Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Thomas Wolfe and the Loss of Magic

by Janis Patterson

Sometimes finishing a book can be the saddest thing on the earth. I know that when the magic has been really working and the book is good and tight and alive, I often have difficulty in writing the last chapter or two.

I know what’s going to happen. I even have most of the wording in my head. I can see the action in my mind just like watching a movie screen. But I hesitate and procrastinate about putting the words to paper… or pixels, as the case may be.

Other times I race to the finish (as much as my picky craft-obsessed mind will allow) and typing The End is an incredible relief, one that could be called escape. I am shed of that world, which has grown tiresome, and the characters, whom I sometimes have come to actively dislike, while the wonderful, pristine world of a new project beckons seductively. I don’t know why one project becomes the mental equivalent of hard labor and another a delight which I am reluctant to complete. It has nothing to with genre, as this phenomenon has happened in every genre I write – except children’s, but as I have only done one of those and it was the result of a fit of bad temper, I don’t believe that is big enough a sample to count.

I do, however, flatter myself enough to believe that my readers cannot tell which book has been a delight to write and which has been labor.

I am currently in this situation. I am within 2-3 thousand words of typing THE END and have been having a terrible time doing it. I love this story, this world, these people. Instead of writing I find myself doing housework, which I normally regard as slightly less enjoyable than a visit to the dentist. No, I must find another analogy, for at the dentist’s I am given copious amounts of happy gas, which is a wise self-defense measure on the part of my dentist. You see, I bite. Quite involuntarily, I assure you, as I actually like him as a person and he is a very good dentist.

Perhaps this ‘place of magic’ is why the phenomena of series are so popular. Once ensconced in a world, book after book after book ensures that neither the reader nor the writer has to step outside their cozy little enclave. But while that is true up to a point I disagree. Yes, there is the safety of familiarity in subsequent iterations, but characters and places move on, and neither is ever the same as the first time.


Thomas Wolfe was right. You can never really go home again.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Library Visits

This year, thanks to attending a book fest in Fresno, I was asked to visit several Fresno area libraries and give a presentation. I love libraries and they are probably my favorite place to give talks.

The first one was on the 17th at the Gillis Library in Fresno. The following one is on July 8th at the big library, in downtown Fresno, followed by one in Fowler on the 22nd, and on th 29th in Selma. There are two more in August.

I'm on a roll with libraries, as on June 24th, I'll be over in Paso Robles at their library, doing a workshop with two other authors. This one was arranged by the Central Coast Sisters in Crime. I've belonged to this group for years even though it's a 3 plus hour drive for me, it gives me a chance to visit the coast, one of my favorite places.

And on Tuesday, June 27th, at 6:30 p.m. I'll be with another author friend at the Exeter Library. (This one is not quite an hour away.) A book club has read my first Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery and will be attending, so I can expect questions about it and the series.

I'll give a report on the other visits and how they turned out.

Tell me about either attending library author presentations and what you liked or didn't like, or if you're an author, do you like doing library presentations?

Marilyn




Monday, June 19, 2017

Revisiting the Dream

Today my guest is fellow mystery author Joanne Guidoccio. Joanne talks about her road to becoming a mystery writer, her new book, and your chance to win an Amazon gift card.

During my high school years, I dabbled in poetry while dreams of a writing career dangled before me. But I gave in to my practical Italian side and pursued degrees in mathematics and education. While teaching was a good career fit, in my heart of hearts, I knew that I would write a novel at some point in my life.  All I needed was more time and more energy.

Be careful what you wish for...

On the cusp of my fiftieth birthday, I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and forced to take a leave of absence. With all my energies focused on healing, I searched for light and entertaining novels that would provide a healthy diversion. I was grateful for the bags of books dropped off by well-meaning friends but get into any of the storylines. I found the spiritual books too intense and the comedic books unsatisfying.

Instead, I gravitated toward cozies, those delightful murder mysteries that include a bloodless crime and contain little violence, sex, or coarse language. I was familiar with Agatha Christie’s novels and pleasantly surprised to discover more authors in the genre, among them Susan Wittig Albert, MC Beaton, Mary Jane Maffini, and Denise Swanson. I read voraciously, often finishing a cozy in one or two sittings.

Toward the end of chemo treatments, I decided to experiment with the genre and considered the following scenario: What if a woman won a major lottery, returned to her hometown, and then found herself embroiled in a murder investigation involving four blondes? Could she prove her innocence and solve this case before it was too late?

I fleshed out the premise and completed the first draft of A Season for Killing Blondes during my sixteen month “sabbatical.” I considered querying but realized the manuscript needed more work and more attention. Reluctantly, I set the cozy aside and focused on the last leg of my teaching career.

Three years later, I retired from teaching and revisited my writing dream. At first, I wrote nonfiction and watched with delight as my articles and book reviews started appearing in newspapers, magazines, and online. Buoyed by this success, I took on the challenge of revamping A Season for Killing Blondes. I added another sub-plot and several more characters.

On June 12, 2015, The Wild Rose Press released A Season for Killing Blondes, Book 1 in the Gilda Greco Mystery Series. Based in Northern Ontario, these books feature a fifty-something Italian woman, meddling relatives, deserving and undeserving men, food, romance, and murder.

Last month, Too Many Women in the Room, Book 2 was released.
Blurb
When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.
Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?
Excerpt
Carlo’s hand caressed my thigh. More sex. The man could be insatiable. And it had been almost two weeks since our last romp. We started to kiss and then his cell phone vibrated.
Carlo groaned as he leaned over and picked up the phone. He sat up, his back to me. “What’s happened?” he barked. Carlo’s shoulders tensed. A long sigh and then his terse words. “Clear the perimeter, stat.”
Clear the perimeter. My heart beat faster as I recalled the last time I had heard those dreaded words. It could mean only one thing. Another murder. Two murders in less than twenty-hours. What were the chances of that happening in Sudbury? At the Christmas party, the police chief had bragged about one of the lowest murder rates in Canada during the past twelve months.
I swallowed hard. “What’s wrong?”
Carlo turned and gave me a long glance. “Andrew Frattini was found dead in the alleyway behind the ReCareering office.”
The nightmare couldn’t be starting again. This time with different players but still with the same intent. To pin the murder on me. But that strategy wouldn’t work. I had an iron-clad alibi no one could refute.
Carlo dressed quickly. He picked up his phone and then turned toward me. “Stay clear of this, Gilda.”
“How can I ignore it?” I said as I felt myself tearing up. “Someone’s trying to frame me again.”
He leaned over and kissed me. “Well, they didn’t succeed, did they?”
Book Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CORaCadAnbA
Buy Links

Amazon (US):  https://is.gd/NRjAXT
Amazon (Canada):  https://is.gd/1pX3Bn
Kobo:  https://is.gd/5VwbTf
Indigo:  https://is.gd/o3ZKRW
The Wild Rose Press:  https://is.gd/1mns8Q
Barnes & Noble:  https://is.gd/NFHdlS

Bio
In 2008, Joanne Guidoccio retired from a 31-year teaching career and launched a second act that tapped into her creative side. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
Where to find Joanne...
Website: http://joanneguidoccio.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/joanneguidoccio
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjoanneguidoccio
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanneguidoccio
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jguidoccio/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7277706.Joanne_Guidoccio

Giveaway:

Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/628069205/




Thursday, June 15, 2017

Planning a Series


by Linda Thorne

When you start a series, you are committing years of your life to the cause, perhaps the rest of your life. The series will take a great deal of planning. What? You say you didn’t plan on a series – you simply wrote a standalone first and then the idea hit you? You’ll still need a plan, and the sooner the better.

What characters will you need for plots later on? If your protagonist doesn’t have a mother or father or is childless, will they need a parent or child later to help move your story? Sure, you can have one of these characters appear out of nowhere, but you better make the appearance credible if you don’t want your reader throwing your book across the room never to pick it up again.

After I’d written my first book, I read one of J.A. Jance’s books in the J.P. Beaumont series that included a whole side story about his grown daughter and her relationships, emotions, and problems. I remember thinking how these scenes fleshed out Beau as a character and gave the reader an interesting spin-off.

But alas, I’d already blocked my way. My protagonist was childless and, unless I wanted her to have a baby or adopt a child when pushing fifty years of age, I needed to drop any hope of giving her a kid. Yeah, I could’ve invented a history of my lead having a baby in high school that she gave up. This is not only overused to the point of being a boring cliche, there would need to be hints of it planted early on and there were none.
  
Then there’s the timeline. I’ll use Sue Grafton’s series as the example. The first in her Kinsey Millhone detective series, A is for Alibi, was set in 1982 and published in 1982. Each book published after that was slower than real time.By the time she got to book number twenty-four, X, published in 2015, it was set in 1989. Kinsey Millhone aged seven years in character time as opposed to thirty-three in real time. I don’t think Sue Grafton ever wanted Kinsey to grow old in her series. I know I preferred Grafton's character staying in the same general age range.

I had another timeline problem. My book was set on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and I completed my first draft shortly before Katrina hit. I’d written my book with scenes solidified in real places, many destroyed or changed by the catastrophic storm. I couldn’t recreate them since I had no idea when, how, and where they’d be rebuilt. The setting in my book is almost a character in itself. I could not sidestep Katrina; that is, unless I left my book set pre-Katrina, 2004 to 2005, which is what I did. Taking ten years to publish the book set the whole series even farther in the past.

Have any of you had problems in planning a series or noticed problems in the series books you read?   

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Priorities

Radine Trees Nehring recently wrote about not having enough time to read what with all the necessary tasks of being a writer. I'm going to expand on that theme a bit.

Over the years I've found that there are far too many tasks both as a wife, mother/grandmother and writer that demand my time.

Years ago, I wrote, painted and knitted. When I became the owner/administrator of a 6 bed facility for developmentally disabled women--the demands on my time multiplies. The women, their needs and all that came with running the facility (which was also our home) left me little free time for much. I knew I had to make the decision between writing and art projects. I decided writing was what I liked to do best and gave the other two pursuits up. At that time social media was just beginning to blossom.

After twenty-plus years, hubby and I retired from the care business--it truly had to be number one because it entailed the health and well-being of others. At the time, hubby and my eldest adult son both had cancer, my focus had to be on them. After treatment, hubby was cured, son passed on to be with the Lord.

Years have gone by. Hubby and I are both slowing down and have lots more doctor visits. I'm still writing, of course because I love it. Because I write I must do a lot of promotion in order for people to know about my latest book(s). Every author know that takes a lot of time.

My family has grown so much! I love seeing and spending time with each and everyone, and of course that takes time away from other pursuits, but to me that is a most important priority.

Of course I love to read--I always have books on my Kindle, and usually a paper book too. If someone I know and like asks me to read a book and give them a blurb I almost always do that too.

And then there are the writing contests--there are two that I always agree to help judge--more reading that is not necessarily of my choosing and takes time to do it fairly.

So what do I do? How do I choose my priorities? This is one of those one day at a time judgment calls--what is most important to get done today? I make a list and get to work--crossing each item off when I'm done.

And yes, I leave time to do some fun things with my husband, though not nearly as much as we used to do.

So tell me, what are your priorities?

Marilyn


The latest Tempe book--I'm still working on the next one.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Make Mine Mystery
June 2, 2017



WRITERS
by Linda Kane


In the wonderful world of writing I have been blessed to meet so many creative people who are kind, generous with their time, and experience. The amount of positive energy that exists is amazing and creates an atmosphere that I like to share with others. Our ability to never give up, and every once in a while that persistent nudge that keeps us motivated to continue in our pursuit of writing that perfect piece that resonates throughout the community.
I’ve joined several writing groups, Pacific Coast Writers, sisters in Crime and Romance Writers. I have found the most encouraging and thoughtful people who offer up helpful tips, suggestions on publishers, editors, and ways to self- publish. Writers are honest, giving people and I’m lucky to have found so much kindness, world-wide in this chosen profession of ours.

I had promised to read Book Marketing Challenge and write about any helpful information I gleaned from it…I haven’t forgotten but I’ve been so busy reading and reviewing books on a magazine I write for, In’D Tale that I haven’t gotten to it yet. Next month I will read and report.


            Linda L. Kane MA in Education, PPS, School                       Psychologist, and Learning Disability Specialist, is the author of The Black Madonna, Witch Number is Which, Icelandia, Katterina Ballerina, Cowboy Jack and Buddy Save Santa, and Chilled to the Bones. A 2017 release date for Clyde the Lost Pony, and Murder on the Vine, A Daisy Murphy Mysteries. She lives with her husband, three dogs, one bird, and six horses in California.



Monday, May 29, 2017

The awful things about a writing career

(Blogger sent my MMM post to Oak Tree Press. Why, I simply can't understand. This is a second try.  I wonder where it will go, and why!)
--------------------------------------------
Awful?

The need for massive internet promotion when you don't have a kid handy to figure out the ins and outs of the technology you need to at least understand if not master.  Check

The isolation for days and days while you type words on a screen, ponder their appropriateness and even their connection to proper English.  Check.

The hours awake during the night while story ideas jiggle through your head and you then write notes on a lighted pad by your bed.  Check

Times when you get up at 2:00 a.m. to actually write a scene into your computer.  Check

The worry that some this or that in your story is (pick a word) boring, silly, dumb, inappropriate, spoiling, and so on.  Check

The worry about publishing details, whatever they may be.  Check

The isolation from former friends who haven't a clue how a writer's life works, ask unsettling questions when they see you and then, quite often, don't buy or read your books when they're published.  Check.

Nope, none of that, though of course one or more of them are problems many authors are burdened with. Yes, I am familiar with all of them. But they aren't the awfullest. (I am aware I used an invented word.)

And, the awfullest is--ta da--NO TIME TO READ OTHER AUTHOR'S BOOKS!

Mom read to me as a baby. I was sent to a pre-school and began reading books before I was five. Big print words about a flying pig and a lost doll. I still have those books and am forever grateful to their authors.

There was only one public library in our town and it took a long bus ride to get there, but Mom and I visited about once a week and I went home with a stack of books supposedly age-appropriate for a single-digit age girl hooked on reading. A librarian there eventually introduced me to Nancy Drew. The die was cast.  I didn't know it but, nearly fifty years later, I would become a writer of mysteries.

Appropriate age books? My Saturday task when I was in grade school was to dust the What-not in our living room. Many homes had such pieces of furniture in those days. A What-not was where you displayed special treasures on open shelves.  My mom's What-not had a heavy book on the bottom shelf to anchor it, "Gone With the Wind."  Not material considered age-appropriate for a child in third grade. It took over a year but, reading bits secretly each Saturday, I read that book. I still remember the plot very well, and much of the dialogue. ("I don't know nothin' about birthin" babies Miz Scarlett.") Truth be told, I learned a lot from that book and some of it was of value.

I went on to read all the available Nancy Drew Books, The Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, and many more age-appropriate novels. I progressed to Agatha Christie, the "Dead British Ladies" (not all were dead at that time) and more. At my own birthday party I hid in my room for a time, reading, while my mother served cake and ice cream and entertained my friends with silly games. (Of course I read, the book's plot had reached a thrilling point.)

But now?  I was heading into our living room yesterday to spend a bit of time reading the most recent mystery novel by an author I know well when this computer called me. I had over sixty incoming message to deal with and I knew it. I turned around and headed into my office.

Sigh. So, dear writing friends, if I don't buy and read all your books and comment on line about how much I loved each one, you know why. As an author myself, I have little time to read anything but my own words.

Including these.  

Radine

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Be Careful What You Wish For

by Linda Thorne

I might've aired a little too much about how to handle the interruption of my writing and promotion because of my full-time
day job in human resources. I was well aware that the company who paid me and provided my benefits had to come first. After all, I read Ayn Ryan's Atlas Shrugged back in the day. 

I started out airing about losing the freedoms non-authors had, like being able to spend a lunch hour in a restaurant. Instead, I spent my hour break each day "reading," which I believe all authors need to do to succeed. If the weather was cool (as it is the majority of the time in middle Tennessee), I'd sit in my car and read. If it was too hot or too cold, I'd drive to a hospital not a mile from where I worked and read in the hospital lobby.

Little did I know how good I had it back then when I could take a lunch hour to read. Last fall my job began to change. New owners, new structure, new business decisions made to stay profitable. My job became busier with every new week. I could no longer take the time to do much more at lunch than eat at my desk. I worked late in the evenings, from home, and came in on Saturdays. By the time January rolled around I published a post on another blogspot called, My Life As It's Been Since Last December and included the picture below. 

And that's exactly where I was, but I needed the job, I had to keep the job. My only hope was that things would return to normalcy. 

What I did not anticipate was that I wouldn't have a choice in the matter. Last month, one-month prior to my 9th year anniversary, my position was eliminated and the work distributed to others. I'm just now coming out of my shock stage, but again, I work in HR. I know these things happen.

So, I have the time to write while I look for a paying job, but here I am contemplating again. How nice if I found a four-day-a-week job instead of five. One in the writer/author world instead of human resources. A job close to home. Hopeful, but not likely.

In all my musings over balancing a paying day job with a non-paying start-up author job, I dreamed a little about letting the day job go; thus, the title for this post: Be Careful What You Wish For

http://www.lindathorne.com  

    

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Walking With Heroes

by Janis Patterson

As writers, we all interact with heroes every day, whatever genre we write. Be they shirtless cowboys with rippling abs or smart, street-wise detectives or canny FBI agents or sweet ditzy career women dusted with flour or bits of yarn. Books need heroes.

So does real life. As you probably know, earlier this month The Husband and I went to the NRA convention in Atlanta, and it was a simply splendid experience. And we did meet real life heroes. All kept their shirts on, and there was no sign of flour or bits of yarn, but they were indubitably heroes.

We got to hear Oliver North give a moving invocation at the Hank Williams, Jr. concert, and hear Lee Greenwood sing “I’m Proud to Be an American” live. Maybe Greenwood isn’t a real life hero – I don’t know – but his song is a paean to hero-dom.

On a more personal level, I got to speak for a far-too-short sliver of time with Sheriff David Clarke, who is a lovely and gracious man. I spent almost a quarter of an hour (waiting for The Husband to show up from some mysterious wandering) with two simply lovely men who were on Chris Kyle’s sniper team. (I’m sure there is a more militarily-correct term than team, but I don’t know it.) Both of them were friendly and gracious and very funny. Until our talk turned to Chris Kyle; then all three of us became somber, as we should have. We Americans lost a symbol; they lost a friend.

There were WWII and Korea and Viet Nam and Middle East veterans there; some wore their medals and embroidered hats proclaiming their affiliations, but some didn’t and I discovered their histories while simply chatting with them. (Yes, The Husband is right when he says I talk to EVERYBODY.) Some of these gentlemen were in scooters and some walked proudly on their own. Some had canes and some were in wheelchairs propelled by younger people, all of whom looked proud of their job.

These veterans were once young men, some scarcely older than children, who marched off into hell to protect our country and our way of life… and their loved ones. To a one they counted themselves lucky. After all, they came back to enjoy the life they had sacrificed so much to protect, while so many of their comrades did not.

These heroes did not need ‘safe spaces’ or riot like spoilt brats because things haven’t gone the way they thought things should or demand that the world be changed to suit their whims. They did what they had to do and then came home to build lives and fortunes both big and small and enjoy what they had earned.

Talking with them was a privilege, and one I shall remember forever.

The hero who most remains in my mind, however, is Norris Jernigan. A slightly built man, he served with the US Army Air Corps, 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Composite Group. He was an Intelligence Specialist whose function was to prepare information for bombing missions – maps, aerial photographs, etc – that the officers would use in the flight crew briefings. He’s one of the few men left (I think 2? Maybe 3?) who worked on the Enola Gay missions. A true hero.

Mr. Jernigan is quiet and soft spoken; he wrote a book and was answering questions about his service, but reservedly, without boasting or self-aggrandizement. I was honored to stand in the presence of a man whose skill and ability helped end WWII quickly instead of having it drag on and on with a horrendous loss of American lives.

The Husband (an amateur military historian) and I stayed in Mr. Jernigan’s booth for a while as they discussed various aspects of the war. Mr. Jernigan may be elderly now, but his courage has not wavered – when time came for us to leave, he reached over and kissed me… with The Husband not three feet away! It was a most pleasurable kiss, too.


Kissed by a genuine hero – that’s nice.