Friday, September 20, 2019

Fun Time at Killer Nashville's 2019 International Writers' Conference

by Linda Thorne

What a fun time I had last month at Killer Nashville's Writers' Conference. This year the guests were Alexandra Ivy, David Morrell, and Joyce Carol Oates. 

The first authors' panel I participated in covered one of my favorite subjects: How To Master Setting held Friday 8-24. 

From left to right: Debra Gaskill, Randy Overbeck, me, John Carenen, Baron Birtcher, and lead panelist, Jim Nesbitt.

Baron Birtcher (above with long hair) won three Silver Falchion awards this year for Book of the Year, Best Action Adventure, and Best Attending Author. John Carenen, who sat beside me, tied with Joseph Simurdiak for the KN Claymore Award.

Saturday, I had two author panels. Curl of by the Fire: Writing the Cozy: 
From left to right: Debra Goldstein, me, J.C. Kenney, lead panelist Maggie Toussaint, Phyllis Gobbell, and Alexia Gordan. 

Two of these panelist won Silver Falchion Awards. Phyllis Gobbell won for Best Cozy (subject of our panel), and Maggie Toussaint for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror.

Saralyn Richard, who shares the same publisher I have, Black Opal Books, won the Killer Nashville Reader's Choice Award.   

I was the lead for my final author panel Saturday on a favorite topic, Writing Without an Outline. Below are the other panel members.

Amy Rivers & Rich Zahradnik                                                                                            R.G. (Dick) Belsky
PD Halt                                                                                                                   Kerry Peresta

Great conference. Lots to do and learn, and a great deal of fun year after year.

Amazon Author's Page

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Dependence and Other Woes

by Janis Patterson

Hello - my name is Janis and I am a computer dependent.

One of the glories of being a writer is that you can work anywhere.

One of the horrors of being a writer is that you can work anywhere.

My Mac laptop (my writing computer) has become my security object. I take it everywhere. Almost everywhere. I have so far resisted carrying it along when I go to the grocery store or the dry cleaners, but fatalistically I know it's coming.

I mean, what happens when I have this marvelous idea for a scene for my work-in-progress which has a deadline approaching as quickly as a speeding freight train? What happens if I have a superb idea for the next book in my somewhat stalled series? It's nothing to pull over to the side of the road or park in a handy lot and type away for a few minutes and I feel virtuous, satisfied and relieved.

But what about a notebook and pen, you ask, or a voice recorder? Surely those would be easier?

For some. Not for me. My dad taught me to type the summer before I entered the fourth grade, and from that first night's lesson I was entranced. How much easier, how much more legible, how much better typing was than handwriting. I vowed to use it all the time - which caused me no end of trouble. Do you have any idea of how difficult it was to get typed homework accepted in the early 50s? I remember having to prove my ability by typing in front of the principal - which I aced - but they still refused to allow me to type my assignments. For what it's worth I still hate and try my best to avoid handwriting anything to this day. At first it was just personal preference, but lately my increasingly arthritic hands have excitedly seconded that choice.

As for using a recording device, I worked too long as a voice talent to make that a viable option. When the recorder clicks on I immediately begin to think of my breathing, the pitch, tenor and resonance of my voice, my phrasing... everything except what I am talking about and - POOF! - the idea is gone, sacrificed on the altar of professionalism.

Now you see why my laptop is my security object. My last computer - a huge old (one of the first) 17 inch screen laptop - was great on the eyes, hard on the fingers and about as portable as a concrete block. Still, I carried it on every trip The Husband and I took, including tucking it into my backpack for several weeks traveling in Egypt. Believe me, my shoulder muscles prospered with the exercise - the rest of me, not so much.

When The Husband gifted me with my choice of Mac computers two years ago, weight was a decided consideration; so was battery life, as my previous one had a battery life of about 35 minutes. I settled on a medium-priced one, a 13 inch MacBook Pro - which still cost about the same as my first new car. I kind of worried that after a big 17 inch a 13 inch would be too small, too difficult to type on, and I'd have to get an external ergonomic keyboard, but I was wrong. I don't how they worked this magic, but the 13 incher's keyboard is so much easier to type on than the 17 incher's. My wrists don't hurt, I don't get stiff (in the arms and shoulders - back and legs are different) and after the first day or two on Mac (my singularly unimaginative name for the new computer) all thoughts of an external ergonomic keyboard just faded away. Like I said, magic.

However - such ease of use and light weight have their downside. I've had to buy new, larger purses which will accommodate Mac when I leave the house for anything longer than a quick grocery run - just in case. My calendar and my address book are on Mac, which means I don't have to write anything down by hand (yea!) and ideas and whatever which were once inscribed on unfortunately easily losable scraps of paper can be safely relegated to pixels. The only downside to this is that larger purses tend to accumulate larger amounts of stuff, and unless I watch my pack-rat self with care, I'll be weighted down with unimaginable amounts of (un)necessary things, a tendency which my uncertain back vociferously deplores. And sadly the problem only gets worse when The Husband hands me something and says, "Honey, stick this in your purse, will you?" Now we know why men's clothing only has a few meagre pockets - it's because their wives carry shoulder-strap suitcases! But we have to - how else could we carry our security-computers?

Yes, I am Janis and I am most definitely a computer dependent.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ooops, I Missed My Day!

Tuesday was the day I should've had a new post up, but I got so busy I forgot.

Of course, I have reasons for forgetting. The big one being I was doing other jobs that actually bring in money. Yes, I do get royalties and sell my books at events, but that money mostly takes care of costs of promotion.

Also, hubby and I are at an age where it seems we have a lot doctor appointments. And to be honest, everything take longer to accomplish these days.

I should be busy working on my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery--I've written on page. I have a title and have lots of plot ideas, but other chores have taken my time.

Last Saturday I gave a presentation to the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime (my chapter) on "The Book That Almost Wasn't." Most of those who attended are readers--a good thing. I told about losing my publisher for Spirit Wind  after the manuscript was edited and the cover done. How I'd thought about trying to find a new publisher--and then a friend offering to put it on Amazon for me.

I must've been a hit, because many books were purchased.

Also, King's River Life magazine did a podcast of the first chapter of Spirit Wind. It turned out really great. King’s River Life Magazine, did a terrific job on this podcast of the first chapter of Spirit Wind.

And the book was featured here Southern Writers Magazine

I also have spent time organizing and writing new posts for an upcoming blog tour for my next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, Bones in the Attic. Just waiting on a pub date, so I can get started with other promotion for that book. 

What is going on in your lives?


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Making my Passion a Habit

Make Mine Mystery

L Lee Kane
September 5, 2019

Last month I wrote about my difficuty with my computer. Next it was my mouse on the computer, but finally, I finished my novel and sent it off to the publisher. At the same time I sent off an article that I wrote regarding 'Making Your Passion a Habit,' to be featured in the newest Nina Amir books on writing.

It wasn't difficult for me to write about that subject because I'm naturally a habitual person. I have difficulty understanding why others can't get into a set pattern. It makes life simpler. Every day I do almost the same thing. I have seven horses and two dog that I feed, water, brush, and care for and that I love. For me this is a must! At noon I'm home and after lunch I begin to write, it could be for my blog on important women in history, a journal, or it could also be for a magazine I write for. It could even be for my next novel, or heaven forbid editing what my publisher sends back to me. Writing is not only my passion but it's my job, and it's important for me to do what I love to do. I write to share my life, my experience, to educate, or to inspire readers. I also write so that readers gain a greater understanding, skill, or excpertise in something I might have knowledge in.

But I forgot that when you have kids, or have a job, everything goes out the door. As an example, I picked up my grandkids for an over nighter, no big deal, right? Wrong. Parents couldn't pick them up so I took the kids out to the barn, but it wasn't easy. I was running all over the place so they didn't get in trouble with the pig, or stepped on or run over by a horse, or jumped on by a dog, and also trying to keep them away from the chickens and peacocks. I babysat so my son and wife could work extra shifts, When they called, they sounded exhausted so of course I babysat one more day. I counted the hours down so I could get back to more ritual of writing.

I do believe one should write everyday. I also believe things come up in one's life that make it difficult to do that, but if writing is what you want to do, need to do, make it your passion and write.

What an amazing thing to do to put into words, thousands of words, with phrases linked together by only one unique thread of commonality, that is of me as a writer sharing my craft, my love with others.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Struggling a Bit

It is time for me to start a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

I have a title and an idea, including some of the new characters. So what's the hold-up? Too many other things keep coming up. I guess I could sum it up with one word, life.

I've slowed down considerably and not able to work as long as I once could. Because my husband and I are in the senior years, I like to spend more time with him, and my family.

We recently went on a three day vacation to Tehachapi where Spirit Wind is set mainly because daughter Lisa and I wanted to have our husbands experience all the things we did and saw when we went on the research trip for the book. Our eldest daughter and her husband joined us. Not only did we get to breakfast at the Keene Cafe (something I hadn't done before even though I put it in the book), we visited the Loop, did the self-guided tour of the wind machines, visited the fabulous bakery several times, went to Stallion Springs and had lunch, watched someone fly a glider, and as an added bonus, we all accepted the invitation to visit the home of one of the people who'd come to my book signing.

There we saw a collection of very old carriages, wild horses, Morgan horses, a fantastic house, a herd of elk, and were served a fantastic dinner and enjoyed a lively conversation.

My new friend and charming hostess, Karen Duvall.
Now, it's time to get down to the business of writing.

I'm also waiting to hear about the publication of the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, titled Bones in the Attic. Once it is set, it'll be time to pounce on the promotion for it.

I do have some in-person events set up, starting with speaking to the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime, the first Saturday in September. My topic--"The Book That Almost Wasn't."

Now, it's up to me to put my fanny in the chair and write that first sentence.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Killing Thing

by Janis Patterson

Perhaps it is the logical outcome of a disordered mind, but after several years of writing mysteries I tend to weaponize just about everything I see. My friends have become inured to this little quirk, but it sometimes does startle the people nearby.

I remember once going for a girls-only lunch at a trendy little cafe one of my girlfriends had heard about. The publicity had been wide-ranging, the food expensive but acceptable, the decor trendy - and very uncomfortable. Our table and chairs were made from metal tortured into shapes that few would believe were capable of supporting either food or human bodies. My friends either liked them or speculated if they were left over from the time of Torquemada. I speculated on using the chairs at least as a murder weapon, the table being too heavy to lift, saying that because of their strange configuration no one could ever describe them just from the wounds they would leave. The people at the next table left.

And it's not just me, either. When The Husband and I were staying at the dig house at the El Kab excavation in Egypt researching my book A Killing at El Kab the archaeologists and I were brainstorming about a murder weapon. I had almost decided on a broken chunk of statuary when the ceramologist (the pottery expert) had an idea and rushed out. He was back in a moment bearing one of the wickedest implements I ever did see. About a yard long, it was a heavy-duty caliper with a shaft of thick steel and a head vaguely resembling a pick-axe about 10 inches wide and an inch thick. It was perfect and because of the story and setting it was obviously the murder weapon (found covered with blood and lying next to the body) so I couldn't bring in the forensic 'What kind of implement could make this sort of wound?' trope... but it would have been so neat.

Once you become accustomed to looking at everyday objects through the lens of potential mayhem, the world indeed becomes a dangerous place. A gleaming sports trophy becomes a cudgel. A beautiful garden morphs into a buffet of potentially lethal plants. Sleek silk scarves make stylish but deadly garrotes.

My friends - mostly writers themselves but some not - have become accustomed to my whimsical forays into specialized slaughter and most find them amusing. I do tend to forget, though, that not everyone is privy to the basic innocence of my flights of fancy, viz the one time a group of us were sitting in a cafe (one with normal chairs, thank goodness) and I was speculating on the old trope of a piece of frozen meat being used as a blunt object and the ease of disposing of the murder weapon. My luncheon companions were becoming more and more uncomfortable, which I could not understand as we had had many similar conversations, until one of them revealed that the table behind me held a gaggle of uniformed police officers who were listening to our conversation with undisguised interest. Immediately our chatter switched to the intractability of our publishers, our current book release schedules, the necessity of finding good editors and other blatantly literary subjects. Luckily that day my luncheon expenses did not include bail. I even gave each officer one of my business cards as we left.

In real life most criminals are not smart - if they were, they wouldn't be criminals - and fiendish murderers with arcane methods and obscure weapons are very thin on the ground. Most real life murders are simple things - shot, strangled, stabbed, beaten; in fiction, though, we can let our imaginations soar. Our killers can use any of a million or more objects/methods to kill and get away with it until our intrepid sleuth tracks them down - and one of the glories of fiction is that the murderer is always brought to justice no matter how clever his killing.

Just be careful when you plot it in a public place.