fun movie about a museum security guard who discovers the museum exhibits come alive at night.

Anyway, back to my adventure weekend. It was on Peak’s Island, Maine (a quick ferry ride from Portland, ME). I’d never heard of the island, yet it was only 2 hours from my home.

The island itself has a lot of civil war history – and at one time it was considered the Coney Island of Maine with hotels, entertainers, amusement parks, and more.

Currently on the island (among many things) are 2 military museums – the Fifth Maine Regiment Memorial Hall and the Eighth Maine Regiment House and Live-in Museum & Lodge. It’s amazing how much history is preserved on this beautiful little (4 mile) island on the Maine coast.

8th Museum and LodgeThe Boomerang group stayed at “the 8th”, and, wow! It’s really a museum! Part of what is preserved is the kitchen and dining hall (both in the basement). The main floor has an enormous fireplace and is open space – it’s where the civil war soldiers gathered (and slept) when they met at the lodge for reunions. Descendants still come and stay at the 8th.

I signed my name in the visitor’s log that dates back to 1924. How cool is that? The building is only open during the warm months, and the log book shows the influx of visitors – when the reunions happened, and now that the museum is open for reservations, it was fun to read the dates people have visited and where they’ve visited from.

8th Dining Hall Thankfully, the museum didn’t come alive at night, but I felt the history and saw it at every turn. Eating is a community event – visitors are assigned refrigerators (modern) and cupboards (original) for their food and tables so they can meet new people. Everyone chooses their own dishware (vintage and old) and silverware from the kitchen, and, most important, everyone does their own dishes! It’s how the soldiers did it, so it’s how current visitors do it.

There is still so much I’m absorbing from the trip. So much I’m writing down so I can remember. So much I plan to write about. So many people whose essence lingers and whose stories I would love to learn!

Peak's Island landingToday, I wanted to share how rejuvenating a totally different type of getaway can be. It wasn’t a writing-related getaway, I’m not a history ‘buff’. The trip was unique – and that attracted me.

New experiences – and sharing it with new friends – can rejuvenate and recharge you in ways you can’t imagine.

If you have a chance to try something new, go somewhere nearby you’ve never explored before – even for a few hours – I hope you’ll do it. An open mind is a great asset for any writer.

And if you can get to Peak’s Island and even stay at the 8th for a night or two – it’ll be a unique experience!

(I’m not a paid sponsor for any of the places mentioned. I just personally recommend them. And I do think the 8th Maine would make for a great unique writing retreat location – as there are lots of places to sit — inside and out — and large spaces to gather and share writing projects as a group.)

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She highly recommends getting a change of scenery now and then as a way to rejuvenate – and if you can turn it into an adventure, so much the better! You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook,  Google+, and LinkedIn.