Tag: mystery

mystery

The New Old-time Radio

Podcast, noun—a digital audio or video file or recording, usually part of a themed series, that can be downloaded from a website to a media player or computer.  –Dictionary.com Sometimes, a definition doesn’t do a thing justice. Dictionary.com’s definition of a podcast doesn’t capture the flavor of the thing. Podcasts are the modern successors to old-time radio shows. Instead of gathering around a cabinet radio in the living room, you grab your smartphone (or laptop or tablet) and stream news, comedies, dramas, and mysteries. I can’t count the number of podcasts available. The number is likely in the thousands. I have more than a hundred in my podcatchers’ queues, the podcast equivalent of my TBR pile. Podcatcher? What’s that. It’s the service, or digital platform, you use to find and stream shows. I use Stitcher and Spotify but there are several others, like Apple and Soundcloud. Some of the podcasts have their own websites through which, as Dictionary.com points out, the episodes can be accessed. I confess to being a true crime podcast junkie. I’m listening to The Vanished as I write this. Other favorites are Already Gone, Swindled, True Crime Obsessed, and the extremely-NSFW, Small Town Murder. I prefer […]

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Typecasting

Today, Fatality in F, the fourth book in the Gethsemane Brown Mysteries, goes on sale. A momentous occasion! Four books makes #gethsemanebrown an official series instead of a trilogy. This time out, Gethsemane has to save Frankie from charges he murdered his rival in a rose-growing competition and from a stalker—who may be out to recreate a decades-old murder case. I learned flowers were big business while writing Fatality in F. Did you know flower industry revenue totals more than $34 billion? Or that $1.9 billion is spent on flowers for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day? I learned about roses, in particular. 30-35% of cut flowers sold in a year are roses. The oldest record of a rose is from China 7,000 years ago. 200 million roses are given on Valentine’s Day. Two of my favorite research resources were the David Austin catalog and American Rose, the American Rose Society’s magazine. I not only learned about rose competitions, the history of roses, and rose growing tips, I learned about the different types and names of roses. In Fatality in F, Frankie’s prize rose, an Old Rose, is named ‘Sandra Sechrest’ after a reader who won a naming opportunity in an […]

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Extra-special near pathological attention… to first and last lines….

Tracee: I’m given a bit of time this week to the importance first lines and pages in a manuscript.  Do you work on these with special attention? Well, not special, but extra-special near pathological attention?  Robin: If by “extra-special near pathological level” you mean “agonize day and night then second-guess myself to this very day,” yes. The first page is the most rewritten part of any manuscript for me. Runner up is the rest of the first chapter. I may revise the entire book 4 – 5 times, but I typically revise the first chapter 5 – 10 times. I literally pace like a caged animal while mulling over, writing, and rewriting the first sentence. Once I hit on a “grabber,” I’ll stick with it til I can picture it on my tombstone then I make sure the rest of the chapter measures up. Susan: I’m definitely in the pathological-attention- to-first- paragraph camp. However, the flip side of that is that once I’m happy with my first paragraph, I’m generally happy with the book. Or as happy as anyone ever is with anything. I can then move forward and enjoy myself. Although occasionally I’ll be reading someone else’s book and want to […]

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Lots of counting in writing

Here’s how I see my current WIP by the numbers: Daily word counts to keep the manuscript on schedule, or give the illusion of progress. Overall word count, with plusses and minuses every day.  Number of times I’ve read the manuscript.  Number of weeks (months) set aside before the final edit. Number of working titles.  Number of revisions I’ll admit to.  Number of words (by specific example) to be checked and possibly purged. Number of time the specifics of the murder have been changed. My numbers look like this: 1,000+/-; 78,000; a gazillion; hmmm, 3; 22; 13, 3 and counting. What are your writing numbers?

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The Perils of Writing From Home

by Cate Holahan A man died on my dining room table. His blood seeped into the honed concrete slab becoming an indelible stain on the surface. To the untrained eye, the mark might appear red wine, sloshed on the table by some drunken dinner guest. But the spot is darker. Deeper. I see it. Anyone that has ever read The Widower’s Wife and then attends a dinner party at my house sees it too. In truth, there isn’t any stain on the table. (When I host Thanksgiving, I put plastic underneath the tablecloth like the OCD aunt that covers all the furniture). The mark is all in our minds. It got there because I staged a murder scene in that book in my actual house, and a character does die on the table. My real dining room table. Scenes from this book are set in my house. Folks say “write what you know.” Since I work from home, sometimes that entails snatching details from where I live and incorporating them into my work. My protagonist’s apartment in Lies She Told is a copy of the first place my husband and I lived as a married couple in New York City, […]

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My Protagonist Hereby Resolves…

 The Missdemeanors hope 2019 is a kinder, better year than 2018. We believe that in a world where you can be anything, you should be kind. We also believe our characters should resolve to make some changes in the new year:MicheleSabrina Salter resolves to find her mother whether she is dead or alive. TraceeAgnes Luthi is going to finally learn how to play mah jong RobinEmma Quinn resolves not to swear so damn much. (Resolutions are made to be broken, right?) CateLiza Cole resolves to take her medicine regularly. SusanMaggie Dove resolves to be a better aunt, lose two pounds, and be more ferocious. Or ferocious at all. AlisonAbish Taylor resolves to get some sleep (preferably daily!) and to forgive her father. AlexiaGethsemane Brown resolves to switch to a whiskey that’s less expensive than Bushmills 21, win the All-County Orchestra competition again, not lose her temper when someone calls her “Sissy,” and improve her brogue. 

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The Book Baby Blues

Debut author Laura Kemp joins us today on Missdemeanors to discuss her reaction to the publication of her first novel, Evening in the Yellow Wood, and her approach to getting back to writing.  December 12th was a big day for me. It signified the birth of my Book Baby. I’d spent months, even years on perfecting my manuscript so that a publishing house would pick it up, and when they did I spent another chunk of time editing and re-editing so that the finished work would meet their standards.  Needless to say, everything was leading up to a point in time, a proverbial Mount Everest and when the day came the flurry of activity was intoxicating. My adrenaline took a serious hit as friends sent well-wishes, tweets were re-tweeted and posts shared. I watched my Amazon sales climb and shared my excitement with those closest to me (middle schoolers).  And then the next day came and a heaviness settled over me, a feeling of… what’s next? The adrenaline had crashed and real work began.  But what was this phenomenon? It’s was almost like post-partum depression without the baby.  And then I started researching.  Other writers have experienced this- in my own publishing house and beyond, […]

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Let's Talk About Sex… Scenes

Continuing on my theme this week of how much of our human bodily functions should make it into fiction, I would like to discuss sex scenes.  Human beings have sex. If you’re a believer in Freudian psychoanalysis, it’s a primary reason why we do much of what we do. Freud postulated that how a person pursues intercourse, as well as what he or she does while having it, betrays that individual’s true nature.  “The behavior of a human being in sexual matters is often a prototype for the whole of his other modes of reaction in life,”-SIGMUND FREUD, Sexuality and the Psychology of Love  Even if a novelist doesn’t subscribe to Freud’s theories, they still have to deal with the fact that interactions between people have a physical component that can give rise to sexual tension.  With few exceptions, if a novelist wants to create believable fictional characters and show them over any length of time, interacting with anyone, they have to address sexual desire, attraction, and, sometimes, the act itself. And that means they have to grapple with how much to show or tell. There are different rules on how much detail to go into for different genres and sub-genres. In cozy mysteries, the action typically must happen off screen, if […]

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To Pee or Not to Pee? How much mundane human activity must an author include for a character to be believable.

 I will probably get myself banned from all future literary consideration by writing this, but James Joyce’s Ulysses did not blow my mind. I read the famed novel as an adult after it was named one of the best books of all time by a panel of experts at Harvard University. However, after I finished it–and I did finish it–what I remembered most was not my empathy for sensitive, cuckolded Leopold Bloom or the profoundness of his musings, but how often the main character had to urinate during the day.  In truth, Leopold Bloom probably didn’t go to the bathroom any more than an average person does on a given afternoon. Really, I think he went twice (though the peeing in the dream sequence clouds it for me). And I get that part of the point of Ulysses is to paint a portrait of a man going about his day. But even being subjected to Bloom’s necessary bodily functions twice in the course of a 265,000 word novel gave the act a relevance that, for me, took away from the larger work (or, at least, distracted me enough that I forgot what point of existence I was supposed to be pontificating upon at the moment). When […]

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History and Mystery and Crime Bakes

 I returned home from New England Crime Bake late Sunday night. I spent a wonderful weekend in Woburn, Massachusetts meeting old friends, meeting Facebook friends face-to-face, and making new friends. I participated on a great panel, moderated by fellow Missdemeanor, Michele Dorsey, where we discussed mash-ups/cross-genre novels, what they were, how they came to be, and what they mean for the publishing industry. Hank Phillipi Ryan complemented me on my panel performance. (How cool is that?) I spent time chatting with conference attendees about medicine and whiskey. I got to hang out with the incomparable Walter Mosley. And I heard Mr. Mosley, Frankie Bailey, Bill Martin, and Elisabeth Elo talk about how they use history in writing mystery. This panel especially intrigued me, as I’m a history buff. The past fascinates me. Not so much the big, well-known stories—although as I discover the version of history I learned in school as “fact” may not have been 100% accurate, I’ve re-examined some of the big stories and found them more interesting than I originally thought—but the history of everyday people. How did Regular Jane and Average Joe earn their living? What did they wear? What did they eat? What did they think […]

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