Select Page
It Feels Like See Jane Dig! Already Made the News

It Feels Like See Jane Dig! Already Made the News

It feels like See Jane Dig! already made the news this summer. That can’t be, of course, since its release date with Midwestern Books is October 1, 2024.

However, when I saw a link on Facebook about 3 boys who discovered a T-Rex fossil, Yogi Berra’s famous line, “it’s deja vu all over again,” immediately came to mind. Here’s why:

  • The person who posted the link is one of my former country school students…and See Jane Dig! is all about country school. Thank you Shelly!
  • Also, my former student is a shirt-tail relative to one of the boys in the story.
  • The fossil was found near Marmarth, North Dakota, as in the Marmarth Road that goes north out of fictional Little Missouri to guess where? Marmarth, North Dakota.
  • While researching See Jane Dig! in 2022, Hiram and I went on a paleo site tour with the geologist from Pioneer Trails Regional Museum located in Bowman, North Dakota. Guess where the geologist took us for our mini dig? Just outside Marmarth, North Dakota. You can read more about our paleo tour here.
  • The Denver Post article about the boys’ find features several photographs of the area where the T-Rex was found. Those pictures aren’t all that different from the one above, which I took during our paleo tour.
  • See Jane Dig! has several scenes in pastures where dinosaur bones are sticking out of the ground, just like in the news story.

First of all, the geologist, Hiram, and I might have walked right past that bone sticking out of the ground.
Second of all, it’s a good thing See Jane Dig! hasn’t been released yet or I might think those little boys plagiarized my book!
Third of all, do you see what I mean about deja vu? No wonder it feels like See Jane Dig! already made the news this summer.

I’d Like to See Jane Fix This!

I’d Like to See Jane Fix This!

“I’d like to see Jane fix this,” I muttered after opening the first of the 20 book merch mugs* I ordered in advance of summer speaking events and spotted my proofreading error.

Do you see it too?

As a former teacher who corrected enough papers to kill dozens of trees and drained oodles of red pens, I deserve no mercy…at least not from past students.**

In my own defense, I have only two things to say:

  1. I ordered them while in the grips of a raging sinus infection that the second round of antibiotics I’m currently on will hopefully work.
  2. I actually caught and corrected the error, but neglected to click “save” before placing the order.***

After staring at the mugs in dismay for a couple minutes, visions of red pens danced in my sinus-fogged head. “Hiram,” I asked my husband, “is the pack of multicolored Sharpies you bought still around somewhere?”

As a matter of fact, they were in his desk.

I plucked out the red Sharpie, picked up a mug, and did this:

Do you think they can be sold at book events if I inscribe each mug with whatever red pen message the buyer requests…within reason of course? Or use them as door prizes? I’d love to hear your suggestions, too, so leave them in the comment box.

*The mugs in the picture are all identical. They are arranged at different angles to show the 4 different covers that circle each mug.

**Those students, now adults with their own kids and grandkids, are very forgiving people. After I posted a picture of the errant mugs on Facebook, several of them wanted to know how to order them.

***The error has been corrected for a second time, and the save button clicked for the first time. Sigh!

A West River Mystery Progress Report

A West River Mystery Progress Report

A West River Mystery progress report is in order, so that’s what you’re getting today. Check out these small things about See Jane Dig! (Book 5) and See Jane Ride! (Book 6) that are making my heart go pitter pat.

  • My editor reported that she’s read most of the See Jane Dig! manuscript. She said it’s not terrible. Whew!
  • See Jane Dig! should be released in October of 2024.
  • The See Jane Ride! plotting workshop with my editor has been moved up to January 29. I had to cancel a vacation and several speaking engagements while waiting for my hip/leg/back issues to resolve. As a result I’m ahead of schedule on research and brainstorming and want to turn recovery time into writing time as well.
  • I started my research by reading Rally Rewind: 75 Years of Sturgis and paying special attention to accounts of details about the 1978 rally. That’s the year when See Jane Ride! takes place, and I want it to be as authentic as possible.
  • Next up was an interview with my cousin who started attending the rally in 1977, an event he and his wife still participate in. He contributed several colorful memories that I can’t wait for Jane to experience too.
  • Monthly calendars for June, July, and August of 1978 have been printed. The rally dates for that year, along with those for the Tipperary County Fair and Jane’s teacher inservice are on the calendar and ready to be consulted during the plotting workshop.
  • Last but not least, you all came through with biker name suggestions. Here’s the complete list: Gunner, Rooster, Sweetie Pie, Tiny, Mouse, Crankshaft, Knucklehead, Loser, Skid, Smoke, Lifter, Flywheel, Flathead, Wanderer, Spoke, Burnout, and last but not least, Stryker the Biker and his sidecar sidekick, Hitch the Hiker.

Which one (or two) do you like best? Leave your favorites in the comment box. That’ll make my heart go pitter pat too.

See Jane Dig! Is Now in the Editor’s Hands

See Jane Dig! Is Now in the Editor’s Hands

See Jane Dig! is now in the editor’s hands. I couldn’t be happier.

Not having to think about the fourth book in the West River Mystery Series during the holidays is all I wanted for Christmas this year. My editor won’t start working on it until after the first of the year because she wants to enjoy her Christmas break, too.

Not that See Jane Dig! isn’t enjoyable. It is!

That was not my opinion upon finishing the first draft last August, when I thought it was pure drivel. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that was not the case when I began revisions in early October.

Not that it was enjoyable when revisions began. It wasn’t!

Which is why authors revise first drafts and send them off to editors who gently point out the unenjoyable bits authors miss and suggest changes. Which sends the author back to the revising grindstone so a manuscript becomes more enjoyable. Until then I’m going to enjoy the holidays without giving Jane a second thought.

That’s a lie.

I’m already thinking about the research to be done before meeting with the editor to plot out the fifth book. But I’m not going to work on Book 5 until after New Year’s, and then it will only be looking up stuff and reading. No writing. Absolutely no writing.

That’s a lie, too.

I’ll probably start brainstorming ideas and plot points and character names the minute this blog post is published. Because letting my creative juices flow before starting a new project is almost as enjoyable as knowing that See Jane Dig! is now in the editor’s hands.

And that’s no lie.

Swapping Out Jane’s Dancing for Jane’s Digging Has Been Keeping Me Sane

Swapping Out Jane’s Dancing for Jane’s Digging Has Been Keeping Me Sane

Swapping out Jane’s dancing for Jane’s digging has been keeping me sane for a few miserable weeks.

The misery began with back pain that I thought was the normal stuff I’ve dealt with for decades. But it turned out to be a pinched nerve that requires bed rest, physical therapy appointments, and exercises simple enough for a kindergartener to zip through with ease, but feel like climbing Mount Everest to me.

The worst misery came with the word that my last living uncle, the one after whom Uncle Tim in the West River Mysteries is modeled, died. We knew it was coming, but it came sooner than we knew it would. That particular misery expanded when I realized driving 3 1/2 hours to attend his funeral was out of the question due to my pinched nerve.

More misery came with the cancelation of a See Jane Dance! speaking engagement at the Onawa Public Library in western Iowa because it was too far to drive. The misery continues gnawing as I wonder whether a speaking engagement on November 9 at the Huxley Public Library will suffer the same fate. And, gasp, what about the See Jane Dance! Book Launch Party on November 11 at Chocolaterie Stam in Ames?

3 hopeful facts and 1 saving grace are keeping the misery at bay. The hopeful facts are:

  • The physical therapist says I’m making good progress.
  • The PT showed my husband how to help with exercises and massage my sore, pathetic back muscles to speed progress.
  • Both venues are just down the road, and my husband is willing to serve as my chauffeur.

The saving grace is this: swapping out Jane’s dancing for Jane’s digging has been keeping me sane. Instead of woe-is-me-ing about the See Jane Dance! stuff I can’t do, I’ve swapped it out for stuff I can do. As in, revising the first draft of See Jane Dig! Not only is it my favorite part of writing a novel, but also I can do it while resting in between doing my wimpy exercises and getting up close and personal with the PT crew. And November 1 was my target date for starting revisions anyway. Hooray!

So you can now see why swapping out Jane’s dancing for Jane’s digging has been keeping me sane. Let’s hope this saving grace, along with the 3 hopeful facts, result in enough healing to avoid more cancelations. With that hope in mind, I’ll sign off with this––see you at The Stam on November 11!

Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day

Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day

Call me crazy, but I'm humming Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day with gusto. Find out why in this update on Book #4 in the West River Mysteries.

As a rule, my usual routine does not incorporate humming songs that topped the charts when I was in high school. But ever since I completed the first draft of See Jane Dig! (Book #4 in the West River Mystery Series) yesterday afternoon, I’ve found myself humming Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day at the most unexpected times.

Eating supper with the fam: Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day
Brushing my teeth: Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day
Listening to my audiobook about William Tecumseh Sherman on my morning walk: Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day
Baking breakfast muffins: Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day
Balancing the checkbook: Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day

Typing THE END after writing 70,000 words results in simultaneous and contradictory feelings.

Fear that the story is complete drivel.
Delight in ignoring the manuscript for an entire month.
Relief at having several free hours a day to catch up on everything neglected in favor of writing.
Satisfaction in knowing the bones of the story have been captured on paper.
Anticipation at returning to the manuscript in late October and discovering its more uncut gem than complete drivel.
The joy of revising what’s already written rather than filling a blank page.

For all those reasons, I’m humming Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day again right now. The biggest reason, however, is that my goal to complete the manuscript by September 12 has been achieved. That’s the day my husband, son, and I embark on a trip through the Dakotas and Nebraska.

Our first stop is Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. The Little Missouri River along the fictional town of Little Missouri also runs through the national park. Our next stop is Camp Crook, South Dakota where we were living when our son was born and left when he was three. We hope to see many people who “knew him when” and loved him well. We’ll round out the trip with a visit to former Camp Crook friends who now live in southeastern Nebraska.

For the entirety of our travels, I don’t have to think about Jane, her students, Sheriff Sternquist, Velma, Merle, ol’ Snippy the cow, Dick, the general citizenry of Little Missouri, or bad guys. Just writing that sentence has me humming Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day again. In hopes that my joy has somehow become yours, I invite you to hum along with me. All together now…

Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day