Tuesday, May 28, 2019

This Has Been a Busy and Exciting Time

Because good friend Lorna Collins decided to edit and re-publish all my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries since my published closed their doors, I've been busy trying to promote them. Some have new covers that were created before anyone knew Mundania was going out of business.

In an effort to introduce more people to the series, I'm going to do a free e-book promotion for the first one in the series, Deadly Omen.

That will be going on from June 10 through 14th in the Kindle store. No way can I afford a BookBub promotion, but there are many other sites who promote free e-books. The only drawback is that it takes a lot of time--many are free, but other charge minimal fees.

Of course I've also been busy promoting the latest in the series, Spirit Wind. I've been visiting varios blogs and of course posting on Facebook.

My first book signing will be on June 8th at the sweetest place in Porterville, Stafford's Chocolates on Main St. from 11 to 3.

On June 22nd, I'll be at the Tehachapi Museum from 1 to 3. That one will be fun since Spirit Wind is set in Tehachapi. I'm anxious to see how the residents feel about the mystery.

On June 29th from 1-3, I'm doing a signing here at home, Springville, at the Wild Oak Coffee Shop (across from the fire station on Bridge St. This place has the best speciality drinks and sandwiches.

In the meantime, I've finished the latest in my Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series. It still has to be heard and critiqued by my group, then I'll have it edited before I  sent it off to the publisher.

If anyone thinks being a writer isn't work--they aren't a writer.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Mystery and Modern Technology

by Janis Patterson

Modern technology is taking a lot of the fun out of mystery writing. I mean, with caller ID, DNA, tracking devices, the ability to ping cell towers, virtual reality crime scene re-creation, instant background checks through multiple databases, ubiquitous surveillance cameras, facial recognition, computer access.... well, you know what I mean. What is there left to detect? A computer geek with access to the proper modern toys can often solve the mystery without leaving the comfort of his ergonomic chair in his mother's basement.

The more widely spread such electronic goodies become, the harder it becomes for mystery writers to find ways for their electronically-challenged sleuths to create a believable scenario. Some have frankly given up and fled into the past, where real, human-based detecting is the norm. Others twist probability into pretzels by locating their stories on remote islands, during power outages, and the like. A few - a very few - writers have mastered the balance of solving crimes with electronically available data and human detecting in a palatable form. I salute them. Many, many more have not.

Let's face it - while many if not most people use electronic toys such as cell phones and computers, how many are really conversant with how they work? We hit one button dialing or click a screen to make phone calls, we surf the net with a few clicks, but that's about the extent of a lot of people's knowledge. I'm one of them, and to me it's boring where in a mystery the detective (either by himself or with his super-techy partner) look at a computer screen, spout a couple of incomprehensible tech words (which to the average reader might as well be Urdu or Dogon) and poof! - there is a clue if not the entire solution to the mystery. Somehow some TV shows do this well and believably, but in books.... boorrring! And I suspect somehow the palatability of super-tech in TV shows has a lot to do with how hot the actor is spouting all the computer jargon!

So what is a tech-challenged writer to do? We can't all put our mysteries on desert islands or during power outages or someplace else where instant information is not the norm. We can't all have our sleuth continually forgetting to charge his/her cell phone or leaving it behind. Most people in real life seem to have their cell phones surgically attached! Now we not only have to craft a believable mystery but also create logical reasons why our sleuth can't jump on the 'net, do a few clicks and find out at least half a book's information, including, of course, the one pertinent clue that solves the mystery. All of which, sadly, would in real logically take place on page 25 or so. Sigh.

I don't have any answers. I've taken heat from readers because my sleuths are tech-challenged, then declaring that my stories aren't believable because my sleuths aren't in constant contact with the 'net. One of my solutions is to have a sleuth (Flora Melkiot, EXERCISE IS MURDER, MURDER IN DEATH'S WAITING ROOM) who is elderly - but don't let her hear you say that - and finds modern technology both unmannerly and common. Plus, she is wildly nosy and loves winkling information out of other people. She is also quite rich, and I think I would like to grow up and be her!

Anyway, this problem is not going away. For those of you who can believably construct a mystery using modern technology in a way that is palatable with the majority of readers - I salute you! For the rest of us... I don't know. I just might follow my betters and escape to the past, where rotary dials are cutting edge, cars have manual transmissions (my favorite!), and privacy was not only the norm, but valued. I know I'll see some of you there!

On another note, I would like to say that my YouTube channel is up and running - and I would be most appreciative if you would drop by. It's called Janis' Tips and Tales, and a new episode is released on the fourth Thursday of every month. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Taking Time Off

Yes, I did--and had a great time with family, and going to an Escape Room. This was the third time I've done this with family members. You'd think since I write mysteries I'd be really good at figuring out the clues. Nope, I'm too slow.

In these rooms you have one hour to solve the mystery. By the time I think I know what should be done, one of the younger members of our crew had solved the problem and moved on. Though everyone contributed, the under 30 group was the quickest--a granddaughter in her late twenties, a great-granddaughter who just turned 21 and another who is 17.

Don't get me wrong, everyone figured different things out, and when they were stuck, I told them what they should check again, and I was right. (Another problem I had, it was very dark, and I couldn't read some of the directions--clues that we found. It was supposed to be night time in the castle, with only candlelight to see by.)

These rooms are all different, and great fun. This one was set in medieval times. Another was a treasure hunt, and we didn't quite finish in time. The second I don't quite remember the theme, but it had something to do with paintings--and we didn't do well at all. Some are more difficult than others, and you can ask for clues when you get stuck.

But this last one went great and we finished with 15 seconds left.

If you've never done one of these rooms, gather a group and try it.

And while I was gone, my good friend Lorna Collins was busily getting my Deputy Tempe Crabtree books ready to be published again. I'm loving the covers.

Here's an older one called Intervention (my first locked room mystery) that is once more available.

Available for Kindle and Trade paperback.


Marilyn Meredith

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Make Mine Mystery

May 5, 2019

I recently collaborated with nine authors to write a short story; each person had to have written at least 6,000 words. This has been one of my greatest experiences in collaborating with a group of people whom I’ve never met before. I was up for the challenge.

The story that I wrote I first considered who would be my villain. It turns out, I liked her best and created a back story to explain why she became a murderer. The book is out for presale, entitled ‘Death Among Us’ and is already up for a book cover award though AllAuthor. If you haven’t looked at their site, I would suggest you give it a try. Below is a bit of a cheat sheet that I use to keep me focused on my objectives and may be helpful to you as well.

Heroes and Villains
First, create a worthy opponent. The villain will be the catalyst for everything you write.

Heroes don’t have to be perfect specimens of bravery. Those protagonists tend to be rather dull. Great heroes emerge from despair, darkness, and the trials they face.
Because these trails will define your hero, it’s a good idea to develop your villain first, as the villain’s motivations will create the crisis for your hero. Introduce your villain with a bang-sending your reader a clear message that this character is the bad guy. Every villain needs to have his morality. If a villain spends part of your novel killing people, you need to give her believable reasons for doing so. Make the reader understand precisely what desperation or belief has driven him to it. To elevate your heroes, you must give them flaws as well. The villain cannot be the only one standing in your hero’s way; a hero’s personality can just as quickly interfere with his quest.
It doesn’t matter what the stakes are in your novel, but they must matter to your protagonist. Your hero doesn’t have to save the wor5ld-perhaps he saves his own family from eviction, or he fights to keep his business from going bankrupt. AS long as you establish what’s important to your hero-ideally, something that your readers can relate to-and help the reader imagine what could happen. You are the one to create the high stakes that matter.
Develop a hero who reflects things that interest you. You’re going to be spending much time with your characters so write what you would like to know more about. Don ’t be afraid to invest your hero with familiar qualities, but prioritize your passions and make sure that both villain and hero emerge from the setting and topics you’ve developed so far. Your characters should have skills that allow them to function in your environment. You’ve chosen to set your novel on the moon? Then make sure your hero or heroine has a space suit or learns to use one.