Category: Setting

Vacation Reading: a Mystery Novel, a Memoir, another Mystery Novel, and Vampires

I finally got to travel last week, and I loaded my kindle with plenty of reading material. Four in one week is not my personal best, that is reserved for the vacation where I read a book a day, ran out of books, and had to find a bookstore in a panic before the flight home. Obviously before kindles. I read a mystery novel (times 2), a memoir, and a sliver of vampire fiction by Octavia Butler, who never disappoints in the “taking a trope and turning it inside out, on its head, and sideways” department.

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Sunken Death Release

This New Year’s Eve will be especially exciting for me. First, because 2022 HAS to be better than 2021 was, right? We’ll be getting COVID under control, either through vaccinations or growing immunity, and soon we’ll have more options open for socialization and entertainment—at least I hope so. And there will be a ton of fabulous new mystery novels ready for publication, including Emilya’s Behind the Lie, coming February 8! The second reason I’m excited for 2022 is because book 2 in my Fin Fleming Sea Adventures Thriller series of books is coming out on January 31.  I love the main character in this series. Fin Fleming is a very accomplished underwater photographer, but she has trouble achieving the recognition she deserves because someone stole her work and then accused her of plagiarism. She also struggles with self-esteem and feelings of abandonment.  All the books in the series are rollicking adventures and mystery/thriller books, but the real underlying theme is Fin’s struggle to find acceptance and a sense of family. You’ll have to read the books to find out what sets her heroine’s journey in motion. Here’s the back cover copy for Sunken Death: A few months after a death in her […]

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Once in a Cold and Snowy Forest…

My husband and I awoke early last Monday morning to eight inches of new snow in northern Wisconsin. It happened silently, overnight—a thick white blanket, erasing details and muffling sounds. For a moment, I marveled at the sight. Then, because I’m a writer, I thought about how snowfall can conceal footprints and other evidence of a murder….

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Locked Room Mysteries

Locked room mysteries are awesome because they usually present the environment as an oppositional adversary. It’s easy to imagine oneself trapped with a killer, and how delicious to burrow under a blanket and know you’re safe, while reading about people who most certainly aren’t.

So, here are three locked room mysteries I’ve read lately that are chilling, thrilling, and all around awesome.

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What is Gothic Fiction?

I have a new story cooking in my head which I think might be gothic, but I’m not sure. I don’t exactly know what gothic is. I’ve heard it described as horror and as romance. Now, while I can give you many accountings of horrible dates (I’m sure we call can), that’s not really the direction I want to take this story. I asked Cynthia Kuhn, author of the acclaimed Lila McLean Academic Mystery series and literature professor in real life, what goth was. She told me there are three basic elements: a creepy old house, a family legacy, and a ghost. And then she gave me a reading assignment. It took two tries but I finally finished Rebecca, Prof. Kuhn. I don’t know why I didn’t like it the first time around. Loved it the second time. Rebecca has all the elements: a creepy old house owned by some kind of aristocrat (read: legacy) and while there isn’t a ghost per se, the presence of the deceased titular character still presides over the living.  The recently popular Mexican Gothic has the creepy old house, a family legacy, and a creepy old guy – still alive but he’s practically a […]

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Sometimes You Have To Leave Home

Setting can be a character in its own right. It can also be a metaphor. Setting creates a mood, grounds a story in reality, informs the characters, and often determines plot. Think of the wilds of Cornwall in Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, or the bleak, treacherous moors in Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles or the Dustbowl of the 1930s in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. These stories couldn’t have happened anywhere else, and the job of the author is to transport their readers to another time and place.

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Read Where You Are

On the Road Again I move around. A lot. My day job has taken me from the southeast to the northwest, down to the southwest, over to the Midwest, up to New England, and now to the west. Each place has had unique characteristics that distinguished it from the others. No two places felt the same. In each place I wondered, what would a book set here be like? Read in Place Setting, for me, is an important part of the reading (or viewing) experience. I don’t much care for stories that could happen anywhere. On the contrary, my favorite stories are the ones where the setting, even if fictitious, is a character. I also enjoy reading stories that are set in the place I happen to be. When I was in New England, I found myself in the mood for tales of foggy mornings and rocky shores. Down South, I wanted gothic tales filled with decaying grandeur, the scent of magnolias, and tense humidity. Your Turn What should I read now that I’m out west? A cowboy story, historical or modern? A tale of the desert’s harsh beauty? A yarn about a ghost town? Or a story of transformation […]

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The Magic of Audiobooks

I’m a new convert to audiobooks, and as all new converts, I’m now a zealot. Oh, sure, years ago there were “books on tape” and then on CD, but it was just somehow not the same.

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It Was A Dark & Stormy Night: Weather in Fiction

“Weather tonight: dark. Turning partly light by morning.”
Who remembers George Carlin, the Hippy Dippy Weatherman? A whole generation of viewers in the 1970s laughed at his weather forecasts, but the silliness struck a chord. People are obsessed with the weather. Even in books.

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