Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Writer’s Thoughts’

Fans-Whether in Sports or Writing, It’s All the Same

September 28, 2015 7 comments

pile o booksFANS – WHETHER IN SPORTS OR WRITING, IT’S ALL THE SAME by Debra H. Goldstein

When I moved to Alabama, a colleague asked if I knew who was number one in football. Not being a sports enthusiast, but reading all parts of the newspaper religiously, I replied that the polls said my alma mater, the University of Michigan, was ranked number one.

“No,” I was told. “Alabama is number one.”

I scratched my head and wondered about him. Apparently, he didn’t keep up with the news and his taste in clothing – a crimson blazer and a houndstooth vest – left something to be desired. At least, it wasn’t as loud a combination as the burnt orange blazer and navy blue tie another guy in the office seemed to sport every Friday.

It didn’t take long for me to understand the fervent loyalty Alabama and Auburn fans have for their teams. They live, breathe, and probably would sell their first born child for if it would insure a victory. They revere their coaches as Gods – at least as long as their teams are winning. Some people think their devotion to their schools is crazy.

There was a time I was a member of that latter group, but not anymore. Since becoming a writer, I understand the value of fans. They are the people who validate my efforts and those of my fellow writers. They encourage and give us purpose. When a person says “I liked your book” or “Your book really made a difference in my life,” it means the world to us.
That’s why, having fans and being a fan is a reciprocal relationship. Readers trust us to give them the best book possible. They want us to transport them away from their everyday lives, even if only for a few minutes. Hopefully, we not only do that, but we treat our fans with respect and admiration.

Without our readers behind us, much like a team playing a championship game, we are nothing. So, it is a two way street. We must be our fans biggest fans.

Advertisements

Guest Blogger: Maggie Toussaint – The Evolution of a Bad Guy

MaggieToussaint_Large

Maggie Toussaint

The Evolution of a Bad Guy
By Maggie Toussaint

When I began plotting my second paranormal mystery, Bubba Done It, I knew one thing for sure. All the suspects had the nickname of Bubba. Other than that, I didn’t have a clue.

Before I could cast men in the suspect roles, I considered my setting and the types of characters I needed. I’m familiar with the setting as I use a fictional locale that’s similar to where I live in coastal Georgia. We have townies and imports. We have people with plenty and people with nothing. We have blacks and whites. We have a stalled economy and our share of foreclosures.

All of the top suspects needed a motive to kill the banker. Some good motives to consider were previous criminal record, financial trouble, and love.

The sheriff immediately adds four Bubbas to his suspect list. Since seafood is the main industry around here, it would be good to have a fisherman Bubba. I also wanted someone who’d moved to the county as a retiree, someone who didn’t quite get locals or their customs. That worked. Two Bubbas down, two to go.

Drugs are a universal problem in today’s world. I decided upon a Bubba with a bad track record as a crackhead, but who had allegedly reformed into BubbaDoneIt_cover2an evangelist.

Lastly, I wanted to ensure my sleuth Baxley Powell had a definite call to action. She’d taken the heat in Book 1 as the top suspect, so for Book 2, I found a patsy in her brother-in-law. Why would he want to kill the banker? Baxley knew her Bubba was a dreamer who often needed money for get-rich-quick ventures. Baxley and her husband had bailed Bubba Powell out of financial scrapes for years.

With her husband dead, the task of saving Bubba fell to Baxley. She’s certain he couldn’t have done it.

Or at least she feels that way at first. With each layer of story revealed, she discovers more reasons for the Bubbas to have killed the banker. Her challenge is to sort through the evidence, in this world and the next, to finger the killer.

To summarize:
Populate your suspect list with characters fitting to your setting.
Give the suspects motives to kill your victim.
Layer the suspects’ relationship with the victim to create complex characters.
Make sure the sleuth has a clear call to action.

Maggie Toussaint

Buy link for Bubba Done It:
Kindle
Amazon hardcover

What I Learned From Our Passover Seder by Debra H. Goldstein

???????????????????????????????????????What I Learned From Our Passover Seder by Debra H. Goldstein

Confession: when I have more than four people, even if I put the food in my own bowls, I have the evening catered. This year, with only four breaking matzah and because I’ve become addicted to cooking competition TV shows, I decided to tackle the Seder myself. Here’s what I learned:

1) Timing is of the essence – don’t start heating, reheating, or cooking things for when the guests arrive – there’s a service to be done before dinner is served!
2) If you make chicken soup from scratch but add pre-made matzah balls and broth, stop there – an entire bag of wide noodles will soak up the soup even during a short service. In fact, it soaked it up faster than I could ladle the soup into bowls. Although the noodles and matzah balls were well seasoned, it is hard to serve soup when it no longer exists.
3) Don’t get excited and heat things up too early – meat resting is meat drying.
4) Amy Garber makes fantastic chopped liver. Thank G-d!
5) Mogen David and Maniwchewitz wine is sweet. Macaroons aren’t what I remember them as being from my childhood and they only put twelve pieces of candy in the dark chocolate jellied candy box now – but combining those twelve pieces with the dead macaroons can make a nice dessert platter especially if a fifth cup of wine is incorporated into the meal.
6) It’s all about family – who else would tolerate my cooking?
7) Cleaning up from four is much easier than fourteen or forty.

Anything to add from your Passover or Easter meals?

Guest Blogger Michele Drier – Keeping it Real

March 23, 2015 19 comments

SNAP_Jazz_050914 Keeping it Real by Michele Drier

Because I write in two genres—traditional mystery and paranormal romance—I’ve been reading a LOT of genre fiction over the last few years and I see some scary trends.

One of them is what I call verbalization: Taking perfectly good nouns and turning them into not so good verbs. So many of these come from the jargon that various careers develop.

Two of the ones that make my jaw ache are exit and task.

“He exited…” No, he “left”, he “went out” he “walked away.” An exit is a freeway ramp…unless it’s a stage direction.

“She tasked me with…” No, “She gave me a task,” “I performed my task” “She told me (or asked me) to do…”

I know that English is a constantly evolving language, but let’s not slip into the trap of using these buzzwords. There are more than a million words in English today…don’t forget to use those good old Anglo-Saxon and Norman French words that gave birth to English as such a vibrant language.

And please, study up on verb tenses. The past tense of “sink” is not “sunk.” It’s “sank.” As in “She sank to her knees in grief.”

One popular writer will use this and it’s as though the dam bursts…inaccurate words escaping everywhere!

The other frightening trend is lack of basic research.

I read a book by a NYTimes best seller (romantic suspense) and the author talked about the “1859 Gold Rush.” The author supposedly lived in Northern California. How could s/he not know it was 1849?

I will not read any more books by this author since s/he was too lazy to look up one crucial fact.

Most recently, I read another romantic suspense where the author had one character in the epilogue say “well, the company is community property.”

The entire tension and plot of the book hinged on an inheritance of a company from a grandfather. This was sole and separate property and would not become community property simply because of a marriage.

I write fiction, but I care enough about my readers to make sure basic information is correct and accurate, to use as many action verbs as I can, to not write jargon because it’s fast and easy. I’m asking my readers to come into my made-up worlds and devote a few hours to my stories—I owe it to them not to use false facts.my_bio_pix

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.
SNAP: All That Jazz, Book Eight of The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was awarded second place by the Paranormal Romance Guild’s reviewers for best paranormal vampire book of 2014. The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles also won for best series in 2014. The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles include SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, DANUBE: A Tale of Murder, SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After?, SNAP: White Night and SNAP: All That Jazz. SNAP: I, Vampire, Book Nine in the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles is scheduled for publication early 2015.
She also writes the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Edited for Death and Labeled for Death. A third book, Delta for Death, is coming in 2015.

Guest Blogger T.C. Lotempio – Can a Cat be Inspirational? Oh yes, especially if his name is ROCCO…..

February 16, 2015 1 comment

Fred_ProfileCan a Cat be Inspirational? Oh yes, especially if his name is ROCCO….
By T. C. Lotempio

I have always been an animal lover, especially of cats. When my calico died a few years ago, I went to the Clifton Animal Shelter and adopted a handsome tuxedo cat named ROCCO. It soon became apparent that he is the “boss” of my family, which includes three other cats! But never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever expect him to be the driving force behind our blog, http://www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com, or end up as the star of his own mystery series!

Well – to clarify – the series isn’t named after ROCCO. He was just the inspiration for one of the main characters, a feisty tuxedo cat named Nick. Nick’s a cool cat, one with a sharp mind who likes to play SCRABBLE, and spell out clues so his human, Nora, can solve mysteries! Volume One in the Nick and Nora mystery series, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, came out December 2, and if you enjoy cozy mysteries featuring a cat that was inspired by a cat, maybe you’d like to give it a try.

Here’s a brief synopsis, taken from the cover back:Untitled-13

Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them…

Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too.

Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives.

Granted, ROCCO wasn’t the only inspiration for the series – but he was and is a large part of it! And he reminds me, every day, in his own catly way…I mean, you would think HE wrote the book! Although….in many ways, I think he did. But let’s keep that OUR secret. 

What are some things your pets do that inspire you to do different things? Leave a comment with your email address. I’ll pick two of the most interesting comments and send the commenters an autographed copy of “MEOW IF ITS MURDER” and a MEOW bookmark! And you can visit ROCCO (and me too) at our blog, http://www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com, where we interview authors and have giveaways every month!

Guest Blogger Teresa Inge – Why Research is the Extra Element in Writing

August 18, 2014 11 comments
Author Teresa Inge

Author Teresa Inge

Why Research is the Extra Element in Writing by Teresa Inge

I grew up in North Carolina reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Combining my love of reading mysteries and writing professional articles led to writing short fiction and a novel.

I also love it when I research a new story I am writing. Most of the time this means a road trip with my family to the story’s location and most of the time I discover new ideas.

When researching my current story “Wine Country Murder,” my husband and I toured the Williamsburg Winery in Virginia. We elected to do the Reserve Wine Tasting tour, which meant visiting the basement where wines are produced and stored. I took pictures of oak barrels, machinery, and anything else I found pertinent to my research. Soon, the wine was flowing and so were my thoughts. But when a bat flew above our heads, it corked a new story plot. Later, the guide mentioned that bats often fly into their basement. I just never know what I will discover during research.

My family also joined me on a weekend trip to the Cavalier on the Hill hotel in Virginia Beach to research “Guide to Murder,” in Virginia is for Mysteries. As soon as we arrived I combed the grounds where the murder would take place. I took pictures, explored areas not meant for guests, and did lots of snooping!  Since this was a historic hotel, I stumbled across vintage items such as an old sauna that had a large lock strapped across the front. The enormous sauna was tucked in a dark corner on the bottom floor. I could only imagine guests of the 1920′s and 30′s going into the sauna for good health.

We next ventured to the Outerbanks in North Carolina to research a “Milepost Murder.” While driving through Nags Head during a summer storm, I noticed a wobbly street sign. I thought what if I kill a character with a milepost sign. Milepost signs are located throughout the Outerbanks to guide tourists to restaurants, hotels, and businesses. I then based the story on my favorite beach shop in Nags Head, and added a twist by placing a bar next door. My daughter made up the title to complete the story.

Since mystery readers are savvy and intelligent, authors have to conduct Internet research, interviews, and sometimes visit the story’s location to ensure facts are correct. Even though mystery authors write fiction, facts must be real.

Another trip included driving across the Rudy Inlet Bridge in Virginia Beach. I wondered what would happen if a vehicle went over the side. Would it sink? Float? Could a barge fit in the inlet? These questions led to researching “Fishing for Murder,” in the FishNets anthology.

Since I needed answers, I made my way under the bridge and discovered a small barge in the inlet. As I began taking pictures, a homeless woman scurried up the bridge wall and out of sight. I had disturbed her hiding place. Just as I turned, a man on a bicycle with a basket of beer approached me. He asked why I was taking pictures. The situation was daunting but it brought new light to my writing when I discovered an underground of homeless people.

While researching “Shopping for Murder,” in Virginia is for Mysteries, I based the setting on the Great Bridge Shopping Center in Chesapeake. Like most shoppers, I had always pulled into a front parking space and walked into the store. Since a scene in my story required a speeding vehicle behind the center, I drove my car to the back to do my research. Dangerous. Perhaps. But I had to know if a vehicle could fit in the small space.

Since mystery writing can be isolating, I enjoy conducting research since it adds an extra element to my writing process.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Teresa Inge grew up in North Carolina reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Today she doesn’t carry a rod, like her idol, but she hotrods. She assists two busy
executives and is president of Sisters in Crime, Virginia Beach chapter.

Love of reading mysteries and writing professional articles led to writing short fiction and a novel. Teresa’s published stories include Fishing for Murder in the Fish Nets anthology and Guide to Murder and Shopping for Murder in Virginia is for Mysteries.  Her website is http://www.teresainge.com.

 

Guest Blog: The Writer’s Life Isn’t for Sissies by Marilyn Levinson

Marilyn Levinson-Author

Marilyn Levinson-Author

The Writer’s Life Isn’t for Sissies by Marilyn Levinson

The electronic age has made it easy for anyone to self-publish a work of fiction. All you have to do is write a book. It needn’t be approved, edited or even good. As long as the text is formatted correctly, up it goes on Amazon and other publishing sites. And voilà! You’re an author.

Perhaps, but who’s going to buy your book besides your nearest and dearest? Who is your audience? Where are your readers? And what do you plan to write about in your next book?

Because so many people are writing novels these days, it’s difficult for a writer to make his or her mark in today’s literary marketplace. There are many choices. Writers can self-publish, publish with small presses, or publish with the bigCF - Murder a la Christie 150 companies. I know, because I’ve gone the route of all three. We’ve an over-abundance of available books because so many writers give away e-copies of their work, hoping that this will entice readers to buy their other titles. Every day I receive several emails encouraging me to download novels that are inexpensive or free. Which is why I have close to 600 novels on my Kindle, waiting to be read.

This proliferation of novels gives the impression that becoming a novelist is easy. That anyone can write a good book that will sell thousands of copies. It’s not so. Becoming a good fiction writer is a process that takes years of hard work. Sure there are a few exceptions, but I believe the more books we write, the better skilled we become at creating characters, weaving plots, and telling satisfying stories. In The Telegraph on June 29th, best-selling crime writer, Val McDermid, “has claimed that she would be a failed novelist if she were starting out today because the publishing industry no longer allows for slow-burning careers.”

“It takes a strong stomach to be a writer!” says Peg Cochran, who writes the Gourmet de Lite series under her name and the Sweet Nothings Lingerie Series as Peg London. “It’s a scary business putting yourself out there…not only am I nervous about not living up to other authors, I’m worried about living up to myself!”

Peg isn’t alone. As a mystery writer, I know I’m only as good as my last book. I hope readers will like my next book. Will they love my characters? Will the plot hold? Will they detect the murderer before I want them to?

levinson picture1And it’s not enough to write an enticing mystery. Unless you’re very successful, very famous, or both, most mystery writers I know spend a good deal of time promoting their work. I was delighted that my mystery, A Murderer Among Us, was listed on Book Town’s 2014 Summer Reading list, and that A Murderer Among Us & Murder a la Christie made Book Town’s 2014 Summer Mystery Reading List. Then it was up to me to tweet and announce these honors to my Facebook and Yahoo groups. I must seek reviews of my books and ask to have my books featured on various sites and blogs. It’s my job to promote my novels and tend to them as I would my children, making sure they’re in healthy, growth-producing after-school activities. The odd thing is, I never know what helps improve my sales, but I get the word out when my books receive 5 star reviews and accolades.

Reviews are something else we authors have to deal with. Good reviews are wonderful to read. We’re delighted that readers are enjoying our books, and happy that they “get” us. Eventually we all get the other kind of review. The not so great review or even a hurtful review from a reader who was less than satisfied.

We’re told not to respond to reviews that are cutting or cruel, or even inaccurate. This is levinson 2frustrating, but I try to concentrate on the good reviews and the many people who have made it a point of telling me they enjoy my books. I’ve checked out the reviews of well-known novelists and was surprised to see that they had their share of not so great reviews. It gave me heart to know that these authors still sell thousands of copies of their novels. It reminded me that not everyone is going to love my work.

Having a writing career means finishing a novel and moving on to the next. It demands hours of promotion, dealing with deadlines and edits and covers you may not like. Coping with changing editors, an editor who changes your every other word, rejection. You name it. There are many frustrations, but having a writing career means you’re doing what you love best—writing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and books for kids.

Her latest mystery, Murder a la Christie, is out with Oak Tree Press. Untreed Reads has brought out new e-editions of her first Twin Lakes mystery, A Murderer Among Us–a Suspense Magazine Best Indie and its sequel, Murder in the Air. Both Murder a la Christie and A Murderer Among Us are on Book Town’s 2014 Summer Reading Mystery List. Her ghost mystery, Giving Up the Ghost, and her romantic suspense, Dangerous Relations, are out with Uncial Press. All of her mysteries take place on Long Island, where she lives.

Her books for young readers include No Boys Allowed; Rufus and Magic Run Amok, which was awarded a Children’s Choice; Getting Back to Normal, & And Don’t Bring Jeremy.

Marilyn loves traveling, reading, knitting, doing Sudoku, and visiting with her granddaughter, Olivia, on FaceTime. She is co-founder and past president of the Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime. She can be contacted through her website http://www.MarilynLevinson.com.  For all of her writings, check out her Amazon page at http://amzn.to/K6Md10 .