Is it writers’ block??

NOT WRITING

I haven’t been writing on my two on-going books lately—just seem to have lost the energy to make them go.  This has happened before, and I always come out of it, but so far, nothing seems to interest me enough to sit down and write.  Ennui has been my companion for a couple months.

I assume that most authors hit a brick wall at times, and I also assume that this feeling will go away, but it’s frustrating.  When I’m in the throes of creating a book or story, it follows me around and bangs in my head until I can get to the computer and get it out.  When the muse returns, I find myself creating plot lines and characters in the shower, in bed, while driving.  It’s like living with someone who nags me all the time to write!  Write!  Write!

That nag is not there right now, but she will be back, exhorting me to tell my stories, to make a difference.  I look forward with a little trepidation to her presence in my head, pushing me to create, Right Now!

Probably other authors reading this can relate, maybe not, but that’s my story, or rather, my experience.  For now.

Thanks for listening.

Nan McKenzie, January 29, 2018.

Author of Bigfoot and Bigfoot Returns 

Advertisements

CUTTING CHRISTMAS TREES

By Author  Nan McKenzie, November 10, 2017

My dad, Ed McKenzie, was forever looking for a way to make money; it was always in short supply in our house.

He began to cut Christmas trees, beginning in early November, and my sisters and I would often go with him to help.  He would walk through the trees with an axe in hand, and with just a few blows, (sometimes only one) would cut down those he thought were the right ones.  We would come behind and pile the trees up, spearing our hands down through the biggest limbs at the end, then hauling six or eight or more at a time down a hill, or up a heavy rise, taking them to the big truck.

One time, my sister Sue started screaming and running, slapping at her shirt and pants.  A hornets’ nest had been jostled loose by all the action around it, and they were letting Sue know how unhappy they were about it.  She was stung several times, the hornets working their way into her clothes and hair.  Dad picked her up and ran to the truck, taking her coat and pants off on the way, hornets following the two of them.  He was able to get most of the little stinkers off her, but our day was done—she had to go to the doctor’s office in Whitefish, about thirty miles away.  Sue cried all the way there, never able to stand pain of any sort.

When we had enough to fill the back of the truck, Dad would climb in, and we girls would toss the trees to him.  He’d try to separate them to save time when we got to the tree yard.

We had a tree yard at our house, and after several days of cutting and hauling, the yard would begin to fill up.  He’d reload the trees on the truck, counting twos, fours, and so forth, meaning the length in feet of the tree, up to eights and tens.  They’d be taken to tree lots in town for sale, or hauled somewhere exotic, like Arizona or Texas, places where there were no Christmas trees to be had.  He’d either rent a lot at the edge of a town or sell them right out of the truck, making enough money to buy gas and food for the trip home.

I loved being in the woods with Dad, feeling the snow falling on my back, the stretch of muscles, marveling at how strong he was.  The smell of the trees would almost explode on us when we walked into our warm house, and we could smell them for days afterwards.

Sometimes, he’d let me burrow into the trees and ride in the back on the way home, so cold that I thought my life was over, but relishing the sense of accomplishment, knowing I could help my dad in a significant way.

For years, I became antsy in early November, thinking it was time to cut trees, but Dad was gone by then, snuffed out in a car accident in 1964.  I still miss the beautiful trees, scuffling through the leaves in the woods, pussyfooting over the tamarack needles.

Happy Holidays from the author of the Big Foot Series

http://tinyurl.com/BigFootSeries

BEARS SCARE ME

I don’t like snakes. Spiders get squashed if they dare come around me, but bears?  Bears scare the heck out of me.

When I lived alone in a wilderness cabin, hiking was a daily pleasure.  One day, I tried a different path, going off up a mountain side and angling back into a gorgeous meadow filled with wildflowers.

And there was a scary rumbling, a warning of danger, go no further, there may be monsters.  I tried several times to wade through the head-high grass to see what was on the other side. Each time the noise filled my head, and I turned back.  I could feel something watching me, making shivers race up my spine.  Finally, I gave up and made my way home.

I think a mother bear was probably telling me to go away or she’d get me.  Never did see that bear, but I saw lots of tracks on those hikes, bear poop, too.

On one of those hot summer days, I also saw a herd of caribou.  I’m not kidding, they were truly caribou, about fifteen of them, trotting down the Montana wilderness road at a stately pace.  I think they had come from Canada, checking out their southern neighbor to see if they’d like living here.  They must have decided it wasn’t to their liking. I never saw them again.

Nan McKenzie, April 2017

Bigfoot

MY WRITING HISTORY

By Nan McKenzie

 

In 1946, I started to teach myself to type on Dad’s old black Underwood upright.  Took me a long time, but I began to get an idea of how things worked.

In 1953, when I was eleven, I decided that being a writer was the best thing that could happen in my life.  Problem was, I didn’t know how to write, hadn’t had any big adventures to report, and was lost as to what to do.

By that point in my life, I’d read probably two thousand or more books, but didn’t have the discerning talent to tell what was good and what was drivel.

I tried, really, but couldn’t make any of my stories come out and make sense, not to mention that my grammar skills were pretty shaky.

Fast forward about thirty-five years, to when I was attending FVCC, while it was still located in downtown Kalispell.  I wrote for class assignments, and for fun, but still wasn’t polished enough, or had enough knowledge to get myself published.  I had set out to have adventures, and boy howdy, I had Adventures!  Now I had something to write about, but still no way to publish.

After I quit going to classes and was living alone in Whitefish, a phone call came one day.  One of my advisors was calling from FVCC.  She asked if I would be willing to teach a writing class for the college, maybe to older people.  I started to cry and said, “I have taught real estate on a college level, but don’t think you folks could use me, since I don’t have a degree.”  I wanted to do this more than anything at that point in my life.

She assured me that I didn’t need a degree, that they weren’t giving credits for my classes.  I leaped at the chance because I’d always enjoyed teaching.  So was born “Writing Your Memories”, a class I taught in Kalispell and Bigfork for a couple years.  Through this class, I met wonderful, interesting older people who had amazing stories to tell.  A man named Pat had walked from Woods Bay south of Bigfork into Kalispell every day for work, rain or shine, 25 miles each way.  And, if lucky, made two dollars a day.  Can you imagine?

A woman named Fran had lived all over the world, following her husband who had worked for the National Cartographers, making maps of hidden pockets.  Her stories were fascinating, especially the ones about wild elephants in must.  My aunt Elizabeth, a former teacher, wrote of how she had started and taught two Montessori schools, still being taught today by my cousin in Oregon.

When people would arrive to see what my class was about, they’d tell me that they didn’t know how to spell, didn’t know how to structure a story.  I asked them if they could drive a car, and they all had said yes.  So I said, “You don’t have to know how to work on the engine to make the car go—I’m the word mechanic and will do the heavy lifting.  Just write your memories and together we’ll clean up the prose.”

I came to care for those folks, and I think they liked me, too.  Our twice-weekly meeting became a fun time, eagerly looked forward to by all, me especially.  My writing skills were honed in that class while I edited and suggested and encouraged my pupils.

When the time came to write Twin Peril, then Bigfoot, I was polished enough to make a go of it, and now the second book in that series, Bigfoot Returns, may be a bit better than the first.  I always learn by doing, and bless my computer that helps me with spelling, punctuation and making sense of the story.  It’s a far cry from whacking one key at a time on an old Underwood.

March 6, 2017

Books by Nan

September Book News

writer cartoon

Killing Thyme (final)LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Writing a little every day — that’s the writer’s motto. KILLING THYME, the third book in my Spice Shop Mysteries set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, will be out October 4, so I’m busy with book launch fun, and of course, working on the next book. I’ll be in New Orleans for Bouchercon, the annual mystery convention, Sept 15-18, and that’s when I turn over the presidency of Sisters in Crime, the international writers’ organization, to another wonderful writer, though I’ll remain on the board for another year. Back home, the Montana Book Festival runs Sept 20-25 in downtown Missoula; on Friday, Sept 23, at 2:00, I’ll be part of a panel discussion called “Delicious Words: Writing About Food,” with several other fiction writers, poets, and essayists, and a cookbook author! And October 1-2 is the annual Flathead River Writers Conference in Kalispell; I’ll be speaking and teaching both days.

P.S.: The ebook of ASSAULT & PEPPER, the first Spice Shop book, is on sale online for 1.99, and the paperback of GUILTY AS CINNAMON, the second entry, is on sale for 7.19! Here’s the Amazon link, but you can get the sale prices at B&N and Kobo, too!

I hope to see you some thyme — er, time — soon!

***

     BIGFOOT RETURNS!!          By Nan McKenzie

bigfoot

He’s back!  Bigfoot is back in the Montana mountains in all his stinky, huge, scary glory!  He returns to connect with his champion, Zoe Zahn, along with Sam Hill, Darcy and George, Valli and Rauol, and Montana Governor Judy Harris!

The second and last of the Bigfoot stories has Zoe back at the beautiful round cabin, where Bigfoot finds her.  She does her best to keep him safe from all the crazies who want to kill and “study” him.

Bigfoot has a girlfriend, Helga, and she pops out a baby, Helgette, with Zoe’s help.  Another beast, Ssshhhrrrmmm is lonely, and wants Helga for his own, which causes huge fights between him and Bigfoot.

Zoe makes her way back into the mountains several times, is attacked by wolves, and Bigfoot carries her high to a big cave.

She sets up protests, argues with the angry sheriff, publishes her first Bigfoot book (which becomes a huge success), and makes a lot of cabin improvements.

Impressive tiny Zoe makes her way through all the pitfalls and problems with panache, humor, and a fierce protection of the strange, frightening monsters in the woods.

Now available on Amazon and Kindle, soon to be in print.