Tuesday, February 26, 2013

MIA - today

Oh - crap.  I had this blog on my mind since Sunday  but not on a list.  And if something doesn't get written down, it gets skipped.

So sorry.

Good news is I'm working hard on edits for my cozy and will be starting the submission game in April at the latest.

I'll be back in full blogging force on the 12th.


Monday, February 25, 2013

New Facebook Group

Everyone who loves to read or mysteries or thrillers is welcome to join our new Facebook Group, called, you guessed it, Make Mine Mystery!

Here's the link: http://www.facebook.com/groups/makeminemystery/

In this social media networking age, you can't have enough cross promotion. Also, this is a good way to reach out to those who enjoy the same genre, but don't spend as much time reading blogs as they do on Facebook. That way, in one way or another, we'll all connect.

So, come on over to the new Facebook Group, where we'll be sharing stuff going on here, along with other mystery/thriller happenings.

See you here and/or there!

Morgan Mandel writes mysteries, thrillers and romances.

Catch excerpts and links to all of Morgan's  books at

Follow on Twitter: @MorganMandel

Friday, February 22, 2013


Centuries ago storytelling could be a dangerous pastime. Tales were told around a fire and, if the storyteller droned on and bored his listeners, they either fell asleep or they killed him, according to Sol Stein in his book, Stein on Writing. Fortunately for modern writers, the worst thing that can happen is that the reader will put your book aside and never pick it up again. So, if your goal is to have your work read, don’t write the boring stuff that readers tend to skip over. That’s usually descriptive passages that should be shoveled in lightly and gradually, not all in one lump. Or it can be tedious dialogue that has nothing to do with the plot’s race to the finish line. Editors call it padding and ask that writers delete it, or worse yet, they reject the manuscript and return it.

Suspense is the most important element in plotting. Keep your reader reading and unable to put the book down. How many times have you read until two or three in the morning because you couldn’t possibly go to sleep without first learning the plot’s resolution? And then couldn’t fall asleep because the book was so good that it continually replayed in your mind?

No matter how unique your style or intriguing your characters, if you don’t pique your reader’s curiosity and keep her hooked until the end of the story, you might as well be the campfire storyteller with a club over your head. Keep your reader in suspense with occasional rest periods so that he can catch his breath while you spoon in a little description and backstory. While writing, always keep your eye on the finish line and make the race to the book’s conclusion as suspenseful as possible.

The greatest compliment a writer can receive is for someone to say, “I couldn’t put the book down.” How many times have you said that, yourself? And what was it about that book that kept you reading? Nine times out of ten, you’ll say it was suspense and your own curiosity that kept you reading to learn what was going to happen next. Suspense, according to Stein, is the strong glue between reader and writer. And, of course, caring about the characters and wanting them to resolve their problems.

The word suspense comes from the Latin word “to hang.” So consider yourself an executioner who takes your reader to the edge of a cliff. Once there you hang your protagonist by his fingertips. It’s not your job to feel sorry for the cliff hanger or to immediately rescue him. Leave him hanging until his fingers are slipping and he’s about to fall into a deep, dark canyon. Suspense builds as the reader anxiously waits for someone to rescue the hero, but it’s not happening yet; or the villain is stomping on the hero’s fingers and the reader wants him to stop. That’s an exaggerated example of suspense, but one that a writer can use it to his advantage.

There are various forms of suspense: potential or immediate danger to your protagonist, unwanted confrontations, a fear of what’s about to happen, and a crisis that needs to be met head on. A writer's job is to set up a situation or problem that needs a resolution, but without an immediate answer. A detective is a novel killer if he picks up a clue in chapter two and says, “Ah ha, I know who this button belongs to, I’ll contact the police and have her arrested for the murder.” Unless, of course, you’re writing a short story or very short novella. Stretch out the suspense until your reader forsakes all else to finish your book.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Will The World Please Slow Down?

Things are happening just too quickly. There’s too much change. How is a poor writer to keep up? Right now I’m working on a mystery set in Egypt – it’s about the illegal antiquities trade – and though I’ve been to Egypt several times, things are changing so much there that I’m having to rewrite almost constantly just to keep current. At this rate the book will never be finished, or, depending on exactly what happens over there, will never be correct.
Which brings up the question of exactly how accurate does a writer have to be? I mean, we’re creating fiction, but it has to exist in the world of recognizable reality. (Those of you who write sci-fi and fantasy can go have a cup of coffee now – none of this applies to those of you who create your own worlds.)
For those of us who live and write in this world, however, there is an established norm that is expected. If we write about a lake, for example, we expect it to be blue or green or maybe brownish. We don’t expect it to be bright pink or day-glow orange, at least not without a very good reason in the plot.
This insistence on accuracy has always been a very important point with me about historical novels. If you’re going to write about history, get it right! Don’t just put 21st century people with 21st century attitudes in fancy dress and call it historical. You have to be accurate to the mores and attitudes and actualities of the time, not just the fashions. (Can you tell this is one of my hot buttons?)
On the other hand, if you’re writing about the here and now, there is a certain acceptance and communality of knowledge that comes with the territory – for example, we all know that in big cities automobiles clog the streets. Most women work outside the home. Cable TV. The internet. All common and generally accepted points of reference.
What is bugging me is that things are changing so quickly it’s hard to keep up. Often science fact is outstripping science fiction. For example, cell phones became ubiquitous. Then there were smart phones. Who knows what advance is going to pop up next? And when? The next sea change can happen between your contract and release date, making your book glaringly out of date before it even hits the shelves. Or worse, it could happen between your writing chapters 15 and 16, and – poof! – suddenly you have to rewrite. Heaven help you if it means changing a bunch of clues or a major plot point. Or if your basic plot is invalidated completely.
Nothing dates a book more than outdated technology. Or, as in the case of my Egyptian story, a discarded political system or changing theocratic ideology.
So what is a hapless writer to do? We can’t bump every story back in time. We can’t control world events. We can’t stop or even slow the world around us, no matter how badly we might want to. All we can do is rewrite and revise and hope to catch up. Or switch to history, sci-fi and fantasy.
Or do what writers have done since time immemorial and muddle through the best we can. Sigh.

Janis Patterson is a seventh-generation Texan and a third-generation wordsmith who writes mysteries as Janis Patterson, romances and other things as Janis Susan May, children’s books as Janis Susan Patterson and scholarly works as J.S.M. Patterson.
              Formerly an actress and singer, a talent agent and Supervisor of Accessioning for a bio-genetic DNA testing lab, Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist.
              Janis married for the first time when most of her contemporaries were becoming grandmothers. Her husband, also an Egyptophile, even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What Interferes with my Writing

Those who know me also know that I have a really big family-- which I consider to be a blessing. Besides my 4 living children, I have 18 grandkids and 14 great-grands. I love them all dearly.

Fortunately, I write early in the morning before anyone can descend upon me with requests for my attention.

I no longer baby sit for the little ones--their grandparents can have that chore. I can't run fast enough to catch those little guys and even some of the young ones are too heavy for me to lift. If a school age child needs to come over after school we're quite willing to do that. We have one great-grandaughter (almost 10) who loves to come here and she's fun, she reminds me of me at that age, she likes to write stories.

With a big family, we have our share of trauma too. Anyone who is my friend on Facebook or any of my lists knows that we nearly lost our youngest son to a horrible beating when he was working as a bouncer at a popular nightclub and ended up with a concussion, brain trauma and blood clots in his leg. At first he couldn't get the treatment he needed from the workman's comp doctor, but that's all changed now. The insurance company sent him to a brain trauma recovery program and he's there now. He's been helped tremendously. When something like that is going on--writing takes a back seat.

One of the biggest things that interferes with my writing though is the promotion that has to go along with it. While I'm writing one book I'm busy promoting the last one published. That's what's happening to me right now.

The 9th in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series is now available, Dangerous Impulses. Though I've ordered copies, I don't have any yet to send out for review. However, some PDF's of the book have been sent to people willing to read it in that way. I've planned a blog tour which will start March 1 and I have everything ready for that. (Right in the middle of the tour I'm going to Epicon for 4 days which means I'll be promoting the tour when I can from Vancouver WA.)

I have yet to plan the physical launch, that's still on my to-do list.

Anyone who might be interested in reading Dangerous Impulses
it is available now from Amazon.

An attractive new-hire captivates Officer Gordon Butler, Officer Felix Zachary’s wife Wendy is befuddled by her new baby, Ryan and Barbara Strickland receive unsettling news about her pregnancy, while the bloody murder of a mother and her son and an unidentified drug that sickens teenaged partiers jolts the Rocky Bluff P.D.

What interferes with you writing?

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Monday, February 18, 2013

Creating Your Sleuth

Mystery Writers: do you create your sleuth’s personality and characteristics, or does he/she come to you fully-developed like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, and ready to snoop?  

Just as both nature and nurture have a hand in the makings of a human being, various elements go into your sleuth’s development. One is the trends of the day. In the Thirties and Forties sleuths were tough PIs. These days anything goes. We’ve grumpy investigators, independent female lawyers, science-oriented CSIs. Your sleuth can be a judge, a homicide detective or amateur sleuth. Even a dog, a cat, or a 12-year-old girl. It depends on the type of mystery you’re writing—cozy, police procedural, traditional.

Your sleuth is the most important character in your book. This is especially true for those of us who  write series. He/she is the hero, the character who IDs the murderer and solves the crime. Some sleuths have achieved world-wide renown. Consider Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, Phillip Marlowe, and Ellery Queen. When Hercules Poirot “died,” his obituary was printed in The New York Times.

Your sleuth sets the tone of your book. Is she intelligent but flaky? Is he somber and beset by demons from his past? Your sleuth views the world from specific perspective. He/she has a particular method of solving problems, both personal and those related to the mystery. He/she has strengths and weaknesses, and people in his/her life who are supportive (best friend, spouse, lover) or a thorn in his/her side (competitor, disagreeable boss.) Always give your sleuth personal issues to deal with, and plenty of room to develop and grow.

A word about quirky characteristics. Like many TV viewers, I fell in love with Monk. I also enjoy watching the new series “Elementary,” which takes great liberties with the characters of Sherlock and Watson. But be careful not to go overboard. Your sleuth’s neuroses and/or disabilities are not simply window dressing, to be discarded in the middle of a novel. If, like Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe, your sleuth almost never leaves home, be prepared to set your books around this situation.

My sleuths are all female, but of various ages and in different stages of their life. Lydia Krause, in my Twin Lakes books A Murderer Among Us and Murder in the Air, is a 58-year-old widow who has sold her company and moved to a retirement community to start a new life. Lydia is feisty and smart, yet sensitive and a bit vulnerable. She solves mysteries as she makes new friends and finds love along the way. 

Gabbie Meyerson, in Giving Up the Ghost, is in her thirties. Newly-divorced, she takes a teaching job in a small Long Island village. She deals with high school bullies as she finds out who murdered Cameron Leeds, the ghost who shares her cottage above Long Island Sound.

Lexie Driscoll is the sleuth in my new series, The Golden Age of Mystery Book Club. The first, Murder a la Christie, makes its debut this year with L&L Dreamspell. Forty-eight-year-old Lexie is a bright college professor with poor judgment when it comes to men. Her first husband left her when she was pregnant with their son. Her second husband burned down her house with himself inside. Low on funds, Lexie agrees to lead a Golden Age of Mystery book club for her best friend’s wealthy neighbors. House-sitting in the upscale community, she feels like she’s inhabiting a Christie novel. When murder rears its ugly head, she employs Hercules Poirot’s and Miss Marple’s methods of deduction to solve the crimes.

Please leave a comment and tell me who your favorite literary sleuth is, or a bit about your sleuth.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Why don't you write a book about...?

By Chester Campbell

Every author gets one of those suggestions occasionally from an acquaintance or a passerby at a book signing. I usually smile or nod or give some such non-response. But when I was getting ready to write my fourth Greg McKenzie mystery, a neighbor pushing ninety stopped with obvious excitement to tell me about a visit to the restored factory and office building of Marathon Motor Works just beyond downtown Nashville. Her father had worked there on the assembly line in 1914, the year the company stopped production.

"You ought to go over there and look at the place and put it in your next book," she said.

An entrepreneur with a vision had bought the old buildings located in an unsavory part of town and long abandoned. He had researched the company's history, learning it had produced a popular touring car in Nashville from 1910 to 1914. the only automobile ever produced entirely in the South. He had been restoring the buildings to provide space for creative types like artists, photographers, and musicians.

My wife and I visited the place, now called Marathon Village, and got the grand tour by Barry Walker, the owner and developer. Being somewhat a history buff myself, I found it quite intriguing. He had located a few Marathon cars from around the county and was restoring them. A nifty looking one sat in the old showroom of the headquarters building. I shot a photo of it which I sent to the artist who created the cover.

In wandering around the place, which was still in the process of being restored, I noticed it had thick interior walls. Former office spaces contained decorative wood facing in places such as corners in a wall. I got to thinking what somebody might have hidden behind one of those decorative panels. And a mystery novel was born.

Most of the Marathon Motor Works background in the book is factual, with names changed to protect the guilty. The Marathon car made quite a splash in the automobile world. It was sold at dealerships around the U.S. and in several foreign countries. The owners made several mistakes that doomed the business. They fired the engineer who created the car and brought in new management who knew nothing about manufacturing or selling automobiles. And there was skullduggery afoot, with cars being "sold out the back door" at less than cost.

With this background, I created an assistant treasurer, Sydney Liggett, who disappeared in the midst of this financial fiasco and was accused of embezzling funds. His body was found a few years later seated in his Marathon in an abandoned barn a few miles from Nashville. Thus the cover artwork. Ninety years later, papers are found in the wall of his office that may have some bearing on the case. But the construction foreman who had them disappears before he can show them to Liggett's grandson, now in his eighties and in a nursing home.

It is at this point the story begins with Liggett's great-great granddaughter retaining my senior sleuths, Greg and Jill McKenzie, to find the foreman and recover the old Marathon records. As you might imagine, when they find the foreman, he's in his Jeep at the bottom of a lake. I put the murder in a rural county where the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation takes charge of the case. The TBI detective is a major character in the story.

The Marathon Murders is the fourth book in my six-book (so far) series and was published in 2004. The ebook version will be free in the Kindle Store Monday through Wednesday, January 25-27. If you can't wait till then, it's only $2.99 anyway.

Visit my website to read more.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Plot Fizzles

If the plot fizzles out partway through your manuscript, what do you do? It’s a worry faced by writers since we first put stylus to wax, ink to papyrus. We do many things to try to avoid this – we plot, storyboard, brainstorm, journal and sweat! Sometimes we fly by the seat of our pants, letting the plot unfold as it sees fit, then we can add/delete/modify as needed. Some of us detail each movement of the plot, with every step carefully orchestrated.

No matter our best intentions, we can stall. Is it the plot, or has one of our characters gone off track? Do we write our way forward, or go back and check all the threads, finding the one that we lost or dropped? Do you use plotting software? Writing software? Critique partners? Writers' groups?

There are great suggestions for getting around these kinds of problems – and most writers run into them every once in a while – so dish! What is your best way to keep your plot storming along, and what do you do when it mires down, even momentarily? Makes no difference if you’re a seat-of-your-pants plotter or a plotter who lays out every twist and turn.

Libby McKinmer
Romance with an edge

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Time to reflect and play what if...

Happy New Year.

What, wait, that was a month and a half ago?  Where has the time gone?  Reading the entries from my fellow MMM bloggers, others are feeling the crunch of time, especially time that we want to dedicate to our writing.  We've had conferences, and illnesses, and new babies, all encroaching on our writing time.

Which to say, we have lives.

At the end of the month, I'm presenting a time management workshop in Shreveport Louisiana at the North Louisiana Romance Writer's convention.  I have 45 minutes to say something meaningful.

Last month I gave my chapter a shortened version of my training.  30 minutes to list out Lynn's Top Ten ways to find more time for BICHOK (butt in chair-hands on keyboard) method of writing.  I was surprised when two of my critique group members mentioned using one or more of my tips to gain more writing time.  I wasn't surprised to find that the tips were successful for one, and not the other.

What works for me as a writer, especially one with a day job with a long commute but no kids at home, may not work for a young mom with babies or a dad with kids in competitive soccer.  But its a start.

As part of my session at NOLA, I'm starting the session with a goal setting or clarifying exercise. The entire exercise is a bit different than below, but let's play today.

What, if it doesn't get done before you go on to your choice of afterlife options, would you regret not doing?  (For me, this answer has changed over the years.)

What, if it didn't get done this year, would you regret?

What, if it didn't get done this month, would you regret?

And finally, what are you doing today (or this week) to reach for at least one of the items above?

Share your answers with us.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Inside Scoop From Yahoo

Morgan Mandel
Yesterday, while I was doing my freebie event for Girl of My Dreams, I ran into something of a roadblock from Yahoo. It was a mystery to me why all of a sudden I got a warning from them saying I might be doing spam, and to stop e-mailing for an hour.

I tried after a few minutes and got the warning again. I waited about ten, and sent an e-mail and it went through okay.

I was curious enough to call Yahoo Web Hosting from which I received my e-mail account and asked what exactly set off the red flag. Here's a few things I learned, which people with Yahoo accounts may not be aware of:

500 e-mails are allowed each day, BUT only 100 per hour

Sending a message to an official Yahoo e-group (listserv, loop) is considered only 1 message, even if there are many e-mail addresses where the message is going.

The words, FREE, or PROMO, are okay to use. (I thought maybe that's what had set off the Yahoo warning)

It's okay to put the same link in messages, as long as you don't exceed that limit.

The answer about sending the same message was kind of ambiguous, though. It may set off a red flag. The representative said it might be a possibility. The main thing is to not exceed the numbers within an hour.

Yesterday, I had set up a few categories in my contact list and sent out to those categories, which included around 28 in one and 19 in another. Then I tried to send out a joke to 4 people and it wouldn't go through and gave me the warning. so, apparently, those category e-mails plus others I'd sent must have put me over the limit.

By the way, I also asked about re-sending jokes that have lots of e-mail addresses in them. Only the addresses in your own To: line count toward your quota.

So, that's what I found out today. Apparently, this is in the fine print from Yahoo, which of course I never read!

By the way, my promo for Girl of My Dreams turned out to be my personal best,  with 16,465 downloads in the US and 3024 in the UK, despite the obstacles! It's a romance, not a mystery, by the way, so I'm not mentioning more about it. (g)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Late for a Very Important Date

by Kaye George

I’m late writing my blog for today (I usually do it a few days in advance), but for a very important reason.

Our move from Texas to Tennessee is completed in the sense that a lot of furniture and boxes (4000 pounds of books, the mover told me) are in the house. Several of the boxes have been unpacked and some of the furniture has been arranged. My car hasn’t arrived yet, so Hubby and I are sharing. We’ve seen a good bit of the three grandkids who live here, including a soccer practice for four-year-olds. That’s a hoot, if you haven’t witnessed one.

However, another grandkid is pulling me away already! I’m flying to DC today to help out our daughter, who has been put on bed rest pending the birth of their second child. So I’ll be dealing with the two-year-old who, by recent accounts, has become Terrible.

I took a hiatus of nearly two weeks from writing for our move, but can’t afford to do that again. So wish me luck while I try to squeeze words out of my head, through fingers, and into my netbook or my Alphasmart during naps, if they happen, or in the evening, if reasonable bedtime happens. Maybe my grandkid (the two year old or the one on the way) can give me lots of inspiration and help me stay on schedule!

White Rabbit photo from Photobucket

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Week on the Road

A Week on the Road
                                               By Randy Rawls

        Sometimes I have to remind myself how tiring travel is. I left South Florida last Thursday morning, heading for Cape Fear Crime Festival in Wilmington, NC. I should have known not to trust that small map I had. It's a lot farther than it looked. Anyway, made it to Santee, S.C. before deciding to employ common sense and find a place for the night. With that accomplished, I looked at gas prices. Wow, so much cheaper in S.C.--at least 30 cents a gallon--than in South Florida.

        On Friday morning, I pushed on and landed in Wilmington in the early afternoon. Met with some of the CFCF gang on Friday evening for a pizza party. Joyce Lavene and Judy Nichols provided pizza and colas. Several other authors supplied stories about our crazy world of writing. I won't mention the jokes that peppered the evening. Judy regaled us with stories of her adventures on Jeopardy. If you missed it, she won big.

        Saturday morning, too early and too cold for this old South Florida body—temperature dropped to 22 degrees overnight—I had the first session. Did my BOOT CAMP FOR WRITERS, which seemed to be well-received. One person assured me she was heading into rewrite after listening to my list of evils. As I do at any appearance with writers, I offered to critique the first 10 pages of anyone's manuscript—if that same anyone wants to hear the brutal truth. A couple of folks stepped up and said they'd take a chance. I'm looking forward to receiving their work.

        The conference continued through the day, and although attendance was small, it was a fun day. Judy and Joyce came up with a gimmick I haven't seen at any other conference. They set up a Skype connection with the Guests of Honor. First up was William Bernhardt. It was a no holds barred interview and Bernhardt hung tough and answered every question. In the afternoon, the Skype session was repeated with Alexandra Sokoloff. She, too, was totally candid and fielded some tough ones.  I may have witnessed the future of conferences. No expensive Guests of Honor on site, just Skype sessions. Having run SleuthFest a few times, I can hear the cash register kajinging with savings.

        When the day wrapped up, we hugged our goodbyes to those who had other places to be, then the rest of us met for dinner. A fun day at a fun conference with fun people.

        On Sunday morning, I was on the road again, heading for my hometown of Williamston. After a couple of days there, I was en route again. Arrived home this afternoon (Wednesday) and now sit here reporting to you, looking forward to an early bed tonight and a late rising tomorrow morning.

        If you live within commuting distance—and who doesn't since airplanes took over the skies—consider Cape Fear Crime Festival for next year. I am.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Musing on Conferences, Cruises and Cooking Iguanas...

Writing is by definition a lonely profession. Unless, of course, you count the imaginary friends with whom you share your life. Otherwise, human contact is sporadic, and contact with other writers even rarer.
There is the internet, though, and although it is a great blessing in information, it still lacks a great deal of the personal touch. No email, however informative or pleasurable, can equal the pleasure of sitting and chatting with another writer while sipping the beverage of your choice. There is an instant camaraderie, a sense of sharing that just isn’t there with other people.
Imagine, therefore, my purring pleasure at taking my very first ever cruise and, to make it even better, it was with a bunch of writers! The Husband and I attended the Florida Romance Writers’ Fun In The Sun cruise last week, and it was spectacular. It wasn’t just romance, either; the splendid Nancy Cohen did a mystery workshop, and there were agents and editors right there on the boat with us… trapped where they couldn’t get away! (Evil laughter) There was a bookfair and a variety of workshops on all kinds of writerly subjects from time management to query letter critiques. Best of all there were other writers; writers with whom we could rejoice or commiserate or simply compare notes.
There were personal joys totally unrelated to writing, too. A day trip to the Mayan city of Tulum, where the iguanas run around just about anywhere you look. One woman there was startled to learn that they are a mainstay of the local diet; when I started to give her some of my favorite iguana recipes (learned when I lived in Mexico many years ago) she shrieked and ran. I don’t know why. I think that was really quite unadventuresome of her. Properly cooked, iguanas are quite tasty – but not as good as the food on the ship. Three exquisite meals a day, plus snacks, and none of which I had to cook! I don’t know why someone hasn’t come up with a Cruise Ship Diet – after several days of prime rib and Atlantic salmon and other gourmet goodies, one looks at a plate and thinks, “Oh, law, we have to eat again?” For once stunned into quiescence, my appetite still hasn’t recovered.
One memory I will always treasure is from the last night at sea – The Husband and I all alone at the bow of the ship, dancing on the deserted helipad under a full moon, our only music the soft swishing of waves against the bow. Sigh.
Now, as this blog is supposed to be writing related, I must get back to business, and I do promise there is a point. Writers write. We create worlds and populations in our heads, and nearly every one of us does it alone. However, we are not endless founts; we must recharge our batteries, interact with our peers and have some down time. Yes, everything generally ends up being research, but we simply cannot work 24/7, either with or without keyboard. Some of us are fortunate enough to have writer’s groups within a reasonable distance where we can talk with other writers. (And oh, how I would have loved that when I was first starting out!) If not, there are the relationships-at-a-remove available on the internet. Both are wonderful things, and a writer should have both.
But…! If you can, get to a conference. It doesn’t have to be on a ship, however yummy that might be. There are dozens of conferences – mystery conferences, romance conferences, sci-fi conferences, cross-genre conferences – happening all over the country. The intellect, the energy, the personal touch can be incredibly beneficial, as can the opportunity to meet industry professionals face-to-face. Some conferences are distant, others close; some are expensive, some not. There’s a conference for everyone.
Yes, it’s a form of working vacation. What’s wrong with that?

Janis Patterson is a 7th-generation Texan and a 3rd-generation wordsmith who writes mystery, romance, horror, children’s, non-fiction and scholarly. Once an actress and a singer Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist. Janis’ husband even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Life Events Put a Kink in My Writing

After reading and writing all sorts of blog posts about time management--something I've been pretty good at through the years--for right now, everything has changed.

For over 20 years I owned and operated a residential care home--I lived in it, took care of, which included laundry, cooking, doctor appointments and recreation for six developmentally disabled women and lots and lots of paperwork, meetings with social workers, training etc. During that time period I also organized a CEU state approved training course for Administrators, did all the arrangements including registration, and taught some of the classes. I also wrote a state-wide newsletter for Administrators. (Still do) During that period, I wrote and had my books published.

When I retired, I thought I'd have lots of time. Turns out I didn't seem too, but I did manage to write and promote. One thing that has expanded is the amount of promoting I do--because it seems necessary. But I've been managing and having fun.

Then something happened that turned my life upside down. If you follow me on Facebook, you already know about this.

On the Saturday night before Christmas, our son, (Matthew), went to work as a bouncer in a popular nightclub. He worked there often. After closing, a fight broke out in the parking lot and all the other bouncers rushed out. Matthew stayed inside where two girls began fighting. He doesn't remember what happened, but a sober patron has told him that he was hit in the head with a table and bar stools. Between 7 and 12 men began kicking him in the head and body, and striking him with beer bottles.

He was taken by ambulance to the emergency room. One of Matt's friends went to his son's house and woke him up and told him to get to the emergency room, that his Dad's head had been bashed in. At 3 a.m. grandson called me and told me I better get down there.

I no longer drive at night so called my daughter. She drove the 17 miles to the hospital and was a great support. Matthew was conscious. His head was split open--I didn't look but have seen pictures of thebloody gash. He had a concussion and lots of bruises and cuts. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Fresno because of a brain bleed. He received seven staples in his head and many MRIs. They let him come home Christmas Eve.

He had various doctor appointment, though nothing much was done for him. One of his eyes pouched out, he had double vision at times, and his balance was off. About two weeks later his leg became painful and swelled. Back to the ER where they told him he had blood clots in his leg and there was nothing they could do for him and sent him home. (Problem was and is, he's being taken care of by workman's comp insurance and they don't really want anything to be done. His boss from the nightclub has gotten after the insurance company since then.)

Back to the doctors--I went with him this time. The doctor tried to say that the clots may have nothing to do with the beating, maybe from sitting around. Before the beating, Matthew was and is not a sitter. He went to the gym regularly and walked his dogs every day. If anything, he's always been hyper. If he got the clots from sitting, it was because he was told to rest by the doctors. I was very unhappy with the doctor's comment and told him so. The doctor sent him for another MRI to see if he still had a brain bleed--and he didn't.

Now they have him on medication for the clots (can't give him too big a dose because of the possibility of getting the brain bleed started again.) He also has weekly blood tests.

Needless to say, all this has taken a toll on me as well. He lives next door, so everyday I wait for him to come over to see how he's doing. He can't stay still though he sleeps more than he's ever done.

He says he feels better every day.

Okay so what has this to do with writing? One, I'm having a hard time concentrating on writing. I've been concentrating on smaller bits of writing, like blog posts. I may use some of this in a book one day--for one thing, I know that someone will not spring back from a severe beating like they do in movies. I also know the toll something like this takes on family members.

I have a book started that I should be working on, but right now, I can't seem to concentrate on it.

I also have another book coming out soon and should be planning a book launch, but haven't been able to focus on that either.

Like Matthew who feels like he's better every day, I'm calming down a bit every day. Hopefully all will be back to normal (or as normal as things are ever around here) soon.

Thanks for reading.