Guest Chick: Leslie Budewitz

Please join us in welcoming Leslie Budewitz, award-winning author of the Seattle Spice Shop and Food Lovers’ Village mysteries, to Chicks on the Case! We’re thrilled to have you visiting us today, Leslie.

What Do You Mean, It’s Tuesday?

It was a cold, wet Saturday. I’d walked to work in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, where I run a spice shop, from my loft on Western Avenue, my red rain coat tightly fastened, my red plaid rain boots keeping my feet warm and dry.

So why, when I glanced at the window, did I see a forest of trees—spruce, birch, larch—against a clear blue sky?

Because I am a writer. And sometimes, that means I’m not where I think I am.

I don’t live in Seattle, though I once did. My rain coat is black and I would kill for a pair of red plaid Wellies. But it was a chilly cold wet Saturday on the page, and until the real world intruded and told me it was in fact a cold, clear Tuesday in Montana, that was my reality.

Not every writing day is like that. Some days, I am all too aware of what’s going on around me—the phone ringing, the UPS truck rumbling up the driveway, the cat barfing on the floor, or worse, the bed. “Flow,” psychologists call the state of losing track of time and place because we are utterly in the work. There are many circumstances in which losing track of time and place is not considered a good thing—when driving, or doing surgery, to name a couple. There’s a reason medical types want to be assured that a patient is “oriented X 3,” meaning person, time, and place, when examining her for a possible concussion. Orientation is good.

But in writing, being oriented to the reality on the page is also good. It’s addictive. It’s a bit of a high. Coming out of it can be, well, disorienting. (You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?) When Mr. Right and I were dating, he’d make the 60+ mile drive to my house on Friday afternoons. My dogs could hear his car a mile away and start barking. That was my cue to turn off the computer and desk lamp, and leave my story people to their own devices. But for a good hour or two, I was still with them. My hunny, being a very tolerant sort, simply laughed and called it “writing world.” (Twenty plus years later, he’s still laughing. See why he’s Mr. Right?)

My good friend Barb Heinlein, who writes romantic suspense as B.J. Daniels, tells of sitting in her office, a converted telephone company building from the 1920s, and writing a scene in which the characters ate oatmeal cake. She reached for her fork and plate, only to discover she had none. The cake, sadly was fictional. Just last week, my friend Vicki Thompson, who writes fabulous historical mysteries, admitted leaving her office and asking her husband what movie they were going to that night because it was Tuesday and they go to the movies on Tuesdays. He is also the tolerant sort, and gently broke the news that it was Friday.

A few years ago, I turned in my first novel, Death al Dente, in which my main character, Erin Murphy, runs the Merc, a local foods market in her family’s hundred-year-old grocery in the village of Jewel Bay, Montana. My mother’s birthday was a couple of days later, and we were headed over the mountains to celebrate with her. I wanted to take her a gift, so I decided I’d stop in to the Merc and see what I could find. Then I remembered that the Merc only existed because I’d made it up. Either I’d done a really good job or I’d gone around the bend; I’ll leave that to you to decide.

So if you see a writer on the street, or anywhere, really, be gentle with her. Because she might be somewhere else.

Dear readers: have you ever found yourself looking for something or someplace that isn’t quite real?

Leslie Budewitz is the best-selling author of the Seattle Spice Shop and Food Lovers’ Village mysteries, including the fourth Spice Shop mystery, Chai Another Day(June 2019, Seventh St. Books). Her first historical fiction, “All God’s Sparrows” (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine), set in Montana Territory in 1885 and featuring real-life figure “Stagecoach Mary” Fields, won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story, and is nominated for the 2018 Macavity Award. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers’ Village mystery, won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. A practicing lawyer and a past president of Sisters in Crime, Leslie currently serves on the Mystery Writers of America board. She lives in NW Montana with her husband, Don Beans, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their gray tuxedo cat, an avid bird watcher.

Connect with Leslie on her website, where newsletter subscribers receive a free Food Lovers’ Village short story, or Facebook.

30 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Leslie Budewitz

  1. Welcome, Leslie! I would regularly lose track of time when I was working on my Christmas book. It really felt like Christmas was only a few days away when in the real world everyone else was preparing for Halloween. It’s definitely disorienting!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Hi Leslie – I’m envious that you work in Pike Place Market. My fam and I stayed in an apartment about a block away several years ago while I was in Seattle for a meeting. We visited the market daily for groceries (we were saving $$ by cooking for ourselves) and I loved the quality and variety there.
    Many of my Natalie McMasters novels feature fictional locations, sometimes based on a real place, sometimes not. As a former dungeon master, I’ve done a lot of world-building in my life, and I enjoy it. I’ve yet to get so immersed in a fictional world to forget the real one, but I’m getting older, so there’s always hope.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Great post, Leslie! While I do get into The Zone and look up to find I’ve lost several hours, I haven’t yet transported myself. However, just the other day I was working with paper and pencil and when I stood up, I tried to hit command-S to save my work, so I guess I’m not always oriented x3. Or even 1 or 2.

    Liked by 7 people

  4. Great post, Leslie — thanks for hanging out with the Chicks today! I have conversations or “work out dialogue” with characters while driving. I hope when people see me having an animated conversation in a car all by myself they assume I’m having a hands-free phone call!

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I’ve never quite been that into a fictional world, but some books take me a good 10 minutes to leave behind. Then again, I’m just reading. I’m not writing them.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Love this post, Leslie! What a great description of the insides of a writer’s head. And thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today–we always love having another Leslie hang out with the flock!

    A couple years ago I was talking to my sister about a pesky plot point in my work in progress that involved immigration law. I was telling her I didn’t know the answer to a legal question I had related to the issue, but then said, “Oh, I should ask Nicole.” My sister stared at me like I’d gone off the deep end until I remembered that, although Nichole is indeed an immigration attorney, she’s also a fictional character in my books.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. So happy you’re here today–thank you for visiting, Leslie!

    Do love the zone…once I was working so hard on a plot point in my head that I drove right past my exit and didn’t realize it for about five minutes (but at least I figured that thing out, ha). #writerslife

    Liked by 5 people

  8. What a lovely post. I feel bad because I don’t get into that flow zone very often. I don’t know why. I write for hours a day! I blame the internet and the current state of the world, which really takes it out of me. I have to fight not to give in to malaise every day.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ellen, it’s not easy to get into. I’ve been reading Writing in Flow: Keys to Enhanced Creativity by Susan K. Perry, PhD, and she has a lot of great analysis and suggestions. You’re right that the Internet is a major distraction and the state of the world a major worry. We can’t ignore those things — and shouldn’t — but we can try to harness them. Schedule your Internet breaks. Give your worries to your characters — all politics is local, right? And breathe. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Welcome, Leslie, and what a fabulous post!! I almost always emerge from the writing zone a bit groggy, as if I just woke up. It’s so hard to get back to the non-book world! (Maybe this is why I love/need/want coffee while I write?) Thanks so much for hanging out with us today. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I’m so thankful that writers can go into their worlds to write so I can visit those places! You make them so vivid that I get to suffer from Reader’s World!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Leslie,
    Thank you for the wonderful post. What a vivid dream we lived, while we read these few words.
    I too have been so involved in my writing that sometimes I lose track of reality. My favorite moment?
    I was doing nanowrimo a few years back (yes, I will be doing it next month, but haven’t even started the outline yet!) and when I finished the scene, I literally shouted, “Nathan, you slut! What are you doing behind that bar with Christopher? Are you cheating on Danny?” Mind you, I was in Panera Bread at the time, at a write-in. And when I read the scene, that was not the scene I had planned. I had no plan for Nathan to be found in a compromising position. I swear, I had no clue where that scene came from.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m laughing out loud, HA! Not only do our characters surprise us at times, they don’t always pick the best places to do it! Good luck with Nano!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Loved this post, Leslie! It’s true that I sometimes felt extra-toasty while writing my series set in FL (I live in NH.) I saw the sun reflecting off the snow as…tropical. But I usually have the opposite issue. I’ll be somewhere and say, Oh, look! There’s the store from my book. I have to drop in and say hi. (That’s not insane, right?)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not at all! I have to say that, b/c I’ve been tempted to do the same thing. Sometimes it’s hard to explain, though, that you’re a novelist and you created something just like this in your book, and the clerk or barista or shop owner gives you that look, and you’re really glad there’s wine and whiskey in the world. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Thank you, Chicks and chicklets, for a delightful visit! Whether you live in Reader’s World or Writing World, may it hold you safely until we meet again.

    Liked by 3 people

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