If You Can Keep Your Head

When I began writing novels, I named the first one Unforgiving Minutes, and quoted the last four lines of “If” at the start (“If you can fill the unforgiving minute . . .”).  I sold my second novel first, but used a quote from Kipling for it, too.  And for the third, fourth, and fifth.  The fifth one was set at a horse show, and I had to look hard to find a quote – and it somehow got edited out of the book.  So every time I autographed it (Show Stopper was its title), I wrote the quote in.  It’s “The Undertaker’s Horse:”

With your mane unhogged and flowing,
And your curious way of going,
And that businesslike black crimping of your tail,
E’en with Beauty on your back, sir,
Pacing like a lady’s hack, sir
Any wonder when I see you I turn pale?


We spent this last weekend in the very small town of McGregor, Minnesota, the guests of a writers group.  I was speaker at a well-attended dinner, sold and signed books, then the next day gave a two-hour class on writing and selling mystery novels at their sweet little library.  Ellen was a huge help, she knows far more about fan fiction and selling e-books than I do, and electronic publishing is the coming thing.  No, it’s already here.  Then we stopped at this little winery/gift shop and sold more books (at a discount) to the owner for resale.  Sunday morning I went to a pretty little Lutheran church (there wasn’t an Episcopal church in town) for a very pleasant service, and one of the hymns was “Amazing Grace,” my favorite.  Though it was just a weekend, I came home almost as refreshed as if we’d been away for a week.

We stayed at Big Sandy Lake Lodge and Resort, which was luxurious.  The view of the lake was as beautiful as any northwoods lake view I’ve ever seen.  Blue water dotted with islands, curving shoreline, all lined with mature trees.  I spent some time just sitting on a lawn swing and looking at it.  The food in their restaurant was excellent and not overpriced.  Even our beds were really comfortable.  The view out  our window:8acaf-window1

Best of all, the group paid for our room, fed us two meals, paid me for the class and mileage, and we sold a lot of books.  If any of you ever get an invitation from McGregor to come on up, accept with alacrity!

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2 Responses to If You Can Keep Your Head

  1. Annie Rowe says:

    How fun, Monica, to follow you on your travels and see what a successful writer does! Your trip sounds marvelous – so neat to travel right beside you. You are my inspiration! When my novel is published, I hope to follow in your beautiful footsteps! Keep on writing – I LOVE your books! Annie Rowe, Madison, Va.

  2. Pam Bagley says:

    What a beautiful place and wonderful adventure!! I hope one day you travel down to the desert of Phoenix. Arizona so I can hear you talk in person.

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