Mary Keliikoa

Mystery & Suspense Author

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Do you ever wake up with a question in your mind? I’ve done that a lot this week. I’ve always been a questioner of why things are the way they are. I like to observe and analyze. It’s no wonder that I love to write mystery—I love figuring out the puzzle. It’s not the murders or the case that drives me. It’s the diving into the reasons why, uncovering people’s motivations, and the dynamics of the life that drove someone to choose a certain path.

I write about several themes in my novels, but one that stands out is the importance of listening to your inner voice. Ways of hearing my own inner voice seemed to be the question that lingered in my mind each morning recently—how do you hear it when circumstances around you threaten to drown it out? And how do you learn to trust it. For my P.I. and my amateur sleuth characters, if they weren’t listening to their inner voices, they’d become victims of their own story. The same can be true for ourselves if we’re not paying attention.

Listening to ourselves is one of the most important things we can do. In the chaos that has ensued in our world lately, I believe now more than ever it’s essential.

Below are just a few things I’m doing to be able to hear that voice, and some you might consider incorporating in your life:

  1. Quieting the Chatter. I’m turning off the news and minimizing social media. I can’t completely tune out the world, but I don’t need to be checking it constantly and staying riled up. If I’m so busy listening to everyone else’s opinions, I find it’s hard to tune into my own. Reducing the chatter around me allows me to focus on what’s pertinent to my life right now.
  2. Meditation. I have incorporated 15 minutes of daily meditation into my life. I find that by starting my day in this way, I’m more focused and able to hear myself. There is a ton of research that supports that meditation reduces the stress hormone cortisol and even helps one sleep better, so it’s worth checking out. And it doesn’t have to be a big production. Just a quiet place where you can shut the door and be alone with your thoughts. Your mind and body will thank you for the break.
  3. Get Out into Nature and Walk. When life events are really bothering me, I get outside. Sometimes I walk around my property. Other times, I just find a big rock, sit down and watch the Canadian geese and eagles fly overhead. Being outside clears my mind and helps me focus and hear my thoughts.

There will always be something in our lives that pulls us in and makes us disconnect from ourselves. The above is just three examples for quieting the noise to hear your own thoughts, but there are many others. It’s our duty to find our way back and listen.

My question for you: In what other ways do you find to reconnect and hear your inner voice? I’d love to hear about them.


P.S. Below is my weekly quote, and a couple of pictures of my quiet places I reconnect.





Something to Look Forward To

Remember when you were young and the days of having things to look forward to were endless. If you were in school, there was Christmas and Spring breaks, countless parent/teacher days, and summer vacations. There was getting home for snacks and running out to play and going to grandma’s house. People planned a lot of your life for you, but there was usually a lot of play involved.

As adults, few of us have the luxury of having someone plan outings, and if we’re not careful, it’s easy to get into a rut of not having much to look forward to. We go to work where we spend most of our energy and come home exhausted. We do our chores, feed the family, and crash on the couch. Sure, we have a vacation planned a year from now, but generally, the cycle continues week after week.

As part of the quest of happiness this year, it’s time to make a few plans and give yourself something to really look forward to as soon as tomorrow. Nothing gets your heart or mind racing like making plans to play. Whether it’s a camping trip, or a day trip to the beach. Maybe it’s a day at the spa, or a jaunt to a neighboring city where you’ve wanted to try out a restaurant for the longest time. The point is—do something fun.

Here’s some of the ideas that I’ve implemented to keep things rolling for myself and that you might consider:

  1. I bought season tickets to the theater. Regardless of how busy I am, I know that for six months of the year I have a Broadway play to attend. With season tickets, I don’t have to worry about fitting the event in.
  2. On Monday morning, my husband and I talk about something we want to do over the weekend. Whether it’s dinner with the kids, a trip to the mall to find some new shoes, or a restaurant that we want to try out, we’ve set the date for that event in our minds and talking about it throughout the week builds anticipation.
  3. I’ll admit I like to eat out and I have a sweet tooth. My something to look forward to is often as simple as heading to NW 23rd in Portland and browsing the shops, ending the day with a delectable dessert and a cup of coffee at Papa Haydn. I also like to Google the best breakfast, lunch or dinner in town and put it on my need to check this place out list. Seeking out new places instead of simply returning to the usual spots makes eating something to look forward to.
  4. The next idea came from a friend who saw how gloomy I seemed after coming back from a tropical vacation. The quickest way over it, she’d said, was to start planning the next vacation. She was right! Whether it’s a weekend to the beach or my next trip to the islands, I immediately set my mind in motion for the next escape, and the gloom dissipates immediately.

My 90-year-old mother is the master at making plans. She belongs to a singing group that practices on Mondays and performs on Thursdays. She plays bunko twice a month and gets together with the ladies for breakfast. She dances every Sunday after church, and regularly gambles. The point is—I am certain that her excursions are a major contributor to her rolling out of bed every day. She has places to be and plenty to look forward to.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what you choose. Just get things on your calendar that are self-nurturing and fun! Go for a massage the first Saturday of every month. Schedule regular pedicures. Plan a walk and coffee get together with friends. Sign up for a paint night or a cooking class. Life is supposed to be fun, and we all need to have something we’re moving towards. In our quest for happiness, it’s a necessary part of the mix.

My question for you: What kind of fun are you looking forward to this weekend, next week, next month, later this year? And if you haven’t figured that out, how about planning that right now?


P.S. Below is a quote for the week, a couple of events I’d planned last year and one I’m looking forward to, and of course Bella!






Resolution Perspective

The New Year is here! And the likelihood of strategies for making New Year’s resolutions are everywhere. When I Googled the concept, there were well over 100 suggested approaches that popped up.

I’ve never been good at this kind of goal setting and goal keeping. Like most people, I start out with great intentions to lose weight, exercise more, and eat better, but by mid-January, the diet will start the next day, I’m back to feeling too tired to get on the treadmill, and well, what could one donut hurt?!

In the month of December I started #mydailywag. The concept hinged on finding something to smile about each day. It might be something I was grateful for in my life like my husband and family, or as simple as a sunrise or the perfect cup of coffee. The point was to find something to feel joyful about, regardless of the conditions of the day. As I began to think about what I wanted to accomplish for 2017, I knew the daily excursion into discovering what made me happy was something I wanted to continue.

Instead of setting a specific resolution for the year, I wondered if it might be more effective to strive for a feeling to carry with me from the beginning to the end of 2017. And that’s what I’ve decided to do, and something you might consider as well. Here’s a few examples to think about, and what I plan to implement:

1)   Finding happy every day. Very simplistic, but the point is to find something to smile about. Be an archeologist and dig if you must for that #mydailywag at every turn.

2)   Say Yes more often. Yes to the massage, or the pedicure, or the walk around the park with an old friend. Yes to go out for a cup of coffee and take a long drive, even if it means you throw on some sweats and pull your hair up in a ponytail. Yes to the trip out of town. Don’t wait. Go. Play. The laundry and dusting can wait. Ask yourself—would doing this make me smile, happy, or feel good? If the answer is yes, then do it!

3)   On the other side of that question, if the answer is no, and you are only doing it because someone has asked you to, then you need to pass! You always need to be true to yourself. And if you are only doing something to please someone else, the resentment will build. It’s hard to find happy in resentment. So don’t do it. Martyrdom needs to be laid to rest in 2017.

4)   Be less concerned about the outcome, and more connected to the journey. Pitchwars taught me this ten-fold in 2016. I met so many cool people, and accomplished some major edits on my novel. But rather than focus on the absence of a book deal, instead I’m enjoying the journey that has brought me to searching for that book deal. That’s where the good stuff resides. Truthfully, when one goal is achieved it feels awesome, but it only presents the next goal. And if you can’t be happy on the road from point A to B, which is where we all hang out much of our lives, then you’ll only find frustration.

5)   In feeling good and happy, self-care must take priority. That means choose to get on a treadmill a few times a week and cut down the sugary treats. Wash your face at night and drink more water. Not because they are goals, but because you’re worth it and you’ll feel better when you do them. Anything that contributes to overall well-being is a win!

The beauty of this approach is you just can’t get it wrong. The point is to be easier on yourself. If the only thing you can find to be happy about is that the sun came up, or the pillow under your head was a welcome relief to the day, know that it’s enough. Build from there. Because when striving to have the attitude of happy, beating up on oneself certainly doesn’t qualify as helpful.

As you sit and ponder your own Resolutions for the coming year, think about what makes you tick. What makes YOU happy. How you can feel good about yourself and your life every day, all year long. Because you are important, and what you want must be a priority in order for you to be healthy and happy. Besides the fact that you can’t be there for others if you can’t be there for yourself.

My question for you: How might you shift your attitude to embrace being happy this coming year? Please send me an email and share your strategy. I’d love to support you in your resolution!

Below is my quote for the week, a few highlights since we last spoke, and of course, Ms. Bella! Happy New Year!






Another Year in the Rearview Mirror

2016. It’s been a year. As a country, it’s been a roller coaster. For many of my friends and family, the year has had moments of joy, frustrations, loss, and disappointment. But then again, isn’t that life?

As I sit and reflect about the year that is quickly coming to a close, I’ve had all of the above. But I’d like to think that ultimately the highs outweighed the lows.  Robb and I shared Hawaii with one of our daughters and 6 of our grandchildren in February. Our 10th grandchild was born during the summer.

Robb and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, and we took our first cruise to Alaska, which has given us the traveling bug. To continue our celebration, we are taking our first trek to Italy in May.

I picked up my writing again in June and entered the Pitch Wars contest in early August. After being selected, I spent the rest of the fall editing and am currently finding a home for my novel, Derailed. I’ve started my next book in the Kelly Pruett series and I’m training for a 130-mile team relay in August 2017. Robb aspires to compete in Lava Man in Hawaii, a miniature version of Iron Man. And we are both determined that next year we will golf more, laugh more, work less, spend more time with family, and travel more. And for me – always write more!

I think it’s easy to see what didn’t go right in life. Things that didn’t go as quickly as we hoped, or turn out how we planned. But I think it’s far more important to celebrate all that went right. If the law of attraction has any merit, and I think it does, focusing on the positive will only bring more positive. So I choose to hang out in the good vibes place as long as I can.

So thank you 2016 for a wonderful ride and here’s to 2017. A year of dreams come true, love, and peace for all of us. Cheers and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! Happy New Year!

My question for you:  What is all that went right for you in 2016?

P.S. Here are some highlights of my year and of course Ms. Bella!






Memory Lane

When I was a little girl, going to my grandmother’s home on Christmas Eve was one of my fondest memories. Our small family would gather and open gifts and share dinner. I couldn’t tell you what I got for Christmas on any given year or what was on the menu. But I can tell you about the beautiful Royal Albert china that she brought out for the occasion. The Christmas tree made of feathers that sat on a table with presents tucked under the limbs. And the illuminated Santa face in her window that my brother and I said goodnight to before we headed home hoping we would be among his stops before morning.

When Grandma passed away, I felt Christmas fade a little with her. My family was never good at having those decorative constants, or those staunch traditions. That was Grandma’s department. But everything changed the day I met my husband, Robb.

Robb is about family, consistency, loyalty, memories, and tradition. He’s about building and loving, and on our first Christmas, we found the beginning piece that would start our story: an ornament that stated Our First Christmas Together, 1989. We hung it on the tree.From that day on we continued to add to our collect. It became a yearly pilgrimage to the stores and bazaars to find the perfect rustic snowman, or crazy knit capped penguin, Santa with a surfboard, the Americana, the vintage angels, the handcrafted candy canes. Each year, we added to the layers of our life by way of trimmings and created a place for our kids to be and to come to find tradition and remember.

As I sit in my living room and assess the many holiday themed pieces, I see an accumulation of my life woven together with Robb. I’m surrounded by the reflection of who we were—and who we’ve become. At this time of year, I find myself sentimental like my grandmother, and that thought alone makes my holiday more special.

Like Robb, my grandmother understood the need for tradition and creating memories. I hope for you all, that as you dig into your seasonal inspirations that you find both tradition and loving reflections. I know I did. I do every year.

I set out this month to be inspired each day to find the thing that makes me happy. I call it #MyDailyWag. I need look no further than my Christmas tree to smile.

My question for you: What memories are in your holiday boxes that tell your story?

Thank you,

Mary Keliikoa

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The #MyDailyWag Challenge

#MyDailyWag ChallengeIt seems everyone I know is busy—overwhelmed with the business of life. As I reflected on how we can appreciate the little joys each day, I noticed my dog’s tail wagging. It struck me—how dogs live so in the moment, finding joy in everything they explore throughout their day. Why couldn’t I also make that a focus in my day?

So I invited three friends to join me in a 31-day challenge, and I’d like to invite you as well to the #MyDailyWag Challenge.

What is it? Simple:

  1. Each day, take a photo of something that brings you a moment of joy in your day. It doesn’t have to be impressive, it can be a smile, nature, a person, an object, a place, or so much else. No, this doesn’t have to have anything to do with a dog or cat! 🙂
  1. Share that picture on social media: Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
  1. Include the hashtag #MyDailyWag on anything you post.

That’s it! Me, authors Deborah Brown, Christy Morgan and Diane Freeman will be there each day sharing our own #MyDailyWag photos and engaging with you if you share yours.

In a world where there is so much to be worried about, I think it is important for us to take the time to appreciate and share the simple joys as well. I hope you’ll join me. I look forward to seeing what simple joys fill your day.

Thank you,

Mary Keliikoa

What next?

For the first time, in my life I believe, I’m allowing myself to sit in the space in between. Like the sand running between the stones as the waves recede, I sit and wait for the next wave.  Wondering will I be swept out to sea, or stay solidly near the shore. I don’t think it’s possible for any of us to not be affected in some way by our environment. Or to lose some part of us as the water pulls back. But don’t we also gain as new things come in riding the tide?

No matter how strong we think we are, we all need our moments in between. To not get too far ahead of ourselves and predetermine outcomes. Or make rash decisions about who we are or who our fellowman is. I am taking a wait and see attitude during this space and taking care of myself most of all.

Having just concluded two months of intense writing and now at the completion of my last novel, I find myself solidly in that moment where I am faced with feeling the ending fully before starting a new beginning. I have been here countless times before. After losing a beloved furry friend or selling my retail stores. Most recently feeling the unrest of the country and recognizing a longtime friendship has changed. Moments when it would be easy to fill the space with something else so not to relax—or feel the emptiness—for too long. So it feels weird to force myself to take that deep breath and live in the now.

I’m a doer, so resting does not come easy. Even when I’m watching TV, I have a book open in front of me, or I’m checking email. But right now I’m working on staying in the present moment. If we don’t take the moment to reflect, enjoy, count it as a victory, or know what happened, we are destined to never appreciate the fullness of our lives. We never know what to alter about ourselves or our situations, and we never know our true joy or our true sadness.

For me, I’m cooking, planning for the holidays, training for Portland to Coast, a 130-mile relay event coming up next summer, and catching up on some books in my very tall Must Read pile. I’m planning a trip to Italy in the Spring.

I am writing, of course. That happens daily, even if it is just a short story or my newsletter. And I’m trying to live in the moment. Not get too far ahead as I’m finding my book Derailed a home on its journey to publication. Until then, I’ll have another cup of coffee and enjoy the day. Enjoy this space in between. And imagine myself on my favorite beach in Hawaii and let the warm salty waves crash at my feet. Appreciating every past and present moment that brought me to here.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends. Find much to be grateful for. And breathe into the empty spaces. Knowing they won’t stay empty for long.

My question for you: How do you fill the space in between?

P.S. Here are some pictures of my week and of course of Ms. Bella!


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I’m so excited for this

I entered the contest Pitch Wars in early August with a query letter, the first chapter of my novel, and a dream.

On August 25, I was notified that one of my dreams had come true! I would be the recipient of the time and attention of not one, but two incredibly talented published mystery writers. They would spend the next couple of months helping me fine tune that novel.

I have felt the full gamut of emotion through this process I’ve been plagued with self-doubt that I could not get this done. Or that anyone would want to read it when I did. I have felt challenged, excited, depressed, anxious, accomplished, and most recently, well, quite proud.

Rewriting and adding 20,000 words was daunting. My mentor, Kellye Garrett, said every writer had to go through Writer’s Hell as a rite of passage. I have been there. I brought marshmallows and settled in.

All of this Rocky-like preparation is for the big fight scene—Agent Rounds. During this part of the contest a short pitch for my novel and the first 250 words will go up on a website for Agents to see and request more material if they choose.

Pitch Wars offers no guarantees of getting an agent, or of even having requests to see more of my novel. But it is my shot to rise above the thousands of inquiries that hit an agent’s desk every month and be seen. Many writers don’t get published—not because they’re not good, but because they aren’t noticed among the masses. For a brief time, I’m about to get noticed. And to be published on the scale that matches my dreams—I want that agent. What happens is yet to be seen.

But regardless of the outcome, Pitch Wars has given me something that an agent, or being published, will never be able to give me: Belief in myself.  Connection with a writing community as a whole. And a bond with my Mentors and other 2016 Mentees that would not have happened otherwise.

Which leads to me to the sadness as I near end of this part of my writing journey. My co-mentee said it best. It’s like the summer school ending kind of sad. I’ve had such a good time. There is something powerful and profound to have people on your side, cheering you on, helping you get better, and believing you can do it. But now it’s time to take what I’ve learned and move on to the next writing project.

But I will carry forever the importance of community. Writing is lonely on occasion and knowing that a friend is a keystroke away, doing the same things, for no other purpose than to get the stories out of our heads and onto paper, is comforting. We are connected.

My question for you: Who supports you in your life, and where could you create more community?

P.S. Here’s a few pictures from my week, including my girl Bella!

Where do you go to breathe?

I go to the ocean to find beauty. Everywhere I look here on the Big Island of Hawaii, crystal blue green waters lap against peppery sand and lava rock. Green turtles bob in the surf. Spinner dolphins play in the waves. Rainbows of hibiscus and tropical flowers line the beaches. Palm trees sway over head.

I go to the ocean to find peace. From the noise in my head—from the demands of my world. The people that rely on me in our business. The work that must be done. The book that needs to be edited and written. The aging parent who is changing before my eyes. The children I worry about. The future of our world.

I go to the ocean to find balance. To know I will never get it all done. So relax, play, and enjoy the journey. I am so small in the scheme of things. And I find solace in the knowing that there is something bigger taking care of it all. I need only to find the joy in it. To know all is well. That everything is working out for me.

I go to the ocean to breathe. It’s the only place I truly catch my breath. With my feet in the surf, toes in the sand, and sun on my face, I savor the salty breeze. It restores my soul. I find myself. And I am able to go back to the mainland and resume my life.  Until we meet again.

My trip to Hawaii this time was all of these things and so much more. The trips to the ocean were daily. The relief in my heart and soul immense.

My question for you: Where do you go to breathe?

– Mary

PS: Here are a few pictures from my recent trip to the Islands. Mahalo my friends.






Mary Keliikoa

Who believes in you?

Fearless used to be my middle name. I was 6. It was summer. There was a library in the town of Astoria, Oregon, and a movie that played at 11am every Thursday morning. There was a piano, an old man named Ed, and people waiting to be entertained before that movie started.

Every time I saw Ed, he was dressed in a wool brown suit, suspenders, and a fedora hat. He reminded me of W.C. Fields, although I have no picture to confirm what he really looked like. He had weathered hands, and the smile and kindness of a saint. When he touched the keyboard, those hands were filled with grace and certainty. Each week I danced.

I didn’t know how to dance. Not properly anyway. I was a fisherman’s daughter so we didn’t have money for that luxury. But that did not stop me. Tap, ballet, jazz—I did them all with zest and finesse. If someone in the audience suggested I didn’t know what I was doing, Ed was the first to say I was the finest dancer he’d ever seen. I’d smile, and continue to dance.

I don’t know what happened to Ed. He’d lived alone in a small apartment above a department store. One Thursday morning, he didn’t show up at the library. I asked around for him. He’d gotten sick. I never saw him again.

I carried Ed’s faith in my ability with me for a few years. Then one day I forgot him. Suddenly it mattered what everybody else thought. The way I dressed, the things I did, the choices I made. I stopped dancing. At least for the public to see. I stopped believing I was good enough.

The journey to re-claiming my creativity has been a bit like the journey of that 6-year old pixie-cut blond haired girl. Like a flailing dancer, making it up as I go along, I wonder if someone will call me out that I don’t know what I’m doing. Each time I write, I feel the anxiety of what will someone else think. Will it be good enough? Will I be good enough?

Despite it all, somehow the work gets done and perhaps I grow a little braver for the next time. I think of Ed. His belief in my artistic abilities still resonates with me today. He saw the fearlessness in me and encouraged it. I wish I could tell him thank you. I’d like to think he knows how much he meant to me.

I miss that unafraid 6-year-old quite often. I search daily for her and sometimes I find her. But I wonder if I will ever fully get her back. For now, I enjoy the small victories. Piece by piece with every new word I write, and send out into the world, my courage returns. Someday fearless may again be my middle name. For now, I’ll take the moments I feel the most fearless and pay homage to that little girl—and to Ed who believed I was the finest dancer he’d ever seen.

My questions for you: What part of you do you long to get back? Did someone believe in that part of you? What can you do today to find that piece again?


P.S. My 6-year-old self. I recently found this picture. Now I know where my love of deer came from! I’d completely forgotten this trip to a national California park with my family in 1971.


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