Tag Archives: Nichole R. Bennett

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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Is it a resolution or a goal?

ImageI love lists.  And I love crossing things off of lists.

This time of year, therefore, makes me almost giddy!  There was a list for my holiday baking, a list for Christmas presents, a list for the grocery store, and my weekly to-do list.  And, of course, a list for both 2013 and 2014.

Yes, I have lists for the year.  Some might call them resolutions.  I prefer the word goals.    Hey, we all know that resolutions get broken.  Goals, however, can be attainable if written correctly.  Resolutions are often lofty ideals (i.e. “I wanna be skinny”).  Goals are smaller and more manageable (i.e. “I want to exercise for 20 minutes, three times a week”).  

Are they really the same thing?  Of course.  I know that.  Yet, calling my yearly list goals seems to work better for me than calling them resolutions.  Besides, I’m a writer.  Words matter.

For instance, if I fall short of a goal, I’m okay with reevaluating and trying again.  If I break a resolution, it’s already broken…what’s the point of fixing it?

So, as 2013 draws to a close, I can reflect on the goals I made this year.  Of my writing-specific ones, I kept some, and missed some.  The ones I missed will be added to my 2014 goals and some new ones will take the place of the goals I’ve accomplished.  And not just my writing goals, but my knitting goals, my self-improvement goals, my personal and professional goals.

What about you?  Do you make resolutions?  Or do have goals for the new year?  And what’s your personal track record for keeping them?

Whatever the answers, I do want to wish you a happy and prosperous 2014.

Blessings!


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.  And making lists.

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Today I’m thankful for….

I’m actually thankful for a lot of things and, since today is Thanksgiving in the US, I thought I’d share a few of them.

  1. My family.  I’m thankful for the family I was born into, the family I married into, and the family we’ve created over the years.  The family we’re “really” related to and the one we’ve managed to acquire.
  2. Modern conveniences.  Seriously!  I’m very thankful for things like electricity and indoor plumbing.  I don’t think I would do well a century ago…
  3. Nature.  There’s something about the beauty of nature that calms me.  Whether it’s the ocean or the mountains, I’m thankful for the scenery.
  4. Chocolate.  And coffee.  Hey, don’t judge.  Everyone needs a vice, right?
  5. You.  I’m very thankful for the readers.  For the ones who’ve read Ghost Mountain and continue to ask about the next book.  For the ones who will read it in the future. 

Thank you!

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.  And she’s thankful for the ability to do it all.

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Happy Chocolate Day!

ImageToday is one of my favorite holidays.  

What?  October 28 doesn’t ring any bells for you?  You didn’t see the greeting cards?

Well, let me tell you that today is National Chocolate Day!

I admit I’m a choco-holic.  My family will tell you that I’ve always had a sweet tooth and that my sweet of choice has always been the melt-in-your-mouth variety.  When someone says “kisses,” my first thoughts are of the foil wrapped variety not the smooching type.  My husband has grown accustomed to seeing bags of chocolate chips in the vegetable crisper and has long since given up asking if I knew they were there.  My favorite sweatshirt has always been the one that proclaims “Give me chocolate and no one gets hurt.”  (Sadly, it wore out about 10 years ago.  But it’s still my favorite.)

In the summer, chocolate shakes are a must.  Hot chocolate is a winter-time staple.

While chocolate may not directly influence my writing, it does serve as an amazing reward for getting words on the page.

And this time of year, I have a bag of chocolate waiting for any Trick-or-Treaters who may find their way to our door.  Living in the country, however, means that there will probably be no children ringing our bell and the chocolate will be savored by me over the next few weeks—or days.

So allow me to be the first to wish you all a Happy Chocolate Day.  Whether you prefer white, milk, semi-sweet or dark, enjoy a piece in celebration.  (Check out Second Helpings: A collection of holiday short stories and recipes, too.  You might find a new chocolate dish to share!)

Blessings!
Nichole

Nichole 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  knitting socks, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, or spending too much time online.  And reading.

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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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Interview with Nichole R. Bennett, Author of “Ghost Mountain”

Ghost MountainWhat is your book about?

When Cerri Baker moves with her family to the Black Hills of South Dakota, she begins seeing things—things like murder. Cerri has spent her life trying to avoid the spirituality and “hocus-pocus” her mother embraces, but 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

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I think there’s probably a little of me.  People who have read Ghost Mountain say they can almost hear me when they read it.  I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

Before I start, I know my main characters.  I know who the victim is and the antagonist.  I even know why the crime was committed.  It’s all that stuff in the middle I have to work out as I go along.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

Years ago, I heard about the “fish bone” method of plotting and that seems to work for me.  If you’re not familiar with it, draw a horizontal line on the paper (that’s the spine of the “fish”).  In the middle of the line, draw a vertical line.  Then, on each side of that vertical line, draw another about half way between the line’s end and the middle.  You want to make sure there’s a “turning point” at each vertical line, with the middle one being the biggest surprise.  You want to include a smaller “zinger” between those bones.  I have the current story’s fish bone on a dry erase board in my home office.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I grew up in a home where reading was important.  My dad is a retired police officer, as was his mother.  (Yes, you read that right.  My grandmother was a cop!)  My mom is a huge mystery fan.  How could I write anything except mysteries?

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

I live in Western South Dakota, and write about the area where I live.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

Coffee and chocolate!

What are you working on right now?

I just finished the second of the “Cerri Baker” books and have started another mystery novel with a whole new set of characters!

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes.  I originally wanted to be a newspaper reporter.

At what age did you discover writing?

I don’t remember ever NOT writing.  I was first published in Daisy Magazine when I was 7.  I had created a word search puzzle using the colors in my crayon box.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Read a lot.  Write even more.  Find a critique group.  LISTEN to what they say, whether you agree or not.  Even if you think they’re wrong, they will have pointed out places where your work can be made stronger.

What genre are your books?

I write paranormal cozies.  What that means is I write mysteries where much of the violence takes place off the page and the crime is solved by a “regular person” (not someone in law enforcement).  That’s the cozy mystery part.  The paranormal part involves ghosts and spirits!

What do you wear when you write?

Clothes.

Where can we learn more about you and your books?

From my author page at Second Wind Publishing: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=19

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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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