Thursday, December 7, 2017

Yikes, It's December!


Though I've always loved Christmas, I don't do near what I used to do in preparation.

For one thing, Christmas gift giving had to be cut way back for two big reasons:

1. Our family got too big (though I love every one of them.)
2. Our income was cut drastically when the VA decided hubby was no longer 100% disabled, and the 40% disability they agreed upon they are now deducting from his retirement, so in reality, he's not getting any disability.

And no, as a writer, I don't make enough money to supplement. We're doing okay, but because we wisely saved, but spending it on gifts wouldn't be smart.

Enough of that. No tree either, but I did decorate with the help of my great-granddaughters, 3 and 5. That was fun.

I attended the San Joaquin Sisters in Crime chapter's Christmas party, and that was enjoyable and I got to see friends I hadn't seen for awhile. I also volunteered to do a program in May--I have a great topic.

Oh, and I brought a book to show and sold it.

I have yet to address Christmas cards--except one, because I received one. I know many authors send cards to their fans, but I've never done that.

We plan to host Christmas Eve dinner like we usually do--I've ordered the honey baked ham. Only a small portion of our family lives close enough to attend, but they will fill our house.

Another thing I didn't do is participate in any holiday events. My favorite one didn't happen, and the others were outside and I don't put up a tent and haul a table around anymore. There is always next year.

So how am I going to turn this around to focus on mystery? I am still working on my Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, though it's going well, I haven't had much writing time.

In the meantime, I did a giveaway of one of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, Seldom Traveled. It's one of my favorites for several reasons.

Marilyn



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Writing through Rejection Part II

Writing through Rejection Part II Publishing





 December 5, 2017
 Linda Lee Kane
Publishing is frustrating.  No matter how much – or how little – success you’ve had, parts of it will always be out of your control.  But the writing is completely in your control.  And for me, I try to keep the two as separate as possible.  I still think of creating the books as something fun I’m doing for myself, and the publishing and marketing side as a job.  Obviously, they have to overlap, but the more I can keep them separate (I even write in a different place than I do marketing and other publishing work), the more I keep the joy in the writing process.
Before I was published, I used a lot of methods to keep myself motivated while I waited for “the call.”  First, I surrounded myself with people who really understood what it meant to be a career-oriented writer, because they were doing it too.  I met up with a critique partner at a coffee shop one evening a week, every week (which meant that no matter what else was going on in my life, for those hours, I was always writing).  I joined writers organizations, especially local ones, where I could sit for a few hours a month soaking up industry and craft knowledge, and sharing frustrations and excitements of the business (seeing other people succeed reminds you that you can do it too!).
Secondly, I focused on methods that kept me writing.  I set goals every week with my critique partner (that accountability is important) and the two of us also set rewards for meeting those goals (it’s amazing what I’ll do for chocolate or a spa trip). I set aside a regular writing time that I tried to stick to, because then it becomes habit and that’s important too.  If I ever couldn’t write in that time, I edited, because at least then I was still moving forward.

And perhaps most importantly, I believed I could do it.  Remember what I mentioned about stubborn and determined?  Those may be the most important tools in your arsenal.  Of course you have to hone your craft and learn the industry and keep writing, but at the end of the day, when one hundred agents and editors tell you “no,” you have to believe in yourself enough to think “I know better than they do.  I’m going to get there.”


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, November 21, 2017

A Big Confession

Because I tend to only share positive things, I know people think all is rosy in my life--my writing goes fine, I'm able to promote without a problem, and all is well.

What I will never do is jump on the political bandwagon, enough people do that, there are enough varying opinions I don't need to add my own.

When it comes to my writing, I have not had the time to put into my latest book even though it is going well--the ideas are flowing. If I actually made money for my books, I'd devote my time to them, but despite a lot of promotion and in person events, I'm not raking in the dough. I spend a lot of time on writing program designs for people wanting to open licensed facilities for people with developmental disabilities and/or mental illness, and even a few supported living programs. Why? Because I know how to do it, and I actually make some money.

Anyone who knows anything about me at all, also knows that I have a large family. And of course that means enjoying time with them whenever I can. We had visits last week with two of our daughters and their husbands who live faraway. We share our home with a granddaughter, her hubby and two kids--and believe me, I enjoy them. We have the biggest house, so Thanksgiving is always here.The ones who live nearby always come.

Oh, and of course there's my husband (same guy I've had for 66 years) and I like to spend time doing fun things with him too--though the fun things aren't quite as energetic as they once were. We do love to go to the movies, and we do all our errands together, including doc appointments.

So--though writing is an important part of my life--it really isn't the biggest part.

There's my confession.

Marilyn




Visiting a book club this past week. They'd read Deadly Omen the first in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. That's me in the light blue sweater. They asked the best questions, great fun!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Simple Change Or Is It?

by Linda Thorne





A friend of mine volunteered to help me with my work-in-progress, A Promotion to Die For. She saw problems and presented suggestions. I can't thank her enough for her advice and expertise.

During this mentoring session, she made an off-the-cuff comment about the inciting incident in my book. She said something like, "You say it happened 29 years ago when thirty sounds better."

This had already nagged at me, but I didn't think I could do anything about it. A Promotion to Die For is part of a series, so my character should age from her age in the prior book. If I changed the murder to 30 years earlier, then my character's age in backstory must change from 21 to 20.

A few possible issues came to mind: 
  • In backstory my lead character, Judy Kenagy, hung out at a bar called Brady's. She can't do that when she's under age? Everyone knows you must be 21, correct? 
  • Her detective friend investigates circumstances around the murder. He considers what a real-life serial killer was doing at the time. Now, I had to look at what this historic serial killer was doing a year earlier and see if that would work in this scene.
  • Characters like Judy's roommates were her age and so were the murder victims. Would I need to change all their ages? 
Here's what I've found so far:
  • I looked up drinking age regulations by state and discovered that 18 to 20-year-olds could drink beer and wine in bars in many states for a long period of time ranging from the late 1940s through early 1990s. Judy Kenagy, in backstory, only drank beer at Brady's Bar and this happened at a time and place where that was legal. I had written about another character in my WIP, an 18-year-old, who was given a stamp on his hand each time he came to the bar. The stamp alerted the waitresses not to serve him any alcohol. That proved incorrect since he legally could've purchased beer or wine. 
  • I looked online to see what the famous serial killer was doing the prior year and found out it was basically the same thing. Only minor changes were needed for the scene with the detective character.
  • As far as matching her age with that of her roommates and murder victims, this seems like a simple task.

I assume the adjustment from 29 years ago to 30 will create the need for other changes, but so far this move seems doable.

I've found that any change to a completed manuscript draft will call for some sort of overhaul. It's important that your changes are thorough and accurate. Readers are often put off when they find an obvious error in historical facts. I know I am.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

FEAR

by Janis Patterson

The world is full of fear - knives, nutcases, terrorists, falling trees, floods, fire... The list is endless, and aside from a few constants, different for every person. And we as writers heap even more on ourselves.

At least, this writer does. Even after nearly 40 years in the business I still quake with terror every time I release a book out into the wild... and, to a lesser extent, every blog post. It's an exposure not only of my skills, knowledge and ability, but a blurry look into the inner workings of my mind. In a mental sense, it's the equivalent of walking outside in my underwear.

While we're still working on the book, it's ours. Whatever foibles or errors it has, they are strictly between it and us. Once it leaves our hands, though, whether to beta readers, editors or to the great wide world, it ceases to be ours. We can no longer protect it - or ourselves.

Yesterday I sent in the manuscript for FIRST DATE, a suspenseful romantic adventure novella written for a new box set called DESPERATE MEASURES, organized by the incomparable Nicole Morgan and due for release at the end of January. Now after 40 some odd books you'd think this would be old hat - a good story, a genre I love and write often, a well-known setting, a hero to die for...

Wrong. I loaded the email and still my finger hovered over the 'send' button. The story was sound; the manuscript had been edited not only by me but by Laree Bryant, the gifted editor (and an author herself) I've used for every single book for years. It had been vetted by two of my trusted beta readers, and passed with flying colors. I had been over it several times until I felt positive every elusive typo had been tracked down and corrected. (That is a false security; the accursed Typo Gremlin is alive and well, and has doubtless insured that somewhere deep in the copy a single typo is lurking, ready to break out in its full obvious glory on release day. I always wait for it with a fatalistic sense of doom.)

But... but... As long as I didn't hit that button, the book was still mine - under my control and protection. I could look through it just one more time. I could have a third beta reader go over it. Maybe do one more run of spell-check...

Obsession can be ugly. I am a grown woman, and have done everything possible to make FIRST DATE (and every book I've ever done) as professional and polished as possible. Sometimes it takes all my strength and courage to push that 'send' button, but I do - and I did - admonishing myself that next time I won't be so silly, that I always do everything I can, so there's no need to be afraid or even worry. The manuscript is perfect.


Yeah, right.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Planning for Next Year, 2018

How many of you have actually started planning what you are going to be doing in 2018?

The truth of the matter is none of us really know what might happen in our lives to disrupt any of our plans--for tomorrow, next week, or next year. Despite that though, we all seem to look ahead.

This is what I've already done, I've registered for my favorite conference, Public Safety Writers Association. It happens in July. I love this conference because I've made so many friends who attend regularly, fellow mystery writers and folks in law enforcement and other public safety fields. And I always learn something about writing, and gather plenty of plot ideas from the speakers.

I received my first invitation to speak for a group--and that's not until May. I'm hoping to gather more speaking engagements too.

Some of the events I always attend, I'll need to wait and see what dates they come up with as too often they end up on the same weekend.

To be honest, I like to keep busy.

I'm in the process of writing a new Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery and it's going well. I haven't had as much time to work on it as I would have liked because I've been busy with the resurrection of some of my old books.

A good friend decided all my old books should be available on Amazon and she's taken on the task of re-editing them and getting them back up on Amazon. I'd taken back the rights of some of the books, others died when the publishers went belly-up.

Only one was a mystery, the first I ever wrote, The Astral Gift. She's revived two family historical sagas, Trail to Glory and Two Ways West,   my favorite book,  a romance with a touch of the supernatural, Lingering Spirit, a horror novel, Cup of Demons, a cookbook, Cooking for a Big Family, and she's working on another horror. It's been quite exciting to see these titles back on Amazon in trade paper and for Kindle. Her husband designed new covers for those that needed them.

This has been quite an adventure and some of my 2018 planning will revolve around these old books.

So what are you doing in the way of planning for 2018?

Marilyn


Isn't this new cover spectacular?





Sunday, November 5, 2017

Fighting through Rejection

Writing through Rejection
November 2017
 




Linda Lee Kane

I released my first book in June of 2014.  By the end of this year, I’ll have ten books on the shelves.  But along the way, there were rejections.  A lot of them.  Nine years’ worth, to be precise.  And that’s just before I was published (because, yes, I’ve had rejections since then, too).
How many rejections can you pile up in nine years?  I stopped keeping track, but it was certainly over one hundred.  They came on one manuscript after the next because, obviously, I didn’t quit. I also couldn’t keep shopping the same book (although my debut was a rewrite of an early manuscript – I’ll get back to that).
So how did I keep my enthusiasm for writing when agents and editors alike kept saying “no?”  It wasn’t easy.  There were definitely days (weeks, months) when I wondered why I was giving up so much of my free time to write books, going straight from a day job (in the beginning)  to my computer over and over again with nothing to show for it (or at least, no book deal).
Partly it’s because I’m stubborn, I’m determined, and this was my dream.  And I think that’s important, because after nine years (or even a few months where you’re dedicating time to a book instead of other things), there are going to be people who suggest you focus on other things.  And when they do, perhaps you should remind them that Agatha Christie had five years of constant rejections only to end up with more than $2 billion in sales, or that Louis L’Amour had 200 rejections before becoming his publisher’s best-selling author ever.


But that’s the big picture.  Sometimes the hardest part is putting your butt in the chair day after day, chasing after a goal that seems subject to the whims of editors, agents, and the market.  It’s feeling motivated to keep working on a new book when nothing you’ve done before seems to be working.  That’s when you need to remember why you’re doing it, and hopefully it’s because you love writing.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Fiction characters--How "real?"

One thing for sure--we humans are good at imagining. 
 Conclusion: Characters in fiction stories are imagined.

To admit otherwise would (probably) be saying that fiction authors are not always able to tell fact from fiction.

Are we . . . or not?

A couple of incidents related to authors I admire only increase this puzzlement. One is Marilyn Meredith, who writes about the people in a fictitious (?) California town's police department, and another series about crime-solving by Deputy Tempe Crabtree--an American Indian who understands the Indian way of seeing the world and its mysteries, but is married to a Christian Minister who challenges his wife's beliefs.  Marilyn's own understanding of all the worlds and ideas that appear in her stories is fed by people she knows, and the area where she lives. I don't know if she ever thinks Tempe or members of the Rocky Bluff Police Department are borderline real, but she has said that she has to continue writing each series because she wants to find out what her characters are doing.  

Carolyn Hart, a well-known cozy mystery author,  also writes more than one series, and I have read in several places a report of this conversation: Carolyn's daughter went to her dad and said, "Daddy, Momma thinks those people are real!"  The reply?  "Oh, they are."

And, of course I know Carolyn and Marilyn to be perfectly rational individuals who fit very well into society.

But . . . .  As an author, I also know I have to be "inside the skin" of each character I write into a story. For a time, as I type, I AM Carrie, Henry, or even the villain in a novel. I am thinking as Carrie, the major female protagonist in my "To Die For" series. And, whether the name is Darth Vader, Spock, Pollyanna, or Scout, I suggest, as their creators were typing, they were thinking as those people and had moved inside their worlds. Each of those worlds were locations they knew well inside their imaginations, if not in real life.

More than once I have been told that Carrie is like Radine.  Hunh-unh. She is cleverer, bolder, more perceptive, not to mention more attractive than I am. But I sure enjoy being, at the least, her friend. Also, a number of readers have spoken of Carrie and Henry as if they are real.  So, for a time at least, maybe they are. Perhaps, in our thoughts, they are as real as real as people we knew well who are gone from our human lives.

I am never going to make an attempt to analyze any of this, though others may do so.

What do you think?

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.