Book Review

I just finished a mystery/thriller by a New York Times bestselling author,nyt courtesy victorfarmington library.org someone whom I’ve read sporadically over the years, usually quite happily. This particular book is set in the 1980s but was published not long ago, so it’s not one of the author’s early works. Yet reading it was a slog when her technique and years of writing experience should have made it a slam-dunk.

We all know the phenomenon that happens when a book is truly good — time is suspended as we enter… Continue reading

Writer’s Problem: Timelines

At a recent panel at a local writer’s meeting, one author talked about the challenges of writing a historical novel.   I didn’t think it applied to my current day novel but I found that there were a lot of the resources that could be helpful for me as well.

The first was creating a timeline, which I also do.  This provides the backbone of an historical novel.  However, in any novel, keeping up with what day something happened and how the time works is important.  For the historical novel, it also includes people who you might meet at particular… Continue reading

Making Up History

I’m busily writing a series of cozy mysteries called The Endurance Mysteries. The first book, Three May Keep a Secret [2014], introduced Grace Kimball, her friends and their small Midwest town of Endurance. In the second book, which will be out next year, one of Grace’s friends buys a Victorian home that is falling apart. This friend wants to restore it to its 1880’s splendor. Because of this plot decision, I had to create a history for this house. Grace researches its history for newspaper articles in the Endurance Register. I had a lot of fun creating a background for… Continue reading

Change

new docA year ago, in an effort to stop me from gnashing my teeth about things I couldn’t change, my doctor took the (extreme) step of forbidding me to engage in politics. Since I live outside the States and can no longer participate directly, this effectively slammed the door on reading about politics, or talking about politics, or even listening to other people talk about politics.

Unlike my previous life, where I was a player, now geography and my physician were forcing me to sit on the sidelines and not… Continue reading

It’s Christmas! Where Are Your Characters?

What would your characters do for Christmas?

Most of us have our stories wrapped around a mystery, life-threatening situation, or problems associated with fantastical conditions. Our main focus isn’t usually on holidays. So, what would the holidays look like for our characters? For instance, if they celebrate Christmas, who would be giving gifts and to whom? If not Christmas, what would they be celebrating at this time of the year?

My characters, although I’m not sure of all of their religious affiliations, would be having a traditional Christmas.xmas tree

***… Continue reading

Found!

Before I begin my post I would like to say how happy I am to again be an active participant in this wonderful blog.  Beginning in late Spring and extending over the summer into September, I first underwent manic preparation of a manuscript for Thrillerfest, followed by a lingering family illness, followed by an all-consuming interest in the subject of this post. Those things combined led me to take a hiatus from the blog, which is now, happily, concluded.

Regarding the post, I experienced for the second time in my life what it is like to be drawn into

Smelling the Roses and Other Sensory Items

Margo and I chose the same topic this month discussing sensory details, but from slightly different perspectives.

valentine-red-rose-2I think we’ve all heard the old saying to “Stop and Smell the Roses.” It has its own meaning but we also have a memory of how a rose smells.  Our sense of smell is located in  the same part of our brain that effects emotions, memory, and creativity, so it is no wonder that most think that it is our strongest sense when it comes to memories.   When you hear that, do you recall… Continue reading

VWC’s Conference – and Subplots

Virginia Writers Club’s annual conference “Navigating the Writing Life”  took place on August 2, 2014.  This year, in response to comments from last year, the conference included a number of morning panels for genre fiction and then afternoon workshops.

For the morning, I attended the short fiction panel.  This was a discussion between Clifford Garstang and Jody Hobbs Hesler on their experiences as editor and writer.  They included some basic things like writing a great story, choosing your markets carefully, and that rejection is not personal.  Clifford talked about the… Continue reading

Do you have a Hogwarts?

What would the story of Harry Potter have been without Hogwarts? Could the characters have carried it off on their own? How would the plot have fared somewhere else?

Setting is an integral part of some stories and incidental in others. I love reading Janet Evanovich, whose Stephanie Plum series is set in “the Burg”, a tight community in New Jersey. That setting works perfectly for Janet’s bail bonds woman to run into outlandish characters and situations. Continue reading

Jungle

dangerous jungleLinda’s suggestion that we write about Settings this month was a welcome one, as I’ve been deep in the jungle this week, researching Panama’s dark and fearsome Darien Gap for my new thriller, ESCAPE TO PANAMA. Once upon a time, all of Panama was like the nearly impenetrable Darien, though today sections have been so hacked and burned that you can’t tell much difference from the U.S.

hacked 4

Not much jungle here.

But if you leave… Continue reading