Guest Post: "Shadowing a Day in the Life of a Mystery Writer," by Margaret Mizushima


When I first started the research for my Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, I shadowed several K-9 handlers. It was exciting to watch the officers train their police dogs for skills such as to bite and hold a fugitive, seek and find evidence, and search to find the trail of a hidden or missing person. A writer’s day isn’t quite as exciting, but we do have our moments. I’d like to share what a day in my life typically looks like as I prepare for the release of Burning Ridge while at the same time writing book five in the series.

My daily routine can be divided into several different segments:

The Prep Phase
I rise around six and take an early morning walk. During this time my mind is churning with ideas about the scenes I’m going to write and how I want to challenge my main characters: Deputy Mattie Cobb, her K-9 partner Robo, and veterinarian Cole Walker.

Back at home, I make a cup of herbal tea—Egyptian licorice is my favorite—and then head upstairs to my office. I spend a half-hour or so answering email and responding to social media, and then I turn on my salt lamp and light a candle. At that point, I’m ready to get to work on my manuscript.

The Productive Phase
Recently I heard author Peter Heller say that writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint, so he writes 1000 words per day when creating a new book. I shoot for that, too. Sometimes I quit mid-sentence so that I’m excited to get started again the next day. Before I write, I might review what I wrote the previous day, but it’s more likely that I’ll just jump in and pick up where I left off.

I set a timer to write for forty-five minutes and let nothing interrupt me during this time. (Okay, sometimes my husband and kids can interrupt, but I try not to give in to other distractions.) After the first forty-five minutes, I get up to stretch and walk around the house, do some internet research, answer an important phone call, or take care of anything that can’t wait. Then I write for another forty-five. Most days I hit my word count goal before the time is up, so I pull up a blog post that I’m working on and finish my time working on it.

I volunteer to run the social media for the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and I end the morning retweeting for members on Twitter or creating new Facebook posts. By this time, I take a short break for lunch.

The Business Phase
My afternoon finds me back at the computer, either working on my day job which is doing bookkeeping and accounts payable for our veterinary clinic and farm, or working on the business of writing: correspondence, research for my manuscript, completing interviews or blog posts, or posting and responding on social media. I also use this time to tie up the many loose ends that are always dangling in front of me: setting up an event on Facebook, sending pictures to my daughter who designs my bookmarks and business cards, the list goes on and on. Since we live in the country, I might need to drive into our nearest town for appointments or errands.

If I’m home instead of going into town, I try to reserve an hour at the end of the afternoon to read. Lately, I’ve been reading mysteries or suspense by fellow Sisters in Crime Colorado members to discuss at our SinC Colorado Book Club, and a nonfiction book by Nancy Pickard titled Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path.

Down Time or Leisure Time… (Now what’s that again?)
My husband and I cook dinner and eat together unless one of us has a meeting. Last week, we were both invited to an evening session at Coupe Studios in Boulder, Colorado, to watch narrator Nancy Wu record the audio version of Burning Ridge for Blackstone Audio Books. Now, that was exciting!

I invite you to join Mattie, Robo, and Cole on their next adventure. Please watch for the Burning Ridge release on September 11, 2018.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Margaret Mizushima is the author of the critically acclaimed Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Her books have garnered a Reader’s Favorite gold medal and have been listed as finalists in the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, the Colorado Book Awards, and the International Book Awards. Margaret serves on the board for the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and she lives in Colorado where she assists her husband with their veterinary practice and Angus cattle herd. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, on Twitter @margmizu, on Instagram at margmizu, and on her website at www.margaretmizushima.com.

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