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Guest blogger Claudia Burney

Captain’s Log, Stardate 08.17.2006

Ooooh man you guys are in for a treat today! My good friend Claudia Mair Burney (and she really is my good friend, she just told me I'm her "new best friend" and I have the e-mail for blackm--er, proof) is guest blogging with me today!

Claudia's debut mystery chick-lit novel is MURDER, MAYHEM, AND A FINE MAN (doesn't that title just tantalize you?).

For Amanda Bell Brown, turning forty is murder! How's a woman supposed to grapple with romance and faith when she finds herself in the middle of mysteries--and not the God kind?

Life as a forensic psychologist isn't quite as cool as prime-time television would have us believe, and most of us just don't have closets full of red-carpet gowns and bling. Instead of painting the town red in a drop-dead gorgeous dress, this boring therapist finds herself at the scene of a crime.

Amanda Bell Brown just may know who the killer is. She needs to spill her guts, but not on the lead detective's alligator shoes. A complicated murder investigation unearths not just a killer but a closet full of skeletons Amanda thought long gone. Murder, mayhem, and a fine man are wrecking havoc on her fortieth birthday, but will she survive to see forty-one?

And now, here’s the Babe-a-licious Mair!

The Five Stages of Grief…for Writers

Anybody who’s ever taken a high school psychology class probably has a nodding familiarity with what Elizabeth Kubler-Ross described as the five stages of grief. This is what the dying go through. Remember those:

Denial: (I’m so not dying.)

Anger: (I am dying! Dang!)

Bargaining: (Okay God, I’ll pray, in tongues no less!—insert your own unattainable spiritual goal—for at least four hours a day God, if you’d just let me not die right now.)

Depression: (Who cares. I’m dying, already.)

Acceptance: (Bring it on, death. I just get to see Jesus faster.)

I think writers go through their own stages of grief. What’s that you say? There’s nothing to grieve about when you write. Ha! I think there may be one or two things. How ‘bout all that childhood ‘stuff’ you dredge up? How about the sneaky memories in the dark corners of your soul, covered in cobwebs and dust? With the tiniest bit of light they come alive and become big, and real, and very, very scary. That’s what happened to me when I wrote Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man. I thought I was going to write a really cute mystery. Something funny and sassy. I’m going along, loving Bell Brown’s voice. Loving the delicious banter between her and fine man himself, Jazz, when BAM! In chapter 11, right after a televangelist in a horrid tomato juice red gown shares her affinity for dairy products, I get hit with a flashback that took me out for a week! I couldn’t write for seven whole days. Yeah, baby, there is grief, and if I wagered, and I don’t, I’d bet that many of you experience it, too. Take heart, dear ones. I’m going to break it down so that you can manage it. Here are my personal five stages of grief, defined in bold black letters, just for you. Keep in mind, these are mine. Yours may be a wee bit different.

Claudia Mair Burney’s Personal Five Stages of Grief as a Writer

Denial: (Deadline? What deadline?)

Oh yeah, baby. Spent a lot of time there. Deadline was the “d-word” that really existed only on a contract, and not in real life. That is until a four letter word, the “t-word”—time—reminded me that I was almost out of it. The d-word took a sharp turn toward real, and became most compelling.

Avoidance: (I’ll write, just as soon as… Insert just about anything here.)

Isn’t it amazing how domestic one becomes when writing a novel? Dishes? No problem. Dusting the books, all five thousand of them? Why not! Avoiding is a great stage to do the works of mercy we often neglect. So, avoid, and then volunteer at the soup kitchen and feed the hungry. You can rack up some points in heaven, too.

Dread: (Oh God, please don’t make me write!!!)

I don’t even think I need to say anything about this one.

Eating (I’ve touched my keyboard, now I am ravenously hungry).

I need a sandwich, twinkie, steak, Mrs. Fields Cookie—and that means you can leave the house. Back to avoidance. Yay!—you name it. A sistah just gets hungry trying to write, especially if it’s a romance! I ate an entire village by the time I got to page 200 of Murder.

Acceptance: (Sigh. ::::typing::: )

In the end, you just gotta do it. This stage is the sure fire remedy and ticket out of all the other stages. Accept it. You have to write. Then get to it. Sit down. Stop outlining. Stop reading. Stop doing research. Stop talking on the telephone. Stop eating. Just begin, or continue, or finish the book. Ask yourself what happens next, and then what, and what happened after that. No matter how you feel.

If you are blessed, you will do this with an open heart, and maybe a box of Kleenex. If you are one of the chosen ones, you will do it with great skill, keeping your senses alive, writing it all out until it feels like something shining and holy blows into the room, and suddenly on that good God wind you are soaring. You are flying. You are alive.

You are writing.

Claudia Mair Burney

Camy here: Hot tamales! Thanks, Mair! You totally rock!


Quicken hates me. Has it in for me. Has decided it just doesn't like loud Asian chicks and decided to make my life a living hell.

It's just not intuitive for me. It's driving me nuts, especially since I did a no-no and have been paying bills for my writing (business) with our personal checking account.

Somebody who knows Quicken for businesses please e-mail me and rescue me.

Diet: I took a trip to Lazy-Butt today and only did about 20 minutes of exercise before I pooped out. The stupid thing is, I should be really glad I at least did 20 minutes, but I feel guilty.

I also feel frustrated. I've been periodically trying on these khaki pants I'm trying to lose weight so that I can fit into. WEIGHT LOSS IS TOO SLOW!

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