Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Where to Write - An Experiment

by Janis Patterson

I’m lucky. I have an office. Well, that’s a bit grandiose. I have a tiny desk against one wall in our very small guest room. There’s also a very good sort-of ergonomic chair with good back support, a printer stand, a ceiling fan and a radio/CD player. Of course, there’s also a double bed, dresser, chest of drawers and all the other regular guest room paraphernalia. Yes, it’s crowded, but it is mine, and there are two doors I can close against the intrusions of the outside world. It’s also a great big step up from my days of using the dining room table.
Lately, though, I’ve been hearing a lot about going ‘someplace else’ to write. Some swear by trendy coffee shops, others cafes, others parks… just about anyplace that isn’t their home or office. I can see this, if your home or office is noisy, interruptive, non-existent or in some other way unconducive to the business of writing. Being of an experimentive nature, though, I decided to test it – several times, in fact, with a good friend who also writes.
Hmmm. It wasn’t altogether a success. Out in the world, a world full of distractions, I wasn’t able to concentrate as well and found myself missing points I had intended to use in the scenes I wrote. Neither was it pleasant working on what I call my purse computer, a small netbook purchased mainly for travel or for inescapable waiting times such as at the garage or doctor’s office.
I also felt something like a zoo exhibit. One of the places we went to write – a favorite restaurant owned by a long-time friend – was very gracious about having us there. There was a nice-sized corner table, an attentive staff who kept refilling our iced tea, and nice air-conditioning. There was also constant music, much louder than I prefer and not to my working taste. (This was salsa, which normally I like, but I prefer to write to classical, if to any music at all.) Our host had teased about putting out a sign saying ‘Please Do Not Feed The Writers’ but he didn’t, probably since I had threatened him with his life if he did.
Still, I feel something had leaked out, for many patrons took the long way around to the rest room, all passing close to our table and staring as they did so. The recurring movement and attention was most distracting. 
On a more concrete level, a table meant for eating is a different height from a desk, giving your arms and wrists a different and ultimately very tiring angle. I learned that lesson in the years I had to use the dining room table, and it was one of the reasons I bought a real desk. And a separate ergonomic keyboard, as the tiny straight keyboard on my writing laptop (to say nothing of the netbook!) are much too small for comfort.
The true deal-breaker, though, was the chair. Restaurant and coffee shop chairs are not made for real comfort in the long term. My back, injured long ago and held together pretty much with spit and baling wire, loves being pampered by my ergonomic chair with the adjustable back support. It does not like hours spent working in a commercial dining chair and was very definite in letting me know its displeasure. Or maybe I’m just a wuss, but no place I went to write was very comfortable – all of which showed in my work, I’m sure. 
I don’t know how my friend’s output was, save that she was satisfied with it, but I wasn’t impressed by mine at all. I produced less than half of what I would have in the same time in my office, and the chapters I wrote while away needed much more revision than any produced at home.
Was it a waste of time? No, not completely. I enjoyed lunching with my friend, as I always do, and the afternoons spent writing ‘away’ were pleasurable, but if anything they proved that – for me, at least – they are ‘hobby’ and not professional sessions. In the future if I want to meet a friend for lunch, I will, and I will eat and drink and enjoy it. If I want to work, I will go in to my office and work. A social occasion is a social occasion and work is work.
I realize that my situation is optimum – a home office, however cramped, with all the tools I need to follow my profession. Not everyone has these luxuries, and I applaud those who strive on and write whatever situation they face. When one does have an office, though, it seems counterproductive to go write ‘away.’ Again, I speak only for myself. Everyone has to find their own path for writing. Mine is in my office with my back-pampering chair and my ergonomic keyboard, both doors closed and soft classical music playing. The most important thing for every writer, however, is producing the words. However, wherever – whatever works best. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

On Getting Older

I supposed most people would just say I'm already there--old, I mean.

And yes, I do have the symptoms, hair turning white, lots of wrinkles, slow walker, takes some effort to get up out of chairs, and not being able to do all that I once could.

That last is probably the most frustrating.

I've always been used to making a list of what I planned to accomplish in a day, but not so much anymore. Oh, I still make the lists, but I don't always get everything done that I planned.

Of course I always have a lot to do--and the have-tos, I do finish, but they are also the jobs I'm least interested in doing--laundry, cooking, etc.

What I really want to get with is the writing on my next book, and more promoting of the latest.

Unfortunately, there is only so much time.

And now we've moved into the holidays. I no longer buy all the gifts that I once did, can't afford it and my family just grew to large. For those who come to our house on Christmas Eve, we drew names--so I only have two to buy for, and my kids (I give money) as I'm not longer good at figuring out what they might like.

That might sound like I don't really care for Christmas anymore, but that's not true. I love the true meaning of Christmas. We;ll celebrate on Christmas Eve with some of our family.

We share out home with 3 little girls, so we'll be in on the Christmas morning surprises.

And some time soon, I'll put up a few Christmas decorations.

What about you? Do you still do all the holiday things you used to do?

Marilyn, who still manages to accomplish a lot.

My latest, Tangled Webs.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Libations Fit for a King by Saralyn Richard

Today, I'd like to introduce my guest and fellow Black Opal Books author Saralyn Richard who shares behind-the-scenes information and history about expensive libations and exclusive parties, much like the party event in her recently published mystery, Murder in the One Percent.  Check out the impressive number of good reviews this book has brought in on Amazon (link next to the book cover below).  

Linda Thorne

Libations Fit for a King
by Saralyn Richard

            Who’s up for some amazing libations at an exclusive party?
The dictionary definition of “libation” is “a drink poured out as a ritual offering to a deity.” (Oxford Dictionary, Oxford University Press). Sometimes libations were given as an offering to a god or spirit, often in memory of those who have passed on. Pouring libations was a common practice in many religions of antiquity, and it continues to be performed in various cultures today.

            This is very likely where the ceremony of toasting before drinking alcoholic beverages derives from.

            In Murder in the One Percent (2018, Black Opal Books), the characters attend a birthday party at a mansion in the horse country of Pennsylvania. That Saturday night, they dine from an elegant nine-course menu with wines selected for their best years and perfectly matched to each course.

We would expect nothing less from the wealthy and powerful hosts in the one percent, right?

Just for fun, I priced the wines being served, using today’s market quotes. Following are the prices per bottle:

Champagne Krug, 2000  $225

Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, 1990  $350

Sauternes Chateau d'Yquem, 1990   $265

Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2006  $125

Richebourg Leroy, 1991                  $3122

Chateau Lafitte Rothschild, 1982    $2400

Graham's Vintage Port                     $139

Hennessy Paradia Cognac               $693

That adds up to a hefty $7319 for just one bottle of each. Knowing these characters as I do, they would consume at least two and probably three bottles during the party, bringing the cost of libations to a whopping $21,957.

No wonder the guests had such a fun time at that dinner party! They ate and drank like royalty and went to bed happy. Too bad the next day, one of them woke up dead.

Murder in the One Percent

Someone comes to the party with murder in his heart and poison in his pocket.

     When old friends gather for an extravagant retreat at a country mansion, no one anticipates how their lives will be changed--or that one of them will turn up dead. Remote and serene, Bucolia Farm is the perfect setting for a lavish party. The guests, members of the country's wealthiest elite one percent, indulge in gourmet food, fine wines, Cuban cigars--but greed, lust, and jealousy crash the party.
     Playboy and former Secretary of the Treasury, Preston Phillips, brings his new trophy wife to the party, unaware that his first love, the woman he jilted at the altar years ago, will be there, enchanting him with her timeless beauty. A snowstorm, an accident, and an illicit rendezvous later, the dynamics crackle with tension.
     When Detective Oliver Parrott is charged with solving the untimely killing of one of America's leading financial wizards, he realizes this will be the case to make--or break--his career.

Author Bio

Mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard, is a writer who teaches on the side. Some of her poems and essays have won awards and contests from the time she was in high school. Her children’s picture book, Naughty Nana, has reached thousands of children worldwide. 

Murder in the One Percent, ©2018 Black Opal Books, pulls back the curtain on the privileged and powerful rich. Set on a gentleman’s farm in Pennsylvania and in the tony areas of New York, the book shows what happens when someone comes to a party with murder in his heart and poison in his pocket. 

A member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn is writing the sequel to Murder in the One Percent. Her website is

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Where Has This Year Gone?

Or I could have titled this, Time Flies When You're Getting Old. (Some people would say I've already gotten there.)

The beginning of this year was difficult, having to find a new publisher for my Rocky Bluff P.D. series and having to re-edit all of the older books took a lot to time.

At about the same time, the publisher of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series wanted the first four books in the series re-edited because they decided to do new covers for those.

A good friend of mine volunteered to redo my "orphan" books and put them on Amazon--so more re-editing.

None of this left much time for writing. I did finally finish the Tempe book I was working on, and started another Rocky Bluff. The Tempe book has yet to come out.

Of course I've been promoting the latest RBPD in many different ways--also time consuming.

Because of the "old" thing, I run out of steam much quicker than I usually do.

There are other writing jobs I do that take time too--so I am always busy.

Believe it or not--I have a lot going on besides the writing thing. With a big family, and mine is huge, there is always something happening. Which means it's time to start planning Thanksgiving dinner which we host here at our house.

So, looking back how was your year? What stands out?


Monday, November 5, 2018

Make Mine Mystery

November 5, 2018

Linda Lee Kane

Mistakes happen! I was going to continue my information to you about data and statistics on writing novellas from the Fussy Librarian. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I was watching a video from a writing coach about organizing my workspace. Looking around I noticed I had papers everywhere. I began cleaning, thinking that this would help me write more efficiently. In cleaning my desk and work area I began to throw papers out, including an application for two book signings, the Fussy Librarian email I received, and research I had done on a book.

Mistakes happen, yes, they do. I make them constantly and I can either cry about it or I can look at the positive and grow from the experience. I’ve had to face these truths about myself. That I have way too many irons in the fire and I’ve been making mistakes far too often.

I don’t regret my mistakes, I believe someone was telling me to slow down. To be more deliberate in my actions and in writing. So, I purchased a daytimer to record what I need to do every day. I write down what I’m grateful for and what I’m excited about. And, every day I post an affirmation and I include my exercise for the day, and finally my wins for the day.
I don’t regret my mistakes, I regret not sharing.

Linda L. Kane MA in Education, PPS, School Psychologist, and Learning Disability Specialist, is the author of Death on the Vine, Chilled to the Bones and an upcoming re-release of the The Black Madonna. She has written several children’s books, including Clyde to the Rescue, Matty’s Adventures in Numberland, Cowboy Jack and Buddy Save Santa, Katerina Ballerina, and Witch Number is Which.