Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Take a Hike with Guest Blogger: Nancy Warren

Welcome award winning author Nancy Warren to the Book Boost!

She's here to reveal her dirty little secret and here's what she had to say...

So, here's is my dirty little secret (a/k/a DLS). Okay, not anywhere near the dirtiest, but it's January which always seems like a time for new beginnings and the end of old bad habits so it's time to fess up.

My DLS is this: for more than twenty years, my New Year's Resolution was the same. It was two, in fact, though I sort of ran them together in my head. They were:

1. Get Fit.
2. Get Organized.

For. Twenty. Years. The same ones.

You'd think a creative writer could come up with something a little fresher every year or five, but no.

Each January would begin with the usual flurry. A few painful jogs. A visit to the steroid factory aka the gym. When my muscles got too sore to work out, I'd turn to part two of the compound resolution. Get organized. I'd dump out a drawer, find that lipstick I thought I'd lost forever, remove the gunked-on lint and crumbs and try and find the cap. Then I'd decide the entire task too overwhelming and simply give up.

However, three years ago, all of that changed. No, actually, part of that changed.

I love to hike. I love being out in the trees and the mountains and here in the pacific northwest we have plenty of those. Also rain, but if you don't want to get wet, stay out of the rain forest. I happen to love rain.

I don't think I'd ever connected doing something I love with my Get Fit resolution. Stupid, I know. I seemed to believe that if there was no pain and seized muscles involved, I wasn't getting anywhere. So, three years ago in October, I joined a local Meet-Up hiking group.

I could have no idea that that simple click of a button could change me life, but it has. I now hike several times every week with a group of like minded souls who have become some of my closest friends. This past summer, two other women from my hiking group and I hiked in the Rockies for nine days.

At some point, I realized to myself, that I am fitter and healthier than I've ever been. I don't have to worry about my weight, the mountains take care of that. And the coolest thing is discovering the connection between hiking and creativity. When you are out hiking (or walking, jogging, swimming, cross country skiing, etc.) something happens. It's a sort of moving meditation for want of a better term. I find story ideas popping up, or thorny plot issues working themselves out as I breathe in the fresh air and make my way up a tough hill. Sure there's effort and sometimes sore muscles involved, but for me, doing something I loved was the secret to fitness.

As for the Get Organized thing, my progress has been, well, not so good. This year, however, I made a slight variation to the old plan. I made a much smaller, daily measurable goal. My New Year's Resolution is to clean off my desk at the end of every day. I figure I can spend a couple of minutes filing, removing candy wrappers (ahem), paying bills, and putting things that have no business in my office (like the glittery change purse and feather earrings my daughter didn't want which I am looking at now) and put them where they belong.

I believe I can do this. And you know what? If I can't, my life will still go on. In spite of chronic disorganization and an office that could feature in its own episode of Hoarders, I have managed to write 45 novels, raise a family, enjoy my friends and live a life.

Maybe the secret to living a happy life isn't to beat yourself up for the things you don't achieve, but to celebrate the things you do.

Maybe the best resolution for all of us is to stop being so hard on ourselves! (But if you happen to hear of a meet-up group of people who like to come to messy people's houses and organize them, sign me up!)

Happy New Year. I think you are fabulous just the way you are.

A Note from the Book Boost: Nancy, I like your way of thinking. You are not alone. Get Fit/Get Organized are always out there looming around the next corner and taunting us with "nanna nanna boo boo". Your hiking adventures sound great and thanks for sharing your story with us today. Please tell us more about your latest book.


There’s nothing pretty about murder.

Meet Toni Diamond, make up artist to middle America. She’s also got a nose for trouble and a passion for solving mysteries. Imagine Columbo in a lavender suit. She never met a woman who wouldn’t look better with a little help from the Lady Bianca line of cosmetics. But don’t be fooled by appearances. Underneath the fake diamonds and the big hair is a sharp brain and a keen eye that sees the details as well as the funny side of life.

When a Lady Bianca sales rep is murdered at the annual convention in Dallas, Toni is the one who notices things that some people, like sexy Detective Luke Marciano, might easily miss. Only someone who understands as much about how to make appearances deceiving could see into the mind of this killer -- a murderer who wants to give Toni a permanent makeover. Into a dead woman.


Toni stepped forward, squeezing her way through the crush of well-dressed, well-coiffed, well-made-up women. As a fairly senior member of the organization she felt she might be needed. Besides, she was dying to see what was happening.

She ‘scuse me’d her way through the crush of women until she could see. The small conference room, Longhorn C, was where a dozen people could enjoy a breakout session or a meeting.

Yellow crime scene tape stretched across the entrance way but a further half circle of emptiness engulfed the doorway as though an invisible rope held everyone back. By craning her neck she could peek into the room. A flash went off as a guy with a camera took a picture of something on the floor. A technician was dusting the table for fingerprints. Another operated what looked like a black shop vac. His back was to her, his jacket said Crime Scene Investigation.

While she stood there, a woman of about forty in a linen business suit, with her dark hair in a take-me-seriously chignon, emerged from the room. In a low voice, she gave her name to a uniformed officer standing near the door. All Toni could hear was “D.A.’s office,” and then she signed her name on a form held onto a metal clipboard, ducked under the tape and walked briskly toward the escalator. The Lady Bianca reps parted for her the way the Red Sea had parted for Moses.

Inside Longhorn C, a stretcher on wheels stood beside a clump of people in cop uniforms, plain clothes and one portly man with white hair in a black jacket that read Coroner. There was a shift of bodies and a sudden gap and she saw that they were sliding the victim into a body bag.

She only saw the bottom part of the dead woman. Legs in Capri pants, open-toed sandals. Feet in crying need of a pedicure. As they maneuvered the body, a Birkenstock sandal fell off the woman’s foot and a hand wearing a surgical glove picked it up and dropped it into the bag.

She watched a hand zip up the bag but couldn’t hear it over the sound of the vacuum. They hoisted the body onto the gurney and then it rolled slowly out toward the hundreds of silent women, almost like a preview of the funeral procession. If Toni had been wearing a hat she’d have removed it; as it was she tried to think of a suitable prayer or even a bible verse as the body rolled by.

Two young uniformed cops -- one male and one female -- wheeled the gurney in her direction. Behind them walked the coroner wearing a suitably serious face. He sported a white moustache and the erect way he carried himself suggested to her that he’d once been in the military. Walking beside him, talking quietly was a guy in plain clothes who might as well have been in uniform. He had cop written all over him from his short haircut to his watchful eyes to his upright stance.

The black shape passed by where she stood and as she gazed toward it, she realized something obvious.

“That’s not a Lady Bianca rep.”

Want More Nancy?

Nancy is a USA Today bestselling Harlequin and Kensington author who got her big break when she won Harlequin's 2000 Blaze Contest. Her sensuous, humorous romances have won numerous awards and appeared on the Waldenbooks bestseller list.

Visit her website here:

Pick up a copy of her book today! Click here.


Anonymous said...

Ha! I know. I think fitness especially is one of the number one resolutions, which is why gyms are so crowded in January. Weight loss and quitting smoking are right up there too. I am so glad I never smoked! One less thing to give up as we get older.

Nancy Warren said...

Hmm, anonymous is me, Nancy. No idea what I did. I'll try again to be recognized ;-)