Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Don’t Feel Like Writing: Tailing a Tabby {+ Giveaway}

9780451415479_medium_Tailing_a_TabbyIt’s a pleasure to welcome author Laurie Cass here today to talk about writing and her latest release, TAILING A TABBY, the second installment in her Bookmobile Cat Mystery series.

Laurie is going to discuss ‘How to Write When You Don’t Feel like Writing.’ Thanks to Laurie and the delightful Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a print copy of TAILING A TABBY to giveaway to a lucky visitor in celebration of the new release. Please see the end of the post for details.

Here’s a brief synopsis of her new book.

In the bookmobile, librarian Minnie Hamilton and her rescue cat, Eddie, roll out great summer reads to folks all over the lake town of Chilson, Michigan. And when real-life drama turns deadly, Minnie makes sure justice is never overdue.
      The bookmobile is making its usual rounds when Minnie and Eddie are flagged down by a woman in distress. The woman’s husband, a famous artist, needs emergency medical care. After getting him into the bookmobile, Minnie races the man to the hospital in time…but his bad luck has only just begun.
      After disappearing from the hospital, the artist is discovered slumped over the body of a murdered woman. Minnie knows that her new friend didn’t commit the crime, but the evidence paints an unflattering picture. Now this librarian and her furry friend have to put the investigation in high gear and catch the real killer before someone else checks out.

Please join me in welcoming Laurie as she explains ‘How to Write When You Don’t Feel Like Writing.’

In my fantasies, I always feel like writing. My daydreams are crowded with scenes that have me whacking away furiously at my laptop, trying to write down the stories in my head quick before another one pops into my brain.

And, to tell you the truth, it’s often like that. Day after day, the words come easily, the end of one paragraph flows into the start of another in a way that feels right, and I know with a satisfying certainty that what I’m writing might not be complete junk.

But then there are days when the last thing I feel like doing is writing. My brain is tired, or my body is tired, or I’m cranky or sick or hungry or hot or cold or all of the above. And when you don’t feel like writing, distractions are everywhere.

Take this morning. For various reasons, I had an extra hour before heading off to the day job. Perfect, I thought. That would give me time to write a blog post. I’d write a solid first draft, edit it the next day, and then send it off.

It was an excellent plan and I had full confidence that it would work out just that way. Until I sat down to write.

Huh, I thought. I have no idea what to write about.

For me, this is a Very Bad Thing. My most productive writing sessions are ones during which I’ve already figured out the gist of what I’m going to write. It may be only a vague sort of idea, but even a vague idea is better than no idea, and on this particular morning, I had none.
What I should have done was stick myself to the chair and work through it. Type, delete if I had to, type some more, delete, rinse and repeat until my brain shifted into writing mode and I got the work done. Instead, I made a fatal mistake.

I stood up.

Standing up was the absolute worst thing I could have done. Once I stood up, the possibilities of writing-avoidance multiplied by a factor of…well, lots.

Instead of writing, I did the following:

· Went out to the front porch, knocked the dried mud off two pair of muck boots, and took the boots upstairs to the attic, where they should have been taken a month before.
· Let the cat out.
· Thought about writing a blog post about exercise through cat-letting-in-and-out.
· Swept the front porch.
· Let the cat in.
· Cleaned my husband’s hockey equipment bag.
· Swept the back porch.
· Let the cat out.
· Considered writing a blog post on how cats can make you do things you don’t particularly want to do.
· Took the garbage out to the garage.
· Let the cat in.

It was when I felt compelled to cut my fingernails that I knew I had a decision to make. Should I spend what time I had left of my extra hour doing more small household chores that undoubtedly needed doing, or should I start writing?

I looked at the window that, for weeks, I’d been intending to wash clean of cat nose prints, then sat down.

So how do you write when you don’t feel like it?

You sit down. And you start writing.

Laurie, thanks for sharing this insight into how to write when you don’t feel like it. It is so easy to find those excuses not to write right then.

Now let me share a bit of back ground on Laurie.

Laurie Cass is the pseudonym for author Laura Alden. Here’s Laurie/Laura’s background in her own words:

I was one of those kids who was always being told to “Get your nose out of that book and go outside.” So I did. Book in hand, I’d climb the maple tree next to the garage and spend hours among the rustling leaves and swaying branches. Sadly, those idyllic years didn’t last long. 

In the part of Michigan where I grew up, the prime agricultural products are blueberries and Christmas trees. Back in those days, kids could work in the fields picking berries at age 12, so the day after I turned 12, off I was sent. 

The main thing I learned from those summers was that sitting in a classroom isn’t so bad compared to standing in the blazing sun for eight hours. The other thing I learned was that while Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden were fun, there was a whole world out there filled with books by authors such as Dick Francis, Josephine Tey, Ellis Peters, and John D. MacDonald. 

I stated writing seriously in the late nineties. After a number of years in management, I felt the need to move on and took a job with fewer responsibilities. A month later, I was dead bored. I desperately needed something to wake up my brain; what could be better than writing? I started reading a lot of books on writing and happened across a particular sentence: “What’s it going to be, reasons or results?”
The phrase practically stuck me in the eye. I printed it out, framed it, and put it next to my computer. “Reasons or results?” At the end of my life, was I going to have a pile of reasons for not having done what I really wanted to do but was scared I couldn’t? Or was I going to sit down and write a book? Once I started looking at it that way, the decision was easy. A short 13 years later, my first book (Murder at the PTA, published under the pen name of Laura Alden) was published. 

Except for a year in Connecticut, I have always lived in Michigan. Thanks to my maternal grandparents, my husband and I, Eddie, and Sinii, our six-pound killer cat, have the great good fortune to live on a lake in northern lower Michigan. We spend summers entertaining weekend guests and winters guessing which day the lake is going to freeze over. 

When I’m not writing, I’m working at my day job, reading, yanking weeds out of the garden, or doing some variety of skiing. I also play the piano and violin and dabble in photography, but most of the time, almost all of the time, what I really want to do is write.

For more on Laurie/Laura, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook.


This giveaway is for one print copy of TAILING A TABBY. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end Thursday, July 24. 

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Laurie Cass’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so much for stopping by today and visiting with Laurie. What do you do when you need to write, but can’t? Do you enjoy the covers of the cozy murder mysteries?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Another cat on the cover!
    You probably could've written that blog post about controlling cats, Laurie. I find guest posts the most challenging and usually take three stages to get it down right.

  2. A mystery AND a cat—this is my kind of book!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  3. I completely understand the distractions of a cat as one is standing in front of my screen even as I type.

  4. Laurie, thanks again for joining us. Your insight on writing is enlightening. Wishing you much success.

    Hi y'all. Thanks so much for stopping by to visit with Laurie.

  5. What a great post--the cat sounds like our dog. Always in and out on the one day off I try to tackle a big project around the house! And I learned something new--didn't know Laurie/Laura were one in the same! Love the PTA series and can't wait to dip into the Bookmobile series! Thanks!

  6. Mason - Thanks for hosting Laurie.

    Laurie - Thanks very much for sharing your own writing process. It's especially good to have ways to 'break through' when the writing doesn't flow. I wish you success.

  7. looks like a fun read, thank you for the chance to win :)

  8. a bookmobile! Such delight! We don't have those here...

  9. A bookmobile it!

  10. I have such found memories of the bookmobile when I was in grade school. We didn't have a school library. I remember stepping up in the vechile and inhaling the scent of books. Would to read this one,.


  11. this sounds delightful and what a great combination. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  12. Love the book cover.

  13. Books and a cat, I'm hooked. I've got to go get the first book.
    momzillasteel at gmail dot com

  14. I almost always love the book covers of cozy mysteries. For the most part they are so bright and bring to mind rather happy thoughts (despite the murder it typically contains). Thanks for the giveaway.

  15. Love the PTA series and looking forward to the bookmobile!

  16. Thanks for sharing the secret of getting more writing done! Sit. Don't stand up!

  17. Great idea to have a story around a bookmobile. Loved the interview, it's so easy to get distracted when trying to write. As women we tend to juggle too many things at once and it's not easy to stay focused on writing.

  18. I do like the covers on the cozy mysteries. It is easy to spot them.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.