Indie Spotlight on Mystery Writer C. Hope Clark

Beneath an idyllic veneer of Southern country charm, the town of Newberry hides secrets that may have led to murder.

When a local landowner’s body, with pants down, is found near Tarleton’s Tea Table Rock—a notorious rendezvous spot, federal investigator Carolina Slade senses a chance to get back into the field again. Just as she discovers what might be a nasty pattern of fraud and blackmail, her petty boss reassigns her fledgling case to her close friend and least qualified person in their office.

Forced to coach an investigation from the sidelines, Slade struggles with the twin demons of professional jealousy and unplanned pregnancy. Something is rotten in Newberry. Her personal life is spiraling out of control. She can’t protect her co-worker. And Wayne Largo complicates everything when the feds step in after it becomes clear that Slade is right.

One wrong move, and Slade may lose everything. Yet it’s practically out of her hands . . . unless she finds a way to take this case back without getting killed. Available at Amazon and other book outlets.

Finding the Balance as a Writer

I once sat on a panel with two ridiculously well-known authors – one indie and the other traditional – and the subject of commitment came around from the audience.

“What does it take?” someone asked, in other words, meaning, “How can we be like y’all?”

The literary author never really answered it other than saying read a lot, write a lot, it happens if you work hard. He taught creative writing at a university.

The six-figure indie author said she breathed her work 24/7, and from what I know of her, she does. She was incessantly hungry for achievement.

However, I never heard from either of them what made them tick outside of writing.

I have family, raise chickens and garden, adore my dachshunds, and thoroughly love a husband whom I cherish spending time with. And I told that to the room. Yeah, there was applause.

I added that any writer has to find that balance and choose how they’d love to see themselves a few years from now, on their own terms. Reality is we juggle lots of balls.

Add to that these days we’re deluged by success stories, making us feel negligent that we aren’t achieving more. What is supposed to be motivational instead plants negativity until we sense we aren’t meant to be as successful as others.

The key is to clearly define what matters most and hold up a stop-sign palm to the rest.

Live life on your terms rather than on what celebrities and experts tell us worked for them. Yet we still feel compelled to ask others how they do it. I’m often asked how I do what I do as editor of FundsforWriters, freelancer, daily social media player, blogger, speaker, and novelist. My newest release is Newberry Sin, my eighth mystery, and yes, I’m busy, but I still know how to say no….and when to say yes. The key is to focus on priorities.

Respect deadlines.

I have weekly deadlines with FundsforWriters, a newsletter that reaches 35,000 readers each and every Friday. It’s a hard commitment. In 19 years, I’ve missed two Fridays. That’s over 900 newsletter deadlines. Since FFW is a major cog in my writing machine, that deadline is key, and I make sure family and friends appreciate that. My husband knows to ask if the newsletters are out on Fridays before he makes other plans for us. Of course, if he were in an accident, he’d take priority. Otherwise, the newsletters must go out.

I usually have one or two books under contract with my publisher. Those stepping-stone dates are clearly defined on my calendar. If those deadlines are looming, I refuse all else that isn’t an emergency.

Marry your priorities.

Warren Buffett states that you must marry your priorities, and he limits those to five. He actually suggests you list your top 20 goals, then narrow them down to five . . . and avoid the other fifteen at all costs. Those five top items comprise your devoted focus. It isn’t easy and it isn’t an either/or all the time.

For instance, my five items are: my husband, my health, my family, my writing, and my nature/outdoors. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t fulfill my obligations to all five. Anything else is in my way, or I tend to them once my other obligations are met.

For instance, my house is scrubbed only when someone comes over. I go on vacation if all else is in order. And my friends and family know that my love of writing and the other four items are what make me who I am.

How to keep up with those priorities.

For me, planning takes a weekly desk calendar, a plain notebook, and, a smart phone calendar (to keep the family informed). I’ve turned down speaking engagements, conferences, parties, and weddings if they conflicted with deadlines. After all, you are married to these goals.

At the beginning of each year, and revisited often, I note benchmarks for what I hope to accomplish or items that are non-negotiable. With family, it’s birthdays. With the nature, it’s planting and harvesting time. With hubby, it’s daily dinner, our anniversary, and the hour at the gym. With my writing, it’s the deadlines. I live for deadlines, and create one if someone doesn’t create it for me, because without a date attached to a goal, it’s a vague thought that may never come to fruition.

The writing notebook is a catch-all for thoughts, brainstorming, and daily goals in greater detail than on a calendar. My calendar is a week-at-a-glance, and at the end of the year, it becomes a part of my income taxes to include travel, purchases, and yes, the deadlines.

If you miss a deadline, note it on the calendar. It’s a motivator to not miss it.

You don’t have to become a hermit.

Know what direction you are going instead of waking each day without defined purpose. Of course you have days off. Of course you build in a day of rest. But having missions and goals give more substance to your dreams. And the more organized you are, the more you accomplish, and the more efficient you become at reaching more dreams. The planning makes you seem oh so shrewd and wise.

C. Hope Clark’s latest release is Newberry Sin, the fourth in the Carolina Slade Mysteries. Hope is author of eight mysteries and founder of Funds for Writers, a website chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for 17 years. To learn more about Hope you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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5 thoughts on “Indie Spotlight on Mystery Writer C. Hope Clark

    1. Happy to have you any time, Hope. Your piece made me analyze myself as well. It’s an excellent piece and substantive – something you don’t always see in a guest post. Best of luck with the book. Hope it does really well for you.

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      1. Substantive…I like that. Thanks. And thanks for the best wishes for Newberry Sin! I hope your readers find it interesting, and also that this post makes them ponder their own writing priorities….or even life’s priorities.

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