Monday, March 20, 2017

Writing About Winter When it's Like Summer

Okay, it's March.

While the East Coast is having blizzards, here in California we've had days in the 80's. That's good except my work in progress is set during a monstrous snow storm. The solution would be to make a trip eastward though not possible.

My thought has been that since this particular book will come out in summer, people might like to read about snow and cold. I can remember reading Dr. Zhivago during summer and shivering. Same when I saw the movie.

I will be calling a lot on my imagination as I write this book--it's one of those where everyone including the guilty party is confined to one place because of the unusual weather.

The characters are clearly defined in my mind. Someone has already died, but I have to admit I'm really not sure "who done it." Yes as it plays out, my heroine, Deputy Tempe Crabtree will manage to discover the reasons why each of the people might have wanted the victim dead. Since she's the detective, I'm relying on her to solve the crime. Don't laugh, that's the way my mysteries seem to evolve.

While I was shopping, one of the women I was chit-chatting with (don't you all chit-chat with strangers?) reminded me that we often have a spurt of summer then go back to a few days of winter. I'm not sure we do--what I think usually happens is we have two or three days of spring then bam, summer is here. Our summers last a long, long time. Fortunately this year we've had a lot of rain and snow up in the higher elevations.

But I digress. I was writing about the difficulty of writing about snow when it's hot here where I live. There isn't much more to say, except I need to hurry up and get with it. Mundania (the publisher of my Tempe Crabtree books) likes to publish my new one in August.

So, folks, you know what I'll be doing every chance I get. And I don't know about the rest of you authors, but when I'm in the middle of writing a book, I think about it at night before I go to sleep.
Sometimes it helps.

I'll let you know how it goes.


This is how we see the snow from my house.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kaye George a.k.a. Janet Cantrell Talks about Writing for Writers

I'm excited to have Kaye George who also writes as Janet Cantrell take my scheduled spot this month. Her post hits home for me since my day job demands continue to drain away my writing time. I think I need to take heed to what she says.  Linda Thorne    
by Kaye George/Janet Cantrell

If you’re a writer, that’s probably one of the most enjoyable things you do—write. Right? It keeps you sane, out of trouble, and gives you enormous satisfaction. I believe all creative endeavors serve this purpose, or can. I think composers, painters, choreographers, and maybe even rap musicians feel this deep sense of satisfaction when they’ve created something, something new that can stand on its own two feet, so to speak, and communicate with others.
But what happens when you can’t write? When you can’t create?
First of all, what can cause this?
--Stress, for sure. Anxiety. Stress and anxiety can be due to lots of external factors, family situations, health, financial crises, fear for yourself or your future.
--The day job can overflow and take up the corners you use for writing, the corners of your house, your desk, and your brain.
--Fear of failure. Maybe you’re trucking along on a series and get to book 4 or book 8 and find you’ve hit a wall. These characters have said everything, done everything, gone everywhere. How can your next book be as good as the last ones? Will the readers like it like they did the others?
--Obligations to family or friends. If you’ve promised to help someone move, to take care of a child or spouse for an extended length of time, or take in a pet, you may find you have no time left in the short 24-hour days we’re restricted to.
So, here you are. A writer who isn’t writing. That’s not good. What’s the cure?
I hate to say it, but only know of one. Writing.
You just have to find the time to do it. You just have to make yourself do it. You just have to edit out all those instances of the word “just.”
Go over the last thing you wrote. You’ll find something you want to change. If you get into the last scene you created, maybe you’ll fall into the next scene. And the next, and the next.
Set a timer and write until you hear the ding. You don’t have to write sterling prose. You don’t even

have to write real words. (But you’ll get tired of writing “jabber wocky” and “yada yada yada” pretty soon and, out of desperation, find some real words.)
A writer writes.
Have you had any of these experiences? Do you have any other solutions?

Kaye George, national-bestselling and multiple-award-winning author, writes four series: Imogene Duckworthy; Cressa Carraway Musical Mysteries; People of the Wind (Neanderthal), and as JanetCantrell, the Fat Cat series. You can find her short stories in anthologies and magazines and her collection, A Patchwork of Stories. The anthology of eclipse stories she put together, DAY OF THE DARK, will be out July 21st. She reviews for Suspense Magazine and lives in Knoxville, TN.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Beware the Wages of Work

by Janis Patterson
This is going to be a short post, because both The Husband and I are feeling real puny. He threw his back out (out? practically into the next county!) shoveling dirt while playing with the dinosaurs at the Arlington Archosaur Site (run under the aegis of the Perot Museum) and is hurting terribly. I caught some… something that makes my head feel stuffed with wet rags, my throat scoured with sandpaper and a persistent low grade fever that will not go away.

So what does this have to do with writing? Him – nothing. Me – potentially a lot. I’ve been ferociously struggling against deadlines for over a year while juggling the daily trials of existence – cooking, laundry, birthdays, getting the car worked on, all the things that we all do all day every day. It’s called life.

On the other hand, I’m a bear when it comes to deadlines. I’ve only missed one in my entire life, and that was because of a catastrophic car accident a couple of decades ago. Having been raised in advertising, I was taught early that deadlines are sacrosanct.

No one ever bothered to impress on me that I should not take on so many of these immutable deadlines so close together.

Okay, so I’ll spare the suspense. I made my latest deadline – and promptly keeled over into a coughing, sneezing, fever-ridden mess. It’s not like I didn’t have adequate warnings – The Husband (who has his own weirdnesses) kept telling me, “Slow down, honey – you always get sick when you get overtired…”

I didn’t listen. But I made my deadline!

If there is a cautionary note to my sad little tale, it’s that we have to take care of ourselves. No deadline is worth your health. So – first of all, don’t take on so many projects that you can’t complete them in a reasonable time with reasonable effort. Secondly, live your life! Enjoy your family. If I may be trite, smell the roses. There are other things than the computer – I know it’s hard to step away when all those voices are clamoring in your head, but if your head is stuff with drippy wet rags they’re going to drown anyway.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Yes, it's Time to Plan Some Promotion

I've sent the latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery off to the publisher. Another publisher is filling in for Oak Tree Press.

The title is Unresolved. The mystery is solved, but others things are left unresolved.

The cover designer has been in touch with me with a great idea, I'm eager to see what he comes up with.

And yes, as Linda Thorne mentioned in a comment in my last post, I need to start planning a blog tour, but I have to wait until I learn a publication date.

I do have several appearance coming up--I take advantage of any opportunity.

The first one is a big author book fair at the Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis, this Saturday, March 11, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The following Saturday, March 18, I'll be sharing Writing Tips with the Tulare-Kings Writers at 10 a.m. in the Blue Room at the big Visalia Library on Oak Street.

I have been busy as usual--I attended the PSWA Board Meeting and Retreat for 3 days in Ventura. We are going to have a wonderful conference this year--believe me, it is also the least expensive writers conference going and there's a before the conference writing workshop also inexpensive. This is my favorite conference of all. You get to meet and network with personnel from all areas of public safety (law enforcement, fire, dispatching, etc.) and mystery writers are welcome. If you want to be on a panel, you just have to say so. and click on conference.

Oh, and I do have a life beyond writing and promoting. Had a great visit with all three of my daughters while in Ventura.

I've been doing some reading for pleasure.

And I've attended the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime latest meeting.

There's much, much more, but if you follow me on Facebook, you already know what I've been doing.

Our three girls, hubby and me.


Monday, March 6, 2017

How One Book Became a Series

Today I'm happy to host my dear friend and fellow mystery writer, Pat Gligor. Pat has written a mystery series whose characters deal with serious issues. Her latest, Marnie Malone, will be out March 14th, just in time for a St. Paddy's Day read.

When I wrote Mixed Messages, I intended it to be a standalone mystery/suspense novel. I had no idea the book would end up being the first in a five book series. But, somewhere along the line, I realized that, in order to tell “the rest of the story,” I would need to write a second book. Unfinished Business is that book. An appropriate title, I think, and like Mixed Messages, it has a double meaning.

By the time I finished writing Unfinished Business, I had become so fond of my characters and so wrapped up in their lives that they were almost real to me. I had to find out what would happen to them next.
So I went on to write the next three books: Desperate Deeds, Mistaken Identity and my new release, Marnie Malone, which will be available on March 14th. The first three books take place on the west side of Cincinnati (my hometown) and the last two are set in different locations in South Carolina, a state I’ve visited many times.

While each book may be read as a standalone, the series is the saga of the Malone family and the struggles they face. With each new book, the characters change and grow as they deal with a multitude of problems and are involved in several dangerous, sometimes life-threatening, situations. But through it all, the underlining message in each book is one of Hope.

With St. Patrick’s Day only three days after the release, the timing of Marnie Malone couldn’t be more perfect. Because the Malones are Irish and something very important takes place in the book on the holiday. But no spoilers here. ☺

Here’s a glimpse into Marnie Malone:

It’s Marnie’s last week at the law firm of Cliburn & Reeves and she feels like she’s riding an emotional roller coaster. Up when she wins the divorce and custody battle for Callie Jackson against her abusive husband, Jed. And plummeting down when one witness after another decides not to testify against Mark Hall, an attorney at another Charleston firm and an “alleged” serial rapist.
Marnie receives one threat after another and she constantly feels the need to look over her shoulder, convinced that someone is stalking her. With Sam out of town on business, she’s alone in the big, old farmhouse and strange things are happening. Noises in the attic, creaking floorboards and someone watching her from the woods.

As she tries to determine the identity of the stalker, the list of men who have grudges against her grows longer each day. In her line of work she’s made enemies. Is the stalker someone from the past or one of the men on her list? And, how far will he go?

To pre-order the Kindle version of Marnie Malone:

The link to my Amazon page:

The link to my blog:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Make Mine Mystery

I Know, I know I always send something for the holidays but in this case I thought about something that would be helpful and useful to future authors is a few handy definitions: Synopsis vs. Blurb or Back Cover Copy (BCC) vs. Query:
·  Your blurb is your back cover copy (aka BCC) and quite a few authors I know (including me) use some version of it for the body of their query. Generally the word count on a blurb is no more than 300. They also tend to tie in their tag line (a one line, less than 20 words that teases readers about your book).
o    Tag line for Chilled to the Bones on the front cover:  Secret codes, murder, and lurking evil…
o    BCC/Blurb for Chilled to the Bones featured on back cover and version of this use in query:
Secret codes, murder, and lurking evil…
Adventure and a chilling ride through the small town of Setauket, New Your, where four high school friends find themselves embroiled in a historical mystery more than a century old. Secret codes, murder, and lurking evil lead them to the point of almost no return. A page turner from beginning to end.
o Synopsis ranges from 1-5 pages depending on what’s requested by publisher/agent. They ask for this because they want evidence you have a solid basis for your story and a complete story arc. While the synopsis for Chilled to the Bones was 2 pages (993 word count), I’ve since refined my latest project(s) synopsis down to about 1 page. The way I did that was use the following 11 questions to build it. For a short 1-2 pg synop, answer in one to two sentence lengths. For up to 5 pg synop, use 3-5 sentences to answer:
1.       Opening image—image/setting/concept that sets the stage for the story to come
2.       Protag intro/who’s the main character in 1-2 descriptive words and what he/she wants
3.       Inciting incident-what even/decision/change prompts your MC to take initial action
4.       Plot point 1-what is the first turning point? What action does MC take/make that changes book’s direction. Think “once you cross this line, you can never return”
5.       Conflict & character encounters—now in new life your MC meets new people, experiences new life, meets villain
6.       Midpoint-middle turning point, what happens that makes MC doe a 180 change in direction/emotion/in anything?
7.       Winning seems imminent but…why does your MC think they’ll win? How does villain stop them?
8.      Black moment—MC’s lowest point, what happened
9.       Climax—what happens in final blow out between MC and villain
10.   Resolution—HEA for us rom writers, tie up you loose ends (or at least the main ones for this book, if part of series)


 Linda Lee Kane has a master’s degree in education, school psychology, people pupil services, and is a learning disability specialist. She has authored eight books; two are mysteries, The Black Madonna: A fast-paced action adventure and an exciting, exhilarating read. Murder, mystery, and intrigue keep you on the edge of your seat. Chilled to the Bones: An adventurous and chilling ride where four high school friends find themselves embroiled in a historical mystery more than a century old. Secret codes, murder, and a lurking evil presence lead them to the point of almost no return. A page turner from beginning to end.
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