Friday, August 16, 2019

Top 10 Reasons Writing Is the Best Job Ever


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: We are standing and cheering and applauding like mad! We love it when our dear friends have a mad success! Yay for Liz Milliron—who we know as Mary Sutton—whose second book, HEAVEN HAS NO RAGE,  is now on the shelves!

And she has, with her own special style of optimism, figured out the good news about being a writer. PERFECT for a Friday morning!  Welcome, darling Mary/Liz! And hurray!


Top 10 Reasons I Think Writing Is the Best Job Ever!

Thanks so much Reds for having me back! I visit every morning for my JRW “fix” so being here is a true honor.

There are any number of memes out there that are variants on a theme. “Be a writer, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.” But now that my second book, Heaven Has No Rage, is out in the wild, I can say this with confidence.

Being a writer is the best job I’ve had (okay, aside from wife and mother).

Oh sure. There are days when I wonder, “Why did I do this?” Usually it’s those days when I’m pummeling my brain trying to come up with yet another character name that fits impossibly strict limits – must not start with J, S, A, T, B; be three-syllables; cannot end with Y; and cannot be a famous person. (Do it. I dare you.)

But other days, well, I truly believe sitting with a cup of tea, putting words on a screen, and getting paid to do it really should be illegal because no person should have this much fun.



So here are my Top 10 Reasons I Think Writing Is the Best Job Ever.

10. Staying in your pajamas and not showering until 10am is not “being lazy.” This is your new work uniform.

9. Chocolate, wine, and caffeine are major food groups.

8. Staring off into space is no longer “being lazy” or “tuning out.” You’re resolving plot problems.

7. Research is so much more fun than it was in college. (The downside is that my Google search history is sure to have put my name on some kind of watchlist. No, seriously, I’m a writer, see I have books and everything!)

6. You have a built-in excuse to avoid dreadfully dull social engagements. “I’d love to come watch your fourth-cousin-twice-removed’s slideshow of his root canal surgery, but I can’t. I’m on deadline.”

5. Similar to #6, you have a built-in excuse for memory lapses. “Oh, were we supposed to meet Great Aunt Mabel for her black-berry jam making marathon? It slipped my mind. Sorry, I’m on deadline.” (Note: Be careful with this one. Failure to be at your oldest child’s first violin solo concert will probably cost you valuable support when you really do need to be left alone. Exercise caution.)

4. Killing someone in fiction is just as therapeutic, and a whole lot less expensive, than psychotherapy.

3. Eavesdropping is no longer a social faux pas. It’s research!

2. Taking that trip to England (or France, or Italy, or Ireland) may now qualify as research if you plan to write a book set there.

1. And the best thing about being a writer – you get to hang out with some of the coolest people on the planet: other writers and readers!



HANK: Love this so much! Reds and readers, what are the real best reasons about why you love what YOU do?


State Trooper Jim Duncan's quiet overnight shift turns deadly when fire destroys a ski lodge at a local resort and the first responders find a man's body inside. What starts as a suspicious accident quickly becomes sinister when the autopsy proves the victim is not the man who rented the cabin. Jim’s left with three questions. Who is John Doe? Why was he at the ski lodge? And who hated him enough to kill him?

Assistant Public Defender Sally Castle, still reeling after the events of several months ago, tries to bury her feelings of guilt and fear in her work. When an anonymous note from a secret admirer arrives at the courthouse, she brushes it off as an empty threat. As the missives, each one darker than the last, continue to arrive at her office as well as her home, Sally’s forced to review all the possibilities. Is the letter-writer a person from her legal past? Or is the threat closer to home?

As the questions multiply, Jim and Sally are thrown into a race to find a murderer as well as a stalker...before Sally ends up facing more than an unwanted pen pal.



Liz Milliron is the author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries series about a Pennsylvania State Trooper and a Fayette County assistant public defender in the scenic Laurel Highlands. The first in the series, Root of All Evil, was released in August, 2018. Liz’s short fiction has appeared in multiple anthologies, including Murder Most Historical and the Anthony-award-winning Blood on the Bayou. She is a past president of the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime, as well as a member of Pennwriters and International Thriller Writers. She lives outside Pittsburgh with her husband, two teens, and a retired-racer greyhound.



67 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your new book, Liz . . . I’m looking forward to reading it.
    I love your reasons for loving writing.
    The best reasons for teaching all have to do with children . . . spending all day with enthusiastic six-year-olds, all of whom get a sparkle their eyes when something “clicks” . . . .

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    1. Joan, "back in the day," I thought I'd be a high school English teacher. Yes, there is great joy in seeing the concept click with a student.

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  2. I'm laughing over here. I'd love to have some of those excuses in my life.

    Congrats on the new book!

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    1. Thanks, Mark! Feel free to try them out - do you think they work for "I need to get this review written"?

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  3. Perfect list, Liz! I'm printing it and making handouts.

    Congratulations on Heaven Has No Rage, I'm planning to settle in with it this weekend.

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    1. Kait, you don't even have to pay me royalties. Hope you enjoy HEAVEN!

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  4. Excellent list! Here's another one: having someone write to tell you your book got them through sitting at their ailing father's bedside/their sister's surgery/their own surgery recuperation/their adult child's illness. That makes it all worthwhile.

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    1. Oh yes. I think if someone told me that I'd break down and cry. What a wonderful gift to be able to give someone - a few hours of peace during turmoil.

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  5. I agree! And what a great start to a difficult day this is. Thank you. And congrats on the new book.

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    1. Triss, I'm sorry your day is difficult.

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    2. Triss, I'm sorry to hear about your difficulties. Glad I could give you a laugh.

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    3. Oh, Triss, sorry it started as a bad day...hope it's improving..

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  6. This is so great! But please please please, tell us about your book!

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    1. Certainly.

      In HEAVEN HAS NO RAGE, Jim and Sally find themselves tiptoeing around each other because of the events of last October. Jim is afraid what happened has alerted Sally to the darker aspects of his job and she's trying to find a graceful way to end the friendship. He also thinks he let her down because when she needed him, he was busy with work.

      Sally is convinced Jim thinks her decisions led to that moment and is cutting ties with her. She also incredibly guilty because she believes it WAS partly her fault for being too stubborn for her own good.

      HEAVEN HAS NO RAGE takes the theme of ROOT OF ALL EVIL a step further. Not only "how far will you go to get what you want," but "what do you do when you don't," especially if you think you've been cheated out of it.

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  7. Frabjous list, Liz! I look forward to reading your new book. And to hearing more about your greyhound.

    Many of the reasons I love what I do, which is being retired, is that I get to do almost anything I want to do. Right now I'm sitting in my pajamas in my favorite chair with a latte at hand, a sleeping dog or two a my feet, and a cat watching out the window, and spending the first part of my morning with the Jungle Reds. Every. Single. Day.

    When I was working, I was a nurse, all the way from night staff in L&D to hospice administration. Birth to death and most things in between. Some jobs were good, and some I hated, but I loved my WORK each moment of each day.

    And the difficult parts were always bearable when I knew I had a good book to lost myself in when I went home.

    Thank all of you for that.

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    1. Thanks, Ann. My dad is retired as well. He'd agree with you.

      My mom was a nurse for many years. Some parts drove her crazy, but she loved those times when a patient or family member gave her a simple "thank you."

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    2. Oh, Ann, you are fabulous. Thank you!

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  8. Liz, loved reading this! My favorite reason to write: it's a "built-in excuse for memory lapses." It was the one thing I liked about being pregnant. Congratulations on the new book! Wondering how you researched what it's like to be a state trooper in ski country PA.

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    1. Hallie, I used pregnancy a lot!

      I took a citizen's class with the Pennsylvania State Police several years ago. When I have questions anything PSP-related, I email one of the instructors. He always sets me straight. Sometimes I'm even right!

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  9. Congratulations, Liz! I love that cover! I'd pick that up in a heartbeat in a bookstore/library to check it out. And since I'm familiar with that part of Pennsylvania, the setting would pique my interest too.

    And your list is write on! (see how I did that?). Being in the zone, and coming out of it to realize an hour or two have gone by and you feel elated and get up and dance a little and say 'oh yessss!'

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    1. Thanks, Flora - you made me smile.

      Yep, I know the feeling. Going in thinking "I have no idea what is going on here" and coming out thinking "yassss!"

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  10. Congrats on the new book Liz--and what a great list! Like Edith, I do love the moments when people let you know how much a certain book meant. And I bet lots of these are happening that we'll never hear about too...

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    1. Thanks, Lucy. I bet you're right. I know I've had a couple of those moments myself and I never figured out (or was too shy) to tell the author.

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    2. OH, don;t be too shy! They would LOVE to hear! ANd now you know that from the author's point of view!

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    3. That's the great thing about joining this community - now I get to thank them in person!

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  11. Congratulations on your new book Liz. I love the cover, so mysterious like the storyline. It is certainly the kind of book
    I will enjoy.
    I'm not a querulous person but I like #4: killing someone in fiction is just as therapeutic , and a whole lot less expensive ,than psychotherapy. It made me laugh.
    Being retired, I practice #10: while reading JRW and good books in the morning, pajamas are my work uniform .

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    1. Thanks, Danielle! Glad I could make you laugh.

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  12. Looking forward to reading this, Liz, and that cover is a definite grabber. I am now retired which means most people I know must think I am sitting here doing absolutely nothing so I would have no problem doing whatever task they had in mind for me. I think next time I'll say I can't; I'm working on a special project and I have a deadline!

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  13. Day job is perfectly fine. But my true love is the reviewing. It is so rewarding to get messages every day from readers thanking me for introducing them to books they would have otherwise missed. I think reading is the most important thing in creating a world that is kind, accepting, empathetic, and understanding - so anything I can do to help spread that love is gratifying.

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    1. And you do it so well, Kristopher. I've lost count of the good books I've discovered through your reviews.

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  14. Liz/Mary, I'm so excited for you! It's so much fun for me to watch all my writing friends grow and mature into their respective bodies of work, book by book, and you are included in that group.

    So I would say one of my favorite parts about being retired is the leisure to check in here at JRW every morning, and just be a cheerleader. As much as I've aspired to write mystery of my own, it's a great deal more fun to read everyone else's work, and to help support their efforts.

    And your list is absolute truth!

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    1. Thank you, Karen! I know my dad loves that part of retirement - the ability to ease into his day and if he wants to go on a day trip, he just does.

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  15. You nailed it, my friend. Best job ever. (I can say that now that I've overcome the plot issue that had me pulling out my hair last week!)

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    1. Ha! Yes, when we're in the weeds of a particular problem, it can be hard to remember the "best job ever" part. :)

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  17. Congrats on your new book, Liz! LMAO at the first photo. That’s me grading college essays. LOL

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    1. Cathy, :)

      I bet a lot of us find ourselves surrounded by piles of papers and notes thinking, "Why did I want to do this?"

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  18. I am LITERALLY writing this comment while wearing pajamas and drinking a cup of tea. #LivingMyBestLife

    Seriously, another best thing about being a writer? The flexibility it gives me as a mother. Youngest had major jaw surgery at the beginning of this month, and I'm able to be at home, helping her whenever she needs me, and as she's gotten better, I can break from work and take her out when she has enough energy - a little shopping, an afternoon at a friend's lake house, a movie matinee.

    (Of course the downside is I still have work to get done at 8pm, but hey - there are a lot of much less interesting jobs that require those sort of hours.

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    1. Julia, it's almost 11:30 here and I'm still in my pjs (I lost my opportunity at the shower earlier because both kids were getting ready for work).

      I agree with you about the flexibility. At least for my day-job I get to work from home full-time. Need to do something with the kid? No problem. I'll just work a little later and make it up.

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  19. There is a downside to working from home (on your novel or article). Family members will call you because obviously you are home doing nothing, so therefore you can chat. Or give them a ride somewhere. Nope.

    But I have always thought that the best part of being a writer is how many times it pays you: when you finally get the piece down on paper and are happy with the way it turned out, when your editor accepts it enthusiastically, when you see it in print, when the check comes in the mail, when people tell you how much they like it (this one is a multiple, as are good reviews). AND, of course, all this for something you did while wearing your pajamas.

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    1. Ellen, true. I've browbeaten my family into understanding that just because I'm home doesn't mean I can run all these errands. And that playing on the computer? Yeah, it's work. Don't interrupt me.

      And yes, all those types of "payment" are awesome.

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  20. I want this list! I tried, in a round about why, to use number six when I was crocheting in memory blanket for my aunt's and uncle's 50th anniversary. Supervisor didn't get the hint and I wasn't brave enough to ask for two unplanned days off to crochet.

    Real best reasons...love what I do.... What I do to provide a home, food, etc or what I for ME? I work in a medical home care office and teasingly say I tell the staff where to go. Scheduling. I guess BEST would be that I am nitpicker, I don't want to it twice and since I'm not touching patients I can take the minute to be more accurate. I've also lived in this town/county all my life, I know where locations are, which makes it easier to avoid sending the weekend staff to complete opposite ends of the county. That nitpicking is also part of my crocheting. I'll take rows apart to fix a mistake. Not sure if it's a best thing but it is what I do.

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  21. Deana, feel free to print it off!

    If it makes you happy, I'd say it's a best thing for you.

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  22. Congrats on your pub date! #6 definitely is my favorite.

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    1. Thanks, Keenan! I've used it a time or three myself. Also handy for avoiding jobs you don't want to do. "I'd love to organize X, but I'm on deadline."

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  23. Happy book birthday, Mary/Liz! I learned that writing takes discipline! I learned that when I maintain my bookstagram account on Instagram and write my blog, it takes commitment to set aside time and space to write my blog and post photos/write on IG.

    And I love my work for a small law firm. I started out wanting to go to law school, then I decided to undergo paralegal training and now I am a part time paralegal. I am always learning new things at work daily.

    Diana

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    1. Diana - yes, it takes a lot of discipline and kudos to you for maintaining it.

      Once upon a time, I thought I'd go to law school. Then I shadowed a lawyer for a day, learning it wasn't all about arguing cases in front of a jury, and decided to go in a different direction. :)

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    2. Was it a criminal lawyer that you shadowed for a day? I did not have the time commitment for law school. My law firm focuses on work comp.

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  24. Mary/Liz! Congrats on the new book! The cover is delicious. For those of us who are uninitiated, where are the Laurel Highlands in PA?

    And I LOVE your list! I think I'm going to print it out:-) And the graphics, especially the first one.

    It's such fun to see a member of our JRW community have success!

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    1. Thanks so much, Debs! The Laurel Highlands covers a five-county area in southwestern PA (Washington, Fayette, Somerset, Cambria, and Westmoreland County). It's heavy on history (George Washington fought there), natural activities (Ohiopyle State Park, the Great Allegheny Passage, whitewater rafting, hiking, biking, skiing, and camping), and there are two Frank Lloyd Wright houses, Fallingwater (which was just named to a national registry) and Kentuck Knob. It's absolutely beautiful and I hope to retire there some day.

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    2. And definitely feel free to print the list! It kind of falls under #1, but I love how the mystery/crime writing community is so friendly and supportive - writers, readers, reviwers...everyone.

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    3. SO agree..it feels like we were together from the start!

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  25. Congratulations, Mary/Liz, on the publication of Heaven Has No Rage. I feel like everyone else in being so happy for one of the regulars here at JRW being successful in doing what you love. Those are great reasons for being a writer, and #1 is especially appealing to me as a blogger. I may be letting my favoritism show, but I do think that the mystery/crime community has the best people in terms of everything, including generosity, entertainment, kindness, humor, intrigue, and well you get the point. It's a community where we truly do care about and take care of one another.

    The best reason for doing what I do, which is reviewing and blogging and talking about books, is that nothing (except granddaughter) makes me happier than sharing the love of what I'm reading so that someone else might enjoy it, too. Authors work so hard to bring us great stories that I feel a responsibility, albeit one that I thoroughly enjoy, to shout it from the rooftops about the delicious fruits of their labor. And, when someone finds a new author that I love from my promotion of one of their books, I can barely contain the joy.

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    1. Kathy, I absolutely agree. See my comment to Debs. The mystery community is the best and you are such an important part of it with your reviews. When do I get to see you next? Will you be at Bouchercon this year?

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    2. You are the Johnny Appleseed of books--planting suggestions!

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  26. I'm late to today's party but better late than never, right?

    Let me just add my congratulations to the mix on your new book Mary/Liz!

    What do I like about what I do? Well when it comes to the book reviews, I like getting to read books early. I think getting to weigh in with my thoughts is always fun, especially for the ones I actually get paid for. I'm never under the delusion that my opinion means much to an author or other fans, but I like getting to share my thoughts all the same. Plus, getting to meet those great authors who thrill me with their tales of mystery and murder is always a great bonus. I mean how often do you get Hank Phillippi Ryan calling you a very good book reviewer in front of your senior year English teacher or personally introducing you to Craig Johnson?

    When it comes to music reviews whether it be albums or concerts, the same kind of thing applies. I like getting to share my opinion on platforms where it will be seen by others who may or may not disagree. I don't figure my opinion holds much sway there either but it's nice to get free downloads or concert tickets just to write an article, which I probably would've done anyway. Plus, getting to meet the musicians (and even doing an interview with the one and only Leather Leone!) that I grew up listening to as they formed the soundtrack of my life...PRICELESS!

    The benefits of what I do far outweigh the negatives that can be associated to my review writing!

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    1. Jay, never think your opinion doesn't matter. You'd be surprised how often it does. And yeah, Hank introducing you to Craig Johnson or singing your praises? Priceless.

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