Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rediscovering Audiobooks

by Linda Thorne

I lived in a little town called Hanford in the Central Valley of California from July 2002 until May of 2007. During the first few years I was unemployed, read a lot of books, and then decided to write a book. I had written the first draft of Just Another Termination in 2005 when I was offered a job in human resources at a Kraft Foods plant in Visalia, California, 23 miles from my home. With a 46-mile round trip commute, audiobooks popped into my mind as a way to continue reading while adding some fun to an otherwise boring drive. Even though I wasn’t literally reading the audiobooks, they helped improve my writing skills as much as the paperbacks and hardbacks did.

The job lasted two years until the plant closed its doors in 2007. I went through many audio tapes during that period of time. My favorite was The Long Lavender Look written by John McDonald
and narrated by one of my favorite actors (now deceased), Darren McGavin. I listened to that audiobook many times over.

My husband’s five year contract job ended a few months before the Kraft Foods plant in Visalia closed, so we moved out of state looking for a home and jobs somewhere in the Deep South. We ended up in Nashville, Tennessee and soon I had another job in human resources. My drive to work was a short eleven miles, with mild traffic. I thought I could pick up where I’d left off listening to audiobooks on my way to and from work, but the commute was just too short to get into them. That job lasted nine years before being eliminated in a company-wide reorganization. I found a new job last summer, in downtown Nashville, where traffic is horrible. It’s a little farther each way, but with the traffic it’s at least an hour getting to work and getting home – sometimes longer.

It had been so long since I’d played audiobooks, I’d totally forgotten about them until my husband asked me what I wanted for this past Christmas. That got me thinking. Soon, I’d pulled up the memory and wondered why I hadn’t thought of it earlier. Of course, I thought, audiobooks, the perfect cure for a long and boring commute.

Some people say you’re not really reading a book if you listen to it in audio. To me, it feels like I’ve read the book. Sometimes I think I retain more. Also, being busy at my fairly new job, I lack the time and energy to sit and read in a relaxed state. I get stuck on sections and feel I’m working to get through them, something that doesn’t happen to me when I’m listening to the narration.

So I have been listening to audiobooks since Christmas, something I haven’t done in almost ten years. My favorite current book is The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens and read by Zach Villa. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Why We Write Mysteries

by Janis Patterson

Someone once asked me if I had ever seen a psychiatrist. When I could close my mouth again, I said of course not, and asked why he would ask me such a question. He replied that I spent a great deal of time planning how to kill people, and wasn't that a sign of homicidal pathology?

Well, I didn't say or do what I really wanted to, but I did start thinking. As part of the front credit crawl on the old TV show Castle a voice over states "...there are two kinds of people who spend their days plotting murder - psychopaths and mystery writers." (Quoted from memory, and not guaranteed to be absolutely accurate, but it's pretty close.)

Accurate or not, it's true. It really shocked me exactly how much time I do spend thinking about ways to do away with my fellow men. I remember once stopping a dinner party absolutely dead (no pun intended) when I chortled with glee after a scientific friend told me how to weaponize simple table salt! (It's complicated and requires special circumstances, but it can be done. Tee-hee!) The Husband can always tell when something (usually murderous) has ticked over in my brain, because according to him I "get this really weird look on my face, and then I smile with satisfaction..." His words, not mine. I hate to think I had such an obvious tell. Anyway, my friends, even the ones who aren't mystery writers, have apparently become accustomed to this phenomenon.

So what does this have to do with why we write mysteries? I think it's because of a need deep within us. A need of what? Well, that varies with the writer. Some of us are dedicated to promulgating the idea that justice will prevail and evil-doers will be punished. Others like the solve-the-puzzle aspect, and murder usually presents the highest stakes. Still others are fascinated with the workings of the criminal and the detective mind. I'm sure there are other reasons, probably as many as there are mystery readers.

I do know that for one mystery writer (me) it's an exercise in mental health and obeying the law. You see, every villain and/or murderer that I have dragged to justice has been at least partially inspired by someone who has at one time or another angered me. It's really quite healthy for everyone - I can off anyone I want in the nastiest ways possible and if the first time doesn't work, I can do it again; no one gets hurt; and I get paid for doing it. Win-Win-Win!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Landmarks in Life and in My Writing

Family is a big part of my life--and it's a big family. It got even bigger this year with the births of one great-great grandchild (making 2 great-greats), and three great grands.

The big landmark in my writing is this:

I've written over 40 books! Some of them have been republished, others are waiting for that to happen.

For a long time I've been saying I was nearing 40, but so many no longer appeared on Amazon for various reasons. When Lorna Collins decided to make sure all my books were available on Amazon, that changed. (No, I didn't ask her to do that. Yes, she's a good friend who I met long ago at a writing conference. We do live in the same state, but I don't get to see her often. California is a long state and she lives in the southern part and I'm in the middle, or central part.) Believe me, I am truly grateful, it was a huge undertaking. In the process, between the two of us, every book was re-edited.

And of course they have to be  promoted so that people know some of the older ones are once again available--except for the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series.

After getting my rights back, those books will now be republished by Aakenbaaken and Kent. The first in the series has been re-edited and is now on Amazon in print and for Kindle, Final Respects. Yes, it's been re-edited.

I've gone over the next three in the series, and it's just a matter of time before they are ready to go.

This has been quite a process and taken lots of time--but so well worth it.

Now on to other things, have a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery to plan.

What exciting things have happened in your life recently?


Friday, January 5, 2018

Happy New Year

Make Mine Mystery

January 5, 2017

Happy New Year!
And that’s exactly what I plan to do. Happiness is my goal as it should be everyone’s. It’s not always easy, we all face tough times and its okay to be stressed, scared, sad. I’ve certainly been through that. This last year I had loved ones pass away, failed in so many ways, got angry, yelled at people…and had my heart broken.
But I do live a pretty good life. Believe me I’m not rich but I’m better off than some and many people think that that should bring me happiness. It doesn’t.
I’ve been chasing after what I thought Happiness was. Getting married, having children, buying a home, a car, a college education, my kids educated. It did give me a moment of happiness. But in all honesty the reward doesn’t last.

What I found that brings me happiness is giving. I get so much more out of life from giving of myself in some way. It brings me great joy and yes, happiness, it fills my heart with love for others.
My New Year’s resolution will be to write a To Do List and it will be about giving.

So Stop for a moment! Breathe! Be with your loved ones! And reach out and touch others!

Linda L. Kane MA in Education, PPS, School Psychologist, and Learning Disability Specialist, is the author of The Black Madonna, Chilled to the Bones, and Murder on the Vine, A Daisy Murphy Mystery. She lives with her husband, three dogs, one bird, and six horses in California.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Two Short Stories for your Kindle

Over the years, I've only published two short stories.

You might want to try one out on your Kindle? Death of a Deceiver is only .99 cents.

This is a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery and it's set on the Bear Creek Reservation. It's a great introduction to the Tempe Crabtree series.

And, the other one is called  The Resurrection and it's about how church members shouldn't behave.
Believe me, it's nothing like my church, but, sadly,  I have seen similar behavior in some regular church goers.

I'd be tickled if you'd try them out.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Local Sisters in Crime Author Panel at Words of Wisdom Bookstore and 2017 Nearing Its End

by Linda Thorne

From left to right: Peggy O'Neal Peden, Jaden Terrell, me, Lisa Wysocky, and Tom Wood

Earlier this month I was honored to be part of a panel of local Sisters in Crime authors at Words of Wisdom (WOW) bookstore in Hermitage, Tennessee. It was an especially cold December evening with shops lit up with Christmas lights and decorations for the Holiday. The owners live-streamed the event on their Facebook page while we talked to the audience. I sold every book I had in the store.

My local Sisters (& Misters) in Crime chapter has been celebrating the national organization's 30th anniversary for most of 2017. Robert (Bob) Mangeot is our president and he introduced us and discussed the advantages of belonging to Sisters in Crime. Since I started with the local Nashville area chapter in early 2008, we've had two male presidents. Although the organization started out thirty years ago with female members, that changed quickly. The organization has a large number of misters in crime nationwide. The monthly meetings at most local chapters offer a variety of events; guest speakers like gun experts, detectives, other authors. At our Middle Tennessee chapter of Sisters in Crime, we have an occasional meeting where our local expert reviewer, Lynette Ingram, will review and analyze a book we've all read. There are lots of field trips too.

I don't know about the rest of you, but as the year draws to an end I look back on the biggest events of my year. In April my human resources job of nine years was suddenly eliminated by new owners in a restructuring. I had mixed emotions on returning to work because I'd wanted to spend more time on writing and writing events. I ended up returning to my career in human resources at another job four months after the layoff. For me, this just felt right.

What will you remember the most from 2017? 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Bring On The Whip and Chair...

by Janis Patterson

No, this isn't a post about alternative lifestyles or somewhat esoteric sexual games. This is about something much more difficult - molding a scientific-minded, very military husband into a writer's assistant.

Retired from the Navy several years ago (after 32 years service - I am so proud of him!) and facing not-too-distant retirement from his civilian job, The Husband mused one day about what he would do after complete retirement. He is not the type to just sit around and vegetate! Never expecting any real response, I laughingly suggested he become my assistant and do my publicity - which I hate - and give me more time to write. When he agreed, I almost fainted from pure surprise.

A bit of backstory. The Husband and I married late, and it was indeed a mixed marriage. His family is definitely science-oriented; mine (mostly gone now) was firmly in the words camp. I don't think he had ever met a writer before, and for  years his family regarded having a writer in the family as sort of akin to having some sort of exotic alien species around. (I must say they are wonderful and loving, and I am blessed to have them, but my kind was indeed an unknown quantity to them.) Over time, however, The Husband began to enjoy the role of 'the writer's husband.' My work got us into a lot of interesting places that 'normal' people never get to know, and he began to get involved.

Now he was offering to become my assistant! A man who doesn't read novels, other than an occasional offering from Bob Mayer or Dale Brown or WEB Griffin - all military-themed writers. Until we started this recent exercise I don't think he had read more than one of my books. I'm still not sure he has!

Having been in this business for close to four decades (aaaugh!) I find that so much of it is nearly instinctual. I didn't realized how much information there was to learn from a standing start until I started to teach him.

So far he's doing pretty well, though he spends a lot of time being appalled at the illogicities of this business. (For that matter, so do I.) As if giving a blessing to this odd career change, my beloved Novelists Inc. had recently opened its conference (the best in the writing world, in my opinion) to include authors' assistants. Some are professionals, some are family members, but all want to know how to help 'their' authors as best they can.

As The Husband is still working a full-time job, he's not quite up to full speed on the assistant thing yet. I am trying to get publicity packages and excerpts on all my books (no small job!) done and set up a publicity release schedule that is almost foolproof because right now those chores are beyond him. That's no small job, either, but once they're done the process will be easy and almost self-perpetuating. At least, that's the hope!

So what's it like giving 'orders' (always couched as suggestions or requests, of course) to a very much accustomed-to-command ex-Navy captain? Interesting. Sometimes very interesting. Luckily The Husband is as invested in my career as I am and most of the time seems to actually enjoy the learning process. My fingers are crossed that this will continue. Right now with the teaching and preparing my writing is suffering, but I hope that will be only temporary - once the machine really gets into gear it should free me up considerably.

So - I know that not all husbands/daughters/sons/second cousins/whoever are assistant material, but some could be. And, of course, there are always the professionals - but be very sure you vet them thoroughly. Some are very good, some are adequate, and some are nightmares.

During a late-night informal chat session at the last NINC conference the conversation turned to what everyone paid their assistants. Some hired by the hour or had monthly contracts or some such. Of course, I had to be different and without intending to I almost ended the session. My answer? "I sleep with mine."

(And totally unrelated to the above post, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and an exceedingly Happy New Year!)