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?


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.
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?
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
Buy Links

Amazon (US):
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Barnes & Noble:

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...


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

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


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?


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

Starting a New Rocky Bluff P.D. Mystery

As I write this, I have four paragraphs on paper. I've come up with two new characters--the murder victim, one suspect, and a new police officer.

However, I have lots of ideas for what will happen with my ongoing characters in their lives--thanks to my writers' group. I asked them to brainstorm with me and since they know all the regular characters because they've listened to all the previous books, they came up with some great ideas.

What they suggested gave me an idea for the title and the overall theme of this particular book.

I feel good about where I'm going and I'm well on my way.

At the same time, I've sent the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery off to the publisher, A Cold Death, and the editor has it in her hands, and the cover artist my idea for the cover. The publisher is shooting for an August release. We'll see.

Now I must get busy and write a chapter so I have something to read to  my critique group.

I'll have this week and a couple of days of next week to write--then I'm off to Las Vegas to the Public Safety Writers Association's annual conference. It's the only one I'm going to because we can easily drive there--or I should say my daughter can easily drive us there.

I'm one of the instructors for the pre-conference workshop, and I'll be a moderator for one panel and on another. I know so many people who attend this conference, both writers and law enforcement folks, it's like going to a family reunion.

And I have three library visits this month. I've really been enjoying these library visits.

How is your summer coming along--writing, reading, or otherwise?


Talking about the Importance of Setting at the Paso Robles Library

Friday, June 2, 2017

Make Mine Mystery
June 2, 2017

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.