Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Middle Tennessee Chapter of Sisters in Crime booth at the 29th Annual Southern Festival of Books - Nashville

by Linda Thorne

Me, author Robert Mangeot Sisters in Crime President, and author Beth (Jaden) Terrell ex-president of our local chapter of Sisters in Crime.

This is where I hung out on the one day I went to this event this year, Saturday October 14th. New job, so I had to miss Friday and then on Sunday I was just too beat. Next year I'll be there all three days and, if I can get my current work-in-progress published by then, I'll be on one of their author panels again like the past two years.

I've belonged to this local chapter of Sister's in Crime (and we have misters too) right after moving to the area. We arrived late in 2007 and I joined in 2008. This is a spectacular group of readers and writers. I've watched some of the author members from the early years go from debut authors to bestselling authors. Lots of local support for authors here in the Nashville area. We have members who are readers, wannabe authors, and authors. We meet once a month for about an hour and then offer field trips and extra-curricula activities for those interested.

Here are more pictures of this national festival of books held right here in my home town: 
A view inside our booth and then another to the neighboring tent across from us. Then below a walk around the premises and a visit to the booth for the Nashville Writers Meetup Group I also belong to, with Alan Lewis manning the booth.

Next year will be the 30th annual Southern Festival of Books. I may not be talking about the Sisters in Crime booth then, but I will have a report on the 30th anniversary of the Southern Festival of Books.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Taming the Crowd

by Janis Patterson

It's funny, but as a writer one of the most consistent reactions I get is "How do you keep all the characters in a whole book straight?"

I don't understand. Each character is a separate and distinct person, albeit just not in concrete form. How can I mix up a separate and distinct person with another separate and distinct person, even if they exist only in my imagination and a collection of pixels?

The non-writers always look at me weirdly as I answer, but usually don't scoff openly unless I tell them that I normally have three or four projects going more or less simultaneously. Then they are absolutely astonished - and again they wonder how I not only keep all the characters straight, but keep all of them in their own books.

Only a few, usually writers, scoff  when I explain. (And I really don't see how they can work on only one project at a time without becoming fatally bored! But - chacun à son goût!) I ask them if they have a job, then if they go to church, then if they have extended family they don't see every day. Most everyone answers yes. Then I ask them if they ever get someone from their extended family mixed up with someone from their church, or their job. Every single time (almost!) they answer "Of course not!" rather indignantly ... then the light begins to dawn behind their eyes. Sometimes it dawns slowly, but it does dawn. Most of the time.

The Husband says I live only half-way in the world of reality, and I guess he's right, because my characters are as real - and sometimes more so - than the biological specimens with whom I interact. Everyone knows that writing is a lonely profession - just the writer and his computer and the stories in his head. Still - I'm never lonely. My characters are always there, and sometimes working alone in an empty office can get very crowded.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Mystery is How am I Going to do it All?

Ever wonder if all that you have planned can possibly happen? I'm at that stage right now.

Because I have a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery out, A Cold Death, I've been doing all sorts of things online and in person to promote it. My blog tour is over, and yes, I think it helped, at least the ranking on Kindle because lower numbers during that time period. And I've run another online promotion too. I won't know how well that has worked until I receive a royalty statement from the publisher.

I've had book signings at Barnes and Noble and a wonderful chocolate store. I'll be one of many authors at the Great Valley Book Festival in Manteca this Saturday. Always a fun day.

But--and it's a big one--I also have a re-issue of a very old cookbook--Cooking for a Big Family and a Crowd  as well as a romance with a supernatural touch, Lingering Spirit, and my very first mystery The Astral Gift.

All of this has come about because of a wonderful friend, who decided all the books that had been with my former publisher should be republished. She is also working on two historical family sagas of mine. And of course this means that I have to do a lot of re-editing, but I can assure you I'm not complaining about that.

In the meantime, the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery I'm working on now is being neglected. What I've decided is that maybe I won't have two books come out next year as usual. There is only so much time.

So authors--have you ever felt like I do at the moment? A bit overwhelmed by all that you need to be doing?

And readers, I hope this give you a bit of an insight about what some of us go through in order to get new books out there. We all hope that the books we write will please readers.


Me at Stafford's Chocolates

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Events I'm attending and things I'm doing

Make Mine Mystery
October 5, 2017

The last few months have been a whirl wind of activity. I’m finishing up with my final edits on Murder on the Vine, and will be releasing it next month. I am revising The Black Madonna to be published in December. I’ve hired an artist to illustrate my children’s book, Clyde, Special in So Many Ways that will be coming out in November.
A collaborative group of people that I am a part of have begun a newsletter for speculative fiction authors at www.speculativefictionwriters, we are looking for people who write short stories, flash fiction, and general help for first time authors.

I have several upcoming book signing events in October, November, and in February and April of next year. I will also be in Las Vegas at a horse show.

 Check out my website at for more information.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The 2017 Killer Nashville Writers' Conference

by Linda Thorne

Me at Killer Nashville last month at the Embassy Suites in Franklin (a suburb of Nashville) 

I feel so privileged to live in a city with its own annual writers' conference. I started going in 2009 as soon as I realized there was such an event in the city where my husband and I had moved.

In the early years I attended the sessions to learn the basics on how to write, taking dubious notes and asking questions. Then came workshops on writing query letters and finding a publisher. When I had a book contract for my debut novel, Just Another Termination, I showed up at other sessions taking notes and asking questions about marketing and promotion. I even went to a very early Sunday morning one about the "swag" authors need (book marks, cards, pens, gimmicks).

Killer Nashville has everything needed for any wannabe author.

I've been on at least one panel for the past three years. This year I had a fun panel (below) on Saturday August 26. It's name:
A Cat, A Recipe, and an Old Curiosity Shoppe: How to Write Cozy Mysteries. 

Panelists from left to right: Phyllis Gobbell, Carol L. Wright, me, Traci Andrighetti, Barbara Collins, and moderator, Lois Schmitt.

When you are a Killer Nashville panelist, Parnassus Books orders your books to sell in its makeshift conference bookstore. 

The schedule is totally different every year at Killer Nashville, so lots to see and learn. I'm already looking forward to the August 2018 conference. 

Tom Wood stopped by to talk to me and Phyllis Gobbell prior to our panel. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


 by Janis Patterson

One of the saddest things about an inadequate education is the ability to remember quotes but not be sure about who said them.

One of my favorites is “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” I think it was Robert Frost who said it, but don’t quote me on that.

I suppose I should give you a disclaimer – I am a thoroughgoing and proud pantser. I work on what I call the suspension bridge system, meaning I know where the story starts, and approximately where it ends, and a couple of plot points in the middle. Then the rest is just putting in more plot points where they’re needed and stringing the story webwork in between. Half the time I don’t know what’s going to happen next.

Like every writer, I have friends who are devout plotters. They fill out multi-page character sheets, detailing everything from his grandmother’s maiden name to his favorite flavor of Jell-O. Then they do scene-by-scene outlines, practically noting every time a main character raises an eyebrow. They say it keeps them on track and makes them more efficient. I’ve tried it (I’m always open to ways to improve my craft) and all it made me was bored. Incredibly bored and sleepy. In one class I plotted minutely what should have been a very interesting book about terrorism, antiquities smuggling and dirty bombs. Sad, but it’s a book that will never be written. By the time I finished the outline I was soooo bored with it that it will never be written. By me, at least.

Is dedicated pantsing fraught with potential problems? Of course, but then so is rigid plotting. So is any kind of putting words in a string to tell a story, however you do it. Sometimes I hit a wall and have to back up, but surprisingly rarely. My personal belief is that a good book grows organically – that each action/scene grows logically out of what has gone before. Sometimes it takes me a while to go from one point to another, but not often. It’s really easier than it looks, and your characters – if they are real people and not just cardboard puppets – will tell you what to do. My characters just walk in, tell me their name and what they will and will not do. If I try to go against their will, they stage a silent sit-in strike until I give in, which I usually do. 

Case in point : in my current work in progress, I realized that I had to have a character deliver a crucial piece of information about a series of murders. Only problem was, this character had been the first victim, and ghosts didn’t fit into this story. Last night at dinner (The Husband treated me to a luscious hamburger at our favorite place) I was chatting about the story, and he was listening most politely, when all of a sudden the penny dropped and I knew what had to be done. The expression on my face must have been remarkable, because The Husband looked up, startled, and asked if I was all right.

“The brother! It’s the brother.”

Well, he doesn’t have a brother, and mine died many years ago, so he became much more alarmed about my mental health. After all the years we’ve been married he should know better, but… Immediately I explained that the first victim had a brother, who may or may not be killed himself after delivering the important piece of information my sleuth needed. The Husband’s comment? “Oh.”

Once I tried to explain my working process to The Husband, who is a science-oriented military man. He listened politely, then said, “Sounds like possession.” Maybe he’s right. Whatever it is, it works for me.

One last note – this organically-grown, pantsing way of writing is not, repeat NOT, a license to drag in unrelated action or utilize the dreaded (and unbelievable) Deus ex Machina to solve everything. Neither can you blame a convenient wandering homicidal maniac who has been unheard of until the final chapter. Your clues have to be there. You have to play fair with the reader and give them enough so that – if they are quick and clever – they have a chance to solve the mystery. (You don’t have to dump the solution in their laps, though!) It’s not necessarily easy, but it is very satisfying for both writer and reader.

Just remember – no surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. And surprises keep things interesting, don’t they?