Tag Archive for: T.K. Thorne

The Art of Defense

In addition to being a writer, I am a few other things, at least one of which sometimes surprises people.

When I was a rookie at the Birmingham Police Academy (many years ago) my Physical Training instructor was a short, 71 year-old man. Despite his age and stature, Mr. Alex Marshall was more than a match for any police officer on the force, often to their chagrin. He took a liking to me and suggested that I study Aikido outside of the police academy to counter the disadvantage of my gender and stature (or lack thereof).

I loved the training . . . for reasons I never thought to articulate and even married my Aikido instructor (husband #2)! But when that divorce happened, I stepped away from the martial arts for a long time. The year after I retired, I found a new dojo (school) that was founded by Mr. Marshall and started learning a system that was familiar (as Mr. Marshall incorporated a great deal of Aikido in addition to Judo and Ju-jitsu).

Mr. Alex Marshal with my current Akayama Ryu teachers—Mark Barlow and Richard Worthington

Why did I go back after thirty years? Why do I still train in my late sixties? Of course, as a writer it is helpful to pull on what I know about fighting to make action scenes realistic. And its really fun to let a character do techniques that I will probably never have an opportunity to do. But there are deeper things that draw me to the mat for two hours twice a week.

Focus: When I attend class, the world and whatever thoughts or worries I might have fade away. There is only room in my head for what I am doing. This is a form of meditation, even though it is active, resulting in a refresh and reset. I always have more energy when I leave class than when I entered.

Learning: Like all art, learning is ongoing. Learning evokes joy and wonder. Learning is play. It is what we do as children as naturally as breathing.

Teaching: Helping others achieve gives me deep satisfaction.

Self-confidence: Rose—the police-witch in my urban fantasy trilogy (HOUSE OF ROSE, HOUSE OF STONE, and HOUSE OF IRON) also studies martial arts. She observes: “It’s not about being a badass or thinking I can handle every situation that might arise, but the training has somehow restored some of the confidence I took for granted before . . . . I think it’s rewiring my brain to overwrite the role of victim.”

Studying martial arts instills a certain kind of confidence—a trust in the body and subconscious that allows one to enter a state where the conscious mind stills, and training takes over. In the movie, The Last Samurai, Tom Cruise played an American who studies Japanese sword fighting. He has studied hard but keeps losing to his trainer until instructed to have “no mind.” When he gives up trying to figure out what to do to counter the sword moves and just allows his body and instincts to react, he is able to match his teacher. (Of course, in a movie where the director only has at best a couple of hours, this happens quickly; in reality it takes a “bit” more time. 🙂

The mind (consciousness) is not separate from the body. It is an organ whose importance rises or falls depending on what is required. There are times when it is important to engage mind, and there are times when it is best to let go of mind, as we do for critical functions like breathing and heart rate and the thousands of other tasks done without our conscious oversight.

Create: A musician strives for a place where the notes are so ingrained, the fingers do without direction and the player is free to devote energy to the emotional interpretation of the music.

For a visual artist, the paint can seem to act on its own to express the painter’s deep intent.

When I am writing in the “flow,” the words come from a deeper place than conscious mind. Once they are written, I engage critical thinking to edit, but even then, a better phrase often emerges from the deep mind or subconscious. I don’t know “where” it came from, any more than I know how my body regulates my heartbeat. A skilled writer knows when to let the conscious mind still and when to engage it.

Like a ballet dancer’s perfectly executed pirouette, reacting with “no mind” to engage and redirect the energy of an attacker can create a moment of beauty and harmony that reflects something universal and profound. I will be on the mat, I think, until I can no longer stand . . . and then maybe I’ll get a chair and watch.

T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes Books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her. 

How Mowgli Made a Marine – T.K. Thorne

Unhappy Boy purchased from dreamstime_xs_6525479Early in my marriage, a stepson arrived on my doorstep every other weekend as a troubled 8 year old.

A learning disability imprisoned him as poor reader and student to the point that all his tests had to be read aloud to him.  He didn’t fit in.  He knew it and acted out.  Naturally, he hated the sight of books, and all my efforts to read to him were spurned.

One day, a misbehavior earned him time-out, and I offered him his choice—either an hour in his room or sit with me while I read him one chapter of a book.  (I know, I know—it’s contrary to all behavioral advice to make reading a punishment, but I was at wits’ end.)

He considered it and asked how long it would take to read a chapter.

“Probably about 15 minutes,” I said.

Fifteen minutes versus an hour.  He wasn’t bad at math and chose the chapter.  I went to my collection of childhood books, my heart pounding. It thumped away in my chest, warning me that this could be my only chance with him.

The books, stiff and dusty in their rows, whispered of cherished hours. Which to choose?  I stopped at one, remembering pulling it from my mother’s bookshelf, hopeful from the title though the company it kept was grownup stuff. By the first chapter, I knew I had found treasure.

Once again I pulled it out and took it back with me, clutched to my still thumping chest and sat with my stepson on the hard cement of the porch (part of the “punishment”).

“Here are the rules,” I said sternly.  “You have to sit still and listen.  I will read one chapter.  After that it is up to you if you want to hear more or go.”

He agreed, and I opened the book. I read my best, in honor of all the hours my Granny read to me, her voice cracking with the effort to bring the characters to life. I hoped to reach a young mind with the gift she had given me.  I read and did not look at the boy beside me, afraid to see on his face the boredom of a prisoner doing his time.

When I finished the last word of Chapter One, I snapped the book closed, deliberately keeping my voice matter-of-fact.

“That’s it,” I said.  “What do you want to do?”

There was a long hesitation—maybe it wasn’t so long, but I remember it that way—a silence so deep, you could fall into it, and then one intense word from him—“Read.”

In the years ahead of us, he would repeat that word many times.  We finished the book, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, and moved on to many others.

He began to sit next to me, at first to see the pictures, but when there were no pictures, he stayed to move his eyes over the words as I read.  Eventually, I feigned a sore throat and asked him to read a sentence or two, and then a paragraph, and then a chapter, never criticizing as he stumbled and only offering help when he needed it.

One day, I poked my head in his room and asked if he was ready to read Part III of “our” current book.  “Already read it,” he said.

And once again my heart pounded, this time with mixed joy.  He was reading on his own, voraciously, but we were never again to have those special moments together.


He read a lot about ordinary young boys becoming heroes, and I think it helped give him the courage and inspiration to sign up for the Marines.  Though not a physical boy—he played in the band and was ho-hum about sports—he thrived there, and today is a successful career Marine (Master Sergeant) with a beautiful, kind, talented wife and two wonderful sons he reads to.

Semper Fi.


Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 11.21.57 AM

T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes Books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com

Goddess in the Garden – T.K. Thorne

The last few weeks (during the heat spell, of course), I’ve spent on my knees with copious streams of perspiration running down my face (or as the Southern phrase goes, “sweating like a stuck pig”).

A few years ago, I was working full time and squeezing every minute of free time available into writing. The   yard rarely got attention. Over the years, I planted a few things next to the house and basically let ground covers fill in.

Then I retired. My goal and dream was to write. But Covid hit. I was afraid of the groceries. I didn’t know who of my loved ones would die, how many would fall, or if I would die.  I couldn’t write.

At some point, I looked out the back window and realized that the small piece of wisteria root I had thrown into the woods thirty years prior had not only taken over the woods but had taken down large trees and eaten half of the backyard! Apparently, I had not ventured there for thirty years.

Unable to write, I learned what a mattock was and used hard labor to feel like I had a purpose. I dug up (some of) the long, stubborn roots spread all over the yard. It was the beginning of the Wisteria Wars . . .  which is still ongoing, but now skirmishes fought with spray. Like Kali, the Hindu goddess of Destruction, I hacked and chopped, in order to sleep at night.

Kali, Hindu goddess of Death


One day, I noticed the green moss on the brick walkway in the front yard was full of little weeds and grass. Something else I never had time to notice. Moss is magic. When he was little, I took my stepson into the woods and explained that elves lived in the rotting hollow tree trunks and that the emerald splotches of moss in the woods were actually “elf carpet,” touching off his vivid imagination, which he still expresses in his art. When he eventually had children, he passed on the wonder of elf carpet.

Forgoing the fearsome Kali for Venus, (who was a goddess of the garden and cultivated fields before the Romans assignation as the Queen of Love), I spent several hours absorbed in the work/craft of pulling up tiny weeds from carpet without tearing it. A different kind of gardening than hacking wisteria roots, it offered a calmer sense of purpose and absorption.


A huge weeping yaupon arches over that walkway. (Although mine is higher than the house roof and trimmed to have a “tree” bark, a yaupon is technically a bush with small leaves containing caffeine that the Creek Indians used to make “Black Drink,” for social bonding rituals. Translate:  having coffee with friends.) I love the “tree” (as do the birds—especially the waxwings—that descend on it on their way to wherever they are going and devour the berries it produces). But the shadow area it creates over the front yard has always been a scraggly place of weeds and dirt where grass refuses to grow.

I had the area scooped out in a waxing moon shape and re-dirted. (Writers can make up words, y’all; it’s in the writing rule book. You can look it up….) Then spent three days picking out embedded rocks. I considered many kinds of shade-loving plants, but discovered I really wanted a place for the elves. So, I went moss-fern-rock hunting in the nearby woods and raided the ditch next to our driveway that becomes a stream when it rains, careful to only take a part of the mound to allow it to grow back (a nod to First People wisdom).

My sister sent me a photo of a meditating frog statuette she found. She knew frogs make me smile), and I had to have it. The elves would love it!  The meditating frog has a home now, as does a huge bell and a dragon my husband gave me and other cherished things, including a piece of driftwood from the Gulf beach and three black stones from my husband’s beloved Big South Fork of the Cumberland River in Tennessee.


It’s just a beginning. It will take time and patience and lots of sweat, I know, but my garden gifts me with daily joy, and a big smile every time I pass my frog, even though he doesn’t smile back, being absorbed in seeking enlightenment.

The garden reminds that creation requires a balance of destruction and growth.

Destruction is only a changing of forms. The unwanted plants transform into soil, feeding a new generation of life.

The garden is a place of humility. When new life stirs the soil, it also stirs the realization that you are only the tender, that creation comes from the Universe itself and even as you affect it, it affects you.

The act and process of gardening is a metaphor for many things, as is writing. Words blossom. Some need pruning and some need to be pulled out altogether to make room for others that work better. But even that act of creation comes from somewhere that is more than the sum of parts, as any writer will acknowledge.

And often, if you put sweat (metaphorically or real) into it, both words and weeds can create something unique, something beautiful, and maybe even inspiring.

T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes Books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com

What Love Really Means


Writer, humanist,

          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,

       Lover of solitude

          and the company of good friends,

        new places, new ideas

           and old wisdom.

The answer to what love is has defied the best efforts of philosophers and poets, yet we know it when we see it, as these keen observations from children prove. 

“Karl, age 5: ‘Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.’ 

Billy, who is 4, had to think about it, but decided, ‘When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.’

And Rebecca observed, ‘When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So, my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.’”

And Teresa (TK) age. . . never mind . . . said, ‘Daddy is love–you can crawl onto his lap, and he will read the comics in the newspaper for you; you can crawl on his shoulders, and he will flip you over and over again! You can know you will always have a place to go if you need it; he will always be there.’

Thank you, Papa for everything and always. I love you . . . and that’s the most important thing.
T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes Books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com

Just Joys — T.K. Thorne


 Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        new places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.




The whirling weeks have left me vaguely unsettled, looking for what I have “accomplished.” I am used to measuring that in terms of word count, and I don’t have many of those. Rather than wallow in guilt, perhaps word count is the wrong measurement. I decided to look back and ask, “What happened?” And specifically, “Where did I find joy?”

While I listened to the talented Lia Frederick bring my characters to life in an audio book version of House of Rose* (the first in a trilogy about a police officer who discovers she’s a witch), I pulled the grass/clover/weeds out of the moss on the brick walkway. You might call this gardening. I call it a Zen exercise.  

[* Contact me at TK@tkthorne.com to get a promo code for a free audiobook!]

During the early stress-filled days of the Pandemic, weeding the moss calmed me. It requires concentration (if you pull wantonly, the moss will pull up too; if you are lazy, other plants will take over.) One of the encroachers was a tiny flower with a deep violet base and translucent blue-white petals, perhaps large enough for an ant’s umbrella—a Japanese Mazus. I left it in the moss.


Two + decades ago, I worked in the Birmingham Police Department with two dear friends, Becky and Juanita. Becky recently had a hip replacement, and Juanita stepped up to be a full-time care-taker. (A lesson about the meaning of Love!) We visit regularly, and our tales ensure a lot of laughter, the good kind that runs deep as a river between us. Becky’s husband died not that long ago, and she asked me for a painting based on a photo he had taken on a special day. The photo is beautiful, a solitary duck and crimson reflections in the water of (unseen) day lillies on the bank above. Here my first stab at it:

The Left Coast Crime conference in Albuquerque, NM, was a mixture of delight in being with people and anxiety at the crowd after the last two years of isolating and masking.  The highlight was being with my friends, Vikki and Kevin who were experiencing a writing conference for the first time. Also loved meeting fellow Stiletto Gang members, Donnell Ann Bell and Dru Ann Love.  Didn’t get to talk much with Dru Ann (who was always surrounded by admirers!☺), but I sat at Donnell’s table at the banquet, and she kindly offered a ride to the airport, so we got to chat a bit, enough to know what a kind, generous person she is and hope our friendship grows.  
Also enjoyed extended conversations about writing and law enforcement stuff  with fellow panelists and police crime writers—James L’Etoile, Frank Zafiro, Dana King (and his wife, Corky), and Colin Conway. The best part of conferences is the people!
Brushed tangles from Foxy’s tail. Tomorrow it will be tangled again, but
today it’s a silk flag in the wind, and she is prissy, knowing how
beautiful she is (because I tell her constantly). She was a racehorse,
but during the pandemic (or perhaps because her hooves don’t grow well)
she was sold at auction with a future as dog food in Mexico if no one
rescued her. She is such a baby, wanting constant petting and treats.

Janice is almost my age (i.e., an “elder”). We met this winter at a martial arts clinic (yes, really). She rode with her sensei (teacher) from Wyoming to Alabama! Fourteen hundred miles separate us, yet we chatted via email about tying up her gutter that fell in the Laramie wind to the porch with a bungee cord, and I told her about a piece of my day. The thread of a new friendship weaving across those miles lightened my heart.  
Our old dog, Glenny, walked all the way to the barn with me today. Usually, he goes to the end of the yard and then abandons me, heading back to the house. This time I had to wait while he stopped often to read the “newspaper” of smells along the drive, a lesson in patience, but I was happy with his quiet company.

This is not Glenny in quiet-company mode. This is it’s-time-to-cook-dinner mode.

Colors in the water of Becky’s painting are giving me fits. Do I still like it?  Yes . . . no.  Frustrating. Trying to push through the fear of an ugly mess, giving the paper the paint and waiting to see what it does with it.
Took some mint to my sister (so grateful she lives nearby) and helped her move hosta plants she had grown for years to her new house and decide where to put them, as well as an ornate wrought iron gate she bought at a yard sale. (She is a yard-sale queen!) She helped me load two trellis plant stands (that she would have sold, but gave to me), into the truck. I put them in the back yard in front of the ugly metal poles of the clothesline. Any thoughts what I should grow on them?  Clematis, maybe? Only partial sun back there.
More paint on the duck. Hoping Becky will like it. Hoping I will like it. Layers defining, softening, brightening. It will never look like the photo but that’s okay has long as it evokes the wonder of the light, the quiet dignity of the duck rippling through still water, but I don’t know if it’s working or not.  Really struggling with making this right.

I was up at midnight the night before taking this to Becky because it was still not right, but in the end, I went to bed feeling it was good, or as good as I could do. 

She cried when she saw it.  
Her happiness made me very happy.

Writing this woke me to the small joys that happen every day. Looking for “accomplishments,” I miss their significant. What a gift life is.  

T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com

The Best Room in the House

Good Monday morning. I slept like the proverbial
rock last night. Perhaps it’s because I spent the last month in flux—a weeklong trip to Colorado, followed by page proofs due in a week,
out-of-town company, followed by loading my car with
water bottles and pre-packaged snacks for my anticipated trip to Left Coast
Crime in Albuquerque. 

2020, like so many of my author colleagues, I haven’t attended an in-person conference. But on this one, I signed up because I could drive from my home base in Las Cruces to the Duke
City. I already knew my schedule at LCC would be hectic. In addition to Mystery Writers of America, I belong to three Sisters in Crime chapters, Sisters in Crime Colorado, Guppies, and Croak & Dagger, the
New Mexico chapter, based in Albuquerque.

Coast Crime is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which depends on a massive number of
volunteers to bring together writers, readers, librarians, reviewers, and others. 
https://leftcoastcrime.org/2022/  Croak & Dagger, as the Albuquerque host, was called on to supply
the heavy lifting of volunteers. I believe Molly Moeglein, Ann D. Zeigler, Johanna Egert,
 Joan Golden, Margaret
Tessler, Donna Thomas, Janet Gregor, Don Allen, Anne Hillerman, Merit Clark, Linda Triegel, Bailey Herrington,
and throw myself into the mix were among the
many local volunteer contributors. 

To top this off, when others dropped by the Hospitality Room and saw how swamped we were, my friends Leslie Budewitz and Barbara Nickless got to work helping filling out forms and donations!

other writing chapters, including Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime sponsored events. Members affiliated with these organizations were
incredibly helpful in registration, author/reader tables, speed dating, room
and panel moderators, as well as the conference organizers Stan and Lucinda Surber who appear tireless in running this conference year after year. As
I was tasked with Hospitality and the Silent Auction, I didn’t get to attend
many panels. This was disappointing, however, volunteer for Hospitality and the
Silent Auction, people come to you.

met so many I wouldn’t have ordinarily met by being a mere author
attendee. What’s more, I got 15K steps in on Thursday, 12K on Friday, 10K on
Saturday, and 5K on Sunday (four-hour trip home—give me a break!) Was it all
work and no fun? Hardly. I had the best roommate ever. Author Barbara Nickless
and I kept each other in stitches saying, “We’ll go to sleep right after we
talk about this.” Merit Clark, who I shared an author table and panel with, was
a tremendous friend, volunteer, and champion during the event. I also got to
meet The Stiletto Gang members Dru Ann Love and T.K. Thorne!

Clark was on the ball finding the restaurants we’d escape to after a long day.
Fell in love with The Artichoke Café and Season 52 (picture of a group of us
here—Alistair “Jerry” Kimble, Matt Goldman, Barbara Nickless, Merit Clark,
Shannon Baker, Mark Stevens, and myself). Special thanks to Matt Goldman for
driving my car back to the hotel after dinner (no, wasn’t inebriated – I think he could
just sense I was exhausted and nervous about night driving in a strange city.)


also was on a panel called Graphic but Not Gratuitous, Getting Police Procedure
Right,  [pictured here hidden behind her microphone, M.M.
Chouinard], Shannon Baker, Donnell Ann Bell, Merit Clark, and James L.

When authors took the stage on Saturday evening,
I’d already met many of them. I didn’t get to meet the fabulous Kellye Garrett,
but after hearing her speak, and after more than $1,000 was raised that night
by attendees who wanted their name in her next book, I understand the
definition of “fan.” Catriona McPherson is hysterically funny and gracious, and
one of the most moving, inspirational speeches I’ve ever heard (period) was given
by Wanda M. Morris, the winner of the Lefty Best Mystery novel. Following are
the Lefty award recipients. 

do not have the exact amount of money that was raised by the auction and silent
auction, (Kudos to Ellen Byron/Maria DiRico for being an outstanding
author/auctioneer) and Ann D. Zeigler’s Great Little Library Adventure, but I’m
estimating $5,000 +/-, benefitting New Mexico’s libraries (currently state
funded) are the beneficiaries of these proceeds.

dropping off the delightful T.K. Thorne at the airport, I headed home to Las Cruces
to celebrate what I’d missed by attending, namely my husband’s birthday and our
39th wedding anniversary. I paused in listening to Robert Crais’s
Taken, to return a phone call to my friend Mike Befeler who ordinarily heads up the New Authors’ Breakfast and who couldn’t attend the conference due to knee surgery. Such a win/win ride home!

Still on the heels of Left Coast Crime, the fascinating and talented Pamela Beason will be my houseguest as she
passes through on her touring adventures – all because we reconnected at Left
Coast Crime!

On a final note, I left that event tired but
inspired, and I know I barely skimmed the surface. Overall, though, I remain convinced I had the best room/seat in the house.

 About:  Donnell
Ann Bell is an award-winning author, including finalist in the 2020 Colorado
Book Award, and the 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards for her first straight
suspense Black Pearl, a Cold Case Suspense. Until Dead, a Cold Case Suspense,
will be released May 31, 2022, and is available for preorder. She is
currently working on Book Three and the start of another series. You can learn
more about her other books or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or
BookBub. Sign up for her newsletter at


Retirement Nightmare–T.K. Thorne




Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        new places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.



I just cannot figure it out.  How is life still whirling by, filled with so much, to do when I am supposed to be retired? Okay, I am a little A.D.D. and a dear friend who is also a therapist told me that means my frontal cortex is always looking for stimulation. I know this to be true because…. 

One day, back when I was working full time, I decided to test what it felt like to be retired, so I went out on my front porch and sat in a rocking chair overlooking our pasture, a bucolic, peaceful scene.  The idea was to do nothing, pretending that I had all the time in the world and could finally just sit and rock, as I imagined old people did.  

I lasted exactly six rocks. Then I jumped up to find something to do. 

All my life I had looked forward to the day when I would be free to write full time, to read as much as I wanted, to travel, to do fun stuff. Now, a new fear arose: Was I going to fail at retirement?

When the actual, real “R” date loomed, I grew anxious. I was accustomed to being around people every day and having very full days (writing only in the evenings and weekends) and meaningful work. I couldn’t imagine writing for eight hours or not seeing my friends. I lived almost an hour from town and worried I might feel isolated. What if I had to sit on my front porch and rock and do nothing?

My anxiety grew. I  even took a workshop called “Aging Gracefully” and started writing a book about how to face retirement!  At some point it dawned on me that I had a car, for heaven’s sake, and a driver’s license. I could go see the people and places I wanted to see!  Silly, yes, but this one thought felt like a life saver.

Hard to believe that was six years ago! Hard to believe how fulfilling and full my life is. I’m so fortunate in so many ways!  Life is precious, y’all. Choose carefully what you fill it with. Make sure it is a mix of self fulfillment, giving back, and making the world a better place, even in tiny ways.

That’s actually all I have to say, because I’ve been so busy, it was just yesterday I realized I needed to write something for today!  

Oh yes, PS —

The final book in my trilogy about a police officer who discovers she is a witch has made its debut, and I am thrilled to have it complete.  It didn’t get a coming out party because of Covid, but 


…announcing  the long-awaited HOUSE OF IRON!



T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes Books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com

How to Cook Dinner and Start a Book–T. K. Thorne


Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        new places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.



My husband recently had shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff.  He is the chef in the house; I, the consumer. In fact, I’m not normally even allowed in the kitchen (a survival thing, so I don’t burn down the house or poison him). But he would be out of action for a while, so I . . . panicked.

My anxiety centered not around the actual cooking, but  coming up with something to fix for dinner for several weeks. I think that can correlate to worrying about writing a book. The task seems enormous, requiring a large amount of creative energy.  Where do you start?  How do you make all those decisions?  I needed a plan for at least a week with a list of ingredients and grocery shopping (which husband has been doing since 2020).

I freaked out and employed my best strategy, finely honed over the years—Procrastination.

People who would like to write a book, but are overwhelmed with the idea sometimes ask me  —“Where/how do you start?”

My honest reply is “with the first word.”  

I have started a book based on an image, a phrase that popped into my mind, a vague sense of who my character is, a statement from a character, or a random idea. Sometimes, I know where I want to end up, especially if it is already a story, like the biblical tales that loosely formed the basis for Noah’s Wife or Angels at the Gate (Lot’s wife). With the nonfiction book, Last Chance for Justice (about the 1963 16th Street Church bombing case), I knew I would end up with the trials and convictions of the Ku Klux Klan members who planted the bomb.  

It is very handy to know where you will end up (like having meals in mind when grocery shopping.) But even if I do, I have no idea how to get there. I need to create and feel out the characters, make sure they are interesting enough to intrigue me and make me want to live with them for the many months or years we will be working together. I say working together, because it is a partnership. Once a character is conceived, it’s my job to figure out what to throw at her and her job to react as appropriate to who she is.

I’m sure many other authors feel this way, as if their characters are alive in some intangible but real way. At some point, I daydream as far ahead as I can and work toward that, but sometimes everything comes to a halt and I don’t have a clue what’s next.  

At that point, I pull out my well-honed strategy and go clean the kitchen, read a book, or talk to a friend.  Eventually, my character subtilely tickles my fancy, politely knocks on the door of my mind, or hits me over the head with an idea and I a back to it.

The End

Postscript: My fears were ill-founded. Husband knew what was in the freezer and what he wanted, so he just ordered dinner menu and then stood over me, “guiding” every step.  Piece of cake. 

T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes Books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com

A Brave Thing—by T.K. Thorne




Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
    Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        new places, new ideas,
           and old wisdom.





My daughter recently posted this on Facebook.  

Dolly, I did a brave thing. During the pandemic, I started painting. That wasn’t
brave, because nobody was looking over my shoulder pointing out my
mistakes (the paintings did that!) 
But I really wanted to contribute
something to the Pulpwood Queen Book Club’s silent auction for the Pat
Conroy Literary Center. So here’s the brave thing—I did a “Low Country”
painting and gave it to the silent auction.

It started out very ugly. (A good lesson for the drafts of our novels.) I was thinking that I might have to just throw it away and start over, but I decided I was having fun and just kept going. (Another lesson for writing.)

When I paint, I am often drawn to go “visit” the project while passing the studio (library/book storage/printer/extra-closet room).  As a painting dries, the colors lighten and the perspective changes. One night, I made my normal stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Drawn to the studio on the way back to bed, I looked at the painting in the dim light of the hall nightlight and insanely decided the color of the water wasn’t right. 

You have to understand, I am fortunate to find my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night (and the morning, for that matter.) Not bothering to sit, get my glasses, or turn on decent light, I grabbed a brush and started “fixing” it. 

The next morning, I braced myself to look at what I had done, certain it would be a disaster.

Amazingly, it looked okay.

When the painting was finished, I was happy with it. Then I panicked, realizing to meet the deadline, I  had to send a photo in to the auction. (A familiar panic, as it happens with every manuscript when I hit “send” to the editor.) I stalled as long as I could and then, with great trepidation I sent it. 

It was received kindly. But how else would polite people react? We praise a child’s art efforts no matter how primitive and stick it proudly to the refrigerator. The few friends, sister, amd hubby with whom I had shared my attempts had been encouraging. But this was different. People who don’t know me were going to be looking at this, and I didn’t think they would want to pay to stick it on their refrigerator.

I berated myself:  You’re a writer, not a painter.  What were you thinking?

The auction was for a good cause and was open to the public, so I did my duty and posted it on Facebook with an invitation to the auction. I told myself the worst thing that could happen was that no one would bid on it and no harm would be done. I’d just go back in the closet as an artist and continue painting just because I loved doing it.

The response on Facebook was immediate: 

To say I was blown away by the warm and excited comments is an understatement. In spite of the fact that I am a Writer (took a long time and several books published to own that word), it slowly bloomed in me that perhaps I could be an Artist too. Tears repeatedly came to my eyes that so many people thought what I had created was beautiful. Some of them were “real” artists. At that point, it really would not have mattered if no one bid on it.

However, they did. In fact, there was a bidding war! The executive director of the Center said he “thought there was going to be a bloodbath over it.” It received the highest bid of any item (and there were great things there).

When you finish a book, there is a certain sadness, a letting go, a goodby to the characters you have lived with for months, sometimes years. Tomorrow, I will put my little painting in a box and send it away to a stranger who lives on the other side of the country. I am happy/sad. 

I wonder if all joy has an element of sadness. The joy of seeing a child grow up and go off into the world mixes with the sadness of losing something precious. The joy of accomplishing a goal mixes with the sadness of having accomplished it. The joy and sadness of creating . . . and finishing. 

Many wise people have said this better: It is not the destination that brings us happiness, but the journey. 

Speaking of which, I think I will finish this blog and go start another painting . . . .

“Low Country”

T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes Books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com.



       Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        new places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.




Hope you had a great day yesterday with those you love, celebrating all the things you are thankful for. I am grateful for many things, family and friends in particular. But this year I am also thankful to have a new member of our family.

This is Nicki-Jones in February of this year (2021) when she arrived from a
“kill lot” (next step dog food in Mexico) in Louisiana to a quarantine
pasture. She was lame and had a large wicked scar on the front of her left back leg and a patterned scarring on the back of the other leg that makes me think she got tangle in barbed wire at some point. The circular sticker on her withers was her lot #. She had a brand under her mane from the track, so I was able to confirm that she was a 16 year-old Standardbred. She was sweet, but had no idea what a treat was or even that eating out of a human hand was a possibility, which speaks to her former life as a work horse—pulling a sulky (a one-person cart) on a pacer race track and then with the Amish, where I assume she pulled a cart or wagon. I don’t know how long she had been at the kill lot, but they don’t keep them long because feeding her is an expense.


took her in with another mare to give our gelding a companion and her a safe place to
grow older and get loved on. Never thought I would be riding her! But she put on weight and gloss and healed up and definitely knows what a treat is now! Her coat even changed from brown to black this summer.


This is the first time I’ve been on her. Wasn’t sure what she would do, as I don’t know if she’s ever had anyone on her back, only pulled things. She caught on quickly, though, and I was really happy on this beautiful day to be in the saddle! It’s been a long time for the old lady on the top. Not sure Nicki-Jones felt the same way, but hoping we have some adventures ahead of us on the trails and lots of years to get to know each other and to be thankful for.



 T.K. is a retired police captain who writes Books, which, like this blog, go wherever her interest and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com