Category Archives: Nichole R. Bennet

Psst! I have a secret!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

Writing is hard work.

Well, maybe writing isn’t so hard.  I mean, you sit down and let the words flow, right?  That isn’t so hard.

writing a bookBut coming up with ideas is hard.  I mean, there’s the story that takes place on Battle Mountain that I need to work out.  Okay, so I want a story to happen on Battle Mountain.  I’m just not sure about the plot.

Even once the idea is there writing doesn’t get any easier.  For example, there’s the story that I’m going to write where the murder takes place at an unlikely tourist spot in western Nebraska.  I just need to figure out why the victim gets killed.

Once I have the location and the victim and the villain all sorted out, I still think writing is hard.  All those details!  Should Viktor be an old Russian mobster?  Or is his name really Alberto and he’s Sicilian?  Are Joe’s eyes a common brown?  Or are they golden-brown with hints of yellow when the sun hits them just right?  And how far away is the diner from the bookstore?  There’s a lot of details for someone who can’t remember to send out birthday cards in time to actually arrive in time for the birthday.

Then there’s the actual writing.  The sitting down and making the story progress.  After checking e-mail.  And Facebook.  And sending a tweet to let the world know I’m sitting down to write (#amwriting).

By then, of course, the dog has to go out.  And the cat needs to be fed.  Mostly because the dog ate all the cat food, but that’s probably not really important.

Back in my “office”, I start to write.  Then comes the melodic tones of the dryer.  Better get the clothes out before they wrinkle.  After the laundry is put away, I head back to the office and decide I might as well set up the coffee maker for the morning.  And go ahead and pack my lunch for the next day so that I don’t have to do it in the morning.

Those tasks completed, I get back to the computer, sit down and start typing.

For 10 whole minutes.  Until I realize that it’s almost 11 pm and I have to work in the morning.

So why do I do it?  Why do I spend some days staring at a blank computer screen waiting for the next burst of words?

Easy.

Because I love it!

Nichole

Nichole R. Bennett has been an avid mystery reader from a young age.  Her novels, Ghost Mountain and Sleeping Bear, are available from Second Wind Publishing. When she’s not writing, thinking about writing or avoiding writing, Nichole can be found doing a plethora of crafty things, drinking coffee, or eating chocolate.

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Are you romantic? Or romantic?

January is almost over, and I’ve almost gotten used to writing 2015 on the checks.  Since weather in the Black Hills is always a little off from the rest of civilization, that means we’ve had beautiful 60 and 70 degree weather.  It also means that the annual Stock Show and Rodeo is coming up.

It also means that stores are filled with all things pink and red.

Which, to me, is more frightening than Halloween.

You see, I am not a romantic.

Well, lovers2at least not in the “wine me, dine me, we live happily ever after” way.  Then again, if you mean “romantic” in the Edgar Allen Poe, basing your writing on the Supernatural, I’m so romantic it’s not even funny!

But Hallmark and Hershey’s don’t have greeting cards and boxes of candy for human psychology and satire.

No.  No one has turned the original romantic movement into a multimillion dollar pseudo-holiday.

Dang it.

So this time of year, I avoid the big box stores like the plague.  When my husband thoughtfully asks what I want for Valentine’s Day, I stare at him, my mouth agape like a fish out of water.

After decades of marriage, he should know better than to ask, but ask he does.  And he doesn’t take shrugs and grunts for an answer.  At least not any more.

Truly, I have no idea.  My “needs” list is thankfully small.  My “wants” list isn’t too large, either, but has more expensive items on it.  Items that are too pricy to ask for.  Items that are too pricy for me to spend the same amount on him.

Don’t get me wrong!  I will get him something.  I always do.  And there’s about a 95 percent chance that it will come in a heavy cooler packed with dry ice and taste great on the grill.

And, hey, let’s face it.  I’d be fine with a box of good chocolates and maybe a coffee gift card.  Or an afternoon to myself.  Or even an afternoon of being in charge of the remote control.

But the idea of dinner and dancing?  I just wouldn’t think of it.  I mean, restaurants are packed on Valentine’s Day.  Don’t get me wrong, the idea of not cooking is good and I’m always up for a dinner that didn’t come from a drive-thru.

So, for this Valentine’s Day, like others before, I will avoid the red and pink romantic items, and stick to the supernatural-occult ones.

At least this way I can say I am a romantic, right

What about you?  How romantic are you?

Nichole

Nichole R. Bennett has been an avid mystery reader from a young age.  Her novels, Ghost Mountain and Sleeping Bear, are available from Second Wind Publishing. When she’s not writing, Nichole can be found doing a plethora of crafty things, drinking coffee, or eating chocolate.  Which she does all year long, and not just in February.

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Ordinary mysteries

It’s no secret that I enjoy a good mystery.  Heck, that’s what I write.

And it probably won’t come as a surprise to those who know me, but I really like those stories where the “ordinary people” find themselves doing something extra-ordinary.  You know, like the woman accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, who managed to survive captivity.  Or the man who fought for the Union during the Civil War while his brothers enlisted in the Confederacy.

To me, those are more interesting stories than Wonder Woman.  And I love Wonder Woman!
Plus, everyone’s got a story.

Do you ever wonder how those stories shape you?  For example, did your tenth-great grandfather help start one of the original 13 colonies?  Or did your third-great grandfather work in a chocolate factory?   Or is your sixth great-grand uncle pictured on the one dollar bill?

All of those things would have shaped the people closest to them.  Which in turn shaped the people they touched.  All the way down to me.  (Although I think the chocolate factory thing shaped my waist more than the others…)

Recently author Stephen King was on PBS’s “Finding Your Roots”  (an episode which focused on long-lost fathers) and learned that his family name isn’t really King.

Another mystery.

Another everyday, ordinary person, mystery.

What’s your mystery?

Nichole

Nichole R. Bennett has been an avid mystery reader from a young age.  Her novels, Ghost Mountain and Sleeping Bear, are available from Second Wind Publishing. When she’s not writing, Nichole can be found doing a plethora of crafty things, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, or spending too much time online.  Oh, and researching her family tree.

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Mourning the End of Summer

Could someone please tell me where this summer has gone?  For that matter, could someone explain where this year has gone?

Those lumps there are cars.  To be more accurate, one is a Jeep and the other is a full-size pick-up truck.  There was a LOT of snow.

Those lumps there are cars. To be more accurate, one is a Jeep and the other is a full-size pick-up truck. There was a LOT of snow.

It seems like just yesterday Western South Dakota was digging out from Winter Storm Atlas, which dumped more than two feet of snow.  Heavy, wet, way too early in the season snow.  The wind knocked the official sensors out, so there is no official record of how strong the gusts were.  At least 50 and 60 miles per hour.  Those speeds were recorded before the sensor was put out of commission.  People were without power for days—some for weeks.

It started a long, cold winter.

That led into a short, cold spring; which then gave us a cold, wet summer.

And that has me pretty bummed out.

I love summer.  And not just because my birthday is in August.  (Hey, who doesn’t love presents?)

Therefore, I will be spending this Labor Day weekend, mourning the summer that never was and hoping against hope (or at least against the Farmer’s Almanac) that this upcoming winter is more hospitable than last!

Nichole

Nichole R. Bennett has been an avid mystery reader from a young age.  Her novels, Ghost Mountain and Sleeping Bear, are available from Second Wind Publishing. When she’s not writing, Nichole can be found doing a plethora of crafty things, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, or spending too much time online.  Oh, and reading.

But not hanging out in the cold.

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Changing seasons

The leaves are starting to change in the canyon.  In a few short weeks there won't be any left on the trees.

The leaves are starting to change in the canyon. In a few short weeks there won’t be any left on the trees.

I’ve lived in places where the seasons don’t change much.  There you have your choice between hot and warm.  The Black Hills of South Dakota is not one of those places.

Summer is my favorite season.  Spring is a close second.  Fall comes in a distant third and winter, well, winter can take a long walk off a short pier as far as I’m concerned.

However, I try to make the most of what I’ve got. And right now, for better or worse, I’ve got fall.  To me fall has a few redeeming qualities, which is why it isn’t tied for last place with winter.  The best thing is Halloween, which happens to be my all-time favorite holiday EVER.

Fall has it’s own smells.  I love the apple-cinnamon scent that is so popular this time of year and the smell of a wood fire is amazing, so I guess the smells of fall are okay.  With the cooler weather I do more baking, so the house smells different…like fresh bread, brownies, or cookies.

That brings me to the taste of fall.  I love sweets.  I love fresh baked bread.  I love chocolate.  Unlike most of the rest of my family, though, I do not like pumpkin.  Not even a little.

In the Black Hills, fall has it’s own look.  Sure, Halloween costumes are everywhere, but it takes living in a special place to understand the necessity of having Halloween costumes three sizes too big (so you can fit your winter coat underneath, of course).  But the leaves changing in nearby Spearfish Canyon are a beautiful mix of greens, golds, oranges, yellows and reds.

Ghost stories seem to fill the air this time of year.  Combine those with an over-active imagination and the crackle of dry, fallen leaves and you know fall sounds different than any other time of year.

The feel of fall is a 50-50 split.  Hay rides are fun.  Hay always gets stuck in places where it shouldn’t.  Hay is itchy.  Itchy is no fun.  And I hate cold.  I really, truly despise cold.  Fall temperatures are, well, cold.

Maybe fall isn’t so bad after all.  I don’t have to eat pumpkin flavored anything and I can always stay inside whenever possible.  And there is something to be said for reading by the fireplace, isn’t there?

Nichole
Nichole R. Bennett has been an avid mystery reader from a young age.  Her first novel, Ghost Mountain, is available from Second Wind Publishing. When she’s not writing, Nichole can be found doing a plethora of crafty things, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, or spending too much time online.  Oh, and reading.

But not hanging out in the cold.

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Hidden gems

In the time since Ghost Mountain was released, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about writing in general and my writing in particular.

The questions have run the gambit from things like “what kind of books do you read?” (I prefer mysteries but will read just about anything that’s been recommended to me) to “what do you do when you aren’t writing?” (Knit, read, work as a web site designer at my day job).

However, the most asked question has to be “how’s the next book coming?”  I’m finally able to answer with something besides “I’m working on it.”

sturgis2010Sleeping Bear, the sequel to Ghost Mountain, is in the publication process and I really couldn’t be happier.  The story takes place in August during a well-known motorcycle event in South Dakota.  The influx of tourists during the annual affair increases the small town’s population 100-fold.

Bear Butte, called Mato Paha by the Lakota people, also plays a role in the upcoming novel.  The Butte—like Devils Tower from Ghost Mountain—is a sacred site located in the Black Hills, and is really not a butte but a small mountain.  Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull have all prayed at Bear Butte.  Today vision quests, sweat lodges and other ceremonies are held there and the trees are filled with colorful prayer cloths.

I don’t think I consciously set out to write about the sacred sites of the Lakota people.  I do, however, set my stories in the Black Hills and Western South Dakota.  I live here and it’s easy to visit the site and get a “feel” for the location.  Devils Tower and Bear Butte are two of the most beautiful places around.  And they both have a history that is long and fascinating.

I think everywhere has places that set the tone—historical sites, geographical anomalies, sacred places.  It’s the responsibility of people today to recognize those places and preserve the spot, the legend, and the history for future generations.

What are the places in your area like that?  Those “hidden gems” of the community?  More importantly, do you visit those sites?  Let me know!

Nichole

Nichole R. Bennett has been an avid mystery reader from a young age.  Her first novel, Ghost Mountain, is available from Second Wind Publishing. When she’s not writing, Nichole can be found doing a plethora of crafty things, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, or spending too much time online.  Oh, and reading.

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August 30: It’s Frankenstein Day! Read A Thriller from Second Wind!

Mary Wollenstone Shelley was born on this day in 1797. Happy Birthday, Mama of Frankenstein!

Here are some thrillers from Second Wind authors:

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦
School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman

When High School teacher Kendra Desola opens an anonymous email she expects to find a bitter complaint from a parent, or a snipe from one of her back-biting co-workers. Instead, a photoshopped attachment shows Kendra getting way too friendly with her male students.
She intends to stop this lie before it circulates, but before she can locate the source, the suspicious death of a colleague brings the police on campus. Kendra now fears the email was a set up, to make it look like she had a motive for murder. What if the cops get wind of the email and buy the “evidence” that she’s a child molester, or a murderess, or both? Kendra plays off an unknown adversary as she desperately seeks to prove her innocence in a School of Lies.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

Ghost Mountain by Nichole R Bennett

Moving is stressful enough, but when Cerri Baker moves with her family to the Black Hills of South Dakota, she begins seeing things—things like murder.
Named after a pre-Christian Celtic Goddess, Cerri has spent her life trying to avoid the spirituality and “hocus-pocus” her mother embraces. Once in the Black Hills, Cerri doesn’t seem to have much choice as her spirit guide insists she find justice for a murdered man. As she struggles with her own destiny, Cerri must also convince the FBI that she is getting her information from another realm and not from first-hand knowledge of the murder.

 ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦
Vendetta by Nancy Niles

COMPULSION, RETRIBUTION, TWISTED ATONEMENT When Private Investigator, Tina Munroe agrees to help out an old friend little does she know the danger she’s put herself and her loved ones in. Billy Hutchins is being stalked by a killer who has a bead on him and Tina’s desire to protect Billy places her squarely in the stalker’s sights. She encounters vandalism, a psycho with a Molotov cocktail, a gangster who has his own agenda for mixing into her case and a high speed chase through the city of Las Vegas. The reader is taken to Laughlin, Nevada, The Lake Mead Marina, the World Series of Poker in Vegas and a trek through the pouring rain in the pitch black of night through a snake infested desert. Time is running out when her friend and assistant, Megan is kidnapped. Have Tina’s actions to save one friend caused another friend to die? Can she stop the killer in time? Could the killer be someone she knows and trusts?

 ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦
The Magic Fault by Paul Mohrbacher

The Shroud of Turin — claimed to be the burial cloth of Christ — is stolen from a chapel in the cathedral of Turin in the fall of 2004. The Shroud is probably the most famous relic in the Catholic Church — even if perhaps a fake. The thieves leave only one obscure clue: The relic will head off a disaster. Beyond the identity and grand design of the thieves lies an opportunistic plan to tilt the Catholic Church eastward — again.

 ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

 http://www.secondwindpublishing.com

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Short story by Nichole

I completely forgot about the blog this morning!  Well, in my defense, I have been out of town (out of the state, even!) for more of June.  So here is a short story to — hopefully — amuse you!

Blessings!

Nichole

——

It’s All In The Cards

He lifted the beer to his smiling lips.  The scent of old peanuts and stale smoke permeated the bar, but he didn’t notice anymore.  He hadn’t really paid attention to those scents in decades.  Besides, there was something much more important to notice standing in the doorway.

She was a classic beauty.  Maybe not much by today’s standards, but she would have been considered a knockout just a few decades earlier.  When had those standards changed?

She looked through the bluish-grey haze as if searching for someone in particular.  She took a few tentative steps while he watched, not breathing, from behind his beer mug.  Maybe he would get lucky and she would grace the empty barstool beside him.

“Excuse me.  Is this seat taken?”  Her voice was as sultry as he’d imagined it to be, with a Mid-West accent he couldn’t quite place.

“It is now.” He motioned to the bartender.  “Let me buy you a drink.”

One drink let to another and soon he knew all he needed to about the young woman seated next to him.  She was indeed waiting for someone — a man she’d been chatting with on-line.  She was a receptionist for one of the CPA firms downtown and lived alone.

Actually, he already knew all that.  He had been corresponding with her via the computer for a few months now.

Computers are wonderful things.  They allow people to live lives they never would otherwise.  She thought she’d been conversing with an accountant, a mild-mannered gentleman, divorced and balding.  Instead, he had never been married, had a full head of hair and was definitely not an accountant.

The drinks kept flowing, and a game of pool allowed them to continue their conversation.  Hours passed and he knew she was none the wiser.

He invited her back to his apartment, never letting on what his plan was or that he had known all about her for quite some time.  There was no need to make her uncomfortable.  That wouldn’t suit his purposes at all.

Once inside the third-floor apartment, he offered another drink.  Wine this time, in a crystal chalice.  She sipped the red liquid quietly and with appreciation.  He was beginning to regret the way this must end.  There was no other option, though.  It must end this way.

He coaxed her to the couch.  She sat, taking in her surroundings.  He casually glanced around the room, as if trying to see what she was seeing.  The dark wood furniture matched the flooring, but was a beautiful contrast to the light fabric he had selected for the cushions and pillows.  The walls were a subtle hue and a light-colored painting he found at a yard sale was the only wall hanging.  Everything in the room was selected for its ability to put people — women — at ease.

“Do you live alone?”  He couldn’t believe she asked that.  Was she trying to move things too quickly?  That would never do.  Things must be done in order, of their own accord.  He ignored the question and guided the conversation to the cards sitting on the table.

“Here, let me tell your future.” His smile conveyed a message of jovial frivolity.  There was no reason for her to decline.  He reached for the Rider Tarot deck without waiting for her to respond.  It was a deck he was used to, one he cherished.  Purchased at a mall fifteen years ago, this was the deck that gave him a purpose for his life.  It was not the deck that spoke to him these days.  No, that one was put away where she would never see it, but this was a deck many people had seen at one time or another.  It was a deck that was easy to explain with its more primitive artwork.

This step was important.  She didn’t know how important it was.  There was no way to take the next step — the step that must be taken — without the approval of the cards.

He handed them to her and asked her to shuffle.  She did and he dealt three cards for her: The World, The Magician, and Judgement.

“What do they mean?”  Her hands reached for the Magician — the same card that decorated the box.  He grabbed all three cards before she could touch them.  It wouldn’t due to have her leaving too large an imprint on them.

“The World tells me that you have had many experiences,” he said.  He watched her eyes, wondering when the drug would start to take effect.  They usually didn’t last this long, but maybe she had a higher tolerance for the chlordane he’d slipped into her chalice of wine.  Experience told him that she would show signs of the poison anywhere from thirty minutes to three hours after she consumed it.  It had only been about forty-five minutes, so there was still time.  Plenty of time.

She nodded.  “Yes.  I’ve done some interesting things in my life.”

“I can tell.” He stood, taking the cards with him.  The World also meant “end of a journey,” but she didn’t need to know that.  She didn’t need to see the end coming for her.

He showed her the next card — the Magician.  “This is the first card in the deck.  It means self-confidence.  It tells me you’re a very confident woman.  But I could see that already.”  Another smile and a nod to her.  There was no need to tell her the card also meant things are not as they seem.  She’d find out soon enough.

“What about the last card?  Judgement doesn’t sound so good, does it?”

He took another step into the kitchen, calling “I’ll tell you in a minute.  Let me get something first.”  Grabbing a glass of water and the butcher knife, he knew it was time to make his move.  He held the water to his lips, sipping the cool liquid and feeling it wet his dry throat.  The knife, he slid into the waistband of his Dockers, feeling the pressure in the small of his back.

The three cards he’d dealt her never left his hand.  They told of her future and he must obey them.

Entering the living room once again, he placed the glass on the table.  He couldn’t turn his back on her now.  That just wouldn’t do.

“Judgement isn’t such a bad thing.  We must all face it, you know.  This card, particularly, tells us there will be a renewal.”

“A renewal?  How interesting.  I wonder what that could mean.”

It was time.  Everything in his being was screaming out “NOW!”  He came to a stop directly behind her.  “I think you’ll find out before you know it,” he whispered into her ear as his left arm encircled her neck, his right hand reaching for the hidden blade.

What happened next was a bit of a shock.  She said something — he didn’t catch what it was — and there was a crashing behind him.

Overall, he wasn’t too surprised when the police broke down the door.  The Judgement card had also told him that harsh criticism was coming.

Her last words were the unexpected surprise.

“You’re under arrest.  We’ve been after you for a long time.  And now the Tarot Card murders will end and you will become like one of your cards — the Hanged Man.”

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Share to win!

Ghost Mountain was released this month and I had my first-ever book signing.  What an adventure!

The reaction to the novel has been interesting.  The back of the book says:

Moving is stressful enough, but when Cerri Baker moves with her family to the Black Hills of South Dakota, she begins seeing things—things like murder. Named after a pre-Christian Celtic Goddess, Cerri has spent her life trying to avoid the spirituality and “hocus-pocus” her mother embraces. Once in the Black Hills, Cerri doesn’t seem to have much choice as her spirit guide insists she find justice for a murdered man.  As she struggles with her own destiny, Cerri must also convince the FBI that she is getting her information from another realm and not from first-hand knowledge of the murder.

Some people read that and put the book down.  Walked away.  Maybe they don’t often read mysteries.  Maybe they don’t appreciate the beauty of the Black Hills like I do. Other people said the book sounded interesting and purchased a copy.

One woman really questioned me about it, though.  “So.  You believe in the paranormal?” she asked, almost accusingly.  I admitted that I do believe there are things out there we humans can’t see or can’t explain. My answer must have been okay, because she bought two books — one for herself and one as a gift.

The conversation got me thinking, though, about the things we can see and those we can’t and why people believe what they do.

It seems obvious to me that people believe things similar to what their families believe.  Their beliefs may not be exact, but they’re usually pretty close.  At least that’s my experience.  I believe there are many things which can’t be seen by the naked eye, but that still exist.  Heck, I can’t see an atom, but I believe it exists.

I also know there are places in the world which feel different.  Cemeteries often have an air of solemnity about them, for example.  There are places in the Black Hills which lighten my heart when I visit them.  The feeling is, for lack of a better word, amazing.

As if that isn’t enough, almost every culture in the world has such similar myths and legends.  Almost every culture shares beliefs in unseen helpers and life after death.  The details are different, but the basics are all there.  Isn’t that amazing?

The beliefs of individuals and cultures has always fascinated me.  Even the ideas I don’t completely agree with are interesting to me.  I think that’s why my mysteries have a paranormal slant — because there is so much in this world of ours which just can’t be explained.

In honor of the release of Ghost Mountain, I will give away a copy of the book.  To enter, leave a comment.  On April 1, I’ll draw from all the comments and contact the winner.  I’d really love to hear your thoughts on the paranormal, your beliefs, or even your comments about the book.

Blessings!

Nichole

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Writing is just another creative outlet

I’m so excited to be posting this blog!  For those of you who don’t know, Second Wind Authors are highly encouraged to post here.  Therefore, I’m one of them!

I’ve done lots of creative things in my life.  In high school I designed and sewed my own clothing.  (Not a “normal” thing for girls in the 1980s, but I never claimed to be normal!)  I’ve taken many different art classes in many different medias.  I draw, I knit, I sew, I paint, I write.

I’ve been writing, well, forever.  As a child, I dreamed of growing up to be a reporter.  My first “newspaper” was a one-page item that discussed the things going on in our family.  There was even a crayon-created “photo” above the fold.  It was only natural that I worked on my high school newspaper and yearbook.  I joined the US Air Force to be a reporter—well, that and to finish college.

So when I decided to try my hand at a novel, I had the creative process part down.  The disciple of putting pen to paper—or, rather, fingers to keyboard—was a little more difficult to cultivate.

Once the novel was finished, I sent it out and was delighted when I found out Second Wind wanted to publish it.

So now I’m an author, among all the other titles I bear.

I still find the act of putting fingers to keyboard to be the hardest.  I can think up a million ideas for novels.  Some of them I reject immediately because, frankly, I’m not the best one to write those stories.  I prefer to write (and read) mysteries, but especially ones with a paranormal twist.  I may come up with an idea for a Western love story, but I can’t write it!

And no matter what I’m working on, I still find time to pursue my hobbies.  All those creative things I do, help me to be a better writer.  I’ve worked out plot problems while turning the heel on a sock I was knitting.  While painting, I’ve thought of the perfect scenario to advance my current work.  While sewing, I’ve pictured the face of a minor character who needed to be introduced.

Am I unusual in this?  Maybe.  I don’t think so.  I believe creative people aren’t just creative in one area.  They have many interests and multiple talents.   Some authors are even creative enough to use their talents in their novels.  There are books on just about any creative hobby out there.

Hobbies are important to our mental health.  I truly believe this.  I also believe a person must try out many hobbies in order to find the ones that work for them.

Now you know what some of my hobbies are, I’d love to hear about yours.

Nichole

Nichole’s book, Ghost Mountain, is scheduled to be released soon.

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